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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cheesecake: The More the Merrier

Happy Thursday! Cheesecake, oddly enough, has been a topic of conversation around the water cooler lately. It got me thinking; did you know there are perhaps a billion and one ways to make a cheesecake? Let's explore a few today, shall we?

The original...
Creamy Cream Cheese Cheesecake
Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
Directions
To make the crust:
  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don't worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn't have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
  3. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
To make the cheesecake:
  1. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
  3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
  4. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  5. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
  6. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  7. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

Cheesecake for the non-cheese eater
Raw, Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Cheesecake
Gena Hamshaw

Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
For the filling:
  • 3 cups cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half, seeds scraped out for use, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 cup strawberries
Directions
  1. Soak the cashews in water overnight or for three or more hours. Drain them of water and set aside.
  2. Place the almonds and sea salt in a food processor and grind roughly. Add the dates and process until the mixture is uniform and sticks together when you squeeze a bit in the palm your hand. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9" springform pan.
  3. Use a high speed blender or food processor (high speed blender is preferable) to blend all filling ingredients except for the strawberries thoroughly, until silky smooth. If you're working with a processor, you may need to stop often to scrape it down.
  4. Pour just more than half of the filling mixture into the springform pan. Use an inverted spatula to smooth it over. Transfer to the fridge for thirty minutes or more to let this layer set.
  5. Blend the strawberries into the remaining filling mixture. Set it aside in a bowl while the first layer is setting. Once the first layer has been in the fridge for thirty minutes or longer, spread the strawberry layer over the plain vanilla layer. Transfer whole cheesecake to the fridge and let it sit for two hours or longer before slicing and serving.

For your inner Italian...
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
Marcella Giamundo

Ingredients
Pastry:
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold solid vegetable shortening, divided into 3 pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk
Filling:
  • 1 1/2 pounds ricotta (3 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
Directions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse several times. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs and milk and pulse until lightly moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until smooth. Form the dough into 2 disks, 1 slightly larger than the other. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or for up to 3 days.
  2. In a food processor, combine the ricotta, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, anise liqueur and vanilla and process until smooth.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured work surface or between sheets of plastic, roll out the larger disk of dough to a 13-inch round. Line a 10-by-1 1/2-inch pie plate with it. Patch any cracks. Spoon in the filling. Roll out the remaining disk of dough to an 11-inch round. Brush the pastry pie rim with water and set the round on top. Press the edges together to seal. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp decoratively. Make 3 small slashes in the top and brush with the egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden; cover with foil if it browns too quickly. Let cool on a rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
MAKE AHEAD: The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Happy baking!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Caramel, Three Ways

Happy Thursday everyone! If you've missed recipe updates, I'm back after a short break post-Passover/Easter weekend. Have you checked out my Facebook page recently? You'll find the latest updates/photos posted there. Or maybe here as well:




So today I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about, and after doing some browsing and recipe-ogling, I started thinking about the many ways to make caramel. I've got 3 ideas for you - from easier to harder - on using homemade caramel in a variety of ways.

A little easier to manage...
Molten Caramel Cakes
Chuck Hughes

Ingredients
  • 2 cups/500ml chopped white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup/60ml butter, plus more for the ramekins
  • 2 cups/500ml store-bought dulce de leche
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup/60ml sugar
  • 1 cup/250ml all-purpose flour
  • Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Directions
  1. Melt the white chocolate with the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the dulce de leche and stir until incorporated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale and has doubled in volume. Gradually add the white chocolate mixture, and then the flour. Take your time to avoid lumps.
  4. Divide the batter among 6 ramekins. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and the centers are still soft, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Just a bit more difficult, but you can do it!
Bourbon-Sea Salt Caramels
Bon Appetit, December 2013

Ingredients
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Special equipment:A candy thermometer

Directions
  1. Lightly coat an 8x8" baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang on 2 sides; spray parchment.
  2. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8–10 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously) until smooth. Fit pan with thermometer and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thermometer registers 240°F. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt. Pour into prepared pan; let cool. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt, cut into 3/4" pieces, and wrap individually in parchment paper.
DO AHEAD: Caramels can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store wrapped tightly in plastic in airtight container at room temperature.



