Monday, April 30, 2012

Zero Hour Cake

I recently went through a review of my posts and found that I do not have any many easy to prepare desserts.  With the busy lifestyle that some people have, a lot are looking for something less gourmet and quick.  This particular cake is a breeze to put together and includes ingredients that most people have on hand.

I would say this is a good snack cake to have around for when the kids get home from school as well as an after dinner treat during the week.  The cake is very moist and since it includes cinnamon, it does make you think of a coffee cake.  However, the addition of the chocolate chips brings you back to the idea of a snack cake.  I did not frost it, for I felt the flavor of the cake was rich enough.

The picture above is deceiving, most of the chocolate chips sank to the bottom of the cake. However, I did not have any issues when trying to release the cake from the pan.  Since the chips did sink, I think placing them on top of the batter before baking is much better than mixing in the batter.  These were mini chips and were coated with flour before mixing in, so putting them on top of the batter I see as the only remedy if you use them as an ingredient in this cake.

Zero Hour Cake
by flourtrader

4 eggs
1/3 cup mini choc chips
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
confectioners sugar (for dusting cake)

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 inch square cake pan by buttering all inside surfaces.  Then line the bottom and two sides of inside of the pan (with extra overhang on the sides) by using parchment paper and butter the face up side.  Then dust the all the insides with flour.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder.  Set aside.

Then cream together butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.  Add one egg and beat for 20 seconds.  Continue to add the eggs, one by one, and beat until blended.  Using a spatula, fold in the sifted ingredients into the egg batter until no dry streaks remain.

Place the batter into the pan, smoothing the top so all is even.  Then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the batter (see third paragraph above).  Then place pan in oven and bake for about 23-28 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan.  Once cool, you can either lift out of the pan or leave in the pan for cutting and serving.  Lightly sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
                             **LAST YEAR: Blackout Cookies**

Friday, April 27, 2012

Banana Boston Cream Pie

Firstly, I want to give my Foodbuzz friends a big thank you for voting the Amadeus Cookies into the top 9!  Your kindness, talent and knowledge are what drives me to strive to do better every day.  Not sure where I would be without the Foodbuzz community! 
I have been wanting to make something with bananas recently, but I wanted something different from bread or ice cream.  Then after reviewing several recipes, I decided on this particular one.  It is a version of the Boston Cream Pie, but created with banana cake instead of the standard yellow cake.

Some people do not like banana because they say it has too strong of a flavor.  However, this particular recipe, even though it has 6 mashed bananas, has a light flavor which does well with the chocolate ganache and vanilla pastry.  You can still taste the distinct flavors in the cake which makes it well balanced. I do not want to be eating chocolate and only tasting bananas!

The cake here is a little tall. The recipe calls for 10 inch cake pans and I used 9 inch pans.  Normally I photograph my layered cake slices laying down, but I decided to save some of the ganache and drizzle it over one slice. I had to move this several times during the photo session and I was worried about it toppling over. Luckily it survived the moving around!

There is an upcoming BBQ I have been invited to that I am deliberating on attending.  However, since there is a big difference between the number of people in an army squad and squadron, I will have to clarify that.  This cake certainly will not feed a whole squadron!

Banana Boston Cream Pie
adapted from From Emerils Kitchen Cookbook

4 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tbs vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe (not over ripe) bananas (about 6 bananas)
1 1/4 sticks plus 2 tbs butter (room temp)

Ingredients/Pastry Cream
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs sugar
2 cups plus 2 tbs cream
3 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise with seeds scraped out and all reserved

Ingredients/Chocolate Ganache
1 1/4 lbs or 3 1/4 cups chopped semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream

Due to chilling time, the pastry cream will need to be made first.  Pour 2 cups of the cream into a small saucepan and add 1/2 cup and 1 tbs of the sugar and stir.  Then add all reserved vanilla bean ingredients.   Place saucepan over medium heat and let come to a simmer.  Stir while cooking to make sure all the sugar gets dissolved.  Then remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the rest of the cream ingredients (2 tbs sugar, 2 tbs cream, cornstarch, egg yolks).  Blend all together with a whisk until mixture turns pale yellow.  Take 1/2 cup of the hot cream and whisk into egg mixture until blended.  Then pour back into the saucepan of the remaining cream mixture.  Place pan over medium heat and let cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.  Once the mixture can coat the back of the spoon, it is done cooking.  Remove from heat and pour into heatproof bowl.  Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap.  Then refrigerate for about 4 hours.  I sped up the process and did 2 hours, one in the fridge and one in the freezer.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the 2 tbs of butter and then generously grease the interior of 2 ten inch cake pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment and use the rest of the melted butter to grease the face up sides of the parchment.

Sift the baking powder, baking soda, flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and salt in a medium size bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the 1 1/4 sticks of butter with the remaining 1 cup of sugar.  Then, fill the bowl of a food  processor (fitted with a metal blade) with the mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and sour cream.  Process for about 30 seconds or until all is a thick puree.

Add 1/3 of the sifted ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.  Beat at low speed until all is blended.  Then beat in 1/2 of the banana mixture.  Continue with the adding and beating, ending with the sifted ingredients.

Divide batter equally into the two pans.  Place in oven and bake until done.  The top of the cake will be golden and it will spring back when lightly touched.  Baking time is about 30-40 minutes.

Remove pans and place on rack for 10 minutes.  Then invert cakes onto rack to cool completely and peel off parchment paper.

To make the ganache, put chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Then pour cream into a saucepan and place over medium high heat.  Once cream starts to simmer, pour it over the chocolate.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then whisk cream into chocolate.  Chocolate should be smooth and melted.

