Cherry Blondies for a date that never was…

Cherry Blondie 2

This guy Adam asked me on a date. I said yes. I usually say yes when that happens. He didn’t believe that I really bake as much as I said I do, so I decided to bring a treat on our date. I decided to make these in a muffin tray because I wanted to be able to throw a couple in a Tupperware in my bag. It also needed to stay in one piece through a day of consulting around NYC.  I decided to play with this recipe because I knew my brother would love them. I reduced the white chocolate to make them less rich and my brother diggs cherries. 

Well, Adam decided to make plans, confirm plans and then never respond to me with the details of the plans. So by 5 PM the day of the ‘7PM’ date, I decided to eat the blondies. It was the right choice.

Cherry Blondies

Ingredients

  • 150g Good Quality White Chocolate
  • 75g Butter
  • 125g  Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 150g Fresh Cherries

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350oF.
  2. Grease a muffin tray
  3. Pit and chop the cherries in half.
  4. Break up 75g of white chocolate and melt  over a bowl of simmering water 
  5. Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and make sure they are completely combined after each 
  7. Mix in the vanilla.
  8. Add the melted chocolate and stir through.
  9. Sift the flour over and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  10. Roughly chop the remaining chocolate
  11. Add the chopped chocolate and cherries and fold through the blondie mixture.
  12. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full and then gently tap the tray on the counter to flatten and smooth.  
  13. Bake for 30-40 minutes in the oven or until toothpick comes out clean

OliveOil Shortcake Cupcake Stuffed with Strawberry Caramel Topped with Salted Caramel Buttercream

salted strawebery shortcake cupcake4

stuffed olive oil shortcake olive oil shortcake caramel

It was my friend Ruti’s birthday and she doesn’t like things too sweet so I came up with this strange olive oil shortcake with salted caramel… I was a bit worried but everyone seemed to love them. Some people even ate two!

Olive Oil Shortcake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk (low fat or regular)

Filling

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of diced strawberries
  • 2.5 teaspoons of salt (add more to taste)

Icing

  • 2 Tablespoons of caramel (from filling)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Olive Oil Shortcake

  • Grease 12 count muffin pan
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth.
  • Blend in melted butter and olive oil.
  • Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk.
  • Stir in the remaining flour mixture, stirring only until no streaks of dry ingredients remain and batter is just combined.
  • Pour into prepared muffin pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clear or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  • Set aside and let cool

Salted Caramel Filling

  • Prepare all your ingredients, and be ready to move fast as caramel is a quick process.
  • Add sugar with a 1/2 cup of water into a large heavy bottom sauce pan. Stir
  • When comes to a boil stop stirring and let boil until all water evaporates and the sugar turns a dark amber color
  • Add in butter, and stir.
  • Once melted remove from heat, count to 5 and add in cream and salt. Whisk till incorporated
  • Pour 3/4 of the liquid into a glass mason jar
  • Add strawberries to remaining 1/4 of caramel and stir over medium head for about 15 minutes or once the compote has a nice flavor.
  • Remove from heat and cool
  • Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake
  • Pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel. 
  • Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.

Frosting

  • In a large bowl cream the butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat at a reduced speed
  • Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. 
  • Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  
  • Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting. Add a slice of strawberry if so desired!

White Chocolate Ginger Ice Cream, Buttermilk Poundcake with Strawberry Ruhbarb Compote

This is a long over due post. I wanted to try and create a multi-component dessert. And well I’ve not learned how to plate so well just yet so I took refuge with a mason jar. Luckily this dessert was a huge hit and all the ice cream was served out in 10 minutes. Success. Big Success.

White Chocolate Ginger Ice Cream

I worked off of David Lebowtiz’ recipe with a few changes. I didn’t realize that its only 1 qt so you might double this.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 ounces chopped candied ginge
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 1 cup heavy cream (500 ml, total)
  • 8 ounces (230 g) white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks

Instructions

  1. Add the ginger, the sugar, the buttermilk and 1 cup of heavy cream to the saucepan and warm the mixture.
  2. Cover and steep for at least an hour, or until there is a strong ginger flavor.
  3. Put the chopped white chocolate in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then add some of the warm ginger-infused cream mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  6. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until the mixture coats the spatula.
  7. Strain the custard into the white chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
  8. Discard the ginger.
  9. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and chill completely. 
  10. Once completely chilled, place in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To serve place some of the pound cake, ice cream and top with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote.

