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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pink Isn't a Girl Color

Happy Tuesday everyone! In my quest for delicious recipes this week, I started thinking about things I've been eating lately. Do you know what stands out? Strawberries! I don't know what's happening but I hope it doesn't stop! They've been sweet and plump and extra delicious, especially this time of year. So today's recipes are all based around those juicy fruits!

Colors for days...
Flourless Pistachio Cake with Strawberry Meringue
Anna Stockwell

Ingredients
Cake:
  • Vegetable oil, for cake pan
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios (8 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Meringue Topping:
  • 1 1/3 cups freeze-dried strawberries (1.2-ounce package)
  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup almond flour (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 9-inch springform pan
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly brush a 9-inch springform pan with oil and line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Brush parchment with oil and set pan aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios with 1/4 cup sugar until finely ground (avoid overgrinding); set aside.
  3. In two large bowls, separate eggs into yolks and whites, discarding the sixth egg white. Add 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, salt, and cardamom to bowl with egg yolks and beat using an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Set egg yolk mixture aside and thoroughly clean and dry the beaters.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to the bowl with the egg whites and beat using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add half of the whipped egg whites and all of the ground pistachios to the egg yolk mixture and fold until combined. Add the remaining egg whites and fold until batter is just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until beginning to brown and just barely set, 20–25 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the meringue topping: In a food processor, process strawberries into a fine powder; set aside 1 Tbsp. strawberry powder for garnish and transfer remainder to a medium bowl. Whisk in almond flour and potato starch.
  7. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and vinegar until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in the sugar and and continue to whip until meringue is stiff and glossy and all the sugar has dissolved, 7–8 minutes. Gently fold almond mixture into meringue until just combined.
  8. Remove cake from oven. Using an offset spatula or table knife, spread meringue mixture evenly over hot cake, starting from the outside and working your way into the center. Return cake to oven and bake until meringue is lightly browned and crisp, 25–30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool, and immediately run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan. Let cake cool at least 30 minutes before decorating.
  9. To decorate the cake, place the reserved strawberry powder in a fine-mesh sieve and dust over cake as desired.Do ahead: Cake can be made up to one day before serving: cool to room temperature, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and store at room temperature.
Notes: Look for freeze-dried strawberries in the dried fruit aisle of your local health-food or specialty food store. If you don't have superfine sugar, you can make your own by pulverizing granulated sugar in a food processor.


New take on the usual...
Strawberry Tiramisu
Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 52 (about) crisp ladyfingers (boudoirs or Savoiardi)
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, divided
Directions
  1. Whisk preserves, 1/3 cup Cointreau, and orange juice in 2-cup measuring cup. Place mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons Cointreau in large bowl; fold just to blend. Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons Cointreau in another large bowl to soft peaks. Stir 1/4 of whipped cream mixture into mascarpone mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining whipped cream.
  2. Hull and slice half of strawberries. Spread 1/2 cup preserve mixture over bottom of 3-quart oblong serving dish or a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange enough ladyfingers over strawberry mixture to cover bottom of dish. Spoon 3/4 cup preserve mixture over ladyfingers, then spread 2 1/2 cups mascarpone mixture over. Arrange 2 cups sliced strawberries over mascarpone mixture. Repeat layering with remaining lady fingers, preserve mixture, and mascarpone mixture. Cover with plastic and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Slice remaining strawberries. Arrange over tiramas├╣ and serve.
*Italian cream cheese available at supermarkets and at Italian markets.



With a dollop of cream...
Country Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Ina Garten

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the 3/4 cup of sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the sour cream, the orange and lemon zests and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla and beat until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until smooth.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 15 minutes before turning it out onto the rack to cool completely.
  4. Beat the cream with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla until soft peaks form.
  5. Slice the cake in half horizontally. Spread most of the whipped cream over the cut side of the bottom cake half. Layer most of the sliced strawberries on top. Replace the top half of the cake and garnish with the remaining whipped cream and strawberries. make ahead The cake can be frozen for up to 1 month. Let it cool completely before wrapping in plastic and then foil. The assembled cake can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead.
Make Ahead: The cake can be frozen for up to 1 month. Let it cool completely before wrapping in plastic and then foil. The assembled cake can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead.


Happy baking!

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 souffl├ę 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!