Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts

Nov 15, 2011

Classic Apple Pie

Apple pie is one of my all time favs. Well, favorite to EAT that is. Growing up, I didn't quite care for the task of peeling and coring all those apples. (still don't, but I still LOVE apple pie, so I do it) I can remember my Granny just piling everything into the homemade crust, sprinkling (dumping, really) everything on top, slapping on the top crust all quick like.... just carefree as can be. Like it was no big deal. Like it was easy. Then it would bake and the smell would waft throughout the house and I just couldn't hardly WAIT until suppertime dessert. 

Well Granny is no longer with us so I had to set out on my own to try to come as close to her version as I possibly could. I've tried several recipes over the years and this (tweaked-to-my-liking) version of one came really close. Not only that, but my husband requested THIS one again. (oooh, I may have done it now, more apples to peel)

Now I'm not quite as talented, nor as quick, as Granny was, so I don't just "dump" everything in there all at once. Unlike her, I have steps. First step being, learn to make a good pie crust. This is key. THIS part of the pie I've been practicing for years, so trust me, I got this. If you need some help, I've poured my heart out and here's a link to my favorite Buttery Flaky Pie Crust recipe. You'll need to double it for this pie though. 

Printable Version for Classic Apple Pie (filling)

Classic Apple Pie (the filling)
Yield: 1 -9" pie

8 C sliced apples (about 8-10 granny smith apples)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 C white sugar (or use ¾ C white sugar + ¼ C brown sugar)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
small pinch of ground cloves (optional)
2 Tbsp butter (not margarine), cut into small pieces

Follow the directions for making a double crust for a 9” pie. After rolling out the dough for the bottom crust, and while it is chilling in the pie plate as directed, preheat the oven to 425°F while you make the apple filling.

You can choose any type of baking apples that you prefer, I happen to like Granny Smith because of the tartness and they stay a bit firm after baking. Wash, peel, core and slice the apples. You'll want to slice them thin, about 1/4" slices, in order for them to bake evenly. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat all of the slices. This will keep the apples from browning.

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch and spices. So at this point, if you've made apple pie before (or maybe not and are still wondering) why do I use flour and cornstarch for the thickening agents? Well, I've tried using all flour and my pie didn't get quite thick enough. Then I tried a recipe using all cornstarch and well, it tasted to "starchy". Go figure. So I tried using half and half and the end result was the most satisfactory. (for me anyway)
Next, sprinkle the sugar mixture over apples and toss to coat well. Set aside while you make the top crust.

Next, roll out the 2nd disc of pie crust dough for the top crust. Make it just a bit bigger than the pie plate. Put the pie filling into the bottom crust. Dot the top with the small bits of butter, scattering them about. HAHAHA I laugh, because I forget this step every time. I mean EVERY TIME. So I say to you, if you skip it, don't worry 'bout it.

Next, gently lay the top crust over the apples and trim so that it has a 1” overhang.
Now fold the top crust over and under the edges of the bottom crust to seal the sides. This will help keep all the juices in while the pie is baking. Finally, flute the edges with your forefinger and thumb all the way around the pie. (You can see pics of this process on the pie crust page). You will also want to cut slits in the top. This allows the excess steam to escape so that the pie filling can thicken properly. If the top crust feels as if it has softened up while you were shaping the edges, then pop the pie into the fridge to re-chill the crust before baking.

Gently place the pie on a baking sheet. For a deeper color in the crust, brush top of crust and sides with EITHER plain milk, or, 1 egg white (or whole egg) that has been beaten with 1 tbsp water. Milk will give it a crispy-flaky texture and egg will give it a tender-flaky texture. Now sprinkle the top with coarse sugar if desired. (or you can sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon)

Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven. If you have a baking stone, place the baking sheet directly on the baking stone. Bake pie for 20 minutes at 425°F. Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue baking for 20 more minutes. At this time, check the pie crust, if the edges are turning brown to soon, cover them with aluminum foil to protect them, or, use a pie crust ring.

Continue to bake the pie for at least 10-20 more minutes until done. The crust should be golden brown, the apple filling should be bubbling up through the pie crust slits, and the apples should be tender. (yeah, go ahead and sneak one through the slit, no one's looking) Total baking time should be about 50-60 minutes.

When done, remove the pie from the oven and set on a rack. Now, here's the hard part, allow pie to cool completely (several hours, seriously) at room temperature  before cutting. And no NOT try to cool it in the fridge. Believe me, I've tried LOL  It makes the crust soggy and chewy. The cooling process is essential because the pie filling will not thicken until after the pie has completely cooled. If you cut it too soon, your filling will run out everywhere and possibly cause a soggy bottomed pie. If you want to have warm apple pie, just heat slices in the microwave just before serving.
Store the pie, covered, at room temperature.

Mmmmmm, now wasn't that worth the wait?

