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Posts from the ‘Desserts’ Category

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart Using Puff Pastry

I have a ritual that I do every time I cook, my kitchen must be thorougly cleaned, counters, floor, no dishes in the sink, every surface clean, for me it creates new energy and clears my kitchen. I also try to make sure everything I need is ready so I don’t have to go finding and grabbing with flour on my hands. So the ritual began early this morning in preparation for my puff pastry adventure. I had the butter in the freezer all night, the flour weighed and in the fridge as well. In retrospect I would not freeze the butter quite so hard because let me tell you it was hard work pounding that butter when it’s rock hard. In the video he makes it look easy, well not so much. I had it wrapped in plastic wrap which after a good pounding broke and I had to peel off the pieces from the butter. I decided to use a zip lock bag and sprinkled a little flour on the butter as per The Kitchn. It worked and I got the butter in a nice square and it was still pretty cold. The butter went back in the refrigerator while I rolled out the dough.

The dough comes together nicely in the food processor and forms a cohesive ball which I let rest for a few minutes under a damp tea towel. The hardest part of this recipe is pounding the butter initially, the rest goes very smoothly and if you have any frustration or feel the need to pound something try making puff pastry, it’s a stress reliever.

The first two turns went pretty well, it was hard to make it a neat rectangle but I did the best I could. After a 30 minute rest in the refrigerator I took it out for 2 more turns and there was a marked difference in the dough, it’s very soft, tender and pliable. Rolling it out was a breeze and doing the second set of 2 turns was easy. With only 2 more to go I have to say puff pastry is not all that much work but the proof is in the pudding I guess you can say and I was nervous to see how it turns out when baked.

Final Analysis: AMAZING recipe, with the exception of trying to pound frozen butter it was so easy to make. Honestly, I will never buy puff pastry again. It’s tender, flaky, buttery, pretty much perfect. I have enough dough in the freezer for another large tart. This recipe is a keeper. Also note, I am convinced using a good European butter is key, I used Kerrygold unsalted butter and it really does make a difference.

ready for the 4th turn see the flecks of butter

6 turns and I’m done, smooth, supple and feels like a beautiful dough if you look closely you can still see pieces of butter

 

strawberries and rhubarb

3 stalks rhubarb, washed, ends removed and cut into approximately 1/4 inch pieces

1 punnet of strawberries, trimmed, hulled and cut into pieces (quartered or halved depending on size)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp orange zest

dash of salt

2 tsp cornstarch

Mix everything in a bowl and let sit until sugar has melted and fruit has given off juices. Drain but save the juice. After draining sprinkle the cornstarch on the fruit and mix with a spoon. Pour the saved juice into a sauce pan and cook on medium heat until thick and reduced slightly. When you remove the tart from the oven cool for about 15 minutes then drizzle the thickened syrup on top of the tart. It’s delicious.

docked and ready for the fruit

Making the tart

Cut your dough in half and freeze the other half. Roll into a rectangle, using a sharp paring knife make a slice not all the way through so cut gingerly, you want the slice about an inch from the edges. Roll the edges to the cut line, dock the inside of the dough well with a fork (this is so it doesn’t puff). Arrange fruit on the dough, brush the edges with egg white that has been beaten with a fork. Sprinkle some finishing sugar or turbinado sugar on the whole tart. Bake in a pre heated 400 degree oven until golden brown and bubbly this tart took about 35-40 minutes.

 

Challenge Number 2- Puff Pastry

I have never made puff pastry, always buy it already made and that certainly is the easiest way to produce delicious tarts or baked goods with this wonderful dough. When buying already prepared puff pastry I like Dufour’s, it is consistently the best, buttery, flaky and delicious. In researching how to make puff pastry I first saw a post from The Kitchn, she gave a wonderful tutorial with photo’s each step of the way, it was quite involved and fussy but I was game. After reading the entire post and the comments I noticed someone mentioned this video with Julia Child and Richard Medrich, she said his method is simple and her puff pastry always turns out well. One never has to second guess anything from Julia and Mssr. Medrich is an expert. This is the recipe I chose to make. See the video below, he makes it look so easy.  I HIGHLY recommend you watch the video, I tried to write directions but it’s difficult as the instructions for this pastry really makes sense when you watch. I am making this tomorrow, dividing this into two posts.  Today at the farmers market I found some strawberries and rhubarb and decided I will go with full out spring flavors, using both in a tart made with my homemade puff pastry. Don’t know how it will turn out. I just put the butter in the freezer where it will sit all night, weighing my flour and refrigerating it as well. Julia mentions how important it is for everything to be very cold. I will place ice packs on my marble board so even it is cold.

