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Blueberry Hand Pies

21 Jul

 

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It’s berry season and I’m having fun experimenting with new desserts. This recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit. In actually, I made their dough by hand and it wasn’t sweet enough. I recommend saving time and buy store bought pie dough or canned biscuits (a tip from my mother’s friends). Simply stuff with a blueberry mixture, crimp and bake. These are playful and fun to eat by hand at a dinner party.

Blueberry Hand Pies

  • store bought pie crust or canned biscuits
  • 2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Roll out the dough into 6ish small circles or squares. Stuff with filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until browned. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

4th of July Flag Cake

7 Jul

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South Carolina rockets flew over every neighborhood in Greensboro this weekend. Small gatherings, water balloon fights, parades full of kids and lots of hot dogs. There’s nothing like celebrating the 4th of July in your hometown. It’s Americana at its best.

In full spirit, I made Ina Garten’s signature flag cake. Almost two pounds of buttery goodness was spread through a large gathering of Greenborians at my friends Jamey and Phil’s party in Sunset Hills. The sloping raspberry stripe was it’s only fault – it was delicious and devoured by kids and children at heart. If you’re looking for a show stopper at your next patriotic party, make sure to shoot for these buttercream stars.

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Blackberry Cheesecake

30 May

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The last couple of weeks, I’ve had some serious challenges with baking. I tend not to have the necessary patience for measuring. I’m always cutting a few corners or rushing the baking process. It works with some things in life but certainly not all! Cheesecakes tend to have a little more room for error, so I chose the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cheesecake for my party dessert this past weekend. It’s berry season, so you could just whatever your favorite is.

This is an easy, carefree recipe and it’s so darn good. Happy weekend!

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd

21 Apr

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I hope everyone had a nice sunny and relaxing holiday weekend.  It seems everyone is wearing white pants now (I saw a couple people cheating before Easter) so I’m assuming so!

I spent the weekend with friends eating all sorts of Springtime meals. From a most delicious Harissa Butterflied Chicken, to Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing – and this most splendid Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd.  This dessert takes several hours to make (which provides a great excuse not to go to the gym after a wild Friday night) but is fairly simple and fun. I love working with egg whites – they look much more complicated and are so silky once whipped to perfection.

This dessert is light, airy and has a nice crunch. It will certainly impress friends. Take the leap and test the meringue!

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd, Gourmet Magazine 2009

For meringue:

  • 1 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

For filling:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups mixed berries

Preparation

Make meringue:
Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.

Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.

Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).

Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the “crater” is for curd and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (inside will still be marshmallow-like).

Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.

Make Lemon curd while meringue bakes:
Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not let boil). Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.

Assemble Pavlova:
Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 cup beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.

 

Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream

15 Apr

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I saw this recipe on Epicurious.com’s Facebook page last week and knew that I had to give it a try. There are some recipes that I wonder if I can pull off – this being one of them. Anything with a piping bag seems like a pain in my neck but surprisingly this was pretty simple. And, the rewards are big. You need a big crowd for this recipe. At least a hungry party of 6 to 8. The extra are now hidden in the freezer from me.

Nothing beats good coffee ice cream, except good coffee ice cream in a profiterole with chocolate sauce.

Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream, Gourmet Magazine 2008

For profiteroles:

  • 1 quart coffee ice cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs

For chocolate sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 7 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (optional)

Equipment:

  • Equipment: a small (about 1 1/2-inch) ice cream scoop; a large pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch plain tip

Make profiteroles:
Chill a small metal baking pan in freezer. Form 18 ice cream balls with scoop and freeze in chilled pan at least 1 hour (this will make serving faster).

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.

Bring butter, water, and salt to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium, then add flour all at once and cook, beating with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition.

Transfer warm mixture to pastry bag and pipe 18 mounds (about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1 inch high) 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Prick each profiterole once with a skewer, then return to oven to dry, propping oven door slightly ajar, 3 minutes. Cool on sheet on a rack.

Make chocolate sauce:
Heat sugar in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling pan occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.

Remove from heat, then add cream and a pinch of salt (mixture will bubble and steam). Return to heat and cook, stirring, until caramel has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add chocolate, whisking until melted, then whisk in vanilla and Cognac (if using). Keep warm, covered.

Serve profiteroles:
Halve profiteroles horizontally, then fill each with a ball of ice cream. Put 3 profiteroles on each plate and drizzle generously with warm chocolate sauce.

 

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes

10 Apr

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No one will ever complain – or turn down – a mini cake. Especially one that is covered in chocolate ganache. Like all Ina recipes, this is over the top and delicious. I couldn’t resist making this recipe and was lucky enough to have folks to gift them to throughout the weekend. And for ladies who don’t love dessert, we each had TWO at Sunday Supper. These are perfect for holidays and special treats for friends and neighbors.

Ina’s Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cakes

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache:
4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds (approximately 1 to 1½ cups), such as flexible non-stick 100% silicone molds.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 1-1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Fill each mold with batter, smooth the top, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cakes from the molds, set on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Super Chocolate Pots de Creme

24 Mar

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This is weekend was full of so much fun. My first gig, running the Guilford Green Foundation, had their annual gala. And, they did it like never before. My friends, Nick and Melissa, really went overboard. Two evenings of delicious food, drinks and glamour. Going to their event each year feels like returning home. The GGF family was my first Greensboro family and I can’t thank them enough for their support throughout the years. It’s the least I can do to return each year for a fabulous party.

