Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

To me, baking is about making a huge mess in the kitchen and creating a masterpiece for those you love.  I have started doing "cooking school" with the kids so they can learn this great art.  I'm teaching them things like how to crack an egg and dig out the shells and following directions in recipes.  They love it!  I love it!  It only takes twice as long to make things and its at least twice as fun!

Its been quite chilly by Florida standards (25 to 50 degrees) so this chocolatey gingerbread was warmly received in our home.

I love kids in the kitchen.  She's helping Jesse see our masterpiece in the Kitchen Aid.  Its so fun to see the look of anticipation on his face!

This rich, dark chocolate was the perfect addition to the traditional gingerbread.

Into the pan and into the oven...

I have seen a few other people's and they look so perfect.  My baking is definitely a little more "rustic".  I think its fine for gingerbread to be rustic.  The icing on the top was AMAZING!!!  We are not coffee people for religious reasons and I don't really enjoy coffee-flavored things, so I substituted the coffee with Ghirardelli Premium chocolate hazelnut hot cocoa mix.  It was so perfect!!!   
I served it up to my family, then caught Hannah LICKING HER PLATE.  Not something we condone at our house, but I took it as a compliment, and asked her to refrain in the future.  Elle and I were officially the most popular people at our house that night.

I actually thought the cake was a bit dry, but apparently nobody else thought it was a problem because they gobbled it up like Hansel and Gretel eating the cottage in the woods.  A lot of bakers mentioned that this is tastier on the 2nd day, but ours didn't have a chance at lasting that long.  If I were to make it again (and I probably will), I would add another 1/2 c buttermilk and bake it in a 9x13 for less time.  For the complete recipe and instructions, you can visit Sherry Trifle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Florida Pie

If you have ever lived in Northern Utah before, you will know what I mean when I say that the Winter months can drag on when there is no snow, no storm in sight and the nasty inversion has settled into the valley. That means that the mountains are clear and beautiful, but the valley is hazy and the air is horrible and it gets dreary and foggy. Well, last week we were going on 2 plus weeks of the inversion and I was beginning to think that Winter would never come to an end! I don't mind Winter when we have snow. I don't like Winter when it means inversion and dirty, old snow. 

So, upon learning that last Friday was National Pie Day I decided that I wanted to celebrate with a pie. Normally my pie of choice would be a lovely apple pie but I was in the mood for something that would take me away from the nasty weather and think about warmer weather. I thumbed through the pie section of Baking From My Home to Yours and decided that the Florida Pie was just what I was looking for. I must say, it did not disappoint. The graham cracker crust was a perfect compliment to the creamy coconut and the tangy lime filling. It was a delightful dessert and one that I will definitely make again. My dad stopped by on his way to the airport and enjoyed a piece and even asked for the recipe. In my book that means it is really good because Dad, and Mom for that matter, have discerning tastes when it comes to food. 

Florida Pie
from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 9-inch graham cracker crust, fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.
Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.
Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TWD: Berry Surprise Cake

In 2002 I fulfilled one of my life-long dreams and attended culinary arts school. I had graduated from BYU, was still single and wanted to learn to cook and cook well. I found myself in Colorado attending Cook Street School of Fine Cooking in Denver. Those were some of the best months of my life! As I looked over the recipe for this week, Berry Surprise Cake, I realized that the last time I made genoise was probably in school. Yikes! If I remember correctly, we spent an entire afternoon on how to make genoise and how to treat the eggs carefully so as to have the perfect texture. Maybe I should have referred to my notes from school and I would have had more success this time!

I felt pretty good about my first attempt. The eggs whipped up well and the folding process did not deflate the egg mixture much at all. The cake went into the oven and when I checked on it the first time it had risen and looked just lovely. I went to check again and it had sunk in the middle. Ugh! It wasn't horrible but I decided it was worth a second attempt to see if I could get it right. Second go around I used the suggestion on the the P&Q to "fold" the flour in with a whisk. After "folding" the mixture looked nice and smooth yet was still fluffy enough to almost fill the pan to the top. I thought I had it perfect. Into the oven it went. Much to my dismay, the second cake sunk even more than my first attempt. Drat! Oh well. With two cakes I figured I had more than enough cake to level each cake and hollow a little out of each one so that there was lots of room for the creamy filling. 

Fresh raspberries were hard to come by,  but I found fresh blueberries and blackberries on sale at our local Sunflower Farmers Market and decided they would be a great substitution. I did as others suggested and added a little extra sugar to the filling. Sweet, but not too sweet. I also decided to make a sauce out of some blended blueberries, a little sugar and some fresh lemon juice. Not only was it pretty on the plate, it complimented the cake very well.

We had friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I served the Berry Surprise Cake for dessert. It was received with great success and everyone loved it. Although I have not yet mastered the art of genoise and those "diva" eggs got the best of me, I still ended up with a fabulous cake. I will definitely attempt this one again. I think it would make a lovely summer dessert. If you are interested in the recipe head on over to Meet Me in the Kitchen

Until next week...Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

I made these delicious cornbread muffins today. They were really quick and easy. I've never realized how fast it is to make muffins from scratch. The only variance I made was adding cheddar to some of the muffins.

