Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sweet and Salty Brownies

These might just be the best brownies I have ever eaten.  They are intensely chocolatey, super gooey, and have glorious salty caramel baked into the center.  If you like sweet and salty you must make these.  Seriously.  They were very good a little warm from the oven (you're supposed to wait until they're completely cool before serving, but come on), they were delightful the next day when they became even more chewy, and they were simply heavenly cooled in the fridge a few days later, rich and fudgy.

These made a rather huge batch of brownies, a 9 X 13 pan is needed.  I thought I would send these to my husband's work or share with the neighbors but I can't stop eating these and I want them all to myself (ok, I did end up sharing a few).  These probably have about 1000 calories per bite, but when something tastes this good who cares.

I used David Lebovitz's caramel sauce (slightly adapted with more salt) since I had some in the fridge, but otherwise made the recipe as is.  I know I sound like a broken record, but make sure you use good quality dark chocolate, it makes all the difference!

Sweet & Salty Brownie
from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented

Rich Caramel Sauce
slightly adapted from David Lebovitz 

1/2 cup unsalted or salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel

In a large saucepan or a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to caramelize, then turns dark amber in colour and begins to foam a bit (it should smell and look like it's just on the verge of burning).  Remove from heat and slowly and carefully add in the cream (the mixture will bubble vigorously), whisking constantly until all of the cream is added.
Return the pan to med-low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.(this took about 5 minutes for me).  Then stir in vanilla and salt. 
Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then taste, and add more salt, if desired.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
11 oz. quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 and 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1 tsp coarse sugar

For the brownie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9 x 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.
Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature at this point.
Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining two eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is a just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.
To assemble the brownie, pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.
Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel and 1 teaspoon coarse sugar.
Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 4 days.

Linked to:
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday  
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake. 

I'm not a seasoned yeast baker, so it was a treat to have my Mom in town for this month's challenge.  My Mom is an amazing baker, and I regret not being into baking when I lived at home, there is so much I could have learned from her.

We have enough sweet treats around the house so I decided to halve the recipe but do it two different ways.  One side I filled with Nutella and finely chopped hazelnuts, the other side was a traditional German poppyseed (mohn) filling.  Both were delicious!  The cake turned out scrumptious and perfect, thanks entirely to my Mom teaching me just how much flour to add to the dough and when it was ready.  Both fillings were tasty, my favourite of course being the Nutella.

The hardest part was rolling everything up, the filling kept threatening to spill out the end and eventually did.  It was a bit messy and the poppy seed filling did come out during the baking but it was delicious nonetheless.  I would totally make this again, it was a little bit of work but worth it in the end.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake (which I did)

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the Nutella filling for half the cake:
1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

For the Poppyseed filling for half the cake:
1/2 cup poppyseeds
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream of wheat
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons sugar

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg

Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare the poppyseed filling:
In a small sauce pan over med-high heat, bring the milk to a boil.  As soon as it boils, take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cool completely before using.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue.  For the Nutella drop 1/2 teaspoon sized dollops about 1/2-inch apart and sprinkle evenly with chopped hazelnuts.  For the poppyseed filling spread evenly over the meringue.
Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling if desired (I didn't). These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Maple Muffins

This is another recipe from Sarabeth Levine's lovely cookbook.  Everything I have made out of this book is delicious, and these flavourful muffins are no exception.  They have lovely crunchy tops with a moist intense maple center.  

Most of my muffins end up with soft tops so I was excited that these turned out more like bakery muffins, if that makes sense.  You start with the oven at a high heat (400 degrees F) and then turn down after 10 minutes.  I guess that's the secret!

I used white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose to healthify them a bit, and didn't toast the walnuts since I was too lazy, but I'm sure it would add more of a nutty flavour.  These were great and a total hit at our house, adults and kids alike gobbled them up.

Maple Muffins
Adapted from Sarabeth Levine

Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (I didn't bother)

Position a rack in the center of he oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush the insides of 12 muffin cups with softened butter, then brush the top of the pan.

