Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apple Zeppole with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

My girlfriend has made it a habit to record all Giada De Laurentiis shows. While watching one of these, a particular recipe caught our eye. We decided to try our hand at it that night. The outcome were doughnut-like apple morsels and a delicious whipped cream to pair with it.

The zeppole have grated apple in them, giving them their main flavor. If you decide to make these, use whatever apple you like - just make sure they're your favorite, and this dessert will be one too.

Apple Zeppole:
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
4 eggs, room temperature
1 large apple of your choice, peeled, cored, and finely grated
Oil for frying (canola or olive)
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Into a large, heavy pot, add enough oil to come at least 2 inches off the bottom. Bring to 325ºF, and keep it close to that temperature. In the meantime, bring to a boil the sugar, butter, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. After reaching a boil, immediately remove from heat and add in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until it all comes together, then place back onto heat. Stir continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until a thick ball forms (similar to making choux). Remove from stove top and mix the dough with an electric mixture for a minute to release some of the heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. After the final egg has been added, continue beating the dough until smooth.

Carefully drop about a teaspoon of the dough at a time into the hot oil, working in batches of 5 or 6 at a time, as to not crowd the surface. It helps if you have a small cookie scoop; if you don't, you can drop the dough in with spoons, but your final zeppole won't look as nice. Flip periodically until the zeppole are lightly browned and puffed, 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to wick away excess oil. Allow to cool to room temperature, then dust with powdered sugar and serve with Cinnamon Whipped Cream (side note: if you want to eat them while they're hot, that's just fine. However, your whipped cream will melt if you try to dip them, and won't stick to the zeppole). Yields 6 servings.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a serving dish, and serve alongside the cooked zeppole.

These were devoured quickly when I brought the leftovers in to work the next day, so there seems to be no real problems with letting the zeppole sit out at room temperature overnight. Just keep them covered with plastic wrap, and make sure you refrigerate the whipped cream; let this come to room temperature before serving.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Allspice Crumb Muffins

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was hosted by Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table. It's a sweet muffin that can be served for breakfast, or for a snack/dessert. I'm posting a few days late, but rest assured, these were made on Tuesday.

I used mini-muffin pans and got about 3 dozen mini-muffins instead of the one dozen large ones. Make sure there's enough to share, right? They ended up looking like little mushrooms, but the bite-sized treats were light and flavorful.

I had some issue with my streusel. Instead of making a nice crumbly mass to lightly top my muffins, I ended up with a creamy thick goop. Adding a pinch at a time, I just broke up the streusel into as small of pieces as I could get, and lightly pushed them into the dough. Didn't seem to matter too much though - when they were cooking, the streusel melted anyways.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan pp. 16-17

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Split Level Pudding

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by...well, look at that, it's selected by me! Finally put in enough time to pick out a recipe. I picked out the split-level pudding, because something about it reminded me of my childhood, going for those hand-held cups of pudding with multiple layers of goodness.

Unfortunately, when it came time to take the pictures and get everything ready for this epic post, I ended up being rushed. Argh. I tried to get creative, and man did that work out horribly. Also, my photoshop is still dead. If I had that right now, I could at least *try* to make my pictures look prettier. Oh well, maybe next time.

It's a simple vanilla pudding on top, with chocolate ganache on the bottom. I would actually warm up this dessert before serving it - I tried it cold at first, and didn't really like it. My girlfriend suggested I heat it up. I did, and it was about 16 times better. Not sure why, but making it warm just made it awesome. Thanks for everyone who baked with me this week!

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 384-385

For the chocolate layer:
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the vanilla layer:
2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate shavings for decoration (optional)

Have 6 ramekins or cups for the pudding, each holding 1/2-3/4 cup, ready.

To make the chocolate ganache, put the chocolate into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Bring the cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds before stirring gently until blended. Divide among the cups and set aside.

To make the vanilla pudding, bring 2 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons sugar to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. In the meantime, place into a food processor the cornstarch and salt. Whir until blended, then turn out onto wax paper. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and egg yolks into the processor, then process for a minute. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and pulse just until mixed, then add the cornstarch mix and pulse until mixed. While the machine is blending, slowly add the hot milk mixture. After all the hot milk has been added, pour back into the saucepan and whisk over medium heat until thickened (about 2 minutes). If it begins to boil, lower the heat. Take off of the stovetop, and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk until fully incorporated (you can do this in the food processor, but I find it easier to whisk). Pour the pudding into the cups, and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate puddings for at least 4 hours before serving.

