Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cherry Dr Pepper Cupcakes

A co-worker in my office is turning 19, so for her birthday I wanted to do something a little different and something fun.  The idea of baking using carbonated drinks, such as Coke or root beer has been around awhile, but I have not really used soda too much in recipes on my blog.

This particular recipe originally used Coke, but I decided to try it with Dr. Pepper.  Actually, I think it was the little cans I spied in the grocers that had me latch on to this particular soda.  I had mentioned this recipe to a few people and their first thought was that there were too many flavors in this to even taste good.  Kind of takes me back to a review I saw on a recipe once..."every one in the family went to bed with upset stomachs!"  That review just happened to be tied to another cherry chocolate combination.

This recipe actually does have a great balance of flavor which is key when you have a lot of different flavor ingredients coming together.  Having soda, cocoa, cherries and cream in one recipe can have its challenges.  However, there is not one flavor here that is overpowering and each flavor compliments the others.  Also, the separate flavors can be recognized in each bite. This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dz cupcakes.

Cherry Dr Pepper Cupcakes
adapted from Homemade by Holman and discovered on Pass the Sushi 

2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups Dr Pepper ( not diet)
1 can cherry pie filling
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs cocoa
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup or 2 sticks butter, room temp

Ingredients Glaze
3-4 tbs Dr Pepper
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp whipped cream stabilizer (optional)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
maraschino cherries (optional for decoration)

Prepare the muffin tins by greasing the top edge of each cavity and lining with cupcake liners.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start by making the cake batter.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  This will take about 1 minute at medium high speed with the mixer.  Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds, then do the same with the second egg.  Set aside.

In one medium size bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl, pour in the Dr. Pepper. Let it sit so that all the foam is gone.  Then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Again, let it sit for 3 minutes for the carbonation to settle.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in 1/4 of the sifted ingredients to the butter batter until thoroughly combined.  Pour in 1/3 of the Dr Pepper mixture and stir.  Repeat process in the same intervals, ending with the last 1/4 of the sifted ingredients.  Then beat at medium speed until all lumps are gone.

Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full with batter.  Place pan in oven and bake until top springs back when lightly touched or tester comes out clean.  This should take about 18-20 minutes.  Remove muffin tins and let cupcakes rest for 5 minutes in pan.  Then transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling.

While this is cooling, strain the pie filling into a small bowl and reserve the liquid.  Take the cherries and toss into a blender.  Pulse cherries a few times and then stir back into the liquid filling.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone shaped core out of the middle of each cupcake using a paring knife.  Then cut the corner off of a zip lock back and insert a large piping tip or use as is.  Fill with the cherry filling and pipe into the cored out center of the cupcake, smoothing the top.

The next step would be glazing the cupcakes. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl and pour in Dr. Pepper.  Stir mixture and check consistency.  If it is too runny, add more sugar and if too thick add more Dr. Pepper.  Once the desired consistency is achieved, spoon onto cupcakes, leaving a small border on the edge so it will not drip down the sides.

After the glaze is set, chill a bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove and fill with cream and beat on low speed for 1 minute.  Then add the stabilizer and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium high until it holds stiff peaks.  Decoratively pipe the cream on top of each cupcakes and place 1 maraschino cherry on top.

Tips and Notes:
1. For appearance purposes I cut the top off of mini cans of  Dr.  Pepper.  Due to the sharp edge of the can, it is not recommended to serve the cupcake placed inside the can.
2. The pie filling can size is questionable, but I did have a lot left over.  Since the filling is from a can and not prepared, start with 1/2 cup and then make another if you run out. The chopped cherries will add more volume to the original amount of the filling.
3. Do not be concerned if cake crumbs or filling gets swirled into the glaze as you are smoothing it on top of the cupcake.  The whipped cream topping with conceal most of this.
                                         **LAST YEAR: Peach Amaretto Bread Pudding**

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bavarian Key Lime Pie

I can remember the first time in Florida when I tasted a key lime pie.  It was in a restaurant located in Destin.  I had one of those: "probably won't like it but at least should try it attitudes."  Not sure why the thought, since I am a big fan of lemon, especially lemonade.  After one ice cold bite of the tart smooth filling with the slight crunch of the graham crust...well lets just say I had a real attitude adjustment in regards to eating key lime pie.

