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Posts from the ‘Desserts’ Category

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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Pips Lemon Christmas- A Guest Post From Teagan Riordain Geneviene

 

Taken from Pinterest

Happy New Year Everyone.  On the first day of 2017 I wanted to do something special, not only are we starting a brand new year but this is my 5th year of blogging, in a few days will be the anniversary of A Pug In The Kitchen. Last year for my anniversary post I invited Teagan of Teagan’s Books to guest post and I had so much fun doing it I decided I would ask her again to collaborate with me. Teagans books are special, she takes me to a happy place with characters that come to life, mystical, magickal and a little bit of the supernatural are woven into stories that are so beautiful I honestly can’t and don’t want to stop reading. Whether it’s her amazing serials or a novel she never disappoints.  Teagan graciously penned this snippet with one of my favorite characters, Pip a flapper from the 1920’s. In doing some research of food in that era, citrus, specifically lemons were very popular so thats what we did, incorporated lemons not only into this delightful snipppet but also into a recipe for a lemony dessert.  I found a recipe for a lemon pound cake from the 1920’s that was served at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in their tea room. The cake was a disaster, it stuck to the bottom of the pan and didn’t come out in one piece,  but I didn’t let that deter me, I managed to salvage the cake, turning it upside down (the top of the bundt cake was missing) and serving it with a lemon sauce, like a lemon pudding cake, sort of.  I hope you all enjoy what Teagan has written for us all and again wishing all of you a joyous, healthy, happy and prosperous 2017. Take it away Teagan.

Pip’s Lemon Christmas

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It had been a grand and glorious year.  However, it pos-i-lute-ly had ups and downs.  At that moment I was in one of the downs.  Even the long distance telephone call from my best friend Mona failed (miserably I might add) to cheer me.  She might not be sure where she wanted her future to go, but at least it was going somewhere.  All my friends were moving forward, going somewhere.  Me?  It didn’t look like I would ever get anywhere.

Not only was I going nowhere, I seemed to be going there all by myself.  Worse, it was Christmastime.  Even my Pops suddenly had to go up north on business.  I offered to go and keep him company…  Okay, so I begged. 

“Young ladies have no place at business meetings,” he told me in the stern, no nonsense voice that meant I wouldn’t get anywhere with my plea.

Idly, I looked at the lace covered table, lemons artfully arranged as a centerpiece.  I took one of the tangy fruits, tossed it in the air and caught it.  I pondered as I tossed the lemon. 

What would any self-respecting flapper do in such a situation?  Refuse to be a sourpuss, that’s what a flapper would do!

I decided as I tossed the lemon.  If all I had for Christmas was lemons, then I’d make lemonade — so to speak, especially after I found the bottle of hooch Pops had squirreled away.  I would have rather had the champagne I knew he hid some place, but that had been ages ago and I couldn’t remember where I saw it.

Gin will do just fine, I told myself.

Suddenly inspired, I gave the yellow fruit a final toss.  I went to the shoebox that held Granny’s recipes.  She had given me instructions for all sorts of citrus treats, and I was a sourpuss with a sweet tooth.

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A little while later I was cleaning up the kitchen as it filled with citrusy baking aromas.  Just as I picked up the remains of my lemons, a loud knock pounded at the front door.  It startled me so badly that I ran to the door with barely a wipe to my juice drenched hands.

“Delivery!” the words came with another thunderous knock.

I threw open the door and the cool December air hit my face.  It was downright brisk, for Florida anyway.  There was a truck in the driveway and a young man with a name embroidered on his jacket — Ronny.  I took the package, barely looking at the guy who handed it to me.  My hands tore at the twine excitedly, even before I went inside.  Meanwhile Ronny the delivery man wrote something on the receipt clamped to his clipboard.

“If you’ll sign here, Miss?” he asked.

There was a card inside the package from my friend Mona.  The front of it said “I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas.”  Hurriedly I stuck the edge of the note between my teeth and tucked the package under my arm so I could take the clipboard and sign the form.

