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Friday, April 29, 2016

Sweet or Savory, a Crust is a Crust

Wow, we made it to Friday! Recently I used leftover chicken from my Granny's matzah ball soup recipe to make a chicken pot pie (single crust)! But a pie crust is a pie crust is a pie crust, and while each can be made differently and used for different types of desserts, the delicacy of the crust is important in every situation. How much you handle the crust and knead the dough is key - and it's as little as possible. While it's easy to make a crust in a food processor, using a pastry blender is easy and leads to a better result! Check out the steps to making an herb crust below (but choose your favorite recipe to bake it into a crust!):

Herb Crust
Bon Appetit, Oct 1999
Makes single crust
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (**I sub in 1 cup of whole wheat flour**)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water
Directions

  1. Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until herbs are very finely chopped. Add butter and shortening. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  2. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using fork, mix enough ice water into flour mixture to form moist clumps. 
  3. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)


Dry ingredients and herbs

Mix with a pastry blender
and then a fork for the ice water

Mix until combined, but that's it!

Roll out at least 30 min later

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sweetening with Condensed Milk

Happy Thursday to all! I was recently reminded of the sweet joys of baking with sweetened condensed milk, a deliciously sweet and creamy concoction that adds a delightful punch to desserts that aren't often the first off our "to do" lists. Check them out below:

Macaroons!
Coconut Macaroons
Danny Cohen (aka Danny Macaroons)

Ingredients
  • One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.
  2. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  3. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.
MAKE AHEAD: The macaroons can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.


Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar
William Werner

Ingredients
Bourbon Sugar:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
Fudge:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Directions
Bourbon Sugar:
  1. Preheat oven to 150° or as low as yours will go. Scrape vanilla seeds into a small bowl; stir in demerara sugar and bourbon. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry out in oven overnight, leaving door slightly ajar. Mixture should feel like demerara sugar again in the morning.
Do Ahead: Store bourbon sugar airtight at room temperature up to 2 months.

Fudge:
  1. Line an 8x8” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on 2 sides; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Heat chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, until almost completely melted. Set aside.
  2. Combine condensed milk, butter, bourbon, corn syrup, and kosher salt in a small saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds and add pod. Heat over medium until barely hot (same as the chocolate).
  3. Gently stir one quarter of milk mixture into chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add another quarter of milk mixture, stirring to incorporate (it might look broken and greasy; don’t worry, it will come back together). Continue with remaining milk mixture in 2 additions, stirring vigorously until fudge is very shiny and almost elastic, about 5 minutes. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with bourbon sugar and sea salt. Let cool, then cover and chill at least 4 hours.
  4. Turn out fudge onto a cutting board and slice into 2x¾” rectangles, 2” squares, or triangles.
Do Ahead: Fudge can be made 1 week ahead. Wrap tightly and chill.


Coffee Infused Tres Leches Cake
Rick Bayless

Ingredients
For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs at room tempterature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Three Milks, Meringue, and Garnish:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoonvanilla extract preferably Mexican
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup shaved Mexican chocolate
Directions
  1. Bake the cakes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan that makes 6 large muffins with muffin papers.
  2. Place the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of water to the yolks and mix well. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they start to thicken and form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix well. Gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites. Repeat, alternating the flour mixture and egg whites until everything is thoroughly combined. Scoop the fluffy batter into the prepared muffin tins, place in the hot oven and bake until the tops spring back when touched, 20 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then take the individual cakes out of the molds, remove the papers and invert them into a deep 13x9 inch baking dish.
  4. Make the three milks mixture. Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well. Slowly pour the mixture over the cakes, soaking them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the milks to be absorbed into the cakes.
  5. Frost the cakes with meringue and serve. Combine the sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Dip a brush in water and use it to clean the sides of the pan so no sugar crystals remain. (This is an important step in keeping the syrup from recrystallizing.) Lower the heat to medium and boil the syrup until it reaches soft ball stage (when a little syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft ball).
  6. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until the whites form soft peaks. Drizzle in the hot sugar syrup in 4 additions, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool.
  7. To serve, place each soaked cake on a plate, decorate with a big dollop of meringue, toasting the peaks with a kitchen torch. Sprinkle with the Mexican chocolate and present to your guests to enjoy.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Post Easter/Passover Spring

Happy Monday everyone! As we kick off the week, we leave behind the carrot and lemon cakes of Easter; the macaroons and chocolate matzah of Passover, and look ahead to fruity desserts for spring. Let's check out what's in store for spring:

