24 August 2009

Coconut-Banana Tartlets

Well, bummer... I failed at the challenge. There was just not enough time to use up all those chocolate chips. If my grandmother doesn't use them before the holidays, then you guys will probably see the return of the challenge once I get home from school!
These tartlets I made for a dinner party at my mom's house. They turned out awesomely, and so pretty (especially considering I don't own tartlet pans), but they were heavy. Whipped cream improved the taste a lot, balancing the heavy flavors with the light.

Coconut-Banana Tartlets
Adapted from Bon Appetit

For crust
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. ice water
For filling
  • 1 1/3 c. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
To Make:
  1. Blend flour, coconut (for crust), sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in vanilla and water, and knead until doughy. Wrap in tin foil and freeze for 45 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 jumbo muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  3. Divide dough into 6 parts. Keeping other parts in the freezer while you roll each one out into 6 in. rounds on a floured surface. Gently place rounds into muffin tins, folding the extra dough where it creases. Freeze for 15 more minutes.
  4. Bake crusts for 20 minutes, popping any bubbles that form. Cool crusts in muffin tin. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a large bowl, combine coconut and banana. In a medium saucepan stir cream and sugar together until the mixture boils. Pour mixture oven bananas and coconut. Stir to combine and spoon into shells, making the tartlets level.
  6. Bake tartlets for 25 minutes. Cool in pan, then remove.
Some Notes:
  • Definitely use whipped cream in your serving of these tarts.
  • Next time I will also cut the banana more coarsely to make the tarts easier to eat.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Swirl Bread

My grandfather loved this bread toasted in a toaster oven with some butter on it. It was very rich but a little dry, I thought. There are some changes that could be made to counteract that problem however. See the notes.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Swirl Bread
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. plus 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. butter
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and lightly flour a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Separate one egg, putting yolk in a large bowl and white in a medium bowl. Mix the chocolate chips with the eggs white and set aside.
  3. In the large bowl add the second egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat for a minute.
  4. In another medium bowl, sift together WHITE flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 c. sugar and cinnamon. 
  5. In yet another bowl, combine WHEAT flour, butter, 3 tbsp. sugar, and a little more cinnamon until crumbly. Spread 1/3 of this mixture on the bottom of the loaf pan.
  6. Combine wet and dry ingredients until just blended. Add chocolate chips, but do not mix too much. Pour batter into pan and top with the rest of the streusel mixture. 
  7. Bake for 1 hour. Cool completely before taking out of pan.
Some Notes:
  • If I make this bread again, I will probably add about 1/3 c. sour cream to try to make the bread a little less dry.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Wow. I completely forgot how stressful moving from one place to another, 200 miles away is. Please forgive me for the lull in posts, but I have a backlog of delicious goodies to post for you guys! First on the agenda... these absolutely luscious peanut butter-chocolate cupcakes with chocolate glaze. Everyone from 10 year-olds to college guys to my grandparents' friends loved them; they're definitely a new go-to recipe for me... the classic pb/chocolate combination is beloved by many so you can't go wrong with these.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts 

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line about 16 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl cream together peanut butter, butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after additions. Still in vanilla (1 tsp.). Alternately fold in the flour mixture and the milk by thirds. Fold in the chocolate chips (1 c.).
  4. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Combine the last three ingredients in a double boiler and brush onto cupcakes after they have cooled.
Some Notes:
  • A pastry brush works really well for brushing the glaze over the cupcake.
  • Serve the cupcakes with milk. :)

14 August 2009

Chocolate-Cherry Muffins

These muffins work with a classic fruit and chocolate combination, to very decadent results. The ricotta cheese in the recipe makes these muffins extremely moist, and almost like cheese cake, but doesn't leave any taste. The only problem with these muffins is that they end up on the smaller side, even when filling the muffin tray 5/6th of the way full. I also got to use more of my chocolate chips... on my way to completing The Challenge! :)

On a related note, thank you to my cousin Kat for mentioning me on her blog The Ginger Cook! Hopefully it will help get people reading about my baking endeavors!

p.s. I can't wait to try her recipe for ginger snaps. It looks delicious!