I plan on starting bright and early in the morning. Does anyone want to make this with me? Who is game?

Puff Pastry

Julia Child and Richard Medrich

1 lb flour

1 lb unsalted butter frozen (you can freeze sticks of butter or cut into pieces)

1 1/4 cup ice water

1 1/2 tsp salt

Add the flour, salt and water to the food processor. Pulse until it becomes a cohesive dough. Remove and form into a disk, make slices in the dough first across then in a diamond pattern across again. Cover with a wet tea towel and remove the butter from the freezer. Pound the butter into a 4×4 square (approximately). Roll out your dough into a rectangle so that it is a bit thicker in the middle (see the video) you want the rectangle slightly larger than the 4×4 butter square. Place the cold pounded butter on the dough and fold so that the dough is completely covering the butter. Pound with rolling pin and roll sprinkling with flour so it doesn’t stick to the pin. You want it in a long rectangle. Fold like an envelope, then pound and roll again, fold again like an envelope. Mark twice with your finger imprint and wrap in a damp towel and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat the turns as described above marking 2 more times for a total of 4 turns now, again wrap in a damp towel and refrigerate another 30 minutes. Roll out again 2 more turns (total is 6 turns) and your dough is ready. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Happy Mothers Day, Waste Not Want Not Bread Pudding

My Mama taught me not to waste food, I had to clean my plate and sit at the table until either the food was gone or one of us, both stubborn by nature gave in. One day my Mom made liver and onions, bleh, hate it still do. I refused to eat it and literally sat at the table all night long with the food in front of me and still wouldn’t touch it.  To this day I have not eaten liver and onions and won’t make it.

Honoring my wonderful Mother on this day I decided instead of baking something new I decided to repurpose leftovers and make this bread pudding. Here is what I had:

2 challah rolls (more than a day old but still good)

4 egg yolks (left over from my dacquoise)

peaches from the peach ice cream

1/2 container of blueberries

creme fraiche

With those ingredients I made bread pudding.  Bread pudding is simple rustic down home fare. I remember Mom made bread pudding often and it was one of my favorite desserts. She was frugal and never wasted anything and would save bread that wasn’t eaten to make this pudding. This is not her recipe it’s mine but it’s equally as good as hers. Mom is a great cook, intuitive, creative and accomplished. I learned so much from her and wish that I were with her this Mothers Day!

Bread Pudding With Peaches and Blueberries

2 large challah rolls day old or older is best, brioche is also good

4 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg

1 cup whole milk

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup creme fraiche

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

dash of salt

Peaches (optional) chopped or crushed or even a peach jam or preserve

fresh blueberries (you decide how much to add)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Whisk the egg yolks and whole egg with the sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the milk, cream and creme fraiche and continue whisking until combined. Add a dash of salt and the vanilla and whisk just until mixed.

Add the torn bread and stir until the bread is completely immersed in the custard base, add the blueberries and fold them in.

Butter your ramekins or baking dishes, spread some peaches on the bottom and spoon the bread pudding mixture, dividing into 3 large or 6 small baking dishes.

Place the baking dishes in a large roasting pan or baking dish place into the oven and then add enough hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of your dishes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set.

I served it with some creme fraiche gently sweetened with brown sugar. It’s fantastic and adding the peaches and blueberries make this dessert so good!

