Sunday, June 30, 2019

Dark Cherry Danish Tarts

Sometimes it is just simplicity that you crave in a dessert. Not alot of sweetness just fruit and pastry. Usually that means pie, but in this case it means a tart. The flavor of dark cherries against a biscuit type base was just the simplicity I was craving. Another bonus was that it did not take all the effort required for making a pie.

This recipe only has a few steps and has most of the rise time in the refrigerator. Chill it, cut the dough into rounds and stack them, that is about it. The only real concern that came about was finding frozen fruit in heavy syrup. I ended up buying canned fruit in heavy syrup and not the 10 oz of frozen strawberries recommended in the recipe. If you can find strawberries in heavy syrup to make this, I am sure it would be quite tasty.The recipe states the yield is for 24 danishes.

Dark Cherry Danish Tarts
adapted from Fleischmanns

1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tbs cornstarch
1 envelope rapid rise yeast
1/3 cup sugar
5 3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt

1 15 oz can dark cherries in heavy syrup
1 tbs cornstarch
powdered sugar for garnish

 Fill a saucepan with milk, butter and water. Place over medium heat and let butter melt. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature, Once it registers 120-130 degrees, remove from heat.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with cornstarch, lemon peel, salt, undissolved yeast, 2 cups of flour and sugar. Whisk together until blended evenly. Turn mixer to low speed and slowly stream in butter mixture, scraping sides of bowl as needed and beating until blended. Next, incorporate the egg and 1 additional cup of flour. After mixed together, add the rest of the flour and mix until dough forms. Shape into a ball and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of overnight.

Once the chilling time is complete, lightly dust a flat surface with flour and dust a rolling pin. Then line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Take the dough and divide into equal halves. Place one back in the refrigerator while you work with the other. Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick slab. Using a 3 inch round cutter, cut out 24 circles by cutting and then re-rolling scraps and cutting out more circles. Place each circle on the parchment paper, spacing so there is a total of 12 on each baking sheet. Then follow the same process of rolling and forming the other half of the dough, but this time stack the 24 circles of dough on top of the first 24.

Cover both baking sheets and sit in a warm, draft free area for about 45 minutes. As the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Also, make the topping. Fill a saucepan with canned cherries and cornstarch, place over medium heat. Let the mixture cook and come to a boil, about 2-4 minutes. The end result is that the liquid would now be more like a thick jelly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once the rise time is over, place one pan in the oven and let bake for 10 minutes. Remove and spoon fruit mixture on the top center of each round. Return to oven and let bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to rack to let cool completely. Repeat the baking process with the remaining 12 on the other baking sheet.

After completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar.

Tips and Notes:
1. I halved the recipe and ended up with 18 instead of 12.

2. The can of cherries was 15 oz and I had just enough to top all 18 danishes. Also, even though the strawberries were 10 oz and cherries were 15, I did not increase the cornstarch.

3. These should be golden brown on top when done.
                                     **LAST YEAR:Pumpkin Nutella Bars**

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Walnut Butter Cookies

Nut butters are so popular these days and they make for a great ingredient in baking. Today, I bring you cookies made with walnut butter and packed with nuts and chocolate chips.

These cookies have such great taste and amazing texture. They are not chewy or crunchy, but have a soft crumb that just melts in your mouth. Because of the nut butter, I was afraid that they would come out flat, but the baking soda did the trick. The cookies have a normal height to them, so I was well pleased with the size of the cookies. The walnut taste is prominent and the mini chocolate chips are a nice compliment to the overall flavor.

Walnuts do have their health benefits, so sneaking that into a delicious cookie is also a welcome addition. This recipe makes a little over 4 dz cookies. Also, when purchasing nut butter, make sure there are no additives, just pure ground nuts.

Walnut Butter Cookies
by flourtrader

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
8 oz jar of walnut butter
1 egg
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a stand mixer bowl with butter, walnut butter and sugar. Cream the mixture together on medium speed until well combined. Add egg and mix to blend for about 30 seconds.