To assemble cake, place your rack with the cake over a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Also, if using a cake round, cover it with foil.  The rounded tops of the cake layers should be leveled.  Then place one layer with bottom level side up on the cake board.  Cover the cake's top surface with the chilled pastry cream, smoothing it out leaving 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Place the other layer of cake on top, bottom side up, pressing lightly.  Cover the circumference of the cake with two layers of plastic and press top layer again making sure pastry comes to outer edge of the cake.

Remove plastic and scrape off any excess pastry cream.  Then pour 1 1/2 cups of ganache over the cake.  It will drip down the sides.  Allow to set up for about 5 minutes.  Then pour the remainder of the ganache on top, making sure top and sides are evenly covered.  Chill for 30 minutes before serving and then cut pieces with a serrated edge knife.
                                 **LAST YEAR: Chinese Almond Cookies**

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Amadeus Cookies

Well we all have the traditional recipes in our family that are handed down from generation to generation.  However, how often is it that you come across a recipe that is so good that it makes you want to start your own tradition?  For me it is not that often.  However, after baking and tasting these particular cookies, I am convinced to make them every year at Christmas. So those classic cookies will need to give way so these gems can appear on the holiday cookie tray.

I know you are wondering what makes these so great.  It is hard to pinpoint one singular thing about them so I will cover all of the elements. The outer part is a shortbread type of cookie, which can stand alone in taste.  The filling is a unique blend of pistachios, almond paste and cherry brandy.  This amazing filling is what really makes these cookies extra special.  In fact, I found myself doing probably too much taste testing of that element!

Also, if that is not enough there is a suggestion to dip these halfway into a chocolate glaze.  Due to the Texas weather and that these cookies will be going to Ft Hood, I declined on dipping these in chocolate.

So if you are looking for some special and unique cookies, I hope you will try these. This recipe makes about 2 dozen.

Now before we get to the recipe, I wanted to give a special thanks to a few bloggers that passed the Versatile blogger award to me:

Jodie at Binomial Baker  -  This blogger just states that she is a college student cooking her way through life.  However, you will not find the typical college fare at her blog.  I wished when I was in college I had a friend preparing food like she does. From Lemon gnocchi to Chai Tea Muffins her recipes are sure to please.  

Bloggy Writer at Food Lovers Club -this blogger is fairly new to the scene, but she is off to a great start.  I already have bookmarked her Apple and Walnut Ice Cream as well as the Pan Smoked Chicken Breasts.

Take a moment and check out their sites if you haven't already!

Now for the recipe.

Amadeus Cookies
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Feb 2009

3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

3.5 oz of almond paste, chopped (I used half of 7 oz box)
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs cherry liqueur or cherry brandy
1 tbs sugar

To make the cookie dough, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Then add the 1/2 cup of flour and salt, then mix until no dry streaks remain.  Beat in egg yolks, one at a time for 30 seconds.  Then, using a wooden spoon fold in the remaining flour, forming a dough.

Once all the flour is incorporated, take out 4 sheets of wax paper.  Each should be about 12 inches long.  Separate the dough into 2 sections.  Place one piece on a sheet of wax paper and shape into a flat disk.  Then cover with another sheet of wax paper.  Repeat the process with the other piece of the dough.  Then stack the two disks on top of each other and place stack on baking sheet and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

During this time you can make the filling.  Fill a large bowl of a food processor with the sugar and the pistachios.  Cover and process for about 45 seconds or until the nuts are ground into small pieces.  Add the almond paste and process again for 45 seconds.  Pour in the cherry liqueur and the vanilla extract and pulse until all liquids are equally distributed into filling.  Set mixture aside.

After 45 minutes have passed of chilling time for the dough, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Dust a flat surface lightly with flour.  Take out one of the disks of dough and roll into a 1/8 inch thickness using a rolling pin.  Cut out circles with a round cutter, about 1 3/4 in diameter. Place cut outs 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.  Bake in oven until edges turn golden, which is about 20 minutes.  Pans will need to be rotated at the halfway point.  Remove pan and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.  Continue with this process until all dough has been formed and baked into cookies.

Once cookies have cooled, pair them up so they sandwich well together.  Place one cookie in each pair with the underside facing up.  On each underside, place 1 tsp full of filling and flatten it slightly.  Then press the other matching cookie on top.  After this, you can dip the cookies in melted chocolate if you prefer.  Then place back on rack to let the glaze solidify.
                    **LAST YEAR: Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins**                 



Monday, April 23, 2012

Zucchini Slices with Chocolate Glaze

I have seen a lot of carrot cake recently and it did get me to thinking that it had been some time since I posted a cake made with a vegetable. While I was reviewing recipes, I was thinking how most of the time, cakes like this really have a great topping that compliments the flavor of the cake.  However, there are a lot of creations that have a bunch of add ins with the vegetables.  I have seen pineapple, coconut as well as white chocolate chips in carrot cakes.  Nothing wrong with that, but the more add ins, the lesser it becomes an actual carrot cake.

This particular cake is one layer, so in regards to the density, it lands in between a fluffy 2 layer birthday cake and a pound cake. The ground walnuts and grated zucchini in the batter bake up with a surprisingly smoother texture than you would think.  Besides the smooth texture, your taste buds will  experience a pop of cinnamon. Then the final flavor phase is the topping, which is the Viennese trademark, a silky coat of apricot glaze doused with bittersweet chocolate glaze.

The topping is a must. The apricot glaze has just the right amount of acidity to tone down the sweetness of this dessert.  In addition, the undercoat helps add that extra sheen to the ganache glaze on top.

Even though this is a zucchini cake, the topping puts it into a more upscale category than the standard.  I like that it can be made in a 9X9 pan, so it is a good one for small gatherings. Also, since the zucchini is not prominent in the taste, the unsuspecting veggie hater will also enjoy this dessert.  As a blogger, I rarely make anything twice.  However, after tasting this I have decided that it is worthy of a repeat-maybe sooner rather than later!

