Friday, July 29, 2011

Ivory Monkey Parfait

I am sure you are wondering what this Ivory Monkey is.  It is a pudding parfait that is made up of vanilla rum pudding, roasted bananas with cashews, shortbread cookies and caramel.

The pudding is enough for about 6 parfaits that probably only hold a little over 1/2 cup, filled to the top.  As an alternative, this can always be made in a big trifle dish.  The only ingredient that I had extra of was the cookies.  The exact yield is hard to place because people have their own preferences on how thick and how many layers they want in the individual serving.

As you go through this recipe, consider the versatility of the layers, they do not have to be used in a parfait.  The cashew bananas are great on ice cream as well as the banana whipped cream.  The pudding is great all alone or with some crunched up shortbread cookies on top.  I am sure you can come up with your own creative combination. Note that the pudding has to be prepared a day in advance.

Ivory Monkey Parfait
by flourtrader

3 beaten egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vanilla rum
1/2 tsp ground vanilla beans
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup and 3 tbs of sugar
2 tbs cold water
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin

Cashew shortbread or regular shortbread cookies (I used Keebler brand of Sandies)
Caramel ice cream topping (12 oz)
4  bananas
1 1/2 tsp water
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2 tbs confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

The day before serving, make your pudding.  Put 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl then sprinkle over the gelatin powder and set aside.

In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and frothy.  This should take about 3 minutes. Pour the milk into another bowl and cover.  Then heat in microwave about 30 seconds.

Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture and stir.  Repeat process until all the milk is blended into the batter.  Then fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with water and let it come to a boil. Place the top pan over the bottom and pour in the batter.  Let cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the gelatin mixture and stir until it is dissolved and remove pan from heat.  Set aside to cool.

Beat the whipping cream in a bowl until soft peaks form and fold into cooled batter.  Lastly, add the rum and ground vanilla beans, stirring until well blended.  Cover bowl and place in fridge overnight to set up.

The next day you will make the layers.  Peel three of the bananas and slice into rounds between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Fill a saucepan with 1 1/2 tsp of water and place over medium high heat.  Place banana pieces in pan, spacing apart.  Cover pan and let the bananas steam cook for 1 minute.  Uncover and drain pan.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter and place in a shallow bowl.  Place the chopped cashews in another, setting it beside the bowl of butter.  Then take a baking sheet and line with foil.

Handling each banana piece lightly, dip into the butter and roll in the chopped cashews.  Place on the prepared baking sheet, making sure none are overlapping or touching.  Bake bananas in oven for 5-6 minutes on each side. You want all the cashews on the banana pieces to be toasted.  Remove pan from oven and let bananas remain on pan to cool.

For the whipped cream, place the remaining banana in the food processor and puree.  In another bowl, combine vanilla extract, confectioners sugar and heavy cream together.  Beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Then fold in the banana puree.

Take several cookies and break them up into small crumbs and place in a separate bowl.

Now you are ready to assemble your parfait.  I used a layer of pudding between each item.  It went like this (from bottom to top): pudding, caramel, pudding, cookie crumbs, pudding and cashew coated bananas.  Lastly, I spooned the whip cream on top and sprinkled it with cookie crumbs. Then it was ready to be served. 

The assembly is where personal preference comes in as to how big your parfait will be, how thick the layers will be and how many layers you will have.  Either way, this is a wonderful banana rum treat.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies

Well I have finally finished my 12 dozen cookies for donation.  I did make 2 types of cookies but out of the two I liked these the best.  They are triple flavored with chocolate-cocoa, semi-sweet and milk.  In addition, they have toasted walnuts and cinnamon.

I had all the ingredients and pulled the chocolate chips out of the fridge.  There was one rather clumpy bag.  The milk chocolate chips must have gotten melty in the car.  The semi-sweet chocolate chips were the ones in the recipe that had to be melted, so it was just my bad luck that the ones that had to remain as chips were now big clumps.  I had to take an ice pick to the milk chocolate.

This comes from one of my favorite sections in Bon Appetit, the RSVP.  If you are not familiar with it, readers write in asking for restaurant recipes and Bon Appetit prints them.