Whisk the unbleached flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk the maple syrup, melted butter, and milk together in another bowl, then whisk in the egg and yolk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until smooth.  Stir in the walnuts. Let the batter stand so the dry ingredients can absorb the liquid, about 5 minutes.

Using a 2 1/2 inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a wire cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes more.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.

Linked to
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lemongrass Pear Tart

The challenge from Dessert Wars this month was to create a "green" dessert in honor of St Patrick's Day.  There were two lists of green ingredients, one traditional and one not so traditional.  Bakers had to pick an ingredient from each list for their dessert.

This was my first attempt at any sort of tart, and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself! ;)
I used a tart pastry recipe from Baked Explorations, filled the crust with a lemongrass custard, topped it with fresh pears, and finished it with some ginger spiced whipped cream.  Even my Dad liked it, and he's not one for strange food combinations so I deem this experiment a success!

For the tart dough
from Baked Explorations
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 large egg, beaten

Place the sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand, which will be about 8-10 one-second pulses.  Add the egg and pulse just until the dough begins to form a mass.  Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate it at least an hour or up to overnight.

Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour.  Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough about 1/4-inch thick into either a rectangle about 15 inches long or into a round about 12 inches in diameter.  Ever so gently, guide the dough into the tart pan, without pulling it, and lightly press it into place.  Roll the rolling pin over the pan to trim off excess dough.  Transfer the pan to the freezer for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 375.
Line the tart shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it 3/4 full with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes, carefully remove the foil and the weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until it’s lightly browned.  Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool.

For the custard
from Nick Narin
200ml/7fl oz milk 
200ml/7fl oz cream 
1 stick lemongrass 
2 tbsp caster sugar 
3 free-range egg yolks
Place the milk, cream and lemongrass into a saucepan over a low heat and gently heat until steaming, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least ten minutes.
Place the caster sugar and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk together.
Remove the lemongrass from the milk mixture and gradually pour the milk mixture into the bowl of eggs and sugar, whisking constantly.
Return the mixture to a low heat and simmer, stirring continuously, until the custard coats the back of a spoon, then strain into a jug.

Linked to
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday 
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheese Danish Pastries

Weekend breakfast is my favourite meal.  It's totally acceptable to have dessert for breakfast, and at our house we almost always have something sweet.  So a few weeks ago I thought I would give Nigella's Danish Processor Pastry Dough recipe a try.  You make with a few whizzes in a food processor, easy peasy right?

While making the dough is indeed quite simple, the rolling out is seriously tedious.  Roll into a (ridiculously) large rectangle.  Fold.  Repeat.  Ad nauseum.  Sigh.  I love how this is described as "joyfully easy", I would hate to see the old school way of doing this!  Anyways, I followed her instructions to the letter and my Danishes came out perfect.  I used her cheese danish recipe and the pastry was nice and flaky with a slightly sweet filling.  Will definitely make this again.

Processor Danish Pastry
from Nigella Lawson

1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups white bread flour
1 package ( 1/4 oz.) rapid-rise yeast or 1 tbsp fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into thin slices

Pour the water and milk into a measuring cup and add the egg, beating with a fork to mix. Put to one side for a moment. Get out a large bowl, then put the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the procesor, and give one quick whizz just to mix. Add the cold slices of butter and process briefly so that the butter is cut up a little, though you still want visible chunks. Empty the contents of the food processor into the large bowl and quickly add the contents of the cup. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together, but don’t overdo it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put in the refigerator, and leave overnight or up to 4 days.
To turn it into pastry, take it out of the refrigerator, let it get to room temperature, and roll it out to a 20-inch (50 cm) square.  Fold the dough square into thirds, like a business letter, turning it afterward so that the closed fold is on your left, like the spine of a book.  Roll out again to a 20-inch square, repeating the steps above three more times.

There are several recipes that use a half batch of the dough, so cut it in half, wrap both pieces in plastic, and put each in the refridgerator for 30 minutes (you can keep them for up to 4 days) or put half into the freezer for later use.