Only then did I notice what a cutie the guy was.  He tilted his head all the way to his shoulder and read aloud the note while I signed.  As soon as I heard him speak the words, I blushed scarlet.  To make matters worse, he made a sympathetic aww sound that made me feel like a six year-old.

In my flustered flurry of motions, taking the note from my teeth, trying to stick it back in the package, and pushing my hair back… wouldn’t you know I touched a lemon coated finger to my face.  I yelped as the citrus stung my eyes.  It made tears stream down my cheeks.man_ray_tears

The guy sounded guilty when he pleaded to know what the matter was, as if he had caused it.  The only word I could manage to utter was, “Lemons!”

He pulled my hand away from my face and lightly sniffed it.  He gave a little chuckle that made me want to bean him.

“Yep, that’s lemons all right.  For a minute there I was afraid you got bad news,” he commented.  “But I guess being alone on Christmas Eve is bad enough.”

For some reason his comment made me lose my composure.  I burst out in real tears and sobs, no longer caused by the stinging citrus.  I plopped down on the porch and sat there with the package in my lap.  This upset poor Ronny.  He started blabbering apologies, clearly unsure of why he was asking for forgiveness.

“Look sweet cakes, you’re my last delivery.  Let me help you wash your face and get rid of that lemon juice before you put your fingers in your eyes again,” he offered in a contrite voice.

I insisted that it was okay, and with a sniffle, silenced my sobs.  Too embarrassed to look at him I turned my attention back to Mona’s gift.  Her card had fallen, but Ronny picked it up and handed it to me.  I took it from him and with a deep breath I spoke the words that humiliated me a moment before.

“I’m sorry you’re alone at Christmas,” I read the elegant script on the outside, and then opened the card.  “So you’ll just have to make your own party.”

Antique champagne Glasses

What?  Digging through the packing paper I found two sparkling etched crystal goblets.  I held up one of the glasses to watch the light play on it.  I looked at Ronny, feeling utterly bemused.  He returned my gaze with a twinkle in eyes that I suddenly noticed were a heavenly shade of blue.

Ronny picked up the other empty glass and playfully tapped it against the one I held.  I suddenly remembered where Pops hid the bubbly.

The end

***

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

when life gives you lemons...

when life gives you lemons…

Pound Cake With Lemon Sauce

You can use homemade cake or just go buy Sara Lee Pound Cake for this. The star is really this pucker worthy lemony sauce served over the cake. It couldn’t be easier to make and has only a few ingredients.

Lemon Sauce

Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious

2/3 cup sugar

2 1/2-3 tbs cornstarch

1 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons

1 tbs unsalted butter

Whisk sugar and cornstarch in heavy bottom non reactive saucepan, add the water and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil, add the lemon juice and zest and continue cooking until it comes to a boil again and immediately remove from the heat, add the butter and whisk until combined. Refrigerate until slightly thickened and serve. It can be made a day ahead just bring to room temperature before serving.

Did the delivery man join Pip?

Did Ronny join Pip, I think so?

A Guest Post- Ten Times Tea

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A few months back I was thrilled when Laurie whose gorgeous blog Ten Times Tea agreed to do a guest post. Her timing is impeccable because this loaf just screams holidays. She is uber talented with such creativity,  I love her photographs and her no nonsense writing style. Thank you so much Laurie for doing this post for me and wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. I love the way Laurie experiments and even though she may not admit it I think her results are outstanding, she loves to use whole grains  giving her baked goods a healthy twist. Can’t wait to try this, thank you for your kind words and take it away Laurie…..

Suzanne’s experience, attention to flavour, and warm style comes through in everything she makes and blogs about. And, unlike some food bloggers that I tend to admire from afar, Suzanne’s blog demands a pause, taking time to comment and marvel and laugh and sometimes even commiserate.
I was so happy to be to have the opportunity to put together a guest post. Though I was also a bit conflicted: what makes us quite different is that Suzanne’s recipes simply ooze with experience and certainty, exactly what my recipes typically lack. My blog is all about the baking (unfortunately or otherwise), and frankly, leans more towards a “log” of what disasters and otherwise I’ve been baking, rather than a reliable source of recipes. But despite this, Suzanne has been so supportive of my experiments and even the most dismal failures.