This particular recipe yields 3 dozen cookies.  They are rich and chewy, something to satisfy a true chocoholic craving.  I have had a few and wish I had made more.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies
courtesy of Bon Appetit (prior to 2005)

36 walnut halves for top of cookies 
1 cup of chopped, toasted walnuts
6 oz chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs of butter, room temp
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs of sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used special dark)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 oz semi sweet chocolate (melted and cooled)
additional melted chocolate for drizzling (optional)

Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, sift together cinnamon, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl beat the butter, sugar and eggs together until smooth.  Pour in the 8 oz of melted chocolate and mix until completely blended.  Then fold in the flour mixture.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Once all is combined, scoop out a tablespoon of batter and drop onto baking sheet.  I used a small melon baller as a scoop.  Continue placing additional scoops onto baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  After the sheet is full, press one walnut half in the middle of each cookie.

Bake in the oven for about 11 minutes.  Cookies are done when they are still soft to the touch but appear dry and cracked on the outside.  Remove and place sheet on rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Then remove and place each cookie on rack to cool completely.  

If you decided to drizzle the cookies with chocolate, place wax paper under the cooling rack. Then dip fork tines into the chocolate and wave over the cookies to form a zig zag pattern.  Chocolate will need to set before serving or storing.

Repeat the process of forming, baking and decorating the cookies until there is no more batter left. Then it is time to relax and enjoy some chocolate!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crimson Squares

I am sure that you are looking at this picture and thinking this is just another fruit crumble recipe.  Well, I have to say it does have all the makings of a fruit crumble, however, there is a little extra layer of flavor that adds a zing to these.

Don't get me wrong, fruit crumbles are good as they are, but like many foodies I wanted to make them better. After tasting the final dish, I can say that the flavors are really made for each other.   Maybe the flavor addition is not a new thing. However, the manner in which it is incorporated into these bars allows it to stand out and compliment the flavor of the fruit.

I was so pleased with this dish that I have decided to bring it to a pot luck luncheon.  Last time they had a luncheon there were only a few "store bought" desserts, so I am sure this will be a welcome treat.

Now, read on to find out what that extra layer is.

Crimson Squares
by flourtrader

Ingredients/Base & Topping
1/4 plus 2 tbs butter (cold & cut into cubes)
3/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup regular oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3.5 oz almond paste (1/2 of standard 7 oz package)
1/8 tsp salt

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch 

Grease an 8X8 pan and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, letting excess paper hang over the two sides.  Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan mix all the filling ingredients together and place over medium high heat.  Stirring constantly, let the mixture come to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer and cover pan.  Let the mixture cook about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. As it cooks, the filling will become thicker and the cranberries will pop.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.  If any cranberries remained intact after the cooking time, take a spoon and mash them.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl.  Whisk in the brown sugar, oats and almonds. Toss the butter cubes in the bowl.  Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or fork, until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Measure out 1 cup and set aside.

Empty the bowl of the remaining crumb mixture into the prepared pan.  Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan.   Then take the almond paste and place it between two sheets of waxed paper.  Pat it into a disk, then use a rolling pin to flatten it out.  It will need to be rolled into a square that fits into the 8X8 pan.  Using a methods of rolling, tearing off pieces and patching, the paste should come very close to the desired size.

Remove top layer of wax paper and wrap paste around rolling pin. Unroll paste from rolling pin and place over the crumb layer in the pan.  Then drop spoonfuls of the filling onto the almond paste layer and smooth with a knife until evenly distributed.  Lastly, take the reserved cup of the crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the filling.  Lastly, lightly pat the crumbs into the filling.

Place pan in oven and bake until the top crumbs reach a golden brown color.  This should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove pan and place on rack.  Let cool completely and then run a knife along the sides that were not lined with parchment paper.  Remove from pan by lifting the parchment over hang on the two sides.  It is now ready to cut and serve.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sticky Fingers Cupcakes

Well, I have inquired with Google regarding the fact that my blog is blocking Foodbuzz from comments and am still waiting on an answer. Thanks to all the patient people that have taken the extra step to go into my website to comment.  I am having to do the same thing when I need to post a comment on some google blogs.  The only thing I can think of is that it may be linked to the fact that my blog was a private blog at the start and then converted to public.

