September 11, 2012

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Key lime, key lime, key lime....oh how I love thee, let me count the ways...

But seriously we don't have time for me to wax philosophically about my love for Key Lime, instead let's focus on a really simple, yet fabulous dessert!

This dish takes cheesecake and crosses it with a bar and then throws in a little Key Lime to make an all-in-one fun little treat that is perfect on a hot summer day, or even nice in the middle of winter for a reminder of summers past. Cheesecake and Key Lime all in a handy, dandy bar form? You can't go wrong with that!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Crush graham crackers and stir in melted butter and sugar to mix. Press mixture into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Set aside.

What You'll Need for the Bar Filling:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup of key lime juice

Cream together cream cheese, eggs and sugar until smooth. Slowly add the flour and mix until incorporated. Last add the key lime juice and mix for 1 minute on medium.

Pour filling mixture over the crust in your baking dish (see above) and bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until bars are set.

Let bars come to room temperature and then chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Store uneaten portions in the fridge.

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Notes: If you can't find Key Lime juice you can use regular lime as well, but it won't be as good. You can also use lemon juice for a lemon bar alternative.

Posted by Dianne at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2012

Sweets for Your Sweet: Salted Nutella Truffles for Valentine's Day

Salted Nutella Truffles

I love truffles, and not the kind Italian pigs dig up, which I am sure are lovely too, but I'm talking chocolate truffles. I love truffles almost as much as I love cheesecake, and you all know how much I like that! It has its own category on Dianne's Dishes! It's a deep love, an abiding love, an all encompassing obsession. In short I love me some truffles!

I also love Nutella. It's a recent love, but it's a strong love. Chocolate and hazelnuts? What's not to like?? I also love sea salt. Do you see a pattern forming here? Truffle? Check! Nutella? Check! Sea salt? Check! This is the collision of the perfect truffle/Nutella/sea salt storm!

Truffles are really easy to make. You've got a creamy center, dipped in chocolate, and then for added pizazz sometimes you even drizzle/sprinkle something on top of that. Truffles are big on wow factor, yet simple to create. They are perfect for a little gift, such as for Valentine's Day, for that person in your life who is a chocolate lover like me. I know you have one of those, don't we all?

One word for you....

Truffles!

Say it with chocolate. You'll be glad you did! Heck, they'll be glad you did too! ;oP

What You'll Need:
1 - 13 ounce jar of Nutella
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1 package of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Coarse see salt (Note: I prefer either fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt for this. This go round I used the Celtic variety.)

In a large bowl stir together Nutella, sea salt and sweetened condensed milk, until thoroughly mixed. Next add the powdered sugar and stir until "dough" forms.

Scoop out "dough" with a tablespoon and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for the Freezer

The balls will flatten out a bit due to the heat of your hands, but don't worry. You'll be freezing them for a bit and this will sort itself out.

Freeze Nutella balls for 30 minutes.

Ten minutes before you remove the Nutella balls from the freezer, place semi sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a microwavable glass bowl and microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring between each one, until chips are melted.

Remove Nutella balls from the freezer and rolls them between your hands to make them more round:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Making Nutella Balls

They're firm enough now to keep their shape:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready to be Dipped

Dip each ball in the melted chocolate:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Drizzling

It's easiest to do this with a fork. Unlike Alexis however I wouldn't taste the chocolate as you go. You'll run out! ;oP

Place them on another sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet:

Salted Nutella Truffles: Ready for Drizzle and Sea Salt

Melt 1 cup of 60% cacao chips with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil using the same method as above. Drizzle over the top of each truffle and sprinkle with coarse fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt:

Salted Nutella Truffles

Let harden and then enjoy!

Notes: You can use any type of chocolate you want with this. Milk chocolate would work, as would a white chocolate drizzle. It's all up to you. If you want them to set faster you can stick them in the fridge.

Posted by Dianne at 5:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Swirl Brownies with Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Swirl Brownies with Chocolate Chips

I love pumpkin! It's one of my all time favorite things and this time of year I love to make sweets and treats, not to mention savory dishes like soup or ravioli with pumpkin. It seems in the fall I always have pumpkin on the brain and these brownies popped in to my mind when I saw a recipe for a chocolate/caramel type brownie and my imagination just went crazy from there!

These brownies are brownie like, all while having a slight essence and texture of pumpkin pie. The caramel gives the brownie a subtle hint of something wonderful, without overpowering the whole and the chocolate chips give it just the right oomph to finish off the dish. It's an all around perfect combination!

What You'll Need:
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 - 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
6 tablespoons of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 of a bag of semisweet chocolate chips1 teaspoon of cinnamon

First you want to make your dulce de leche. There are a few ways to do this with a can of sweetened condensed milk. You can boil a can of sweetened condensed milk in a large stock pot for an hour and a half to two hours (the longer you boil it the thicker it is), making sure the can stays covered with water the whole time, or you can empty a can of sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler and simmer for up to 2 hours until the milk becomes caramely. I chose the double boiler method this go around. Once your dulce de leche is made you mix up the brownies.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl beat together pumpkin, sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Add baking powder, salt, cinnamon and flour and mix until incorporated.

Pour mixture into an 12 X 8 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Add dollops of the dulce de leche to the top of the pumpkin mixture in the dish and use a spoon or knife to swirl into the brownie batter. Finally sprinkle the top of the brownies with the chocolate chips.

Bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can use a different kind of chocolate chips if you like, white chocolate chips especially would be good with this. You can also purchase dulce de leche to use in this recipe if you don't want to make it yourself.

Posted by Dianne at 1:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Trifle

Pumpkin Trifle

Every October my mom and my best friend Darlene come to visit for a week around my birthday. This year that week happened to be last week. We spend the week goofing off, laughing and generally having a fabulous time. Some years they are here on my actual birthday, other years like this year, they are not, but it's a lot of fun and something I look forward to all year long.

The day after Mom and Darlene arrived I had a little lunch party after church so that a friend of mine here could meet Darlene and my sister could come pick up my mom to spend a few days with her in Virginia. Given it was fall I decided I wanted to make a pumpkin pound cake that I love to make around this time of year.

I mixed up my pound cake, put it in the oven and baked it. I left it turned upside down in the pan on a plate after it cooled, so that it wouldn't dry out overnight. When I removed the pan it stripped the sides of the cake with it. My OCD couldn't handle serving my guests something that looked like someone, or something, had torn in to the sides of the cake, so my mind started working on an alternative and a few minutes later I had the perfect solution...A Trifle!

This is a very simple thing to put together, but it's impressive all by itself. I decided to spice up the whipped cream a bit too and this really turned out to be the quintessential autumn dessert!

First Step: Bake your pumpkin pound cake and let cool.

Next Step: Make your Cinnamon Brown Sugar Maple Whipped Cream!

What You'll Need for the Cinnamon Brown Sugar Maple Whipped Cream:
2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup natural brown sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup

Dump all ingredients in to the bowl of a mixer. Beat on high until soft peaks form.

Set aside to use for your Pumpkin Trifle. (See below.)

And Then: Assemble your trifle!

What You'll Need to make the Pumpkin Trifle:
Pumpkin pound cake
Cinnamon Brown Sugar Maple Whipped Cream (see above) Caramel sauce (Note: You can make your own or use pre-made from the store. I used store bought this go around, but you could use the caramel sauce from this recipe instead.)

Once cake is cooled cut it into chunks. (Note: You might not need all of the cake, depending on the size of bowl you put your trifle in. I like to cut the chunks for each layer as I go.)

Place a layer of pound cake chunks in the bottom of a clear glass trifle dish or bowl. Once you have your layer of pound cake add a layer of your whipped cream and spread it out evenly over the pound cake chunks. Repeat these steps until you reach the top of your bowl

Top the last layer of pound cake with a generous mound of whipped cream. Drizzle the top generously with caramel sauce and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving so the flavors meld a bit.

Last Step: Eat and enjoy!

Store unused portions of the dessert in the fridge.

Notes: You could use this method with regular pounds cake and top it with any number of topping/whipped cream varieties of your choice. I have a blueberry version floating around in my head that you may see soon.

Posted by Dianne at 11:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 31, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream With Hot Fudge Sauce

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream With Hot Fudge Sauce

Yesterday we had some friends over to help celebrate Memorial Day. We decided to do the standard picnic fare, only our picnic ended up being inside due to heat and air quality, but that's ok too. We had fun, so that's all that matters.

I did most of the cooking on Sunday afternoon, except for cooking the hot dogs and hamburgers and setting the ice cream. On Monday morning all I had to do was organize and few last minute details and put everything together.

I decided I wanted to put a tablecloth on the table, but the problem is that I don't actually have a tablecloth that fits our very long table, so I decided to make one! I took a piece of material that I've had for forever and could never decide what to do with the piece and used part of that. I was very happy with the results!

My handy, dandy tablecloth!

I thought it turned out really well! Martha has nothing on me! That's my little sous chef in the background dancing away.

I had an assortment of drinks as well:

Ready to go

I had Virgil's Orange Cream Soda, Izze Grapefruit soda, Old Dominion Root Beer (It's made with honey! And it's ironically listed on their beer list even though it's non-alcoholic.), Sprite (Jamison's drink of choice as of late), lemonade, unsweet green ice tea and of course water. We had some Corona, hard lemonade and hard limeade in the fridge, but we ended up not diving in to that.

We had a buffet style set up with fruit, veggies, hamburgers and toppings, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans and chips:

Waiting on the hamburgers and hot dogs

And for dessert we had homemade ice cream and hot fudge sauce! Which are both just perfect on a hot, hazy day like yesterday! We had a very pleasant day. I hope your afternoon was as fabulous as ours!

Now let's talk a little vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce!

What You'll Need for the Ice Cream:
1 quart of heavy cream
1 quart of half and half
1 half gallon of whole milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
6 egg yolks

In a large stock pot stir together cream, half and half, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla powder and vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat stirring often and let the mixture become hot. Be careful, you don't want this to boil or scald.

When the milk is hot, ladle out some of the hot mixture into a bowl with your egg yolks whisking quickly to temper the eggs. Add this mixture back to the pot and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes slightly thick.

Remove mixture from heat and run through a sieve several times to make sure there are no lumpy egg bits. Cool mixture completely. Overnight is best.

Once mixture is completely chilled add to a large ice cream maker and set according to your ice cream makers instructions.

Notes: I had a bit of the custard mixture left over when I made the ice cream. I'm going to use my small Cuisinart ice cream maker to freeze the rest.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream With Hot Fudge Sauce

What You'll Need for the Hot Fudge Sauce:
4 squares of unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of evaporated milk
1 1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

In a medium sized pot melt chocolate and butter together until completely melted. Slowly add milk and sugar and stir until mixed.

Bring to a slow boil and cook stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Use to top ice cream or any other way you would use chocolate syrup.

Notes: This is the hot fudge sauce that my mom used to make. It brings back so many memories of my childhood all with one little taste!

Posted by Dianne at 5:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 12, 2011

Salted Chocolate Meringues

Salted Chocolate Meringues

I love meringues. They are so light and airy and relatively speaking a fabulous little dessert or treat you can't go wrong with.

A few weeks ago I needed egg yolks for something (right now I can't remember what) so I decided to take the egg whites left over and make some Salted Chocolate Meringues instead of freezing them for later. I really loved the result!

The fun thing about things like this is you can switch them up a bit. You could add a bit more, or a bit less cocoa, as well as salt, and end up with something different each time.

Meringues get a bad wrap as being hard to make, but they aren't. You simple beat your egg whites and ingredients until you have relatively hard peaks, pipe or spoon the mixture out on to a lined baking sheet and bake for several hours until the meringues are "dried" out. It's simple, you just prepare and walk away, checking them here and there. I love easy treats!

What You'll Need:
4 egg whites
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1/4 cup of cocoa, sifted (Note: One of the few time I actually sift anything.)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of fluer de sel or other sea salt (Note: More if you like things really salty, less if you don't.)
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar (Optional)

Preheat oven to 225 F.

In a large mixing bowl mix together all ingredients until incorporated. Beat mixture on medium to high until slightly stiff peaks form:

Salted Chocolate Meringues: Beaten

You don't want to have this too soft or too hard. You want it where when you pull your beater(s) up you end up with a nice firm peak, but it's ok if the tips droop a bit as well.

Now it's time to get the "meringues" on a baking sheet!

I like to put the meringue in to a large pastry bag with a flower tip and squeeze them out into a flower like design:

Salted Chocolate Meringues: Ready to Bake

You can also place teaspoon or tablespoon sized dollops on to the baking sheet if you don't want to mess with a pastry bag. Or how about using a round tip and piping out little meringue "bowls" and bake them to fill with fruit for an easy little dessert.

Bake in a preheated oven for 2-3 hours or until meringues have "dried" out and are not sticky to the touch:

Salted Chocolate Meringues: Baked

Let cool and then serve or store in an airtight container.

Notes: No notes for this one.

Posted by Dianne at 1:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 6, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I love chocolate covered strawberries. I rarely have them though, and I had never made them. For some reason this was one of those things I had in my head as being difficult, but it couldn't be further than the truth! They really are quite simple, and they take next to no time to actually make as well.

There are many variations you can do in terms of chocolate covered strawberries. You can make them really fancy and make them look like something, like a football, or a tuxedo, or even Santa, or they can be really simple and simply be dipped in chocolate and possibly drizzled with a little white chocolate for flare. Or how about some rainbow sprinkles added to give it a punch of color and whimsy?

Most of the time chocolate covered strawberries are considered a romantic gift, or a gift for a woman, but they could be given to anyone at anytime. Who wants to wait around for a special occasion when they are so simple and easy to make. Generally speaking they're somewhat healthier than the average dessert as well, especially if you use dark chocolate. What are you waiting for?

What You'll Need:
Ripe strawberries, washed and patted dry
1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (Note: You can use milk, semi, dark, bittersweet, etc.)
1 tablespoon of shortening (Note: Look for a version without trans-fats.)
Bamboo skewers or toothpicks
A foam block to stick the dipped strawberries in

First you want to wash and dry your strawberries and pick out what kind of chocolate chips you want to use:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Chocolate and Strawberries

I like to use Ghirardelli chips or Green and Black's baking bars chopped up into bits.

Place the chocolate chips and the shortening in a microwave safe glass bowl:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Ready to Melt

Microwave for 20 second intervals at half power, stirring between rounds, until chocolate is melted and smooth:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Dipping Choclate

Now it's time to start dipping!

While the chocolate is melting, insert toothpicks or bamboo skewers in to the top of your strawberries:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Ready to Dip

If you want you can remove the strawberry caps, but I like to leave them on. They add a bit of pizazz!

Next dip the individual strawberries in to the chocolate to coat and stick toothpicks in a foam block so the chocolate on the strawberries can set or harden:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: Chocolate Setting

You can make them set up quickly by placing the block in the fridge and it will harden within 5 to 10 minutes. Or you can leave them at room temperature until they harden in 20 to 30 minutes.

And now you've got some really fabulous chocolate covered strawberries!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Doesn't that look like the perfect dessert or snack?

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Indeed it does!

Notes: You can also fill chocolate covered strawberries by coring out the center and adding a filling of your choice. One of my friends on Twitter suggested cookie dough. You could do sugar cookie or chocolate chip! Or how about a cheesecake type filling? Or butter cream icing would be great too. Be creative!

Posted by Dianne at 12:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 10, 2011

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

First off before we dive into these cupcakes, though I may end up regretting this, I'm going to start sharing pictures of Alexis again. Why? Because so many people ask me what she looks like and she really is my sous chef so you will be seeing more of her in the future.

Meet my sous chef...Alexis:

Lex: My Soux Chef

That's her, my little mini-me! My favorite 7 year old on the planet! ;oP

She likes to do things like make silly poses:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Lex Pose

Laugh and smile:

Lex: Smiling Girl

And of course the most important task...Lick beaters!

Lex: Beater Girl

Not to mention stir, mix, shake, roll, etc. Luckily she is cheap too. All she asks? To eat what we make! My kind of kid! ;oP

And now that is out of the way, let's talk some Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes! Why glorious you ask? Alexis thought it was an apt title and who am I to stifle creativity?

As a kid I remember buying cream filled cupcakes. I mean what's not to like? Chocolate? Check! Cream filling? Check! Chocolate icing on top? Check! Lately I started thinking about this type of cupcake and decided to give some theories a try and they more than worked out! The result is a fabulous little cupcake with a creamy surprise! I'll take two! ;oP

What You'll Need for the Cupcakes:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups or organic cane sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of sour cream OR buttermilk
Cream Filling (see below)
Frosting (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda until well mixed:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Dry Ingredients

Set aside.

In another large bowl cream together butter, sugar, eggs and sour cream OR buttermilk until relatively smooth:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Wet Ingredients

Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture 1/3 a cup at a time until completely blended:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: "Batter"

The "batter" will be slightly thick and fudgy. This is not a runny "batter".

Scoop in to muffin pans that have been lined with cupcake liners and fill each cup 3/4ths of the way full:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Ready to Bake

Bake in a preheated oven 25-30 minutes or until cupcakes still done with a toothpick

Let cool for at least 30 minutes before filling and frosting:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Baked

Makes 24 cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are baking make your filling and frosting.

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Cream Filling

What You'll Need for the Cream Filling:
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 of a 13 ounce jar of marshmallow cream

Now don't blink or you'll miss it...This is that easy!

Place butter and marshmallow cream in a bowl and mix together on medium until completely blended.

Set aside. You'll use this when you're putting the cupcakes together after they cool. (See below.)

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

What You'll Need for the Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup of a 13 ounce jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Again this is so simple....

In another bowl cream together butter and marshmallow cream until smooth.

Next add cocoa and beat until incorporated.

Next add powdered sugar and repeat the step for the cocoa. Don't worry if it looks a little crumbly at this point. The heavy cream will sort it out.

And last add the heavy cream and beat until smooth.

Set aside. Frosting will be used when the cupcakes are put together.

To Put Together the Cupcakes:

First cut out a round cork out of the top of the cupcake:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Cork Removed

Next use a spoon to dig out about 1/2 an inch to make the hole slightly bigger:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Hollowed

Fill the hole with the cream filling:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Filled

Place the cork you cut out back on top of the filling:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Corked

Frost the cupcake:

Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes: Frosted

And voila...Glorious Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes! Eat and enjoy!

Notes: If you wanted to flavor the Cream Filling you could. You could add 1/4 of a cup of cocoa to make a chocolate version, or how about 1 teaspoon of mint extract for a chocolate/mint combo. You could also use regular buttercream icing in place of the Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting.

Posted by Dianne at 8:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Let's take a trip back in time. Let's go back about four months ago to one of my most favorite holidays of the year....Thanksgiving! (When I said I had a backlog of recipes to share with you I wasn't joking! ;oP)

I love pumpkin. Canned, frozen, fresh, I'm not picky! In the fall I usually buy several pumpkins and roast them and then freeze the roasted pumpkin for use later. If I run out I've been know to grab a can at the store. There are just so many things you can do with pumpkin!

One of my favorite things to do with pumpkin in a simple, yet classic pumpkin pie. This pie can be made with three different forms of pumpkin as I'll show you below, but whichever path you choose you can be sure you'll end up with a fabulous dessert that most people will appreciate.

What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 - 15 ounce can of pumpkin pie mix
OR
1 - 15 ounce can of mashed pumpkin
OR
2 cups of freshly roasted or thawed frozen mashed pumpkin
And then
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/4 teaspoon of ginger (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/4 teaspoon of cloves (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/8 teaspoon of all-spice (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/2 cup of brown sugar (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: If you're using either variety of simply mashed pumpkin.)
3/4 cup of heavy cream
2 eggs
1 pie shell (Note: You can make your own our use one you buy from the store.)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Beat pumpkin until slightly fluffy. If you're using the pumpkin pie mix then simply add the heavy cream and eggs and beat until completely incorporated.

If you're using either variety of the mashed pumpkin you need to sweeten and spice it up a bit! Once the pumpkin is slightly fluffy add the spices and the sugar and stir to mix. Then add the heavy cream and eggs and beat until incorporated.

Pour your prepared batter into a prepared pie shell or place pie dough in a pie plate and crimp then place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 F and then reduce the temperature to 375 F and bake for another 30-40 minutes until pie is set.

Remove from oven and let sit until completely cool before serving.

Pumpkin Pie

Notes: I like to serve the pie with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I also add in a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup to the pie mixture from time to time before baking. You could also use maple syrup in your whipped cream to give it a nice little flavor kick.

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2011

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

I love blueberries. I also love cheesecake. If you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you've seen those phrases played out here before. What happens when you have blueberries you need to use, a pie crust that needs to be used as well, along with a block of cream cheese? You make Blueberry Cheesecake Pie!

This is an extremely simple pie to make, though it looks like it might not be. Remember though that look can be deceiving! A few simple steps, a nice bake in the oven and voila...The perfect dessert for the blueberry and/or cheesecake lover in your midst!

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

What You'll Need:
1 unbaked pie crust (Note: You can make one yourself, or buy one at the store.)
18 ounces of fresh blueberries
1/3 cup of organic can sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
1/3 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Press pie shell in to an ungreased pie dish:

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie: Pie Shell

Set aside.

Add blueberries, 1/3 cup of organic cane sugar, lemon zest and juice to a medium sized pot. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until blueberry sauce forms. This usually takes 5-8 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for an additional minute until slightly thickened:

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie: Blueberries

Set aside and let cool.

In a mixing bowl blend together cream cheese, 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar and eggs until smooth. Pour into your prepared pie shell:

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie: Cheesecake Batter

Pour cooled blueberry mixture into the center of the cream cheese mixture:

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie: Ready to Bake

Place pie dish on to a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until crust is lightly golden and the cheesecake layer is set:

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie: Baked

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature (at least 4 hours) and then serve.

Notes: No notes for this one.

Posted by Dianne at 1:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 12, 2010

Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies

Cream Cheese Swirled Brownies

I love brownies. I love cheesecake. Why not combine the two and make a swirled brownie? And that's just what I did!

These are the perfect gooey brownie, with a hint of cheesecake. Couple it with a big glass of milk and you've got the perfect, decadent snack!

What You'll Need for the Chocolate Brownie:
2/3 cup of butter
1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

What You'll Need for the Cream Cheese Swirl:
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a sauce pan melt butter and chocolate chips stirring often until completely smooth. Set aside and let cool completely.

Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.

Mix together sugar, vanilla, eggs and sea salt in a mixer. Beat on high for 5 minutes until fluffy/creamy. Slowly add cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir until mixed. Add flour a little at a time and mix until just incorporated.

Pour batter into an 8 X 12 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In another bowl mix together creamed cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Drop dollops of this mixture on to the brownie batter and swirl around using a knife until mixed in, but not incorporated. You should be able to see the swirls.

Bake for 45 minutes until brownies are slightly crackly on top. Let cool and cut and serve.

Notes: No notes for this one. It speaks for itself! :o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2010

Fudgy Nutella Frosting

Fudgy Nutella Frosting

Nutella...What's not to like? I finally tried it earlier this year and found I really loved it! It's great all by itself, but why not use it to kick something up a few notches, like say oh chocolate frosting! It takes your standard chocolate frosting to a whole other level!

This is simple, delicious and takes no time to whip up. It makes the perfect topping for any cake, especially a really good chocolate one! Who doesn't love cake?

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup of Nutella
1 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup of half and half
5 cups of powdered sugar
Cake to frost, baked and cooled (Note: I suggest chocolate cake.)

In the bowl of a mixer cream butter until smooth. Add Nutella and mix until completely incorporated. Next add cocoa and half and half and beat until smooth.

Once dairy and chocolate ingredients are completely mixed slowly add sugar and beat until smooth. Repeat this until you run out of sugar.

Spread frosting over a baked and cooled cake.

Notes: You could add in mini chocolate chips for a nice texture change. This would also be good to "dip" fruit in.

Posted by Dianne at 4:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 19, 2010

Grilled Peaches And Pound Cake With Peach Ice Cream

Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake with Peach Ice Cream

When my parents came to visit this past week they brought me their old grill. We used to use it when we camped out at the lake in the summers and it was just sitting in Mom's garage collecting dust. I had hoped to bring it back with me when I was in Tennessee a few weeks ago, but both trips there just wasn't room in the car. We killed two birds with one stone; Mom got the grill out of her garage and I finally have a grill again! My mom's only request? "If you decide later you don't want it you have to find somewhere else for the grill to live!" Deal!

I have to admit that charcoal freaks me out a bit, especially the kind that is drenched in chemicals to ignite. You know me, I'm not much of a chemical person and avoid them at all costs. I was thrilled when we found a natural charcoal that was made from hardwood charcoal and put together with a vegetable binder!

Charcoal

I was further thrilled when I realized by purchasing a charcoal chimney you didn't need lighter fluid!

My New Charcoal Chimney

There's a bit of a learning curve with this apparently and this go around wasn't perfect, but I got it smoking!

My New Charcoal Chimney

And then we really got it going!

My New Charcoal Chimney

Next time I'll put more charcoal in the chimney and put the paper underneath it instead of the in the chimney itself! You live, you learn! But no lighter fluid! Woot!

Overall this really is a simple, yet delicious summer time treat that gives you a bit of wow factor, yet doesn't take a ton of time or a lot of effort. I love fresh, simple desserts like that!

What You'll Need:
Peach ice cream
Peaches, cut in half and pitted
Pound cake, sliced (Note: You can buy one at the store like I did this go around, or you can make one. This is my favorite.)

Obviously you'll want to make your ice cream ahead of time and have it ready to go.

Next up grill your peaches:

Peaches and Corn Grilling

I actually grilled the peaches with our dinner and then let them cool off before we ate them. They were fabulous! It's simple to do, just cut the peach in half, remove the pit and place it face down on the grill. Grill for about 5 minutes or until tender.

How easy is that?

Next grill the pound cake!

Slice your pound cake and place the slices on the grill:

Pound Cake Grilling

This process basically just toasts the pound cake and deepens its flavor! Toast each side about 1-2 minutes until golden:

Pound Cake Grilling

Now you're ready to put your dessert together. A slice of pound cake, a grilled peach and a scoop of peach ice cream and voila...Dessert is served!

See easy peasy!

Notes: You can grill many fruits. Apples, bananas, pineapple, plums, nectarines, etc.

Posted by Dianne at 11:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 17, 2010

Gooey Lemon Squares

Gooey Lemon Bars

I love lemons. I really do. I normally have a bag of lemons hanging around. I like them in my tea, in water, to cook with, to clean with, you name it and lemons can come to the rescue!

For a while now I've wanted to make lemon bars and I've had ideas in my head of how I thought they should be and what should go in them. These didn't turn out as I expected, but that isn't a bad thing! They turned out great! Just the right punch of tart, with a pinch of sweet. Perfect!

These little babies are going to work with Jamison tomorrow for his pot luck. Any that are left I'll feed to my dad this weekend since he's always wanting to snack on when he's here. That is if I don't eat them first! ;oP

Gooey Lemon Bars: Crust Baked

What You'll Need For The Crust:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 stick of butter, cut into pats
1/3 cup of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Place flour, sugar and sea salt in the bowl of your food processor and process until well mixed. Add butter and heavy cream and process until mixture is pebbly:

Gooey Lemon Bars: Crumbly Crust

Press crust mixture in to a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Gooey Lemon Bars: Crust Ready to Bake

Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is like a big sugar cookie.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Make the filling while the crust is cooling slightly. (See below.)

Gooey Lemon Bars

What You'll Need For The Filling:
3 cups of organic cane sugar
6 eggs
1 cup of lemon juice (usually 4 or 5 lemons)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
Powdered sugar for dusting

While the crust is cooling begin making your filling. Leave oven on at 325 F.

In the bowl of a mixer beat eggs and sugar for 5 minutes on high.

Slowly add lemon juice and mix until incorporated. Next add flour and stir until mixed well. Pour mixture on top of the baked crust:

Gooey Lemon Bars: Ready to Bake

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown:

Gooey Lemon Bars: Baked

The center will still be sightly gooey.

Let cool to room temperature and sprinkle with powdered sugar:

Gooey Lemon Bars: Sprinkled with Powdered Sugar

Cut into squares and serve.

Notes: You can serve these straight up or you cant add a dollop of whipped cream or even some blueberry sauce!

Posted by Dianne at 11:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 11, 2010

Key Lime Mousse

Key Lime Mousse: Ready to Serve

If you've been a reader of Dianne's Dishes for a while you've heard me profess my adoration of key lime before. To say I'm a huge fan is somewhat of an understatement. From ice cream, to cheesecake, to cookie bars, to even a parfait I'm all about the key lime!

The other day I actually stumbled upon a bag of key limes and I was thrilled! I've never had fresh key lime juice before and I was excited to actually try my hand at juicing the little fruits. It's a lot of work, to be quite honest, for very little juice, but the flavor is well worth it in the end!

This mousse is ultra simple, yet oh so delicious. In minutes you have a really fabulous, impressive dessert that took no time (Other than squeezing those little limes if you go the fresh juice route!) to make. If you're a fan of key limes then this is the dessert for you!

What You'll Need:
1/2 of a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (Note: I used the fat free variety, but any will work.)
1/3 cup of fresh key lime juice (Note: If you're using bottled, it's a bit stronger since it's more concentrated so I'd cut it back to 1/4 a cup.)
1 cup of heavy cream
Graham cracker crumbs and graham crackers for garnish

In the bowl of your mixer mix sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice until well mixed. Add heavy cream and beat on high until the basic consistency of whipped cream:

Key Lime Mousse: Whipping

It will be a bit smoother than whipped cream, but along the same lines.

To serve place a dollop of the mousse in a bowl:

Key Lime Mousse

The sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and place a section of graham cracker in the middle of the mound just to shake things up a bit.

Serve immediately.

And enjoy every, delicious bite!

Key Lime Mousse: A Bite

Notes: If you just must you could add a drop or two of green food coloring, but I wouldn't advise it. You could also do this process with any other citrus.

Posted by Dianne at 11:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 26, 2010

The Perfect Brownie

The Perfect Brownie

I love brownies. Seriously what's not to like about a chewy, chocolatety bit of heaven? Jamison was never a fan before Celiacs reared it ugly head (I know, I know...My culinary talents are lost on that boy! ;oP) so I didn't make them that often, but when I saw this recipe at I Am Baker and the resulting pictures I was immediately drawn to the brownie goodness!

As you'll see I didn't make them exactly the same, but trust me these are really, really amazing, really, really awesome brownies! If you're a fan of brownies then you really have found the perfect brownie. They are chocolatey, chewy and just perfect! What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
2/3 cup of butter
1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

In a medium sized sauce pan melt butter and chocolate chips stirring often until completely smooth. Set aside and let cool.

Place oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.

Mix together sugar, vanilla, eggs and sea salt and beat on high for 5 minutes. Slowly add cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir until mixed. Add flour a little at a time and mix until just incorporated.

Pour batter into an 8 X 12 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 45 minutes until brownies are slightly crackly on top. Let cool and cut and serve.

Notes: You could add chocolate chips to the batter or nuts, but really they are just perfect as they are!

Posted by Dianne at 9:43 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 15, 2009

Triple Chocolate Fudge

Triple Chocolate Fudge

Since we discovered that Jamison has Celiac Disease many of his favorite things have been yanked away from him. If you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you know he's a super duper picky eater and having one of his major food sources (gluten) taken away from him was a huge blow. It's been a tough road for him and it continues to be so.

Before Celiac reared it's ugly head one of Jamison's favorite desserts was chocolate pie. I've tried to make gluten free versions, but he's never been that interested. Did I mention the picky part? ;oP

For thanksgiving this year I really wanted fudge. I'm not sure why, but I had fudge on the brain, and I decided to see if I couldn't make something that Jamison would enjoy too and low and behold I made it, had him taste it and he liked the fudge! Score for me! It's the perfect mellow blend of chocolate. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
4 tablespoons of butter
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 - 7.5 ounce jar of marshmallow cream (Note: Look for a variety with no high fructose corn syrup.)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2/3 cup of milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup of white chocolate chips
Butter to coat the dish

Butter a 13 X 9 inch dish generously and set aside.

Melt butter, evaporated milk, sugar and sea salt until smooth. Bring to a boil and let boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. (Note: Fudge is one of the few things that I make that I ever stir constantly, but you really need to. You don't want it to scorch.)

After five minutes remove from heat. (Note: If you want to do the soft ball test, i.e. dropping a bit of the hot mixture into cold water to see if it forms a soft ball you can, but I usually don't.) Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips and stir quickly until chips melt.

Spread mixture into the prepared dish. (Note: It will be VERY hot so be careful!) Let sit until fudge cools and firms up. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Notes: You can use any type of chocolate that you like. Go for dark if you prefer. Or use all of one kind.