Happy Mothers Day to all of you whether you have children, fur babies, a classroom of children, do volunteer work with kids or just love them it’s a day to celebrate women and Mothers and caregivers. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream In Profiteroles With Blackberries

I am becoming more involved again at Food52, testing recipes and entering contests. This is all part and parcel of my need to challenge myself. I signed up to test a recipe for Fresh Peach Ice Cream by Chef June, it is on the list for a community pick, which is step one of the contest protocol. Chef June is an amazing cook/chef and has been a community member for a long time and her recipes are always spot on. What intrigued me about this recipe is that it has a custard base but the custard is uncooked. You should use the freshest eggs you can get your hands on and if you have compromised health or are very young or very old you may want to cook your custard. Since I don’t fall into any of those categories I gave this a go, have to be honest I hate standing over the pot cooking the custard, constantly stirring it and stressing about whether I’ve cooked it too little or too much (scrambled eggs).  I was happy that step was eliminated. Fresh peaches are not in season yet so I had to use frozen and although they were ok they were not the same so the peachy flavor was a little absent. I can’t wait for peaches to hit the market so I can make this again as it’s a wonderful recipe.

I had some profiteroles left from my post a few weeks ago which I froze, and I thought that this would make a lovely dessert. One of my favorite pies is peach and blackberries so the blackberries were macerated in sugar and cassis and served on the side. It’s delicious and simple, yes profiteroles are really easy to make and I can attest to the fact that they freeze well. I thawed them in the oven on 200 degree’s for about 15 minutes, they were just like freshly made. When making this I again I would make the following changes, instead of 2 cups whole milk I would add 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup half and half and 1 cup heavy cream, reduce the nutmeg to 1/4 tsp/.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Recipe by Chef June on Food52

2 cups peaches (approximately 8 peaches) peeled and chopped, broken up retaining their juices

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Juice of half a lemon

2 extra large eggs (I used 3 large eggs)

1/8 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

Peel the peaches, Chef June suggests blanching first by dipping the peach for 30 seconds in boiling water,(like tomatoes) the skin will come off very easily. Slice into a bowl and break the peaches up with your hands, add 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and nutmeg and stir to combine. Refrigerate for about 2 hours covered stirring every so often.

After the peaches are cold drain them retaining the juices and put the peaches back in the refrigerator, also refrigerate the retained peach juice.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk or beat with hand held mixer the eggs, the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, salt and vanilla until thick and creamy and lighter in color.

Add the milk, heavy cream and peach juice and stir to combine. Process in your ice cream maker following manufacturers directions. About 2 minutes before the ice cream is done add the peaches. Spoon into your freezer container and let sit in the freezer until it’s scoopable.

 

Mocha Dacquoise Cake And The Winners Of the Giveaway

I usualy try to keep my posts consise, short,  but this one requires a lot of explanation so in advance let me apologize. This was quite an ordeal, the cake did not turn out exactly like I wanted, there were a few bumps in the road, as a matter of fact I had to keep changing things as I went along. The fillings were a disaster, I originally had the idea to use a Mocha Mousse as one of the fillings which sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much. When I put the mousse on the bottom layer and placed another layer on top of it and gently pressed down it oozed out all over the sides, it was not firm enough. The dacquoise although they feel firm in reality are fragile, very fragile. The French Buttercream was a disaster. I beat the egg yolks until tripled in volume and were thick and light in color. I brought the sugar syrup to 265 which is really past the hard ball stage on the thermometer, with the mixer running drizzled the hot syrup down the side of the bowl as directed, two problems with this 1. the sugar syrup when it hits the side of the bowl hardens so I moved it away from the side of the bowl and 2. the beater flung hardened sugar strands everywhere. OMG, it was a mess. I managed to make it adding the butter in pieces until combined. I had sugar candy stuck on the side of the bowl and sugar strands wound around the whisk from when the syrup hit it. Because the syrup was hard ball stage the buttercream was very stiff, which I guess is a good thing because it stays put unlike the mousse. Last minute I also made a buttercream recipe I saw on Food52 from Merrill Stubbs. It is a quick and easy version of a French buttercream using egg yolks, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice. It takes about 10 minutes to make is silky and thick and really a great frosting or filling. This went in as a filling, it wasn’t quite enough for a thick layer of filling but at this point it was ok. To cover up all the imperfections I frosted with the Chantilly but used my recipe for stabilized whipped cream frosting.

