Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rosemary Almond Meal Biscuits

Another gluten free recipe.  I made these this evening to use for burger buns for tomorrow's dinner.  Again, they have a different texture, but it is expected with a meal.  They have a nice biscuit crust with a moist inner texture.  The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, but I only had dried, so I used 1/2 a tsp of dried instead.  I also used olive oil instead of grape seed oil.

The Verdict:  They are so pretty and they taste great!  They have a nice light rosemary taste and should go great with the burgers.

Rosemary Almond Meal Biscuits
http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/clementine-marmalade-biscuits-a-la-roost/
 
2 1/2 cups almond flour, plus 1/2 cup for dusting the dough
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 eggs
1 tbsp  honey
1/2 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary

Combine almond flour (2 1/2 cups), salt, rosemary and baking soda in a bowl. Mix together the oil, eggs and honey in a separate bowl. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry until a nice dough forms.
Roll your dough between two sheets of parchment paper, sprinkling extra flour to avoid sticking. For larger biscuits roll dough to about 1 inch thick and cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a mason jar. For smaller biscuits roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick.
Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake on 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.

Makes 4 larger or 6 smaller biscuits 

Spiced Banana Almond Flour Pancakes

Matt and I are on a diet that does not include gluten and I am experimenting with some gluten alternatives and gluten free recipes.  I made these this morning for breakfast and they tasted just like banana bread!  The recipes says to drizzle with honey, but it was not necessary, the banana made them sweet enough.  They were a different texture, but not gritty like usual gluten free items, more soft and fluffy. 

The Verdict:  Scrumptious! 

Spiced Banana Almond Flour Pancakes
http://www.roostblog.com/roost/spiced-banana-almond-meal-pancakes.html
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ghee for greasing the pan (or coconut oil or butter)
  • honey and berries for topping
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients (including bananas).Pour wet and dry ingredients into a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. Heat a non-stick griddle pan or skillet and grease with ghee, coconut oil, or butter. Pour batter (if a little thick use a spoon to help flatten out the batter in the pan) into 4-inch rounds. Cook and flip until each side is done.
Remove from pan and spread with ghee, butter or coconut oil. Drizzle with honey. Top with berries and enjoy your Saturday!

Makes about 12 4-inch pancakes

Friday, April 29, 2011

S'more Brownies


 
My mom asked me to make dessert for Easter so I did an online search for "Easter desserts," and found this recipe.  I immediately decided to make these because I love S'mores and had never thought about making S'mores this way.  I used leftover graham cracker goldfish for the crust which was a good way to use them up.  The recipe says to use 4 cups of marshmallows, I just used a regular sized bag.  The idea seems intimidating, but the recipe was very easy and the result was messy but great.

The Verdict:  I loved these.  As I said in the previous paragraph, I really enjoy S'mores and this is just a really great way to enjoy S'mores as a baked good.  The brownie was warm and fudgey right out of the oven and the marshmallow was heavenly.  Matt enjoyed them more after they had cooled.  Whichever you prefer, if you like a good S'more try this recipe :)
 
S'more Brownies

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt

Brownie:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 large cold eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 4 cups large marshmallows

Directions:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 by-8-inch square baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1 inch.

For the crust: Lightly butter the foil with some of the melted butter. Stir the rest of the butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the brownie. Put the butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl. Melt in the microwave on 75 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir, and microwave again until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. Alternatively, put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Stir the light brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt into the melted chocolate. Add the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter. Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and preheat on low. Layer marshmallows across the top and toast under the broiler until golden, (keep an eye on it, it can go quick), about 2 minutes. Cool on a rack, gently removing the brownies from the pan using the aluminum flaps. Carefully separate any marshmallow from the foil and fold away. Cut into 12 (2-inch) squares.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Minty Brownies



