Archive for Spoon Desserts

Blackberry Custard Kuchen

I most definitely did not do this kuchen justice with this picture. And, unfortunately, there is not another picture I can show you. Suffice it to say this kuchen was so delicious it was gobbled up in under 18 hours. I had planned to take pictures of a slice the next day after returning home from commencement since I baked it in a frenzy the night my relatives flew in from Seattle (and Mom, on her way out to the airport, suddenly requested a baked good to magically appear when she returned).

It was quite delicious though. The blackberries (though raspberries and blueberries would also work well) married perfectly with the slightly sweet custard topping and complementary crust.

I really need to take a class or something so I can better describe. All I can ever seem to say is “mmmmm” while my mouth is stuffed with sugary, creamy goodness.

Just make this!

Blackberry Custard Kuchen
adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 pints blackberries, rinsed
For topping:
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 13 x 9″ baking dish.

For crust, In a food processor or large bowl, combine 1 cup flour and salt. Pulse in butter or cut in with 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream. Press into the bottom of the prepared dish. Combine sugar and remaining 1/2 c flour in a bowl and sprinkle over crust. Arrange blackberries atop sugar/flour mixture.
For topping, Combine sugar and flour. Then add in eggs, cream, and vanilla. Pour over berries. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Can be served warm or chilled.
Are you partaking of the berry season?

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?

DB – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

There’s something about the term panna cotta that makes me think of some fancy restaurant dessert. I imagine candlelight, soft romantic music in the background, a waiter attentive to my every move, and a check that makes me thankful I’m not paying.

So when panna cotta was this month’s DB challenge, I was a little bit apprehensive – until I read the actual recipe! It’s even easier than making its down-home counterpart chocolate pudding. The whole thing was whipped up and in my fridge in a quick 15 minutes. And, let me tell you, it tasted wonderful. Creamy, chocolate-y, and with a tiny adaptation of adding the zest of an orange to the cream, it had a little something extra.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada de Laurentis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

(I did not include the cookie recipe in this post, please see Mallory’s blog for that. I made a similar cookie for my Lace Cannolis last month though!)

Chocolate Panna Cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 4-6, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 orange
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions
Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside to sit 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice off the peel of the orange in big chunks, trying not to get any of the bitter white pith underneath. Set aside the flesh for garnish later. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add in cream, orange peel, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil, then strain out orange peel. Pour mixture back into saucepan and add in the chocolate, whisking until melted. Whisk in the gelatin until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into ramekins and chill overnight or 6-8 hours before serving. Garnish with orange segments and florentine cookies.

Have you made anything “fancy” lately?

DB – Entremet

Dear Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be,

This challenge was not my challenge. For the first time I really really tried twice. TWICE! And twice, it got this funktastic uneven cooking leading to brownish swirls all over the joconde imprime. The first time I chalked it up to overcooking, the second time I just figured it was my oven. Even so, next time I’ll definitely be making the sponge cocoa to mask the effect.

Also, filling the actual entremet was quite the challenge. There are so many options! Cake/cookie/brownie layers, mousse, pudding, cream.. Possibilities seemed endless and I’m quite an indecisive person so that was a bit rough.

We should also mention the fact that I have no idea how to judge depth and how much filling will I need to make to fill this big mold?

I get anxious when I don’t have complete control. And I had absolutely no control over this baby.

But in the end, fears gone and caution thrown to the wind, this was a winner. The presentation was quite beautiful despite the outer joconde imprime separating at the seams and raspberry mousse leaking out. And all the work was worth it. Each bite was savored by everyone at the party I brought it to. The rich brownie layer along with the light raspberry and vanilla mousses created this perfect balance of textures and flavors.

So Daring Bakers Powers-That-Be, you did a great job this time, pulling me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to try something new. It was a challenge but I’m glad I came out the other side still alive with a belly full of entremet.

