Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins

These are the perfect brunch food. Don't be discouraged by the unreasonably long name - these can be whipped up in under half an hour. They really do seem like little bites of fluffy pancake, but don't require all the fuss with pouring and flipping. That fuss can be fun (and delicious) sometimes, but other times it just takes too much energy for a weekend morning!
I made these to bring over to a friend's house for brunch. They are so easy to make and are perfect alongside some sort of savory dish (we had them with a frittata and a salad). Since they aren't the texture of most muffins, but instead are a bit chewy, they aren't so great on their own. Serve them dunked in maple syrup!
Or just pour it on! You can really taste the syrup in these, so please use the real stuff, not the "breakfast syrup" made from corn syrup. You can thank me later ;) My other word of advice is not to use liners in the mini muffins tins - the muffins will stick and make eating them a little trickier.
Enjoy! <3
Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins
(from Bakerella)

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk.
In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips. Reserve a few chips to sprinkle on the tops.
Bake for 8-9 minutes.
Let cool slightly and remove from the pan. You may need to use a toothpick around the edges to separate the pancake muffins from the pan.
Serve with maple syrup for dipping (or pouring!)
-Makes 24 mini pancake muffins.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TWD: Pecan Sticky Buns

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie's first Third Tuesday! Usually we do two recipes per month, but since May has three Tuesdays, we decided to make this a "rewind" week, where we can make whatever we want! I made these a couple of weeks ago, and ate them throughout the week (hey, celebrating my birthday, right?).
These are a buttery, sugary blob. But they're so delicious, they're worth it.
The flour on top of the yeast mixture cracked... yay!
This dough ROSE. The second rise was done in the fridge.
Lining the pan with butter, sugar, and pecans. I only made half the recipe, and froze the other half of the dough. We couldn't have two whole pans of these lying around!
The logs cut into pieces.
Risen and into the oven!
Oh my goodness, so delicious.
Make these! Please! The recipe can be found on the blogs of the two hosts from when the group made the recipe, Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday. Enjoy! <3

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daring Bakers: Challah!

Sophia's Sweets is back to Daring Bakers!! I've been meaning to go back for a while, and every month I check the forums to see what everyone is making. Lately the recipes have just looked a bit too time-consuming, especially since the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes have been kind of intense! When I saw that this month's was challah, I knew I couldn't miss out.
"May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah! Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads."
I've made challah twice before, with some success. Both times it was very yummy right out of the oven and was okay the next day, but it was never anything that I thought would be worth the extra time to make, especially since the market on our corner sells great challah!
Their challah is very sweet, and I knew if I was going to make it myself, I wanted the sort of bread I could eat for breakfast every day without feeling like I just had dessert about twelve hours too early. I was looking for a recipe and couldn't find one I liked, when Erica from Cannella Vita emailed me wanting to share baking tips and recipes. She is another 15-year-old food blogger - go check out her blog, it's awesome! She is a member of Daring Bakers as well and hasn't done it in a while either, so we decided to do it together. She suggested this Apple Honey Challah, and it looked delicious!
It was the perfect recipe to ease myself back in to the group. It was a pretty simple dough, not a lot of fuss. I changed the recipe slightly by making half of the flour whole wheat, and I only had two eggs, so I used a little extra oil in the place of the third yolk and brushed the top with milk instead of eggwash.
It was the perfect recipe for a chilly Tuesday night. I did have some trouble with the braiding - I used this tutorial from The Challah Blog, but was not able to roll the strips out long enough to braid them that much. Oh well, I think it's pretty, and it sure is delicious! Enjoy! <3

Apple and Honey Challah
(slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard 1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
1/3 cup (79 ml) plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup (79 ml) neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose (530 grams) or bread flour (578 grams), plus more for your work surface
2 cups whole wheat flour

Apple filling
2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored and in 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks
Squeeze of lemon juice, to keep them from browning

