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

June 8, 2011

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Cheesecake.....

Even the name makes me daydream. There is just something about a creamy, cold cheesecake that makes it the ultimate dessert for me. Give me cheesecake, Mexican food, goat cheese, Vodka and some good bread and I'd be perfectly happy on a deserted island. Oh and a cute cabana boy to wait on me hand and foot...Sounds like my kind of life! ;oP

What? Never mind! Where was I?

Those of you who have been readers of Dianne's Dishes know I have somewhat of an obsession with Cheesecake. I mean cheesecake has an entire category on my blog all to itself! Cheesecake should be a food group, I've said it before, I'll say it again!

This cheesecake takes the best of two worlds, cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies and marries them together to make a fabulous overall dessert. Top the cake with some chocolate ganache and you have rich sin on a plate! A little slice of this cheesecake is more than enough at one sitting, but oh what a slice it is!

What You'll Need for the Crust:
10-12 Back to Nature Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 F with the rack in the middle of the oven.

Now let's talk about the chocolate chip cookie crust. For this crust you need a hard variety of chocolate chip cookie. A soft cookie will not work. I like the Back to Nature cookies because they are natural.

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chop the cookies until roughly the size of peas:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Chocolate Chip Cookies Crumbled

Stir in butter until mixed:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Crust Ready to be Pressed in to the Springform Pan

Press cookie mixture in to an 8 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Crust

Set aside.

Notes for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: When I make a graham cracker crust from scratch I usually add a little bit of sugar to the crust. When using the chocolate chip cookies that isn't necessary unless you really just like things sweet. You could add in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar if you wanted.

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Baked

What You'll Need for the Cheesecake Batter:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups of organic cane sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of vanilla
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour

When making a cheesecake it is ESSENTIAL to make sure that your oven is preheated BEFORE you begin baking your cake so make sure your oven has preheated before you put in the cheesecake.

I like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath, which helps keep the cheesecake from cracking that much (if at all) as it bakes. I usually just fill up my tea kettle with water and set it to boil as I'm making the crust and the filling of the cheesecake. You want enough water to come up the pan about half way when you place it in a baking dish.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and beat until incorporated.

Next add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes slowly add flour and mix until smooth.

Wrap the outside of your spring form pan that has the crust pressed in to the bottom with aluminum foil to keep water from seeping in to your cheesecake as you bake.

Pour batter in to prepared pan:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Ready to Bake

Place pan in a deep baking dish and pour boiling water in to the dish being sure not to get any water in the cheesecake itself.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and crack the door of your oven (Some call this the broil position) and let the cheesecake sit untouched for another hour.

Take the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a towel to absorb moisture. Next remove the aluminum foil:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Baked

As you can see as the cake baked it pulled away from the sides of the pan a bit. Doesn't it look great already?

Store cheesecake covered in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Notes on the Cheesecake Batter: At this point, once it's chilled you could dig in to the cheesecake right then as is, but who wouldn't want a bit more chocolate? There's no such thing as too much chocolate despite what Jamison might say! ;oP

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Ganache

What You'll Need for the Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of butter
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Remove the ring of the springform pan and place chilled cheesecake on a plate that is big enough to catch any overflow of the ganache. Place back in the fridge until ganache is ready.

In a medium sized sauce pan melt butter in heavy cream and then bring to a simmer. Stir in chocolate chips and stir constantly until they are melted and the mixture is smooth. This takes 1-3 minutes to melt.

Once the ganache is smooth pour the mixture over the chilled cheesecake:

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: With Ganache

Chill cake for at least another hour before serving.

Notes for the Ganache: You could use milk chocolate or dark chocolate instead of the semi-sweet chips.

And as always this cheesecake is sous chef approved!

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cheesecake With A Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust: Sous Chef Approved!

Notes Overall: This a very versatile cheesecake and you can change things here or there to your liking. Adding mini chocolate chips to the batter would be a great addition, or adding in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cocoa to make a chocolate cheesecake would be fabulous too!

Posted by Dianne at 1:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 29, 2010

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

I have always loved scalloped potatoes. I mean what's not to like? Potatoes, cheese? It's the perfect comfort food! I always had this impression that they would be hard to make. It's another one of those things I just assumed was difficult and well you know what they say about assuming....

Lately I've grown tired of mashed potatoes because Jamison eats way too many of them so I thought I'd play around with this mixture and see what I came up with. The result? The result is a creamy, savory bite of fabulousness! Even Jamison liked these and that's saying something!