Till February,

Me

ps. Can you take it a little easier next month? I used a ridiculous number of eggs this month. As in over 18. I lost count. Thanks for your consideration.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

For the Biscuit Joconde Imprime recipe and technique, check out accro! My layers basically consisted of a brownie base, a raspberry mousse, a round of leftover sponge from the joconde imprime, and all topped with extra vanilla bean mousse.

Chewy Brownies (bottom layer)
adapted from use real butter, originally from Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil). For the entremet, I baked mine in a round pan to fit my mold. In a stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate. Allow to cool slightly then stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until blended. (I used a wooden spoon for this entire recipe because I didn’t feel like breaking out the big guns.) Add in the flour and cocoa. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool, cut, and eat! (Or stick it into your entremet.)

Raspberry Mousse (middle layer)
adapted from Food & Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 10 oz bags frozen raspberries, thawed (or 5 c fresh)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 c heavy cream, chilled

Instructions
Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a microwaveable bowl and let stand approximately 5 minutes or until softened. Meanwhile, puree approximately 4 c raspberries with 1/2 c sugar. Strain into a bowl. Microwave the gelatin for 10 seconds then whisk it into the strained puree.

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 c sugar until warm to the touch. Remove from heat and using a hand-held mixer, beat the whites until stiff and glossy. Fold into puree.

Using the same bowl, beat chilled heavy cream until firm. Fold into puree.

Mash remaining 1 c raspberries and fold into mousse. Pour into bowls or other serving vehicle and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set.

Happy Friday, dear readers!

Vanilla Bean Mousse

On a more serious note..

Today I found out that one of my patients passed away over the weekend.

That’s never happened before.

See, as a medical student, the experience of death and dying is very limited. Odd how it works out that way but let me explain. The sickest patients are monitored in the ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, whether it be Surgical, Medical, Pediatric, or Neonatal. Many of these patients come to the hospital in already critical condition and so are not extensively screened by more people than is necessary and only end up on the normal hospital floors after the crisis has been averted. The patients who are dying but well enough to go home or to another facility are transferred as soon as possible to maximize their time in a comfortable location.

This time, however, a patient had come into my team’s care from an outside hospital. He was sick, quite ill from previous medical conditions, and he had an infection on a prosthetic heart valve that, we eventually figured out, was sending disease all over his already sick body. We tried everything we could. Tried to get him on the appropriate antibiotics to fight the infection, tried to get him surgery to replace the sick valve. But time and his body were working against our medical interventions.

About a week and a half after I took on his case, we had to transfer him to the Medical ICU.

Several days later, the infection was causing a series of complications, occurring too rapidly to tend to one before the next arose and before the team knew it there were too many. Fixing one problem would only make another worse. His life stood at a standstill at the edge of death and then, eventually, it gave up.

Over the course of the couple of weeks I took care of him, I got to know his wife and daughters. It pained me to see him on the day he would eventually expire, his wife exhausted and still crying at his bedside. He knew it was nearly time. I fought back tears as I stood there, silent, because no words could enter my mouth and I don’t think there was anything to say anyhow. It pains me a little bit more now to know that I wasn’t there when the time actually came, though I’m not sure how I would have handled it.

I was in shock as I discovered the news. I sat thinking but again no words came.

This afternoon when I came home, all I wanted was to eat something comforting. Luckily, I had this stored in the fridge.

This mousse is light, airy, and filled with a wonderful vanilla flavor. I made it over the weekend with the vanilla beans my little brother so kindly bought me for Christmas. To complement the flavor I added in just a touch of lemon zest and the mousse transformed into a fresh bite. It’s comforting and reminiscent of summertime which is what we could all use over here on the East Coast. It’s freezing out! If you’re looking for something quick for a dinner party, date night, or just because this is the recipe for you.

Vanilla Bean Mousse
adapted from Sugarlaws

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, room temperature preferred
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Instructions
Using a stand, hand, or sheer strength, beat egg whites until foamy. Continuing to beat, slowly begin adding 1/3 c sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (but beaters can be left dirty), whip heavy cream, remaining 1/3 c sugar, seeds scraped out of the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until soft peaks. Err on the side of stiffer here.

