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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oven-Baked Beignets with Cafe au Lait Dip

Good evenin', y'all! I wanted to share my not-so-N'awlin's style beignets with you just in time for Fat Tuesday! These aren't traditional beignets because these are oven-baked instead of deep-fried. (I wanted to find a healthier alternative). The recipe is from Good Housekeeping, and it is delicious!

  • 1/4 c warm water (105-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet quick rising yeast
  •  1/4c sugar
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter, cut up
  • 3/4 c low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c confectioner's sugar
Cafe au Lait Dip
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp corn starch
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
Place warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle with yeast and 1 tsp sugar (take the teaspoon out of the 1/4 cup).
Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and remaining sugar.
With a pastry blender (or two knives, since I didn't have a fancy-pants pastry blender), cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture looks like crumbs. With a fork, stir in the egg and the buttermilk into the yeast mixture and blend well.
Make a well in the flour mixture, pour the yeast mixture into the well, and mix until a soft dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough lightly a few times until the dough is smooth. Spray the same bowl with pan spray, place the dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Spray two large cookie sheets with pan spray. Punch down the dough. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 9x9 square-ish shape.
With a chef knife dipped in flour, cut 36 squares (about 1 1/2" wide).
Transfer the beignets to the baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray sheets of plastic wrap and cover the beignets, sprayed side down. Let rise for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, time to make the dipping sauce! In a saucepan, whisk together the espresso powder, sugar, and corn starch.
The corn starch was kicking up some dust
Then whisk in the milk and heat over medium heat for 8 minutes or until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Mmmm like coffee-flavored gravy
Meanwhile, I chopped up my chocolate...
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking. Then remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Whisk until blended.
This sauce thickened into an amazing coffee-chocolate pudding-y pot of magic. So good!
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the sheets in the oven (unwrapped, of course) and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
While the beignets are hot, toss them in powdered sugar.
Serve these warm with the warm dip!
These turned out amazing! Unfortunately, my Betrothed has returned to school, so I am going to try to freeze them and the dip so he can enjoy them this weekend.

Have a safe and fun Mardi Gras, everyone! Laissez les bons temps roule!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

White Chocolate Mud Cake with Raspberry Filling

Hello, all! Before I get on with the recipe, I must say that up until recently, I was an absolute white chocolate-hater. It kind of baffled me because it doesn't actually contain chocolate or cocoa solids. It's made of cocoa butter and milk solids. So in my mind, I did not consider it "real chocolate." It was an anomaly!

And I find that although it's questionable in flavor by itself, it actually tastes quite good once it's paired with other flavors. For instance, it works quite well with pumpkin and fall spices. But my favorite pairing is with raspberry. Somehow, raspberry and white chocolate combines in such a magical way, it has convinced me to actually give white chocolate a fair chance and bake with it!

Which brings me to finding a recipe for White Chocolate Mud Cake. I searched far and wide (well, I just Googled for a moment or two), and I found a recipe by Nigella Lawson. But in her English splendor, she uses metric measurements, which doesn't quite work for me, sooo I found the translated recipe at an awesome blog called Chocolate, Chocolate, and more. The recipe is as follows:
  • 1 3/4 c white chocolate chips
  • 14 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c milk
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 c self-rising flour
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 320. Grease 2 6" pans (the original recipe was for one 8" square pan) and line with parchment paper.

Place chocolate, butter, milk, and sugar in a saucepan over low heat (have patience; this part takes a while!)

Stir frequently until chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow this to cool for 15 minutes. Then add the vanilla and eggs.

Meanwhile, sift the flours together in a large mixing bowl.
Then pour in the chocolate mixture, 1 cup at a time, blending well after each addition.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes (My little cakes took 1 hour 10 minutes)

Remove from the oven and cover with a clean tea cloth or parchment paper, and allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans.

The recipe goes on to a white chocolate ganache but I decided to split my layers, fill them with raspberry, and ice the cake in vanilla buttercream.
 Then, in order to satisfy my Betrothed, I poured a bit of "real chocolate" over the whole thing.

