Friday, August 31, 2012

August Give-Away Winner

Congratulations to Annmarie Pipa whose name was chosen for the August Apron!  Please email your address so I can send this apron out to you asap. 

Thanks to all of you who commented this month--I love hearing from you and believe it or not, tomorrow, I WILL have September's apron up on the blog!  It's also my husband's birthday and I'm putting together a surprise dinner and dessert for the occasion.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cookies

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just need Chocolate!  I know I do and this is it:-D  So, I made up this cookie with the inspiration of the Hazelnut Crunch from the Chocolate Cake recipe I made a week ago from September's Bon Apetit magazine.  It was just so darn addictive and I knew putting it in a cookie would be satisfying.

I know it's also a week, where kids are heading back to school or doing their last minute school supply shopping, so this cookie is for all the Mom's who deserve the recognition for making this happen.

Hazelnuts remind me of autumn; don't know why, but they're the "nut" I choose most often whenever the weather starts to get cooler.  We're lucky that they're grown here in the Pacific Northwest and in actuality we have them all year round.  My mother called them filberts and besides always being in the "nut" bowl, I remember baking with them often.  Back then, we would roast them in the oven, then, place them in a cotton dish towel and rub all the skins off before baking with them.  The cultivars that grow here have a very thin skin and rubbing is obsolete.  Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat, besides being a good source for thiamine and vitamin B6.  These nuts are made into liqueur, Frangelico and products like Nutella, which is what I used in the "crunch."

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cookies

Hazelnut Crunch: (recipe from Bon Apetit)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts (measure after chopping)
3 cups rice cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a double boiler.

Remove bowl from heat and add the Nutella and chopped hazelnuts.  Don't be concerned if the mixture seizes, it will "relax" once you add in the rice cereal.
Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate bits
1/2 of the Hazelnut Crunch

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together thoroughly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the vanilla and cocoa and mix again.  

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low, scrape down the sides, then, add the mini chocolate bits and Hazelnut Crunch.  Mix on low again to incorporate.
Scoop cookie dough onto the parchment-lined sheet and flatten the tops, slightly with your fingers.
Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool on the tray 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.  The recipe makes 26 three-inch cookies.
These would be perfect to have when the kids arrive home from school too.  I know I always looked forward to that first day with my girls; we could sit down, enjoy some milk and cookies ( M & C's) and I got to hear all about their day--new friends, classes, and how much homework they already had. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tropical Storm Poundcake with Banana Ice Cream

I couldn't help but think about Isaac bearing down on the islands in the Caribbean and heading for Florida when I came up with this cake.  I have friends in those areas, as well as, in Louisiana (which may get it mid-week) and thought about the "Hurricane Parties" I've heard so much about.

One of my favorite artists, Mary Chapin Carpenter, sings about them in her song, "Down at the Twist & Shout."  A hurricane party is a social event held by people in the coastal United States who stubbornly choose not to evacuate.   However, if you saw the movie, "Nights in Rodanthe," with Richard Gere and Diana Lane, the party was held afterwards to celebrate surviving the hurricane!  More my choice.

If you love coconut, as I do, thanks to my mother's memories living on Hawaii, then this cake is for you.  I've added cream of coconut, which is a product from what remains after chilling coconut milk and skimming off the thick layer that is left on top.  Think of it as what sweetened condensed milk is to regular milk!  On top of that, I added another cup of sweetened shredded coconut, just to give some texture.

The Banana Ice Cream is actually a recipe that has been sweeping the internet and just in case you haven't heard about it, I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to the cake.  It's basically one ingredient--bananas, that you have cut into 1 1/2" pieces and frozen for at least 2 hours.  Place them in the food processor and pulse until a creamy, frozen dessert develops.

Tropical Storm Poundcake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup Cream of Coconut
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with a non-stick baking spray and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the Cream of Coconut and vanilla and mix again.
Add the flour and sweetened coconut and beat to combine.  
Spoon batter into the Bundt cake pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown on top and  a wooden skewer, poked in the middle, comes out cleanly.
Before you turn the oven off, toast some large coconut flakes.
 Let cake set for 10 minutes before you invert it onto the serving plate.
I must have missed a spot with the baking spray and had a little bit of the cake stick--Glaze to the rescue!
Let cool about 30 minutes, then pour on the glaze and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 T light Karo syrup
1 T Cream of Coconut
1 - 2 T very hot water

To make the Banana "Ice Cream"
1. Slice bananas (I used 5) and place on a tray.  Set tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
2. Place the frozen bananas in the bowl of a food processor.
3. The bananas look like snow at first...
 4. ...but with a little more "power" it turns to a smooth, soft-serve ice cream.
5.  Spoon into a container and place in freezer until ready to serve.

