Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh, Martha

When I began my blog I promised myself I would only post recipes that I would want to make over and over again. However, I can’t help but feel badly when I have weeks, like this past one, where I’ve baked up a storm and, while there were a few recipes that were good, nothing was outstanding.
So, after several mediocre scone recipes and one failed attempt making lemon curd, I was happy to find some organic raspberries at Costco (not usually a place I buy fruit but these berries were beautiful) to use to test out a cobbler recipe I recently saw in a magazine. The recipe is easy to make and the cobbler is absolutely irresistible.
Raspberry Cobbler
From Martha Stewart’s magazine, May 2012
5 cups (1 pound 10 ounces) raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Biscuit Topping
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Filling: Mix together the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into a 9-inch square baking dish (2 inches deep).

3. Biscuit Topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until largest pieces are pea sized. Add cream; use a fork to incorporate, stirring just until cream is absorbed (there will be lots of loose pieces).

4. Turn out dough onto a clean surface and knead a couple of times, gathering loose bits into a ball. Pat dough into 1 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 9 squares and place them on top of filling. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

5. Bake cobbler until bubbling in the center and biscuit top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mmm, Malt

It’s nice to have a lazy day when the biggest decision I have to make is what to bake. As you may know, I have an addiction to malted milk desserts and the large box of Whoppers on my kitchen counter was too tempting to resist experimenting with! These malted milk blondies aren’t too sweet, and have crisp edges with soft, moist centers.  

Malted Milk Blondies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons malted milk powder (I use Carnation brand) 
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg 
2/3 cup Whoppers, chopped
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in the center of oven. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, covering bottom and all four sides; set aside.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, malted milk, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar, vanilla, and egg. 
4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in chopped Whoppers and chocolate chips. Spread in pan.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown and the edges have pulled away from sides of pan. Cool blondies in the pan on a wire rack. Lift foil and transfer to cutting board to cut into squares.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Melt In Your Mouth

Sometimes my best recipes result out of the necessity to clean out my ever-overflowing pantry and a second wind before bedtime. Thanks to a late night baking experiment last week, I may have created my favorite chocolate cookie recipe yet.
These mocha cookies are dense in flavor like a brownie but have a light, airy texture, similar a meringue cookie. I’d recommend using a very high quality chocolate for these cookies (I prefer Scharffen Berger).
Mocha Meltaways
Yield: About 24 cookies
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar

1. In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when the mixture is fully melted and well combined.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour , baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix the espresso powder and water and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and coffee mixture until fluffy, about 6 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the chocolate mixture; blend until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture until just incorporated, about 1 minute. (The dough will look about the consistency of brownie batter.)
4. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and use a medium sized cookie scoop to scoop the dough. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, on the middle rack of your oven for 13-15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the cookies as they go from a gooey center to having a burnt bottom fairly quickly. Let cool on sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back to Baking

I knew it was time to take a vacation when I no longer felt inspired to bake. So, after a relaxing week in the Southwest, I’m excited to get back into baking!
Several years ago I told a chef, John Bentley, that I was having a hard time finding the perfect carrot cake recipe. I wanted something simple, not too sweet, and sans raisins or coconut. He immediately grabbed a piece of scratch paper and wrote down the following cake and frosting recipes and, if you’ve ever been to his restaurant, it’s no surprise this cake is delicious. 

Carrot Cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/8 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. peeled, grated carrots
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Whip eggs, add oil slowly, add sugar and salt. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, add slowly. Fold in carrots and walnuts. Pour into buttered and floured 9” cake pan (I line my pan with parchment paper prior to buttering/flouring pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 50-55 minutes; let cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(Enough for a single layer 9-inch cake)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Use electric mixer to beat all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Confessions of a Chocoholic

While I try to be an equal opportunity baker, I must confess that my ideal late night indulgence includes some combination of chocolate and coffee and my favorite brownies hit the spot every time.

