Archive for ‘Holiday Baking’

May 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Pecan Pies

2 Pecan Pies

Yes, I know it’s not the ‘season’ for pecan pie, but when I found out that it was my good friend Bree’s birthday last week and that pecan pie is her absolute favorite dessert, I just had to make it. Never mind that I had never made pecan pie before, much less tasted pecan pie, but I was pretty determined to make a good one! One problem that I’ve always had with pecan pie is that my husband is deathly allergic to nuts, so I try to avoid using them in the kitchen. However, since we’re moving this weekend, I figured that a few pecans in a kitchen that we would no longer be using couldn’t kill him (right?).

I had planned to only make one pecan pie (recipe #1), but when I took it out of the oven, it just didn’t look right. I had followed the instructions to a tee, but it looked like it may have been slightly overbaked. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I knew I couldn’t bring a dried out pie to a friend’s birthday, so I searched for a second recicpe, and thus found recipe #2. Following this one’s directions carefully, I came out with a much lighter looking pie. I ended up taking both to Bree’s house for a ‘pie taste test’. Her husband actually preferred the first recipe pie and Bree preferred the second, so I guess there really was no clear winner, but they both said the pies were great. My recommendation if you’re making the first recipe is to keep a close eye on it if you don’t want an overly dark pie. Otherwise, enjoy!

Pecan Pie #1

Ingredients

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell (I used the pie dough from this recipe)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan, melt the butter, but don’t let it brown. Mix in the sugar and corn syrupand cook, stirring, over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the eggs. Mix well. Stir in the pecans.
Pour into the pie shell and bake for 1 hour or until firm when shaken.

Source: Sara’s Secrets – Food Network

Pecan Pie #2

Ingredients:
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell (I used the pie dough from this recipe)
4 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups pecan halves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. with rack set in lowest position.
Using kitchen shears or a paring knife, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang. With floured fingers, fold overhang under itself to form a rim; pinch between thumb and forefinger to form a uniform edge around rim of pie plate. Crimp with fingertips. Transfer dough-lined pie plate to refrigerator.
Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk eggs, corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth; mix in pecans. Pour mixture into chilled pie crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when gently shaken, 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool pie completely in plate, 5 to 6 hours. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Source: Martha Stewart

April 25, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I know Passover is almost over, but I just had to end it with a something absolutely delicious, and this cake is definitely that. It’s rich and has almost a fudge-like quality.

Almost every year, Easter falls during Passover, which wouldn’t be such a big deal except that my husband’s family always has a big Easter party with amazing food and amazing desserts…most of which I can’t eat. This year, I decided to allow myself to indulge in some of the celebration by making this flourless chocolate cake. With only three ingredients, it was a breeze to make and great for someone (like me) whose kitchen is mostly packed up in boxes (did I mention we’re moving into our first house in 2 weeks?).


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
8 large eggs, cold
1 lb. semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
Optional toppings: Confectioners sugar and/or berries

Directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper or waxed paper and grease the sides of
the pan. (Be sure to grease the sides really well!)
Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil and set it in a large roasting pan. Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil.
In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until the volume doubles (5-10 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water until the chocolate reads 115 degrees on an instant-read thermometer – stirring occasionally.
Fold about a third of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture using a large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible.
Fold in half of the remaining egg foam, and then the last half of the foam, until the mixture is totally homogenous.
Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set, a thin-glazed crust has formed on the surface, and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway into the center reads 140° F, 22-25 minutes.
Remove the springform pan from the water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow and firm. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
About 30 minutes prior to serving, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan, invert the cake onto a sheet of waxed paper, peel off the parchment paper, and reinvert the cake onto a serving platter.
Lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar and top with berries. To slice, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife, dipping the knife into a pitcher of hot water and wiping the blade before each cut.

Source: Gimme Some Oven! , Originally from Cooks Illustrated

February 11, 2011

Oreo Truffles

 

Oreo Truffles

Friday…the most wonderful day of the week!

Okay, so I’m working both Saturday and Sunday this week, but for some reason, I still absolutely adore Fridays, and what better way to enjoy a Friday than with Oreo Truffles. These are, the original truffle…at least for me. They are the absolute first truffle I made and so, stand out in my mind as the best, most chocolaty and most romantic.

I felt compelled to post the picture in black and white just because it seemed more romantic and these truffles are definitely romantic (if you’re still searching for something to serve as dessert on Valentine’s Day). They take only about 15 minutes to make but absolutely taste gourmet.

To those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend like me, enjoy, and bon appetit!