Hardest of the 3, but you can make your own caramel! (I've posted the "how to" in the past.)
Ricotta Caramel Custards
Erica De Mane

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds fresh whole milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar with the water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Continue to boil the sugar syrup, without stirring, until a golden amber caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and dip the bottom of the pan in a bowl of cool water to stop the cooking. Immediately pour the hot caramel into eight 4-ounce ramekins; swirl to evenly coat the bottoms with caramel. Set the ramekins in a roasting pan.
  4. In a food processor, combine the ricotta with the whole egg, egg yolks, cream, rum, vanilla, orange-flower water, orange zest and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Process until smooth. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake the ricotta custards for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top and set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool. Cover and refrigerate the custards overnight.
  6. To unmold, run a small knife around each custard, place a dessert plate on top and invert, giving the ramekin a little shake. If the custard sticks, briefly dip the bottom of the ramekin in hot water and invert again.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Desserts: Less Than a Week to Go!

Happy Tuesday everyone! In the final Easter countdown, you still have time to make a fabulous dessert for your holiday brunch (or something memorable to bring to a party - sure to get you invited back next year!). Be warned - these recipes might also lead to more spring-like temperatures and flowers in bloom (one can hope, anyway...).

Lemons...
Meyer Lemon Bars
Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand, The Kitchn Cookbook

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 2 tsp ice water
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving 1" of overhang on the two long sides.
  2. In a food processor, pulse 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water 1 tsp at a time if mixture is too dry. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan, pressing snugly against the inside edges.
  3. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Set pan on a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  4. Whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until well combined and pale in color. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup flour, and a pinch of salt. Pour topping over warm crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set.
  5. Set pan on a rack to cool. Remove squares by lifting parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with remaining 3 tbsp powdered sugar.

Strawberries...
Strawberry Cream Puffs
Ed Jiloca

Ingredients
Cream Puffs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 large eggs
Pastry Cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • GLAZE
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
Strawberries with Tarragon
  • 2 pints strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, salt, sugar and butter to a boil. Add the flour all at once, remove from the heat and stir until a smooth ball forms. Transfer the dough to a bowl and let cool for 1 minute. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions, until smooth.
  2. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet in 8 mounds. Using a lightly moistened finger, smooth the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250° and bake for 15 minutes longer, until the puffs are lightly golden. Let cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the milk, salt, vanilla bean and seeds to a boil. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Whisk the mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick and bubbling, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter. Strain the pastry cream into a bowl, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the strawberry preserves with the water and bring to a simmer. Whisk vigorously to break up the fruit. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, vanilla seeds and tarragon.
  6. Split the cream puffs horizontally and gently pull out any soft dough from the centers. Spoon the pastry cream into the puffs, top with some strawberry slices and replace the tops of the puffs. Spoon some of the glaze on top and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Serve.


Mmmm...cake...
Victoria Sponge Cake
Saveur

Ingredients
  • 3⁄4 lb. plus 1 tbsp. salted European-style high-fat butter, 
  • softened
  • 3 cups plus 1 tbsp. self-rising cake flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1⁄4 cups double Devon cream
  • 3⁄4 cup high-quality strawberry jam
  • Confectioners' sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 360º. Grease two 2"-deep 8" round cake pans with 1/2 tbsp. butter each. Dust each with 1/2 tbsp. flour; set aside.
  2. Beat remaining butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Combine eggs and 6 tbsp. water in another bowl. Add half the egg mixture and half the flour to butter–sugar mixture. Beat well for 1–2 minutes. Add remaining egg mixture and flour; beat batter for 5 minutes.
  3. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Invert cakes onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool completely.
  4. Beat cream in a medium bowl until stiff. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, spread top with half the jam, then cover jam with the cream. Spread top of remaining cake layer with remaining jam and place it, jam side down, on top of cream. Dust cake with confectioners' sugar.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fruit-Filled Easter Desserts

Happy Tuesday everyone! As I promised, last week was devoted to Passover and this week is Easter week. Today's recipes aren't your typical lemon pies and carrot cakes, but they'll win over your holiday table nonetheless. Check out what you can do with spring FRUIT!