Posted by Dianne at 8:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 19, 2009

Double Chocolate Caramel Fondue

Double Chocolate Caramel Fondue

First let me say thank you again to Rachel and Melissa for helping me out last week! I had a few more guest bloggers lined up, but they never sent me anything and I really appreciated both Rachel and Melissa for sharing such fabulous recipes!

Now let's talk some fondue!

Recently Alexis has become intrigued with the idea of fondue. I can't figure out where she came across the idea, but she asked me what it was and I explained the concept. She thought it sounded fabulous and wanted to try fondue, so when my Mom and my best friend Darlene were visiting from Tennessee last week we gave it a whirl!

I hadn't made fondue in a while. I love fondue and think it's a lot of fun, but Jamison isn't a fan, so I don't make it that often. I normally do three pots of fondue, a cheese variety (which I'll share with you tomorrow), a pot of oil to cook meat/veggies and a chocolate dessert fondue. Today I'm sharing the dessert version with you...Who doesn't want to start with dessert?

This is a very simple, very delicious dessert sauce. It takes only a few minutes to put together, but it still has a bit of a wow factor, not to mention being completely delicious. Who says good has to be complicated?

What You'll Need:
2 cups of caramels
1 - 4 ounce bar of semi sweet baking chocolate, roughly chopped (Note: I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Blacks)
1 - 4 ounce bar of white chocolate baking chocolate, roughly chopped (Note: See note above)
1/2 pint of heavy cream
Fruit, pretzels, pound cake, etc. for dipping

Ok, are you ready for simple?

Good!

Double Chocolate Caramel Fondue: Chocolates and Caramel

Place ingredients in a glass bowl. Place bowl in your microwave and microwave on 20 second intervals, stirring between each cycle, until sauce is smooth and melted.

Place melted mixture in a fondue pot on low heat and use to dip fruits, pretzels, pound cake, etc. I like to dish out the mixture into a small dish for each person so they can dip and double dip to their heart's content.

Notes: You can use any type of chocolate you like. I've used dark and milk in the past. You could even leave out the caramels if you liked (but who would want to do that!) but I'd increase the amount of chocolates to 8 ounces each if you did and up the amount of heavy cream to 3/4ths of the bottle. Or you could sub 1/2 cup of peanut butter for the caramel too. This also makes a fabulous topping for angel food cake or ice cream.

Posted by Dianne at 9:54 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans

Fall has come to Maryland! And I have to tell you that Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Yes, I'm one of those people who enjoys cool/cold weather. If it's nippy outside, then I'm happy! And there is a definite nip that has overcome my part of the world the past week or so. The leaves are starting to change, the nights are downright cool and most importantly one of my most favorite parts of fall has begun to appear...Pumpkins!

Earlier this week Alexis and I roasted a pumpkin. I love to do this because it gives you pumpkin to use now and some to use for later by freezing some of your bounty. Another reason I love to do this is roasted pumpkin seeds! Repeat after me fall is fun and pumpkin is fabulous! Have I mentioned how much I love pumpkin? Oh I have...Right!

For the past few weeks I've had a notion that it would be fun to make some pumpkin mousse. I've never made mousse before, but I figured it couldn't be too hard and I was right, it wasn't! This version is a little bit of pumpkin heaven, all with a nutty crunch. If you like pumpkin this is the mousse for you!

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Honeyed Sugar Pecans

What You'll Need for the Honeyed Sugar Pecans:
2 cups of pecan halves
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of natural brown sugar
Sea salt for sprinkling
Organic cane sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Place pecans in a glass bowl:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Pecans

Pour honey over pecans and stir to coat:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Coated with Honey

Next add the natural brown sugar and toss to coat:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Ready to Put on the Pan

Place pecans on a baking sheet that is lined with a silicone baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and organic cane sugar:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Ready to Bake

Bake for 8-10 minutes until pecans darken slightly:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Baked

Some of the sugar/honey may harden on the baking sheet as it cooks, but that's ok.

Remove from oven and let sit until cooled. Place pecans in a an airtight container for storage. Use to top the pumpkin mousse below.

Notes: This method works for any raw nut.

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Ready for Pecans

What You'll Need for the Pumpkin Mousse:
1 pint of heavy cream
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of mashed pumpkin (Note: I used pumpkin I roasted myself, but you can used canned pumpkin if you like.)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/3 cup of brown sugar

Pour heavy cream, organic cane sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on high until stiff peaks form:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Whipped Cream

Set aside.

In a glass bowl stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar until well mixed:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Pumpkin Mixture

Place a dollop of the pumpkin mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Ready for 1st Fold

Fold the pumpkin into the whipped cream until incorporated:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: After 1st Fold

Repeat this procedure until all of the pumpkin mixture, is folded into the whipped cream:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Pumpkin Mousse

To serve place a dollop of the pumpkin mousse in a dish and top with Honeyed Sugar Pecans:

Pumpkin Mousse With Honeyed Sugar Pecans: Ready to Serve

Notes: You could chop up the pecans before you sprinkle them on top. You could also top with crushed graham crackers, gingersnaps, warm maple syrup and/or whipped cream. Depending on how stiff you whip your cream you can keep this in the fridge for a day or two untopped.

Posted by Dianne at 7:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 10, 2009

Chocolate Cake à la Alexis

Chocolate Cake à la Alexis

A few weeks ago Alexis wanted to make a chocolate cake. She told me what to put in the cake, and I figured out the right quantities. What we came up with was a very moist, very tender, really fabulous chocolate cake! Top it with your favorite frosting/icing and you've got the perfect treat!

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cups of cocoa powder
1 cup or organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/3 cup of safflower oil
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl add flour, cocoa, sugar, sea salt and baking powder and stir until well mixed.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add vanilla, oil, eggs and buttermilk. Stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour batter into an 8 X 8 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-40 minutes until cake sticks done.

Cool and top with your favorite frosting or icing.

Notes: If you wanted to switch things up a bit you could use mint or almond extract instead of vanilla. Mini chocolate chips would be a fabulous addition too.

Posted by Dianne at 12:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Cups

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

I like to make things and send them to work with Jamison when he isn't working from home. It let's me have a little of something, without having to worry about eating all of it before it goes bad! A few weeks ago when Jamison was doing a training class I decided to make a brownie variant to send along with him. At the time I just happened to be craving peanut butter and chocolate so this is what resulted!

I've said it before, and I'll most likely say it again, chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect pair! These brownies are tender, yet dense, with a peanuty bite in the middle. They are just perfect to share!

What You'll Need for the Brownies:
2 sticks of butter
6 ounces of chocolate (Note: You can use any kind of chocolate you like. I used semi-sweet.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

What You'll Need for the Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling:
1 cup of peanut butter (Note: You can use creamy or chunky. I used smooth.)
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies: Chocolate

In a large glass bowl melt butter and chocolate at half power until smooth. (Note: I start out at a minute and then from there proceed at 20 second intervals. You do not want to burn your chocolate!) Let melted mixture cool for 15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies: Batter

Once chocolate has cooled a bit stir in sugar, sea salt and baking powder until incorporated. Next add eggs and buttermilk and stir until completely mixed. Add flour to the chocolate mixture and stir until just mixed.

Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and fill each cup 3/4ths of the way full. Using the back of a teaspoon make a dip in each brownie:

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies: Ready to Fill

Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Place a dollop of the peanut butter mixture in the center of each brownie:

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies: Ready to Bake

Bake for 10-15 minutes until brownies stick done.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Let cool and the store in an airtight container until serving.

Makes about 2 dozen brownie cups.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies: The Inside

Notes: I had some of the peanut butter filling left over so I put it in the fridge in a small dish and it made a fabulous no bake peanut butter cheesecake like dish for Jamison since the filling was gluten free!

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Strawberries and rhubarb...Such a fabulous combination! My mom isn't a fan of rhubarb so I hadn't tried it until a couple of years ago, but I found that I really liked this vegetable. Did you know that? Did you know that rhubarb is a vegetable? Since it is often paired with fruit, some don't. There is your useless fact for the day! ;oP

Last week as I mentioned in my Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam post I picked up some rhubarb and strawberries. The first thing I did was make a cobbler! Then I proceeded on to the jam. I want to go see if they have any more rhubarb on Friday so I can freeze some and have it later in the year if I want. (I so need to get a stand up freezer for storage in the garage!) Plus who doesn't like to enjoy strawberries when they are fresh and ripe? That alone makes me want to go to the orchard now!

Anyway...Where was I?

This cobbler is fabulous and as always it's not something you'd eat every day due to the sugar and fat, but oh my....Yum! If you like cobblers and you're a fan of strawberries and rhubarb then this is the dessert for you!

What You'll Need for the filling:
Strawberries
Rhubarb
1 cup of organic cane sugar

What You'll Need for the "Dough":
2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs
1 1/2-2 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar (for topping)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Note: I make this in a deep dish that is between the size of an 8 X 8 inch dish and a 13 X 9 inch dish.

Spray your dish with a little non-stick spray and place a layer of strawberries and rhubarb covering the bottom of the dish:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler: Ready for Sugar

You want 1-2 cups of each fruit. If you like more strawberry, then add more. If you like more rhubarb, then add more of that.

Cover the rhubarb and strawberry mixture with sugar and give a quick stir. Microwave on high 2-3 minutes until syrup forms:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler: Saucy

Set aside.

In a large glass bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt until incorporated. Add butter, eggs and buttermilk to the mixture and stir to mix. (Note: You may need some or all of the buttermilk, it just depends on humidity and such. You want a thick batter like mixture.) Spread the mixture out over the top of the strawberries/rhubarb:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler: Ready for Sugar Topping

Next sprinkle the top of the batter with sugar:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler: Ready to Bake

Bake cobbler for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and done through:

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler: Baked

Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Notes: This is good right out of the oven or at room temperature.

Posted by Dianne at 9:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 8, 2009

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Chocolate Sheet Cake is one of those classic recipes that is made a bazillion different ways. Alexis was very impressed with this one, except she decided it should be called "Chocolate Pie Cake" instead! I didn't see the pie tie in, but hey, why stifle her creativity! ;oP

Chocolate Sheet Cake is a quick recipe that comes together in a flash, yet gives you a nice dessert that is just perfect for dinner guests or even to take and share. This cake is simplicity at its best and sometimes simplicity is just what you need!

What You'll Need for the Cake:
2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/3 cup of cocoa
1 cup of butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large glass bowl stir together sugar, flour, baking soda, sea salt and cocoa until completely mixed. Add melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and stir until completely incorporated.

Once the batter is mixed spread it out on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Chocolate Sheet Cake: Ready To Bake

Bake for 25-20 minutes until cake sticks done. Cover with icing as soon as it comes out of the oven. (See below.)

Chocolate Sheet Cake: Ready to Ice

Notes: The original way that my mom made this called for a teaspoon of cinnamon. I'm not a fan of chocolate and cinnamon together, but if that sounds good to you then add it in with the dry ingredients.

Chocolate Sheet Cake: Icing

What You'll Need for the Icing:
1 stick of butter, cut into chunks
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (Note: You can use milk or bittersweet if you prefer.)
1/2 cup of heaving whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of powdered sugar

Five to ten minutes before the cake is done making the icing.

Chocolate Sheet Cake: Chocoalte Ready To Chop

Cut butter into chunks and roughly chop your chocolate:

Chocolate Sheet Cake: Chocolate Chopped

Add butter, chocolate and whipping cream to a pot over medium heat and melt, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once melted bring mixture to a quick boil, stirring frequently, to ensure it doesn't burn. As soon as it boils remove it from the heat.

Add vanilla and stir to incorporate and then slowly add sugar and stir until completely mixed. Pour mixture over baked sheet cake that has just been removed from the oven. Spread out gently to cover the entire cake.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Let cake cool and then serve.

Notes: If you want you can add a cup of chopped nuts to the icing.

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

Coconut Pie Dianne Style

Coconut Pie

As I've grown older I'm becoming more and more fond of coconut. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked it, but I'm beginning to like it even more. There is a restaurant that I like to go to from time to time that has really fabulous down home cooked food. Their fried chicken is worth the drive all by itself! Not to mention their mashed potatoes, corn fritters and more importantly their Shaker Coconut Pie!

You may not know this about me, but I'm very good at tasting things, figuring out what is in them for the most part and then recreating them. I decided that this pie would be the perfect thing to play around with. My sister searched the internet and found something that was similar, but it wasn't exactly what we were looking for. So I decided to go off on my own and try out a few theories. I actually nailed this one on the first try! Usually it takes a few goes, but this pie just came together perfectly! I plan to make another one for my sister and one when Jamison's dad is here in a few weeks.

So if you like coconut then this is the pie for you. If you're ever up around Thurmont, MD then be sure and try out Cozy...They even have a Camp David Museum on the premises too! Plus you're a short drive from Gettysburg too so you could make a day of it.

Now let's talk some pie!

What You'll Need:
1 pie shell (Note: You can make one, or you can just pick up one at your store.)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of half and half
2 cups of shredded coconut
6 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place pie shell into a pie plate and crimp the edges.

Coconut Pie: Pie Shell

As you can see I'm not that great at the crimping thing. Oh well. Set pie shell aside.

In a large glass bowl beat eggs until completely yellow. Stir in sugar, vanilla and half and half until well mixed. Add coconut and stir to combine. Add butter and stir to mix. Pour into the pie shell.

Coconut Pie: Ready to Bake

Bake for 30 minutes until slightly golden. Turn off the oven, put the door in the broil position and the let the pie sit for another 30 minutes.

Coconut Pie: Baked

Let the pie cool completely before slicing or it won't be set all the way.

Notes: No notes for this one either. Wow...That's twice in one week! ;oP

Posted by Dianne at 8:08 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

February 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies With A Twist

Chocolate Chip Cookies With A Twist: The Inside

When I was in college one of my roommate's mom made some really awesome chocolate chip cookies. I never asked for the specific recipe, because in those days although I loved to cook, I just didn't think about things of that nature. I do remember though that her "secret" ingredient was powdered sugar. I don't know if she used it in place of one of the sugars you usually add to the dough, or along with them, but around Christmas I decided to play around with it a little and omit regular sugar and replace it with the powdered sugar to see how the cookies turned out and it was great! The resulting cookies were more mildly sweet, yet very tender. I was very pleased with the outcome. I still think I prefer the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe overall, but this was definitely a nice twist and I can tell you that Santa really liked them too! ;oP

Chocolate Chip Cookies With A Twist

What You'll Need:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of natural brown sugar, packed
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 12 ounce package of chocolate chips (Note: I used semi-sweet, but any variety will do.)

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Stir in baking soda and salt until incorporated. Slowly add flour and stir until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and make sure the chocolate chips are spread throughout the batter. Place batter covered in the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Scoop batter by the rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets that have been lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are slightly golden. Cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 4-5 dozen cookies depending on the size of your scoops.

Notes: If you wanted you could add a cup of chopped nuts.

Posted by Dianne at 9:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 30, 2009

Happy Two Year Blogaversary To Me! Let's Celebrate With Some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting!

Happy Two Year Blogaversary To Me! Let's Celebrate With Some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting!

Two years ago today I started Dianne's Dishes with a welcome and then promptly posted a recipe for sushi. That was quickly followed by the first installment of What's For Dinner?! From there I've had many comments, tens of thousands of visitors and a whole lot of fun cooking and sharing with you what I've been up to in the kitchen! I've made some fabulous blog friends along the way and I've enjoyed getting to know you as you come and spend part of your day here at my humble abode on the web. So today it's time to celebrate and how better to celebrate than by making some cupcakes!

When we made these cupcakes earlier this week Alexis' first comment was "I want these for my penguin birthday party!" She turns six in June and last year when we had her Tinkerbell party as soon as the party was over and the guests had ventured home she turned to me and said "OK, next year I want a penguin party!" Surprisingly (or maybe not so much in her case if you know her very well) once she makes up her mind she sticks with it and that's all she's talked about since then! I have to admit these cupcakes would be just perfect for a birthday party, so she may just get her wish! ;oP

Anyway, that is neither here nor there. What I would like to say thank you for visiting and I really have enjoyed getting to know so many of you! If you haven't left me a comment or stopped by to say hello, then feel free! I love getting to know those who are a part of Dianne's Dishes and my readers are an integral part of what this blog has become!

Here's to two more wonderful years!

Happy Two Year Blogaversary To Me! Let's Celebrate With Some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting!: Ready to Frost

What You'll Need for the Cupcakes:
1 - 4 ounce package of Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate Bar
1 stick of butter
3 cups of cake flour
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 cup of organic cane sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 - 12 ounce package of mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium sized bowl melt Baker's chocolate and butter in the microwave at half power until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl stir together cake flour, sea salt, baking powder, cocoa and sugar until completely mixed. (Note: If you want to sift this together you could, but I have a strict don't sift if not necessary rule! ;oP) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and slightly cooled melted chocolate/butter mixture. Stir until all ingredients are just mixed. Next add mini chocolate chips and stir until incorporated.

Line cupcake pan with liners and fill each cup 3/4ths of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cupcakes stick done. Let cool and then remove from pan and frost or ice as desired. I used Cream Cheese Frosting (see below).

Happy Two Year Blogaversary To Me! Let's Celebrate With Some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting!: The Inside

Notes: Makes around 3 dozen or so cupcakes. I also baked a small layer to see how it would hold up as a cake to be decorated and it worked well!

Happy Two Year Blogaversary To Me! Let's Celebrate With Some Triple Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting!

What You'll Need for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of cold water

Cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and water and beat until smooth. Use immediately.

Notes: If you wanted to you could add in vanilla flavoring or you could use mint extract for a twist instead.

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 22, 2009

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm a huge fan of blueberries and white chocolate. Remember the White Chocolate Blueberry Fudge? A few weeks ago we had a "Cookie Sunday" at church. Basically one Sunday school class brings in cookies and pastries and then everyone comes in to share! How cool is that? Cookies before lunch! ;oP

I knew I wanted to make a gluten free alternative for Jamison so I whipped up a batch of gluten free peanut butter cookies, but I wanted to do something completely different for the other cookies we would take. I also ended up sending a couple of loaves of banana bread too.

For a while I tossed around a white chocolate/macadamia nut/key lime combo, but decided that wasn't the way I wanted to go. I also thought about doing some sort of cookie bar, but decided I didn't want to go that route either. I finally got the idea to put some dried blueberries into the cookie batter as you would a raisin and these lovely little gems were born! If you like white chocolate and blueberries then this is the cookie for you!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 11 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
2 cups of dried blueberries

Mix together butter, organic cane sugar, brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Slowly add flour and mix until dough forms. Stir in white chocolate chips and blueberries and chill dough for at least 4 hours.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Dough

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place scoops of dough onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Your scoops should be roughly 1 tablespoon per scoop. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 3-4 minutes and then place cookies on a rack to cool completely. Repeat until you run out of dough.

(Note: When you are not scooping the dough place it back in the fridge so the butter won't get too warm. Cookies with butter bake better when the dough is completely chilled.)

Makes 4 1/2 to 5 dozen cookies.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Peak Inside

Notes: You could use dried cherries or goji berries in place of the blueberries if you liked. Or a mix of dried fruit would be good as well.

Posted by Dianne at 9:22 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 13, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars

I like to send in treats with Jamison to work now and then, and sadly lately I've been very lax about that! I decided I wanted to make something stellar to send since it had been a while. The month of December was just a madhouse and I didn't get around to it! I actually baked exactly one thing during the month December and that was cookies for Santa! Sheesh! I don't know how long it's been since I haven't baked almost anything in a month!

There I go digressing again...Where was I? Oh yes....

At some point during the month of December I was at the grocery store and I saw a dessert similar to this in a magazine. Of course it called for a boxed brownie mix, which is fine, but I rather like putting together my own mix. I think it tastes better and then I know for sure what is in the final outcome. So I filed the idea into my head and kept thinking I'd get around to making them sometime during the month, but never did. I did however get around to making them on New Year's Day to send to work with Jamison the next day.

I really liked how these turned out...They were delicious and it's a good thing I sent them to work with Jamison because I would have ended up eating more than the one I sampled before I sent them to work with him. I mean chocolate and peanut butter? What's not to like?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars: Crust Baked

What You'll Need for the "Crust":
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 a stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Crush graham crackers in your food processor or with the bottom of a glass in a bowl. Add sugar and butter and stir to mix. Press into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 7-10 minutes until crust is slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on and proceed to mix brownies. (See below).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars: Brownie Layer Baked

What You'll Need for the Brownie Layer:
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Mix melted butter with sugar and eggs until sugar is completely wet. Stir cocoa into the butter/sugar mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Stir in baking powder and vanilla until mixed. Add flour and mix until batter is fudgy and flour is completely mixed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars: Brownie Layer Ready to Bake

Spread the mixture out on top of the baked graham cracker crust (see above) using wet hands to help push the batter out. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brownies are done, but still fudgy. Remove from oven and let cool completely and the proceed to the peanut butter mousse (see below).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars: Ready to Top

What You'll Need for the Peanut Butter Mousse:
1 cup of heavy cream, whipped
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of peanut butter (Note: You can use creamy or crunchy, I used creamy.)
1 cup of powdered sugar

In the bowl of your mixer whip heavy cream until whipped cream forms. Remove from mixer bowl and place in a large glass bowl.

Return mixer bowl to your mixer and beat cream cheese until completely smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until completely incorporated. Slowly and gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter/sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Spread peanut butter mousse mixture out on top of the cooled brownie layer. Chill for at least 45 minutes in the fridge and then proceed to the toppings. (See below).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Bars: Ready to Slice

What You'll Need for the Topping:
1 cup of chocolate chips (Note: You can use semi-sweet, dark, milk, whatever you prefer...I used semi-sweet since Jamison couldn't eat this. He's all about the milk chocolate as I've mentioned before.)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of honey roasted peanuts
12 mini chocolate peanut butter cups, chopped

Over low heat melt the chocolate chips in the heavy cream until completely smooth. Pour/drizzle over the chilled peanut butter mousse layer. Sprinkle with honey roasted peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups.

Chill for at least another 45 minutes and then slice into small pieces. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Notes: Obviously this is not low-fat in any shape of form. It's good though, but it's very rich! A little definitely goes a long way.

Posted by Dianne at 12:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 8, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Tart

Pumpkin Pie Tart

Today is our last rewind recipe from Thanksgiving! And what's Thanksgiving without some sort of pumpkin pie type deal? This recipe takes the aspects of a pumpkin pie and bakes them in a tart pan. It's a bit creamier than your standard pumpkin pie, but oh so delicious none the less! This tart is also sinfully easy and what's not to like about that? If you want something just a little bit different, all while sticking with the "traditional" and making things easy on yourself themes then this is the dish for you!

What You'll Need:
1 pie crust (Note: You can make your own or buy one ready to go, your choice.)
1 - 15 ounce can of pumpkin (Note: Not pumpkin pie mix.)
3 eggs
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cloves

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Press pie crust into a 9 inch tart pan and set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer mix together pumpkin, eggs, natural brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until completely incorporated.

Pour pumpkin mixture into the crust in the tart pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until pie is set. (Note: You don't want it to be really browned, just set. Pumpkin pie tends to get darker as it bakes due to the ingredients and that is fine, but you don't want it to be too browned.) Cool to room temperature and then chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Pumpkin Pie Tart

Note: If you want to use a gingersnap or graham cracker crust in place of the pie crust you could. You could use 15 ounces of freshly cooked pumpkin if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 2:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 11, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Cupcakes? What's better to take to a party that you know will be attended by a lot of children? So that's just what we made for our Halloween block (road) party! This cupcake is simple, straight forward and delicious. Of course you can eat these cupcakes anytime and their decor could be shifted to fit any season. What's not to like about that?

And no you didn't read that title wrong...I said buttercream! If you've been around Dianne's Dishes for a while you'll know that usually I am NOT a fan of icing made with butter at all, but I played around with it until I found something I actually liked!

So grab your cupcake pans and grab some butter...You'll be glad you did!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

What You'll Need for the Cupcakes:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/3 cup of safflower oil
3 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
2 tablespoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients until well mixed. Add remaining ingredients and stir until batter is smooth. Add to cupcake pan that has been lined and fill each cup 3/4ths of the way full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes stick done. Cool to room temperature, frost (see below) and add sprinkles (or not).

Notes: If you want to make lemon cupcakes you could add lemon extract instead of vanilla. Peppermint? Add in mint extract, etc...You get the idea! ;oP

Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

What You'll Need for the Buttercream Icing:
2 sticks of butter, very soft
1 - 16 ounce package of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of vanilla
1/4 cup of cold water
Food coloring (optional)

Add butter to the bowl of your mixer and beat until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat on low until completely smooth. If you want to color your icing add food coloring now. Use immediately to frost cupcakes or cake.

Notes: As I've mentioned before I rarely sift anything and that includes powdered sugar. Now if I were making an Angel Food Cake, I'd definitely sift, but for icing it's not necessary unless you just get a kick out of sifting. :o)

Posted by Dianne at 12:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 4, 2008

Election Day Apple Pie

Election Day Apple Pie: Baked

For election day I wanted to do something that was the epitome of Americana and you just can't get more American that apple pie! Apple pie is just one of those quintessential American dishes that you'll find time and time again across America. As I type this the smell of the warm pie is wafting up through the house and it just screams America!

Apple pie, while delicious, is also extremely easy to make. I wanted to play around with my normal recipe a bit, so I tweaked it and what you see here is the result. It's luscious, cinnamony and oh so delicious! Warm or cooled, this pie will definitely win raves! You could even pair it with some vanilla or caramel ice cream for an even bigger treat, but over all what's better than a little all time American traditional food, using in season local ingredients, on election day all with a message baked right in? ;oP

So if you haven't already, don't forget to get out there today and vote! :o)

Election Day Pie: Vote

What You'll Need:
1 double pie crust (Note: I actually bought crust for this pie, but you can make it from scratch if you prefer. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.)
5 apples, cored and chopped (Note: I used 4 Golden Delicious apples and 1 Fuji apple. There is no need to peel the apples, unless you just want to add an extra step for yourself! ;oP)
2 tablespoons of cinnamon (Note: I adore cinnamon. If you aren't as fond of it as I am, then you can use 1 tablespoon instead.)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla powder (Note: You can omit this if you want. This was new addition that I have been wanting to try and I must say I liked the little kick it gave!)
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
Organic cane sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Press pie dough into a pie dish and set aside.

Election Day Pie: Apples

Place chopped apples in a large bowl.

Election Day Pie: Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Add cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla powder, brown sugar, salt and flour and toss to coat.

Election Day Apple Pie: Ready for Top Crust

Pour apples into the pie dish. (Note: They may stand up a bit over the edge of the dish...This is ok.)

Election Day Apple Pie: Ready for Egg Wash

For the top crust you can do it one of two ways: 1) You can place the dough on top and use a knife to make vent holes or 2) You can cut out a shape(s) with small cookie cutters and then place the dough on top. Once dough is on top, crimp the edges to seal the pie and place it on a baking sheet.

Election Day Apple Pie: A Slice

Next brush the top of the pie with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes until pie is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Election Day Apple Pie: A Bite

Notes: I know some people like raisins in their apple pie (me not so much) so if that sounds good to you, you could add in 1 cup of raisins as well.

Election Day Apple Pie:

So if you haven't voted yet, what are you waiting for? Go on! Go vote! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:16 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 17, 2008

Dianne's Guest Blog Week: Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies

You've heard me "talk" about my sister, so now you get to "meet" her firsthand! She lives here in Maryland too with her husband and my two nephews (Nelson, almost 3 and Grant, almost 7 months). Sit back and relax and enjoy Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Katherine doesn't have a blog as of yet, but she writes blog entries in her head...Don't believe me? Just ask her! ;oP

Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking is therapeutic for me; it is one of my favorite ways to de-stress. Just ask anyone who knew me in college. Every semester when finals would roll around, the sweets would start pouring forth from my kitchen.

It’s how I became known as the “cookie queen” of our campus ministry. Well, the copious amounts of cookies I’d share during finals and the fact that cookies are what I brought as my contribution to every gathering we ever had. The cookie recipe that helped me achieve my far reaching evanescent fame was the cowboy cookie recipe that Mom taught Dianne and me how to make. I’ve added several other cookie recipes to my tried-and-true group, and I still enjoy playing around with recipes to come up with (drum roll, please) THE PERFECT COOKIE. I have come close, but don’t feel comfortable crowning a winner just yet.

Of the contenders, my most requested cookie recipe is one I stumbled across while babysitting in college. They are known to me only as “Debra’s Oatmeal Cookies” (my recipe card still says as much – although I added the tagline “from Valerie” since her kitchen is where I made my discovery). Little did I know that that fateful morning when I snagged a cookie from the cookie jar before the kids woke up – then pestered the kids’ mom for the recipe – would be the day I met my best cookie yet!

Here is the recipe in its original form:

1 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 c. rolled oats
2 c. corn flakes
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans

Over time I’ve tweaked the recipe here and there, mostly in a quest to ramp up the nutrition content of the cookie. I’ve substituted whole wheat flour (originally just half of it but now I use all whole wheat flour) without a noticeable difference. Then I stared playing around with the sugar. I used to think that brown sugar was better for you than white, and I guess originally it was, but now most commercially available brown sugar is simply refined white sugar with molasses added to it. So I turned to turbinado sugar. The first time I used it I read that if you’re substituting it for brown sugar, you should add 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup to maintain the moisture content of the recipe (of course now I can’t find where I read that) . If you feel the need to add honey or maple syrup, just make sure you reduce the measure of sugar (I forgot this time and boy was this batch sweet!). The turbinado sugar can keep its crystal state even when it is baked. Some people prefer to “pre-melt” it a bit to keep this to a minimum, but I haven’t done that. Personally, I think using it straight adds a very satisfying crunch to the finished cookie. Finally, I switched to organic cane sugar – which is less refined than regular white sugar. But, it is important to remember that even with all the whole grains and less refined sugars, anything with two cups of sugar and a cup of butter is still a “sometimes food”. :o)

Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies: Sugars

The recipe as I make it now:

1 c. butter softened (or not*)
1 c. organic cane sugar
1 c. minus 1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. homemade vanilla extract
2 c. whole wheat flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
2 c. rolled oats (the slow-cook kind!)
2 c. organic corn flakes
1 c. white chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans

Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies: Ingredients

*I usually skip the softening of the butter (usually because I forget to do it ahead of time). If you dump the butter and the sugar into the mixer and let it go to town, the friction will usually soften it. (Just remember that they may take a few extra minutes to bake if the butter is still cold-ish when you put them in the oven).

Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies: Ready to Cream

(Dianne Note: How cute is that bear peaking into the picture?? ;oP)

Like any good baking project, the first thing to do is gather all the ingredients around your stand mixer (you CAN do this by hand, but only if you really need an upper body workout – this batter is THICK!) The directions below are assuming that you’re using a paddle attachment in your mixer, and you start by dumping the butter and sugar into the bowl of the mixer and turn on the mixer. Then, don’t turn the mixer off until you’re finished! [Unless you get distracted after you add the flour – don’t let it just sit and mix and mix and mix if the flour is already in there. It messes with the gluten in the flour (or something like that) and can make the finished product a little wonky.]

Cream butter and sugars until well incorporated. Add honey, eggs and vanilla. While that mixes, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a big measuring cup then slowly add to the wet mixture. Once that’s incorporated, add the oats, corn flakes, chips and pecans. Let it mix until the batter starts jumping out of the side of the bowl is mixed well and turn off the mixer.

Katherine's Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies: Ready to Bake

Spoon (I actually prefer to just grab handfuls of it and make little clumps to place) onto a baking sheet and bake at 350º until the tops are golden brown. (Usually about 12-15 minutes, but sometimes longer – really, just watch them). Let them cool for about a minute on the pan before removing to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Once cool, place in an airtight container. Or just stand there and eat them. :o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 8, 2008

You Want Pies With That? Gone With the Wind Pie!

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: White Chocolate and Spearmint with a Chocolate Crust

The theme for the first "You Want Pies With That?" Challenge was "I Love That Movie!" and I immediately thought of Gone With the Wind! Thinking of Gone With the Wind brought to mind mint juleps and mint juleps for some reason made me think of white chocolate. Then my brain decided that white chocolate and mint would be perfect paired with a chocolate crust and wham....Gone With the Wind Pie was born!

I grew up in Tennessee and for years I've heard of mint juleps. In all honesty I've never had one, but they are just such a quintessential Southern tradition they immediately bring to mind Scarlet sunning herself at the barbeque surrounded by a bunch of smitten beaus! So I knew I wanted to do something along these lines. I wouldn't say Gone With The Wind was my all time favorite movie (I would go more with The Quiet Man or Roman Holiday...Yes I have a thing for old movies!) but I did appreciate it...There is just something about Scarlet's indomitable spirit and how nothing keeps her down that sort of draws you in, but I guess that's neither here nor there.

