Foodbuzz

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Boston Cream Pie Cookies



Today I am thinking about the subject of opinions. Opinions can be requested as needed and they can be constructive at times. However, we all have to deal with the unwanted and the overload. There is a percentage of people that abuse the use of opinions. These are the people that want to control you, believe they know what you want and believe they know what is best. In the company of these people, bear in mind that you are the only person that has to be with you for the rest of your life, so do and think what you want. Also, be confident that as you do that, these people are continuing to use their time in futility trying to control you.

The control factor also can be linked to the practice of following recipes. You can move forward and make the exact recipe and be content with the instructions or you can alter them a bit as you see fit. Altering them can turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing, but you run the same risk with following a recipe. I have made some desserts I have been unhappy with and followed the recipe to a "T".

This recipe makes a little over 1 dz sandwich cookies and contain all the great flavors of the traditional Boston Cream Pie. The cookies strongly resemble the flavor of "Nilla" wafer cookies and while they bake up crisp, sandwiching them with the vanilla custard tends to soften them up as time goes by. Below is the recipe for the cookies I baked, in the tips and notes you will find further information for creating the original recipe.

Boston Cream Pie Cookies
adapted from Rosie's Bakery Cookie Book

Ingredients/Vanilla Custard
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
3 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar

Ingredients/Cookies
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup or 1 stick plus 1 tbs of butter
1 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup plus 2 tbs cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda

Ingredients/Chocolate Glaze
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs and 1 tsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs confectioners sugar

Start by making the filling. Pour 1/2 cup plus 1 tbs milk into a medium sized saucepan. Add the cream and stir. Measure out the sugar and mix into the milk mixture. Place saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Then heat until it reaches a boiling point and remove. Set aside.

Take out a small bowl and whisk together the remaining milk and cornstarch. Once the cornstarch is blended into the milk and no lumps remain, add the egg yolk. Whisk until incorporated into the liquid. Pour this mixture in a steady stream into the saucepan with the sugar/milk blend, stirring as you pour. Then place saucepan over medium heat again and let filling cook, stirring constantly until it reaches the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Lastly, pour the filling into a heat proof bowl and cover the surface with wax paper or plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for approx 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the bowl.

You can make the cookies while the filling is setting up in the refrigerator. Start by taking out a mixer, preferably a stand mixer, and a large bowl. Fill the bowl with the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla extract. Cream the ingredients together with the mixer at medium speed, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This process should take 3 minutes. Then add each egg yolk, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Lastly, whisk in the whole egg and set the mixture aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Using a medium size bowl, sift together both types of flour and baking soda. Then fold into butter/sugar batter. Once there are no more streaks of flour in the batter, take out a scoop or a spoon and place rounded tablespoons of dough on the baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Place pan in preheated oven and let bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.  Let cookies cool on pan for about 2 minutes, then transfer to rack to completely cool.

Then take out your filling from the refrigerator when the chilling time is completed. Stir to make sure mixture is spreadable. Using a rounded tablespoon, scoop up some filling and smooth evenly on the flat side of one cookie. Then top with another cookie and press down lightly, making sure that the size pairing is the same. Continue with this process until all cookies are now sandwiched together with the filling.

The final component will be the chocolate topping. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Then add the chocolate, breaking or chopping into chunks. Take out a small saucepan and fill with the cream and heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove and pour the hot cream over the chocolate butter mixture. Let set for 2 minutes then whisk until all the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and stir, creating a smooth, shiny chocolate coating.

At this time, you can dip the sandwich cookie in the chocolate or drizzle it on top. Once all the cookies are coated, place on wax paper lined baking sheets and put in refrigerator for chocolate to set. These can be kept in the refrigerator for storage, but should be served at room temperature.

Tips and Notes:
1. I rarely use salt in recipes, but the original has 1/4 tsp which is added to the cornstarch/milk mixture and the cookies have 1/2 tsp of salt sifted with the flour and baking soda.

2. I used orange zest, but the original recommends lemon zest.

3. Should you want these to be more like whoopie pies, follow the original instructions that include incorporating 1/2 cup and 2 tbs of buttermilk prior to adding the sifted ingredients. This should create a cake-like texture, while making the cookies thinner with the additional liquid.