One more thing I'd like to mention. As the apples cool and the filling thickens, the inside of the pie (the apples and filling) will shrink. This leaves a gap between the top crust and the filling. This is normal and expected. Surprisingly, this doesn't bother me...anymore. I just gently push the crust down when I slice it.  Just like I did with my Granny's apple pie ;)

If the gap DOES bother you, and you would rather have the "sky high closer to Jesus" pie, then you may want to pre-cook your apple filling first. Just be careful that you don't cook the apples all the way. Cook them just until they start to turn tender. (al dente? can you even use that term with apples?) Otherwise, you'll have mush or applesauce pie. Remember they still have to bake some more when the crust does, and the crust will take some time. Even still, the pie will cook faster, cutting the baking time just about in half. 

Pre-cooking does have another advantage, your pie filling will thicken when you cook the apples in the sauce pan, then thicken some more while you bake it. So the final waiting time is less for the pie to cool down, which means, less time to wait before you dive in  ;)

So there you have it, Classic Apple Pie. I think Granny would be proud. (ain't she just the cutest thang?) Gosh I miss her. Now all I have to do is practice her fried apple pies. Oh....and she made a killer deep dish cherry pie. Not to mention her fried chicken, turnip greens, and I can't forget about those green beans with jowl.  

This one's for you Granny!

If you want to check out other pie recipes from some blogger friends of mine, 

Nov 17, 2010

Archway Sweet Summer Treat Contest Winner!

Is it November already? Really? Whew, I'm a little late getting this post up, to say the least! It's been a very, very busy summer (AND fall).  One of the most exciting things I did this summer was to enter the Archway Sweet Summer Treat Contest that was held back in July. and Archway partnered up and there were several of us who were chosen to receive an array of cookie packages in exchange for creating original recipes for the Archway contest. You didn't have to be a member of bakespace to enter the contest, but being a member has it's perks indeed. They sent us one package of each variety of tasty cookie just for experimenting. (thanks bakespace for hooking us up!)

There were 3 categories to enter, with a grand prize winner in each category; Dessert with Ice cream, Dessert without Ice Cream, and Non-Dessert.  You could enter as many times as you wish. I created and submitted 4 recipes, one in each category (two in the Dessert without Ice Cream).  I'm happy to report that my recipe for "Heavenly 5 Layer Ice Cream Chocolate Cheese Pie" submitted to the Dessert with Ice Cream category was a grand prize winner! I won a $250.00 visa card, more packages of the cookies that were used in the winning recipe, and a nice printed recipe of the winning recipe suitable for framing. (thanks Archway!)

Here is the grand prize winning recipe along with the 3 other recipes that I submitted.

Heavenly 5 Layer Ice Cream Chocolate Cheese Pie

For Pie Crust:
1 ½ C (about 28) Archway Crispy Iced Oatmeal Cookies
¼ C white sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter

For Pie Layers
1 C Archway Dutch Cocoa Cookies crumbs (1/2 of an 8.75 oz pkg)
3 C chocolate chip ice cream
1- 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 C confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ C milk
1- 5.9 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding
1- 12oz container of whipped cream, divided

For Chocolate Curls:
3 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 Tbsp shortening

Preheat oven to 350F.
Break up and add the Iced Oatmeal cookies into a food processor.  Pulse until a fine crumb is achieved.
Pour into a small bowl and add in the ¼ C sugar and stir. Next, add in the melted butter until all crumbs are evenly coated.  Pour crumb mixture into a 9”x3” spring form pan. (you may use another type of pan, just be sure the sides are at least 3” tall) Press crumbs evenly onto bottom of pan using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup. You do not need to spread it up the sides.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes in a preheated oven. Remove and let cool slightly, then place pan in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the pie. While the crust is cooling, set out the chocolate chip ice cream so that it can soften.
Next, break up then pulse the Dutch Cocoa Cookies in a food processor only until pea sized (slightly larger pieces are ok). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add in the softened cream cheese and the confectioners’ sugar. Mix with a hand mixer on high until well incorporated and there are no lumps.
Slowly begin adding in the milk, a little at a time, mixing well in between additions. Continue until all of the milk has been mixed in.
Next, begin sprinkling in the pudding mix, again, a little at a time, mixing in between additions. This will help to eliminate any lumps. Occasionally scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until all is incorporated. Add in only one cup of the whipped cream. Mix on high just until well blended. Mixture will be thick. Set aside.
Take out the crumb crust and add in 3 cups of softened chocolate chip ice cream. Quickly, press down and smooth evenly. Top with the Dutch Cocoa cookie crumbs and spread them out evenly, then pour the chocolate cream cheese mixture over the top and quickly spread it out evenly.
Spread the remaining whipped cream over the top and return to freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours or cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
Meanwhile, for the garnish, chop the chocolate into small pieces and add in the shortening. Melt in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Pour chocolate into an aluminum foil square mold, or into a small flat square dish that has been lined with aluminum foil. (about the size of a candy bar) Set in fridge until chocolate is solid. When firm, pull out of the foil and use a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife to “shave” off curled pieces from the long edge onto waxed paper or aluminum foil. Place curls back into fridge until ready to garnish pie.
Tip: When ready, use a toothpick to place on pie to avoid them melting from the heat of your hands.
When ready to serve pie, warm a large sharp knife under hot water and dry off. Use to cut the pie with ease.

