Saturday, April 21, 2018

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a food blogger, the definition of comfort food is very clear. For a certain food to be referred to as a comfort it has to meet several requirements. First (and most obvious) is that it has to have an amazing taste. However, sometimes the aroma of baking or cooking a particular food has a special power all its own. The food usually conjures up pleasant places, thoughts or memories. For example, a person might recall having a terrible day at school when they were a child, but got home only to find mom with some homemade cookies. Those cookies eased the situation back then and continue to retain that power, irregardless of the day or age of that same person. Sometimes just the aroma of the food baking or cooking.

So when you find yourself in the kitchen creating-never underestimate the power that food can have on your guests, family or friends.

Today I bring you the most favorite comfort food of all-chocolate chip cookies. Sure, these cookies are wonderful just with chocolate chips, but they get an extra boost of chewiness from coconut. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from The Institute of Culinary Education 

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or 10 oz chopped chocolate
1 cup of sweetened coconut 
1 cup butter (room temp)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar

Prepare 2 cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with butter and both kinds of sugar. Cream together by beating on medium high speed for 4 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg and the vanilla. Set aside. For the third bowl, sift together the baking soda and flour. Then whisk in the salt.

Pour the egg/vanilla mixture into the butter/sugar blend and beat for about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold the sifted ingredients into the batter. Once the dough is formed, add the chocolate chips and coconut. Use a wooden spoon to distribute the add ins throughout the dough.

Using a scoop or spoon, place tablespoon sized mounds of dough on the prepared baking sheets. The mounds should be about 2 inches apart. Place in oven and bake until cookies are golden on the edges and bottom. This should take about 8-10 minutes and the center will still be soft.

Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for one minute, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Tips and Notes:

1. The coconut only imparts texture to these cookies. If you want these cookies to have a coconut flavor, add about 1 tsp of coconut extract.

2. I tried these cookies with milk and semi sweet chocolate and both types turned out tasty. However, my preference will always be semi-sweet.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Italian Tomato Loaf

The one particular vegetable that equates to Italian cuisine is the tomato. My favorite kind of tomato is one called beefsteak. The beefsteak tomato is well known for its meaty texture and wonderful flavor.

I recall one dining experience in which I ordered Margherita pizza. Authentic and very much Italian, the pizza only had 4 components: crisp crust, tomato sauce, tomato slices and mozzarella. I have seen a lot of recipes for this type of pizza, but never with whole slices of tomatoes. All this typing makes me want another piece! It was quite a long time ago in a restaurant out of town, but I am ready to go back.

Between my love of bread and my thoughts about tomatoes, I found a base a recipe for tomato bread from My Recipe Cards and tweaked it by adding and eliminating elements until I created a recipe that produces a very Italian flavored tomato loaf.

This tomato bread has the same density of sourdough bread and includes Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese and two types of flour. Due to the chewy texture and flavor, the bread has many tasty uses. A few slices for a sandwich or an accompaniment for a pasta dish, are just to list a few. This recipe makes a smaller loaf, about 7-8 inches in diameter.

Italian Tomato Loaf
by Flourtrader

3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/3 cup grated mozzarella
1 tsp sugar
1 pkg yeast
1/4 cup snipped herbs (optional rosemary, basil, thyme in small pieces)
2 tbs butter
1 cup canned tomatoes (drained with 1/2 juice reserved)
3-4 cups flour
1 egg white (whisked)
topping (Italian seasoning or snipped herbs)

Fill a food processor with the tomatoes and the reserved juice. Pulse until tomatoes are blended, but not pureed, the mixture should still have some chunks of tomato.

Transfer to a saucepan and place a candy thermometer inside. Turn the heat up to medium and let the liquid warm up to 105 to 115 degrees. Remove from heat. Stir in the yeast and the sugar. Let the mixture sit until the surface is foamy.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the herbs (if using), Italian seasoning, butter and cheese. Once blended, fold flour into batter, 1 cup at a time. After the 2nd cup, let dough rest for 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and place on a flat, floured surface. Knead in the additional cup and then check for consistency. It should be a very stiff dough. If not, knead in more flour until the correct consistency is reached.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover lightly. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. After an hour, check the dough by making a half inch indentation in the center. If the indention remains, the rising time is complete. If not, let it rise for additional time as needed.