Fold together egg and cream mixture. Divide into servings and refrigerate for as long as you can maintain your composure. Sugarlaws recommends at least 6 hours or overnight. I can’t say mine lasted that long.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today, friends! Happiness on Friday. I promise!

Kisses.

B.Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Giveaway Winner

Short post today because this recipe is a doozie!

First things first. Winner of the CSN gift certificate giveaway (generated by random.org) is…

Entry #3 Catherine! Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you shortly with the details.

Thank you to everyone who participated. Hopefully this will be the first of many giveaways!

 

Secondly, since I kicked off this giveaway with a recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Bread adapted from Bobby Flay, I’m sharing with you our Thanksgiving dessert: Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding. You may be sick of the pumpkin goods by now but I’m certainly not. My trusty bottle of cinnamon doesn’t leave my side from November to January!

Word of warning: This recipe has a lot of components and you end up with a lot of egg whites leftover (11 total). That being said, it’s totally worth it. Totally. I stretched it out over a few days and it was quite manageable: pumpkin bread on day 1, creme and caramel on day 2, and assembly on day 3. You could probably get away with buying pumpkin bread or using your own favorite recipe if you want to change it up. The bread pudding is also great on its own and you may opt to not make them but they both add something to the dish. The caramel cuts the thick creme and the creme balances out the sweet caramel. Both turn this dish into a real stunner. My five-person family ate the entire dish in one day.

If you’re looking for a showstopper for your next holiday party, this is it.

B.Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding
adapted from B.Flay on Food Network

Makes 1 9×13″ pudding.

Ingredients
For Pumpkin Bread:

  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c water

For Creme Anglaise:

  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar (pure cane)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)

For Spiced Caramel:

  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c apple juice
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • heaping 1/4 tsp ground cloves (or 4 whole cloves)
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butterscotch liquor (or 1 tbsp apple schnapps)

For Custard:

  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 c white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp butterscotch liquor (or bourbon)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean with seeds scraped)

Instructions
For Pumpkin Bread: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9″ loaf pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

With a stand or hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and oil at high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add pumpkin puree and then the eggs one at a time until just combined. Then on low speed slowly add in the flour and water mixture, beating until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake about 60-75 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool. (I left mine in the pan until the day I made the pudding.)

For Creme Anglaise: Bring half-and-half (and vanilla bean/seeds if using) to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Set a bowl with a strainer over an ice water bath.

While the half-and-half is heating, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until pale and ribbon-like when whisk is lifted. When the liquid is simmering, temper the eggs by pouring in about 1/4 c of the liquid, whisking constantly. Then slowly pour in the rest of the liquid while continuing to whisk. Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon with a thick layer that does not run when a line is drawn through it. Strain the mixture into the bowl atop the ice bath and stir until chilled. Cover and refrigerate until service.

For Caramel Apple Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine cream, apple juice, ginger, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan and keep over low heat while making the caramel.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and vinegar. Keep over high heat and allow to cook without stirring until it is a deep amber. This will take about 8 minutes but watch it very closely as it is prone to burning in a short period of time. Slowly whisk in the warmed cream a little at a time until smooth. Be careful as the mixture will bubble up. Continue whisking and remove from heat if necessary. Add liquor and cook for about 30 more seconds. Serve warm.

For Assembly: Preheat oven to 325F. Cut pumpkin bread into 1/2″ cubes and place on a lined baking sheet. Toast in oven, turning once, for 20 minutes. Let cool.

While toasting, make the custard by combining the cream, milk, and vanilla bean if using in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Once cream mixture is simmering, add about 1/4 c to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Then, still whisking, add the rest of the cream. Whisk in vanilla extract and liquor. Strain into a clean bowl.

Scatter toasted pumpkin bread cubes into a 9×13″ baking dish. Pour custard over the bread, pressing them in so as to soak completely. Let soak for 15 minutes.