Egg wash
1 large egg
Coarse or pearl sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Make your dough: Whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water and let stand until foamy, a few minutes.
With a stand mixer: In the bowl of a stand mixture, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (1/3 cup), eggs and yolk. Switch to dough hook and add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt. Use dough hook on a moderate speed until it pulls all of the flour and wet ingredients together into a craggy mass. Lower the speed and let the dough hook knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.
By hand: In a large bowl, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (1/3 cup), eggs and yolk. Add flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until you get a craggy mass of uneven dough. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead it into a smooth, elastic dough, about 5 to 8 minutes. Try to use as little flour as necessary when kneading the dough; you don’t want to toughen the bread. A bench scraper can make it really easy to remove it from the counter if it gets stuck in a spot.
Both methods: Transfer dough to large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.
Add apples to dough: Turn dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it down into a flat, oblong shape. The shape does not matter so however it goes, it goes. Spread 2/3 of apple chunks over 1/2 of the flattened dough. Fold the other half over the apple chunks and press the dough down around them, flattening the now lumpy dough. Spread the remaining 1/3 apple chunks over half the folded dough. Fold the other half over the apples, pressing the dough down again. Your dough packet will likely be square-ish. Fold the corners under with the sides of your hands and form the dough into a round. Upend your empty bowl over and set it aside for another 30 minutes.
Weave your bread: Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll and stretch each one as carefully as you can into a rope — don’t worry about getting it too long or thin, just 12 inches or so should do. If any apple chunks fall out as you form the ropes or at any other time in the forming of the loaf or risings, just poke them back in with your finger.
Arrange two strands in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a plus sign. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now you’ve got an 8-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move them over the leg to their right, i.e. jumping it. Take those legs that were on the right and again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you had extra length to your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. For me, this was enough. Just as you had with the folded packet of apple dough above, tuck the corners/odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-covered heavy baking sheet or baker’s peel (if you’ll be using a bread stone). Beat egg until smooth and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you’re using it. Bake in middle of oven for 40 to 45 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed; if yours (like mine, except I didn’t catch it in time) starts getting too dark too quickly, cover it with foil for the remainder of the baking time. The very best way to check for doneness in any bread but especially on like this where the wetness of the apples can slow down the baking time a bit, is with an instant read thermometer — the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.
Cool loaf on a rack before serving.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moist Vanilla Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Frosting

These are perfect cupcakes for celebrating a birthday. Mine is actually this weekend, and while I will be away for the weekend, I would love to celebrate with a batch of these when I get back. These were made by me and my friend for my mom's friend. He was having a birthday barbeque, and I (of course) offered to bring dessert. We have this sort of ongoing joke about making everything from scratch (I made this birthday cake for his wife a few months ago), so we made the cupcakes super colorful. I claimed that I made every sprinkle from scratch, and he pretended to believe me. As always. :)
This vanilla cake is moist with a light vanilla flavor. It's perfect for any sort of yellow cake you want - whether it's in a layer cake piled high with swirls of frosting, or in a simple bite-sized dessert like this. The frosting is simple but always delicious. Enjoy! <3

Moist Vanilla Cupcakes
(adapted from Allrecipes)

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 24 cupcake cups, or line with paper wrappers. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool slightly minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.
-makes 24 cupcakes

Rich Chocolate Frosting
(from Baking Bites)

1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt together butter and chocolate in a medium-sized, microwave safe bowl. Work in 30 second intervals, stopping to stir frequently, and continuing until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly (about 3-5 minutes).
Add in confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nutella Macarons

As a little girl, my mom and I always made treats for my birthday. These usually consisted either of a simple family recipe from Brazil or cupcakes from a box mix. They were always yummy and a fun way of celebrating my birthday, but I remember thinking that it would be so cool to make something like cupcakes from scratch. Later on, when I started baking on my own, I learned that my mom can do quite a bit from scratch - with a recipe in front of her, she makes great brownies and cupcakes with me. But she doesn't enjoy it as much as cooking. She says with cooking you can taste as you go along, but with baking you put something in the oven and just hope for the best.
This is true, but it's one of the things I like so much about baking. With a recipe like macarons, you do everything you can to make them the right way, and then stick them in the oven and hope they work out. Luckily, no matter what they look like when they come out, macarons are always delicious! Some cookies in this batch came out without the trademark "feet", but some in the batch actually looked okay when I took them out of the oven. The macarons were delicious no matter what they looked like, but they stuck to the paper like glue - I literally had to scrape them off with a knife! This meant that I lost about half of the them to crumbling. Some were underbaked as well, or over. Okay, I'm not making you want to make these, am I?
Trust me, try them. But be smart about it. Bake them for exactly the amount of time the recipe states. DON'T use wax paper instead of parchment!! And above all, trust that no matter what, they will be delicious. A nutella-filled, chocolatey mess perhaps, but delicious. Enjoy! <3

Nutella Macarons
(slightly adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures)

