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Archive for the ‘sweets’ Category

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

In sweets on June 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Layer upon layer of delicious!

Oooohhh summery sweetness! Does anything scream “summertime” louder than strawberries and cream? I don’t think so. I got tired of seeing strawberry shortcake everywhere, so I mixed it up a bit. This is such a lovely dessert, it travels well, it keeps well, and it’s easy to make. Sure, the recipe looks long, but it really doesn’t take that much time, and the cream can be made the day before. So can the cake, really.

So here ya go – relieve a craving.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

Vanilla Cream

1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks

2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter

3 ounces cream cheese
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Angel Food Cake

3/4 cups egg whites, room temperature

3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup sifted cake flour

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 the sugar and the cake flour. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until frothy, the add cream of tartar and salt. Beat well, then begin to add the remaining 1/2 of the sugar gradually.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks, then add the vanilla and beat for a few seconds to mix.

Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg whites and fold together. Take your time, man! Do not deflate the egg whites!

Spoon batter into an ungreased 9 inch cake pan, and smooth the top a bit.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Cool until you can touch it, then de-pan and cut into bite-sized chunks. I know you’ll sneak one or two, but don’t eat too many. We still need to make the trifle here. Let the pieces sit overnight to dry out a little.

Whipped Cream

Combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. It helps if you chill the bowl and whisk attachment for a little while first.

Assembly

See? My goof.

Slice 1 quart of strawberries, reserving a few for the top. I goofed and only saved three. Don’t do that.

Choose a pretty, clear bowl – you want the layers to show because they’re so beautiful!

Cover the bottom of the bowl with cake.

Top with strawberries.

Top with the entire recipe of vanilla cream.

Top with more strawberries.

Top with more cake.

Top with more strawberries, if you have them.

Top with whipped cream.

Garnish with strawberries.

Serve in big, sloppy, creamy piles!

Don't you just want to plop your face into it?

Piece Montee for the Daring Bakers!

In Breads / Grains, Daring Baker's Challenges, sweets, Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I made this! And it was goooooood!

When I saw the challenge for this month, I almost wet myself. They expect me to make that?!? Hoookaaay…

But, once I set my mind to it and began, it went very quickly and easily. Just follow the directions. The only thing I changed about the recipe was that I added about 3 ounces of cream cheese to the filling with the butter. ZOMG. It ended up tasting like cannoli filling. Lordy, lordy. And it was so easy to do, I’ll probably make it again. Damn. Just what I need. Easy access to French pastry.

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place – see video #4 below).

When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!

Maple Pinwheel Biscuits

In Breads / Grains, Snacks, sweets on May 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm
maple pinwheel biscuits

Sweet, soft, and gooey. Talk about gone in 60 seconds....

Okay, this is another one from Biscuit Bliss, which I just reviewed for the Daring Kitchen. I was experimenting with different types of biscuit, because not being a Southern grandmother, I had never really been into them so much. This book totally changed my mind, but that’s another story.

I made these for Mr. Gorilla and I the other day, and we ate the entire batch withing twenty minutes of them leaving the oven. Seriously. Yes, we are pigs, but it’s totally justified when you consider the fact that biscuits go stale really fast, and the only way to get your effort’s worth is to eat them fresh. That’s my excuse.

I altered the recipe a little, because I like over-the-top sweet, so I’m going to post my version. If you want the real version, buy the book.

Maple Pinwheel Biscuits

(adapted from Biscuit Bliss by James Villas)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

2/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup brown sugar

cinnamon to taste

1 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425, grease a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Cut in half of the butter until mixture is mealy.

Add milk gradually, and stir until a soft dough forms. You may not need all of the milk!

On a floured surface, roll dough out to a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle the remaining butter bits over the surface.

Sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar over the surface, and top with half of the nuts. It should be looking quite yummy by now.

Roll the dough lengthwise, like a jellyroll, and cut into 1-inch slices.

Place the slices in the pan, drizzle the tops with syrup, sprinkle with the remaining nuts, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Drizzle with powdered sugar icing if you would like. I did. ‘Twas yummy.

I promise you, these will not last.

Cinnamon Scones

In Breads / Grains, Snacks, sweets, Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm
cinnamon scones

Mmmmm...cinnamony....sugary.....