Chocolate-Cherry Muffins
Adapted from Sunlight Cafe

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1.2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 dried cherries
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray about 12 muffins cups with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine in a large bowl the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl beat together buttermilk and ricotta. Add eggs one at a team and beat well, then beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Add wet mixture, cherries, and butter to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Toss chocolate chips in all-purpose flour to coat. Add to batter and mix to combine. Spoon batter into muffin cups to the top and bake for 20 minutes (until lightly browned on top).
Some Notes:
  • I think next time I might use fresh pitted cherries for color and enhanced flavor. The cook time, if you use fresh or frozen cherries, is supposed to be between 25-30 minutes.

13 August 2009

The Challenge

My grandmother's friend work for Nestle and when she learned that I love to bake she sent me... well, the biggest bag of chocolate chips I've ever had in my possession. 72 oz. of semi-sweet joy! My challenge is to use the whole bag before I leave for school on August 21st. Wish me luck!

12 August 2009

Chocolate Gingerbread Muffins

Okay so these muffins are the definition of a delicious failure. I decided at the last minute that I wanted to add Hershey's cocoa powder to the dough to try to incorporate chocolate (you'll see why in the next post) and the muffins came out so densely that the lemon curd wouldn't go into them as filling. I abandoned that idea and just decided to run with the chocolate theme. It turned out really well, but I have ideas for next time I make them...

Chocolate Gingerbread Muffins
Adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c. hot, strong chocolate-flavored coffee
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (for topping)
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line about 2 muffin tins with muffin liners.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat egg into molasses, then add the creamed mixture. 
  3. Sift together all dry ingredients except baking soda, then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda in the coffee and add it to the batter, beating for several minutes. Place batter in muffin liners, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  5. To make topping, melt 1 c. chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted. Spoon into pastry bag and decorate.
Some Notes:
  • Next time I make these, I plan on adding 1 c. of chocolate chips, coated in all-purpose flour, to the batter for a more chocolaty taste.
  • Instead of a pastry bag, you can use a ziplock bag as a decorating tool. Just place all the chocolate into the ziplock bag, cut the tip off and squeeze.

11 August 2009

Ginger Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

These are not the prettiest cookies, but they are DELICIOUS! I was a little skeptical at first about the combination of candied ginger and chocolate, but I had some candied ginger to use up that I bought at Jungle Jims forever ago, and I hadn't made cookies in a while. This recipe is definitely a keeper. The cookies can be baked to your exact liking, which is really neat. My first batch came out pretty dark and crispy, the second batch (after reducing cooking time by two minutes) came out snappy and golden, and the third batch (after another minute reduction) turned out chewy... and all three batches tasted great! You don't find many cookie recipes that can do that.

Ginger Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

  • 3 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c. (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. chopped crystallized ginger
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine oats, both flours, salt and baking soda.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add dry mixture to the mixer bowl and combine. Stir in ginger and chocolate chips. 
  4. Drop batter onto baking sheets by tablespoonful. Bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes in my oven).
Some Notes:
  • Make sure your batter mounds are compact so that the cookies do not crumble when removing from the baking sheet.
  • The timetable for my oven was like this:
chewy cookies: 9 minutes
golden cookies: 11 minutes
crispy cookies: 13 minutes
  • These cookies brown a little after they are pulled out of the oven. Plan accordingly.

Old Fashioned Lemon Curd

Although this is primarily a baking blog, I don't see anything wrong with posting this recipe for lemon curd, seeing as I plan to use it in the next few days in some baked good or another (probably as a filling for gingerbread cupcakes... yum!) I doubled this recipe and it filled 3 small mason jars exactly. The other two jars went to a few of my grandparents' friends who have been really supportive and hospitable to me this summer. Thanks to Joanne and Bob as well as Dick and Sheryl!
Lemon curd is delicious and surprisingly easy to make. It's used as a spread on toast, crackers, muffins, scones and the like, and also as a filling in cakes and pies. It's not overly sweet, but also creamy which is an interesting combination. I've had canned lemon curd many times before, and I think fresh is MUCH better tasting.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Simply Homemade Food Gifts

