Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cherry Sachet Cookies

 Today sachets are known for just making things smell sweet. Basically like a bag of potpourri to place in your drawer. Now they are not only for that, but there are several different type of fillings as well.  The variety has most likely come about with potpourri being introduced into the market.

Early on, they were considered a love token.  Then with the medievil era, they were considered "plague bags" to ward off insect and disease.  In the 19th century, Prince Albert had some which were filled with hops and used them to help induce him to sleep.

These particular cookies are like a filled pouch,  much like a sachet. Also, the filling does have its own special aroma when cooking-however the alcohol fumes can be overwhelming!

The outside cookie is made with cream cheese and cooks up very crisp.  Inside is a chewy mixture of cherries and almonds.  The cherries are cooked in a blend of creme de cacao and creme de noyaux.  This is kind of like a fig newton with its own unique filling and a crisper cookie shell.

Before we get to the recipe I have a few bloggers to thank:

CJ at Food Stories: She was so nice to award me with not just one but three awards!  CJ started her blog in January and has really bounded onto the scene.  She has a great angle of creating something with the same ingredient as called for on that particular national food day.  Also, she created her own special award for bloggers.  A few of my food pics from her site are the deep dish chocolate chip cookies and cauliflower rice.

Ambreen at Simply Sweet and Savory:She passed the Versatile blogger award to me. Her blog does showcase her skill for both sides of the fence.  With stunning photos, you will be enticed by a number of her posts.  Not only can you find delicious recipes, but a lot of them you cannot find anywhere else.

Stop in and say hi, you will be glad you did.

Cherry Sachet Cookies  -makes about 2 dozen cookies
by flourtrader

3/4 cup creme de cacao
3/4 cup creme de noyaux or amaretto (almond liqueur)
2/3 cups of  chopped dried cherries
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

To make the filling, pour liquid filing ingredients into saucepan and add sugar.  Place over medium high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Then add the cherries.  Let simmer and come to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.  You want that the mixture to become syrupy and most of the liquid to evaporate.  Remove from heat and stir in chopped almonds.  Let cool to room temperature.

The cookie batter can be made while the filling is cooling.  Beat together the cream cheese, butter  and flavor extracts until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and the egg and mix until completely blended.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Then fold into cream cheese batter until no dry streaks remain.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter the inside of one baking sheet.

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface  about 16 x 5 inches and 1/4 inch in height. Then cut in half, making 2 rectangles 8X5.  Then spoon filling down the length of the bottom half of each rectangle, leaving a 1/4 inch border on the right/left and bottom. Use a knife to smooth it out evenly.  Fold dough over and seal edges.  Then push bottom length and folded edge closer together so there are no air pockets and fold sealed edges under.

Place each on a baking sheet about 3-4 inches apart.  Then bake until the edges become crispy, about 25-30 minutes.  Remove and quickly slice into pieces and place on rack to finish cooling.

Tips and Notes:
1. When chopping, use your judgment on size of pieces.  The smaller the pieces are the more of a clean cut you will get.
2. You want to make sure that the filling is distributed evenly, so you do not have a big chunk of cookie without filling.
3. Feel free to use cherry juice or other liquids if you want this to be non-alcoholic.
                         **LAST YEAR:Passion Fruit Cupcakes**

Monday, May 28, 2012

Elixir Wage Cake

Back in the 15th Century in Britain the labor force was under a truck system. The truck system was a manner in which payment was made for services in the form of commodities.  This in turn meant that those commodities had to be exchanged for the actual true needs of the laborer.  Also, the place of exchange would be a company owned store that controlled the value.

However, when it came to farm workers and cider, the average wage was 4-5 pints a day.  This system soon was became a way to rate a laborer. The more a man could drink, the more valuable he became. So a man that put away 2 gallons a day was considered a great worker.  Then in 1887 came the Truck Act which put a stop to payment in commodities and the drink fest came to a close.

Perhaps payment in the form of hard cider was a bad thing, but I decided that this particular cake would make for a nice company bonus!  This spicy cake takes a whopping 1 1/2 cups of hard cider.  Along with that, you include dark brown sugar and some apple juice.  The rich moist crumb of the cake is delicious enough on its own, but I couldn't just leave it at that.  Hard cider does deserve an apple chaser, so I included a tunnel of apples as well.

Elixir Wage Cake
by flourtrader

Ingredients/apple tunnel
1 cup dried apple pieces, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Ingredients/Cake Batter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups hard cider (open can or bottle and leave sit overnight, covered, to get flat)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

To make the filling, fill a saucepan with the apples, water, orange juice and apple juice in a medium size saucepan and place over medium heat and stir.  Let mixture come to a simmer and then cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.  You want the apples to become very soft and a lot of the liquid to be absorbed.  Then add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly for about 5-8 minutes, the water should now be very thick and syrupy.  Remove and set aside to cool to room temperature.  After it reaches room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease the inside of a 10 cup bundt pan.  Then dust with flour.   Sift together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Then beat in vanilla extract and salt.  Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds and then do the same with the second egg.  Using a wooden spoon, fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Then add 1/2 cup apple juice and 1/2 cup hard cider, stir until blended.  Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and blend with wooden spoon.  Pour the last of the hard cider (1 cup) into the bowl and mix.  Follow with the rest of the sifted ingredients and blend until no dry streaks remain.

Now, to fill the cake pan.  I used 3 cups for the first layer, but you can see how much sinking the apples did.  I would say put 5 or 6 cups of batter into the pan.  Then take out the apple mixture and spoon it around in a circle in the center of the batter, making sure none touches the edges.  Spoon the rest of the cake batter on top and smooth out evenly.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 55 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Place pan on a rack and let cool for 20 minutes.  Then invert and let completely cool before slicing.

Tips and Notes:
1.  Cake is better the next day because the spice flavor develops more.  I liked mine served slightly warm.
2.  The sinking factor is unpredictable,  but the apples may land dead center even if you place them on top of all the batter before baking-the process does need some experimenting for placement..
3.  Caramel sauce would be a great accompaniment.
                         **LAST YEAR: Triple Quake Bars**

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pecan Chocolate Squares

Well since it is Friday, I wanted to make something that was tasty but not too difficult.  Something that would be good as an afternoon snack.  I started looking at the recipes for squares and bars.  Most of them I had already seen or tasted before.  That is until I landed on this one.