Recipe #2, submitted to the non-dessert category. Probably my favorite, only because it was different and what I thought, a very creative approach to cooking with cookies. I wanted to "de-construct" the cookie and make something totally unexpected!

Thick n Spicy BBQ Sauce

A quick and easy BBQ sauce that is spicy but not overly sweet. Not only do the cookies give the sauce a deep rich molasses flavor, but they help to quickly thicken the sauce as well. Use over grilled meat such as beef, chicken, or pork. It also makes a great dipping sauce for meatballs or chicken nuggets.

10 Archway Iced Molasses Cookies
1/3 C  warm water
3 tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 ¼ C ketchup
1 tablespoon hot or buffalo wing sauce
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoon butter

Crumble cookies into a wide, shallow dish
Pour the water and teriyaki sauce over the cookies and stir. Set aside for cookies to dissolve.
Place a 2 qt saucepan on medium heat. Add olive oil and minced onion. Saute on medium heat just until onion is soft and translucent. Add in minced garlic until heated being careful not to burn garlic.
To the onion and garlic mixture, add in the ketchup, hot sauce, paprika, cumin, pepper, and garlic salt. Turn heat to low setting and stir occasionally until mixture is just simmering.
Add in the cookie mixture and bring back to a simmer, stirring constantly. (using a heatproof rubber spatula works best and keeps sauce from sticking to pan)
Remove from heat and add in the butter. Stir until butter is melted.
Keep sauce in a warm place on the stove until ready to use.
At the last 10 minutes of grilling the meat of choice, brush on sauce. Serve leftover sauce on the side.

Recipe #3- This was one for the "non-dessert" category. Here I wanted to make a cobbler, but instead of just crumbling the cookies on top, I dissolved them in warm milk and created a batter.  You can use fresh peaches if you prefer, but you'll have to cook them first and create a syrup. I decided to use canned peaches instead, saving that extra step. 

Lemonade Peach Cobbler

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
2 C (48 cookies) Archway Iced Lemonade Cookies crumbs
¾ C milk
¼ C white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 – 29oz can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
½ Tbsp white sugar + ¼ tsp cinnamon
Ice cream or whipped topping if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place rack in middle to lower shelf of oven.
2. Place cookies (24 at a time) into a food processor and pulse until a fine crumb is achieved. Alternatively, you may place cookies into a large plastic zip lock baggie and roll with a heavy rolling pin. Place cookies into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the ¼ C sugar, baking powder and the pinch of salt and set aside.
3. Gently warm milk in a microwave or on the stove until just hot.
4. Pour warm milk over cookie mixture and stir. Let stand for about 10 minutes until the cookies are soft and dissolved. 
5. Meanwhile, cube butter and place into a 9x9 square glass baking dish. (If you prefer a thinner cobbler you may use a 13x9 size dish. Just reduce the baking time by 10 minutes or so) Place dish in oven while it is preheating to melt the butter.
6. Pull out hot dish with melted butter from oven. Pour cobbler batter over melted butter, spreading it out evenly but do not stir.
7. With a slotted spoon, spoon peaches directly out of the can over the batter, allowing a small amount of the syrup but not too much. While the cobbler bakes, the peaches will sink in and the batter will rise to the top.
8. In a small dish combine the ½ tablespoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the cobbler.
9. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Be careful not to over bake (until toothpick comes out clean) or your cobbler will be dry.
10. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping
11. Store tightly covered.

Recipe #4- Last but not least, I made a yummy coffee cake. Like the peach cobbler, I created a batter with the crushed cookies but in this one, I used some of the crushed cookies in a filling/topping mixture.