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I wasn’t sure I would be able to make anything worthy of a guest post…but then, enter this cake. This cake is fabulous. I’m still in awe. It’s based on the brown butter and vanilla weekend cake in one of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking Chez Moi. Would you expect anything else from Dorie?

The cake is unabashedly rich, the crumb possessing a buttery sheen, and is incredibly fragrant due to an incredible quantity of vanilla extract and browned butter. I’ve made merely superficial changes, but I highly advocate them. The prunes and chestnuts, which are two of my favourite things, are homely and warm, while still somehow glamorous in my vague imagination of 20th century whiskey glasses and pâté and feather boas. (Ah, this imagination sometimes.) They simply fit perfectly into the backdrop of a dense and vanilla-heady cake, such that even a friend who does not at all subscribe to my obsession with prunes admitted that really, they did seem to work quite well.

I also made a couple more characteristic changes, reducing the sugar and using part whole spelt flour. I wanted to use these changes to transition into writing about some general themes in baking and my approach. As Suzanne recently wrote about, lately she’s switched her eating focus. It made me think a bit about this whole baking thing—what choices I make, what I minimize and maximize, and why. But after writing it, I looked back and felt so pretentious, with these meanderings on sugar and whole grains.

The thing is, I find there are many valid perspectives when it comes to baking. And thus many valid styles of baking, which result in many, many delicious baked goods. I enjoy them all. There is nothing superior about any approach over others. Some days call for Smarties-dotted blondies just as much as other days call for raw vegan coconut oil and date squares. So I hope everything here can be taken with several grains of salt—it’s one vague approach to baking. I guess I like it so I seem to advocate for my view, but it doesn’t mean I always stick to it.

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Sugar

Sugar is something I do not try to eliminate, but I find I can typically reduce the sugar content of baked goods with little consequence. This isn’t to validate desserts or bolster excuses for eating more (well, at least I try not to do that…). But I do occasionally bake for some diabetics, and in general, if I can reduce the sugar, I think I may as well.

In fact, I do think that most desserts don’t require too much sweetness for it to still taste like dessert. I’m a bit of a cake-person as opposed to a candy-person (a very important dichotomy), where I like more moderate sweetness padded with plenty of substance and textures and other flavours. Better yet, baking can quite often fit into that ambiguous breakfast/tea sort of category as well, which entails the same richness and decadence with noticeably less sweetness. Another trick is to use sweet-associated flavours like warm spices, or plenty of fresh fruit.

I find it’s worthwhile to experiment! A 25-50% reduction in the sugar is a good place to start, at least in cases where the sugar is not a structural necessity (I’ve tried to push it unsuccessfully with meringues and buttercreams). However, in the end you may just find that sugar reductions compromise golden crusts or perfect textures. It always depends on what you’re looking for, and reductions may not be worth it.

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Whole grains

Recently I made a cake that used only white flour, and I was surprised—it tasted bland all of a sudden. I suppose it’s because in recent years, whole wheat and spelt flour have become my go-to, some somehow now taste rather “neutral.”

I refrain from using this idea of whole grains as a gateway to a certified healthy label. It’s a bit of a false rhetoric because 1) we are still talking dessert and 2) I don’t push the envelope very far. The whole grains are primarily for flavour, and I like to prioritize structure as well. (On this note, I admire the ingenuity, innovation and persistence of gluten-free bakers!) Thus, something may be only a quarter whole spelt flour, but it will taste nutty and warm and complement spices or dried fruit. Whole wheat flour is very suitable for crumbles and oatmeal cookies. I find buttery and salted whole wheat pastry perfect for tarts, and while scones have been a perpetual struggle for me, I recently made some fluffy scones with half whole wheat pastry flour.

As far as pastry-type experimentation goes (bread is a bit iffier), I think whole wheat flour can be successfully subbed for 50-100%. Spelt flour, I would normally not go above 50% due to the lower gluten content. Buckwheat and rye I usually try at 25-20% due to their low gluten content and stronger flavours. In the end, though, it does depend on what you’re making. Sometimes white flour is the best.

