Archive | May, 2011

Just add…

25 May

chocolate!

and peanut butter!

and more chocolate!

Yesterday we made these cookies from How Sweet It Is.  Chocolate + peanut butter = bliss.  Seriously.  I think I ate three cookies before they even went in the oven.  And waiting 4 -6 hours for the dough to refrigerate? Sooo didn’t happen.  They were still tasty.

Our kitchen being the oddly stocked one that it is, we used regular cocoa powder from Trader Joe’s and a combination of bittersweet and mini semisweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips.

Then twin 1 ran off with a sheet of cookies.  Like walked out of the door with a pot holder holding a cookie sheet fresh from the oven.  Talk about bake and run.

Look! She had time for one picture before running off to swim with friends.

We’ve already had requests to make them again.  Maybe this time we’ll follow the directions.  And use dark cocoa powder.  And more peanut butter; the guys around here are peanut butter fiends.

♥ v

Lemon Meringue Pie

24 May

(from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book ©1976)

PIE CRUST

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Sift flour and salt together; cut in shortening with a pasty blender til pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the mixture. Gently toss with a fork. Repeat til all is moistened. Form into a ball. Flatten on lightly floured surface. Roll from center to edge til 1/8 inch thick.

Fit pastry into pie plate; trim 1/2 to 1 inch beyond the edge; fold under and flute edge with fingers. Prick bottom and sides with fork. Bake at 450° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool.

FILLING

1 1/2   cups sugar

3   tablespoons cornstarch

3   tablespoons all-purpose flour

Dash salt

1 1/2   cups hot water

*   *   *

3   slightly beaten egg yolks

2   tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2   teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/3   cup lemon juice

1   9-inch baked pastry shell, cooled

In saucepan, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt.  Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly (our dad swears by stirring in figure eights and it has worked quite well for us).  Cook and stir over moderately high heat till mixture comes to boiling.  Reduce heat; cook and stir 4 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.

Stir a moderate amount of hot mixture into egg yolks, then return to hot mixture.  Bring to boiling and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add butter and lemon peel.  Slowly add lemon juice, mixing well.  Pour into pastry shell.  Spread meringue over filling; seal to edge.  Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, until meringue has golden brown tips.  Cool before cutting.

MERINGUE

3   egg whites

1/2   teaspoon vanilla

1/4   teaspoon cream of tartar

6   tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar till soft peaks form (a chilled copper bowl works best, with chilled beaters also).  Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved.  Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry.  Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, or till meringue is golden.  Cool.

Just add…

24 May

More lemons!

…and chocolate!

I’m sure you thought I wouldn’t touch another lemon for at least a week but….we made Lemon Meringue Pie last night after dinner. We had Louisiana Hot Links (they might burn your lips off but they are SO tasty!).

Yum! Best lunch/dinner for inclement weather :)

And then pie for dessert. There really is nothing better than a fresh warm pie :) especially with friends while watching Secondhand Lions.

“You bought a used lion?!”

ha ha ha :)

So today is for washing dishes and eating leftover pie and cheesecake for lunch. Then making something involving lots of sugar and chocolate and hopefully peanut butter.

Exciting things that happened:

1) the new PetSmart had their soft opening! It was so hard not to buy a betta fish or some birds or a cute mouse or dwarf hamster!

2) I found a new favorite flavor combo at Coldstone :) Cheesecake ice cream with raspberries! oh wow, so delicious!

It didn't look quite like this, but you get the idea :) (photo from simplecomfortfood.com)

We’ll keep you posted :)

♥ k

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

23 May

(from Cooks Illustrated’s Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling)

2   ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/4   cup heavy cream

1   tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

NOTE: For covering the cheesecake, we didn’t refrigerate the ganache, just let it cool on the counter until it had thickened slightly.

Voila! Smooth the ganache for a clean look.


Fundraisers and Dance Parties

23 May
Polka Dot Cheesecake - before baking

Our 9-inch springform pan happens to be a super cool, red and white, retro looking one. Be jealous.

A few weeks ago, we were approached by our associate pastor to make a dessert for a youth fundraiser.  A Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction to be precise.  Twin 1 had been eying a polka dot cheesecake and decided this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

It went perfectly until we put it in the oven, 500 degrees is a scary thing.  Then we realized we forgot to add sugar to the crust.  And our cheesecake changed color (maybe next time we’ll  make a foil tent for it.  and a water bath).  *sigh* After a little trimming and tasting, we decided some bittersweet chocolate ganache would cover a multitude of sins, as it were.  Perfect. We stashed it in the fridge until the Auction so the ganache could set and stay tasty.

* * *

Good friends 20th birthday + open bar + super tasty food + good music spanning several decades = awesome party!  Dancing was minimal for us but we had fun laughing at the birthday boy and singing along.  I also had my first run in with cake pops (red velvet covered in chocolate and lemon in white chocolate), they were yummy.

* * *

So the cheesecake still looked a little naked with just the ganache so I made whipped cream.  And then ate a third of it.  Yum.  Twin 1 used her mad decorating skills and a few mini chocolate chips and it was ready.  We got lucky; our table-mates at the dinner bought our cheesecake so we got to eat it.  :)  Let me tell you, it was just as delicious as it looked.

A nice slice reveals our awesome polka dots.

And then I walked home.  Briskly.

♥ v

Polka Dot Cheesecake

21 May

(adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Graham Cracker Crust

5  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

8  whole graham crackers, crushed (we used chocolate graham crackers)

1  tablespoon sugar

Filling

2 1/2   pounds (five 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature

1/8   teaspoon salt

1 1/2   cups sugar

1/3   cup sour cream

2   teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

2   teaspoons vanilla extract

2   large egg yolks plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

4   ounces bittersweet chocolate

FOR THE CRUST

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl and mix until evenly moistened.  Empty the crumbs into the springform pan and press evenly into the pan bottom, a small ramekin works well for this.  Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes.  Cool while preparing the filling.

FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING

Eggs

Cheesecakes need a lot; a lot of cream cheese, a lot of time, and a lot of eggs.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.  Reserve 1 cup of the filling.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Add 1 cup of the cheesecake filling to the melted chocolate; mix until no white streaks remain.  Spoon the chocolate cheesecake mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.  Set aside.

Grease the sides of the springform pan, again.  Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills if the pan leaks).  Pour the filling into the cooled crust.  To make the polka dots, insert the tip of the pastry bag about 1/2-inch into the cheesecake and squeeze the bag to make a sphere.  Continue in a random pattern around the cheesecake until all the chocolate mixture is used up.

Bake 10 minutes; without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until the center of the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees, about 1/2 hour in our oven.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan.  Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate.  Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

Enjoy!

Lemon Curd

19 May

1/2 cup butter

1  1/2 cups sugar*

zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup lemon juice

6 eggs, lightly beaten

Melt butter in a double boiler. Add sugar and lemon juice, stir until combined. Add zest and eggs, whisking constantly. Cook and stir constantly until fairly thick. (This will feel like it is taking FOREVER, but don’t lose hope! It is so worth it!) Jar, cool, and store in the fridge. Makes about 3 cups.

*add more to taste if using limes

Lemon zest

I love zest! (If using a microplane like this, use SHORT strokes! No one wants long string-ys on their biscuit.)

Ways to enjoy:

  • on toast/biscuits/crumpets/waffles/pancakes
  • filling for a cake
  • a sandwich, with cream cheese or alone
  • with a spoon
  • on cheesecake = instant classy-ness
  • make friends!
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