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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Yesterday I was busy making petite fours and had some left over white and dark chocolate melted.  As another item I was making was peanut butter/dark chocolate brownies I decided to use the chocolate to cover the brownies making a mock form of petite fours.  They are not the most elaborate as I used the hand dip method rather then the pour glaze method on them, but they sure taste good.

Peanut Butter/Dark Chocolate Brownies

1 cup butter, melted

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups Hershey’s dark cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cup flour

1 package chocolate pudding mix

1/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.  To melted butter, add sugar and combine.  Transfer into bowl and add cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla.  Add the eggs, beating until smooth and then add the flour and pudding mix, stirring once more until combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth down.  Taking the peanut butter, add table spoons across the top of brownie batter in a haphazard pattern.  Using a knife, cut the peanut butter into the chocolate batter until it has a marble like effect with no thick peanut butter lines.

Bake the butter for 28 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut the edges of the brownies off, then cut into small squares and set on a cooling rack with some distance between each piece.

Coating

1 bag dark chocolate chips

1 bag white chocolate chips

1 tsp oil

Empty dark chocolate chips into microwave safe glass dish, add 1/2 tsp oil and melt for 1 minute.  Remove and stir until all dissolved…if you need return to microwave at 20 second intervals until all melted.

Repeat above with white chocolate chips.

Take your brownie pieces and dip them into the chocolate using a fork, or pour the chocolate over top of the brownies on the cooling rack.  Place in refrigerator to speed the setting of the chocolate process.

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With the gloom of winter behind us bright, soothing, refreshing desserts are always welcome.  This past week my mother was down for a visit from Michigan, she wasn’t feeling well due to a cold and a case of pink eye so I wished to have a simple yet tasty treat for her to enjoy.  The filling in these little tarts is lemon curd. If you have never made or used lemon curd before you are so missing out.  It is perhaps the most versatile dessert ingredient there is.  Anything from lemon pie to lemon bars, mini tarts to even parfaits.  Course, if you are like me, you can also sit down and just eat it by the bowl full.

To make your own lemon curd you will need:

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter

Using a saucepan, combine your lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs and butter.  Cook the curd over LOW heat, stirring frequently to keep from burning.  You want this process to be SLOW to heating and thickening.  It should take 10-15 minutes to thicken and may take upwards of 20 minutes.  When the curd is thick enough to hold marks from the whisk, and bubbles that form on surface, it is ready to be removed from heat and let to cool and set for several minutes.

**If your eggs scramble, you are cooking at to high a heat and not whisking frequently enough.**

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For a mother’s Day gathering tomorrow I was asked to make some spring theme dishes.  With strawberries in season it seemed the perfect main ingredient to base the theme from.  These little tea cookies make for a wonderful end to a meal.  Even better, if you freeze some fresh strawberries in spring, you can defrost, puree and enjoy a taste of spring during the cold, dark winter months.

Fresh Strawberry-Pecan Cookies (4 dozen)

Cream together:

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup shortening

Fold in :

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 pint strawberries, pureed

Stir in:

3 cups flour

3/4 cups fine chopped pecans

Mix well and drop by rounded teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms golden brown.

Decorate.

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I felt like a twist this morning from traditional. Something fresh, sweet that offered a refreshed feeling while retaining that element only comfort foods can offer.  I have a standard cinnamon roll dough recipe I rely on almost like oxygen.  I will however, alter the fillings to create a variety of treats.  Here is the basic recipe and the additions I added.

Lemon-Cinnamon Rolls

1 pkg yeast

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, room temperature

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp lemon zest

Dissolve yeast in water and let stand 10 minutes.

Combine yeast, sugar, egg, salt and 1 cup flour in mixing bowl and mix well.  Add remaining flour 1/2 cup at time until dough pulls from sides of mixing bowl.  Turn dough out on floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, or roughly 8 minutes.  Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Grease a 8×8 square pan and roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness, smear well with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon zest.  Roll dough into a log shape and slice into 16 equal pieces.  Place in pan cut side up and let rise until doubled.

Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar  (Powdered sugar)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Enough water to make a thin paste.

Drizzle glaze over cooled rolls.

