Archive for April, 2011

DB April – Maple Mousse in a Bacon Container

I realize that many of you think this is a crime punishable by law but.. I don’t really love bacon.

I like bacon, yes. I think it smells fantastic. Bacon grease is an excellent way to add flavor to pretty much anything. However, when it comes to breakfast I prefer hearty, fatty sausage to bacon. I find that my perfectly cooked bacon is not always how others make it and I’m also terrible at making bacon the way I want it. In the end, it often amounts to a lot of grease with not-super-awesome texture. I’m usually left wanting.

So when I found out that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a maple mousse served in bacon cups I was a little underwhelmed. I’m typically excited upon finding out the challenge and immediately start thinking about when I can make it and who I can serve it to. This time, I waited until the very last minute before leaving for China and just made a single one for myself in case it wasn’t fit for sharing.

I was so wrong. After bite numero uno, I started kicking myself for not making more. Baking the bacon in the oven for exactly 27 minutes yielded a perfectly crisp complement to the smooth and slightly sweet maple mousse. The combination together is indescribably good. I licked my plate afterwards and I’m not afraid to say it. This was a winner.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m leaving for China this coming Sunday. (Can I get a what WHAT??) Don’t worry, I have posts lined up while I’m gone.

There are errands to do, ends to tie up (as it’s also my last week of school), things to buy, and bags to pack. In all the frenzy, I developed a craving for muffins. Something I can run out the door with and get enough of an energy boost to keep me going. Cue wonderful muffin recipe falling into my lap.

These muffins are delicious. They’re grainy and healthy tasting but with just enough chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth. The hint of cinnamon in the background of it all doesn’t hurt either. And bonus you don’t even need to break out any electrical mixers for this – it can all be done with a whisk and a spatula in  just two bowls. Oh yes, this recipe is all kinds of wonderful.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to call my credit card company so that I don’t get completely cut off in the middle of China.

PS. Have you been to China? We’re going to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hanzhou with a day trip to the Great Wall (we’re thinking Mutianyu). Any recommendations/tips/advice are much appreciated.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from How Sweet It Is

Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 c milk, divided (I used whole)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, mix rolled oats and 1/2 c milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and brown sugar until caramel-colored and well combined. Add in vanilla and butter and whisk until combined (some chunks are okay). Add in oat mixture, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix. Stir in remaining 1/2 c milk. Finally fold in chocolate chips. Portion out about 1/4 c batter per muffin cup and bake for 18-20 minutes.

I didn’t even share these with Boy. I ate all of them myself. Yum!

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake

Lessons I’ve learned thus far in my quarter of a century existence on this earth:

1. Double knotting sneakers can never be a bad thing.

2. Facial moisterizer is necessary after I wash my face or I dry up and it’s not attractive.

3. People have a funny way of surprising you (this can be good or bad but there are lots of surprises either way).

4. Coffee is not actually essential to my being though I enjoy it.

5. Ice cream cakes are best made in a pan with four tall sides for ease of transport and the least amount of messy.

Yup. That’s it. Five things. That’s one thing for every five years I’ve been alive. But the quantity isn’t what matters, it’s the quality, and friends, that’s some quality lessons learned up there. Let’s talk about the last one, shall we?

Several weeks ago we went out for a going away party for a friend (she just left for Korea for a month). While she was out of earshot, her boyfriend said that he thought she snuck a cake into their car because she’d be out of town for his birthday. He then remarked that out of all the years they’d been together she’d never gotten him the cake he truly wanted. My ears perked up. Cake? I’m in!

Turns out all he wanted was an ice cream cake. And that’s what he was going to get.

The first birthday cake I made for my group of friends was actually for Boy. He too wanted an ice cream cake but only told me this on the day of his celebration which led to a lot of scrambling around. Needless to say, the cake was improperly frozen and proceeded to melt all over me as we tried to transport it from my freezer to the restaurant. There was toilet paper involved. Don’t ask.

