Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Cranberry Tart- A Festive and delicious make ahead dessert.

This is a yummy recipe that I got from Bon Appetit magazine 3 years ago. The combination of the clean fresh taste of cranberries and fresh ginger, a creamy mascarpone cheese filling and the crisp chocolate cookie crust is divine.  If you don't like chocolate you can use vanilla cookies for the crust.

The best thing is that you make all of the components 2 to 3  days ahead of time and then assemble them just before serving. It's actually better when the cranberry part sits for a few days, but if you want to do it all the day of you can.

Cranberry Chocolate Tart 
Bon Appetit Nov. 2007

Click here for a printable version of this recipe
Cranberry Topping:
1/2 cup cranberry juice, divided
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1- 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6 1/2 ounces cookies, finely ground in processor) You may also use vanilla wafer cookies or shortbread cookies instead.
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mascarpone Filling:
1- 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese- an Italian cream cheese you can find at most stores now
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)

Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, 15 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup cranberry juice, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump, 5 minutes. Strain into bowl; set cranberries aside. Add gelatin mixture to hot juice in bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2-3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Stir chopped crystallized ginger into cranberry mixture one hour before assembling.

For crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine chocolate (or vanilla) wafer cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake chocolate crust until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking, about 14 minutes. Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling.

For mascarpone filling:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Cover and chill.

Assembling Tart: Up to 6 hours before serving
Spread mascarpone filling in crust.
Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling.
Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
Garnish with crystallized ginger strips, if desired.
Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee or instant espresso- Not the grounds but the instant you add to water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk plus
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds or muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and instant coffee.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and white sugar. Whisk in the orange juice concentrate, orange juice, and melted butter. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling them about three-quarters full.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Using a small spatula or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Continue to cool on a wire rack to room temperature. 
Orange Buttercream
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoon grated orange zest (Just the orange part of the rind try not to get any of the white
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice
Top with a  mandarin orange slice or a half slice of a regular orange.

Tips- For this cupcake I just took parchment paper and  folded it into cup shapes to make these.
         Before I eat an orange, I use a micro planer and take the zest off of the orange. I zest it off onto a piece of wax paper and then push the zest into a pile in the middle of the square. I fold it up into a tiny square and place in a freezer bag in the freezer. This way I always have fresh zest for recipes waiting for me in the freezer.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Honey Oatmeal Bread

My family loves this bread! This recipe is really versatile, if you want to add seeds and nuts add them in. I sometimes add sunflower seed, pumpkin seed and use half whole wheat and half regular bread flour.  Try playing with the recipe and find your family favorite.

3 tablespoons warm water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast- DO NOT USE FAST RISE YEAST!
1 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon bread flour

1 cup oatmeal- I like Old Fashioned rolled oats
1 2/3 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/4 cup dry instant powdered milk (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 to 3 1/2 cups of bread flour

Place the yeast, warm water, sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl or cup and let it proof- this means that bubbles will form! If bubbles don't form then the yeast is not active and your bread won't rise!
In a large mixing bowl add your Oatmeal, warm water, salt, powdered milk, oil and honey and stir to mix. On low speed, mix in the whole wheat flour and then your yeast mixture. Blend well. Slowly start to add the rest of the four a half cup at a time waiting for it to be fully incorporated before adding the next half cup. When you have 1 cup of flour left begin adding it a couple of tablespoons at a time. YOu want to dough to come together in a ball but to still be moist on the outside. Not so sticky that it sticks to your hand but moist enough that it is still tacky.

If you are going to kneed by hand, once the dough comes together and is still sticky, Sprinkle flour out onto the cupboard and place the dough into the middle in a  ball.  Now press both heels of your hands into the middle of the ball and push away from you. Once your arms are extended, curl your fingers over the edge and fold the dough back towards the middle. Rotate the ball a quarter turn and repeat.
Here is a great video to show how to kneed dough.

Kneed the dough by mixer or by hand for 5 to 6 minutes. You're done when you can stick two fingers into the dough and the centers pop back out at you. Shape the dough into a ball.

Take a large bowl or plastic container that is at least twice the volume of your dough and grease it with vegetable oil or butter. Place t he ball seam side down into the greased bowl and then turn over to grease the outside of the ball well. This will help keep the dough from drying out. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel and let sit until the ball has doubled in size. 
(If you are at altitudes over 5000' punch the dough down by pushing into the middle of the ball with your fist and then reshape the dough back into a ball and let rise again.)
Once the dough has doubled again, dump out onto your counter and roll out into a rectangle that is 18" wide. Cut down the middle to make 2- 9" wide strips. Roll each strip up into a loaf shape and place into 2 greased 9x4' leaf pans.
Preheat oven to  350 degrees-
Cover the dough in the pans and let rise until almost doubled again.