4. If you like the idea of banana pudding, try using banana custard instead of vanilla.
                                  **LAST YEAR: Sierra Nugget Cookies**

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies


Sometimes when you look into how things started in comparison to where they stand today, it can get a little mind boggling. Some of the most successful people today started out as a failure or they were warned of future failure. I read where one of the best comedians were booed off the stage the first time they did stand up- Eddie Murphy. Also, Clint Eastwood was advised that no one would have the slightest interest in spaghetti westerns. I am not sure how much truth this information has, but it does make you think about the beginning versus the end result.

In regards to this recipe, the reason behind the creation of peanut butter is quite different than we would think. Most people view peanut butter as a good protein for sandwiches to pack for children's lunches to bring to school. However, back in the day it was created, the sole purpose was to provide protein to those people that did not have any teeth.

Since most of us have teeth, that does not mean that we cannot enjoy the great taste of peanut butter. What is even better is having that flavor enveloped in some rich chocolate. This recipe brings the two together, creating a moist fudgey brownie with a rich peanut filling in the center.

So forget about how many teeth you have and forget about your age, this classic combo is something that can be enjoyed by all. This recipe makes 1 to 1 1/2 brownies using a pan with square shapes, but a muffin or cupcake pan with circular shapes can be used.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies
adapted from Pennlive.com and Southern Living

Ingredients/ Peanut butter filling
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs creamy peanut butter
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
3 tbs whipping cream
1 egg

Ingredients/Chocolate Brownies
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup melted butter
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour

Ingredients/Ganache Topping
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Prepare a 12 cavity pan (round or square cavity) by lining with cupcake papers.

The first component to make is the filling. Blend the cream cheese with the peanut butter using a mixer on medium speed. Once completely mixed together, beat in the sugar and whipping cream. Then whisk the egg in a small bowl and pour into the peanut butter mixture. Beat at medium speed until mixture is smooth, the consistency should be like a cake batter. Cover the top and place in freezer to chill for about 30 minutes so it can be scooped like ice cream.

While the peanut butter filling is chilling, start on the brownies. Prepare a double boiler and heat until pot with water comes to a simmer. Maintaining the same heat, place butter and chocolate in top pot to melt. Stir in intervals until all is completely melted together. Remove top pot and stir in sugar. Let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Once cooled, add one egg and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Repeat this process with each egg until all are incorporated into the batter. Stir in the vanilla extract. Using a wooden spoon mix the flour into the batter in 1/4 cup increments.

Using a squirt bottle or spoon, create a 1/4-1/2 inch a layer of chocolate batter in the bottom of each cavity, smoothing until even. Then pull out to chilled peanut butter filling. Add one heaping teaspoon of filling to each batter lined cavity, being sure that the filling is centered and does not touch the sides. Then spoon more chocolate filling into the cavity, until each is 3/4 full.

Place in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until tester indicates brownies are done baking. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Prepare the ganache topping by pouring the chocolate chips into a shallow bowl (like a pasta bowl). Spread the chips out evenly into the bottom of the bowl. Take out a small microwave bowl and fill with whipping cream. Place in microwave and heat for 30-45 seconds, just so cream is simmering.
Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips and let mixture rest without stirring for about 5 minutes and then stir. Stir until all chocolate chips are melted and cream is blended.

Using a spoon or knife smooth some ganache onto the cooled brownies, being careful not to get any chocolate on the paper liners. Before serving, make sure the ganache is set on the brownies.

Tips and Notes:
1. For a better appearance, try greasing the interior of the pans instead of using cupcake papers. Also, cupcake papers, when pulled off the brownies, do stick a bit. If I was to make these again, I would not use the papers.

2. Make sure that the peanut butter filling is thick but not rock hard. If too frozen it will cause brownie to expand and then sink in the middle. There will be some sinking even with the correct temperature, but not enough to be noticeable when coated with ganache.