Almond Raisin Coffee Cake

 For the Topping/Filling:
1/3 C Archway Windmill Cookie crumbs
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, chilled
1/3 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C blanched almonds, chopped or slivered

For the Cake:
½ C raisins
¼ C brandy or light rum (may substitute water)
1 ½ C Archway Windmill Cookie crumbs
¾ C heavy cream
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 egg slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
½ C sugar
1 C all purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Position a rack to the middle of the oven. Lightly grease an 8 or 9” round spring form pan or cake pan.
In a food processor, crumble an entire (9 oz) package of Archway Windmill Cookies. Pulse until a fine crumb is achieved.  (Alternately, you can crush the cookies in a large zip lock baggie with a rolling pin)
Measure out 1/3 C of the cookie crumbs for the topping/filling into a small bowl and pour the rest of the crumbs (there should be about 1 ½ C) into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
To the 1/3 C of crumbs, add 2 Tbsp flour and stir. Cut 1/2 of a stick of chilled butter into cubes and cut into the flour/cookie mixture with a fork until pieces are about pea size. Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon, stir until combined and set aside.
In a small shallow dish, heat brandy for 30 seconds in the microwave. Pour in raisins, stir and set aside. (the warm brandy will not only add flavor, but plump up the raisins as well)
Heat heavy cream and 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave until just hot and butter is melted (about 1 minute).  Pour cream and butter mixture over the 1 ½ C of cookie crumbs and stir until combined. Add in the brandy and raisin mixture.
Next, add in one slightly beaten egg and the vanilla. Stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the flour mixture all at once into the cookie mixture and stir quickly until combined.
Spread half of the cake batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle half of the topping/filling mixture evenly over the top.
Pour the remaining cake batter over the filling, then sprinkle the remaining topping/filling along with the chopped almonds over the top of the coffee cake.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  (do not wait until toothpick inserted comes out clean because it will be too dry)
Remove from oven and cool slightly before running a knife along the edges and releasing the spring form ring.
Serve warm and enjoy with a nice cup of java!

For more recipes from other bakespace members who entered the Sweet Summer Treats contest, click here:  You can also visit the Archway site for a complete list of recipes entered.

Very soon, I'll be posting even more Archway recipes and ideas for the holiday season! Stay tuned.

Jul 8, 2010

Ghiradelli Turtle Brownie Bites with Nutella

Well I haven't been doing too much baking or cooking lately, but I did do a little a couple of weeks ago when I had an all girl pool party. I wanted to do a little something special for dessert, but yet, something that was simple, quick and "cute", after all, it WAS a total "chick" party (seriously, no boys were allowed hehehe) Nothing says "chick" better than chocolate...right?  I had something like this in mind and was totally prepared to do them from scratch...however, while grocery shopping for the party I came across a box of Ghiradelli Turtle Brownie now all I had to do was make them "cute".

As for the recipe, I ended up using the directions for cookies on the back of the box (minus the pecan halves)...with a few minor adjustments and additions. I decided to make them in mini muffin tins (again, for the mere cute factor), besides, there would be ample amounts of alcohol flowing so I thought I better keep the desserts to a minimum.  Turns out, that was a good plan, but that didn't stop anyone from devouring them. Ah yes, they were soooooo good. The perfect "chick" food. ;)

Ghiradelli Turtle Brownie Bits

1- 18.5 oz Ghiradelli Turtle Brownie Mix (you'll need the mix AND the caramel package)
6 Tbsp softened butter
2 large egg whites (or use 1 whole egg as the package suggests)
about 1/4 jar of Nutella (or more, if that's how you roll)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray (or line with paper cups)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter to soften and then add the egg whites one at a time and beating on high until well mixed.
Add in the package of brownie mix and mix on a slow speed, then medium speed until it is just incorporated. (the mixture will be stiff)
Use a cookie scoop or drop by tablespoonfuls into the muffin tins. (one measuring tablespoon is perfect) You may not have quite enough to fill every muffin tin, but close.
Next, place a deep thumb print into each brownie.
Next, cut off a small corner of the caramel package and squeeze in caramel into each brownie bite.
Bake for about 10 minutes. (not much longer, you want them "gooey")
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the tins. Gently remove the brownie bites.
Next, cover the caramel with a dollop of Nutella and spread just over the caramel area. (they look prettier that way LOL) The addition of the Nutella helps keep the caramel soft and gooey and prevents it from drying out.
Store in an airtight container, or they can be frozen if wrapped well in saran wrap.

That's it! easy peasy!

Lower in calories too, right? I mean, unless of course you eat 10 mini ones as opposed to 1 regular sized brownie LOL

Oct 15, 2009

Pumpkin Roll with Vanilla Bean Cream Filling

One can never have enough pumpkin recipes (at least this "one" can't). I love me some pumpkin! This is a spicy pumpkin cake roll, filled with a vanilla bean filling. (think hostess cupcakes gone Thanksgiving) My dear friend and fellow foodie blogger Danielle first turned me onto this little jewel last year. If memory serves me correctly, she got the original recipe from a food network show and kindly spread the word. The original roll contains a cream cheese type mousse, which is absolutely wonderful as is. In fact, the very first time I made it, the fam went crazy for more. I've had to double the recipe ever since. You can check out Danielle's original recipe for "Pumpkin Mousse Roll" over on

You may be wondering then, if so wonderful, why did I change it? Well, for one, some discussion came about not to long ago about filling cupcakes with a cream filling. I immediately thought of a recipe for a vanilla cream filling that I had tucked away. But before I shared it with my beeps (bakespace peeps) I thought I'd revisit it and make sure it was worthy. Because it was "pumpkin season" I thought what better way to test it out than on Dani's pumpkin roll. so the pumpkin cake roll I haven't changed at all, I just used a different filling.

