Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake

I have always had a thing for bundt cakes, especially the ones with another flavor wrapped inside.  I can remember the chocolate bundt cake with coconut running through the center.  However, out of all the flavors the tunnel of fudge is my favorite.  It is a great one to go to if you are really looking for a chocolate fix.

This one is different from the traditional since it has nuts.  Also, I could not resist using the dutch cocoa brand Cacao Barry.  I have read a lot about it and like it much more than the typical grocery store brands.  It has an dark amber color and is richer in flavor than other brands I have tried.

Tunnel of Fudge Bundt Cake
adapted from Serious Eats

5 eggs, room temp
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cup or 2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder, dutch processed
2 oz or 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
2 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tbs of butter and brush the interior of a 12 cup bundt pan, making sure are areas are covered.  Then dust with 1 tbs cocoa powder.  

Sift flour, cocoa and salt into a medium size bowl.  Whisk in powdered sugar and nuts. Set bowl aside.  Place chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour boiling water over it.  Let sit for 2 minutes and then stir until all chocolate is melted and consistency is smooth.

Then fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter, vanilla extract, light brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Cream together until light and fluffy.  Add each egg, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds. Pour in the melted chocolate mix and blend until no dark streaks remain.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the dry cocoa/flour mixture.  Once all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter, fill the prepared bundt pan with the batter.  Smooth the top and place in oven to bake.

Cake is done when top springs back lightly when touched and cake starts pulling away from the sides of the pan.  This should take about 45 minutes.  Once finished baking, place on rack to cool for 20 minutes.  Once the 20 minutes has expired, invert the cake onto cooling rack.

Cake will take about 2 hours to completely cool.
                            **LAST YEAR: Lower East Side Nut Cake**

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Well with Valentines coming up, I could not resist the bright pink sanding sugar.  After buying it, I was on the hunt for a recipe that uses it.  I have decorated sugar cookies and russian teacakes with sanding sugar, so I narrowed it down to a cookie recipe.

I found a recipe that is basically a butter cookie with mini chips mixed in.  The dough is made into a log, chilled and wrapped with an thin layer of dough and then covered in the sugar.  These do have some crunch to them and they are perfect for dunking in hot tea or cold milk. This recipe makes about 6 dz small cookies.

adapted from Gourmets Best Desserts

3 oz of mini chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup and 2 tbs of butter (or 1 & 3/4 sticks)
2 eggs
1/2 cup colored sugar crystals

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds. 

Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour in 1/4 cup increments.  The mixture should form a dough when all flour is completely mixed in.  Split the dough in half and seal one of the pieces in plastic wrap or foil and chill for 30 minutes.

While that is chilling, take the other piece of dough and mix in the mini chips.  Once evenly distributed, split dough mound into 2 equal pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll and form each piece into a log.  Each log should be even in diameter and be 10 inches long. Set aside.

Then take out the chilled dough.  Dust a flat surface with flour and roll dough into a rectangle, measuring 11 x 9.  Cut the dough in half , lengthwise, so you have 2 pieces.  Each piece should be 4 1/2 X 11.  Beat remaining egg in a small bowl. Using a  pastry brush, cover the face up side of  one piece of dough with the egg wash.

Place one log in the very center of the piece of the dough brushed with the egg wash.  Roll the rectangle around the log, sealing ends and seam.  Brush again with the egg wash.  Then sprinkle the colored sugar on a piece of wax paper and roll log in sugar until covered.  Wrap in foil and put in fridge.  Repeat the same process with the remaining log and dough rectangle, so you have 2 logs chilling in the fridge.  They will need to be in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up to the consistency you want.

During the last 1/2 hour of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Also, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Once the logs have completed the chilling stage, remove from fridge and slice each log into 36 slices of even thickness.

Place each cookie on a baking sheet, spacing about 1/2 apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or when bottom starts to brown.  Remove pan from oven and place cookies on a rack to cool.

Notes and Tips:

1. Since the cookie dough is sealed at the end, your end pieces will not be as nice as the other slices.
2. The recipe also states to use chopped walnuts in the dough instead of chocolate chips, use 2/3 of a cup.  For variety, you can do 1/2 of each.

                    **LAST YEAR: Celebrity Factor Cookies**

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spice Donuts

I have been craving some donuts lately.  I was disappointed the last time I bought some, so I decided on homemade donuts.  I wanted to make a variety and  really was not interested in frying a bunch of dough.  Baked cake donuts would be easier and last longer than fried.  I split the recipes in half and made 2 dozen, with 6 in each flavor.  Out of all of them, my favorite were the spice ones.  They all were pretty good, but in my mind, the spice ones paired best with hot coffee and cold weather.

The recipe below is for 1 dozen cake donuts.  These are fairly simple to make and yield pretty tasty results.  You can glaze these or top however you want, but I feel that the cinnamon sugar coating brings out the best in texture and flavor.

Spice Donuts
adapted from 150 Best Donut Recipes

Ingredients/ Donuts
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray 2-6 cavity donut pans with non stick spray.

In one bowl, sift together the baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.  Then mix in the sugar and set aside.

The next bowl should be filled with eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.  Whisk all the ingredients together and pour in the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Mix with a wooden spoon until  blended.  I added some more milk to mine because it was a little thick.  The consistency should be like a thick frosting, not doughy.

