Monday, June 25, 2012

Key Lime Parfaits

This particular recipe requires special equipment as well as special ingredients.  The recipe comes from a pastry chef and was quite challenging.  However, this does prove that with the proper instructions from a book, a person without any culinary training can create an incredible dessert.

This dessert is a very special spin on key lime pie.  The base is a graham cookie that is crispy and subtly sweet. That frozen layer is a mixture of dairy and tart key lime juice.  It is also garnished with sliced plums and surrounded with a unique sauce flavored with ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass.

This serves ten and requires that you have 10 ring molds, measuring 2X2.  Also, a scale is required to measure out the italian meringue.  Items with an asterisk are linked back to another post, which is the detail of dessert components that need to be created in advance of preparing this recipe.

I did find that the cookie stayed crisp as expected.  The custard topping really does have that unmistakable tart flavor of key lime that citrus lovers look for in a lime dessert.  It also has a silky smooth mouth feel, so I would say that the invert sugar ingredient was an asset.  The juicy plum slices on top compliment the custard nicely with their fleshy sweet interior and tart skin.  Also, I really liked the flavor notes in the sauce, so I am storing it for future use on fruit desserts.

Key Lime Parfait
adapted from Dessert Fourplay by Johnny Iuzzini

Ingredients/Italian Meringue
pinch of cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs water

Take 1 tsp of sugar out of the 1/4 cup and put into bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the 2 egg whites and beat at low speed.

In a small saucepan, add the water and the rest of the sugar.  Mix until all there is no dry sugar.  Place over medium high heat until the syrup reaches 250 degrees.  I used a microwave and checked the temperature after 30 second intervals.  It took about a minute and 1/2 to reach the temperature.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the consistency barely makes soft peaks.  Then, continue to beat and pour the water/sugar mixture into the egg whites.  Try to avoid getting it on the inside edge of the bowl and on the beater.  Turn the speed up to high and continue beating.  Once the outside of the bowl has cooled, the meringue has reached the correct consistency.  Set aside. There will be some excess left over after completing recipe.

Ingredients/Lime Parfait
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2/3 cup fresh key lime juice
1 split/scraped vanilla bean or 1 tbs vanilla extract or paste
1 cup milk
9 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs sugar
1 tbs invert sugar*

Place 10 ring molds (2X2) on top of a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.  Put baking sheet in freezer.  Prepare a double boiler by filling bottom with water and heating until water comes to a simmer.  Also, fill a big bowl with ice and some water for a water bath to cool the parfait mixture after it cooks.

Fill the top of the double boiler with key lime juice, milk, vanilla, granulated sugar,yolks and invert sugar and mix together until all is blended.  Place over the bottom of the double boiler with simmering water.  Let the mixture cook, stirring and scraping sides occasionally.  Mixture will need to thicken and cook up to a temperature of 181 degrees.  Once it reaches that point, transfer the saucepan to water bath to cool off.  Mix often to help cool down to lukewarm then transfer to a large bowl.

At the lukewarm state, take out another bowl and fill with the whipped cream. Beat cream until it reaches the soft peak stage. Set aside.

Go back to the Italian meringue and measure out 50 grams and fold it into the lime custard.  Then add all of the whipped cream and gently fold it into the batter until no streaks remain.

Take the baking sheet of molds out of the freezer.  Using an ice cream scoop or pastry bag without a tip, fill the molds.  Cover the molds with plastic wrap and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 3 days.

1/2 ounce chopped lime leaves
1 lemongrass stalk crushed and chopped
1/2 oz or 1 tbs fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
1 1/4 cup simple syrup*
1/2 cup verjus

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Continue to cook for 25 minutes or until mixture is reduced by 1/2. I measured 2 cups initially and cooked down to 1 cup.  Pour mixture into a strainer set over a heatproof bowl.  Let cool for 15 minutes and cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of one hour or maximum of 3 days.

Ingredients/Assembly layers
3 or 4 ripe plums
10 graham cracker cookies*
Split plums and remove pits. Cut each half into thin slices and put on a plate. The task of cutting takes a very sharp knife and some dexterity.  Also, the ripeness of the plums will be a factor as well.

