February 21, 2011

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

30 Nov 2010, Robin ‘Morning-after Pumpkin Pie’.

1 9” unbaked pie crust

1 c mashed cooked or tinned pumpkin (DON’T use so-called ‘pumpkin pie filling’)

1 c apple butter: herewith begins the lecture. It all depends on your apple butter. You want something as thick as possible, and preferably not too sweet, but use what you like

¼ to ½ c dark brown sugar, depending on your apple butter

Again, the amount of spices you use will depend on the spiciness of your apple butter. So, approximately ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp ginger. I like sweet spices and would expect to use 1 tsp cinnamon, but if I’m using apple butter that I also made, this may be overkill

3 eggs

½ c evaporated milk

Probably a tablespoon or two of ordinary milk

Combine pumpkin, apple butter, brown sugar, spices. (Mush up the brown sugar in a little of the pumpkin first, so it’ll beat in smoothly.) Beat eggs together vigorously, then lightly into the pumpkin. Stir in about half the evaporated milk and look at what you’ve got. It should look gloppy but not runny. (It helps if you’re used to what ordinary pumpkin pie filling looks like raw. This will be darker and have more texture because of the apple butter, but it should be about the same consistency.) If it’s already runny, stop now. If it still looks kind of La Brea Tar Pitsy, stir in the rest of the evaporated milk. Now look at it again. If it’ll actually keep its shape in a spoon, that’s too gloppy: add a little milk. If it slowly oozes over the edge of the spoon—perfect.

Pour in the unbaked pie shell. I cover the edges with tin foil so they don’t burn. 400°F for about 10 minutes, then lower to 350° and start checking after about 20 more minutes. You want it set but not shrivelled, and you want to take the tin foil off the edges of the crust about 15 minutes before you take the pie out. I usually figure 45-50 minutes total.

As I recall it took me four days to get through it. It was gone by the weekend—I did have a friend round once for a cup of tea and a slice of pie. That was back in the days when I had a metabolism however . . . and also I lived alone, so if I wanted to have a glass of cranberry juice and a quarter of a pie for supper, it was my business.

Spicy cranberry gingerbread pudding

1 Jan 2011, Robin ‘Happy New Year’.

The original recipe wants you to make eight individual puddings. You must be frelling joking. You’re already going to have to make the sauce as well as the pudding. Life is way too short to spend that much time buttering pudding basins, not to mention cleaning the suckers afterward, since in my experience putting them through the dishwasher is pretty futile. I don’t know, are there Miniature Pudding Basin Liners like there are paper muffin cups? The latter entirely revolutionised my baking half a million years ago when I discovered them, or someone started making them, which I think is what happened—some muffin-eating industrialist’s wife told him that paper muffin cup liners would not only mean he could have fresh muffins every day but that they would thereby be made wealthy***.

Anyway. In the absence of miniature pudding basin liners, you can make it in an 8” square pan, although a 6-cup Bundt is ideal because it looks pretty without being nearly so much work.†

1 ¾ c all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp (ground) ginger

¼ tsp allspice

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 medium/large eggs, room temp

5 T soft butter

¼ c blackstrap molasses

¼ c dark brown sugar. If you’re a wimp you can use white sugar

1 heaped teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

4 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup

about 1 c water

Sift the dry stuff together. Squash the butter and sugar together thoroughly, then add molasses, then eggs. Beat well. Then start adding flour alternately with water, and mixing each time, starting with flour: half the flour, then half the water, then half the flour . . . then stop. At this point add the two gingers (the ground went in with the spices in the dry), so you can judge how much water you’re going to need to make a good batter. I have found I need slightly less than the full 1c. Beat well again. If you are an electric-mixer person, use it. The batter should get very homogenous and very slightly paler.

Pour in your chosen WELL BUTTERED pan, and bake about half an hour at 350°F/moderate. It should look done like a cake looks done. Use a toothpick if you’re nervous. If it’s a Bundt, you’ll want to let it cool a bit and then turn it out; if it’s in a boring old brownie pan, you can just serve it from there.

Followed in Robin’s post with Sweet Cranberry-Cider Sauce

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.

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.

Death by Chocolate

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 12 Aug 10

This is a very easy, very rich chocolate torte recipe. I’ve been making it for years. It’s great for a dinner party or birthday. Chocolate lovers will adore it. Enjoy!

1 lb semisweet chocolate chips
1 lb butter
1 dozen eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tsp instant espresso powder
1 pint whipping cream

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler. The mixture should be very smooth. Add 2 tsp of the espresso powder to dissolve. Take off the stove to cool for about 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whip 6 whole eggs and 6 egg yolks. Add the sugar. Mix thoroughly.