3. You can use crunchy peanut butter if you want a little crunch added to the texture.

4. The brownies are middle of the road when it comes to texture. They are not extra fudgey nor are they light and cakey.

5. The peanut butter filling came from a Southern Living recipe. The Pennlive site recipe included a different blend for the filling- 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1 tsp vanilla. A double boiler should be used to melt the first two ingredients together and once melted the vanilla is stirred in. The mixture is then cooled and shaped into balls and used to fill the pan cavities in the same manner as instructed above. I declined from this recipe due to one comment stating that the mixture was hard to work with. However, the blend seems to be more of a candy type filling for the brownies, if you are interested in this option.
                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                   **LAST YEAR:Peach Upside Down Rum Cake**


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Choco Berry Ice Cream Pie


The Texas heat has really kicked in due to the arrival of August. Most of us watch the temperature gauge and sit in the air conditioning when time permits, however, there are the few that live for the outdoors when the sun is at the hottest.

The real test for toleration comes either when there is no heat in the winter or no air in the summer. This weekend was the test for me since the air conditioning went out. Luckily, there was another place where I could stay with air conditioning, but it did not have all the amenities of the house.

I still intended to create a delicious dessert, but with the kitchen being 93 degrees, my creativity was a bit limited. It did not take much time for me to decide on making some ice cream. Not just ice cream, but something a little more challenging and unique. So the ice cream idea evolved into and ice cream pie. This recipe has been created by adapting and combining several component recipes together.

This ice cream pie has a tasty combination of strawberries and chocolate. A pie with an oreo cookie crust filled with sweet strawberry ice cream would have been quite satisfying at the end of a meal. As a food blogger, I could not resist on taking this recipe to another level by adding more cookies and chunks of dark chocolate candy loaded with almonds to the ice cream.

So if you are looking for a delicious way to beat the heat, head for the kitchen and pull out the ice cream maker-this recipe is well worth the time and effort. Be sure to review the tips at the end of this recipe that will help you have more success in creating this dessert.


Choco Berry Ice Cream Pie
by Flourtrader

Ingredients/Crust
3 tbs melted butter
18 crushed oreos

Ingredients/Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups half and half
1/3 cup water
1 pint hulled and sliced strawberries
8 oreo cookies, broken into chunks
3/4 cup chopped chocolate almond candy (milk or dark)
1/4 cup chopped chocolate almond candy (for topping)
2 eggs
2 tbs lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon squeezed)
3/4 and 1/3 cup sugar (divided)

The first step is to create the strawberry blend for the ice cream. Fill a bowl with the lemon juice and whisk in 1/3 cup sugar. Add the sliced strawberries and stir, making sure all the slices are coated with the sugar mixture. Cover the bowl and place in refrigerator for about an hour, allowing the strawberries to sweeten in the sugar mixture.

After about 30 minutes, start on the cream mixture. Whisk the eggs together for about 2 minutes in a medium size bowl until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and whisk again. Continue adding the sugar and blending in 1/4 cup increments. As you whisk the mixture, it will thicken and become less grainy.

Using another bowl, mix the water, half & half and heavy cream together. Then pour into the egg mixture and stir until blended. Then take out the strawberry mixture from the refrigerator. Before mixing the strawberries with the cream, you can decide on a few options. For a less chunky and more strawberry flavor you can choose to mash the strawberries in the juices. Another choice is to drain off as much of the liquid from the mixture as desired and leave the slices of strawberries in tact. Bear in mind, however, that the bigger the chunks of strawberries more ice will form with the berries.

Once blended, fill ice cream maker and follow instructions that came with it. As the ice cream is thickening, start on the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, blend the crushed oreos with the butter. Empty mixture into a 9 inch pie pan and press evenly up the interior sides and bottom to form a crust. Place in oven and let bake for about 10 minutes. Then place on rack to completely cool. 

Using a small bowl, mix together the oreo cookie chunks and 3/4 cup of chopped candy. This blend should be mixed into the cream component only when you have completed the instructions given with the ice cream maker. This is when the cream has been converted into a thick ice cream.

Then fill the prepared crust with the ice cream mixture and smooth the top. Freeze for a minimum of  four hours or overnight, depending on how solid you want the filling in the pie. Prior to serving, sprinkle the remaining (1/4 cup) rest of the chopped candy on the surface of the pie.

Tips and Notes:
1. Consider adding about 1 tbs of invert sugar in order to keep the filling from being too icy, recipe can be found here.