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/3 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 eggs, beaten
To Make:
  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.  Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring all the while.
  2. Take half the lemon juice mixture and add to beaten eggs. Stir. Add egg mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir for a few more minutes, until the mixture thickens. Do not boil.
  3. Strain the mixture to remove cooked egg bits. Poor mixture directly into jar(s) and chill.
Some Notes:
  • DON'T use a saucepan made of aluminum. The taste will leach into the lemon curd, and no one wants metallic-tasting toast toppings.
  • Straining is very important to this process. It makes the presentation much prettier so even though you might be tempted not to, strain your lemon curd!
  • Use fresh lemon juice, and strain it to remove pulp before use. You can thank me later.

10 August 2009

Coconut-Lime Tartlets

(pictures coming soon)

Admittedly, I've been on a lime kick lately. I don't know what it is about summer that makes me want to gorge myself on citrus fruits, but since lime is generally one of the more versatile of the citrus flavors I've been playing with it a lot in my baking. I made these tartlets for a reunion of many of my high school girlfriends. They've been exposed to lots of my baking (it was routine for me to bring baked goods into my senior year English class at least once a week) and they proclaimed it to be up to snuff with the best of the best that I've made! I, however, was a little less impressed than they were... see the notes section for what I would change next time.

Coconut-Lime Tartlets
Adapted from Gourmet

For crust:
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1/3 c. sweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
For custard:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated lime zest (about 2 limes)
  • 1/3 c. sweetened flaked coconut, toasted and cooled
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line about 24 mini muffin cups with mini muffin liners.
  2. Make crust by combining all crust ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pack about 1/2 tbsp. of mixture into each mini muffin liner. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
  3. Make custard by whisking together eggs and sugar in a bowl until combined, then stirring in flour, lime juice, and zest. Pour about 1 tbsp. of custard mixture on top of each crust. Reduce oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until custard is nearly set.
  4. Remove mini muffin pans and top each custard with toasted coconut. Bake 5 more minutes. Chill at least one hour before serving.
Some Notes:
  • The flavor of the fresh lime juice really shines in this dish. While that is wonderful, I felt that the flavor of the coconut was lost amidst the lime. In the future I would substitute the 2 extra tbsp. of lime juice in the custard for 2 tbsp. coconut milk.

Lime & White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Bars

Money has been a little tight lately, but I've been working to ensure that pinching pennies doesn't mean that I have to cut back on my baking! I was looking for a recipe with the following qualifications (set by my boyfriend Joe and our friend Igor): few ingredients, something the equipment-poor kitchen at Joe's apartment could produce, not too much chocolate, and nothing too fancy. These cheesecake bars greatly exceeded expectations! They were gone within an hour of my offering them to the hoard of (five) young men who were currently occupying the apartment.

Lime & White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from Bon App├ętit 

  • 7 oz. Lindt (or other high-quality) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 10 oz. of chocolate flavored Teddy Grahams
  • 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. whipping cream
  • 8 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • optional garnish: white chocolate chips or curls, lime wedges, edible glitter
To Make:
  1. Line 8x8 baking pan with foil so that some can fold over each side.
  2. Use food processor to finely grind Teddy Grahams. Add 2 tbsp. of whipping cream to crumbs and pulse to combine. Firmly press Teddy Graham mixture into the baking pan, and store in freezer while making the filling.
  3. Whip the remaining 1/2 c. whipping cream in medium bowl until it holds stiff peaks.
  4. In large bowl, beat to combine cream cheese, sugar, and lime juice. Add whipped cream in 2 parts and stir until smooth. Fold in white chocolate. Smooth mixture over prepared crust and chill for at least two hours. Garnish before serving.
Some Notes:
  • I wanted to serve the bars quickly, so I chilled the bars by freezing for one hour before serving. After that hour, I would keep the bars in the refrigerator to keep from ruining the texture of the filling.
  • Garnishes are a personal choice. Be creative! I used white chocolate chips left over from another recipe and edible glitter (available in cake decorating stores) to make the bars more professional looking and magical!