Sunday, April 20, 2014

chocolate date cake


This cake is an odd one because the of the ingredients I thought but it's so incredible.  I love dates and love chocolate and there was plenty of both in this cake.  We cut into it the day after it was baked but I'm sure curious to try it while it's still warm which probably means I need to make this again soon.  The video with this post on Bon Appetempt is worth a watch!


Chocolate Date Cake 

2 cups water
2 teaspoons baking soda
14 oz. dates 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (or more if you'd like to reserve some to sprinkle on top of the finished cake)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or more if you'd like to reserve some to sprinkle on top of the finished cake)
1 or 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

Remove and discard the pits from the dates. Bring water to a boil with the baking soda. Add the dates to the water and remove from heat. Let them soak for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

Cream butter with sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. Add the salt and then the flour 1/2 cup at a time until just combined.

Drain the dates and add them to the mixture. Add the chocolate and pecans and mix until evenly distributed. Transfer the batter to the cake pan and using a rubber spatula, spread it to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes (When it's done, the edges will be set while the center will be slightly wobbly and pretty molten when you cut into it) (and pretty awesome). Finish by topping it off with a bit of chopped chocolate, pecans, and a dusting of the powdered sugar, if using. Most importantly though: serve warm! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

irish soda bread


We had this for St. Patrick's Day but so good anytime.  Curious about changing the add ins such as caraway seeds, pecans...

Irish Soda Bread
via Barefoot Contessa at Home
4 C flour
4 T sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt 
4 T butter, cold/ 1/2 cubed
1 3/4 C buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp orange zest
1 C currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

caramelized white chocolate


    Makes about 1 1/2 cups
    • 1pound white chocolate
    • Sea salt, to taste
    1. Heat oven to 266°F (130°C). If the white chocolate isn't already in small chunks or fĂȘves, chop it coarsely. Scatter it on a clean, dry rimmed baking sheet.
    2. Roast chocolate in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring and smearing the chocolate around with a spatula every 5 to 10 minutes (make sure the spatula is clean and dry when you start). Don't worry if it looks lumpy and crumbly at times -- it will smooth out as you stir.
    3. Continue cooking until the chocolate is as dark as you like (we like a rich toffee color). Stir in sea salt to taste.
    4. Pour into a jar to store -- it will harden as it cools, and may look mottled (this is normal for untempered chocolate). Store at room temperature, and warm it in a pot of barely simmering water when you're ready to use it. It should keep for several months.
    5. Alternately: If you keep roasting until it seizes into crumbles, don't worry. It is completely salvageable and, in fact, it may be a handier form to keep around for baking. That way, you can freely toss handfuls into cookies or scones, brownies or banana bread. You can also force it to become completely smooth with the aid of a blender or a fine mesh strainer if you wish -- just warm with a little cream or neutral oil in a double boiler, then either blend or strain.
    I used a copper pot on a low flame and followed directions as above but was completed in about 20 minutes.  We ate it by the spoonful

Monday, March 31, 2014

strawberry cream tart - baking with my girl {march}



This was one of the recipes she chose in January.  I thought it would be some time before we were able to make it.  But when I saw organic strawberries at the farmer's market for $6 a three pack I had to buy them.  Now they weren't the sweetest strawberries but I think they lent themselves perfectly for this treat.  

She totally impressed me with the perseverance needed to make this one, so many steps! but she was so into it.  And she couldn't believe the ingredients to make the pastry cream could turn into something so tasty. 

Strawberry Cream Tart
1 recipe Tart Dough (i used this one)
1/2 Cup strawberry jam
2 Cup Pastry Cream
2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced if large


Bake dough in an 8-inch tart pan as directed in link.  Fully bake the crust.  Cool to room temperature in the pan on a rack.


Pastry Cream:
1/4 C cornstarch
3/4 C sugar (divided)
2 C whole milk (divided)
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 T unsalted butter

Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl, still in 1/2 cup of milk  Blend yolks into cornstarch until completly smooth.

Prepare an ice bath.  Combine the remaining milk with remaining sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil and remove pan from heat.  Temper the eggs.  Return mixture to saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat, vigoursly stirring with a whisk until whisk thickens and leaves a trail in the pastry cream, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and butter.  Transfer to ice bath.  Stir occasinally until cream is cool, about 30 minutes.


Heat the jam in a small saucepan.

Spread the pastry cream in the tart shell.  Arrange strawberries over the surface of the cream, they should fill the entire tart shell so that no cream is visable.