So, I’m in the process of reviewing a cookbook called Biscuit Bliss by James Villas. Since I am not a southern cook, I considered myself to be generally clueless about biscuits, and I was right. My first attempt totally failed, but you’ll have to wait for the review to hear that story. This story is about scones. Mr. Gorilla, being the Anglophile, LOVES scones, so I thought I’d try my hand.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as scone-intensive as the next lady – every time I’ve tried them in the past I’ve found them to be quite dry and crumbly, and not sweet enough. So I had high hopes for Mr. Villas’ recipe. Even though I threw my trust in him, I still altered a couple of things about the recipe, just to hedge my bets.

1. The recipe itself is for plain old scones, but I added cinnamon ’cause I felt like it.

2. I did not knead the dough. I’ll tell you when we come to it.

3. I topped mine with loads of coarse cane sugar before baking. ‘Cause I like sugar.

4. I didn’t use a biscuit cutter, ’cause I don’t have one.

Here it is, folks – the most awesomest, moistest scone you will ever eat!

Cinnamon Scones

(adapted from Plain Scones, in Biscuit Bliss, by James Villas)

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1/4 cup cane sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425, and line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Feel free to add more cinnamon if you’d like.

Add the butter, and rub with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. MUCH more pleasant than using a pastry cutter, let me assure you.

Gradually add the milk until a soft dough forms. You may not need all of the milk, or you may need a bit more. Use your judgement.

Here is where I differ from James: instead of kneading the dough on the counter, I squish it around gently in my hands (over the bowl) for a couple of seconds, just until the dough holds together and seems uniform. So do that.

Now, swipe the parchment off of your baking sheet and put it on the counter. Place your ball of dough on the parchment, and using floured hands (yours, of course), pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4 of an inch thick. Coat the top of the rectangle with the cane sugar.

At this point, James whips out his diamond-honed biscuit cutter, but I don’t have one, and using a glass makes them come out flat. So here’s what I do. I cut the dough into squares, but I do not separate them. I then make diagonal cuts to form triangles, but still, I do not separate them. I simply pick up the whole shebang by the parchment, transfer it to the baking sheet, and throw it (place it gently) in the oven for about 12-15 minutes.

cinnamon scones

Here's how they come out of the oven. Nifty!

I let them bake as one piece, but the cuts make them easy to separate when they cool. This method keeps them moist, and prevents the sides from overbaking. It’s great!

So yeah, these scones were amazing, even three days out. Great recipe, James.

Mixed Berry Jam

In sweets on March 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

Sweet, sticky, and delicious.

Guess what, guys – I made jam! I’ve never made it before, but I’ve always been intrigued by the process of turning whole fruit and sugar into a cohesive, spreadable mass. So, of course, I decided to experiment. I was a little bit daunted at first by the fact that none of my local supermarkets carry pectin, which by all accounts, is necessary for a successful jam. Pectin, you see, is apparently what hold it all together and causes it to thicken. So yeah, stupid supermarkets strike again.

Instead, for this jam, I relied on the fact that all fruits contain natural pectin in small amounts. I figured that with enough tender loving care, I could make a success of it anyway. Pectin – who needs it? Believe it or not, it actually worked! They consistency was perfect – it’s a bit thicker than most jams, even. If you don’t really like a thick jam, just don’t cook it as long. Really, feel free to take it off the heat whenever you like.

I made a mixed berry jam, because Florida berries are just coming into season and they looked beautiful. Use the best, ripest berries you can find – sweet, with intense color. I’m not sure if this pectin-free method will work with other fruits – if you’d like to experiment, please let me know how it turns out! Otherwise, stick to the berries. Your actual strawberry-to-raspberry-to-blueberry ratio can be whatever makes you happy.

Mixed Berry Jam

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed berries (I left the blueberries and raspberries whole, and chopped the strawberries)

additional 1/4 cup each strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

2 cups sugar

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 cups berries and the sugar, stir to coat.

Combine the 1/4 cup of each berry in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Add puree to saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until desired consistency is reached. Mine took about 15 minutes, but once the foam is almost gone from the top you know it’s ready.

Remember that the jam will have a thinner consistency when it’s hot, so judge by the residue on the spoon you’ve been stirring with. It will cool quickly between stirs, and you’ll see the true consistency.

And don’t worry if you overcook it a little – as long as you don’t actually burn it, it will just get thicker. If it turns out to be too thick to spread nicely, just nuke it for 20 seconds or so right before use.

See how nice and easy that was? Don’t you feel all domestic and stuff?