Now let me preface this vanilla cream filling recipe by saying, when you read through the ingredients and directions, it's gonna sound a bit scary, maybe even gross. But just trust me, I've tried a LOT of different recipes for "cream filling"; not custard, not cream cheese, not ganache, not icing, but CREAM FILLING. This one is light, fluffy and not too overly sweet. You can use it to fill cakes, cupcakes and well, pumpKin rolls! One more thing, you can substitute the vanilla bean with vanilla extract (*sigh* if you must) by adding in 1 tsp vanilla with the milk/flour mixture after it has thickened. Now, let's get on with it....

Vanilla Bean Cream Filling

5 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 vanilla bean
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

You'll only need half a bean, but I used a whole one because I was doubling this recipe. First, split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds (also known as the vanilla bean "caviar") with the back of a pairing knife or butter knife. See that dull point on the middle back of my pairing knife? Thats the side I actually use in order not to shred parts of the pod. I scrape my seeds into a little ingredient dish and set them to the side.  Now at this point, some may suggest you throw the pod into your liquid to get the most flavor, but with this recipe that's not necessary. The seeds will be enough flavor. But what you can do, is throw both the scraped side (and the (un)scraped side if you have no other use for it) into your sugar bowl or dish and have wonderful vanilla sugar with your next cup of coffee or tea ;)

In a medium sized sauce pan, whisk together the flour and milk. I usually put my flour in first, then add only enough milk at first to create a paste.Then I continue whisking in the rest of the milk, a little at a time, until  all is combined. (look Ma, no lumps) Now, set your heat to medium and add in the vanilla seeds.

Cook in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking continuously to prevent the mixture from scorching and clumping on the bottom. (you're basically making a vanilla gravy or sauce) It will take some time at first, but don't walk away, because as soon as the liquid starts to heats up, it will thicken pretty rapidly. If you are not whisking it, you'll have lumps. It will take a good 10-15 minutes to get it to the right consistency, which will be like a thick custard.

When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), pour into a medium sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressing onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely to room temperature. Do NOT put this in the fridge to cool. It will solidify!  Just go get busy baking your pumpkin roll (or cupcakes, cake, or whatever you're filling). It will be cooled down by the time you're ready for it.

Once you have your baked items cooled and ready to be filled, and the flour/milk mixture is completely cool, use a stand mixer on high or hand mixer with a medium sized bowl to cream the butter, shortening and sugar together until light and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add in the milk/flour mixture and salt. Beat at high speed again for about 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. It will be the consistency of thick whipped cream. Again, do NOT put this into the fridge. Just let it set out until it's time to fill.

Now for the pumpkin cake roll.

Pumpkin Roll

3 Eggs
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Pumpkin
1 teaspoon Lemon juice
3/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating well with a paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer). Add pumpkin and lemon juice, mixing until blended. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add to egg mixture, mixing well. Spread batter into greased 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan AND lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool for 15 minutes only. If I wait any longer it's a bit cumbersome getting it out of the pan, or peeling the paper off. In fact, when I'm doing two of these, I leave one sitting on top of the warm oven with a towel over it so when I'm ready to remove it, it's not too cooled down.

Take a large clean tea towel (flour sack towel) and liberally sprinkle it with powdered sugar. I usually just use a small strainer for this, shaking it over the whole towel. Holding the pan in one hand and on it's long side, gently tip the pan up and the cake over onto the towel (while using the other hand on the cake to support it as it goes over) Sounds scarier than it really is, honest. Immediately but gently, pull off the parchment paper. If you're doing two cakes at once, now is the time to flip out the other. From the 10- inch side (short side), gently roll cake up in towel (yes, towel and all). Set aside to cool.

When log is completely cool, it's time to fill! Gently unroll cake. Evenly spread filling over cake. Starting on the "curled" end (which was the middle when you rolled it up) gently roll the cake back up (hehe, this time without the towel). I usually use the towel to help by lifting it up on the end I'm rolling, then I use my other hand to guide it. Don't worry if your log cracks a little when you first start to roll. By the time you get to the other end, it's all good.

Lightly brush off any excessive powdered sugar with a dry pastry brush or a towel, but don't drive yourself nuts over it, it will "melt" into your log once it chills out in the fridge. Now roll the log onto a piece of doubled up plastic wrap, aiming for that seam side to end up on the bottom.

Cover well with the plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, this will firm up the cream filling. It's easier to slice the log with a serrated knife while the cream filling is firm, then let it come to room temp before serving. Or, you can go ahead and leave it in a log shape and just do a few slices to drive them crazy. LOL  Sprinkle that bad boy with a little powdered sugar, just to give it that "professional" look. Your guests will be impressed!