This dish is simple, quick and makes a really great side dish that is just perfect for a holiday or even a weeknight dinner. Try it and see!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
Russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cheddar, shredded
Half and half or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush a baking dish with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Add a layer of potatoes to the bottom of the dish:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Potatoes

Next sprinkle with sea salt and finely ground black pepper:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Sea Salt and Pepper

Top with a layer of cheese:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes: Cheese

Repeat this process until you reach the top of your baking dish and top with a thick layer of cheddar.

Next pour half and half or heavy cream over the entire mixture until 1/4th of the dish is filled with the liquid. Makes sure you spread it out all over the top as you pour.

Place on a baking sheet to prevent spills and bake for 35-45 minutes until fork tender:

Sinfully Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Notes: You can use a mix of different cheeses if you like. Monterrey Jack, Gruyere, Parmesan, Gouda, etc. I like to bake this in individual serving dishes sometimes.

Posted by Dianne at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | 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

June 24, 2009

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

A few days ago I stumbled across this recipe and knew that I wanted to make something similar for Jamison. I also knew he probably wouldn't be completely thrilled and in fact he said they were "too chocolatey". Too chocolatey? As a friend of mine and I discussed on FaceBook there is no such thing!

I decided to add some peanut butter powder to the cookies to try and cut a little of the chocolate taste. I think perhaps the addition of some peanut butter chips would be good too! Or how about some buttercream in the middle? Or a marshmallow cream mixture? Or how about a peanut butter center? Or leave out the peanut butter powder and put some of Rachel's Blueberry Vanilla Frosting in the middle? However you make them though these are divine!

Now let's get to the recipe because today is Miss G's 6th birthday and I have some pancakes to fix for the birthday girl! ;oP

What You'll Need:
2 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of peanut butter powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup cocoa powder
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Add dry ingredients to a glass bowl:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Dry Ingredients

Add wet ingredients and stir until "dough" is shiny:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: "Dough"

Using a measuring spoon spoon by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet AND sprayed with non-stick spray and then place in the oven:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Baking

When you scoop it out the batter will be slightly ball like, but it will begin to spread almost immediately and will continue to do so as the cookies bake.

Bake for 8 minutes and remove the pan from the oven:

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: Baked

Let cool completely on the pan and then store in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies: The Inside

Makes 16-18 cookies.

Notes: You could add in chocolate chips if you liked.

Posted by Dianne at 6:36 AM | Comments (0) | 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

March 13, 2009

Caramel Hot Fudge From Diana!

Caramel Hot Fudge

Diana and I share the nickname "Di". I noticed her name immediately back in my TWD days because you just notice things like that. I started reading her blog Di's Kitchen Notebook and have been an avid reader since. I was so excited when she agreed to guest blog this week! Be sure and let her know how awesome this hot fudge sauce looks and be sure to stop over at her blog and say hello too!

When Dianne posted on Facebook that she was looking for guest bloggers, I was really excited at the prospect of being one of them. I really enjoy reading her blog. I started following it back when she was also a member of Tuesdays with Dorie. I'm really impressed that she can keep up with posting on a daily basis, and I love the various themes that she comes up with, like Ice Cream Week. In fact, since that was one of my favorites, I thought that it would be fun to talk some more about ice cream, even though it's still technically winter. Fortunately it's pretty warm during the day down here in Texas, and besides, any time is good for ice cream. =)

I tend to be pretty minimalist with my ice cream. My husband Jamie sometimes likes lots of stuff in his ice cream, but I like usually like plain flavors. Chocolate. Vanilla. Mint. Maybe throw some chocolate chips in there. Or a swirl of something. So to make my ice cream choice more interesting for everyone else, I like to make some sort of sauce to go with it. Raspberry coulis, or chocolate sauce, or maybe some caramel. I've been having lots of fun making caramel at home lately. It's gotten to the point where I can even multitask while keeping an eye on molten sugar on the stove. I never could have done that a year ago. =)

At the end of February, I made some Salted Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours, though the salt was my addition) to go with another recipe that I made. Afterwards, I had some of the ice cream left, and was looking for something to go with it. Chocolate sounded good, and then I thought about combining the chocolate with caramel to tie everything together. I made some caramel sauce and melted some chocolate into it. The resulting sauce had the texture of hot fudge with an underlying flavor of salty caramel. Mmm.