I just realized I did not do this but B.Flay then says to place the baking dish in a larger roaster pan and pour hot water into the larger pan until it is halfway up the sides of the baking dish. If you’re lazy, our bread pudding was delicious without the water bath. Bake for about 1 hour at 325F or until just slightly jiggly in the center.

To serve, spoon creme anglaise into a shallow bowl and place portion of bread pudding on top. Drizzle caramel over pudding. Serve with whipped cream if desired though the dessert is quite rich already (but hey, I’m not judging).

Are you sick of pumpkin yet?

Lychee Coconut Sorbet

So let me tell you about Boy’s birthday extravaganza!

All-in-all the dinner was a huge success but it wasn’t without its bumps in the road. Also, if I didn’t start the night before and then start the day of at noon we would have eaten at midnight. I’m not a very organized cook. I’m definitely a much better baker.

But so it goes. He loved it anyway.

(And we all know he’d have loved anything I made – or at least said he loved it.)

First course, Momofuku’s Pork Belly Buns adapted from epicurious.

High points: They were absolutely delicious and tasted very much like the original buns that I had with Joanne. (Hi Joanne!) Assembly was quite easy as was the actually pork belly part. Plus, they make for a beautiful looking appetizer. Boy loves him some pork belly!

Low points: I couldn’t, for the life of me, get my bun dough to cooperate. The yeast wasn’t having it, the flour to water ratio seemed off, and a box of dry milk ran me $10. After several attempts, two the night before and one the day of, I ran out to the Asian store for some frozen premade buns which still tasted delicious so I highly recommend it.

Next course, Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs from No Recipes with Wilted Watercress from epicurious and jasmine rice.

High points: Everything. This was super easy to make. For the beef, you just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer away for a few hours until it’s beautifully tender and dark! I used a cheaper bottle of red wine and it came out perfect. The watercress took minutes and was a perfect side to the beef.

Low points: Nothing!

And for dessert, Lychee Coconut Sorbet from epicurious with Vermicelli Crisps from epicurious and the October Daring Bakers Challenge.

Can’t show you the Challenge dish yet but I thought I’d share the recipe for the sorbet since it was so delicious and super easy.

Lychee Coconut Sorbet
adapted from epicurious

Makes 1 pint.

Ingredients

  • 1 can lychees in syrup
  • 1/2 c well-stirred cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand preferred; this is NOT coconut milk and NOT coconut cream)
  • juice of one lime, plus more if desired

* also need a pre-frozen ice cream maker

Instructions

Drain lychees, reserving syrup.

Combine lychees, cream of coconut, 1/4 c syrup, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Strain to remove leftover lychee pulp and taste, adding more lime if desired. Refrigerate until cold.

Freeze in pre-frozen ice cream maker.

Vermicelli Crisps
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

  • Dried rice vermicelli (rice-stick noodles)
  • Enough vegetable oil for 1 1/2 inches of oil in whatever vessel you are frying in
  • Powdered sugar

*also need a deep-frying or candy thermometer

Instructions

Soak noodles in cold water until pliable. (This took me about an hour.) Drain, pat dry, and spread on paper towels to air-dry for about 30 minutes.

When ready to fry, begin heating oil until thermometer reads 350F.

Gather mounds of noodles (about 1 tbsp) and pull apart slightly to form a loose tangle. Drop tangles into oil and fry until crisp. about 20 seconds. They will sink, the oil will bubble, and then the noodles will rise to the surface for the duration of frying. Use a slotted spoon to pull crisps out of oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.

Dinner was a lot of work but definitely worth every bit of effort. It was a wonderful birthday for Boy!

Tune in on Wednesday to find out how the Daring Bakers October challenge went!

Apple Crisp + Review

The quest for America.

The quest to land on the moon.

The quest for a map of the human genome.

The quest for the cure for AIDS.

The quest for the perfect apple.

One (and only one) of these things concerned me this weekend.

I went apple picking! (Incidentally, do you enjoy these pictures of yours truly? Do they add to the experience? Or no? I appreciate the feedback.)