Since then I have made several key lime pies at home.  The one thing that bothered me was that the pie never seemed to have much depth to it.  The filling never really baked up close to the lip of the pie pan.  In scanning the net, I found a pie shop that had double-decker pies.  That is where I got the idea to make this particular pie.

The top layer is white chocolate Bavarian cream and the other layer, of course, is the tangy key lime filling. Also, it has the traditional graham cracker crust.

This pie is really a great cold dessert to serve up in the heat of the summer.  I had a few visitors here that spent most of the day outside that simply devoured the pie after dinner.

Bavarian Key Lime Pie
crust and key lime filling adapted from Bubbie's Homemade Pies
Bavarian layer adapted from Penzey's spices

1/3 cup or 5 1/3 tbs melted butter
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs
3 tbs sugar
pinch of salt

Ingredients/Key lime layer
1/3 cup key lime juice
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients/White Chocolate Bavarian Cream layer
1 1/2 tsp  unflavored gelatin powder
4 oz chopped white choc bar
2 tbs cold water
1/4 and 2 tbs sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs yolks, room temp

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then mix together butter, sugar, salt and crumbs.  Pour in melted butter and stir until all the crumbs are moistened.  Transfer mixture to an 8-10 inch pie tin and press evenly into pan.  If you have another of the same pie tin or plate, place it on top of the crumb mixture in the other pie pan and lightly press down.  This will help compact the crust.   Remove the top tin and place crusted tin in fridge for 30 minutes.

Once chilling time is complete, place tin in oven and let crust bake for about 8 minutes.  Remove and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Start on the Key lime filling by preheating the oven to 300 degrees.  Whisk the eggs until frothy.  Then beat in the sweetened condensed milk along with the cream of tartar.  Run the mixer on medium high for 1 minute.  Change the speed to low and pour in a steady stream of key lime.  Once all the key lime has been mixed in, increase the speed to medium high and beat for 5 minutes.  Then fill the crust with the mixture.

Place filled pie tin on the middle rack and then put an empty jelly roll pan on the rack underneath.  Let the pie bake for about 15 -20 minutes.  The pie sets up after it is removed from the oven, so coming out of the oven it will still jiggle in the center a little.  Do not let the filling brown on the edges, that means it is overcooked.

Remove pie and let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then transfer to a refrigerator to chill and make note of the time.

For the chocolate layer, start by setting up a double boiler to simmer.  Then break up chocolate and place in top bowl to melt. Keep warm so chocolate stays melted.  Next is the gelatin; fill small bowl with the water and sprinkle gelatin over top.  Then stir, making sure no dry powder remains on top. Set aside so gelatin can dissolve.

In a stand mixer bowl, add egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until frothy.  Set aside.  Place a small saucepan over medium high heat and cook milk until simmering but not boiling. Remove from heat.  Turn on stand mixer to medium low and start mixing the egg yolks/sugar batter again.  As you continue to mix, pour in a steady stream of the hot milk.

Once combined, pour batter back into saucepan and heat over medium low until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.  This should take at least 15 minutes.  Then check the white chocolate, making sure it is still melted. If not, heat up again and then add to batter in saucepan and mix until combined. Lastly, stir in the gelatin/water mixture until all is smooth.  Strain into a bowl and let cool.

After batter has cooled, whip 1 cup of heavy cream to medium peak stage.  Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the batter.  Remove pie from refrigerator and pour the white chocolate batter over the top.  Then pipe the remaining whipped cream around the edge of the pie.

Place the pie back in the refrigerator to chill.  Chilling time should be a total of 4 hours from the first time it was placed in the refrigerator.  After the 4 hours, it is ready to be served.

Tips and tricks:
1. Should you not be patient and find that the white chocolate mixture when cooled is not the right consistency, you can recover by cooking up in the microwave by using the defrost button. Run for about a minute and stir.  Repeat the process until right consistency is achieved.

2.  The Bavarian cream recipe can be doubled, should you want more white chocolate flavor paired with the lime.

3.  Adding key lime zest will give it an extra punch of lime flavor.  However, keep in mind that this addition will eliminate the smooth texture of the pie.

