Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking

August 11, 2008

Black and White Banana Bread

Filed under: bread, dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 6:29 am

Another recipe from Dorie Greenspan. While this recipe was good—and very moist. I much prefer my mom’s banana bread with chocolate chips. I think I might use this banana bread recipe sometime and put chocolate chips in instead. My husband, on the other hand, would rather see plain banana bread—he doesn’t like “mix ins” like nuts or chocolate.

Black and White Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 ripe bananas, peeled

Squirt of fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon dark rum (omitted because I didn’t have it)

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-x2 1/2-inch loaf pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice and zest, then stir in the rum.

Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining stick of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk, and when it is blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.

Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan, then, using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cakes starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Serving: Makes about 8 servings. This cake is good cut thick or thin, served plain or with some ice ceam. It’s very good with coffee or tea and especially good with chocolate milk, hot or cold.

Storing: Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep for 4 to 5 days at room temperature, wrapped airtight, it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Playing Around: If you’d like to add a little more texture to the cake as well as another flavor, add 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans to either of the batters.

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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July 16, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

Filed under: dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 4:26 am

Yay! I am finally back in the kitchen (limited–but I’m there) and ready to get back into my Tuesdays with Dorie baking group! This recipe was delicious! I had to use my Kitchenaid stand mixer because I wasn’t able to get my food processor down from the top shelf (still can’t lift heavy things) and Aaron was out of town—but it still turned out great. I served it with homemade whipped cream (made with heavy cream, powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla) and some crunch chocolate pearls that I got at one of my favorite stores, Surfa’s in Culver City.

(Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

2 1/4 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2 large egg yolks

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and still warm

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Getting ready: Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4 to 6 ounces (1/2 to 3/4 cup), at hand.

Bring 2 cups of the milk and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. While the milk is heating, put the cocoa, cornstarch and salt into a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper, put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, the egg and egg yolks into the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.

With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds, then put everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat–making sure to get into the edges of the pan–until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You want the pudding to thicken, but you don’t want it to boil, so lower the heat if necessary.

Scrape the pudding back into the processor (if there’s a scorched spot, avoid it as you scrape) and pulse a couple of times. Add the chocolate, butter and vanilla and pulse until everything is evenly blended.

Pour the pudding into the ramekins. If you don’t want a skin to form (some people think that skin is the best part), press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of each pudding to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

May 20, 2008

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies and Snickery Squares

Filed under: dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 12:38 am

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, I decided to make two of the recipes that had been made before I joined. The recipe for this week were French Madeleines. But these require a special pan and I didn’t have a chance to purchase one, so the alternative was to make a past recipe. I chose Quintuple Chocolate Brownies and Snickery Squares.

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

(Source: Dorie Greenspan “Baking: From My Home to Yours” pp. 99-100)

For the Brownies:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons strong coffee
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts

For the Glaze:
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

To Make the Brownies:
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted – you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously – you don’t want to add air to the batter – and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack – it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Glaze:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2-1/4 inches on a side.

Snickery Squares

For the Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling:

½ cup sugar
3 TBSP water
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche

For the Topping:

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:

Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.
When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.
Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.
To Make the Topping:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.
Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.
Cut into 16 bars.

Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

May 6, 2008

TWD: Peanut Butter Torte

Filed under: dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 5:58 am

It’s Tuesdays with Dorie time! This week some friends of ours, Chris (a fellow food blogger) and Megan invited us over for dessert and general hangout time. So I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to make this torte. I certainly could not have such a tasty treat lying around my house for just Aaron and I. Folks, I’m not gonna lie…….this was a tedious one to make. But the results were definitely worth it. And it really is not that complicated—just a lot of steps. And one good benefit—it requires minimum baking (just 10 minutes for the Oreo crust)—so it’s great for a summer treat without having to keep the oven on fr a long period of time.

Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)

24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender

½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Small pinch of salt

2 ½ c. heavy cream

1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)

2 tablespoons whole milk

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

April 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Filed under: blogging events, dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Tags: — Emily @ 3:28 am

It’s Tuesday again!! This week’s recipe was chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker. I am not the biggest fan of figs, but I thought I would try it out anyway. Aaron LOVED the figs. Me, not so much. However, the cake was amazing!! I think I would like to try the cake again without the figs–or maybe half and half, so Aaron would be happy. I think Aaron might have been drooling over the cake—I could barely get a picture taken before he started eating it (so excuse the picture quality). He ate it for dinner.

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed (I used Mission)

1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal (I used Polenta)

½ c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 c. ricotta

1/3 c. tepid water

¾ c. sugar

¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon, cut into bits and chilled

2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.

Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.

Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the panm, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

April 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

Filed under: dessert, Tuesdays with Dorie — Emily @ 6:27 pm

I recently joined an online food blogging group called Tuesdays with Dorie . It is a group of bakers who bake a new recipe every Tuesday (or whenever during the week and post it on Tuesday) from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours. This was my first week to participate and it was really fun! Today is Aaron’s birthday, and luckily, he loves carrot cake. I only made a two layer cake instead of a three layer cake because those were the only pans I had. It still turned out well—I will let you know when I’ve tried it!

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans-I used walnuts

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries-I used dark raisins

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

Serving:

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

Storing:

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

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