Thursday, October 28, 2010

Carving Out More Pumpkin- Pumpkin Muffins with Candied Pepitas

     As I am slowly working my way through the Flour Bakery cookbook, I have been on kind of a baking frenzy these past few days because there are so many of her recipes I want to make.  New cookbooks do that to me.
      I am not fond of pumpkin pie, but I love pumpkin muffins, especially at this time of year.  I had a go- to recipe I made for years, but these are even better. They are moist, spicy and surprisingly light. The candied pepitas add a nice crunch and an unusual twist..  Although the recipe says it makes 12, it made 18 muffins in my tins.  I also added some raisins and minced candied ginger because I like the combination of flavors.  All my regular tasters were very positive.

Pumpkin Muffins with Candied Pepitas
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Candied Pepitas
3/4 cup (170 grams) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 egg white
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsulphured light or dark molasses
4 eggs
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1 can (16 ounces/454 grams) pumpkin puree
3 cups (420 grams) unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

To make the candied pepitas: Line a small tray with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, stir together the pepitas, egg white and sugar to make a loose slurry.  Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and leave out, uncovered,  to dry overnight. The next day, using your fingers, break apart the pepitas into separate pieces. (can be prepared up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature)

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
     Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition to combine the eggs and butter-sugar mixture thoroughly.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once more. On low speed, add the fresh orange juice and pumpkin and beat until combined.  The mixture will look somewhat curdled but will come together once you mix in the flour.
     In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves until well mixed.  Dump the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and fold carefully, just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim.  Sprinkle the tips evenly with the candied pepitas.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove from the pan.  ((post by Susan))

Monday, October 25, 2010

Granola Bars

Although I am a firm believer in dessert- and real dessert, not dessert made with sugar substitutes or fake anything, it is good to have a more healthy sweet alternative.  I first tasted these at Flour Bakery a few months ago and thought they were delicious.  They are good for breakfast, a snack or even dessert. Lucky for me, the recipe is included in the new Flour Bakery cookbook.  It is a little time consuming because there are several steps, but the final product is really good- very fruity with a wonderful crust- and these granola bars taste nothing like what you buy commercially.  

Granola Bars
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Granola Jam
1 cup (80 grams) dried apples
1 cup (160 grams) dried cranberries
1 cup (160 grams) dried apricots
1/2 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups water

1 cup (100 grams) walnut halves
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (80 grams) sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 8-10 pieces
6 tablespoons (128 grams) honey
3 tablespoons flaxseed
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons millet

To make the jam:  In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, craberries, apricots, granulated sugar and water, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 1 hour.  Transfer to a food processor and pulse 8-10 times or until a chunky jam forms.

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant.  Let cool.
     Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In the food processor, combine the flour, oats, nuts, brown sugar, coconut, salt, cinnamon and butter and pulse about 15 times or until the mixture is evenly combined.  Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle the honey on top.  Work in the honey with your hands until the mixture comes together.  Press about 2/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Place the remaining 1/3 in the refrigerator.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes until light golden brown throughout.  Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the granola jam on top in an even layer, covering the whole surface.  REmove the reserved granola mixture from the refrigerator and break it up with your fingers into a small bowl.  Add the flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and millet and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the mixture like a crumb topping evenly over the jam.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2-3 hours.  Cut into 12 bars.  The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.  ((post by Susan)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whatever Lola Wants- Chunky Lola Cookies

Flour Bakery and Cafe is a Boston "go to" spot with delicious baked goods, soups and sandwiches. One branch is located right in my neighborhood, and I resist going there on too regular a basis. It is hard to go in there and not want to try multiple things. I have been waiting for the publication of the Flour cookbook for months, hoping I can make some of their treats at home. The cookbook just came out a week ago, and the first thing I made was these cookies.  At first you think you are making chocolate chip cookies, but these have the addition of coconut, pecans and oatmeal.  It makes rather large cookies so I would suggest just using less batter for a smaller cookie. Otherwise, they are crunchy and wonderful- and got a thumbs up from the 18 month old twins upstairs!

Chunky Lola Cookies
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

11 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces (255 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62-70% cacao) chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1 cup (120 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

     Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
     In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Add the chocolate, pecans and coconut and toss to combine.  On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.  For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3-4 hours) before baking.  When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
     Drop the dough in 1/4 cup balls (or smaller) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mats, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake 17-22 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes or until cool enough to remove with a spatula. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not the Apple of My Eye- Upside Down Caramel-Apple Muffins

I haven't made muffins in quite some time because scones are now my preferred breakfast carbohydrate treat. These muffins caught my eye because they combine two of my favorite flavors, apples and caramel.  Reading the recipe, the muffins sounded as if they could almost be a dessert.  But, the muffins turned out a little disappointing and not as moist and flavorful as I thought they would be.  I think I would prefer to have the fruit and nuts mixed in with the batter rather than on the bottom.  If you use paper muffin cups to make these, make certain to let them cool completely before peeling off the paper.

Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins
from Melissa Clark, NY Times, 10/5/10

For the apple topping
3 apples (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, chopped (optional)

For the muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
     In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, stir together the apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Distribute the apple slices among the muffin cups.  Add walnuts, if using, on top of the apple slices.
     In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until smooth.  Distribute the batter on top of the apples. Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed, about 20-22 minutes.  Let cool and serve. ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taming the Beast- Hazelnut-and-Chocolate Meringue Cake

As you probably can tell by now, I am always intrigued by baked goods that have interesting or clever names.  This cake sounded delicious and its nickname "the beast" pulled me right in. I imagined a big, heavy dessert, but it is actually a fairly simple cake- just layers of hazelnut chocolate meringue sandwiched with whipped cream.  It looks like it took hours to make.   A rich dessert with all the whipped cream, but the taste is surprisingly light and crunchy, despite its nickname. It is a perfect ending to a special meal.

Hazelnut-and-Chocolate Meringue Cake
from the Genoa Restaurant, Portland, Oregon as seen in Food and Wine, October, 2010

1 1/2 cups ( 7 ounces) hazelnuts
6 large egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup (6 ounces) mini chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
chocolate shavings for garnish

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line 2 large  baking sheets with parchment paper.  Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet and one 8-inch round on the other.  Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast 12-14 minutes until browned.  Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins.  Chop the nuts finely in a food processor.  Lower the oven temperature to 225 degrees F.
     In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled.  Divide the batter in three and spread the meringue over the drawn circles, baking for 2 hours, 30 minutes until crisp.  Rotate the pans halfway through baking.  Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
      In the chilled bowl of the standing mixer, beat the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the paper.  Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them, meringue, cream, meringue, cream, meringue, cream.  Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight.  Cut into wedges ( it can get a little messy) and let come to room temperature before serving.  Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving. ((post by Susan))

Friday, October 8, 2010

Too Much of A Good Thing?- Heath Bar Brownies

As Mae West said "too much of a good thing is wonderful".  That is how I feel about brownies- classic, fudgy, chewy, almost candy-like brownies.  But can there be too much of a good thing? My favorite brownie recipe is the Palm Beach brownie recipe in Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.  I have tried, over the years, many other brownie recipes, but always come back to that one.  Again, I am always willing to try something new to see if there is a brownie even better.  Haven't found it yet.  This is another brownie recipe of hers, and frankly, it was disappointing.  I was expecting more from her description.  It is a more cake-like brownie, and the addition of the heath bar bits adds some crunch and richness, but the overall flavor and texture is just not the same. So I will stick to my favorite. Sometimes you do not have to leave room for improvement.

Heath Bar Brownies
from Maida Heatter's Brand New Book of Great Cookies

3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces pecan halves or pieces)
6 1/4 ounces Heath bars, cut up into small pieces)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sifted unbleached flour

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with butter or cooking spray.
    Toast the pecans in a shallow pan in the oven for about 12 minutes until they are very hot and smell toasted. Set aside.  Place the unsweetened chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over warm water on moderate heat.  Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from double boiler and set aside.
     In the small bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar until mixed.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat only to mix.  Add the flour and beat only to mix.  Stir in the nuts and all but 1/4 cup of the Heath bar pieces.  Turn into the prepared pan and spread smooth. Sprinkle the remaining Heath bar pieces over the top.  Bake about 28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle barely comes out clean.  Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.  Remove the brownies from the pan by inverting over a cookie sheet and peeling away the foil. Invert to cool right side up.  Refrigerate for about one hour.   Cut into bars.  ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Great Pumpkin -Cake

Even though I am still trying to deny that fall is upon us, the weather and the produce at the farmer's market are fighting against my illusions.  Pumpkins are here and definitely mean fall and leaves and Halloween.  I was about to try another apple cake, but at the suggestion of my son, I decided to make this cake, which I hadn't made in many, many years. I made a few additions to the original recipe, and it turned out wonderfully.  It is a moist, dense, spicy cake, perfect for this time of year.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze
adapted from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

3 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries (my addition)
1 cup walnuts, broken into medium size pieces, optional
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, cut into tiny pieces (my addition)
1 1 lb. can plain pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup safflower, corn, canola or other salad oil (not olive oil)
4 eggs

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of non-stick tube pan with unbuttered baking liner paper.
     Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and salt.  Add a tablespoon of the sifted dry ingredients to the raisins and dried cranberries in a bowl.  With your fingers,  toss them to separate and coat with the dry ingredients.  Stir in the nuts and set aside.
     In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the pumpkin, sugar and oil.  Beat at medium speed until  smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until incorporated.  On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beating only until smooth.  Remove from mixer and stir in raisins, dried cranberries and nuts.  Turn into prepared pan.  Bake 55-65 minutes until  a cake tester comes out dry.  Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.  Cover cake pan with rack and invert. Remove pan and paper.  Cover with another rack and invert again to cool right side up on rack.  When cool, dribble with maple glaze.