After the first rise time, punch down dough. Shape into a round loaf and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut a few slits in the top and then let rise again. As it rises, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Check the dough after 1 hour of rise time by lightly pressing on top. The rising time is complete if the imprint remains.

Brush the surface with the egg white and sprinkle with fresh herbs or dry Italian seasoning. Bake until the surface is toasty and tapping the loaf emits a hollow sound, approximately 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on rack to completely cool.
                              **LAST YEAR:Blackberry Ginger Kouign Amann**

Friday, April 6, 2018

Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart

Father time has a way of running things when it comes to spices and ingredients. Some things hold up against time and others deteriorate quickly. I read somewhere that poppy seeds are bad when we buy them here in the US. This means that we have no idea of what a fresh seed tastes like.

Today, I realized that my espresso powder became a victim. That big plastic jar with the screw on lid was no match to the Texas weather. Instead of a powdery substance like cocoa, I opened to find a brick. Even though it said store in a cool dry place, I thought that my damp clay round that I used to keep brown sugar from getting hard would do the trick. Now I have a clay piece stuck to the espresso brick as an indication that humidity is the enemy.

This recipe requires a touch of espresso powder, so I just scraped off enough of the brick to get what I needed. I will have to look into storing and packaging the next time I purchase. Considering how much I used versus how much was wasted- I was not at all pleased.

Diverting my attention, I moved forward with the task of creating a chocolate tart. At the end of the project, one bite of the rich chocolate filling and crispy crust of this decadent dessert made me forget all about the espresso issue. Pairing the the vanilla whipped cream topping with the rich dark chocolate filling that was laced with a hint of coffee flavor truly was nothing short of being a deliciously genius idea.

Ah, the powers of chocolate-not only a tasty indulgence, but a bit magical in the way it makes a person feel. I do recommend that we all experience the magic of chocolate every once in a while and this particular tart is a great choice. This recipe makes one 9 1/2 inch or 3 five inch tarts.

Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart
adapted from Sur La Table

2 1/2 tbs Dutch cocoa
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 oz or 1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
1 egg yolk

16 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tbs espresso powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup heavy cream

1 tbs sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs cream stabilizer ( optional)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbs cocoa nibs (optional garnish)

For the crust, start by filling the bowl of a stand mixer with sugar and butter. Cream mixture together by beating on medium high speed for a total of 3 minutes, stopping at one minute intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg until blended.

Using another bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa. Then fold it into the sugar mixture until no dry streaks remain. Shape dough into a flat disk and place in tart pan. Press and form the dough into the sides and on the bottom-covering all areas evenly. Then take a long sharp knife and cut off the excess dough from the top edge of the tart. Once completed, place in refrigerator 1 hour or chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take chilled tart out. Using the tines of a fork, make small holes in the bottom of the dough. Then cover the surface of the dough with parchment paper and place pie weights on top. Place tart in the oven and let bake for 15 minutes. Take tart out of oven and remove weights and parchment paper. Return tart to the oven and let bake for an additional 15-17 minutes. Remove and place on rack to completely cool.

The filling starts with placing the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl, preferably a pasta bowl. Smooth the chocolate pieces evenly in the bottom of the bowl. Take a small saucepan and whisk the cream, salt and espresso powder together. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and whisk as it cooks. Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove saucepan from heat and pour over chopped chocolate pieces. Let the mixture rest and then stir until all the chocolate is melted. Pour the filling into the tart shell. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and let chill for a minimum of one hour and up to 8 hours or overnight in order for filling to set.

