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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!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Variety of Pancakes

Happy Tuesday everyone! Did you know today is National Pancake Day? I've always wondered who comes up with this stuff...could I just make one day National Lizzy Bee's brownies Day? Just curious. Despite my skepticism, I do love a good pancake. So in honor of another food holiday, here are a few pancake recipes.

Interesting substitutions...
Almond Flour Pancakes
Emily Farris

Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoon unsalted butter—1 melted, the remaining 4 at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on low, gradually increasing the speed to medium. Beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Add to the almond flour mixture and stir to incorporate. Fold in the whipped egg whites.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter over moderate heat. When the butter has melted and the foam has begun to subside, pour batter into the pan using a 1/8-cup measuring cup (or whatever size you prefer), leaving space between the pancakes. Cook two minutes on the first side, then flip, and cook for one more minute. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. Serve immediately or place in a preheated 200º oven for up to 10 minutes.

Scottish pancakes...
Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter
Bon Appetit, May 2004

Ingredients
Cinnamon butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
Pancakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples (scant 1 pound), peeled, halved, cored
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
Directions
For cinnamon butter:Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in small bowl until blended.

For pancakes:
  1. Combine lemon juice and peel in bowl. Coarsely grate apples into bowl, tossing to coat with juice.
  2. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Make well in center of dry ingredients. Whisk in milk, eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter until smooth. Stir in apple mixture. Cover and let batter stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Heat heavy large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute. Brush griddle with some of remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. For each pancake, drop 1 heaping tablespoon batter onto griddle, spacing pancakes apart. Cook until golden on bottom and bubbles start to form on surface, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing griddle with butter before each batch of pancakes.
  4. Arrange pancakes on plates. Top each with dollop of cinnamon butter and serve.


Using baking techniques...
Hannah's Pancakes
Bev Heinecke

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) or more unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Additional melted butter
  • Pure maple syrup
Directions
  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and whisk until batter is smooth.
  2. Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Heat nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush generously with additional melted butter. For each pancake, fill 1/4 cup measuring cup half full and drop batter onto griddle. Cook pancakes until bottoms are brown, about 3 minutes. Using spatula, turn pancakes over and cook until bottoms are brown and pancakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates. Serve warm with syrup.


Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Purim Party (The Festive Goodies)

Happy Tuesday everyone! Purim is just around the corner, and even if you don't celebrate, it's a cookie holiday so who can turn that down??? I've got a few recipes to make your Purim happier, sweeter, and a little more intriguing. Enjoy!

Modern update on the staples...
Chocolate Hamantaschen with Caramel Pecan Filling
LA Times

Ingredients
Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups toasted chopped pecans
  • 7 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk or nondairy creamer
  • 1/4 cup honey
Chocolate Filling:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk, whipping cream or coffee
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Hamantaschen
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
Directions
Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  1. Bring sugar and water to boil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring with wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add pecans, butter and milk. Return to heat, stirring constantly, and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in honey.
  2. Transfer to oven-proof glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Chocolate Filling:
  1. Combine cocoa, sugar, milk and walnuts in bowl and blend thoroughly.
Assembly:
  1. Combine flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend in butter with electric mixer until mixture resembles very fine crumbs.
  2. Blend water and cocoa in small bowl and beat in egg. Add to flour mixture and beat until mixture begins to form dough. Do not over-mix.
  3. Transfer to floured board and knead into ball. Chill 30 minutes for easier handling. Divide into 6 or 7 portions. Flatten each with palm of hands and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 1/2-inch rounds with scalloped cookie cutter. Place 1 teaspoon Caramel Pecan Filling or Chocolate Filling in center of each round. Fold edges of dough toward center to form triangle, leaving bit of filling visible in center. Pinch edges to seal.
  4. Place on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white. Bake at 350 degrees until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.


Traditionally delish...
Apricot Hamantaschen
Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, The New Jewish Table

Ingredients
  • 4 cups dried apricots
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup egg wash
Directions
  1. Soak the apricots. Place the apricots in a medium bowl. Add boiling water to cover and set aside to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Mix the dough. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of the sugar, and the lemon zest and orange zest in a large bowl, whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is creamy and foamy. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring together with a wooden spoon until combined and a dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Make the filling. Drain the apricots in a colander, stirring to eliminate the surface water, and then blot dry on paper towels. Transfer them to a chopping board or bowl and finely chop. Mix the apricots, walnuts if using, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined.
  4. Make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles (use a biscuit cutter). Place a generous spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, then fold up three sides so the cookie looks like a 3-cornered hat, pinching the dough edges together but leaving the center open as shown in the photo. Gather the dough scraps and reroll; cut and fill in the same way. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush with the egg wash, which will give them a nice color. Bake until the pastry is golden brown—20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to wire racks to cool.
Sandwich Cookies Are Nice, Too
  1. For a different presentation (especially if you like to save the hat shape for Purim), make these into sandwich cookies. Use a small cutter to remove the centers from half the circles you cut out. Spread the filling over the whole circles and place a cutout circle on top of each one. Bake as above. You can dust the cooled cookies with confectioners' sugar if you wish.
Use Almonds for Passover
  1. This recipe can easily be transformed for serving at Passover. Simply substitute ground blanched almonds for the flour and omit the baking powder, and mix as directed for the Hamantaschen. The dough will be too sticky to roll out so choose one of the following options to shape and bake the cookies.
  2. Thumbprint cookies. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Pinch off walnut-size pieces, roll into balls, and arrange on a baking sheet, pressing a hollow into the center of each with your thumb. Fill the hollows with the apricot filling and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Slice-and-bake cookies. Shape the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap; freeze overnight. Slice 1/4-inch thick and bake for 12 minutes. Make into sandwich cookies with the apricot filling if you wish.


Often overlooked, but not forgotten...
Ma'amoul (Nut-Filled Cookies)
Joan Nathan, Jewish Holiday Cookbook

Ingredients
Dough:
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) pareve margarine or 1 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Confectioners' sugar
Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly ground walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Directions
  1. For the dough, place the flour, semolina, margarine, and oil in a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the water gradually, pulsing until a soft dough is formed. Cover and set aside for 10–15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. For the filling, combine the walnuts with the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Either use the ma'amoul mold described above or take a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll it into a ball and hollow out the center. Inside, place a heaping teaspoon of walnut filling. With your hands, mold the dough closed.
  5. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  6. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. With the tines of a fork or tweezers with a serrated edge, make designs on the top of each cookie, being sure not to penetrate the crust.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Do not brown; the cookies should look white. Cool. When hard, roll in confectioners' sugar.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Repurposing Leftovers into a Pot Pie

Happy Wednesday everyone! I've done so much cooking in the past week or so - chalk it up to the awful weather - my fridge is exploding with plasticware! So in order to consolidate, I took some of the leftovers, and turned them into a pot pie. All you need is a good crust recipe (which I provide below!) a few vegetables, gravy, and your meat of choice. Pop it in the oven on 400 for about half an hour and you're done!
Filled with chicken, peas, mushrooms, and more!

Herb Crust
Bon Appetit October 1999

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I sub 1 cup 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. 
  2. Add butter and shortening. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  3. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using fork, mix enough ice water into flour mixture to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. 
  4. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)