Use a pastry brush to coat the strawberries very lightly with the warm jam.  Let glaze set for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

chai spice nut butter


For Christmas I received a jar of this chai spice nut butter.  It was consumed by me and the girls by scooping up a spoonful, sitting down at the table and slowly enjoying every bit.  And for the price of the jar it seemed like a fair way to eat it.  But when I discovered I could make it myself it was transformed into the best pb and (fig) jam sandwich any of us had eaten!  I didn't write amounts for spices, I just tasted while I went to find what seemed best.

chai spice nut butter
adapted Sprouted Kitchen

1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup peanuts
1 tsp almond oil
sea salt
cardomon 
cloves
ginger
cinnamon
vanilla
pepper
2 Tbl honey

Place the almonds in the food processor and process for 1 minute.  Add the oil, spices, salt, pepper and vanilla.  Continue to process for another 8-10 minutes, scraping down the sides. You will see a change in consistency from crumbs, to big clomps, to a large ball.  Then it will becomes smooths, if you would like it smoother add more oil.  Stir in the honey.  It will keep covered in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

breakfast bars


This was the scene at breakfast a few Sundays ago.  I'd (finally) checked out the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  I tried a few recipes.  These were a favorite of mine and my husband, he loved them...the girls had mixed reviews but that didn't stop me from making them again (double batch) today for the work week ahead.  ps these still might be the best thing I've ever had from her site

Breakfast Bars
via the Smitten Kitchen cookbook


Ingredients:
1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
1 1/4 quick rolled oats (used regular)
3 Tbsp barley or whole-wheat flour (used whole wheat)
1/3 cup wheat germ (used wheat bran)
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp freshly grated orange zest
1/4 tsp almond extract (upped it to almost 1 tsp)
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing the paper to go up the opposing sides. Do the same in the opposite direction. This parchment “sling” makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan in one piece.
Stir together the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt, and cinnamon in the bottom of a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond butter, olive oil, honey, orange zest, and almond extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture, and stir them together until the dry ingredients are evenly coated. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, pressing the mixture firmly onto the bottom, edges, and corners to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.
Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are brown around the edges – don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost under baked when you press into the center of the pan, but do not worry – they’ll set once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan placed on a cooling rack or in the fridge.
Once they’re cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill them further in the fridge for 30 minutes, which will fully set the “glue,” then cut them cold.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Food52 Chocolate Chip Cookie



I am on a endless quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  And have no problem testing out potential candidates.  Here is a intensely chocolate version.   I like the use of bittersweet and semi-sweet chips. I am usually anti nuts but was happy with the chopped pecans which I will toast next time.  I finished them off with a sprinkling of French sea salt.  And I baked them longer than noted otherwise they seemed raw, too raw...I'm all for eating the cookie dough straight from the bowl but when baked the extra time seemed necessary. 

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
via Food52


      2 1/8cups all-purpose flour




  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2cup regular semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup large bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2cup walnuts, finely chopped (I used pecans)
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1. Heat oven to 375.
    2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.                
    3. Mix together chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Set aside.                
    4. All medium speed unless otherwise noted: In a standing mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until well mixed and light. Scrape down the sides. Add one egg. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add second egg. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add vanilla. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape down the sides.                
    5. You're going to add the sifted flour mixture in 4 batches, stopping before adding the final batch. For the first 3 batches, mix at low speed just to combine, scraping down the sides between each addition. When you get to the final batch of flour, add the chocolate chip/nut mixture. They will get a bit crushed. That's okay. Mix until there's barely a trace of flour visible. Don't over-mix. Sometimes, it's better to be safe and do the final bit of mixing by hand.                
    6. Set up a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake one tray at a time or they will all cook at different rates. Make them spherical, not flat. The cookie size is up to you. I find the bigger they are, the better ratio you have between gooey interior and crisp exterior. 2 ounces is about right for that.                 
    7. Leave a few inches between the raw cookies. Place sheet pan in the oven. They cook very fast at this temp. I never set a timer. I just hang around the oven and drink tea. They're done when they're brown and crispy on the outer border and raw in the very middle (8 to 10 minutes). Remove sheet pan. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then, with a spatula, transfer cookies to a cookie rack to cool. If you're not going to eat them right away, they should be frozen.            
    8. If you're not baking them off right away, portion them out with an ice cream scoop, place them on a sheet pan, and freeze. Once firm, store them in a Ziploc bag. Works great to bake them off when they're frozen.