Zucchini Slices with Chocolate Glaze
adapted from Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers

1 tbs honey
1 tbs golden rum
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs melted butter
bread crumbs (for dusting pan)
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups finely shredded zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)

1/2 cup and 2 tbs apricot preserves
1 tbs rum or water
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs heavy cream
3 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Brush the interior of an 8X11 or 9x9 inch cake pan with the melted butter.  Then dust with the bread crumbs.  Set aside.

Take a food processor bowl and attach a standard metal blade.  Then fill with walnuts, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Turn processor on and run for about 30 seconds or until the nuts are processed to a fine texture with the flour mixture.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar.  Then mix in the rum, honey and vanilla extract until blended.  Then stir in the vegetable oil.  Fold the walnut/flour mixture into the batter until no dry streaks remain.  Lastly, mix in the shredded zucchini.

Pour ingredients into prepared pan and smooth the top so it is even.  Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean.  This should take about 25-30 minutes.  Remove pan and place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes invert cake onto rack. Place rack over baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Let cake cool completely before topping.

To make the apricot glaze, place preserves and rum or water in a saucepan.  Put over medium heat and stir continuously.  Let come to a boil and cook for about 2-3 minutes.  The end result is a smooth glaze and there should be drops that cling to the spoon  Remove pan from heat.

Pour mixture into a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl.  Let drain and then push the remainder through the sieve with a spoon.  Then using a pastry brush, brush glaze all over the top and sides of the cake, making sure that edges are covered.  Then let cake sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for glaze to set up.

For the ganache, place heavy cream in a saucepan and let come to a boil and remove.  Put all chocolate into saucepan with cream and do not stir for 1 minute.  Then whisk the chocolate into the cream until well blended.  Then pour over cake and smooth chocolate over top and sides with an offset spatula, letting excess drip off.  Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow glaze to set.  Once set, you are ready to slice and serve!

Do not use jam or jelly for apricot glaze, the sugar ratio is different so preserves are a must.
You can substitute with different preserves, depending on your preference.
For a non alcoholic version for the cake use 1/2 tsp rum extract or water in place of the rum.
Should you want to put any decoration or nuts on top, do that prior to chilling the cake.
You can prepare the cake one day in advance.
Cake should be served chilled.
It is easier to chop the chocolate right before pouring into cream.
I peeled the zucchini before shredding to insure there was no green coming through in the batter.
                      **LAST YEAR:Orange Chicken**

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crunchy Rooftop Cupcakes

This particular recipe is a creation of a craving I had for a certain combo of flavors.  I wanted something that had the rich taste of graham and cinnamon with a pop of tart lemon.

The graham/cinnamon combo was easily found in the biscoff spread and the cookies.  To add the lemon, I poked holes in the cakes and soaked them with a lemon syrup.  Then the topping is made even better when it is dipped in the sugary cinnamon.  Lastly a touch of whipped cream holds half of a Biscoff cookie on top

As you bite into one of these, you will have the crunch of the cinnamon topping, the tartness of the lemon and then the deep graham flavor of the cake. The syrup is an exact mimic of the flavor your get in a lemon drop. Needless to say, this recipe hit the mark in what I wanted in flavor as well as texture.

Also, I had to quickly pack them away so I would have enough for the pot luck.  It seems that I am building a reputation at the monthly event , for upon arrival it is "what did you bring this time?".  There is a lot of curiosity around the creations I bring, mainly due to the fact the attendees are people that stick with making the tried and true classic recipes.  A small country town does not have that much exposure to the big variety that exists beyond the classics.

Crunchy Rooftop Cupcakes (makes 16-18 standard cupcakes)
by flourtrader

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Biscoff spread
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup ground Biscoff cookies (do not pack)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Ingredients/Topping & Syrup
juice from 2 lemons
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar (for syrup)
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
whipped cream
8-9 cookies broken in half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the top edge of muffin cavities and line with cupcake papers

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Then stir in the ground Biscoff cookies. Set aside.

 In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, butter and Biscoff spread. Then beat in one egg and vanilla extract for 30 seconds.  Add the additional egg and beat for another 30 seconds.  Take a wooden spoon and fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.  Take 1/3 cup of the sour cream and fold into batter.  Continue with the process of adding and mixing, ending with the last 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.  Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until tester indicates cupcakes are done.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the simple syrup.  Place the lemon, lemon zest and 1/2 of sugar in a sauce pan and place over medium high heat.  Let the mixture come to a boil.  Turn down heat and stir until mixture turns to a syrup type consistency.  Remove from heat.

Remove cupcakes from the oven and let rest for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.  Using a wooden skewer, poke holes in the top of the cupcake about 1 1/2 inches in depth.  Then take a pastry brush and brush syrup on cupcakes.  Brush twice and then let set for another 5 minutes.  During this time the syrup will get thicker.  Then brush the tops again. All cupcake tops should be coated.

In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Take each cupcake and dip the top in the mixture, making sure it is well coated.  Place cupcake back on cooling rack.  Continue until all cupcakes are topped with cinnamon.

Then take 1/2 cup of whipped cream and pipe or drop a dollop on the center of each cupcake.  Stick 1/2 a cookie upright into the whipped cream.

Cupcakes do need a day for flavors to meld, so do the whipped cream and cookie the following day prior to serving.
Keep a careful eye on the syrup while cooking as well as cooling, the consistency can become too thick very quickly.
The baking powder and baking soda do react quickly, so it is wise to only prepare what you can bake at one time.
I was not pleased at the taste of these warm from the oven, so reserve your taste testing for the next day when all the flavors have melded.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thunderstorm Bundt Cake

Firstly let me say that this is not just a vanilla chocolate marble cake as you would think by the picture.  Do not let it fool you, it is actually a strawberry chocolate marble cake.  No pink, because I chose no artificial color.