To assemble, place 1 graham cracker cookie on each serving plate. Remove baking sheet of frozen ring molds.  Using your hands, rub around the outside ring to help warm the interior.  Push the inner parfait out on top of the center of the graham cracker cookie.  Arrange the plum slices in a circle, starting with the outside going in.  Then drizzle a little of the sauce around the dessert.  Enjoy!
                            **LAST YEAR: Sweet Lemon Nut Bread**

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dessert Components

This particular post is the recipe for several components used in a recipe that I will be posting tomorrow.  The recipes have been halved from the original since they make an excess of what is called for.  Even when halving and I still had some inverse sugar left overs.  This component does come in handy when making other things, so I am sure there will not be any waste. These recipes hail from Johnny Iuzzini, a famous four star pastry chef.

The first is the cookies.  These cookies are good for use as a garnish for frozen treats and a base for sorbet, uncooked cheesecake, whipped cream with fruit-and the list goes on.  In using this dough, I found it to be very sticky.  Instead of cutting out the dough and placing it, I had to improvise.  Below are the instructions on how I handled the process.  I used this recipe to make 10 cookies, 2 1/2 inches in diameter, even though the stated amount should have been 8, according to halving exactly.

Graham Cracker Sable Cookies
adapted from Dessert Fourplay

3 tbs flour
1 beaten egg
3 tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp graham cracker crumbs
2 tbs sugar

Mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar until even distributed and crumbly. Stir in the eggs until blended.  Lastly, fold in the flour, making sure no dry streaks remain.  Place on a floured surface and shape into a brick.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Once the dough has chilled properly, remove and shape into 10 equal and round balls.  Place one ball on the parchment lined baking sheet and place a 5 inch square of parchment paper over the ball.  Using a small pastry roller, roll the ball out into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Then remove the top parchment sheet and place your cutter over the surface.  Press down and remove excess from around the cutter.  Continue
with the process until all cookies are formed.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and let cookies cool on pan for about 3 minutes then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

The second is the simple syrup.  This is a great item to dip fruits in when you want an extra sweetness without impacting the texture and the freshness of the fruit. Also, this syrup does have a long life if kept covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator. The recipe below makes 1 1/4 cups.

Simple Syrup
adapted from Dessert Fourplay

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine both ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Let come to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool completely before using.

The third is the invert sugar, which is actually a homemade version of invertase. Invertase is used commercially in the creation of frozen desserts.  At one time, I had posted a note that all homemade ice cream does have a tendency to get icy after a few days in the freezer.  This recipe states that this ingredient is the key to creating a smoother texture in frozen desserts as well as keeping water crystals from forming.  In the recipes I have seen, it does not require very much.  I saw 4 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon per quart of ice cream on a few ice cream recipes.  The recipe below makes a little under 1/2 cup.

Invert Sugar 
adapted from Dessert Fourplay
(below is 1/4 of original recipe measurements)

1/2 cup plus 1 tbs sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil.  Then turn down the heat and let the mixture actively simmer for about 30 minutes.  This cook time should rid the sugar of any acid taste from the lemon.  You can attempt to taste, but it is very hot.  Let cool for 15 minutes and then taste.  If still acidic, place back on stove and let simmer 5-10 more minutes.  Remove and pour into a heatproof bowl or container.  Let cool completely before using.

Come back tomorrow to see what I make from these components.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fuyu Persimmon Cake

Well I have decided to cut back on blogging and make some changes to embark on some new interests in my life.  It has been a wonderful ride, but this blog will become more of a personal diary than a public feed.  In review I would say that blogging does have a way of enriching your life but it can take over your life as well.  I will be posting quite a bit less and will not be visiting blogs anymore.  I will miss some of it, but I am sure my next endeavor will be just as rewarding.
This particular recipe has floated around to many places through the years, but it still remains an unique recipe in my book.

Since it is heavy on the spices, it is considered a winter cake.  However, since I did spy persimmons at the market, I could not pass them up.  Apparently there are two types, the Hachiya and the Fuyu.  This particular cake is made with the harder persimmons, the Fuyu.