It was fairly easy to prepare, with a cookie base and a pie top.  Also, the squares do have a special twist of the cinnamon in the base with a thin layer of chocolate, which brings you back to the thought of Mexican chocolate.  The pie topping is made with dark brown sugar and toasted pecans.  Actually, 3 cups of pecans and the pan is only 9 inches square.  No skimping in that respect!

These are great served with coffee as well as tea.  Also, if you find yourself lacking in calcium, a dollop of whipped cream on top would also be good!

Pecan Chocolate Squares
adapted from Fine Cooking Cookies

Ingredients/Cookie Base
2 cups flour
2 oz grated bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter cut into cubes

Ingredients/Pecan Topping
1/3 cup honey
2 tbs heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 cups toasted chopped pecans
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Fill food processor bowl with all the cookie base ingredients except chocolate.  Pulse about 15-20 times until mixture becomes crumbly. Empty food processor bowl into 9 inch square pan.  Press crumbs into pan, forming an even crust over the inside.

Place pan in the oven and bake about 25 minutes.  Crust should be firm and golden when done.  Remove pan and place on rack.  Then evenly sprinkle the grated chocolate all over the top of the crust.  Set aside.

For the pecan topping, fill a saucepan with butter  and place over medium heat, stirring until melted.   Add heavy cream, salt, brown sugar and honey.  Mix together as it cooks, letting it come to a simmer.  Then cook for and additional minute, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and fold  in the pecans.  

Pour pecan mixture over the chocolate coated crust.  Smooth out so layer is even.  Place in oven and bake about 16-18 minutes.  It is done when you open the oven and see all the topping bubbling-not just the edges.  Place pan on rack and let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Tips and Notes:
The method of sprinkling the grated chocolate is not good enough for even distribution, I took a spatula and smoothed it out after it melted a little.

                           **LAST YEAR: Cajun Chicken Carter** 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Balinese Double Six Sundaes

The island of Bali has become a very popular tourist place in the last 15 years, however, there has been quite a bit of struggle through the years. Yet, the beauty of Bali still remains.  So much so that tourists say that it is hard to believe that it has suffered through so many struggles.  Between the white as well as black sand beaches, rugged coastlines and volcanic hillsides it may as well be paradise on earth.  One of the beaches I came across was Double Six Beach.  In addition to that, this country does produce pineapples.  They are small, unlike the ones we are used to seeing but is very rich in juice.

Now that you have read the background to the title, on to the real reason you are here reading-the recipe.  The base of the dessert is 2 layers of shortbread crust with macadamia butter in the middle.  On top, there is a scoop of vanilla ice cream surrounded by broiled pineapple slices coated with brown sugar.  Then comes a coconut vodka caramel sauce and a topping of toasted coconut.

Before we get on with the details, I do have some fellow bloggers to thank for awards:

Heather Lynne at Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
She passed along the Versatile Blogger Award. This blogger does have her hand in making anything and everything, hitting the mark of deliciousness everytime.  Her search labels is the longest I have ever seen, which is an indicator that there is something there for everyone.  My picks from her blog were Pizza stuffed soft pretzels and Individual Pineapple upside down cakes.

Stephanie Carlson at Its Not Just About the Recipe
She was so kind and passed along two awards, The Versatile Blogger and The Sunshine Award. This blogger is involved in a lot of link parties and themes, so clearly she is enjoying her time in the blogging sphere!  With that enjoyment, I would say success is naturally a part of that.  With a fun, upbeat attitude and great food-people just are drawn to her blog. She shares not only her recipes but the recipes of others and is always extending an invite to a link party or bake along.

If you have yet to meet these ladies, you are missing out so stop in a say hi!

Balinese Double Six Sundaes
by Flourtrader
Ingredients/Base    -Makes 24 pieces about 2 inches by 2 inches
1 cup of macadamia butter
2 cups regular butter
1 cup sugar
4 cups and 2 tbs flour

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup of flour at a time, ending with the last cup and 2 tablespoons.  Making sure that no dry streaks remain after each interval.

Prepare one jelly roll pan or baking sheet (11.5 X 16.5 with 1 inch depth) by lining with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two smaller sides.

Separate the dough into two balls and place one on a square piece of paper and the other put back in the fridge.  Place another sheet of wax paper over the top of the dough and roll out close to the size of the baking sheet.  Uncover the dough and flip it into the prepared baking sheet.  Make sure all the bottom is covered with the dough evenly.  You may have to roll it out more or patch some areas.  Then place in fridge.  Roll out the other piece of dough in the same manner. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Remove the dough pan from the fridge.  Then empty the cup of macadamia butter onto the dough and use a large spatula to smooth it out evenly, leaving about 1/4 inch border on all sides.  Then flip the other piece of dough on top.  Pat down dough, making sure it covers from edge to edge and that there are no air bubbles in between. Then, using a fork, poke several holes in the dough to insure that no bubbles are created when baking.

Place pan in oven and bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes.  Remove the pan and cut into squares and then place the pan back in the oven and turn the oven off.  Shortbread is done when oven and pan is completely cool. Then cover and place in fridge until ready to use.

Ingredients/Roasted Pineapple- Makes 28 pieces about 2 1/2 inches long
22 oz of pineapple spears
2/3 cup packed brown sugar

Line a baking sheet with a piece of foil.  Cut pineapple spears once horizontally and once vertically.  Lay all pieces on the baking sheet on with the long flat side facing up.  Then using a spoon, scoop out some brown sugar and place on each piece.  Use the backside of the spoon to smooth and flatten the sugar onto each piece.  Place pan of pineapple under a broiler on high heat for about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully, for it goes from done to burnt fast..  Brown sugar should bubble and turn amber in color when pineapple is done.

