July 19, 2013

Peanut Butter Pie

When we lived in Denmark, we always made a point to visit our church picnic a couple times throughout the festivities. You may think it's because we're that supportive of our parish, which we were, but it was also because someone always brought the most delicious peanut butter pie. For several years, we were able to snag at least one, if not two pieces, of this pie during our visits to the church picnic.

Since we've moved to Oshkosh and no longer have hopes of finding that pie again, it's time for me to finally try to see if I can come up with something as delicious. This version from Brown-Eyed Baker is my first attempt. The backstory behind this recipe is touching, so check out her link.

Forgive the poor photo, but this is what you get from my husband's phone since baby coming in the next 24 hours or so hampers my priorities ... but not so much that I didn't make this!

Peanut Butter Pie
8 oz. chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed into fine crumbs
4 Tbsp. butter
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. peanut butter

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter, tossing with a fork until the crumbs are all evenly moistened. Press into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

While crust is in the freezer, place the 4 oz. of chocolate chips into a small bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a full boil. Pour over the chocolate chips, let it sit a minute, and then stir gently with a rubber spatula until completely smooth and glossy. Pour over the bottom of the crust, tilting the pan or using an offset spatula to ensure it covers the entire bottom.  Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the 1 cup of heavy cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a medium bowl, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Again using an electric mixer, this time with a paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once it is all added, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds to completely incorporate. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice, and beat at medium speed until everything is completely combined and smooth.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in about 1/3 of the whipped cream to lighten the mixture. Very gently, fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks of whipped cream remain. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

In a microwave, melt the 1/3 cup of chocolate chips with the peanut butter in two 30-second bursts, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Using a spoon , drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the pie filling.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight) before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

July 17, 2013

Dark Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie

I've made a skillet chocolate chip cookie before. It was delicious. But I had earmarked two skillet chocolate chip cookies, so I had to try this one as well. This version from How Sweet It Is wins for the simplicity factor. From what I recall, both are equally delicious, so this shall be the repeated recipe. This is super fast to make and wonderfully delicious topped with vanilla ice cream.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4- 2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup dark and/or semi-sweet chocolate, cut into chunks 

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt butter in an 10-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla, and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm about 5 minutes.

Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda and salt on top, and very carefully stir the mixture until smooth and well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. 

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until  golden on the top and around the edges but still soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 generous cookie portions.

July 12, 2013

Blueberry Muffin Ice Cream

I like blueberry muffins. I like ice cream. When I saw this combo from How Sweet It Is, I was rather intrigued. Normally, I prefer my ice cream with chocolate or peanut butter or ideally both. This is my absolute favorite homemade chocolate ice cream followed by this cookie dough version. Still, this made its way to the first homemade ice cream I churned this summer. (I know I've been slow to the ice cream party this summer.)

This is a good ice cream. It's slightly more crystallized than other versions I've made. It's still fairly smooth despite the use of no eggs. It's worth making, if for no reason other than to have an excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast with your blueberry muffins.

Blueberry Muffin Ice Cream
1 batch of your favorite blueberry muffins
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp. of the milk with the cornstarch, and whisk until smooth. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese with salt and cinnamon until smooth.

In a large saucepan, add milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract and corn syrup, whisking together. Bring to a rolling boil. Keep a close eye on the mixture because if it gets too hot, it will boil up and over very quickly. Once it is at a rolling boil, boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat, and slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place back on heat, and bring to a rolling boil again, this time stirring with a spatula while the mixture just thickens slightly.

Remove from heat, and very slowly pour a small amount into the large bowl that has the cream cheese in it, whisking constantly until smooth. Gradually pour the rest of the mixture into the bowl while whisking to combine. Chill using an ice bath around the bowl, and then chill overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, pour the ice cream mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to the directions. When ice cream is nearly frozen, add 2 to 3 crumbled blueberry muffins. Once churned to your desired consistency, place in a freezer-safe container and fold in 2 to 3 more crumbled blueberry muffins using a large spatula. Freeze for at least 8 hours to set.

July 1, 2013

Mounds Trifle

Coconut is one of those things that people typically hate or love. My mom has always loved coconut. The bad news for her was that coconut rarely made an appearance in our food since no one else would touch it. (I've become more sophisticated and will now consume items containing coconut.) The good news for her was that she could have Almond Joy or Mounds candy bars untouched by other hands for weeks.