It was a gorgeous day in the TriState area so Boy and I took a little trip down to an orchard for some afternoon fun in the sun with some apples.

And I’m sure we’re not the only people who suffer from this problem but we really got into the quest for the perfect looking apple and would pick, and pick, and pick to our heart’s content until the bags got a little too heavy for even Boy to carry. (My heart soared when he grabbed my bag early on in the picking. That meant one hand for pictures and one for apples! Yay!) Then we realized that the two of us had to eat two entire bags of apples. Oh goodness. We picked Granny Smith, Winesap, Fuji, and Empire apples and I couldn’t wait to get started on some fall baking!

I had gone apple picking a few years ago with different friends from school and afterwards held a get-together at my place. I spent the afternoon baking an apple pie and an apple crisp and I think Boy started his crush on me when he bit into that crisp. He couldn’t get enough!

So this year when we finally got around to doing it ourselves, I knew it was the first thing I had to make.

It also nicely coincided with the arrival of my new apple peeler from cookware.com!

Take a look at this little beauty:

Oh baby. I am on a roll with this thing! I was peeling, coring, and slicing apples like no one’s business. It definitely makes the process go a lot faster and it’s actually kinda fun to use! You just crank the apple through the device and it takes care of the rest. All you have to do at the end is make a cut down the middle of the slices to separate them and you’re good to go. Perfect for making pies, crisps, or even just to slice an apple for a snack. I also loved the suction bottom so the device wasn’t slipping and sliding all over the place. You can use it for potatoes etc too. I’m looking forward to trying that out! I highly highly recommend this product. It’s my apples’ new best friend.

 

So, after processing all my apples in under 5 minutes, I got to work on my favorite crisp recipe. Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network hosts. Her recipes never cease to impress and they’re often quite simple with perhaps a little twist for an extra oomph. The oomph in this case is the addition of citrus. The result is a wonderful tang to the crisp that’s perfectly offset by the crumbly topping which also has its own oomph in the form of kosher salt though I’m sure sea salt would be extra fabulous!

Apple Crisp
adapted from Ina Garten

Makes one 9″ x 14″ baking dish’s worth of crisp.

Ingredients

For filling:

  • 5 lb baking apples, peeled, cored & sliced (I used Winesaps & Granny Smiths in about equal proportions)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 c oatmeal
  • heaping 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and diced

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9″ x 14″ baking dish.

For filling, Toss apples in the remainder of the filling ingredients. Pour into baking dish.

For topping, pour all topping ingredients into a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is somewhat uniform. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or two butter knives running in opposite directions (which is what I did) until the same endpoint is reached. Scatter over apples in the baking dish.

Bake on top of a foil-lined baking sheet in case of spill for 1 hour or until brown and bubbly.

Heaven.

What are you making with your fall apples?

Indian Rice Pudding with Peaches

Well, my friends, now that Cupcake Hero July has ended we can finally go back to our scheduled programming.

[PS! Amy’s already posted Cupcake Hero August’s ingredient! Go check it out!]

No voting, no crazy concoctions, no one else’s material.

Just me.

Don’t sound so excited.

Actually, I won’t be around for a week and half because.. I’m going to London/Ireland with the fambam! Yayyyyyyy!!

[That’s okay. I don’t mind if you’re jealous. I’d be jealous too.]

However, I’ll be re-posting some of the first recipes I posted here. Since starting this blog in February, I’ve gained a reader or two and I definitely do not want you to be missing out on any goodness.

But, for now, I’ll leave you with a final cold flour-less recipe in honor of my last day living with a kitchen that has no flour or baking supplies whatsoever. (At least now it has sugar!) Pardon the pictures, the peach syrup may have skewed the view of the rice pudding a little but but I assure you the flavor was all there and was outstanding.

Indian Rice Pudding
adapted from Alton Brown

1 c uncooked long gran or basmati rice
1 1/4 c whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves
1 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla

Cook rice per usual. I cooked mine in a large nonstick saute pan so I could make the rice pudding right away.

