Thursday, October 28, 2010

Madeleines with Lemon Glaze

One of the things I love about having a blog is that it gives me a reason to try recipes that I have never tasted or perhaps normally wouldn't try making. Madeleines fit into the former category.
I bought this madeleine pan quite a while ago and, if truth be told, did attempt to make these petit elegant French cakes once, with disasterous results, and the pan was quickly stashed away with the other unused pans and molds.
So when I decided to dust off the pan and try again, I looked for recipes from those I knew would be familiar with French baking and decided to go with David Lebovitz's recipe.
Madeleines are actually pretty simple to make. The tricky part, if there is one, is in the folding of the batter ingredients. Folding always requires a gentle hand but other than that, it's a piece of cake!
This recipe results in light, lemony little cakes and if you choose to dip them with the lemon glaze they are just that much more lemony! ( I tried a few dipped in chocolate but I didn't care for the taste. I think it was the lemon flavor with the chocolate that didn't work).

So begin by preparing your pan. Brush the pan generously with melted butter.

Then dust with flour and tap out the excess.
Then pop the pan into the fridge or freezer and make the batter.

In a mixer bowl, whip the room temperature eggs, sugar and salt for 5 minutes til frothy and thickened.

Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and spoon it into a sifter ( over the egg mixture).
Using a rubber spatula, sift the flour slowly over the egg mixture and fold it in gently. Be sure to incorporate all the flour. Just be careful not to overmix it because you will continue to fold with the melted butter in the next step.

Add the lemon zest to the melted butter and give that a stir.
Then spoon the butter, several teaspoonfuls at a time, folding into the batter, again, gently and til it's all just incorporated.
Cover the batter with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for at least one hour or up to 12 hours.
There..the tricky part is over!
Once you're ready to bake them, just spoon about a tablespoonful into the little shell molds. Don't bother to spread them around, they spread on their own as they bake.

While they're baking, you can make the lemon glaze.

Once they come out of the oven, you can just pop them out of their molds.

As soon as they're cool enough to handle, either dip them into the glaze,coating both sides or spoon a little glaze over both sides of them.
Then let them set up and enjoy!

Madeleines with Lemon Glaze ( from David Lebovitz's recipe)

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen large

3 large eggs, room temp.
2/3 cup granulated sugar
rounded 1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
zest of one lemon
9 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. water
1. Brush molds with melted butter, then dust with flour, tap out the excess and place in fridge or freezer.
2. In a medium mixer bowl, whip the eggs, sugar and salt for 5 minutes, til thickened and frothy.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter.( Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it).
4. Add lemon zest to cooled butter, then drizzle butter into batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate butter. ( My butter slightly solidified as it cooled so I had to spoon it in). Fold just til all the butter is incorporated.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake:
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Spoon about a tablespoonful of batter into each mold. Don't spread the batter.
3. Bake 8 to 9 minutes, or til cakes feel set.
4. Make glaze while they're baking by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl til smooth.
5. Remove cakes from pan and while still slightly warm, dip or spoon glaze on both sides of madeleines. Allow glaze to set.
These are best eaten the day they're made. I would place them into an airtight container into the fridge if not eating them all the day they're made and bring to room temp. before eating.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My used cookbook collection is growing rapidly and I owe it all to the donations of gardening and cookbooks at my local Farmer's Market. How can I resist perusing the stacks of books, knowing full well that I will not leave that table without one or two cookbooks!
So was the case last Saturday when I found two books. This recipe comes from one of them, "Winerthur's Culinary Collection" published originally in 1983 by The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.
The forward states, "The Winterthur Museum in Delaware is known worldwide as the extrordinary legacy of Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969). Winterthur is both an art museum and a history museum with a matchless collection of antiques and decorative arts objects made or used in America between 1640 - 1840."
The treasured recipes in this cookbook are gathered from many people associated with Winterthur, including the du Pont family.
This carrot cake recipe is from Yuletide at Winterthur and is served at the Winterthur Pavillion.
It's a wonderfully moist cake, easy to make with raisins and nuts and cinnamon as the spice. If you don't like nuts you can leave them out. I used walnuts and although my son, Kris, says he doesn't like them in cakes like this, he did love this one, and I'm glad I included both the raisins and nuts.
As usual, I halved the recipe ( easy to do) and made a one layer cake. (I used an 8" square pan.)It could easily be made into a great two layer cake with the cream cheese frosting. Not being a fan of too much frosting, I cut way back on the frosting amount and just placed it on the top. Then I applied what Alton Brown refers to as the "stucco" look!
Begin by beating the eggs and sugar til light and fluffy.

Then add the oil and vanilla and beat well.

Sift ( or whisk) the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Beat well.

Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and/or nuts.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting ( from "Winterthur's Culinary Collection" Cookbook)

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil ( I used canola oil)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups peeled and grated uncooked carrots
1 cup raisins or chopped nuts ( or 1/2 cup of each).( I used walnuts)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 300. ( I baked mine at 325 as this temp. seemed a little low).
Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan *( If you're going to make a two layer cake, I would recommend also lining the bottom with parchment paper as mine stuck a little in the middle)*.
1. Beat eggs and sugar in your mixing bowl til light and fluffy.
2. Add oil and vanilla and beat well.
3. Sift ( or whisk) flour and baking soda, salt and cinnamon and add to creamed mixture. Beat well.
4. Stir in carrots, raisins and/or nuts.
5. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or til tester comes out clean.
6. Cool cake completely, then spread with frosting.
7. Frosting: Cream butter and cream cheese, then add the sugar and vanilla and beat til smooth.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stout Spice Bread

Quick breads are the best! Not really a bread, not really a cake, these quick and easy type of recipes are easily made and are perfect with your morning coffee, afternoon tea or a late night snack. They also make a great gift idea, which explains why the recipe comes from a Martha Stewart "Living" magazine issue from, again, Dec. 2004. (That particular issue is packed with lots of terrific recipes!)
This recipe brings back memories of a date nut bread that my aunt used to make. She baked it in soup cans and once cooled it was sliced and spread with softened cream cheese. It was so moist and packed with flavor. And perfect with coffee or tea.
This recipe uses Guiness Stout and dark molasses and results in an intense spice gingerbread flavor that is hearty and moist.
And if you spread some softened butter or cream cheese, or a combo of both..really amazing!

Begin by generously buttering ( and I also floured) the insides of your empty clean cans. ( I halved the recipe and used 14.5 oz. cans and had a little left over batter which I put into muffin cups and baked).

Sift ( or whisk) together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Pour out your Guiness Stout and let it settle.

Then place all the wet ingredients, including the eggs, into a mixing bowl and mix on medium low speed.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into your prepared cans, filling barely 2/3 full.
I suggest you place the cans onto a baking sheet to catch any spills that will most likely occur during baking.

Mine were too full so when they came up to the top during baking, they overflowed and spilled over the top, dripping the excess onto the baking sheet. This didn't really matter too much, they easily came out of the cans but didn't look as pretty as Martha's!
Sprinkle the tops with a little confectioner's helps make it look prettier!

Stout Spice Bread ( from Martha Stewart's,"Living" Magazine, Dec. 2004 issue)

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened for cans
3 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. nutmeg ( I also added a pinch of cardamom and a pinch of cloves)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups dark molasses ( not blackstrap)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest
1 1/4 cups stout, such as Guiness, poured and settled
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter insides of four clean 19 oz. bean or soup cans ( I also lightly floured them).
1. Sift ( or whisk) together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
2. Put oil, molasses, brown sugar, eggs, yolk, zest and stout in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium low til all combined.
3. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture.
4. Pour about a cup of batter into each can. Fill no more than 2/3 full.
5. Place cans on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes, or til tester comes out clean.
6. Unmold and let them cool on a wire rack.
7. Dust tops with confectioner's sugar.
If giving as a gift, place breads back into cans once completely cooled and wrap.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sweet Heat Brownies

There are a lot of brownie recipes out there using spicy ingredients such as chipotle powder or smoked paprika, and this one's no exception to the unusual list. In this recipe, the heat comes from ancho chile pepper. To tone it down a bit, cinnamon is added and orange zest gives this brownie another layer of interesting flavor.
But there are two unusual ingredients in this recipe. One is chopped dates and the other is pumpkin seeds. The story that introduced this recipe never mentioned anything about the secret ingredient of dates, which I thought was a little odd, considering I don't recall ever seeing a brownie recipe using this. The wierd thing about this is that you barely notice dates being in the brownie. They seem to blend into the batter so well that I don't think most tasters would realize what's in it. Adding some chocolate chips to the batter would also help disguise the dates.
These brownies come out very moist, with that unusual complex flavor and the addition of the ancho chile pepper didn't seem overpowering, and I used 3 teaspoons!

So begin by melting the chocolate with the butter and set it aside to cool a bit.
Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, ancho chili pepper, orange zest and cinnamon.
Roughly chop the dates and set them aside for a minute.

Stir the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the creamed mixture.

Then stir in the flour and salt.

Then the dates.

Add the pecans and pumpkin seeds, reserving a handful to sprinkle on top.

Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and pumpkin seeds on top.
Bake til the center is just set, about 25 minutes. Don't overbake or the brownies will lose their chewy texture.
Sweet Heat Brownies ( from "The Spice Kitchen" book by Sara Engram and Katie Luber)

Makes about 24 ( 2 x 2" ) brownies
4 ozs. good quality unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp. ( 1 stick) butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 to 4 tsp. ground ancho chile pepper ( more if you like it spicier)
1 tsp. dried orange zest ( I used 1 tsp. fresh grated zest)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup dried dates, roughly chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup salted, toasted pumpkin seeds ( you could leave these out if you don't care for them)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease ( I lined with foil, then lightly sprayed the foil), an 8" by 12" pan and set aside. ( I don't have this size pan so I used an 8" square pan and put the leftover batter into a muffin pan to make a few smaller brownies.)
1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Then set it aside to let it cool.
2. With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, ancho chile pepper, orange zest and cinnamon.
3. Stir the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg mixture.
4. Stir in the flour, salt and dates.
5. Stir in the pecans and pumpkin seeds, reserving a handful to sprinkle on top before baking.
6. Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and spread evenly.
7. Sprinkle to top with the reserved pecans and seeds and bake for about 25 minutes, checking to be sure the edges are not burning. Don't overbake or the brownies will lose their chewiness.
8. Allow to cool in the pan at least 30 minutes, or longer before cutting. ( Placing in the fridge will also help cool the brownies and make cutting easier.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

These cookie cupcakes were yet another recipe from Martha Stewart's magazine, "Living". Labeled bake sale cookie cupcakes, these little cakes are a snap to make and, although not included in the recipe, I think they would be great with the addition of some chocolate frosting. They would also be perfect to add to a lunchbox.
I've made chocolate chip cupcakes before and these were sooo good but these cupcakes are more cake like.
I subbed chocolate chips for the chunks called for in Martha's original recipe and it worked just fine. The only change I would make would be to place some chips ( or chunks) on top of each cake before baking because as you can see from the photos, the chips were kind of swallowed up by the batter! And they'd look so much prettier with chocolate peeking out at the top.
And..ok, if I could make just another addition, really, I'd add some nuts..for crunch, of course!
So begin by whisking the dry together, then set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars on medium high til pale and fluffy.

Mix in eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

On low speed, add the dry mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk.

Stir in the chips, ( or chunks) with a rubber spatula.

Then fill your paper lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup batter and bake til pale golden, about 20 minutes.

Let them cool a minute in the pan ( so they cool enough to handle), then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes ( from Martha Stewart's, "Living" Magazine)

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes -(I halved the recipe and it only made 11 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup whole milk
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/2" chunks ( I used semisweet chocolate chips)
Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners.

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
2. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed til pale and fluffy.
3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
4. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk.
5. Stir in chocolate chips ( or chunks) with a rubber spatula.
6. Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into liners. Bake til pale golden and tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
7. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

I love cookies that can be made ahead and kept in the freezer because then you can bake just the amount you want and the remainder stays in the freezer for a later time. I mean..who needs all those cookies hanging around tempting and screaming to be eaten? Just take some out and bake as you need..or want them.
This recipe from Martha Stewart's December 2004 issue of "Living" Magazine was featured as the cookie of the month. The combination of cream cheese and butter makes a light buttery cookie. Walnuts, chopped and added to the dough and the sides adds that wonderful crunch.
If you don't like walnuts, I'm sure pecans or hazelnuts would be a great substitute and if you make these holiday time colored sugar crystals rolled with the nuts would be so pretty and festive.
Because this recipe makes so many cookies and calls for a pound of butter, I halved it. The full recipe says it makes 4 dozen cookies, which would be a good one to remember for holiday cookie exchanges.

Whisk the flour and salt and set aside.
Then cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl til pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Mix in the sugar...

Then the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and mix til just combined.

Have your nuts chopped and standing by.

Mix in the nuts.

Then place half the dough onto a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper and form each half into a log about 8 1/2" long and 2" in diameter.
Wrap and place in the freezer til firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 and take the log, one at a time, out of the freezer and roll in the finely chopped nuts.

Then slice into 1/4" thick rounds.

Place on parchemnt lined baking sheets and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or til golden around the edges.

Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies ( from Martha Stewart's "Living" Magazine, Dec. 2004)
Makes 4 dozen cookies
4 cups AP flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 pound, (4 sticks), unsalted butter, softened
6 oz. cream cheese ( not whipped), room temp.
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups walnuts, divided. ( 1 1/2 cups toasted and chopped. 1 cup finely chopped.)
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
1. Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer bowl til pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. Mix in sugar and vanilla.
4. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix til just combined.( Don't overmix).
5. Mix in 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped walnuts.
6. Divide the dough in half and place each half onto a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper and form into a log about 8 1/2" long and 2" in diameter. Wrap and place logs in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or til firm.
7. Preheat oven to 350 and remove one of the logs from the freezer.
8. Roll the log in 1/2 cup of the finely chopped nuts, then slice into 1/4" rounds and place onto the parchment lined baking sheets.
9. Bake cookies, rotating sheets and switching positions halfway through, til cookies are golden around the edges, about 18 to 20 minutes.
10. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
11. Repeat process with remaining dough.
Wrap remaining dough well and place into a zip lock bag in the freezer if you're not baking right away.


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