Mock chestnut cake, topped with matzah crunch (for Pesach)
Apricot Almond Layer Cake
Gourmet, April 2005

Ingredients
Almond Macaroon Layers:
  • 12 oz sliced blanched almonds (3 3/4 cups) or blanched slivered almonds (2 3/4 cups)
  • 3 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
Apricot Compote:
  • 6 oz dried California apricots (1 1/2 cups), finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • For praline almonds
  • 1 cup sliced blanched almonds (3 oz)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Mascarpone Cream:
  • 1 1/2 cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese (10 oz)
  • 1/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Disaronno Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
  • Special equipment: parchment paper
Directions
Make macaroon layers:
  1. Trace 2 (8-inch) circles on 1 sheet of parchment paper and a third circle on second sheet. Turn sheets over and put on 2 baking sheets.
  2. Pulse almonds with 1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground (mixture will resemble sand), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and sift in remaining 2 cups confectioners sugar, then stir until combined well.
  3. Beat egg whites with salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir whites into almond mixture until completely incorporated (batter will be thick), then divide batter evenly among traced circles on baking sheets (about 1 2/3 cups per circle), smoothing into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.Let rounds stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, about 30 minutes.
  5. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Bake macaroon layers, switching position of baking sheets halfway through cooking, until macaroons are crisp and edges are just barely pale golden, about 25 minutes. Turn off oven and let macaroons stand in oven 10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets on racks, about 1 hour.
Make compote while macaroon layers bake:
  1. Simmer dried apricots in water in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until apricots are very soft and most of liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir in preserves, then cool completely.
  2. Make praline almonds:
  3. Heat almonds in a 12-inch dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until almonds are hot but not yet colored, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners sugar and continue cooking, stirring and tossing, until almonds are lightly toasted and sugar glaze is caramelized, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer almonds to a large sheet of foil and spread into 1 layer with a fork. Cool completely.
Make mascarpone cream:
  1. Just before serving, beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, and Amaretto with cleaned beaters at medium speed until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup praline almonds, then fold remainder into cream.
  2. Put 1 macaroon layer on a platter and spread with one third of compote (about 1/2 cup), then spread one fourth of mascarpone cream (about 3/4 cup) on top. Make another layer with second macaroon in same manner. Top with remaining macaroon, remaining compote, and remaining cream (1 1/2 cups), then sprinkle with reserved praline almonds.
Cooks' Notes:
  1. Macaroon layers can be made 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container, layered between parchment paper, at room temperature.
  2. Apricot compote can be made 5 days ahead and chilled, covered.
  3. *Praline almonds can be made 1 week ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.


Rhubarb-Pistachio Bundt Cake with Rose Glaze
Caren Rothman, Poppy's Catering 

Ingredients
Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • 8 ounces rhubarb (2-3 stalks), trimmed
Rose Glaze:
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Decorating the Cake:
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals
  • 2 tablespoons raw pistachios, toasted and chopped
  • Special equipment: 12-cup Bundt pan
Directions
Make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour Bundt pan, tapping out excess flour.
  2. Rub together granulated sugar and lemon zest with your fingers in a large bowl until fragrant. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream lemon sugar and 3/4 cup butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down sides of bowl and beating well between each addition. Beat in rose water and vanilla extract on medium-low speed until just combined.
  3. Whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in another large bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to lemon sugar mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Fold in pistachios.
  4. Cut rhubarb crosswise into 2 1/2" pieces. Using a mandoline set to 1/4" or a very sharp knife, slice rhubarb lengthwise, maintaining as much red skin on stalks as possible.
  5. Pour one-third of the batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Add half of the rhubarb, nestling pieces side by side to form a thick ring on top of batter. Pour another third of the batter on top of rhubarb layer; smooth surface. Repeat with remaining rhubarb and batter.
  6. Bake cake until the surface is cracked and golden brown, springs back to the touch, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cake rest in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Make the rose glaze:
  1. Whisk powdered sugar, milk, rose water, vanilla extract, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Glaze should be pourable but stiff enough to hold its shape-it can be thickened with more powdered sugar or thinned with more milk if needed.
Decorate the cake:
  1. Using a spoon, drizzle rose glaze over cooled cake, holding the spoon a few inches above the cake. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle rose petals and pistachios on top.
  2. Do Ahead
  3. Cake can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic, and stored at room temperature up to 3 days. Glaze can be made and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
Cooks' Note: 
  1. Dry your own rose petals from fresh roses or find dried rose petals at gourmet and Middle Eastern food stores.