I found it reminiscent of almost a gingerbread cake.  It was very moist with chunks of persimmons and walnuts throughout. Then it was all topped with a maple glaze.  Definitely something that will get you started thinking about the fall holidays and spicy treats.

Fuyu Persimmon Bundt Cake
adapted from Sunset Magazine, 1978

1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup raisins (I omitted)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups flour
3 cups peeled and chopped fuyu persimmons
2 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cup sugar

adapted from Food Librarian

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbs maple syrup

Prepare a 10 cup bundt pan by coating all the insides with butter.  Then dust with flour, tapping out excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set aside.

Then beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix the baking soda with the persimmons and then fold them into the egg/butter/sugar batter.

Fold the sifted mixture into the batter until no dry streaks remain.  Then stir in the walnuts.  Spoon the batter evenly into the cake pan and smooth the top.  Bake for about 55-60 minutes until tester comes out clean.

Let cool for about 20 minutes and then run a knife around the top edge and invert to finish cooling.
Mix together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake.
                               **LAST YEAR: Shrimp Po' Boys**

Friday, June 15, 2012

Persephone's Winter Cake

There is a myth surrounding how wintertime actually came about.  Apparently Hades, God of the Underworld, stole someone's daughter named Persephone to keep her and make her marry him.  Her mother was Demeter, goddess of the harvest.

Once Demeter heard about her daughters fate, plants stopped growing.  The lack of food did take its toll on several people as well as animals.  Then her husband Zeus advised that as long as Persephone had not eaten any food in the underworld, she could go free.  Based on this, Persephone was released back to her family.

However it did not take long for a servant of Hades to arrive and advise the parents that Persephone did in fact eat.  It was only 7 pomegranate seeds, but it still was food.  The family was devastated, so much so that it was finally ruled that Persephone could stay with her parents 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months she would have to stay in the underworld.  As a result, plants would die during the 3 months, hence the season was to be called winter.  This cake does have some summer flavors, but the name reflects the tie in to the myth.

This particular cake has is a unique flavor combination, pomegranate and white wine. It came out very moist with a subtle tartness from the pomegranate.  The layers are filled with lime curd and the cake is frosted with sweetened whipped cream.  The curd really does give an extra pop of flavor against the subtle flavor of the cake. Also the whipped cream just pulls it all together in one tasty bite.  

Persephone's Winter Cake
by flourtrader

Ingredients/Lime Curd
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tbs lime zest
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, 1/4- 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup & 2 tbs white wine
1/4 cup & 2 tbs  pomegranate juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 egg yolks
red food coloring (optional)
2 tbs freeze dried pomegranate
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
2/3 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
8 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

Ingredients/Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp whipping cream stabilizer (I used Whip it brand)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

For the lime curd, beat together eggs, lime juice, lime zest and sugar.  Pour into small saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon.  It should reach a temperature of about 160 degrees.  Then add about 3-4 cubes of butter and stir until it melts.  Continue with this process until all butter has been melted and mixed in.  Remove from heat.  Place a sieve over a heat proof bowl and pour the curd into it.  Make sure all curd is pushed through strainer, leaving the zest behind.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by greasing the interior with melted butter.  Then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and butter the surface.  Dust bottom and sides with flour.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together 2/3 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder,freeze dried pomegranate and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together yolks, water, oil, vanilla and lemon zest.  Stir in the wine and pomegranate juice.  Add the optional food coloring, being aware that the egg whites will lighten the batter color.  Mix until blended evenly.

Take out a mixer bowl and fill with eggs whites and cream of tartar.  Beat until it turns into soft peaks.  Then add 1/4 cup of sugar and beat for 1 minute and add another 1/4 and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg white mixture into the pomegranate batter.

Pour the batter into the two cake pans, making sure each is filled evenly.  Put each pan in the oven, one on the top left and one on the bottom left.  Baked until tester comes out clean, which is about 25 minutes.  Remove pans and run a knife around the edges.  Place pans on rack and let cool for 10 minutes.  Then invert and peel off parchment and let cakes cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, place in fridge for 15 minutes.  Then remove and trim domed tops to make each cake even and flat on top.  Then with cut dome side up, smooth the lime curd on top evenly.  Then top with other cake layer.