4.  Also for a more decorative touch you can insert slices of lime, curve side up, in the whipped cream.
                                    **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake*

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Virginia Blackberry Roll

I like all kinds of fruits, however, it is the dark fruits I like most.  Maybe it is the dark color, but I feel that those fruits seems to have more flavor.  Also, while farmers are growing bigger and bigger strawberries, strawberries seem to have less and less flavor.  Lets just hope farmers do not opt to make larger and larger blackberries.  I really like them just the way they are, so I can continue to pass on the grapes as a snack and go for the blackberries.

This recipe is basically a blackberry cobbler, but formed in a different way.  The blackberries are encased in a buttermilk biscuit dough and then sliced to serve.  I think that the way this is formed allows for more of the juices to penetrate the biscuit.  Biting into that bottom purple piece of biscuit is my favorite part.  However, I am not sure how definite that answer is when a scoop of vanilla ice cream is added!

I hope everyone is enjoying time with family and friends to celebrate Father's Day today!

Virginia Blackberry Roll
adapted from Classic Home Desserts

Ingredients/Berry Filling
4 cups rinsed blackberries
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
3 tbs quick cooking tapioca

Ingredients/ Biscuit Dough
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter (cubed and cold)
1 tbs baking powder
3 cups flour
3 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 egg
2 tsp milk

For the berry filling, add all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix until berries have an even coating and set aside.

Start making the dough by sifting together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix in the sugar and pour into a food processor.  Drop in cubes of butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Then turn the machine on and pour a steady stream of buttermilk into the dough.  Let run until the dough comes together.  If it still appears to be a little dry, mix in an additional tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

Roll out some wax paper on a flat surface and lightly dust with flour.  Also, butter the interior of a 9 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom and long sides (leaving some extra overhang) of the pan with parchment paper and butter the surface.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take dough out and roll out to a rectangle about 11x14 inches.  Trim sides to make straight and reserve trimmings.  Using the wax paper, flip the dough into the loaf pan, lightly pressing the sides to adhere to the interior of the pan.  Your dough should overhang the long sides and just come up to the top of the pan on the short sides.  Trim the dough where needed on the short sides and cut about an inch off each long side overlap of dough.  Set dough trimmings with the others.

In a small bowl, crack the egg and add the milk.  Blend with a wire whisk until a little frothy.  This is the egg wash for the dough. 

Fill the dough lined loaf pan with the blackberry filling, making sure it is all even.  Then fold over one long side of dough over berry mixture.  Brush with egg wash and then fold the other long side of the dough over and press to seal edge.  Make any folds as needed to seal the short ends as well.

Form the reserved dough trimmings into a ball and roll out. Using a cookie cutter, cut out desired shapes.  Place decoratively on top of roll and brush with egg wash.

Place a cookie sheet lined with foil on the bottom rack of the oven.  Then place the loaf pan above, in the next rack up.  Let bake for 30-50 minutes.  Once golden, sprinkle the top with sugar and let bake and additional 10 minutes.  Mine took a total of 40 minutes because I baked in a dark pan.  For a glass pan, it recommends 50-60 minutes.

Remove and let cool in pan for 30 minutes then transfer to pan with a lip to catch juices as you slice.  Serve slightly warm by itself or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips and Notes:
1. Recipe stated to serve in pan that you baked it in.  I did the parchment lining and transferred it for a nicer presentation.
2.  My crust browned pretty quickly, so occasionally peek in on it and if it gets too brown, cover lightly with foil.
3.  For more thickness on top and less decoration, trim off less dough.
                                          **LAST YEAR: Raspberry Lemon Muffins**

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Double Chocolate Angel Food Cake

We all have had the basic Angel Food Cake.  An airy, vanilla slice does seem to call out for a little more flavor.  It is usually paired up with fruits during the summer, but you rarely see it served alone.

However, most people seemed to have overlooked the fact that the cake does not have to be restricted to vanilla.  I have found recipes for angel food cakes that range from citrus, lavender rose, mocha and, of course this one, double chocolate.

When I made this, the picture I had in mind of the interior was spot on.  The light milk chocolate color with patches of dark chocolate.  With the extra chocolate flavor, a slice is enjoyable all by itself.  However, no harm done if you want to dress it up by serving with chocolate syrup, whipped cream or fruit!

This cake would be a great item to present at your next cookout or picnic.

