Archive for the 'fruit' Category

Blackberry, Almond, White Chocolate, Lemon Loaf

September 17, 2010

Like in most things, there are certain aspects of baking that I could do without.  Converting a recipe from grams to ounces to cups, for one.  Or sifting the dry ingredients, which always leads to taking out and cleaning one more utensil.  But who really wants a dense, hard to swallow cake?  So I learned to do that one.

But the thing that I’m most lazy about is greasing a pan.  I would rather spend my time hoping and praying that my baked good will come cleanly out of the vessel in which that it was baked, than actually taking the time to butter and flour the pan.  It seems so simple, but I can never convince myself to do this part well.

Why all this insight into my baking bad habits, you may wonder.  Well, this was one bad habit I had to break.  It was reactionary, so please do not think that I just happened to see what was best for my products, and those that ate them.  I’m not that noble.  I wanted to make a quick bread as a gift, and thought that the extra step of greasing AND flouring the pan AND lining the pan with parchment paper AND greasing it again, seemed unnecessary.  So I quickly sprayed the loaf pan with my handy no stick spray and was set.

Set.  Ooooh boy, was that loaf ever set.  The loaf was so extremely stuck to its pan that I had to knife it out.  And then cut the burned edges.  And then cut it again so it didn’t look like I purposely cut the burnt edges.

But the result, minus the crispy parts in my trash can, was divine.  Almonds and lemon and blackberries, and white chocolate – you may first think that there is way too much going on, but no.  Think again.  It was just perfect.  All blended together in this amazing merriment.  And though it was delicious in its own right, I wish I had the whole loaf.  Including the crust.

Grease the pan.  That’s all I’m sayin.

Blackberry, Almond, White Chocolate, Lemon Loaf (adapted from Bake or Break)

Ingredients

  • 2 & 1/4 sticks (9 ounces) butter
  • 1 & 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/4 cups ground almonds
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces blackberries, or any berry (frozen could work too!)
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Method

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter and flour a loaf pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter pan and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, a little at a time, until blended.   Stir in flour, ground almonds, and lemon zest and juice.  Stir in both extracts.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Scatter raspberries and white chocolate over the batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour & 10 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Then, cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Grilled Peaches

July 15, 2010

I really like baking.  Obviously.  Sauteing, roasting, frying – they’re all things that I consider part of my, you know, cooking repertoire.  But grilling?  I have left that to the meat eaters and fire lovers in the past.  Sure, I’ll pull out my ol’ George Foreman once in a while to weave a new flavor into my Boca burger, but, let’s be honest, I’m not into the real deal.  That is, of course until, I saw this delicious sounding recipe for grilled peaches.

What was I to do?  A grilled dessert.  A grilled not-so-bad-for-you dessert.  A grilled dessert that would have been a perfect addition to our ongoing 4th of July festivities…where we already had a grill!  I had to try it.

With the help of some fire savvy friends, we were able to successfully grill peaches with sugar on top (delightful burnt caramel flavors ensued), accompanied by a lovely Greek yogurt maple topping, with some crushed biscotti on top.  Heaven on a grill, one might say.

Grilled Peaches (adapted from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

4 ripe peaches, cut in 1/2 and pitted

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup Greek 2% yogurt

1/4 cup Grade A maple syrup

4 biscotti cookies, crumbled

Method

Dip all of the peaches, cut side down into the sugar, until they are thoroughly coated on the cut side.

Heat a grill with a single layer of charcoal. When the coals are hot, brush the grill with a little oil to make sure the peaches don’t stick. Place the peaches, cut side down, on the grill and cook for a few minutes, until they’re slightly charred.

Mix together the yogurt and maple syrup.  Adjust syrup to taste.

Serve peaches with maple yogurt and sprinkle with crumbled biscotti.

Photography Credit: Patrick Tregenza and Hannah Mellman

Plum and Raspberry Crumble

July 8, 2010

I have many Fourth of July recipes to share with you!  …a week late.  Let’s just call them July recipes, shall we?

I was in gorgeous, yet atypically warm, Deer Isle, Maine for the festivities.  No cell phone signal, no internet, no locked doors.  Simply glorious.  The weekend was filled with eating, and kayaking, and cooking, and eating and…well, eating.

I really wanted to go berry picking and make a dish that had only local ingredients that we picked ourselves.  I wanted to go really local, you see.  A true DIY project, if you will.  Though strawberry season has come and gone, we were a bit too early for any of the other berries.  So, though this dessert has local berries, I was driven to the supermarket to purchase them.  Less work, same great taste.

This super simple, but amazingly delicious crumble is a must-try.  Plums and raspberries are the two fruits that are used in the recipe, but I threw in a peach and blueberries too.  It’s the topping, though, that’s amazing.  That Ina really knows what she’s talking about.

Pair it with a locally made ice cream like we did (unreal vanilla ice cream…mmmm) find a spot on the picnic table (spray yourself with some powerful bug spray) and you have yourself one incredible July night.  Yum.

Plum Raspberry Crumble (adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients

1.5 pounds plums, pitted and quartered

1-2 peaches, pitted and quartered

2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour, divided

2 tbsp. lemon juice

½ pint fresh raspberries

½ pint fresh blueberries

1/3 cup light brown sugar

¼ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, diced

½ cup quick-cooking oats

½ cup sliced almonds

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.