**If you want to be extra fancy, take a cup of decorators sugar and put in Ziploc baggy, add 2 tbsp lemon zest and shake up well.  This infuses the sugar with lemon flavoring and can be sprinkled on top of the rolls for additional bling.**

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This week is time to replenish the freezer breakfast meals. Earlier this week I made a double batch of bread just for this occasion as French Toast Sticks and French Toast Bars were first on the order.   These are so simple to make and so easy to reheat in microwave.  They freeze nicely but also are delicious fresh from oven.  I’ve taken them to brunches, used them for desert dishes as well as for quick breakfasts around there.  They are not overly sweet, the sweetness is given from the bites of fruit more then from sugars and additives. You can choose to serve them as are, using powdered sugar, maple syrup or a fruit sauce poured over top.  These particular ones are blueberry and cream cheese, but you might also choose peaches, apricots, pears, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, insertion of coconut or nuts.  Again options truly are endless so long as you know the basic construction.

Fruited French Toast Bars

9×9 cake pan

2 cups bread, cubed  (You can remove crust if you want, I don’t.)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 bar cream cheese, softened and cubed

1 cup fruit of choice

1/2 cup additions (nuts, coconut)

Prepare your pan, you can choose to butter it (what I do) or use Pam style cooking spray.

Put your bread cubes in a bowl, add the cream cheese cubes and stir to combine.  In a second bowl add your eggs, beat well.  Then milk, maple syrup and spices.  Stir well and pour over the bread cubes.  Let bread sit in the liquid for 15 -30 minutes to absorb.

Pour the entire contents into your prepared pan.  Sprinkle/or lay pieces of your fruit of choice on top, same with your additions.  Bake  uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until it no longer wiggles in center.

Remove and let sit for 10 minutes to set before cutting and serving.

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My daughter will be turning 4 years old Monday.  Hard to believe so much time has passed.  My daughter is a serious girly girl, and tomboy wrapped into one.  She loves pink, pastels, flowers, dolls, fairies, dresses and to get into and wear my makeup.  She also loves to play sports, roll in grass, play in dirt, and fake sword fight with her brother, often times beating him.

For her birthday this year she requested pink…everything and anything pink, with lots of flowers, fairies and butterflies.  My son cringed, begged and pleaded for anything but pink. To keep peace in household, and my son from becoming pink traumatized. I managed to convince my daughter to consider a pastel color theme.  Easter right around corner it was fairly easy to find the colors for a pastel party theme along with plenty of butterflies. To continue to keep the peace regarding the cake, I opted for miniature cupcakes. I would make a white cake and do a strawberry frosting filling with pastel sprinkles, and lemon cupcakes with lemon pudding filling and lemon frosting.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to blows when she insists he wear a princess crown to eat them.

White Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup butter, softened.

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Mix together flour, soda and powder in separate bowl.  In mixing bowl combine egg whites, butter and sugar.  Beat well.  Add vanilla, then alternate flour mixture and buttermilk, mixing until all is combined.

Pour into greased cake pan, or lined cupcake holders.

Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes for cake.  15-20 for cupcakes.  Test with toothpick for done.

Fresh Strawberry Frosting.

1/2 pint fresh strawberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3-4 cups confectioner sugar

4 tbsp soft butter

Slice strawberries night before and place in bowl.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar and refrigerate.

Next day drain juice from strawberries (save it for fruit salads or regular salads),  mash the strawberries.

Beat butter until smooth, add powdered sugar and mashed berries and beat again until fluffy. Add more confectioner sugar as needed for desired consistency.

To use as filler in cupcakes, place in Ziploc bag with prepared “tube” tip.  Squeeze into center of cooled cupcakes being careful to not overfill and explode cupcakes.

Frosting and decorate as desired.

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The cupcakes for the school Valentines party are finished finally.  I lost count of how many but my Highlander is going to smell like chocolate for a while with all them stored in there.  I baked up three types,  Strawberry Jam filled Vanilla Butter Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting, Raspberry Jam Dark Chocolate-White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting and Vanilla-Peanut Butter Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting.

I’ll work on posting the recipes soon.  Tomorrow starts the cookies. For tonight, I just want my bed.