This pie is rich, creamy and oh so good! Paired with some freshly made whipped cream and it was just the perfect combo. If you like mint and white chocolate, with a little chocolate chocolate thrown in for good measure, then this is the pie for you!

Be sure and stop over at the You Want Pies With That blog and see what everyone else cooked up!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
1/3 cup of sugar
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 F.

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbs

Crush graham crackers until mostly crushed. A few chunks here and there are fine. Stir in sugar and melted butter until mixed. Press mixture into a pie plate or tart pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

What You'll Need for the White Chocolate Spearmint Filling:
2 cups of heavy cream
1 - 3/4 ounce package of fresh spearmint (Note: If you can't find spearmint any type of mint will do.)
2 - 3.5 ounce Green and Black's White Chocolate Bars (Note: These are actually candy bars, but baking chocolate would work ok too.)
2 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of corn starch

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Spearmint and Heavy Cream

In a medium sized pot over low heat place heavy cream and spearmint and cook 10-15 minutes until mint is wilted. Once mint is wilted strain heavy cream and place it back in the pot.

While mint is steeping in the cream melt white chocolate with butter until smooth. (Note: I do this in the microwave. Keep an eye on it though and do it in intervals so as not to burn.)

Whisk melted chocolate mixture into mint cream until smooth. Add sugar and stir to incorporate. Cook for 1-2 minutes to melt sugar. Add corn starch and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Pour mixture into baked pie shell.

Chill pie for at least 4 hours and then serve with freshly made whipped cream. You can garnish with extra mint if you like.

You Want Pies With That?: Gone With the Wind Pie: Half Way In

Notes: This is really minty. If you're not a fan of mint then you'll definitely want to pass on this.

pies

So there you have it...Gone With the Wind Pie! That was fun!

birthday2008

Also don't miss your chance to help me celebrate my birthday and win a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! Just click on the cake above and sign up before it's too late!

Posted by Dianne at 9:07 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

October 7, 2008

Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Apple Cake

It's that time of year again...Apple season! When Jamison told me that they were having a going away party today at work I knew I wanted to make something appley to send. So I starting mixing and stirring and this is what resulted!

There are bits of apples and pecan throughout, a fabulous cinnamon flavor and the caramel drizzle just takes it over the top! If you are looking for something to do with your fall apple harvest and like apple cake, then look no further! I've got just the recipe for you!

Caramel Apple Cake

What You'll Need for the Apple Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
3/4 cup of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup of safflower oil
1 cup of buttermilk
2 tablespoons of vanilla
2 apples, chopped (Note: I used Granny Smith, but any apple will do. Also there is no need to remove the peel.)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (Note: I measure them and then chop.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar until incorporated. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add eggs, honey, safflower oil, buttermilk and vanilla and stir until completely mixed. (Note: The mixture will be thick.) Stir in apples and pecans until mixed through and pour into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Make sure batter is spread out evenly throughout the dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake is golden and sticks done with a toothpick. Let cool completely and then top with Caramel Drizzle (see below).

Caramel Apple Cake

What You'll Need for the Caramel Drizzle:
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of heavy cream

In a medium sized pot melt sugar and butter in heavy cream. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour over the top of the cooled Apple Cake (see above).

Notes: You could use walnuts in place of the pecans if you liked. You could also add in a cup of raisins if you liked.

Now let's talk about a few other things...

pies

First don't forget tomorrow is the deadline for the first installment of You Want Pies With That?? The theme for this month is a pie based on your favorite movie! I can't wait to share my pie with you tomorrow! It's not too late for you to bake up a pie if you want to get involved. Simply click on the graphic above to find out more over at the You Want Pies With That? site!

birthday2008

Also don't miss your chance to help me celebrate my birthday and win a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! Just click on the cake above and sign up before it's too late!

So everyone get out there and enjoy this glorious fall afternoon!

Posted by Dianne at 12:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 2, 2008

Operation Baking GALS: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies Bars

bakingGALS

It's that time again...Time to send off an Operation Baking GALS package! This time around I was part of Team We'll Eat Everything hosted by Lauren of I'll Eat You.

First off let's talk a little post office "humor" or perhaps lack there of. I went to a small local post office that is near my house, but has a larger parking lot and better layout than the one that is a mile closer. I often go to this post office, in fact I've mailed both of my other Operation Baking GALS packages from this location with no problems. They've always given me the APF/FPO rate and things were hunky dorey. Today however I got a guy who had absolutely no clue!

I had my box taped up/addressed, I had my forms filled out, all I needed to do was pay for the shipping and things would be perfect. The first indication that something was amiss is when he took a pen and wrote the country I was sending the package to on the package itself. This is a big no no. You only put the APO/FPO address on the box for security reasons. They ship the package to the base and then the base ships it out to wherever the soldier happens to be located. I mentioned to him that I had never had to do that before and he said it was a requirement so I figured perhaps the regulations had changed so I let it slide.

The next indication was when he told me in all seriousness it was going to cost close to $70 to ship the package! So I asked him why and he told me that was just how it was. I mentioned how in the past when I had shipped these packages it was with the special rate and he said that was impossible. He hadn't stamped anything or affixed anything to the box so I told him "No thanks!" and promptly drove the mile up the road to the other post office and told them what happened. They not only gave me the right rate, they marked out the area where he had written the country and had their post master call the other post office and ream him out for not having a clue. In all honesty I felt slightly sorry for the guy, though part of me still felt vindication for being right! ;o)

I meant to take a picture of the box before I sealed it up, but I forgot. On top of the batch of brownies and cookies bars I also added in some dried pears, fruit snacks and some candy too. Anyway, that's neither here nor there...Let's talk some recipes shall we! ;o)

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie

What You'll Need For The Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies:
6 ounces of baking chocolate
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 cup of cocoa
4 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of peanut butter chips
3/4 cup of peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium sized pot over low heat melt chocolate, butter and sugar until completely melted. Don't let it come to a boil or simmer, you just want to melt the ingredients. Once melted remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt and cocoa until well mixed. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Add this mixture into the dry mixture, along with the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Stir in peanut butter chips and mix well.

Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and spread out until batter evenly covers the pan. (Note: Batter will be thick.) Drop dollops of peanut butter over the top of the batter and use a knife to swirl it into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until batter is firm, yet still fudgy. Let cool completely and then slice into squares.

Notes: I tested these out by making a batch and sending them to work with Jamison first. They seemed to really like them! They were firm enough that was able to vacuum seal them before sending them. Hopefully they'll hold up!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

What You'll Need For The Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir to mix. Slowly add flour and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips to mix.

Spread dough into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 25-30 minutes until cookie mixture sets. Cool and cut into squares.

Notes: You can use what ever type of chocolate chips you fancy. You could also add in a cup of some sort of chopped nut if you prefer.

Posted by Dianne at 1:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 23, 2008

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

It's apple season! The other day at the orchard I picked up some fresh Galas and besides being delicious all on their own (apples are one of Lex and my favorite snacks!) I knew I wanted to bake something with them too. I thought about making a basic apple cake, but decided I wanted to kick it up a notch so why not add some chocolate chips? The result was fabulous! And the most important thing is that it's extremely easy to make...What's not to like about that? Whether you'd like this for breakfast or dessert, if you like chocolate and apples this is the one for you!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of apples, chopped (Note: I used Gala, but whatever kind you like will work.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup of safflower oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 of an 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips (Note: I used 60% Bittersweet, but you can use milk, semi or even go crazy and use white chocolate chips...It's all up to you!)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake: Apples

Chop apples. Toss with 1/2 cup of sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Add eggs, safflower oil, vanilla and buttermilk and stir until batter forms. Add apples and stir to mix. Next stir in chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.

Pour mixture into a round pie plate that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 35-35 minutes until golden brown and done through. Remove from oven, let cool and serve.

Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Notes: If you wanted to take this over the top you could drizzle it with a little caramel sauce and/or top it with whipped cream.

Posted by Dianne at 8:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 22, 2008

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce

The weekend didn't turn out quite as we had hoped, but still it was busy! I'll say it again...Two days just isn't enough for everything that needs to be done on the weekend!

Yesterday we ran some errands, I got my hair cut (finally!) and Jamison even treated Alexis and I to lunch out. Then we came home and I finished up lesson planning and getting everything ready for this week's lessons. That alone, usually takes up 5 or 6 hours, even with pre-planning!

On Saturday we went to the Fall Festival that I mentioned on Friday, but in all honesty it was a bit of a let down. Saturday evening my sister, her husband and the boys didn't make it over after all. Nelson got sick (get well soon buddy!) and needless to say that put a damper on things. I had already made dessert though.

My sister requested "something lemony" for dessert, but not cheesecake, which is amusing given when she said lemony, cheesecake never even entered my mind, and that in of itself is weird given I'm the Cheesecake Queen, but for some reason I've never really fancied Lemon Cheesecake. I know...I know...How is that even possible?!??! But there you go!

I had been wanting to play around with lemon bars for a while, so this is what I came up with! It's creamy, tangy, yet sweet! I hadn't originally planned on adding blueberry sauce to the top, but blueberry/lemon...What's not to like about that?? All together it was simply just the right mix of flavors!

So happy birthday Sister Pooh and many more! And maybe if Nelson feels a little better later in the week I'll share your birthday "cake" with you! ;oP

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until incorporated. Press into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Leave oven on and proceed to custard.

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce: Sliced

What You'll Need for the Custard:
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
The zest of 2 lemons
8 egg yolks

Mix all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer until slightly thick. Pour over baked crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until custard is set. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cooled refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

To serve top with powdered sugar and/or blueberry sauce. (See below).

Lemon Custard Bars with Blueberry Sauce: A Bite

What You Need for the Blueberry Sauce:
2 pints of blueberries (Note: I used some I had frozen earlier in the year when they were in season, but fresh berries will work perfectly too.)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
The zest of 1 lemon
The juice of 1 lemon

Dump ingredients into a medium sized sauce pan. Cook over meidum heat until blueberries start to pop and sauce forms. Remove from heat and cool completely. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Notes: If lemon is not your thing you could do this with orange or lime juice.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 10, 2008

Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

On Labor Day some friends of our came over for dinner and I made a Milk Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing for dessert. Growing up this icing was paired with a chocolate cake on my father's birthday, only then we called it German Chocolate. I'm not quite sure why it was called that, given German Chocolate cakes normally have coconut added into the mix and the icing is a bit different, but it was something we did every year and my mom still does for my dad now most years.

When I moved out into the world I started making this cake more often than just once a year. No matter who I've served it to, it's normally a hit. I've adapted it slightly as time has passed and I no longer use a cake mix, but make a cake from scratch now too. This definitely is a crowd pleaser. It's sweet, rich and oh so sinful, but sometimes you just need a little sin on a plate!

What You'll Need for the Cake:
1 - 11.5 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 3/4 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a glass bowl in the microwave melt chocolate and butter together until smooth. (Note: My microwave has a chocolate melting setting. If yours does not, you can use a double boiler or you can melt the chocolate on medium power in your microwave at 30 second intervals until melted and smooth.) Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large glass bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. (Note: If you want to go to the trouble of sifting this you can, but I have a strict don't sift unless you just have to rule and for a cake you really don't have to! ;oP) Once the dry mixture is mixed add eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and melted chocolate and stir until completely incorporated.

Now is the fun part...What shape cake do you want to make? You can make a 13 X 9 inch sheet cake, you can make a round cake, you can make a square cake or you can even make cupcakes! I chose to make a square cake and used 2 - 8 inch square pans.

Spray your pan(s) generously with non-stick spray and pour the batter evenly into your pan(s). If you are using two pans then make sure the batter is spread evenly between the two pans...If you are making cupcakes fill each hole no more than 2/3 of the way full. Place your pan(s) into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until cake sticks done and remove from oven. (Note: Cupcakes would take rougly 20-30 minutes.)

Let cakes cool in the pan(s) for roughly 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Cool completely and then ice or frost.

Notes: You can use any kind of chocolate that you like. I had milk chocolate on hand, but semi or dark will work fine too.

What You'll Need for the Caramel Icing:
2 1/2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups of natural brown sugar
1 cup of half and half or heavy cream
4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted (Note: If your powdered sugar isn't lumpy then you can skip this step...As I mentioned above I'm about the not sifting unless you just have to! ;oP)
1 tablespoon of vanilla (optional)

Note: This mixture has to be cooled before you make the icing so you can make it well before you bake the cake or while you're baking the cake. But it must be completely cooled before the icing is made.)

In a medium sized pot melt butter and sugar with half and half or heavy cream until completely melted. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla if desired. Set aside and let cool completely to room temperature.

Once mixture is cooled, add to the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer, add powdered sugar and beat until thick and spreadable. Use icing to ice the cooled Milk Chocolate Cake.

Notes: Given the base of this icing is butter on a hot day it can not want to cooperate. Store in the fridge if you have the room to keep it from running. If you can't get it to set up then add more powdered sugar 1/4 of a cup at a time until it gets thick.

Posted by Dianne at 7:09 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 26, 2008

Operation Baking GALS Mission Two Team Barefoot: Peanut Butter Brownies and Mint Chocolate Chip Bars

bakingGALS

Over at Operation Baking GALS it's time for Mission Two and I'm on Team Barefoot this go around! I decided to send a couple of things again just as I did last time. This time I decided to make some Peanut Butter Brownies and some Mint Chocolate Chip Bars to send. I sent my package out Saturday morning so hopefully they'll arrive soon!

If you are interested in getting involved in Operation Baking GALS yourself check out the website and for now why don't you try one of the recipes for yourself? What are you waiting for??

Peanut Butter Brownies

What You'll Need for the Peanut Butter Brownies:
4 ounces of baking chocolate
1 stick of butter
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 cup peanut butter (Note: Crunchy or smooth will work. I used smooth.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt baking chocolate with butter in either a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl stir together flour, salt and baking powder until completely incorporated. Add chocolate mixture, eggs and buttermilk and stir until completely mixed. Stir in peanut butter until incorporated and spread batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Peanut Butter Brownies: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-35 minutes until brownies are fudgy. Let cool completely and slice into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Notes: If you leave out the peanut butter you just have your basic brownie, but the peanut butter gives the brownie such a wonderful flavor.

Mint Chocolate Chip Bars

What You'll Need for the Mint Chocolate Chip Bars:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 1/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 - 10 ounce package of mint chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. (Note: If you were using this dough for cookies instead of bars, you would want to chill the dough for at least 4 hours before baking, but since you are baking like you would brownies you can skip the chilling.)

In the bowl of a mixer cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add salt and baking soda and mix until incorporated. Add flour slowly and mix until dough forms. Stir or mix in chocolate chips and spread the dough out into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and done through.

Mint Chocolate Chips Bars: Baked

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature and then slice into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Notes: This is just an adaptation of the basic Toll House Cookie recipe. You could use regular chocolate chips and add nuts if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 7:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 15, 2008

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate...What's not to like? I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much chocolate. Jamison on the other hand...Well let's just say that he's a firm believer in chocolate in small doses.

Yes I know...How is that possible? ;oP

He does however like chocolate pie (though I'll have to gluten free-ize it before Thanksgiving...And yes I did just make that up!) so I thought it might be fun to play around with some pudding and see what I could come up with and let me tell you Alexis and I were highly impressed!

Now in the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that Jamison wasn't as big of a fan of this as Lex and I. He thought it was too rich, which rich it was, but again it's all a matter of perspective. I also was out of milk chocolate so that made it a bit richer than it might have been otherwise and I'll definitely try it again in the future using milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet to see if it would be a bit more to his liking. Overall however I was very pleased and if you're a chocolate lover I think you would be too!

P.S. I enjoyed taking last weekend off so much I've decided to make it an every week thing for the most part unless something just really inspires me and I can't wait to share it with you all! Check back this afternoon for "What's For Dinner?" and then I'll see you happy readers on Monday!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of chocolate chips (Note: Milk, semi-sweet or dark will work fine. Or you could do a mix of them or even go nuts and throw in some white chocolate chips too!)
1 1/2 cups of sugar (Note: Jamison likes things very sweet!)
1 1/2 cups of half and half (Note: Fat-free or regular is fine.)
1 cup of corn starch
1/2 a stick of butter, softened

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding: Ready to Melt

In a large pot, over low to medium heat, melt chocolate chips and sugar in half and half, stirring often, until smooth. Once melted bring to a quick boil and slowly add corn starch, stirring constantly. Once mixture is slightly thickened (about 2-3 minutes) remove from heat, add softened butter and stir for an additional minute or until butter is completely melted and incorporated. Chill for 1 hour and serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Gluten Free Chocolate Pudding: Ready to Chill

Notes: Because of the chocolate chips this is a make and serve sort of dish. The longer it sits, the more firm it becomes. If needed you can whip the mixture with a mixer or hand mixer just before serving if you feel it's too firm.

Posted by Dianne at 7:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Chocolate and peanut butter...Such a fabulous combination as you well know! A few weeks ago when our neighbor did us a favor I decided to play around with the two ingredients and this cookie is the result! These cookies are tender and almost cake like and the flavors of the chocolate and the peanut butter just meld so well! I wish Jamison could have tried these, but alas with the gluten it just wasn't an option! These would have been fabulous for him though! Regardless, if you are a peanut butter/chocolate lover then these are the cookies for you!

What You'll Need:
2 ounces of baking chocolate
1/4 cup of half and half
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup of peanut butter powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of cocoa
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 - 10 ounce packages of peanut butter chips

Melt baking chocolate with the half and half in the microwave until smooth. (Note: My microwave actually has a setting for melting chocolate and it works great! You want to be extremely careful when you melt chocolate in the microwave that you don't let it go too far and burn. Do the first round at 30 seconds and then do each additional round at 20 seconds if your microwave doesn't have a setting.) Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together butter, peanut butter powder, vanilla, eggs and sugar until completely smooth. Add cooled, melted chocolate and mix well. Next add sea salt, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa to the wet mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Slowly add flour and mix until just mixed. Add peanut butter chips and stir to incorporate. (Note: You can do this with a spoon or you can just mix them in with the mixer on low. I prefer the mixer method.) Place dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Drop dough by the rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 8-12 minutes until cookies are done through. Remove from oven let sit on the cookie sheets for a couple of minutes and then remove the cookies gently to a cooling rack. Once the cookie are cooled store in an airtight container.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Notes: You could add in chopped peanuts as well if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 7:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 3, 2008

Operation Baking GALS: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies and Trail Mix Too!

bakingGALS

So as I mentioned the other day when Susan of She's Becoming Doughmesstic asked me to help out with Operation Baking GALS and send a care package to her cousin stationed overseas I said yes at once and I knew exactly what I wanted to send...Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies, that trust me if I didn't tell you they didn't have flour in them you'd never know! I knew they would ship well and while I was at it I also decided to whip up a big batch of Trail Mix! I put together the trail mix the next day and baked up the cookies on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning Alexis and I made our way to the post office and off the package went with a little note to Susan's cousin as to who I was and why I was sending him stuff and now I'm going to share both recipes with you!

Let's start first with the peanut butter cookies...

As I've mentioned before we recently discovered Jamison can not have gluten and that has been a big adjustment and many time gluten free baked goods leave a lot to be desired and I mean A LOT! The other day I wanted to make Jamison some peanut butter cookies and a friend of mine told me a simple recipe that was gluten free and mentioned that you would never know that there wasn't any gluten present...

In all honesty my first reaction was "Yeah right!" quickly followed after I saw the recipe by "There is no way that is going to work and make cookies!"

I dubiously mixed up the "dough" and was extremely surprised that it actually looked like cookie dough. I was equally as surprised that it came together at all, but hey it did! So I scooped out balls of "dough", placed them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven and low and behold cookies did come out! And when I let them cool for a minute and actually tasted one I was shocked. I mean taste wise I expected them to be OK...The ingredients weren't all that out there and were good in and of themselves, but I was most shocked by the texture...You would never know there wasn't flour in these cookies! They were amazing! The version I made for Jamison was a bit different than the one I made to send...I'll talk more about that in the notes below, but for now let's get started!

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

What You'll Need:
3 cups of organic sugar
3 eggs
2 cups of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 cup of chopped peanuts
3 tablespoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

In a large bowl cream together sugar, eggs and peanut butters until smooth. Stir in chopped nuts to incorporate and then add vanilla and stir to mix. (Note: These cookies don't "spread" out when they bake so you can put them rather close together as seen above. Be sure to leave a little room for the next step.) Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly browned.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies: Baked

Once cookies are baked take the back of a fork and gently press down to flatten slightly. Let cook and then store in an air tight container.

Operation Baking Gals: Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Variation for Jamison:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Using the same instructions as above mix 2 cups of creamy peanut butter, 2 cups of sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 1 package of milk chocolate chips and bake the same way. Once baked take the back of spatula and flatten the cookies slightly. Let cookies cool and store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: I didn't send the variation with chocolate chips because I was afraid it would be too hot for the chocolate chips to survive the journey and they would just melt into a big old mess. According to Susan I don't think it mattered as they enjoyed the regular peanut butter version just fine. :o)

Now let's talk a little trail mix!

Trail Mix

Trail mix is basically just a mix of dried fruits and nuts as you well know. You can add anything you like. This is my version, though I did add in one ingredient that many like that I'm not a fan of as you'll see below.

What You'll need for the Trail Mix:
1/2 a pound of roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 a pound of raisins
1/2 a pound of sultanas
1/2 a pound of dried cranberries (Note: If this had been for me I would have omitted the cranberries...I'm not a fan. Though it you can always pick around what you don't like too! ;oP)
1/2 a pound of roasted peanuts
1/2 a pound of roasted cashews
1/2 a pound of sliced almonds
1/2 a pound of Brazil nuts
1 cup of cocoa nibs
1 - 2.5 ounce container of Just Cherries (Note: These are just dried cherries. If you can't find the brand then any dried cherry will work.)
1 2.5 ounce container of Just Bananas (Note: Again any dried banana chip will work.)

Mix together ingredients in a large bowl until incorporated. Store in an airtight container.

Trail Mix

How easy is that? And the trail mix is gluten free too!

So there you have my additions to this round of Operation Baking GALS! Until next time.

Posted by Dianne at 12:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies

These cookies are one of Jamison's all time favorites. As a child we called them "Cow Drop Cookies" and I'll let you just imagine why! ;oP I have made these many times over the years and I have even made a gluten free non-oat version in the past since I haven't been able to locate gluten free oats that don't cost a bazillion dollars a pound.

See there I go digressing again...Where was I? Oh yes!

A few weeks ago our neighbor did us a huge favor and I wanted to send something home with him for helping us out. My mind immediately set on these cookies! They are quick, easy and beyond delicious and just perfect for when you want to whip something up fast to share! I also sent a batch to work with Jamison the next day, because why not share all around! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa
2/3 cup of half and half
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 cups of oats
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter with both sugars, cocoa and half and half in a medium sized pot and bring to a quick boil over medium heat. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until the peanut butter is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and then add oats. Drop by the rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let set for an hour or two and serve. Store in an airtight container.

How simple and delicious is that?

Notes: You could use crunchy peanut butter if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 7:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownie

Cheesecake and brownies...Who doesn't like those? Why not combine the two and see what you come up with? This is it! These brownies are rich, decadent and oh so delicious! These most definitely are sometimes food, but oh what a sometimes food they are! In fact they were so good I kept a couple and sent the rest off to work with Jamison for a treat day this morning! They were just that tempting! ;oP Of course I haven't sent anything for a treat day at Jamison's office in a while, so this was the perfect excuse!

Cheesecake Brownies: Baked

Seriously these were heavenly, but they'd cause me to have to spend way too much time on the treadmill and in case you didn't know I despise the treadmill even though I drag myself upon it anyway, but why have to drag myself upon it longer than I have to?!!?!? ;oP

What You'll Need for the Brownie Layer:
2 sticks of butter
6 ounces of baking chocolate
2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl melt butter and baking chocolate in the microwave on 30 second intervals until completely melted and smooth. Stir in sugar. (Note: It may be a little grainy one you add the sugar, but don't worry.)

Stir in baking powder and vanilla and stir to incorporate into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs and stir until well mixed. Next slowly stir in flour until completely incorporated.

Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake Layer:
2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 eggs

Cheesecake Brownies: Ready to Swirl

In the bowl of your mixer mix together cream cheese, sugar and eggs until completely smooth. Drop cream cheese mixture by large dollops on top of the brownie mixture. With a spoon swirl cheesecake into the brownie mixture. (Don't worry it's not going to be pretty at this point. It blends more into a swirl once you bake.)

Cheesecake Brownies: Swirled and Ready to Bake

Bake for 30-40 minutes until edges are done and cheesecake center is set. (Note: It may still be a little wiggly. Don't worry.) Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Cheesecake Brownie

Notes: As I mentioned these are very rich, so smaller is better. :o)

Posted by Dianne at 12:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 4, 2008

Patriotic Pie

Patriotic Pie

It's the Fourth of July! And what better way to celebrate than having a dessert that is red, white and blue! This strawberry, blueberry pie with meringue is just the ticket! It's a simple pie to make and it turns out fabulous every time! What's better than that?

Patriotic Pie: A Bite

As a child we always spent the 4th out at the lake. There would be burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, homemade ice cream, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lots of swimming, fishing, some boating and at the end of the evening fireworks! I was thinking about that yesterday. It was a lot of fun...Sometimes you just get nostalgic...All of that to say I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday! I know we will be despite the less than stellar weather! ;o)

Anyway, what does that have to do with pie? Nothing! Let's get to the recipe shall we?

Patriotic Pie: A Slice

What You'll Need For The Crust:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 sticks of very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup of ice water

~OR~

1 store bought single crust

Note: If you are using the store bought crust, make sure it's thawed if it's frozen, but still chilled and proceed to the filling step. If you are making your own see below.

In a bowl stir together flour and salt to mix. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is pebbly. Add water and stir until ball forms. (Note: Depending on the humidity you may need more or less water. Add water slowly and when the ball forms stop. If you need more than a cup don't sweat it.) On a floured surface roll the dough out into a circle. Press into a pie dish, crimping the edges and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill.

Patriotic Pie: Ready for Meringue

What You'll Need For The Pie Filling:
3-4 cups of whole strawberries
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of whole blueberries
1/3 cup of corn starch

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large pot cook strawberries, sugar and water, stirring gently so as not to squash the strawberries until strawberries are just tender and syrup has formed. Add blueberries and corn starch and stir to mix. Remove from heat when the mixture thickens (about 2 minutes).

Pour strawberry/blueberry mixture into your pie shell and bake for 20-30 minutes until pie crust edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

What You'll Need For The Meringue:
4 egg whites
1/3 cup of sugar

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

In the bowl of a mixer whip egg whites and sugar on high until stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue over the top of the pie and bake for 2-3 minutes until meringue is brown. Let pie cool for 30 minutes an serve.

Patriotic Pie

Notes: Meringue not your thing? Whipped cream will work fine too. You could also use another combination of fruit if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 8:53 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

June 24, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: My Version Of A Mixed Berry Cobbler, With A Mini Blueberry Sidecar Cobbler On The Side

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mixed Berry Cobbler

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! Not to mention today is Alexis' fifth birthday! Five years...Where has the time gone!??!? I most likely will not get a chance to get around to everyone's blogs today to see your cobblers and comment since we'll be having a fun day of birthday celebration, starting with a waffle breakfast and presents and then a trip to the zoo instead, so please forgive me this week! I'm sure you all understand and I'll be back around the block next week!

So this week's recipe was Mixed Berry Cobbler and was chosen by Beth of Our Sweet Life! And cobbler is one of those desserts from my childhood. My mom made many cobblers! Normally she would make peach, which I adored, or blackberry, which was not my thing, and it was most likely served while still hot with some vanilla ice cream! So I have to admit when I saw Dorie's recipe I decided immediately that I would be using my own recipe this week, but that's good for you because you get an extra recipe, and who doesn't like another recipe to add to the collection! ;oP

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mixed Berry Cobbler and A Blueberry Cobbler Side Car

I actually made two cobblers. I made the Mixed Berry version for my sister, because I had some frozen raspberries that I needed to get rid of. In honor of full disclosure I have to say I detest raspberries. I've tried them over an over, but I just do not like them. I do not like blackberries either. With raspberries it's a taste (Too sweet? Too tart? I can't figure it out!) and texture thing (they are fury!) and with blackberries it's just a taste thing. Alexis had wanted to try raspberries, so we picked up a small package and she wasn't all that fond on them, so I froze them, intending to give them to my sister anyway because she does like them and then I kept forgetting to take them to her so now she got them, but she just got them in a bit different form! ;oP

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mixed Berry Cobbler, No Blueberry Cobbler

I also made a small mini-cobbler with just blueberries for me. I ended up putting all the strawberries in the Mixed berry cobbler. But I was ok with just blueberries too. I love me some blueberries!

My sister brought over some berries that they had picked at their CSA and I used those. There is just nothing like a fresh strawberry! I must say however that I do not agree with Dorie in terms of strawberries in cobbler (or maybe cooking in general). I don't find that they have too much water content in them and I don't find that they make a soggy cobbler. In fact I've made cobblers many times with only strawberries and they turn out no differently than any other, so throw in as many strawberries as you like!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mixed Berry Cobbler

Sadly I didn't have any vanilla ice cream on hand, but the cobbler was good all on it's own. My sister really liked the Mixed Berry version. (She tried both and actually took the Mixed Berry Cobbler home!) I tried them both as well, but to me the Mixed Berry version was overpowered by the raspberries. Katherine commented on how the raspberry didn't over take the cobbler, but I think for me if the raspberry is there at all I taste it and it ruins the entire thing for me. Oh well. She enjoyed it and that is all that counts!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mixed Berry Cobbler: Ready to Bake

So there you have it my take on this week's Tuesday With Dorie Mixed Berry Cobbler. Check out the recipe below and be sure and stop over at the other Tuesday With Dorie blogs and see how their cobblers turned out!

What You'll Need For The Mixed Berry Cobbler Filling:
3-4 cups of mixed berries
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of apple juice

Place berries in a large bowl. (Note: They can be fresh, frozen, or a mixture of both. Also if you want more than 4 cups of berries throw them in...There are no wrong answers with cobbler!) I used fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries and frozen raspberries. Add sugar and apple juice and stir to coat. Set aside.

What You'll Need For The Cobbler "Dough":
2 cups of unbleached flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/3 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of half and half
1 cup of light sour cream (Note: I normally use buttermilk, but I was out and sour cream works just fine.)
2 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda and organic cane sugar until well mixed. Next add half and half, sour cream and eggs and stir until smooth. Add melted butter and stir until completely mixed. (Note: You'll have a batter, not a dough.)

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour the batter into the dish. Dump the fruit mixture on top of the batter and place the baking dish on a baking tray so if it spills over you're oven is safe from dirtiness! ;o) Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30-340 minutes until crust is well browned. Serve immediately or keep covered and serve at room temperature.

Notes: I sometimes sprinkle sugar on the top of the cobbler before baking, though I did not this time. Also cobbler is superb with vanilla ice cream so don't be afraid to break out a scoop or two! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 6:52 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

Not Tuesdays With Dorie, But No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake Instead!

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake

It's Tuesday! And that should mean Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was La Palette’s Strawberry Tart and was chosen by Marie of A Year in Oak Cottage and as you can see I don't have a tart and I had big plans for this tart! I had planned to make a cheesecake layer to go along with the strawberries, because well cheesecake and strawberries, what's not to like? But alas life got in the way.

Last week was a long week! Seriously it was jam packed busy. I had planned to make the Tart on Friday to serve on Saturday when our friends came over for an early dinner/ play date, but my sister called me to come help her out so she could pack for their trip to Tennessee and well baby cuddles won out! By Saturday it was too hot to bake and I didn't have time after we finished putting in the garden in Saturday morning anyway! So I ended up making a No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake instead!

The Strawberry tart looked heavenly and I'll probably make it in the future, envisioned cheesecake layer and all, but I ultimately went with the much cooler, no oven required cheesecake instead and just because I like you all so much I'll share that recipe with you now! I mean seriously how cool and creamy does this look?

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Jumping In

This really hit the spot on Saturday when the temperature topped out somewhere in the hundreds with a heat index of who knows what and humidity in the twelvety two billion range! Let's get a little closer look at that shall we?

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: A Bite

Doesn't that just look cool and creamy? Yum!

Be sure and stop over at the Tuesdays With Dorie blog and take the links to see what everyone else came up with...I'm sure it was a fabulous dessert! After Alexis' dance/gymnastics show today things should settle down considerably and it's supposed to cool down later in the week too so I'll catch you all next week. Until then enjoy some No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake, because you all know how I am about both Key Lime and Cheesecake...Why not put the two together? Oh wait I've done that already! Well why not put them together again? ;oP

What You'll Need:
1 sleeve of graham crackers
1/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (Note: I used fat free.)
1/2 cup Nellie and Joe's Double Strength Key Lime Juice

(Note: This recipe involves "cooking" your crust in the microwave oven so you must use a glass pie dish. If you want to use metal or use a springform pan you'll have to bake the crust in the oven until golden. If you wanted to you could buy a pre-made crust.)