Anyway, on to the main subject matter of this post.  These cupcakes are a blend of apple,caramel and spices.  I wanted a cupcake with some caramel flavor but I did not want to try to incorporate caramel into the batter, so I used powdered vanilla caramel creamer.  The cake part came out light and flavorful.  The topping is made of pure caramel, just like the caramel on an apple, so it is a little sticky-hence the name of the cupcakes.

These flavors are a little off season for summer, but I will probably pull this recipe out and make again, once it gets closer to Halloween.

As usual, most recipes are guidelines, but there are two important things that are must do in this recipe.  Both the powdered creamer and the baking soda cannot be part of the sifted ingredients.  They each have to be mixed with water to dissolve and added in the batter as stated.  Otherwise the cupcakes will be chalky and you will be able to taste the baking soda.  This recipe makes 1 dz cupcakes.

Sticky Fingers Cupcakes
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ Cupcakes
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup of cooked chopped, peeled and cored apples**
1 egg (room temp)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp powdered vanilla caramel creamer
1/2 cup water (for creamer)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp water (for soda)

Ingredients/ Topping
1-- 11 oz bag of  caramel bits or caramels

First, prepare a cupcake pan by greasing the top edge of the cavities and lining with cupcake papers.  Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take the chopped apples and place in a food processor and pulse about 10 times.  This will result in a thick mass of apple chunks, but it will be drier than a puree because there is no addition of water to the apples. Set aside.

Take out 2 small bowls.  In one bowl, stir together the powdered creamer and the 1/2 cup of water.  In the second bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of water with the baking soda. Set both aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together shortening and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg. Then add the cooked apples.  Beat for about 30 seconds on medium speed and then add the creamer/water mixture and stir until blended into the batter.

In another bowl, sift together the flour and all the spices.  Fold into the batter until no more dry streaks remain.  Then, give the baking soda/water mixture one last stir and mix into the batter.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners, filling one dozen evenly.  The liners will be full.

Bake  for 25-30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove and let cool in pan for 2 minutes and then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

After cupcakes have cooled, take out a saucepan and melt caramels with 2 tablespoons of water, stirring constantly.  These were the directions on the caramel bits package, other caramels may have different directions for making the caramel for caramel apples.

Once the caramel is melted, remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.  Place a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack. Then dip the top of the cooled cupcakes into the caramel, making sure that the top is not over coated. Let some of the caramel drip off  and spin it a little before you sit it upright, or you will have caramel dripping everywhere. Place the cupcake right side up on the rack for the topping to set up.  That should take 20-30 minutes and then they are ready to serve.

**I had one large granny smith apple that I used. I cooked the pieces in the microwave for about 3 minutes until fork tender and then placed bowl in the fridge to cool.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sunshine Grove Cookies

My thought of the groves brings me back to California when I was much younger.  We lived right across the street from a big fruit grove and behind it was a sloping hill.  One day, my mom told me a story about a woman that went out to get her mail. When she arrived at her mailbox, she heard a noise from the groves.  Surprised, she looked around.  Suddenly, a man came forth from the trees.

No strange thing, right?  Except this man was wearing only a sheet!  Startled, the woman quickly got her mail out of the box and ran back to her house, locking the door behind her.

Later that week, I was horseback riding along the space between the grove and the hill.  Remembering my mothers story, I gazed into the thick bunch of trees.  It was very shady and dark, except for a few feet of sunshine that covered the ground.

As my horse continued to walk, I spied a pair of army boots.  I instantly clicked for my horse to pick up speed and we fled the scene.  To this day, I am not sure if it was just boots someone had left there or a person was actually standing there.

Also, I often wonder if there was a gang of homeless people living in the groves.  After all, they have plenty of shade and fresh fruit to eat.  That story is how I came about giving these cookies their name.

Now for the recipe.  It is a recipe for lemon cookies. The texture is are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  The chewiness is because they have a pocket of lemon curd in the center.  The flavor of the lemon is well balanced, not too tangy or sweet.  Also, I liked the appearance of this cookie. Some of the ones I have made have been very flat, but these have a good size to them. This recipe makes about 20 cookies.