2. Feel free to play around with the dairy products by using goat's milk or almond milk in place of the half and half and water. I have yet to do this, so I cannot comment on the results.

3. Also, you might want to change the crust to an almond/graham blend instead of crushed oreos.

4. For the strawberry blend, I crushed the strawberries in the mixture with a large fork. I wanted a more strawberry flavor throughout the ice cream, than strawberries with cream filling.
                                       **LAST YEAR: Breakfast Muffins**

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake


Sometimes it is just the look of desserts that make you think of an expensive, lavish place where reservations are made six months in advance in anticipation of being at the same place as the famous and well to do.

At this place there are no pretzels or gatorade, just a fountain of champagne and the best caviar that money can buy. Also, the desserts are just heavenly concoctions of cream, chocolate and butter. All to be eaten in moderation. Even though there are wonderful entrees, we reserve a good amount space from our daily intake requirements in order to experience the last course-dessert.

So in order to be a part of all the above and have this wonderful cheesecake, follow the recipe below and click your heels together twice and say there is no place like an expensive sioree!

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
adapted from Cakes

1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp gnd nutmeg
2 tbs brown sugar
2 eggs
2-8 oz packages of cream cheese
4 oz chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups cherry pie filling

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, stir together melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, nutmeg and sugar. Butter the interior of a 9 inch springform pan and press the mixture of the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Crust should be lightly browned when done. Remove pan and place over cooling rack.

To create the filling, set up a double boiler and place the chocolate in the top pot. Let the chocolate melt while the water is simmering. Once melted, remove top pot and let cool.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mixture should end up smooth and creamy. Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds. Continue to add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Keep the mixer running and switch to low speed and stream in the chocolate until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Cheesecake is done when surface is no longer shiny and center is no longer jiggly. Remove pan and let cool completely on a rack.Then transfer to refrigerator to cool until set, this should take about 6 hours.

Once the cooling interval is over, start on the topping. Place cream, vanilla and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl and beat until thick and fluffy. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and take off the outer ring of the spring form pan. Using a spatula or knife cover with the cherry pie filling. Then pipe on the whipped cream topping as desired.
                                             **LAST YEAR:Chestnut Cake**

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chocoate Banana Loaf Cake


Today's post is a little about what I call the family of people. We all have our own family, but then there is other people outside of that. These are people that you interact with, either on a regular basis or randomly.

Sometimes I like to think about the random people. These are the people that are not part of your family and have no impact on your income, so there is nothing to gain. How you interact with these people can reveal a lot about yourself. Some people go through life very self centered and not focusing on the things or people around them. Others may use a chance meeting with strangers as a door to let them vent their frustrations.

Chance meetings are actually an opportunity. You get this one little opportunity to help someone, make them smile or make them laugh. If that happens it is a nice feeling. Today, for instance, in the produce section an older lady looked at the jackfruit on display and said, "My word, I have never seen such a thing!" I laughed and told her what it was and what it tasted like. Then she commented on how big each of these fruits were and that she would not be able to eat all of one. I responded by saying that once the big and tall shop closes their employees come in and buy them all. She gave me a funny look at first and then we both started laughing.

So, as you go about your day, take notice of the people around you and have a friendly interaction with them, you will be glad you did.

Now I bring you a recipe that has 2 elements that interact deliciously with one another-bananas and chocolate. This marbled loaf comes together easily and has a moist texture with a tender crumb. In each bite there is a hint of unique flavor that stems from the third element of nutmeg.

Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs rum
1/2 cup and 2 tbs butter
zest from 1/2 lemon
squirt of lemon juice
1 1/2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Prepare a 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 X 2 1/2 inch loaf pan by buttering the interior and dusting with flour. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Set up a double boiler and fill top pot with 2 tbs butter and chocolate. Let the water in the bottom pot come to a simmer. The chocolate and the butter should start to melt. Stir to blend and remove from heat and separate top pot from bottom once all is melted and blended.

Fill a medium sized bowl with the zest and lemon juice. Using a fork, mash the bananas until they have the consistency of applesauce. Then stir in the rum and set aside.

In a second bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set this bowl aside also.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle blade, beat the remaining butter (1/2 cup) at medium speed until light and smooth. This should take about 3 minutes. During this process, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides at intervals.