3. In the baking dish, combine sliced plums, peaches, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, ¼ cup flour, and lemon juice.  Stir to toss well.

4. Add berries and toss lightly, being careful not to break them.

5. In a separate bowl, combine remaining 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Add butter and rub with fingers until it resembles a mealy texture.  Add oats and almonds and stir until large crumbles form.

6. Spread crumble mixture over fruit and pat down to make sure that the fruit is covered.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned.  Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Photography Credit: Hannah Mellman!

Welcome! (and so many cupcakes!)

June 22, 2010

I’ve had this blog for 2 months now.  I keep thinking that I know what I want my first blog post to be about, but it’s either not interesting enough, or yummy enough, or not significant enough to be my first blog post.  I had so many reasons not to post.

But then.  Then something happened that basically screamed “1st blog post!!”  That something was cupcakepalooza.

Let me back up.  First of all, this is not the most typical food blog.  To really get the gist of what I’m trying to do, please go to the About Me section.  Any input would be tremendous.

Second of all, cupcakepalooza?  What is that?  Well, my wonderful cousin was having a pretty smashin huge birthday party and I (crazily, stupidly?) volunteered to make the cake.  For 200 people.  In New Jersey.

To try out the cupcake flavors beforehand, and to weed out the favorite flavors, I decided that I needed to have a cupcake party (i.e. cupcakepalooza) for some taste testing.  To get some Indian flavors in the mix, I made some chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream, vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose buttercream, pistachio cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream and mango cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting in addition to the dark chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and lemon blueberry cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

I then asked about 30 of my closest friends to come over to try and comment on all of the flavors.  As it turned out, the chai cupcakes were a favorite.  No changes were necessary for that cake, and it made the cut for the party.  As for the others, the helpful comments included “couldn’t really taste the pistachio….or the white chocolate” for the surprisingly enough, pistachio white chocolate cupcakes, “tastes very rosy – but I don’t really know what rose is supposed to taste like,” for the vanilla buttermilk rose cupcakes, and “SO GOOD!” for the lemon blueberry cupcakes.

Taking these helpful and constructive comments into consideration, I decided to change the chocolate cupcakes to include a dark chocolate frosting for the chocolate lovers, and then take it completely in an Indian direction for the rest of the cupcakes – vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose syrup buttercream, mango cupcakes with mango cream cheese frosting, and chai cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream.

It seemed that most people thought that the light marshmallow frosting on top of the denser chocolate cupcake left a bit of an imbalance.  Though, overall, the chocolate cupcake was a winner – and every cupcake party should have at least one chocolate feature.  The mango cupcake was also well liked overall, but lacked some mango flavor.  To pump up the volume, I tripled the amount of mango that I put into the actual cake, while also adding some pureed mango into the cream cheese frosting.  The rose also needed a bit more punch.  I had a hard time deciding between using rose water and rose flavored syrup in the frosting, while keeping a vanilla buttermilk base.  The rose water was the only thing I used for the cupcake tasting, mostly because I thought that there would be a sweetness overload if I had used the syrup.  But even though it could be slightly detected, there wasn’t a strong enough rose flavor.  For the birthday party, I decided to use both.  Rose water in the actual cupcake batter and rose flavored syrup in the buttercream.

The party?  It was a success.  The transporting, the last minute frosting, the dependency on the arrival of a cupcake tier – all very stressful, but definitely worth it at the end.  And, if nothing else, it inspired my first of many blog posts.

I do hope that you come back here periodically to see what I’ve been cooking.  I look forward to having you.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake)

Yield: About 30 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Method

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

3. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Dark Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting)

Yield: Enough to lightly frost 30 cupcakes

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.

2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

3. Stir in vanilla.

Mango Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)
Yield: A lot of cupcakes – 40, maybe?

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of pureed mangoes (I used fresh Alphonso mangoes – delish)
8 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup milk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mango puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk to blend.  Blend until soft peaks form.  Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Scoop into liners – filling until about 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Mango Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Lots o’ frosting.  We had quite a bit leftover after frosting the 40 cupcakes liberally

Ingredients

8 ounces unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (depending on how sweet the mangoes are)

¾ cup pureed mango

Method

1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.

2. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in pureed mango.

Vanilla Rose Buttermilk Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

Yield: About 48 cupcakes

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rose water

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rose water and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition.

4. Fill each liner about half way (they really tend to rise).  Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Rose Syrup Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to frost half of the vanilla rose buttermilk cupcakes

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1/4 cup rose flavored syrup

Method

1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.

Chai Latte Cupcakes (directly from Happiness in a Pot)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup soy milk or rice milk

4 black tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose black tea)

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soy yogurt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
2. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan over medium till almost boiling. Add tea bags,
cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready, dunk teabags a few
times in soy milk and squeeze gently to extract any soy milk before removing.
Discard tea bags. Measure the soy milk and tea mixture and add more soy milk if it is
less than 1 cup.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and tea mixture until all
yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,
cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Mix until large lumps disappear; some small
lumps are okay.
4. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted
into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to liberally frost 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1.5 tsp cinnamon

Method

1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.