Foodbuzz

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bakehouse Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins


There are wild berries that grow in Texas but nearly all of the colors of the edible berries have a poisionous and sometimes fatal berry that matches the color. So, unless you have the specific knowledge to identify the difference, it is best to refrain from eating wild berries in Texas. Some of them will actually irritate the skin as well.

Now there are quite a number of delicious berries in the grocers or at the farmers market to choose from without taking such a risk out in the wild. I noticed that the blueberry has been scarce in my blog posts, so I decided it needed a little promotion. After all, it is considered to have the most health benefits of all the commonly found berries at the grocery store.

There are some berries I can eat raw and enjoy, but unfortunately the blueberry is not one of them. In my opinion, they need something more. In this particular recipe, that something more is sweet white chocolate with a touch of cinnamon. That combo in itself says "no butter required".  Outside of flavor, the key to a good muffin is to have a nice moist texture without sticking to the paper liner.

This muffin recipe delivers on all factors, so I consider it a keeper. I guess that is why the recipe makes 3 dozen.

Bakehouse Blueberry White Chocolate Muffins
adapted from the Cooking Channel

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups blueberries
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
5 eggs
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups canola oil
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 1/2 cups flour
2 tbs cinnamon
3 tbs and 1/2 tsp baking powder
powdered sugar (optional for dusting tops)

Prepare pans by greasing the edge of the cavities and filling with paper liners. There should be a total of 36 cavities, 2 or 3 pans.  Preheat the oven to 365 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Then stir in the sugar. Set aside.

Take out a second bowl and fill with the eggs. Whisk until yolks and whites are completely blended. Then stir in oil, yogurt and buttermilk.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in half of the wet ingredients. Stir mixture together and add the remaining liquid blend, until a batter is formed. Fold in the berries and chocolate chips, dispersing them evenly throughout the batter.

Once mixed, using a scoop or large spoon fill the cavities of the muffin tins.

Place pans in oven and bake for 12 minutes and then rotate. Bake for an additional 12 minutes. Muffins are done when tester comes out clean, after 25-30 minutes baking time.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. After 5 minutes (if you prefer) you can dust with powdered sugar.

Tips and Notes:

1. The batter rises quickly, before the blueberry and chocolate chip additions, this means cavities can be filled full for not much rise takes place while baking.

2. Dusting with powdered sugar should only be done if you plan on serving right away. The other option once completely cooled, brush with butter and dip in cinnamon sugar.
                                      **LAST YEAR: CIRCUS COOKIES** 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Donut Trials: #4 Coconut Donuts


There is one chain of donut shops that use the exact same dough to make all their donuts. Using the same dough proves to be more cost effective and less time consuming. The idea also promotes having the topping as the flavor ingredient. There are a few exceptions, such as apple fritters where apple and cinnamon is added to the dough before frying or cocoa added to make a chocolate donut.

I am more into the artisan-type donut shops. Inside you will find a myriad of donuts, each made up of their own texture and flavor that is then paired with a special topping. I believe these flavorful coconut donuts have a rightful place in one of the artisan shops.

The recipe hails from Seattle's Top Pot Donuts and was released to a magazine. The dough yields a good coconut flavor when fried. The key to the flavor is the coconut milk and coconut extract. In addition, the sweet crunchy topping promotes the coconut flavor even more. Since the recipe does not contain yeast, the donuts' texture is much like a cake donut. The crispy outside and fluffy interior alone will make you come back for seconds. Keep this in mind, for the recipe only makes about 10-12 donuts. 

Coconut Donuts
adapted from Saveur Magazine

Ingredients
1 egg
1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp coconut extract
4 tbs melted butter
2 cups sweetened coconut
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
canola oil for forming and frying

Whisk the egg in a small bowl until the yolk is blended evenly with the white of the egg. Empty mixture into a large bowl. Add sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 tsp coconut extract and melted butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until blended. Set aside.

Take out a smaller bowl and sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and 1/2 tsp salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until a dough forms. It will be sticky.

Preheat 2 inches of oil in a 6 quart saucepan or deep fryer to 370 degrees. Take out a cooling rack and place over a sheet of wax paper on a flat surface.