Continue mixing the butter and add both types of sugars. Follow the 3 minute process outlined in the previous paragraph. Then beat in each egg, one at a time. Add the extract and mix until distributed throughout the batter.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients. Stir in the milk and once blended with the batter, fold in the rest of the dry, sifted ingredients. Pour in the mashed bananas, mixing so there are no dry ingredients on the side of the bowl. The end result will be a lumpy, somewhat curdled-looking batter.

Separate out 1/3 of the batter to another bowl. Add the chocolate to this little bit of batter and mix until completely blended.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out some of the ivory batter and empty into one corner of the pan. Then take a scoop of chocolate and empty into pan, next to the ivory batter. Continue with this process, alternating the batters, so that all has been scooped into the pan.

Place loaf pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean. This should take about 1 hour and 20-30 minutes. However, take a moment after baking for about 30 minutes to check for over-browning of the surface of the cake. If you find that it is getting too toasty, cover lightly with foil.

Once completely baked, remove from oven and place on cooling rack. After about 15 minutes invert pan onto cooling rack to empty out the cake. Then carefully flip the cake so the right side is up and let cool completely onto rack.
                                      **LAST YEAR: Hummingbird Cookies**

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Orange Meltaways


I am sure you have heard of the saying "it's the little things that count." Little things can count as good as well as bad. We all pick up on certain indicators that tell us we do not want to be around someone, be it socially or in a closer relationship. Some of the factors that turn us off may be ridiculous and others may be understandable.

Someone with bad hygiene is understandable. However, I have been in conversations where the factor may be little, but that does not make it less of a turn off. One person told me that he worked with someone that clicked their pen constantly. He said he could not spend any time with her because that habit, as he said, worked on his last nerve. Other things I have been privy to are discussions concerning women with "big hairy man hands" - unfeminine and a definite turn off. One lady told me that she did not like a man calling her a "broad". That term is so old, I told her that he must have had a previous life back in the days of Speakeasy clubs and newsboys!

This leads me to the subject of English high tea. Back in the days when proper etiquette was the basis for judging people, just the manner in which a man held his teacup could easily mark him as an unsuitable partner.

So, if you find yourself at high tea with someone that is unsuitable or has that "little" thing that you cannot tolerate, let's hope that there is something that you can enjoy while suffering through the company at the table. Which brings me to these orange meltaway cookies, which live up to their name in texture as well as taste. They are a perfect choice when served with tea or coffee. This recipe makes 3 dozen, depending on size and thickness. To get the look of the cookies above, you will need a 1/2 diameter star tip, coupler and pastry bag or zip lock freezer bag (quart size).

Orange Meltaways
adapted from the International Cookie Book

Ingredients/Cookies
zest of 1 small lemon
zest of 1 large orange
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
2-4 tsp orange juice
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter plus one tablespoon (softened and cubed)

Ingredients/Glaze
1/2 cup strained apricot preserves
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
3-5 tbs granulated sugar

Start by getting everything organized and prepped. Prepare the zests according to quantity stated for both glaze and cookies, strain the preserves and measure out the juices. Also, cut the butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Set all the small bowls of these ingredients aside. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Also prepare a piping bag or zip lock bag with tip and coupler.

Sift the powdered sugar into a stand mixer bowl. Take out another bowl and sift together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder, set aside.

Add about 5 cubes of the butter to the powdered sugar and beat on low for about 2 minutes. Then increase the speed to medium and add butter cubes in increments (about 3 at a time) while continuing to beat the mixture. Pause this process a few times and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once all the butter has been blended and the batter is smooth, turn off the mixer.

Take out a small bowl and add the egg yolk. Use a fork to break up the yolk, then whisk in both types of zests. Stir in the lemon juice and only 2 tbs of the orange juice.  Pour into the sugar/butter batter and blend together on medium speed.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the dry ingredients. Once blended, let the mixture rest for about 3 minutes. Then test the dough to see if it is the proper consistency to pipe. If it seems too thick, add some of the remaining orange juice to make the dough more pliable.

Fill the prepared pastry bag with some of the dough and pipe onto parchment lined baking sheets in 1 1/2 inch shell shapes and spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. After piping, let the dough rest again on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes.