Buttermilk Poundcake Pie with Strawberry Rhubarb

As part of the memorial day feast I made a constructed dessert and needed a little pound cake. (That’s coming soon). I had a LOT of left over batter and Strawberry- Rhubarb compote so I baked it in a pie pan. I chose a pie pan mostly because I didn’t have a loaf pan where I was but none the less it came out really nice.

Poundcake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease one 9 round pan.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar.
  4. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the lemon and the vanilla extract.
  6. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes.
  8. Do not open oven door until after one hour. When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Rhubarb- Strawberry Compote

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds strawberries, halved if large
  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lime peel

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/2 pounds strawberries and rhubarb in medium pot.
  2. Mix in sugar, ginger, lime juice, and peel
  3. Cook over high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring often
  4. Boil 4 minutes, and be sure to stir consistently
  5. Reduce heat to medium
  6. Simmer just until rhubarb is beginning to fall apart, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and add in remaining strawberries.
  8. Chill until cold. (I did this the day before so the flavors had more time to sit.)


Traditional Sweet Cherry Pie

For a memorial day get together I ran to whole foods to pick up some last minute ingredients and I saw bing cherries that were perfectly in season. They just looked so good I wanted to keep as much of the natural flavor as possible. I had originally prepared to do a lattice but then I was just inspired, and my friend Amy had a star cookie cutter and so it happendl

I saw this recipe on my favorite, Smitten Kitchen and made just a few very small changes.

Ingredients:

  • I used this dough recipe from SK
  • 4 cups pitted fresh cherries
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3  cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • Coarse sugar, for decoration

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract gently together in a large bowl.
  3. Roll out half of chilled dough on a floured work surface to 13-inch round. Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, trim edges evenly around the pie dish
  4. Spread filling into pie crust, discarding the extra liquid in the bowl. Place bits of cold butter in the filling. 
  5. Roll out the remaining dough leaving about double as thick as the bottom crust and cut out stars with cookie cutter.  Place around the top ensuring all the edges of the stars are touching each other. 
  6. Brush the egg wash over over pie crust, then sprinkle with coarse sugar
  7. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for another 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden.
  9. Let the pie cool on a rack.

    Learning Tarts: Pate Brisee into an Apple Tart

    There was a lot of baking happening last weekend and to start I made Pate Brissee. I used the traditional recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book and it really wasn’t too hard. Then turning it into an apple tart wasn’t too hard. I had to stew some minced apples with vanilla and then chop some apples. What I was surprised about was the apricot jam reduction thing that was applied to give it the right color and seal the tart. It really does look pretty. The recipes are both available in the book.

    I still need to work on my rolling techniques but it still came out really pretty and even. This is a great tart to practice as it allows you to practice traditional tart doughs while also working on knife skills.

    BonBons for Bonnie

    One of my closest friends had her first child a year ago. She’s the first of our friends group to have a baby. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be. When she was about 4/5 months she told me the name she chose, Bonnie. I rubbed her belly and told BonBon how excited I am to meet her. Well now that its a year later, I decided I wanted to make the beautiful Bonnie some BonBons for her first birthday.

    Well, it seemed easy. Right. Easy. I made the vanilla ice cream in an ice cream maker. Okay yes, that was pretty easy. But then I went to make the BonBons. I melted the chocolate, and every time I went to dip the Ice cream scoops, I’d make it to two and have to re-temper the chocolate. But the cream in the chocolate made it near impossible so I had to start over. 6 Bonbons in and I decided that was enough. Good thing we broke them out at the end of the party, with just 6 people left in the room!

    I wish they came out better, but I’ll definitely try again… And it seemed Bonnie preferred pizza anyway!

    Vanilla Ice Cream

    Ingredients

    • 1 eggs
    • 3 Egg Yolks
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
    • 2 cups half-and-half cream
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Instructions

    1. Whisks eggs and place in a heavy saucepan.
    2. Add in sugar, salt, whipping cream and half-and-half.
    3.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches as close to 180 degrees F as possible.
    4. Remove from the heat; cool quickly by setting pan in ice and stirring the mixture.
    5. Cover and refrigerate overnight or freeze immediately.
    6. When ready to make ice cream, pour custard and vanilla into the cylinder of an ice cream freezer.
    7. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

    BonBons

    Ingredients

    • 6 ounces of chocolate
    • Ice Cream

    Instructions

    1. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet
    2. Scoop ice cream in to small round balls (I did them too big…)
    3. Put them into the freezer so they set
    4. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler
    5. Remove from heat
    6. Take sheet of ice cream scoops out of the fridge
    7. Quickly use two forks to dip and full coat in chocolate
    8. Return to fridge before it starts to melt

    I had to re-temper the chocolate every two scoops or so but perhaps a heating pad or something would keep it warm.

    Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream

    Well, I just liked saying this one. It sounds all fancy and I was definitely nervous to make it. But I found it really simple. The mint cream was a little to minty, but otherwise I didn’t make many changes. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I started using a kitchen scale with this recipe and I have to say, I’m obsessed. It makes life so much easier. It really is an essential tool. 

    I also wish I brought my camera out, but I was so in the zone I probably wouldn’t have used it. I only took some photos with my iPhone at the end. Sorry for the quality.

    I made some changes and needed 24 cupcakes - this was just enough for two muffin sheets.

    Ingredients

    Soufflé Cup-cake

    • 340 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 12 tablespoons  (172 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon (2 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder
    • 6 large eggs, separated
    • 12 tablespoons (194 grams) sugar, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    White Chocolate Mint Cream

    •  112 grams white chocolate, finely chopped
    • 6 ounces heavy whipping cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

    Instructions

    Start with the White Chocolate Mint Cream

    1. Place the white chocolate in a small bowl.
    2. Bring the cream to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute to melt the chocolate.
    3.  Whisk well.
    4. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again. (Be sure not to pour over the bowl, excess isn’t so great)
    5. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill until very cold, about two hours.

    Cupcakes

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. (This is ESSENTIAL)
    3. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth.
    4. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
    5. Using electric mixer  beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick.
    6. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture.
    7. With clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form.
    8. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form.
    9. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions.
    10. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.
    11. Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. You might see some cracks, which is fine.
    12. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. According to Smitten Kitchen, its to make room for the cream.

    Topping

    1. Once cupcakes are completely cool, beat mint white chocolate cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form.
    2. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter.
    3. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of white chocolate mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, if you’re feeling fancy. These should be served when complete.

    PREP AHEAD: I did the cupcakes the day before, prepped the cream.Then when the meal was almost finished, I beat the cream and finished them off.

    Chocolate Macaroons (Passover)

    This recipe was really easy and quite good, though I did learn it is really important to wait for the chocolate to cool to room temperature before adding it to the egg whites or the macroons will be more like macarookies. That term was coined by my brother. I did have one batch come out pretty perfect. I’m not sure what possessed me to make the second batch at 10 PM. For some reason I was nervous there wouldn’t be enough dessert. 20 people, and there was enough sweets for 50 people.

    I found the recipe on Epicurious and I only made slight variations. 

    Ingredients

    •  6 ounces of chopped dark chocolate
    • 1/3 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
    2. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
    3. Place shredded chocolate in a double boiler or bowl over a pot of boiling water and melt chocolate. Whip chocolate until smooth, remove from heat.
    4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form.
    5. Gradually add sugar, then vanilla, beating until whites are thick and glossy.
    6. Fold in melted chocolate and coconut.
    7. Then add remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips. 
    8. Drop batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.
    9. Bake cookies 10 minutes.
    10. Reverse sheets.
    11. Bake until tops are dry and cracked and tester inserted into centers comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 10 minutes longer.
    12. Cool cookies on sheets on racks.
    13. Store airtight at room temperature up to 2 days.

    Divine Chocolate Walnut Drops (Passover)

    This is the third year I’ve made these and every time it gets the ‘Oh my god’ response from my grandmother and aunts. I originally found it on Smitten Kitchen but have made some changes over the years.

    I didn’t take a picture of them alone but I did of the entire dessert spread with my iPhone, they are on the top right.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 3/4 cups walnut halves
    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
    • 1 1/2  tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnut halves on a large  baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes. They will get fragrant.
    2. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a cutting board and coarsely chop them.
    3. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320.
    4.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats. 
    5. In a large bowl, whisk the confectioner’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts.
    6. Beat on medium speed while adding the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened - Be sure not to let the whites stiffen
    7. Spoon onto the baking sheets in small mounds (it will melt a bit on the cookie sheet, and bake for 7 minutes.
    8. Reverse baking sheets and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes. You’ll know its finished when the tops are glossy and lightly cracked.
    9. Be sure to let cookies cool completely (slide parchment paper to racks)
    10. Good for up to 3 days