October 10, 2010

Coconut Curry Fudge

SusieBirds in the Recipe Thread, October 9, 2010

Coconut Curry Fudge
(This was inspired partly by a post about fudge on the Passionate Homemaking blog, and partly by Theo Chocolate’s coconut curry chocolate bar.)

Suggested Cooking Instruments: Cuisinart or blender, muffin tin & papers or silicone muffin cups, double boiler set-up, whisk, measuring utensils, rubber spatula.

Ingredients:

* 12T (1.5 sticks) butter at room temp
* 3/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4C honey
* 1/2tsp vanilla
* 1/2tsp each curry powder, allspice, nutmeg
* 3/4C shredded coconut

1. Set up a double boiler (a pot with boiling water, on med and a bowl that fits on top of it) and melt 1 stick of butter in the top bowl. When the butter has melted, add in the cocoa, spices and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined and fluid

2. In the bowl of your food processor or blender, put the remaining butter (in cubes) and the honey, then add the melted chocolate mixture. Blend until fully combined, then add the shredded coconut. Process for a few moments until fully mixed and the coconut has been chopped into little bits.

3. Spoon the mixture into the baking cups, filling each about half full, and top them with a few shreds of coconut. I used silicone muffin cups, which are great since you can keep reusing them.

4. Place them in the freezer until they are solid enough to be removed from the cups (2-3 hours). The texture will be stretchy and flexible, not crumbly like many fudges. If you’re using paper liners, just peel them away. The silicone cups you can gently flip inside-out until the fudge pops out. The fudge rounds need to be kept slightly cooler than room temp (I kept them in the fridge until about 10 mins before serving), or they’ll get softer than ideal.

These are large (and rich) enough to be cut into smaller bits to serve more people. I think they’d be excellent rolled into balls and dipped into chocolate to make truffles or something, but that will have to wait for next time.

All Butter All The Time Molasses Cookies

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 18 Aug 10

I adjusted a couple of different Molasses cookie recipes to come up with this. It’s a flat buttery salty chewy spice cookie, and they invariably get annihilated rather quickly.

12 T. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. molasses (we like the brand Grandma’s best)
1 egg
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Oven at 350F.
Melt butter.
Mix with sugar and molasses. Thoroughly.
Lightly beat egg, and add to butter mixture.
Sift (or whisk) remaining ingrediants.
Add dry mixture to wet mixture.
Drop tablespoons of the cookie dough on cookie sheets.
Leave some space between as they will spread when baking.
Bake 10 minutes, and then start checking at 2-3 min intervals until done. (The lifecycle of the baking molasses cookie is like so: spread, puff up, flatten out, harden. I like to remove them when they’ve flattened out.)
Let them cool for a few minutes to set before attempting to move them. A good way to do this is to bake them on a silpat or parchment paper, and then move the whole liner off the cookie sheet onto someplace appropriate to cool. But you can also leave them on the cookie sheet to cool too, but then you’re out a cookie sheet. Also, they’ll cool slower. If you try to move them (with a spatula or your fingers) too early they won’t be structurally sound, and they’ll fall apart, so be patient. These keep really well.

Raspberry Streusel Cake

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 15 Aug 10

I’ve spent the last several years (when raspberries were in season) fiddling with this recipe and keep telling myself I need to write down the finished version. This contest makes the perfect reason to finally do so!

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make the streusel.

Streusel:
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oats (chop them if you want a finer texture — I don’t bother)
3 Tablespoons firm butter

Mix until well combined (or crumbly) (I use a pastry knife, but I’m sure a fork and some determination works too) and set aside.

Make the batter:

1 c. flour
1 c. oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 c. softened butter
1 c. milk
1 egg

Mix a little bit to combine ingredients, then beat for about 2 minutes (medium speed).

Spread half the batter in the pan, then as many raspberries as you want, then most of the streusel. Then, spread the second half of batter on top of that, then as many more raspberries as you want, then the remainder of the streusel.

I normally use a 9×13 pan, for which I use a double recipe of both streusel & batter. Some day I intend to try it in my smaller pan (8×11.5) to see if one recipe fills it, but I can’t quite bring myself to make a smaller pan of this yummy stuff! For my big pan I use about 2 pints of raspberries (roughly 1 pint per layer). I figure the more berries the better!

Bake until done (helpful, I know!). I start checking it after 35 min, but it often takes about 50 min. Since it has so many berries in it, I decide it’s done when the cake part gets a bit brown and the middle doesn’t wiggle too much when the pan is gently shaken.

I’ve never tried this with blackberries or other berries (I’m generally at Britt when our blackberries are most fruitful), but I bet it would work well with any of those kinds of berries.