In a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat, combine the cooked rice, milk, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Heat until the mixture begins to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cook at a simmer until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently, approximately 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium, add the heavy cream, coconut milk, sugar, nutmeg, and vanilla and continue to cook until the mixture just begins to thicken again, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Once the mixture just begins to thicken, remove from the heat and take out cinnamon and cloves. Transfer the mixture to individual serving dishes or a glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Serve chilled or at room temperature with peaches.

Peaches in Orange Syrup
adapted from a magazine but I don’t remember which. oops.

3.5 oz sugar
2 c water
2 oranges, zested and juiced
10 ripe peaches, skins on

Bring sugar, water, orange zest, and orange juice to boil. Bubble for 5 minutes. Add the peaches and boil them over. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until peaches are soft, turning them occasionally. The skins will begin turning the syrup into a beautiful shade of red/orange. Once peaches are done, remove peaches, allow to cool a little and remove their skins. Meanwhile, bring the reserved liquid to boil for 10 minutes or until it becomes a thick syrup. Pour over peaches when serving.

Stay cool! I’ll be in rainy London/Ireland!

– Sharlene

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding

REMINDER: CUPCAKE HERO JULY [COCONUT] ENTRIES DUE JULY 17TH!! Email me at smalltownoven[at]gmail[dot]com!

onto the entry..

No flour. No baking powder. No baking soda. Sugar but only in the form of packets.

You have just entered the twilight zone.

Just kidding.

You’re actually in the studio I’m staying in for the month.

I KNOW.

Such a place exists? you may ask. And my answer would be Sad, but true.

So what is a girl to do when she yearns to bake all day every day but has an empty kitchen smaller than her closet at home??

[Back story: I’m staying with a friend in NYC because I’m doing a rotation here for a month. She lives in a studio with a kitchen that actually has less than a square foot of provided counter space. I’m talking fridge, sink, stove. She installed a countertop that is on a hinge so you can fold it down when you don’t want it which works because you can’t really move when it’s set up. It’s tiny. So she doesn’t cook. Or bake.]

I racked my brain for ideas on how I could get my fix. And I though PUDDING!

What a fantastic idea! I needed to buy a few ingredients, yes, but not nearly as many as if I were to make cookies, cupcakes, etc which were all first on my list.

So here I am with pudding. And oreos.

Because for some reason I’m obsessed with oreos these days. No lectures on how obscenely unhealthy they are for you please.

If you’ve ever had dirt pudding, it’s usually made with vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and oreos. I decided to make it a cinnamon pudding and add in some bananas to make it a little fancier. Can I tell you? This version of dirt pudding is delicious. The cinnamon pudding itself is unbelievable and could very well stand on its own but add it to some oreos, bananas, and whipped topping? Good gravy we have a winner!

If you’re low on flour, or even if you’re not, let me introduce you to my friend Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding. BEST friend, in fact.

Cinnamon Pudding
adapted from Sweet World

Ingredients
2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups milk (I used whole)
3 egg yolks
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk. Then add the yolks and cinnamon stick.

Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with whisk, approximately 7-8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly 1 to 2 minutes, until pudding is thick. Remove the pan from the stove.

Strain the pudding into a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon and whisk until the cinnamon is completely mixed in. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Leave the pudding on the counter for 30 minutes, until lukewarm then place in the refrigerator to completely cool down.

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding
a smalltownoven original

1 recipe chilled Cinnamon Pudding (see above)
2-3 large bananas
1/2 tub Cool Whip
1 package oreos

Instructions
Crush oreos in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, frying pan, etc. Set aside. Slice bananas however thickness desired. Set aside.

In a serving container (I used an 8×8 brownie pan because it’s all I could find) layer the oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and bananas. Continue layering with oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and finish with oreos, reserving a handful or two. I only did one layer of bananas. It’s up to you.

Chill for several hours before serving to allow oreos to soften. Just before serving, top with remaining crushed cookies for a little crunch.

Simple but delicious!