Strawberry-Basil Shortcakes
Chris Fischer, Bon Appetit, May 2014

Ingredients
Shortcakes:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
Berries And Assembly:
  • 1½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 3 cups), divided
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
Directions
Shortcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in butter until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add cream and mix until dough just comes together (it will be sticky).
  2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12x4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 2½” biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash. Bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through, 15–20 minutes.
  3. Do Ahead: Shortcakes can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Berries And Assembly:
  1. Coarsely chop 2 cups strawberries (use any bruised or less perfect ones) and cook with 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Let berry compote cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toss basil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and remaining 1 cup strawberries in a medium bowl and let sit until fruit begins to release juices, 10–15 minutes. Discard basil.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream, crème fraîche, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar to soft peaks, about 4 minutes.
  4. Split shortcakes and fill with berry compote, whipped cream mixture, and macerated strawberries.

Happy baking!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fondant Decor

Happy Monday! I spent the week making an extravagant bridal shower cake, topped with a big, poofy fondant bow. Let's break down the details of how to make this show-stopping bow!





  1. Make sure your fondant is pliable and soft; this requires a little kneading (think bread dough). Be sure to keep your fondant double wrapped in plastic while not using it...fondant hardens as it sits in the open air. 
  2. Using a fondant rolling pin, roll out a piece of fondant into a rectangle (perhaps about 1/4" thick, 8x10" wide for easier control. Cut strips about 3/4" thick.
  3. Paint a dab of royal icing on the bottom of one end and place a 6" piece gum paste wire on top. Fold the other end of fondant to meet and pinch until the two ends hold together. Place the loop on its side (on parchment! Don't let it stick!) overnight to harden. 
  4. Continue the process until you make 30-40 pieces (occasionally some will break as you lift them).
  5. Day 2: Make a ball of fondant as the base of your bow. Attach a row of loops into the ball like a 2D flower. Attach a little bit of fondant to the ball - another layer of ribbons. Another little ball and a few more ribbons. As you attach ribbon on top of ribbon, the spacing will get tighter and smaller, giving it more of a poofy, 3D appearance. Be sure to cover up the balls of fondant in the center so the bow looks seamless as it gets bigger.
Good luck and happy baking!

Monday, March 28, 2016

From Easter Sweets to Flourless Treats

Mini Easter baskets!

Happy Monday everyone! If you celebrate Easter (or just take advantage of the spring-colored candy sales), you might be feeling the effects of a sugar coma. So let's all take a moment to drink a sip of water. Go ahead. Feel detoxed yet? Take another sip. ... Great! So now we're ready to eat! Perhaps you are looking ahead to Passover coming up in a few weeks, or maybe you're just feeling the need to leave the flour in the cupboard. Either way, today we celebrate flourless desserts! Three cheers for a delicious, dense cake!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Hazelnuts and Brandied Cherries
Bon Appetit, March 2007

Ingredients
Brandied cherries:
  • 1 750-ml bottle brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
Cake:
Piece de resistance: giant Easter basket
Mini cookies in eggs, bag of sugar cookies,
mini lemon loafs, lemon blueberry muffins,
and mini lemon poppyseed muffins
  • 10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
  • 10 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 large egg whites
Ganache:
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • Whipped cream
Directions
For brandied cherries:
  1. Combine brandy and dried cherries in 4-cup glass container with lid. Cover and let soak at room temperature 1 week.
  2. Bring 1 cup water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool syrup. Drain brandy from cherries (reserve brandy for another use). Add sugar syrup to cherries and stir to blend. Let soak at room temperature at least 2 days. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store covered at room temperature.
For cake:
  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round. Place chocolate and 1 1/4 cups butter in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl until very thick and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Gently fold chocolate mixture into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in another large bowl until peaks form. Fold 1/3 of beaten whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 45 minutes (cake will be puffed and soufflé-like while baking). Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes (cake will fall in center). Run knife around cake sides to loosen; press edge of cake down to make level with center. Remove pan sides and cool cake completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.
For ganache:
  1. Combine chocolate and cream in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water; let stand until ganache cools slightly but is still pourable, about 5 minutes.
  2. Place cooled cake on rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup ganache over top of cake. Using offset spatula, quickly spread ganache over top and sides of cake. Freeze cake 3 minutes. Pour remaining ganache over top of cake. Working quickly but gently and grasping pan bottom and rack together, slightly tilt rack with cake from side to side, allowing ganache to flow evenly over top and down sides of cake; smooth sides with offset spatula. Press hazelnuts onto sides of cake to adhere. Chill cake until ganache is set, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and keep refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature 45 minutes before serving.
  3. Cut cake into wedges. Garnish with whipped cream and spoon brandied cherries alongside.