Place in oven and bake until golden brown or as I prefer to do it to an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees. Baking to temp. keeps the bread from overcooking and drying out.

Remove from oven and let sit in pans for 10 minutes before turning out. Turn out the pans and let cool for at lest 10 more minutes before cutting. Here in Colorado it's very dry and we don't like really crunchy crust so as soon as I take the bread out of the pan I rub a tablespoon or so of butter over the entire outside of the crust to keep it soft.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mocha Toffee Brownie Squares

These are brownies on steroids and are very addictive!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4  cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toffee candy bars- 2-  1.4oz bars
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds that have been toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In 3-quart saucepan over very low heat, melt butter or margarine and chocolate, stirring the mixture constantly. Remove from heat, and stir the sugar into the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the walnuts. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in oven 30 to 35 minutes. Brownies are done when toothpick inserted into center come out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
4 oz. cream cheese (from 8-oz. pkg.), softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped toffee candy bar- about 4- 1.4 oz bars
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat brownie mix, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, butter, water and eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Gently stir in 1/2 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds. Spread batter in greased pan.
2.Bake at 350°F. for 24 to 28 minutes or until edges are firm. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 1 hour.
3.In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon instant coffee with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Increase speed to high; beat in cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
4.Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled brownies. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds over top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Raspberry Or Strawberry Topped Brownies

Chocolate and raspberries or brownies are the perfect combination as far as I'm concerned. This is a great dessert that is easy enough for everyday but nice enough for company . I came up with this recipe when I needed to make 50 servings of a dessert for a school event. I didn't have time to bake so I bought store made brownies, some berries and came up with these delicious confections. They were gone in minutes and talked about for hours. While you can make the brownie part from a box or buy them at the store, they're even better when you make them from scratch.
Best Brownies Ever
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs- lightly beat before adding
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In the microwave or in a pan on the stove, melt the butter and set aside to cool. 
  3. Into a bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder- set aside Grease a 9x13" pan well. 
  4. Add the sugar to the melted butter and stir until combined then add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Don't over beat. 
  6. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until done. 
  7. Cool completely before putting the frosting on. 
Strawberry or Raspberry Frosting
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4- 1/3 cup strawberry or raspberry puree. (I take 1 cup of fresh or thawed frozen fruit and put it into a blender and blend until smooth. This will yield about 1/2 cup of puree. Any extra puree left over, I freeze in a ziplock bag ready for the next batch of fruit frosting that I make)
In a large bowl cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 TBS of the fruit puree. Beat until it comes together. Continue adding the fruit puree one tablespoon at a time beating after each addition until it is the consistency that you want. Frost the brownies by spreading over the top or for a fancier presentation, place the frosting into a zip lock bag that has a large star tip in the cut off corner. Pip a swirl onto the top of the precut brownies. Top with a raspberry or slice of strawberry. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Apple Rosemary Blue Cheese Bites

Warm apple slices wrapped with blue cheese and pecans with a hint of rosemary all wrapped up in a flaky crust. Perfect for a cocktail party or as an appetizer before a special dinner.

1- 8 oz. package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
2 large golden delicious apples- Peeled, cored and sliced into 8 slices each
4 oz of crumbled blue cheese
2 TBS of cream cheese- softened
½ tsp fresh or dry rosemary chopped fine
¼ cup of chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

• Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
• Grease a cookie sheet or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
• Peel, core and slice your apples
• In a small bowl stir together the blue cheese, cream cheese, nuts and rosemary until the mixture hold together.
• On a piece of parchment or plastic wrap, unroll the Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough and Divide into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into half for 16 smaller triangles.
• Spread 1-2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture on the wide end of a triangle and wrap around an apple slice.
• Place on the prepared baking sheet
• Bake in your preheated oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Serve warm or room temperature.
These can also be made with fresh pears instead of apples.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moist Delicious Shortcake for strawberries or any fruit.

 I'm not a fan of the dry crumbly biscuit style of shortcake. I want a moist tender cake for my berries. 16 years ago, we ordered the strawberry shortcake at a Black Eye Pea restaurant and I was in heaven. It was the perfect cake for berries. I had to have the recipe and with a bit of flattery and begging, the chef shared the recipe with me. The one catch was, he had to leave one ingredient out to give it to me. Thankfully, he made it easy when he told me that it was a vanilla cake and guess what ingredient was missing? It's what we always have on Easter and is one of our favorite spring and summer treats.  It's so fast and easy to mix up and bake. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Black Eyed Pea’s Strawberry Shortcake

Makes one 9x13 pan or 12 cupcakes or one jellyroll pan
3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 TBS baking powder
1 cup melted butter
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°
In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar and baking powder
Stir in milk and vanilla then the melted butter and mix well.
Pour batter into a greased pan and bake in the preheated oven until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
Around 25 to 30 minutes for 9x13 for cupcakes or 20 mins for jelly roll pan.