 

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Yep, still on Valentine cooking and the cookies still are waiting for the weekend.  Today’s mission, to Strawberry cupcakes with  Butter Cream filling.  These cupcakes come with a surprise center aside from the Butter Cream filling, each sports a strawberry in center.

Strawberry Cupcake – (Martha Stewart Recipe, modified.)

2 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

2  cups sugar

3 large eggs, plus 1 egg white.

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups strawberries, put into blender to “chop” fine.

24 strawberries.  If small leave whole, if large divide in half.

Cream sugar and butter in bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time and beat into sugar/butter mix.  Add remaining wet ingredients to bowl except strawberries.  Add dry ingredients to form batter.  Fold in strawberries to batter.  Place one strawberry or strawberry half  into your cupcake liners, then fill your muffin or cupcake tins 2/3 full with batter.

Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  This can take up to 25 minutes based on the insertion of size of real fruit can make baking process take a bit longer.

Butter Cream Filling/Frosting

4 large egg whites , room temperature.

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened.

Put egg whites and sugar in mixing bowl and place over pot of simmering water on stove.  Whisk until sugar dissolves into mixture and candy thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Remove from heat and using a mixer, mix on medium speed for 5 minutes before increasing speed to medium-high.  Continue to whisk until mixture is stiff with glossy peaks forming.  This process takes about 6 to 7 minutes.  Reduce speed once more back to medium and add your butter whisking well.

Remove and use, or store for up to three days in refrigerator.

 

 

 

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Took most the morning, but I have finished the decoration on 17 boxes of chocolate-mint chocolates. (Picture shows content of one box worth.) Now just to get them packaged and on to the cookies.

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Along with the red velvet mini cupcakes I also made Fudge Brownie Bites for a talent show taking  place this evening at my son’s school.  While this sounds complex, it really isn’t.  It just has to be done in stages.

First step is making the fudge. A simple recipe on how to make it is as follows:

STEP 1: Mint Chocolate Fudge

1 1/2 packages semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

3 cups of sugar

2/3 cups evaporated milk

1 jar marshmallow cream  (you can also make your own marshmallow cream, but I’ll post that recipe later)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp peppermint extract

1 1/2 stick butter

In large skillet melt your butter, sugar and milk and bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly to be sure the mixture doesn’t burn.  At boiling point, reduce heat and cook for an additional five minutes still stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add marshmallow creme and chocolate chips.  Whisk mixture until the chocolate and marshmallow mix melts in fully.  Add the vanilla and extract and mix again.  Transfer entire mixture to Pam sprayed or butter lined pans and let set at room temperature for four hours or until set.  At this point you can cut into square or using a melon ball or spoon form into balls.

To make these brownies you need to use the melon ball or spoon method and form into small balls roughly the size of small marbles.  Prepare the amount you need of fudge balls and set aside as you start next step.

STEP 2: Fudge Brownie Recipe

(This recipe is actually from Taste of Home and one of the best fudge brownie recipes I’ve made.)

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional.)

In bowl combine first six ingredients, then in another bowl combine oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add wet to dry ingredients and mix, be careful to not over mix.

Step 3:   Make the actual Brownies

Take the balls of fudge and place them in the center of your cupcake paper holders.  Then using a table spoon, measuring cup or squeeze bottle fill the remaining holder 2/3 full of brownie batter.

Bake the cupcakes in oven at 350 degrees.  Mini cupcakes = 13-15 minutes.  Regular cupcakes = 23-25 minutes.

Step 4:  Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

12 oz dark chocolate chopped into bits.

1 cup heavy cream

Put your chocolate pieces in bowl and heat your cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.  Remove cream from heat and immediately add to the chocolate bits whisking until all chocolate is melted and glossy.  Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cupcakes as a glaze.  The longer it sets the thicker it will set.   To frost cupcakes I use a teaspoon to drizzle ganache in center then use the back of spoon to “smear” to coat.

Step 5: Finished touches

Once your ganache has set, you can choose to decorate with piped frosting, sprinkle with confectioner sugar or cocoa powder, or pretty much decorate in any fashion you desire.  I chose a simple sprinkle of cocoa powder.

That’s it, simple stages to produce a delicious result.

 

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