But between two wild nights, I experimented with the most delicious recipe below. It is surprisingly easy and so exceptionally decedent. I added extra chocolate and it is so rich you can basically eat only one spoonful. I surprised my friends last night with a cooler full of these treats after a casual Chinese dinner out. No one complained.

Chocolate Pots de Creme
2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup whole milk

5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring cream and milk just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool 10 minutes, skimming any foam from surface.

Divide custard mixture among six 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Cover each with foil. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove from water. Remove foil. Chill custards until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

Pear Walnut Coffee Cake

16 Mar

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This is weekend left just enough time to breathe and catch up on life. After a relaxing night at hone with the dog on Friday night, I woke up in time for some baking while the sun came through the windows. I’ve been tempted by the idea of baked goods with whole pears for quite some time. This cake is nutty and sweet and has great pear surprises. It looks impressive enough to serve to weekend guests tpor to surprise coworkers at the office.

I hope you had as restful of a weekend as I did. Happy early St. Patricks Day – I’m thinking about some bangers and mash tomorrow night!

Pear Walnut Coffee Cake from Oh Sweet Day

  • 1 cup walnut, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 to 4 small to medium sized pears, peeled

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
Add 3/4 cup chopped walnut, flour, baking powder, salt in a food processor. Blend the mixture until smooth. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time until blended, followed by vanilla extract.

Add in flour mixture. Beat until well combined.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Gently push the pears in the batter to the bottom.

Mix the remaining 1/4 cup walnut with a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before serving.

Brandy Snap Cookie Cups with Sorbet

3 Mar

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This Saturday night, my friends Alyssa and Jess helped me experiment with a Martha Stewart cookie recipe I saw on PBS. I knew it would be a challenge and I thought failure would be funnier with friends (and wine). I was right.

This recipe is finicky but fun. Its tedious too! But, we mastered the baking time and sculpting into cup form in the second batch. I couldn’t find Golden Syrup and substituted an old bottle of Micanopy, Florida came syrup. The mossy nature of Micanopy was pungent in the cookie – so I recommend using corn syrup if you can’t find the golden stuff.

This recipe is worth a shot. If accomplished, you’ll look victorious and stylish to any guest.

Martha Stewart Brandy Snap Cups

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine flour and ginger with a whisk. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and golden syrup; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in flour mixture.
Using a 2/3-ounce ice cream scoop, drop three level scoops of batter onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until flat and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Remove from oven and let cookies cool just slightly until firm, about 2 minutes; place each cookie over an inverted drinking glass or wrap around the handle of a whisk, using your hands to press and gently shape. Let set 30 seconds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat process with remaining batter. If cookies get too cool to shape, return them to oven for a few seconds until softened. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Smitten Kitchen Orange Cranberry Sweet Rolls

30 Dec

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Every Christmas morning I always do my best to make a batch of homemade breakfast rolls. I’ve made a number of variations – typically using fresh citrus from the yard. Cinnamon makes an appearance from time to time too.

I fell in love with the color of these cranberry sweet rolls. And cranberries are also seasonal and festive. Their tart flavor adds a nice balance to the sweetness of the brown sugar. Orange zest compliments all the flavors and reminded my family that a Florida Christmas is special and unique. With a fire in the fireplace, Christmas tree lit – you can still gaze outside at Spanish moss, grapefruit and lemon trees and lots of Sunshine.

I hope you had as sweet of a Christmas as I did. More Christmas recipes and photos tomorrow!

Smitten Kitchen Orange Cranberry Sweet Rolls

Dough:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
  • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (to be used in dough and filling, below)
  • 3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
  • 1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil for bowl

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter
  • 1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (115 grams) fresh cranberries
  • Orange zest leftover from above

Icing:

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (55 ml) orange juice
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese

Make the dough: In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and 3/4 of the orange zest together (saving the rest for the filling). Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl (I usually scrape my dough briefly onto the counter, oil the mixing bowl, and scrape the dough back into it) and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

[Don't have a stand mixer? Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon, then continue stirring and beating it about in a large bowl for several minutes, until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead it for another 5 minutes. It will stick; don't sweat it. Just scrape everything up and into the oiled bowl when it's time to let it rise. Try to resist adding extra flour when it sticks; it will only toughen the dough. That would be sad.]

Prepare the filling: Melt the butter and set it aside. In a food processor, pulse the whole cranberries until they’re ground to a coarse rubble, but not fully pureed. You’ll need to scrape the machine down once or twice. Set them aside.

[Don't have a food processor? Just hand chop them very well, as if to coarsely mince them.]

Assemble the buns: Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, a heavier ceramic or glass dish is ideal here. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide (the side nearest to you) and 12 or so inches long. (It’s okay if it goes longer/thinner.) Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Scatter the ground cranberries over it, then the remaining orange zest.

Roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp serrated knife, very, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 16 hours.

The next morning, bake the buns: Take your buns out of the fridge 30 minutes before you’d like to bake them, to allow them to warm up slightly. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F), approximately 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Make the icing by whisking the orange juice and powdered sugar together. Spread a little on each bun, or drizzle it over the whole pan. Serve immediately.

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