Forming the dough will be done by hand. Lightly oil clean hands. Then pinch off about 1/4 cup of dough. Shape into a disk with a 1 1/2 inch hole in the center. Carefully drop donut into the hot oil. After one side cooks in oil for about 1 1/2 minutes, flip over and let the other side cook for the same amount of time. The outside should be toasty and golden brown when done. Remove donut from oil with a slotted spoon and place on cooling rack. Continue, following the same steps, with the remaining amount of dough.

For the topping, start with a parchment lined baking sheet. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the coconut on the baking sheet, smooth out evenly and break up any clumps. Place in preheated oven for 2 minutes, remove and stir. Repeat that process 3 more times or until the coconut is nicely toasted.

To make the glaze, sift confectioners sugar and remaining amount (1/2 tsp) of salt together in to a bowl. In another bowl mix both extracts and coconut milk together. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until a smooth glaze is formed. Dip the top side of the donut into the glaze and then into the toasted coconut. Place on rack for topping to dry. Repeat the process until all donuts are covered.
                                   
                           **LAST YEAR:Pineapple and Spice Cupcakes**

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Donut Trials: #3 Spudnuts


There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the business of making spice blends. Most people believe that this is an easy task. It can be, if all you are doing is mixing spices together. However, there is a whole other side to spice blends that is more scientific and a little bit amazing. The scientifically formulated spices have specific flavor transitions when they hit your taste buds. You first taste a smokey barbeque flavor, then the spicy heat and, lastly. a chaser of a sweet brown sugar flavor. No matter how you use this particular spice blend, the flavor will transition in the same manner every time.

Now, I am no scientist, but this is one donut recipe that falls into the sweet and savory category. It has black pepper in the batter along with mace. Also, after frying, it is coated in a salt/sugar/pepper blend. While crisp on the outside, the interior has a sponge-like texture that stems from the egg and potato ingredients. Except for the sugar blend coating-this donut is more savory than most. This recipe makes about 1 dozen donuts.

Spudnuts
adapted from Saveur Magazine

Ingredients
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbs melted butter
10 oz of potato cubes (about 1 inch square from peeled baking potatoes)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground mace
non stick spray
canola oil for frying

Start by taking out 3 bowls and cutting out 12 four inch squares of parchment and spray each with non stick spray. 
 
Pour 2 quarts of water into a pot. Put pot over medium high heat and add a few pinches of salt. Let come to a boil and then add the potato cubes. Let the potatoes cook, watching to make sure the water does not boil over. The potatoes will soften and be fully cooked after about 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and then pass through a ricer placed over one of the bowls. Set aside. In the second bowl, sift together the mace, flour, baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Set this bowl aside also.

For the third bowl and final bowl, add the eggs and whisk until white and yolks are blended. Pour in the butter, add the zest and 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir together until evenly distributed and fold in the riced/cooked potatoes until the mixture is smooth.

Using a wooden spoon, mix the sifted ingredients into the wet mixture in 3 increments. Continue to blend until no dry streaks remain. Form into a ball and let sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes.

As the dough sits, set up your fryer or use a pot with a deep fry thermometer. Fill with 2 inches or more of oil and heat up to 370 degrees.  Dust a flat surface with flour. Using floured hands, transfer the dough from the bowl to the prepared surface. Then flatten the dough round with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into donut shapes with a 3 inch cutter, using the dough scraps and donut holes to pat into another 1/2 inch thick circle for cutting. Place each cut donut on a prepared parchment square.

Before frying, whisk together the remaining amount of salt, sugar and pepper. Pour into a gallon zip lock bag. Then place a cooling rack over paper towels.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, use the parchment square to flip each raw donut into the hot oil. Only fry in batches of 3-4 donuts at a time. The donuts will take about 3-4 minutes to cook in the oil, so set the timer at 1 minute and 30 seconds and then flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Scoop out with a mesh skimmer and place on cooling rack. Let cool for a few minutes and then add to the zip lock bag of coating. Shake until fully coated and place back on rack to completely cool. Repeat the cooking/cooling/coating process until all donuts have been fryed and coated.

Tips and Notes:
1. If you are not into the salty/sweet, try turning this item into a more savory treat by adding freeze dried chives to the batter before adding the dry ingredients. You can also forming these into hush puppy type of appetizers with a garlic sauce for dipping by altering the shape and fry time.

2. Note that the dough is not rolled out. Less handling of the dough will avoid having a tough donut in the end.

3. This recipe never stated to maintain any temperature while frying. This means that the fluctuation in temperature when the dough is added to the oil is expected, so do not panic if the temperature reduces. The only setting to worry about is the initial 370 degrees.