I tried the recipe from Saveur for the Dacquoise and failed pretty badly, not exactly sure what happened. The batter was runny, the dacquoise were like thin crisp mishapen sugar cookies. I know there is supposed to be a crispness but this was more cookie like.  IMHO I think there is too much sugar in the recipe. It’s also possible I over processed the almonds and sugar. The batter spread and didn’t look anything like the photo’s (sorry no photo’s) and video’s I’ve seen of how to make Dacquoise and certainly didn’t look like the one in the Saveur video (the video is included in the link above). Humph… I decided to search for another recipe and found one from Fine Cooking that looked good. It seemed pretty simple, the proportion of the ingredients sounded right and loved that it used hazelnuts and almonds (love hazelnuts).

misshapen, flat and really crisp first attempt

Second attempt, instead of rounds I made a rectanglar cake.  The recipe from Fine Cooking is wonderful, the batter is perfect, holds it’s shape when piped onto the baking sheet, I feel like this will be a success. The batter is super easy, and quick to put together. I have actually become quite good now at the dacquoise. Because one of the layers bit the dust, I quickly made a half a recipe which I can now make without even looking at the recipe and put it on top.

Final Analysis:

Perfect batter, ready for the long bake

Dacqoise

From Fine Cooking

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

6 egg whites

1/3 cup granulated sugar

French Buttercream

7 large egg yolks (about 1/2 cup)

12 oz- 3 sticks usalted butter softenend

2/3 cup strong coffee

1 cup (7 1/2 oz) sugar

 Chantilly

2 cups heavy cream divided

2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream

Recipe on Food52 by Merrill Stubbs

6 oz soft unsalted butter

2 egg yolks

2/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar

1 tbs vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!

Instructions

Dacquoise

Pre heat oven to 225 degree’s and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Draw three 10×3 rectangles onto parchment paper, turn over and place on sheet pan spray with cooking spray, butter or oil and set aside.

Add the hazelnuts to food processor and pulse just until it is a fine powder, no longer otherwise it will turn to paste. Next pulse the almonds the same way. Place the nut flour in mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar over and add the salt. Stir with rubber spatula to combine.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachement beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes until there are soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions beating well after each addition and the egg whites are thick and glossy and hold a stiff peak.

Sprinkle the nut mixture on top and gently fold into the meringue until combined. The consistency will be thick and gooey. You can either use a piping bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip or spread the batter in the rectangles 3 inches apart as they will expand.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 2- 3 hours or until they are firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and let them sit with oven door closed for 6 or more hours. NOTE: Although the recipe does not say to, I rotated the pans every now and then to ensure even browning. I used 2 sheet pans because I was afraid they would run (they didn’t) and the pan on the lower rack browned more quickly. Also the dacquoise were done at just slightly over 2 hours, so I turned off the oven and let them sit for about 6 hours. After turning off the oven I waited about 20 minutes and then gently loosed them. Believe me, it helped greasing the parchment they gave way easily and there was no sticking.

 French Buttercream

In a high sided saucepan over medium heat, add the coffee and sugar, set a candy or deep fry thermometer in the pan and cook until it reaches 265 degrees.

Meanwhile in the clean bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg yolks until tripled in volume and the color has lightened significantly, approximately 8 minutes.

Once the syrup has reached the temperature, remove and slowly pour the mixture into the yolks, whisking on medium low speed. Continue to run the mixer for 20-30 minutes, letting it cool completely. Once fully cooled, add the butter one tbs at a time, whisking until fully incorporated after each addition. The buttercream will thicken noticeably when all the butter has been fully incorporated.

Chantilly

To a small saucepan add 1/2 cup cream, whisk in the confectioners sugar and corn starch. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Immediately remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and set aside, stirring frequently until cooled completely.

Place 1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream in mixing bowl and start beating using either whisk attachment on your stand mixer or hand held is fine also, add the cream cornstarch mixture and flavoring of your choice, continue to beat until thick and stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

Assembly

The layers were not even at all, some were smaller, some larger, there was some overhang and the layer that had the failed mousse attempt was cracked and broken. Dacquoise is very fragile and does well when filled and covered and refrigerated overnight or longer. Because the layers were uneven in size I trimmed them with kitchen shears as a knife just doesn’t cut it. The pieces and crumbs I pressed into the bottom layer that had some canyon size gaps, mixing with a little of buttercream from the sides of the cake. Talk about kitchen hacks, this cake was hacked every step of the way.