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients

30 Oreo cookies, crushed
6oz cream cheese
2 (8 ounce) packages Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1 (6oz) package white baking chocolate

Directions

Combine crushed Oreos and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add cream cheese and mix until well blended.
Using a melon scoop, cookie scoop or your hands, create 1Tbsp sized balls.
Place balls on waxed paper and freeze for 15 minutes.
Melt the semisweet chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.
Dip truffles into semisweet chocolate.
Repeat chocolate melting with white chocolate.
Using a whisk, drizzle white chocolate over the truffles.
Refrigerate at least  1 hr.

Source: I have used this recipe for years and know it has been making its way around the internet so I’m really not sure where it originated from, but if you’re the original owner, please feel free to contact me so I can give credit where credit is due.

February 9, 2011

Peppermint White Chocolate Truffles

 

Peppermint White Chocolate Truffles

Okay, the first thought when I made these and took a picture of them was ‘don’t these little guys look like snowballs’? Maybe this is influenced by the snow apocalypse that we had last week.  Beautiful little snowballs covered in pink (and this is my friend Catherine’s description) “fairydust”. A perfect description for these truffles.

They’re beautiful and absolutely delicious. I’ve always been a huge fan of white chocolate…way more so than dark chocolate and the flavor combination of white chocolate and peppermint is perfect. The only disclaimer to this recipe is please please please make sure the ganache reaches room temperature before refrigerating it. Otherwise it absolutely positively will separate out. Otherwise, these are a cinch to make!

Peppermint White Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
20 peppermint candies, or 1/2 cup precrushed peppermints

Directions

Heat cream and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Add chocolate, a little at a time, whisking to combine.
Remove from heat. Add the peppermint extract and the butter, stir slowly until combined.
Let the ganache sit until it reaches room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. (Don’t skip the step of bringing the ganache to room temperature, or the butter may separate out !)
Put the peppermint candies in a plastic baggie and crush them with a kitchen mallet until they are in tiny pieces. Place in a small Pyrex dish or a ramekin.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop small balls of ganache and roll in your hands to slightly warm the truffle. Dip in the crushed candy mixture and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about two hours.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator up to one week. Remove 30-60 minutes before serving.
You can also freeze truffles for up to one month.

Source: My Madison Bistro

February 7, 2011

Gingerbread Truffles

 

 

Gingerbread Truffles

 

It’s the week before Valentine’s Day, and I’ve decided to dedicate this week of blogging to one of my favorite desserts: truffles. The truffle trend started years ago and I really don’t think that it has ever gotten ‘old’ (because seriously, who could get tired of these delicate, rich, chocolate bites of heaven?).

Through the years of making truffles, I’ve discovered so many wonderful truffle recipes and this year, have given boxes of homemade truffles as gifts to my family. The boxes included Gingerbread truffles (this post), Peppermint truffles (Wednesday’s post) and Oreo truffles (Friday’s post). They also included cookie dough truffles though I didn’t manage to get a good picture of them before they were devoured. Anyways, the point being, truffles would make a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift.

I know that gingerbread is normally thought of as a Christmas food, but as I was just discussing with one of my girlfriends in the ICU, who determines what’s normal or ethical or ‘right’? Of course, we weren’t talking about truffles, or gingerbread for that matter, but I think it still applies. Who decided that gingerbread should only be eaten between December 1st and 31st?

These truffles are chewy and have a ton of flavor in such tiny bites. In the original recipe, they were supposed to have nutmeg sprinkled on top, but I’m a bit of a chocolate junkie so I decided to just pour on the chocolate (dark on white) and they turned out fabulous.

Happy early Valentine’s Day! It’s going to be a sweet week!

Gingerbread Truffles

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup boiling water

For the coating

12oz white chocolate
1 8-oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature
6oz semisweet chocolate

Directions

Mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molassess, mixing well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt, then add to wet mixture.
Stir to combine, then add the boiling water and mix. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until springy. Let cool completely.
When cake is completely cooled, crumble into the bowl of a stand mixer and add in the cream cheese. Mix until the cake and cream cheese is totally combined.
Roll out into walnut-sized balls and place on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Chill for 1 hour.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water stirring, until it is completely smooth.
Dip the balls in one at a time (I use two forks for this) and coat with the white chocolate. Set on a sheet of wax paper.
Melt semisweet chocolate in a bowl over simmering water in a similar fashion. Drizzle the darker chocolate over the truffles using a fork or whisk. Allow to harden completely. At this point you can serve immediately or freeze for later use.

