Monday, August 27, 2012

Banana Whipped Cream Pie

I was looking for a cream pie recipe and this particular one caught my eye.  Mainly it was the assembly of the custard with the layers of banana slices dipped in syrup.  However, the recipe makes for a tall deep dish pie.  Since I did not have a deep dish pie pan and I was not too keen on 6 inches of whipped cream on the pie, I opted to reduce the whipped cream topping to half.  The recipe below reflects 3/4 of the original amount stated for the whipped cream topping.  Also I used 5 bananas instead of the suggested 8.

For anyone that likes bananas, this pie is definitely for you.  The flavors and textures come together in one great piece of pie. With the fluffy whipped cream, syrupy layers of bananas, rich custard and flaky crust you would think this came directly from a bakery.

Banana Whipped Cream Pie
adapted from Juniors Dessert Cookbook

1 fully baked 9 inch pie crust
2 tbs butter
1tbs vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs flour

Ingredients/Banana layer and topping
4 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp  confectioners sugar
3 cups whipping cream
1/2 plus 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
5 bananas

Start with making the banana custard. In a small bowl sift the cornstarch and flour together.  Then whisk in the sugar and the salt.  Set aside.

Place a saucepan over medium high heat and fill with cream and milk.  Heat until simmer, when small bubbles appear on the outer edge of the liquid.  Then remove from heat.

Using a stand mixer, beat egg yolks for 1 minute on high.  Then add the flour mixture and beat for and additional 3 minutes.  Change to low speed and pour in 1 cup of cream milk blend and beat for 30 seconds.  Then empty ingredients into the saucepan that contains the remaining cream/milk mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly until the liquid turns to a thick custard.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and both extracts.

Pour into a heatproof container and place plastic over the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate for about one hour.  Custard should be thick but not set.

In the meatime, the bananas need to be prepared.  Fill a saucepan with the sugar and water.  Then boil the mixture until it transforms into a syrup.  Then remove from heat.  Take 4 bananas and slice them about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a fork, dip each slice into the syrup and set the slice on a paper towel to cool.  Continue until all the rounds have been dipped.  For the  other banana, slice in half horizontally or lengthwise. Place a cooling rack over a piece of waxed paper.  Dip the long slices in the syrup and place on rack to drain.

To make the topping, place the cream in a bowl and whip on high for 2 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix together the cream of tartar and the confectioners sugar.  Then turn on the mixer again to beat the cream and add the tartar/sugar mixture.  Lastly, add the vanilla and continue to beat.  It should fluff up to be smooth and still flow some.  Over beating will cause it to curdle.

Fold 1 cup of the cream into the custard.  Put the filling in the pie shell, smoothing the surface to where it is even. Cover the custard with a layer of whipped cream, about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Then place the small slices of bananas on top in circles from outside in. Chill the pie for about 2 hours to set .

After chilling, pipe the cream with sweeping swirls, going around from the outer edge to the center. When finished swirling, all the bananas should be covered and the whipped cream about 2 inches high.  Cut the long slices of the bananas in half and place them vertically from the top to the crust edge of the pie.  Think of it like a tee-pee.

Refrigerate again for about 2 hours before serving.  The pie is best served the same day but can be leftover for 1 day and served as well. Do not freeze.
                              **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Parthenons**

Monday, August 20, 2012

Delicious Recall #3::Chocolate Italian Wedding Cupcakes

This is another item which has that wonderful trio of flavors that I find hard to resist.  There is one method in this recipe that I will be using more than once.  It is the toasting of the pecans with the coconut.  I always have issues when toasting coconut, having some pieces remain white while others burn.  I am not sure if it is the mixture of the nuts or the measurement that causes the toasting to be more even.

The cupcakes do offer a lot of texture to the bite with having both pecans and coconut in them.  Also, the frosting has an unusual tang to it since it is made with sour cream.  The tang goes well with the dark chocolate..