Crush graham crackers and a medium sized bowl. Add sugar and butter and stir to mix. Set aside.

Spray a glass pie dish with non-stick spray and press the crust into the dish. Place in the microwave for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until the crust hardens slightly. Set aside to cool while making the filling.

In the bowl of your mixer cream together cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until completely smooth. Add key lime juice and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pie shell an spread out to cover the entire crust.

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Ready For The Fridge

Place pie dish in the fridge for at least 3 hours (overnight is better). When ready to serve cut into slices (sometimes the first slice is a bit of a mess) and serve with whipped cream if desired.

No Bake Key Lime Cheesecake: Sliced

Note: You could do this with either lemon or orange juice instead if Key Lime isn't your thing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:34 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

June 3, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies With A Twist...There's Always A Twist!

Tuesdays With Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was French Chocolate Brownies and was chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook! I have to say I feel an affinity for Di every time I see her name. My friends call me Di too, but that's neither here nor there! ;o)

Where was I? Oh yes...Chocolate Brownies! What else do you need to say? I mean seriously...What's better than an ooey, chocolately, fudgy brownie? Not much in my opinion and these brownies are all of that! They are just delicious!

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies: Ready to Eat

Of course I tweaked this recipe a bit...I mean you know me and tweaking. When I read the recipe I thought that raisins were a little weird, but then I started thinking about a Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar and well I love those things so it started making a little more sense! Then I thought well if it's got raisins, then why not just throw in some almonds too and then they will be just like the Fruit and Nut bars! So that's just what I did and I must say I really LOVED the result!

I sent the majority of these to work with Jamison, but I kept a couple for Alexis and I. On the one that I ate I added some of the left over cream cheese frosting from last week's sticky buns. I mean why not take it and kick it up another notch? I don't think I've found anything that didn't taste better with a little cream cheese frosting. ;o)

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies: Kicked Up A Notch

As I mentioned above these brownies were lovely inside and out. They were very chocolately and they had a very nice crumb. I ended up using 7 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate instead of 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and I would have used milk chocolate, but I was out. I've told you all my theory on cinnamon and chocolate before so we won't dwell, but needless to say that didn't make the cut. I melted my chocolate in the microwave as well instead of bothering with the whole double boiler thing.

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies: The Inside

I skipped the cooking of the raisins and the rum. Simply not my thing, though I do enjoy the flaming part. I added 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of whole raw almonds instead of just 1/3 cup of raisins. I also baked them as individual cupcakes to make them easier for Jamison to take and share. I ended up with 26 cupcake brownies and it took them about 18 minutes to bake.

So there you have it...My tweaked brownies. Did I mention these were heavenly chocolate? ;oP

Be sure and stop over at the Tuesdays With Dorie blog and take the links to see how everyone else's brownies turned out!

What You'll Need:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies: Baked

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies: Kicked Up A Notch

Posted by Dianne at 7:04 AM | Comments (47) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake

This month's challenge was the Opéra Cake and was selected by Lis from La Mia Cucina, Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice, Fran from Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea from Whiskful and this challenge was also dedicated to Barbara from winosandfoodies.com. Whew! Now that we've covered all of that information let's see how things went, shall we?

Opéra Cake...Oh where to start? When the challenge was first announced and I saw the pictures given of various examples, I was a bit sad that chocolate was ruled out because the chocolate examples looked heavenly! After I got over my initial bumming about the chocolate my mind immediately started envisioning layers of coconut and key lime, because well we know how I am about key lime. The rules said we had to keep it light colored in honor of spring and what's lighter than coconut and key lime? My cake however turned out to be a disaster. We'll talk more about that in a minute.

Normally when I have a kitchen disaster I don't post about it, because well we all have them, but who wants to talk about them? I didn't blog about the time I made soup with simple syrup instead of broth because I got the two containers confused or the time I baked bread and when I cut into it was still doughy? Or the numerous times something gets a little burned or singed or even when things just turn out a little off. Kitchen misadventures are part of the process, but I'd rather talk about what went right instead, because in the grand scheme of things more things go right than wrong an who wants to dwell on the wrong? In this case though we'll have to discuss the wrong, even though I thought about just calling it a wash and skipping the recount this month. In the end, even though I didn't like the results I did attempt the challenge so it's only right to talk about what happened, even if the results were far from impressive.

My first problem was the pans. I didn't have the pan sized recommended and I didn't want to buy new ones since jelly rolls pan aren't a big thing that I use often. In fact my pans that I already have are larger than the ones suggested, though it was mentioned that you could use smaller pans, but I didn't have those either. I ended up getting three whole sections from each pan, instead of two from each sheet. This made the layers thinner, but that was ok. They cooked up nicely and the texture was nice, so that was a plus.

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake: From the Side

Now let's talk flavors. I chose to add 2 tablespoons of key lime juice to the simple syrup and there simply just was not enough of it to let you really taste key lime. The coconut just over powered it, though my sister said she did get a slight taste of key lime in one bite, but I never tasted it in my slice. I added coconut flavoring to the white chocolate mousse and then obviously added some shredded coconut to the top. So basically instead of a key lime coconut combo, I ended up with coconut on coconut. That was the first disappointment.

On the buttercream front I just couldn't get it to work and I finally abandoned it all together. It's the whole egg thing in the buttercream that a) freaks me out and b) I just couldn't get it to come together. I'm not a fan of buttercream either, which may have been part of the problem. Perhaps it's the whole perception of reality thing. I had a negative view of it, so I couldn't get it to work. I will say that I don't think the butercream would have salvaged this overall, but it would have been nice to see if it had.

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake: A Slice

So basically my cake ended up with layers with the coconut white chocolate mousse in between each layer which had the key lime simple syrup soaked in. Then it was topped with the white chocolate glaze and sprinkled with coconut. In the end it was ok. I have to be honest here and say it was something I could take or leave. My sister, Ben and Nelson liked it though so I sent it home with them to enjoy, since I wasn't too keen on the whole thing. The glaze also ran a lot because it just wasn't stiff enough, but it tasted ok, so that's good in the grand scheme of things.

Well you can't win them all, but it's all about learning as we go so in the end it's all good. I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings. Hopefully I'll do better on that one! ;o)

Be sure and stop by the Daring Baker's blogroll and see some of the other cakes. There are some stunning results out there in Daring Baker's Land!

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake: My Messy Cake

For the joconde:

(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)

What you’ll need:
•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.)
•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
•parchment paper
•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)

Ingredients:
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.

9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.

10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup

(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan

Ingredients:
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the buttercream

(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)

(Update Note: The recipe for the buttercream that is listed below was originally based on the original but we had some typos. It's all very confusing (we're good at confusing ourselves) but here is the short of it: When testing the buttercream, we tested a modified version (we're crazy like that!!!) that had 2 cups sugar, ½ cup water and 1¾ cups butter. Yes. That's right. 1¾ cups of butter. The eggs remained the same. We ended up with a very creamy buttercream. VERY. CREAMY. But we don’t want anyone to be afraid of our modified version so you have the option of using the original version listed below or the quantities we’ve listed here in this note. If you are still confused and want to cry, then please e-mail us and we will comfort you!!! We promise!!!)

What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a candy or instant-read thermometer
•a stand mixer or handheld mixer
•a bowl and a whisk attachment
•rubber spatula

Ingredients:

1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Note: If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intense, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.

9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

For the white chocolate ganache/mousse (this step is optional – please see Elements of an Opéra Cake below)

(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)

What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a mixer or handheld mixer

Ingredients:
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.

2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.

4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.

5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.

6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the glaze

(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan or double boiler

Ingredients:
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.

2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.

3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake

(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Daring Bakers May 2008 Challenge: Opéra Cake

Posted by Dianne at 7:14 AM | Comments (45) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Not Madelines, But Quintuple Triple Chocolate Brownies (With Peanut Butter Frosting) Instead!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Madelines and was chosen by Tara of Smells Like Home. We were given the option that if we didn't have a Madeline pan we could do one of the previous recipes that we might have missed so I chose to do the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies instead because to be completely honest Madelines have never spoken to me, which is weird given usually I'm all about French type foods.

Digressing...Where was I? Oh yes...Quintuple Chocolate Brownies! Which in all reality in my case were more aptly Triple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting. I ended up melting 3 ounces of milk chocolate chips and 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips for the brownie batter. (That's chocolate one and chocolate two for those of you who are counting!) I used whole milk chocolate chips stirred into the batter. (Which if you're still counting would go back to one since I had already used milk chocolate in the batter.) And then last but not least I used cocoa. (Which round us out to chocolate three!)

I was out of white chocolate so I decided to whip up a peanut butter frosting, which I've listed below as well and I must say they really turned out great! We're back to that quintessential pairing of chocolate and peanut butter...How can you go wrong there?

To make these more travel friendly I decided to bake the brownies as cupcakes, because I don't have a 9 X 9 inch pan. I've got an 8 X 8 inch pan, but I wanted for Jamison to be able to take these to work to share and I didn't think either of those pans would yield enough brownies. In cupcake form I ended up with around 21 cupcakes and I baked them for about 20-25 minutes.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting: The Inside

Be sure and stop over at the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and peruse the blog roll to see what all the other TWD bakers came up with this week!

What You'll Need for the Brownies:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (Note: I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.)
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Note: I used milk chocolate chips.)
2 Tablespoons strong coffee (Note: I omitted this. You've heard my spiel on coffee before so I'll spare you this time! ;oP)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla (Note: I used 1 tablespoon.)
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips (Note: I used 6 ounces of milk chocolate chips.)
1 cup chopped nuts (Note: I skipped the nuts.)

What You'll Need for the Glaze: (Note: I skipped this and did peanut butter frosting instead.)
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

What You'll Need for the Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of peanut butter powder

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting: A Bite

To Make the Brownies:

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted - you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes. (Note: I did this in the microwave instead of messing with a double boiler. I still let it cool for 5 minutes though.)

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously - you don’t want to add air to the batter - and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack - it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting: Pre-Frosting

To Make the Glaze:

Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2-1/4 inches on a side.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting: Pre-Frosting Right Out of the Oven

To Make the Peanut Butter Frosting:

In the bowl of a mixer cream together the cream cheese and butter until completely smooth. Add powdered sugar on low speed and mix until completely incorporated. Next add the peanut butter powder also on slow speed and mix until completely mixed. Spread mixture on cooled brownies and serve.

Posted by Dianne at 7:06 AM | Comments (50) | TrackBack

May 14, 2008

Key Lime Milk Chocolate Chip Bars

Key Lime Milk Chocolate Chip Bars

In keeping with the same theme of my pick for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie I decided to make something Key Lime related to send to work with Jamison to share with his coworkers. At first I thought about making some Key Lime Cookies, but the idea rapidly evolved into these bars instead.

The chocolate and the key lime give each other a nice playing off of point. The coconut also gives it a nice overall flavor. The bars are soft, tender and cake like due to the sweetened condensed milk and coconut and overall it's just a very nice way to play around with Key Lime.

What You'll Need:
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup of key lime juice
1 cup coconut
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In the bowl of a mixer dump the sweetened condensed milk, butter and eggs on medium speed until well blended. Next add Key Lime juice and mix until incorporated. Add coconut and stir in on low speed until well mixed. Add sugar and mix until blended. Next add sea salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir into the wet mixture. Slowly add flour at low speed and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch pan with non-stick spray and spread the batter out in the dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and done through. Remove from oven and let cool in the dish. Cut into squares and serve.

Key Lime Milk Chocolate Chip Bars

Notes: You could add in some cashews or macadamia nuts to an added crunch.

Posted by Dianne at 12:26 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie My Pick: Florida Pie! Plus Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries Just for Fun!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Florida Pie and was chosen by me! I decided to pair it with some Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries and they really complimented each other, so today you get a bonus recipe too! ;o)

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie with Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries

If you're a frequent guest to Dianne's Dishes you've heard me talk about my love for Key Lime before and if you come back you'll most likely hear about it again. When I looked through the book I looked at several recipes as a possibility for this week, but I kept coming back to the Florida Pie. I know some people are not fan of Key Lime, so it will be interesting to see how everyone did with this recipe and I know several people that didn't like the idea of coconut in with the Key Lime, but I had always been curious as to how the two would blend so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to test some boundaries and after all that's what makes being in the kitchen fun.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: A Slice

I actually made a few tweaks to this recipe. I decided to make the pie in an 8 inch springform pan, instead of a pie dish to make it have a bit more height. I also added some whole, raw cashews on top of the crust and I did not bake the crust either.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: Crust with Cashews

For the lime juice I strayed a bit too. I added in 3/4 a cup of Nellie and Joe's Double Strength Key Lime Juice instead of using fresh juice and I used 3/4 a cup instead of 1/2 a cup and I really liked the depth of flavor it brought to the pie overall. It was most definitely a nice addition.

In terms of the meringue I did not follow the recipe. I didn't heat the egg whites, I simply just made meringue by beating the egg whites with organic cane sugar. I also forgot to add the coconut to the meringue, though I had intended to make that addition. In the end though the pie overall turned out fine without it so maybe it was a providence. ;o)

Usually on Tuesdays I send whatever I make if it's possible to work with Jamison, but this one was a bit on the messy side for that, so I made some Key Lime Milk Chocolate Chip Bars to send along with him instead in the spirit of the whole Key Lime theme. I'll post the recipe for those tomorrow so be sure to check back then!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: A Bite

Anyway, this is my choice for this week. Overall I was very pleased with how it turned out. The cashews were a nice surprise and I really liked the coconut overall too. The pairing with the Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries was fabulous as well! I would definitely make this again.

Be sure to stop over at the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see how everyone else's pie turned out.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie with Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries

What You'll Need:
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Tuesdays with Dorie:  Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries to go with the Florida Pie

What You'll Need for the Coconut Creamsicle Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Covered Goji Berries:
2 - 12 ounce bottles of Izze Clementine sparkling juice
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of dark chocolate covered goji berries
1 cup of coconut

Note: The above ingredients are set up to work in this ice cream maker, but you can double it or triple it or whatever to fit into a large sized machine.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: Crust

Getting Ready to Make the Pie:

(Note: First make and freeze the ice cream. See instructions below.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.

Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: Ready for the Oven

Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:

Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: After the Broiler

Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie: The Insides

To Make the Ice Cream:

In a large bowl stir together ingredients. Dump mixture into the tub of your ice cream maker and freeze according to your model's directions. Remove from ice cream machine when it's done and place in the freezer until firm. Serve alone or along with the Florida Pie.

Posted by Dianne at 6:04 AM | Comments (59) | TrackBack

May 6, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was the Peanut Butter Torte and was chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food!

Now first up we must say peanut butter...chocolate...A match made in heaven! Seriously the two just meld so well together and this pie was no different. I did do things a bit differently though. I left out the cinnamon and the nutmeg. I've tried both in the past paired with chocolate and I just have to say I'm not a fan of the combination. I also don't think either go well with peanut butter. As always I also left out the espresso powder too because coffee is not my thing. I know it's supposed to "bring out the flavor of the chocolate" but all I taste is coffee when it's present.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: A Slice

For the crust I ended up beating the heck out of the Oreo's with a meat mallet and having a coarse grind instead of a fine variety. My food processor went to the big food processor heaven in the sky a couple of months ago (i.e. the motor finally blew) and I haven't replaced it yet as I'm still saving to do that. My blender jar was in the dishwasher at the time I was making the crust, not that I think it would have done such a great job crushing them though, so I improvised. What's a recipe without a little improvising? ;o)

My next change was a slight one...I used honey roasted peanuts instead of regular old peanuts and I omitted the pinch of salt. I also added 1/2 cup of chopped honey roasted nuts into the crust as well to give it a bit more punch. On the topping I ended up mixing 1 cup of honey roasted nuts and 1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chips. I didn't end up adding all of this mixture to the top, but I used more than the 1/2 cup alloted in the recipe. The mini-chocolate chips were not called for on the topping, but I decided they would be a nice twist.

For the ganache on top I did not make the ganache listed in the recipe. I had some of the chocolate coating left over from the Cheesecake Pops for the Daring Bakers challenge this month and I decided to use that instead. It worked perfectly! I ended up having just the right amount to coat the torte and the little baby torte I made without crust since it would be gluten free for Jamison.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: Little and Gluten Free

As I mentioned above I took some of the filling and put it in a dish for Jamison since the Oreo's have gluten in them and I wanted him to be able to enjoy this dessert too. I topped his little baby torte with chocolate and the honey roasted peanut/mini-chocolate chip mix and it worked very well.

So that was this weeks choice and I really enjoyed it! Next week is my choice. How exciting is that? ;o)

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: Big and Little

Be sure and stop over at the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and take the links to see how everyone else's Torte turned out! And take a look at the bite below:

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: A Bite

Doesn't that look like a little bite of heaven?

What You'll Need:
1 1/4 cups finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee) (Note: I omitted this.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Note: I omitted this.)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (Note: I omitted this.)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt(Note: I omitted this.)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (Note: I think you could have gone ahead and used both bars instead of just 1 and 1/2 packages.)
1 1/2 cups salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy) (Note: This "not natural" made me want to do just that! ;oP I plan on trying it again with natural and see what happens. The natural peanut butter I buy is blended and it doesn't separate into peanuts and oil. I'm pretty sure it would work just fine.)
2 tablespoons whole milk (Note: I'm not sure where this was supposed to go in, but I missed it somewhere.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (Note: As I mentioned above I didn't make the ganache, but utilized something I already had on hand in the fridge.)

Getting ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: Big and Little Getting Ready to Chill

To Finish The Torte:

Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining 1/2 cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Torte: Servings

Posted by Dianne at 6:44 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

May 5, 2008

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: Scooped

So you buy those heavenly smelling, ripe, juicy strawberries and just for fun you pick up two packs, because well they smell so heavenly and you just know that the taste will more than compare, because after all a good smelling strawberry is a good tasting strawberry! You eat some fresh, you might throw some into some yogurt, cereal or a smoothie, you can use them to make various salads or there is always cobbler or shortcake and of course strawberry ice cream, but what if you want to take the ice cream and switch it up a bit? What if you want to make it a little different? Why not throw in a little chocolate mint?

I have been looking for chocolate mint for years and when we went to South Mountain Creamery's festival a week ago the grower that had a booth there actually had it! Some say it's doesn't taste or smell like chocolate, but I disagree. It does have a hint of chocolate there. Others say it was named that because of the sensation it brings to your tongue when you bite into much like an Andes Mint. Regardless the chocolate mint gives the ice cream a cool, fresh burst and it really compliments the strawberries. The mint doesn't over power the overall taste, it simply adds to flavor with a hint of freshness and mint.

Note: This recipe is designed to fit in this ice cream maker. You can double or triple the recipe or whatever you need to do to fit in a larger model.

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: The Strawberries!

What You'll Need:
2-4 cups of ripe strawberries, capped and chopped into pieces (Note: I like little bits of frozen strawberries throughout the my ice cream, but if you prefer it to be smooth then process in a food processor until smooth. I also like a lot of strawberry taste so use more strawberries or less depending on what you like.)
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1-2 tablespoon of fresh chocolate mint, chopped fine
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 - quart of heavy cream

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: Strawberries with Sugar and Chocolate Mint

In a large bowl add strawberries, mint and sugar and toss to coat. Let sit for at least 1 hour to let the strawberries and mint form a syrup with the sugar. You can leave it to sit overnight in the fridge if you like.

Stir in sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream and pour the mixture into your ice cream freezer.

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: Ready to Freeze

Freeze ice cream according to your machine's directions until it is thick. It will be the consistency of soft serve ice cream:

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: Freezing

For a hard set place in a container in the freezer until completely set. You can serve it in the soft serve state or frozen completely depending on your tastes. Either way you're left with a lovely ice cream with tiny bits of mint and lovely chunks of strawberry throughout.

Strawberry Chocolate Mint Ice Cream: A Bite

And that my friends is a very, very good thing.

Notes: If you can't find chocolate mint then spearmint or peppermint will work fine as long as it's fresh and not dried. Also if you don't like mint you can leave it out for a basic strawberry ice cream.

Posted by Dianne at 10:17 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

May 1, 2008

Key Lime Parfait

Key Lime Parfait

Key lime...What to say? I love Key Lime! Key Lime Pie, Key Lime Cheesecake, Key Lime Ice Cream, Key Lime Cookies, if it's Key Lime I'll at least give it a try and yesterday was just one of those days that Key Lime was calling out to me, though I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I talked it over with Darlene (or we e-mailed as the case may be) and I knew I wanted to take the aspects of a Key Lime Pie and do something different with them and in talking (or typing as the case may be) I came up with the Parfait idea! Darlene is a good sounding board and she always makes me thinks, but then again that's what best friends are for. ;o)

Anyway, a while back when we did the Lemon Meringue Pie for Daring Bakers I thought at the time it would be fun to play around with the flavors of the custard for that pie and do something different with it, so that's just what I did. Pairing the Key Lime Custard with graham crackers and whipped cream brought together the dish and the elements blended together well as they always do, but it gave it a slightly different taste over all than just your standard Key Lime Pie. Overall it was just delicious though and that's all you can ask for.

Now I'm off to spend some time on the treadmill, because well you know! ;o)

What You'll Need:
2 cups of water
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
4 tablespoons of butter, but into bits
3/4 cup of Nellie and Joe's Double Strength Key Lime Juice
1 tablespoon of coconut extract
Graham crackers
Whipped Cream

Bring the water to a boil in a medium to large sized pot. Once water boils remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes to cool somewhat.

While the water is boiling/cooling separate eggs and stir together eggs yolks until smooth. Measure out coconut extract and set aside.

Next whisk together sugar and cornstarch until completely incorporated. Add the sugar/cornstarch mixture to the water and whisk until smooth. Return pan to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will likely be thick.

Add a ladle full or so of hot key lime mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Now add the tempered eggs back to your pot whisking constantly to prevent scrambling. Cook for another minute or two until the mixture is completely incorporated and smooth.

Remove from the heat and stir in key lime juice and coconut extract until smooth. Next add the butter until it is completely incorporated. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Key Lime Parfait: A Bite

To Make the Parfaits:

In a dish or individual serving vessel crumbled graham crackers and completely cover the bottom surface of the bowl/dish.

Next spoon in a layer of key lime custard to cover the graham crackers.

Now add a layer of whipped cream on top of the key lime custard.

Repeat this process until your dish/bowl is filled.

Chill for at least 2 hours and serve.

Notes: You could do this with orange or lemon juice if you prefer. You could also add in some real coconut to switch things up a bit.

Posted by Dianne at 8:44 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

It's that time of month again...Time for the Daring Bakers April Reveal! And this month's recipe was Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor and was chosen by Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah from Taste and Tell.

So cheesecake...As many of you know I'm all about cheesecake! In fact I think cheesecake should be an additional food group! ;o) When I saw that this month's recipe was cheesecake pops I was thrilled. I mean chocolate and cheesecake how much better can life get? And taste wise this recipe did not disappoint, but I, like several others that I saw in the Daring Baker's forums, had a bit of a problem getting the cheesecake to set. The edges set, but the center just refused. I baked it for close to an hour and it felt firm on top and I though I had averted a mushy middle, but not so much.

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Ready to Make Cheesecake Pops

I mean seriously doesn't that look like a perfectly baked cheesecake? I sure thought so!

But in reality the center looked more like this:

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Mush Which Wasn't Conducive for Cheesecake Pop Making

I tried freezing it, but couldn't get that to work either. I ended up making a few pops with what I could salvage and then using the unset portion to make some Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits, because seriously did I mention how good this cheesecake tasted?

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops Failed So Lets Make a Blueberry Cheesecake Parfait

I mean look at that...Even the failed middle looks fabulous! Let's get a little closer look shall we?

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops Failed So Lets Make a Blueberry Cheesecake Parfait

Sometimes when something doesn't work that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing! ;o)

I did end up with about 14 Cheesecake Pops though and oh my goodness...To die for! I used milk chocolate as a covering and it just melded so well with the cheesecake! Alexis really liked them too, but hey my child liking cheesecake...What are the odds? ;o)

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops in the Fridge

We left them all lined up on the tray in the fridge until we finished them. I had intended to send these with Jamison to work as a treat, but 14 wasn't quite enough to share with everyone. The pops themselves really were just to die for. I think it might be nice to bake the cheesecake and simply pour the chocolate mixture on top as a top layer and just serve it that way.

Overall my pops might not have been perfect, but hey I made the best out of what I could and I have to say it tasted good anyway! This recipe most definitely was sticky, messy and gooey, but it also tasted absolutely delicious! And that my friends is always a very good thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dessert that gets a little messy! ;oP

Be sure and stop over at the Daring Baker's Blogroll and see how everyone else's Cheesecake Pops turned out! I can't wait to see what May brings!

Daring Bakers April 2008 Challenge: Cheesecake Pops

What You'll Need:
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it's shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

Posted by Dianne at 6:59 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake (Not So Big Cupcakes)

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake (Not So Big Cupcakes)

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Bill’s Big Carrot Cake and was chosen by Amanda of Slow Like Honey!

I decided to make cupcakes instead of one big layer cake because then it's easier to send them to work with Jamison to share and I'm not stuck eating a whole big cake by myself! ;o) I ended up baking them for close to 27 minutes. Next time I'd probably bake them at 350 F for a bit shorter time.

The cupcakes turned out really well, though I did take a few liberties. I decided to add in 1/2 cup more coconut than the recipe called for an I also substituted a can of crushed pineapple for the raisins. With the frosting I went with two tablespoons of my homemade vanilla extract in place of the lemon juice because I felt like the vanilla would compliment the recipe more and I was not disappointed! I used pecans instead of walnuts also since the recipe said you could use either. I like walnuts, but I was in a pecan mood yesterday.

I was very pleased with the recipe overall. The only thing I would change if I made this again is that I would most likely substitute unsweetened apple sauce for the oil to lighten it up a bit. I might also use some brown sugar too to bring out the flavor of the carrots and pineapple and make them pop. I think I would add in a tablespoon of baking powder instead of just 2 teaspoons as the cupcakes didn't rise very much, but taste wise it was a winner and if you're looking for a good carrot cake then look no further...You've found it!

Be sure and stop on over at the Tuesdays with Dorie blog roll and see how the other member's cakes turned out. :o)

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake (Not So Big Cupcakes)

What You'll Need for the Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs

What You'll Need for the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake Cupcake Version The Inside

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake (Not So Big Cupcakes): Ready to Share

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

Serving:

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake (Not So Big Cupcakes)

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

Storing:

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Posted by Dianne at 6:55 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

April 21, 2008

Gluten Free Yellow Cupcakes

Gluten Free Cupcakes

On the continuing quest to develop some good gluten free alternatives to old standbys our next stop is Gluten Free Yellow Cupcakes!

These cupcakes are very good. Alexis and I enjoyed them and Jamison even liked them. The crumb was very nice, although as with many gluten free baked goods you'll want to eat these the day they are made or the next day at the latest, because they dry out quickly. For the full batch it would be perfect for a party, but if you're just making them for yourself I'd half the recipe and make a smaller batch. I topped them with my version of Wilton's Buttercream icing and Alexis insisted they be blue. Overall we were quite pleased!

Gluten Free Cupcakes

What You'll Need:
2 cups of sweet potato flour
1 cup of sorghum flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of buttermilk
4 eggs
1/4 cup of safflower oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla

Preheat Oven to 350 F.

Sift or stir together sweet potato flour, buckwheat flour, sea salt and baking powder until well incorporated. Stir sugar into the flour mixture. In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, safflower oil and vanilla until well mixed and then add to the flour/sugar mixture. Stir until the two mixtures are incorporated fully.

Line a muffin pan with silicone baking cups or cupcake liners. (Note: If you use the silicone cups then give them a spray of non-stick spray before baking and they are a breeze to clean up afterward.) Spoon batter into each cup or liner 3/4ths of the way up. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes until they stick clean. Remove from the oven and let cool, then frost as you like. (Note: To make sure they are completely gluten-free make sure you pick an icing or frosting that is gluten-free as well.)

Gluten Free Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes give or take a few depending on how you fill your cups.

Notes: No notes for this one. What you see is what you get! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 19, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie (A Little Late): The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart (with Blueberry Sauce)!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart with Blueberry Topping

It's not Tuesday, but it's time for a little Tuesdays with Dorie none the less! Last week the recipe for Tuesday's with Dorie was The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart and I was looking forward to trying it out and then all hell broke loose and it just didn't happen! But I promised myself (and you readers too) that I'd get back to the Tart and get back to it I did!

First of let me say Oh...My...God! This tart is heavenly! I halved the recipe and made four mini-tarts instead of one big tart, but it was divine! I also made some blueberry sauce to go along with it since lemon and blueberry are just a pair made in heaven and this tart really was heavenly....But...This is not an every day food! Talk about rich and calorie laden! It's definitely a sometimes food, but oh so lovely to enjoy when that sometimes rolls around!

Tuesdays with Dorie: The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

So here is my take on The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart and as they say better late than never! ;o)

What You'll Need for the Filling: (Note: Remember I halved the recipe.)
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons (Note: I used the zest of two lemons as it's kind of hard to half three.)
4 large eggs
¾ c fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 T butter (10 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough (Note: See recipe below and I halved it too. You need to make the dough first...)

Getting ready:

Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk- you whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point- the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience- depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes.

As soon as it reaches 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going- to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart: Filling

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (the cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator)

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart: Ready for Topping

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart: Crust Up Close

What You'll Need for the Sweet Tart Dough: (Again I halved this)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk (Note: I used the whole egg yolk as it's hard to cut one in two.)
(Note: I had to add a bit of cold water to the dough to get it to come together as well.)

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, against the crust. (since you froze it, you can bake it without weights). Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, carefully press it down with the back of a spoon. For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack. To fully bake the crust, bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

Posted by Dianne at 7:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 15, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: (Pumpkin) Marshmallows

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Marshmallows

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Marshmallows and was chosen by Judy of Judy's Gross Eats!

I love homemade marshmallows...Whether they be chocolate, plain or even peanut butter I'm all about the homemade marshmallow! I like to make them from scratch because they are fluffy and sweet and you can control what goes into them (i.e. making sure there is no nasty high fructose corn syrup!) They are easy to play around with and you can make different flavors (like the pumpkin version I made for this) and you can change the colors or just leave them plain. Marshmallows are really fun to play around with!

Dorie's recipe calls for egg whites and I've made marshmallows this way before, but I'll be completely honest and say I prefer to make marshmallows that are egg white free as you can see if you take my marshmallow links above. These marshmallows were good, but not as good as the ones I usually make.

I chose to do the pumpkin flavor from Dorie's playing around suggestions because I've made chocolate and plain marshmallows before and I'm not a fan of cappuccino or raspberry, so pumpkin it was and that definitely gave it a nice undertone. It was especially nice as the marshmallow melted into a cup of hot chocolate.

At this point however let's talk about what went wrong...When I added the hot sugar syrup to the egg white mixture, even though the mixture was constantly moving and I did my best to the let the hot sugar mixture hit the sides of the bowl and the whisk BEFORE it hit the cool egg whites, I ended up with a bit of scrambled egg white here and there and that's a bit unnerving when you bite into a marshmallow expecting smooth and creamy and you get a bit of scrambled egg white. This wasn't a huge problem, but there was a bit of scrambling going on and the recipe did not mention tempering the egg white mixture. There was also no way to strain the mixture as it's too thick.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Marshmallows in Hot Chocolate

One thing I did do a bit differently, and it turned out to be a plus, was that I dusted the tops of the marshmallows with powdered sugar instead of using corn or potato starch:

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Marshmallows: Setting Up

I did use potato starch on the bottom of the marshmallows though. I usually use powdered sugar on my plain marshmallows, but I didn't think about that until after I had already lined the dish with the potato starch. If I ever made these again (which I doubt) I'd use powdered sugar for both steps.

Overall I'd give these a C. I want to try the pumpkin version by adapting the plain marshmallow recipe I use to see if I can get it to work, but most likely I'll try this close to Halloween and/or Thanksgiving.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Marshmallows

Be sure and stop over at the other Tuesday with Dorie blogs and see how their marshmallows turned out!

P.S. I got around to making the The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart! Check back on Saturday to see how it turned out! And for those of you who wondered how the Gooey Chocolate Cakes would do once frozen and thawed check that out here!

What You'll Need:
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't over beat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.

Playing Around:

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies. For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.

CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

April 9, 2008

Gluten Free Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Squares

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Squares

When the gluten monster reared it's ugly little head we had to totally rethink Jamison's lunch. His normal lunch was a peanut butter sandwich, chips of some sort, a piece of fruit and/or some carrots or raisins along with some cookies or a granola bar or something along those lines. We've been able to adapt the lunch somewhat, peanut butter on gluten free bread (which I'm still working on), corn tortilla chips in place of those that had wheat (including many of the baked potato chips), the fruit/veggies stayed the same, but the treat portion had to have a major makeover. We found some gluten free granola bars that were good, but they only have five in the box and they aren't the cheapest option so I set out to make something at home and this is what transpired.

These squares are something along the lines of a Rice Krispee square, yet different. I actually liked these and I'm not a fan of RK squares so that says a lot. But regardless these squares are a nice fix for a gluten free treat option. I'm going to play around with making some actual gluten free granola bars, but we'll get back to that later. For now enjoy the Chewy Peanut Butter Rice Squares!

What You'll Need:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (Note: I used one from Wholesome Sweeteners that a hint of vanilla. Read the back of your bottle and make sure it does not have high fructose corn syrup in the syrup itself.)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup powdered peanut butter
6 cups puffed rice cereal
1 - 11.5 ounce package of milk chocolate chips
Butter to coat your dish

(Note: Your first step is to basically make peanut butter marshmallows. In fact if you spread this mixture out in a buttered dish and let it sit for a bit that is exactly what you'd end up with, but in this case you're going to use it for the "glue" to hold your bars together.)

Combine the gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water in your mixer and let sit while you complete the other steps.

Chewy Chocolate PeanutButter Rice Squares: Almost to Soft Boil Stage

In a medium sized pot mix sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter powder and water over low to medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolves raise the heat and cook until the mixture reaches 240 F (or in other words roughly soft ball stage). Remove from the heat and pour slowly into your gelatin mixture while the mixer is on low. Once the sugar liquid is all added turn your mixer slowly to high and beat for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Squares: Puffed Rice and Chocolate Chips

While the marshmallow mixture is beating in a very large bowl mix together rice cereal and chocolate chips. Once the marshmallow mixture is ready pour the mixture over the rice cereal and chocolate chips and stir to incorporate. (Note: It will be very sticky. Mix quickly!) Spread the mixture into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray. (Note: If you have trouble spreading the mixture then slightly wet your hands and help push it into place.) Let the mixture sit for and hour or so and then cut into squares.

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Squares: Setting Up

Notes: You could stir in peanuts too if you wanted, or even leave out the chocolate chips and use raisins or something along those lines instead. It's an easily mixed and match sort of recipe to play around with.

Posted by Dianne at 7:46 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 8, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

lemonpicture

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart chosen by Mary of Starting From Scratch

I was really excited about this recipe and had planned to make some blueberry sauce to go with along with the tart because lemon and blueberry, well we all know how well lemons and blueberries go together, but I didn't make the tart. In short we had a very long, very draining weekend that I won't get into here, but I just couldn't make this recipe due to not being at home. I plan to make this one later when I get a chance so I'll most likely post about it when I do, but it may be in a few weeks or so when time permits.

Be sure and check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakersand see how their tarts turned out because this one looked like a real winner!

Posted by Dianne at 6:41 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 4, 2008

The Perfect Sugar Cookie

The Perfect Sugar Cookie

Sugar cookies are the quintessential kid snack. They're fun to make, they're fun to decorate and they're fun to eat...That is if they aren't hard as a rock and taste like cardboard! We've all had that sugar cookie that looks perfect, but then you bite into it and you break a tooth because you could hammer a nail with that sucker! This recipe ends up anything but a hard, projectile like lump of flour and sugar! Time and time again this cookie turns out sweet and tender and that is exactly what a sugar cookie should be!

On a side note I haven't lost track of time. The afternoon before Easter Alexis and I set out to make some cookies for the Easter Bunny. As you can see the shapes are springy and Easter themed I just haven't gotten around to posting them until now. These sugar cookies are perfect for any season though, I mean who doesn't like sugar cookies (other than Jamison of course! ;oP) Next week I've got a recipe coming up that uses that left over Easter ham, which again I made a while back, but I've got a ton of recipes in the back log so stay tuned!

The Perfect Sugar Cookie: Sprinkled and Ready to Go

What You'll Need:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt

Cream butter until it turns pale yellow. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry mixture to butter mixture and mix until dough forms. Chill dough for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

The Perfect Sugar Cookie: Cookie Cutters

Roll out dough 1/8" thick on a well floured surface. Use cookie cutters and cut out cookies.

The Perfect Sugar Cookie: Cut Out

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet (I always do this on a sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet.) Bake for 5-8 minutes until edges are golden. Cool on a rack.

The Perfect Sugar Cookie: Alexis Adds Sprinkles

Notes: You can ice these cookies with royal icing, use sprinkles or decorate them any way you see fit. You could also add in a few tablespoons of lemon juice and/or zest to make a lemon sugar cookies. The possibilities are endless.

Posted by Dianne at 10:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 3, 2008

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Drops

Chocolate Peanut Drops

Before the attack of the gluten monster one of Jamison's all time favorite cookies were Oatmeal Peanut Butter Drops, or "Cow Drop" cookies as we always called them as kids. There is some debate within the Celiac community as to whether or not Oats are Celiac friendly or not. Apparently there is some evidence that says that oats are often contaminated with wheat and some Celiacs can't eat oats to begin with so therefore the Celiac Sprue Association lists oats as a no-no grain. So that kind of put a damper on the "Cow Drop" cookies needless to say.

When I first set about retooling this recipe in my head I immediately thought of cashews to replace the oats, but then again I'm all about the cashews, but I realized I didn't have any cashew butter on hand, but I did have peanuts and peanut butter so I went that route instead. I'll most likely get back to the cashew version another time, but this time it was chocolate and peanut butter all the way! I ended up taking a big bunch of them to my sister on the day Grant was born and they have enjoyed them a lot from what I've been told.

This cookie is a gluten free dream! It's also a chocolate/peanut butter lovers dream! It's a go to recipe that is easy to make and it will satisfy the gluten eaters and non-gluten eaters alike and sometimes that is just what you need to feed a crowd.

What You'll Need:
1 stick of butter
2 cups of sugar (Note: Sometimes I use organic cane sugar and sometimes I use brown. The brown sugar gives it a deeper flavor note that really compliments the peanut butter and chocolate.)
2 tablespoons of cocoa
2/3 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of peanut butter
2 cups of roasted peanuts (Note: Go with a lightly or no salted version.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter, sugar, cocoa and cream until smooth. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

Remove pot from the heat and stir in peanut butter until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add vanilla and stir to mix. Stir in peanuts and drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone mat or wax paper. Let set for a couple of hours an then serve or store cookies in an airtight container.

Notes: This method should work with any nut and butter combo (i.e, cashews and cashew butter, almonds and almond butter, etc. I plan to experiment with it more in the future.)

Posted by Dianne at 9:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 1, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cake

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Gooey Chocolate Cakes chosen by Tartlete of Lemon Tartlete and let me tell you these little cakes really were ooey, gooey, chocolate heaven!

This week I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, BUT I did use 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 ounce of milk chocolate, in place of the 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and I really liked the way it turned out. I think these cakes would also be very good with a caramel drizzle and possibly even some whipped cream! Some chocolate ice cream in place of the vanilla would have gone well too and if you wanted to just go all out you could add a hot fudge drizzle or a little bit of all of the above might just be grand!

I've always wanted to make a lava type cake so this was a good experience, but I must say this wasn't exactly what I envisioned. These little babies were delicious, but I'm not sure what I was expecting. I ended up enjoying one of them (or half of it anyway) and I froze the other five since Jamison can't eat gluten and I didn't want to eat them all myself. I'll pull them out the next time my father visits because he is a huge snacker and these should be right up his alley!

Be sure and stop on over at the other Tuesdays with Dorie blogs and see how their Gooey Chocolate Cakes turned out. I mean chocolate...What's not to like? ;o)

What You'll Need:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (Note: I omitted the salt since I used salted butter.)
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate: 4 ounces coarsely chopped and 1 ounce very finely chopped (Note: As I mentioned above I used 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 ounce of milk chocolate.)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces (Note: I used salted butter.)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons of sugar (Note: I used organic cane sugar.)

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cake: Chocolate and Butter

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water. (Note: I melted the chocolate and butter in the microwave instead.)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cakes: Ready to Bake

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogeneous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cakes: Ready for Ice Cream

Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Gooey Chocolate Cakes: Gooey Center

Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.

Posted by Dianne at 6:46 AM | Comments (33) | TrackBack

March 30, 2008

March 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake: The Inside

It's that time again...Time for the Daring Bakers monthly reveal! This month's recipe was chosen by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts and when I saw this month's Daring Bakers Challenge was Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake I was excited! Alexis had been flipping through Baking From My Home Yours and when she saw the cake she told me "I want that for my Tinkerbell birthday party!" So this was the perfect opportunity to try this cake before the big day to see if it would work for what we had in mind. Sadly I'd have to say no on that, but we'll get to that in the minute.

The overall issue many of the Daring Bakers had with this cake was that it did not rise as they had expected. I had the exact opposite problem...It rose too much! In fact it rose so much that the batter spilled over the sides of my cake pans! Luckily I had placed the cake pans on a baking sheet, so it didn't make a mess on the bottom of the oven. But needless to say I didn't have a rising issue, I had a bit too much rise!

I actually made this cake twice. The cake turned out very tender, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when I removed the cakes from the pan the first go around the second one crumbled as it came out. Not good! I ranted a bit in my head and then decided to put off the next try for a couple of days.

The second try was the one that spilled out over the tops of the pans. This time however they came out of the pans quite easily. The edges had to be trimmed in order to decorate the cake, but that was no big deal. The splitting of each cake into two layers however was not a good adventure. I ended up having to paste some of the pieces back together with icing and that is never a good thing.

Despite the issues I had the cake itself, once decorated and such, looked amazing and it tasted amazing when all put together. I had never made buttercream with the method in this recipe before so that was fun to try, though as I mentioned with my Saint Patrick's Day cupcakes I'm not a fan of butter in icing because I think it's overpowering to the overall flavor, but this was ok for the most part. I wouldn't make it for myself again, but my sister likes buttercream icing with the butter so I might employ it on a cake for her in the future.

Another issue that popped up was that I thought the icing could have been a bit sweeter. The butterflavor was also a bit overwhelming as I mentioned above. This may have been because I ran out of lemon juice as well so I was not able to add that element to the icing and perhaps that would have made a difference. I ended up making two batches of icing because one was not enough to cover and decorate the cake.

Another issue that turned out to be not that big of a deal was that I was not able to find lemon flavoring so I just used lemon juice and I have to say that substitution turned out great! I chose to use blueberry jam in the middle of the layers and as always the lemon and blueberry flavors melded so well together! We had a little leeway to do what we wanted to with this cake and this is the path I chose.

Overall I'd give this cake a B -. I happen to like my standard yellow or white cake recipes much more than this, but it was ok. I could see making it for a fru fru baby or wedding shower or maybe a tea, but for me I think I'll just stick to my tried and true cakes that always get raves and are a bit sturdier in terms of decorating.

Thanks to Morven for hosting this month's challenge. I most definitely learned some new tricks and that is what these challenges are is all about! I can't wait to see what next month's recipe holds!

Update: I forgot to mention that on the first round I used cake flour and buttermilk and while the cakes rose ok, they were too tender and as I mentioned they fell apart. On the second go around I used all purpose flour and whole milk and they ended up over rising. Oh well.

Check out the other Daring Bakers and see their many wonderful creations!

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

What You'll Need for the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (Note: I used whole milk. I had some left over from one of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes and since I drink skin or soy milk this was a good way to use some of that up.)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract (Note: As I mentioned above I used lemon juice because I couldn't find lemon extract.)

What You'll Need for the Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons) (Note: I ran out of lemon juice so I omitted this.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

What You'll Need for Finishing:
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable (Note: I used blueberry jam instead. I'm not a fan of raspberries, though I keep trying them, but I haven't liked them yet. I let the jam come to room temperature and it spread fine.)
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (Note: I didn't think the coconut was a good combination with the blueberries and lemon so I just decorated the cake with icing instead.)

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake: Layer

To Make the Cake:

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. (Note: I just mixed the sugar and lemon zest with my mixer and it worked perfectly.)

Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.

Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. (Note: I think they needed to cool more than 5 minutes in the pan. I think this is why they were so fragile overall.) Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake: TheTop

To Make the Buttercream:

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.

You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake: Slice

To Assemble the Cake:

Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

Serving:

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

Storing:
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator. (Note: I actually thought the cake was better then next day and beyond. The flavors seemed to deepen and meld more completely as the cake sat.)

Playing Around:

Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake:

If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Daring Bakers Challenge March 2008: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake: Cut

Posted by Dianne at 7:04 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

March 21, 2008

Honey Cashew Brittle

Honey Cashew Brittle

Sometimes you set out to make one thing (in this case honey roasted cashews) and you end up with something totally different. In this case what I ended up with was not a mistake as such, but a pleasant discovery instead!

The honey gives the brittle such a lovely undertone and Alexis and I both really liked the "mistake". You can't win them all, but it's always nice when you stumble onto something you hadn't expected. I'll get back to the honey roasting another day!

What You'll Need: 1/3 cup of honey
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Roughly 1/2 pound of cashews

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium sized pot heat honey over medium until it is thin (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in sugar and salt. Next add cashews and stir to coat. Pour cashew/sugar/honey mixture onto a sheet pan that is lined with a silicone baking sheet and spread the nuts out. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden browned.

Stir the mixture occasionally as the edges will brown earlier than the middle and you don't want the edges to burn. Be VERY careful because the hot sugar will burn your skin very badly if it touches you!! (I know of which I speak! ;o)) Remove pan from the oven and let it sit so the mixture can harden and then break into pieces.

Honey Cashew Brittle

Notes: You could do this with any nuts that you like. Peanuts or almonds in particular would make a nice addition or you could do a mix of nuts.

Posted by Dianne at 7:58 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 17, 2008

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

Jamison suggested making something to take to work to celebrate St. Patrick's Day so I decided to make a basic cupcake and then kick it up a bit and give them a slightly Irish twist. The result were these Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes and let me tell you, if you like Irish Cream then these are the cupcakes for you!

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

What You'll Need for the Cupcakes:
3 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/3 cup of safflower oil (Note: Any clear vegetable oil will work, I just prefer safflower oil.)
4 eggs
1 cup of light sour cream (Note: Any type of sour cream will work...light, fat free, regular.)
1/2 cup of Caramel Irish Cream

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

What You'll Need for the Icing: (Note: This is a basic variation of Wilton's buttercream icing.)

2 cups of trans-fat free shortening (Note: I used Spectrum. If you want you can use half butter and half shortening, but the icing will not be as firm and you will need to store the cake in the fridge once you're done. I also don't really like the butter flavor that the butter brings to the icing. Don't get me wrong, I love butter, I am just not a big fan of it in icing. I'll eat it if there is no other choice because after all we're talking icing here, but I prefer not to, plus the butter makes the icing harder to work with in terms of being too soft at times and this may cause your decorations to not hold up, especially in warmer weather.)
1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring (Note: This is optional as some don't like almond flavoring, but it really brings something to the icing!)
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla
7-8 cups of powdered sugar (Note: If you want to sift it you can, but it isn't necessary, although Wilton recommends doing just that. I however skip that step and the icing always turns out great.)
Water

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

To Make the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Stir flour, salt, baking powder and sugar until throughly mixed. Add vanilla, safflower oil, eggs, sour cream and Irish Cream to the flour mixture and stir until there are no lumps. Pour batter into a muffin pan that has been lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes stick clean with a toothpick. (Note: The cupcakes should not be overly brown and they should be pale. If you overcook them they will be slightly tough. I actually let this batch go about 2 minutes longer than I should have so keep an eye on them!)

Let cool completely and then decorate with icing.

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes

To Make the Icing:

Cream together shortening, almond and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar slowly one cup at a time and let it incorporate into the shortening mixture. If the icing seems too thick add a little water to thin it out a bit. (Note: Wilton suggests milk, but again I don't like the flavor it brings and it kind of weirds me out to have milk in something sitting out at room temperature.) Mix until completely smooth and then use to ice your cake or cupcakes in this case. (Note: See how to color the icing before decorating in the next paragraph.)

If you want to color the icing add a few drops of food coloring and mix until well blended. If the color isn't to your liking then add a few more and so on and so forth until you get the color you want. (Note: Remember that once the color is in you aren't taking it back out. Also remember that it is very hard to perfectly match a color if you have to remix more icing so it's better to mix a bit more than you might need than not enough if you want an exact color match. Also Wilton claims that half of the recipe I made will ice one cake. I'm not sure what size cake they think that is going to ice, but it's not happening! The batch I made above just covered the 19 cupcakes I decorated, the three generously iced cupcakes Alexis did, with about 1/4 of a cup of icing left over. But then again I'm all about the icing, so maybe it's just me.)

This recipe makes roughly 22 cupcakes. I decorated 19 and I let Alexis decorate 3 in the same time it took me to do mine. She had a ball! As you can see she is quite talented:

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes: Alexis Decorating

Caramel Irish Cream Cupcakes: Alexis Style

She's an icing girl like her Mom! ;o) I think I have a future cake decorator on my hands!

P.S. Last year we had a big celebration on Saint Patrick's Day. If you'd like to see some of my adapted Irish recipes then hop on over to my Saint Patrick's Day Flickr Set from last year's feast! I hope you have a very Irish, very green day! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:32 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 14, 2008

Pi Day: Homemade Blueberry Pie!

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie: The Inside

Today is 3/14...get it 3.14...Pi day? When I first saw this challenge over at Kitchen Parade it immediately spoke to the science geek in me! Pi...Pie...What's not to like? My mind immediately began working and I finally decided to whip up a blueberry pie because I've always wanted to make one and what better time than now? I actually made this pie a few weeks ago, but I've been dying to share it with you ever since then! ;o)

The challenge is to come up with a homemade filling WITH a homemade crust. The filling is a breeze, but homemade pie crusts can be a pain in the you know what. I ended up coming up with one of each that was delicious so I was very pleased. I'll most definitely be making this again! ;o)

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie: Vrust Pre-Baking

What You'll Need for the Crust:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter, cut into chunks
1/3-1/2 cup of ice water

The most important thing to remember when making a pie crust is that your ingredients need to be cold! You also need to put the dough, once it's made, back into the fridge in a ball for at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, before you roll it out for your pie. I also like to put the pie shell back into the fridge once it's rolled out and in the dish for another 30 minutes to an hour just to ensure that it's really set.

In a food processor, or in a bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt until blended. Using the pulse function on your food processor, or a pastry cutter in a bowl, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture turns pebbly. Slowly add the ice water until dough ball forms. (Note on Dough: Depending on humidity levels you may need some or all of the water or may even have to add a bit more. Don't panic if it doesn't come together immediately. Just stop adding water as soon as the ball forms!) (Note on Ice Water: I've had people ask me this before, so I'll address it here just in case for those of you who aren't sure. What does ice water mean? How do you measure that? You measure the amount of water called for and THEN add the ice.) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and smooth into a ball. Place in an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

After dough has chilled return it to the floured surface and cut into two pieces, one piece being slightly larger than the other. Roll out the big piece and place into a glass pie dish. Press into place (and my crusts are always rustic because I haven't quite gotten the knack for flourishy crimps) and place back in the fridge for at least an additional 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Remove crust from fridge and place into the oven. Bake for 7-10 minutes until crust is golden. (Note: Since you are dealing with a cold pan and placing it into a hot oven there is the off chance that your dish might break, though I've never had this happen to me. If you're worried about it then skip the second cooling stage or place the dish on a baking pan in case it does break. But like I said I do this all the time and it's never happened.) If you want you can weigh down the crust by placing aluminum foil over the crust and using pie weights or dried beans, but you don't have to. You may get a few bubbles here and there, but it won't matter in the grand scheme of things. Once the pie shell is done remove from oven and let cool completely. This yields a very tender, sweet, flaky crust.

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie: Blueberry Filling

What You'll Need for the Blueberry Filling:
6-7 cups of fresh blueberries (Note: You can use frozen blueberries IF you've frozen them yourself. Commercially frozen blueberries wouldn't work well for this recipe. I actually had some I had frozen last fall and I used those along with a few fresh berries as well.)
The zest of two lemons
The juice of two lemons
1 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: If your blueberries are really tart then add an additional 1/2 cup of sugar.)
1/2 cup of corn starch

In a large stock pot place berries, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar and cook until blueberries are tender and syrup forms. Stir in corn starch and cook until mixture thickens. (This take about 2-4 minutes...If it's thick and it hasn't been two minutes don't worry...Thick is thick so proceed to the next step!) Remove blueberries from heat as soon as the mixture thickens so you won't take the corn starch too far. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then spread into the prepared pie shell. Let the pie come to room temperature and then top with meringue.

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie: Meringue

What You'll Need for the Meringue:
8 egg whites
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a bowl of a mixer place all three ingredients and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Place egg white mixture into a pastry bag with a large tip and pipe onto the cooled pie. Once the entire pie is covered place the pie in the oven just long enough for the meringue to brown (usually no more than 3-5 minutes) and remove. Sit on counter and let cool for an hour or so. Serve at room temperature or chill in the fridge for a couple of hours and serve chilled.

(Note: I had some meringue left over so I made some Meringues with what I didn't use for the pie.)

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie

Notes: The lemon zest and juice give this recipes just the right pop. Lemon compliments blueberry so well. You could also use this method with strawberries or peaches to make a different twist on the pie. If you don't want meringue you could use the left over pie crust to do a lattice on top or create shapes. You could also top this with whipped cream instead.

Pi Day: Blueberry Pie: A Few Bites In

Be sure and hop on over to Kitchen Parade and see what other pies people came up with...Because after all it is "Pi" day! ;o) And thanks to KP for hosting such a fun event!

KitchenParade_PiDay_large

Posted by Dianne at 7:21 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

March 13, 2008

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding

One of Jamison's all time favorites it Banana Pudding, but when he had to give up dairy due to IBS then he had to give up the pudding. Last week I decided to make him a non-dairy version, though we'll have to adapt it more now that we've found out he can't have gluten either, so the wafers will have to be changed as well, but we'll breach that another time. For now this version is what evolved.

Overall Jamison was completely surprised. He kind of got that "you did what?" look when I first told him what I'd done, but after he tasted it I won him over. It's a simple and dairy free alternative to your basic banana pudding, but you don't lose any of the flavor. That's just what you look for with this sort of thing!

What You'll Need for the Vanilla Pudding:
1 quart of Eden Blend Rice and Soy Beverage
2 vanilla beans split and scraped
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of corn starch

In a medium sized pot pour rice/soy milk. Cut and scrape two vanilla beans into the milk and then throw in the split beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 3-4 minutes to let the vanilla seep into the milk. Pour mixture through a sieve and return strained milk, minus the split beans, to the pot. Lower the heat and return pot to the flame. In a separate bowl whisk together sugar, salt and corn starch until mixed. Add to the milk and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool pudding in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

What You'll Need for the Banana Pudding:
1 batch of Vanilla Pudding (See recipe above)
Vanilla wafer type cookies (Note: I used a light version. I'll now be looking for a gluten free version for the next time I make this for him.) Bananas

First place a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom of a baking dish:

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding: First Cookie Layer

Next place a layer of bananas on top of the vanilla wafers:

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding: First Banana Layer

Now add the pudding:

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding: Pudding Layer

Since bananas have a tendency to brown after exposure to air next you want to switch the top two layers and add the bananas directly on top of the pudding:

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding: Second Banana Layer

Next add a final layer of vanilla wafers covering as much of the surface area of bananas as possible, blocking them from the air as much as possible:

Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding: Second Cookie Layer

Serve immediately or store in the fridge covered for up to two days.

Notes: You could use plain rice milk or plain soy milk in place of the blend, but I really like the flavor of the blend. You could also substitute 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla in place of the vanilla beans. The pudding itself is not only dairy free, it's vegan. I don't know if vanilla wafers are vegan however, though I'm sure there is a vegan equivalent out there somewhere if they aren't, and as I mentioned before I will now be searching for a gluten free version of the wafers as well for the next time I make this.

P.S. Don't forget the March edition of the Dianne's Dishes contest series for your chance to win some free herbs and spices! The contest ends today, March 13, 2008 at 5 PM EST so if you haven't entered yet then do! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake (My Mini Version!)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Mini Version

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake and it was chosen by Natalie of Burned Bits.

So it a pie or is it a cake? Yes! The dough is cake like, though the whole put together is more like that of a pie. I ended up making mini-pie-cakes so I could send them to work with Jamison, but that fell apart when the recipe only made 12. That wasn't enough to share with everyone he works with and I'm all about being fair! So I ended up freezing some of them for my sister once the baby is born, since I've been doing that lately so I'll have stuff to take to her in a few weeks after his arrival. Am I a nice sister or what? ;o)

I liked the end result of what I made, BUT I tweaked the recipe for the filling. I thought brown sugar would be better than regular sugar and I left out the raisins. I'll add my notes in the recipe below. I also thought the dough would have made some great lemon sugar cookies if you added some lemon zest and they were baked and topped with lemon icing...I may just have to test out that theory in the future! ;o)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Dough

What You'll Need for the Dough:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (Note: I used salted butter. I rarely buy unsalted and never think about it most of the time until I see it in a recipe.)
1 cup sugar (Note: I used organic cane sugar.)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Apples

What You'll Need for the Apples:
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome) (Note: I used Granny Smith. I only ended up using about 5 apples and had some left over that I cooked and froze. My apples weren't overly large either.)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice (Note: I didn't add this.)
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) (Note: I didn't add these either.)
1/4 cup sugar (Note: I didn't think 1/4 a cup of sugar was enough for 10 apples. I didn't end up using 10 apples, but I did increase the sugar to 3/4 a cup. I also used natural brown sugar because I think brown sugar pairs better with apples than regular sugar. Had I used 10 apples I probably would have gone with a full cup of brown sugar.)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (Note: I used 2 teaspoons.)
Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting (Note: I used organic cane sugar for dusting.)

To Make The Dough:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Apples Sliced

To Make The Apples:
Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking sheet llined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenly across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

Notes: Below is what I did to make the mini pie-cakes.

First cut a round of crust and place it into the hole of a muffin pan. Next add apples. (Note: I had to break the slices in half to get them in the muffin pan.)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Ready to be Topped

Next cut another round, slightly smaller and place it on top of the apples, crimping around the sides and cut a couple of vents to let steam out.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Ready to Go

Next brush each top with a bit of water and sprinkle with sugar.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Ready for the Oven

Next bake for 18-25 minutes until mini-pie cakes are golden brown.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Baked

And finally enjoy the ooey gooey center! Only let them cool a bit or they'll stick when coming out and you'll end up with a mess.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake: Ooey Gooey Center

Oh the apple goodness! Until next week.

P.S. Oh and don't forget the March edition of the Dianne's Dishes contest series for your chance to win some free herbs and spices!

Posted by Dianne at 7:01 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

March 7, 2008

Another Double Dose: Pineapple Eggrolls and Funnel Cakes

Note: We're doubling up again today so we can wrap up the "fry" day recipes. Enjoy! Next week we'll have some healthy recipes to make up for all this fried stuff! ;o) Don't forget that on Monday we'll have the March edition of the Dianne's Dishes contest series as well so check back for your chance to win!

Pineapple Eggroll

When Jamison and I first got married we lived in Huntsville, Alabama and we used to love to go to a Chinese restaurant there called Formosa (Sorry, but I can't find a webpage for them!) and they had the best pineapple dessert type eggrolls. For years I've wanted to try to make them, but I just hadn't gotten around to it. I've made blueberry eggrolls and regular eggrolls, but I never got around to the pineapple version until this past Saturday and we all thought they turned out great! Ben even tried some topped with some of the Dulce de Leche I made for this week's Tuesday with Dorie. Pineapple and caramel...What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
1 package of egg rolls wrappers
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained well
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Organic cane sugar

Preheat oil to 350 F.

Cream together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in pineapple until well mixed.

Take an eggroll wrapper and lay it flat. Place a spoonful of the pineapple mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold the sides to cover the filling. and then fold one end up and then the other. If it is having problems sticking run some water along the seam and then stick it back together and it will seal perfectly. Place in the oil and turn it several times to ensure that it browns on all sides. Once it is golden brown remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with organic cane sugar to coat. Serve warm or cooled.

Pineapple Eggroll: The Inside Goodness

Notes: You could really do this method with any type of fruit. Peaches would be really good, as would strawberries. Or another option would be to add chocolate chips to the cream cheese/sugar mixture instead of fruit. It's really just up to you and your imagination.

And now let's go on to the funnel cakes...Yum funnel cakes! ;o)

Funnel Cakes with Dulce de Leche (aka Caramel)

When Katherine and I were children my mom used to make us funnel cakes from time to time and it was always a treat we relished. I've made them once or twice since I've left home and it always brings back a nostalgic wave of memories. I couldn't find my recipe on Saturday morning so I called my mom and she read it off to me from her recipe box. It was almost as if she was here with us on Saturday after all! ;o)

We ended up topping the funnel cakes with powdered sugar and some of the Dulce de Leche I made for this week's Tuesday with Dorie...We used the soup out of that stuff on Saturday! It's good! ;o) But overall this dish was most definitely a blast from the past!

What You'll Need:
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3-4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of buttermilk
3 eggs
Powdered sugar for dusting

Place enough oil in a deep sided skillet to go up the side of the pan at least 1/2 inch. Heat over medium heat until you can drop a drop of batter in the oil and it immediately starts to fry.

While oil is heating mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add buttermilk and eggs and stir until batter forms. Place some batter in a narrow neck funnel or a measuring cup with a pour spout and swirl the batter into the hot oil. Fry until one side turns golden brown and then flip. Cook for 1-2 minutes more until the other side is browned and remove from oil. Drain on a paper towel and then top with powdered sugar.

Funnel Cakes

Notes: You could add in some cocoa powder for Chocolate Funnel Cakes. You could also top the funnel cakes with sugar and cinnamon for a different twist. Whipped cream would also be good, or even a chocolate drizzle. Use your imagination! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 4, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Snickery Squares

Tuesdays With Dorie: Snickery Squares

It's Tuesday and you know that that means....Tuesdays with Dorie! This weeks recipe is Snickery Squares and was chosen by Erin of Dinner & Dessert.

When I saw the choice I was thrilled...I mean the title says it all "Snickery" and I had looked at the recipe before and thought it would be excellent, but I have to admit after having made these I wasn't that thrilled. Now don't get me wrong the separate pieces of this recipe were to die for and I wanted to love this recipe I really did, but together it just didn't jell for me.

I loved the crust. It was wonderful. The candied peanuts were excellent. The Dulce de Leche, being caramel, oh my god...to die for! But when the elements all came together it just didn't do it for me. My sister tasted it Sunday night and she felt like the peanuts overpowered the rest of the recipe. They were good alone, but in the mix, she felt that they were just too much.

Overall I'm just not sure myself, but I doubt I'll make this recipe in this form again, but I most definitely see using the various parts again in other things! Plus I had never candied nuts before so that was fun to do as well. It's always fun to learn something new!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

What You'll need for the Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
About 1 1/2 cups store-bought dulce de leche (Note: I couldn't find this anywhere so I just made my own.)

What You'll Need for the Topping:
7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Getting Ready:

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:

Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball. (Note: I burned out the motor of my food processor last week and I'm still trying to decide which one I want to replace it with so I used my stand mixer instead and it worked fine. We won't talk about the fact that the stand mixer is starting to act up too right now. We're just going to ignore that fact and hope it decides to straighten up and fly right! ;o))

Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.

Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.

Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Snickery Squares: Candied Peanuts

When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.

Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Snickery Squares: Dulce de Leche and Candied Peanut Layer

To Make the Topping:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Cut into 16 bars.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Snickery Squares: Done!

Notes: I think that the peanuts would make an excellent topping on vanilla ice cream. The dulce de leche would as well, but not paired with the nuts. The crust was good by itself, but I haven't figured out what I might use it for in the future, but I'll keep thinking about that!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Posted by Dianne at 7:55 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

February 27, 2008

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Cashews

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Cashews

Most people like cookies, and while a good old chocolate chip cookie can really hit the spot, sometimes you want something a little different. So what do you do? You take a basic chocolate chip recipe and tweak it a bit and you end up with something new and delicious! This was also the perfect cookie to share with Jamison's coworkers so I packaged them up and sent them along to share. If you're a chocolate lover (or know someone that is) and like cashews too this is the cookie for you!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
3/4 cup of organic cane sugar
3/4 cup of natural brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2/14 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of raw cashews
1 package of milk chocolate chips
1 package of white chocolate chips

Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Mix in sea salt and baking soda until just mixed. Add flour and mix until just incorporated and dough forms. (Note: If you want to sift the dry ingredients together you can, but if you add the salt and soda first to the wet mixture and make sure it's mixed in you can then add the flour and it works just fine. The sifting is just an extra step in terms of cookies that I've long since moved away from. There are some recipes, such as delicate cakes and things of that nature, that you would still need to sift or whisk the ingredients together, but for cookies it isn't necessary, unless you just enjoy sifting, which I don't. :o)) Stir in cashews until completely incorporated throughout the dough. Add milk chocolate chips and stir to mix throughout and then repeat with white chocolate chips.

