Sunday, March 25, 2018

Raspberry Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches

It has been a long time since I have indulged in an ice cream sandwich. When I was a kid, I ate the ones that had the chocolate rectangle cookies with holes in them and vanilla ice cream on the inside. Back then, they were pretty delicious. However, time and blogging has changed my thoughts on those specific sandwiches. Now, they just look bland and very manufactured. They do not get my interest.

I believe that ice cream sandwiches should have lots of flavor and be very appealing to the eye. So in order to mimic that thought, I came up with these raspberry almond sandwich cookies.

When I was thinking about the components, I wanted to make sure that the cookies were chewy. No one likes a sandwich cookie that shatters into pieces when you bite into it, especially if ice cream is in the center. The buttery almond cookies are just the texture I was looking for.

The other component, the raspberry ice cream, has a smooth mouth feel and a touch of tartness. Putting the two elements together, sweet cookies and tart ice cream, created a good balance of flavor. I did not want it to taste too sugary or too tart.

The last touch to these delicious disks are the candy coated almond pieces encircling the outer edges of the ice cream-a major crunch factor with all the colors of Easter. The recipes below make 1 quart of ice cream and about 24-26 cookies. How much ice cream you put into the center of the cookies will determine the number of ice cream sandwiches and if you have any of one component left over.

Since I do not have a big family, I only formed 6 sandwiches. I stored the remaining ice cream and cookies separately.

Raspberry Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches

by Flourtrader

2 cups flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Ingredients/Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

4 pints raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks (room temp)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup crushed candy coated almonds

Since the ice cream requires chilling time, this component is to be made first. Start by placing the raspberries in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Then take the puree and place in a sieve set over a large bowl. Push the puree through the sieve, separating the seeds from the fruit. Discard the seeds. Cover the bowl of puree (approx 1 1/2 cups) and place in refrigerator.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg yolks. Mix until blended together and set aside. Also, place the heavy cream in a large bowl and balance a sieve over the bowl.

Take out a saucepan and fill with half and half and sugar. Whisk together and place saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Using the wire whisk attachment, run the mixer on medium speed, beating the egg yolks. Continue to beat and stream in the sugar/milk mixture. Once blended, pour the liquid back into the saucepan and place over medium heat.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture as it cooks. It will thicken and turn into a custard. Test for proper consistency by checking the back of the spoon. The custard will remain there as a coating and running a finger through it should leave a mark.

Set up an ice bath and prepare your ice cream machine as per the manufacturers' instructions. Pour the custard into the sieve placed over the heavy cream. Once strained, mix the cream and custard together. Then blend in the raspberry puree along with the lemon juice. Set the bowl in the ice bath and let chill until cool in the center. Transfer to ice cream machine and follow churning instructions. Once the mixture has set up, empty ice cream into a medium sized bowl. Cover and place in freezer.

While the ice cream is chilling, proceed with making the cookies. Fill the bowl of the stand mixer with butter and sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes on medium high speed, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This process should result in a fluffy, ivory-colored batter.

Add one egg and mix into batter, beating for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the second egg. Add the vanilla extract and the almond extract, running the mixer on medium high speed for about 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors into the batter. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and set aside.

Take out a medium sized bowl and sift in the regular flour, baking powder. If using salt, sift that into the mix. Then whisk in the almond flour until blended.

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry blend into the wet batter, until no dry streaks remain. Leave the dough in the bowl, but scrape it all together to form a mound. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

After the chilling time is complete, remove the bowl of cookie dough. Separate the dough into 24 to 26 equal pieces.Roll each into a ball (they will be about the size of golf balls) and place on baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten the circles slightly, forming a thick disk.

Place filled cookie sheet in the oven and let bake for 13-16 minutes. The end result will be a flat cookie that is golden on the edges and bottom. Remove and let cool on pan for 1 minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. Prepare another baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

For assembly, remove the ice cream and check the consistency. It should be easy to mold, not runny and not hard. If it is too hard, let it sit for awhile and periodically scrape the ice cream from the edges of the bowl and on the surface to help it reach the correct consistency. Then, pair up the cooled cookies by matching them in size. Also, flip one cookie in each of the pairs with bottom facing up.