Happy baking!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Desserts to Remind Us of SPRING

Happy Friday everyone! Even with a storm looming around the corner, the air smells of spring and the flowers are starting to bud! Let's focus on that, rather than the idea of *sigh* snow. These versatile recipes are great for spring or a fabulous Easter meal.

Coconut Key-Lime Sheet Cake
Katherine Sacks

Ingredients
Coconut-Key Lime Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated key lime zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh key lime juice (from about 6 key limes)
Coconut-Key Lime Curd:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated key lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh key lime juice (from about 4 key limes)
Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated key lime zest
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Directions
Make the Coconut-Key Lime Cake:
  1. Position rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spread coconut in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown and aromatic, 3–5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, coat a 13x9" pan with nonstick spray. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  3. Whisk toasted coconut, baking powder, salt, and 1 3/4 cups flour in a medium bowl. Mix coconut oil, vanilla, and 2/3 cup coconut milk in another medium bowl.
  4. Cream sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with coconut milk mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula.
  5. Bake cake until top is set and golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25–30 minutes.
  6. Mix key lime zest, juice, and remaining 2/3 cup coconut milk in a small bowl (it's okay if mixture separates slightly; it will be absorbed by cake). Using a skewer, poke holes every 2" into warm cake. Slowly pour key lime zest mixture over cake. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely.
Make the Coconut-Key Lime Curd:
  1. Pour water into a medium pot to a depth of 2". Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place butter in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof medium bowl. Whisk in key lime zest and juice. Set bowl on saucepan, making sure bottom does not touch water. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and an instant-read thermometer registers 175°F, 3–4 minutes.
  3. Strain egg yolk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over butter, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on key lime curd and chill at least 30 minutes.
Make the Whipped Cream Topping:
  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in chilled key lime curd and key lime zest. Spread cream on cooled cake with a spatula, then chill 30 minutes to set cream.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Spread coconut flakes in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing halfway through, until crispy and golden, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.
  3. When ready to serve, sprinkle toasted coconut flakes over cake.
  4. Do Ahead
  5. Lime curd can be made 1 week ahead. Store in an airtight container and chill, or freeze up to 4 months.
Chef's Note: If key limes aren’t available, use regular limes.


Sweet Risotto Fritters with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Melissa Kelly, Primo

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup orange muscat or Late Harvest Riesling
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium saucepan. Add the rice and stir over moderate heat until coated with the oil. Add the orange muscat and cook, stirring, until it is completely absorbed. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the milk is completely absorbed. Continue adding milk, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the risotto is creamy and porridgelike and the grains of rice are just tender. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and orange zest and transfer the rice to a bowl. Let cool slightly, stir in the beaten egg, then stir in the flour and baking powder.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir half of the beaten egg whites into the risotto, then fold in the rest.
  3. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat 2 inches of peanut oil to 350°. Position a wire rack on a baking sheet and cover the rack with paper towels. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the rice into the hot oil without crowding and fry until golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to the rack to drain. Repeat to make the remaining fritters. Sprinkle the fritters with confectioners' sugar and serve warm, with the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote.

Pistachio Pavlova with Rhubarb Cream
Gesine Bullock-Prado

Ingredients
Pavlova:
  • 1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
Rhubarb Cream:
  • 4 ounces rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries, plus 1/2 cup small strawberries for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, for garnish
Directions
  1. MAKE THE PAVLOVA Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a small bowl, toss the pistachios with the cornstarch.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at high speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Beat in the vinegar, then beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until the whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the pistachio mixture. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue onto the prepared sheet and spread into a 10-inch round with a slight indentation in the center. Lower the oven temperature to 225° and bake the meringue for about 1 1/2 hours, until crisp but still chewy on the inside. Turn the oven off; let 
the meringue rest in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool.
  3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE RHUBARB CREAM In a small saucepan, simmer the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice over moderate heat, stirring and mashing the rhubarb with the back of a wooden spoon, until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb breaks down, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the quartered strawberries and vanilla bean paste. Let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream with the mascarpone at medium speed until moderately firm, about 3 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled rhubarb, then fold the mixture into the remaining whipped cream. Spoon into the center of the meringue. Garnish with the small strawberries and chopped pistachios and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The cooled meringue can be stored in a large ziplock bag overnight.


