February 19, 2013

Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I've never eaten marmalade, but that didn't stop me from making one. While flipping through Food in Jars, I saw a recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade. With Meyer lemons so cheap this time of the year, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try. My sample tastes thus far indicate I may indeed like marmalade. If nothing else, it sure is pretty.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade
3 lbs. Meyer lemons
5 1/2 cups sugar, divided
6 cups water

Wash the lemons in warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Using a sharp knife, cut both the flower and stem ends off each lemon. Sit each lemon on one of its newly flat ends, and cut into 6 to 8 wedges depending on size of the lemon. Lay each lemon wedge on its side, and cut away the strip of inner membrane and seeds. Reserve those in a cheesecloth or clean coffee filter.

Cut each trimmed wedge into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slices. You want pieces of lemon no thicker than 1/4 inch and no longer than 1 1/4 inches. Repeat this with all lemon wedges.

Combine lemons with 2 cups sugar. Stir to help sugar dissolve. Place reserved seed bundle into the container (making sure the seed bundle is securely fastened to prevent seeds from escaping). Refrigerate at least overnight and up to 48 hours.

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 1-pint jars. Pour macerated lemon bits with their juice and the seed bundle into a large pot. Add remaining 3 1/2 cups sugar and water. Slowly bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Once it has reached a boil, attach a candy thermometer.

Continue to cook vigorously until the mixture reaches 220°F. (This takes usually 30 to 40 minutes of continuous cooking and regular stirring.) When marmalade reaches 220°F and sustains that temperature for 1 minute (even after stirring), test the set of the marmalade by placing a small amount on a chilled saucer. If the set isn't right for you, cook another 5 minutes before testing again. Once the set meets your satisfaction, remove the pot from heat. Stir for 1 minute to distribute lemon pieces evenly, and ladle into prepared jars.

Process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Makes 4 pints.

Oreo Cake

Since I have dozens of sweet recipes bookmarked that I want to try, I gave my husband the option of selecting something from my list as his birthday cake. He's a sucker for Oreos, so I wasn't surprised when he picked this cake from Brown-Eyed Baker.

This cake is meant to resemble an Oreo both in appearance and flavor. It may not be the most gorgeous presentation of a cake, but I think it will touch the hearts of Oreo lovers. And my son thoroughly enjoyed being the official taste tester, sampling the excess cake I trimmed, the whipped cream, the cream cheese mixture, the combined frosting, the Oreos and of course the ganache. Maybe that's why he was so happy all morning!

Oreo Cake
2 cups sugar
1 13/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, and remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make the filling, with a stand or hand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the heavy whipping cream on low until it starts to become frothy and thick. Gradually increase the speed and whisk until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat together the cream cheese and sugar until well-blended and smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in a quarter of the whipped cream to lighten the cream cheese mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream and then the chopped Oreos.

Place one layer of the cake on a serving plate, spread the filling mixture on top, and top with the second cake layer.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate with the whipping cream over low heat, stirring often. Remove from heat, and cool at least 5 minutes.

Spread the ganache over the top of the cake and let stand until firm. Garnish with whipped cream and Oreos if desired. Keep refrigerated.

February 18, 2013

Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer lemons are $1.99 for a 1 lb. bag, which means I've bought several bags this winter. I've dehydrated some, used others in my water and decided it was high time I make a Meyer lemon curd. Delicious. I think I need to make lemon curd ice cream again in the near future.

Meyer Lemon Curd
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup Meyer lemon zest
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed

In a small bowl, combine sugar with lemon zest. Stir until sugar is fully combined and fragrant. Set aside.

Set up a double boiler, so the top bowl does not touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk together egg yolks and eggs. Combine with zest and sugar and juices. Stir until blended. Drop in butter cubes, and stir continually until the curd thickens and cooks completely. Curd should be 200°F and coat the back of a spatula.

Strain the curd through a mesh sieve to remove the zest. Cool, and refrigerate. If you choose to can your lemon curd, use sterilized jars and fill them with 1/2-inch headspace. Process in hot water bath 20 minutes. (Note: Use 1/2 pint or smaller jars to allow proper heat penetration.) Yield: About 1 pint of lemony deliciousness.