(I realized later that I'd seen something similar recently on Rebecca's blog, Ezra Pound Cake. Check out her great Cocoa Nib ice cream, too.)

Caramel Hot Fudge

Caramel Hot Fudge Sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Start by putting the water into a medium saucepan. Pour the sugar into the center of the water, so it all gets wet without any crystals getting on the sides of the pan. Add the corn syrup, which acts as insurance against crystallization. Cover the saucepan and place it over medium heat. After a couple minutes the mixture will start boiling; remove the lid.

At first the sugar mixture will bubble like crazy as the water boils off. Once that happens, the syrup will start to thicken and the bubbles will get bigger and pop more slowly. It will even sound different. After 5 or 6 minutes (I think), the color will start to change, first becoming a pale yellow and eventually starting to turn amber around the edges. At that point, swirl the mixture in the pot, watching carefully as the whole thing gradually darkens in color. Once it reaches a medium to dark amber color, slowly pour in the heavy cream, standing back because steam will shoot out as the cream hits the hot sugar.

The caramel will probably seize up at this point. Add the kosher salt and put the mixture back over low heat, stirring until the caramel melts into the cream and the whole mixture smooths out. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the bittersweet chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth again. Let cool until just warm and add the vanilla. Serve over your favorite ice cream. Leftover sauce can be kept in the refrigerator. I'm not sure how long it will keep--but it probably won't last long anyway. =)

Thanks Diana! And thanks to all who helped me out this week as a guest blogger. I'll be back next week with all new recipes so stay tuned!

Posted by Dianne at 11:08 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 3, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns: Yummy Bite

Before we found out Jamison couldn't have gluten cinnamon buns were one of his all time favorite breakfast foods. I keep trying to come up with a gluten free version that he would like, but so far I haven't had a lot of luck. We'll get back to that in a minute....

For me I was a sometimes cinnamon bun sort of girl. I would have one occasionally and enjoy it, but my ideal breakfast is something much lighter. I'm not much of a morning person truth be told and I prefer cereal or some sort of fruit to get things started. But as I said above from time to time though I would get the urge to indulge and lately I kept thinking about cinnamon buns and thinking about them a lot.

So I started thinking, but I felt guilty about making them because I didn't want to taunt Jamison. He however said I should just make them, so I did! And oh boy these were good! Who doesn't like a fresh, warm, fabulous cinnamon bun? Top them with a little cream cheese frosting and you've got the prefect, sinful breakfast sometimes treat!

Cinnamon Buns: Dough

What You'll Need for the Dough:
2 cups of warm water (Note: I just use warm tap water. You want it warm to the touch, but not hot.)
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons of yeast
2 teaspoons of sea salt
4-5 cups of unbleached bread flour

In a large glass bowl mix together water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes or until mixture is foamy. (Note: Sometimes it foams within a minute or two. When it's foamy you're good to go.)

Add sea salt into the foamy sugar/water/yeast mixture and stir to mix. Next slowly add flour until dough ball forms. (Note: As with any bread you might need only some of the flour, all of it or more. When dough forms stop adding flour.)

Turn dough ball out onto a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. (Note: You want to knead just until the dough is elastic. You don't have to knead it for a long time.)

Now you're ready for the next step....Finishing the buns!

Cinnamon Buns: Ready for Cream Cheese Icing

What You'll Need to Finish the Buns:
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
Cinnamon

First you want to roll out your dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick:

Cinnamon Buns: Ready for Butter

Next you want to brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and then sprinkle with sugar and then cinnamon:

Cinnamon Buns: Cinnamon and Sugar

Then you want to start to roll the dough on one of the long sides:

Cinnamon Buns: Starting to Roll

Keep rolling until the dough is completely rolled:

Cinnamon Buns: Rolled and Ready to Slice

Next using a serrated knife, cut the dough into slices roughly 3/4ths to 1 inch thick:

Cinnamon Buns: A Slice

Place slices on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat:

Cinnamon Buns: Ready to Rise

Set baking sheet in a warm place (I like to put them in the oven with the light on) and let rise until roughly doubled in size:

Cinnamon Buns: Risen

After the buns have risen preheat oven to 350 F. (Note: If you use your oven as your rising spot, be sure and take the buns out BEFORE you preheat!) Bake for 25-20 minutes or until golden brown:

Cinnamon Buns: Baked

You can eat these plain OR you can frost with cream cheese frosting. (See below.)