Blackberry and Apple Cake
Saveur

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup softened unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1½ lbs. fresh blackberries (about 6 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 3 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and quartered
  • ⅓ cup apple brandy, such as calvados
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 2¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. fine salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" springform pan with butter. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper circle; grease paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil to prevent drips; set aside. In a small bowl, toss 2 cups blackberries with brown sugar; set aside to let macerate.
  2. Meanwhile, cut each apple quarter into ⅛" slices; toss with apple brandy in a bowl; set aside. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, stir together milk, vanilla, and lemon zest; set aside. Using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 15 seconds after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low. Alternately add flour and milk mixtures in thirds, beginning and ending with flour, until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and gently fold in the apple–calvados mixture.
  3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan; spread evenly. Scatter remaining blackberries over top of batter. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes; unmold, then cool completely. Mash macerated blackberries through a sieve into a bowl; discard seeds. Serve cake slices drizzled with the blackberry juice and dollops of crème fraîche (if using).


Apricot-and-Basil Shortbread Tart
Roy Shvartzapel

Ingredients
Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves with stems
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pastry
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg yolk
  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Topping
  • 6 apricots (1 1/4 pounds), halved
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam, melted
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the milk with the sugar and basil; bring to a simmer. Remove the milk from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the basil and squeeze any milk back into the pan; discard the basil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of milk with the yolks and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the warm milk; bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Scrape the cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a 14-by-4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the hard-boiled egg yolk with the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, potato starch and salt and beat at low speed until just combined. Using lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the side of the tart pan. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes, or until chilled.
  4. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack and let stand until cooled, about 1 hour.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the apricot halves cut side up on the paper and sprinkle all over with the sugar. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the apricots are tender and lightly browned. Let the apricots stand until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Unmold the crust and transfer it to a serving plate. Using a small offset spatula, spread the cream evenly in the crust. Arrange the apricots on the cream, cut sides down, and brush with the melted jam. Cut the tart crosswise into strips and serve at once.
Notes: To make a 9-inch round tart, press the dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Use 10 apricots and 1/4 cup of sugar for sprinkling. Double the pastry cream. Bake for 40 minutes.


Rhubarb Frangipane Pie
Allison Kave

Ingredients
Frangipane Filling
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick/85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Rhubarb Filling
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) fresh rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces (about 3 cups; remove any tough strings)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Egg wash or milk, for glaze
  • Raw sugar, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough into an 11-inch (28-cm) circle about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) thick. Line a 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate with the dough, and trim the overhang to 1 inch (2.5 cm). Refrigerate the crust until ready to bake.
  2. Make the frangipane filling: In a food processor, grind the almonds and sugar until they are sandy. Add the butter, then the egg, flour, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Make the rhubarb filling: In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the rhubarb and orange zest and toss to coat.
  4. Spread the frangipane over the bottom crust. Pile the rhubarb filling on top. Brush the pie shell edges with egg wash or milk.
  5. Roll out the other half of the pie crust into an 11-inch (28-cm) circle. Lay the dough over the surface of the pie. Trim the edges and tuck the dough inward or outward, pressing and rolling the bottom and top crust edges together. Crimp them into a decorative edge, brush with egg wash or milk, and sprinkle raw sugar over the top. Cut vents into the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  6. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Lower the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more, until the crust is golden and the filling is set (you'll see thick juices bubbling out when it's ready). Remove the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, at least 1 hour.
  7. This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered in plastic wrap. Let it come to room temperature before serving, or warm it in a low oven. It can be kept frozen for up to 2 months: Cover it in plastic wrap, then in foil, and let it come to room temperature before serving.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Flan, Hazelnuts, Champagne...Intrigued? Passover, baby!

Happy Tuesday everyone! As I said, this week we'll focus on Passover recipes, and next week I'll hit the Easter trail. So today I bring you a few more to get the wheels turning, the juices flowing, the citrus zesting...you know, a typical Tuesday.

