Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Chocolate Baked Alaska

Um, how did I not know how amazingly awesome baked Alaska is??  Cake (in this case brownie), ice cream, and meringue??  Three of my favorite things all piled into one glorious, perfect dessert.  I can tell you I'll be making these babies on a regular basis.

I got this recipe from Bon Appetit, but once you have the technique down the sky is really the limit.  The main thing is you need a base, topped with ice cream, and the ice cream needs to be completely sealed with meringue.  The completely frozen dessert is then baked for a five minutes in a piping hot oven, and voila.  Nirvana.  Well, for me at least.

The recipe said you could use an oven or a kitchen torch, so I tried both and can say with certainty the oven is the only way to go.  The torch made for a nicer presentation since you can singe the meringue more easily, but the base and ice cream remained rock hard (as is evident in the picture below).  In the oven, everything is just as it should be.  Soft base, delightfully soft ice cream, and a crisp meringue.  Must go make more.  Now.

Strawberry Chocolate Baked Alaska
from Bon Appetit 

 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
  1 pint strawberry ice cream, slightly softened
  3 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Stir bittersweet chocolate, butter, and unsweetened chocolate in small saucepan over low heat until chocolates melt and mixture is smooth. Cool 10 minutes. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar and eggs in large bowl until well blended, about 1 minute. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt over; stir to blend. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until top looks dry and tester inserted into center comes out with some thick sticky batter attached, about 17 minutes. Cool cake in pan to room temperature.

Cut around cake in pan. Place cutting board over pan and invert, tapping out cake. Peel off parchment. Using 3-inch round cutter, cut out 6 cake rounds (save remaining cake for another use). Line small baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cake rounds on prepared sheet. Using 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter ice cream scoop, place scoop of strawberry ice cream in center of each round, leaving about 1/4-inch plain border. Freeze until ice cream is solid, about 2 hours.

Combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar and egg whites in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk until mixture is very warm, and registers 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.   Remove bowl from over water. Using electric mixer, beat meringue at high speed until very thick and billowy, about 2 minutes. Place baking sheet with cake rounds on work surface. Mound 2 heaping tablespoons meringue atop ice cream on 1 cake round. Spread meringue evenly over to cover, sealing meringue to plain cake border and swirling decoratively. Repeat with remaining desserts. Freeze uncovered on baking sheet until meringue is solid, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Transfer desserts still on baking sheet from freezer directly to oven. Bake until meringue is deep brown in spots, turning sheet as needed for even cooking, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plates.

Linked to:
Melt in Your Mouth Monday 
Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chocolate Oatmeal Moon Pies

Have I mentioned my love for marshmallow creme before?  Love love love.  So when I saw this recipe for oatmeal moon pies in Bon Appetit I was all over it.  I told my husband I was making them and he said "I figured as much when I saw that recipe".  I am nothing if not predictable in my love of sweets.

I changed the recipe up a bit, omitting and adding some of the cookie ingredients.  That said on it's own this oatmeal cookie recipe is awesome.  Never mind drizzling them with chocolate (I skipped the glaze) and sandwiching a healthy dollop of marshmallow creme between them.  

I originally made these months ago for my son's preschool's bake sale.  After making them I realized they weren't that portable since marshmallow creme is pretty molten.  But I wrapped them up in wax paper and tied them up with ribbon so they worked out pretty well.  They're really best assembled and immediately eaten though.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Oatmeal Moon Pies
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 7-ounce jars marshmallow creme
about 6 ounces good quality dark chocolate for melting and drizzling

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine oats, raisins, pecans, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another large bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl. With machine running at low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just to blend. Stir in oat mixture with a wooden spoon just to blend.

Using a 1-oz. ice cream scoop or scooping out 2 level tablespoonfuls of dough, measure dough into 36 portions. Divide among baking sheets. Using your hands, gently press down on each dough ball until 1/2" thick.

Bake cookies for 12 minutes. Rotate sheets front to back and top to bottom; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will appear underdone and shiny in centers), 7–8 minutes longer. Do not overbake.  I actually did one batch at a time so without rotating racks 12 minutes was enough.  Let cookies cool on baking sheets. DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Once cookies are room temp melt the chocolate and drizzle over each cookie.  Once dry (this can take several hours), spread 1 Tbsp. marshmallow creme on bottom of 18 cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies.

Linked to:
Crazy Sweet Tuesday 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hummingbird Cookies

I just wanted to share these hummingbird cookies I made and sent my Mom for her birthday recently.  I wish I had done a tutorial, but I was in a rush so I just have a picture of the final product.  I also made soccer ball cookies for my Dad, but apparently hexagons are quite hard to get right so they weren't as cute as I had envisioned (thus, no photo documentation).

For the hummingbirds I mainly used the flow method of decorating, and did everything but the beak at the same time.  Most of their poor little beaks broke off in transit, and in hindsight they were probably not a good choice for shipping, but my Mom loves hummingbirds so I wanted to make something special.  Thanks for looking and happy birthday to my wonderful Mom and Dad!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Strawberry Cobbler

It feels like summertime has arrived in the Bay Area.  Which means that I can finally say farewell to apples, pears, and oranges.  I love winter, but the fruit selection is a bit lacking.  Strawberries are filling the stalls at our local farmer's markets, and I've been buying them by the flat so expect plenty of upcoming posts featuring these gorgeous berries.

I found this recipe in June's Martha Stewart Living magazine.  The recipe is actually for raspberry cobbler, but any berry or combination would work.  There is a bit of cornstarch in the recipe so the filling is nice and thick, and the biscuit topping is to die for.  The recipe is easy, just requires quite a bit of baking and cooling time so plan accordingly.  A dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is the perfect compliment to this fruit filled dessert.

Strawberry Cobbler
adapted slightly from Martha Stewart 


5 cups hulled and coarsely chopped strawberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Biscuit Topping:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
 Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together raspberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour into a 9-inch square baking dish (2 inches deep).

Biscuit topping: Whisk together flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add cream, and use a fork to incorporate, stirring just until cream is absorbed (there should be lots of loose pieces).

Turn out dough onto a clean surface, and knead once or twice, gathering loose bits into ball. Pat dough to a 1 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 9 rough squares, and place them on top of filling. Brush with cream, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake cobbler until bubbling in center and biscuit topping is golden brown and cooked through, about 1 hour (loosely tent with foil if biscuit topping gets too dark). Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Linked to:
Crazy Sweet Tuesday 
Mrs Fox's Sweet Party
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