30 December 2009

Avocado and Pistachio Muffins with Lime Glaze

See!? I told you I was going to be better at updating! Honestly, I was planning on updating yesterday when I made the Black and White Brownies from the Moosewood Dessert Cookbook but... they were terrible. God awful. I was so disappointed! I have never made a dud recipe from Moosewood before, but these brownies were sweet without being rich, and more than a bit chalky. The best part of them was the chocolate glaze: melt 1/3 c. semi sweet chips in a double boiler with 1/4 c. heavy cream... aaaaand there you go.

Anyway, BIG NEWS! I made up a recipe! And it isn't terrible! It needs tweaking, definitely, but I could probably fix the problems without even remaking the recipe to test... Here's the backstory: I love guacamole, but I have been making it so often that it's becoming mundane to me. There was one avocado left over, and about to turn, so I decided to google search "avocado bread" thinking that there might be something useful... no luck. I am not a huge fan of zucchini or banana breads, and that's about all I came up with (aka lots of spices that completely mask the true flavor of the produce). So then I searched avocado cake. Still, not much luck because I didn't have any buttermilk! Apparently, buttermilk is a staple in recipes where you bake with avocados... who knew!? So I decided to make my own recipe. I kid you not when I say that this was one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences of my life... There was a great possibility of my crashing and burning (literally). I decided to make the batter into muffins, because I only had one avocado.

The result? 4 mint-green (thank you camera phone for completely destroying the integrity of my muffin-color), medium-sized muffins that were good with the potential of being great. I have listed the recipe as I made it today, below. To see what I would definitely change about my recipe next time, see the notes section! Remember, this recipe only yields 4 muffins.

Audrey's Avocado and Pistachio Muffins with Lime Glaze

  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, salted
  • 1 medium sized avocado, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. salted pistachios, chopped coarsely
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
To Make:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cream together butter and sugar. Add mashed avocado and beat until smooth. Add egg, then dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in pistachios.
  • Bake in ungreased and unlined muffin cups, filled 3/4 of the way full, until peaks are browned (about 20 minutes). Let cool on cooling rack.
  • Meanwhile, beat together lime juice, powdered sugar, and water as needed to make a glaze of medium thickness. Apply using a pastry crush to the cooled muffins.
Some Notes:
  • Next time, I am going to add 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to the batter. The muffins lacked dimension, and although the lime and pistachios helped, they were a little bland.
  • Next time, I will increase the granulated sugar to a full cup. The muffins would have been much better had they been sweeter. As is, they are basically savory muffins.
  • The muffins came out a little doughy in the center. Next time, I will increase cooking time by 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Instead of thinning out the glaze with water, next time I will use more lime juice. Today, I only had the one lime half lying around.
  • I might play around with substituting yogurt, ricotta cheese, or buttermilk for the butter. The muffins are naturally heavy because of the fats in the avocado, and I think they could use some lightness.
  • I might also try adding lime juice to the actual batter to give it some tang.

28 December 2009

Chocolate Creme Pie... sort of.

Okay, I'll admit it. I cheated. I used (gasp!) a frozen pie crust! Yes! Me! It's bad. Honestly, though, it was because I completely forgot about, and subsequently burned to a crisp, the chocolate-graham cracker crust in the oven not once, but TWICE. After that, I threw in the towel and just used one of the frozen pie crusts my grandmother had lying around. Oops. As a result, this recipe is not for Chocolate Creme Pie. It is more accurately for Chocolate Creme Pie... Filling.

Chocolate Creme Pie... Filling
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
  • whipping cream for garnish
To Make:
  1. In a large saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks. Then add whole milk gradually, whisking until combined. Boil over moderate heat until the filling thickens. You can choose to sieve the filling or not, at this point (I didn't and it turned out fine).
  2. Mix in chocolates and butter. Chill, stirring occasionally.
Some Notes:
  • This 'filling' would be incredible as a pudding. It is SO rich and thick. It's my brother's favorite thing that I make!

Banana Creme Pie

I have made this recipe many, many times. The first was for my maternal grandfather, Bop's, birthday, and so I honestly think of this as Bop's Banana Creme Pie. Since then, I have made the pie several more times, for Thanksgiving, for get-togethers for my fraternity, and any other event when I need an easy pie recipe.

Let me reiterate: I love this pie. It is perfect in every way, ESPECIALLY the crust... because of the bananas used in the crust, the crust turns out chewy and delicious. It's the best part of the pie!