Source: Adapted from: Sing for your Supper

 

Valentine's Day Gingerbread Truffles

December 28, 2010

Blackberry Tart with Honey Mascarpone Filling

 

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart

When it comes to desserts, I set high expectations. I’ll admit it; I’m a  bit of a dessert snob. I like my desserts rich and addictive. A dessert, in my mind, is something that should  leave you licking your spoon wanting to go for a third helping (and getting it when you  think no one is looking).

This tart definitely did not disappoint. The tartness of the blackberries was a wonderful contrast to the sweet honey mascarpone filling. Also, it should be mentioned, this recipe is from one of the ruling queens of desserts on food blogs, Annie of Annies Eats, and if she recommends a recipe, you know that it must be great!

Blackberry Tart with Honey Mascarpone Filling

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

For the filling:

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ground nutmeg

Topping:

12 oz of fresh blackberries

Directions:

For the crust:  In a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.  Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  To roll out the dough, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out with a floured rolling pin, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.  Roll it out evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick.  Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess.

Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the mascarpone, sour cream, and honey in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla extract and nutmeg.

Spread the filling into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with a spatula.  Top with fresh blackberries.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Store in the refrigerator.

 

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart - side

Source: Annies Eats

December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

 

Gingerbread Cookies

“Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!!!”

Whenever I eat gingerbread cookies, I can’t help but think of the scene  from Shrek with the gingerbread man.

Luckily, these gingerbread cookies have no gumdrop buttons to lose…(and unfortunately, I forgot to photograph them after I put icing on them)

However, they are delicious and have the perfect amount of sugar and spice (and everything nice) and did not last very long in my house, gumdrop buttons or not.

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingrdients

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, rotating halfway through. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Source: Allrecipes.com

December 22, 2010

Cranberry Orange Mini-Loaves

 

Cranberry Orange Loaves

As a part of my ‘baking extravaganza’ with my friend Bree  last week, we made these  Cranberry Orange mini-loaves. They were a perfect addition to my holiday packages and made a great treat to bring into Cardiology clinic. I love the cranberry and orange flavor combination and  you can add pecans to this bread if you like (we did not as my husband is allergic to nuts and I do not bring them into our home). Also, these were easy to bake while watching an 8-month old baby as they only took 10 minutes of prep time!

Cranberry Orange Mini-Loaves

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour three mini loaf pans.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in orange zest and cranberries. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice.
Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Wrap in plastic when completely cool.

Makes three mini-loaves.

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Photograph courtesy of: Breanna Thiede

December 21, 2010

Peppermint Biscotti

 

Peppermint Biscotti

After the first two years at my medical school, the students get sent to various “community campuses” all over the state. Basically, what this meant  is that some of my best friends ended up eight hours away from me (banished to the cold snowy North).One of the ways that I like to stay connected with them is by sending holiday gift packages every year, showing that ‘even though you may be far away, I’m still thinking of you’.

These biscotti were a perfect addition to my holiday packages for several reasons: they packaged well, they kept well and they were absolutely delicious and festive. I will likely be apologizing for my poor photography skills many times throughout the course of blogging, but my photograph of these biscotti truly do not do them justice.

Peppermint Biscotti

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes or peppermint candies in my case
14 ounces fine quality white chocolate, melted
crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in crushed candy
Evenly divide dough into 4 pieces on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into 9″ x 1 1/2″ round log. Place logs 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
Cut each log diagonally into 1/2″ slices with sharp serrated knife. Arrange pieces standing up back onto the baking sheet.
Bake until cookies are light golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. The centers may still be a little soft, but will firm up as they cool. Place onto cool rack and cool completely.
Dip half of each biscotti into melted chocolate – shake off excess. Immediately sprinkle with additional crushed candy canes and set on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet until the chocolate has set.
Makes about 3 dozen

Source: Adapted from http://penniesonaplatter.com

December 20, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I don’t think  December would be complete without holiday baking with friends. When my friend Breanna offered to come over with her adorable 8 month-old daughter and bake with me, I agreed in an instant. Her daughter, Brynn also was the perfect taste-tester, and these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies appeared to be something that Brynn really enjoyed. They were the perfect texture, being soft and gooey without falling apart–perfect for a small toddler and elegant enough to put in a holiday gift package (which is what I did with the leftover cookies).

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.
Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours (I chilled this overnight).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into one inch balls with lightly oiled palms. I used a cookie scoop to portion the dough.
Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets. [Alternatively, try other ingredients like cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles.]
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies

Source: http://17andbaking.co, originally from allrecipes.com

Photograph Courtesy of : Breanna Thiede