So the fam taste tested this and I have to admit, a little part of me wanted them to like this one better than the cream cheese filling, only because the vanilla filling IS a bit more trouble. But ya know what? We ALL liked both recipes. I guess it depends on what mood you're in. I can say that the cream cheese mousse will make the cake more moist,  like the cake soaks up the cream cheese mousse more and it is VERY rich. Whereas the vanilla filling seems lighter, not as heavy rich, and doesn't soak in, leaving the cake more cake like (but it's still moist) like as in a filled hostess cupcake. (ha, did that make sense?) Guess you'll just have to try them both and see which one you like best!

For more of my Cali-Gal Danielle's recipes, head on over to her blog, "Cooking for My Peace of Mind". If you're feeling low and need a laugh, check out her other blog too, "Public Transportation- Cheap Entertainment"  The chick is hysterical. Dani, thanks for yet another great recipe, the late night chats, and all the laughs. I love you man!

Sep 30, 2009

Bakespace International Taste Tour- Crepes!

Crepes Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Cheese

For this months "Bakespace International Taste Tour", we decided to do crepes. Although I had of course heard of crepes, I had yet to attempt them myself. I dunno, they've always kind of looked intimidating to me for some reason. So I did a bit of research, then turned to youtube to obtain some general direction. I was so relieved when I found these two adorable gals, name melded "ME" (that would be, "Molly and Ellery"). They did this video for a school project and a fine job indeed! Working as a team, Ellery precisely measures and mixes the crepe batter, while Molly demonstrates how to correctly pour, swirl, and cook the crepe. They've even included the "bloopers" at the end, so be sure to watch it all the way through.

I was so impressed with their culinary skills, I thought, geez, if Molly and Ellery can do it, why can't I? While I didn't use the exact recipe as Molly and Ellery did in their video (and I didn't have the fancy crepe pan that they did), I was inspired to come up with a couple of tasty versions of my own, that surprisingly, did indeed pass as crepes. In fact, according to hubby, they were pretty darn tasty.

I created two versions; one being a savory crepe stuffed with Italian Sausage, peppers, onions and cheese and topped with Marinara Sauce, and the other being a sweetened dessert crepe, stuffed with bananas, pastry cream and Nutella. But before the stuffin' could commence, I had to tackle my fears and get the crepes done.

Basic Crepe Batter
1 C milk (plus 2-3 tbsp if necessary)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 C flour
dash of salt

Gently warm the milk and the butter in a saucepan or heat in the microwave. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then create a well. Place the two eggs into the well and begin whisking, pulling in a bit of flour at a time until a paste is formed. Next, start whisking in the milk mixture, pouring a little at a time, until eventually all of the milk and flour is incorporated, creating a smooth, lump free, thin batter. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of milk (I did) in order to get the right consistency.

Note: If you want a sweet crepe batter, just add in 2 Tbsp sugar with the flour and salt, and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the milk mixture.

Alternatively, you could just throw the whole shebang into a food processor or blender, mix it all up at once and call it a day. However, then you'd just have to wash the extra dishes, and besides, I was feeling particularly confident and French pastry chef like (sans the accent) I mixed it the fancy way. ;) Ok, next, most recipes instruct you to refrigerate the batter for at least half an hour. Some tell you to use the batter immediately. Well I tested both methods, letting one batch rest in the fridge, and used one batch right away, and quite frankly, I couldn't tell the difference in texture.

I didn't have a crepe pan, plus, I knew I wanted to fold/roll my crepes "burrito" style, so I used my large 12" Teflon coated pan. Be sure the skillet is set on med heat and hot before you begin. Hold the pan up in one hand, while you ladle in only just enough batter to swirl and coat the bottom of your pan size. Let the crepe cook until the top goes from shiny to dry and the bottom is lightly browned. (only takes a few minutes) Then I used a pliable,heatproof, flat spatula to loosen the sides then gently flip over and recenter the crepe in the pan. It all sounds complicated but actually it was kind of fun.

When done, slide your crepe onto paper towels, or parchment paper, and allow them to cool before stacking them. Now I was ready to get the sauce on to allow it to simmer while I made the filling. I don't really measure for this, but here's the jest of it.

Marinara Sauce
1 C roasted tomatoes, chopped (I make my own, but you could use canned crushed tomatoes)
1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning (I use a blend of oregano, basil and thyme)
1 Tbsp of sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste

On medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil, only for a few minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt to taste. Heat until mixture starts to bubble, then reduce and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I used about 5 Sweet Italian Sausages (brats), squeezed them from their casings, and browned the sausage. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Next I added onion and peppers to the pan and cooked until just soft. Add back in the sausage and keep warm. At this point, I was afraid of my crepes getting soggy, so I left it as is. Hind site, I could have added in just a little bit of the marinara sauce to the sausage filling.

