Archive for March, 2012

Hot Chocolate Popovers

March 29, 2012

My discovery of popovers was a delightful accident.  I have a deep love of blueberries.  It’s inexplicable, actually.  So, of course, when my sister took a trip to Maine, the only thing I asked for was a cookbook full of blueberry recipes.  And some jam.  The cookbook suggested eating all of these wonderful blueberry concoctions with popovers.  Popovers?

I did a quick search and it turned out that popovers were all the rage!  Ina made them; Martha has a recipe; Paula loves them; they were even all over the food blogs!  These were a must-try.  Also, my sister had them during her trip and told me that I must make them in order for me to get my jam.  I like jam.

Popovers, people.  Seriously, are you ready for these?  They are basically the perfect breakfast carb.  They are between a muffin and a buttery yeast bread.  They have the properties of a pastry or a doughnut if treated correctly.  And you must eat them with jam!  Breakfast!  In a perfectly perfect way.

Hot Chocolate Popovers (slightly adapted from Joy the Baker)

I lie.  These particular popovers are probably best without jam.  They have marshmallows and chocolate chips, though!  I’m doing you one better.  But there are a plethora of recipes out there for plain popovers, sugar crusted popovers, savory popovers, that you should look into if you want a bit of variety.  But seriously.  Marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Did I really need to say that again?

2 tablespoons butter, melted plus more for greasing the pan

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 large marshmallows.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease the individual muffin cups of a standard muffin tin with butter.  Set aside.

In a blender, blend together butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and flour.

Add the flour mixture to the blender and blend until no lumps remain and the mixture is frothy.  Fill muffin tin cups one-half to two-thirds full.  Bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven door.  This is important for the “pop” and the “over” part to occur.

After 30 minutes, remove the popovers from the oven and immediately set oven to broiler.

Carefully add a sprinkling (maybe 2 tsp.) chocolate chips into the center of the popover, and top with a marshmallow, pressing down gently.

Place pan under the broiler. Keep and eye on the toasting marshmallows.  They’ll only need about a minute under the broiler.  Feel free to rotate the pan as necessary.

Remove toasted popovers from the oven.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.  Use a butter knife to gently remove the popovers.  Serve warm.


Cheerio Treats

March 22, 2012

No, people.  I’m not just posting about a regular ol’ cereal treat, and just swapping out the type of cereal.  I’m not just posting a recipe that you’ve made thousands of times in the past.  I’m amping up the volume.  You will want to know about these.  Because these little beauties changed my life.

I kid you not.  While most elementary school children came to school with the run-of-the-mill Rice Krispie treats, my mom made these.  Cheerio treats – with peanut butter, m&m’s and, of course, marshmallows (there was no concern about kids getting too much sugar in those days).  These treats made me instant friends when I switched schools in 5th grade.  These treats allowed me to be the first picked for any teams.  I even think that these treats were the reason I got “most likely to succeed” when graduating.

And you should not be surprised, because these treats do exactly that: they lead you to success.  It’s so unexpected, but when you take a bite, and you taste the mellow peanut butter flavor to cut the usual sweetness of these treats, and then see the colored candies that remind you of your childhood, you just know that you’ve found a winner.  A cereal treat winner.

Cheerio Treats (recipe from my mom)

3 tbsp. butter

1 package marshmallows

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 cups Cheerios

1 cup M&M’s

Lightly butter a 9×13 inch pan.  Set aside.  In a large pot, over low heat, melt butter.  When the butter is melted, add marshmallows and stir until completely melted and smooth.  Add peanut butter and stir to incorporate.  Turn off the heat and stir in Cheerios.  Stir until the marshmallow and peanut butter mixture has coated all of the cereal.  Add the candy and stir to distribute evenly.  Turn out into the prepared pan and pat down.  Cool slightly before cutting.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

March 16, 2012

You know about the freshman 15, right?  When you gain 15 lbs. during your freshman year of college because, all of a sudden, you have no idea what to eat, and live off of soft serve ice cream, french fries, and Lucky Charms.  Well, that never happened to me, thankyouverymuch.  I was able to bypass the freshman 15, only to have it haunt me later in the my college days.

Later meaning my study abroad semester.  In Argentina.  Because of dulce de leche.

At first, I thought of it as a special treat.  But then I suddenly realized that I will never again live in a country where it is perfectly acceptable to eat a luscious caramel sauce with every meal, and I panicked.  I started eating it all day, every day, because I could – in cookies, with toast, out of the jar with a spoon!  And justified it by saying that it’s a milk product!  With calcium!  And vitamin D!  It was practically health food!

25 pounds, people.  In a single semester.  I may have gone overboard.  But, boy, it was worth every pound.  And here we are again, taking something ridiculously decadent and adding even more deliciousness.  Cheesecake with dulce de leche baked right in, with even more dulce de leche poured on top.  This is basically my study abroad semester on a plate.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares (from Bon Appetit)

Do ahead: to make dulce de leche at home: pour two 14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk into a glass bowl and let it sit in a double boiler, over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally until the color of the milk has turned a deep caramel color.  This will take about 2 hours.  You can also buy your dulce de leche from any store.  It’s quite readily available.  I clearly did not know this when I lived in Argentina.

For Crust:

  • cooking spray
  • 2 1/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13×9 baking pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until well-combined. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
For Filling:
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Blend cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla and mix until well blended.  Spread batter evenly over cooled crust.  Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 35-40 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For Topping:
  • 2/3 cup dulce de leche, recipe above
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
Heat dulce de leche cream in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour.  Pour glaze over cooled cheesecake and spread evenly.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Slice into 24 squares.

Honey Cake

March 13, 2012

I love birthdays.  Love love love them.  I like the cake and the celebrations and the surprises.  I also like the idea of starting fresh.  And because honey signifies new beginnings, I thought that this would be appropriate for my birthday that just passed.

Turns out that I also like to go on vacation for my birthday.  To places with unstable internet that is not conducive to posting blog entries in a timely manner.  I mean, who was I kidding, look at the place:

But you will enjoy this incredible moist and spiced honey cake, even though it’s a week late, I promise!

Honey Cake (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dark rum

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, applesauce, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, tea, orange juice and rum, if using.

Using an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter.  Use a rubber spatula to ensure that everything from the bottom has been mixed in.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Place cake pan on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center, about 65-75 minutes.  Let cake cool completely before removing from pan.