Add the egg mixture into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Add a little eggs at first, stir, and then add in the remaining ones.

Line a springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the inside of the pan.

Pour the cake mixture into the pan, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 45 minutes. To prevent the cake from cracking, turn off the oven and open the door after 45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes still in the oven, with the door open.

Whip the cream with 2 tsp of the espresso powder.

Cake can be served warm or chilled. The consistency is lighter when it is warm. It is very dense and rich when it is cooled. Serve with a spoonful of the whipped cream.

Midsummer Bliss

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 12 Aug 10

(For when the temperature is soo hot you can’t bear to turn on the oven!)

1 container (fresh or frozen) strawberries (size determined by personal preference) cut up
1 500ml bottle champagne (or asti spumanti)
2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon REAL vanilla extract
1 angelfood cake
whipped cream
1 bar of your favorite chocolate bar, chilled

Place berries in sealable plastic bag or container, add entire bottle of champagne, sugar, and vanilla. Seal, then chill for at least 2 hours, giving bag or container a good shaking at least 3 times while chilling. Then slice cake, spoon some berries and liquid over slice(s), top with whipped cream and shave some chilled chocolate over the top.

You can substitute other berries,and this is also wonderful over cheesecake, just strain the liquid first.

Cheesecake Montana

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 10 Aug 10

Makes enough filling for 1-10″ pie plate plus a 6″ baking dish, or some volume equivalent. Can slice off pieces of the smaller one and eat between graham crackers (digestive biscuits).

The recipe is from the US, and I’m living in Canada, so the amounts are in a mixture of metric and imperial. Recipe is fairly forgiving, so feel free to convert as needed.

Crust:
2 c. graham cracker crumbs (can buy a box of this in cookie aisle)
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 t. cinnamon

Mix until all the same color, and press into the dishes to make the crust. Smooth with the back of a spoon to work it up the sides of the dish.

Filling:
2 – 250g bricks of Philadelphia-brand (ie, quality) cream cheese (two 8 oz pkgs US)
Beat well (it’ll be stiff but smooth)

Mix together
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt

Cream into cream cheese (mix until texture changes and get slightly fluffier)

Mix together
3 large eggs (use a fork to beat until mostly plain yellow liquid)
1 t. real vanilla extract (not artificial which loses flavour when baked)
1/4 t. almond extract (in the baking aisle)

Add to above and beat well. Once it looks creamy and well mixed, turn off beaters and clean all the extra cream cheese and such off them into the batter and stir by hand.

Then gently fold in 500 ml full-fat sour cream (2 cups US) until the filling is -mostly- a single color. Some faint swirls of sour cream are okay, because you don’t want to mix it too hard.

Pour into the pans, leaving a bit of space for the filling to puff up.
Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes (smaller dish will be finished first usually).

They are done when they puff up and crack around the edges and the centre will still look soft.

Cool on the counter and then chill for four hours. Do not wrap too tightly when transporting as the filling will weep a bit on contact with plastic wrap.

Raspberry cheesecake

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 9 Aug 10

Adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious:

For crust:
8 1/2 oz gingersnaps, finely ground in a food processor (makes approx 2 1/3 cups)
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling:
20 oz cream cheese (2 1/2 eight-ounce packages), softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Chambord (or your favorite raspberry liquor)
1/4 teaspoon salt

For topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Process:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and side of a 9-inch springform pan. Laying a parchment round in the bottom of the pan helps if you want to serve it on anything other than the springform bottom.

For the crust- Mix gingersnap crumbs and melted butter until all the crumbs are damp and pat into the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides (1″-1.5″ thick). Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, then let cool completely. Leave the oven on.

Filling- Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar with an electric mixer at medium high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beat well after each addition. Add vanilla, lemon juice, Chambord, and salt and mix at low speed until everything is incorporated. Pour into cooled crust and bake until cake is set and puffed around edge but still trembles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 30-40 minutes. Pull it out of the oven while you mix the topping, but leave the oven on.

Top- Mix together topping ingredients (can add more liquor if you want), and spoon over the slightly cooled cake, leave ~1/4″ around the edges for the topping to spread. Bake for a final 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake to loosen it from the sides and help prevent cracking. Cool completely on the rack and then chill for 6-8 hours (yes, it really needs it!). Serve with lots of fresh raspberries. It’s worth the wait!

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