This particular recipe had some additional suggestions for preparation, so be sure to read the tips at the end. This recipe makes 2 dz cupcakes.

Chocolate Italian Wedding Cakes
adapted from Evil Shenanigans

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter
1.5 oz unsweetened chocolate (melted & cooled)
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs (yolks separated from whites)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

1 2/3 cup flour
3 tbs dutch processed cocoa
2 tbs crushed cocoa nibs
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet choc chips
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups powdered sugar

For the cupcakes, grease the top edge of the cavities of two 1 dozen cupcake pans.  Line with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and both sugars until smooth.  Then add the melted chocolate along with the egg yolks.  Stir until all is smooth. Set aside.

In another bowl, sift together the five dry ingredients listed after the eggs on the ingredient list. Using a wooden spoon, fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Then stir in 1/4 cup of buttermilk.
Repeat that process and add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, stirring until no dry streaks remain.

Add the cocoa nibs, vanilla, coconut and pecans and mix until evenly distributed.

Pour the egg whites into a medium size bowl and beat with mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold in 1/2 of the egg whites to the chocolate batter, mixing so no white streaks show.  Repeat that process.

Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake cavities with the batter.  All 24 should be filled equally.  Also make sure that the batter is even so they will bake even. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans at the halfway mark.  Doneness is indicated by the cupcake springing back when lightly pressed in the center.  Cool cupcakes in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

As the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.  The oven will be left on 350 for the frosting as well.  Mix the coconut and pecans together.  Then spread evenly on a baking sheet.  Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove, stir and place pan back in oven for an additional 5 minutes.  The mixture should be a golden brown when done.  Let coconut mixuture cool to room temperature before using.  Take 1/3 cup of the  mixture and set aside.

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Slice butter into 1/4 inch thickness and place slices on top of the chocolate chips.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.  Then microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring after each internal until it is all melted and blended smoothly.  Let cool for 5 minutes before using. Transfer the mixture to a larger bowl.

Stir in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth.  Then sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into the chocolate frosting and stir.  Repeat with another cup of the powdered sugar.  There is now 1 cup of powdered sugar left, but you will gradually add and mix it into the frosting until you reach the desired consistency.  Keep in mind that the frosting will thicken upon standing, so gauge the amount of powdered sugar according to preference.  Stir in all but the 1/3 reserved mixture of coconut and pecans.

Put the frosting on the cupcakes, either with a knife or piping method.  Then sprinkle with the reserved coconut/pecan mixture. 

Tips and Notes:
1. since the frosting has coconut and nuts in it,  should you chose to pipe it make sure it is a large tip.
2. In addition to the 1/3 reserved coconut/nut mixture for sprinkling on top, I made another half batch because I found that pressing the cupcake upside down into the topping had better adhesion.
3. you can make this into a cake with two 8 inch round pans, just double the frosting amount.
4. For extra flavor, you can soak the cupcakes lightly with white rum.  2 or 3 tbs should be enough.
              **LAST YEAR: Tequila Sunrise Bars**

Monday, August 13, 2012

Strawberry Shortcakes

Well, at long last,  here is the follow up in which the scones I made last week get incorporated into a tasty dessert.

I know that all of you have had strawberry shortcake a time or two, but this particular recipe I found to be a new version of and old classic.  First is a base of a sweet scone with chunks of almonds baked in.  Then you have the chocolate which really makes the dessert extra special.  The uniqueness to the chocolate ganache can be attributed to orange pekoe tea as well as Grand Marnier.  Also, shortcake is not shortcake without fluffy whipped cream.

Put all that together with some sweet strawberries and you have a pretty awesome combination.  A bite with a burst of strawberry juice and the rich, slightly orangey flavored chocolate enveloped in whipped cream was enough to win me over.