Using an ice cream scoop, mound the ice cream on one of the cookies with the bottom facing up. Take the other cookie in the pair and place on top of the ice cream, applying light pressure until ice cream comes to the outer edges of the cookies. Then press the crushed candied almonds into the ice cream, covering the outer edge. Place sandwich cookie on prepared baking sheet and put in freezer. Continue with the process until all the sandwich cookies are formed and in the freezer. Let chill for about an hour before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. For more flavor, you can melt some candy coating or white chocolate in a double boiler and coat the bottom side of each cookie prior to assembly. Be aware that it makes the cookie have a slick coating that may cause some sliding when sandwiching the ice cream.

2. Since it is Easter, there are white chocolate pastel colored candies in the grocers that you might want to use in place of the almonds.

3. The cookies do spread quite a bit, a few of mine had a little bit of the edges sticking together. This was not a major issue, but it is something to consider when placing the dough on the baking sheets.

4. Since my kitchen was warm from baking, I had to act quickly on using the crushed candied almonds. The ice cream started to get runny on the edge.

5. If you plan to store these for a week or more, it is probably best to use some invert sugar in the ice cream to prevent it from forming an icy texture. The directions for this component can be found here                   
                                   **LAST YEAR:Frozen Maraschino Cream** 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Baked Apple Donuts

We all have a weakness or "kryptonite" when it comes to certain foods. That certain food may be a favorite, but we are very well aware that they are not something to be consumed on a regular basis. The item may have too many carbohydrates or too much fat, but we have a difficult time avoiding the indulgence.

So we are always on the lookout for an alternative, something that would give us all the flavor and texture that we love, less those naughty extras. We have to be careful in this endeavor because sometimes the manner in which food is promoted can be tricky. Sometimes one ingredient is eliminated for the sake of being "low fat" only to be replaced by something that creates another issue for flavor. For example, it has no fat, but 3 times the sodium you will need in one day.

Finding the perfect alternative is like losing 5 pounds when you eat cake! Now that would be a wonderful thing. While eating these donuts are not a way to diet, they do make a delicious substitute for the classic fried apple fritter. Since these donuts are baked, they do not contain all the fat and oil that fried donuts have. Instead of all the oil, you get a fluffy donut with a moist texture. Also, you can taste the diced apples that are baked into the dough. The unmistakably delicious apple flavor is prominent in each and every bite. To further enhance the taste, there is a drizzle of maple icing on top.

Even if donuts are not your "kryptonite", the flavor factor alone qualifies this recipe as a keeper. The dough requires five hours of rest time after it is created, so be sure to plan for this extra time. This recipe makes 1 1/2 dozen donuts.

Baked Apple Donuts
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five

3 eggs (lightly beaten/room temp)
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup of flour
2 small peeled/cored/diced apples (I used Granny Smith)

Ingredients/Glaze and Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs heavy cream
2 tbs maple syrup
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. These donuts are to be formed by hand and placed on the sheets, about 6 per sheet.

Whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir. Then let sit until it foams up.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture. Then add the butter and eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon until all is combined. Lastly, fold in the apples, making sure the pieces are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

Form the dough into a ball and leave inside the bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. After this initial rise time, place in refrigerator. The dough must chill a minimum of 3 hours. However, it can be stored for later use, but only up to 5 days.

Take out a small bowl and whisk together the cinnamon and sugar. Also, lightly flour a flat surface. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and separate out 6 pieces of dough, each weighing 3 ounces. Cover and return the rest of the dough to the refrigerator. Using floured hands, place one of the dough pieces onto the floured surface and roll into a log (about 6 inches long) and then create a circle, pinching the ends together. Stretch the circle of dough so it has a 3 inch wide hole. Place the circle of dough into the cinnamon/sugar mixture, flipping to cover each side. Put the donut round on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with this process until all 6 pieces of donuts are formed and evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

As the dough rests, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Also, you can prepare another baking sheet of 6 donuts, repeating the instructions above. Once the rest time is complete, place baking sheet in the oven and bake donuts until airy and golden. This will take about 18 minutes.

Prepare a cooling rack by placing wax or parchment paper underneath. After the donuts have baked, place pan on rack and let cool on pan for about 3 minutes. Then transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze, whisk together vanilla, maple syrup and cream. Then sift in the powdered sugar and mix together. You may need to stir in additional cream for the correct drizzling consistency. Lastly, drizzle the glaze on top of the donuts and let rest until glaze has set.