Place the mixed dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before baking. (Note: This is a VERY important step when baking cookies with butter. If you don't let the dough chill you'll end up with flat, weird cookies. The butter needs to be given the chance to re-solidify somewhat.)

Once the dough is chilled preheat oven to 375 F.

Using a tablespoon measuring spoon scoop out balls of dough and place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake cookies in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until cookies are done.

Remove baking pan from the oven and sit the pan on a wire wrack and let them cool for a few minutes before removing cookies from the pan.

Makes roughly 5 dozen cookies.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Cashews

Notes: You could use a combination of any two types of chocolate chips that you liked. You could also substitute another kind of nut if you aren't a cashew fan. Or you could even use some honey roasted cashews or other nut for another taste element.

Posted by Dianne at 7:23 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau

It's Tuesday again! You know what that means...It's time to bake with Dorie! This week's recipe is the Almost-Fudge Gâteau and was chosen by Nikki of Crazy Delicious and what can you say other than chocolate?!!?!? This was definitely a hit!

The recipe below is how it is written in the book. I chose to make mini cakes instead of making one cake so that Jamison could take them to work to share more easily and I wouldn't be tempted to eat it all, because really we're talking chocolate here, and good chocolate at that! That was just a little bit too much of a temptation!

When I made the little cakes Sunday afternoon I baked them in a muffin pan with cupcake liners and they turned out great! I ended up baking them for about 15 to 17 minutes instead of the time listed in the recipe for one big cake. I also chose to top them with the chocolate glaze, because seriously we're talking chocolate here and what's better than chocolate and more chocolate! ;o)

If you're serving these mini-cakes at home simply remove the cake from the paper and place them in the middle of a plate before drizzling with the chocolate glaze. I enjoyed one of them in this fashion before I sent the rest of them off to work with Jamison on Monday morning. For the ones I sent to work with him I left them in the cupcake liners and simply drizzled the chocolate on the top of each one effectively making a layer of glaze on each mini-cake. The recipe made two dozen little cakes.

So that's this weeks recipe. Don't forget to stop on over at Tuesday's with Dorie and see how everyone's cakes turned out! :o)

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau: The Inside

What You'll Need for the Cake:
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Note: I used 1 - 4 ounce bar of Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate and 1 - 5.3 ounce bar of Green and Black's 72% Baking Chocolate Bar minus 2 sqaures, which ended up being right at 0.3 ounces.)
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water (Note: I don't like coffee so I used 2 tablespoons of chocolate extract instead.)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

What You'll Need for the Glaze (optional):
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Note: I used 1 - 4 ounce bar of Ghirardelli 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup (Note: Since the chocolate I used was completely unsweetened I used 4 tablespoons of corn syrup. As always look for one that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup. I also added in 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar.)

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau: Chopped Chocolate

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau: Chocolate, Butter, Sugar and Chocolate Extract Ready to Melt

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:

(Note: I misread this part of the recipe and ended up melting the chocolate with the heavy cream and corn syrup in the microwave. It turned out fine using this method.)

First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Almost-Fudge Gâteau: Ready to Share

Notes: You could also add a little whipped cream or even chocolate whipped cream to the top. A caramel drizzle could be used in place of, or along with the chocolate glaze as well. One of the gentleman Jamison works with thought that either mint added to the cake itself, or the glaze would be a nice addition as well.

Posted by Dianne at 7:34 AM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

February 14, 2008

For My Valentine (And His Co-workers Too!): Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

For Valentine's Day Jamison had one request..."Make me some chocolate!" Last year I made him these chocolates, but I wanted to do something a little different this year. I started thinking about it and decided that it would be nice to combine his love for peanut butter with chocolate once again and the idea for Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles was born!

Overall I was very pleased with how this recipe turned out. The peanut butter and chocolate of course complimented each other perfect and the undertone of vanilla gave it just the right touch. I shaped a few of them as hearts as you can see above, but any way you make them they are divine! If you have a truffle lover in your life (in my case me) and a chocolate/peanut butter lover (again here that would be Jamison) this is the recipe for you!

What You'll Need:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped
3 - 11.5 ounce packages of milk chocolate chips (Note: I used Ghirardelli.)
6 tablespoons of dried peanut butter powder (Note: I found a product called PB2 and heard raves about it so I decided to try it. The product is made from roasted peanuts that have had the oils removed. 2 tablespoons of the powder reliquefied with water makes the equivalent of roughly 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. It has 75% less fat than regular peanut butter, which given this recipe is a moot point, but it's just perfect for truffles because it doesn't really change the consistency of the chocolate! Also this stuff is awesome in and of itself! I highly recommend this product if you like peanut butter and want a lighter option that doesn't taste weird! It makes a mean peanut butter sandwich too!)
Chopped peanuts (optional)
~or~
1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of cocoa mixed, for rolling (optional)

Put the chocolate chips in a large glass bowl and set aside.

Place the heavy cream in a medium sized sauce pan. Cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds into the heavy cream. Put the cut bean into the heavy cream as well and bring to a quick boil. Remove the vanilla bean and pour heated heavy cream over chocolate chips and stir until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is creamy. Stir in the peanut butter powder and mix until completely incorporated. Sit the bowl aside at room temperature and let the chocolate mixture become firm, yet still scoopable. You want to consistency of ice cream at this point. This can take several hours.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: First Scoop

Once the chocolate mixture has set up scoop out round balls with a tablespoon or a melon baller. Don't worry when you scoop them out they won't necessarily but round at this point. You'll make them more round in the next step. (See above.) Put on a baking pan that has been lined with waxed paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let them sit for about 30 minutes.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: With Chopped Peanuts

At the end of thirty minutes roll the ball briefly between your palms to ensure a mostly round truffle. You aren't looking for a perfect sphere, just a general round shape. If desired roll in chopped peanuts or a powdered sugar/cocoa mixture. Store in the fridge or in a cool dark place.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: With Powdered Sugar and Cocoa

Notes: You could roll the truffles in something else if you liked, such as coconut, or even leaven them unadorned.

Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, today Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner tomorrow Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! It's your last chance to enter! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Tuesday's With Dorie: Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Last week I found out that there was a group that was baking their way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home Yours and I was ready to jump on board! The group is called "Tuesday's With Dorie" and what's not to like? I immediately sent an e-mail and joined up!

This week's recipe was chosen by Jaime of Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats and is the Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake and those of you who have read Dianne's Dishes before know that cheesecake is one of my all time favorite foods ever so I was more than thrilled that this was the first recipe after joining the group and let me tell you this cheesecake did not disappoint! I actually baked the recipe in a 13 X 9 inch baking dish making cheesecake bars instead of using a springform pan as the recipe called for because it made it much easier for Jamison to take to work with him and share with his co-workers. I was a bit worried that it might not work out, but it did and the end result was delicious!

This cake utilizes actual apples, along with apple cider and the flavors meld together so well. The apples throughout the cake were also a very nice element, in both taste and overall visual appeal. This is most definitely a cheesecake I will make again! The directions below are for the springform pan, but if you want to bake it in a 13 X 9 inch dish use the same directions. I followed them to the letter just using the different pan and not using a water bath.

What You'll Need for the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

What You'll Need for the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (Note: Since I made the cake in a 13 X 9 dish instead of a springform pan I cut the apples into a few more pieces so they would be throughout the dish.)
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

What You'll Need for the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.

Notes: I topped the piece of cheesecake that I ate with Apple Cider Whipped Cream. To make this add 1/4 of a cup of apple cider to 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with a few tablespoons of sugar. This cheesecake would also be very good topped with a caramel sauce.

Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids in the Kitchen!

P.S. Don't forget Dianne's Dishes February Contest: Kids In The Kitchen for your chance to win one Pampered Chef "My Safe Cutter" along with one Pampered Chef "Kid's Apron and Chef's Hat Set"! Just leave a comment on this thread with a valid e-mail address (and don't worry, no one will see your e-mail address but me!) before 5:00 PM EST, Thursday, February 14, 2008. I'll print out the participants and my little sous chef will pull a name out of the hat. I'll e-mail that person for their address and announce the winner on Friday, February 15, 2008! Anyone anywhere on our little planet earth is eligible to enter so what are you waiting for?

Good luck! Oh and tell your friends! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

February 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Jamison and Alexis are both avid peanut butter people.  I mean seriously, if peanut butter ceased to exist the world might just cease to exist for the two of them, as far as they are concerned.  I too enjoy peanut butter, but truth be told almond butter, or more importantly cashew butter, are more up my alley.  Overall though, if you’re not allergic to peanuts, which we aren’t, then what’s not to like?

 

The other day my little sous chef asked me if anyone made peanut butter ice cream.  I told her that I’m sure someone out there did, but right off the top of my head I couldn’t think of anyone.  We got busy with other things and I forgot to do a little research to see what I could find.  The next day she asked me if we could make some peanut butter ice cream and since we hadn’t made any ice cream in a while we gave it a whirl.

 

Now let me tell you, if you like peanut butter, even the tiniest little bit, you will LOVE this ice cream!  It’s rich and creamy and there are little bits of peanut butter throughout the whole peanut buttery flavored ice cream itself that just burst in your mouth.  The ice cream itself would be superb topped with some hot fudge sauce, but even alone this is the very epitome of the peanut butter lovers dream!

 

P.S. Speaking of chocolate...If you haven't gone over to Culinate yet to vote in their Death By Chocolate contest then you should!  You could win a trip for two to Napa's Chocolate Festival!  My entry was Hot Fudge Cake. 

  

 

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Ice Cream:
1 - 18 ounce jar of peanut butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint half and half
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla

 

In a large stock pot add all ingredients and cook until sugar and peanut butter are melted.  Remove from heat and let sit until the mixture cools to room temperature.  (Note: As the mixture cools the peanut butter may separate from the milk a bit, but you can easily stir it back into the mixture.  I stirred it several times as it was cooling and once before putting it in the ice cream maker.  Once in the ice cream maker the machine does the stirring for you!)  Once the mixture is cooled add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to your models operating instructions.  When it is finished you will have your basic soft serve ice cream and can serve it immediately.  Place the mixture into the freezer in a covered container to let harden fully if you prefer a more firm ice cream.  Thaw for a few minutes before serving. 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Notes: Alexis wanted to add chocolate chips to the ice cream itself, but we couldn’t find mini-chocolate chips, as they work best in ice cream mixtures due to their small size.  (Do they make those anymore?  I haven’t looked for them in years!)  This ice cream is not low-fat or anything of that nature.  While I normally try to look at making things healthier, in this case this is an indulgence and as such should be enjoyed once in a while in moderation, but you know that drill! ;o)  That being said if you wanted to lighten it up a bit you could use light cream, fat-free half and half and light peanut butter and it should all work fine, though it might freeze harder once you put it in the deep freeze.   Also this recipe is designed to be made in this ice cream freezer, but you could double it to go in a larger model.  In reality I ended up with a bit more (about a cup or so) than what my freezer would hold, but you could freeze that and use it later if you needed.

Posted by Dianne at 8:54 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 1, 2008

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies

Last Saturday a friend of mine was supposed to come over for lunch, but she had to reschedule at the last minute. We ended up taking Alexis to her first in theater movie so it wasn't a total wash of a day, but I had already made dessert! I ate one brownie and then put them out of sight and sent them to work with Jamison on Monday morning to share with his coworkers, but let me tell you these brownies are to die for! They are ooey, gooey, swirly and just heavenly! If you like peanut butter and/or marshmallows these are the brownies for you!

What You'll Need:
1 - 5.3 ounce Green and Black's 72% baking bar
1 - 4 ounce bar Ghirardelli White chocolate baking bar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 - 10 ounce package of peanut butter chips
1 - 7 1/2 ounce jar of marshmallow cream (Note: As always look for a version with NO high fructose corn syrup!)

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the microwave or in a sauce pot melt chocolate, butter and sweetened condensed milk until smooth, careful not to scorch. Let cool slightly.

While the chocolate is melting whisk together flour, sugar, sea salt and baking powder in a very large bowl to incorporate. Set aside.

Once the chocolate is cooled add to the flour mixture along with eggs and vanilla. Stir until completely mixed. Pour 3/4 of the batter into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been buttered and floured or sprayed with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Melt peanut butter chips in the microwave or in a sauce pan until smooth. Again watch to be sure they don't scorch! Once they are melted stir in marshmallow cream, but don't mix completely. Leave it swirly. Pour peanut butter/marshmallow mixture into the dish with the 3/4ths batter and gently spread out, careful not to push it all the way to the bottom of the batter. Take remaining 1/4th batter and drop into spoonfuls on the top of the marshmallow mixture so as not to cover completely.

Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 30-35 minute until chocolate edges are chewy, but not hard. A few crumbs with a brownie is not a bad thing when sticking to check for doneness! Remove from oven and let sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store in an airtight container.

Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies

Notes: You could add in nuts if you like. Next time I make these I think I'm going to use a cup of melted peanut butter instead of peanut butter chips.

Posted by Dianne at 7:24 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies with a Twist

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

One day last week my little sous chef asked if we could make chocolate chip cookies. She so rarely asks to make anything specific as she is just is happy to help me cook whatever I have on plan that I immediately said "Sure!" I might have spoken a bit too soon, given we were out of eggs and most chocolate chip recipes call for just that and we weren't heading to the store, but whatever.

Since Alexis had her heart set on chocolate chip cookies I started thinking. I remembered a recipe I had made in the past that used no eggs and graham cracker crumbs instead of white flour and decided we'd make that, but the only thing was I couldn't find the actual recipe. This is what evolved from what I remembered from the recipe and they turned out great. Even Jamison liked them. Alexis being Alexis had one cookie and that was the end of that as she'd rather have a banana or an orange and isn't much of a cookie eater, so the rest made their way with Jamison to work for another treat.

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (Note: Regular or fat free will work fine.)
2 sleeves of graham crackers, crushed
2 cups of unsweetened coconut
1 package of chocolate chips (Note: I used milk chocolate chips.)

In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in crushed graham crackers and stir or mix until completely incorporated. Add coconut and stir until mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and let dough chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Scoot out tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes roughly 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Notes: You could add in a cup of nuts if you like. I'd recommend cashews or Macadamia nuts. You could also use semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips.

Posted by Dianne at 7:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Lemon Meringue Tart with Candied Lemon Peel

I have to admit when I saw that January's challenge was Lemon Meringue pie I was not all that thrilled. I've never cared for Lemon Meringue pie, but having missed December's challenge due to oven issues I didn't want to sit this one out! My sister happens to loves Lemon Meringue, so my first thought was that my sister was about to get herself a pie! (Or several as the case may be since I wanted to do the tarts and use my baby tart pans my best friend Darlene gave me for my birthday!) But I must say I was very pleasantly surprised by this version of Lemon Meringue Pie!! This pie was good! No scratch that it wasn't just good...It was in fact beyond good...It was delicious! I would even go as far as to say I'd make this pie again for myself! I ended up sending all but one of the tartlettes home with Katherine when I made them a few weeks ago anyway since she's a big fan of lemon meringue and it was a bit of a temptation to have them sitting around, but I was most definitely pleasantly surprised!

January challenge was hosted by Jen at The Canadian Baker. The challenge was for making a lemon meringue pie or free form tartlettes. I somehow missed the "free-form" tidbit and ended up making small tarts with pans! But regardless they turned out great! The dough and filling made enough for 8 tartlettes, with a little dough left over. The recipe is from Wanda's Pie In The Sky by Wanda Beaver.

I loved the crust. I tasted slightly like sugar cookies. The filling was also extremely delicious! It was creamy and oh so lemony! I think my issue with lemon meringue pies in the past has been that they didn't really have much lemon to them. They tasted more artificial and sort of bland, instead of lemony and zingy. This pie however is most definitely a lemon lover's dream!

From reading the Daring Baker blog several of the other participants had issues with runny filling, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it set up just perfectly! My sister also told me it didn't get too runny with the ones I sent home with her, other than the normal softness that happens when you store a pie. The filling was thick and creamy and oh so lemony! I really loved it!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Tart Crusts Pre Baking

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

What You'll Need for the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Tart Shells Filled With Lemon Filling and the Beginnings of the Meringue

Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

What You'll Need for the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Meringue Pre Baking

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Meringue Baked Up Close

Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Meringue Baked

Note: I somehow forgot to add the butter to the filling until after I had the tartlettes completely done, but they turned out great anyway without the butter! I also don't recall adding the vanilla to the meringue, but it's been a few weeks so that little detail may have just slipped with the passing of time.

To Make Free-Form Tarts:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF. Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around. Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks.

Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

Notes: I think this would be great as Key Lime Tartlettes or even Chocolate Meringue Tartlettes as well!

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: The Whole Shebang

I decided to top my tartlettes with candied lemon peel. I had never made this before, but I liked the end result and ended up using the technique to make candied lime peel for my Key Lime Cheesecake later in the month as you regular readers have already seen!

Daring Bakers Challenge January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie: Candied Lemon Peel

What You'll Need for the Candied Lemon Peel:
1 cup of water
Lemon peels
1 cup of sugar

Bring water to a boil.

While water is heating cut pieces or scrape lemon peels into curls making sure to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Add lemon peels to boiling water and cook until tender. Remove lemon peels and sit aside. Add sugar to the water and allow to dissolve. Put lemon peels back in the water and bring back to a boil. Cook until lemon peels are translucent.

Notes: You can use the left over sugar water as a lemon simple syrup or you can cook it to hard crack stage for lemon candy.

So that's my second completed Daring Bakers Challenge! Don't forget to check out the other Daring Bakers and see how their Lemon Meringue turned out! ;o) And thanks to Jen for a wonderful challenge!

Posted by Dianne at 7:03 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Key Lime Cheesecake

Mini Key Lime Cheesecake

I'm a big fan of key lime. I like key lime yogurt, pie, ice cream, pound cake, muffins and of course key lime cheesecake! The key lime flavor is so versatile and fresh. It's fun to play around with new ideas and see what you can come up with. This treat was another creation for Jamison to share with his coworkers.

Key Lime Cheesecake is creamy and cool with just the right hint of key lime. Top it with some candied lime peel and/or whipped cream and you've got a fantastic dessert!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers (Note: Any type will work, even the chocolate version. Sometimes I use regular, sometimes I use the chocolate. The chocolate really makes the key lime flavor pop, though the regular graham crackers have their own charm as well.)
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Spray a 9 inch springform pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Crush graham crackers (the food processor is a very good way to do this), add in butter and sugar and mix or process until sticky crumbs form. Press into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Use the sides and bottom of a glass or measuring cup to ensure that the crust is really presses into the corners and the bottom. Set aside.

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake:
4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup of ricotta cheese (Note: Whole milk, part skim or fat free will work. I used part skim.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1/2-1 cup of key lime juice (Note: Use more if you want a really limey taste. Use less if you just want a hint. If you use the full cup increase flour by 1/4 a cup.)
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

Key Lime Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 325 F. (Note: This is very important in making cheesecakes. You MUST preheat your oven!)

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add ricotta, sugar and eggs and beat until smooth. Add lime juice and mix until incorporated. Slowly add flour until just mixed. Pour batter into the prepared shell and wrap the bottom of the springform pan securely with aluminum foil.

Place cheesecake with foil into a large baking dish and pour hot water into the dish until it reaches 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the pan. Be careful not to get any water into the cheesecake itself. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off oven and place the oven door in the broil position and let the cheesecake sit for an additional 60 minutes in the oven after it has been turned off without moving the cake. Once it has cooled store in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours before serving.

Mini Key Lime Cheesecake

To Make Mini Cheesecakes:

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Mix batter as you would for the big cheesecake. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup. Add enough batter to fill the cup 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-30 minutes until cheesecakes have set.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

To Make Candied Citrus Peel:

Remove strips of citrus peel (orange, lemon, lime, etc.) from the fruit with as little pith as possible. Boil the strips until tender in 1-2 cups of water. Remove from water. Add in sugar. (Use equal amounts sugar and water. If you started out with one cup of water, then use one cup of sugar.) Let sugar dissolve and then add peels back into the pot. Bring to a slow boil and cook until peels are transparent. Drain in a single layer with peels not touching. Once dried use as a garnish.

Notes: If you leave out the key lime juice you have a basic cheesecake. You could substitute lemon juice for the key lime juice if key lime isn't your thing. If you want a green key lime you can add in a few drops of green food color, but key lime juice doesn't really turn anything green and most likely the best key lime you've had in the past was not colored. Also even when using a water bath cracks sometimes happen in making a cheesecake. If they do don't sweat it...The cheesecake still tastes delicious and that's what whipped cream is there for...To cover up those cracks! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 18, 2008

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Tomorrow (I got a day ahead of myself!) Sunday we're having some friends and their son over for lunch and a play date. They are bringing some fruit with them so I thought it would be nice to have something to go along with that. I thought about making an angel food cake, but then decided pound cake was more wintery. I'm not sure why I think that, but I do.

This pound cake is lemony and tender. The sour cream gives it just the right moistness, while the cake flour makes it light and airy, yet still substantial. Top it with some fruit and whipped cream and you've got the perfect dessert! This makes two pound cakes so one will be for tomorrow and the other will go in the freezer for another time.

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
4 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add lemon zest and lemon juice to butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined well combined. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Next add sour cream and mix until combined. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix until creamy. Pour batter into two loaf pans that have been buttered and floured or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until loaves stick done. Make sure not to over bake. Let cakes cool in pans for 5 minutes and then turn out and let cool the rest of the way on a wire wrack.

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Notes: You can add in poppy seeds for a lemon poppy seed variation. You can leave out the lemon and add in vanilla for a Vanilla Pound Cake. Another variation would be substituting 1/2 cup of cocoa powder for 1/2 cup of cake flour for a Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake.

Posted by Dianne at 12:36 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 4, 2008

Coconut Cake With Coconut Frosting

Coconut Cake with Cocnut Frosting

Someone that Jamison works with requested that I make a coconut cake and now that our oven is finally back in working order I did just that! There are several ways you can go with a coconut cake...You can make a white cake with coconut frosting or a coconut cake with cream cheese frosting or my preferred method a coconut cake with coconut frosting. If you're a coconut lover (which I am!) then add coconut to both the cake and the frosting! But no matter how you make it you're in for a treat!

Coconut Cakes

What You'll Need for the Cake:
3 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of coconut extract
1/3 cup of safflower oil (Note: Any clear vegetable oil will work, I just prefer safflower oil.)
4 eggs
1 cup of light sour cream (Note: Any type of sour cream will work...light, fat free, regular.)
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 cups of unsulphured coconut
(Note: I used a little of the batter to make a small round cake for Alexis and I since I was sending the big cake to work with Jamison and thus the two cakes in the picture above, but the recipe is written for one sheet or double layer cake.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift or mix together dry ingredients (flour through sugar). Add vanilla, coconut extract, safflower oil, eggs, sour cream and buttermilk to the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Stir in coconut and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish or two 8 inch baking pans that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30 minutes or until cake sticks clean with a toothpick.

Let cool completely and then frost with frosting recipe below.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

What You'll Need for the Frosting:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (Note: You can use low-fat, fat free or regular. They all work.)
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of coconut extract
1 - 18 ounce package of powdered sugar
2 cups of unsulphered coconut

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

Cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and coconut extract and mix until blended. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in coconut until incorporated and use frosting to frost coconut cake.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting

Notes: If you wanted to make just a basic white cake you could leave out the coconut extract and coconut. This is true for a basic cream cheese icing as well. Just subtract the coconut extract and coconut and you're set.

Posted by Dianne at 12:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 21, 2007

Peppermint Brownies

Peppermint Brownies

Chocolate and peppermint go so well together and what could be better than Peppermint Brownies? With peppermint in the batter itself and peppermint chips throughout these brownies are just the right mix of chocolate and mint. They are the perfect compliment for a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Wouldn't Santa love that? ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 cups of cocoa
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of peppermint extract
4 eggs
2 sticks of butter, melted
1 - 10 ounce package of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk or sift together flour through baking powder. Add eggs, butter, peppermint and vanilla and mix until batter is fudgy. Add peppermint chips and stir until completely incorporated. Spread into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray or greased with butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brownies are done, but still fudgy. Cool and cut into squares. (Note: I'm still using the toaster oven. They are finally supposed to come out and fix the oven on 12/28 so I divided the dough into two 8 X 8 inch dishes and baked them separately. Hopefully when I come back on 1/2/2008 the oven issues will be over and done! ;o))

Peppermint Brownies

Notes: If you wanted you could add in nuts, but the peppermint really is enough on its own.

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December 20, 2007

Double Layer Peppermint Chip Bark

Double Layer Peppermint Chip Bark

This recipe (and tomorrow's too!) is for the peppermint/chocolate lover on your list. This take on the classic peppermint bark takes it to a whole new level! The best part of this is that it's done completely in the microwave making it simple, yet delicious! Try it and see.

What You'll Need:
2 - 11.5 ounce bags of milk chocolate chips (Note: I used Ghirardelli as always.)
2 - 11 ounce bags of white chocolate chips (Note: Again I like Ghirardelli.)
1 - 10 ounce bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips

In a large bowl melt the milk chocolate chips at 1 minute intervals until smooth. Spread melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet or wax paper and let cool until hardened (30 minutes to an hour).

Double Layer Peppermint Chip Bark: Chocolate Layer

Once the milk chocolate is hardened melt the white chocolate chips at 1 minute intervals until smooth.

Double Layer Peppermint Chip Bark: White Chocolate Layer

Spread out over the milk chocolate on the cookie sheet and sprinkle the top of the spread out chocolates with Andes Peppermint Crunch chips and let the chocolate harden and then break into pieces.

Double Layer Peppermint Chip Bark: Setting Up

Notes: No notes for this one. It's pretty straight forward. ;o)

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December 19, 2007

White Chocolate and Blueberry Fudge

White Chocolate Blueberry Fudge

When you think fudge you automatically think rich and chocolatety, but it doesn't have to be that way. Recently we took a jaunt down Peanut Butter Fudge Lane and that made me start thinking about fudge in general. That little journey made me wonder how White Chocolate Fudge would turn out and then I went a step further and thought that some dried blueberries would make the white chocolate taste all the better!

This take on fudge is different, but different doesn't necessarily mean bad. The white chocolate and blueberries meld together and provide a wonderful compliment for each other. If you've got a white chocolate lover and/or fruit lover on your Christmas list this year, then this fudge is the fudge for you!

What You'll Need:
3 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
12 ounces of white chocolate chips (Note: I recommend Ghirardelli.)
1 7.5 ounce jar of marshmallow cream (Note: Look for one with no high fructose corn syrup.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of dried blueberries (Note: If you've never seen these before they are like raisins only made from blueberries instead of grapes.)

Melt butter, sugar and evaporated milk until smooth. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat stirring almost constantly. You want to reach soft ball stage (235 F) and you can gauge this by using a candy thermometer to determine temperature. This process takes roughly 3-5 minutes depending on your stove top. Keep an eye on the mixture. Given you are using white chocolate you don't want the mixture to brown at all. Also anything that is cooked with sugar over heat can scorch quickly so make sure you watch and stir!

Remove pan from heat and stir in marshmallow cream until smooth. (Note: To make the marshmallow cream come out of the jar easier pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and it should slide right out.) Next add white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Add vanilla and blueberries and stir to mix. Pour white chocolate/blueberry mixture into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been buttered liberally and spread out to the corners of the dish using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Let cool to room temperature and cut into small squares.

This fudge can be stored in the fridge or even freezer if you want until you are ready to use it, but that isn't necessary. It will last about a week at room temperature.

White Chocolate Blueberry Fudge

Notes: You could add in other dried berries to change it up a bit. Dried cherries or Goji berries would work wonderfully.

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December 18, 2007

Gingerbread Ornaments or Cookies

Pissy Gingerbread Boy and Christmas Tree

What's Christmas without a little gingerbread? Gingerbread houses, gingerbread cookies and even just plain old gingerbread! All of those things make you think of a wonderful holiday season! You can make this recipe as cookies or you can paint the gingerbread after it cools and make lasting ornaments. Whichever path you choose, you'll have fun none the less! (We choose the painted path for the ones pictured here.) And the best part is whether you make cookies or you make ornaments this makes the perfect gift!

What You'll Need:
1 cup packed natural brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Gingerbread Reindeer

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl cream brown sugar, butter and molasses until smooth. Add water and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

Gingerbread Star

Sprinkle some flour onto the surface you're working on and roll dough out to between 1/4-1/8th of an inch. Cut with the cookie cutters of your choice. If you are going to use the cookies for ornaments remember to make a hole for the string or ribbon to tie them onto your tree. You can do this by using a straw to make a hole at the top of each cookie.

Bake for 9-10 minutes and cool completely on the pan.

Gingerbread Snowman

Decorate with icing, candy, sprinkles, raisins or other embellishments if you're going to cookie route. Whatever you like works. Just let out your inner cookie creator! ;o)

If you're making ornaments paint them with craft or acrylic paints and let dry completely. Once the paint is dry you can "seal" the ornaments by painting or spraying on a coat of polyurethane if you want them to last for many years. If you want to make "Pissy" Gingerbread boys and girls use a fluted cutter to cut a "bite" out of the side of their heads or even their foot if you want, because after all wouldn't you be a little pissy too if someone did that to you? ;o)

Pissy Gingerbread Boy and Girl

Notes: This really is the best gingerbread I've ever tasted. I'm not a huge fan of molasses by itself, but in this recipe it really brings out the flavors of the other elements.

Posted by Dianne at 9:02 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 17, 2007

Brown Sugar Peanut Cashew Brittle

Brown Sugar Peanut Cashew Brittle

Sometimes it's nice to combine a little sweet and salty. Brittle does just that! This take on the classic peanut brittle utilizes brown sugar and even a little maple syrup to add a taste sensation with just the right amount of sweet and salty. Most traditional brittles are made with only white sugar, but the brown sugar gives it a depth of flavor that is very nice. If you've got a hard candy or brittle lover on your list, then this recipe is the one for you!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1 cup of corn syrup (Note: Light or dark works fine. Just make sure it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup.)
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 cup of water
1 pinch of sea salt
1 cup of raw peanuts
1 cup of raw cashews
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 teaspoons of baking soda

In a very large stock pot melt sugars with corn syrup and maple syrup in water. Add salt once sugar is melted and cook to hard crack stage (Note: There is some debate out there as to where hard crack stage lies. Some say around 290 F and others say closer to 300-301 F. My candy thermometer falls in the latter category so I cooked this to around 301 F.) When the sugar mixture reaches around 245 F then add the nuts and continue to cook, stirring frequently until you reach hard crack stage. (Note: If you don't stir this you'll end up with a scorched mess. Keep a close eye on the mixture!)

Once mixture reaches hard crack stage remove from heat and immediately add butter stirring to melt. When the butter is almost completely melted add the baking soda and stir quickly. Spread mixture out onto two cookie sheets that are covered with silicone baking sheets or buttered using a spatula or wooden spoon until thinly spread. Let cool and harden and break into pieces.

Brown Sugar Peanut Cashew Brittle

Notes: You can use any type of nut that you want. You can use one nut or a mixture. It's completely up to you. I've done this with peanuts and cashews in the past, but almonds, macadamia nuts, etc. would work just as well.

Posted by Dianne at 12:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 14, 2007

Rocky Road Bark

Rocky Road Bark

Chocolate barks make the perfect gift! You can dress them up however you like and this version is a take on Rocky Road ice cream, which I must admit I'm not a big fan of, but I do like this bark! The almonds are crunchy and the marshmallows give it just the right amount of gooey. This is another recipe that is sure to please most chocolate lovers and after all don't we all know one or two of those? ;o)

What You'll Need:
2 - 11.5 ounce packages of milk chocolate chips (Note: I usually use Ghirardelli chips.)
1 - 11 ounce package of white chocolate chips (Note: Again I usually use Ghirardelli chips for the white chocolate too.)
2 tablespoons of butter
At least 1 cup of whole raw almonds
At least 1 cup of miniature marshmallows

Rocky Road Bark: Chocolate Chips for Melting

Melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. (Note: If you want to temper the chocolate there are excellent instructions here. I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with tempering...Sometimes I can get it to work, other times not so much. I was watching the Barefoot Contessa the other day and Ina said she couldn't be bothered to take the time to do it and it made me love her all the more! To get around the issue she said she just makes it the day she wants to serve whatever she is making and it takes care of the problem.)

Once the chocolate is melted remove from the heat and stir in two tablespoons of butter until melted. Spread the mixture out onto a cookie sheet that is lined with wax paper or a silicone baking sheet.

Rocky Road Bark: Chocolate Ready for Topping

Next add marshmallows and almonds to the top of the spread out chocolate and gently push them into the mixture. (Note: My little sous chef (AKA Alexis) had a lot of fun with that step! ;))

Rocky Road Bark: Adding the Almonds and Marshmallows

Let the bark set up until it's hard and break or cut into smaller pieces. (Note: I like to use a pizza cutter and cut it into squares when it hardens and is sort of at a fudge like consistency, but isn't completely hard yet.) Store in an airtight container.

Rocky Road Bark

Notes: You can really add anything into chocolate bark that you like as I mentioned above. You can even make a white chocolate bark. Dried cherries, raisins and cocoa nibs make a good combination as do cashews and coconut. If you can think it it can be done! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 13, 2007

Chocolate Marshmallows

Chocolate Marshmallow

Marshmallows...What's not to love? Add in some chocolate and you've got chocolate marshmallowy heaven! These chocolate marshmallows are the perfect gift all by themselves, but why not couple them with a jar of Hot Chocolate Mix and you've got one happy chocolate lover!

What You'll Need:
6 tablespoons of unflavored gelatin
1 cup of water
2 cups of dark corn syrup
2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of chocolate extract
6 tablespoons of cocoa
Butter to coat your dish
Cocoa to dust your dish

Dissolve gelatin in a cup of water in the bowl of your mixer.

In a very large pot melt sugar, corn syrup and water and the bring to a slow boil. You want to bring the mixture up between soft ball and firm ball (240 F to 248 F), but not actually to firm ball stage. (Note: You want somewhere in the 245 F to 246 F.) Once the mixture has come up to temperature pour the chocolate mixture into the gelatin and beat on high for 10-12 minutes until thick and fluffy.

Chocolate Marshmallow: Soft Ball Stage

While the mixture is heating butter and dust a dish with cocoa.

Chocolate Marshmallow: Dish With Cocoa

Pour marshmallow mixture into the coated dish and let set until completely cool. Once marshmallows set up dust your fingers with cocoa, dip a knife into very hot water and cut into squares. (Note: The cocoa makes it easier to handle the marshmallows as the sides can be a bit sticky.) Store in an airtight container in a single layer.

And as I mentioned above they're perfect in a steaming cup of hot chocolate!

Chocolate Marshmallow in Hot Chocolate

Notes: No notes for this one. The chocolate speaks for itself! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

Turtle Cake

Turtle Cake

Turtle cake makes the perfect gift for the chocolate lover on your list. It's chocolately while having a a caramel surprise in the middle and even a bit more chocolate to go along with that caramel! This cake is ooey gooey and oh so good. It's the perfect compliment to a big glass of milk!

(Note: The recipe is written for a 13 X 9 baking dish, but once again I'm still using the toaster oven. The stove person still hasn't fixed the issue! (Yes I'm more than ticked about that, but that's another story all together.) Anyway...I baked this in two 8 X 8 inch dishes instead.)

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of cocoa
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
2 cups of unsalted peanuts, chopped (Note: Measure out 2 cups of peanuts and then chop them.)
2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled for a few minutes
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 - 11 ounce bags of caramel bits
1 - 11.5 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix together flour through sugar until incorporated. (Note: You can sift this together if you want, but it's just as easy to put it in a big bowl and mix it well with a whisk or a spoon.) Stir in peanuts until completely incorporated into the dry mixture. Add eggs, butter and vanilla and mix until dough forms. (Note: Sometimes it's easier to just get in there with your hands and mix it by hand.)

Divide the dough in half with one half slightly larger than the other. Take the smaller of the two dough balls and press it into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been greased or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven leaving the oven on.

Turtle Cake: 1st Layer

While the crust is baking melt the caramel in a pan over medium heat with heavy cream or in the microwave and set aside.

Once the crust is baked sprinkle the top of the baked crust with chocolate chips.

Turtle Cake: Second Layer

Pour caramel mixture over the chocolate chips and if necessary spread it out to the edges. (Note: Normally it does the spreading by itself.)

Turtle Cake: 3rd Layer

Take remaining dough and press to cover the chocolate chips and caramel mixture.

Turtle Cake: 4th Layer

Put the cake back into the oven and bake for 20 minutes to finish off the cake.

Turtle Cake Baked

Let the cake cool completely and then slice in to squares.

Notes: You can use any type of nut you want and I normally use pecans, but my sous chef (aka Alexis) wanted to use peanuts today so we went with peanuts. The cake is very gooey, so if storing in layers it's best to put down a layer of wax paper or aluminum foil between each layer.

Posted by Dianne at 8:19 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 4, 2007

Chocolate Chip Brownies Gift Jar

Chocolate Chip Brownies

What's better for a gift than something gooey and chocolatey? That's exactly what you get with Chocolate Chip Brownies! If you have a chocolate lover on your gift list, this is the gift for you. It's simple to put together and even simple to bake! That's very important when you're giving a gift. I'm sending them with Jamison to work tomorrow to share. After all isn't that the fun part?

Chocolate Chip Brownies Gift Jar

What You'll Need for the Gift Jar:
1 quart jar
3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups of organic cane sugar
1 cup of milk chocolate chips

Mix flour, salt and baking powder and add to the jar. Next add the cocoa powder. After that add the sugar. On top put the chocolate chips.

Dress up the jar however you like...Ribbons, fabric, etc. and be sure to include the directions for how to make the brownies (see below).

Chocolate Chip Brownies

What You'll Need to Make the Brownies:
1 stick of butter melted
1 Chocolate Chip Brownies Gift Jar (See above)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. (Note: My oven is still out of commission so these were baked in my good old toaster oven! ;o))

In a large bowl melt butter in the microwave and set aside.

Scoop chocolate chips out of the jar and dump the rest of the ingredients into the bowl with the butter, along with the eggs and the vanilla. Stir mixture until completely incorporated and then stir in chocolate chips until just mixed. Pour brownie mixture into an 8 X 8 inch baking dish that has been greased or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake brownies for 25-20 minutes or until fudgy. Remove pan from the oven and let cool. Cut the brownies into squares. (Note: The brownies are very rich so you might want to cut them smaller, rather than larger.) Store in an airtight container.

Notes: I was going to make these Peppermint Chocolate Chip Brownies, but I realized I was out of peppermint extract when I got ready to bake the brownies. If you want to make them peppermint omit the vanilla and add 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract instead.

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November 29, 2007

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut butter! What's not to like? Take that peanut butter and make it into fudge and that's indulgence on a plate!

My best friend Darlene has made Peanut Butter Fudge for years and last year at the beach she brought along a batch to share. It is to die for!! When Jamison requested that I make some Peanut Butter Fudge for him to take to work to share I knew there was no other place to go than to Darlene! She kindly shared the recipe with me and you by default!

This fudge is creamy, yummy and oh so peanut buttery! It would make the perfect Christmas gift if you're looking for something home made to share. Try it and see!

What You'll Need:
3 cups sugar
1-1/2 sticks of butter
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
3/4ths of an 18 ounce jar of peanut butter (Note: I used roughly 1 & 3/4 cups.)
1 - 7 ounce jar of marshmallow cream (Note: I couldn't find a 7 ounce jar so I used a 7 1/2 ounce jar instead.)
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Butter a 13 X 9 inch dish and set aside.

Measure out peanut butter and have it ready to go. Open marshmallow cream jar and have it ready to go too. Have the vanilla handy as well. You'll want to move fast once you remove the sugar mixture from the heat.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cooking

Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for roughly 4 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.

Stir in peanut butter and marshmallow cream until completely smooth. Add vanilla and stir to mix.

Pour melted mixture into the prepared dish and spread to form even layer in pan. Let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled. Cut fudge into squares and store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Notes: I think it would be interesting to stir in some chunks of chocolate to the mix right before adding it to the dish to cool, but not to the point where the chunks melted. When we were at the beach we also talked about dunking it in chocolate for a chocolate covered peanut butter fudge, because after all chocolate and peanut butter...I'm just saying! ;o)

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November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Dessert Yummy: Jamison's Chocolate Pie

Jamison's Chocolate Pie

In Jamison's family each holiday each person gets their own favorite pie. We've carried that tradition over and Jamison's pie of choice is your basic chocolate pie. I came up with this version and few years ago. It is rich, creamy and oh so delicious. If it weren't for the Pumpkin Cheesecake I might just have to make two! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1-9-inch pie shell, pre-baked
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of evaporated milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoon of butter

Pre-bake a pie shell and sit aside. You can use either a store bought crust or make your own. It's completely up to you. I used a store bought version today.

Sift or whisk together flour through salt into a large sauce pan. Slowly add milk and eggs yolks and whisk until smooth. Turn stove one and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture is thick. Remove thickened chocolate mixture from heat and stir vanilla and butter until butter melts and mixture looks glossy. Pour chocolate mixture into your prepared pie shell. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings to serve.

Notes: There are no notes for this one, but you knew that already! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 3:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Dessert Yummy: Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Pumpkin Pie Fudge This is a recipe from one of my mom's dear friends Wanda, who we affectionately call "Aunt Wanda". This fudge is creamy, delicious and very pumpkin pie like, but not. (That makes a whole lot of sense now doesn't it? ;o)) This is yet another way to utilize pumpkin and I'm all about the pumpkin! It is Thanksgiving after all! ;o)

(Note: My laptop is in the shop so I'm using Jamison's instead. He doesn't have the same photo software and such that I do so I made due with what he had and because of that the pictures may look a bit different than normal. I'm hoping to have my computer back later this week. Dare I even hope for today? ;o))

What You'll Need for the Fudge:
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of pumpkin (Note: Canned or fresh cooked and mashed works fine)
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tsp of salt
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
12 ounces of white chocolate, chopped fine (Note: I use Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bars, but white chocolate chips will work fine.)
2 cups of miniature marshmallows (Note: Look for marshmallows that aren't made with high fructose corn syrup.)
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Place sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter, salt and pumpkin pie spice in the saucepan. Bring to a low boil. Boil for 12 minutes stirring here and there to ensure that the mixture doesn't burn or stick.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge Boiling

Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate and marshmallows until melted.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge White Chocolate and Marshmallows

Add vanilla and stir to mix.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge Melted

Pour into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been greased with butter. Chill until set.

Pumpkin Pie Fudge Setting in the Fridge

Cut into small squares to serve. Store covered in the fridge.

Notes: The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of nuts as an optional addition, which you could easy add. The recipe also called for vanilla baking chips, which I had never heard of or seen. White chocolate works and is delicious to boot, so I don't think I'd change that, though you could.

Posted by Dianne at 9:27 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Dessert Yummy: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This week let's delve into some Thanksgiving dessert yummies! They are a bit harder to freeze so I make them the week of Thanksgiving! On Wednesday I'm going to go all out and post a dessert recipe and my version of brining a turkey! How's that for crazy???!?!? ;o)

Up first Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Within my circle of friends and family I'm somewhat known for my cheesecakes. I've got a ton of different scrumptious variations and people ask for them often! Key Lime, Chocolate, Peppermint, Caramel Irish Cream, Turtle, Peanut Butter, Regular, among many others and one of my favorites is my Pumpkin Cheesecake! Every Thanksgiving I whip one of these gems up and I look forward to it all year! It's a different twist on the standard pumpkin pie, but it will draw raves! Try is and see.

What You'll Need for the Crust:
2 1/2 cups of gingersnap cookies
1/4 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter, melted

Measure 2 1/2 cups of ginger snap cookies and then process them in the food processor until smooth. (Note: If you don't have a food processor then place them in a plastic bag and have fun smashing them! ;o)) Process in sugar and melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil to the very edges of the pan, without covering the opening. Set aside.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Gingersnap Crust

What You'll Need for the Filling:
3 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened (Note: You can use regular, light or even fat free cream cheese.)
1 - 15 ounce can of mashed pumpkin or 1 and 3/4 cups of freshly mashed pumpkin
1 cup of ricotta cheese (Note: You can use the whole milk, part skim or fat free version.)
1 cup of natural brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 F. (Note: This is very important when baking a cheesecake! The oven must be preheated! Do NOT skip this step!!)

Put a pot or kettle on to boil with enough water to cover 1/2-3/4 of the cheesecake pan with water.

Cream together cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, ricotta and eggs until well blended. Mix in pumpkin pie spice and flour until just blended. Pour into prepared crust.

Pumpkin Cheesecake "Help"

Place cheesecake pan into a baking dish. Pour hot water into the dish or pan being careful not to get any water on or in the cake itself. The water depth should be at least 1/2 the way up the side of the spring form pan, but no more than 3/4ths of the way up the side.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ready to Bake

Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and open oven door to the broil position and let the cake sit unmoved for 1 more hour.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Resting

After the cheesecake sits for 1 hour carefully remove from the oven and take out of its water bath. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Notes: The water bath helps the cheesecake top to not split as much. If you're making this on a cold day (like today for example), you might have trouble getting the cream cheese to cream completely smooth. Don't worry about this as it will not affect the taste of the cheesecake. You can also use graham cracker crumbs instead of gingersnaps, though I think the gingersnaps give it that extra omph. If you want you can decorate the top of the cheesecake with seasonal shaped cookies (such as leaves, acorns, pumpkins, etc.) and I recommend serving it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top.

Posted by Dianne at 1:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 29, 2007

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

This is a new twist on the standard oatmeal cookie or even a twist on the standard peanut butter cookie. Meld them together and you get a great combination! This is another go to treat to share!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup of thick rolled oats

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and peanut butter. Stir in salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour and mix until incorporated. Stir in oats and drop by rounded tablespoon full onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 4 1/2-5 dozen cookies.

Notes: You can add in a cup of chopped peanuts for an added crunch. You could also make this recipe with other nut butters and nuts instead of using peanut butter peanuts. Cashew butter and cashews would be good or almond butter and almonds.

Posted by Dianne at 9:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2007

Pumpkin Raisin Cookies

Pumpkin Raisin Cookies

Yes, we're back in pumpkin mode! Alexis is a pumpkin fanatic so what can I say? The best part is that these cookies are very cake like in consistency and are scrumptious to boot. Utilizing fresh pumpkin is fun this time of year and these little gems are great for a treat!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of natural brown sugar
2 cups of mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of raisins
1 1/2 cups of nuts, chopped (Notes: I prefer pecans, but you can use walnuts and as always you can leave out the nuts all together.)
4 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl cream together butter through pumpkin until smooth. Add raisins and nuts and stir until mixed. Set aside.

Sift together remaining ingredients and slowly add to pumpkin mixture stirring until just incorporated. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned.

Makes roughly 4-5 dozen cookies.

Notes: Another nice addition to this cookie are raw pumpkin seeds. A friend of mine made them using cranberries instead of raisins and said that they were great. I'll have to take her word on that because I detest cranberries! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 8:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 10, 2007

Caramel Apple "Brownies"

Caramel Apple "Brownies"

It's treat day again at Jamison's office! I love trying something new and then sending it with Jamison so I'm not tempted to eat more of it than I should! ;o) Although there is no chocolate in this recipe it's still very brownie like. With the abundance of apples this time of year it's fun to come up with new things to do with them.

Caramel Apple "Brownies" take the best of two worlds and bring them together. You've got your apple and you've got your caramel, but in a totally different combination than your basic caramel apple, which I might add are one of my favorite treats! Who says you can't bring a little fusion to dessert? ;o)

Caramel Apple "Brownies"

What You'll Need for the Brownies:
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of walnuts, chopped
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 large apples, cored and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter through cinnamon until smooth. Stir in nuts until incorporated into the wet mixture. Slowly add flour and stir until just mixed. Add apples and stir to incorporate throughout the mixture. Spread apple mixture into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and "brownies" stick done.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Caramel Sauce

What You'll Need for the Caramel Topping:
1 cup of organic cane sugar or natural brown sugar
1/2 cup of dairy (Note: You can use half and half, fat free half and half or heavy whipping cream.)

While the "brownies" are beginning to cool mix sugar and dairy in a medium sized pot and cook, not stirring, until it turns a golden amber color. If you want you can swirl the pan a few times instead of stirring. (Note: I like to bring the mixture to soft ball stage (235 F) on a candy thermometer, but you don't have to check the temperature if you don't want to. When it turns amber it's ready to go.) Remove from heat and let sit for about 2-3 minutes and then drizzle over the "brownies".

Notes: You could add a little nutmeg into the "brownies" if you liked. Any kind of nut will work as well, or you can leave those out entirely. Also any type of apple you have on hand works well too.

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 4, 2007

Pumpkin Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Apple Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Fall is here! And what is more fun that playing with local fall ingredients. This time of year is perfect to mix and match and pumpkin and apple go together to make scrumptious cupcakes! They are just perfect to share and Alexis and I sent them to work with Jamison to do just that! (Update: A guy pulled out in front of Jamison on the way to work so when he braked the cupcakes bit the big one when they jumped off the seat. It's the thought that counts right? ;o))

Pumpkin Apple Cupcakes

What You'll Need for the Cupcakes:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup of natural brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups of mashed pumpkin (Note: The is about how much pumpkin you get from roasting one sugar or pie pumpkin. You can used canned pumpkin if you prefer, but there really is nothing like fresh pumpkin!)
1 large apple, shredded (Note: I used a gala apple, but you can use whatever type of apple you have on hand.)
1/2 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl (flour through nutmeg). Add raisins and stir to incorporate throughout the flour mixture. Add maple syrup, eggs, pumpkin, apple and buttermilk and stir until completely mixed. Fill batter 3/4 of the way full into muffin pans lined with muffin liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cupcakes stick done. Let cupcakes cool to room temperature before frosting.

Makes about 28 cupcakes.

Notes: You can add in a cup of nuts if you like. Walnuts or pecans would work well.

Cream Cheese Frosting

What You'll Need for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of butter, softened
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla

Cream together butter and cream cheese until completely mixed. Slowly add sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and use to frost the Pumpkin Apple Cupcakes.

Notes: You can leave out the vanilla if you like and add in a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup for a maple flavored frosting. This frosting is a basic cream cheese frosting so you could use it for other cakes and mix it up. Adding peppermint would be good with a chocolate cupcake for example.

Posted by Dianne at 7:12 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 12, 2007

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Last weekend Alexis saw some local sugar pumpkins and wanted to get some. She's all about pumpkins. Loves them! We decided one of the things we could do was to make some Pumpkin Muffins and I decided it would be fun to add a little twist, a "surprise" if you will. What's better than a surprise? Most people like surprises. The "surprise" in these muffins is a little bite of cheesecake in the middle of each one! I decided this would make a good treat for Jamison to take to work since Fall is on our doorstep. I'm really enjoying making up new recipes and testing them out on Jamison's coworkers! Hopefully they are enjoying it too. :o)

What You'll Need for the Pumpkin Batter:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: I had intended to use White Whole Wheat flour, but I realized I was out. You could easily substitute it for all of or part of the white flour.)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of mashed pumpkin
1 stick of butter, melted (Note: You could use unsweetened apple sauce instead of the butter. Again this was my intention, but I realized I was out of apple sauce.)
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of light or fat free sour cream
3/4 cup of light or fat free buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of vanilla

What You'll Need for the "Surprise":
1 package of cream cheese, softened (Note: Any variety is fine...Regular, light or fat free)
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/8 cup of unbleached all purpose, flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix dry ingredients (flour through sea salt) in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients (pumpkin through vanilla) and stir until incorporated. Mix dry mixture with wet mixture and stir until completely mix. Set aside.

Cream together cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Set aside.

Spray two muffin pans with non stick spray. Fill each cup 1/4 of the way full with pumpkin batter and then add a dollop of the "Surprise" mixture (roughly 1 tablespoon or less) into the middle of each cup. Top with more pumpkin batter to cover the "surprise".

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins stick done.

Makes about 24 muffins

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Notes: You could add a cup of nuts and/or raisins to the pumpkin batter for even more yummy goodness. We used fresh pumpkin that we roasted in the oven and mashed ourselves. This process gave lovely little bits of pumpkin throughout the muffins. You could easily used canned pumpkin instead.

Posted by Dianne at 7:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 31, 2007

Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Fudge

Yesterday where Jamison works they had a pot luck for one of his coworkers to celebrate his retirement so I decided to whip up a batch of fudge to send. It's a decadent treat, but what better for a celebration or holiday! And luckily Jamison took it out of the house because this stuff could be seriously additive! As Cookie Monster nows says it's most definitely a "sometimes food"! ;o)

What You'll Need:
3 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened (Note: If it's soft to begin with it melts faster.)
2/3 cups of evaporated milk
12 ounces of chocolate of your choice (Note: I used two 4 ounce 100% unsweetened Ghirardelli baking bars and one 4 ounce milk chocolate Ghirardelli baking bar.)
1 jar of marshmallow cream (Note: Look for one with no high fructose corn syrup.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Melt butter, sugar and evaporated milk until smooth. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Bring to soft ball stage (235 F) using a candy thermometer to gauge temperature. Once the boiling begins it will take roughly 3-5 minutes to bring it up to soft ball stage. I can not stress enough STIR CONSTANTLY!! It is very easy to scorch something with sugar in it if you aren't paying complete attention.

Remove pan from heat and stir in marshmallow cream and chocolate until melted and smooth. (Note: To make the marshmallow cream come out of the jar easier pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and it should slide right out). Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been buttered. Let cool to room temperature and cut into small squares.

Fudge can be stored in the fridge or even freezer until ready to use, but it isn't necessary. It will last about a week at room temperature.

Notes: You could add a cup of nuts and/or Goji berries for a nice change of pace. Pumpkin seeds would also be good. The size of the squares are completely up to you, but in my opinion the smaller the better. It's very rich! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 11:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 23, 2007

The Ultimate Fudgy Brownies

The Ultimate Fudgy Brownie

Finally! My search for the perfect brownie is over! These brownies really were what I was looking for! They are fudgy and oh so chocolately! They would be perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just enjoyed with a tall, cool glass of milk.

I ate one of them and sent the rest with Jamison to work to share with his co-workers so I wouldn't be tempted to eat them all! ;o) They were that good! They seemed to be a hit there too. This treat day thing might just become tradition. What better way to test out recipes! ;o)

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 cups of cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Carefully mix melted butter with sugar until sugar is completely wet. Stir cocoa into the butter/sugar mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Stir in baking powder and vanilla until mixed. Stir in eggs until completely incorporated. Add flour and mix until batter is fudgy and flour is completely mixed. Spread into a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brownies are done, but still fudgy. Cool and cut into squares.

Makes 24-36 brownies. (Note: I recommend cutting them into 36 small brownies. They are delicious, but very rich!)

Notes: This recipe is adapted from the back of a package of King Arthur Baking Company unbleached all purpose flour from a recipe called "The Best Fudge Brownies Ever". They don't have the recipe on their webpage though. You could substitute white whole wheat flour to make them "better" for you, but we're talking brownies here so that's all relative. In their recipe they recommend adding 2 cups of chocolate chips, but I skipped that step. You could also add in a cup of chopped nuts and/or a cup of coconut for a tropical flare. Peanut butter chips would be good too or if you wanted to make Rocky Road Brownies you could add in mini marshmallows and nuts.

Posted by Dianne at 7:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2007

Blueberry Ice Cream

Blueberry Ice Cream

My Mom and Daddy were visting this week from Tennessee and my father is a big snacker. He's also a big ice cream eater, so I thought it would be nice to whip up a batch. I had a bunch of blueberries in the freezer that I had frozen over the past few months and thought it would be fun to put them to use in Blueberry Ice Cream! I had never had this before, but what I came up with was really wonderful! Alexis really loved it and my Mom and Daddy seemed to like it too. I certainly loved it! It has a wonderful blueberry flavor that is a refreshing change from standard ice cream. Sometimes it's nice to mix things up!

What You'll Need:
4 cups of blueberries (Note: I had frozen the blueberries, but fresh blueberries will work just as well. You're looking for big, normal sized blueberries, not those tiny frozen ones that you find in the freezer section.)
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1 pint of half and half
1 quart of heaving cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 cup of organic cane sugar

In a medium sized pan cook blueberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water until sauce forms. (Note: You can cook it further until the blueberries break down or let them retain their shape. I chose to let them retain their shape so that there were lovely bits of frozen blueberries that popped in your mouth when you ate the ice cream. It's a matter of personal choice.) Remove from heat and let cool completely before using in ice cream mixture. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put them in the fridge.

Mix cooled blueberry mixture, half and half, heavy cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar and stir to mix. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine's directions. Serve immediately for soft serve ice cream or place in the freezer to let it set up to a harder state.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Note: I really loved the color this ice cream turned out to be! I used a large ice cream maker for this recipe. You can substitute any fruit you like for the blueberries. Strawberries are a personal favorite and peaches as well. You could even do a mix and make things really interesting!

Posted by Dianne at 9:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Jamison wanted to take a little treat into work so we discussed it and he thought it would be neat to tweak this recipe with peanut butter chips and then I decided it would be good to soup it up with peanut butter in the batter as well! The results were to die for! If you like peanut butter and chocolate this is the cookie for you!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of dark brown molasses sugar
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup of cocoa
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of peanut butter chips
1 cup of milk chocolate peanut butter swirl chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Add cocoa and mix slowly until completely incorporated. Sift together flour, baking soda and add to chocolate mixture. Mix until flour is just mixed. Add chips and stir to mix.

Drop dough by large tablespoon full onto a baking sheet that is lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes and remove from the baking sheet to a cookie rack to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Notes: You could add in a cup of chopped peanuts if you wanted to add more of a nutty punch.

Posted by Dianne at 7:01 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 2, 2007

Basic Brownies

Basic Brownies

Chocolate...What's not to like? Brownies are one of those quintessential chocolate foods and I've been on a quest to come up with the perfect brownie recipe! I keep getting close and I'll admit these are good, but they aren't quite there yet! So the quest continues, but that's no reason that I can share good yumminess along the way! ;o)

They brownies are more cake like in consistency and I think they'd be delicious with some caramel or chocolate frosting. On their own they are quite good with a nice, cold glass of milk. You could even drizzle on some chocolate on the top and/or serve them with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. If you like cake type brownies then you'd love these!

What You'll Need:
8 ounces of baking chocolate
2 sticks of butter (Note: If you use unsalted butter then you need to add an extra teaspoon of salt to the batter)
2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup of buttermilk
1 teaspoon of salt
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Over medium heat melt chocolate, butter and sugar until smooth and completely melted. (Note: You can do this in the microwave if you want, but it's a lot easier to scorch chocolate in the microwave, thus ruining the entire batch, than it is on the stove top where it seems to melt more evenly.)

While chocolate, butter and sugar are melting in a large bowl mix buttermilk, salt, eggs and vanilla until completely mixed. Stir in one cup of flour and then slowly add the melted chocolate mixture stirring constantly to mix. Add remaining cup of flour and mix until just incorporated.

Pour batter into a 13 x 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 24-35 minutes or until brownies stick with crumbs. Cool and cut into squares.

Makes 12-36 brownies depending on how big you like them. (Or if you want enjoy one warm right from the oven! ;o))

Notes: You can add in a cup of the nut and/or chocolate chip of your choice if you like. A cup of coconut would also be a nice addition.

Posted by Dianne at 8:55 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 21, 2007

In Honor of Harry Potter...Pumpkin Ice Cream!

In Honor of Harry Potter...Pumpkin Ice Cream

OK...I'll admit it...I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan! Before Alexis arrived I would go stand in line at the store at midnight to get my book! Now I do overnight delivery, but I still devour them the first day! I've already read it in fact and I won't ruin it for those of you who haven't finished yet, but I will say for the most part I was pleased.

So in honor of Harry I thought I'd make something pumpkin themed, even though it's not really pumpkin season! I thought about a pumpkin smoothie or pumpkin muffins, but decided since it was the middle of summer and has been hot as Hades lately (though today and the next few days are looking heavenly!), I decided creamy ice cream was the way to go! It tastes a lot like pumpkin pie and Alexis and I both loved it!

So grab a spoon, have some Pumpkin Ice Cream while you're reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and here's to you Harry!

What You'll Need:
1 - 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 pint of half and half
1 pint of heavy cream
1 - 12 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 - 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

In the bowl of a mixer cream pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. With the mixer on low add half and half, heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk until well mixed. Cover mixer with a towel to prevent splattering and mix on medium for 5-8 minutes until airy. Pour mixture into a large bowl, cover and place in the freezer. Remove every 45 minutes to an hour and stir with a whisk until ice cream is set.

Notes: You could also do this in an ice cream maker and just pour the mix right in. I however wanted to try this non-ice-cream maker/whisk method I had read about and I was very pleased with the outcome.

Posted by Dianne at 9:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2007

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

Let's talk cherries! What's better than a fresh cherry pie? One thing is for certain though, the next time I make this little gem I'm going to have one of these! (Hint, hint again birthday fairy! Or perhaps in my case since he's male the Birthday Elf! ;o)) Stained fingers aside, you can't beat this pie. If you like fresh cherries, try it...You'll fall in love!

What You'll Need:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of fresh cherries, pitted
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 double pie crust (boxed or recipe)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large stock pot mix cherries, sugar and salt and cook until a sauce forms. (About 5-10 minutes. The cherries don't have to be completely cooked, because they will finish cooking in the oven.) Stir in corn starch and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat.

While cherries are cooking press a pie shell into a pie dish and trim the edges. When cherries are done pour them into the pie dish lined with the pie shell:

Cherry Pie Filled

Top the pie with another shell and cut vents or shape(s) to let out steam:

Cherry Pie Ready to Bake

Brush the top of the pie shell with beaten egg and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Pitted Cherries Ready To Be Made Into Pie Filling

Posted by Dianne at 7:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 7, 2007

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Jamison loves yellow cake with chocolate frosting and as today is his birthday Alexis and I made him a cake for a surprise when he got home from work last night . This is the ultimate comfort food. Cake, chocolate...What's not to like?

What You'll Need For The Cake:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup of sour cream
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Dump the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix well, but not too much or the cake will be tough. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish or two round or square cake pans for a layer cake that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake sticks clean when poked with a toothpick. Let cool completely and then cover with frosting.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

What You'll Need For The Frosting:
4 sticks butter, softened
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add cream, salt and vanilla to the creamed butter until mixed well. Add cocoa to butter mixture and mix on low speed until completely mixed. Slowly add sugar until completely incorporated and frosting forms. Spread over cooled cake.

Notes: You could always add in mini chocolate chips into the frosting for an extra treat. Or if you wanted to do a German Chocolate type deal you could add chopped pecans and coconut into the frosting and top a chocolate cake.

Posted by Dianne at 9:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream and cookies...What's not to like? You could easily do this recipe with bake off cookies and store bought ice cream, but why not make it a very special treat and go all out? Any kind of cookie you like would work, as well as any kind of ice cream. It's the ultimate do it yourself dessert!

What You'll Need For The Cowboy Cookies:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of rolled oats
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 package of chocolate chips
1 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Cream together sugars and butter until smooth. Add eggs and mix until incorporated. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to sugar/egg mixture until smooth. Stir in oatmeal, chocolate chips and nuts. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto a baking sheet that is lined with a silicone baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minute until slightly browned.

What You'll Need For The Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:
1/2 a quart of half and half
1 small carton of light cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 vanilla beans, cut and scraped, pods reserved
1-3 teaspoons of vanilla (More if you like it really vanilla, less if you don't)

Mix ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan, along with the actual vanilla bean pods, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Remove from heat and strain to remove pods and any large chunks that might have separated from the pod. The easiest way to do this is by straining the mixture. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Once cooled pour mixture into ice cream freezer and freeze according to your model's directions. For harder ice cream, like you will need for the ice cream sandwiches, put the softly frozen ice cream in an air tight container and store in the freezer until completely firm.

Note: This recipe is designed to fill this ice cream maker, but you could easily double or triple it to fill a larger model.

Posted by Dianne at 7:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2007

Mixed Berry "Shortcake"

Mixed Berry "Shortcake"

This is a short cut to "shortcake" that is simple and delicious. Just bake up a pie shell, crumble, throw in some berries and top with whipped cream. You'll have dessert in no time!

What You'll Need Per Person:
1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
1/2 cup of blueberries
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
1 cup of pie crust, baked and crumbled
Whipped Cream

Slice strawberries and add blueberries and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes to one hour in the fridge or until syrup forms.

Bake pie crust and crumble.

In a single serving bowl top crumbled pie crust with berry/sugar mixture and whipped cream. Repeat for each person. Serve immediately. How simple is that?