Double Chocolate Angel Food Cake
adapted from Cakes 1000 Classic Recipes from Around the World

1/4 cup chocolate syrup ( in squeeze bottle)
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 egg whites
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cake flour

Pull out a 10 inch tube cake pan.  The cake pan is to be used as is, no greasing or flouring the interior.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Bring the egg whites to room temperature in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sift the cream of tartar and salt into the egg whites.  Beat until frothy on medium speed.  Move the speed up to high, and add 1/2 cup of sugar in a steady stream while the mixer is running.  Then pour in the vanilla extract.  Beat at high until stiff peak stage.  Set aside.

Sift together cocoa powder with the cake flour into a small bowl.  Then stir in the sugar.  Using a spatula, fold the sifted ingredients into the egg white batter in 1/3 increments.

Once dry ingredients are folded in, spread 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of cake pan.  Drizzle 2 tbs of chocolate syrup on top and use a knife to swirl into the batter.  Repeat process again.  Spoon out last layer of batter on top and smooth surface.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  My cake took about 45 minutes.  Remove cake from oven and invert, balancing the center core of the pan over a small bowl or mold.  It should be high enough so air can get to the inside of the pan.  After cooling for 1 1/2 hours, take a knife and run between pan and cake on all areas; ie sides, bottom and center.  Invert onto cake plate and invert again.  Slice and serve.

Tips and Notes:

1. Be careful swirling on your first layer, so that the chocolate syrup does not get to the bottom of the pan.   Also, avoid edges of pan when swirling and drizzling.
                                **Last Year:Graham Cracker Madelines**


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chocolate Almond Marsala Cookies

These little Italian cookies are quite unique.  Just by appearance, the first thought is- did you want a little cookie batter with your add ins?  That batter does not just hold everything together, it actually provides the spice to these cookies.  The cinnamon spice is a good flavor base to enhance all those add ins.  The batter is studded with almonds, dried fruit and mini chocolate chips.  Also, since the recipe includes 1/3 cup of Marsala wine, these cookies can be classified as Italian. Especially since this recipe makes only 2 dz cookies.

Concerning the "high gloss" look that the cookies have, it can be attributed to the use of an egg wash prior to baking.  

The original recipe is stated below.   My tweaks on the original are: that I used dried apples instead of candied orange peel and mini choc chips instead of the standard. Candied orange peel, if you are not already aware, is a specialty ingredient that cannot be found at a regular grocery store.  The recipe  cautions not to buy candied fruit as a substitute, but to use the real candied orange peel.  As far as my twist, the dried apple was already in the pantry and it did not hurt that I love the flavors of apple, cinnamon and chocolate melded together.  The mini chocolate chips were chosen based on the fact that these are a slice cookie.

Chocolate Almond Marsala Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewarts Cookies

1/2 cup or 4 oz chopped chocolate
1/2 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/3 cup Marsala wine
2 large eggs
3 tbs honey
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp gnd cinnamon

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and dust a flat surface lightly with flour.  In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg and wine together until frothy.  Set aside.  Pull out a larger bowl and sift together cinnamon, baking powder, salt and flour.  Pour wine mixture into sifted ingredients and fold together until a dough is formed.  Mix in honey. Then knead in all the almonds, chocolate chips and orange peel into the dough, using 1/4 cup increments of each of the add ins.

Once all is distributed, knead dough lightly on floured surface until it holds its shape.  Divide dough into 2 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a log, measuring 10 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 1.  Place each log on a wax paper lined plate.Cover and chill in refrigerator for about 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. 

Remove and slice each log crosswise, ending up with 12 slices per log.  Slices should be approx 3/4 of an inch thick.  Flatten bottom half of slices, so the slice actually looks like a 1/2 moon.  Place cookies on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart with the bottom half facing down and the top curved part facing up, so the cookies are actually standing up from the pan.  Each is cookie is kind of like the sun coming over the horizon, with the pan being the horizon. 

Once all the cookies are on the pan, take the remaining egg and whisk in a small bowl.  Then brush on tops and sides of each cookie. Place pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and rotate the baking pan.  Continue to bake cookies for an additional 10 minutes. The should turn a golden color when done.

Cool cookies completely by placing pan over rack. 
                                      **LAST YEAR: Cherry Ripe Cake***