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This cake is a rich and buttery and sugary glory, and in no way do my changes make it at all healthy…but I like the cake even more for the changes I did make. It is only moderately sweet, with spelt flour to complement the prunes and pick up on the warm notes of the roasted chestnuts and browned butter.

So happy baking! With the approaching holidays, I’m sure there will be plenty of baking going on.

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prune and chestnut vanilla loaf cake
Based on Dorie Greenspan’s brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake in Baking Chez Moi. Instead of part vanilla bean and part vanilla extract, you can use either: 1 whole vanilla bean or 4 tsp vanilla extract as detailed by the original recipe. I would also consider increasing the quantity of prunes and chestnuts to 150 g each.
1 stick butter
100 g whole spelt flour
138 g all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
175 g granulated sugar
3-cm length of vanilla bean
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c (80 mL) heavy cream
1 capful dark rum
100 g dried prunes
100 g roasted and peeled chestnuts, whole and broken into rough pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf pan and line with a sling of parchment paper.
Brown the butter in a small saucepan, cooking until deep golden and nutty, and then set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar in a large bowl. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out into the sugar and rub in. Add the split vanilla bean and rub in the sugar as well to remove any excess seeds (this can then be placed in the sugar bowl for vanilla sugar and the like). Add the eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined. Follow with vanilla extract, the heavy cream and rum, whisking until combined.
Add the dry ingredients in two additions, folding in with a rubber spatula. Next, fold in the butter in three additions. Lastly, mix in the chestnuts and prunes. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.
Let cool on a wire rack.

 

Stollen

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You saw the dough and mention of Stollen in my last post so here is the finished product and this is a fantastic recipe. I will be honest, I had my doubts, the dough doesn’t get puffy, it feels quite heavy and dense and struggles to double in bulk but the end product is wonderfully light, rich with butter and egg, just the right amount of boozy fruit and nuts, it’s a keeper,  almost too easy, when we make bread it can be laborious, lots of steps well this bread is so easy to make so few steps and result is amazing. I made a few changes to the recipe and explained in some detail what to expect, there are no clues or hints in the recipe on Food52 and I really didn’t know what to expect. The original recipe calls for candied fruit soaked in booze, I used the leftover dried fruit soaked in port ( don’t like candied fruit), I added salt, there was no mention of salt. I also used my food processor to break up the butter into the flour and that made it quicker and easier. Instead of the glaze that Chef June uses I dusted with powdered sugar. Thats it, easy peasy, delicious and so festive.

Because this bread just screams the Holidays I am bringing it to Fiesta Friday #150 and the co hosts this week are Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Tânia @ Iwanttobeacook

Stollen

From Food52  by Chef June

Makes 2 large loaves or 8 mini loafs

1 heaping cup assorted dried fruit that has had a good soak in booze ( I used the same fruit for the fruitcakes I made)

4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) unsalted cold butter cut into pieces

1 tbs yeast (I used instant yeast, SAF)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup cold whole milk

3 tbs granulated sugar

3 large or extra large eggs beaten

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)

soft butter, sugar and cinnamon for the filling

Add flour, salt and butter to the food processor and pulse until it resembles crumbs. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined and the flour is completely incorporated. The dough will be very soft and shaggy, thats ok, you don’t need to knead it, just gather it with your hands into a ball and put it in a greased bowl, turn it over once so the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in the refirigerator where it will rise overnight. Note: I mixed everything by hand, no stand mixer with dough attachment, no kneading.

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

The next morning remove the dough and cut in half or quarters depending on the shape and size you want your bread. I divided into quarters and let it rise in mini loaf pans. Roll out or pat out the dough into a rectangle spread it out thinly. Brush with soft butter and a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (you also can put marzipan or almond paste if you like) roll it like you would a jelly roll or cinnamon rolls. Pinch any seams so it’s sealed. My dough was divided into quarters, each quarter made 2 mini loaves. I rolled, cut in half and pinched the seams and ends. Sprayed mini loaf pans with cooking spray and placed the dough seam side down in the pans. Cover loosely with plastic and a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk. (It took almost 3 hours in my cold kitchen and remember you are starting with dough straight from the refrigerator so be patient). Heat oven to 350 degree’s and bake until browned, and when tapped sounds hollow (approximately 20 minutes for mini loaves. For a larger loaf 30-35 minutes