I wanted to experiment with the ombre style, so I decided to make a little heart that starts white and blends up into a deep red.

Then I added some light green leaves...

Then I added a bit of writing (which my Betrothed didn't think I could fit. Hmph!)
I think it turned out quite well! My Betrothed and I loved it! :)
I had him cut... I just couldn't!
What would have made this even tastier? Some vanilla bean ice cream (noted for next time).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Greetings!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! My Betrothed and I will be celebrating this weekend, so look out for a tasty treat! And for all of those single people out there, spend time with any loved one! Valentine's Day isn't always about romantic love!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate

 Good evening, all! About a week or so ago, I decided to bake some cookies out of sheer boredom. I used to draw or knit or do something creative when I got bored, but since I started seriously making cakes, I just like to bake. Besides, I don't want to miss any opportunities to share delicious sweets with all of you!

So I had a stash of pumpkin, and I decided to make something fast and simple-- like cookies! I found  a recipe from Martha Stewart and used half of the recipe (which still made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies). Instead of making the brown butter icing, I decided to dip them in white chocolate to add a bit of flare. However, the icing recipe (which also sounds delicious) can be found here.

  • 2 3/4 c all- purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/ 4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 c evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
Put the butter and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy.
Mix in eggs and reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix about 2 minutes.
 Add flour mixture and mix until combined.
Yea I hit a bit of that dough... Deeelicious!
 Transfer the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" round tip (Ateco #806 or Wilton #2A)
Pipe 1 1/2" rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets (or I just greased my pan) about 1 inch apart.
 The little mounds looked  a bit... unappetizing. So I wet my finger and patted down the peaks a bit. Anyhoo, bake the cookies about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
I cooled the cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes then transferred the cookies onto wire racks to cool completely. Then I melted up some white chocolate and dipped the cookies in. Then I placed the cookies back on the wire rack to dry.
And voila! They turned out quite delicious!

I don't usually eat white chocolate, but I like it when it's paired with other flavors, like pumpkin. The ultimate white chocolate combo, in my opinion, is with raspberry. Mm! Stay tuned for that...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Big Baby Mickey Cake and Super Bowl Cupcakes!

My weekend was full of cake. Between work and home, there was a lot going on. I had my first 12" cake-- it could barely fit in my tiny oven! Then I had my usual Super Bowl cupcakes (this is the 4th year, I believe). I finally got to attend the Super Bowl party my cupcakes were going to--as well as even eat one!

For the Baby Mickey cake, I started with yellow cake iced it in vanilla buttercream. I had also baked off one cupcake as the baby's "smash cake" (client's preference). This 12" cake made me learn that 3 boxes of cake mix and its ingredients was the absolute most that I could fit in my Kitchenaid at one time!

Anyhoo, after base icing the cake, I scored the Baby Mickey design with my trusty fondant tool.
Then I started filling in the lines and smoothing it with a warm spatula.
What I like to do to save icing is start with one color then mix in more colors as I go along. So I started with light blue then mixed more blue into it later. I started with yellow also, then mixed it into the orange, then mixed that into the brown until eventually everything ended up being mixed into black.

And voila! Here's the finished product with its matching little cupcake. From one of the party-goers, I heard the cake was a huge hit, and I may be getting a call for someone else's birthday party. Fabulous!

So yesterday, I made two dozen super bowl cupcakes, a dozen for each team. Honestly, I am not a football person at all, so I barely knew who the teams were. I was glad, however, to find out that they pretty much had the same colors. For the Giants cupcakes, I went with base icing in white (the smaller the amount of blue icing, the less likely there will be blue teeth at the party). Then I added "ny" in blue and outlined in red. Pretty simple.
But when it came to the Patriots, it got a little tricky... Instead of drawing the whole patriot's head, I just went for the hat, which I thought was more of a focal point of the logo anyway.
They seemed to work out, even though they kind of look like a map of Kentucky or something... Hmm Ah, well. The cupcakes were still a hit at the party, and people ate the Patriots cupcakes despite the fact that they lost... I think. Hey, I was only there for the food and the commercials (I loved OK Go in the Chevy Sonic ad, by the way).
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