Cut  a small piece of the corner off of a quart size freezer bag and fill with the batter.  Use the bag as you would a pastry tip and fill all 12 of the donut cavities evenly.  They should be about 2/3 full.  Bake in oven until springy to the touch, about 10-14 minutes.  Mine were done in 10 minutes.

Remove pans and let cool for 5 minutes.  As they are cooling, mix the cinnamon and sugar together for the topping. Invert the donuts from the pans, let cool completely.  Dip each donut into the melted butter and roll in sugar.  You can just do the tops or the whole donut as I did.
                        **LAST YEAR:High Octane Mini Pies*     

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tiger Tea Cakes

I found myself looking around for a recipe that required almond flour.  It had been sometime since I have used any of the flour and that bag seemed to always be staring back at me, even though I packed it in the freezer.

I landed on a unique recipe for tea cakes that used the almond flour in the batter.  The other good thing that caught my eye was that these little cakes had mini chocolate chips in them.  They were made in dome molds, but I decided to make them in my pan which had mini 1/2 circle cavities. You can make these in muffin tins as well.

The batter does have a strange consistency, but the cakes turned out wonderful.  They were like little pound cakes, with a tight crumb and very buttery.  The crowd did like them and they made for such a great presentation.  A nice dessert with afternoon tea or coffee. This recipe makes 16 muffin sized cakes or 12 cakes using the 1/2 circle pan.

Tiger Tea Cakes
adapted from Paris Sweets

Ingredients/ Cakes
1/3 cup flour
2 1/4 cup ground almonds or almond flour
3/4 cup sugar
5 oz mini chocolate chips
1 stick plus 7 tbs butter
1 1/2 tbs light corn syrup
6 egg whites, room temperature

5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup heavy cream (for swirl on top)

Whisk the egg whites lightly.  Then add the corn syrup, ground almonds, sugar and the flour.  Mix until batter becomes smooth.  Cover top of bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge for a minimun of 2 hours and maximum of overnight.

15 minutes before chilling time is complete, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Also butter the interior of the cavities of your pans, making sure there is capacity of 16.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Remove from heat.  Take batter out of the fridge and pour the warm butter into the batter.  Stir until all of the butter is incorporated.  Once the batter is back to room temperature, mix in the chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin cavity with about 3 tbs of batter.  Once all batter is in the pans, place in oven and bake until golden on the edges.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 3 minutes.  Then transfer cakes from pans to rack to finish cooling.

While the cakes are cooling, you can prepare the topping.  Melt butter and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and spoon off the foamy layer on top. Pour the yellow butter into a bowl leaving the milky residue on the bottom of the pot.  Your bowl holds the clarified butter.

In a double boiler, melt the 5 oz of bittersweet chocolate.  Once melted, mix in the clarified butter.  Place the cooling rack with the cakes over a shallow rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. Pour the chocolate glaze over the cakes, making sure all areas are covered.

Place in fridge for 1 hour to allow the glaze to set.  Then beat the whipped cream and pipe a small swirl in the center of each cake.  Now they are ready to serve.
                         LAST YEAR: Cinnamon Topped Immortality Bars

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Swedish Raspberry Almond Bars

With all the heavy food of the holidays gone, I am more in the mood for something lighter as well as a hot beverage.  Kind of ready for some tea time with a light snack.  I mainly wanted a bar recipe but something more of a shortbread fruit type of thing rather than a thick brownie.
I came across this easy recipe that was just perfect for my craving.  Shortbread is topped with raspberry jam.  Then a fluffy meringue batter that holds almonds and coconut goes on top with a final sprinkling of almond slices.

Swedish Raspberry Almond Bars
adapted from Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes
1 cup sliced almonds (divided into 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
3/4 cup seedless jam
3 egg whites
6 tbs of sugar
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup butter/room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the interior of a 9X13 size baking pan.

Beat together the butter and the confectioners sugar for about one minute on medium speed, scraping down the bowl at the halfway point.  The mixture should become very light and fluffy. Fold in the flour until the mixture is crumbly and all the flour is blended.

Pour it into the prepared pan and press evenly into a layer on the bottom of the pan.  Bake crust for about 18-20 minutes.  The crust should be a golden brown when done. Remove and place on rack.

Using a small offset spatula, smooth the jam evenly over the warm crust.  Set aside.

While the crust is cooling, place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form.  Continue to beat and increase the speed of the mixer to high.  Gradually add one tablespoon of regular sugar and beat for 1 minute.  Follow this for each tablespoon addition until all 6 tablespoons are incorporated.  The beating process should end when the whites can hold stiff peaks.

Sprinkle the coconut into the batter, making sure there are no big lumps, and stir.  Then blend in 1/2 cup of the sliced almonds.  Empty bowl of mixture onto the jam layer of the bars.  Spread evenly, covering all sides and corners of jam. Then sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of almonds on top.

Place in oven and bake until the meringue layer becomes a golden brown, which is about 18-22 minutes.  Let cool on a rack completely before cutting and serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. I used canned raspberry pastry filling which I had to de-seed and warm up to spread.  I am sure the seedless jam would have been easier.
2. Parchment is not required, for I found that these bars came out of the pan easily with just greasing.
3. Make sure that you are not too heavy handed when smoothing the meringue layer, you want distinct layers, not a mixture of the meringue and raspberry.
4. None of the components are strong in this recipe.  I got good reviews even from one person that did not like coconut and another that had a dislike for meringue.
                           **LAST YEAR: Nut Drenched Chocolate Cake***