Chocolate Souffle

This is a delayed post for Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted last month by Susan of She’s Becoming DoughMessTic. It's Dorie's simple, yet delectable, chocolate souffle.

Even with the pep-talk by Dorie in the book, I was worried about making this dish. There's so much stigma surrounding souffles. It seems like the slightest gust of wind can make these formidable desserts cave in and render an amateur baker's heart. Nonetheless, I saw my challenge, and I went for it. Ta da! Success!

A bit of an admission: I've never ordered a souffle in a restaurant. Heck, I've never even had a souffle. This was definitely a first. Given that, I don't even know if I made it right. It looked good on the outside, but I have no idea how it's supposed to taste, or what sort of texture it's supposed to have. All I know is, it was good. I guess that's really all that matters, though.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 406

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Perfection Pound Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart, selected by Carla of Chocolate Moosey. I'd already made this recipe and posted it (here), so I opted to make something from the Tuesdays with Dorie archive of dishes I've missed. Dorie's Perfection Pound Cake is a delicious classic, and I took Dorie's "playing around" suggestion and made it marbelized with some chocolate batter.

Baking the cake for a little too long, I burnt it a little on the crust - what can I say, I've been out of it for a while. I really need to get back into the mode of baking more...I'm really getting rusty. Anyways, this was my second time marbeling, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Cut into thick slices, microwaved, with just a small pat of butter on top, this treat is an excellent sweet breakfast, or delicious dessert. I'll be trying this out again soon, without the chocolate, just to see how well it turns out - who doesn't love a classic pound cake?

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 222-223

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cottage Cheese Pufflets

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was hosted by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. These cookies are made with a cottage cheese-based dough, and filled with a jam of your choice. I used blackberry preserves for mine, giving a bright purple color when you bite into them. Light, tasty, and not overly-sweet, these are a great snack or dessert.

The dough doesn't use eggs in it, so you can snack on it before cooking. Not something I'd really suggest, though. Eating raw cookie dough is usually a hidden treat for me - if nobody's looking, I can grab a spoonful and shove it in my mouth, swallowing before anyone sees. Usually it's this case? Not so much. These cookies are definitely better cooked than they are raw.

I rolled these about 1/4 of an inch instead of 1/8-inch, giving the cookies a thicker texture. Even so, they gave me problems when I tried to fold them over and shape them, so a refrigerator/freezer is definitely your friend when working with this thin dough. If you make them thicker, add about 7 minutes to the cooking time, or until they're lightly golden on top.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 148-149

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

This is one of my delayed Tuesdays with Dorie posts. The dessert was initially to be posted September 1st, hosted by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell. It's a brownie-bottomed dessert, with espresso cheesecake on top, marbled with some of the brownie dough. Covered with a thin layer of sweetened sour cream, this dessert was a quick hit.

The individual portions are pretty easy to make, so putting the brownie together with cheesecake was a great idea; the finished product looks complex, but it's simple (though time-consuming). It tastes delicious, and goes great as an afternoon treat or a decadent dessert served along with some coffee.

After cutting into Dorie's suggested 16 portions, I tasted how rich they were, and decided to cut each portion into another half, making a total of 32 small bars. They were still devoured quickly at work, so I'm not sure how many people were just taking two anyways, but the slices still stood up to the cutting process after a quick chill in the refrigerator.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 104-105

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Posting Hiatus

I know I haven't been posting lately - I've been traveling a ton! This is just a quick post to let you all know that, yes, I'm alive and kicking. I'll be heading out to Florida this week, and then I'm busy for the next couple weeks after. But worry not - I'll be back and posting (frequently, hopefully) soon enough!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blackberry Spice Bars

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Karen of Something Sweet by Karen. Technically, the recipe is called Applesauce Spice Bars, but realizing I had just finished off my applesauce before making the recipe, and being too lazy to go to the store, I substituted some blackberries and Chambord.

When they came out of the oven, they looked perfectly fine without a glaze or icing, so I skipped out. Had they needed something though, I was considering a thin layer of chocolate to pair with the blackberry and raspberry flavor - maybe next time? I was worried when I started pouring the batter that this wouldn't rise properly. It seemed a bit too wet, but I went ahead with it and baked away. I was pleasantly surprised when it raised nicely enough to cover the blackberries, and the inserted knife came out cleanly. The raspberries with the mix of spices play on each other nicely, giving these bars a great overall taste.