Creme Brulee

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

This is my favorite recipe for several reasons (mostly that I get to use a blowtorch). One other reason is when I fell in love with creme brulee I was a poor college student and couldn’t afford to eat at the swanky overly-trendy restaurant where it was served. So I called the restaurant, and the host put the pastry chef on (way cool), and he not only gave me the recipe, but careful instructions that even a cooking newbie could handle. How cool is that?!?

So here it is.

6 egg yolks (use the whites for an egg white omelet so you can feel healthy about something, ’cause this recipe is not)
2 1/2 C heavy cream (I’ve subbed 1/2 C half-n-half for 1/2 C heavy cream and it worked OK)
1 vanilla bean (vanilla extract works, too, just put it in the eggs – I forget the amount to sub)
1/2 C sugar plus more for the top

Get out the egg yolks and let them get closer to room temperature. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the innards into the sugar & mix. Stir the sugar/vanilla bits into the cream and heat slowly, just until tiny bubbles start to form at the edges. Take the cream off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks, then add the hot cream mixture to the eggs by spoonfuls, whisking constantly. This is to get the eggs up to the temperature of the cream so you don’t shock them and end up with scrambled eggs in your custard. When you get about 1/3 of the cream mixture into the eggs, you can add the eggs to the rest of the cream in the pan. (Everybody says use a double boiler at this point, but I don’t have one, and it’s always worked for me. I do have really heavy-bottomed pans, though.) Heat it all slowly, stirring, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon nicely. (Not thinly, but not too thickly, either.) Pour it into 6 ramekins in a roasting pan. (You can use a sieve, if you’re worried about scrambled egg bits). Pour really hot (just about boiling) water in the roasting pan to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the whole thing in a 350 F oven for about 40 minutes. The middle should be jiggly. Take the ramekins out of the water bath and let them cool, then chill them in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Here’s my favorite part – when you’re ready to serve them, sprinkle an even coating of sugar on top of the set custard, up to 1/4 inch. Then light the blowtorch and flame the sugar in a spiral from edges to middle. I’ve tried middle-out, but it just shoves the sugar to the edges. I’ve also tried broiling it, but the results were less than stellar (I blame the broiler which gave out midway through, taking the pilot light with it, and necessitating a call to the gas co.). The sugar will form a hard, light golden brown, bubbled-glassy surface. Re-chill briefly. The swanky, overly-trendy restaurant where I first had it serves it with berries, but why complicate it with any healthy stuff? Just dig in!

Godzilla’s Green Tea Tiramisu

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

1 16 oz tub of mascarpone cheese
1.75 tsp sugar
.75 tsp powdered sencha (or similar) green tea
2 cups water
4 tbsp milk
1 yellow cake (from cake mix or [if you’re fancy* like Sunshine] homemade)

boil water. add 1/2 tsp of sencha. Beat with a whisk until dissolved.

Put half of the mascarpone into one bowl, the rest into another. In one, add remaining sencha, 2 tbsp milk, 1 tsp sugar and beat until smooth. Add remaining sugar and milk to other bowl of mascarpone. Beat until smooth.

Slice cake into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place into bottom of a pyrex bread pan. Brush on green tea and water mixture. Add a layer of one of the mascarpones. Repeat, alternating mascarpone mixtures until all cake is gone (or until Pyrex is full and eat the rest of the cake!)

Refrigerate for two hours to set, and enjoy! A cool summer treat.**

*By fancy I mean being able to make cake from scratch that actually tastes good. I do not fall into this category, so Betty Crocker is my friend.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

Every time I make these, someone asks for the recipe. They’re a must have for any recipe “library.”

Oatmeal Dough
1 cup butter *
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
a pinch salt
3 cups of oatmeal

Chocolate Filling
12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
14 oz can of sweetened-condensed milk**

Directions
Cream together wet ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla.) In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients (cinnamon, flour, soda, salt, and oatmeal.) Slowly, add the dry to wet. Do not over mix. Spread 2/3rds of dough into the bottom of a 9 inch by 12 inch glass baking dish. In a double broiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. Then add sweetened-condensed milk to chocolate and stir until incorporated. Pour over dough in baking dish. Sprinkle remaining dough over chocolate layer and bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Makes two dozen.

*You may substitute half a cup of butter for half a cup of applesauce or mashed bananas.

**If you wish to make your own sweetened-condensed milk, heat 1 cup of evaporated milk with 1 and ¼ cups sugar in a saucepan. Stir until dissolved completely. You may also make your own evaporated milk by simmering milk in a saucepan until reduced to 60%.

