Thursday, June 30, 2016

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

I felt I needed to give Vanilla it's due when it comes to pudding.  After all, it is the number one flavor of choice in ice cream!  Since my mom made both, I wanted to share this recipe and show you again how easy it is to make pudding and alleviate those "nasty" preservatives found in the box version.

Ingredients from the box of Jell-O Vanilla Pudding
Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Contains Less than 2% Natural
and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Disodium Phosphate and Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate,
(For Thickening), Mono- and Diglycerides (Prevent Foaming), Yellow 5, Yellow6,
Artificial Color, and BPA (Preservative)

I think what bothers me the most is definitely the BPA--remember it was banned from water bottles!

Vanilla Pudding
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Mix well in a 2-quart saucepan.

1 1/2 cups Half-&-Half
1 1/2 cups 2% Milk
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 T butter

Use a whisk to slowly stir in the mix and cream into this mixture.

Heat over medium/low, whisking to prevent scorching until slightly thickening.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, slowly add some of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking to combine.  This is called tempering and prevents the eggs from turning to "scramble eggs"!  Once you've added about half of the mixture to the egg yolks, transfer it to the saucepan.

Continue to cook the pudding, whisking constantly, 2-3 minutes or until mixture thickens and begins to boil.  You can do the "finger test."  On a rubber spatula, dipped into the pudding, run you finger down the center. If the mixture does not cover the open area, it's thick enough.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract (I used Vanilla Paste so I could get the little vanilla bean flecks) and the butter.

Ladle pudding into six individual dishes.  Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Garnish with whipped cream and berries, if desired.  

Now wasn't that as easy?  Enjoy!

My recipe was actually a request from a new friend and her husband who came for a quick visit today.  A fellow North Carolinian and really someone who was familiar, but we had never met.  Her cousin and my sister have been best friends since our family moved to Maryland in 1954.  I'm happy to have a new friend and fellow baker that lives so close.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Easy Homemade Chocolate Pudding

My mom made the best puddings; vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, rice, and tapioca, but I love the chocolate pudding the best.  She seemed to "whip" these puddings up with little effort, but the reward was so gratifying for dessert!

As you may have figured out, I'm a big proponent of baking (and cooking) from scratch.  I want to know exactly what ingredients are in the food I'm feeding my family.  For this pudding, there are six...yes, 6 ingredients, however, here's what's in a box of Jell-O Chocolate Pudding:

Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Cocoa Processed with Alkali,
Disodium Phosphate (for thickening), Contains Less Than 2% of
Natural and Artificial Flavor, Salt, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate
(for thickening), Mono and Diglycerides (prevent foaming), Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, 
Artificial Color, BHA (Preservative)

Are you as mortified as I am?  It isn't "rocket science" to make pudding and know you're not filling your family with ingredients you can hardly pronounce.

Old Fashion Chocolate Pudding
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
3 T cornstarch (cornflour)
3 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1/8 tsp. salt
6 oz. Bittersweet chocolate--I used  Ghiardelli 60% Cacao 4 oz. bars (1 1/2 bars)
1 tsp. vanilla

Heavy Cream for topping!

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Place on medium heat and slowly add the milk, whisking well to prevent lumps.
Lower the heat slightly so the mixture does not boil, but keep stirring.  When the mixture is hot, add the chocolate and change to a rubber spatula.  Heat on low/medium until thicken, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove and add the vanilla.  Stir to combine.  The pudding will thicken further as it cools.  
Ladle into small bowls (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup per person) and allow to cool at room temperature about 10 minutes.  To prevent a "skim" from forming, cut plastic wrap to cover the pudding, pressing the wrap directly onto the pudding surface.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving.

I love a dollop of whipped cream on my pudding.  Whisk (or beat with a hand mixer) 1 cup heavy cream with 2 T confectioners' sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. 

Now, doesn't that make you feel better that you know exactly what went into this dessert? Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Peaches & Cream Scones

Peaches are a Southern staple; pies, cobblers, jam, and today, Scones.  I look forward to when I see the farm stands announcing that peaches are in, which happened a few weeks ago.  I've already done 14 jars of jam, but will certainly make more.

Today, I decided to make some scones for a breakfast treat, but really any time of the day a scone tastes delicious.  I knew that fresh fruit isn't always the first choice when making scones; it makes the dough too wet, so I decided to use dried peaches which I found at

To soften the peaches, I warmed the Half-&-Half and poured it over the diced peaches to soften just slightly.  After exercising for 35 minutes, they were perfect to start the dough. In the KitchenAid mixer, the scones come together quickly and in less than 25 minutes, we had warm scones to start the day.

Peaches & Cream Scones
1 cup dried diced peaches
1/2 cup Half-&-Half, warmed until bubbles appear around the edges

Pour the cream over the diced peaches and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
dried Peach/cream mixture

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the 1/2" pieces of butter, while the mixer is running, a few at a time.  When the mixture resembles coarse sand, add the honey, egg, and extracts.  Mix on low just until the dough comes together.  Use your hands to knead a bit and place on a lightly flour board.

Roll dough to 1" thick.  Cut into 8 pie-shaped pieces and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
 Mix 1 large egg + 1 tsp. Half-&-Half and brush on the tops of the scones.  I also take a toothpick and poke a few holes in the surface of the scone to achieve an even bake.

Bake for 14-17 minutes or until golden brown.

Optional Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
1- 1/2 T very warm water

Drizzle glaze over the warm scones and serve with butter and Peach Jam.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Maple~Pecan Doughnut Puffs and June's Give-Away Apron

We've heard of the Cronuts; a croissant dough that is shaped into a doughnut and fried.  It's a trademarked pastry that was invented by New York pastry chef, Dominque Ansel.  As an alternative and much lighter version, I made up a pate a choux dough and piped it into a doughnut pan to bake this morning.  To top it off, I made a Maple Pecan icing because one of my favorite doughnuts, when we lived in the Pacific Northwest, was "Top Pots" Maple Bars.

This dough is typically used to make profiteroles, eclairs, crullers, beignets, gougeres, and the list goes on.  The only ingredients are water, butter, flour, and eggs, so instead of a leavening agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to "puff" the pastry.

Maple~Pecan Doughnut Puffs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
3-4 T milk
1 tsp. Maple Extract
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasting is optional)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Two doughnut pans.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter in the water.  When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add the flour.  Quickly stir in the flour, then, lower heat and return the pan to the stove top.  Stir for about 3 minutes to make sure the flour is "cooked" into the dough.

Transfer dough to a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, start beating the dough on medium low speed.  After a few minutes, start adding the eggs, one at a time, raising the speed to medium to incorporate each egg.  Add the salt and beat again.  If you like a sweeter dough, add the sugar, but it is optional.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat once more.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag, fitted with a 3/4-inch round tip.  Pipe the dough into the wells of the pan.
This recipe makes about 9 doughnuts, so if you don't have another pan, you will have to do two batches.  Bake in the preheat oven about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and "dry" looking.  Remove from the oven and immediately turn the pans upside down to release the doughnuts.  Allow to cool slightly before spreading on the glaze.

This "puffs" were light and airy and I felt no guilt from having a doughnut after exercising this morning. Enjoy!

This month's apron is definitely a "Happy" one.  When I go to my local quilt shop to pick out fabrics for the apron, sometimes, I have to walk around a few times before I see the perfect ones.  This time, these two fabrics hit me right away and no wonder--they are Moda fabrics and the collection is called, "Leave a Little Love Where Ever You Go!"  That's exactly how I feel when I sew these aprons and give them away in memory of my mother.  If you would like to win this one, just comment on any of the posts this month and your name could be drawn--good luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer's Savory~Sweet Shortbread and May's Apron Winner

My husband loves shortbread; he's Scottish and I've made dozens throughout the years.  However, I've never done a savory one so my experimenting today ventured into that category.

The days are getting warmer--our temperatures are in the 80s--and with picnics and gatherings part of the summer faire, I decided why not have a shortbread that would go great with a fruit & cheese platter.  Making a normally sweet dessert into a savory one is a challenge, but choosing the right flavor profile makes it easier.  Today, I chose three of my favorite, Gruyere cheese, and rosemary.

There are certainly other combinations that go just as well and you might want to experiment with them yourself.

Summer's Savory~Sweet Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 T Rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 cup dried apple, finely chopped
1 cup Gruyere Cheese, finely grated
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Spray a 9" square baking pan with a baking spray and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter well.  Add the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper and mix to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the Rosemary, apple, and Gruyere Cheese and mix again.  Add the flour and mix until the dough starts to come together--don't over mix!

Dump the "shaggy" dough into the prepared pan and press evenly, using your fingers or the back of a measuring cup.

Use a fork or a "docker" to create holes in the shortbread.  This will make for even baking.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and use a knife to score lines while the shortbread is still warm.  I use a "springform" square pan, so removing the sides and finishing cutting the shortbread is easy.  Serve warm or's up to you. Shortbread will last up to 3 weeks, but with the cheese in this savory one, I would recommend keeping it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.  Enjoy!

Now, the winner of May's apron is Julie Rose!  Please email me your address and I will get this beautiful apron off to you.  Tomorrow, I will have June's apron up, so look for it with another recipe!