Saturday, February 26, 2011

hershey's chocolate frosting meets david leibovitz's banana cake

Let's have a party.

Makes one, two-tired 9-inch cake

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream, room temperature
2 cups banana puree (3 to 4 large bananas)
For the frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/8 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Using a large whisk, whisk to combine.
In a stand mixer with with the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and espresso powder (or coffee powder) and beat to just combine. Add the eggs one-at-a-time, beating well until completely incorporated.

Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream (or buttermilk or yogurt) and banana puree. Reduce speed to stir, stir in the remaining flour mixture, then stir in the pecans (or walnuts) just until combined. Do not over mix.

Divide the batter evenly among the 2 prepared baking pans. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centres of the cakes comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee powder, and milk until there are no lumps. Once the cake is cooled, frost and serve! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Plumb good brownies

Here we go. Best brownies I've ever made to date are getting an update. This time we've got less sugar and less fat, with all the taste and then some. Like honestly guys these brownies are like crack. Don't think twice. Just make them. You'll be so happy. Why? Let me break it down:

Texture: chewy and gooey and oh so melt-in-your mouth good. The sugar settles just the slightest bit and makes a small layer of fudge-like goodness on the bottom. Then you have the chocolate chips that melt slowly in your mouth as you chew. Yuh-huh.

Richness/Density: super dense and filling. Take before bed with a glass of milk and you'll be perfectly full.

Flavor: dark and delicious. The cocoa makes the brownies super chocolate-y and the coffee powder works to intensify the chocolate experience.

Makes 12-16 brownies

For the brownies:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder
2 eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together both sugars, salt, coffee powder, cocoa powder, and flour. Then, add eggs, the melted butter, oil, and water. Finally mix in the chocolate chips.

ay bay bay
Grease a 9'X13" pan. Pour mixture in and bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into brownies.

Recipe adapted from Babble.

Salted cayenne peanut brittle!

Sometimes I get really bored. And I make three (yeah.....) batches of peanut brittle. And I experiment. With cayenne pepper. Why? Well, I figure sweet and salty is a fabulous combination, adding another flavor layer can only make it more awesome. You don't taste the cayenne until after you chew for a bit, then it goes boom. It's like a flavor party in your mouth. Great stuff. The spicy is calmed by the sweetness of the sugar, so then you take another bite, and before you know it the peanut brittle that was supposed to be sent down to Georgia for best friend Rose is gone. Hence the need for multiple batches :)

Makes: a lot of peanut brittle

2 cups dry salted peanuts
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
Candy thermometer

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, corn syrup, honey, cayenne pepper, and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden and the thermometer measures 305°F, right above the Hard Crack line (this should take 20 to 25 minutes, but judge solely on temperature and NOT time). Remove pan from heat. Stir in butter, baking soda, and peanuts (mixture will foam). Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.

hot stuff

Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula. Let cool until firm, 15 minutes. Break into pieces. The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. But let's be real it will only last 3 hours.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fudge pie

Hello, all! While Boston has been experiencing some pritty whacky weather this season, I've had the good fortune of going to California for a couple days. It's been a blast and a half soaking up the sun, being with friends, and doing lots of outdoorsy stuff. Meanwhile, I made this pie back in BeanTown right before I left so I could share it with you all. I am obsessed with this pie for two main reasons: 1) it's chocolate; 2) it's chocolate. Like, actually who doesn't want a chocolate pie. Come, now. It's soooo chocolate-y and decadent, but like other pies out there it's not so insanely rich that you keel over after one slice (i.e. cut a biiig piece and enjoy it). The whipped cream on top is a nice balance to the dark chocolaty center, and the crust provides nice textural contrast. This is definitely one of my most prized reciPIES, so if you're even thinking twice about making it, you should get off your computer right now and go do it.

Makes 1 9-inch pie

For the crust:

one store-bought pie crust (Pillsbury, anyone?)

For the filling:

6 ounces good semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chocolate chips will work just fine, too)
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Begin by blind-baking the pie crust. Blind baking is important in making any pie because it involves baking the crust initially on its own, allowing for the final produt to have a crispier bottom crust, not gooey and still uncooked like those aaaamateur pies). To blind bake, grease a glass pie plate and set down the bottom pie crust. Starting from the middle and working your way out, pat down the crust so it lies flat on the plate. Using your fingertips, ruffle the edges to make it look pretty. Use a fork to make 7-10 indentations in the bottom of the crust (this allows air to escape from the crust and prevents bubbles from forming). Now grease the inside of the crust and line it with a piece of aluminum foil. Next, pour in dried rice or beans to line the aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes (your crust won't be fully cooked, per se, but it will make a world of a difference. Trust me!).

Reduce oven temperature to 325º F. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, coffee powder, and butter.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, salt, and ½ cup of the sugar until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder.
Pour the combined mixture into the crust and bake until puffed and beginning to crack, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 1 hour, then chill.
Beat the cream, extract, and sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie and sprinkle with the shaved chocolate.
Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate waffle cookies

Made these this morning. What a way to start the day.

Makes 36 waffle cookies

For the cookies:

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil cooking spray

For the ganache:

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Melt chocolate with 1 cup butter (2 sticks) in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Let cool slightly.

Put eggs, vanilla, and granulated sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale, 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in chocolate mixture, salt, cinnamon, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and the flour.

Heat a waffle iron until hot. Lightly coat grids with cooking spray. Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter onto center of each waffle-iron square to make 1 1/2-inch rounds. Close cover; cook until set, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, bottom sides up. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter, coating grids with cooking spray after each batch.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add confectioners' sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder; stir until smooth. Stir in milk.
Gently dip 1 surface of each cookie in icing so that just the waffle lines (not gaps) are coated. Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Transfer to wire racks; let stand until set, about 10 minutes. Dust iced surfaces of cookies with confectioner's sugar. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow peaks (meringues)

Mmmmeringues. So snowy. So white. So clean. So complementary to the massive amounts of snowfall Boston is experiencing. Rebe made these yesterday while I was working at the bakery (The bakery? What bakery? Yeah, I work here now, it's awesome), and I couldn't resist photographing them for you all. Top them off with a lovely dollop of whipped cream, or serve with berries for a fruity twist. These meringues are hard on the outside, but the inside is made up of a soft, sugary cloud. It's bliss.

Makes 16 meringues

For the meringues:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioner's sugar
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or wax paper. In a small bowl, combine the two sugars. In a medium-sized bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar until soft and foamy. Next, add one tablespoon at a time of the sugar mixture, beating continuously. Beat about 5 minutes, until when you pull the mixer out, the meringue holds very stiff peaks.

Using a pencil, draw sixteen 2 1/4 inch (diameter) circles on the foil or wax paper. In a piping bag with a 1/4 tip (if you don't have one, a Ziplock will do just fine! just cut a tiny slit), create swirls of meringue. Start in the center of each circle, pipe a widening spiral of meringue until each circle hits the pencil mark. Continue to pipe the swirl upwards, building the meringue into a peak, about 1 1/2 inches tall.

Bake for 2 hours. To test, remove one of the meringues from the oven and let it cool for 2 minutes. Break open the meringue to see if it's hard on the outside. The meringue should have a hard outer shell and a nice mousey cloud of goodness on the inside. Voilà!

Recipe taken from the Joy Of Cooking.