As the dough is resting, prepare the glaze by whisking together the strained preserves, zest and juice.

Once the resting interval is completed, place both baking sheets in the oven and set the timer for about 6 minutes. Then rotate baking sheets and place them on the opposite oven rack. Let bake again for another 6 minutes and check. Cookies will have a light golden edge when done. Place both baking sheets on cooling racks.

Brush the surface of the cookies with the glaze and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. Place back in oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. During this time the topping will caramelize and the cookies will turn a darker color on the edges. Remove baking sheets from oven and let sit for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

Tips and Notes:
1. I used parchment paper and the recipe states to grease the baking sheets with cooking spray. Parchment paper will have to replaced after every baked batch, but it makes for easy clean up- especially since there is a baked-on caramelized topping.

2. You can form these cookies without the pastry supplies. In place of the piping instruction, roll the dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheets. Use the tines of a fork dipped in water and press down the dough to flatten. Press once placing the fork tines from right to left and dip in water and press a second time from top to bottom. Make sure that the dough is lower in thickness than 1/2 inch and not under 1/4 an inch- it may take more than 2 pressings.

3. Even after the glaze is set, the surface of the cookies will still have a bit of stickiness to them, so do not stack.   
                              **LAST YEAR:Neopolitan Cheesecake**





 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Passion Fruit Tart


The weather can have an effect on baking. I guess that is why some of the best and tastiest recipes are made in the wintertime. The only damage I can think of that the cold will do is maybe cause something to seize up more quickly than needed, such as when you are making fudge or candy. The heat and humidity, however, are more difficult opponents in the kitchen. These evil offspring of nature's seasons, unfortunately, sometimes make their home in Texas.

So when they come to stay in the summer, I have to start crossing things off my baking list. The first thing to eliminate is meringue. Now, this particular tart recipe calls for a topping of meringue, so I opted to do the stabilized whipped cream for the topping. Also, like all recipes you find on the net, this one had suggestions and comments. The one I took note of was that the passion fruit flavor was very subtle, so I increased the amount used in the recipe. Even though the end result was very tangy, the whipped cream topping worked to tone it down. The toasted bits of coconut on top was another suggestion that I implemented, that added some more texture to the dessert.

I used a standard shortcrust pastry recipe to make this 9-9 1/2 inch tart. The filling has to chill for at least 8 hours, so plan on this time if you decide to make this tart. The recipe below only represents the filling and topping with some tweaks. I have included a link back to the original recipe if you are looking for the additional instructions and ingredients for a pastry shell as well as meringue topping.

Passion Fruit Tart
adapted from Epicurious 

Ingredients
1 fully baked 9- 9 1/2 tart shell
1 cup thawed passion fruit puree
1 tbs cornstarch
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter (cubed)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (toasted)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbs whipped cream stabilizer

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer (with the whisk attachment) with the eggs and sugar and whisk until blended. Then sift the cornstarch into the mixture, add salt, and whisk again. Set aside.

Place a saucepan over medium heat and fill with the passion fruit. Remove from heat once it reaches a simmer stage and prior to boiling. Set aside and then go back to the egg mixture and turn the mixer up to medium. As the egg mixture is whisked, pour a slow, small stream of the hot passion fruit into egg batter. Continue whisking and slowly pouring until saucepan is empty.

Then take the bowl out of the mixer stand and pour liquid back into the saucepan. Place over medium heat and let cook, whisking constantly. As it cooks, add a few butter cubes and continue to whisk. Once cubes are melted and blended, repeat the process until all butter cubes are melted and incorporated into the mixture. The batter will need to be cooked and whisked until it reaches the consistency of pudding. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Watch the heat, filling is to come to a boil but is to be removed from heat at that time.

Once the filling is the right consistency, pour into a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl. Push filling through sieve. Once sieve is empty and bowl is full, cover the surface of the filling with waxed paper. Chill the mixture for at least 8 hours. You also can chill it overnight.