The good thing about this dessert is that you really have more than just one plating if you make all the components.  The scones are great on their own.  Should you not want to make the scones, break out two bowls, one with the whipped cream and one with the ganache and start dipping your strawberries! Also, feel free to put your own spin on this, such as passing on the tea and adding Amaretto and chopped almonds to the ganache. This recipe makes 8-10 shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcakes
adapted from Dessert Circus at Home

8-10 Almond Breakfast scones (for recipe click here)
2 tbs of Grand Marnier
1 1/3 cups heavy cream (for ganache)
3 tbs orange pekoe tea
11 oz of bittersweet chocolate (chopped fine)
about 3 cups fresh strawberries
2 cups heavy cream (for whipped cream)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Prepare your scones as directed in the recipe and let cool completely.  Then slice each into 2 layers.  Set aside.

To make the ganache, heat 1 1/3 cups of whipped cream with the tea in a small saucepan.  Stir and let the mixture cook until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium size bowl.   Place a sieve over the bowl and pour in the cream/tea mixture.  Let the ingredients set for about 30 seconds and then stir until smooth and the chocolate is well blended with the cream.  You should have a thick, shiny and smooth ganache.  Add the Grand Marnier and mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for at least 4 hours at room temperature.  Once the mixture has reached the consistency of a thick frosting, is is ready to use.

Then hull and halve the strawberries and place in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the whipped cream,  mix the 2 cups of heavy cream with the powdered sugar.  Then beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until thick and fluffy.  Take a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch star tip at the end and fill it with the whipped cream.

Place the bottom half of each scone on a plate. Spread ganache over the bottom halves, making a 1/4 inch layer. Then cover the ganache with a layer of strawberry halves. Top the halves with the whipped cream and cover with the top half of the scones.  Pipe a swirl of whipped cream on top and  lightly press 2 strawberry halves in the whipped cream.  Now it is ready to serve!

Tips and notes
1. If you are short on time you can cool the ganache by placing it in the fridge, check it periodically for the right consistency.  Mine took about 45 minutes to set up.
2. I put my chocolate bars in a food processor fitted with a grating blade, this aids in getting the chocolate to melt quickly and smoothly.

                        **LAST YEAR: Blue Cheese Crisps

Monday, August 6, 2012

Almond Breakfast Scones

This post is part one of two.  This part is the base for an upcoming dessert I have planned.  However, do not let that make you wait, these scones do make for a great breakfast.

There are many different types of scones but I would say that these fall into a sweet bread category.  They are moist and have a crunch of almonds.  As you can see in the picture, I do like my scones very toasty.  Any type of bread or pastry, I think is much better with a toasty crust.

So, if you are looking for something sweet but are not quite up to the sugar high from a donut, these would surely hit the spot. This recipe makes 30 scones, about 2 1/4 inches.  Or if making the dessert to follow, it makes 8-10 that are 4 inches in diameter.

Almond Breakfast Scones
adapted from Dessert Circus at Home
1 cup blanched chopped almonds
3/4 cup golden raisins (optional I did not include)
3 tbs and 1 tsp baking powder
generous 1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups of heavy cream
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water (for egg wash)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flours, baking powder and salt.  Mix in sugar and pour in heavy cream.  Using a wooden spoon, mix together until a dough is formed.  Add the almonds and the raisins (optional) and stir.  Once everything is evenly distributed through the batter, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead for one minute until the dough is smooth.  Be careful not to overwork the dough, or it will shrink up during baking.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle that is 1/2 an inch thick.    Cut out scones using a 2 1/4 inch cutter for regular scones and a 4 inch cutter for dessert preparation. Continue to cut out the scones, re-rolling and cutting the remaining scraps until all dough is cut out.  Place on baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the scones with the egg wash. Place pans in oven and bake for about 15 minutes for the smaller and 20 minutes for the larger scones , rotating and changing racks halfway in between baking time.  Remove from oven and transfer scones to rack to completely cool.
                       **LAST YEAR: Pink Squirrel Cheesecake**