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Yesterday I saw a recipe (if you can call it that) for a Earl Grey Vanilla Latte. That sounded really good mainly because Earl Grey or Lady Grey is my favorite tea. I decided to give it a go, the recipe called for almond or coconut milk but I used regular whole milk, strong brewed earl grey tea and a little vanilla bean paste in the milk that I frothed with this really cool gadget. Hot milk is frothed in seconds so you can enjoy a cappucino or latte any time. (This is not a promotion for this gadget I just think it’s cool)

frother

frother

earl grey vanilla latte

earl grey vanilla latte

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Loaf Part II And Stollen

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This is a different loaf than the one I made before, although I liked that loaf it was quite heavy and more bread like than I wanted. I try different recipes and although they turn out good there is something about it that just doesn’t sit right with me,  I almost always end up going back to my old stand by’s, the tried and true always good recipes that I use over over. The banana bread recipe is one of those, I substitute other fruits like apples and pears for the banana and in this case I used pumpkin. The change I made was adding spice, cinnamon, ginger and allspice along with pecans. These loaves are sweeter than the other but I am ok with that, they have the lighter texture and moist crumb that I wanted. I like the other recipe but my favorite way to serve is making mini muffins dipped in melted butter and rolled in a spice sugar mixture. For a loaf I like this recipe though, they are very light, moist and delicious.

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

Stollen dough ready for an overnight chilly rise

I made my fruitcakes and have quite a bit of leftover boozy fruit and it’s been years since I’ve made Stollen, a German slightly sweet and absolutely delicious holiday bread. I had saved a recipe on Food52 years ago by Chef June and decided this year I would try it. The recipe is vintage and the directions are a bit vague so I decided to wing it. If it turns out I will post the recipe, well even if it doesn’t I might. The dough is super easy to put together, no kneading at least the directions don’t call for it so we will see. The butter is broken into the flour like a pie crust, I did it in the food processor then you add the rest of the ingredients and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.  I have a feeling it’s going to be wonderful, rich and buttery and eggy. Fingers crossed. More to come…..

Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Loaf

makes 1 9×5 loaf or 3 mini loaves

1 cup flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

4 oz or 1 stick butter room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

approximately 1/2 cup chopped pecans

demerara sugar mixed with cinnamon, allspice and ginger to sprinkle on top of loaf

Heat oven to 35o and butter or oil your loaf pan or pans. Put flours, baking soda, salt and spices in small bowl and whisk together.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Fold in the pecans and spoon into prepared pan or pans, smooth out the top, sprinkle with chopped pecans and sprinkle with sugar spice mixture and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until golden brown and tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then using a small flexible offset spatula or butter knife loosen the edges running it around the loaf. Turn out onto cooling rack and let cool completely before wrapping. This loaf freezes well, wrap in plastic and place in ziplock bag before freezing.

 

More Holiday Cookies- Crinkle Cookies And Chocolate Thumbprints

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Baking for the Holidays is work but fun at the same time. Both of these recipes were included in my boxes last year and this year as well. The recipe for the Crinkle cookies is from Fida at Sweet and Savory Pursuits. The chocolate thumbprint cookies came from my archive of recipes and I don’t know who penned the original. They are really good and I like putting a white chocolate striped Hershey’s kiss right in the middle.

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Holiday Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Fida- Sweet and savory pursuits

Makes 36-44 depending on size

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. instant espresso powder optional
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl combine the all purpose-flour, espresso powder (if using), baking power, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and vegetable oil, blend until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and blend.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and mix until well blended, being careful not to to overmix the batter.

  6. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours or more. If pressed for time, place covered bowl in the freezer and freeze for approximately an hour and a half. Note: I like leaving the dough overnight in the refrigerator, and refrigerate or put in the freezer between batches. It is a sticky dough and needs to be cold when handling.
  7. When ready to roll the cookies, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 350ºF.