Unfortunately, my computer recently broke, so the quality of pictures are pretty low-quality. Only 5 years old, and it's already beyond repair...time to get a new one, I suppose.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 117-118

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brownie Buttons

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. The recipe was for these mini-sized brownie buttons - a perfect bite-sized dessert. Optionally added is orange zest (something I skipped on, wanting to savor the chocolate) and a simple icing (something I skipped on, being lazy).

These follow closely to a basic brownie recipe, except when they are baked, teaspoon-fulls are scooped into mini-sized muffin tins. These allow them to rise slightly to gain a short mini-muffin shape, yet keep their brownie flavor in full. You could expand the recipe easily from 18 of the buttons to an even dozen, and make your buttons a bit more texturally exciting if you wanted to add some chocolate chips or nuts - something I think I'll do next time, finding this recipe a little bit on the plain side.

I also need to take a bit more care from now on when heating the butter/chocolate mixture. After the chocolate and butter had melted, I continued heating it, wanting all the brown sugar granules to dissolve into solution. I think I ended up actually separating my chocolate mixture with too much heat, because when I pulled these out of the oven there was oil bubbling on the tops. After cooling down, everything looked normal, but the taste was just slightly off. Did anyone else have problems with their brown sugar melting?

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 106-107

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

I've been a bad, bad, Tuesdays with Dorie blogger. My month-long hiatus is finally up, but I left without any explanation. After going months without missing a single recipe, I suddenly went a full 4 weeks without updating! I just got so lost in a busy schedule that I didn't even think about it. But on the plus side, I've been very busy in a great way - took a roadtrip to San Francisco, got certified to SCUBA dive, had a lot of great nights with friends, a lot of weddings to go to.... Anyways, this very delayed Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu.

Dorie's actual recipe simply calls it Vanilla Ice Cream, but the flavor distinctly held onto the flavor of eggs to me, so I threw custard in there as well. It's a great ice cream, perfect for a vanilla lover like me! Throwing gobs of chocolate or strawberries, or any other sort of flavor into a simple dish like this is a good way to ruin it quickly.

I wasn't in my own kitchen to make this, so I didn't have my handy stand mixer ice cream attachment, so I had to just stick it in the freezer and stir it every couple hours until it began to get hard. This lent to larger ice crystal formation, so the mouth-feel of the ice cream isn't as soft as it could be, but the flavor is all packed in there nicely.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan pp. 428-429

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Lisa of Surviving Oz. It's a moist and dense brownie, with walnut pieces, chocolate chips, and a bit of coffee. It's fast to put together (all done in one bowl), and quick to bake up. Including preparation time, these brownies are out of the oven within an hour.

These brownies use very little flour (only 1/2 of a cup for the whole batch), a secret that Katherine Hepburn supposedly told to her friends. This makes the batch a bit thinner than usual, but guarantees they stay moist inside.

I added quite a bit more salt than the recipe called for, and was happy with the result. Ever since the Tuesdays with Dorie group baked World Peace Cookies, I've been wanting to add extra salt to something particularly chocolaty - and this was a perfect time to do so. I feel it adds more depth to the brownies, and enhances the flavors better. The coworkers were happy with this batch, and couldn't quite put their finger on what made them so good. I'm convinced it's the salt.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 96-97

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

Posted a week late...again. Last week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Andrea of Andrea In The Kitchen. Not being a fan of pineapple, I thought this dessert might not be my type, but it all turned out fine with the mixture of white chocolate, coconut, and almond.

This was a bit too sweet for my tastes on the whole, though. All that icing has a lot of sugar packed into it, not to mention what goes into the meringues. However, I really did like how the overall presentation ended up, with the meringue cutting (not breaking) nicely. The layers are nice, and the pineapple gives it good coloring.

I keep having a bit of trouble whenever I make a white chocolate icing in this manner. This is the second time I've over-beat it (though this time wasn't nearly as bad), and end up with something that curdles with some of the liquid escaping. I'm sure a few more tries and I'll have it down, but I need to remind myself not to take my eyes of the stand mixer when it's going.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp 293-295.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

This tart, or pudding depending on who you ask, is made using a sweet shortcrust pastry tart shell, topping it traditionally with jam, and covering it with frangipane - similar to an almond pastry cream. I decided to move away from the fruity jam (I had just made a pineapple cake, and felt like something a little more chocolatey) and simply layered the bottom with some melted chocolate.