For a large half sheet pan 2”x13”x18” double recipe and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Perfect Honey Oatmeal Bread

                                          For a printable version of this recipe click here.
Perfect Honey Oatmeal Bread
This recipe will make 2 loaves.
1/4 cup warm water
1  package active dry yeast (.25 ounce) or 2 1/4 TBS of instant yeast
1 TBS white sugar
1 cup regular or quick cooking oatmeal
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup dry powdered milk (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 TBS honey
2 TBS brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
3 cups white flour (bread flour if you have it, if not all purpose)
  1. If you are using regular or quick rise active yeast place 1/4 cup warm (under 110 degrees),  1 tsp sugar and the active yeast in a small bowl to proof the yeast, if you have instant yeast just mix the dry instant yeast into your whole wheat flour. 
  2. Into a large bowl of your mixer or any large bowl if mixing by hand add the warm water, dry powdered milk, oatmeal, honey, brown sugar, salt and oil or butter and stir to combine.
  3. Add the whole wheat flour and 2 cups of the white flour and combine well. 
  4. Continue to add the white flour until the dough comes together and is just barely tacky to the touch. Bread dough should not be smooth and dry it should be tacky to the touch but not pull off onto your hands. 
  5. Beat or knead until dough is elastic and when you poke it the dough springs back up. 
  6. Let sit covered for 5 minutes then knead again for 30 seconds. 
  7. Shape into a ball and place upside down in a bowl you have coated with vegetable oil. Turn ball over and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. 
  8. Let it sit until the dough has doubled in size.
  9. Dump out onto a floured counter top and roll out into an 18" wide rectangle. 
  10. Cut the rectangle into 2- 9" squares and roll up into a log pinching the seams and the ends. 
  11. Place into 2 greased 9" loaf pans and cover with a damp cloth. 
  12. Preheat your oven to 350°
  13. Let sit until doubled in size. 
  14. Place into a preheated 350° oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. They should sound hollow when tapped or use an instant read thermometer. It should read between 190° to 195° (don't forget to take 2 degrees off of that temp. for every 1000 feet of altitude you live at. i live at 6000 feet so I bake to a temp of around 180° to 185°)
  15. Remove from oven and pan and cool on a rack. My family doesn't lie a hard crust so I rum a tsp of butter over the crust to keep it soft.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Crunchy Banana Muffins with Coconut

    I love this muffin recipe. You can make a batch and they stay fresh in the fridge for a week or so ready for a grab and go breakfast on your way out the door. They also freeze beautifully.
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 3/4 cups white sugar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup milk
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 cup melted butter, cooled plus 1/2 cup applesauce  OR 1 cup melted butter                                    
    3 bananas- mash 2 with a fork and dice one
    1 cup chopped pecans (you can also use walnuts or almonds)
    1 cup granola- any kind is fine
    1 cup shredded coconut plus 1/4 cup shredded coconut to top muffins with before baking.
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
    • Melt 1/2 cup of butter and set aside to cool. (or 1 cup if you are skipping the applesauce)
    • Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
    • In a medium size bowl stir together your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
    • Mash 2 bananas with a fork and chop the remaining banana
    • In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly then add the remaining wet ingredients: milk, vanilla, melted butter, apple sauce, and the mashed bananas- save the diced banana for just one more step. 
    • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. There will be a few lumps. 

    • Fold in the diced banana, granola, nuts, and 1 cup of the coconut. 

    • Scoop into the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut.
    • Bake 20 to 25 minutes in your preheated oven, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
    Makes 24 muffins

    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Dutch Babies, Humps and Hills, German Oven Pancake Recipe

    Call them whatever you like but they are simple to make and taste delicious. We've always called them Humps and Hills because our neighbors in Houston, The Parcell's, who introduced us to this recipe, called them that. Kids love them because they look so fun!
    Oven Pancakes in oven
    Click here for a printer friendly version of this recipe!
    • 6 large eggs
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3 TBS sugar
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 to 4 TBS unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    Place a 9x13" pam into your oven on the middle rack.
    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the pan inside
    Mix all the ingredients together until really smooth. You can do this in a blender or in a small mixing bowl with a hand mixer. The batter is thinner than a regular pancake batter, it's more like a crepe batter.
    Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Grease the bottom but not the sides of the pan and Pour the batter in. Place it back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Now- don't start checking it after 10 minutes. It will LOOK done after about 10 minutes but it will still be flat and not puffy- PUT YOUR HANDS UP AND STEP AWAY FROM THE OVEN! Leave it shut and let it do it's thing! OK, you can watch through the window if you promise not to open it!  When the buzzer rings, take out the beautiful puffy goodness and serve immediately. It will start to fall so you want everyone sitting at the table waiting.
    Serve it with any or all of the following. Sprinkled with some lemon juice and powdered sugar, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, plain old syrup or with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.
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