February 15, 2013

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread

I made this bread before Christmas and saw the picture a few weeks ago. That reminded me I hadn't blogged it yet. So now I'm finally getting around to sharing this recipe from How Sweet It Is.

This doesn't taste like banana bread. It tastes like chocolate with a hint of bananas. You decide if that's a good thing. I think so.

One word of caution: since this is a dark bread, it's a bit easier to overbake it especially if you're using different pan sizes. That means your bread will be a bit dry. Not as tasty as properly baked bread. Not that I did that.

Triple Chocolate Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup milk
4 oz. dark chocolate, melted
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips + 1/2 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan  liberally with non-stick spray or grease with butter.

In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder. In another large bowl, whisk egg and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract, then add bananas and milk and mix until combined. Add in dry ingredients slowing, mixing with a spoon until batter comes together. Add in melted butter, and mix until incorporated. Then stir in melted chocolate.

Toss chocolate chips with 1/2 teaspoon to coat, and then fold into batter. Pour batter into loaf pan. Set pan on a baking sheet and then bake for 55-60 minutes, or until center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove bread from oven, and sprinkle with additional chocolate chips if desired. Let cool completely (1-2 hours) before cutting. Makes 1 large loaf.

February 7, 2013

Yeasted Beer Bread

While shopping last weekend, my husband and I discovered Leinenkugels had a new brew called Canoe Paddler. We're big fans of Leinie's, so we grabbed a 12-pack. Lo and behold, we got carded at the ripe young ages of 29, 30 and 16 months. As luck would have it, my purse was in the car, so we decided we'd pick some up later rather than traipsing through our snowy slush to get my purse for our impulse buy.

Fast forward two days, and I purchased the beer without getting carded. Apparently AJ and I without my husband are much more mature (regardless of the fact that we both wear animal stocking hats). I cracked one open for my husband for dinner ... only to have him inform me he just took painkillers for his headache and wouldn't imbibe. Since society frowns upon pregnant women drinking, I decided to convert that bottle into beer bread to avoid wasting it. Closet Cooking provided me the recipe.

Yeasted Beer Bread
2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter (melted)
12 oz. beer (about 110°F)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt

Mix the yeast, sugar and butter into the beer and let it sit until the yeast has dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Mix the flours and salt.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they form a dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more floor if it is too sticky.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour.

Punch the dough down, dump onto a floured surface, lightly knead for a minute and let rest for a few minutes.

Form the dough into the shape that you want it, place it on a sheet of parchment paper, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.

Transfer the loaf on the parchment paper onto a baking sheet, slash the top of the dough a few times and dust with flour.

Place in a preheated 400°F oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 1 large loaf.

Wheat Sub Rolls

I wanted to make chicken cheesesteaks because I had a recipe that looked delicious. I thought about buying rolls but decided there was no reason not to make them. I found a recipe at Teri's Kitchen that worked well. These rolls have a hearty wheat flavor and hold up to ooey gooey sandwich fillings.

Wheat Sub Rolls
2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat gluten
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients, and knead until soft dough is formed. Add more flour as needed to achieve the right consistency.

Cover dough, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. When the dough is ready, punch down and separate into 8 equal portions.  For sub rolls, shape each portion into 6 to 8-inch logs depending on desired length and width. Place on two parchment lined baking sheets, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and a towel, and place in a warm, draft-free area. Let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425° F. When the rolls have doubled in size, use a very sharp or serrated knife to cut several slits about 1/4-inch deep in the tops. Spray lightly with water. (Laugh as your 16-month-old son spritzes himself with water repeatedly.) Bake on two separate oven racks until done, 15 to 20 minutes depending on size, rotating the pans after 8 minutes. Rolls are done when they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Place the rolls on a cooling rack until completely cooled. Rolls can be used that day or wrapped in foil, placed in storage bags and refrigerated for several days or in freezer bags and frozen for up to six months. Makes 8 rolls.