To make the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a small bowl and beat until soft peaks form.  Be careful not to over beat, you do not want it stiff, just thick.  Frost the top and sides of cake and pipe a border if desired.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Tips and notes:
1. deflating the whites when folding in can make for a dense cake, so take care in this process
2. Straining out the zest in the curd is optional, you can leave it in for extra tartness.
3. The stabilizer does help whipped cream from being runny at room temperature for extended times. If you do not have stabilizer, it is best to use a version with gelatin but it will give it a more spongy texture.
4.  This is another one in which I did not like the taste of the cake the first day but on the second day the flavors had developed into something very tasty.
                   **LAST YEAR: Maple Pumpkin Bars**

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

M & R Pie

Well I have been looking all over the net concerning pies trying to come up with a name for this one.   Interestingly enough, I came across a site called Pies Across America.  It is actually a program set up by two people, Micah and Rick with the idea of sending pies out to people that are in need of some uplifting, such as those affected by natural disasters.  Their base site is in Facebook which I am not a member of, so I am not sure how active the site is.

I have really been on a peach kick lately, I think it was all started with a mixed drink called a Peach Freeze.  Frozen pureed peaches was the base of the drink and it was heavenly.  This particular pie is full of spices and sliced ripe peaches.  In addition, for a little extra zing, I have added some peach schnapps as well.  Also, pecan pieces were lightly pressed into the bottom of the pie crust before filling.  One slice topped with a scoop of vanilla really makes for a great summer dessert.

M&R Pie
by flourtrader

Pie crust for 9 inch double crust pie
1/4 cup chopped pecans
8-10 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 tbs peach schnapps
3 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
sugar for sprinkling

Prepare pie crust dough as directed and cover and place dough disks in the fridge to chill prior to rolling.  Place a sheet of wax paper on a flat surface and lightly dust with flour.  Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a 13 inch circle.  Then invert and center dough over pie pan and peel off wax paper and tuck the pastry into the pan.  Do not stretch the pastry, but flatten against the pan.  Then lightly press the pecan pieces into the bottom of the dough.  Leave overhang and place back in fridge for 15 minutes.

Then fold the peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sugar and flour together in a separate bowl.  Stir in the peach schnapps.  Take the pie pan out of the fridge and fill the pie pan with the mixture, making sure it is all even.  Then drop the small pieces of butter in places on top of the filling.

Take out the the second piece of dough and place on floured wax paper. Roll into an 11 inch circle.  Moisten the top edge of the dough in the pie pan and invert 2 piece of dough over the top.  Press to seal.  Make a decorative top edge according to your personal preference.

Sprinkle sugar over the top of the dough.  Then make steam vents in the top of the pie with a paring knife.  Place in oven and let bake for 30 minutes.  Then lower heat to 350 degrees and rotate pie 180 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove and place on rack to completely cool.
Tips and Notes:
1. amount of filling will vary, depending on the size of your peaches.  Mine were fairly small
2. Peach flavors develop more within time, so waiting a day before serving would be better
                        **LAST YEAR: Aztec Treasure Cookies**

Monday, June 11, 2012

German Carmelite Sister Cookies

These particular cookies get their name from 2 Carmelite sisters or nuns that were in hiding during the French revolution.  They actually made these cookies for money to support themselves.  In time, these women were called the "Macaroon sisters" and then later on the recipe was passed onto the Jewish community.

These particular cookies are a macaroon base, however, they have a twist that is reminiscent of the frosting on a German chocolate cake.  They have a chewy pecan filling and are dipped in German chocolate.  They are quite moist and remind me more of a candy than the typical dry macaroons that you often find at the store.  With the humid weather in Texas, I found them to be particularly tasty after refrigeration or even freezing.

If you are like me and love the icing on German chocolate cake, then you will enjoy these.  This recipe makes about 1 1/2 dz macaroons about 2 inches in width.

German Carmelite Sister Cookies
by flourtrader

2 tbs butter
1 tbs bourbon
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 egg
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup chopped German chocolate
4 tsp butter

To make the filling, melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat.  Then stir in corn syrup and
sugar.  Cook the mixture, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.  There will no longer be a grittiness at the bottom of the pan when scraped with a spoon.  Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes or to lukewarm temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a bowl with egg and beat it with a fork.  Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon.  Then mix in the pecans and corn syrup mixture.