4. As stated in the previous recipes if using a fryer do not use the wire baskets. The raw donuts are to be dropped straight into the oil.
                                          **LAST YEAR:Mojito Bars**

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Donut Trials: #2 Italian Cream Filled Donuts


Years ago, stomach problems were not so prevalent. Today you turn on the TV and there is talk of probiotics, colon cleansers, and pills for acid re flux. It makes you wonder what has caused all of this. After, all when people were churning their own butter- stomach issues were almost unheard of. I think that added preservatives and GMO in manufactured food may be the cause.

Anyhow, with over-abundance of food in the grocery store that labeled as "light", I decided to move on to a second type of donut that is very light. These little yeast gems are like soft pillows which make it a perfect host for filling with something sweet. A great reminder as to why filled donuts are such a favorite.

This particular recipe hails from Italy and is referred to as bombolini. However, these donuts are  much like the filled donuts you find here in the US. The bread part of the donut has a basic, clean taste with a hint of citrus. Then it is filled with a rich vanilla pastry cream swimming with vanilla seeds. The recipe makes about 2-2 1/2 dozen donuts.

Italian Cream Filled Donuts
adapted from Grace's Sweet Life 

Ingredients/Pastry Cream
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 split and seeded vanilla bean
6 egg yolks

Ingredients/Donut dough
3 eggs
3 1/2 tbs butter (diced into 4 pieces)
8 1/2 oz warm milk ( between 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit) 
zest of 1 whole orange or lemon
seeds from 1 whole vanilla bean
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 package yeast
2 cups bread flour
2 cups regular flour
vegetable spray
canola oil ( for frying)
extra sugar for rolling donuts in

The pastry cream will need to be made first. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the seeds and the skin of the vanilla bean. Place over medium high heat and let come to a boil. Remove from burner and cover. Leave to sit, covered, for about 15 minutes so the vanilla beans and seeds can infuse flavor into the milk.

While the milk is cooling, add the sugar and egg yolks to a bowl. Whisk the mixture by hand until the mixture increases in volume and becomes a very pale yellow. Add the flour and mix until blended.

Empty the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, turn the speed to medium. As the mixer runs, slowly pour a steady stream of the warm milk blend into the egg batter. Once blended, pour mixture into a sieve placed over a saucepan and strain. Once the mixture has been strained into the saucepan, place saucepan over medium heat. Let cream mixture cook, stirring constantly. The filling will thicken and become the consistency of pudding. It should take about 3-5 minutes to reach the perfect consistency. Once it is nice and thick, spoon into a heat proof bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.

For the yeast donuts, take out a large bowl and fill with both types of flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla beans, lemon or orange zest and salt and stir together until evenly blended. Form a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in the warm milk. Blend together using a wooden spoon. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then add to the dough. Mix the eggs into the dough until no dry streaks remain.

Prepare a flat surface by dusting with flour. Also, take out a large bowl and cover the interior with non stick spray. Remove the dough and place on floured surface. Put one cube of butter in the center. Knead the butter into the dough, this should take about 2 minutes. Repeat with each remaining piece of butter. Then knead for an additional 5 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball and put in oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. During this time take out a few 9x13 cake pans. Also, cut parchment paper into 32 squares, each about 4-4 1/2 inches square. Spray the squares with non stick spray. Then put two plates beside the area that you will be frying in. One plate will have paper towels on it for draining and one will have sugar for rolling the hot donuts in.

After the first rise, remove the dough from the bowl and place on the floured surface. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin so it is about 3/8 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter about 2 3/4 to 3 inches in diameter, cut out dough into circles and place each on prepared parchment squares. Take the square and put it inside the cake pan, leaving some space between each. Continue this process until all the dough has been cut into circles and the pans are full. Cover cake pans with plastic and let dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Heat up oil in a fryer or deep saucepan to 330 degrees. It should reach proper temperature in about 20-30 minutes.

After the dough rounds have doubled in size, take a parchment square with the formed donut and flip it to drop in oil. Repeat with 3 more raw donuts. Fry each side until golden brown, the total fry time should be 3-5 minutes with one flip. Watch for the dough to reach the desired golden color and then flip for the other side to cook. Remove donuts and place on paper towel to drain and then roll in sugar and place on cooling rack.