After chilling time is up, beat whipped cream until soft peaks form and then add the stabilizer and beat until thick and fluffy.  Remove passion fruit curd from the refrigerator and fill the tart with the curd. Spread out with a spatula until tart shell is evenly filled. Smooth out the top. Then top with the stabilized whipped cream and sprinkle the toasted coconut over the surface.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.
                                     **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Babka** 

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**
                                   

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Key Lime Cupcakes


This weekend was a key lime fest, mainly due to the upcoming expiry date on the bottle of key lime I had purchased. Which brings me to an issue concerning expiry dates.

The way I read expiry dates is based on unopened. If the package has not been opened, it will stay good up until that day. This is directly in conflict with another opinion. The other opinion is that it is good until that day, opened or not. Of course, this thought stems from someone that favors a lot of dairy type of sauces, but ironically, has to have their meat cooked very well done.

In comparison, we both could eat the same thing and I would be the only one getting sick. I have zero tolerance for warm mayonnaise and I will not eat a leftover sandwich from the day prior that has been prepared with mayo and vegetables. 

However, since this recipe was made with a bottle of key lime juice that was just opened-there is no issue with expiry dates. The issue is that I would rather have this than warm potato salad!

The cupcake has a dense but moist texture. The key lime zest and juice is very well balanced in the frosting as well as cake. As you devour one of these wonderful cakes, you will notice that the flavor ingredients provide an occasional pop of tangy lime. This recipe makes about 1 dozen cupcakes.

Key Lime Cupcakes
adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes

Ingredients/Cake
2 egg whites
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs key lime zest
2 tbs of key lime juice
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar

 Ingredients/Frosting
2 sticks or 1 cup of butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbs key lime juice
1 tbs key lime zest
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp of milk (if above mixture is too thick)
Key lime wedges (optional for topping)

Prepare a 12 cavity muffin tin by greasing the top edge and lining with cupcake papers. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter and beat until creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to beat and add 1/2 cup of sugar. Once blended, beat in the additional sugar. Set aside.

Take out a small bowl and whisk together only 1 tbs lime juice, milk, vanilla extract and key lime zest. Using a larger bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set both mixtures aside.

Return back to the butter/sugar mixture and beat in one egg on medium speed. Then add both egg whites and blend into the batter. Continue to beat, but use the low speed. Add 1/2 of the sifted ingredients and let the mixer run until blended into the butter batter. Then add the milk mixture and run the mixer until blended. Remove bowl from mixer stand and fold the remaining dry ingredients into the batter by using a wooden spoon.

Fill the 12 lined muffin cavities evenly with the batter. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes and then rotate pan and bake an additional 12 minutes. Use a tester for doneness, surface of cupcakes will be dry to the touch. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool for 15 minutes and then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Once completely cooled, use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes in the top of the cupcakes. Then brush the surfaces of the cupcakes with the remaining 1 tbs of lime juice. Let the tops dry prior to frosting cupcakes.

 For the frosting, beat the salt into the butter until smooth and creamy. With the mixer set on low speed add 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar and beat until all sugar is blended into the butter. Repeat this process with an additional 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar. Add the key lime juice, zest and vanilla extract. Beat together until evenly distributed into the batter. Then mix in the remaining confectioners' sugar in increments until no dry sugar remains. Should it seem too thick, beat in 1/2 tsp milk. Be careful not to over blend, you do not want a whipped frosting but one that is very thick.

Frost cupcakes as desired and top with key lime wedge. Enjoy!

Tips and Notes:
1. The mixture of milk and lime juice will curdle, but the recipe states the mixture has to set after blended before adding it to the cupcake batter.

2. How much juice you want to brush on top is a matter of personal preference, but be sure to wait until completely dry before icing.

3. The batter, once blended rises quickly-so be prepared to fill the cavities immediately.

4. The cupcakes did not have a tower of icing on them, if you prefer a thicker topping increase the frosting recipe.  

                                       **LAST YEAR: Hawaiian Breakfast Rolls**

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blackberry Ginger Kouign Amann


Easter Sunday is celebrated in many different ways across the world. However, here in the US, it is eggs and more eggs; egg hunts, deviled eggs, bunny eggs and the list goes on. The last Easter egg hunt I remember was very "old school"- it was with real dyed boiled eggs. The memory that is etched in my mind is finding an egg that was covered with ants because it had a broken shell. Needless to say, since then I am not really into egg hunts these days. Even though the tradition has changed to using plastic eggs filled with candy, it has not lured me back into egg hunting.

