Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

If you hate coffee, you're probably not going to like this recipe. However, hubs does not drink the stuff and he has no problem with these!  They're not like drinking a cup of Starbucks (too strong for my taste) but you'll definitely taste the coffee flavor.  They are perfect with a tall glass of milk!!

I think the addition of the white chocolate chunks and cinnamon chips helps to temper the slightly bitter taste of the espresso powder.

Oh and there's no "x" in esssssspresso, people!  Just a little pet peeve of mine.  :)

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cappuccino chips or chocolate chips (I used KA chocolate-espresso chunks)
1 cup cinnamon mini-chips
1 cup white chocolate chunks

Place butter, sugar, salt, espresso powder and vanilla in bowl and mix well.  Add the egg and mix until well blended.  Add the baking soda and flour, mixing until blended.  Stir in the chips and chunks.  Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto lightly greased, light-colored (or parchment lined) baking sheets

Bake the cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-14 minutes. until their bottoms and edges are lightly browned; the tops shouldn't darken.  Remove them from the oven, let them rest on the pan for 5 minutes, then slide them onto a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TWD - Pecan Powder Puffs

When I saw "Pecan Powder Puffs" on our March list, I remember thinking, "I wonder what in the hell those are?"  Never heard of them.  When I opened the book this morning and started reading Dorie's description, she said they were also sometimes called "Pecan Balls" or "Mexican Wedding Cakes".   Still clueless.

And since there was no picture in the book, not only did I have no idea what they were supposed to taste like....I had no idea what they were supposed to look like.  This is where following directions comes in handy!!

Up until I coated them with powdered sugar, I was still flying blind.  But after that sugar coating when on, a little bell went off.  These look like those snowball cookies that are always on Christmas platters.  And that's what they tasted like......only much better than I ever remember them tasting!  These are addictive, little, bite-size suckers...slightly sweet, slightly crunchy and I love how the powdered sugar kind of melts on your tongue.   Plus, they take no time to throw together and you can always change up the nut/spice combinations for a little variety.

Thanks, Tianna for a great pick.  You can get the recipe at her site, Buttercream Barbie.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Goat Cheese with Chipotle and Roasted Red Pepper

My father pointed out to me this weekend that there had been nothing new on my blog for over a week.

Why did I feel like I just got in trouble for not doing my homework?  I'm forty something (that's all you need to know) years old, but for some reason, felt like I was back in junior high!!  So I got my ass in the kitchen and got busy!

I cannot tell you how good this is.  I've kind of learned through the years that I'll know I'll like a recipe just by reading the ingredients and that's what drew me to this one.  

But sometimes I'm surprised by just how well something comes together.  Like this one. This is a perfect combination of the creamy goat cheese, the smokiness of the chipotle and cumin seeds, the freshness of the cilantro and the sweet bell peppers.  Hubs agreed.  He polished off the entire plate!!  I cannot wait to serve this at my next cocktail party.

Here's the recipe:

Goat Cheese with Chipotle and Roasted Red Pepper
Bon Appetit, March 2011

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 11oz log soft fresh goat cheese
1 cup drained roasted red pepper strips from jar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce (Tobasco and Frontera both make this)
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons toasted salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) toasted  (I left these out)
Baguette slices or crackers

Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes.  Cool.

Place goat cheese log on platter.  Cover with sheet of plastic wrap,  Press into large rectangle.  Sprinkle with cumin, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Mix roasted red peppers, olive oil, hot sauce, garlic, and chopped cilantro in small bowl.  Spoon topping over goat cheese.  Top with pumpkin seeds.  Serve with toasted baguette slices or crackers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TWD - Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins

It's Thursday's with Dorie this week.  I don't really have a valid excuse.  I could lie and say I had some really important shit going on this week, but I didn't so I won't!  

I didn't have any currants in the house.  To tell the truth, I don't even know what currants are, so that may be why I didn't have any in the house.  I did happen to have some of King Arthur Flour's tropical fruit blend so I used that.  It just seemed appropriate for a muffin with "sunshine" in its name.  

It says right on the package, "This combination of dried pineapple, papaya, mango and coconut will transport you instantly to your beachside hammock."  Tell me that doesn't scream SUNSHINE!!!  The combination of the dried tropical fruits with the orange and lemon made for a perfect muffin.  