This is one of Matt's favorite desserts and what he wanted for his birthday. I usually make them with boxed brownie mix, but this time I took a whack at making the brownies myself using this recipe: http://www.joyofbaking.com/brownies.html. I chose this recipe because it said the result was a nice cross between fudgey and cakey. I am not sure where I found the idea to make these, I am sure it was on the back of the bag or something, but you make brownies and just after they come out of the oven, you put Andes Candies on top to melt and then form a nice solid chocolate mint crust. I usually get a bag of Andes Candies baking chips, but the store was out, so I got a bag of Andes Candies and chunked them up myself. I also usually make this in a 9x13 pan, but the brownie recipe I liked called for an 8x8 pan and Matt is on a diet, so I decided this size would be more appropriate for a birthday treat. I used semisweet chocolate chips for the 5 oz chocolate but did not add the optional chocolate chips.

The Verdict: Matt liked them very much. The brownie recipe was true to it's word, they were a nice combination of fudgey and cakey. They were also very rich and sweet. It is a very simple dessert that always turns out great. 

Brownies
Adapted from:  http://www.joyofbaking.com/brownies.html

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick cooking spray) an 8 inch square pan.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sugar.  Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips (if using).  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled. These freeze very well.

Makes 16 brownies.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

This is one of Matt's favorites.  This recipe uses all whole wheat flour, no white flour, so it is ideal for Matt's diet.  I have been using this recipe for quite a few years now and it turns out really good.  I make two larger pizzas instead of four small ones as the recipe calls for.  One suggestion, if your oven isn't exaclty clean and you don't turn it up to 500 degrees often, beware of burning off some debris.  

The Verdict:  The crust is crisp on the outside, doughy on the inside as it should be.  It also has a nice chewy texture and a great wheat flavor.   

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from:  http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipes/view/47382/whole-wheat-pizza-dough

Ingredients
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c cool water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt
 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie


My sister-in-law loves Peanut Butter Pie, so I went on a quest to find the most appetizing looking PB pie recipe.  I found this one:  http://www.whatwereeating.com/recipes/killer-peanut-butter-mousse-brownie-pie/.  I chose this recipe because the "crust" was made of brownie and chocolate and peanut butter are perfect together. 

This was the first time I made a brownie from scratch.  Why you ask?  Well, brownie mix just always seemed easier and I never had a brownie made from scratch that actually tasted good, they are usually dry.  This brownie is a very nice combination of moist and chewy as a brownie should be.  It is also nice and chocolaty.  The recipe called for 4 oz of dark chocolate.  I just used a Special Dark Hershey bar.  It worked just fine and Matt ate the leftover chocolate ;)

I was a little intimidated by the peanut butter part of the pie because of "rules" you had to follow in order to keep the mousse from deflating.  The recipe calls for very/extremely cold whipping cream, I just used refrigerated whipping cream and it seemed to work great.  I folded it in gently as per the instructions and put it in a quart size Ziploc bag, which was plenty big enough.  When both the brownie and mousse were chilled as per the instructions, I cut the corner of the bag of mousse and piped it on the top of the brownie.  I think you could have just as easily put the mousse in a container and spread it on top of the brownie, but if you are unable to spread icing evenly, this is a good way to keep your mousse spreading consistent.

I took this pie with me to Pittsburgh and was afraid it would not travel well due to it needing to stay chilled, but I put it in a cooler with some ice and it made just fine.  I did omit the ganache because it would have made a mess during travel as the pie did move around in the container.  I also used 6 regular sized peanut butter cups rather than 10 miniatures.  