Sunshine Grove Cookies
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ lemon filling
2 eggs
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
1/8 tsp lemon extract
2 tbs sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbs sweetened condensed milk

Ingredients/lemon cookies
1 egg
1/4 cup butter flavored shortening (room temp)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the filling, line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.

Place the eggs in a saucepan and beat for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, lemon extract, salt, zest and sugar.  Place pan over medium heat and cook mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly.  The filling is done cooking when it reaches the consistency of pudding.

Remove pan from heat and pour mixture into a mesh strainer or sieve placed over a heat proof bowl. Stir and push mixture through the strainer. Scrape off any remaining filling on the bottom side of the mesh into the bowl. Discard the lemon zest, which should be the only thing left in the strainer.

Stir the sweetened condensed milk into the filling until smooth.  Cover and place bowl in fridge for about 1 hour to cool.  After an hour, remove filling from fridge.  Then scoop out 1/2 a teaspoon of filling and place on prepared baking sheet.  Continue this process, until no more filling remains.  You should have at least 20 or 24 lumps on the sheet.  Place the sheet in the freezer.

Then, you can start making the cookie batter. Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan or microwave.  Pour it in a small bowl and add the shortening.  Stir the mixture until both ingredients are blended.  It should be the consistency of a paste.  If some tiny lumps remain in the batter, it is ok.

In a separate bowl, whisk together both sugars, lemon extract and salt.  Add the butter mixture and beat until smooth.  Then beat in the egg and set aside.

Sift together the baking powder and flour in another bowl.  Fold 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter until no flour streaks remain.  Continue with this process until all the flour is blended into the batter.

Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place cookie dough in the fridge to cool for about 1 1/2 hours.

In the last 15 minutes of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a scoop or tablespoon, drop mounds of dough about 1 1/2 inch apart onto baking sheet.  After sheet is filled with mounds, cover remaining dough and place back in fridge.  Then remove the frozen pan of filling from the freezer.

Take a mound of cookie dough and push a piece of frozen filling into the center. Then roll it in your hands to form a ball, covering the filling as best you can.  Place back on baking sheet.  Continue with this process until all mounds are filled.  Put frozen sheet of remaining filling back into freezer.

Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes.  Cookies are done when the bottoms are a golden brown and the tops of the cookies do not get brown, so check cookies after 10 minutes.  Remove cookies and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Repeat the process of forming and baking the cookies to use up the rest of the batter and filling.

Due to the filling, these cookies are best stored in the fridge.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Peach and Blackberry Dumplings

Dumplings-that word conjures up many different varieties of food.  Some people naturally think of a savory dish like chicken and dumplings and others think of Asian style dumplings. The thought of fruit dumplings rarely comes to mind.

After reading the title, I envisioned a dessert with a toasty biscuit top and a pie-like bottom.  However, I ended up with soft, airy and sweet dumplings on top of juice and chunks of fruit. Being wrong, in this case, was a delicious surprise.   The addition of wine to the fruit really enhanced the flavor over all.  Also, the dumplings held up well in spite of the high liquidity of the fruit.

The other favorable thing about this recipe is that it requires very little time to prepare.

Peach and Blackberry Dumplings
courtesy of From the Earth to the Table Cookbook

1/2 cup buttermilk (or a little more if needed)
1 egg, separated
1 tbs melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
1 cup flour

Ingredients/Fruit Bottom
1 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries
4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
1 1/4 cups fruity white wine
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar

To make the batter, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 2 tsp of sugar and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white to a soft peak consistency. Set it aside also.

Then, using another bowl, stir together the egg yolk, melted butter and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk until completely blended together.  Pour the flour mixture into the batter and mix until no more flour streaks remain.  The batter should now be like a drop biscuit dough.  If it seems too dry, add more buttermilk in teaspoon quantities until the right consistency is achieved.  Lastly, fold the egg white into the batter and set aside.

For the fruit bottom, fill a 4 quart pan (also need to have a lid) with the sugar, ginger, cinnamon and wine.  Stir all ingredients and place pan over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Add the fruit and cook, uncovered, for three minutes.

Then, take the dough and drop by spoonfuls on top of the cooking fruit.  Cover the pan with the lid and set timer for 8 minutes.  After eight minutes, check to see if dumplings are firm.  If not cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm.  This also can be served with whipped cream or ice cream on top. Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Black Casino Cake

I guess you are wondering how this got its name.  Well, I originally was thinking of the colors black and red which led me to a roulette wheel and then to casinos.  It resulted in more pink than red so I dropped the mention of that color.  Also, the sparse ingredients in the cake really made it a gamble that it would even turn out, but through several trials and flops I finally arrived at the right mix.  There was a lot of time involved, mainly because I had to grind my own cookie crumbs.  For some reason I was unable to find any at the grocers.

I caution you that this is really rich.  The richness, I feel, surpasses even the most fudgey brownie.  The cake would be great just as a pure chocoholic thing, served as one layer and dusted with powdered sugar.  However, I wanted an additional taste of some fruit, so the icing was created.

I will need to work on getting cleaner when icing a two layer cake without icing the sides, especially due to the color of this cake.  A stark black cake with a pink icing is eye catching, but only if you are able to not get a smear of any icing on the sides.

Black Casino Cake
by flourtader

8 oz of strawberries
1/3 cup water
1 tsp of granulated sugar (for strawberry juice)
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
5 eggs
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup milk
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1 lb of powdered sugar
1 tbs milk or more ( for frosting)
1 stick or 1/2 cup of butter (for frosting)

Prepare your strawberries the night before. Core and chop the strawberries into pieces and place in a small bowl.  Add the water and 1 tsp of sugar.  Blend with a spoon and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Place in fridge to chill overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the inside of  2 round 9 inch cake pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the face up side of the paper.

Take out an electric mixer and a large bowl.  Cream together 1 cup of butter and 2 cups sugar, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula.  This process should take about 2 minutes on medium speed, depending on how soft your butter is.

Once the batter reaches a fluffy consistency, add one egg and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue with this process for each of the remaining eggs.  Then mix in the cookie crumbs, nuts and 3/4 cup milk until evenly distributed into the batter.

Pour half of the batter into one cake pan and smooth the top.  Repeat with remaining batter and other cake pan.  Place both pans in oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place pans on cooling rack.  After cooling for 5 minutes, take a knife and run between the inside of the pan and cake.  Let cool for an additional 20 minutes in pan and then release to rack to finish cooling.

As it cools, you can prepare the frosting.  Take the strawberries out of the fridge and strain juice into a small bowl. Set the separate bowl of juice and bowl of strawberries aside.

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter.  Then continue to beat and slowly add 1/2 of the confectioners sugar.  Once blended, add the rest of the confectioners sugar, strawberries and milk.  Beat again for about 1-2  minutes.  Frosting should turn pink and be thick enough to hold its shape on a knife. You can add milk or more sugar, depending on the consistency you desire.

To assemble, place one (completely cooled) cake layer on a cake board or plate. Brush with half of the reserved strawberry juice.  Let soak in for 10-15 minutes.  Then ice the top of the cake layer with half of the frosting and place the other cake layer on top. Brush this layer with the rest of the juice and again wait 10-15 minutes for it to soak into the cake.  Lastly, use the remaining frosting and ice the ice the top of the cake. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Island Breeze Biscuits

My idea for creating these was to make a sort of tropical biscuit that could be served at dinner that was only slightly sweet. These biscuits only have one banana in them and 1/4 cup of sugar. Since the flavor is not really sweet or strong, it is easy to pair them with other food and/or a beverage.

My husband, who is really big on salty and savory, has declared that these are a sweet scone.

Either way you serve them, you will find that these biscuits are a tasty change of pace from other breads.  This recipe makes 1 dozen.

Island Breeze Biscuits
by flourtrader

2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 cup butter ( chilled & cut into cubes)
1 banana (chopped vertically)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
honey (optional for drizzling)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Empty into a food processor and add only 2 tbs of the butter and pulse 6 times.  Then process for about 5 seconds. Add the rest of the butter and pulse another 6 times.  Empty ingredients back into bowl that was originally used for sifting.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Using the same processor bowl, fill with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon and banana.  Process for 5 seconds and then add the sour cream.  Process for an additional 10 seconds.

Pour banana batter into the well of the dry ingredients.  Take a spatula and fold the flour into the batter until a dough is formed.  Take dough and shape into 12 even sized balls and place on baking sheet about 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart.   If you opted for the honey, drizzle it on top of the biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.  Biscuits will be firm to the touch and golden when fully baked.  Remove pan from oven and let cool for 3 minutes and transfer to rack.  Serve warm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bourbon Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Recently, I received an ice cream recipe book that was created by a girl that had her first ice cream shop when she was 23.  In reviewing the book, I noticed that some of the ingredients as well as methods were unique.  Mostly all of her recipes contain a little cream cheese and corn syrup.  In addition, she does a ice bath as an alternative to refrigerating all night prior to putting the mixture into an ice cream maker.

The ice bath just moves the chilling process to the end, so that was not much of a time saver.

The other unique part about the book is the flavors represented in frozen yogurt, sorbets and ice creams. With ice creams names like Queen city Cayenne and Bankok Peanut, it was hard to decide which one to make.  Since I never made any of her recipes before, I picked one recipe that was fairly tame to start.

The end result was a very creamy treat that had just the right amount of bourbon complimented with the roasted pecans.  This particular ice cream is one of their signature flavors and after tasting it, I can understand why.  This recipe makes about one quart of ice cream, but if you have guests or a big family-it won't last long.

Bourbon Butter Pecan Ice Cream
courtesy of Jenis Splendid Ice Cream at Home

3/4 cup halved or quartered pecans
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (for roasting pecans)
1/4 cup bourbon
2 cups whole milk
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 1/2 oz or 3 tbs cream cheese (softened)
1 tbs plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
big bag of crushed ice

First you will need to prepare the pecans.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, melted butter and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Pour into a foil pan or onto a baking sheet and spread evenly.  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, turning at the halfway point.  The release of the aroma is a good indicator that they are finished toasting.  Remove pan and set aside to cool.  Turn off oven.

Take out two small prep bowls.  Out of the 2 cups of milk, measure out 2 tablespoons and place in one bowl.  Stir in cornstarch until smooth.  In another bowl, mix together 1/4 tsp of salt and cream cheese with a fork. Set both small bowls aside.

Put the rest of the milk, corn syrup, sugar and cream in a large saucepan.  Place pan over medium high heat.  When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, set timer for 4 minutes and continue to boil. Once timer goes off, remove from heat. Take the small bowl of cornstarch mixture and stir for one last time and then slowly pour it into the saucepan.

Put saucepan back on stovetop to cook again.  Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring. Boil for one minute. It should thicken a little bit in this time. Remove from heat.

Using a spatula, take your cream cheese mixture and empty it into a large bowl.  Set it aside.

Take a large heat proof cup or deep small bowl and place a gallon size plastic freezer bag inside(I used Ziploc brand).  Leave the top gaping open.  Also, fill your sink with some water and then pour in the bag of ice.  Place the bagged cup or bowl close by the sink.

Pour 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into the bowl of cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Slowly add the rest of the liquid, continuing to whisk.  Once the cream cheese is no longer visible in the mixture, pour in the bourbon and stir to finalize making the ice cream batter.

Acting quickly, pour all of the batter into the bag and seal top. Then immerse bag in ice bath.  When I first read about this process, I had a picture of a melted plastic bag and ice cream running everywhere.  Surprisingly, that did not happen, so there was no need to worry.

Set the timer for 30 minutes and leave the bag immersed so the batter can get cold. After that, pour it into ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions.  Add The pecans to the ice cream a few minutes before churn completion time.

Lastly, empty ice cream into a container with a lid and cover ice cream with parchment paper.  Then place lid on top and freeze for at least 4 hours, or more depending on how frozen you like your ice cream.  It was 8 pm when the 4 hours passed, but I just left mine to freeze overnight.  Now, enjoy this frosty treat!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Honey Bee Cookies

Today is a non chocolate day.  I have made so many posts that include it, I am ready for a change.

If you work out a lot or have a big task ahead, the amount of protein contained in these cookies are just the right remedy. The batter not only contains honey roasted nuts but also ground honey granola cereal. 

These are a crunchy cookie and the granola does come through in the texture and taste.  Also, it is nice to get a bite of the honey roasted peanuts.  I had to caution my husband not to eat the whole jar, he got into them before I made these.  My husband likes to snack on nuts quite a bit.

The cookie, even though it does not contain chocolate, will satisfy a sweet craving.  My husband liked them and so did his friends at work. Also, this is a great cookie for the kids to snack on  The recipe below makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Honey Bee Cookies
by flourtrader

2/3 cup honey roasted nuts
1 1/4 cup ground honey granola cereal (I used a blender)
1 egg
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Then whisk in the ground granola and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar .  It should take a few minutes for the batter to become light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract and set mixer aside.

Take a wooden spoon and fold in the dry ingredients into the batter in  two increments. Continue to fold so  no dry streaks remain.  Lastly, mix in the honey roasted peanuts until they are distributed evenly.

With a cookie scoop or spoon, drop golf ball sized rounds onto the baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 or until done.  Let cookies cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Piedmont Hazelnut Cupcakes

This cupcake gets its name from a location in Italy that is famous for their hazelnuts.  Like my Amaretto bundt cake, I was on a quest to get a rich nut flavor into a cupcake and accent it lightly with chocolate-but this time it would be with hazelnuts.

There was a lot of experimentation involved, especially since nuts have a lot of oil in them.  In addition, I had hazelnut oil, not extract.  The first batch ended with pools of oil underneath the cupcake paper after baked, so I had to make modifications.

This recipe does not make airy cupcakes.  This means that the cupcake liners need to be filled full, because there is not a lot of rising in baking.

The end result was a moist cupcake with fairly tight crumb.  The true flavor of the hazelnuts really comes through.  These could actually stand alone as a breakfast treat, but the addition of the shiny chocolate frosting does move them into the dessert category.

The recipe is for exactly 20 cupcakes and the frosting (from Martha Stewart) makes 5 cups.  I have found that when using a decorating tip, the 5 cups will frost about 32 cupcakes.  So if you plan to just ice the cupcakes with a knife, you should 1/2 the recipe.

Piedmont Hazelnut Cupcakes
by flourtrader

1 cup of sour cream
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks of butter (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp hazelnut flavoring (I used Lorann oil brand from King Arthur Flour)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hazelnut flour

(courtesy of Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 lbs of semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted in a double boiler and cooled for 30 minutes)
1 cup plus 1 tbs dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs boiling water
2 1/4 cups or 4 1/2 sticks butter (room temp)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar (sifted)
1/4 tsp salt

To make cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease top edges of cupcake cavities of cupcake pan(s).  Fill cavities with 20 cupcake liners and fill the empty cavities with a little water.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl.  Then whisk in the hazelnut flour and set aside.

Fill a larger mixing bowl with butter and sugar.  With an electric mixer, beat until it becomes light and fluffy.  In another bowl, lightly beat one egg with a fork and then add it to the batter and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue to follow this process for the remaining eggs.  After all the eggs are blended, beat in the vanilla extract, hazelnut oil and sour cream.  Your batter should be quite smooth at this point.

Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry mixture into the batter until no dry streaks remain.  Scoop out batter and fill lined cupcake cavities to the top.  All batter should be evenly distributed in only 20 liners.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or when top of cupcake springs back when lightly touched.  My bake time was exactly 18 minutes.

When done, remove pan and let cupcakes cool for about 3 minutes, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.  Repeat same baking and cooling process if using additional cupcake pans.

For the frosting, place cocoa into bowl of boiling water. Stir until mixture is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sifted confectioners sugar and salt until smooth.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Then pour in the melted chocolate chips, using a spatula to scrape all the chocolate into the bowl. Beat at low until chocolate is completely blended into the butter mixture,  stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Lastly, add the cocoa mixture and beat for about 30 seconds.  Now it is ready to be used, so you can frost your cupcakes as desired.  If you have extra frosting, you can freeze for one month or refrigerate for 5 days.  Either way, you will need to bring it to room temperature and beat it again until it returns to a smooth consistency.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Austrian Apple Twists

Happy 4th everyone!  These little twists are a great way to start the day. They are filled with apples, nuts and cinnamon. While having apple pie for breakfast may not be an option, these pastry twists will give you all the same flavor.

I have made this type of pasty several times and there are many variations out there with different names.  Today, I decided to use up an apple that I had in the fridge, since it would be a change of pace from all the summer berry recipes.

The dough has an overnight chilling process, so there is minimal work for the baking process in the morning.  You can make about 16 of these, enjoy them for breakfast and then finish making the rest of them. These can be frozen after baked, but do not glaze them- the glaze will not do well in the freezer.  This recipe makes 64 twists.

Austrian Apple Twists
adapted from

3 cups flour
1 package of dry yeast
1 cup butter (room temp)
3 egg yolks ( beaten in a small bowl)
1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans
1 medium tart apple (I used Granny Smith)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp produce protector (to keep apple from browning)

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 teaspoons (or more) of milk

The night before: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the yeast.  Then add the butter in small pieces.  Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Take another bowl and whisk the sour cream and the egg yolks together.  Once blended, pour into the flour mixture and combine by stirring with a wooden spoon or use clean hands.  When a dough is formed and no flour streaks remain, separate it into 4 sections.  Shape each into a ball and place in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

Peel, core and chop the apple into small chunks.  Then mix in the produce protector, cover and refrigerate.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together the sugar, pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl. Then place a waxed sheet of paper on the counter and sprinkle with flour.  Take out I piece of dough from refrigerator and roll out with a floured rolling pin.  The end result should be a disc measuring 9 inches in diameter.

Leaving a 1/4 inch border on the outer edge of the dough disc, sprinkle to top evenly with 1/4 of the apple chunks and 1/4 cup of the cinnamon mixture.  Lightly press filling into dough.  Cut dough into 16 wedges.  Roll each wedge from the wide end to the opposite point, pinching to seal point.  Place on baking sheet, point side down.  Bake until lightly browned, which is about 16-20 minutes.

Remove and place on rack to cool.  Repeat this process with the other 3 remaining dough balls in the refrigerator.  If you do not plan to freeze them, follow the process below to ice the twists.

After the pastries have cooled, place a piece of wax paper under the rack to catch the drippings from the icing.  In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, milk and extract.  Should you feel that the icing is too thick add a little milk until desired consistency is achieved.

Drizzle the icing on top of the twists and then sprinkle with pecans. Once icing is set, these are ready to serve and eat-enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cherry Karma Cake

I feel that karma is something that may start with the perception of an event.  Based on that perception, you execute a decision to act based on that.  For instance, if your horoscope states that you will have a bad day, you may stay at home based on that information.  Also, you program yourself to have a bad day and events follow as a result of the thought.

I wish you all to have good karma for this long holiday weekend. Try to clear your mind of all negative thoughts, focus on the positive and react to your surroundings accordingly.  In doing so, your weekend with family and friends will be fun and memorable.

Regarding the cake recipe, I have experimented with baking this in a springform pan and a 9X13 pan.  The 9X13 had the best results.  It is a careful process to layer the berries over the batter.  Also, there is some difficulty in baking due to the high amount of liquid caused by the cherry layer.

Cherry Karma Cake
by flourtrader 

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup maraschino cherry juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 19 oz can cherry pie filling

Prepare a 9X13 size pan by greasing all the insides.  Line the bottom and the 13 inch sides with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on each long side.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Then make a large well in the center, set aside.

In a medium size bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the oil, maraschino cherry juice, sugar and both extracts.   When the batter is blended, stir in the eggs until the mixture is smooth.  Then mix 1/3 of this batter into the dry ingredients.  Continue this process in 2 more increments.

After all the items are blended pour, 3/4 of the batter into the pan.  Then open the can of filling and spoon on top of the batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges.  Spoon the rest of the batter over the top of the filling, making sure that all is covered.

Place in oven and cook for 55 minutes.  Remove and cover top of cake with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, take out cake and see if it is set on top.  Center should not joggle when pan is tilted.  If so place pan back in oven covered and baking at 5 minute intervals until it is done or completely set.

Remove from pan and let cool for 30 minutes.  Then run a knife around the edges and lift cake out of pan using parchment handles.  Place on rack to completely cool.  Once cool, cut and serve.  You can add whipped cream for an extra touch. Enjoy!