For some time I have been struggling with achieving a natural fruit flavored cake batter.  Yes, you can use citrus all day long, but outside of that it is difficult.  I have tried concentrated juices, boiling down juice and using extracts but I still continued to look.  I got a little closer by finding a natural fruit extract but was not completely there yet.  Now I am happy that I have found the answer in a combination of two things: natural fruit extract as well as freeze dried fruit powder.  This really does open the door to creating some more exotic cakes.  I even saw freeze dried gooseberry powder!

I think that the swirling of this cake is about like a swirl of dark clouds of an impending thunderstorm.  I was tempted to say "Perfect Storm" because I was so delighted at the flavor of this cake, but I chose something that was a little bit more humble.

I could have colored the strawberry batter for appearance purposes, but decided to decline.  It may not look so striking but I am happy that the natural flavors are there and that is enough for me! The texture is very moist and the strawberry chocolate combo not only tastes good but I can actually smell the strawberries as well as the chocolate in this cake.  I am hooked.

Now before we get to the recipe, I do have some shout outs as follows:

Balvinder or Neetu at  Gluten Free Food-thanks for passing along the ABC award to me.  Neetu is one of the bloggers I met early on and she really has shown me that gluten free does not mean that you are deprived of great taste.  I really liked her post on Mexican Brownies as well as Meatball pizzas.

Carmen of Carmen's Kitchen-thanks for passing along the Happy Blogger Award.  Carmen started her blog in 2011 very nervous about being the head cook and a newlywed.  However, I have come to realize she had nothing to be worried about.  Her blog really showcases how versatile she is in the kitchen.  I loved her post on Hello Kitty Cake pops as well as the Miso Katsu Burger.  Also, she has some sweet support from the hubby, who always puts in a word or two after eating.

Kim at A Little Lunch -thanks for the sweet rich chocolate clusters!  I had the luck to win her giveaway and her springtime looking package arrived quickly.  The quality of the clusters she sent is just amazing and a little goes a long way.  I already rolled out an introduction recently, but I just have to say that this candy is reflective of just what a sweet blogger she is!

Take some time and pop in to meet these bloggers if you haven't already!

Thunderstorm Bundt Cake
by Flourtrader 

3 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs plus 1 tsp freeze dried strawberry powder
1/8 tsp natural strawberry flavor
1 1/2 tsp dutch cocoa powder (more for dusting pan)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or 8 oz chopped chocolate
1 cup or 2 sticks butter, room temp (more for greasing pan)
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups cream fraiche
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 12 cup bundt pan by greasing all the interior with melted butter.  Then sift some dutch cocoa in the pan and roll the pan making sure that all the interior is dusted with cocoa.  Set aside.

Set up a double boiler and fill the top pan with the chocolate.  Let the water simmer in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate in the top.  Stir occasionally.  Once all is melted and smooth, add the cocoa and stir until dissolved.  Remove pan from heat.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Set aside.  Then fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter and sugar.  Cream mixture together by beating on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  It should turn light and fluffy.

Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue with the process, adding one egg at at time.  Then beat in the vanilla extract and the vegetable oil.

Using a wooden spoon, fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter until incorporated.  Stir in 1/2 of the cream fraiche.  Mix in the next 1/3 of the sifted ingredients, then the rest of the cream fraiche.  Lastly fold in the remaining sifted ingredients.  Mixture should be a pretty thick batter.

Transfer 1/2 of the batter to another bowl.  Fold in the chocolate mixture in one 1/2 of the batter until smooth.  Then set aside.  For the remaining plain batter, add the freeze dried strawberry powder and the strawberry extract.  Stir until all strawberry ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the batter.

Most bakers have their preference of marbling technique, but here is mine.  Using an ice cream scoop take scoops of the strawberry batter and place them side by side in the bottom of the pan.  Then clean scoop and drop scoops of chocolate batter on top where the sides of the previous scoops meet.  After that, stack alternate layers of flavor scoops on top of each other around the inside of the pan.

Then place pan in oven to bake until tester comes out clean and cake is done.  This should take about 1 hour.  Remove pan and place on rack.  Let cool for 30 minutes before inverting onto cake plate.  Cool completely before slicing and serving.
                      **LAST YEAR:Toasted Coconut Bars**

Monday, April 16, 2012

Barista Brew Pie

There are a lot of mixing of coffee flavors into baked goods, however you rarely come across any desserts that are plain coffee.  I decided that I wanted a pie with the singular taste of coffee.  There is whipped cream on this pie because I prefer cream in my coffee.  However, the people that like their coffee black can leave it plain.

I did some research into cream pies and found out that traditional cream pies use flour and cornstarch to give the filling a thick consistency.  I created two pies, one with gelatin and one with the flour/cornstarch.  The gelatin turned out more like a mousse and had kind of a spongy texture while the other method did give you the silky smooth quality of a pudding pie.

After I did make this, I started thinking of the other variations you could make if you wanted a touch of another flavor.  A chocolate crust would be good or you could melt some flavored chips (chocolate, mint, cinnamon, etc) and pour on the bottom of the cooled pie shell and let set before filling.  Also the option of drizzling on top is another idea.

One think is for sure, this does have the rich taste of coffee, which I what I wanted.  Also, this is perfect for that group of people that enjoy their coffee at various times during the day.

