Monday, February 25, 2008

What you get when you take a Class at Cocoa Bean

That is right if you take a class at Cocoa Bean you will not only get the exact recipes that they use in the bakery and a very enjoyable class taught by Paul one of the owners. You get boxes of items because they never sell day old items and since classes are done on Sundays and they are closed on Mondays they basically clear out the display case and you get to take it home with you. Don't worry I didn't eat them all I brought them to work.

Happy Birthday Dad!

It was my Dad's Birthday last Friday and I wanted to make something for him. And he loves lemon I mean loves it. When ever it was girl scout cookie time my sister and I would be all over the samoa's and peanut butter patties it got so bad we have to have separate boxes with our names on them. And every year my Dad got the Lemon Creme Sandwich cookies, which no one but him touched. They were so tart and sweet for our young palettes. So when I saw these cookies I knew I had to make them for him.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of AP Flour
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 and in the bowl of a mixer beat butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and salt until combined and smooth. Place the mixer on low and slowly add the flour the dough will be very stiff. Do not over mix the dough stop mixing when just combined and finish mixing by hand.
Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap and form into a disk, wrap and chill until firm at least 1 hour but up to 3 days. Once chilled unwrap the dough and place on lightly floured piece of parchment paper and roll out with a floured rolling pin until about 1/8 of an inch thick. If the dough cracks let it warm up a little. If you chill it longer than a few hours you will probably have to let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more.
Cut out cookies with a 1 1/2 inch round cutter, and only re roll the scraps once. Place an inch apart on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake until they barely start to brown. The original recipe says 15-20 minutes but mine only took 12 minutes and I did bake them on a Silpat. Once baked transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.

Creamy Lemon Filling

4oz of softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1 - 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

In a bowl mix together the cream cheese and the lemon zest until smooth then gradually add the sugar until it forms the consistency you are looking for and whisk until smooth.

To make the sandwiches put about 1 teaspoon of filling between 2 cookies.

Adapted from Lemon Sandwich Cookies from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

UPDATE - My Dad said these were much better than the girl scout cookie version but he might be biased.

I have entered this in the Sugar High Friday #41 : Sweet Gifts. Hopefully I do well! As Dad did like these alot and I have already been requested to make them again.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

When Excess Causes You to Rethink

The nature of my job means im in front of a computer all day so during my free time im continually trolling the internet in search of new recipes. Only problem is that I keep getting more but I don't seem to make any new ones. I just stick to the ones I have already made. Well all of that is about to change as my binder is exploding and I need to boost my creative juices so Im taking a repreive from all familar recipes and I'm only going to be making new recipes. So here goes.......

Pumpkin Cake with Honey Frosting

Anything pumpkin goes over really well in my house. I personally love pumpkin flavored things as Fall is my favorite season. Its perfect weather at least here in the Chicago land area. We really only have 2 seasons Winter and Summer so a true Fall is very short lived. But on those days I think this cake would be perfect not that it wouldn't be good any time of year but its nice and light and the Honey frosting is sweet but not overpowering what so ever. Now P loved the flavor of the cake but I thought it had a little to much Nutmeg. Still a really good cake.

Ingredients for the Cake
1 stick of butter, melted
2 1/2 cups of AP Flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of nutmeg and ginger
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

Ingredients for the Frosting
1 stick of unsalted butter softened
1 (8 0z) bar of cream cheese
1/4 cup of honey

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9 x 9 inch pan with non stick spray. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and spices and set aside. Mix together eggs, sugar, butter and pumpkin puree until combined and add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Pour batter into the pan and spread so that its evenly distributed. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until only moist crumbs attach to a toothpick when inserted. Let cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan then turn out of the pan and cool on the rack completely.
For the Frosting whisk together the butter, cream cheese and honey until smooth. Then spread on the cake and cut into squares to server.

Adapted from Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Orange Cornmeal Cake

This looked so interesting and I love cornbread so this looked right up my alley. The sugar topping made my cake top crackle and have this lovely crunchy layer to it. It was really good and the orange flavor did not over power the cake but gave it subtle sweetness. It would be good out on a brunch buffet or a baby shower because it is moist enough to sit out an its not cloying sweet what so ever.

1/2 cup of olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup of sugar plus 1/3 cup of sugar for the topping
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 1/4 cup of AP Flour
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 375 and spray the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with non stick spray then line with a circle of parchment paper and spray again with non stick spray.
Whisk together oil, eggs, sugar, and juice until combined. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle top with the 1/3 of a cup of sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let the cake cool in its pan for 20 minutes then run a knife around the outside of the pan and invert the cake and remove the parchment paper then leave on the cooling rack to finish cooling.

Adapted from Orange Cornmeal Cake from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

I love any kind of cookie bar and so when I see one I haven't made before it immediately gets printed and put in my massive to make binder. So these looked fantastic and it doesn't hurt that I love coconut. They were good but were lacking in coconut flavor for me so maybe next time I would add some coconut extract. The Black Bottom part how ever was fantastic just enough chocolate flavor and nice and tender.