Ingredients/ Coconut Caramel- makes enough sauce for about 4 servings
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut vodka
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir together, letting mixture come to a boil.  Once the sugar
dissolves, stop stirring and let boil for 1-2 minutes until mixture is thickened.  Then remove from heat and turn burner down to low.  Once burner has cooled down to low, place saucepan back on heat to keep warm.

Other Components
1 pint of ice cream (4-5 servings)
1/4 cup toasted coconut

Place shortbread square on plate, then a scoop of ice cream.  Lay pineapple pieces vertically around the scoop and drizzle caramel over the dessert and top with a sprinkle of toasted coconut.
                     **LAST YEAR: Romany Cream Cookies**

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mixed Berry Tiramisu

With all the berries that have come into season, I could not resist this particular tiramisu recipe when I came across it. I had never made any type of tiramisu before, so I thought this would be a fun project.  As I followed the process, I came to a point where I started questioning the outcome.  I had a watery liquid in my pan. Even though it is not your standard recipe, one thing I did know was it was not supposed to be watery.

I had envisioned it to be served on a plate.  However, now I started to notice the manner of serving that the recipe suggested-a bowl. Then, I sighed as I placed it in the fridge for the last chilling time, calculating just how much this watery mess cost me to make with all the fresh berries.

After 8 hours, to my surprise it all solidified, no runny mess! Also, unlike what the recipe said, it could be served on a plate!  What I had ended up with was a delicious final dessert-crunchy lady fingers covered in a bed of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with a touch of lime.  Then, to top it all off, is tart mixture of marscapone and lime curd.  In the end, I decided it was perhaps one of the tastiest ways to enjoy a good dose of ice cold berries this season!

Please note that this particular recipe has several components that have to chill for many hours, so read thoroughly before planning to make this.

Mixed Berry Tiramisu with Lime Curd
adapted from Bon Appetit/June 2009

Ingredients/Lime Curd 
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbs lime peel
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted, remove from heat.  Then stir in lime juice, lime peel, sugar and salt.   In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together.  Pour the egg yolks into the saucepan with the butter and lime.  Place over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly until curd thickens and leaves a path on the back of a spoon.  A thermometer should register 165 degrees and cook time is about 10-15 minutes.

Place a mesh strainer over a heat proof bowl and pour curd into bowl.  Then place plastic wrap all over the surface of the curd.  Place in the refrigerator and chill overnight.

Ingredients/Filling and Base
1/2 cup water (for berries)
1/3 cup water (for syrup)
3 tbs lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
3- 1 1/2 inch lime peel strips
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 7oz package of ladyfingers ( or make your own, as I did, recipe here  )

For the berry mixture, stir together powdered sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.  Then fill with  blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  Place over medium high heat and simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Turn down heat to medium and let cook for 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.  After cooked, berries will be soft but still intact. Mix in the lime juice.  Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Once it reaches room temperature, fold in strawberries.  Cover and chill for 4 hours.

For the syrup, place 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar and lime peel strips in a saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove and let cool to room temperature and discard lime peel.  Then brush the syrup all over the ladyfingers, the top as well as the bottom.  Place in a 9X13 inch glass baking dish.  Make sure cookies cover the whole bottom of the pan, you may need to cut them to fit.  Then pour the chilled berry mixture over the top, smoothing so all ladyfingers are covered. Set aside.

Ingredients/ Top Layer
2 1/2- 8 oz containers or 20 oz of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 recipe lime curd (above)

Beat together mascarpone and whipping cream until thickened and blended.  Then beat in the lime curd.   Using a large spoon drop dollups of the topping onto the cold berries.  Then smooth the top, making sure that all the berries are covered.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours.
After eight hours, cut and serve.

Tips and Notes:
1. To make sure that your dish will be ready by lunch, you will need to prepare the lime curd, berry mixture and (if you make them) lady fingers 2 days in advance and compile the dessert and chill one day in advance.
2. Pan does not need greasing, dessert comes cleanly and easily out of pan.
3. I used only 16 oz of mascarpone and 1/4 cup and 2 tbs of whipping cream with the lime curd and it was enough to cover.  How much you use or how thick you want the topping is at your discretion.
4. When beating marscarpone and whipped cream, do not over do it for it may curdle.
                      **LAST YEAR: 50/50 Biscuits**


Friday, May 18, 2012

Raspberry Tea and Chambord Brownies

Well today would have been one of my own creations but I have had to hold off until next week.  Apparently the arrival my ordered ingredients is coming via horseback, but I am told also that it has to be made first!  Anyhow, since I have things planned out for several weeks, it did not really put me in a bind.

These particular brownies are really rich.  One small piece does go a long way.  The brownies, since they have no baking soda or powder are very dense, but the texture is not chewy. The decadent dark chocolate is paired up with Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and raspberry tea.  The recipe states you can use whatever fruit tea and matching liqueur flavor you want, but I chose this one. I particularly favor raspberry and dark chocolate, however I am sure there are lots more of delicious combinations that can be done.

These brownies will be packed up for donation and quickly transported in a cooler. I have deemed these to be something for a special occasions due to their richness. Valentine's does come to mind due to the flavor combo. The recipe states that these are to be cut into 36 squares, so that means 1X1 inch.  Even though small, the rich depth of flavor does linger.

 Raspberry Tea and Chambord Brownies
adapted from Glorious Liqueurs

4 oz of bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)
2 oz of unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
3/4 cup of water
3 tbs raspberry liquor (Chambord)
1/4 cup raspberry preserves
3/4 sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp raspberry tea leaves

Prepare a 8 inch square baking pan by buttering the inside and lining the bottom with parchment paper and also buttering the face up side of the parchment.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the 3/4 cup of water and put in a heat proof mug.  Cover and place in microwave and heat until boiling.  Mine took about 2 minutes. Then stir in 2 tsp of the tea leaves and let steep for 5 minutes.  Place a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter over the top of another heat proof mug. Pour the tea into the strainer or filter.  After the liquid has gone through, discard filter or rinse out and clean strainer.