110 grams almond meal
200 grams minus 2 Tbs powdered sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
100 grams egg whites (3-3 1/2 large eggs), aged in the fridge for 3-5 days (I only left them overnight)
50 gm granulated sugar
about 1/2 cup nutella

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mats.
If you’re using almond meal: run through a sifter. Place in food processor.
Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder to food processor and pulse a few times until everything is incorporated. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites for a few minutes until they are foamy. Place mixer on low and slowly add the granulated sugar to the foamy egg whites. Continue beating until egg whites have stiff peaks.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites and fold them in with a spatula. Fit a large round tip (I used one a zip-top bag)onto a piping bag and place a clip above it so batter won’t flow out while you fill the bag. Place the bag on a tall glass to hold it up and fill it with the batter. Twist the top shut and remove the clip. Pipe small circles onto the prepared baking sheets.
Let batter rest for around 45 minutes, until it feels dry (and not sticky) to the touch. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 300°F.
Bake for 12 minutes. Check to see if macarons are done by grabbing the top of one macaron and trying to shake it. They are done when the top barely slides against the skirt. If they are not done, extend baking time by two minutes intervals, checking after each extension. Remove from oven and let cool completely before sandwiching with nutella.
-makes about 20 small sandwich cookies

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Thank you David Lebovitz. No, I'm serious. He has some of the most amazing ice cream recipes in the world (in my opinion), so I simply had to have his book. I wrote about two of them a few years ago, but his is probably the best one I've tried so far. I needed something to pair with nutella macarons (recipe coming soon!), and my mom suggested cinnamon. I ran to his book and realized the number of egg yolks would work perfectly with the macaron recipe. We put some milk to steep with cinnamon sticks right away!
We actually left it overnight instead of for just an hour, so the flavor was pretty strong, but not overly so. This is a pretty simple recipe as far as ice cream goes - you do have to make a custard and cook it for a while, but it doesn't take too long. It was fairly quick, and I actually doubled it to serve nine people, but we ended up eating pretty much exactly one batch. This broke my ice cream machine!! Luckily it was really close to being ready, but that batch was a little icier. I guess the machine was overworked - it's pretty old, and was actually passed down from a friend. Any recommendations? Brand or model you have and like? Let me know!
This is so sweet and creamy and delicious, and you should go make it right about... now! Enjoy! <3
Cinnamon Ice Cream
(from Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Ten 3″ cinnamon sticks, broken up
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon sticks and 1 cup of the cream on a medium saucepan. Once warm, cover and remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Rewarm the cinnamon infused milk mixture. Remove the cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon and discard them. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as your stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Meringue Trifle

a.k.a. the easiest dessert you will ever make. And one of the most delicious.
In my house, I always somehow get volunteered to make dessert for any sort of party or dinner. Okay, maybe not "get volunteered" - I usually demand dessert rights ;) Anyway, sometimes I forget about the rest of my life besides baking and don't have time to make something elaborate. This "recipe" is really a simple mixture of whipped cream, strawberries, and store-bought meringues. Of course you can make them yourself to add another level of deliciousness, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of a quick recipe.
My mom taught me how to make this yummy mess. She grew up eating it, and it was one of those things that when I tasted it, it felt like I had tasted it lots of times before. I guess my mom made it for me before I started becoming the dessert maker in our house? Or maybe it's just natural comfort food. Either way, this is super easy and quick, and so delicious. Serve it in big scoops in bowls!
*I'm not sure this would technically be called a trifle, but I thought it sounded good so there you go! Enjoy <3
Strawberry Meringue Trifle
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 large package meringue stars (you know, the kind that come in the plastic tub), broken in to large pieces
1 1/2 pints strawberries, chopped

Beat heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Beat in the confectioner's sugar.
Layer the cookies, whipped cream, and strawberries in a large dish (a deep 11x7" is what I used, but any large dish should work). Chill until serving. Yum!
These measurements are all really guesses. Feel free to adjust it as you like. Adding something like chocolate shavings or nutella would be delicious! Be right back, I have to go buy some cream....
No TWD here today... things have been crazy these past 2 weeks!! I will hopefully post the sticky buns next week when we have a rewind week. <3

