March 29, 2013

Homemade Peeps

My hubby likes Peeps. I don't. I like marshmallows. I just don't like them coated in sugar. I could have bought him a pack of Peeps for a buck, but what's the fun in that? Instead, I found this recipe adapted from Martha Stewart online and made a homemade version. Fairly simple to do, not terribly time consuming but holy sticky. I'm pretty sure I'll find marshmallow around the house for a couple days because my 18-month-old took off with the beater while he was licking it.

Homemade Peeps
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup sugar
Colored sugar
Cocoa powder (optional, for decoration)

Lightly coat a 9 x 9 pan with nonstick spray along with cookie cutters to cut out your peeps.

In a mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water. Let stand while you make the sugar mixture. To make the sugar mixture, combine 1/3 cup water and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved, and then stop stirring. Let cook until mixture reaches between 235°F and 240°F. Remove from heat, and carefully pour into the gelatin mixture while mixing on low speed. Pour in slowly, so the sugar mixture doesn't clump.

Beat on high speed 8 to 10 minutes until the mixture thickens, turns white and can hold soft peaks. Immediately spoon and smooth into prepared pan. Let sit a couple minutes, and then use either greased or moistened cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. Roll cut shapes into colored sugar.

To make eyes or any other markings, mix cocoa powder with a couple drops of water. Use a toothpick to draw on designs. Makes a 9 x 9 pan of peeps.

March 22, 2013

Oreo Bundt Cake

Normally when I think of bundt cakes, I think of a simpler cake that doesn't require that much time or effort. The stack of dishes I accumulated during the process of making this cake from Baker's Royale contradicted my traditional thinking. Still, it was worth the effort. This is a delicious, rich, moist cake filled with this slightly gooey filling that makes you wish the entire cake were simply the filling even though the cake is wonderful in its own right.

Oreo Bundt Cake
Oreo Filling
1/3 cup Oreos, crushed (about 10 whole Oreos)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups  flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup water, boiling
3 oz. quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled to warm
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Oreos, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover bundt pan with bake spray, and lightly coat with cocoa powder.

To make the filling, place Oreos in a food processor bowl, and pulse until crumbled. Place all ingredients in the food processor, and pulse until combined. Transfer filling to a pastry bag, and place in refrigerator until ready for use.

To make the cake, place flour, baking soda and sal,t and whisk to comibine. Set aside.
In a heat proof bowl, add cocoa, and whisk in boiling water. Add in chopped chocolate, and whisk until combined. Add in buttermilk, and whisk until combined.
Place melted butter and and sugar in a bowl, and mix to combine. Add in eggs, and beat until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla, and beat until combined.  Using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, fold flour into wet mixture in 3 batches, alternating with cocoa mixture.
Pour half of batter into pan, and then pipe Oreo filling on top. Pour remaining batter on top of Oreo filling. Bake for about  50 to 65 minutes or until inserted cake tester comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven, and set on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake, and carefully turn over. Remove the pan, and let cool completely.
To make the glaze, add powdered sugar and milk into a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add more milk as needed to thin glaze to preferred consistency. Pour icing over bundt cake, and sprinkle remaining Oreo crumbs on top.

Stormy Today, Sunshine Tomorrow Cupcakes

These cupcakes from Sprinkle Bakes are quite unique from my point of view. The cupcake is made with black sesame paste, which is apparently a dessert in Asian cultures. The cupcakes are a bit nutty, and the lemon filling and frosting are quite unexpected given the dreary gray of the cupcakes. Fun for this seemingly endless winter.

Stormy Today, Sunshine Tomorrow Cupcakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup black sesame paste (can use store bought or Sprinkle Bake's recipe)
8 oz. lemon curd
2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp. black gel food coloring or black powdered food coloring
2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake tin with cupcake papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, and mix again.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and set aside.  Add flour mixture, and black sesame paste alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.  Bake for 17 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely on wire rack.

Fill each cupcake with lemon curd either using a bismark tip and pastry bag or by cutting a hole into each cupcake.

To make frosting, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together.  Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, add the vanilla and lemon zest.  Beat in the food coloring until uniformly grey.  Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping tip.  Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Makes 15 to 20 cupcakes.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Our weekend will be filled with paint since we're repainting our entire house in hopes that it will finally sell. We're actually hiring my hubby's uncle to do the painting, but he's going to be there the whole time providing assistance along with his parents. I'm banished from being there for long periods of time since I'm preggo ... and I will have our active 18-month-old son in tow. I can only imagine the chaos of him surrounded by freshly painted walls and all sorts of paint.