Supermocha Black Holes – or Julie’s Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut Truffles

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

This is most assuredly NOT something Sunshine would make at Charlie’s — they’re much too fiddly, and the kitchen is probably too hot to make tempering chocolate a reasonable proposition. But I learned these techniques during my year as a professional baker at a coffeeshop, and I’ve perfected the recipe over the past few years, so I bring it to you anyway, even though Sunshine might not approve.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of coarsely ground espresso-roast beans
1 cup heavy cream, plus about 1/2 cup more
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (in chips or in bar form)
8 oz. bittersweet (dark) chocolate
8 more oz. bittersweet chocolate (optional but recommended)
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped (optional but also recommended)

For the truffle ganache:

In a small saucepan, stir together the half-cup of coarsely-ground espresso and the cup of heavy cream. Heat on the stovetop until the cream is just beginning to boil, then turn off the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain carefully through a sieve into a measuring cup, pressing the grounds with a spatula to get as much of the cream out as possible, then add more cream as needed to bring the level back up to one full cup.

In a glass bowl, combine 8 oz. semisweet chocolate and 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped. Heat the cream back up to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate, stir with a whisk until it’s all smooth, then pour into a wide, shallow vessel to cool and harden. I usually make these at Christmastime, when my kitchen is cold enough for the ganache to harden in a few hours if it’s sitting out on the countertop. If you want to speed up the process, you can put it in the fridge, though you should not let it get too hard or it’s difficult to work with.

When it’s hardened but still reasonably pliable, scoop out the ganache and roll it between your palms into bite-sized balls, as big or as small as you want — though you should remember that they’re quite dense and rich, so they don’t need to be too big. The faster you work, the less messy this step will be. Put the shaped truffles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper, and chill them in the fridge to let them harden completely.

At this point you can just roll the truffles in cocoa powder and call them done, though you’ll have to store them in the fridge or they’re liable to get too soft. To make them stable at room-temperature, you have to…

Dip the truffles in tempered chocolate!

(dun dun dun)

This sounds scary, but it’s really not. All you need is a double boiler set-up, one of those metal-spike-style meat thermometers (not a candy thermometer), and some patience.

Here’s the low-down on tempering chocolate. If you just melt chocolate and dip things in it, it’s tasty, but the chocolate never hardens quite the same way — it’s softer, and often feels grainy. In order to get a professional-looking sheen and that distinctive snap when you bite into it, you have to carefully control the temperature at which the chocolate melts and re-cools. Ideally you want to melt the chocolate to no more than 110 degrees, cool it back down to about 85, then heat it back up to about 90. Here’s how you do it.

(By the way, if you’re using hazelnuts, get them ready before you start the business with the chocolate — you won’t have time otherwise. Toast them and chop them finely, and have them ready heaped on a plate or in a shallow bowl. In fact, find a friend or significant other who will be ready to jump in for the final step, because it’s much easier with two people.)

Set up a double boiler (i.e., a small saucepan, and a glass or metal bowl that can rest over the top of the pan, but keep the bowl off for now.) Put about an inch of water in the pan and bring it up to a simmer. Finely chop 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate and put about three-quarters of it in the bowl, reserving the last quarter for later. When the water is simmering, turn off the heat, and put the bowl on top. Keep an eye on the chocolate, and when it starts to melt, stir it around with a spatula. When it looks like it’s mostly melted, check the temperature with the thermometer, and when it gets between 105 and 110, take it off the heat.

Now, add the last few ounces of chopped chocolate, which will bring the temperature of the melted chocolate down. Stir until the chocolate is all melted, then take its temperature again. If it’s down to 85 or so, you’re ready to move on. If not, spend a few minutes stirring it to cool it down. Once you have it around 85, put it briefly back on the double-boiler (which will really only be slightly warm at this point) and bring the temperature up to around 90 degrees, which is the perfect temperature for working with chocolate.

Now you’re ready to dip the truffle centers. I like these with a thin chocolate shell, so rather than dipping the truffle straight into the bowl of chocolate, I first dip a big metal serving spoon into the bowl, let most of the chocolate drain off the spoon, then roll the truffle around in the spoon to coat it lightly with chocolate. If you’re coating these with hazelnuts, dump them immediately into the nuts, and have your (long-suffering) friend or significant other roll them around until they’re coated, preventing you from making a mess of the nuts with your chocolatey fingers. Put them back on the parchment or wax paper to harden, which they will do within minutes. Continue until all the truffles are dipped, and if the chocolate gets too cool and thick and sticky, warm it back up on the double boiler (just a few degrees, or else you’ll have to re-temper the whole thing) until it’s workable again. If you have chocolate left over when you’re done, find other things to dip in it, because tempered chocolate is a beautiful thing and shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste.

Once they harden, the truffles will be able to sit out at room temperature, just like commercially-made candy. Store them in an airtight container, and if you like you can put each one in a fancy little mini-size muffin paper. Depending on what you consider bite-size, this yields 60-70 truffles, which make excellent gifts.