Cheese Danish
from Nigella Lawson

For the filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
6 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    For the egg glaze:
    1 large egg, beaten with
    2 tbsp milk
      For the clear glaze:
      1/3 cup sugar
      1/4 cup water
        For the sugar glaze:
        1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
        1-2 tbsp warm water
          Combine the cheese, sugar, salt, lemon zest, egg, and butter to make the filling.  Roll out the pastry into a big rectangle and cut it in half.  Divide each half into thirds and place a tablespoon of filling on each piece of dough.  Fold the opposite corners up together and seal with a pinch.
          Place on the baking sheet and brush with the egg glaze. Leave them to rise until they double in size, about 1 1/2 hours and feel like marshmallow.
          Meanwhile, about 30 minutes before they're ready to be cooked, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).  Pinch corners back together if they have come apart, then put on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.
          Remove to a wire rack and make the two remaining glazes. To make the clear glaze, heat the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. To make the sugar glaze, add the water to the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time to make a runny icing. Brush the pastries with the clear glaze first then zigzag the sugar glaze over them.

          Linked to
          Sweet Tooth Friday
          Sweets for a Saturday 
          Melt in Your Mouth Monday 

          Wednesday, March 16, 2011

          Carrot Cupcakes for My Sweet Little Birthday Girl

          One year ago today I held my sweet little Ellis Lily in my arms for the first time.  She was so perfect, everything so tiny and still covered in soft tufts of hair.  We spent the first week of her life in the hospital, waiting not so patiently for her jaundice to improve so we could take her to her new home.  I could only spend a few minutes with her every 2-3 hours and I cherished every one of them.  She would snuggle so closely to me and I would marvel that  this little girl was mine.  How could I have gotten so lucky to have two gorgeous children is still beyond me.

          Ready for her cupcake

          During the first two months of Ellis' life, she did what most babies do; she ate and slept.  Sure she fussed a little in the evenings, but she was such an easy baby.  I would constantly brag that having two small children wasn't that hard, what was all the fuss about?  I would soon come to eat my words.  At two months colic hit Ellis and our family like a ton of bricks.  For the next two months the soundtrack to our lives was Ellis screaming.  If she was my first I would have holed up in my apartment until it passed, but I had my son Liam to think about so we tried to go about our lives as best we could.  Ellis screamed at the park.  She screamed bloody murder in the car.  She screamed at playdates, and everywhere in between.  And then finally at four months the fog started to lift and I finally started get to know and understand this little person.

          Ellis is a little cuddler, when I ask her for a hug she puts her arms around my neck and squeezes tightly.  She loves to curl up against me at night, and when she wakes I can see her big eyes looking up at me to make sure I'm still there before settling back in.  Ellis loves music.  'Music' was her first sign and she loves to dance at her music table.  She adores her big brother, her eyes light up when she sees him and she follows him around all day.  She always wants to be a part of what he's doing, and bless him for the most part lets her.  She laughs at all his antics.  Watching them play and laugh together is one my most favourite things in the world.

          Hmmm, what is this lovely thing?

          Ellis is a mama's girl.  She wants to be in my arms all day long.  This can get a bit annoying when I'm trying to make dinner, but when she crawls towards me at top speed with a huge toothy smile on her face I can barely stand the cuteness.  She loves her Daddy to bits too, and smiles from ear to ear when he walks through the door at the end of the day.

          Yup, she's her mother's daughter

          Ellis is a sensitive girl.  The slightest thing not going her way will bring forth the most sorrowful cries you've ever heard.  She has so many moods which are written all over her face, she has the most expressive eyes (and eyebrows, haha) I've ever seen.  Everyday I am thankful that she is part of my life and that I get to watch this gorgeous creature grow up.

          For her first birthday I made her some yummy carrot cupcakes, which she, and the rest of the family, thoroughly enjoyed.

          Best and Easiest Carrot Cake
          from Nick Malgieri

          2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
          1 cup granulated sugar
          1 teaspoon baking powder
          1 teaspoon baking soda
          3/4 teaspoon salt
          1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
          1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
          4 large eggs, at room temp
          1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
          1 pound carrots, rinsed, trimmed, peeled, and grated
          3/4 cup walnut or pecan pieces, coarsely chopped (I left these out)

          24 prepared muffin tins

          Set rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. 

          Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and whisk to mix.  Set aside. 

          Place brown sugar in mixing bow and use large rubber spatula to work in eggs one at a time.  Whisk in the oil. 

          Whisk in the dry ingredients about 1/3 at a time.  Use a large rubber spatula to mix in carrots and nuts.

          Divide batter into prepared muffin tins, bake until risen and firm, about 20 minutes.

          After about 5 minutes remove from muffin pans and let cool completely on wire racks.  Once they are cool, frost!

          Cream Cheese Frosting
          From Baked Explorations

          3 cups confectioners' sugar
          ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
          8 ounces cream cheese, softened
          1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
          pinch of salt

          Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.

          In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until is completely smooth.  Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

          Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth.  Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure.  (The filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator.  Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.) 

          Tuesday, March 15, 2011

          Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting

          This gorgeous cake is as delicious as it is beautiful.  The recipe comes from Baked Explorations, which is fantastic and one of my favourite cookbooks.  This was my first bundt cake using my new bundt pan, and I think I'm going to make bundt cakes all the time now.  The entire edge of this cake was super chewy, the center moist and flavourful.

          I was a little doubtful how this was going to turn out after making the burnt sugar liquid which goes into the cake and frosting.  It has such an odd flavour, first you taste tropical coconut, then it's lemony, and then a subtle burnt flavour.  But once the cake and frosting are made the flavour combination is perfection.  I probably didn't burn the sugar enough since my cake didn't turn out quite the rich amber colour but I was nervous to ruin it.  

          The cake tasted even better the second day, the flavours seemed more pronounced somehow.  It's a pretty rich and heavy cake so if you're serving it after dinner warn your guests to save some serious room!

          Photo by Jamie Lacey Photography

          Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting
          from Baked Explorations

          For the Burnt Sugar Liquid
          ½ cup granulated sugar
          1/2 cup heavy cream
          Approximately 3/4 cup coconut milk
          1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

          For the Bundt Cake
          3 cups all-purpose flour
          1 teaspoon baking powder
          1/2 teaspoon baking soda
          1 teaspoon salt
          1 ¼ cups unsalted butter (2. sticks) cut
          into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
          2 cups granulated sugar
          4 large eggs
          1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
          Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)

          For the Caramel Rum Frosting
          1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
          2 tablespoons dark rum
          2 1⁄3 cups confectioners’ sugar
          Burnt Sugar Liquid (see above)

          Make the Burnt Sugar Liquid

          In a medium saucepan over medium heat, slowly melt the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to stir it continuously to ensure even melting. When the sugar turns a dark caramel color, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream in the cream while continuing to stir (don’t worry if mixture starts to clump). Return the pan to medium heat and stir until completely combined; cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring. Transfer the burnt caramel mixture to at least a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup (like Pyrex) and add enough coconut milk to make 1 1/4 cups liquid. Add the lemon juice. Whisk to combine, divide the mixture in half, and set both portions aside.

          Make the Bundt Cake

          Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it thoroughly, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 5 more seconds. Retrieve one of the reserved portions of burnt sugar liquid. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the burnt sugar, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again for 10 seconds. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a small sharp knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

          Make the Caramel Rum Frosting

          Put the butter, rum, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining portion of burnt sugar liquid in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving.

          Caramel Shard Topping

          This caramel shard decoration is entirely optional—but it looks spectacular. Ingredient – 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Add enough water—it takes approximately 1 teaspoon—to make it the texture of wet sand. Cook on high heat until the sugar turns amber. Pour the caramel onto a half-sheet pan lined with a Silpat (or other silicone nonstick) baking mat. Let cool. Break the cooled caramel into small shards and use them to decorate the frosted cake.

          Friday, March 11, 2011

          Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies

          Let me start by saying you must be a true chocolate lover to make these cookies.  These are the most intense rich chocolate cookies I have ever eaten.  They are pure chocolaty heaven.  If you do decide to make these cookies, you need to use good quality chocolate.  I used Guittard for the bittersweet and Sharfenberger for the cocoa powder.  Yes it may be more difficult to find and more expensive, but I assure you it's worth it.