  8. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop a ball of dough out, roll it in your hands and then roll the ball into the granulated sugar before rolling it a second time in powdered sugar.

  10. Place balls of cookie dough about two inches apart on the baking sheet and repeat process until the sheet is full.

  11. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies will look uncooked between the cracks but that is ok, they will set as they cool on the baking sheet. Please see note for explanation on determining time needed for baking cookies.

Recipe Notes

1. If dough sticks to your hands when rolling, just powder your hands with the icing sugar, the dough shouldn’t stick anymore.
2. If dough is still too sticky then you should return it to the freezer or fridge for additional chilling time.
3. At 10 minutes you should have cookies that are still very fudgy inside. If you prefer them more done, leave them in the oven for an extra minute. I found that the cookies I left in for 12 minutes kept a perfectly domed shaped. Those at 10 min sunk in just slightly in the middle. Note: I baked for exactly 11 minutes and they kept the dome shape and were soft and totally delicious.
I recommend baking a few on a tray to see how you like them and what the perfect time is for you before baking the entire batch of cookies.

Itty bitty thumbprint cookies

Itty bitty thumbprint cookies

Chocolate Thumbprints

Makes 36-48 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter room temperature (soft)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar in bowl to roll cookies in.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.  If you do not use all of the cookie dough refrigerate but bring to room temperature before baking. Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s. Use a small scoop (so they are uniform in size) and roll in your hands into a ball, place dough in the bowl of sugar and make sure its completely covered, place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Using your thumb make an indent on top of each ball. You can fit 1 dozen on a baking sheet, cookies should be at least an inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes no longer please, it really depends on your oven, when you remove them they will be soft,my first batch I kept in almost 10 minutes the second batch 8 minutes, I like them better when left in for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes on baking sheet and then place a kiss in the center of each cookies. Place on cooling rack. The kiss will soften but should retain it’s shape.

Another gift box ready to mail

Another gift box ready to mail

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

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I found this recipe on Food52 and it looked so good and got great reviews that I decided to make it and include it in my gift boxes this year. Trying new recipes is great especially if the results are good, this loaf did not disappoint, the combination of spices and pumpkin and molasses is delicious and even better it’s not overly sweet. If you do want a sweeter loaf you can tightly pack the brown sugar. The loaf is hearty, rustic, moist and makes a great addition to my gift boxes.

The recipe made two mini loaves that rose high above the pan and with the batter that was left I made some mini muffins that I rolled in melted butter and then in spiced sugar and I think next time I make this I will just make mini muffins, they are really good!!

This loaf and mini muffins are heading to the party, Fiesta Friday #149 and our co-hosts this week are Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Sandhya @ Indfused

Ginger Molasses Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 9×5 loaf or 2 mini loaves plus 6 mini muffins

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed) Tightly pack for a slightly sweeter loaf

2 tbs melted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup buttermilk (full fat)

1/4 cup molasses

1 tbs chopped (minced) fresh ginger

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on top of loaf)

1 tsp cinnamon (to sprinkle on top of loaf)

Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s

butter or use spray like PAM a 9×5 or 2 mini loaf pan (s)

In large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl whisk together egg, pumpkin,molasses, brown sugar, butter, oil, buttermilk until well combined. Add the fresh ginger and vanilla extract and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined careful not to overmix. Pour into prepared loaf pan or pans and mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top. Bake 40 minutes for a 9×5 pan and 20-25 minute for mini loaves. Toothpick or tester should come out clean when inserted into center of loaf. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack and allow to cool completely before cutting. NOTE: I went a step further and after removing from the oven I brushed the top of the loaf with melted butter and sprinkled a combination of sugar, ginger and cinnamon on top.

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Chocolate, Orange And Hazelnut Biscotti

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I am working on gift boxes, I have sent off several but still have a lot to go, it’s a labor of love and quite a lot of work, the planning, shopping, baking is labor intensive but packaging and sending takes time as well, carefully packaging is so important as you don’t want your baked goods to arrive in pieces. Putting together a box or basket to give as a gift takes planning and careful thought. You want to send things that travel well, items that can withstand a few days in transit without going stale and you must carefully pack so that when the carrier jostles it around it will stay intact. I always send 2-3 day priority mail and tell them it’s “perishable” asking them to stamp that all over the box. So far I have been lucky and everything I have sent arrives in good shape. Knock on wood!!