Banana Creme Pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit

For crust
  • 2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. mashed banana
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
For filling
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine crumbs, sugar for crust, and bananas for crust. Add the melted butter for the crust, and press mixture onto the sides of a pie pan. Chill for about 30 minutes, or until firm. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and cool completely.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add whipping cream and whole milk gradually, then add egg yolks. Cut vanilla bean in half, and scrape seeds into the saucepan, then add pod. Whisk over medium-high heat until thick and boiling. Remove heat, and whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Transfer to large bowl, and chill, stirring occasionally.
  3. To assemble pie, cut the remaining bananas into thin rounds. Spread layer of custard cream over the crust, then put a layer of banana. Repeat twice more. Top with whipped cream.
Some Notes:
  • Vanilla beans are expensive, but ENTIRELY WORTH IT. I made the pie several times before using real vanilla beans in it, instead opting to up the vanilla extract. While this works, I was astounded by the difference the real vanilla bean made. And yes, if you look hard enough, you can find them at Giant Eagle AND Kroger. So no excuses.
  • This is a great base custard recipe, so feel free to use it as a substitute in other recipes. It also doesn't contain gelatin, which is great for us animal-friendly bakers.
  • Also, this crust is amazing. I don't really taste much banana flavor in it, and I use it as my go-to graham cracker crust with any pie.

Mexican Tea Cakes

These cookies were my second contribution to ATH 305's cultural fiesta. They were easy to make only hours before the event (although I would suggest planning ahead... see my notes), and went over very well. I can always remember my mother making these as Christmas cookies, so it was interesting to see them in a new light.

Mexican Tea Cakes
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 1 c. softened unsalted butter
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
To Make:
  1. Cream together butter and 1/2 c. powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla, and add flour, cinnamon, and salt until just combined.
  2. Chill for at least 6 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter 2 baking sheets.
  4. Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Immediately roll cookies in powdered sugar and let cool completely. After cooled, roll in powdered sugar again.
Some Notes:
  • In the interest of time, I skipped the chilling in step 2. I would NOT recommend doing this. The cookies turned out slightly flattened (as you can see in the picture) instead of perfectly round.

Profiteroles with Caramel Sauce

It's criminal, I know. An entire semester has gone by without a post. In my defense, this was a tough semester educationally, emotionally, and socially. BUT I never stopped baking whenever I was given the opportunity!

One of my favorite classes this semester was People and Cultures of Latin America. We had an evening get together at the professor's house one night, potluck style with all sorts of traditional Latin American foods. I was in charge of the dessert, so I ended up bringing profiteroles with caramel sauce and Mexican tea cookies.

The pictures above don't show the profiteroles (a kind of cream puff popular at weddings in South and Central America) with the caramel sauce, because I made it fresh when I got to the professor's house. That was an experience in itself, cooking with everyone watching me... I got some serious nerves. But these went over really well! They take a lot of time to make, and are technically challenging, but I think they're worth it...

Profiteroles with Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit

For puffs
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
For filling
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 2/3 c. whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
For caramel sauce
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. butter, cut into cubes
To Make:
  1. Boil water and butter for puffs in sauce pan. Reduce heat to low, and add the flour and salt. Stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides and forms a ball.
  2. Transfer to large bowl, and using a mixer, beat in eggs one at a time. Cover and let stand, 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, and butter two baking sheets. Put coupler (with no tip) into a pastry bag, and spoon dough in. Pipe 1 inch rounds onto the baking sheets, and smooth the tops. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Take out of oven and turn off oven. Using a knife, pierce the sides of each puff and put back into oven for 10 minutes with the door ajar.
  4. Place the water for filling into a bowl, and sprinkle in gelatin. Simmer in a saucepan milk, cream, and vanilla bean (cut in half with the seeds scraped into the pan).
  5. In a large bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture, then return to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until thick.
  6. Stir in gelatin mixture. Transfer to bowl, and cover with plastic wrap pressed to the mixture. Chill.
  7. Spoon mixture into pastry bag with a 1/4 inch tip, and pipe into completely cool puffs.
  8. Stir sugar and water for sauce in a saucepan until dissolved, over medium heat. Turn up heat and boil, without stirring until deep amber in color. Take off heat, and stir in cream then butter. Drizzle over puffs.
Some Notes:
  • In the future, I will definitely replace steps 4-6 with the much easier and less gelatin-y cream from my favorite banana cream pie recipe.