In another bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Using a wooden spoon, fold sifted ingredients into butter mixture. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips and the nuts. After chips and nuts are evenly distributed throughout the batter, drop by tablespoons or a scoop onto prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 14-16 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 3 minutes then transfer to rack to completely cool. Repeat forming and baking cookies with the remaining dough.
                                      **LAST YEAR:Black Bottom Pecan Cream Pie**

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Pistachio White Chocolate Gelato

I will admit that there is not a lot of green food when it comes to desserts. Also, the color green may not look very appealing...which is why it took me so long to try avocados or guacamole. Even though this may look like guacamole, it is ice cold gelato that has a rich flavor of pistachios that stems from pistachio paste. As an added indulgence, bits of white chocolate are included for crunch and flavor.

Outside of the crunch from the white chocolate curls, it has the smooth texture that is synonymous with frozen gelato. The recipe itself has the bonus of not requiring a lot of ingredients or a lot of effort. One component has to chill overnight and the freezing the next day takes time, so plan in advance.

So if you are ready for a smooth taste of pistachio and white chocolate, proceed below.

Pistachio White Chocolate Gelato
adapted from David Lebovitz

4 cups of milk
14 oz pistachio paste
4 tbs cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
few drops of lemon juice
2/3 cup white chocolate curls

Fill a bowl with 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch. Stir so the cornstarch dissolves into the milk. Set aside. Pour the rest of the milk into a saucepan and add the sugar. Place over medium high heat and stir. Let the mixture heat up to a strong simmer. Prior to the boiling point, stir the cornstarch milk mixture again and pour into the saucepan with the sugar and milk. Let cook for 3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes. Then cover and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, combine the chilled mixture with pistachio paste and a few drops of lemon juice. Once thoroughly mixed, add to the ice cream machine and follow instructions. Halfway through the process add the white chocolate curls and churn the mixture more to blend. After completing manufacturer's instructions, transfer gelato to a bowl and cover. Place in freezer and chill until desired consistency is achieved.
                                  **LAST YEAR:Port Cherry Coffeecake**

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Dutch Chocolate Donuts

I am back! I cannot believe it has been nearly one month since I have posted. As most bloggers realize, sometimes life can get hectic. Between vacationing and working in the bakery on the weekend, blog time was not available.

Also, my idea of cooking with my husband project has gone by the wayside as well. I have decided to do what I can when I can, no schedule. Besides, the spontaneity of when makes things more fun. As far as planning what to bake, I have a long list.

That brings me to the subject of the "untested" and "no picture" recipes that are posted on the web. I call it recipe gambling. The creation could be a flop or turn out pretty awesome but that is the risk you take. This blog does have both tried and true recipes as well as the unique and obscure. 

As a comeback, I bring you chocolate in a most delicious form-donuts. This one comes straight from a chocolate maker, so these gems are spot on when it comes to squelching that chocolate craving. Pair one with coffee in the morning and you will be good to go. This recipe makes about 9 standard sized donuts.

Dutch Chocolate Donuts
adapted from Ghirardelli

Ingredients/ Donut
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup dutch cocoa
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate

Ingredients/Choc Glaze
1 tbs light corn syrup
3 oz chopped chocolate bar (60% cacao)
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
4-5 tbs hot water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a donut pan by greasing the interior of the cavities. Also, place a piece of parchment or wax paper under a cooling rack set on a flat surface.

In a medium size bowl, mix the melted butter and milk. Then add the egg, using a fork to break up the yolks to blend. Once thoroughly mixed, set aside.

Using another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa. Whisk in both types of sugars. Add the egg mixture and combine, using a wooden spoon to blend the ingredients together. Lastly, fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Snip off a corner of a sealing freezer bag. Make sure the hole is big enough to get the chocolate chips through. Fill the bag with the batter and seal. Pipe the batter into the prepared pan cavities, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating pan at the halfway baking point. Donuts are done when tester comes out clean. Let donuts cool in pan on rack for 3 minutes, then invert onto rack.