A work in progress

A work in progress this is going to New Mexico to the winning bidder in a charity auction for a sick pup

Every year I make biscotti, being Italian I grew up on these delightful cookies, they are best when dipped in coffee, milk or Vin Santo or sweet dessert wine. This recipe is from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen, I changed the ingredients just slightly, Marisa’s biscotti have anise seed or extract which I would have loved and thought I had but did not so I left out the anise, and added chopped hazelnuts, other than that I followed the recipe exactly. This recipe caught my months ago and I saved it knowing I would be making biscotti for the holidays, I was looking for a biscotti that is not to hard, light and tender and looking at her recipe I thought that would be what I was looking for, and that is exactly how they turned out. They are delicious, I think adding the almond flour gives them a light as air, crunchy and delicate texture. They are wonderful and thank you Marisa for a great recipe.

Chocolate, Orange And Hazelnut Biscotti

 adapted from Marisa’s Italian Kitchen

1 3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbs orange zest

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup melted butter

1 egg white beaten with fork (to brush on the logs)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s and line a baking sheet with parchment

slightly uneven logs ready for the oven

slightly uneven logs ready for the oven

In large bowl add flours, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine, add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and stir so that the chocolate and nuts are covered with flour. In a small bowl beat the egg, sugar, orange zest, vanilla and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon stir until it’s a cohesive dough (the dough will be a little sticky, don’t add more flour thats the way it should be) Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Divide into 4 equal portions and form each into a log that is between 8-10 inches long. Transfer the logs to the baking sheet, brush with egg white and bake for 20 minutes turning pan halfway through. After 20 minutes remove from the oven and sit the baking sheet on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Place a log on a cutting board and slice diagonally into about 3/4 inch slices with a sharp serrated knife and place back on baking sheet standing upright for more even baking.

standing upright for even baking

standing upright for even baking

Place back in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes on the pan and then remove to cooling rack. NOTE: Timing is important. I baked them for exactly the time outlined in the recipe and I think to achieve these results you have to. I am not one to stick to an exact baking time, I tend to wing it, but with a few recipes I make I have to and this is one of them. 

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Pumpkin Molasses Dog Cookies

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Counting down the weeks before Christmas and this year I am making lots of gift boxes, for charity auction winners, family, friends and clients. I go through a huge amount of ingredients, flour, butter, sugar, dried fruit, chocolate etc… I don’t really care to calculate how much goes into this because I’m afraid I would scare myself.

When making gift boxes or baskets I will always include dog treats if the recipient is a pet parent. I posted a recipe for dog biscuits with peanut butter and fruit,  but for the holidays I wanted to do something with more holiday flavors and pumpkin, molasses and a dash of warm spice just screams holidays, at least to me. Why shouldn’t our fur babies have something a little different, special and holidayish.  After doing a little research I determined that molasses in small amounts is not bad for our canine companions and we all know that pumpkin is very very good for them, I didn’t go grain free  for these cookies, but used whole wheat pastry flour which given as a treat and not in large amounts is fine. I found a recipe online for pumpkin molasses dog treats and proceeded to put my own spin on it.

Pumpkin Molasses Dog Cookies

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup coconut oil

6 tbs water (more if needed a tbs at a time)

1 large egg

5 cups whole wheat flour or comination of whole grain flours

1/2 tsp baking soda (optional)

4 tsp dried milk

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Optional- sprinkle a little coconut palm sugar mixed with cinnamon and ginger on top before baking.

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Heat oven to 350 degree’s. In small bowl mix together the wet ingredients, pumpkin, molasses, egg, oil and water. In large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, dry, baking soda and spices. Add the wet ingredients and combine until it is a cohesive dough, if you need to add more water do so in small amounts 1 tbs at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool on rack.

Percy ate it but liked the bite of ginger molasses cookies for humans better

Percy ate it but liked the bite of ginger molasses cookies for humans better