October 26, 2012

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

When I found Baker's Royale's recipe for these doughnuts, I couldn't resist making them into cupcake form as well. I didn't change the recipe much, but then I topped it with a delicious salted caramel cream cheese frosting drizzled with extra salted caramel.

And I know I've totally been slacking on photos, but we ate all these and/or they went to work before I photographed them. I promise I'll try to do better with photographs!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. dry active yeast
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 small apples, skins on or off depending on your preference, diced
3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup butter, melted
Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
Caramel Drizzle

Place  water, yeast, salt, eggs, sugar, apples, flour and butter in a bowl, using a spoon or a sturdy  spatula fold batter until evenly mixed. Let the dough rest at room temperature covered for two hours. Transfer dough to refrigerator, and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from refrigerator. Line 24 cupcake tins, and divide dough evenly among cupcake liners.

Bake for about 18 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and transfer cupcakes to cooling rack.

To prepare frosting, first make caramel sauce and cool to room temperature. (You could use storebought caramel sauce.) Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar. Beat in most of caramel sauce, reserving 1/4 cup for drizzling on top of cupcakes. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Refrigerate to store, but bring to room temperature before eating. Makes 24 cupcakes.

October 23, 2012

Skillet Apple Crisp

Chocolate and peanut butter are my loves, but there is something homey about crisps and cobblers. This one from Brown-Eyed Baker caught my eye, probably because I have two cast-iron skillets I rarely (if ever) use.

This is an amazing apple crisp, probably the best I've ever eaten. It only takes one skillet that gets really dirty and comes together quickly.

Skillet Apple Crisp
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans, chopped fine
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
7 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine the flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter until the mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Set aside while preparing the filling.

Toss the apples, granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl and set aside. Bring the apple cider to a simmer in a 12-inch ovensafe skillet over medium heat. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer the reduced apple cider to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Heat the butter in the now-empty skillet over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to soften and become translucent, 12 to 14 minutes. (Do not fully cook the apples.) Remove the pan from the heat, and gently stir in the apple cider mixture until the apples are coated.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit, breaking up any large chunks. Place the skillet on a baking sheet and bake until the fruit is tender and the topping is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.Serves 6 to 8 (if you show restraint and don't devour the entire warm goodness.)

October 21, 2012

Crazy Pasta

I found a recipe on Two Peas & Their Pod that called for kale, which gave me the opportunity to use 1/100th of the kale that is still in our garden. (Perhaps that's an exaggeration. I guess I didn't count all the leaves on all the stalks, but I'm just guessing.) It's a weird combination of flavors to say the least, but somehow it works. It's not something I'd make exclusively, but it's a tasty lunch for me this week.

Crazy Pasta
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pound pasta
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers-pits removed
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, and then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook onion in the remaining oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries, and cook until plumped, about 1 minute.

Add kale leaves into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until aldente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, and drain pasta. Toss pasta with kale, kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and garlic chips over the pasta dish and serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.

October 18, 2012

French Onion Soup Dumplings

My friend sent me a link for these French Onion Soup Dumplings several months ago, and we finally had dinner together. Since her birthday was only a couple days away, I wanted to make these for her as part of her birthday treat.

She adored them! My hubby wasn't too sure with the first one, but they quickly grew on him. Even a day later, he still is complementing me on them. Sorry not to have a photo, but we devoured the half batch we made.

French Onion Soup Dumplings
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced yellow or red onion (or a combination)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup lower-salt beef broth
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lb. dense, chewy bread, crust removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic (1 medium clove)
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
40 square wonton wrappers
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups grated Monterrey Jack
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the soup, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they’re a deep caramel color, 25 to 35 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the wine, and cook until it has completely evaporated, 5 to 9 minutes. Add the beef and chicken broths, and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme and vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let cool. Line a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with foil and pour the soup mixture into the pan. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

To make the croutons, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Spread the croutons on a small baking sheet, and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool and then skewer 40 of the best-looking croutons with toothpicks (save the leftovers for another use).

To make the dumplings, working with about 10 wonton wrappers at a time, arrange them on a flat surface and brush the edges with the egg. Unmold the soup mixture from the loaf pan. Using a chef’s knife, cut the frozen soup lengthwise into 4 long, even strips, and then cut each strip crosswise into 10 even pieces, to make 40 pieces total, each about 3/4 inch square. Put one square in the center of each wrapper and fold up the edges, pressing to create a purse-like dumpling. Repeat to make 40 dumplings. Put the dumplings on a small baking sheet or tray and freeze until ready to fry.

Heat the vegetable oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 365°F or until the oil begins to ripple and bubbles immediately when the edge of one dumpling is dipped into it. Have ready a tray or plate lined with paper towels. Add as many dumplings as will fit in the pan without crowding, and fry until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to the paper towels. Continue frying the remaining dumplings.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Divide the dumplings among 8 to 10 small, shallow ovenproof gratin dishes and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Stick a crouton skewer in each dumpling, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and serve. Makes 40 dumplings.