Anaylysis:

Will I ever make this again, maybe. The perfectionist in me wants to keep making it until I get it right but it literally was hours and days of work. The dacquoise I have down pat and it’s really not hard. I don’t think I will ever make the French buttercream again, it’s just not worth the effort and the results did not knock my socks off. I really like Merrill’s shortcut version of a French Buttercream, it tastes almost exactly like it, it’s fool proof, quick and easy. All in all I actually loved the challenge, it didn’t matter that it was a partial fail, I learned a lot and made something with a fair degree of difficulty and it was edible, I learned what to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn’t. Because of that I view this as a success for the simple fact that I did it! Tasting it though, it did kind of knock my socks off, the cake is delicious, the dacquoise retained its crunch kind of a melt in your mouth crunch and I am really glad I used hazelnuts. Ok maybe I will make it again.

The Winners

Selected by feeding everyone’s names into Random.org the winners of the cookbooks are and Annie@Give me meatloaf and Teagan@Teagans Books. Congratulations to you both. Watch for an email, I will need your mailing address so we can get those books out to you asap.

Challenging Myself And A Giveaway

Photo from Saveur found online at Saveur.com Mocha Dacquoise

Once a upon a time I was very active in recipe contests, they challenged me, inspired me and forced me to think outside the box. Food52 still has contests, not as often as before but they are still there and Whole Foods ended their contests a few years ago. Give me an ingredient and challenge me to come up with an original or semi original recipe using it and it excited me. Those days are but a memory now as I haven’t really participated in a while. Blogging is a challenge and I am afraid I have fallen short of my own expectations, don’t want to be too hard on myself but if we feel like we are failing it’s up to us to do something about it. When I post a recipe I want it to be something different, even if it’s a twist on a classic there should be a new and different technique or some ingredient that is not normally used when making it. Having a repertoire of classic recipes is something every cook should have in their archives, something you make all the time, it always comes out good, you can make it blind folded so to say, without looking at the recipe. I have recipes that I use all the time, tried and true, always good but thats not challenging. One thing that I think would help to keep this blog fresh is to try to make something I’ve never made before, a recipe that will challenge my skills and hopefully will yield a good result. I have a bucket list of things I have always wanted to make, croissant, puff pastry are two things on my list, another is a Dacquoise.  I first read about this cake in Julia Child’s cookbook Baking With Julia, it kind of scared me, a lot of parts, some complicated instructions but the finished product is ethereal and delicious. Dacquoise is a cake made with almond and/or hazelnut meringue layers with different fillings, think of a macaron, it’s very similar in technique. The cake is light and if made well, a work of art. I tried making macaron and failed miserably and haven’t tried again, it is still on my list of things I must make.

In a few weeks it will be my birthday and this will be my birthday cake (God willing). I plan on taking a day off work and devoting the entire day to baking. It will be a challenge.They caution you to make the cake in advance of serving, as much as a week but at least 12 hours, the longer you let it sit in the refrigerator the easier it will be to get a clean cut.  I found a recipe from Saveur for a Mocha Dacquoise. It looks beautiful and sounds delicious. The traditional almond meringue layers with a coffee buttercream and chantilly filling. I am very excited to try this recipe and scratch it off of my bucket list.

Now for the giveaway! I want to offer one lucky reader a copy of the Food 52 cookbook Ice Cream and Friends. All you will have to do is leave a comment and you will be entered. The winner will be chosen randomly using random.org. But wait, I am feeling generous so there will be a second winner who will get the other Food52 cookbook Mighty Salads. I am sorry that I cannot send the books outside of the continental US, it is open to residents of the US only. The contest will end on May 2nd and I will post my Dacquoise even if it is a fail along with the announcement of the winners.  In an effort spice things up here, there is more in the works, giveaways and challenging recipes.

I also want to challenge you all to make something outside of your comfort zone, something you have always wanted to make but were hesitant to try. If you do make something comment here with a link to your blog and I will pick one or two recipes and re blog them. We all need to challenge ourselves and if cooking is your passion push yourself to make something new, exciting and different!