Next, I spooned some of the sausage mixture into each crepe and sprinkled on some grated (fresh) mozzarella. I tucked in the side and rolled them up (burrito style) and placed them into a 13x9 glass baking dish.

I spooned some of the marinara sauce over the tops, again, being careful not to use too much so that the crepes wouldn't get soggy. Then I sprinkled with more mozzarella and a bit of Italian herbs. I baked it in a 375F oven for only about 20-25 min, only enough for the cheese to melt. I served the rest of the marinara sauce on the side. I must say, it was a huge hit. We all loved this dish. The texture of the crepes were perfect and the flavors, well, ya just can't go wrong with a pepper, sausage and onion combination, right? The only change I would make is, as mentioned, mix a bit of the sauce in with the filling.

Ok, so next it was time for dessert. I made the sweet version of the crepes ahead of time, when I was making the savory ones. I just wrapped them and put them in the fridge until it was time to put them all together. For the filling, I loaded up a zip lock baggy with Nutella, cut off one little corner and pipped it onto the crepe. Then, I had every intention on making a pastry cream from scratch, really I did but I totally cheated and took the easy route and spooned on an instant vanilla pudding (much to the fam's horror and disbelief). I won hubby back over by slicing a banana, then rolled it up. Topped them with more heavenly Nutella and some whipped cream.

They were absolutely awesome, if I do say so myself. However, I WILL go through the trouble of making the pastry cream next time. My snobby taste buds felt cheated and the instant pudding fell a little "flat" and was well....blech. Crepes deserve better. But hey, at least the Nutella made up for it, for sure!

So a huge hug to my bakespace buddies for once again, turning me on to something I wouldn't otherwise have tried. A huge thanks to Molly and Ellery as well, for giving me the confidence to give crepes a whirl...or should that be "swirl"?

Now, jet on over and see what my beeps were able to come up with. To continue the International Taste Tour, use the clickable map below to visit their websites and see what other crepes my buddies are cookin'! You can either click on the names at the left, or click on the fork and knives in the map, then click on the pic to view their recipes and blogs. If you're interested, head on over to the forums and join in on the fun!

Jul 19, 2009

Fair Food Night!

I love the fair. Wait. I love the food at the fair. I actually hate everything else about the fair; the rides, the heat, the kids puking on the rides, the smell of animal crap, the crowds, the walking, the parking and walking....yup, it's official, I hate everything about the fair except the food. The fried food in particular. But at home, I very rarely fry anything. It took me a long time to break those artery clogging inbred habits of my southern predecessors. (not that I don't have plenty other unhealthy habits) There are some exceptions of course and this usually happens in the summertime. Fried green tomatoes, an occassional batch of doughnuts, and then there's what's become our annual "fair food nite". So for one night, our entire meal is fried up in a big vat o' grease. Usually we do it in August (state fair time) but this year I had it early. Yup, it was like Christmas in July! I really REALLY had a hankerin' for pork tenderloins, but opted for our usual corndogs with onion rings on the side and elephant ears for dessert. (the staple dessert being funnel cakes, close, but different than elephant ears) Besides, I now have an 18 year old that is vegetarian, so I thought I'd ruin her otherwise healthy diet with some corndogs, veggie corn dogs that is. Hey, I'm a good mom, what can I say? BTW, That's her on the top right, when she was 4. Yes, at the fair, with her elephant ear that was obviously bigger than her head. Ain't she sweet? (well she used to be anyway! HA!)Now my baby's all grown up, going off to college. The last of 3 girls. YIPPIE, er uhm, I mean....awwwwweeeee (sniff sniff, sad face. what? not convincing enough?)

Ok, let's get on with it. Corndogs. I've tried several recipes over the years and stumbled upon these last year (sorry, can't remember where, otherwise I'd give due credit)..."Indiana Style Corndogs", how fitting, right?

Indiana Style Corn Dogs

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
Dash of pepper
1 cup evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
12-14 hot dogs
12-14 skewers
corn starch for dusting
vegetable oil or shortening for deep frying

You want to get your hotdogs ready before you mix the batter. This is so the baking powder doesn't loose it's "umph" too soon. Dry off hot dogs with a paper towel. Dust with corn starch and rub off excess. This will help the batter stick to the dogs.

Skewer hot dogs with wooden skewers (I used bamboo sticks, cut down to size, but you could also use popsicle sticks); set aside. If you let the hotdogs come to room temp the frying time is quicker and much more even.

In bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat the egg with the milk (I just do this in a measuring cup). Add to the dry mixture and whisk quickly.

Coat dogs with batter by laying in and twirling in the mix, a flat whisk is helpful. Or, pour mixture into tall glass and dip hot dogs until coated. (kind of messy but it does work better) me, I do it the "hard" way. LOL The goal is to get the batter even, if you don't your dogs will not "spin" over in the oil and cook evenly.