Place a small saucepan over low heat and fill with unsweetened chocolate and butter.  Stir occasionally until all is melted and blended.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

While this is cooling, sift together the flour and the salt.  Set aside.  Then fill a medium size mixing bowl with the eggs and beat until frothy.  Add the sugar and beat again until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

Add to the egg mixture the cooled chocolate, 2 tbs of the strained tea and 1 tbs of the raspberry liqueur.  Beat until all is blended, about 1 minute.  Then, using a wooden spoon, fold in the sifted ingredients until no dry streaks remain.  Pour mixture into cake pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.  Brownies will be done when they pull slightly from the edge of the pan and batter is firm. Remove pan and place on rack to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes invert brownies and remove from pan.  Peel off parchment and then carefully turn back over and let rest on rack.

During the cooling time, mix together one tablespoon of the strained tea and 2 tablespoons of the raspberry liqueur.   After the 10 minutes cooling time of the brownies has passed, brush this mixture  over the top until all has been completely used up.

Place a small saucepan over medium heat and fill with the preserves.  Stir and cook until it has melted into a liquid.  Place a mesh strainer over a heat proof bowl and pour the melted preserves into the strainer.  After straining, brush melted preserves over top of the brownie.

Clean both the sauce pan and the strainer, for you need them again for the chocolate topping.  Fill the saucepan with heavy cream and let come to a boil.  Remove from and mix in the remaining 2 tsp of raspberry tea leaves.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Then pour into a strainer placed over the bowl of chopped chocolate.  Let sit one minute.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Spread the chocolate ganache over the brownies.  Then place in fridge for about 20 minutes partially and then mark or score your cutting lines with a knife. Then refrigerate another 10 minutes and then remove  Let come to room temperature, cut and serve.  To store, lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Tips and notes:
1. The tea I used worked out to being 1 tsp of leaves per bag.
2. The ganache will crack if you cut when cold, so it is best to wait for room temperature when cutting.
3. The paper coffee filter only worked with me on the water/tea leaves, the cream/tea leaves and preserves were too heavy to strain through paper.
2. Act fast on brushing the melted preserves, mine sat up back to a thick state in no time.
                        **LAST YEAR: Coconut Banana Coffeecake** 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monticello Pride Tart

One of our famous presidents, Thomas Jefferson, had an estate in Monticello.  This estate had a South orchard that contained about 38 different varieties of peach trees.  Most of us are familiar with the story about him fleeing the estate on horseback during the war. After that he was labeled as being a coward.

In reading some more history, I found out that he had long since made a choice between the strong, corrupt politics and the more honest, smaller group of politicians.  Having chosen to be a part of the smaller group led to issues of not having a very effective army and questionable leadership skills.  On top of these issues, his estate was very costly to maintain.  Costly enough to where the financial burden was not only felt by him but also the rest of the family.  However, this financial struggle was something he willingly dealt with instead of relinquishing the estate.  In the long run, I do believe that keeping the estate was a matter of pride.

Now you know how the name came about, so on with the explanation of this dessert!  The pastry crust is made with ground almonds which gives it a rich flavor.  In addition, the filling is unlike the standard.  Instead of being heavy with cream it only has 1/4 cup, which is much lighter.  You will also find ground almonds and almond extract in it. To offset this nutty tart, fresh sliced peaches are cooked on top of the filling.  After baking, warm peach preserves are brushed on top.

We normally go with peaches and cream, but the nutty base does compliment the flavor of the peaches.  As you take a bite, you land on the flaky nutty pastry, then the filling with a little crunch and finally, the sweet juicy peach.  As far as I am concerned peach and almond never tasted so good!

Also, before we move on, I wanted to thank a blogger for a recent award. I know I usually do two, but I think this one, due to the uniqueness, needs to stand alone.

Javelin Warrior at Cooking With Luv
He gave me the Happy Blogger award.  Javelin has a very unique blog that focuses on
promoting food bloggers..  He has such themes as "made with love Mondays" and "Tuesday Tutor".  The first is a weekly link up of recipes from various blogs.  The links have to be made from scratch recipes that are void of any artificial colors or ingredients.  The second theme is a post where he makes a recipe from a fellow blogger and interviews them as well.  We all know there are thousands of food blogs, so his themes are helping shed some limelight on some great talent that you might not have been aware of. I admire his selflessness in blogging as well as his dedication to natural nutrition.

If you have not met Javelin, you are missing the benefits of having this unique blogger in your circle, so drop in for a visit.  Now for the recipe!

Monticello Pride Tart
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ Almond Filling
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup of almond flour or meal (I ground my own)

Ingredients/Nut Pastry Crust
1/3 cup whole almonds
6 tbs butter ( cold and cubed)
1 tbs cold shortening (cold and cubed)
2 tbs water
3/4 tbs sugar
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/8 tsp salt

Ingredients/ Topping
4 peeled and sliced peaches
1/2 cup peach preserves
3 tbs water

To make the filling, whisk the egg and almond extract together.  Then, in a separate bowl, mix the sugar and almond flour together.  Take half of the almond sugar mixture and stir into the egg batter.  Add the whipping cream, mixing until well blended.  Add the rest of the almond sugar mixture and stir.  After everything is blended, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the batter and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.

After about 2 1/2  hours of chilling time, start on the crust.  Place the nuts and sugar in a food processor and pulse several times.  The consistency should be fine once pulsed, almost flour fine.  Go through the blend and make sure there are no more large chunks of nuts.  If so remove them or chop them down with a knife.

Then add the flour and salt, pulsing in intervals until well blended.  Open the lid of the processor and toss in the butter cubes. Replace the lid and pulse about 6 times.  Open again,fluff dough with
a fork and drop in shortening cubes.  Then pulse for 6 times and then open and fluff the dough.  Lastly, add the water and pulse until the mixture forms clumps.

Empty the contents of the processor on top of a sheet of wax paper.  Form the dough into a ball and then knead a few times and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for 45 minutes.

Take out disk and place on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 9X12 rectangle.  Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the 7X10 inch tart pan.  Press evenly into bottom of pan and up the sides. Then place pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the proper chilling time has expired, remove the tart  pan from the freezer and the filling from the refrigerator.  Uncover filling and fill tart pan, smoothing the top to insure even coverage to all corners.