So, today I present a recipe that is completely void of any egg, the Kouign Amann pastry-otherwise known as Breton cakes. Processing the dough is much like the croissant, a butter sheet is placed on top of the dough and the dough folded on top. Then there are several steps of rolling and folding.

While all these types of cakes are crunchy and buttery on the outside, this particular recipe has a few flavor twists that result in an addictive pairing. On the outside and folded into the dough layers is homemade ginger sugar. Then a blackberry sugar mixture is pursed inside the dough and baked. The end result is a crunchy ginger cake that compliments the blackberry filling in the center. This recipe makes 1 dozen pastries.

Blackberry Ginger Kouign Amann
adapted from Baked From Scratch

Ingredients/Ginger Sugar
2 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 cups granulated sugar

Ingredients/Cake
1 3/4 cup salted butter (softened)
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
2 1/2 tbs yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-105 degrees)

Ingredients/Filling
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups blackberries (cut in half)

The first step is to make the ginger sugar. Fill a food processor bowl with grated ginger and sugar.
Pulse the mixture together until ginger is distributed throughout the sugar. Prepare a pan by lining with parchment and preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Pour the sugar mixture into the pan and spread out evenly. Bake for seven minutes and then stir. Place back in oven and let bake for an additional seven minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled fill a grinder with some of the mixture and grind for about 2 minutes. Continue with this process until all the sugar lumps are ground up. Pour into shallow bowl and set aside.

For the dough, start by whisking together the yeast and the warm water. Then add the salt. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook and add 1/2 cup of flour and beat at low speed until blended. Repeat the process until all the flour has been blended to form a dough. Form the dough into a ball and enclose in plastic wrap. Leave on counter and let sit to rise for about 20 minutes.

While the dough is rising, the butter block can be formed. Place butter between sheets of waxed paper and roll it out to form a 10x8 inch rectangle. Place in fridge for about 5 minutes.

After the dough has risen, prepare a flat surface by dusting with flour. Place dough on prepared area and roll out to form a 16x10 inch rectangle. Take butter block from the fridge and peel off one sheet of wax paper. Place butter square on top and in the center of the dough rectangle. Enclose the butter block by folding the dough over the top and pinching together any exposed edges. Roll the dough again, this time forming a 18x8 inch rectangle. Then fold dough into 3rds (much like a letter), which makes a 8x6 inch rectangle. Repeat the same rolling process again, starting with forming a 16x10 inch rectangle and ending with one 8x6 size. Wrap dough and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes, prepare a 12 cavity muffin pan by liberally greasing with butter, covering the interior and upper edge of the cavities. Then cover a flat work surface with the ginger sugar. When the dough has completed the chilling time, remove from refrigerator and let set uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a sprinkling of ginger sugar and roll out, forming an 8x18 inch rectangle. Fold up the length of the dough into 3rds forming a letter size rectangle. Sprinkle on more sugar and roll out again, this time forming a 17x13 inch rectangle. Cut off about 1/2 inch from all 4 sides, making a straight edge.

Once this is complete, take out a medium size bowl and mix all the filling ingredients together. Then go back to the dough and cut out 12 squares, each 4x4 inches. Place the squares in the prepared muffin cavities and fill with 1 tablespoon of filling. Take each corner of the dough and fold and pinch together in the center. Cover lightly with a cloth and let rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once dough has risen, place muffin pan on baking sheet and put in oven. Let pastries bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on rack. Then transfer to serving platter.

Tips and Notes:
1. The rising time and the temperature of the water are crucial. My pastries were more cake like than flaky due to the variation from these 2 factors.

2. There is a lot of butter and quite a bit drips out, so the baking sheet is necessary to catch those drips.

3. I had a lot of sugar, so after cutting the squares, I placed each dough squared on top of the sugar in the shallow bowl and pressed lightly. I did the same for the other side, prior to placing it in the muffin cavity.

4. If the pastries stick after cooling, place pan in the warm oven a few minutes to melt the sugar edges and try to remove pastry again.

5. Filling is to be used immediately, so it cannot be prepared hours in advance of baking.
                                 **LAST YEAR: Banana French Toast Muffins**