Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake is, for me, the precursor to the contemporary Molten Lava Chocolate Cake.  A Fudge-like cake with a chocolate sauce is one my mother used to make.  I think the original recipe that she used was from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, but since I have it written down on a recipe card, I can only assume she "tweaked" it a bit...which was so like her.

You would think it has a truckload of butter and eggs with rich chocolate, but in actuality, it has only one egg, four tablespoons of butter, and uses cocoa powder!  I call it--"the poor man's molten cake."

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Topping:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups hot water (you can also use hot coffee)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Butter a 8-inch square baking pan or ceramic dish (that's what I used)

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and whisk to combine.  In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients (milk, egg, & vanilla extract).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the melted butter and stir to combine.  Spoon batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.
Mix together the Topping ingredients and spoon on top of the cake batter.

Press the topping mixture slightly with an off-set spatula on top of the cake batter.  To make sure I don't spill anything--I place this in the oven, then pour the hot water over the mixture.

Carefully push the rack into the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  The cake should look set and the pudding is bubbling  I suggest (and I will do this next time) placing a parchment lined baking sheet under your dish in case any "pudding" bubbles over!
Spoon out the mixture into a dessert dish and yes, add a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.  Enjoy!

I had such a wonderful time in Birmingham, UK and will share some of the dishes I had in the next post.  I was so surprised how much the food had changed since I was there in 1993; fresh ingredients and some of the best bread I've ever had.

A pub we ate at in Coventry~Meriden had this plaque in the floor where the Centre of England is; very cool:-D

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Happy St. Valentine's Day!  Of all the stories that circulate about this day, the one I like is in connection to St. Valentine of Rome, who was imprisoned for marrying soldiers forbidden to marry and ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.  The story goes, while imprisoned, it is said he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius and before his execution, he signed a letter to her, "Your Valentine" as a farewell.  That's conviction!

Usually, I make sugar cookies and send them to my family, but this year, I have a trip to the UK in a few days for work and I've been knee deep die cutting, so a quick shortbread is what I came up with.  Tweaking my recipe for shortbread, this one proved to be quite good...and easy to make.

Valentine's Chocolate Chip Shortbread

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup Confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 bag Nestle's Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together thoroughly, about 5 minutes.  This makes sure the crystals of the brown sugar dissolve into the "fat" of the butter.  As you will notice, there is no leavening or eggs used in this recipe.

Add the vanilla extract and cream to combine.  Add the flour and with the mixer on low (so you won't shoot flour out!).  When almost mixed, add the mini chips and beat to combine.

To form the hearts...I used a heart cookie cutter (about a 3-inch size, but your choice).  Using about a "ping-pong" size of dough, press into the mold.
Life the cookie cutter and repeat to fill the sheet.  These won't spread, but make sure they aren't touching.  Bake in the preheated oven about 9 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a baking rack to cool completely.
They hold their heart shape and are crispy when cool.  You can leave them plain or get creative with a drizzle of chocolate over the hearts, write a message, or dust with confectioners' sugar.  I'll let you decide. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dark Chocolate Eclairs

The eclair originated in France in the 19th century where it's name translates to "flash as lightning"...which is how they're eaten! These choux dough is the same as profiteroles which is crisp on the outside and hollow on the inside, but piped in oblong shape.  The later makes it perfect to pipe in vanilla, chocolate, or coffee pastry cream or simple whipped cream.  This recipe, which is King Arthur Flour's "bake along" for February, has chocolate pastry cream which makes them even more decadent.  Needless to say, my hubby was very happy!

Dark Chocolate Eclairs

Choux Pastry:
1 cup water
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425F-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter melts and you have a rolling boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, all at once, stirring vigorously.  Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan, this should take less than a minute.

Transfer this mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer (alternately, you can use a hand mixer) and allow to cool about 5-10 minutes.  You should be able to hold your finger in this mixture comfortably!

With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time.  At first, it will look curdles, but when the last egg is added it should become smooth--beat at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.

Using a pastry bag, pipe the batter into 5" logs about 3/4" in diameter (or you can use a spoon or cookie scoop to drop small mounds of the batter, gently spreading them). A pastry bag is easier!

Bake the pastries for 15minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F-degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown.  Don't open the oven door while the pastries are baking.

Remove the pastries from the oven and make a small slit in the top of each, then return them to the oven for 5 more minutes to allow the steam to escape.  Place them on a rack to cool completely.  When they are cool enough to handle, slice each one in half, exposing the centers to air which will keep them from becoming soggy.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 T cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa (or King Arthur Triple Cocoa Blend)
1/3 cup chopped unsweetenedd baking chocolate
1 T unsalted butter

Bring the milk and cocoa to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat.  Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl.  Whisk in the egg yolks.  Pour a quarter of the hot milk/chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking until incorporated.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat.

Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick and just barely starts to bubble.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until melted and smooth.

Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing on the surface of the cream so a skim doesn't form.
Cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before filling the eclair shells.

Glaze:
2/3 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream to simmering, then pour over the chocolate/corn syrup, stirring until melted and smooth.

To assemble the eclairs. Pipe or spoon the cream into the choux pastry bottoms, then dip the tops into the glaze.


For best results, serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within several hours.

Store any leftover eclairs, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days...they don't freeze well!  However, like it's name translates...these will be eaten quickly.  Enjoy!
Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends--Spread love!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Traditional Boston Brown Bread


Boston Brown Bread is another one of those comfort foods that I make and even though I posted a recipe a few years ago, I've discovered a new 2-quart pudding & brown bread mold from King Arthur Flour that works so beautifully and a recipe that's easy to "throw" together.
When I made this a few years ago, I searched everywhere for coffee cans to make the bread that my mother would make.  I discovered the 1 quart coffee cans were now heavy cardboard with a plastic lid!  Short of going to a Costco and buying a large can of something to make it, I haven't made it since then.

Boston Brown Bread, James Beard wrote, "is as old as our country." It's high in fiber and low in calories and in addition to combining brown flours (rye or pumpernickel and wheat( with cornmeal, it's usually studded with raisins or dates.  I have always had it with raisins, but I know some people don't like them, so I think dried cranberries would be a nice substitute.  The bread is steamed, instead of baked and the reason for this is few early American homes had ovens. Cornmeal was added after Native Americans showed the early settlers how to grind it.  It's typically served with a pot of baked beans (how my mom made it), but it's just as delightful with butter or cream cheese for breakfast or with afternoon tea.

Boston Brown Bread (recipe from King Arthur Flour)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup pumpernickel flour
1 cup King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 cup raisins (optional, but really good)
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup molasses

Mix the corneal, flours, baking soda, salt and raisins in a large bowl.  Combine the buttermilk and molasses and stir them into the dry ingredients.

Place the mixture in a greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" bread pan or a 2-quart pudding mold.  Cover the bread pan loosely with foil and has been greased on the inside (to prevent sticking) and secure with a rubber band.  Or, grease the inside lid of the pudding mold.

Place the pan, or mold in a saucepan that is deep enough (I used my canning 8-quart pan) and use crinkled aluminum foil or a stainless steel vegetable steaming insert in the bottom so the pudding is directly on the bottom of the pan.  The pan should be deep enough so its lid can cover the pudding container.

Add boiling water to this pan, two-thirds of the way up the pan.  Cover, bring the water back to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Steam about 2 hours (and yes, mine took almost two hours), adding water if necessary to maintain the level.  The bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes our clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Remove the bread from the pan, and let it cool in the pudding pan (or bread loaf) for about 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan to cool a rack.

Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for a day or so. Refrigerate up to several days, or freeze for up to 3 months!  Ours didn't last that long:-D  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Banoffee Bars

The inspiration of this dessert is Banoffee Pie; an English dessert made with bananas, cream and toffee (made from boiled condensed milk--Dulce de leche) in either a pastry shell or crumbled biscuits and melted butter.  The pie is delicious and when I found that my hubby had again left two bananas on the "rack" I needed to come up with an idea to use them.

The pie was the inspiration of own and chef of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex, Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding in 1971.  The claim is that they came up with this recipe because of an unreliable American pie, "Blum's Coffee Toffee Pie." After trying several different fruits, they decided that banana was the winner!  I guess you can figure out the name for this pie comes from combining Banana and Toffee.

Fir the bars I created today, I actually used Heath's Bit of Brittle Toffee Bits, instead of Dulce de Leche.
In my mind if I wanted something I could pick up, I didn't want the bars too soft and the Toffee Bits did the trick.  Also, since the pie I had was with a crumbly cookie base, I wanted to simulate that taste sense too and used Biscoff Cookies that I smashed with a rolling pin.

I used half in the batter and the remaining I sprinkled on top, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Here's my recipe.

Banoffee Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 banana, mashed
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 bags Heath Bits of Brickle Toffee Bits
1 pkg Biscoff cookies (or you can use shortbread cookies) about 2 cups crushed

Preheat oven to 350F-dgrees.  Spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with baking spray.  In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, measure the brown sugar then while the mixer is running on low, add the melted butter.  Beat for about 5 minutes so the sugar dissolves.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the bananas and Vanilla extract and mix together.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low.  Add one bag of toffee bits and 1 cup of cookie pieces to the batter.  Remove from the stand and give the batter a stir with the rubber spatula to make sure everything is incorporated.  Spread into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle 1/2 bag of Toffee Bits and 1 cup Biscoff pieces on top.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Bars should pull away from side and when you test the center with a wooden skewer, it should come out clean.
I have a spring-form rectangle pan, so after the bars cool for about 7 to 10 minutes, I can run a spatula around the sides then, remove it.
Well, what can I say...these are delicious and if you have bananas "hanging" around, this would be a nice change to just making banana bread.  Enjoy!

