Sunday, March 30, 2014

Neopolitan Sandwich Cookies

I believe Neopolitan ice cream was invented for those of us you can't really choose between their favorites--Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry!
photo borrowed from the internet 
However, to be exact, in the late 19th century, these were the top three flavors of ice cream in the United States. This combination is thought to have come from Neopolitan immigrants, who brought with them their expertise in frozen desserts and molding three flavors together--Spumoni which was introduced in the 1870s, resembled the Italian flag.  Well, it was the inspiration of the cookies I made today to celebrate team work...among people and flavors!

Neopolitan Sandwich Cookies
Vanilla Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 extra-large egg
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

Chocolate Dough:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 cups + 1T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

Strawberry Filling:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
2 T strawberry jam
1/2 tsp. Strawberry Flavoring
1-2 tsp. heavy whipping cream

Mix up the Vanilla Dough first (then you won't have to wash the bowl). In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again on medium speed.  Scrape sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessarily.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on low to completely combine.

The dough needs to chill and I was given a tip from a friend who makes a lot of sugar cookies, except instead of putting the dough in a gallon-sized freezer bag and rolling it flat to the 1/4-inch, I use my pie crust bag with a zipper. 

This dough needs to chill and having it already in a "rolled-out" form will give you those perfect edges on your cookies; the dough softens from the heat of the rolling pin if you just store it in a ball.  However, more importantly, I don't need to add any extra flour to roll out the dough and trust me, the cookies are tender and not hard or overworked!

Make up the Chocolate Dough the same way and roll it in the freezer bag or pie crust bag to 1/4-inch, just like the Vanilla Dough.
Chill 30 to 40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Remove one of the bags and unzip (or cut) to open it up.  I used a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, then transferred the cut out rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes; edges and bottoms are just lightly golden.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.  Cookies need to cool completely before filling.  Recipe makes approximately 3 dozen sandwich cookies.

After the cookies are baked, mix up the filling in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment.  Spread about 1 1/2 tsp. of filling on the underside of the Vanilla cookie and top with a Chocolate one.
These are perfect little bite-sized cookies that will thrill your family--who doesn't like Vanilla~Chocolate~Strawberry? Enjoy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lemon~Lime Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cake is a very light, airy like it's cousin, Angel Food, but with the exception of using the whole egg (separated), oil, and baking powder.   I find that Chiffon, with these additions creates a very moist cake that unlike tradition cakes tend to dry out in a few days.  It was invented, in 1927 by Harry Baker, a California insurance agent who turned to catering for a living.  He kept the secret of this cake for 20 years until he sold it to General Mills.  It was GM that gave it the name--Chiffon.

The Chiffon cake tends to be lower in saturated fat with the substitution of oil, potentially making them healthier than the butter cakes we normally make.  They are usually served with fruit sauces or chocolate or fruit fillings.  I decided to take my Angel Food Loaf pan for a "spin" and substitute it for the usual tube pan used when I got a hankering to make this dessert that will be wonderful for Spring or your Easter table.

[I need to stress that this cake needs smooth sides to climb to its height, so using a decorative Bundt pan will not work.  You do not grease the pan (just like Angel Food) so the cake will tend to stick and not release from it. ]

Lemon~Lime Chiffon Cake
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup juice (I did 2 large lemons and 2 limes)
zest from all the citrus
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 cups of Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. fine Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Use a Tube pan, with a removable bottom or the Angel Food Loaf pan with a piece of parchment on the bottom like I did.

Separate eggs.  Place the whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment.  Place the yolks in a large bowl.
Use a balloon whisk to mix the yolks, then add the oil, juice, zest and water and whisk again.  Sift the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) onto a piece of parchment.  Use a rubber spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture.

While you are incorporating the dry ingredients into the yolks, turn on your stand mixer on low to beat the whites until frothy.  Add the 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tartar to the whites and turn the mixer slowly from medium to high to whip.  You want a stiff meringue, but not dry.
The test is to turn the bowl upside-down over your head and the whites should not fall out;-D I would suggest you test by using a spatula to scoop some up, then turn the spatula upside down!

Take some of the whites and gently stir them into the yolk mixture to "lighten" it up.  Next, spoon the whites into the yolks and FOLD (cut a spatula down the center and pull up and over while you keep turning the bowl).  
 You should have a very light batter.  Spoon this into your prepared pan.
Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until it's golden brown and a tester comes out cleanly.
Remove from oven and turn your pan upside down for 30-45 minutes--gravity and cooling will release the cake, plus both these pans have "feet" on them to allow for cooling.
I'm limited on serving platters, since most are still packed away for the next move, but I did have these galvanized tray that I thought was appropriate.  I made a glaze for the top to finish it off.
2 cups Confectioners' sugar
2 T juice (combination of lemon/lime)
1-2 T hot water
1 T Light Karo syrup

Mix glaze ingredients together and pour over cake.  Additionally, I made up a recipe of Lemon/Lime curd and serve a dollop with Strawberries. 

After 5 days of glorious Spring weather, today it's only going to be in the 40s--the roller coaster continues, but this beautifully, delicious cake makes me believe that Spring is around the corner for good.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Carolina Spoonbread & March's Give-Away Apron

Spoonbread is a moist, cornbread-based dish found in most parts of the Southern United States and although, it is referred to as bread, it more closely resembles the consistency of a pudding or souffle'.  It's thought to be Native American in origin; which makes sense with corn being an essential part of their diets.  The first recipe for spoonbread appeared in a cookbook by Sarah Rutlege in 1847 and it became popular in Southern cooking around the turn of the century as corn meal replaced yeast in many recipes.  An interesting fact is that Berea, Kentucky, honors this dish in their annual Spoonbread Festival held in September.

I was actually asked by a dear friend to share this recipe for spoonbread, which takes advantage of products grown and/or raised here in North Carolina--corn meal and eggs!
I used a white, fine ground corn meal, but yellow works just as well and I am lucky to have found a friend who provides me with fresh eggs!  At Kelly's Memorial Service, the friend who requested this recipe, made the most wonderful black-eyed peas and collards and I can just imagine a heaping spoonful of this Spoonbread with her recipes.  However, I made a pot of my Tuscan Bean & Kale Soup to accompany it because Friday was rainy with a slight chill and soup just sounded so good.

Carolina Spoonbread
4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups fine-ground white or yellow cornmeal

Place the milk in a 2 quart sauce pan and bring it to a low boil.  While pouring the cornmeal into the milk, whisk to combine to avoid lumps.

Cook one minute more, then remove from the heat.  Transfer the corn meal mush to the bowl of a stand mixer to cool--about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, with soften butter (about 1 T) grease a baking dish.  I used a dish that had a "bigger" baking surface so the spoonbread would bake faster, but actually you should a 6-cup souffle' dish to get the proper texture!
3T butter, melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 T granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt

Use the paddle attachment and start mixing the corn meal mush.  Then, stop the mixer and add the remaining ingredients.  Start on low, just until combined, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat the mixture for 15 minutes.

Use a rubber spatula to transfer the spoonbread to the buttered dish and smooth the top.  Bake for 60-75 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  (In the dish I used, it baked for 45 minutes.)

To serve, spoon a helping onto your plate.  I placed mine in a soup bowl, then, ladled the Tuscan Bean & Kale soup over it.  I also sprinkled the top with Parmesan Cheese--Enjoy!

 On Thursday, I finally picked up my sewing machine--it's like brand new.  The Apron for March proudly shows off the Green; I wanted fabrics that would not only give a feeling of Spring not to far behind, but in honor of St. Patrick's Day:-D

The rules on the same...comment on a post and your name is entered for the drawing at the end of the month.  May you have the Luck of the Irish!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wholesome Rolls with Kamut & February's Apron Winner

A few weeks ago, I commented on a friend's blog, Angie's Recipes - Taste of Home, who had baked with a grain called Kamut.  I actually had never heard of it, but decided to try and find some for baking. However, before I could even do that, Angie had her supplier send me some and I couldn't wait to jump in and create.

Khorasan (Kamut) wheat or Oriental wheat is a tetraploid wheat species; which means it has 4 sets of chromosomes deriving from two different species.  Kamut is an ancient grain type grown in modern-day Afghanistan and the northeast of Iran.
I used the "rolled" wheat for these rolls that reminded me of oatmeal.  Kamut has 20-40% more protein than hybrid wheat and it's easily digestible glutens is a good alternative.  It also is excellent for athletes and those who need stamina; especially those dealing with a lot of shoveling of snow!

Wholesome Kamut Rolls
1 1/2 cup Almond milk (you can also use regular or soy milk or water)
1 cup Kamut Rolled Wheat
5 1/2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg
2 T granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (scant 2 T)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. honey

In a 4-cup glass measure, mix the almond milk and Kamut Rolled Wheat together.  Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, stir and repeat for 30-45 seconds more.
Allow the mixture to set for 20 minutes to cool.  In a 1-cup glass measure, pour 1/2 cup very warm water (about 110F-degrees), then, add the yeast and honey and whisk to combine.  Allow this to set about 5-7 minutes until foamy.  This is the best way to make sure you have "active" yeast.

In a bowl on the stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the egg, sugar and salt together.  While the mixer is running, pour the Kamut/Almond milk mixture into it.  Next, add the proofed yeast and 2 cups of bread flour.  Mix, just until combine, then, change to a dough hook to finish the bread.  Add the remaining bread flour and oil and mix until the dough forms around the hook and the sides of the bowl are clean.  If dough is too stiff, add more water, about a tablespoon at a time.  It's better that the dough be slightly sticky than too dry.

Remove to a bread board to knead until smooth.
I use a plastic container for rising, but you could be it in a large oiled boil and cover with plastic wrap.
After 40-45 minutes, the dough had doubled in size and was ready to be shaped into rolls.  I divided my dough into 10 pieces, but if you want a "dinner-size" just use the amount of dough you want.

I sprayed a large baking sheet with baking spray and formed the rolls into a ball, then flattened the shape.  Spray with a commercial egg-white wash spray or whisk an egg white with 1 tsp. of water and brush the tops.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place plastic wrap over the rolls and allow another 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  When the rolls have doubled, place in the preheated oven for 18 minutes until golden brown.

The house smelled wonderful and I couldn't wait to split one for my lunch.  Wouldn't this be a great way to spend a snow day? Enjoy?

Now, for the winner of February's apron -- Phyllis from Around the House!  Phyllis please contact me with your address and I will get this cheerful apron sent to you, XOXO

I'm hoping I have my sewing machine back this week; I have the fabric chosen and it's a beauty!