Gently lower corndogs into hot oil. Deep-fry at 375 degrees F until golden brown (about 2-4 minutes). I can usually fit about 4 dogs in my pot. I wouldn't do more than that anyway, else you may lower the temp of the oil/grease. Drain on paper towels or rack (I used a rack and lined it with parchment paper). Here's a tip: If you're doing veggie dogs, fry them seperately and mark the skewer with a marker when you pull them out so that you can later identify them. BTW, the vegetarian reports that she couldn't detect a difference with the "veggie corndogs".

The original recipe said that it would make 10 corndogs. I was actually able to coat 12 dogs with this batch of batter with enough for probably 2 more. (In all fairness, I made the coating a bit thin). One more tip: keep dogs warm on a parchment lined cookie sheet in the oven set at 170F while you finish the batch and so they'll stay warm while you make the onion rings.

On to the onion rings. Now, at first glance, this recipe my seem a bit too simplistic, but just trust me, it packs a lot of flavor! I've used seasoned salt, and I've use Old Bay seasoning, both are equally good. Now, I haven't tried it with any other kind of beer except for bud light (a staple in our house) but I could totally see a dark stout tasting awesome.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

1 quart vegetable oil or shortening for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 dash seasoned salt (or Old Bay seasoning)
1 dash ground black pepper
1 cup beer
4 medium sweet onions (I use Vadelia or yellow)

Slice onions and separate rings. Set aside to dry. I just put mine in a plastic colander. If you allow them to air dry a bit, the batter sticks to the rings better.

Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat oil to 375 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, seasoned salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Wait until your oil is hot and ready, then quickly pour the beer into the dry ingredients. You don't want to do this too soon or else you'll loose the bubbles in your beer. Whisk quickly until smooth.

Dredge onion slices in the batter, until evenly coated. I usually do half of them at a time so that they all get evenly coated. Lower rings into the oil, one at a time so they don't get stuck together and they'll brown more evenely. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown. This may take several minutes, depends on how thick your slices are. Also, don't try to crowd too many in, you want room enough for them to "swim" LOL Once brown, drain on paper towels, or a rack.

Now for my favorite part of the meal.....the Elephant Ears! Now although I did these last and a couple of hours after dinner, know that the dough has to rise for about 30 minutes, so plan accordingly. I used a recipe from bakespace, that happened to be from one of my beloved friends who is no longer with us, Marlene (aka queenietwo). For her original recipe on bakespace, click here. Parts of the recipe seemed a bit odd to me, but I had grown to trust Marlene's recipes, so, as I do for most dough recipes, I followed it as it was written (well, almost), but I probably will change a few things next time. There WILL be a next time. ;) If you don't know what elephant ears are, they're like a flat, fried (of course) doughnut, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Best eaten warm and they are a staple at most state fairs. (at least, here in the midwest)

Elephant Ears

1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart oil for frying
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons white sugar

Combine milk, salt, 2 Tbsp of sugar, and shortening and heat until shortening is melted. Ok, the original recipe calls for 3/8 C shortening (why?) I just used 1/3 C, close enough and easier to measure. In fact, the only thing I'd change about this recipe the next time is to use maybe only 2-3 Tbsp of shortening, I thought the 1/3 C was a little heavy. The other thing is, she heated hers on a stove (might have been an older recipe, I dunno) I just heated it in the microwave until the shortening was melted. Let that cool to lukewarm. (no less than 110F, you'll need it warm enough for the yeast to rise)Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let dissolve. Give it a little stir.

Next, mix in the flour, all at once. It may be a bit difficult at first, but it does come together. I just mixed it as much as I could then I turned it out onto my cutting board and kneaded it until smooth. Cover it with a towel and let it rest and rise for about 30 min. Here's something else I would have changed. I think next time I'll rub just a bit of shortening on the outside, it did crust over a bit. (ok, I know better) While you're waiting, mix the 3 Tbsp of cinnamon and 6 Tbsp of sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Once the dough has rested, divide it into 2 inch sized balls (a little smaller than a baseball) It really depends on how big your pot is. It took me a few before I got the hang of it. Next, roll them out with a rolling pin and just stack them to the side. I got about 5 or 6 pretty good sized ones out of this recipe.

Once you have them all rolled out, lower one into the hot oil. (I think mine was about 375F) It only takes a few minutes for one side to brown, then, flip it over using tongs or a wide metal spatula. When it's evenly browned, take it out and again, drain on paper towels or a rack. Immediately, while it is hot, sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar mixture with a spoon (be sure to flip it over and get both sides!)

So there you have it...heart attack on a plate! (for reals) Fry responsibly...too much of a good thing is BAAAAAAAD. ;)

To Marlene....still missin' ya girl, I think of you often. Rest well my friend.