Sunday, May 23, 2010

SMS - Butterscotch Pralines topping my 3-Layer Fudge Cake

Sweet Melissa Sunday consisted of delicious homemade Butterscotch Pralines this week; chosen by Tess of Cookin Chemist. Tess's butterscotch pralines turned out absolutely perfect so jump on her link and check them out!
I let my mixture whip for a little too long so I had a stiff batter. I did not realize the error until I had scooped them all out onto my silicon mat. I was tired at the time and thought the candies still tasted delicious but I did not have the pretty layout. Serves me right for making these while finishing up my 3-layer fudge cake and starting an in-depth dinner. (I was making BBQ ribs, cornbread and portabello fries.)Group Recipes site has drastically changed, a site many of us cooking and baking people are addicted too and I found out that 12 of my 202 posted recipes are missing photos. One of the recipes is my Triple Layer Fudge Cake so I baked the cake to get photos to post. The cake worked perfectly as a showcase for the pralines (or so I think).
Triple Layer Fudge Cake
Time 35 minutes
Serves 8

Ingredients:
**CAKE BATTER**
3/4 c. butter
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
3 eggs
3 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. ice water
**DATE CREAM FILLING**
1 c. milk
1/2 c. chopped dates
1 T. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1 t. vanilla
**FUDGE FROSTING**
2 c. sugar
1 c. light cream (half-n-half)
2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, grated
How to make it
**DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE BATTER**
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla with mixer. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and blend well.
Sift together dry ingredients; add alternately with water to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into three 8" layer pans which have been greased and lined with waxed paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool. Put layers together with Date Cream Filling. Frost with Fudge Frosting.
**DIRECTIONS FOR DATE CREAM FILLING**
Combine milk and dates in top of a double boiler.
Combine flour and sugar and add beaten egg, blending until smooth. Add to hot milk. Cook, stirring, until thick. Cool.
Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread between layers.
**DIRECTIONS FOR FUDGE FROSTING**
Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Boil over high heat 3 minutes without stirring. Reduce heat and continue cooking until it reaches soft ball stage (238 degrees). Cool.
Beat until creamy and of spreading consistency. Add cream if too thick.
Spread on sides of cake first and a little over the top edge; frost top last.
Thank you Tess for picking out a fun cooking project for this week! and too check out all my wonderful baking companions on SMS, click on the link: Sweet Melissa Sunday Bakers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sorry for no TWD today ~ but we do have Gardening and Baking Giant White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies


Sorry for no TWD today. The apple, apple bread pudding looks phenomenal and I will be making it. I just let myself get a little behind =(.
Living on several acres in the country and trying to make the land usable for a variety of flowering trees, bulbs, perennials and a vegetable garden has been nothing short of a muscle wrenching challenge. The garden area still contains large rocks and 6 inches down is clay. A rototiller was used on the garden spot twice but the rocks cause too much damage to the machinery. My solution is using by arm strength and an old-fashioned spade. Eventually, all the large rocks will be gone, new soil will be mixed with the old and I will have a workable garden. This year looks promising!
Yukon and red potatoes are already up, pole green beans, pole and bush sugar snap peas, heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, mesclun lettuce mix and pickling cucumbers seem to be happily growing. My Kandy corn seedlings are also just popping up. Today is rain; go ol' natural watering. I have discovered Facebook several months ago and found when the rain is out, I feel a pull to the computer which can easily use up several hours of my time during the day. Do you ever feel guilty when time is allowed to slide like this? I have so many projects planned and self-control has been lacking today. I wonder if women have a harder time with guilt then men?
Enough deep thinking! Let the white chocolate chunk cookies do the rest of the talking here:

Giant White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Makes: 16 cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 each: large egg, large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread macadamia nuts and coconut over a cookie sheet; roast, stirring every 2 minutes, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Increase heat to 375 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Cream the butter in a mixing bowl with a mixer on low speed, 30 seconds. Add the sugars and salt; increase the speed to medium. Beat the mixture until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed; add the egg and egg yolk. Beat until combined. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix on low until combined. Stir in chips, nuts and coconut.
4. Scoop out about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie, arranging 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking, until cookies are golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 12-14 minutes per batch. Transfer sheet to wire rack to cool.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies and Frosting with Chocolate Icing