Continue until no raw dough remains. Then prepare a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip and fill the bag with the cold filling from the refrigerator. Punch a hole in top of each donut and fill until it feels heavy and a mound forms on top. Fill the rest of the donuts in the same manner. Serve immediately.

Tips and Notes:
1. It is important that you allow for lots of rising time. The raw donuts should be about 1 inch thick or more and airy before you fry.

2. When adding raw dough to the fryer, your temperature will fluxuate. The fluxuation should be 320 at the lowest point and 340 at the highest point. This will insure that the dough cooks properly in the oil.

3. If you are using an electric fryer, do not use the baskets. You do not want the dough sticking. It is to sink to the bottom on its own and then rise to the top as it cooks.

4. Using a decorator tip for filling was not that easy. The easier way is to use the proper equipment such as an injector or a bismark tip-something with a long neck to go inside the donut.

5. Another easier way to serve these is to pass on filling the donut and use different types of filling to serve the donuts with. Each person can have their own little cups of filling to dip the donut in while eating.

6. Making these by hand may be a slow process, but it is the best method to insure light fluffy donuts. Decline from using a mixer to create the dough.

7. There is a special point of temperature when it comes to filling the donut. You do not want the donut completely cold, for it will not yield to the filling. You do not want it too hot or the pastry cream will melt. Try frying up 1 dozen and then filling. Also, putting your pastry cream in the freezer for a few minutes should help.
                               **LAST YEAR: Strawberry Hazelnut Tart**   

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Donut Trials: #1 Sour Cream Donuts


Donuts have been around for years and they continue to be a favorite pastry to have with coffee or tea in the morning. Homer Simpson eats them regularly, You Tube even has videos such as the "donut dance" by Krispy Creme employees and other videos in support of Dunkin Donuts. You may have had to say good bye to space sticks and Tang, but the donut will remain.

This iconic little pastry has been a favorite of mine, but the idea of actually making my own has been avoided until now. I guess it is because of all of the steps involved in making fried donuts. I have made baked donuts before-but it is much like making a cake. In my opinion, most baked cake donuts do not fall under the label pastry, but the fried donuts do.

For the first of the donut trials, I have picked the sour cream donut. It does have the label of a cake donut- but I believe these donuts have their own unique texture and flavor that stems from the sour cream ingredient. I found them to be less dense than most cake donuts. Also, they are not that difficult to make-which means the recipe a good choice to start out with.

There are some basic tips at the end that will aid you in being a successful donut maker. Like all recipes, all information should be read through once prior to starting. This recipe makes 1 dozen donuts.

This post is the first of the 4 donut trials, so be sure to check back every week-for more delicious breakfast treats!

Sour Cream Donuts
adapted from ChefSteps

Ingredients/Donuts
1 1/2 cups sour cream
5 large egg yolks
2 1/2 tbs butter
4 3/4 cup flour ( pastry or all purpose)
1 tbs and 3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbs salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
Fry oil (canola type for frying)

Ingredients/Glaze
3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs milk
1 tsp salt

To start, line a bowl with plastic wrap leaving some over hang and spray with non stick spray. Set aside. Using another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with sugar, butter and yolks. Beat for 2 minutes until smooth, the end result will be a mixture lighter in color that has more volume. Using a spatula, fold in the sour cream until blended. Then fold in the sifted ingredients in one cup intervals until there is no more left to fold in.

Empty the dough into the prepared empty bowl and spray non-stick spay on top of the dough. Cover the top of the dough with the plastic over hang. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 1 hour.

After the dough has chilled, cut out 12 squares of parchment. Each square will hold 1 raw donut.  Also, lightly dust a flat surface with flour. Take dough out of refrigerator and roll out until only 1/2 inch thick. Use a round donut cutter (3 inches in diameter) or 2 cookie cutters to form the donuts. The outside shape for one cookie cutter should be 2 3/4 inches in diameter and the other cutter should be about 1 1/4 in diameter for the holes.

Cut out each donut and place on one parchment square and put in a 3" deep cake pan. Continue with this process and re-roll scraps when necessary until all the dough has been formed. Cover cake pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Let the dough chill at least 1 hour or overnight before frying. Place a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper.