For the chocolate glaze, set up a double boiler. Fill with chopped chocolate and butter. Let the mixture melt, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in corn syrup and vanilla. Then sift in powdered sugar in one cup increments until all is blended. Stir in hot water, one tablespoon at a time, to bring to the correct consistency.

Spoon glaze over donuts, letting excess drip off. If desired, sprinkle with sea salt. Let glaze set before serving.
                             **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Dream Cake**

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Maui Scones

These scones take me back to thoughts of the tropics. The tropics...where things like pineapple and bananas seem to grow without any effort. Along with that, there is a vast array of big flowers you will find growing everywhere. Jamaica or Hawaii is the place for fruit and flowers. However, in a pinch, California and Florida are good seconds.

Well, there are no fruits growing here and the only flowers I see around are bluebonnets, so these tropical treats were welcome on the breakfast table. When I saw the recipe had pineapple and macadamia nuts in the ingredient list, I thought nothing much can go wrong with these two flavors and I was pleased with the results.

One bite reveals a cake like texture with the crunch of buttery macadamias. With a sweet pineapple drizzle on top and crushed pineapple baked inside, this is a great way to start the day or to have as an afternoon snack. Also, you will not be spending your whole day in the kitchen.

Maui Scones
adapted from Land O Lakes

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup crushed pineapple (drained and juice reserved)
2 eggs
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup sweet flaked coconut
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour

2 tbs sweet flaked coconut
3/4 cup powdered sugar
reserved juice from above

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Whisk in brown sugar. Add 4 butter cubes and blend with a pastry cutter. Continue to add cubes and blend with pastry cutter until all is incorporated and is coarse crumbs with the largest chunk of butter being only pea sized. Stir in the coconut and chopped macadamia nuts.

Fill a medium size bowl with 1 tbs of juice, eggs and crushed pineapple. Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Form a well in the brown sugar /flour mixture and pour the pineapple/egg blend into the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Knead about 10 times. You may have to add more flour or more juice to get to dough consistency. Once the correct consistency is achieved, divide dough in half.

Place each ball of dough on the prepared baking sheets and form into a flat disc. Cut each disc into 6 wedges but do not separate wedges, leave disc intact. Sprinkle each disc with 1 tablespoon of coconut.

Bake 13-15 minutes or until scones are lightly browned on top. Cut through scones to fully separate but do not pull from disc.

Once the scones are completely cooled, prepare pineapple drizzle. Start with 3/4 cup of sifted powdered sugar and add 1 tsp of pineapple juice. Continue to blend pineapple juice and powdered sugar until correct drizzling consistency is met. Drizzle on to cooled scones and wait one hour until set. Then separate and serve.
                                      **LAST YEAR: Homemade Pop Tarts**

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Monkey Tail Banana Cake

I am glad to have the weekend to recoup from bread baking, but here I am baking on my own time. Sometimes blogging and baking of my choice is a great diversion or way to unwind. Through work and my personal life, I have come to realize that people's perceptions are just as diverse as people themselves. A misperception can be major or minor, depending on the person and we cannot control another person's perception. Someone once told me perception is everything. If so, things can easily get quite confusing.

Just like my perception of the name of this cake. When I came across this recipe, I thought the name was just a whimsical choice. I soon came to realize it actually defined the cake flavor. I had never heard of an edible monkey tail. If you a unfamiliar with this as I was, it is something they serve at festivals or carnivals. A monkey tail is actually a frozen banana that is dipped in chocolate and covered in peanuts.

This particular banana cake has pecans instead of peanuts and the filling is hazelnut spread. I liked a slice slightly warmed which makes the filling and the chocolate chips slightly melted. This has a whipped cream and cream cheese blend frosting, so it has to be refrigerated. However, since the cake contains 6 bananas it is very dense, so it is best served at room temperature or warmer.