Cinnamon Buns

What You'll Need for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add sugar and mix until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and stir until just mixed. Use immediately.

Notes: Sometimes I use natural brown sugar instead of organic cane sugar. You can use as much, or as little, cinnamon as you like. I normally use 2-3 tablespoons at least.

Posted by Dianne at 8:16 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Sometimes simple is best and what's more simple than peanut butter and milk chocolate? These cups makes the perfect little treat pairing the traditional combo, all while being gluten free! What's better than that?

What You'll Need:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of super fine sugar
6 ounces of milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup of heavy cream
Whipped cream

In the bowl of your mixer whip heavy cream on medium to high until whipped cream forms and then scrape out into another bowl.

In the bowl of your mixer (no need to wash it or anything) cream together creamed cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Slowly add sugar. (Note: It might seem a bit grainy at first, but it will come together.) Once the sugar is mixed in add whipped cream back to the bowl and mix until smooth.

Once peanut butter mixture is mixed pipe or spoon into a glass or bowl:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Chill covered for at least 3 hours.

Once cheesecake cups are chilled melt your milk chocolate chips with heavy cream over low heat until smooth. Then drizzle or scoop on to the top of your cups:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Then top with a little whipped cream and another drizzle of chocolate:

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

And then serve!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cups

Makes 4 servings.

Notes: These are really rich so a little goes a long way. You can store leftovers in the fridge. You could use chocolates other than milk chocolate if you preferred, but there is something about the milk chocolate/peanut butter combo that just can't be beat!

Posted by Dianne at 10:30 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 15, 2009

The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn't like a cheesy, ooey, warm macaroni and cheese? It's the very epitome of comfort food and a childhood staple for many. For a while now I've been looking for a good homemade mac and cheese and I've been largely disappointed until this creation! I made this on Christmas Eve and knew I was on to something when Jamison looked at it and said "That looks good!" He's never shown any interest in homemade mac and cheese before. Sadly though he couldn't taste it because it wasn't gluten free, though I want to try a gluten free version in the near future for him! Then I took a bite and oh my! So good! This is definitely one to pull out when you want to wow them!

What You'll Need:
1 - 16 ounce package of pasta (Note: You can use any kind that you like...shells, macaroni, twists, penne, etc. I used chiocciole, which are like big macaroni noodles.)
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of milk (Note: You can use any type of milk you like. I used skim.)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
A small pinch of sea salt (Note: Cheese is sometimes salty so go easy on the salt.)
A generous pinch of black pepper
8 ounces of Fontina, shredded
5 ounces of cheddar, shredded (Note: You can use whatever level of cheddar that you like. I used extra sharp.)
5 ounces of Swiss, shredded
1 cup of Parmesan, grated
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs

(Note: You really need a kitchen scale for this recipe. It's best to weight the amount of cheese. It can be a little over or a little under the weight (0.1 or 0.2 ounces here or there) it doesn't have to be completely exact, but a kitchen scale is a nice tool to have for this.)

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Preheat your broiler.

In a large pot melt butter and then add flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds to a minute, but do NOT let it brown! Add milk, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir until mixture thickens slightly (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat when the mixture is slightly thickened and add cheeses and stir until completely melted.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir gently until pasta is completely coated. Pour mixture into a 3 or 4 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the top of the macaroni with panko and Parmesan and broil for 3-4 minutes until top is golden. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Notes: There are all sort of variations you could do with this. You could add cayenne pepper instead of black. You could add in some salsa for a Mexican variety. You could play around with the cheeses. The possibilities are endless!

Posted by Dianne at 10:37 AM | Comments (3) | 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

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 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge August 2008: Éclairs!

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Oblong

It's the end of the month so you know what that means...The Daring Baker's Reveal! This month's challenge was chosen by Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey? and Tony of Tony Tahhan and our challenge was Éclairs!

I must say this challenge both excited me (I mean come on...Éclairs??) and terrified me all at the same time. I've attempted a Pâte à Choux type pastry dough exactly once before and they fell completely flat and who really wants a flat Éclair? Not I! ;oP So I procrastinated...I put it off and put it off and put it off and finally when I made them Thursday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome!