Flan! Need I say more?
Orange-Almond Flan
Joan Nathan

Ingredients
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¾ cup whole blanched almonds, finely ground, or 1 cup finely ground almonds
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. Stir until completely dissolved. Place pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until syrup begins to bubble. Stop stirring and allow pan to sit until syrup begins to turn golden at edges, brushing down any sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water. Occasionally rotate pan to mix syrup without stirring it, then replace over heat. Continue doing this until syrup is evenly golden brown. Pour caramel into an 8-inch round flan mold or cake pan, or 10 to 12 3-inch fluted molds, tilting to spread caramel evenly along bottom. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together remaining 2 cups sugar with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until lukewarm.
  3. Whisk together yolks and whole eggs until blended, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Add orange zest, orange juice and ground almonds. Whisk in sugar syrup. Pour into caramel-lined mold or molds, filling to just below rim. Cover mold or molds tightly with foil.
  4. Place mold or molds into a larger pan. Pour enough hot water into large pan to reach halfway up side of flan mold. Bake until a knife inserted halfway into flan comes out clean, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on type of pan and oven used.
  5. Allow flan to cool, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Just before serving, warm base of pan by dipping it briefly in a pan of hot water. Invert onto a plate, and serve immediately.


A little dairy, but a lotta delicious.
Hazelnut-and-Chocolate Meringue Cake
Daniel Jasso

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (6 ounces)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop the nuts. Lower the oven temperature to 225°.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled.
  4. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.


It's what's on top that makes it count!Chocolate Truffle Pie with Orange-Champagne Sabayon and StrawberriesBon Appetit, April 2011

Ingredients

Truffle Pie

  • 1/4 cup almond meal or very finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound plus 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted pareve margarine
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
  • Sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Strawberries
  • 1 1/4 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
Orange-Champagne Sabayon

Directions
Truffle Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9-inch glass pie dish with margarine. Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Combine 1 pound chocolate and 6 tablespoons margarine in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 20- to 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring often. Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl 1 minute. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until thick and pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in orange peel, then chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low; beat in dry ingredients. Transfer batter to pie dish; place on rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Place baking sheet with pie in oven. Bake pie until cracked on top and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature (center will fall).
  4. Combine 1 ounce chopped chocolate and 1 tablespoon margarine in microwave- safe bowl. Microwave in 15-second intervals until glaze is smooth, stirring often.
  5. Drizzle glaze over pie. Sprinkle with almonds. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold. Tent with foil; chill.
Strawberries
  1. Toss berries, sugar, and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Chill until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
  2. Cut pie into wedges; place on plates. Serve with strawberries and sabayon.

Happy baking!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Passover is Coming!

Happy Monday everyone! So there are 2 big holidays coming up this spring: Pesach (Passover) and Easter. I like to divide and conquer, so let's take this week to discuss Passover! While the usual suspects (you know who you are) usually turn out dry, bland, or leave you *ahem* stopped up for days, these recipes will make you forget about chametz. You'll want these recipes regardless of whether or not you celebrate!

Chocolate. Crowd pleaser from one of my favorite authors...
Decadent Fudge Brownies
Marcy Goldman

Ingredients
  • 2 cups granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine, melted and cooled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup matzoh cake meal
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 7 by 10-inch rectangular baking pan, a 9-inch square pan, or an 8- or 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix the sugar into the melted butter, then the eggs, coffee, cocoa, salt, cake meal, and toasted walnuts, if using.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Do not overbake. The brownies should be set and seem dry to the touch, but there should not be a crust around the sides. Cool in the pan. Cut into squares or (if baked in a round pan) into wedges.