          This recipe comes out of my Tartine cookbook.  Tartine is a glorious bakery in the Mission district of San Francisco, if you ever come to the Bay Area I highly suggest making at least one visit to Tartine, the line up is totally worth it.  I have made a few things out of their cookbook, all are completely delicious and this cookie recipe is no exception.

          I did one batch just dropping the dough by tablespoon-full onto the cookie sheet but found the resulting cookie kind of visually unappealing.  The rest I rolled into 1.5 inch balls (by all means make them bigger, I probably will next time).  Et voila!

          Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies

          from Tartine
          8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
          1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
          ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons  cocoa powder
          2 teaspoons baking powder
          ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
          1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
          2 large eggs
          ¼ teaspoon salt
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1/3 cup whole milk

          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
          Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water. Ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. When the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat.
          Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set aside. Using a standard mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and mix until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the salt and the vanilla, and then add the melted chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.
          Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until they are just barely firm on top when lightly touched but are still very soft underneath, about 7 minutes. They will get firmer as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

          Linked to
          Sweets for a Saturday
          Sweet Tooth Friday 
          Melt in Your Mouth Monday

          Blueberry Crumb Muffins

          Crumb, streusel, call it whatever you want, it's the perfect topping to many a baked good.  These muffins are from Clinton St Baking Co, and they are loaded with blueberries and topped with as much streusel as your muffin tins can handle.

          I used white whole wheat flour to make them a bit healthier and more appropriate for breakfast.  I'm not one to talk, I'll eat cake and chocolate quite happily for breakfast but I have kids I'm trying to model good eating habits for here.  :)

          Blueberry Crumb Muffins
          adapted slightly from Clinton St Baking Co

          makes about 12 standard sized muffins

          1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
          1/2 cup sugar
          1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1 cup white whole wheat flour
          1/2 teaspoon baking powder
          1/4 teaspoon baking soda
          1 large egg
          1/2 cup sour cream
          1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
          10 tablespoons crumb mix (recipe follows)

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups.
          In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.
          Sift the remaining dry ingredients together into a bowl.
          Add the egg to the butter mixture and blend until combined.
          Add 1/4 cup of the sour cream to the butter mixture, then half of the dry ingredients, mixing and repeating with the remaining sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until the batter is combined.  Be sure to end with dry ingredients.
          Fold in the blueberries until evenly mixed.
          Spoon batter into muffin tins, leaving room on the top for the Crumb Mix.  Top each muffin with 1 tablespoon (I used a bit more) of Crumb Mix.  Baking for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted int he middle of a muffin comes out clean.
          Cool for at least 10 minutes for best release if you're not using paper liners.

          Crumb Mix
          Makes 1½ cups, enough for 2-3 batches of muffins
          ½ cup all-purpose flour
          ½ cup sugar
          ½ teaspoon cinnamon
          ½ stick of unsalted butter, cubed

          Mix the dry ingredients with the butter until the mixture is pea size. Keep the crumb mix in a cool place until you're ready to use it.  The mix can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

          Linked to
          Sweets for a Saturday
          Sweet Tooth Friday
          Melt in Your Mouth Monday

          Monday, March 7, 2011

          Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

          Just wanted to say thanks to my dear sister for her lovely post on French Apple Cake while I was away in Maui for the week with my family.  We had a wonderful time, it was our first visit to Maui and certainly won't be our last.  What a gorgeous place.

          Back to baking:

          Why do I keep making chocolate chip cookies when I have two perfect go-to recipes?  One is super chewy, the other buttery, crispy on the edges and chewy on the inside.  But when I found this recipe for famed master pastry chef Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookies I just couldn't resist.  I was totally intrigued by the use of cake flour and bread flour.  I used The Cilantropist's version of the cookie since she did an amazing job of perfectly halving this originally enormous recipes. 

          If you're thinking of making this recipe, be aware that you must, and I mean MUST, leave it in the fridge or freezer for at least 24 hours.  I actually do this with all drop cookies now.  It allows the gluten to relax giving you a chewier cookie.  I divided the recipe in two, did the 24 hour refrigeration with half and froze then second half for a week.  The frozen cookie dough was so much chewier then the first.  I highly recommend freezing the dough for at least 24 hours rather than refrigerating it.