My novice baking was apparent while making these. I've never worked with fresh jalapenos before. I was finished slicing the jalapenos when I needed to blow my nose....I thought I was safe with a tissue but no such luck! My nose burned, stung....youch! I had 3 of my kids, 3 of the neighbor kids and a handyman at the house and was tearing up from the stinging. The only fix I could think of is to put something milk based on it. So I whipped out the sour cream and smeared it on my nose. One of the neighbor twin 2yrs old thought this was especially strange! So I wiped it off but there was still a serious burning on and in my nose! I excused myself to my bathroom where I smeared more on my nose. But one cannot sit upstairs relieved with dairy product slathered on burning areas while 6 very young kids run wild downstairs with an elderly gentleman working with saws! So I finally settled on using my sour cream like a lotion applying a thin layer.....it worked!

All in all making these was a great experience and now I knowmore about working with jalapenos! If you want to make these you can visit here. Good luck and please use caution!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TWD: French Pear Tart

It is my opinion that pears and almonds belong together....or at least that is what I learned from making this tart. The two flavors are complimentary foods and were quite delicious together. This tart had a couple of steps to it.
The first was making the crust which was amazing. The key ingredients are butter and powdered sugar. Those flavor combinations made for a rich crust that tasted great. I had a challenging time with a few of the steps because I don't own a large food processor and a few steps called for using that so I used my kitchen aid with the whisk attachment. My dough ended up a little dry. I was surprised to see that it didn't call for any liquid, just egg yolk...so I cheated a bit and used a little bit of ice cold water to help make it more of a dough. I also don't have a tart pan and it just isn't in our budget to buy a bunch of new things for one recipe so I used my spring form pan. The spring form worked well, but the end product did not look as beautiful as I would have desired.

The next step was an almond cream. Given the title of the filling I thought it would have called for cream or milk or something similar, but it didn't. It was still quite delicious. The base of the flavors were ground almonds and butter. I almost licked out the kitchen aid after making it but made myself wait for the end product when it was combined with the pears.

Then of course the pears. I am still not sure if I arranged them how it was described in the book, but I think it ended up beautifully. Here are the pictures. Sorry about the lighting...I finished it after dark and we were having it for dessert that night...sorry.

The crust is supposed to be partially baked before adding the almond cream and pears and the top of my crust got darker than I wanted so when I finished baking it I put tinfoil over the top to help with burning. It helped a little but I wish I had done it initially. (lesson learned)

The edges are not the beautiful design from a nice tart pan, but I actually ended up liking the look of the crust this way too.

Here is the end result. We ate it for dessert and both Glenn (my husband) and Spencer (visiting brother-in-law) were surprised that it was so good. They were coming off spaghetti squash served with dinner and both were less than impressed so the pear tart made both boys happy.

I learned more about my baker self this time around. I really enjoy baking. It is fun and I love the yummy creations that come from it....but I also learned that I like making treats that aren't so time consuming. I found myself feeling guilty spending time in the kitchen when my hubby was home or a child wanted to be read to, played with, or diaper changed. The types of desserts I like to make in this stage of life have to be a one bowl type deal. However it is good for me to stretch myself. I guess it is good I only do this every four or five weeks. I also learned that I am not much of an aesthetic baker. I do not have a finesse for making my work beautiful. That is something I am sure I will get better with time.

This week's TWD was chosen by Dorie herself, which made the task a little more intimidating...but I made my way through it okay. Here's the link to the full recipe.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sour Cream Butterhorns

Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings wouldn't be the same without Sour Cream Butterhorns for breakfast. For as long as I can remember that has been the Debenham family tradition. My mom is the queen of making them and I have to admit I am still a novice. Mom told me that the recipe came from a family friend from when she was growing up. She is the only one of her siblings to continue the tradition and we are so glad she did. We LOVE these yummy pastries! 

When I made them for Christmas I meant to take photos of every step but totally spaced it. I baked them Christmas Eve at my parents house this year because our oven was still broken. It is now fixed and if I get around to it, I'll make a batch just for a step-by-step photo instruction of how to make these. For now a few photos and a recipe will have to do. 
Sour Cream Butterhorns...or as my mom calls them Manna from Heaven 

4 cups flour 
2 T sugar
1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 oz. cake yeast crumbled (or 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
1 small carton sour cream (8 ounces)
3 egg yolks- save whites
1 tsp vanilla

Place butter, sour cram, egg yolks, yeast and vanilla in mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix on low until ingredients begin to come together. Add flour and sugar and mix until dough is smooth and satiny and all flour has been incorporated. Wrap in plastic and chill several hours or overnight.

Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Make sure they are very still before adding the sugar.  Beat in 1/2 cup sugar slowly.  Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts (we use slivered almonds) and 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and vanilla

Divide dough into 4 parts.   Roll out one part at a time onto a powdered sugar covered surface.   Circle should be about 14" in diameter.   Cut into 8 pie shaped pieces.   Put a spoonful of filling at the wide end and roll up without squeezing the filling.  Form into a crescent shape.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 375 degrees for 16-20 minutes.   

Make a thick frosting of powdered sugar and a little milk and almond flavoring.   Frost while still warm.

This is what the dough should look like after coming out of the fridge.

This is what they look like right out of the oven. My filling didn't get beaten enough so it oozed out a bit too much. You also have to be careful with the filling because when the nuts get mixed it, it makes the egg whites less stiff. I am still working on mastering the filling!