Foodbuzz

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Apple Pie Bars


Things are in a change mode. Sometimes we welcome change, especially if it is our idea. Other times (usually someone else's idea) we find ourselves a bit resistant. All changes have their challenges which take us out of our comfort zone.  In time, however, we do make the adjustment and hopefully realize some of the good aspects about the change. Then there is the further step of it being inducted into our comfort zone.

Since I am not there yet, I decided to make something a little bit comforting. Most of us consider a slice of mother's or grandma's apple pie is something that falls into that category. These bars are easier to make than an apple pie, but you still get all the same flavor of a pie.

Apple Pie Bars
adapted from New York Times

Ingredients/Crust
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, cubed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon

Ingredients/Filling
1 1/2 lbs granny smith apples, peeled cored and sliced into 1/8"
1 1/2 lbs one choice of gala, fuju or pink lady apples prepared same as granny smith
3 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
2/3 cup sugar

For the crust and topping, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Foil line a 9 x13 inch pan and leave an overhang on the longest sides. Butter the interior of the foil covered pan, bottom and sides. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar together. Then drop in butter cubes and process until it resembles a dough. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and place in bowl. Add walnuts, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix together until evenly distributed. Shape into a ball and cover. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Empty the remaining dough into the prepared pan and press evenly, covering bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire rack and turn off oven.

To make the filling, mix the apples with the lemon juice, making sure all slices are coated. Fill a saucepan with butter and place over medium high heat and let butter melt. Then sprinkle in the cardamon, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir until blended with the butter and let sit for 15 seconds to meld. Add the sliced apples and stir as they soften, cooking for about 5 minutes. Then mix in sugar. Stir at intervals. Mixture will become soupy and then liquids will evaporate. This process should take about 10-20 minutes. The apples should be soft and coated with the mixture but running a spoon along the bottom of the pan should leave an empty space. It is dry but not so dry that the apples are sticking.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. As it cools, preheat the oven to 375. Once the apple slices are cool, empty into prepared pan. Spread evenly covering bottom and corners. Also, press down slightly to make more compact.

Remove walnut mixture from fridge. Using a fork, break the dough into clumps, about pebble-sized or smaller. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the apples. Bake until topping is golden, about 45-50 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang as handles, lift bars out of pan. Cut into squares and serve.
                                **LAST YEAR:Cherry Almond Eclairs**

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies


Whoopie pies originated from the Amish in Pennsylvania. The interesting thing is they were not a singular endeavor in baking. In fact, they were the result of leftover cake batter. They became such a favorite that today we mix up batter for the sole purpose of making these tasty cake-like sandwiches.

The standard is the chocolate, but since they are a spin off from cake, the flavors are endless. The flavor I chose here is carrot cake. These gems are wonderfully spiced and packed with shredded carrots. Along with carrots, there is a tasty complimentary cream cheese filling.

This recipe is from Moon River Bakey, but the website no longer exists. It is a good thing I got this recipe before it went away because it is a keeper in my book.  The recipe makes 12 whoopie pies and uses 2 whoopie pie pans.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
adapted from Moon River Bakery

Ingredients/Cakes
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

Ingredients/Filling
6 oz cream cheese (room temp)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (room temp)

If not using non-stick pans, spray two 12 cavity whoopie pie pans with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the cakes, fill a stand mixer bowl with butter and both types of sugar. Beat on medium high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. This should take about 3 minutes. Using another bowl, sift together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.

Beat one egg into the butter sugar mixture until blended. Repeat with the second egg. Blend in the vanilla extract. Take out a wooden spoon and mix the sifted ingredients into the batter until no dry streaks remain. Lastly, fold in the shredded carrots, distributing evenly throughout the batter.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of batter into the cavities, With dampened fingertips, press down the dough evenly in each cavity, so they are filled to the edges. Bake for about 12 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to rack to finish cooling. Let cool completely prior to making the filling.

For the filling combine the butter and cream cheese together, beating on medium high speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl at intervals. Sift in powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating after each addition. Once incorporated, beat in vanilla extract. Spread filling on bottom side of 12 cookies and then top each with an additional cookie. Refrigerate to store but let come to room temperature for serving.
                                **LAST YEAR: Grand Hotel Pecan Balls**

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Peach Bellini Cake

Today, I want to mention the importance of clearly written instructions in a recipe. The main reason is that writing out things (which may seem the long way) can really make a difference between a successful recipe and a failed one. For instance, you can write "beat in 4 eggs" or you can write "beat 4 eggs till pale in color about 5 minutes". Clearly, the second instruction is the better way to go.

Which brings me to this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly, but the texture of the cake was dry and dense. It was almost like it did not rise at all. My baking powder is in date, I am thinking that beating the eggs longer may have made for a less dense cake. This post is one of those recipes that have no comments and no indication that it has ever been tested. I was disappointed, but as I mentioned before, untested is a bit of a risk. The cake does need some tweaks when it comes to texture. Outside of the texture problem, the cake and the icing does have good flavor.

The cake gets its flavor from peach schnapps and champagne. The frosting is a buttercream with pureed peach.  If those flavors inspire you enough to make the cake and experiment on improving the texture, the recipe is below. The flavor still has my interest, but the due to the texture problem I would not make this recipe as originally stated again.

Peach Bellini Cake

Cake /Ingredients (adapted from Recipe Goldmine)
1/2 cup champagne
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, room temp
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar

Buttercream/Ingredients (adapted from Southern Living Magazine)
32 oz powdered sugar
1 large peach, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Start by beating together the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer (see note above concerning this step). Once blended, mix in the oil, peach schnapps, champagne and almond extract. Set aside.

Using another bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Then fold into the wet mixture until just blended. Transfer to prepared pans, dividing the batter equally between the two pans.  Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and remove parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, start by pureeing the peach in a blender. Set aside. Using a stand mixer cream butter until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Sift in 16 ounces of powdered sugar and beat until blended. Then add the puree, mixing until incorporated. Lastly, sift in the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Place one cake layer on cake plate and frost the top surface. Top with the other cake layer and frost sides and top. Refrigerate to help set the frosting.

                            **LAST YEAR:Cashew Butter Blondies**

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

Dough
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

Topping
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

Ingredients
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**