          I used a new type of chocolate chip from my favourite chocolate company, Guittard.  These are their Super Cookie Chocolate Chips, and holy moly they are perfection!  Seriously, they have done something to make these meltier for longer, which in addition to being some of the best chocolate ever makes these chocolate chips straight from heaven.  They are hard to find, but you can buy them online.

          Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies
          from Jacques Torres,  recipe used from The Cilantropist 

          1 cup cake flour, OR add 2 tbsp cornstarch to the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill to the top with all-purpose flour
          3/4 cup bread flour
          1/2 teaspoon baking soda
          3/4 teaspoon baking powder
          3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
          1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
          3/4 cup brown sugar
          1/2 cup granulated sugar
          1 large egg
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
          10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

          Mix first five ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla together until creamy, about 5 minutes.  Add egg and mix, then add dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until everything is well incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and mix by hand to distribute.  Form the dough into a compact ball in the bowl, and press plastic wrap directly against the dough.  Refrigerate or freeze dough for at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours. 

          To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop out dough and form into balls that are approximately 1 3/4-2 inches in diameter.  Place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart.  Bake until golden brown; about 15-17 minutes, depending on how soft you want the center of your cookies.  Cool baking sheet on a wire rack, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  This recipe will make about 18-20 cookies that are 3-3 1/2 inch in diameter.     

          Linked to:

          Wednesday, March 2, 2011

          Guest Blogging and Indulging with French Apple Cake

          My lovely sister Corrine and her family are in Maui this week…and rather than let my green jealousness shine through…I baked and am honoured to be a guest blogger here at Indulge. I indulged with a French apple cake recipe from David Lebovitz (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)...which I took to work for a potluck lunch…so I was prepared for criticism. It was a hit, with several people asking pretty please for the recipe. This cake is so simple and fast to make. Its success lies in its simplicity. Apples, flour, butter, sugar…topped with whipped cream to give it a soft nudge of sweetness.

          Before pulling out my baking bowls I decided to prepare my springform pan, only to discover that the clasp had somehow broken. A setback before I even started; this threw me into a tizzy, but having committed to bringing cake for the potluck I decided to use an 8x8 square pan. The square pan worked out just fine, though I would have preferred a round cake for better presentation.

          I don’t like rum and didn’t want to buy a bottle, no matter how small, just for this recipe…so for the rum I substituted Carolans Irish Cream, a liqueur much like Bailey’s. The result was a subtle but noticeable taste that paired nicely with the apples. The apples: I used two Golden Delicious and two Gala apples.

          I love whipped cream. Okay. That is an understatement. I have been having a lifelong, intense, richly satisfying love affair with whipped cream. So if my cakes aren’t served bare, you’ll always find them topped with whipped cream in some way. For this apple cake I whipped the cream with brown sugar and a bit of the Carolans Irish Cream.  The cake is lucky that any of the whipped cream was there at all to top it…I could easily have sat down with that bowl of cream and a spoon…you get the idea.

          I will make this cake again. It’s the type of dessert I like best: Simple, not too sweet, and a complement to any meal that it follows. Hope you enjoy!

          French Apple Cake
          from David Lebovitz

          3/4 cup flour
          3/4 teaspoon baking powder
          pinch of salt
          4 large apples (a mix of varieties)
          2 large eggs, at room temperature
          3/4 cup sugar
          3 tablespoons Carolans Irish Cream
          1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
          8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

          500 ml whipping cream (2 cups)
          3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
          1 tablespoon Carolans Irish Cream

          Preheat the oven to 350ºF and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.
          Heavily butter an 8- or 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. (I used my 8x8 square pan).

          In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
          Peel and core the apples, then dice them into 1-inch pieces.

          In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy then whisk in the sugar, then Carolans and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter

          Stir in the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the butter.
          Fold in the apple cubes until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

          Bake the cake for 50 minute to 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

          Whip cream with brown sugar and Carolans.

          Serving: Serve wedges of the cake topped with whipped cream.
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