Peanut Butter cookies are always a hit! Add peanut butter frosting and chocolate icing; the cookie becomes a masterpiece.
Using a melon ball scoop producing 1" balls is the perfect size to scoop cookie dough for uniform cookies. The scoop utensil makes less mess for the baker - I really dislike having cookie goop all over my hands every time I bake another batch of cookies.
Peanut Butter Cookies and Frosting with Chocolate Icing
Ingredients
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
* 1 cup peanut butter
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1/4 cup milk
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* FROSTING:
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1/4 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup peanut butter
* 4 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Dash salt
* ICING:
* 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
* 2 Tablespoon milk
Directions:
* In a large bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
* Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks.
* For frosting, in a large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the milk, vanilla and salt until smooth. Frost cookies.
*Combine melted chips and milk; drizzle over frosting. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

TWD ~ Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

This post is going to be a little on the quick side. A lot to do today with my daughter =0).

The Tuesday with Dorie burnt sugar ice cream recipe was chosen by Becky of Project Domestication and is delicious! I baked up a batch of Dorie's Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies, added lemon zest to the dough and did the slice and bake version.The sugar cookies were packed full of flavor, the lemon is definitely pronounced and I had trouble keeping hubby out of them so I had enough for the ice cream sandwiches.The burnt sugar ice cream was not hard to make either. We cooked the water and sugar mixture to an amber color, added our milk and cream and thickened to 175 degrees, poured the mixture into a heat-proof dish, added vanilla extract then chilled.I was taste-testing along the way only because I could not keep out of the ice cream. The flavor has a carmelie (do not think this is a word), sweet, creamy taste to it and the texture is perfectly smooth and creamy too.The ice cream sandwiches look simple but once you sink your teeth into the cookie sandwich, the flavors are anything but simple. I really loved these two recipes! Thank you Becky for such a delicious choice this week! Go to her blog and see the recipe along with how Becky put together her own version. Also, check out all our other TWD bakers for their wonderful versions!

Monday, May 3, 2010

little lasagnas with tomato, fresh mozarella and pesto

Homemade pasta, a gorgeous, basil infused pesto and fresh tomato sauce created from vine-ripened Roma tomatoes made this dish extravagant.

Semolina flour, used for pasta making, adds a nice, mellow texture to the pasta dough and EVOO pulls the dough together. Semolina flour provides elasticity in the dough and less breakage. Pasta dough needs to be kneaded and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to relax the dough before using. With those notes made, I would like to add how the dough and I did battle for about an hour before the dough decided to pull itself together . . .Do not be afraid to add moisture if the dough is too dry. For some reason, dryness was an issue this evening. The dough finally held together, relaxed and I was allowed to roll it through to the right thickness. Pasta dough usually is not hard to make. I was already tired and started later in the evening . . . contributing to undertone grumblings . . . BUT the end result was delicious!
The recipe I used came from the La Cucina Italiana website. The food magazine published from Italy (called La Cucina Italiana) is authentic Italian fare with amazing articles, breath-taking photos of food and countryside along with tips and instructions to help anyone create homemade Italian food in any kitchen. Very user friendly!
little lasagnas with tomato, fresh mozzarella and pesto
PASTA
3/4 c. farro or semolina flour plus more for dusting
1 lrg egg
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for pasta water, baking sheet and lasagnette
Fine sea salt
PESTO
2 c. packed fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for lasagnette
2 walnut halves
1 t. pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 T. club soda
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
TOMATO SAUCE
Coarse sea salt
4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1/3 c. finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t. tomato paste, preferable double concentrated
8 fresh basil leaves
ASSEMBLY
8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 T. unsalted butter, melted
Directions:
FOR PASTA:
In a small bowl, mound flour and form a well in the center. Add egg, oil and pinch of salt to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then transfer dough to a lightly dusted work surface and knead until dough forms a complete mass. Knead, dusting work surface with flour as necessary, for 2 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
FOR PESTO:
Fill a small bowl with ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil; add basil leaves for 15 to 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer leaves to ice water. Let sit 1 minute, then drain and squeeze water from leaves using a clean towel.
In a blender or food processor, puree basil leaves, oil, cheese, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, club soda and generous pinch of salt and pepper until smooth. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration. Chill for 1 hour.
FOR TOMATO SAUCE:
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 20 seconds; drain, peel, seed and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Heat oil, butter, onion, garlic and generous pinch of salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add tomato, tomato paste, basil leaves and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook until sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning.
FOR ASSEMBLY:
Cut pasta dough into 2 pieces; rewrap one. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine.
Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until sheet is about 16 x 5 inches (if dough feels wet, dust with flour). Cut pasta into 4 (4-inch) squares; discard scraps. Lay squares 1/2 inch apart on a dry baking sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and 4 pasta squares; Cook for 2 to 3 minutes after water returns to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to ice water, then to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining squares.
Pat pasta dry. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil. Put 4 pasta squares onto baking sheet. Dollop half of tomato sauce onto squares. Dot with half of fresh mozzarella. Dollop 1 teaspoon pesto on top of each square, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and pinch of salt and pepper. Top with remaining pasta squares.
Drizzle lasagnette with melted butter and a touch of oil (you will have leftover ingredients) and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to serving plates. Top with remaining tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and drizzle of pesto (reserve leftover pesto for another use); garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