These brownies are rich and decadent, with a fudgy interior and a cake-like crust. When I really want to be decadent, I brush the top of the brownie with a little bit of Kahlua and top with (my favorite) Starbucks Java Chip ice cream.
Best of all, these brownies are easy to make-you can mix all of the ingredients by hand in the top of a double boiler.
Decadent Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into large pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on all side.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, then add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, espresso powder, salt, and walnuts. Fold in the flour until well combined.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan for about 10 minutes. Lift brownies from pan using parchment paper and transfer to wire rack to cool completely before cutting. Brownies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ooey Gooey

I haven’t intentionally been neglecting my beloved blog all week. In fact, my lack of posting this past week hasn’t been for lack of baking. I’e been working on whittling down my collection of cake recipes and I didn’t want to post a recipe I wasn’t crazy about. I was just about to throw in my oven mitts when a friend and co-worked lent me the latest issues of Saveur magazine, the cover of which was adorned by a picture of a beautiful cake and several cake recipes inside that I could not wait to try. 
I started off with their recipe for a caramel cake and fell in love. The caramel frosting does take about 45 minutes to prepare but it is oewey, goewey, and delicious. The cake itself is a little more coarse than other white cake recipes I’ve tried but it is a perfect pairing with the frosting. 
I adapted the recipe slightly, but I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the magazine so you may try the other cake recipes also featured. 
The magazine says the cake serves 10-12 but myself and two friends managed to eat half the cake in one sitting.

Caramel Cake
Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue #145
For the Cake
2 stick (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
For the Frosting
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
30 oz. (2 1/2 cans) evaporated milk
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
Make the Cake
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8” cake pans; set aside. 
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the milk and vanilla extract and set aside. 
4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and alternatively add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 10 seconds.

6. Divide the batter among prepared pans, smooth top with offset spatula, and drop the pan onto your countertop to burst any large air bubbles.

7. Bake cakes about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I recommend rotating the pans halfway through.

8. Let cakes cool for about 15 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting
1.  Whisk together 3 cups sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and egg in 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven; set aside.

2. Heat remaining sugar in a small skillet over high heat, swirling often, until sugar melts and turns an amber color. Immediately pour caramel into milk mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan and cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, until thermometer reached 232 degrees, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla and baking soda; let sit 1 minute.

3. Using a handheld mixer, beat caramel mixture on medium-low speed until the consistency of loose pudding, about 1 minute. Immediately place one cake on a cake stand and pour over 1/2 cup caramel icing; top with second layer and pour over 1/2 cup icing. Top with third cake layer and pour remaining icing around the top edge of cake and then over the center. Quickly spread icing over sides of cake; let icing cool completely before serving. Store at room temperature for up to three days. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day

I love that pretty much all holidays are an excuse to bake, including St. Patrick’s Day. Since I just made some Guinness chocolate sauce (which, by the way, makes the best hot chocolate ever), I decided to use bake something sweet with Baileys this week. While I opted for vanilla cupcakes, the Baileys frosting would be a great filling with a chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache, too.

Just for fun, I used a tip I found on my newest addiction, Pinterest, and only filled the cupcake liners 2/3 full (instead of the usual 3/4 full) and preheated the oven to 350 degrees then lowered the oven to 325 degrees just before putting the cupcakes in the oven. As promised, the cupcakes did bake up higher than they usually do (I didn’t put much frosting on the cupcakes so they did rise pretty high). 

Vanilla Cupcakes 
Yield: About 15 cupcakes (12 if you fill the liners 3/4 full)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan(s) with paper liners; set aside.
Scrape the seeds out of 1/2 vanilla bean into the milk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, sift the two flours together.
At low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk in two additions.
Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let stand in pan for about 10 minutes before removing cupcakes and placing them on rack to cool completely before frosting.
Baileys Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Baileys
1 tablespoon milk
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until incorporated with butter. Add Baileys and milk and beat on medium speed until well mixed, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat for about 1 minute to aerate.