Tips and Notes:
1. The longer the prepared dough sits in the refrigerator, the more apple juice is released from the fruit. Should you find some pockets of dough to be too wet, use additional flour to absorb the excess when forming the donuts.

2. Another consideration for the apple juice problem is to coat the apples in lemon juice and let set overnight and drain off the excess the next morning.

3. You can coat the apples in cinnamon sugar or add cinnamon sugar to the batter if you want to have a stronger cinnamon flavor. However, be careful of the balance or you will gain cinnamon flavor and lose apple flavor.

4. Feel free to experiment with the non-citrus types of fruit, such as pears or mangoes. The ones with the least amount of juice are the best choice.

5.These donuts are hand formed due to the apple chunks and tacky consistency of the dough. I do not recommend piping out the dough into rounds.

6. Due to the rising in baking, the 3 inch hole in the center is important or the dough with bake up without a hole.
                                   **LAST YEAR:Amaretto Latte Bars*


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saint Patrick's Mocktail Cheesecake

Format conversion...very popular in the realm of food bloggers and the food industry in general. We enjoy creating cupcakes with the flavor of cookies or cakes that taste like (and made with) vanilla ice cream. Also, if you have not tried Southern biscuits and gravy-you can now try the flavor in a potato chip.

Today's recipe is a conversion of a bar drink into a cheesecake. The inspiration comes from a drink called "Rude Boy" and is very appropriate for St Patrick's day. The drink is made up of Irish stout, coconut rum and coffee. For the cheesecake, the bottom starts with a coconut graham crust. The first layer of cheesecake is a combination of chocolate and Irish stout. This layer came out fluffier than most cheesecakes, but the dominating flavor of the combination is a rich chocolate. The top layer is the dense texture you would expect in a cheesecake. It reflects a rum flavor with a subtle undertone of coconut and the usual tang of cream cheese.

To further add to the flavor (as well as the presentation), the top edge is laced with espresso whipped cream and garnished with chocolate shamrocks.

This creation is my first time at melding the flavors and some tweaking is still needed to have more balance of flavor with the two layers. The recipe and instructions tie to the original creation. After making it and doing a taste test, I have put some tips and notes at the end of the instructions that would further enhance the dessert.

The recipe has been adapted from 3 recipes from the following different websites: layer of cheesecake layer of cheesecake and crust whipped cream topping

Saint Patrick's Mocktail Cheesecake

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup coconut flakes
2 oz melted butter

Ingredients/Chocolate Stout Layer
1 egg plus 2 tbs of one beaten egg
1/4 plus 2 tbs of Irish stout beer (I used Guinness)
1 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt
1 1/2 packages or 12 oz cream cheese (softened)

Ingredients/ Coconut Layer
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut rum
2 packages or 16 oz of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp flour

1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbs heavy whipped cream
1 tbs whipped cream stabilizer (optional)
4 oz chopped semisweet chocolate

Start with a 9 1/2 or a 10 inch springform pan. Fill a small bowl with all the crust ingredients and whisk together. Test to see that it clumps easily. If not, add a little bit more melted butter to reach the correct consistency. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides. Set aside.

For the stout layer: fill the bowl of the stand mixer with cream cheese. Using a low speed setting, beat for about 1 minute and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat this process 2 more times. The resulting texture will be smooth and free of lumps. Continue to beat on low speed and slowly pour in the sugar. Once blended, add the egg and 2 tbs of the beaten egg. Run mixer for another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. All the sugar and eggs should be evenly distributed into the batter.

Place the cream and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds and then remove and stir. Repeat this process until all the chocolate has been melted. Turn mixer on medium speed and slowly pour in the melted chocolate. Beat mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl, until chocolate is fully mixed into the cream cheese batter. Then whisk in the remaining ingredients (beer, salt, sour cream and vanilla). Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Place in freezer for 45 minutes and then remove and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Now you can start on the coconut layer.

For the coconut layer: fill the bowl of the stand mixer with cream cheese and follow the stout layer instructions for combining the sugar and cream cheese. Then beat in the flour. Remove bowl from mixer. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, blend one egg into the batter. Then stir in the other egg. Carefully fold in the additional ingredients, one at a time: sour cream, coconut and coconut rum.

Prepare a water bath by covering the bottom of the springform pan with foil. Place it in a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water. The water should come to the halfway point up the side of the pan. Place in oven and bake for one and 1/2 hours, up to 2 hours. The indicators for baking completion is when the cheesecake is golden on top, no longer glossy and it barely jiggles when moved. The frozen layer is what requires the additional bake time. Once completely baked, remove cheesecake and let come to room temperature and then place in refrigerator to set. Let chill for a minimum of 4 hours before adding the decorative topping.

For the topping, the decorative chocolate pieces should be made first. Start by drawing your design ( I did shamrocks) on a piece of paper. Depending on your skills, the design can be as simple or as intricate as you want. One drawing is needed, for you will slide this paper around under a sheet of wax paper after you make each chocolate piece. Place your paper drawing under a sheet of wax paper (leave some of the drawing paper sticking out underneath the wax paper) on a baking sheet. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and remove top pot. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to piping bag or squirt bottle. Pipe your design using the drawing as a guideline. Continue to pipe and move the drawing until you have made the desired number of decorations. Let the decorations sit for about 5 minutes and then go back over them with some additional chocolate, making sure they are thick and sturdy so they will not break when handled. Once completed, place baking sheet in freezer.

For the whipped cream, start with cold equipment (beaters and bowl). Place espresso powder and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in the bowl and let set for 10 minutes and then whisk together. Then add the heavy cream, whipped cream stabilizer (optional) and sift in the powdered sugar. Beat until it reaches piping consistency. Assemble a piping bag with a large decorating tip and fill with the whipped cream. Also, take out the decorative chocolate pieces from the freezer and peel them off of the waxed paper. Pipe the whipped cream along top edge of cheesecake and stand chocolate decorations up in the whipped cream, spacing as desired. Now the cheesecake is ready to serve. Refrigerate when not serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. The coconut layer was more dense than the chocolate stout layer. When making this again, I would try the coconut layer below the chocolate stout layer.

2. Since the stout layer was fluffier, perhaps having the stout set out so it is flat (no carbonation bubbles) may create a more dense cheesecake layer and it may even out the depth of the two layers. The chocolate layer in the above picture is much thicker than the coconut layer.

3. The chocolate in the stout layer is very rich and intense. To bring out more flavor in the coconut layer I would add coconut extract. This would balance the flavors more.

Wishing you a great Saint Patrick's day..Cheers!
                                **LAST YEAR:Palm Harvest Cake**

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sugar cookies aka Biscochitos

Back when I was little, my mom used to bake quite a bit. We always seemed to have lots of cookies on hand. However, it was not just cookies that we enjoyed. My mom made use of every last scrap of pie dough. She would bake it up in long slivers and would always sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar before baking.

These cookies remind me of those cinnamon slivers. These tasty gems are made with lard, which is the key to that flaky, pie crust-type texture. They are perfect with a cup of tea, coffee or milk. If you think that pie crust is the best part of pie, then you have landed on the correct recipe. This makes about three dozen cookies, depending on your preferred thickness.

adapted from All Recipes Website

1 egg
2 tbs Brandy
1 cup lard
1 tsp anise seed
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup of sugar and the anise seed. Set aside. Using another bowl, sift together the baking powder, flour and salt. In the next bowl, whisk together the egg and Brandy.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the lard and sugar/anise mixture. Beat on medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 3 minutes. Be sure to stop at intervals to scrape down sides of bowl. Next, mix in the egg/Brandy blend. Lastly, fold in the sifted ingredients until a dough is formed and no dry streaks remain. If it seems a little dry, try adding a few more drops of Brandy so it will bond together in a dough.

Lightly dust a flat surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out dough to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Take a cookie cutter and cut out dough to desired shapes. Dust the bottom edges of the cutter at intervals to make sure it does not stick. Place cut outs on cookie sheet, spacing evenly. Continue with this process, re-rolling scraps and cutting until baking sheet is full.

Then whisk together the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of the cookies.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden on the edges. As the first pan bakes, cut out more dough, filling the second pan. Once the first sheet of cookies are baked, let rest on pan 2 minutes and then transfer cookies to the cooling rack. Repeat the forming and baking process until all the dough is baked.

                                      **LAST YEAR: Cake of Leaves**