Notes: I don't care for raspberries or blackberries, (That's being somewhat mild...I actually detest them both! ;o)) but you could easily add those in with or instead of the blueberries and strawberries. Peaches would also be good. Mix it up. You can serve the pie crust warm or at room temperature. Either way is delicious.

Posted by Dianne at 7:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 7, 2007

Strawberry Granita

Strawberry Granita

Sometimes it's nice to have a cool treat that is light and fruity, without the dairy and big calorie content. Coming in at about 65 calories a servings, Granita is just the thing! It's a basic, easy, relatively healthy little dessert. I made up a strawberry batch since we've got tons of them right now in the garden. It's cold, fruity and delicious!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
3 cups of strawberries

In a medium sized pot cook water and sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove simple syrup from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add simple syrup and process or blend until mixed.

Pour mixture into an 8 X 8 glass dish and place in the freezer. Check every 20-30 minutes and scrape with a fork. The sides tend to freeze first so scrape them toward the center. Repeat this step until completely frozen (1-4 hours depending on your freezer).

This can be made several days in advance of when you want to use it or the same day. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 8 servings.

Notes: You could use pretty much any fruit you like. Orange juice would work, so would pineapple, or blueberry, or well you get the point. This mixture would also make excellent popsicles. Just pour the liquid into the popsicle mold and freeze. For an adult treat stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of light or coconut rum.

Posted by Dianne at 8:04 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 29, 2007

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake is another of those recipes that takes me back to childhood summers. There are so many different ways to make the recipe. Some people use Angel food cake for a base, while some like Pound Cake and my Mom even sometimes served it with pie crust that had been baked and crumbled! I've used all of the above at some point in time, but anyway you slice it (oh dear lord, did I just say that?) it's delicious none the less! Especially with fresh, just picked strawberries!

What You'll Need For The Strawberry "Filling":
Strawberries
Sugar

Note: There is no exact measurement for this, but a general rule of thumb is roughly 1/3 cup of sugar per 4 cups of strawberries. If you want it sweeter add more sugar, if you want it less so add less. Tweak it until it comes out the way you like it.

Strawberry Caps

Wash berries and cap them. Cut into round slices or quarters. (I generally slice smaller berries in quarters and larger ones into round slices.) Pour sugar over and stir. Place in the fridge to let syrup form for 30 minutes to an hour at least. The longer they sit the better they get.

Strawberries Quartered for the Strawberry Shortcake

What You'll Need For The Shortcakes:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of trans-fat free shortening
1 cup of buttermilk
1 stick of butter, melted
Organic cane sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder until incorporated. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter or a fork until flour mixture becomes pea like. Stir in buttermilk until dough forms and roll out with a rolling pin. Cut into small rounds as you would for biscuits and place on a baking sheet that is lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar to coat. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

What You'll Need To Put The Shortcakes Together:
Cooled Shortcakes
Chilled strawberry and sugar mixture
Whipped Cream

Cut a shortcake in half and lay the bottom of the shortcake on a plate or bowl. Spoon on some of the strawberry sugar mixture on top of the bottom piece of the shortcake and then top with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream. Top with the remaining piece of shortcake and enjoy!

Posted by Dianne at 5:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

Orange Cream Coffee Cake

Orange Cream Coffee Cake

When my mom was visiting we tried a free sample of Starbuck's Reduced-Fat Orange Crème Coffee Cake and it was delicious! I told her I was going to have to come up with something similar and this morning Alexis and I did just that!

So my version is NOT low-fat, in fact it's anything but, but it's delicious and orangey none the less and in my opinion that's a good thing. As far as flavor goes, it sort of reminds you of a Creamsicle meets Orange Julius...Or maybe a creamy orange pie, but if you like orange flavored goodies you'll LOVE this!

Orange Cream Coffee Cake

What You'll Need For The Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (I used Minneolas, which are actually tangelos. I juiced two of them and used the juice for this and the filling below. It came out to exactly 1 cup from the two oranges.)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Add butter, orange juice and egg (the orange juice will make the baking powder fizz a bit, so don't be surprised) and mix until a sticky dough forms. Spread dough into a 9 inch round cake pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray or spread with butter. Make a well around the cake in a circle about an inch from the edge of the pan. Set pan aside and proceed to the "filling".

What You'll Need For The "Filling":
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Cream together cream cheese, orange juice and sugar until smooth. Place the "filling" in the well that you made around the dough in your pan. Set aside and proceed to the topping.

What You'll Need For The Topping:
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
The zest of two oranges

Mix ingredients in a food processor or with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the entire top of the cake, filling, batter and all. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. You can also let it cool completely before serving if desired, it's good either way.

Enjoy!

Orange Cream Coffee Cake

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May 23, 2007

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Cobblers instantly remind me of childhood. My mom made them a lot during the summer to serve along with ice cream. Normally she would make peach (which I adored) or blackberry (which I didn't adore so much, but we'll get into that some other time! ;o)).

As I've gotten older I like to make peach or strawberry or blueberry or apple or some mix of two or three! This is a very easy recipe to play around with. Add the fruit you like, mix them up...That's the fun of cooking!

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

What You'll Need:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 cups of buttermilk
2 eggs
2 - 15 ounce cans of sliced peaches in light syrup or 6 cups of chopped peaches with 1 cup of organic cane sugar that have sat until a peachy syrup forms (About 1-2 hours)
1 cup of blueberries, washed and any debris or stems removed

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift or whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add in sugar and stir to mix. Add milk and eggs and stir until completely incorporated. Pour batter into a 13 X9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Pour peaches over the batter and then add blueberries carefully making sure they spread out across the entire cobbler. Do NOT stir the peaches and blueberries into the batter. They will sink as the cobbler bakes and the fruit juices are what make the "crust" turn golden and sugary.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until "crust" is completely browned and fruit is bubbly. Serve plain or with a little ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes 8-12 servings.

Posted by Dianne at 8:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Toaster Oven S'Mores

Toaster Oven S'Mores

The thought of S'Mores instantly takes me back to childhood. Whether at Girl Scout camp, or summers spent camping (very rustically I might add) at the lake with family and friends, there were usually S'Mores involved. Regardless of the occasion there was the inevitable marshmallow roasting over the fire, the ones that caught on fire (whether intentional or not), laughter and fun. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The other day at the grocery store I saw a display set up with the ingredients for S'Mores and decided to make them and let Alexis try one of my childhood favorites. Her response when seeing them was, "No thank you. Can I have some spinach?" Spinach over chocolate and marshmallow goodness? But hey that's ok too. :O) Jamison just shakes his head when she says things like that, but she eventually came around though and she loved them too.

As a child we used various forms of chocolate. Sometimes (and this is my favorite to be honest) we used milk chocolate Hershey bars. Other times we used chocolate frosting, which is good too, but I really prefer a good chocolate bar over frosting any day.

When we purchased the ingredients for this adventure I immediately grabbed the chocolate bars. I didn't realize until I had gotten home that I had gotten Hershey Special Dark bars, instead of the milk chocolate variety, but given we usually eat Dagoba milk chocolate, which has a higher cocoa content in it than the Hershey's Dark variety, you can't really tell the difference.

There is no wrong answer when it comes to S'Mores. Just go with what you like. I think they would even be good dipped IN chocolate! But any way you make them what's not to like about chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers?

Toaster Oven S'Mores

What You'll Need:
4 graham crackers, broken in half
1 chocolate candy bar (This is entirely up to you. Most of the time milk chocolate is used for S'Mores, but you can use dark or whatever floats your boat.)
4 marshmallows

Place 4 graham cracker squares on a toaster oven baking sheet. Top each cracker with 1/4 of your candy bar and 1 marshmallow. Place in your toaster oven on the highest heat setting for 5-8 minutes or until the marshmallow is slightly browned. Remove from heat and top with remaining four cracker squares and press down. Enjoy immediately or you can even let them cool and eat them that way. They are more cookie like when they chocolate and marshmallow harden, but they are good no matter when you choose to take your first bite!

Posted by Dianne at 12:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

Meringues

Meringues

I love Meringues, but I always just bought them from Miss Meringue. The thought of actually making them myself was a bit intimidating, but I decided it couldn't be that hard and I'm always up for a cooking challenge.

The first batch I made I added vanilla and cream of tartar, but I didn't like the flavor. It was a bit tangy. Meringues are supposed to be sweet, not tangy. It had to be the cream of tartar that did the trick as vanilla has a more smooth flavor. Whatever it was I just didn't like the flavor, so I went back to the drawing board.

With the next batch I decided to try and make Mint Chocolate, but I couldn't get the whites to become stiff so that batch was scratched. I think the peppermint oil might have been the issue. I was going to make some mint brownies with the spoils of that battle, but I put the egg mixture in the fridge and promptly forgot all about it until today when I found it had soured. That's a story for another time. I'll be trying the chocolate version again soon. I refuse to be defeated! ;o)

Finally I settled on simple and straight forward and this is the result. Not only are they completely delicious, sweet, light and crisp, just like they should be, they also have roughly 20 calories per meringue! Now there's a dessert you can get behind, or perhaps more aptly put it won't show up ON your behind! ;o)

What You'll Need:
3 egg whites
2/3 cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 225 F.

Beat egg whites and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form (roughly 8 minutes). Place stiffened whites into a pastry bag with a very large flower tip and pipe onto a baking sheet that is lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. (Note: If you don't have a large star tip you can just pipe out blobs without a tip. They will still be pretty and it won't affect the taste! ;o)) Bake for 50 minutes to one hour until meringue are stiff and not spongy. (I like to cook them for 30 minutes and then check them every 10 minutes after that to make sure they don't go too far, but I'm a bit OCD! ;o))

Let cool for 30 minutes and then store in an airtight container.

Makes roughly 24-30 meringues depending on how big you pipe them.

Posted by Dianne at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 7, 2007

Rhubarb Strawberry Bars

Rhubarb Strawberry Bars

As I menioned a while back I had never tried rhubarb, but I was always curious. I couldn't find a rhubarb recipe that appealed to me, so I just came up with my own! Rhubarb is supposed to be very good for you, but all of the recipes I cam across including rhubarb (and the one I ended up writing) seem to be decadent desserts. I'm not sure the health properties of the rhubarb actually count in this dish, but who eats dessert for its health properties? ;o)

What You'll Need For The Crust:
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed
1 stick of butter melted
2 tablespoons of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar and press into the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

What You'll Need For The Filling:
2 1/2 cups of rhubarb, chopped
2 1/2 cups of strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons of corn starch, sifted

In a medium sized pot add rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until rhubarb and strawberries are soft stirring occasionally to prevent scortching. Stir in corn starch and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and spread rhubarb/strawberry mixture over prepared crust.

What You'll Need For The Topping:
7 egg whites
1/4 cup of sugar

Beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Put meringue into a pastry bag and pipe on top of the spread out fruit mix in the 13 X 9 inch dish.

Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Cool and serve.

Rhubarb Strawberry Bars

Posted by Dianne at 12:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 3, 2007

Vanilla Pound Cake With Blueberry Sauce

Vanilla Pound Cake With Blueberry Sauce And Whipped Cream

Pound cake! Just the mention of it makes me think of spring! Not only is this a very simple dessert to put together, with this lovely Vanilla Pound Cake with Blueberry Sauce springtime dessert just got a whole lot more fun!

Vanilla Pound Cake

What You'll Need For The Cake:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup of heavy cream
3 teaspoons of vanilla
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter sugar and eggs until smooth. Add heavy cream and vanilla to the butter mixture and stir until mixed. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture until just incorporated. Pour batter into two buttered loaf pans and bake for 40-50 minutes until toothpick sticks clean. Remove cakes from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes before turning them out of their pans.

Blueberry Sauce

What You'll Need For The Blueberry Sauce:
2 cups of blueberries
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons of water

While the cake is baking place the above ingredients into a sauce pan and cook until blueberries turn jelly like (approximately 20-25 minutes) stirring occasionally. Pour into an airtight container and chill for at least an hour.

To serve place a slice of cake on a plate, top with some blueberry sauce and homemade whipped cream.

Makes about 16 servings.

Posted by Dianne at 8:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A few years ago I saw Ina Garten (I love her!) make cookies similar to these and I tried them out and decided they needed just a little tweaking. I usually don't mess with her recipes because they are usually right on the money (and this one wasn't bad to begin with), but it just needed a little something and it was one of those you could easily play around with!

In my version I added more chocolate, less flour, less vanilla and less salt. Sometimes I even like to stir in a cup of coconut and some Macadamia nuts along with the white chocolate for a tropical treat, but any way you bake them, they won't stay around long. They're delicious!

What You'll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of dark brown molasses sugar
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup of cocoa
1 3/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
4 - 4 ounce Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter, sugars and eggs until smooth. Add cocoa and mix until completely incorporated. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt and add to chocolate mixture. Mix until flour is just mixed. Add white chocolate and stir to mix.

Drop dough by large tablespoon full onto a baking sheet that is lined with a Slat. Bake for 12-15 minutes and remove from the baking sheet to a cookie rack to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Notes: As I mentioned in the introduction you can easily add things into this dough. Nuts would be a nice addition, as would chocolate chips along with, or in place of, the white chocolate. Mint chips or even peanut butter chips would also be delicious! There is no wrong answer when it comes to cookies. Mix it up and make it your own!

Posted by Dianne at 4:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache And Cherries

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache And Cherries

When we got Guinness for Saint Patrick's Day cooking we had to buy a 6-pack since they wouldn't let you buy just one. We're not really stout drinkers (or beer either) so I still have 5 bottles in my fridge. My sister sent me a link to a Chocolate Stout Cake made by Smitten Kitchen and I thought it looked like something I might want to play with and I did just that. I tweaked the ingredients a little, added some cherries and voila...Yummy Chocolate Guinness goodness! Seriously this cake is scrumptious! You must try it!

Now I've got 4 bottles of Guinness left...I wonder what Guinness Hush Puppies or battered fish would taste like? And I also want to try Murphys Brown Bread and Guinness Ice Cream recipe, but I may just have to go try it in person too when we're there in October/November. That takes care of two more bottles. Maybe I'll just have to make a few of the recipes twice! ;o)

What You'll Need For The Cake:
1 cup of Guinness
2 sticks of butter
1 cup cocoa
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of dark brown natural sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt Guinness, butter and cocoa over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil and cook until slightly thickened. Stir occasionally to ensure no scorching. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl mix flour, sugars, baking powder and sea salt and set aside.

In a small bowl beat together sour cream and eggs. Slowly add cooled chocolate mix to sour cream mixture stirring constantly to ensure that the eggs do not curdle and the mixture is mixed thoroughly. Add to flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Pour batter into a Bundt pan that has been sprayed well with non-stick spray. Bake for 35-45 minutes until toothpick inserted into cake come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before turning cake out onto a large plate. Let cake cool completely.

What You'll Need For the Ganache:
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup of half and half
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

Melt chocolate chips and sugar in half and half until smooth. Pour over the top of the cooled Chocolate Guinness Cake.

Chocolate Guinness Cake With Ganache

Note: I would have liked to have served fresh or frozen cherries with this cake, but for some reason I didn't have any in the fridge or freezer, which is totally unlike me. I did however have a can of light cherry pie filling that was still in date, which was totally unlike me, though I don't remember buying any, so I used that instead. If you wanted to make a cherry topping you could cook 2 cups of cherries with 1/4 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to thicken a bit. You could also top the cake with fresh whipped cream, but I didn't have any of that on hand yesterday either. Not a stellar fridge or freezer day for me yesterday to say the least! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 4:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 8, 2007

Chocolate Easter Eggs

Chocolate Easter Egg

I got some organic chocolate and made chocolate Easter eggs and Easter bunnies for Jamison and Alexis. The bunnies both lost their ears, but the eggs turned out quite well. If you'd like to see the run down of how it's done check out this entry from Valentine's Day.

Posted by Dianne at 6:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 7, 2007

Easter Marshmallows

Easter Marshmallows

We set out for the grocery store this morning to procure items for our feast tomorrow and Peeps were on my list since tomorrow is Easter after all. When we got there however there wasn't a single Peep to be found! Never deterred I remember that the Barefoot Contessa made Coconut marshmallows the other day on her show. I decided it wouldn't be hard at all to take her recipe, tweak it, add some sugar sprinkles and make our own Easter marshmallows! This was the end result and they turned out even better than I imagined! ;o)

What You'll Need:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (Read the back of your bottle and make sure it does not have high fructose corn syrup in the syrup.)
1/2 cup of water
Butter to coat your dish
Powdered sugar to dust your dish
Colored sugar sprinkles

Combine the gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water in your mixer and let sit while you complete the other steps.

In a medium sized pot mix sugar, corn syrup and water over low to medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolves raise the heat and cook until the mixture reaches 240 F. Remove from the heat and pour slowly into your gelatin mixture while the mixer is on low. Once the sugar liquid is all added turn your mixer slowly to high and beat for 10-15 minutes until the mixture is white, thick and creamy.

While the mixer is mixing coat a 13 X 9 inch pan with butter and then dust with powdered sugar. When the mixture is ready pour into prepared pan and spread out to the edge. You can wet your hands to help with the spreading if you like. Sprinkle with colored sugar crystals of your choice and let sit for 2-3 hours until firm. Cut out shapes of your choice with cookie cutters or simply slice the marshmallows into squares. Store marshmallows in an airtight container.

Easter Marshmallows

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Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Bunny Cupcake

Every year for Easter I make a bunny cake. This tradition has become even more fun now that Alexis is here and can help out. This year I decided to make bunny cupcakes after seeing the idea on the Betty Crocker website instead of a big cake. I however made cupcakes from scratch and also my own icing and tweaked their idea more than a little. The resulting creation turned out to be adorable and delicious! What more can you ask for?

Bunny Cupcakes

What You'll Need For The Cake:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup of plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Dump the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix well. Pour batter into a muffin pan that has been lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cupcakes stick done.

Makes 20-24 cupcakes depending on how big you like your cupcakes

What You'll Need For The Icing:
(This is my variation of Wilton's classic decorating icing.)
2 cup solid vegetable shortening (Buy a variety that is trans-fat free such as Spectrum.)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of pure almond extract
8 cups confectioners' sugar
2-4 tablespoons water (Optional)
Food coloring for tinting (Optional)

Cream together shortening, vanilla and almond. Slowly add sugar and beat until smooth. If needed add water to smooth out the icing. To tint icing add food coloring one drop at a time and mix thoroughly until desired color is reached. For this recipe remove some white icing before you tint the remaining batch so you will have it for your bunny faces.

What You'll Need For Decorations:
Chocolate chips
Licorice
Candy dots
Chocolate jimmies
Colored jimmies
Marshmallows
Sugar sprinkles
Etc.

Bunny Cupcake

After the cupcakes have cooled coat each cake with a base coat of icing in the color of your choice. Alexis wanted to do purple, and it was purple when we tinted it, but it turned blue as the icing set. After you have each cupcake covered then using a large decorating tip pipe a white area of icing to be the bunnies face. Take large marshmallows and cut into three circles with a pair of scissors. Cut each circle into half and then press into the colored sugar of your choice and affix into the white icing at the top to make ears. Use two chocolate chips for eyes, a candy dot for a nose, jimmies or licorice for whiskers and colored jimmies for the mouth. Voila! Easter bunny cupcakes!

Posted by Dianne at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2007

Irish Apple Duff

Irish Apple Duff

This was a recipe I found 10+ years ago. I was either living in Huntsville, Alabama or Knoxville, Tennessee at the time. I had never tried it, though it sat in my recipe box all that time and I came across it from time to time when I was searching for other recipes and I would look at it fondly. When I decided to do the Saint Patrick's Day feast I decided it was time to pull it out of the box! I don't remember were it originated, but the end product was delicious, tweaks and all! ;o)

What You'll Need:
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
4 Golden Delicious apples (or apples of your choice)
Natural brown sugar
Raisins
1 egg, beaten
Organic cane sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Take both puff pastry sheets and cut them in half across the middle giving you 4 pieces of puff pastry. Core apples and place an apple in the middle of each piece of puff pastry. Push puff pastry up around the edges of the apple about halfway up each apple. Place about 2 teaspoons of brown sugar in the bottom of each apple core hole. Top with raisins leaving about 1 cm opening at the top of the core hole. Top with more brown sugar and pack tight. (It's probably about 1 tablespoon total for each apple bottom and top. It isn't much in the grand scheme of things. The apple does most of the sweetening.) Brush the outside of the puff pastry with an egg wash and dust with sugar. The pastry will slide down as it bakes, so don't be alarmed. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until apple is soft and pastry is golden brown. Serve plain or with whipped cream.

Note: If you wanted to use 2 packages of puff pastry, you could completely cover each apple in a bundle. It would take roughly one sheet to entirely enclose an apple and it would be good that way too!

I just needed a little break and thought I'd post another recipe. Back to the midterm I go! This thing is seriously kicking my butt! :o(

Posted by Dianne at 7:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Kerry Apple Cake With Caramel Irish Cream Sauce And Whipped Cream

Kerry Apple Cake With Caramel Irish Cream Sauce And Whipped Cream

Here is another one of the Irish recipes I made to try yesterday. The cake itself is an Irish recipe I found a while back (with a few tweaks as always! ;o)) and I came up with the sauce myself. The cake is good warm or cooled and it has a wonderful cinnamon kick!

What You'll Need For The Cake:
1 and 3/4 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
4 eggs
The zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
2 apples, chopped into small cubes

Kerry Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and lemon zest until creamy. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add flour and stir until just mixed. Stir in apples and mix until incorporated throughout the batter. Pour into a Bundt pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until cake is golden brown and sticks clean with a toothpick. Turn cake out onto a plate as soon as you bring it out of the oven. Let cool or eat warm, it's good either way!

Kerry Apple Cake

What You'll Need For The Sauce:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons of natural brown sugar
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel (or regular Bailey's is fine too!)

In a medium sauce pan add ingredients and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and let cool before serving.

Posted by Dianne at 9:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

Mini Caramel Irish Cream Cheesecakes

Caramel Irish Cream Mini Cheesecake

When I sent Jamison to get me a bottle of Irish Cream on Friday he called me with the wonderful news that there was a Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel flavor. I hadn't bought any Irish Cream in years and given I love both caramel and Irish Cream I just had to try the new Bailey's! It's delicious to drink (every good cook worth their salt knows that tasting is essential to the final product! ;o)) and it made a scrumptious cheesecake to boot!

Irish Spirits

What You'll Need For The Crust:
3/4 of a sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
1/2 a stick of butter melted
1/4 a cup of sugar

Crush graham crackers. (I use my food processor.) Stir in butter and sugar. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners (14-15) and place crust in the bottom of each liner and press firmly into place. Set aside.

What You'll Need For The Cheesecake:
2 - 8 ounce packages of light cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel (or just plain Bailey's...It's completely up to you)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
Shaved chocolate (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Cream together cream cheese, eggs, ricotta, sugar and Bailey's. Add flour and mix until just blended. Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheesecake are set.

Once cooled top with shaved chocolate and homemade whipped cream if desired. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 14-15 mini cheesecakes.

Posted by Dianne at 10:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

Double Chocolate Brownies

Double Chocolate Brownies

When I made the Dark Chocolate Brownies the other day Jamison asked where his were. (He's not a fan of Dark Chocolate). I came up with this recipe so he'd have some brownies too! They are ooey, gooey and oh so chocolately! Exactly what you want in a good brownie!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of cocoa
9 ounce bag of chocolate chips, melted
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp of sea salt
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl mix butter, melted chocolate chips and cocoa until there are no lumps. Stir in heavy cream through sea salt and mix thoroughly. Stir in flour until just incorporated and pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 35-40 minutes until brownies are set.

Posted by Dianne at 1:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 9, 2007

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Brownies are one of those comfort foods that most everyone likes. The possibilities of what you can add into a brownie are endless. All you have to do is use your imagination! This recipe is just a plain and simple brownie, but the taste is anything but!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of butter, melted
7 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped and melted (I used 2 - 3.5 ounce Green & Black's Dark Chocolate candy bars)
1 cup of organic cane sugar (Note: Organic cane sugar is not as white as most processed sugars. It has a wonderful flavor and bakes up just like conventional sugar.)
1 cup of buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Melt butter in the microwave (about 1 minutes). Stir in broken up chocolate and place back into the microwave until melted (about 1 minute) being careful not to scorch the chocolate. Microwaves differ in power so use your knowledge of your own microwave to estimate times. My microwave is super wimpy so it takes a little longer. Stir in sugar and mix thoroughly. Add butter milk, eggs, vanilla and salt and stir until mixed. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Notes: You can add in 1 cup of chopped nuts if you like or coconut or chocolate chips or all three! Be creative...That's what cooking is all about!

Posted by Dianne at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Pineapple "Pudding" Cake

Pineapple "Pudding" Cake

This cake was one my mom made often when my sister and I were children and we loved it! She took it to a lot of church pot lucks and things of that nature. I never really understood why it had pudding in the title since there is no actual pudding in the cake, thus the quotes. This is my take on yet another of my Mom's classics. It's moist, fruity and delicious!

What You'll Need For The Cake:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 - 20 oz. can crushed pineapple packed in juice, undrained (If you don't have crushed pineapple or tidbits, you can take a 20 ounce can of chunk pineapple and process it in your food processor. Next time I make this cake I'm going to try making it with fresh pineapple.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt until incorporated. Dump in remaining ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

What You'll Need For The "Icing":
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

While the cake is baking add sugar, butter and cream to a sauce pot. Melt butter and then bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let sit until cake comes out of the oven.

When you remove the cake from the oven pour "icing" mixture over cake immediately.

You can serve this cake warm or cooled. It's delicious either way!

Pineapple "Pudding" Cake

Posted by Dianne at 9:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Blueberry Eggrolls

Blueberry Eggrolls

When Jamison and I first got married we lived in Huntsville, Alabama and there was a Chinese restaurant that we frequented often. They had dessert egg rolls that were filled with pineapple and cream cheese. I made them a few years ago and thought of them again today when I was making the Vegetable Egg Rolls. I thought about making some since I had some left over egg roll wrappers, but I realized I didn't have any pineapple on hand since I rarely keep canned fruit and I haven't gotten a pineapple lately. I saw some blueberries in the fridge and my mind kicked into gear and these lovely little goodies were the result!

What You'll Need For The Blueberry Filling:
2 cups of blueberries
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1/4 cup of water
The zest of one lemon

What You'll Need For The Cream Cheese Filling:
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

What You'll Need For the Blueberry Eggrolls:
Blueberry filling
Cream cheese filling
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying
More organic cane sugar for dusting

To Prepare Blueberries:

In a saucepan over medium heat cook blueberries, sugar, zest and water until they turn jelly like, stirring occasionally to make sure they aren't sticking. Cool to room temperature. The blueberries will become thicker as they sit.

To Prepare Cream Cheese Filling:

Blueberries Cooking

Cream together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

To Make The Blueberry Egg Rolls:

Blueberry Eggrolls

Preheat oil to 350 F. (Again I like safflower oil for frying.)

Place approximately 1 tablespoon of blueberry filling and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling in the center of an egg roll wrapper. Fold using the same directions as the Veggie Egg Roll recipe.

Drop rolls into oil two at a time and fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with organic cane sugar and serve hot.

Blueberry Eggrolls

Posted by Dianne at 6:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 12, 2007

Chocolate Valentines

Chocolate Valentines

Jamison loves chocolate peanut butter cups, so I decided to make him some heart shaped chocolate peanut butter "cups" for Valentine's Day. Only one problem since it's supposed to snow tonight and then be followed by ice for the next two days, meaning Jamison will most likely be working from home, I knew I would need to make them today. Add to that that Alexis helped and wouldn't know how to keep a secret given she's 3 1/2, and actually tried to tell him twice on his way home when she was talking to him on the phone, we ended up having to give them to him tonight since Alexis was determined to keep trying to tell them about his chocolates. They turned out great!

What You'll Need:
7 bars of Ghiradhelli milk chocolate
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

Melt and temper your chocolate. Once chocolate is melted stir in 3 tablespoons of butter until melted. Coat chocolate molds with a layer of chocolate and let harden.

Mix peanut butter and powder sugar and add a dollop of peanut butter to the center of each hardened chocolate mold. Spread out and top with another layer of chocolate. Let harden and pop out of chocolate molds. Store in a dark, cool place.

Simple, easy and delicious!

Chocolate Valentines

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February 11, 2007

Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake

I LOVE cheesecake! I have a basic cheesecake recipe that I tweak depending on what type of cheesecake I'm in the mood for. I make pumpkin cheesecakes (one of my favorites), turtle cheesecake (probably my most favorite), peppermint cheesecake, key lime cheesecake, peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, cookie dough cheesecake, and so many more!

Last night I made a chocolate cheesecake since we are having some friends over for dinner. It's rich, creamy and oh so good! Cheesecake AND chocolate...What's not to like!??!?!?

What You'll Need For The Crust:
1 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers, crushed
3/4 a stick of butter, melted
1/4 cup of sugar (optional)

In a food processor process graham crackers until crushed. Add butter and sugar (optional) and pulse until combined. Press into a spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sit aside.

What You'll Need For the Cheesecake Batter:
4 -8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup of cocoa (I'll say this every time I use chocolate. I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black's! I've also heard Dagoba is excellent, but I haven't tried it because it's a bit pricey, but I'll let you know if I ever do!)
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 F. IMPORTANT!! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

Cream together cream cheese, ricotta, sugar and eggs until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowls to ensure everything incorporates properly. Add cocoa and mix until completely incorporated. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Pour batter into pan with crust and spread out evenly. Tap a few times on the counter top to ensure you remove any air bubbles.

Wrap the bottom and sides of the the springform pan with aluminum foil making sure you have an airtight seal. Place pan into a baking dish. Add enough warm water to come up to 1/2 way up the springform pan. You want it to come up at least 1/4 of the way minimum. This helps keep the cheesecake from cracking.

Chocolate Cheesecake Ready To Bake

Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave cheesecake in the oven with the oven door in the broil position for 1 more hour. Remove cake from the oven and refrigerate. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Posted by Dianne at 4:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is something oddly comforting about your basic chocolate chip cookie. There's no need to tweak the recipe, the basic works just fine! It's simple and delicious and sometimes that's just what you need!

Posted by Dianne at 12:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 3, 2007

Hot Fudge Cake

Hot Fudge Cake

Most people will agree that an ooey, gooey chocolate dessert is exactly where the money is! Growing up my mom was somewhat famous amongst friends and family for her Hot Fudge Cake, which is an ooey, gooey, warm chocolate sensation. Several of my friends would specially request that she make her Hot Fudge Cake whenever they came over! My mom, being the wonderful person that she is, usually obliged.

My mom always used a chocolate cake mix, though sometimes the ice cream was homemade and sometimes it wasn't. The hot fudge sauce was always made from scratch to bubbling perfection! But regardless of the make up it was delicious!

The olive oil, yogurt and chocolate make this chocolate cake moist, spongy and oh so chocolatey, while the hot fudge sauce gives it an even bigger chocolate punch. These two chocolate elements, paired with the vanilla ice cream, meld together to make the perfect chocolate delight and any chocolate lovers dream!

As I've gotten older I've moved away from box mixes, but that doesn't mean you have to stop making something all together. This is my take on my Mom's classic. It's oh so good and oh so sinful! After all isn't that exactly what you're looking for in a dessert? ;o)

What You'll Need For The Ice Cream:
1/2 a quart of half and half
1 small carton of light cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2-4 teaspoons of vanilla (Note: More if you like it really vanilla, less if you don't)

Note: This recipe is designed to fill this ice cream maker, but you could easily double or triple it to fill a larger model.

Mix together and pour into ice cream freezer and freeze according to your model's directions. For harder ice cream after making it put in an air tight container and store in the freezer until completely firm.

What You'll Need For The Chocolate Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa (Note: I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black's)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of light olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift together flour through baking powder in a large bowl. Add sugar, yogurt eggs and olive oil and stir until mixed and pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cake sticks done.

What You'll Need For The Hot Fudge Sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 squares of baker's chocolate (Note: Again I recommend Ghirardelli or Green and Black's)
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Over medium heat melt butter and chocolate with sugar and half and half. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes stirring to keep from sticking. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To Assemble Hot Fudge Cake:

Cut cake into squares. For each person take a piece of cake and top with a scoop of ice cream. Top ice cream with a ladle of hot chocolate sauce and serve.

Note: If you're a chocolate lover than you could easily make this Hot Fudge Cake with chocolate ice cream for a triple chocolate punch! You could even use chocolate yogurt in place of the plain in the cake if you were just really feeling chocolatey! ;o) This cake doesn't really need it, but you could add whipped cream and some strawberries or cherries if you wanted. You could even go crazy and add a little chocolate whipped cream! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 3:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack