Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemon poppyseed cake with lemon vanilla glaze

I leave for work at 6:30 every morning, so all I had was this little bit of morning light to photograph this beautiful cake. It was then promptly taken into work for Manager Emily and Heather. Manager Heather consequently took it home to Boyfriend Finn who, by direct quote, called this cake "Maybe the best I've ever eaten. And I'm not one for hyperbole." Cool I won. Heh heh.

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 tablespoons poppyseeds
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
zest and juice of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a second bowl, mix butter, milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until mixed. Add poppyseed and the juice and zest of one lemon, stirring until just combined. Pour the mixture into a large, greased bundt-pan. Bake for roughly 35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

While baking, mix together the zest and juice of another lemon with the 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar. (this amount is very variable depending on how much juice you get from your lemon, so add more confectioner's sugar if you want a thicker glaze, or water for a thinner consistency).

Once the cake is cooled, turn it upside down and pour the glaze over the cake. Serve warm or cold!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Samoa girlscout cookies!

2 hours, 10 burnt fingertips, a frustrated me, and a messy kitchen later, they were finished. Other than the fact that these were a bitch and a half to make, these Samoa cookies are bomb. But they're definitely not for the faint of heart. Or the faint of, erhm, expertise? I don't know. Just expect to get frustrated like five times in the process. Verdict? They are worth the effort. Totally.

Makes about 32 cookies

For the shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the coconut bit:

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
14 ounces soft chewy caramels (like Kraft Caramels)

For the chocolate:

3/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 350ºF. Line bake sheet with parchment. Place coconut on bakesheet and bake until golden brown,  10-15 minutes. Make sure to stir the coconut half way through. Be very watchful of the coconut-- it takes seconds for toasted to turn to burnt.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour and beat until combined. Place dough in refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough to an 1/8 of an inch in thickness.

Using a two inch round cookie cutter stamp out cookies and for the center use the wider end of a piping tip if you don’t have a small enough cookie cutter. Place stamped out cookies on parchment lined bakesheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Place caramel squares in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat to melt. Once the caramel bits are completely melted reserve ½ a cup of mixture in a shallow bowl; set aside. Add the toasted coconut to the remaining caramel mixture. Fill a shallow pan with hot water and place saucepan filled with the finished caramel coconut in it to keep the mixture at spreading consistency. Reheat mixture as needed to maintain spread consistency during assembly.

Dip tops of cookies into the reserved caramel bowl. This will help the sticky caramel coconut mixture to quickly adhere to the cookie. Place cookie on a flat surface and using an icing spatula or butter knife spread caramel coconut mixture on to the cookie. If necessary, use a spoon to guide the caramel coconut spread off the icing spatula and on to the cookies. Let cookies rest for 30 minutes before dipping the bottoms in chocolate and drizzling the striping on top.

Place chocolate and shortening in a bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let sauce cool to warm.

oh hey where'd they go....
Recipe adapted from Bakers Royale.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brownies with espresso cream cheese frosting, crushed oreos, and sea salt

I die. Who's the culprit? 

exhibit A: the sea salt top. Could it be the ones so carefully sprinkled over the brownie? The saline biting my palate with saltiness? Or could it be.....

exhibit B: the crumbly oreos. They're definitely suspect. Come on, now. Cookies on top of a brownie? That's awfully dangerous. But perhaps it was.....

exhibit C: the cream cheese espresso frosting. And with the espresso powder perfectly accentuating the chocolate flavors above and below its creamy layer? It's killer. Or is it.....

exhibit D: the ooey brownie goodness. Now I turn to our last, and possibly most dangerous, of our suspects. You all know I'm a huge fan of brownies. This is, like, a top 5 favorite food type-of-deal. This recipe comes from Alton Brown and I've got to say, they're pretty rad. Definitely not as ooey as my plumb good brownies, but still great in all their moist cakeyness.

Who knows what put me 6 feet under. With such plausible subjects, maybe it was a group homicide.

Morbid, I know, but these brownies kill me. They're that good.

Makes 18 brownies

For the brownies:

1 cup sugar, sifted
1 cup brown sugar, sifted
11/4 cups cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
8 ounces melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder

For everything else:

6 oreo cookies, crushed
Espresso powder, for dusting
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Grease a 9 1/2" x 11" pan.

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. Add both sugars. Add remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with the tried-and-true toothpick method: a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. When it's done, remove to a rack to cool. Resist the temptation to cut into it until it's mostly cool.

While the brownies are cooking, prepare the frosting. In a medium bowl, use a spatula to combine all ingredients for the frosting together. Once roughly combined, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the frosting until smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Once the brownies are cool, remove them from their pan and place on a cutting board, face up. Cut the width into sixths and the length into thirds. Keep brownies together so it is easy to spread frosting. Spoon the frosting out onto the brownies and spread evenly, coating out to the edges.

Sprinkle crushed oreos over the frosting, again coating evenly. Then, dust more instant coffee powder over the top. Finally, sprinkle a good amount of sea salt over the entire thing. Carefully pull apart and enjoy!