Sweet shortcrust pastry:
225 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
110 grams butter, very cold or frozen, cut into medium pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to bring together. Add the butter chunks and pulse until all the large pieces have been broken up, and you have remaining a mixture of small pieces of butter with some the size of a split pea. Turn the processor on, and add the egg yolks, followed by almond extract, and 1 tablespoon of water. Add half-teaspoons of the remaining water until the dough begins to come together, forming a slightly sticky dough. Wrap in cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

125 grams butter, room temperature
125 grams icing sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
125 grams finely ground almonds
30 grams flour

Cream together the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl to bring everything together. Add the almond extract, and continue to stir. At this point, the mixture will look curdled. Mix almonds with flour and add in one portion to the stand mixer, then mix on low speed until combined.

Remove tart dough from the refrigerator and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Butter a tart pan and press the tart dough into place, saving any leftover dough for cracks that may form. Freeze the tart for 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400ºF and melt 3.5 ounces of high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I use Valrhona). Pour this chocolate into the frozen tart dough and spread with a spatula until it evenly coats the bottom. Place in the freezer for an additional 2 minutes to let it set in place. Remove from freezer and top with frangipane, spreading the top until even. Bake 30 minutes, or until fluffy, golden brown, and springy to the touch. Allow to cool 15 minutes before slicing, or enjoy at room temperature if you want to wait longer.

The dessert is that easy to put together, but immensily enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of almonds. It's not overly sweet like many desserts, and I feel that the chocolate pairs nicely with the almond, though you could easily make this a more spring- or summer-themed dessert by using some strawberry preserves or some other tasty jam. When you use the jam, you can use anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1 cup of it, depending on how thick you want that layer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honey-Peach Ice Cream

Last week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Tommi of Brown Interior. I actually made this recipe with plenty of time to post, but just haven't gotten around to doing it - been too busy with other things. Anyways, this light ice cream is delicious, made with peach puree, as well as small chunks of peach to give it texture.

I kept it fairly simple when it came to serve - a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of nutmeg gave it a little added flavor, as well as a nice presentation.

This post is going to be pretty short, and I'm going to be late posting up this current week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Again, just too busy, but that's a good thing, right? I'd rather have it this way than not having anything to do.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 437

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mahi-Mahi Potstickers

This month's Daring Cooks challenge was to make Chinese dumplings or potstickers. The challenge is hosted by Jen from use real butter. The choice of filling and method of cooking were up to the individual cook (steaming makes dumplings, frying makes potstickers). Having seen recipes including shrimp and other fish before, I decided to make my potstickers using leftover Mahi-Mahi fillets tossed in with some other assorted ingredients.

As important as the filling is the dough itself. It's a simple flour and water dough, allowed to rest and rolled thin. After loading some filling into the dough, the dumplings are pinched and pleated together to seal them for baking.

Potsticker Dough:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water, divided, plus more as needed

Pour the flour into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup warm water. Using your hands, mix together the water and flour. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water a teaspoon at a time, continuing to mix and add until there are no longer any dry patches or cracks in the dough, and it's slightly sticky to the touch. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly to form a dome, then allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Mahi-Mahi filling:
1 lb. Mahi-Mahi, about 3 medium fillets
3 green onion stalks
2 medium carrots
4 oz. Gruyère cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the mahi-mahi fillets thinly, then mince it until fine. Slice the onion stalks very finely, make sure there aren't any large pieces remaining. Using a vegetable peeler, first peel the outside off of the carrots, and then continue peeling so you get long, thin strips of carrots. Gather these strips together and chop finely. Shred the cheese with the fine side of a shredder, then run your knife through it to break up any additional pieces. Combine the ingredients and add lemon, egg, then salt and pepper to taste. Take a teaspoon of this and fry on the stove-top, then taste to see if it needs additional seasoning.

Cut the rested dough into 1-inch ribbons, then cut each ribbon into 3/4-inch slices. Press each slice down, then roll thin (about 1/16th of an inch).

Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each dumpling.

Press and seal the center portion, wedging the filling in the middle.

Begin to pleat the sides of the dough to form a seal.

Continue pleating until you reach the end.

Repeat with the other side. In a large skillet, add 3 tablespoons oil (something with a high smoke point) and arrange potstickers closely together, as many as you can fit on the bottom of the pan.

Place over high heat and fry the potstickers for about 3 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Boil until all the water has evaporated, then reduce heat to medium-low and uncover. Continue cooking an additional 2-3 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve fried-side up, with sauce of your choice on the side.

I couldn't find any soy sauce handy at the house (I was cooking at my brother's place without him there, and didn't want to venture off to the grocery) so I just had some fish cocktail sauce on the side. The potstickers can be filled with any ingredients of your liking, and many other cooks at the Daring Kitchen have made these, so make sure you check them out. You're sure to find a filling to your liking.