The Verdict:  This is a very rich and sweet pie, every chocolate peanut butter lovers dream.  The different textures were nice, the creamy mousse, the chewy brownie, and the peanut butter cups.  My sister-in-law was pleased with my choice of recipes for her birthday ;)

Killer Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie
For the Brownies:
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, cut in cubes
1 tbsp instant espresso or coffee (optional)
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 fingered pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, (do NOT use natural or crunchy!)
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
For the Ganache:
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
10 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, roughly chopped

Make the Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a round 9" cake pan with greased parchment paper. Spray the sides of the pan with cooking spray.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the chocolate, butter and instant espresso into a non-reactive heat proof bowl. Place bowl w/ ingredients over the boiling water. Stir constantly until the chocolate and butter have completely melted then remove bowl from heat. Cool slightly.
Add the eggs to a mixing bowl. Whisk. Next add the vanilla, salt, sugar and brown sugar to the bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Add the chocolate butter mixture then whisk again. Gently fold in the flour to the brownie batter until just combined. Over mixing will result in tough brownies!
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 3" from the edge of pan comes out with only a few crumbs. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack, at least 1 hour.
To remove from pan, carefully slide a knife around the edges to loosen. Place a a plate over the brownies then invert the pan. Brownies should easily flip out. Peel off parchement paper.
Make the Mousse:
While the brownies are baking/cooling prepare the mousse.
Place the peanut butter, cream cheese, vanilla and milk into a large mixing bowl. Beat by hand or w/ an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Set aside.
Place whipping cream into a separate mixing bowl. Beat until whipped cream holds stiff peaks. This is most easily done using a stand mixer or electric beater but can be done by hand, just be sure that the cream is extremely cold before whipping.
Working in four batches, gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to form a light, airy mousse. Over working the mousse will cause the whipped cream to deflate so use a light hand! Scrap the mousse into a piping bag w/ a large round tip or into a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag. Place the mousse into the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before piping.
Assemble the pie
Carefully place the brownie onto the plate you wish to serve/store the pie in.
Remove the mousse from the fridge. Cut about 1/4 inch of the bottom corner off of the sealable plastic bad if you don't have a piping bag. The plastic bag will act as your piping bag. Evenly pipe the mousse over the brownie in large spirling cirles beging on the outside and ending in the middle. Use all of the mousse. With a rubber spatula, smooth out and the top surface of the mousse. Place the brownie and mousse into the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before finishing.
Make the Ganache
While the layered brownie and mousse are chilling, make the ganache. Place 1/3 cup whipping cream into a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let chocolate and cream sit for about 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Leave at room temperature until ready to finish pie.
Finish the pie:
Remove the pie from the fridge. Sprinkle the chopped Reese's cups evenly over the top of the pie. Drizzle with ganache. This pie must be served chilled or the mousse will deflate. Pie may be stored in the fridge for upto 3 days. It freezes well and can also be eaten straight from the freezer. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Brown Bread


I decided to make an Irish dinner for St. Patrick's Day.  I made Guinness Stew and Irish Brown Bread.  I found this recipe online and chose it over Irish Soda Bread because I don't like cooked raisins.  This bread had oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and yogurt.  I used greek yogurt because I could get it in a reasonably sized container and it worked just fine.  Make sure you let it get pretty brown because it makes a nice crusty bread.

The Verdict:  This bread was awesome!  It had a nice crunchy crust and a great taste and smell.  It was also very easy to make and looked great :)  

Irish Brown Bread  
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000522965
  • 1  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  cold butter or margarine
  • 2  cups  whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4  cup  regular or quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2  cups  plain nonfat yogurt
  • Milk

Preparation

1. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture forms fine crumbs. Stir in whole-wheat flour and oats.
2. Add yogurt; stir gently. If mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, just until dough holds together; it should not be sticky.
3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently 5 times to make a ball. Set on a lightly greased baking sheet. Pat into a 7-inch circle. With a floured knife, cut a large X on top of loaf.
4. Bake in a 375° oven until well browned, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cool.
 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

 


I had two bananas that were getting a bit too ripe for my liking and I wanted to make an item for my MOPS meeting with ingredients I already had in the cupboard because I hate making multiple trips to the grocery store.  After much research and indecision, I chose this recipe:  http://bakingbites.com/2009/05/peanut-butter-banana-oatmeal-cookies/.  I started out looking for a oatmeal banana cookie and after reading a bunch of reviews for different recipes, I decided to add peanut butter to the mix.  After reading the reviews of this recipe, I added chocolate chunks to half the cookies (I doubled the recipe). 

The Verdict:  These were a big hit at MOPS and I found them to be pretty good.  I loved the texture, they turned out nice and chewy and moist with a crisp bottom.  There was a good balance of ingredients, you get a good PB flavor, a hint of banana, and sweet chocolate with the chocolate chunk cookies.  There was also the perfect amount of oatmeal, just enough to make the cookie chewy but not enough to dry it out.  I began calling them "Elvis cookies."  There was quite a bit of sugar in these, so they were pretty sweet.  If I make them again, I may reduce the amount of sugar or use a less sweet PB.  

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup mashed banana (from 1 sm/med)
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter. Beat in egg until smooth, then mix in the peanut butter and mashed banana. Working by hand or with a mixer on low speed, blend dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Stir in the oats.
Shape dough into tablespoons and place on baking sheet, flattening each slightly with your fingers.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies just begin to turn golden around the edges.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes approx 2 dozen.
  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Texas Sheet Cake

Yes, I made my own birthday cake ;)  I made a Texas Sheet Cake which is a thin chocolate cake with a fudgey layer of icing.  I used my aunt's recipe and this recipe http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/texas-sheet-cake-v/Detail.aspx because the steps in my aunt's recipe were not very detailed.  The recipes were pretty much the same, except the amount of each ingredient in the icing was slightly different.  My aunt has been making this for years and we all love it.  The last time I had it was at my wedding shower, so I figured it was time for me to give it a try.  Both recipes say to mix the dry ingredients with the sour cream and eggs.  I am not sure I will do this again as it makes the batter lumpy and you end up with little lumps of flour in the cake.  Other recipes mixed these ingredients in a different order and I will try to keep wet and dry separate and then mix them together get a better mix.  I also used the Texas Sheet Cake V recipe for the icing because I was not sure how much powdered sugar was in a "box" of powdered sugar.  Also, that recipe had more cocoa in it which is fine by me.

The Verdict:  I love this cake.  The cake has a light chocolate flavor and the icing has a wonderful fudgey crust with a great fudge flavor.

Matt's Verdict:  Fantastic ;)  

Aunt Rita's Recipe:

2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c sour cream
2 c  sugar
2 eggs
1 t baking soda

Mix in bowl and set aside.

Mix in pan:
1 c butter
1 c water
5 T cocoa

Bring to boil and mix with flour mixture.  Pour into greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 20-25 min, and cool.

Icing:
Into a bowl put; 1 box powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla.  In pan mix 1/2 c butter, 1/3 c milk, and 3 T cocoa.  Bring to boil and mix all together.  Put icing on cake while it is warm.

Texas Sheet Cake V:
http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/texas-sheet-cake-v/Detail.aspx

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10x15 inch pan.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the sour cream and eggs. Set aside. Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, add the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing until blended.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. For the icing: In a large saucepan, combine the milk, 5 tablespoons cocoa and 1/2 cup butter. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, then fold in the nuts, mixing until blended. Spread frosting over warm cake.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cake Class Result

I took a fondant and gum paste class and this cake decor is the result.  I think I did pretty good since this is my very first time using gum paste and fondant.  The flowers are made of a mixture of gum paste and fondant and the rest of the cake is fondant.  The design is my own :)

Scones!


These are my favorite things to make.  I wanted to make a brunch item for my MOPS meeting, so I made these.  My usual is the regular chocolate chip recipe.  This time, I decided to try making a new flavor, so I made chocolate scones.  These are very easy to make and don't require a lot of time.  Differences in the recipes are the regular chocolate chip scones use buttermilk and the chocolate scones use heavy whipping cream and eggs.   I did not use the heart shaped cookie cutter with the chocolate scones as instructed in the recipe, I just made wedge shapes as I do with the chocolate chip scones.  Also, this time, I made the scones smaller by splitting the dough and making two circles rather than one.  I cut them the same way as I would the large scones. 