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cheesy Creole Tomato Pie

On our recent trip to New Orleans, my parents and I ate at some of the best restaurants we've ever been to. Sure, we went to the classic tourist places: Commander's Palace, Brennan's, and Cafe du Monde (I MUST make beignets soon. Like, you have no idea - if I learn how to make them, it may be a health hazard). But Easter was my dad's birthday, and my mom and I had decided to make a reservation before we even went. That reservation just so happened to be at Emeril's flagship restaurant. I was so excited to have dinner there, and it did not disappoint. They don't have a vegetarian entree, so when I told them I didn't eat meat, they just made up a dish for me. The meal was so delicious, on our last night in New Orleans we decided to go to NOLA, one of Emeril's other restaurants there. We eat a lot of good food living in New York City, but the flavors were something I had never tasted before.
I decided I had to have one of the cookbooks. When we asked our waiter which one they sold there, he came out with a stack of about 20 books. Let's just say we spent quite a while sitting at our little table, trying to decide which one to bring home. Well, we finally decided on one that had plenty of vegetarian options, and that had things I could bake! This week, my mom and I decided to try out some recipes.
We have tried several (five, actually - not one of which hasn't been delicious!), but this was the only one that could fall in to a "baked goods" section. This, my friends, is a cheesy creole tomato pie. A savory crust piled high with layers of cheese, tomatoes, onions, herbs, and deliciousness. It was super rich; do not serve this as a main dish with nothing else! We had it with a few different vegetables, and it was great. We did adapt it to make it gluten-free (really slight adjustments), but feel free to use regular bread crumbs and flour and leave out the xanthan gum if you don't need it gluten-free, and found that the crust could definitely use less salt. If we've noticed one thing from cooking Emeril's food, it's that you need to watch the salt! We also were not able to roll out the crust, it was too hard - so we patted it into the pan. Aaaaand, to give credit where it's due, I actually had no part in making the crust - my mom did it before I got home. Good job mommy!
We will definitely be making this pie again soon, and while it shouldn't be an everyday thing (take a look at the ingredients list and try to guess the amount of fat in this - I'm too scared to even try), it is worth the time it takes to make. Enjoy! <3

Cheesy Creole Tomato Pie
(slightly adapted from Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse)

1 recipe Savory Pie Crust dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, separated
2 pounds ripe Creole tomatoes or other regional variety, such as heirlooms or beefsteak
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup unseasoned dry gluten-free breadcrumbs
3/4 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onions
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
2 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface to fit a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Fit the dough into the pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or up to a day.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator and line it with aluminum foil. Fill the shell with ceramic pie weights or dried beans, and bake for 13 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove the foil and weights, return the shell to the oven, and bake for 3 minutes.
Remove the pie crust from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the entire surface of the warm pie crust with the egg white (you will probably not use all the white). Then allow the pie shell to cool and the white to set. It will look glazed.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, discarding the stem and root ends. Season the tomatoes with the salt and pepper.
Combine the mayonnaise with the egg yolk in a small bowl, and stir until smooth.
Sprinkle one third of the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes over the breadcrumbs in a circular pattern, and top with half of the sliced onions. Drizzle in half of the mayonnaise mixture, and top with half of the herbs, half of the Fontina, half of the mozzarella, and half of the remaining breadcrumbs. Make a second layer with the remaining tomato slices, onions, mayonnaise mixture, Fontina, mozzarella, and breadcrumbs. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
Bake the pie in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until it is bubbly hot and golden brown. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 5 hours before serving. This pie is at its best at room temperature.
6 to 8 servings

Savory Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the machine is running, gradually drizzle in the water, processing until the dough comes together to form a ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape it into a flat disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (The dough can be frozen for up to a month; thaw in the refrigerator before using.)
One 9- or 10-inch pie shell

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD: Hungarian Shortbread

Thanks to Lynette of 1smallkitchen and Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler for hosting this week's Tuesdays with Dorie!
This is quite an interesting recipe. The word "shortbread" makes me think of the think, crumbly, buttery, sweet cookies from Christmastime (typing that just made me wish it was Christmas...), but this is nothing like that. The dough is simple enough, and is grated (grated???) into a pan, with a layer of homemade rhubarb jam in between. The jam was actually surprisingly simple to make, but I don't think the rhubarb we bought was the greatest - kind of tasteless.
This recipe has a LOT of butter in it, but somehow doesn't taste overly buttery. I cut down the sugar to 1 1/2 cups based on previous reviews, but it wasn't lacking sweetness. This really did not turn out like the shortbread I'm used to, but like a cake with a little sweet layer in the middle. The bottom line is, DELICIOUS. I didn't even top this with the extra powdered sugar, because it just didn't need it.
Please try this one out! The recipe can be found on the hosts' blogs. Enjoy! <3