The second ice cream cake I made the next year was for Boy’s roommate. I discovered the joys of building the cake in a disposable pan with tall sides so that if it began to melt it wouldn’t melt on me. Much better. However, I baked the cake in a separate pan and then transferred it which meant some holes and not the prettiest slices.

This time around, I think I finally perfected my ideal cake. I baked a bottom cake layer in the pan and simply built up the cake by adding homemade ice cream on top. It was a huge hit with the birthday boy, Boy himself, and all our friends and was much simpler than my previous versions. I may switch up the flavors but this will definitely be my method!

Note: If you’re looking to plan out your time, I suggest making the ice cream bases the night before and refrigerating overnight. The cake can also be made the day before if desired or the morning of. Make sure you freeze it for at least an hour before spreading ice cream on top. I then churned my middle layer (vanilla), immediately spread atop the cake, and froze for 20 minutes while my top layer (strawberry) churned. I didn’t wash my ice cream maker in between and went straight from flavor to flavor. You can spread this part over a few days if you like. I’m just insane.

Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

Makes ~ 1 quart.

Ingredients

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Bring milk and cream to boil in a heavy saucepan. Meanwhile whisk together yolks and sugar until slightly thickened. While whisking, drizzle 1/3 of the hot mixture into the eggs to temper. Pour the rest of the hot mixture in, whisk, and then transfer back into the pan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture is 170-180F or the custard coats the back of a spoon without running when you slide a finger through it. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until ready to churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Strawberry Ice Cream
adapted from epicurious

Makes ~5 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 3 3×1 inch strips of lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar, divided
  • 1 lb frozen strawberries (fresh if you can find really great ones), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions
Combine cream, zest, and salt in a saucepan and heat until just to a boil. Remove from heat and discard zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and 1/2 c sugar until well combined. Add a small amount of the heavy cream to the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Then add the rest in, mix, and pour back into the saucepan. Turn the heat back on medium-low and whisk constantly as you heat the mixture to 170F. Be sure you do not exceed 180F. Pour through a sieve into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until cool.

Once cooled, puree strawberries with remaining 1/4 c sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds. Mix into the cooled custard. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Chocolate Cake
adapted from Gale Gand

Makes 1 9×13″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/4 c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 eggs*
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c boiling water

*for the half egg, you can break the egg into a bowl, whisk, then measure out half of the mixture

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13″ cake pan and set aside.

Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl fitted with an electric mixer, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat on low for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, still mixing at low speed until just combined. Pour batter into the pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool and freeze at least 1 hour to firm up before assembly.

For Assembly: Ensure that the vanilla ice cream is soft before spreading by either spreading right after churning or letting the ice cream sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Spread vanilla ice cream onto the frozen chocolate cake. Freeze for 30 minutes while you churn or soften the strawberry layer. Spread strawberry ice cream and freeze at least 1 hour before serving. Decorate as desired.

I love ice cream cakes, don’t you?

Samoa Bars

In my reader, I have amassed quite a collection of blog posts and recipes that I’m dying to try. Unfortunately, that collection grows by the day and I can’t quite keep up. Also, when a stroke of inspiration strikes, there’s no guarantee that an appropriate recipe is already sitting in my files so I go off hunting the internet and alas the list of recipes never gets shorter.

This week, however, I was determined.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on this recipe. Browned butter, chocolate, coconut, and the namesake of the hands-down best Girl Scouts cookie out there. What could go wrong? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. These bars are an exercise in moderation they’re so delicious. They can single-handedly bring a diet crashing down with the first bite of wonderful. The only thing I would change would be to do some kind of caramel drizzle over them to really get the quintessential samoa experience.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Samoa Bars
adapted from honey & jam

Makes one 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.

Brown the butter in a pan over high heat. To do this, stand very close by and wait until it begins to change color and smell nutty. Take off the flame and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes until just warm. Combine with the brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the flour, coconut, and chocolate chips until the flour just disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top over. Bake 25-30 minutes. The center will still be soft but avoid overbaking. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Clearly I was too eager to wait for these babies to cool.

Have you taken childhood favorites and changed them up?