Profiteroles Filled With Olive Oil and Bourbon Butter Pecan Gelato With Fudge Sauce

First of all I can’t believe how quickly time is whizzing by, already Easter and before you know it we will be enjoying summer with the warm weather and great produce. If it were up to me I would skip the warm weather and just go for the produce.  For Easter I decided to have very good friends over for dinner and wanted to make a special meal. Since I love dessert I am going to post the recipe for the dessert before I post dinner, backwards maybe but I’ve always been someone who loves dessert especially when it involves ice cream. A few months back I saw a recipe on Johnny’s blog Kitsch n Flavors for profiteroles. I could have sworn I saved it to Evernote but could not find it, Johnny’s blog is now private and I couldn’t access the recipe so I used one from Saveur which I have to say turned out great. Choux pastry may sound and look imposing but it couldn’t be easier really. It takes literally  minutes to prepare, bakes in no time at all and the resulting pastry is light as air and so delicious.

I have also been meaning to make Amanda Hesser’s recipe for Olive Oil Gelato, I tasted it for the first time when I enjoyed Pasta Night at the Food 52 headquarters in Manhattan. I was smitten, totally fell in love. Imagine a light and airy pastry shell filled with olive oil gelato and smothered in a deep rich dark chocolate sauce. Well, it sounded great to me so I set out to make this for my Easter dinner party.  The olive oil gelato makes enough for 1 the way I like ice cream, really just a tiny amount and I planned to serve 2 profiterole per person and there was not enough, I ran to the store and found a bourbon butter pecan gelato so my guests will get one of each. If you plan on trying the olive oil gelato and need enough for more than 1 or 2 people you will have to double or even triple the recipe.

Happy Easter, Passover to everyone and I hope you all had a wonderful day!!

Olive Oil Gelato

Recipe by Amanada Hesser/Food52

3/4 cup whole milk

1/4 +2 tbs water

3/4 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

good pinch of salt

4 tbs really good olive oil

Put the milk, water, sugar and salt in a medium size sauce pan and cook until you see bubbles forming on the outer edge. While the milk and sugar are heating whisk the egg yolks until foamy. When milk is ready add in a slow steady stream to the egg yolks whisking constantly. Return to the pot and cook on low stirring constantly until the custard thickens and if using an instant read thermometer it should be 175-180. Place pot in ice bath and stir the custard until it cools. Transfer to a container with a lid and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. The custard will thicken, it takes a while but don’t give up. Remember to stir constantly and don’t let the egg scramble.

When you are ready to make the gelato whisk in the olive oil, it will be smooth and silky. Pour into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions. Spoon into a freezer container and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or until scoopable.

I am going to make a recommendation, I plan on making this again because it really is good but I will make a couple of changes. I will increase the milk to 1 cup and the water to 1/2 cup leaving everything else the same, the olive oil doesn’t freeze and makes the gelato very soft, adding additional liquid IMHO will help it to be more scoopable and stay frozen a little longer. The gelato melts very quickly, trying to get a photo with it in the profiterole was challenging and I think that adding more milk and water will help.

Choux Pastry

Recipe from Saveur

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

8 tbs butter cut into cubes

1 cup flour

pinch of salt

4 eggs at room temperature

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put the water, milk, butter and salt into a medium size pot and cook on high heat until it comes to a boil. Add the flour and quickly stir to combine, keep cooking until it is cohesive and somewhat dry. Scrap into a mixing bowl and with hand held mixer add the eggs one a time beating until thoroughly combined.  Line a sheet pan with parchment and using a small scoop 1 1/4 tbs size, scoop the choux batter onto the baking pan each one approximately an inch apart. Place into the oven and immediately decrease the oven temperature to 375 degree’s. Bake until golden brown for 20-25 minutes, remove from the oven and with a skewer poke one hole in each pastry, place back in the oven with the door ajar for 3 minutes. Let cool on the pan. You can use them right away or they can be stored up to 3 days in an airtight container, they also freeze beautifully.

Fudge Sauce

6 oz dark chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbs corn syrup (optional)

1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1 tbs coffee liquor like kahlua (optional)

Heat milk to scalding, add the chocolate let sit for 5 minutes, stir until melted add the corn syrup, espresso powder and liquor, stir and enjoy! Best served slightly warm.