Line the bottom of a pie pan or 9 inch cake pan with parchment.  Pour pecan batter into pan and place in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes.  Mixture is done when it has turned foamy on top, much like the top of a pecan pie.  The mixture should be able to be scooped up with a spoon and fairly solid. Set aside and let cool.

To make macaroon batter, turn the oven down to 325 degrees.  Line two baking pans with silpat liners.  Beat together egg whites until foamy.  Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and beat again until soft peaks form.  Continue to beat and add one tablespoon of sugar.  Continue with this process until all sugar has been incorporated into batter.  Beat until mixture is shiny and very stiff.

Then carefully fold the vanilla and coconut into the batter, making sure that the egg whites keep their consistency.

Pipe or spoon the coconut mixture into mounds on the silpat.  Then place about 1/2 tsp of pecan mixture on the center of each mound.  Pipe or spoon more of the coconut batter on top of the mound, smoothing to make sure that the pecan center is completely covered.

Bake macaroons for 18-22 minutes, keeping a careful eye out during the time beyond 18 minutes.  You want them to be golden brown but not over baked.  Remove pan and let cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.

For the topping, melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.  Lay out 2 sheets of wax paper.  Dip cooled cookies halfway into chocolate and then place on wax paper and let set.

Tips and Notes
1. I used parchment as well as a silpat and found that the silpat worked better.  If you have the patience for peeling these carefully off the parchment, it will work.
2. Make sure that your coconut mound is at least 1/2 inch high before adding the filling because the pecan mixture does sink.
3.  You will have some excess of the filling, but you can always top ice cream with it or double the macaroon cookie recipe.
                          **LAST YEAR: Alpine Easter Bread**

Friday, June 8, 2012

Michel's Spa Muffins

Well its finally Friday and today I am off to Dallas for some appointments as well as visits to a few specialty stores.  After that indulgence on Wednesday, I decided I would turn to something a bit more on the healthy side.

The particular recipe comes from a chef at spa located north of San Diego called Cal-a-Vie and found in the RSVP section of Bon Appetit.  The muffins are a good example of some of the healthy cuisine that this place has.  I have been looking around at the spa's website.

If you glance at the ingredient list below, you will realize that they are packed with all that a person needs to get going in the morning and to stay satisfied until lunch.  The muffins really do have some great textures and flavors.   A few things that you really will not miss with these is the butter, eggs and sugar.

I am particular about "healthy" muffins and too much grain or bran can really be a turn off.  However, this muffin does have a good balance, so it will be added to the healthy favorites here.  Also, they are a cinch to make, which is even more of a motivator to pull this recipe out.  This recipe makes about 14-16 muffins.

Michel's Spa Muffins
adapted from Bon Appetit, prior to 2005

1/4 cup honey
2 tbs vegetable oil
2/3 cup plain non fat yogurt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 tbs lemon zest
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 cup shredded bran cereal (I used all bran)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your pans according to your preference.  You can grease the top edges and line, grease the whole cavity or use a non stick pan.

Boil about 1 1/2 cups of water and place raisins or dried cranberries in a bowl and pour over the top.  Let sit to soften for about 15 minutes.  Then drain and use a paper towel to pat dry.  Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Stir in the bran and sesame seeds.  Form a well in the middle of the dry mixture.

Then take out a smaller bowl and mix together the first eight ingredients listed above.  Pour this mixture into the well of the dry mix.  Fold together until no more dry streaks remain.

Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, fill muffin cavities with batter.  Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean.  Baking time is about 18-20 minutes.  Remove and let cool for one minute then transfer to rack to finish cooling.  These can be served warm or at room temperature.

Tips and Notes:
1.  I found that these do stick to the liners, so when baking you may want to opt not to use liners.
2. The batter does not rise like cake batter would, so you can fill the cavities full.
3. I mashed my banana but I think it would be better distributed throughout the muffins if the banana was pureed.
                         **LAST YEAR: Amaretto Choc Chip Bundt Cake**

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cherry Surprise Cupcakes-Delicious Recall #2

If you have been following my blog, you know that I do like cherries and chocolate.  When I came across this recipe several years ago, I saved it but have never made it until now.  I guess that is one of the reasons why I came up with this series.