Prepare a fryer by filling with oil until depth of 2 inches. Heat oil up to 350 degrees. It is okay that oil fluctuates between 350 to 360 degrees as you fry. However, do not fry more than 3 donuts at a time and as you fry batches the remaining raw donuts should go back into the refrigerator. As the oil heats up, prepare the glaze. Pour the milk and salt into a bowl, whisking together. Then sift in the powdered sugar. Whisk ingredients together until smooth.

Once the oil is heated, pick up a parchment square that holds one donut and tip it slowly into the oil. Repeat this process until 3 raw donuts are cooking in the oil. Let cook for 30 seconds and flip each donut over using a slotted spoon. After the first 30 seconds, let each side cook for 80 seconds. The holes with take 30 seconds and then 45 seconds on each side. Once cooked, scoop out donuts one by one and place on cooling rack.  Let cool for 2 minutes and then dip in the glaze and place back on rack until glaze is set.

Tips and Notes:
1. The two items that are key in making donuts is maintaining the temperature of the oil and cooking for the correct amount of time. Always set your temperature to the highest and then reduce after all items in one fry session have cooked for about 30 seconds. I could not have made these without an electric fryer, cooking with a pan on the stove is too hard to maintain oil temperature.

2. Use a rack to rest the fried donuts, not paper towels. This is a dense donut and it will become soggy if allowed to rest on paper towels after fried.

3. In order to keep from over-browning your donuts, more sessions of less fry time and flipping will keep this from happening. Keeping a watchful eye is always a good idea when you want that perfect hue of golden brown.

4. This is a vanilla donut that goes well with coffee and tea. Should you want more flavor, try adding spices to the dough and different flavorings to the glaze.
                              **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Wine Loaf Cake**


            

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Marbled Chocolate Raspberry Cookies


Today's post is a little about being direct. Through the years, I have interfaced with a lot of people in business as well as social settings. After all this time, I can still say that I favor strong and direct people. They will tell you exactly what is on their mind, instead of reserving or keeping thoughts to themselves. While directness may not be pleasant at times, but at least you are not left wondering.

So if someone tells me "make it happen, no excuses" my reaction is more driven than someone that says "just try to see what you can do". Which leads me to this recipe in which one of the flavors was described as subtle. Along with directness, I feel that if you are going to include a flavor, it should be dominant as a single flavor or balanced if used in combination with other flavors. Which is why I took some liberties with this recipe to create a balance between the raspberry and the chocolate. The original recipe is below and the tips and notes include my additional ingredient tweaks and helpful hints- so read prior to making this recipe if you want a stronger flavor of raspberries in the cookie. This recipe does make a lot, about 5 dozen.

Now, let's move on to the description of these cookies. They are moist and soft cookie, swirled with two cookie doughs that include cream cheese. One batch of dough is chocolate and one is raspberry flavored. The blend of doughs come together to create a delicious cookie that makes for a lovely presentation- which is the best of both worlds. This recipe comes from a fellow blogger, Irvin Lin, who is very talented when it comes to creating baked goods and inspiring others. I have provided the link below.

Marbled Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
adapted from Eat the Love  

Ingredients/Raspberry Dough
6 tbs or 3/4 stick butter (room temp)
1/4 cup or 2 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup raspberries (6 oz)
zest of one lemon
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs sugar

Ingredients/Chocolate Dough
1 1/2 sticks or 12 tbs of butter (room temp)
1/2 cup or 4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup cocoa powder (natural not Dutch processed)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1 cup white sugar to roll cookies in (regular,sanding or sparkling type)

For the raspberry dough:
Start by making the raspberry jam. Place the raspberries in a bowl and mash with a potato masher, just until all raspberries have been flattened. Empty into a saucepan and add 2 tbs of sugar. Place over medium high heat and stir constantly. As the mixture heats up, it will become thicker. Cook the mixture until a wooden spoon can clear a path in the raspberry blend that remains. Since it is now a jam texture, remove from heat and let cool.

Measure out the dry ingredients (flour/salt/baking soda/baking powder) and sift together. Set bowl aside.

Add the cream cheese, butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat ingredients together on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl at intervals, until smooth and fluffy. This should take about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the lemon zest. Then pour into the batter. Run the mixer to distribute into the batter. Add the remaining egg yolk and blend again. Remove the bowl of the stand mixer and stir in the cooled raspberry jam. Then fold in the sifted ingredients and transfer the batter to an empty bowl. Set aside. Clean your batter blade and the mixer bowl in order to proceed to creating the chocolate dough.