I have to mention the eggs you see here, found them in the supermarket they are certified humane from a small farm in New Hampshire. There is a video of the farm on you tube and this farm is truely humane, sustainable and the eggs are gorgeous. I used to watch Martha Stewart’s show all the time and wanted her gorgeous blue/green eggs and when I saw them in the store I couldn’t believe it. Seek out this brand it is carried in quite a few stores including Whole Foods. You can tell they are from happy chickens the yolks are almost orange and the flavor is incredible. Buying humane is very important to me and I look for the Certified Humane label on the dairy that I buy.  I was in no way asked to write about Carols Eggs, I did this on my own to pass on information about a great product to you all!

Too Busy To Blog, Say What?…. A Published Recipe And Mary’s Box Of Goodies

Things have been crazy busy on my end and I have totally neglected the blog. I have ideas and things I want to do but simply have not had time to cook or bake except for charity auctions and you’ve seen all of that before, redundant posts are not something I like posting.  I am planning another collaboration with Teagan which is always fun, I hope you all like those, I certainly do.  Another giveaway is also in the works, and will be coming soon you may be able to guess what it is.

The food I have been making is pretty boring and not really blog worthy, there is nothing different or unique about it. I got back on track after Holiday food splurges with my change of diet and on the plus side have lost some weight which was important for me. I do a low carb low sugar meal plan with lots of vegetables and some protein. Work has been busy, that’s a good thing since I’m an Independant contractor and my livlihood is dependant on how much business I bring in.

 

So in the interest of keeping my blog alive I decided to reach into the recesses of my collection of recipes and post something from the past. If I were asked what my favorite recipe is it would be hard to pinpoint but this one is right up there at the top. I posted this recipe on Food52 years ago and last year found out that they are including it in their new cook book Ice Cream and Friends. I received my copy about a week ago and I have to say it’s a gorgeous book with amazing recipes from the Food52 Community and the founders Amanda and Merrill. The recipe they included is Brooklyn Blackout Semifreddo Cake. I dreamed this one up for a contest, the theme was frozen desserts. This was my homage to the famous cake conceived at Ebingers Bakery right here in Brooklyn NY, sadly Ebingers went bankrupt in 1972 and the building is now condo’s but the cake lives on at bakeries and recipes can be found all over the internet.  A Brooklyn Blackout Cake is chocolate x100 deeply rich chocolate cake, chocolate pudding filling used also to frost it and cake crumbs pressed onto the sides.

Last week I also received a Spring box from Mary Frances, you all know Mary right. Her blog Love The Secret Ingredient has some amazing recipes and she also has a thriving business Mary’s Secret Ingredient, a seasonal box of goodies is mailed to you and part of the proceeds are used to feed hungry children, Mary has heart along with some great recipes and a creative business sense. I will use some of the products to create a recipe soon but here is a peek at the box.

Mary’s Secret Ingredient Spring Box

I will leave you with a photo of the goodies that were auctioned on Instagram, all the proceeds went to help a sweet little pug that needed life saving surgery, any of you that are pet parents know how expensive it is to take your dog or cat to the vet, no one should have to decide on whether or not their pet lives or dies because of money and we as a pet community on Instagram raise funds to help out those in need. I am currently finishing the baking and the box will get mailed this week. Full disclosure Easter Bunny Percy will not be included with the box of goodies. I think he makes a very handsome bunny!!

Happy Valentines Day-Chocolate Layer Cake With Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache Frosting

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I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but one thing I love to do is make a special dessert, usually containing chocolate. The cake is chocolate, my favorite go to recipe from Hershey and the frosting is one that I developed and entered in a contest at Food52, I was lucky enough to win the contest with this simple and very delicious frosting, there is no added sugar so it’s not cloyingly sweet and is it’s very light. Three layers of cake piled high with chocolate caramel whipped ganache is a great way to celebrate this day that celebrates love. Speaking of love, February 13th is Percy’s gotcha day, I will forever be grateful to Emily for letting me adopt Percy and although he cannot have chocolate cake I will make him a special dinner, his outfit a vest, white shirt and red bow time was made by an uber talented designer I met on Instagram see her work @thestylishbisou, she is amazing.  I made a 8 inch 3 layer cake and the recipe for the ganache made just enough to fill and frost the top, you can easily double the recipe for more frosting to cover the entire cake.

I am bringing this special Valentines cake with me to Fiesta Friday #158 and the co hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love Check out all the gorgeous food and join us all at the party.