Thanks to Lauryn of Bella Baker for a great pick.  Click here for the recipe.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Malted Tart and a huge dose of disappointment

I buried myself in the kitchen yesterday avoiding the media scrutiny of my beloved football coach.  Unfortunately he deserves all of said scrutiny....and then some.  Never in a million years would I have believed Coach Tressel to be a liar and a cheat.  But let's face it, that's exactly what he did.  He may still go down as one of the best college football coaches of all time, but it will now be with an asterisk.  And in the process he threw a great university directly in the path of the NCAA bus.  Don't think for a minute, Buckeye fans, that those self-imposed penalties will be the end of this.  At the very least, Tressel will get the five game suspension his players received along with the possibility of having to vacate the entire 2010 season..... let alone sanctions for future seasons.  And after being a resident of Alabama for the past 9 years and listening to Alabama fans rant and rave about the injustice of it could be a bumpy few years.

So the football program sucks right now but fortunately there's our #1 rated basketball team and I'm choosing to focus on them, hopefully for the next several weeks!  But yesterday, to escape it all I headed to the kitchen to bake.  I'd been eying this recipe for the past several weeks but hadn't had the time to devote to all the steps involved.

There are three recipes within a recipe for this one so it's a tad time consuming......but sooooo worth it.  It's got a fabulous crunchy crust coupled with a creamy, malt-chocolate filling topped with a surprising light diplomat cream.

I'd never heard of diplomat cream before but in this case it's a basic pastry cream with lightly whipped cream folded in.  Yup.....cream in cream!!  This is not diet food people, but if your football coach has royally effed up this week, it's the perfect thing to take your mind elsewhere!

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Malted Tart
adapted from the Malted Crisp Tart recipe from "Baked Explorations"
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito


For the Brown Sugar Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon malted milk powder
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons malted milk powder

For the Malted Diplomat Cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 ounces heavy cream

For the Tart Assembly:
1 cup crushed malted milk balls


Make the Brown Sugar Crust:
Lightly spray a napkin or paper towel with vegetable oil and use the napkin to apply the oil to the sides and bottom (and nooks and crannies) of the tart pan. 

Place the flour, salt, malted milk powder, butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.

Scoop the crumb mixture out into the prepared tart pan and use your hands to press the mixture into bottom and up the sides of the tart pan (the crust should not look too thick).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tart pan in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the tart is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
Place the milk chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl.

In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the heavy cream and malt powder.  Bring the mixture to a simmer (tiny bubbles will form around the edges of the cream; it should not be a rolling boil).  Remove from the heat and pour over the milk chocolate.  Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes.  Starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate ganache in a circle until completely smooth.

To begin assembling the tart:
Gently pour the ganache into the cooled tart shell.  Top with crushed malted milk balls saving enough for the top of the tart during final assembly.  Gently push into the ganache.

Make the Malted Diplomat Cream:
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer and keep warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, egg yolk, egg, cornstarch, and malted milk powder together until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute.

Whisk half of the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, then pour the mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour until chilled.  

Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and whip until creamy.  

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form and fold into the pastry cream.

Finish assembling the tart:
Remove the tart from the refrigerator and cover the Milk Chocolate Malt layer with the Malted Diplomat Cream.  Garnish with the remaining crushed malted milk balls.  Refrigerate the tart to set up, about 30 minutes, and serve immediately.  The tart can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TWD - Corniest Corn Muffins

Corniest Corn Muffins........MY PICK!!!!  Yup, that's right, after almost two and a half years it's finally my week to host TWD.  I picked the corn muffins because 1) there aren't a lot of recipes left and 2) corn muffins happen to be one of hubs favorite things.

Confession.....I've never made a decent corn muffin.  I've tried many different recipes but they've always been dry little hockey pucks.  Until now.  These were moist and flavorful and I loved the crunch from the whole kernels of corn.  Hubs promptly ate four of them slathered in butter straight from the oven but these were still great the next day served with some soup.