These particular cupcakes are really rich in flavor.  The cake part is made with cherry brandy, cocoa and chocolate chips.  Also, they are doused with chocolate liqueur.  These elements really do make for a tasty combo.  In fact, the cake part was so delicious on its own, I opted not to fill these with the cherry and whipped cream.  I just topped them with a butter cream frosting that has cherry juice and brandy in it. I have included the instructions for the filling below as in the original recipe.

This recipe hails from a blog called The Cheeky Kitchen hosted by Brooke.  This was a recipe that came from a baking challenge between her and a friend that owns a cupcake shop.   This recipe makes about 15 cupcakes.  Make sure you read this whole recipe before proceeding, especially the tips at the end.

Cherry Surprise Cupcakes
adapted from The Cheeky Kitchen

1 tsp cherry brandy
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate liqueur
1/2 semi sweet chocolate chips

2 cups pitted cherries
1/4 cup cherry brandy
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract

Ingredients/Cherry Buttercream
3 tbs and 1 tsp reserved cherry juice
1/4 tsp cherry extract (optional)
1/2 cup butter
2 tbs vegetable shortening
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
15-18 whole cherries with stems (optional)

If you are going to fill the cupcakes, the prep work will need to be done first.  Fill a bowl with the cherries and pour in the brandy.  Cover and place in fridge until all cupcakes have been baked.

To make the cake part of the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the upper edge of the cupcake cavities and fill with paper liners.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.  In another bowl cream together both sugars and butter.  Beat in the egg, cherry brandy and vanilla extract.

Fold in 1/2 of the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Then add the milk, stirring until blended.  Fold in the last of the sifted ingredients until no dry streaks remain.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each lined cavity about 2/3 full.  You should have about 15 cupcakes.  Put pans in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove pans and poke holes in the top of the cupcakes.  Then brush chocolate liqueur over the top.  Let set in pans for an additional 10 minutes and then transfer to rack to cool.

While they are cooling, the filling can be made.  Take out the bowl of cherries with brandy. Reserve the juice in a separate bowl and chop the cherries into 1/4 inch pieces and place back in fridge.

In another bowl, whisk the cream until it becomes a little bit thicker than its original state.  Add the sugar and the extract, then beat until the cream reaches a soft peak stage.  Take the chopped cherries out of fridge and fold into whipped cream.  Cover and refrigerate.

Once the cupcakes are cool, take and core out a center piece about 1/2  to 3/4 inch wide and 1 1/2 inch deep.  Then fill the hole with the whipped cream mixture.

For the buttercream, beat butter and vegetable shortening together until smooth.  Then add one cup of powdered sugar, mixing at medium speed.  In one cup increments add the sugar and beat after each addition.  Lastly, add the cherry juice, cherry extract (optional) and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.

Fill piping bag with tip and decorate to your preference.  You can place a whole cherry on top or place a chocolate dipped cherry on top, if you desire.

Tips and Notes:
1. If you do not do the filling, the reserved juice will not be available. Maraschino juice can be used in its place with the cherry extract for your buttercream frosting..
2. These cupcakes are very delicate because of the liqueur brushed on top.  Based on that it is important that you do not overfill and that the top edges of your muffin cavities are well greased.  Original instructions said fill cavities 3/4 full, which was too much due to the rise factor.
3. I found the buttercream to be too thick.  You can add more cherry or maraschino juice until you reach the right consistency.
4. Taste your frosting before adding the cherry extract, to make sure you want to add any more flavor.  The longer the cherries sit in the kirsch, the stronger the flavor of the juice.
                         **LAST YEAR: Italian Dippers**

Monday, June 4, 2012

Orange Crisps

I made about 14 dozen of these cookies.  One thing about making something in such large quantity, is that your kitchen equipment really does get a workout. Also, since these were spritz cookies and my press is not electric-my left hand has a much stronger grip now!  The press I was using had plastic templates.  Needless to say two split.