For the Chocolate Dough:
Take out a medium bowl and sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter, cream cheese and both types of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream the ingredients together by beating on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl at intervals. It should take about 3 minutes to form a fluffy batter. Add the egg and beat until incorporated and then add the yolk and the vanilla extract. Blend with mixer on medium speed.

Remove bowl and fold in dry ingredients until no streaks of flour remain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust a flat surface lightly with flour and fill a bowl with the sugar for rolling the dough

The cookies will need to be formed in stages of 1 dozen. Take one teaspoon of the chocolate batter and,using lightly floured hands, form into a small ball. Continue with this process, making 4 rows of 6 balls of dough spaced 2 inches apart side by side as well as up and down. Then take one teaspoon of the raspberry batter and form into a small ball. Continue with this process, but place each ball in a row, right under each row of chocolate dough balls. The end result is a total of 8 rows of 6 dough balls starting with a row of chocolate and alternating, ending with a row of raspberry. Pick up the chocolate dough ball at the top left and stack with the raspberry ball below it. Then add the chocolate ball below it and then the raspberry dough ball. Flatten the balls together and then roll into one big ball. Roll in sugar and place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Continue forming the cookies until there is a dozen on the baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for about 13-15 minutes. The cookies should be a light golden color on the bottom and edges when done.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Repeat the forming and baking process until no dough remains.

Tips and Notes:
1. In order to increase the raspberry flavor, I used Belgian raspberry beer (Framboise Lambic) and 1 1/2 tsp of natural raspberry flavor. I filled a saucepan with 1 cup of the beer and boiled it until reduced down to 1/4 cup. Then I added the raspberries and the sugar. The natural raspberry flavoring (baktoflavors.com) was stirred into the raspberry mixture after it was completely cool.

2. Do not use thawed frozen raspberries, only fresh. Even though thawed, the fruit still has too much water content.

3. The chocolate dough is more dense than the raspberry. Once the dry ingredients are added to the raspberry batter the baking soda/powder mixture makes it rise. You may want to make both wet batters and then add the dry to both as a last step. Especially considering the time in forming the cookies.

4. Dough is less sticky and easier to work with when cold.

5. Another method for forming the dough is to divide each type of dough in half. Then roll out each half on a floured piece of parchment, forming a 12 by 5 inch rectangle. Stack the rectangles on top of each other, alternating types. Then cut dough into 1 inch squares and roll each square into a ball. Then roll in sugar and place on baking sheet. I did not try this, but the method would be a good time saver.
                              **LAST YEAR:Danish Butter Cookies**

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brazilian Ombre Cake


With the Cinco De Mayo celebration right around the corner, things are gearing up here in Texas. Restaurants are starting to advertise specials and the party gear is prominent. While some celebrate in the standard tradition, some have tweaked some changes to make their own traditions.

Twisting tradition can catch on like wildfire. One of the most unusual twists I have seen is the change in the pinata. Through the years, pinatas have been something for the kids, filled with candy for them to enjoy once it is broken open. However, if there are no kids in the picture-you can always switch to the adult version. To host a party with the adult version all you need to do is fill your pinata with the small plastic airline bottles of some type of spirit, such as tequila. Also, have a gallon drink dispenser ready, filled with ice cold margarita mix. Once that pinata is broken open, it is time for happy hour!

The break from tradition falls right in line with this recipe. As a blogger, I am always looking for something new and different when it comes to baked goods and this cake recipe is exactly that. So sorry hard core traditionalists- there is no flan, churros or tres leche cake recipe here. Instead we have a a moist cake with brown to ivory layers filled with dulce de leche and frosted with whipped cream.

Due to the texture and sweetness of the filling-each layer of cake is does not have the standard thick filling that is in most cakes. The whipped cream topping balances out the sweetness. Each cake layer has its own unique flavor (going from bottom to top):
chocolate
caramel
brazil nut
coconut

This cake is fairly easy to make, but a kitchen scale is essential. The recipe comes from the UK and was modified from a 7 inch cake recipe into one for a 9 inch cake. Like most people here in the US- a 7 inch cake pan is not all that common and having 4 of them is even more uncommon.  So let's get baking!