I've already read a few of the other baker's blogs and there were some great ideas for add in' favorite being the addition of cilantro and chipotle powder.  That's been one of the best things about joining this group....learning from all of the other extremely talented home baker's.  Over the past couple of years you all have given me a confidence in the kitchen that I didn't previously have,  Thank you!!  It's been a total joy.

Here's the recipe:

Corniest Corn Muffins
BAKING  From My Home to Yours
Dorie Greenspan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons corn oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup more if you'd like) - fresh, frozen or canned (in which case, they should be drained and patted dry)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.  Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups.  Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, if you're using it.  In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk together until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, glently but quickly stir to blend.  Don't worry about being thorough  -  the batter will be lumpy, and that's just the way it should be.  Stir in the corn kernels.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Playing Around:  Corniest Corn and Herb Muffins.  You can add a slightly savory touch to these sweet muffins by incorporating 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary into the batter.  Either stir in the herbs when you mix in the corn kernels or, for a fuller flavor, rub the herbs into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is aromatic, then stir the sugar into the bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bean and Pasta Soup

This week begins the best four week stretch in all of sports.  March Madness.  It may help that my team is currently #1 in the country (Go Bucks!), but I know tons of people that don't really follow college basketball all season and still get pumped up for the tournament.  It all starts this week with the conference tournaments which leads to "Selection Sunday" and then the real fun begins.  There is nothing better than that first weekend with games all day Thursday through Sunday.

If you're like us, we kind of block off those first four days and just veg out in front of the tube.  This soup would be a perfect thing to make for that weekend.  It's hearty, satisfying, full of flavor and easy to put together.  I used dried beans but you could just as easily use canned to save some time.

Hubs and I polished off an entire pot of this during the past week and I can see making this one again and again.

Here's the recipe:

Bean and Pasta Soup
King Arthur Flour

2 cups of beans:  these can be whatever you want but a mised soup blend is colorful and fun  (I used dried beans and did a quick soak by covering beans with water, bringing to a boil and letting sit covered for a few hours)
Water to cover (2 to 2 1/2 quarts)  (Not necessary if you are using canned beans)
2 1/2 quarts stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)  (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 to 2 cups grated carrots (I used one cup of already shredded carrots from a bag!)
1 to 2 cups chopped celery
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (or more or less depending on how you feel about garlic)
1 pound plum (or other) tomatoes, skinned and chopped (I used one 28oz can of chopped tomatoes)
1 tablespoon fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried); or use a little oregano, marjoram, savory, etc., whatever smells or tastes good to you  (I used basil)
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
1 cup pasta or your choice, either small or broken in pieces (I used whole wheat farfalle)
1 pound sausage; sweet or hot or a combination, crumbled, cooked and drained (I used hot Italian sausage)

The night before you want to serve your soup, cover the beans with fresh water and let them soak until about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before your meal.  (Like I said, I did a quick soak or you can use canned beans)

Drain them, put them in a soup pot and add the stock.  Stir in everything else except the pasta and sausage, bring to a boil and let simmer until the beans are almost tender.

Add the pasta and sausage and cook until the pasta is tender.  Serve with a crusty loaf of bread.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

FFwD - Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

According to Dorie, this week's FFwD is the French version of a "good old American quick bread".  It's easy to put together.....dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, then gently combine.  

That "gently" part may have been my downfall.  I'm more the linebacker type.  I've been told I don't do gentle all that well.  Which may be why my bread was a little tough.  It was great warm right out of the oven, but more like a hockey puck after that.

My version included gruyere and some scallions because that's what I had in the house, but this is really just a canvas for your imagination.  You could use about any kind of cheese you have in the fridge and then just raid your pantry for the add-ins....olives, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, etc., etc., etc.  Just remember to be gentle!

And, again, if you want the recipe, you'll have to buy Dorie's book.."around my french table".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TWD - Chocolate Pots de Creme

Christine from Black Cat Cooking picked Chocolate Pots de Creme for this week's TWD and they're delicious.  It's that dessert that you're just going to have one bite of and find yourself repeatedly sticking your spoon back into for yet another bite.

Christine had the stellar idea of caramelizing some sugar on top of these babies and turning them into creme brulee.  Genius!  Make sure you check out her site for the recipe. And also make sure you get your butts back here next week because I'm hosting!  FINALLY!!!