Happy baking!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Fruit-Filled Cookies and Hamantaschen

Happy Monday! Purim is just around the corner, and the hamantaschen recipes are starting to come out again! This delightful sugar cookie is often filled with creamy poppyseeds, cherry pie cherries, or chocolatey goodness, and then pinched into a little triangle. They always remind me that spring is coming! But fruit-filled cookies aren't only a Jewish tradition. Let's take a look at yummy recipes that require a spread of jam! 
Hamantaschen:
Nutella, cherry, blueberry, and poppyseed


Start with the triangles...
Hamantaschen
Mimi Sheraton

Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ pound real cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ¾ cups flour, approximately
  • 1 pound prune jam (lekvar)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Let butter and cream soften at room temperature. Cream them together until thoroughly blended; beat in sour cream.
  2. Stir in salt, sugar and the egg.
  3. Gradually beat in flour, adding just enough to make a dough that will stick together. Form a ball, wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight.
  4. Before rolling out dough, prepare filling by blending prune jam with remaining ingredients. Set aside.
  5. Divide dough in half; place one half in the refrigerator while you roll the first. Place a sheet of waxed paper on the counter top or pastry board and place the first half of the dough on it. Top with a second sheet of waxed paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough between sheets of waxed paper, turning the dough over with the paper so it is rolled on both sides and lifting the sheets of paper between every two or three rollings. Dough should be about 1/8-inch thick.
  6. Roll the second half of the dough in the same way.
  7. Using a 3 1/2- to 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut circles from the rolled out dough. Place a well-rounded teaspoon of prune filling in the center of each circle.
  8. Moisten the edges of each circle with a little cold water and shape triangles; be sure to pinch the three corner seams tightly closed.
  9. Arrange hamantaschen on cookie sheets and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake hamantaschen for about 15 minutes or until bottoms and tops are golden brown.

A recipe from Poland...
Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies
Gourmet, December 2004

Ingredients
For pastry dough
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water for egg wash
For apricot filling
  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped dried apricots (10 oz)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup mild honey
  • 1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • Special equipment: parchment paper
  • Garnish: confectioners sugar
Directions
Make dough:
  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl until combined.
  2. Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with a paddle attachment) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Reduce mixer speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix just until combined.
  3. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
Make filling while pastry chills:
  1. Bring apricots, raisins, honey, marmalade, cinnamon and water to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until dried fruit is softened and mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool until warm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Chill until cold, about 2 hours.
Assemble and bake cookies:
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining pieces chilled) between 2 (12-inch) sheets of well-floured wax paper with a rolling pin into a roughly 11-inch square. (If dough gets too soft, transfer dough in wax paper to a baking sheet and chill until firm.) Discard top sheet of wax paper and trim dough with a pastry wheel or sharp knife into a 10-inch square. Cut square into 4 equal strips, then cut crosswise in fourths again to form a total of 16 (2 1/2-inch) squares.
  3. Working quickly, place 1 heaping teaspoon filling in center of each square. Brush 2 opposite corners with egg wash, then bring corners together and pinch firmly to adhere. (If dough becomes too soft, freeze it on a baking sheet for a few minutes.)
  4. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 17 to 20 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough and filling on a lined cooled baking sheet.
Note: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 4 days.


From Germany...
Raspberry Jam Sandwich Cookies (Spitzbuben)
Rischart Bakery via Saveur

Ingredients
  • 1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup raspberry jam
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 325°. Beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat. Add flour and salt; mix. 
  2. Transfer dough to a floured surface, form into a disk, roll until 1⁄4" thick. Using a 2" fluted round cutter, cut out cookies and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spaced 2" apart. Chill for 30 minutes. 
  3. Using a 1 1⁄4" plain round cutter, cut out centers of half the cookies; discard centers. Bake cookies until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes; cool.
  4. Dust cookie rings with confectioners' sugar. Place 1 tsp. jam in center of each whole cookie; spread to within 1⁄3″ of edge. Top each with a cookie ring.
Happy baking!