When I found a Mounds Layer Cake from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, I knew I wanted to make it for my mom. I just had to find the right occasion. Her retirement party was the perfect place to debut the recipe since she would be able to enjoy it, and there would certainly be enough coconut lovers to consume the cake.

Here's the verdict: Made as a cake, this is incredibly challenging to cut and becomes a sticky mess. But, it received rave reviews (Like my mom saying if she knew how good it was going to be that she wouldn't have let it come to the party. Or my aunt sneaking the plate away to clean ... with her fingers). So, here's the recipe, but I'm converting it into trifle form for next time for easier serving and presentation.

(And I didn't snap pictures before the party. I'll work harder on pictures with posts in the future.)

Mounds Trifle
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. coconut extract
3/4 cup boiling water
Ganache1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Coconut Filling14 oz. bag sweetened, shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup salted butter, slightly softened
1/3 cup cream of coconut (look for this with the drink mixers)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.  Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper to ensure easy removal of the cakes.

Combine sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add eggs, oil, buttermilk and coconut extract, and beat on medium speed for two minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl, and stir in boiling water.  Divide batter into cake pans (batter will be thin). Bake for 35 minutes or until tops spring back until lightly touched.  Allow cakes to cool in pans for about 5 minutes, and then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

To prepare ganache, in a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream.  Microwave for about 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir until smooth.  Stir in corn syrup, and refrigerate until cooled and thickened.

To prepare filling, in a large bowl, combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

To prepare frosting, beat butter, cream of coconut and heavy cream on medium speed until smooth.  With the mixer set on low, slowly add powdered sugar.  Once the powdered sugar is just barely mixed in, increase speed to high, and beat for one minute until fluffy.

To assemble trifle, use a large trifle bow. Break cake into bite-size pieces. Layer cake, and then sprinkle with coconut filling. Drizzle with ganache, and dollop on frosting. Continue to repeat layers, ending with ganache and a sprinkling of coconut filling.  Keep uneaten trifle stored in refrigerator.

PB & J Muffins

Sometimes nothing beats a good ol' fashioned pb & j sandwich. Right?

Wrong. PB & J Cupcakes always beat a pb & j sandwich. PB & J bars almost always beat a pb & j sandwich. And these muffins from Two Peas and Their Pod definitely are a more acceptable breakfast than eating your pb & j sandwich (that you packed for your lunch) before 9 a.m.

PB & J Muffins
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam or your favorite jam

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, peanut butter, oil, egg and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Scoop about 2 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup. Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of jam on top of each cupful of batter. Then spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter over the jam. Divide any remaining batter equally among the muffin cups.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins have risen in the middle and are firm to the touch. Makes 12 muffins.

Triple Chocolate Scones

Although I never ate scones growing up as a child, they now make regular appearances in our kitchen. When I saw this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, I knew these scones would make an appearance.

These come together extremely fast since everything is tossed in a food processor. These are a chocolate breakfast at its best.

Triple Chocolate Scones
3 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup  cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

Combine the milk chocolate, sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the chocolate is finely ground, about 5 to 10 pulses.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl and pulse an additional 6 times to thoroughly combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 10 to 12 pulses. 

Add the bittersweet chocolate to the bowl. Whisk together the egg and milk, and then add to the bowl. Pulse three or four times until the wet ingredients are incorporated but the dough has not formed a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead lightly a few times to bring the dough together. Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Gently pat each piece into a 5-inch circle, and then cut each circle into four quarters. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until they are well-risen and firm to the touch. Serve immediately. 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container (or wrapped in plastic wrap) at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Wrapped scones can also be frozen and reheated as needed. Makes 12 scones.

Babka (Roll) Bread

While digging through my grandma's recipes, I cam across my great aunt's recipe for a cinnamon swirl bread. It sounded delicious, and it was. This makes a nice large loaf, perfect for toasting and slathering with butter.

Babka (Roll) Bread
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Scald milk, and cool to about 115°F. Add yeast, and let stand 5 minutes. Beat together milk with eggs. Add butter and vanilla, and combine until well blended.

In separate bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and beat until a dough forms. Knead until a smooth dough forms. Cover, and let rise about 1 hour until doubled.

Roll dough into 10 x 20 x 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Combine filling ingredients, and spread evenly over dough leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Roll dough tightly, and place in a greased bread pan.

Cover, and let rise until bread fills the pan nicely. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat together egg and 1 Tbsp. water. Brush on top of bread loaf. Combine remaining topping ingredients, and spread evenly on top of the loaf. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until loaf is golden. Makes 1 large loaf.