SMS - Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Oh MY! Rich, rich, rich! Thank you Mara for a delicious recipe this week! Go to Mara's blog for the recipe and look at how she made her truffles. Totally different from my own. So good!

I still maintain that the peanut butter is a little lost in the bittersweet chocolate; I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, and boy are these little candies sugar/caffeine potent. I can still hear my heart beating after eating just one so I think I will make the rest a LOT smaller. These little truffles are CUTE! We loved the crushed, roasted peanuts.The recipe makes oodles! I only used one-quarter of the chocolate ganache and the rest is solidifying in the refrigerator. After 3 hours, only the top 1/2 was thick enough to make into truffles.Such fun little candies to make and share!
Below are photos are this morning when I started the post. The ganache for this truffle was already thick before putting into the refrigerator.
Nothing like doing an entry backwards. Sorry for being confusing. I just did not want to miss out this week.The Peanut Butter Truffles chosen by Mara of Love Your Mother Earth is FINISHED and I rolled them in the roasted, crushed peanuts. I did not alter the recipe but wished I had changed the chocolate to semi-sweet because the bittersweet seems to be overwhelming my peanut butter flavor, even though extra creamy peanut butter was added. Happy baking everyone!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache, Frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and a Vanilla Buttercream Icing is Piped on Top

I am sitting in my kitchen, trying to convince myself how homemade pasta would be perfect for dinner to night. So what do we do? Bake cupcakes!The recipe has been printed out and waiting to be brought to life since first read at Chockylit's blog site called Cupcake Bakeshop. Click on her blog link to see the original recipe. The woman is brilliant and always trying new flavor combinations.

The cupcakes may sound intimidating but they are not. We start with the chocolate cupcake batter and bake. While baking, we make a ganache, splitting the mixture in half, adding diced strawberries to one half and letting the other half sit and thicken. This will be both your filling and frosting. All that is left is to make the vanilla bean icing, assemble and enjoy~!

Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache, Frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and a Vanilla Buttercream Icing is Piped on Top

Chocolate Cupcakes
~Makes 7 regular cupcakes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I also used Valrhona cocoa powder)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

2 Add egg and beat until well combined.

3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.

4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine

5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.

6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Strawberry Ganache Filling and Ganache Glaze
4.5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used Callebaut)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1/3 cup strawberries, diced
Directions:
1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
5. Divide the ganache in two approximate equal portions. In the first portion, mix in the chopped strawberries. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
6. Leave the second portion on the counter to cool down. You want the filling to thicken up before the glaze. Once the filling is think, fill the cupcakes with it. Then glaze with the glaze.
See assembly instructions below.Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble

1. Fill the cupcakes with the strawberry ganache filling using the cone method.

2. Spoon a tablespoon of glaze on each filled cupcake and smooth.

3. Top with buttercream frosting and a strawberry.