Brazilian Ombre Cake
adapted from Dr Oetker recipes

Ingredients/Cake
10.6 oz flour
2 2/3 tsp baking soda
7 oz dark brown sugar
2 oz ground almonds
4 oz sugar
2 oz coconut (unsweetened or desiccated)
4 oz light brown sugar
2 oz ground brazilian nuts
3 oz dark chocolate (chopped or chips)
1 1/4 plus 1/3 cup buttermilk (room temp)
1/2 cup and 2 tsp butter
4 eggs (room temp)
1 tbs caramel extract

Ingredients/filling and topping
1 1/2- 2 cans dulce de leche or caramel (about 20 oz total)
20 oz heavy cream
2 oz of sliced or ground brazil nuts

Prepare four 9 inch cake pans by greasing the interior and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

The cake batter is formed like an assembly line, so take out about 5 medium size bowls. Fill each bowl as follows:

1. Flour and baking soda, sifted together
2. Dark brown sugar (free of lumps)
3. Ground almonds
4. White sugar and coconut, whisked together
5. Light brown sugar and ground brazil nuts, whisked together

Using a kitchen scale and a zip lock bag, empty the sifted ingredients in the bag and weigh. Measure out half of the mixture and add to bowl of dark brown sugar. Whisk together. Place the other half of the sifted ingredients back into the original bowl.

Then measure out half of the dark brown sugar mixture and pour into the bowl of ground almonds. Go back to the bowl with the remaining flour/baking soda and measure out half. Whisk into the white sugar and coconut mixture and take the other half and whisk into the light brown sugar and brazil nut mixture.

The end result should be a 4 bowls: flour/dark brown sugar mixture, flour/dark brown sugar/ground almonds, flour/coconut/white sugar and the final bowl with flour/light brown sugar/brazil nut mixture. At this time, preheat the oven to 355 degrees. Set up a double boiler and fill the top bowl with the chocolate. Also, fill a saucepan with the butter. As both of these are in the melting process, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a medium size bowl.  Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients in each of the four bowls.

Remove the saucepan of melted butter from the heat. Let cool 20 minutes. Then whisk into the egg/buttermilk mixture. Divide this batter evenly into 4 small bowls. Fill the well formed in each of the bowls of the dry ingredients with 1 measured out small bowl of batter. Stir together until just blended. Whisk the caramel extract into the bowl with the ground almond ingredients. Also, whisk the melted chocolate into the bowl of the brown sugar/flour mixture.

Each batter mixture makes up one layer. Pour each into one prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Place in oven and let bake for 10 minutes, then rotate and bake for an additional 10. Cakes are done when tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert to a rack. Carefully remove parchment paper and let each layer cool completely.

Once the cakes are completely cool, prepare a cake board by placing a sheet of wax paper with the center cut out over the edge of the cake board. Then fill a small prep bowl with hot water.

Place the chocolate cake layer on the center of the board. Scoop out 1/3 of the dulce de leche/caramel from the full can and place on top of the center of the cake layer. Take a small offset spatula and dip in the hot water and carefully smooth it over the surface of the cake layer. Repeat this process of smoothing on the caramel with each layer, placing the caramel flavored cake layer next, then the brazilian nut. Since the coconut is the top layer, it will not have any caramel spread over the surface.

Whip the cream until thick and fluffy. Spread on the sides and top of cake. Pull out the wax paper from between the cake and the cake board. Then sprinkle the top with the ground or slivered nuts. Use the remaining 1/2 or whole can of caramel/dulce de leche to serve on the side with each slice of cake. The other alternative (prior to topping with nuts) is to thin out the caramel/dulce de leche with some cream and drizzle over top of the cake.

Tips and Notes:
1. Should you only have 2 cake pans, only add the liquid ingredients to two of the bowls of dry. Bake those layers. Once inverted, clean the pans and prepare again by greasing and lining with parchment. Blend up the other two bowls of dry ingredients as directed and fill pans and bake the same way.

2. Room temperature is important for the buttermilk and eggs. If cold, the melted butter will turn into cold chunks in the batter.

3. I noticed the second layer was the same color as the third. This might be remedied with a 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 light brown sugar blend when making the brazilian nut layer. Also use skinless brazilian nuts.

4. If you do not plan to serve right after making, keep the caramel to serve on the side instead of topping the cake and use whipped cream stabilizer in the topping.

5. Some of the dry ingredient blends look identical, so labeling the bowls will guarantee that there is no mix up.

6. I used the same zip lock bag to measure and split out the dry ingredients when using the scale.
                              **LAST YEAR: Southern Cotillion Peach Cake**