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Round

Now don't get me wrong...This challenge has a bit of work involved and you aren't going to just whip them up in thirty minutes, but it wasn't that hard in the long run and the results were heavenly! I ended halving the recipe when I realized there was no way I would get up early enough to send these to work with Jamison (and used 3 eggs because let's face it...It's a little hard to halve five eggs! ;oP) and made six oblong Éclairs and four round puffs and I must say they turned out fabulously!

I also decided to make my pastry cream a vanilla bean version instead of making it chocolate since we had the choice to keep one of the chocolate elements and use something else for the other option. I simply followed the recipe for the pastry cream and added in one scraped vanilla bean and one tablespoon of vanilla flavoring instead of the chocolate and it turned out perfectly! I still have some of the cream in the fridge...Oh the things I can do with that! ;oP

So this recipe is most definitely a winner! Be sure and check out the Daring Baker's Blogroll and see how everyone else's Éclairs turned out!

I can't wait to see what next month's challenge brings! I hope you all are having a fabulous Labor Day Weekend and for all my international readers I hope you're having a fabulous weekend too! :o)

Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Notes:

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

Notes:

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Baked

Pierre Hermé's Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Dough Pre Egg

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it's supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Dough Post Egg

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

Notes:

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Ready to Bake

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge Eclairs: Vanilla Pastry Cream

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

Notes:

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

Notes:

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Notes:

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.

2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Posted by Dianne at 12:01 AM | Comments (22) | 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 7, 2008

Not Your Mama's Green Beans

Not Your Mama's Green Beans

Green beans...Perhaps not the most exciting ingredient, but it doesn't have to be that way. When I found out that the ingredient for this week's garden party at Dinner Tonight was green beans I was momentarily stumped and I knew my normal, boring way of making them was not going to cut it here, but then my mind kicked into high gear and I came up with several ideas.

But first let's discuss how I DON'T Like green beans...And this is a very important thing to understand from my point of view.

As a child growing up in the South the way you would most likely see green beans is cooked until they are almost mush, which I have to give my mom credit, she somehow managed to never let them go that far, or in some sort of green bean casserole or salad, neither of which I am a fan. Another way that I don't care for green beans is steamed...If you bite into it and it's still crunchy (not to mention waxy!) then I'm not interested. These are simply not the way I like green beans.

Now let's talk about how a green bean should be...

A green bean should be tender, but not mushy and the standard way of cooking them is pretty boring...A little water, some salt and pepper and cook until tender, but as I mentioned above, and most importantly, not mushy! Yawn! I'm bored just typing that sentence! At first I thought about making some risotto with green beans, but then I decided that wasn't the way I wanted to go. I usually add green beans to soups too, but that wasn't the direction I wanted to go either.

So I started wondering is there was a way to cook the green beans in a skillet, with a few key ingredients to give them a fabulous flavor, that would give you a tender bean, without it being too crisp or letting it get too mushy, and this stir "fry" what I came up with and I'll readily admit this is not the healthiest option (though I did lighten it up a bit by using center cut bacon instead of the version with more fat), but as a sometimes food we're talking pure heaven! And sometimes you need a little heaven...Even if it does just come on a plate! ;oP

Not Your Mama's Green Beans

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
2 pieces of center cut bacon, chopped or cut into pieces (Note: Regular bacon will work too, but you might need to drain off some of the fat. Center cut bacon tends to be a lot less fatty than its counterparts.)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2-4 cups of whole green beans (Note: This is a nice bunch in your hand, but if you want to measure it exactly grab a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup and stand the green beans up in the cup and repeat this twice. If it's full you've got roughly the right amount, but there is really no way to go wrong here.)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot add olive oil and cook shallots and bacon until bacon is crisp and shallots are slightly caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding green beans. Cook the green beans 5-8 minutes until tender, but not falling apart. Serve immediately.

Not Your Mama's Green Beans

Notes: Some grated Parmesan cheese would be great on top of these beans! If you don't have shallots red onion will work fine. Another substitution you could make would pancetta for the bacon.

Posted by Dianne at 7:10 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

Bacon Cheese Curly Fries

Curly Cheese Fries

So lets talk sinful today shall we? And what could be more sinful than fried potatoes, melted cheese and bacon? Not much I dare say!

Cheese fries and Potato Skins are some of Jamison's all time favorites so every one in a while, and in this case it was his birthday earlier this month, I pull out all the stops and make something along these lines. Usually it is more likely to be Potato Skins, but this time I wanted to try to make cheese fries since I never have and I have to say I was very pleased! These fries were just to die for! (Possibly quite literally given all that cholesterol! ;oP) These are definitely a sometimes food, but oh what a happy sometimes that is!

What You'll Need:
4-6 russet potatoes, cut into curls (Note: I have a machine that does the curly cuts that Jamison's Mom left with me when they were here for Alexis' birthday. If you don't have the ability to make curly cuts then you can simply cut the potato into regular fry pieces and fry them that way.)
Seasoned salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded Colby or Cheddar (Note: I used Colby.)
4-6 pieces of bacon, chopped or crumbled
A fryer and oil for frying (Note: If you don't have a fryer you can simply heat oil on the stove top in a deep pot with a thermometer.) Ranch and or sour cream for dipping (optional)

Preheat oil to 375 F.

First cut your potatoes and put them in a container so they are readily available:

Curly Cheese Fries: Curly Potatoes Ready to Fry

I like to use a glass bowl.

Once the oil is heated add the potatoes in small batches and fry until just soft and not browned:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready for Second Fry

This is also known as parboiling. Remove from the oil and drain on a plate or platter that is lined with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Once all the potatoes are parboiled put them back in the fryer in small batches until they are browned. Remove them from the fryer and place on a plate or platter with a clean paper towel and let drain again. Sprinkle the fries with seasoned salt generously.

Once the are drained place them on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready to Top

Be sure to spread them out a bit.

Next top with shredded cheese and bacon:

Curly Cheese Fries: Ready for the Oven

Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Notes: You could do a mix of cheeses if you wanted. Monterrey Jack would be fabulous! As would some of the Mexican cheeses. You could also add some chopped scallions to them right before serving, but obviously that isn't Jamison's cup of tea.

Posted by Dianne at 7:36 AM | Comments (8) | 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

May 27, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns: Ready for Icing

It's Tuesday! So you know what that means...Tuesdays with Dorie! This week's recipe was Pecan Honey Sticky Buns and was chosen by Madam Chow of Madam Chow's Kitchen!

I felt guilty making these this week, because one of Jamison's all time favorites are cinnamon rolls and there was no way he could eat these! I had even planned to make a gluten free version for him but time got away from me and I have yet to find a gluten free dough that will roll out the way you need to to make cinnamon rolls. Even the doughs that promise to do just that don't live up. More experimentation is definitely needed!

Anyway, these turned out really well! I did tweak a few things, but that's par for the course I think. I used only dark brown molasses sugar instead of using a mix of brown and white sugar. I ended up having to use more butter and sugar in the middle to get it to spread out over the entire surface area. Also I mixed up a batch of cream cheese icing, because what's a sticky bun without a little icing?

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns: The Inside Goodness

Overall I'd give these a 4 out of 5 stars. Would I make them again? Probably not. The whole process is a bit intensive for a normal breakfast and there is enough butter here to kill a horse, but they were good. As Dorie mentioned in the recipe there are many recipes for cinnamon buns and everyone thinks theirs is the best and I guess I'm no different on that front. I like the ones I make on Christmas morning better and in all honesty I'm not a big fan of Dorie's brioche, though there was enough sugar and cinnamon here to overpower it so it ended up being pretty good.

I'm still on a quest to figure out a gluten free version that work and are not grainy, but I digress. I ended up sending the sticky buns home with my sister yesterday so she could enjoy them. I sent the loaf of brioche from the other half of the dough recipe home with her too. I also sent the rest of my Daring Bakers challenge home with her as well, but we'll get into that tomorrow! ;oP

Without further ado...Here's the recipe!

What You'll Need for the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)

What You'll Need for the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

What You'll Need for the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns:Ready to Slice

With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns and Brioche: Rising

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns Baked

The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche:

Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns and Brioche Baking

Posted by Dianne at 6:58 AM | Comments (27) | 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 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 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 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 7, 2008

Cheesy Ham Bake

Cheesy Ham Bake

I love Easter and not to mention the leftover Easter ham! A thick slice of ham makes a wonderful sandwich, but you can just eat so many sandwiches before you start looking to make something else. An omelet with ham and cheese is a good alternative or you can make a sinful, cheesy, macaroni bake with nice bites of ham through out. It's not light and it's not something you want to make everyday, but it's a fun treat or "sometimes" food an sometimes that's just what you need!

What You'll Need:
3/4 of a 16 ounce package of pasta (Note: I used rotini, but you can use whatever shape you want.)
2 cups of milk (Note: You can use whatever kind of milk you want. I used skim.)
2 - 8 ounce bars of Colby cheese, shredded
9 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
Black pepper
4 cups of ham, chopped into bite sized pieces

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking melt cheese in the milk until smooth with a little black pepper. (Note: You can add salt it you want, but given the cheese and ham are salty in and of themselves I don't. I think these two elements make the whole dish salty enough.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl toss together pasta and ham. Pour melted cheese mixture over the mix and stir to coat. Pour mixture into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the mixture is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Notes: I had planned to add 2 cups of broccoli florets into the mix too, but I was out of broccoli. You could add in other veggies if you wanted and leave out the ham if you wanted a vegeterian option. Mushrooms would be good, as would onion and/or bell peppers.

Posted by Dianne at 7:04 AM | Comments (2) | 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 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

Fried Dill Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

When I first heard of fried dill pickles a few years ago my first reaction was "Why???" I mean I love dill pickles in and of themselves, but fried? Then I actually tried one I was extremely surprised that they were pretty good. My sister loves them. When we told her we were doing a "fry" day she immediately asked both of us "You're making fried dill pickles right?" So we made some fried dill pickles, because what the pregnant lady wants, the pregnant lady gets! (Pregnant and dill pickles...Oh the stereotypes! ;o))

The batter for this version came completely out of my head. When I was thinking about making them I thought it would be nice to add dill into the batter to amp up the dill flavor. Leann and I both were very pleased with the result! We nibbled on quite a few as they came out of the fryer. Katherine liked them dipped in Ranch Dressing, but Leann and I both thought they were best on their own without any sauce. The things people do with dill pickles! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Sliced dill pickles (or what they call "hamburger chips"...I actually just sliced whole dill pickles myself.)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried dill
A pinch of black pepper
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oil to around 350 F.

If you are using "hamburger chip" dill pickles drain them and set aside. If you're slicing them yourself slice and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir to mix. Add egg and buttermilk and stir until a thick batter forms. If you need to add a bit more milk don't worry about it, it all depends on ambient humidity and such. If you need to add a bit more flour add it a tablespoon at a time until it's thick enough. You want the batter to be slightly thicker than pancake batter. When you insert a pickle into it it should stand up without really falling over.

Dip pickles into the batter and then place them in the fryer in a single layer. Turn them as they cook to ensure that they brown evenly on each side. You want them to be golden brown. Remove from the oil when they are slightly browned (they'll continue to brown a bit after you remove them from the oil) and drain on a paper towel. Serve alone or with Ranch dressing.

Notes: No notes for this one...It is a stand alone kind of thing!

Also today (and I'll have it up soon) this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe! You'll get two recipes for the price of one today! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 3, 2008

Let's Talk Some Fair Food or Otherwise Known as Leann and Dianne Have a "Fry" Day! Plus the Recipe for Vegtable Tempura and Soy Yogurt Dipping Sauce!

"Fry" Day Spread

I've had a fryer for several years now. My mom got me one of those new fangled covered Fry Daddys with the built in air filter and though I don't use it that often (in fact the last time I used it was two years ago after Alexis' birthday party when we had a fish fry) it's fun to pull it out and play with it from time to time. My friend Leann got a Rival fryer and we decided right then and there we needed to get together one Saturday and just fry the heck out of everything! That Saturday was this past weekend and we had a ball!

In my fryer we made chicken fingers, fried dill pickles, tempura, french fries and pineapple eggrolls. I decided to try frying in light olive oil, as I had always wanted to try this, and I was very pleased in the results. In Leann's fryer we made corn fritters, honey mustard chicken fingers and corn dogs. Then we even heated up some light olive oil on the stove top and made some funnel cakes too! We had fair food galore and we nibbled as we cooked, and whipped up some dips as we went, including a soy yogurt sauce for the tempura, some ranch dressing for the corn fritters and some honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken fingers and the french fries. It's fun to create as you go!

Needless to say this isn't something you want to eat everyday, but it's fun to do this sort of thing every once in a while, especially when you've been really good all week! We had some natural brewed root beer, some homemade lemonade and some natural cream sodas, we chatted, laughed and munched along the way! It was a great day all in all and over the next few days I'll be sharing the recipes with you! (On Tuesday you'll get the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe AND a "fry" day recipe!) So sit back, relax and get ready to enjoy some good old fashioned fried up food! ;o)

Up today...Tempura and Soy Yogurt Sauce! (Oh and forgive the lack of quality of the picture below. We got busy eating and I didn't get a picture of the Tempura so I zoomed in the picture of the spread above.)