The Verdict:  I love the Chocolate Chip Scones and have been making this recipe for years.  They taste best served a warm enough to melt the chocolate chips, so I put them in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.  The Chocolate Scones were very good and I will definitely make them again.  They are best served warm, also. 

Both recipes are as follows:  

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3  buttermilk

For Tops of Scones:
1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. (The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.)  Stir in the chocolate chunks (or chips). In a small measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla and then add to the flour mixture. Stir just until the dough comes together (add more buttermilk or flour as necessary). Do not over mix the dough.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1.5 inches thick.  Sprinkle top with brown sugar and rub into top of round.   Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 4 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Makes 8 scones.

Chocolate Scones

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups  all purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

For Tops of Scones: 
1 large egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl whisk together the whipping cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Set aside. 
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chunks (chips). Add the cream mixture and stir just until the dough comes together (add more cream and/or flour as necessary).
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Shape the dough into an 8 inch circle.  With a 2 1/2 inch heart shaped cookie cutter, cut into scones. Gather any scraps together, knead, and then cut out more scones. Brush excess flour from the bottom of the scones, and place them on the baking sheet. Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are firm around the edges but a bit soft in the center. A toothpick inserted into the center of a scone will come out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Can serve with clotted cream or softly whipped cream.
Makes about 10 - 2 1/2 inch heart shaped scones.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cake Pops



I had my first cake pop during Gob Day at the Galleria in Johnstown.  It was strawberry shortcake flavored and I fell in love.  I searched them out online and found this site:  http://www.bakerella.com/.  I enjoyed all the cute little designs and ended up buying the book on Amazon.com.  
I decided to try the heart shape because it seemed to be pretty straightforward for a beginner.  I chose chocolate cake and frosting for the inside, seemed appropriate for Valentine's Day, and Wilton pink candy melts for the outside.  The author suggested using boxed cake mix and ready made frosting, but I like to use less processed ingredients, so opted to try out the book recipe.  The cake looked and tasted good and frosting was thick, butter-creamy, and chocolatey.  I crumbled the cake and mixed it with the frosting as instructed.  I then rolled the mix into 1 inch balls and stored them in my "outside refrigerator," my kitchen deck, overnight.
The next day, I took a small heart shaped cookie cutter and shaped the cake balls into hearts.  I put the hearts into the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up for dipping.  I melted the pink candy in the microwave in a glass bowl.  Having all my supplies and ingredients out, I took the lollipop stick dipped into the melted candy, stuck it into the bottom of the heart, and dipped the heart into the pink candy, shaking the excess back into the bowl.  I dried the pops upright in a piece of foam I taped to the table.  I bought Wilton fine tip, edible markers to write on the hearts because that is all Walmart had.  

The Verdict:  They are very sweet, which was to be expected.  The center was moist chocolate cake and the outside was a nice firm pink chocolate.  The markers did not work very well, the tip was not soft enough for the chocolate.  I think a felt tip marker would be better.  I am not used to working with melted chocolate, so that will take some practice.  I got little cellophane bags with metallic twist ties to package them which made them look extra cute.  All in all it was a fun experience and when I have more time, I will attempt them again.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Butternut Squash Bread

In continuing on my quest to make a baked good for as many birthdays as I can this year, I made my grandma's boyfriend Butternut Squash Bread, as he is a fan of quick breads.  I actually bought a whole butternut squash, halved it, and roasted it in the the oven for an hour after covering the exposed areas in butter.  I then spooned out the warm flesh of the squash and pureed it in the food processor.  I recently got a 7 cup Kitchen Aid food processor to make baby food and it is fabulous.  I cooled the squash overnight in preparation to make the bread the following morning.