After the tart filling is set, prepare the whipped cream topping by beating together all the topping ingredients, with the exception of the cocoa nibs. Beat until soft peaks form or the cream holds its shape. Top tart with whipped cream as desired and then sprinkle on the cocoa nibs, if using.
                                 **LAST YEAR:Walnut Mini Loaves**

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Here in Texas, the weather is sort of "on the fence"- not really spring and not really winter. It is mostly days ranging from 80 and 50 degrees. Also, the wind factor is high-indicating that the ceiling fans on the porch were really unnecessary.

Frankly, I am looking for spring days with no variance. I am hoping that the bluebonnets will sprout here and the butterflies will come out. Another thing that marks spring is that my consumption of lemonade increases. Come to think of it, I am ready to see a few of the kids' lemonade stands set up around the area.

Today's post is not a recipe for lemonade, but instead a special citrus cupcake. With the moist lemon infused cake, luscious lemon cream/curd and sweet tangy lemon syrup, I consider this cupcake the next best thing to a refreshing lemonade. If you do not have a special dessert item for the picnic table - this recipe may just become a springtime tradition.

The recipe is adapted from several component recipes: the cake-rock, the syrup-Saveur Magazine, the filling-So Good Recipes. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Ingredients/Lemon Cream
6 oz sugar
2 large eggs
3 oz lemon juice
3 oz butter (room temp and cubed)
zest of 2 lemons

3/4 tsp lemon oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup of vegetable shortening
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest from 1 large or 2 small lemons
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cup regular flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar
4 tbs lemon juice

Ingredients/Italian Buttercream
5 egg whites
1 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups unsalted butter (room temp and cubed)
1 tbs vanilla extract

The first component is the lemon cream. Fill a saucepan with all ingredients, with the exception of the butter. Whisk together and place over medium heat. Stir constantly as it cooks and comes to a boil. This process should change the liquid into a thick shiny substance. At this point, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add a few butter chunks and then whisk until melted. Repeat this process until all the butter has been melted and mixed into the lemon batter.

Transfer to a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl and strain out all the zest, using the back of a spoon to push the mixture through. Place the bowl in an ice bath for 20 minutes and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the top cavity edges of 2 muffin tins, each with 12 cavities. Line the cavities with cupcake papers and set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the vegetable oil, lemon oil and shortening. Beat with paddle blade until it becomes smooth. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Blend with the mixer on medium high speed for about 3 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the mixture is fluffy, add an egg and combine. Repeat the process, blending in each remaining egg, one at a time. Then mix in the lemon zest.

Take out another bowl and sift together both types of flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold 1/3 of this mixture into the lemon batter. Then stir in half of the buttermilk. Repeat the process, using half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the buttermilk. Lastly, fold in the last bit of the sifted ingredients until no dry streaks remain.

Using a scoop, fill each of the muffin cavities with the batter. Each cavity should be 3/4 of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, then rotate pans and bake for an additional 7-12 minutes. Cupcakes are done when tester comes out clean and edges are golden. Remove from oven and place pan on rack and let cool for 2 minutes. Then transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, fill a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar and water. Whisk together and place over medium high heat and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Let mixture cook until it registers a temperature of 245 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove from heat.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg whites and beat until it reaches a soft peak consistency. Then add the 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for 30 seconds. At this point, continue beating on medium speed and stream in the sugar/water mixture. Then turn the speed to high and beat for 8 minutes or until the bottom outside of bowl is room temperature. Turn the speed back to medium and drop in the butter cubes, one at a time, letting each meld with the batter before adding the next cube. Once all the cubes are beaten in to the batter, blend in the extract. At first, the mixture will look a bit like cottage cheese. Continue to beat and it will eventually come together into a thick airy frosting.

For the syrup, whisk the sugar and the lemon juice together in a small saucepan. Place saucepan over medium high heat and let come to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

To assemble the cupcakes, begin by brushing the syrup onto the surface of the cakes. Continue to brush on until no more syrup remains. Let it soak into the cake for about 30 minutes. Then use a paring knife to core out a dime sized hole in the middle of the cupcakes. Remove the filling from the refrigerator and prepare a piping bag with a plain tip. Fill the cupcakes with the lemon cream until the cream comes to the surface. Refrigerate the remaining filling.