Maple Glaze
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

6 tablespoons sifted confectioner's sugar
2-3  tablespoons maple syrup

Sift confectioner's sugar in bowl.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of  maple syrup.  Add additional maple syrup a little at a time until you have an icing that runs nicely off the edge of a spoon. ((post by Susan))

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boo!: Halloween Candy Bark

October is my favorite month. Not only is it when the air feels crisp and you have an excuse to buy some new fall clothes, but it is also responsible for my favorite holiday: Halloween. I admit that I love Halloween largely because it gives me an excuse to eat tons of Reeses peanut butter cups - my favorite candy. I found this recipe - a variation on Peppermint Bark - in this month's issue of Bon Appetit.

Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar (or, as I like to call it, Halloween Candy Bark)
from Bon Appetit, October 2010

1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
3 2.1 oz butterfinger candy bars
3 1.4 skor or heath toffee candy bars
8 .55 oz peanut butter cups
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz high quality white chocolate
Reeses Pieces

Line baking sheet with foil. Melt chocolate chips in saucepan over low heat until just melted. Pour chocolate onto foil, spreading it out evenly to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Put butterfingers, toffee bars, peanut butter cups, and peanuts in a food processor and pulse for about 10-15 seconds until candy is slightly ground up. (Note: this is where I deviated from the Bon Appetit recipe. They recommend just chopping the candy into one inch pieces, but I preferred the final product not to be quite as chunky.) Sprinkle the crushed candy over the chocolate, making sure it is evenly spread and pressed into the chocolate so it sticks.

Melt white chocolate. (This can be tricky. I recommend putting it in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring after each interval until just melted.) Dip spoon in white chocolate and wave it from side to side over the bark creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reeses Pieces over, making sure they touch the melted chocolate.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm - about 30 minutes. Slide foil with candy onto a cutting board and peel off foil. Cut bark into irregular pieces.

I packaged it in cute Halloween treat bags to give to friends.  ((by emily))

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Apple A Day- Apple Torte with Breadcrumb-Hazelnut Crust

An apple a day- using that as a guideline, I won't be seeing a doctor ever.  You will be seeing a number of apple recipes here now that apple season is upon us. I love apples and apple desserts, and am always happy to try a new one.  This recipe is a little time consuming to make, but the result is delicious.  a few things in the recipe were a little confusing, but basically it was simple to follow.  It looks more like a pie than a cake, but does not taste like the traditional American apple pie.  Anyway you look at it from my perspective, you can't really go wrong with apples in a delicious crust.

Apple Torte with Breadcrumb-Hazelnut Crust
from Lidia Bastianich in Bon Appetit, October, 2010

Apple Filling
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup hard apple cider or dry white wine

8 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless Italian or French bread, finely ground in processor
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and husked
10 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Apple Filling:  Arrange apples in even layer in heavy large skillet. Sprinkle with sugar and then pour apple cider over. Cover and cook over medium heat until apples are tender, gently turning apples occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Uncover and cook until juices evaporate, frequently but carefully turning apples to keep wedges intact, about ten minutes. Let cool completely in the skillet.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread breadcrumbs on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until dried and light golden, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.
Finely grind hazelnuts and 6 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor. Add 3 cups of breadcrumbs and process 5 seconds. (although the recipe calls for 8 cups breadcrumbs, there is no use for the other 5 cups in the recipe- a mystery to me) Transfer mixture to large bow. Stir in 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon peel and salt.  Combine milk and butter in small saucepan.  Stir over medium heat just until butter melts. Pour milk-butter mixture over breadcrumb mixture  Stir until moistened (dough will be sticky).  Let dough rest in bowl until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer 1 cup of dough to floured work surface. Gather into ball and flatten into disk. ( i mixed in some flour to make the dough less sticky and easier to work with). Press out to 9 inch round. Wrap in plastic.  Chill at least 1 hour for top crust.  Transfer remaining dough to work surface.  Gather into ball. Flatten into disk. Press disk onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, pushing crust up to extend 1/2 inch above sides. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fill crust with apple mixture.  Place top crust over filling.  Fold bottom crust overhang up over top crust edges, pressing together to seal.  Bake torte until crust is deep golden and crust begins to separate from sides of pan (top crust may crack) about 1 hour.  Cool in pan on rack at least 2 hours.  Carefully remove sides from tart pan.  Transfer to platter and dust with powdered sugar.  ((post by Susan))