Then place the peach slices in rows, either vertically or horizontally, on top of the filling.  Then place in oven and bake about 40 minutes.  When done, the cream should be set and the crust toasty. Remove and place tart on a rack.

While the tart is baking, place peach preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir and let mixture come to a simmer.  Pour mixture into a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl.  Discard any lumps left in sieve and then brush the strained preserves over the peaches.

To serve, cut tart into pieces with a sharp knife.  Tart can be served warm or at room temperature.

Notes and Tips:
1. the pastry crust is easy to work with so if your transfer of the dough to the tart is not perfect you can patch it in place.
2. To insure that the pastry holds its shape all freezing time and chilling time is required.
3. How many peaches you use is personal preference on how much fruit you want to overlap on top.
4. The texture of the filling will vary depending on which type you use-almond flour, almond meal or grinding your own.  The almond flour will give you the smoothest "mouth feel".
                                **LAST YEAR: Foggy City Meatloaf**

Monday, May 14, 2012

Florida Cottontails

When I think of cottontails, I usually think of a more central or northern rabbit.  However, there is a rabbit which inhabits some areas of Florida.  They are called marsh rabbits.  They look like most cottontails that you see in other areas, except they are a little more reddish instead of brown.

Since Florida is a large producer of lemons and these cakes do look like a big fluffy cottontail, that is how I came up for a name for these cakes.

The flavor idea came to me when I saw those pink Hostess cakes called "snowballs".  For those that are unfamiliar with the "snowballs" they are chocolate cakes shaped like a dome that are filled and coated with marshmallow fluff and then sprinkled with pink coconut. 

Instead of that combination, I thought that lemon,coconut and meringue would go well together.   These lemony cakes are filled, as well as topped, with meringue then have a final coating of sweet coconut.  Outside of their great taste, they have a bright lemon yellow color which conjures up the lazy days of summer and outdoor picnics.  However, be aware that these yellow gems do entice little kids into grabbing and eating them with their hands-so be sure to have plenty of napkins around when serving!

This recipe makes 8 cakes and requires 2 domed cupcake pans with 1/2 cup cavities that are 3.5 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches deep.

Florida Cottontails
by flourtrader

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbs lemon zest
2/3 cup of lemonade (I used Simply Lemonade brand)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients/Filling and Frosting
3 egg whites, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 cups sweetened coconut
6 drops liquid or 1/4 tsp powdered yellow food coloring

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the top edges and interior of 8 cavities of your dome pans.  Then dust with flour.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Then sprinkle in the zest and stir, distributing evenly.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.  Once it becomes light and fluffy, add one egg and beat for 30 seconds.  Then add the additional egg and vegetable oil, beating again to blend.  Using a wooden spoon, fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.  Then mix in 1/3 cup of lemonade and lemon juice.  Repeat this process and then add the final amount of the dry ingredients.

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill each cavity 2/3 full with cake batter.  Place in oven and bake 15-25 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Rotate baking pans halfway into the baking time.  Mine took a total of 18 minutes to fully bake.  Remove pans and let rest for 3-5 minutes, then invert cakes onto rack to finish cooling.  Flip cakes so dome is facing up.

Once cool, take a serrated edge knife and cut off 1/3 of the top of the dome on each cake.  Then scoop out 1 1/2 tbs of cake from the center of the bottom piece.

To create filling and frosting, fill a sauce pan with the water and sugar and place over medium heat.  Let come to a boil and cover.  Set timer for 3 minutes. During this time, prewarm your thermometer in a glass of warm water.  Once the timer goes off, uncover and place thermometer in syrup and let mixture heat up until it registers between 235-240 degrees.  Once it reaches that stage, remove pan from heat and place thermometer back in the glass of warm water.

With a large stand mixer,  beat the egg whites until foamy.  Sprinkle in the pinch of salt and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue to beat until soft peaks form.  While still running the mixer at high speed, pour in the syrup in a thin stream, letting it glide down the inside edge of the bowl.  Continue to beat the mixture for 10 minutes longer to let cool down.  Then beat in the vanilla extract.  Take 1 cup of the meringue out and place in another bowl, setting aside.  Add 3 drops or 1/8 tsp of the food coloring to the larger amount of the meringue in the stand mixer bowl and beat until it becomes an even color of yellow.  You can add additional food coloring should you want a deeper color.

Then fill a small food processor bowl with the coconut and the remaining food coloring and blend until coconut has turned a lemony yellow.  Set aside.

Take the white meringue and fill the hole in the bottom of the cakes.  Then put the top back on the cakes.  Then thickly cover each cake with the colored meringue.  Generously sprinkle the cakes with the coconut, covering all areas.  Press gently to maintain dome like shape and to get the coconut to adhere. Then they are ready to serve!

Tips and notes:
1. you can change up the extract flavoring in the meringue according to your tastes.
2. I used powdered food coloring.  My liquid food coloring may have been too old, but it gave the meringue an orange tinge, instead of yellow.
3. The meringue gets foamy if it sits, but you can beat it back into its silky consistency.  The silkier, the better you can work with it.
                         **LAST YEAR: Armenian Dinner Rolls**

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies/ Delicious Recall #1

I have started a new monthly series.  This series will feature a bloggers recipe that I have saved from 2011 or older.  I think that the best form of flattery to a food blogger is to actually have someone make and enjoy their recipes.  With my core group of followers being food bloggers themselves, most are busy creating their own recipes rather than making other people's recipes. I have fallen into that group as well but have decided this theme is in order.

The recipe may or may not be a blogger that follows my blog, for the choice is strictly based on my pick of things I have seen across the net.

This first recipe is from Bakers Royale , a blog in which I was lurking on way before I even started a blog.  With most of the recipes falling into the cakes or cookies category,  I found myself saving a lot of recipes from Naomi's site.

This particular cookie recipe intrigued me and it did not disappoint.  It is oatey with a subtle flavor of pumpkin and spices.   I took her suggestion and added mini chocolate chips and toffee bits. The batter is a great base that you can customize with add ins according to taste.  With the pumpkin and grains, they are a little bit on the healthier side when it comes to cookies, which is a good thing. Also the texture of the cookies were chewy, which can be attributed to all the oats in the recipe. I would say that they are very close to the same as a chewy granola bar.

This is a great cookie to eat on the run and put in the lunchbox as well.  Very filling and satisfying.  I am glad I kept this one from the past. This recipe makes about 3 1/2-4 dz cookies, depending on the size of your batter scoops.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from  Bakers Royale

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 egg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
Add ins: (optional) 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
                                3/4 cup toasted nuts
                                1/2 cup toffee bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Take a small saucepan and place over medium heat.  Whisk as the butter melts and then cooks.  The butter will foam up once melted and then the foam will subside.  Watch for little brown specks to form in the bottom and look for the color change from yellow to golden.  Watch carefully because it can go from brown to burnt quickly.  Once golden, remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together both kinds of oats and and the flour until all is evenly distributed.  Set aside.

Fill a large mixer bowl with both sugars, egg, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Beat for about 30 seconds until smooth.  Then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown butter until incorporated and then add the baking soda and mix again.  Fold in the oat/flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Should you opt for the add ins, fold them in at this time.

Using a tablespoon or a melon baller, scoop out batter and place on cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes.  They should have a golden hue when done.  Remove baking sheet and place on rack. Let cookies cool on sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

Tips and Notes:
1.  These cookies will brown but be a bit glossy when done, which may make you think they are undercooked.  They will set up when they cool.  Browning on the bottom is the true indicator of doneness.
2. If you want the pumpkin flavor to be more prominent, then use no add ins or less flavorful ones like nuts instead of chocolate.
                       **LAST YEAR: Espresso Cream Cake**

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Banana Split Cake

This is a recipe that I have been hanging onto for quite some time.  The main reason that I have been hesitant to make it is because I feared that there may be too many things packed into this cake.  However, I did move forward and I am glad I did.

The cake has chopped strawberries, bananas, walnuts, pineapple and chocolate chips.  Based on that, it does have all the makings of a banana split, but in a cake form.

It turned out really moist.  Outside of the texture, the taste was pretty amazing.  The tidbits of pineapple still gave off some juice in the bite.  This made me wish I had not have cut up the strawberries so small. The different fruits, chocolate chips and nuts are scattered in the cake, so you do get different flavors in each bite instead of a big blend of everything-that is if your bite is not real huge!

I did not ice this cake with the chocolate glaze, but I have included it in the recipe below.

Also, before I move on, I wanted to thank a few blogger for some recent awards:

Kim at Treat and Trinkets
She was so sweet and gave me the Versatile Blogger, Kreativ and Sunshine award. If you read Kim's about me section in her blog, you can see this is a person of many hats.  However, I am glad she wears a food blogger hat because her talent in the kitchen is something to be shared.  Thanks to her posting, I have a wonderful recipe for French Toast cupcakes as well as Cookie Stuffed Pies!

Richa at Khatta Meetha
Richa passed the Happy Blogger award to me.  While her blog focuses on Indian cuisine, she does have some talent for a variety of things.  You will find vegetarian, non vegetarian recipes as well as recipes for the kids. Truly this myriad of recipes does offer something for everyone.  A few of my picks were crispy okra and coconut french toast. Also, her blog format does pull you in with the slide show and amazing pictures!

So venture out and pay these two girls a visit to their blog and say hello.  Thanks again Kim and Richa for the awards.

Banana Split Cake
adapted from Nestle

1 cup chopped bananas
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup mashed bananas
One 15.5 oz can of pineapple tidbits (I used 2 of the 8 oz cans)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

3 tbs butter
3 tbs light corn syrup
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Let eggs and butter set out for 30 minutes to get to room temperature. Generously grease the inside of a 12 cup bundt pan with melted butter, then dust with flour.

Take 1/4 cup of pineapple juice from can and place in a small bowl.  Drain and the rest of the juice from the pineapple can. You can discard or keep for another use. Add buttermilk to the 1/4 cup of juice and stir.  Then, in a separate bowl. sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set both bowls aside.

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until soft and fluffy.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue to add sugar in 1/4 cup measurements and beat after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally  Then beat in the eggs, mashed bananas and extract until evenly distributed.

Using a wooden spoon, fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients.  Add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and stir until liquid is absorbed.  Repeat the process of adding and stirring, ending with the last third of the flour mixture.

Fold in the chocolate chips and the 1/4 cup of walnuts.  Then fold in the remaining fruit (chopped strawberries, chopped banana and pineapple tidbits), making sure all is evenly distributed.  Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing for an even top.

Place in oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until tester comes out clean. The visible top of the cake does not turn golden, however the part covered by the pan does.  Remove cake and let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.  Then invert onto rack to completely cool before glazing.

To make the glaze, fill a saucepan with all the ingredients, except for the walnuts. Place saucepan over low heat and stir.  Once mixture is smooth and chips have melted, place a baking sheet lined with wax paper under the rack that is holding the cake.  Then drizzle glaze over the cake and top with remaining nuts.   Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
                      **LAST YEAR: Strawberry Kuchen**

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lemon Butter Fudge

I have been wanting to make some fudge for awhile but I have always thought it to be a difficult task.  Remembering my childhood days of having to assist in the hand beating of the batter was not something I relished.  Then my thermometer was nowhere to be found (perhaps a subconscious means of fudge aversion).  However, I finally broke down and bought a new digital thermometer with the intention of making fudge.

When thumbing through a recipe book, there was a section on "exotics fudges", which did catch my interest.  Most of the recipes were not unique flavors, but had a unique ingredient-goat's milk.   Then I found the lemon butter fudge recipe, unique in flavor but no goat's milk.

Since I liked lemon cream filled candy, I thought this would be an unusual treat that would be enjoyed by many people. Also the recipe had a option of including nuts which made it even better.

Now with technology and good equipment like a food processor, that wretched task of beating by hand was out of the picture!  For my first time making fudge, I was pleasantly surprised at the results. My biggest fear was graininess or that it would not set up.  However, in the end my hesitation was just delaying something that was actually a fun project with delicious results. I am a fan of lemon and citrusy things so the tart flavor and creamy texture definitely scored in my book.  Also, I included pecans which added another tasty layer of flavor and crunch. This recipe makes 1 pound of fudge.

Needless to say I am gifting these up for a few special people. Giving gifts for no special reason is always fun!

Lemon Butter Fudge
adapted from Oh Fudge by Lee Benning

4 tbs butter (do not use margarine)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbs 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 inch by 2 inch piece lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Optional Ingredients
1/2 to 1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
4 drops yellow food coloring

Prepare your thermometer by placing it in a glass of hot water so it will be pre-warmed.  Take a 2 quart sauce pan and butter the upper 2/3 of the sides of the inside of the pan.  Fill a glass with water and ice.  Also, fill the sink full of cold water to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.

Grease the inside of a 5X10 inch pan and line with parchment paper in bottom and two opposite sides with overhang.  Place the butter in the freezer.

Place all ingredients in the saucepan with the exception of butter and the list of optional ingredients. Put saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.  The spoon should glide smoothly over the inside bottom of pan with no grittiness.

Increase the heat and let mixture come to a boil.  Use a pastry brush dipping in hot water to wash down the sugar crystals on the inside edges that precede the batter.  Place pre-warmed thermometer in candy and reduce heat but maintain boil.  Once thermometer registers between 236 to 244 degrees Fahrenheit, test by placing a drop in ice water.  It should hold shape until the heat from your fingers start to flatten it and it has a slightly chewy texture.

Once it is at the correct consistency, take saucepan and place in the sink of cold water.  Then drop in frozen butter. Do not stir.  Leave thermometer in candy and wait until it cools down to a temperature of 110 degrees and develops a skin on top.

Pour mixture into food processor, take out zest and add two optional ingredients-the food coloring and lemon extract.  Place the cover over the food processor and leave the feed tube uncovered so steam can escape.   Turn on food processor and run for 3 minutes and let rest for 1 minute.  Repeat this process until the fudge thickens and loses it sheen.  It will become lighter in shade and then stiffen.  For me the true indicator was when the batter did not flow back to the center when the machine was shut off.  It left about a 3/4 inch gap.  This process took about 12 minutes.

Once the right consistency is achieved, mix in the nuts.  Then pour into the prepared pan and let cool.  Once cool, pull on parchment paper to take out of pan and cut into desired shapes.  Then it is ready to serve.  Cover tightly and refrigerate to store.

Tips and Notes:

1. This does give your food processor a work out, it did get very warm.
2. My mom used to serve 1 inch by 1 inch pieces of fudge, these pieces are between 1/2 to 3/4 an inch thick
3. You can use a towel dampened with cold water to place around the outside of the processor bowl to speed up the thickening process of the candy.
4.  I did not take out the zest and let the food processor grind it up to blend into the fudge
5.  Taste batter before opting for the lemon extract, for strength of flavor is a personal preference
6.   I monitored the progression of the candy changes in the consistency by periodically stopping and watching the movement of the batter when machine was of as well as tasting and getting a "mouthfeel" of the texture.
7. Once batter is in pan, it sets up fast, so do not delay in spreading it out.
8. Statement from recipe says"not easily doubled but can be frozen"
                      LAST YEAR:Jalapeno Cheese Squares**


Friday, May 4, 2012

Uncorked Blackberry Coolies

I have been reading on the net recently about the discoveries all the old cargo ships that were full of wine that have sunk into the ocean.  Needless to say the corks on the containers are long since gone as with the wine.  However, it does make you wonder just how much wine has been absorbed into our ocean waters.  Yes the ocean is vast, but at the time when all the corks came out of these bottles that area must have been like a wine fest!

Anyhow, my mother recently told me recently about a man from a small town in West Virginia that has gotten quite popular with his frozen lime cheesecakes dipped in chocolate on a stick.  I thought it sounded like a pretty tasty idea.

So, I went about deciding on what flavor I would want to make.  Blackberry came to mind. I had seen a lot of cheesecakes with berries in them.  However, because of the iciness that fruit takes on when frozen, I decided not to use fresh berries.  Then came the thought of blackberry wine, but it still needed something else. Then I added freeze dried fruit powder.

Once the first bite hits your mouth, the cheesecake starts to melt into just a cold creaminess.  It  tastes of blackberry with an undertone of wine and cinnamon.  The rich chocolate on the outside does tie everything together deliciously. I can remember when I first tried blackberry ice cream with chocolate chunks at the ice cream shop-I have been in love with it ever since. Also, I opted for using some granola on top for an added texture. The recipe below is for 12-14 coolies.

Uncorked Blackberry Coolies
by Flourtrader

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs and 2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp freeze dried blackberry powder
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup blackberry wine
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
24 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs melted butter

10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups granola

Using the melted butter, coat the inside of 14 ramekins ( 3 inch in diameter).  Then line the bottom inside with a round of parchment paper.  Then butter the surface of the parchment paper.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large mixing bowl with the cream cheese, cinnamon, sour cream, sugar and fruit powder.  Then sift in the cornstarch.  At medium speed, beat ingredients until it has a smooth consistency.  Then add one egg and beat until blended.  Continue to add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Then do the same with the egg yolk.  Add the blackberry wine and vanilla extract and mix until evenly distributed.

Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, filling to 1/4 inch below beveled edge mark.  Place all ramekins on baking sheet and put sheets in oven.  Let cheesecakes bake for about 10 minutes.  Then reduce heat to 225 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes more or until the center is firm and no longer shiny on top.  Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife along the edge.  Chill uncovered for about 4 hours.  Then freeze overnight.

The next morning, remove the cheesecakes from the freezer.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Dip one of ramekins, placing it in hot water, measuring about 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekin.  Then invert onto baking sheet and remove parchment paper.  Insert one wooden stick into the side edge of each cheesecake to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches.  Cover with plastic wrap and place back in freezer.

For topping, pour cream into a small saucepan and put chocolate chips in a separate heat proof bowl.  Place saucepan on top of medium high heat and let come to a boil and then remove pan from heat.  Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for about 30 seconds.  Then stir until all the chips are melted and the cream is incorporated.