October 10, 2012

Homemade Bread Bowls

I've attempted bread bowls before, but they didn't quite turn out as well as I hoped. This version from How Sweet It Is yielded a much more satisfactory bread bowl ... if I could get over the idea of eating a quarter of a batch of bread in one sitting ...

Homemade Bread Bowls
2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg, slightly beaten

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add warm water, yeast, honey and olive oil, quickly mixing with a spoon. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until yeast gets foamy. In a separate bowl, measure out flour and salt.

Add in flour gradually with the mixer on low speed. Knead with the dough hook (I used the two lowest speeds for this) for 10 to 12 minutes, occasionally pulling the dough off with your hands and placing it back in the bowl. Remove dough from bowl (it will be sticky), and place it on a floured workspace. Knead it a few times by hand, adding a few sprinkles of flour until it's elastic and no longer super sticky. Oil a bowl with olive oil, and place the bread in the bowl, flipping it to coat. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Punch down dough, and form into a large round, using more flour if needed to decrease the stickiness again. Cut the round into 4 equal pieces, and roll them into balls. Place on a baking sheet, cover and let rise for 20 to 30 more minutes. Take the dough balls and roll them into tighter balls again, and then brush each with beaten egg. Gently score the top of each loaf, and then bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when tapped. Let cool completely, and then use a serrated knife to cut a round out of the middle and fill with soup! Makes 4 bread bowls.

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake

This is one of those recipes that is so decadent you don't want to tempt fate by having it in your house. So I made it for a work potluck and only left two slices for me and my hubby. I found this creation on Raspberri Cupcake, and it turned out well.

I adore the frosting and could eat it by the spoonful. Notice I said "could" not "I ate it by the spoonful." The brownies weren't my favorite brownie recipe to date, and my cake ended up a bit dry. I'm not sure if that's because I toted our slices home from the potluck or if the cake was a touch dry. Still, no complaints from my workplace.

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
1 stick butter, softened
1 3/4 cups cake flour 
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. boiling water
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
Cookie Dough Frosting
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
7 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 sticks butter, chopped
3 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Prepare the brownies first (can be done a day ahead). Preheat oven to 320°F. Brush a 9 x 9 pan with melted butter. Line with non-stick baking paper, allowing sides to overhang. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn't touch water), stirring regularly. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until combined. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly before adding the egg mixture. If the chocolate mixture is too hot, the egg may start to cook and scramble. Stir to combine.

Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate mixture, and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 45 to50 minutes or until crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the center. Don't overbake your brownies, or they can dry out. Cool in pan, and then store in an airtight container for at least 6 hours or overnight. This helps the brownie to set.

Bake the cake next. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line the base of two round cake pans with baking paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, and use a whisk to combine. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and beat on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time until combined, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula when needed. Add vanilla, and beat again until combined. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a separate bowl. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and boiling water, whisking until it is smooth. Gently mix into the separated bowl of cake batter until combined. Spoon half the vanilla batter and half the chocolate batter into the prepared cake tin and the other half of each batter into the other prepared tin, alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and mocha to simulate a checkerboard. Run a table knife through the batter in each tin to create a swirl effect. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Cakes can be made the night before assembly, wrapped in clingfilm and chilled.

Prepare the frosting by beating together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Mix in the powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly mixed. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and cover the top of the cake with a layer of the frosting, smoothing with a spatula. Sandwich second cake layer on top. Cover entire cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing with the spatula. Cut brownies into small squares and pile on top of cake (you don't have to use all of them). For extra pizzass, melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and drizzle over the top of the brownie pile. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. Serves a lot!

October 8, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I'm so excited my lil' dude is one. Like every parent, I can't believe how quickly the past year has went and how big my peanut is. He continues to do new and exciting things every day, like licking and laughing me.

Of course, I'm also excited to prepare for his first birthday party!!! I have his cake all sketched out and hope to make it look at least half as awesome as it does in my mind. And I figured his birthday would be the perfect opportunity to try this ice cream from Brown-Eyed Baker. Cookie dough ice cream is good, but chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Ice Cream Custard
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla 
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

To make the ice cream custard, combine the chocolate and cream in a large, heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted, and then remove the bowl from the saucepan. Set it aside with a mesh strainer over the top.

Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, and then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate mixture, and stir in the vanilla extract. Place the bowl in an ice bath, and stir occasionally until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Meanwhile, make the cookie dough by combining the butter and both sugars in a mixing bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream, vanilla and salt, and mix for another minute until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Just before churning the ice cream, scoop the cookie dough into small (1 tsp.-sized) balls, and place on a plate or parchment-lined baking sheet in the freezer. Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished churning, fold in the chunks of cookie dough, and transfer to an airtight container. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.