Monkey Tail Banana Cake
adapted from The Cooking Channel

3 eggs, room temp.
6 mashed, ripe bananas
16 oz sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup chopped pecans, plus extra for garnish
1 cup mini chocolate chips, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs baking soda

Ingredients/Frosting and Filling
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs whipped cream stabilizer (optional)
1-8 oz cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup powdered sugar
13 oz hazelnut spread (I used nutella brand)

For the cake, grease the interior of three 9 inch round cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter and both types of sugars. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until blended. Fold in mashed bananas.

Combine 1/3 of the dry ingredients with the banana batter, folding until no dry streaks remain. Repeat adding the sifted ingredients in two more additions. Once blended, add nuts and chocolate chips and stir until evenly dispersed into batter. Divide batter evenly into thirds, about 3 cups each, filling each prepared pan. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 45-60 minutes, rotating at the halfway point.

Let cakes cool in pan 10-15 minutes and then invert layers onto rack to completely cool. Once cooled, proceed with frosting.

Start on the frosting by filling the bowl of a stand mixer with cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until no lumps remain, stopping on ocassion to scrape down sides of bowl. On medium high speed, continue to beat and stream in the heavy cream. If you opt to use the stabilizer, add it with the heavy cream. Beat the mixture until you have a whipped cream consistency.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a serving place or cake board. Cover the top of the layer with half of the hazelnut spread. Add the next layer and cover it with the rest of the spread. Then top with the third cake layer. Frost cake on top and sides. Sprinkle top of the cake with nuts and mini chocolate chips. Lightly press to adhere.

Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed for best texture.

                                     **LAST YEAR:St Patricks Mocktail Cheesecake**

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Butter Pecan Cookies

Overcast and gloomy today, but it is getting warmer. Here I am in the middle of this baking project and the electricity went out. Since the dough in these cookies have to chill for four hours due to the butter content, the lack of electricity was a little irritating. However, it was fixed in a few hours. 

When you think of pecan cookies, pecan sandies and mexican wedding cookies come to mind. There is not much out there in a pecan variety of cookie. However, this recipe offers something distinctly different in the pecan cookie category. Instead of a soft shortbread type of cookie, these are thick, chewy and packed with pecans. Also, since the dough is scooped out into 1/3 cup size, they are big and shareable. This recipe makes 16 large cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies
adapted from Baker By Nature 

Ingredients/Butter Pecans
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (room temp)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
16 pecan halves for topping

For the butter pecans, fill a skillet with the butter and pecans and place over medium heat. The butter will start to melt. Once completely melted, stir occasionally, mixing butter with pecans so they are completely coated. Pecans with start to toast and become fragrant. Let toast for 3-4 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.

For the cookies, sift the dry ingredients together (the 6th thru 10th items on ingredient list) and set aside.

Fill a saucepan with the butter and place over medium high heat. After melting, the butter will start to cook and change colors. Cook and stir at intervals until butter turns a golden brown color. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Butter will boil during this time, but watch the color. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes.

Transfer butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add granulated sugar and dark brown sugar and mix on medium speed until blended. Then add one egg and vanilla. Beat for 30 seconds until mixed. Repeat with the second egg.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in dry, sifted ingredients into batter until no dry streaks remain. Then mix in butter pecans until evenly distributed. Cover and chill dough for a minimum of 4 hours.

About 30 minutes prior to the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough out measuring 1/3 of a cup. Place each scoop of parchment paper and space about 2 inches apart. Press 1 pecan into center of mound.

Bake in oven about 9-11 minutes or until edges are set. Center will still be soft. Once removed from oven, let cool on baking sheet. Place on rack to cool for 15 minutes, then transfer to rack to completely cool.
                          **LAST YEAR: Raspberry Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches**