July 13, 2018

Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

It only takes a couple days for us to eat a batch of popsicles, so today I made these Strawberry Cheesecake Posicles from Cooking Light, which are not poisonous by my husband's standard. (He did tell me that if I sneaked mayonnaise into these, he would be filing for divorce. Can you tell how much he likes mayo?)

These are fantastic. I skipped the graham cracker crumbs from the original recipe because they require effort right before serving, which just didn't happen tonight. Everyone in our family liked these. The cheesecake portion of the popsicle tastes like ice cream and whipped cream, according to AJ. It's so delicious, I'm tempted just to make cheesecake popsicles. Ooo, then I could dip them in chocolate. 

So far Dave's ranking, and I'd agree, for the popsicles is:

1. Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

Both are definitely worth repeating. And if you don't have popsicle molds, don't worry. Our molds are smaller, so I put the leftover in a plastic cup and shove in a plastic spoon for the stick. Easy as can be.

Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles
5 oz. evaporated low-fat milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. lemon juice
10 oz. strawberries

Combine milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and add cream cheese. Whisk until smooth. Stir in yogurt and vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Place remaining ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth. Divide half the cream cheese mixture into 6 (4 oz.) popsicle molds. Top evenly with strawberry mixture, and then fill with remaining cream cheese mixture. Stir slightly to swirl. Freeze 4 hours or until solid. Makes 6-8 popsicles. 

July 11, 2018

Key Lime Popsicles

My kids and husband happily ate these popsicles the first night, although my younger son was a bit slower due to the tartness. My older son proclaimed them to be one of the best things he's eaten and certainly the best popsicles ever. My husband said that I could make these again. The second night I mentioned the secret ingredient that gives these popsicles their green hue, and my husband realized there was avocado in these popsicles. He set his popsicle on the table and refused to touch it.

So maybe popsicles with secret ingredients that my husband deems to be poison isn't the best way to kick off my plan of making a whole bunch of different popsicles this summer, but my son picked these to be the first ones made. He thought the avocado would ruin the popsicles when we were making them, but it really just provides the coloring and helps to provide a creamier texture.

Here's the version from Cooking Light with my slight modification. These will be repeated in my house if my son has any say in it.

Key Lime Popsicles
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
4 large lime peel strips
1 large avocado, chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup key lime juice (bottled is fine)
Lime zest remaining from lime
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coarse graham cracker crumbs

Combine water, sugar and lime peel strips over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Discard lime peels.

Process lime simple syrup with remaining ingredients, except graham cracker crumbs, until smooth. Poor mixture evenly into popsicle molds. (It filled 6 Lego figure popsicles with extra left to fill 3 medium plastic cups.) Sprinkle evenly with graham cracker crumbs, pushing slightly down into the lime mixture. Freeze at least 3 hours before serving. (If necessary, insert the stick after 30 minutes in the freezer. Lego figure molds have the sticks built into the popsicles.) Makes 7-10 popsicles. 

June 19, 2018

Peanut Butter and Jelly Donuts

Homemade donuts are not a thing in this household. It's not that we don't like donuts. We do. It's not that we don't like homemade donuts. We do. (Dave has fond memories of his grandma's homemade donuts, and I loved my mom's homemade donuts with chocolate sauce.)

But since I lit myself on fire, literally, while attempting to fry donuts the first year we were married, homemade donuts haven't been something I've attempted. I know you can bake cake donuts, which I've done once or twice, but that's not the same thing in my mind. If you have a recipe that will convince me otherwise, by all means, please share.

So it was a big deal when I made these homemade donuts from Hungry Girl Por Vida. I was so proud of myself, although Dave preferred them as plain sugar donuts. I'm not sure whether I'd recreate these because the amount of jam I piped was too heavy-handed, and they are definitely best eaten fresh. If you make these, I'd suggest donut holes, which give a much better ratio of jam.

Still, super exciting.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Donuts
2 Tbsp. flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. dry yeast
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. melted butter
2 1/2 cups flour
Oil for frying-deep fryer only!
Strawberry jam
Peanut Butter Sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter powder (like PB2)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Prepare the dough one day in advance to eat donuts for breakfast rather than brunch. Start by making a roux by whisking the 2 Tbsp. of flour into 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan. Whisk to remove all the lumps. Place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens into a paste. Remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a measuring glass, heat the milk until just warm to the touch, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs and melted butter.

Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Add the roux and yeast mixtures to the flour, and mix on medium speed. Once the dough comes together and there are no longer dry bits, mix for 10 minutes to knead the dough until you have a tacky, stretchy dough. Turn the dough onto a clean, flour-dusted surface, and knead a few times until you have a smooth ball of dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Dough should be doubled in the morning. Pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use a round cutter to punch out the donuts. (Use a 3-inch for large donuts or a 1-inch for donut holes.) Gather the scraps, and knead into a disk. Cover, and rest 15-30 minutes before patting and cutting out remaining donuts. Place the donuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet that has been dusted with flour. Lightly dust the tops of the donuts with more flour, and cover. (I should have used more flour, particularly on the bottom.)

Let donuts rest at room temperature until doubled in size. This should take 1-2 hours if the dough was chilled overnight.

Use a deep fryer (see above story where I lit myself on fire when I didn't use one) to heat oil to 325°F or 350°F. Fry the donuts in batches, about 2 minutes per side, until deeply golden. Set fried donuts on baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Let the donuts cool a few minutes before filling with jam. To fill with jam, use a chopstick to create an opening, and then fill with a pastry tip and decorator bag.

Mix the powdered peanut butter and powdered sugar together. Dip both sides of the donuts into the sugar mixture and enjoy! Makes about 10 large donuts.

June 4, 2018

Chocolate Streusel Muffins

My default setting is a very sweet tooth, so recipes like these muffins from Bake at 350 are much more appealing than healthy breakfasts. I made these for a special occasion two weeks ago. I believe it was a Tuesday. That was the special occasion. (I kid. I couldn't eat all day Thursday and most of the day Friday for a medical procedure, so these were like my last meal.)

These were quite tasty, although my streusel was too dry that it crumbled off the top. I'd suggest adding a bit more butter for that reason. I also slightly over-baked the muffins themselves, so watch your baking time. It's always a touch more challenging to catch double chocolate baked goods before they're overdone, especially if you're distracted with children.

Chocolate Streusel Muffins
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 Tbsp. butter, cold and cubed
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 regular muffin cups with jumbo liners. (I find this prevents the batter from overfilling.)

Make the streusel by combining the dry ingredients. Add in the butter, and distribute through the mixture using your fingers or a fork to mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

To make the muffins, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup, whisk eggs lightly. Add sugar and chocolate milk, whisking until combined. Stir in extracts and vinegar.

Pour wet ingredients, melted butter and oil into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, and fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared tin. Sprinkle evenly with streusel. (You may have extra streusel to use in future creations.) Bake 18 minutes or until the muffins bounce back when pressed in the center. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.

These are delicious served warm with a glass of milk. Makes 12 muffins.

May 18, 2018

Chocolate Cannoli

So I've had this recipe from Bakers Royale bookmarked for, oh, several years. It's the reason why I bought cannoli forms that were still unopened in my drawer. I wanted to make them, but I needed to be able to get past the deep frying part. (I lit myself on fire years ago with a grease fire, so I took a break for many years from deep frying.) Then I needed to remember I wanted to make them and prioritize them, which I finally did to take to work this year as my birthday treat.

These are a little putzy, but they still come together in about 2 hours, including frying time. And now that I have oil already dirty from frying cannoli, well, I guess I don't have any excuse not to tackle one of those doughnut recipes I've had bookmarked for years either.

I'm glad I made these because they were good. Now, I've never had cannoli outside of these to have any comparison for you. The outside reminds me of an Oreo. The inside is chocolate with a hint of orange. I love the outside more than the inside, so I have a few leftover cannoli shells that will be filled with cookie butter whipped cream. Yum.

Chocolate Cannoli
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
Cannoli Shells
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. honey
1 egg white
Oil for deep frying
Garnish (Optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Pistachio nuts, finely chopped

For the filling, combine all ingredients until smooth in a small bowl, mixing by hand. Cover, and chill until needed.

Prepare cannoli shells by heating oil to 350°F (in a deep fryer). Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a separate small bowl, stir together eggs, milk and honey. Add egg mixture to flour. Stir just until mixture forms a ball, although I had to finish mixing mine with my hands on the counter. Divide dough in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a 16-inch square. Cut each square into 16 4-inch squares. (Mine ended up slightly larger and not all even.)

Beat remaining egg white to use as a glue to hold the cannoli together around the mold.

Wrap one square lightly around one end of greased metal cannoli cylinder. Use the egg wash to moisten overlapping dough, and press gently to seal.

Fry cannoli shells, a few at a time, about 1 minute. Use tongs to carefully and gently lift shells from the oil, drain any oil from cylinders back into the deep fryer, and drain shells on paper towels. Cool, and repeat with remaining squares.

To assemble cannoli, melt the chocolate for garnish, and dip each cannoli shell into chocolate to coat both ends. Then dip in nuts. Set on a lined cookie sheet to allow the chocolate to harden.

Use a pastry bag to fill the cannoli shells, filling from both sides to ensure filling is throughout the cannoli. There's enough filling to make about 16 cannoli with a few extra shells left over.