Set bowl aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.  Pour granola onto a baking sheet and smooth out evenly.  Take the cheesecakes out and dip halfway into the chocolate.  Holding upside down, let the excess drip off.  Then place upside down into granola, moving gently for the granola to adhere.  The coolie should be able to stand upside down in the granola by itself.  Continue with this process until all coolies are standing upside down in the granola.  Then place in freezer for 2 hours for chocolate to freeze and cream cheese to freeze up again. Then they are ready to serve.

Tips and notes:
The parchment paper will give the bottom side of your cheesecake a wavy look due to the dampness, so topside is best for display.
As with any dipping, there will be granola and chocolate left over, the quantities were used for the depth and ease in coating.
Without the fruit powder, your flavor will be subtle unless you opt for a citrus fruit in place of the wine.
Coolies can be placed back on their sides on wax paper after freezing to store.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Removing the cakes from the ramekins may take a few taps on the baking sheet for them to come out.
           LAST YEAR:Lemon White Choc Lattice Cupcakes**

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Royalty Reserve Cakes

Back in the 10th century, royalty did rule.  During this time there were certain delicacies that royalty indulged in that the commoner did not.  Some of the food was rare and expensive and some the opposite.  One of the foods that was cheap and plentiful was pistachios.  However, it was Queen Sheba that determined that these nuts were not to be eaten by the commoners.  Royalty would only be allowed to enjoy pistachios.   A few other lines of royalty also had a high regard for this nut as well. Nebuchadenezzar, King of Babylon, grew pistachio trees.  Akbar the Great (a Mogul Emperor) fed his chickens these nuts 6 weeks prior to having them prepared for a king's feast as a way to enhance their flavor.

Anyhow, I am glad that we all are allowed to partake in eating pistachios!  This particular cupcake is made up of two batters.  The main batter is a cake flavored with pistachios and pistachio oil.  The secondary batter is one I wanted to exude a lot of vanilla flavor, so it has melted vanilla ice cream in it.  The frosting is done with a dual frosting bag.  Each frosting has its own separate flavor much like the cupcake.

Since the main batter is made with oil instead of butter, it really is moist and light.  The other batter, even though made with butter, did go well with the texture of the pistachio cake.  You get a nutty flavor with a touch of vanilla.  The pistachio oil as well as the melted ice cream I think were key in getting these to have the balance of flavor I was looking for.

Before we go on, I have some thanks to give out for the Versatile Blogger Awards:

Nydia at Mividaenundulce
This blogger just reached her year anniversary and did a recap of some of her tasty creations.  Her blog is mostly baked goods with some savory items with the main focus being Peruvian cuisine. A few of my picks were low fat low calorie chocolate ice cream and Mulberry pie.

Maria at Flavors of Mumbai
Maria has been blogging since Oct 2010 and has really introduced me to a whole new world of baked goods.  While she does make savory foods as well, my sweet tooth is drawn to her cakes and ice cream.  Another interesting thing is that she has several recipes out there that are eggless.  I was hard pressed to only pick 2 of her recipes out but the raspberry cake and her Kiwi ice cream are just a few winners.

Thanks again for the awards!  Take some time today to venture into some delicious Peruvian and Indian cuisines by stopping by these two wonderful blogs.

Now for the recipe.  It makes about 1 1/2 dz cupcakes.

Royalty Reserve Cakes
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ Pistachio cake batter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp pistachio oil extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients/Vanilla Cake batter
2/3 cup plus 4 tsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 tbs plus 1 tsp butter (room temp)
1/3 plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp ground vanilla beans
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup melted vanilla ice cream

For the pistachio cake batter, take 1/4 cup of the sugar and pistachios and blend in a food processor until nuts are fine. Beat together 3/4 cup of sugar, egg, egg yolk and nut mixture for two minutes. It should become thicker and lighter in color.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Then on low speed, blend in the oil and pistachio extract.   Lastly, fold in the sour cream until evenly blended.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Set this aside also.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the top edges of muffin pans and line with cupcake papers.

To make the vanilla cake batter, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Then beat in the egg.  In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.  Fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients to the batter.  Then stir in the melted ice cream.  Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, blending batter.  Mix in the milk until all is absorbed into batter.  Then fold in the last of the flour mixture.

Go back to your sifted ingredients for the pistachio cakes and fold into the wet pistachio batter until no dry streaks remain.

Using an ice cream scoop or big spoon, fill each cupcake cavity 2/3 full of pistachio batter.  Then, using a melon baller or a tablespoon, place a scoop of the vanilla batter on top.  Continue until all batter is in cavities.

Place pans in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Mine took about 18 minutes.  Remove pans from oven and let rest for 2 minutes.  Then transfer cupcakes to a rack to finish cooling.  Frost when completely cooled.

Creamy Frosting
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup of shortening
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
3-4 tbs milk

At medium speed beat together shortening and vanilla extract for about 30 seconds.  If using a stand mixer let run at low speed and slowly add powdered sugar.  For a handheld mixer, blend in 1/4 cup at a time.  Once all is blended, beat in 2 tbs of milk.  Then beat in the rest of the powdered sugar and add milk until you have reached the desired consistency.  This yields about 3 cups of frosting.

My frosting process for this particular cupcake:
I made the above and then took out half of the frosting and placed it in a separate bowl.  Then I added 1/4 tsp of pistachio oil to the mixer bowl and beat for about 30 seconds. Continuing to beat on low, I added leaf green food coloring little by little until I reached my desired color.
Then I used a dual piping bag with a and filled each half with the different icings.  I then piped the frosting on with a #7 Wilton tip.

Extra Tips:
-only make what you can bake at one time.  The batters instructions here is made here to insure that they do not sit very long prior to baking.  Batter is to be used immediately once dry ingredients are mixed in.
-The dual icing bags came without instructions, so  I still am not sure of the precise instructions for using these to date. I did not find the process easy.
-you will have some vanilla batter left over, so you can make about 1 or two vanilla cupcakes.
                           **LAST YEAR: Lemon Blueberry Loaf**