Barista Brew Pie
by flourtrader

1 baked, cooled 9 inch pie shell
1/2 cup bottled coffee frappuccino (I used Starbucks brand)
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups milk
3 tbs butter
1 tbs espresso powder
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients/ Topping (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum)
1 cup heavy, ultra-pasteurized cream
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

To make the filling, pour frappuccino into a saucepan and sprinkle in the espresso powder.  Place saucepan over medium heat and stir until all the espresso is dissolved into the frappuccino.  Remove from heat.

In a medium size bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and salt.  Then stir in sugar.  Pour into espresso mixture and place saucepan over medium heat again.  Add the milk and continue to stir while it comes to a full boil.  Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Then remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together until there is a light foam on top.  Slowly, pouring in a steady stream, whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot espresso mixture.  Once blended, pour it back into the saucepan with the rest of the espresso filling and place the saucepan back over the heat.

Stir constantly and let cook for about 2 minutes.  Mixture should be very thick and have a pudding texture.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter, mixing until all is melted.

Then pour the filling into a sieve held over your cooked pie shell and let all drain through.  You may need to help push some filling through with the spoon.  The sieve insures that there will be no lumps in case there was uneven cooking of the filling.   Cover filling with plastic wrap so skin does not form and place in fridge for pie to cool completely.

After pie is completely chilled, then you can make the topping.

Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until peaks form. You do not want to beat it too much or it will become lumpy.  Once it is beaten to the correct consistency, you can pipe the topping on however you wish.
                                    **LAST YEAR:: Lemon Cream Sandwich Cookies**   

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fried Apple Pies

In the kitchen with pastry again, but this time instead of a big pie, I opted for these hand held fried pies.  I had a request from one of my husbands friends, so I happily obliged.  These are perfect for a lunch box or transporting anywhere.  Had it been a slice of pie, I am sure it would not have stayed together by the time lunch rolled around.

Do not let the picture fool you.  These pies are not runny, the pool on the plate is the caramel sauce that I poured on top of the whipped cream I put in the center of the plate.  I know some of you are wondering about the star shape with 4th of July coming up, but I am sorry to say that Williams Sonoma does not carry this product any more. It is called a pocket pie mold and  the shapes they sell now are a heart, apple and a 3 pack of mini molds.

These pies really did hit the mark in what I wanted.  The filling was not too saucy, more like just a clump of apples with a touch of spices.  That clump was about the closest you can get to eating a bowl of fresh chopped apples.  One bite gives you a cinnamony, flaky crunch of the fried pastry and a pop of real apples inside.  I think the key to having some texture to the filling instead of mush is the choice of apple.  I chose Honey Crisp, but there are a lot of good varieties out there, just make sure that they are very firm and tart. 

I have not included the pastry recipe, for there are a lot varieties already out there along with different personal preferences.  Also, since the recipe is for hand-shaped pies and most people do not have the molds, the recipe below has the hand made method.  It makes 6 hand pies.

I will be away from home today due to appointments in the city, so I will catch up with my blogger friends tomorrow. I wish you all a wonderful weekend. 

Fried Apple Pies
adapted from Bubby's Homemade Pies

pie dough for an 8-10 inch double crust pie
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of cloves
2 tart firm apples, peeled cored and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks (mine for 1/4 inch chunks)
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs unsalted butter
juice from 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
2 tbs whiskey (optional)
cooking oil, for frying

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs cinnamon (more or less, depending on your preference)

Place a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter.  Then add the apple chunks and stir, making sure that all pieces are coated with butter.  There will not be a lot of butter in comparison to the apple chunks, but coat them the best you can.

Turn the heat down to low and add the remaining pie ingredients, except for the pie dough and the cooking oil.  Cover and let cook at a simmer for about 25 minutes.  The recipe states that after this time the mixture will be light a chunky applesauce, but my apples still held their shape.  The cook time will vary, depending on your choice of apples and also your personal preference on what kind of texture you want your filling to have. The longer you cook the more mushy the apples become, so use your own judgement.

Then take a wooden spoon and roughly stir the mixture, breaking up the apples into smaller chunks.  Remove from stove and place filling in a heatproof bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours before using as a pie filling.

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.  Roll one piece into a 6 inch square and place 3 tbs of apple filling in the center of 1/2 of the square.  Fold the other half over the filling and seal with some water.  Then seal the top two edges together the same way and repeat with the bottom two edges of pastry.  Take each sealed edge and fold it inwards, about 1/4-1/2 inch.    Using a fork dipped in water, crimp down the sealed edges, sealing completely and making sure you are not too close to the filling. Place pie on a wax paper lined baking sheet.

Repeat the filling and forming process, until all 6 pies are made and placed on the baking sheet.  Then freeze for 3 hours or more before frying the pies

Fill a 10-12 inch round pan or skillet with oil to reach a depth of 1 1/2 inches.  Place over medium high heat.  Then fill a shallow bowl or plate with the sugar and cinnamon.  Stir to make sure the cinnamon is blended well.  Also, take another baking sheet and line with paper towels.

Once a thermometer registers that your oil is 375 degrees, remove the pies from the freezer.  Place 2 or three pies into the oil and let one side fry to a deep golden brown.  Then turn and let the other side do the same.  With a slotted spoon or slotted spatula, remove one pie and place in the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Toss the sugar over the face up side, turn pie over and do the same on the other.
Place coated pie on paper towel lined baking sheet.  Then remove the other pie from the oil and continue with the frying and coating process for the other frozen pies.

These can be served warm or cold.  Also, you can top them with ice cream or put some whipped cream with caramel syrup on the side.  Enjoy!
                                   LAST YEAR: Cinnamon Walnut Horns


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Watermelon Margarita Cookies

This is probably about the most unusual cookie recipe I have seen.  In addition, the cookies are quite striking, even though they do not have much of a "natural look".  I was thinking that they would come out more pinkish than orange, but I did learn that trying to color a batter that already has a color is futile.Next go around I will not be bothering with the food coloring as suggested in the recipe.  The cookies will be a paler orange color, but never the pinkish red hue of the watermelon.  Probably the other ingredients in the recipe had an impact on the color.

