Friday, February 20, 2015

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats & February's Apron

We've had a taste of winter here this past week...nothing like the Northeast or what Boston is going through, but still enough to keep us in for 4 days.  I can hear you laughing from here!

View of the backyard and my new line of dies, Garden Notes~Tulips and stamps, Seeds of Thought
When we had snow days, I loved to make Rice Krispie Treats with my girls.  Today, I thought I'd change them up a bit by browning the butter first and adding a little salt to provide that dual sweet/salty flavor, and, the good side of "cabin fever" is that I finally got the apron sewn for this month.  I had no idea that February would  bring record-breaking snow, so I hope you can see the lighter side of the fabric I chose:-D  To win this apron, all you need to do is comment on this month's posts; if your cold fingers can type!

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter + more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 bags of marshmallows (about 16 oz)
1/2 tsp salt + more for sprinkling the top
12 cups Rice Krispies

Butter a 9" x 12" x 2" baking pan. Set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter and allow to brown about 4-6 minutes while stirring constantly. It will foam first, then, it "settles" down and you will see a golden brown color. 
 Add the marshmallow and stir until melted--the mixture has a lovely caramel color.
Add the salt, then the Rice Krispies.  Stir, using a rubber spatula until the Rice Krispies are combined  completely.  Spoon or pour mixture into the butter baking pan, pressing down firmly with the rubber spatula (be careful, mixture is hot.) Sprinkle the top, lightly with additional salt.

 I allowed them to cool about 15 minutes, then I cut them with my Pizza Knife...

I wrapped each one in plastic wrap, but not before trying a few--Enjoy!

I do know what the Northeast is going through because we lived there from '92-2001 and went through some snowy winters.  In fact, that's how I got started making 3-dimensional flowers from paper.  Think Spring!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dutch Spice Bread (Ontbijtkoek)

Last week I was Pine, Colorado shooting YouTube videos for my new lines of thin dies and red rubber stamps.  My hosts and the company I am licensed with, Elizabeth Craft Designs, are from the Netherlands and I had the opportunity to taste some wonderful baked goods they both grew up with.  This Dutch Spice Bread is one I knew I had to make for my hubby--I had one slice a day:-)

This recipe is literally translated breakfast cake, but I can tell you it made a wonderful addition to our evening meal as well.  Depending on the region it's made in the Netherlands, the spices can vary, but this is what I decided I tasted in the bread that I was served.  Originally it was called "peperkoek" and it was made from breadcrumbs and other leftover products stored in the bakery attic.  Periodically the ingredients were collected and pressed into a bread. Spices were one of the most valuable trading products from the Dutch East India Company and used in many Dutch food--some of my favorite to bake with.

Dutch Spice Bread
1 cup medium rye flour
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground cardamon, ground ginger, ground coriander and ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Grandma's molasses
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 300F-degrees.  Grease a small Pullman loaf pan with shortening.  

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl) Mix all the ingredients together into a smooth batter.  Bake for 70-80 minutes or until cake is done by testing with a wooden skewer.  I bake with Convection, so mine took 70 minutes.

Cool completely on a rack, then to keep it fresh, wrap in aluminum foil.  We had ours with Irish Butter--need I say more.

 I'm making another load (or two) today since we have had some sleet and ice and it is freezing in the single digits and this recipe is so easy to do.  Additionally, your home smells so inviting. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Little Banana Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

Who doesn't like a "little" dessert?  I know it makes me feel like it was baked just for me, or in this case, my hubby.  Once I saw I was left with two bananas left hanging on the banana rack, I needed to give them some special I baked this cake.

Over the years, it's become quite fashionable for desserts to take on unusual shapes; pie, cake, or cupcakes in a jar, cake or pie pops, and then there's the shot glasses with Tiramisu, Cheesecake, or Chocolate Mousse, to name a few.  I think for those special occasions, an individual cake is just the thing to WOW your family and friends.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 medium, ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or sour low fat milk with 1 tsp. of vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes)
2 cups Cake Flour
1 cup All-purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Prepare a sheet pan (approx. 18" x 26" x 1") by brushing with melted butter, then, place a full sheet of parchment paper on the bottom, brush the parchment paper with butter, and finally, dust with flour.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter while slowly adding the granulated sugar for 10 minutes (this ensures the sugar will dissolve completely and give you a better texture.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula .  Add the mashed bananas.  

Measure the vanilla extract into the buttermilk.  Alternately, add the dry ingredients with the wet, starting with the dry in three measurements.  Beat on medium one more minute once everything is added.  Transfer the batter to the sheet pan, spreading it to equally cover the surface.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, testing with a wooden skewer that the center is completely done.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the Chocolate Buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream:
10 oz. chocolate, chopped or use chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
18 T (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Place the chocolate in the food processor.  On the stove, in a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream, light corn syrup, and salt to a low boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and process the mixture until smooth.
Add the sugar and vanilla and pulse several times to combine (about 30 seconds).  With the machine running, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time and combine until smooth and no butter chunks remain.  Transfer frosting to a medium glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thick and spreadable, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

To assemble:
I used a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to create circles for the individual cakes.
By the way, scrapes are "fair game!"
Place one of the circles on parchment or wax paper. Fill a pastry bag with the buttercream and a small rose tip.  Pipe the top of the first layer, then add another layer of cake.
As an extra garnish, I sprinkled some Toffee Bits between the layers and a little bit on top.
 Add one or two more layers, then, pipe the sides, starting from the bottom.  Pipe some on top, then, smooth with an off-set spatula.
One more sprinkle of Toffee Bits and it's ready to be served. Enjoy!