I got up the next morning and was a multitasking extraordinaire.  I made my husband an omelet, made the dog chicken and rice, since he was sick and on a bland diet, and made a batch of this bread using this recipe:  http://www.seasonalrecipes.com/rec/recipe196.butternutsquashbread.html .  I chose this recipe because it had gotten several good reviews.  The bread was really easy to make, except I had to make 1 loaf at a time because I only have 1 loaf pan, you pretty much just mix everything together. 

The Verdict:  Comparable to pumpkin bread.  If I were to change anything, I would cut down on the amount sugar.    

Butternut Squash Bread

 
 


Makes 3 loaves

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups butternut squash, cooked until soft & cooled
4 large eggs Grease and flour 3 9" x 5" loaf pans. Pre-heat oven to 325 F.

Combine dry ingredients. Add water, oil, eggs and squash. Fill each loaf pan half full with batter. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blackout Cake

I have decided to practice baking by making birthday cakes/pies/brownies, etc. for my family members.  My first cake was a Chocolate Blackout Cake using this recipe:  http://sundaynitedinner.com/chocolate-blackout-cake-revisited/.  The cake part was pretty standard, I used an 8 inch round cake pan and an 8 inch spring form pan lined with foil because I only had one actual cake pan.  Thankfully, it did not leak.  The pudding was a little more difficult.  I used chocolate chips instead of block chocolate.  The food processor worked really well for chopping the chocolate up.  The only thing that was sort of weird was adding the eggs to the hot chocolate mix.  I tempered the eggs and followed the instructions exactly, but the egg still made it a little bit chunky.  I know the Barefoot Contessa always says about adding eggs to warm things and how not to scramble them.  Some of the other recipes I looked at suggested straining the pudding after cooking, but I just used it as is and it was fine.

After it cooled completely, I refrigerated the pudding over night.  I also let the cakes cool completely, covered them with dishtowels, and let them cool overnight.  I assembled the cakes the next day splitting the two cakes as directed and spreading 1/4 of the pudding between each layer.  The pudding was thick enough that it did not squish out between the layers and the cake stacked nicely.  I covered the top with mini chocolate chips because I didn't have wafer cookies and did not want to make the trip to the store.

I took the cake to my parent's house to celebrate my mom's birthday, which is Saturday, while my niece was with her dad, my brother.  The cake was fantastic and everyone seemed to like it.  The cake was very rich and moist. 

The Verdict:  Death by chocolate.  I enjoyed the pudding rather than icing, it added to the moistness.   I know it says serve at room temperature, but I enjoyed it slightly chilled.  The chocolate chips were also a nice touch decoratively and texturally.  All in all it was a very pretty and tasty cake. 

Note:  The baby was irritable the entire time I was baking so I am very surprised this actually turned out as good as it did :)

Chocolate Blackout Cake Recipe

Pudding Ingredients
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa (preferably Dutch processed)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
Cake Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa (preferable Dutch processed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 dozen chocolate wafer cookies
Directions
  1. To make the chocolate pudding: Combine 2 cups milk with 4 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan and bring to just under a boil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining sugar with salt, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk in remaining 1 cup unheated milk. Gradually whisk cocoa mixture into hot milk. Heat, over medium heat, stirring, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble.
  3. Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the eggs by adding a few tablespoons of the heated milk. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in chopped chocolate and butter. The pudding should be relatively thick and will firm up when cooled. Cool, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in refrigerator.
  4. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 (8-inch) cake pans and line with parchment. Butter the parchment and flour pans, shaking out the excess.
  5. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Reserve.
  6. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in vegetable oil. Alternately add dry ingredients with buttermilk, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the coffee and vanilla to form a thin batter. Divide between prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto cooling racks, peel off paper and cool completely.
  8. When cool, split each cake in half with a serrated slicing knife. Spread bottom layer with 1/4 of the reserved chocolate pudding. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with pudding on top.
  9. In a food processor, pulse the cookies into crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the cake.
Makes 12 servings