But, he's my big helper in preparing food for the crew that will be working. We're doing shredded BBQ chicken in the slow cooker, and we made this coffee cake from Brown Eyed Baker for breakfast. It's a moist, fairly dense cake. Personally, I think coffee cake should have the crumb mixture through the entire thing. Perhaps next time.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3  eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, and then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

March 12, 2013

Cheesy Bagels

I had some delicious cheese that I wasn't eating fast enough to prevent it from molding, so I decided to modify Brown-Eyed Baker's recipe using the cheese I had on hand. Most bagels are a bit time consuming, and these required even more time than my standard version. Although good, I don't think they quite warrant the extra effort.

Cheesy Bagels
1 tsp. instant yeast
4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2½ cups water, at room temperature
½ tsp. instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. malt powder
8 oz. cheese, shredded
To Finish
1 Tbsp. baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
1 cup shredded cheese

To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). Add the cheese during the last minute or so of kneading, and knead until evenly distributed. The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour - all the ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems sticky or tacky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

Immediately divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels: Push a hole through the center of the roll with your thumb and stretch out the hole to 2½ inches in diameter, making sure that the resulting ring has a fairly even thickness all the way around.

Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the "float test". Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500°F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. Sprinkle the bagels with the shredded as soon as they come out of the water.

When all the bagels have been boiled and topped, place the pans on the two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are only baking one pan at a time, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven temperature to 450°F and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until the bagels turn golden brown.

Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving. Makes 12 bagels.

March 4, 2013

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

Whew, that is a mouthful. And these are a mouthful. A delicious mouthful of peanut butter and chocolate with enough oats to pretend they hold some nutritional value.

And this description is coming from the person who made these with a wicked cold that destroyed her sense of smell and diminished her taste buds. I could still taste the chocolate and hints of peanut butter. I can definitely vouch for the texture on these since that's been a focus without a sense of smell. I am positive I will make these scones from Brown-Eyed Baker again once this cold is completely gone because I'm certain they're going to top my list of breakfast foods!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups flour
1 cup traditional rolled oats
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Vanilla-infused sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silipat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter, and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is pea-size.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and the egg yolk. Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour the buttermilk mixture into the center of the well and then add the peanut butter. Using a rubber spatula, very gently fold the mixture together until it starts to come together. Add the chocolate chips, and gently knead with your hands (in the bowl) until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the dough.

Turn the dough out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and pat it into a round disk about 8 inches in diameter. Whisk the egg white, then brush the top of the dough with the egg white and sprinkle with the additional sugar.

Cut the dough into 8 wedges (do not separate them), and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 5 minutes, then re-slice and separate them. Serve warm for best flavor. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Makes 8 scones. (We demolished these among the 3 of us in slightly more than 24 hours. It's a good thing we have a 17-month-old child to include to make it sound like we have a bit more self-control.)

Orange Vanilla Curd

I had 15 egg yolks sitting in my fridge. That meant one of two things: I had to make ice cream or I had to make curd. (I suppose it could mean that I had to make both ...) And if you're wondering why I had 15 egg yolks it's because I used 15 egg whites to make my recent batches of award-winning S'mores Cupcakes. Not that I have a big head still on that topic.

I pulled out my copy of Food in Jars and found this recipe calling my name. The only downside is this can't be canned, but it should keep well in the fridge or freezer. This is deliciously like a creamsicle. It's begging me to make vanilla cupcakes filled with its deliciousness topped with creamsicle frosting. Once I figure out whether to make buttercream or cream cheese frosting, I shall answer its calling.

Orange Vanilla Curd
1 1/4 cups sugar
Zest of 3 oranges
1 vanilla bean, split, scraped and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
Juice of 3 oranges
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed

In a small bowl, combine sugar with orange zest and vanilla bean and seeds. 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 (although this curd may be a bit looser).

Strain the curd through a mesh sieve to remove the zest and vanilla bean. Pour the curd into clean containers to store in the fridge or freezer. Makes 1 pint approximately.

March 1, 2013

Quinoa "Fried Rice"

I purchased a bag of quinoa because it seemed like the thing to do. I read about it everywhere and wanted to try it. I just didn't know how I wanted to try it until I came across this recipe from the Healthy Everythingtarian.

Our entire family thought this was delicious and made quinoa a hit in our household. The flavors mimic that of fried rice that's so familiar with Chinese food, but this recipe comes up on the healthy side of things.

Quinoa "Fried Rice"
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded carrot
3 to 4 cups cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar (I subbed sherry since I had that on hand)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
3 eggs

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat sesame oil. Saute garlic in sesame oil for 1 minute. Add vegetables and ground ginger and cook until vegetables are thawed or slightly soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add quinoa, mirin and soy sauce. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa has absorbed the liquid.

In the middle of your saucepan, push fried quinoa to the side to create a hole. Crack eggs inside the hole, and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gently mix the quinoa and eggs. Let cook for an additional minute. Mix again. Repeat until egg is completely cooked.

Makes 4 servings of deliciousness.