Tempura

What You'll Need for the Tempura:
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 - 1 1/2 cups of ice water
Veggies of your choice (We did mushrooms, sweet onions, zucchini and squash. I had planned to do sweet potato and asparagus, but the process of frying everything we wanted to try took longer than we thought it would initially so we nixed those two as we went along.)

Preheat oil while you are preparing the batter and your veggies. I fried these around 350 F.

Wash mushrooms and dry them. Slice onions into rounds like you would for onion rings. Slice zucchini and squash into rounds. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients together until batter forms. Dip veggies into the batter and place in the hot oil. Turn several times while frying. Remove when they are slightly golden.

Notes: The dipping sauce for tempura usually is rather salty so salt is not added to the batter. If you need to add more water do. It's all about humidity and such when you're dealing with flour. You want a slightly thick batter like you would make for pancakes that isn't overly runny. You can also use this method to make shrimp tempura.

What You'll Need for the Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup of less sodium soy sauce
1/4-1/3 cup of Greek yogurt (Note: I used the fat free version.)
2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil

Whisk together ingredients and serve immediately with tempura.

Notes: The sesame oil gives the sauce a nice, nutty flavor, but if you don't care for sesame oil you could use olive oil instead.

Posted by Dianne at 6:14 AM | Comments (2) | 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 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

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.

Posted by Dianne at 5:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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.

Posted by Dianne at 7:03 AM | Comments (5) | 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.

Posted by Dianne at 1:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 30, 2007

Macaroni and Five Cheeses

Macaroni and Five Cheeses

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those foods that immediately makes most people think of comfort, of warmth and of home. It's warm, creamy and oh so sinful, but in a comforting sort of way and sometimes you just need that sort of thing.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses takes your normal Mac and Cheese and takes it to a whole different level. By baking the macaroni in the oven it makes the flavors meld in a way that simply cooking on the stove top doesn't allow, though it's certainly ok to just eat it at that step too! This isn't a dish you want to make often because it's definitely not health food, but occasionally it's nice to indulge is some warm, cheesy goodness!

What You'll Need for the Macaroni:
1 - 1 pound box of elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2-3/4 cups of dairy (Note: Milk, half and half, heavy cream, etc. I used skim milk today.)
2 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded (Note: I like sharp, but what ever you prefer works fine.)
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of provolone cheese, shredded
1 cup of swiss cheese, shredded

Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside in a very large bowl.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses: Macaroni

In the same pot that you cooked the macaroni melt butter and add flour, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes stirring constantly to cook the flour. Add dairy and stir to mix. Cook until roux thickens slightly and add cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted and mixture is smooth. If the mixture is really thick add more dairy to the mix. It should be like thick pancake batter in consistency.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses: Cheese Sauce

Once the mixture is smooth pour it over the macaroni noodles until well incorporated.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses: Pre-Oven

At this point you can dig in if you want and you basically have Macaroni with Four Cheeses, but now let's take it to another level!

Pour macaroni mixture into a greased 13 X 9 dish or two smaller dishes. (Note: I went with two smaller dishes. We're having oven issues at the moment and are waiting on the repair guy to do what needs to be done. I actually baked the two smaller dishes in the toaster oven! One is for me and the other one I'm going to put in the freezer and give it to my sister the next time I see her. See it's a share with your friends/family type of dish! ;o))

And now on to the topping!

What You'll Need for the Topping:
Unseasoned bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Sea salt
2 tablespoons of butter, cut into small dot sized pieces

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Once the macaroni is spread into the greased dish cover the top with a thin layer of bread crumbs and then sprinkle the top with a thin layer of Parmesan cheese and sea salt.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses: Bread Crumb and Parmesan Topped

Dot the top with the small butter pieces.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses: Ready for the Oven

Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Macaroni and Five Cheeses

Notes: This can be reheated easily and you can even freeze it with the topping on and thaw and bake later. Any type of cheese you like will work. You could even add in some salsa for a Mexican flare!

Posted by Dianne at 10:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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)

Posted by Dianne at 5:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dianne at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 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