Frost the cupcakes as desired and then pipe the top center with a puddle of lemon cream. Refrigerate cupcakes if you need to store and then let set at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. The Italian buttercream can be flavored with any extract of your choice.
2. For another variation, fruit jam can be used in place of the lemon cream.
3. The flavors of the syrup and frosting develop fully after 1 day.
4. You can use 2 tsp of lemon extract in place of the lemon oil.
5. When brushing on syrup, be careful to make sure that it does not drip down the sides of the cupcake papers.
6. Be prepared to run your mixer quite a long time, this is the typical process for Italian buttercream.

                                              **LAST YEAR:Spicy Date Filled Cookies** 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Raspberry Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches

It has been a long time since I have indulged in an ice cream sandwich. When I was a kid, I ate the ones that had the chocolate rectangle cookies with holes in them and vanilla ice cream on the inside. Back then, they were pretty delicious. However, time and blogging has changed my thoughts on those specific sandwiches. Now, they just look bland and very manufactured. They do not get my interest.

I believe that ice cream sandwiches should have lots of flavor and be very appealing to the eye. So in order to mimic that thought, I came up with these raspberry almond sandwich cookies.

When I was thinking about the components, I wanted to make sure that the cookies were chewy. No one likes a sandwich cookie that shatters into pieces when you bite into it, especially if ice cream is in the center. The buttery almond cookies are just the texture I was looking for.

The other component, the raspberry ice cream, has a smooth mouth feel and a touch of tartness. Putting the two elements together, sweet cookies and tart ice cream, created a good balance of flavor. I did not want it to taste too sugary or too tart.

The last touch to these delicious disks are the candy coated almond pieces encircling the outer edges of the ice cream-a major crunch factor with all the colors of Easter. The recipes below make 1 quart of ice cream and about 24-26 cookies. How much ice cream you put into the center of the cookies will determine the number of ice cream sandwiches and if you have any of one component left over.

Since I do not have a big family, I only formed 6 sandwiches. I stored the remaining ice cream and cookies separately.

Raspberry Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches

by Flourtrader

2 cups flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Ingredients/Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

4 pints raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks (room temp)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup crushed candy coated almonds

Since the ice cream requires chilling time, this component is to be made first. Start by placing the raspberries in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Then take the puree and place in a sieve set over a large bowl. Push the puree through the sieve, separating the seeds from the fruit. Discard the seeds. Cover the bowl of puree (approx 1 1/2 cups) and place in refrigerator.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg yolks. Mix until blended together and set aside. Also, place the heavy cream in a large bowl and balance a sieve over the bowl.

Take out a saucepan and fill with half and half and sugar. Whisk together and place saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a simmer. Using the wire whisk attachment, run the mixer on medium speed, beating the egg yolks. Continue to beat and stream in the sugar/milk mixture. Once blended, pour the liquid back into the saucepan and place over medium heat.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture as it cooks. It will thicken and turn into a custard. Test for proper consistency by checking the back of the spoon. The custard will remain there as a coating and running a finger through it should leave a mark.

Set up an ice bath and prepare your ice cream machine as per the manufacturers' instructions. Pour the custard into the sieve placed over the heavy cream. Once strained, mix the cream and custard together. Then blend in the raspberry puree along with the lemon juice. Set the bowl in the ice bath and let chill until cool in the center. Transfer to ice cream machine and follow churning instructions. Once the mixture has set up, empty ice cream into a medium sized bowl. Cover and place in freezer.

While the ice cream is chilling, proceed with making the cookies. Fill the bowl of the stand mixer with butter and sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes on medium high speed, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This process should result in a fluffy, ivory-colored batter.

Add one egg and mix into batter, beating for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the second egg. Add the vanilla extract and the almond extract, running the mixer on medium high speed for about 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors into the batter. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and set aside.

Take out a medium sized bowl and sift in the regular flour, baking powder. If using salt, sift that into the mix. Then whisk in the almond flour until blended.

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry blend into the wet batter, until no dry streaks remain. Leave the dough in the bowl, but scrape it all together to form a mound. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

After the chilling time is complete, remove the bowl of cookie dough. Separate the dough into 24 to 26 equal pieces.Roll each into a ball (they will be about the size of golf balls) and place on baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten the circles slightly, forming a thick disk.

Place filled cookie sheet in the oven and let bake for 13-16 minutes. The end result will be a flat cookie that is golden on the edges and bottom. Remove and let cool on pan for 1 minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. Prepare another baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

For assembly, remove the ice cream and check the consistency. It should be easy to mold, not runny and not hard. If it is too hard, let it sit for awhile and periodically scrape the ice cream from the edges of the bowl and on the surface to help it reach the correct consistency. Then, pair up the cooled cookies by matching them in size. Also, flip one cookie in each of the pairs with bottom facing up.

Using an ice cream scoop, mound the ice cream on one of the cookies with the bottom facing up. Take the other cookie in the pair and place on top of the ice cream, applying light pressure until ice cream comes to the outer edges of the cookies. Then press the crushed candied almonds into the ice cream, covering the outer edge. Place sandwich cookie on prepared baking sheet and put in freezer. Continue with the process until all the sandwich cookies are formed and in the freezer. Let chill for about an hour before serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. For more flavor, you can melt some candy coating or white chocolate in a double boiler and coat the bottom side of each cookie prior to assembly. Be aware that it makes the cookie have a slick coating that may cause some sliding when sandwiching the ice cream.

2. Since it is Easter, there are white chocolate pastel colored candies in the grocers that you might want to use in place of the almonds.

3. The cookies do spread quite a bit, a few of mine had a little bit of the edges sticking together. This was not a major issue, but it is something to consider when placing the dough on the baking sheets.

4. Since my kitchen was warm from baking, I had to act quickly on using the crushed candied almonds. The ice cream started to get runny on the edge.

5. If you plan to store these for a week or more, it is probably best to use some invert sugar in the ice cream to prevent it from forming an icy texture. The directions for this component can be found here                   
                                   **LAST YEAR:Frozen Maraschino Cream** 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Baked Apple Donuts

We all have a weakness or "kryptonite" when it comes to certain foods. That certain food may be a favorite, but we are very well aware that they are not something to be consumed on a regular basis. The item may have too many carbohydrates or too much fat, but we have a difficult time avoiding the indulgence.

So we are always on the lookout for an alternative, something that would give us all the flavor and texture that we love, less those naughty extras. We have to be careful in this endeavor because sometimes the manner in which food is promoted can be tricky. Sometimes one ingredient is eliminated for the sake of being "low fat" only to be replaced by something that creates another issue for flavor. For example, it has no fat, but 3 times the sodium you will need in one day.

Finding the perfect alternative is like losing 5 pounds when you eat cake! Now that would be a wonderful thing. While eating these donuts are not a way to diet, they do make a delicious substitute for the classic fried apple fritter. Since these donuts are baked, they do not contain all the fat and oil that fried donuts have. Instead of all the oil, you get a fluffy donut with a moist texture. Also, you can taste the diced apples that are baked into the dough. The unmistakably delicious apple flavor is prominent in each and every bite. To further enhance the taste, there is a drizzle of maple icing on top.

Even if donuts are not your "kryptonite", the flavor factor alone qualifies this recipe as a keeper. The dough requires five hours of rest time after it is created, so be sure to plan for this extra time. This recipe makes 1 1/2 dozen donuts.

Baked Apple Donuts
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five

3 eggs (lightly beaten/room temp)
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp active yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup of flour
2 small peeled/cored/diced apples (I used Granny Smith)

Ingredients/Glaze and Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs heavy cream
2 tbs maple syrup
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. These donuts are to be formed by hand and placed on the sheets, about 6 per sheet.

Whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a medium size bowl. Set aside. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir. Then let sit until it foams up.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture. Then add the butter and eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon until all is combined. Lastly, fold in the apples, making sure the pieces are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

Form the dough into a ball and leave inside the bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. After this initial rise time, place in refrigerator. The dough must chill a minimum of 3 hours. However, it can be stored for later use, but only up to 5 days.

Take out a small bowl and whisk together the cinnamon and sugar. Also, lightly flour a flat surface. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and separate out 6 pieces of dough, each weighing 3 ounces. Cover and return the rest of the dough to the refrigerator. Using floured hands, place one of the dough pieces onto the floured surface and roll into a log (about 6 inches long) and then create a circle, pinching the ends together. Stretch the circle of dough so it has a 3 inch wide hole. Place the circle of dough into the cinnamon/sugar mixture, flipping to cover each side. Put the donut round on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with this process until all 6 pieces of donuts are formed and evenly spaced on the baking sheet. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

As the dough rests, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Also, you can prepare another baking sheet of 6 donuts, repeating the instructions above. Once the rest time is complete, place baking sheet in the oven and bake donuts until airy and golden. This will take about 18 minutes.

Prepare a cooling rack by placing wax or parchment paper underneath. After the donuts have baked, place pan on rack and let cool on pan for about 3 minutes. Then transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely before glazing.

To make glaze, whisk together vanilla, maple syrup and cream. Then sift in the powdered sugar and mix together. You may need to stir in additional cream for the correct drizzling consistency. Lastly, drizzle the glaze on top of the donuts and let rest until glaze has set.

Tips and Notes:
1. The longer the prepared dough sits in the refrigerator, the more apple juice is released from the fruit. Should you find some pockets of dough to be too wet, use additional flour to absorb the excess when forming the donuts.

2. Another consideration for the apple juice problem is to coat the apples in lemon juice and let set overnight and drain off the excess the next morning.

3. You can coat the apples in cinnamon sugar or add cinnamon sugar to the batter if you want to have a stronger cinnamon flavor. However, be careful of the balance or you will gain cinnamon flavor and lose apple flavor.

4. Feel free to experiment with the non-citrus types of fruit, such as pears or mangoes. The ones with the least amount of juice are the best choice.

5.These donuts are hand formed due to the apple chunks and tacky consistency of the dough. I do not recommend piping out the dough into rounds.

6. Due to the rising in baking, the 3 inch hole in the center is important or the dough with bake up without a hole.
                                   **LAST YEAR:Amaretto Latte Bars*


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saint Patrick's Mocktail Cheesecake

Format conversion...very popular in the realm of food bloggers and the food industry in general. We enjoy creating cupcakes with the flavor of cookies or cakes that taste like (and made with) vanilla ice cream. Also, if you have not tried Southern biscuits and gravy-you can now try the flavor in a potato chip.

Today's recipe is a conversion of a bar drink into a cheesecake. The inspiration comes from a drink called "Rude Boy" and is very appropriate for St Patrick's day. The drink is made up of Irish stout, coconut rum and coffee. For the cheesecake, the bottom starts with a coconut graham crust. The first layer of cheesecake is a combination of chocolate and Irish stout. This layer came out fluffier than most cheesecakes, but the dominating flavor of the combination is a rich chocolate. The top layer is the dense texture you would expect in a cheesecake. It reflects a rum flavor with a subtle undertone of coconut and the usual tang of cream cheese.

To further add to the flavor (as well as the presentation), the top edge is laced with espresso whipped cream and garnished with chocolate shamrocks.

This creation is my first time at melding the flavors and some tweaking is still needed to have more balance of flavor with the two layers. The recipe and instructions tie to the original creation. After making it and doing a taste test, I have put some tips and notes at the end of the instructions that would further enhance the dessert.

The recipe has been adapted from 3 recipes from the following different websites: layer of cheesecake layer of cheesecake and crust whipped cream topping

Saint Patrick's Mocktail Cheesecake

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup coconut flakes
2 oz melted butter

Ingredients/Chocolate Stout Layer
1 egg plus 2 tbs of one beaten egg
1/4 plus 2 tbs of Irish stout beer (I used Guinness)
1 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt
1 1/2 packages or 12 oz cream cheese (softened)

Ingredients/ Coconut Layer
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut rum
2 packages or 16 oz of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp flour

1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbs heavy whipped cream
1 tbs whipped cream stabilizer (optional)
4 oz chopped semisweet chocolate

Start with a 9 1/2 or a 10 inch springform pan. Fill a small bowl with all the crust ingredients and whisk together. Test to see that it clumps easily. If not, add a little bit more melted butter to reach the correct consistency. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides. Set aside.

For the stout layer: fill the bowl of the stand mixer with cream cheese. Using a low speed setting, beat for about 1 minute and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat this process 2 more times. The resulting texture will be smooth and free of lumps. Continue to beat on low speed and slowly pour in the sugar. Once blended, add the egg and 2 tbs of the beaten egg. Run mixer for another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. All the sugar and eggs should be evenly distributed into the batter.

Place the cream and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds and then remove and stir. Repeat this process until all the chocolate has been melted. Turn mixer on medium speed and slowly pour in the melted chocolate. Beat mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl, until chocolate is fully mixed into the cream cheese batter. Then whisk in the remaining ingredients (beer, salt, sour cream and vanilla). Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Place in freezer for 45 minutes and then remove and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Now you can start on the coconut layer.

For the coconut layer: fill the bowl of the stand mixer with cream cheese and follow the stout layer instructions for combining the sugar and cream cheese. Then beat in the flour. Remove bowl from mixer. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, blend one egg into the batter. Then stir in the other egg. Carefully fold in the additional ingredients, one at a time: sour cream, coconut and coconut rum.

Prepare a water bath by covering the bottom of the springform pan with foil. Place it in a larger pan and fill the larger pan with water. The water should come to the halfway point up the side of the pan. Place in oven and bake for one and 1/2 hours, up to 2 hours. The indicators for baking completion is when the cheesecake is golden on top, no longer glossy and it barely jiggles when moved. The frozen layer is what requires the additional bake time. Once completely baked, remove cheesecake and let come to room temperature and then place in refrigerator to set. Let chill for a minimum of 4 hours before adding the decorative topping.

For the topping, the decorative chocolate pieces should be made first. Start by drawing your design ( I did shamrocks) on a piece of paper. Depending on your skills, the design can be as simple or as intricate as you want. One drawing is needed, for you will slide this paper around under a sheet of wax paper after you make each chocolate piece. Place your paper drawing under a sheet of wax paper (leave some of the drawing paper sticking out underneath the wax paper) on a baking sheet. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and remove top pot. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to piping bag or squirt bottle. Pipe your design using the drawing as a guideline. Continue to pipe and move the drawing until you have made the desired number of decorations. Let the decorations sit for about 5 minutes and then go back over them with some additional chocolate, making sure they are thick and sturdy so they will not break when handled. Once completed, place baking sheet in freezer.

For the whipped cream, start with cold equipment (beaters and bowl). Place espresso powder and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in the bowl and let set for 10 minutes and then whisk together. Then add the heavy cream, whipped cream stabilizer (optional) and sift in the powdered sugar. Beat until it reaches piping consistency. Assemble a piping bag with a large decorating tip and fill with the whipped cream. Also, take out the decorative chocolate pieces from the freezer and peel them off of the waxed paper. Pipe the whipped cream along top edge of cheesecake and stand chocolate decorations up in the whipped cream, spacing as desired. Now the cheesecake is ready to serve. Refrigerate when not serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. The coconut layer was more dense than the chocolate stout layer. When making this again, I would try the coconut layer below the chocolate stout layer.

2. Since the stout layer was fluffier, perhaps having the stout set out so it is flat (no carbonation bubbles) may create a more dense cheesecake layer and it may even out the depth of the two layers. The chocolate layer in the above picture is much thicker than the coconut layer.

3. The chocolate in the stout layer is very rich and intense. To bring out more flavor in the coconut layer I would add coconut extract. This would balance the flavors more.

Wishing you a great Saint Patrick's day..Cheers!
                                **LAST YEAR:Palm Harvest Cake**