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Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, two 9 inch layers or three 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

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Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Chocolate Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cut into tablepoon-size pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces dark chocolate (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the heavy cream in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 45 seconds, add chocolate and microwave another 30 seconds Stir until its smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine, add the butter to the warm chocolate cream and set aside .
In large saucepan add the sugar, turn heat to med/high and let sit until it starts to liquefy. Swirl the pot and gently move  with a heat proof spatula.  Cook until it turns amber in color.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate cream. Stir until its incorporated. Be careful when adding the cream and butter the hot liquid sugar will bubble and could burn you. Store in a container at room temperature until ready to use. If you make this ahead of time, simply place the bottle or jar in hot water to warm the caramel so it’s pourable. Note: I changed this slightly, instead of adding the butter and then the choolate cream. I added the butter to the warm chocolate cream and added it all at once after removing the caramel from the heat.
Ganache :
4 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate broken into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor (I like cointreau or kahlua) or vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate caramel sauce
Heat cream to scalding (not boiling). Pour over the pieces of chocolate that are in a mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes then stir until there are no pieces of chocolate and it’s smooth and shiny, then add the chocolate caramel sauce and stir to combine.
Place bowl in an ice bath or in the refrigerator until cooled but not COLD  — it will stiffen fairly quickly if it gets too cold. Remove from the ice bath and beat with a mixer or whisk until the ganache is fluffy and spreadable. Frost the cake immediately. Best served at room temperature.

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Percy

Percy

Cupcakes And Calendars

Cover of our calendar

Cover of our calendar

January is turning out to be a really busy month, work is busy and thats a good thing.This is also my anniversary month, 5th year blogging, honestly it kind of blows my mind.  I have been really busy also with the work I am doing with a group on Instagram @Grumble Inc, we are a rapidly growing group of pet parents that do fun events on Instagram and raise money for animal rescue groups. The need is great and never seems to end. We work with other rescue and charitable groups holding online auctions to not just benefit rescue but to help out individuals who may not have the funds to pay for emergency or much needed veterinary care which includes surgery and other urgent issues. We recently put together an 18 month calendar with photo’s of our Instagram friends and all the proceeds go to @pugqueen who does amazing work rescuing pugs. Percy is featured on October 2017. The calendars are $15 plus shipping and we have sold about 150 so far.

Percy upper right corner

Percy upper right corner

On the rescue front you remember the little puggle I spoke about, Luna. Well she is doing great and is in a foster home where she is getting much needed medical care and evaluation for her seizure disorder. The great news is that she has only had one seizure since she has been in foster care and is thriving and happy. We have someone waiting for her who is giving her a forever home as soon as she is ready for adoption.

Luna

Luna

I am president of our block association and every year I plan a holiday party, this year has been a disaster. We planned on having it in December at a members home but a few days before the event we had to cancel because she was sick. I rescheduled to January 7th, after the holidays but thats ok, we had to cancel because of bad weather. NYC got blasted with a major snow storm and frigid temperatures. Most of the day yesterday was blizzard like conditions with the wind blowing and snow coming down fast and furious. Now I am thinking we will have a welcome Spring party, plans are in the works. The weather forecast did not call for the heavy snow or blizzard like conditions so I made cupcakes to take with me to the party. My go to chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s it never fails and always produces a moist, chocolately and delicious cupcake. My favorite way to serve them is with a cream cheese buttercream frosting. Simple and delicious.

cupcakes

cupcakes

The recipe for the cupcakes is so easy to make, the recipe also makes an excellent layer cake. I love that there is no creaming of butter and sugar, you put all the ingredients in one bowl and mix it all together. I have posted this recipe several times here but it’s so good I feel good about posting again. There is no butter in this cake only vegetable oil. You don’t have to use hershey’s cocoa but it’s best to use cocoa powder that is not Dutch Process for this cake, use natural cocoa powder. If you don’t understand the difference read this article on Epicurious about the different types.

Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, 2 9 inch layers or 3 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz softened (room temperature) unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature

4-6 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

approximately 1/4 cup milk or half and half

Cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time mixing between each addition. Add the vanill and milk. When adding the milk do it slowely, and stop when it’s spreading consistency you may not need 1/4 cup or you might need a little more. You judge how much you add so that you reach the desired consistency.

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