The cookie itself does have all the taste of a margarita.  In one bite you can taste the lime and a subtle flavor of watermelon, then you get the nice rich taste of the dark chocolate.  I never knew how good chocolate can be when paired with the fruity tart flavors of a margarita!  The texture of the cookie is soft and cake-like.

This is definitely one that gets people's curiosity.  After my husband advised his friends at work what I had made, they all wanted some! I am still waiting for feedback on the ones he took today.  I  think these are a great cookie for entertaining as well as enjoying at happy hour-with none other than a margarita.  However, for those of you are seeking something without alcohol, there is instruction below to make a non alcoholic version.

Also, I wanted to thank a few fellow bloggers for awards.

For the Kreative Award:
Becky at Baking and Cooking has been so gracious to pass more than one award to me.  I have already introduced this amazing lady before and I am still enjoying her blog as well as her sweet personality.  I am glad to have Becky as a blogger friend.

For the Versatile Blogger Award
Heidi at Young Grasshopper -do not let the mother and lawyer fool you, this lady wears many hats and is skillful at it.  With tabs like "the bartender in me" and "the chef in me" I am sure anyone can find something to their liking.  I particularly liked her posts of Chicken Meatball Yakitori and the Mochatini.

Pop in and say hi if you are not already familiar with these two! Now on to the cookie recipe:

Watermelon Margarita Cookies
adapted from Sophisticated Cookie (makes about 3 dz cookies)

2 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
2 tbs of grated lime zest
2 tbs of triple sec
1/4 cup of tequila
4 tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
3 cups of fresh, packed, coarsely chopped, seedless watermelon
red food coloring (optional)
3/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Fill a sauce pan with the watermelon, corn syrup, tequila and 2 tbs of lime juice.  Place over medium high heat and cook for about 35 minutes, stirring every now and then.  Then cook for 10 minutes more, stirring constantly.  Mixture should reduce to a very thick sauce, about 1/2 cup.  Remove from heat and let cool.

As this is cooling, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Once the watermelon mixture has cooled, the consistency will need to be evaluated.  If it has cooked down to a sauce, then it is fine.  If not, then puree the mixture in a food processor.  This variance probably is due to how ripe your watermelon is.

Add the watermelon mixture, triple sec, 2 tbs of the lime juice,lime zest and egg to the butter/sugar blend. Beat until all is blended and smooth.  Set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Fold the sifted ingredients into the batter until no more dry streaks remain.  If using food coloring, add it to the batter and blend until desired color is reached. Then fold in the chocolate chips.  

Then lay a piece of plastic wrap horizontally on a flat surface.  Wrap should be about 1 foot in length.  Spoon half of the batter on one end of the plastic wrap.  The dough should be placed as a vertical log leaving a 1- 1/2 inch border of plastic beyond the top and bottom of the log as well as a 2 inch border on one side.  Curl the 2 inch border over the dough and continue to roll, letting the rest of the plastic wrap around the log until there is no more length.  Shape it into an even log and then fold the ends over the dough.  Prepare the second half of the batter in the same manner.
Place both logs on a cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

While the dough is chilling, prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.  In the last 15 minutes of the freezing time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After proper chilling time, remove one of the logs from the freezer and uncover from the plastic wrap.  Slice log vertically into 18 pieces, each should be approximately 1/2 an inch thick.  Then using damp hands, place each piece 2 inches apart on baking sheet (I ended up with 6 cookies to a sheet) and flatten dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Put the other dough slices in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Place pan in oven and bake about 12-15 minutes or until bottom and edges of cookies start to brown.   Mine took about 13 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on pan before removing.

Continue this process with the rest of the dough slices as well as the second frozen log. Note that the second frozen log slices may need to warm up a few minutes before you flatten them or they may crack. Since the dough has remained in the freezer for longer than two hours, it may be too stiff to flatten right away.

Non Alcoholic version: just omit the triple sec and add 1/4 cup of water instead of tequila.  
                    LAST YEAR:Ice Cream-Chocolate or Chocolate Malt?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Berry Meringue Slices

Well I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.  At our place it was great weather and my husband decided to take some time to plant some herbs and vegetables.  We have an issue with a lot of winds here, so I am not sure how his poly house will withstand it-but at least he has given it a go.

This particular dessert is a part of Austrian cuisine.  This is actually one of many desserts that falls under the name of a Schnitten.  It is basically a cake layered with berries and meringue.  There are  a lot of variations and this particular recipe hails from a Cafe in Vienna.

The original recipe is with blueberries but there was a variation with raspberries listed, so I decided to go with the raspberries.

As far as the taste, I really did like the combo.  The cake part is almost like the same cake as a traditional pineapple upside down cake, except it had a subtle lemon flavor.  Then you have the burst of fruit from the fresh whole berries all topped with a fluffy, sweet meringue.  This dessert was a hit and it is definitely worth making more than once.  Below is the recipe with some helpful tips at the end.

Berry Meringue Slices
adapted from Kaffeehaus Cookbook

1 3/4 sticks or 14 tbs of butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of  1/2 lemon
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 pints of fresh blueberries or 4 cups of raspberries or blackberries or currants (I used 3 pints)
confectioners sugar: 3 tbs if using blueberries
                                 1/4 cup if using blackberries or raspberries
                                 1/2 cup if using currants
1 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Prepare a 9X13 cake pan by greasing the interior and lightly dusting with flour.  This dessert will be plated straight from the pieces cut from the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size bowl sift together the baking powder, flour and salt.  Then take a separate bowl and fill with butter and sugar.  Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, which should take about 3 minutes.  Beat in one egg until the batter is smooth, about 30 seconds each.  Continue with the same process until all the eggs are beaten into the batter.  Then add the vanilla extract and beat again until blended.

Beat 1/2 the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Once all is mixed in, beat in the remaining sifted ingredients.  Then stir in the zest and juice, making sure it is distributed through out the batter.

Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Then place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.  Cake will be done when the center is touched and lightly springs back. Remove pan and place on cooling rack.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees for the topping.  Beat the egg whites at high speed until it reaches a soft peak consistency.  Then continue to beat and gradually add the granulated sugar.  Once all the sugar is blended, continue to beat the egg whites until they become very stiff.  You want the meringue to be shiny in appearance as well.

Then toss the fruit with the confectioners sugar. Pour or place the fruit on top of the cake.  Place scoops of meringue over the berries and smooth it evenly to cover all of the cake and berries.

Place cake in oven again and let cook 3-5 minutes.  You want the meringue to have some golden cooked streaks on the top.  Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, cut the cake using a hot water dipped knife and then lift serving out with cake server or spatula. You can prepare this cake a day ahead, refrigerating it.  However, let it come to room temperature before serving.

Helpful hints and tips:

-line the bottom of the pan with parchment, buttering the surface and then dusting with flour, it will make for a cleaner release when plating.
-if using small berries, spoon over top.  For larger, place by hand in rows.
-fold in the flour instead of beating for lighter texture. Beating batter or dough after adding flour can toughen the texture of the cake
- you can use a knife or the back of the spoon to get a textured look on the top of the meringue.  When cooking, the uppermost portions will brown first, leaving the ones below white.
-Due to the varying size of blackberries and raspberries, place the smaller berries to the outside edge and the larger towards the inside  The smaller ones will hold easier than the larger ones..
                                **LAST YEAR: Brioche Bread Loaves***

Friday, April 6, 2012

Midnight Cella Loaf

This particular sweet bread or loaf is named after the confectionery manufacturer that created chocolate covered cherries.  The name of the company is Cella's Confectionery Inc.  The candy manufacturer started out in 1864 and then was eventually sold to the Tootsie Roll company.  I find it strange that I was unable to find a picture of their facility on the internet, located at 327 West Broadway in Manhattan. However I did find some pretty cool vintage pictures of the area.

Their candies are different than most chocolate covered cherries.  They are 100% liquid filled while the other brands have a cherry and some fondant inside.  

The loaf is very rich and moist.  In fact, it has to be chilled before slicing to firm up so it will not be sticky and fall apart in clumps.  Other than a decadent chocolate batter, there are hidden bursts of other flavors as well as variable textures inside. Each piece is studded with chunks of almonds, chocolate chips and dried cherries.  Not just any dried cherries, but ones that have been soaked in creme de noyaux. If you do not have that liqueur, you can always use amaretto instead.

Also, for all those that celebrate, I wish you a wonderful Easter weekend!

Midnight Cella Loaf
by flourtrader

1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed dutch cocoa
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup or one stick of butter
8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries, soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 3/4 cup almond liqueur and then drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9X5X3 inch loaf pan by generously greasing the inside and lining the bottom with parchment.  Then grease the face up side of the parchment.

In a medium size bowl. sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.
Then cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 2 minutes.

Beat the cocoa into the butter batter until completely blended.  Beat in one egg for 30 seconds and then add the second egg, beating again.  Add 1/3 of the sifted ingredients and blend with a wooden spoon.  Pour in 1/2 of the buttermilk and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding and blending the sifted ingredients and buttermilk, ending with the sifted ingredients.

Then fold in the nuts, cherries and chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into loaf pan and smooth the top.
Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean.  Loaf should be done in 55-60 minutes.

Remove and let cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Then invert onto plate and remove parchment paper.  Invert again so loaf is sitting as it did in the pan.   Cover cake with plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.  Then it is ready to slice and serve.  Store loaf covered in fridge.
                          **LAST YEAR:: Banana Foster Cupcakes**

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ivory Castle Cakes

There are so many different kinds of poppy flowering plants out there.  One of them is an ivory color, called Ivory Castle.

This particular cupcake has a vanilla and poppy seed batter and is filled with lemon curd.  On top is a white chocolate ganache with poppy seeds.  The cupcake was an experiment in the use of cornstarch in a baked good.  It does give the cake part a unique texture, however, I found that you need to be exacting in certain areas or you will not attain the proper texture.

The lemon curd filling as well as the icing is what makes these extra special.  The white chocolate and the filling do add some extra notes of flavor as well as sweetness.  The cupcake by itself is not very sweet at all.

I am still working on my white chocolate topping recipe, so I have provided you with another recipe that was not used when I made these. That recipe may not be the same consistency, so your cupcakes may not look like the above when completed. However, it does have the same flavor.  This particular recipe yields about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.

As a side note, I am behind in thanking my blogger friends for bestowing me with some awards.  Based on that, I will make note of two every Wednesday in my blog until I am done.

The Versatile Blogger Award was given to me by:
Mary Kay at Just For Cooking- While some of us are blogging hoping to get discovered, this person came to the blogging world after already having her recipes published. In reviewing her blog, I noticed that she does explore various cuisines, but has the most filed under "comfort food".  After finding such gems as Chicken Paprikash and Cuban style Surf and Turf, I would say dinner at her table would make for a delicious evening.