Ingredients for the Base
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/4 cup of AP Flour

Ingredients for Coconut Layer
2 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of AP Flour
7 oz of shredded coconut plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling over the top

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9 x 9 with aluminum foil leaving an over hang so that you can remove them from the pan later. Spray the foil with non stick spray.
Melt the butter in the microwave then add sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add in the egg, cocoa and flour and mix til combined then spread into the pan. Bake until just beginning to pull away from the sides about 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly while making the coconut layer.
For the coconut layer mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Once combined mix in the flour and the 7 oz of coconut. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture of the crust and press so its even. Its easier to do if you moisten your finger tips. Once the coconut layer covers the whole top sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Bake for 25-30 minutes and cool completely in the pan and once cooled lift out with the help of the foil. Remove the foil and cut into bars, store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Black-Bottom Coconut Bars from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.

Banana 7 Layer Bars

This recipe is one of my many finds on the internet and as I said earlier I have a lot of them. This recipe really intrigued me as I love 7 layer bars. Now on the original recipe they were called Banana Cookie Bars but to me they were very similar to 7 layer bars so they have been renamed. These were more soft than a normal 7 layer bar but had fantastic flavor and who doesn't love Bananas and Chocolate together. These were great but I would cut them small because they are really rich.

1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of softened butter
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 bananas (mashed)
2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 13 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper. Mix together flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl cream together butter and powdered sugar. I used my Kitchen aid to cream the sugar and butter and then slowly added the flour mixture until the batter was moist but it was still very stiff. Press batter into baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes.
In a bowl mix together the milk and the bananas until combined. Once the crust has baked take it out and pour the banana mixture over the crust. Top with the chocoalte chips, walnuts, and coconut and sprinkle evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes let cool completely and then chill in the fridge for about an hour or the freezer for about 25 minutes. Once cooled cut them into bars and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Almond Breakfast Cake Redux

Now I love this almond cake and I have already made it for the blog. But when P took the Hazelnut Tart to work to give to our friend. The was an sense of loss felt by the rest of the office as they had no treat. Which of course makes me feel great that they really like what I have to offer. It also made me think that I hadn't sent anything in a while due to our really busy schedules the last few months. So I had all of the ingredients and my heavy cream only had 2 more days left to its life. So I hope P's office enjoys it. I just changed it up a little by adding some fresh blackberries to the batter after it had been poured in the pan. Believe it or not they were added to float on top but as you can see ended up on the bottom.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache Tart
The name is surely a mouthful but its really a fantastic tart and very easy to make but looks impressive. I made this one for a friend of ours so that is why there is only one picture I think its rude to cut a piece out of the tart for the blog. The key to this dessert is good chocolate.

1 1/4 cups of toasted hazelnuts - divided
9 whole graham crackers, broken in half to form 18 squares
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

1 cup of heavy cream
1 pinch of salt
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped - I used Scharffen Berger
3 tablespoons Frangelico

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9 inch tart pan with non stick spray. Combine 3/4 of a cup of the hazelnuts, graham crackers, sugar, and salt in a food processor and blend until everything is finely ground. Drizzle melted butter over and blend until moistened. Press crumbs into the sides and bottom of the pan. The crust will be thick. Bake until set and just starting to turn brown about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Coarsely chop the remaining hazelnuts. Spread over the bottom of the crust. Bring the cream and the salt to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering remove from the heat and add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the Frangelico, pour the chocolate mixture over the hazelnuts in the crust. Refrigerate until ganache is set atleast 3 hours. This can be made up to 2 day in advance so its a great party dessert.

From A Sur La Table Class about chocolate.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Bowl Eats Part 2

Brown Butter Blondies
1 1/2 cups of AP Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of clarified unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 and spray a 8x8 pan with nonstick spray. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a frying pan heat the butter until light brown about 6 minutes. Let cool. Combine the sugars and butter and mix until combined. Add in the eggs, vanilla and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan and spread so its evenly distributed. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs attached to it. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan.

Adapted from Essentials of Baking by Williams-Sonoma.

Super Bowl Eats Part 1

Vanilla Scented Cornbread
While purusing some of my favorite blogs a while back I came across this recipe and fell in love. I absolutely love cornbread. Cornbread muffins, stuffing, even just the bread it self. IF its made correctly and crumbles in your mouth with its moist tenderness. So when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it and ASAP. So I made it on a Sunday over the Summer and let me tell you this is the most tender cornbread ever and the slight sweetness is very very pleasing on the palate.
I will say that I have made this several times and everyone has loved it. It is just fantastic I really can't say enough about it.
For the Superbowl we decided for the meat portion of the meal to go with P's famous Pork Shoulder. Smoked and slow roasted on his Green Egg that he loves. Let me say that this pairs perfectly with it. So please make it and enjoy it, because it really is that good.

Vanilla Scented Cornbread

1 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar or vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup of buttermilk

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract – I used Vanilla Bean Paste instead of the Extract and the Bean.

contents of one vanilla bean scraped
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract and vanilla bean scrapings if using.
Combine the wet ingredients to the dry and give it a quick few whisks. Pour over the mixture and stir.
Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan that has been lightly greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. I baked mine for 30 minutes so that it springed back when touched.

Thanks Vanilla Garlic.