A new take on a classic recipe...
Chewy Almond Macaroons
Yewande Komolafe, given by a French boulanger

Ingredients
  • 18 oz. almond paste (not marzipan; see note)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine the almond paste, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, knead together until mixture is just incorporated. Add in the liqueur and gently work it into the paste to form a smooth dough.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Using a ½ oz. metal scoop, scoop out individual portions of the dough and place each in the bowl of powdered sugar. Coat each ball completely with powdered sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch space between each macaroon. Pinch together the sides of each macaroon with your fingers and thumb, leaving a finger-indented well in the center like a little volcano. Let the macaroons sit out for 20 minutes to dry out. Bake until golden brown, about 10–12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container.
Note: Almond paste is similar to marzipan but contains less sugar and no fillers. (Some versions of almond paste do contain cream or eggs; to make this recipe vegan, ensure that your almond paste contains no eggs or dairy.) Marzipan will not work for this recipe.


No flour necessary...
Chocolate Walnut Torte
Florence Fabricant

Ingredients
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 8 ounces walnuts, finely ground
  • Pinch of salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the egg yolks with half cup of the sugar until well blended, about 2 minutes at high speed in an electric mixer. Beat in the chocolate and fold in half the nuts. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites with the salt until very softly peaked, then gradually beat in the remaining sugar and continue beating until the egg whites hold firm peaks but are not dry.
  4. Stir a little of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in about half the remaining egg whites. Finally fold in the remaining nuts and the rest of the egg whites.
  5. Spoon the mixture into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and turn upside down on a rack or suspend, upside down, over the neck of a bottle, until completely cooled. Use a knife with a thin, stiff blade to loosen the cake from the pan by running the knife carefully and closely along the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring is in the Air...Somewhere...Out There...

Happy Tuesday everyone! It's rainy and dreary but no longer frigid - that MUST mean spring is coming, right? One can dream. To usher in the new season, I bring you a few recipes that celebrate warmth, flowers, and sunshine. Here's hoping...

Expand your idea of "traditional...."
Cocoa-Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble
William Werner

Ingredients
Crumble
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (3 ounces); see Note
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Cake
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add the butter and beat at medium-low speed until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Press the mixture into 1/2-inch clumps and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Spread the clumps on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until fragrant and firm. Let cool. Wipe out the mixer bowl.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the mixer bowl, combine the sugar with the eggs, oil, crème fraîche, ginger and vanilla seeds and beat at medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients at low speed, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the carrots.
  3. Scrape the batter into the pans and top with the crumble. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean; cover the cakes loosely with foil during the last 30 minutes of baking. Transfer the pans to a rack and cool for 1 hour.
  4. Lightly wrap the top of each cake in a sheet of foil to prevent the crumble from dislodging. Top with a rack and invert the cakes; remove the pans. Turn the cakes right side up and let cool completely before serving.


Anytime you combine these flavors, happiness ensues...
Lemon-Poppy Seed Sandwich Cookies
Bon Appetit, March 1997

Ingredients
Cookies
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Cookies:
  1. Mix flour, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in egg, then poppy seeds, lemon peel and extracts. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using 21/2-inch-diameter fluted cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Gather scraps; reroll and cut out more cookies. Chill cookies on baking sheets 15 minutes.
  3. Bake cookies until edges just begin to color, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining dough. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month.)
Filling:
  1. Beat all ingredients in large bowl until light and fluffy. Spread 2 teaspoons filling over bottom of 1 cookie. Press second cookie, bottom side down, onto filling. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)



Typical spring...
Lemon Layer Cake
Ben Mims

Ingredients
Cake and Syrup:
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together milk and vanilla in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and zest on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel any large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally to produce four layers; set aside. Bring remaining sugar and juice to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, and set syrup aside.
  2. Make the frosting: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, zest, and salt in a 4-qt. saucepan. Add yolks, and whisk until smooth; stir in juice. Stirring often, bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, and transfer to a bowl; chill the lemon curd. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter and 1/4 of the curd on medium-high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add half the remaining curd, beating until smooth, and then add remaining curd and vanilla. Increase speed to high; beat frosting until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake stand, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 3/4 cup frosting; top with another cake, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Place another cake over the frosting, drizzle with 2 tbsp. syrup, and spread with 3/4 cup frosting; top with remaining cake, and drizzle with remaining syrup. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting; chill cake to firm frosting. Serve at room temperature.

Happy baking!