Missy at Mrs Maki Cooks- this girl is one busy bee.  As a catering director and hosting a food talk radio show, she still manages to find time to share her talent by food blogging.  She started blogging in October of 2011. The blog has recipes that are great go to dishes for the every day cook or baker.  Pumpkin spice cookies and simple healthy fried rice are a few winners I found. Also her writing style does convey her warm friendly personality.

If you have not heard of these two, then it is time to hook up-so pop on over and introduce yourself.  Also, thanks again you two for passing along the awards to me.

Now, on to the recipe.... 

Ivory Castle Cakes
by Flourtrader

1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/2 tsp ground vanilla beans (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tbs baking powder
1 cup cornstarch
2 1/3 cups cake flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 tsp oil
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
11 oz jar of lemon curd (I purchased but you can make your own)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease top edge cavities of muffin tins and line with cupcake papers.

Sift together cornstarch, flour, salt, baking powder and ground vanilla beans (if using).  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, preferably from a stand mixer, add butter,sugar and oil.  Beat for 5 minutes at medium speed.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally during the beating process.

Then add one egg and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue this process until all the eggs are beaten into the batter.  Then, if using, stir in the vanilla extract.

Add 1/3 of the sifted ingredients and fold into the batter.  Pour in 1/4 cup of milk and stir until all is blended.  Then fold in 2 tbs of poppy seeds.  Repeat this whole process of adding and stirring, ending with the last 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill each of the liners 2/3 full with the batter.  Then dampen your fingertips and smooth the top of the batter in each cavity.  Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove pan and let rest for 1 minute, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.  Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Ingredients/White Chocolate Ganache (makes 1 cup)
by Dorie Greenspan
2/3 cup of heavy cream
10 oz premium white chocolate (finely chopped)
1 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, cubed

poppy seeds for sprinkling  on top(optional)

Place the white chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl.  Then take a saucepan and fill it with cream and bring it to a boil.  Remove and pour over the white chocolate.  Let sit for about 30 seconds and then whisk together.  Whisk from the center in small circles, slowing moving your way to the outer edge.  Once all is smooth, add one cube of butter and stir until melted and blended.  Follow that same process with all the cubes.

Then let the ganache sit until it reaches the consistency you want.  You can speed up the process by placing it in the fridge, but check often so it does not get too thick.

To assemble, take a ziplock bag and cut off a small piece of the corner.  Set aside.  Using a paring knife or a cupcake corer, cut  a small circular piece from the center out of each cupcake.  Then you will have a small cone.  Cut off the top slice and reserve it keeping it by the proper cupcake.

Take the ziplock bag and fill with the lemon curd.  Holding bag over the cupcake hole, squeeze until hole is filled.  Then place the reserved cap over the hole.  Continue with this process for each
cupcake until all are filled and capped.

Then frost as desired with white chocolate ganache.  Also, if you prefer you can sprinkle a stripe of poppy seeds down the center.

Helpful tips:
-do not pack the cornstarch when measuring, use a soup spoon to scoop and fill the one cup cavity
-do not over bake, cupcakes should not have brown edges but edges should be the same hue as the rest of the cupcake when done
-Fold dry ingredients into batter lightly.
-do not use white chocolate chips in ganache, the recipe requires good quality bar chocolate to work per Dorie.
                            **LAST YEAR: Blueberry Hand Pies***

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cypress Egg Cookies

I was looking at all the celebrations that people do for Easter Sunday.  The main thing is was the Easter Egg hunt with the kids.  I found that the largest Easter egg hunt was conducted in 2007 at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven FL.  In attendance were nearly 10,000 kids on the hunt for about half a million eggs.  I am thinking of how crazy it would have been, but no doubt both the kids and parents have a wonderful memory of the event!

Now on to these cookies.  The cookies are a blend of ground almonds and almond paste.  The paste gives them a crispy edge but they are chewy inside.  This makes them a great palette for the filling which is a blend of melted Mounds Bars, coconut vodka and chocolate.

The cookies are great on their own, but the rich filling does enhance the overall taste..  They are pretty good size and it only takes one to squelch my craving for the sweet.  This recipe makes 36 sandwiched cookies, but it will vary depending on the size of the cutter and how thick you want the filling to be between the cookies.

Cypress Egg Cookies
by Flourtrader

3 cups flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
8 oz almond paste
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
various colored sugars for sprinkling (optional)

15 mini Mounds candy bars, chopped
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs coconut flavored Vodka (if  not you can use 2 tbs heavy cream)

To make the cookies, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, beat together almond paste and sugar for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Place sugar,eggs and extract in with the mixture and beat for another 2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and ground almonds.  Fold the dry ingredients into the sugar/almond batter until no dry streaks remain.  Separate dough into two rounds.

Roll each piece of dough between 2 pieces of wax paper to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.  Place covered dough on baking sheets and put in freezer to chill for 20 minutes.   During this time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

One the dough has chilled, remove and cut into desired shapes.  My cutter was about 2/12 inches wide by 3 inches in height.  Place the cookies on the parchment lined baking sheets about 1/2 an inch apart. If you opted for the sugar sprinkling, proceed with that process now.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until done.  Edges will be a golden hue.  This should take about 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 1 minute then transfer to rack to finish cooling.  Continue with the process until all the dough has been baked.

Set up the double boiler, filling bottom cavity with water to start on the filling.  Fill the top cavity of the pan with the filling ingredients listed above.  Let the mixture cook down until the chocolate is melted and smooth with thin strands of coconut.  Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.

With a knife, smooth about about 2 tsp of filling on the underside of a cookie leaving a little outer edge border. Then press another cookie over the top (underside goes on top of filling), forming a sandwich. Press down slightly to seal together.   Continue with this process until all cookies are sandwiched together.  Cookies can be served at room temperature or refrigerated.
                            **LAST YEAR: Pretzel Dogs**