Lemon Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

(adapted from Emeril’s Thumbprint Cookies)

* 1/2 cup raspberry jam
* 1 tbsp of water
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
* 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 1/4 cup of chopped almonds

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. In a small bowl, combine the jam and water. Stir to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to blend. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather the dough together into a ball.

Pinch off the dough to form 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Use your floured index finger or 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Place the chopped almonds in a shallow bowl. Roll the sides of the cookie in the toasted almonds and then place on the baking sheet. Fill each indentation with nearly 1/2 teaspoon of the jam mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Basilisk Balls with Kiss of Life sauce

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

These were inspired by the Indian dessert Gulab Jamun, although they are really nothing alike except that both feature spheres in sauces. The Basilisk Balls (basilisk eyes) are dark chocolate truffles, and the Kiss of Life sauce is a Cardamom Creme Anglaise. The truffle recipe is modified from Cooking for Engineers, and the sauce is modified from Epicurious.

The goal is to petrify the guests at the first bite, and slowly bring them back to life with murmurs of intense appreciation.

for the Basilisk Balls,

ingredients:
1 pound dark chocolate, cut into small pieces (not unsweetened — Ghirardelli dark chips are good)
1 cup heavy cream
about 3 Tbsp of a really good cognac (I used Hennessy)
unsweetened cocoa powder to coat

directions:
Heat cream in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and cognac until your ganache mixture is shiny and smooth. Refrigerate until stiff.

Scoop truffles into small balls using a melon baller or tablespoon measure, and roll until smooth with your hands (this is a messy process). Place in refrigerator to harden for a few minutes. When solid, lightly coat with cocoa powder.* Eat a truffle to check quality control at this point.

for the Kiss of Life Sauce,

ingredients:
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided into halves
scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds

directions:
Lightly whisk egg yolks and half of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, vanilla, cardamom, and the rest of the sugar and heat on medium until almost boiling. You should stir almost constantly (and scrape the bottom of the saucepan) for the duration of the heating process. When the cream mixture is hot, reduce heat dramatically and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream, stirring as you do so. Increase heat again to medium and stir until the mixture becomes a custard. You will know this has occurred when you can run your finger across the back of the spoon and the track will remain. The mixture will also look very slightly grainy. Remove from heat, cool, and put through a fine strainer to remove unwanted bits of egg.

To serve, place two basilisk balls on a small plate and cover with sauce to taste. The sauce also makes an excellent ice cream if there is any left over.

* The cocoa powder will make the sauce run down the sides of the truffle without properly sticking. This can be solved in two ways — leave off the coating and use just the ganache, or keep adding sauce until it looks right. I prefer the second method, because you get to eat more chocolate that way.

Minty fudgy brownies

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

Adapted from some cookie book that once belonged to a roommate… Biggest changes – I use more/different chocolate, add mint chips, and take out some of the sugar.

6-8 oz semisweet chocolate (regular chocolate chips work fine)
3-4 oz dark chocolate ( >60% cocoa preferred)
2-3 oz mint chips (Guittard is the only brand I’ve found, but there may be others – tend to be easier to find around Xmas time)
1/2 c butter (I usually use just a little bit less)
1 – 1 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°.

Put butter, chocolate and mint chips in a saucepan on low heat. Let it all melt together (taking the time to let it melt into a really smooth mix is better than being impatient and letting it stay a little chunky). Remove from heat.

Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add sugar and salt, mix well. Add flour and baking powder, mix well.

Pour into a greased 13×9″ pan (or if you really want thick brownies, I have done this in a 9×9″ pan a couple times and it worked). Bake about 25 min – you want it to look *just* barely unfinished when you take ’em out of the oven. Have some patience and let them cool and set.

Cut ’em up and eat.

Mild variation – Either leave aside some of the chocolate and mint chips, or in addition to above measured quantities – mix some chips into batter with the flour, so then you get little chocolate chunks in the brownies.

The better the quality of the starting chocolate, the better the end product. It was quite startling how much of an impact this makes, the first time I discovered this.

I also make brownies with just semisweet (more or less the original recipe), or 50:50 mix of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate (depends on the audience). When I first added mint chips, I did 50:50 semisweet chocolate and mint, but discovered that using quite a bit less mint chips had almost as much impact, and allowed the brownies to be chocolaty-er. But proportions really depend on who I’m making the brownies for.

I also experimented with using chocolate chips and peppermint extract at one point when I couldn’t find mint chips, then I dropped and broke the bottle one day before I figured out the correct amount of extract, and discovered mint chips at the store a couple weeks later, and stocked up.

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