This particular recipe is a recipe specifically made for a press, so obviously this press is fine if you want to make a few dozen cookies for a brunch with a few friends.  Not for cranking out several dozen.  I am now wondering why I did not get a press with metal templates.  Anyhow, this recipe did have one obvious error, it advised to use parchment paper.  The dough did not stick to the paper, but remained on the press.  They did fine on an un-greased baking sheet.

The cookies are pretty much your standard spritz with an orange flavor.  They were some of the ones I made for a grand opening for a new hospital at Ft Hood Army Base.  I had to consider something that would present well and would hold up to Texas heat since these cookies were being transported.  However, if I was in Alaska, I would not have hesitated to dip these in chocolate!

I had some taste testers in house this weekend that really did like them, so I am confident that these will go over well.

Orange Crisps
by   (recipe makes 6-7 dz)

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shortening

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium size bowl.  Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together both sugars and shortening until smooth.  Then add egg, zest and orange juice.  Mix ingredients until all is evenly distributed.  Then fold in the sifted ingredients.

Fill cookie press and form cookies on baking sheet according to press manufacturer's directions.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Transfer to rack and let cool.

Tips and Notes:
1. no matter how long it takes to form and bake these cookies, do not refrigerate the dough.
2. To make sure that dough continues to stick to the baking sheet and come off the press, wipe off the grease from the baking sheet between uses.
                           **LAST YEAR: S'more Ice Cream**

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ginny Bee Breakfast Cake

Well I am sure one thing that comes to mind is who is Ginny Bee?  Ginny Bee is actually the creation of  John Edwards.  Ginny is a citrus picker, mostly used for oranges.  Before Johns invention, there were other pickers on the market but they were plagued with the problem of  causing tree damage when harvesting. However, in 1976, John came up with a well functioning machine that did not damage any part of the tree or limbs.  With the tree damage not being an issue, his machine was found to be quite handy to have in the groves.  It could pick a 90 lb box of oranges in one minute, which was a real time saver.

This particular recipe is basically an orange breakfast cake.  The cake part has a citrus tang and is moist, having both sour cream and yogurt as ingredients.  Also, there is no skimping on the streusel-it is thick crunchy and has a drizzle of orange glaze.  Since we all seem to enjoy orange juice in the morning, I thought that orange in a breakfast cake would be a good way to start the day.

Ginny Bee Breakfast Cake
by flourtrader

1 cup or 2 sticks melted butter
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup orange yogurt
2/3 cup sour cream
4 tbs orange zest
1 tsp orange extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs orange juice

To make streusel, stir together the cinnamon, both sugars and salt.  Then pour in the melted butter and mix until all is blended.  Then blend in the flour until no dry streaks remain and the mixture clumps together.  Set aside.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degress.  Butter the inside of a 9X13 baking dish.  Then line the bottom and along 2 sides with overhang.  Butter the face up side of the parchment.

Beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy.  Add the sugar, beating again until mixture is completely blended.  Add one egg and blend, running mixer for about 30 seconds.  Repeat the process with the other egg.

Put the sour cream, yogurt, orange zest and orange extract into the batter and blend until all is smooth.  Set aside.

In a different bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Then, in increments of 1/3, fold the ingredients into the wet batter.  Mix until no dry streaks remain.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth with spatula so bottom of pan is evenly covered.  Take some streusel into your hand and clump together, then sprinkle on batter.  Continue with the clumping and sprinkling until all the batter is covered.

Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour or when tester comes out clean.  Streusel should be a deep brown and be crisp.  Let cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes.

While cooling, you can prepared the drizzle.  Beat the ingredients together until the texture becomes a smooth glaze.  You can add more of either ingredient until you reach the desired consistency.

After the cake has cooled for 30 minutes, drizzle glaze on top.  Cake is tasty served warm as well as cold.  Use parchment handles to lift out of pan and cut into squares.

Tips and Notes:
1. I like streusel and the recipe here probably yields over 4 cups, so if you are not that big on this topping, you can cut down the recipe.
2. You can add nuts to the streusel if you want.
3. The topping is very crumbly, so it will be hard to get a clean cut..
4. Bake time is for a glass pan, other pans may have some variance in the baking time.
                     **LAST YEAR: Jamaican Coin Cookies**