A slice of the Tropical Storm Poundcake and a scoop of Banana "Ice Cream" and it's a perfect dessert when that storm passes!  As my Dad would say, "batten down the hatches" and stay safe. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dried Cherry~Hazelnut Scones...and a Review

As the weather is turning cooler and I've had to admit, autumn is indeed around the corner, my baking centers around the comfort foods of my past--scones.  My basic recipe has been handed down from my great-grandmother, whom I was told, after she baked scones, my great-grandfather would break them up in a bowl, pour fresh milk over them, and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Quite unusual, but what I surmised was that maybe her scones were a little dry or maybe she didn't add other ingredients to make him want to eat them slathered with homemade jam as I prefer them:-D

Two of my favorite "extras" are dried cherries and hazelnuts and I was anxious to make up a batch after I received my order from King Arthur Flour for a new flour they've added to their line--Self-rising.
I've used self-rising flour before and along with Bisquick, I can see the practically of not having to add leavening (and shortening for Bisquick) when making up a recipe.  Self-rising flour was invented by Henry Jones and patented in 1845.  A leavening agent (baking powder) and salt are evenly distributed into a high gluten flour that will give consistent rise in baked goods. The usual ratio is one teaspoon of baking powder and about 1/8 teaspoon of salt per one cup of flour. What I really wanted to test was how it baked because for me, that's what outweighs less steps and ingredients added.  Well, I'm very pleased with the results and this will be a welcome addition to my pantry!

Dried Cherry~Hazelnut Scones
4 cups King Arthur Self-Rising Flour
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 T granulated sugar
1/3 cup of Hazelnut Flour

12 T cold unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups half-&-half
1 large egg
1 cup dried cherries
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F-degrees (218C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour boiling water over the cherries to soften; after 15 minutes, drain thoroughly.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients.  Grate the cold butter on a box grater using the coarse side.
Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix.  The dough should have small pea-size pieces of butter throughout.
Add the dried cherries and mix just until combined.  Whisk the egg and half-& half together--you will not use all the liquid in the dough, make sure you have at least a couple of tablespoons for brushing on the tops.  While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the cream/egg mixture.  Add just enough until the dough comes together. 
Stop the machine and sprinkle a dough board, lightly with flour.  Turn the dough out onto the board and knead carefully to form a smooth disk.  
Roll the dough to approximately 3/4 to 1-inch thick.  You could cut the round disk into "pie-shaped" or as I chose, cut out 3 1/2-inch rounds.

The trick with getting scones (and biscuits) to rise to their fullest--don't Twist the cutter, but rather push down and pull up! Place scones on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the tops with the reserved cream/egg mixture and if desired, sprinkle the tops with the raw Tubinado Sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven about 15-17 minutes, until golden brown and risen.  I had mine with a spoonful of homemade Peach jam that I made on Monday.  The texture was soft and the scones were a great way to start the morning. Enjoy!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whole-grain Challah & Devil's Food Cake with Hazelnut Crunch

In a few weeks (September 16th), my hubby and I will celebrate 44 years of marriage:-)  Not bad for literally love at first sight!  He proposed on our second date and two weeks later we got married because he was going into the navy after being deferred while in college.  I never really got to be a navy wife like my mom--hubby was home in a month after discovering a broken bone in his arm had fused when he was a kid and he couldn't rotate his hand 180-degrees; something necessary for handling a rifle.  However, I've lived in more states than my mother and never regretted saying Yes!

The reason I bring up my anniversary is that I have bought myself something I've wanted for awhile--a grain mill for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  (I actually would rather have a kitchen gadget than jewerly!)
I can now grind my own flours, which is something I've wanted to do to add to the freshness of my baking.  Today, I ground 100% Organic Emmer Wheat, also known has farro  It's an ancient grain which has a distinctive flavor that is sweet, nutty, and a little gritty.  You might have had it in salads or soups, but it's best in flour form.

The grain mill attaches to the Kitchen Aid and you set the dial for how fine you want the flour; I set it on the lowest for the most fine grind.
Add the wheat to the top, turn on the machine and place a bowl or a canister underneath to catch the flour.
In less than 10 minutes, I had about 3 cups of flour for wonderful whole-grain baked goods.
Whole-grain Challah
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup Emmer Wheat flour
1 1/2 T dry yeast
2 T granulated sugar
2 T shortening
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 - 1 cup warm water

In a 1 cup measure, proof the yeast.  Sprinkle the dry yeast over 1/2 cup warm water (105F-degrees).  Add about 1 tsp. of sugar and whisk.  Set aside to proof, about 7 minutes.
In a stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment, measure the flours, sugar, salt, and shortening and mix to combine.  Add the proofed yeast and 3/4 to 1 cup of water.  Mix on Speed #2 until the dough comes together and the sides are "clean."
Transfer dough to a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball.
 Place the dough into a bowl, lightly sprayed with cooking spray, turn once.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, (I use a plastic "bucket"). 
When doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Turn dough out on a lightly floured board and divide into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 15"-18" rope.

Refer to this video on King Arthur flour's site for braiding
I'm still working on that 6 section braid:-)
I sprayed the dough with Bread Shine and sprinkled with Sesame Seeds.
Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise another 30 to 40 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat oven to 375F-degrees.
When doubled, baked for 40 to 45 minutes until a golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190F-degrees
The loaf had a wonderful crust with a soft middle.  It was perfect with a bowl of soup, which I also made today since it looked a little grey outside and very fall-like. 

I also baked a cake today...yes, I went a little nuts, but after getting my September bon appetit magazine in the mail a couple of days ago, this cake just begged to be baked. 
It's a Devil's Food Cake with an addictively wonderful hazelnut crunch.  

I'm thinking it's going to be a great dessert for a special anniversary; what do you think! Enjoy!!