I thought you all would get a kick out of one of our kitties, Clara.  She loves boxes and couldn't help but crawl into this Priority box yesterday.  Gotta love Cats<3 p="">

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tea Bread & February's Give-Away Apron

February is here and I heard that Punxsutawney Phil once again saw his shadow; but as a friend said, "how could he not with all those spotlights on him!"  Well, to get through the month I've decided to pull out the chocolate recipes to make any bad weather seem a little more tolerable.

I bet you're asking, why do I call this a tea bread and how is it different from either a quick bread or cake?  So let me try to explain...why I've call this a "tea bread" and not either of the two above.  Typically, a quick bread refers to a loaf, usually made with fruit (i.e., banana, zucchini, etc.) and the ingredients are stirred together so the protein fibers don't bread down.  It has less sugar than cake and, in fact, the ratio of flour to fat to sugar is different.  Quick breads also came about in the United States with the creation of leavening agents--baking powder or baking soda--which gives rise to the bread with heavier ingredients in it.  Cakes, on the other hand, use "air" to give them rise; beating butter and sugar together until fluffy traps fat crystals in the sugar helping with lift.  Also, a low-protein flour, like all-purpose flour is used so gluten doesn't form from beating the ingredients.  Now, a tea bread lies somewhere between the two.  Although very similar to a quick bread because of a lower amount of sugar, it does use the technique to cream the butter and sugar together to form "air" for lift.  And, then there's the definition in Webster's dictionary that says, "a tea bread is eaten with a cup of tea!" A dip in temperatures yesterday prompted a nice slice of tea bread with a hot cup of Irish Breakfast Tea.

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tea Bread

5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. cream chest
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Cake Flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder*
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 buttermilk
2/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

*I used Triple Blend Dutch-process Cocoa

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease a large loaf pan or use a 10-cup Bundt pan.  I also dusted some cocoa in the pan.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.   Beat in the granulated sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The mixture should be fluffy!

Stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Fold in the hazelnuts to evenly distribute in the batter, which is very thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Smother the surface.  Bake in the preheated oven until firm to touch and pulls away from the pan sides, about 1 hour 15 minutes.  You can also use a cake tester!  If the top looks like it's browning too much, loosely cover with aluminum foil.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool  for 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan onto a rack or serving dish and let cool completely.  I dusted the top of my loaf with confectioners' sugar (icing sugar).  Cut into thick slices to serve.


Although we had this in the evening after dinner, it was also perfect this morning.  Enjoy

This month's apron is appropriately in colors to celebrate Valentine's Day, but also to keep in mind to stay in the "pink" health wise.  Comment on the posts this month and you could be the lucky recipient wearing this apron to bake in your kitchen!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

January's Apron Winner...

Congratulations to Cheryl from Molly's Kitchen blog!  Please email me your address so I can send this beauty off to you:-D

Tomorrow, I will have February's apron up...promise.  Until then, Happy Ground Hog's Day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chocolate~Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

My mother would have called these "the kitchen sink," a term she used when you added a few more ingredients than an original recipe called for.  However, I was thinking it's February 1st and it's all about chocolate--what can I do make an interesting cookie!

Biscoff spread is one of my favorite things on toast or as sandwich with some homemade strawberry jam.  I got "hooked" on Biscoff cookies while flying back and forth to our daughter in Kentucky.  It's one of the in-flight snacks that Delta airlines is famous for.  When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I had to order Biscoff Cookies and Spread online, but here in the South, it's readily found on shelves of all the different grocery stores.

I added the oatmeal to convince myself these are healthy...even for breakfast!  Anybody else like a cookie in the morning?

Chocolate~Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature (or let sit in warm water for about 10 minutes!)
1 cup Biscoff spread
3 cups Old-fashioned Oatmeal
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 cup Bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and Biscoff spread together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  With the machine running, add the eggs, one at a time.  Beat until full incorporated and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides once more.

Add the oatmeal, flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low to combine.  Add the chocolate chips and either mix on low or use a spatula to stir in.

Use a 2T-size scoop to measure our the dough.  Space on the parchment lined baking sheets, giving the cookies about 2 inches to spread.
Bake in the preheated oven for 11 to 12 minutes.  This recipe makes over 4 dozen cookies, but trust me, they'll disappear quickly.  Enjoy!

Not to brag...but today, I saw a Robin in our yard (it's 65F-degrees) and I couldn't help but think that Spring isn't far away.

Spring Break

We are lucky enough to have our grands visiting this week; our grandson's Spring break and the granddaughters flew down to see ...