Dessert Reception

30 Jan

Hi all!  Over the coming weeks I’ll show you recipes for these, but right now, I would just like to show you pictures from a private wine/dessert reception that I made the desserts for this past weekend.

One of the goodies I made were ooey, gooey, chocolately Brigadeiros, a Brazillian candy which I took the liberty of making more chocolaty and less sweet as well as adding some vanilla to.

These are some of the tins that I used in making three kinds of tartlets…

The tartlets were Peas in a Pod, where I made a fresh blueberry pie filling and put a couple of berries on each of the tartlet shells,

Scheherazade, which I adapted from Flo Braker’s Sweet Miniatures, a tartlet with candied craisins (sorry Flo; fresh cranberries were not available; besides, I actually liked the craisins 🙂 and pomegranate seeds,

and Poirettes, also adapted from Sweet Miniatures, a tartlet with tons of flavor going on – pear, almond, rum (just a teeny bit), vanilla, lemon, apricot, and chocolate!  It came together beautifully…

Pardon the funky picture; I can’t get the blog to accept the rotated picture.  The Poirettes are in the middle with Cinnamon Twists (made out of a cottage cheese pastry dough!) surrounding them.

In addition to the tartlets, I made several cookies.  Drei Augen, also adapted from guess where? 🙂  yep, Sweet Miniatures, are an almond, shortbread german cookie (the name translates to three eyes) with a raspberry jam filling (sorry again Flo, I’m not a currant person so didn’t think I’d like currant jam in them.  I’ll try it sometime when I’m not making them for a reception).  I made four desserts for the reception from her book ’cause it was so perfect for this kind of event.  However, beware there are a few errors in the book 😦  Still a wonderful book tho!

The Drei Augen are the cookies around the outside.  In the middle are TCT bites, a triple chocolate torte made into bite-sized cakes.  Mmmmmm good! 🙂

Cream Cheese Thumbprint cookies I adapted from a recipe that I got from my aunt many, many years ago.  I’ve always loved these cookies, but have never done them as thumbprints before.  I wanted to add some color to them tho so voila!

Last of the cookies were a plain shortbread cookie, which I liked so much when I made these from thekeenancookbook.com, that I decided to use them here.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of them tho 😦  I also forgot to take a picture of the salted, burnt caramel flavored chocolate coins tho I put some in the freezer so I’ll still post these later.  I originally got the recipe from foodwishes.blogspot.com video recipes.

And the little boy showing off the cheesecake cookies with his hand?  My youngest munchkin…

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Cracker Cookies

24 Dec

Many of my favorite dessert recipes originated from my Grandma.  This is another of those.  She was an outstanding cook and whenever we’d visit at Christmas, I’d sneak cookies out of the back room where she kept them.  It didn’t matter that some cookies were already set out, I wanted to see what other kinds were there as well. 🙂  I also copied a few recipes each time we visited.  When she passed, I was given her much treasured recipe box.  She made two kinds of cracker cookies.  One was with graham crackers and called Sunshine Crisps; this one is made with saltines and simply called cracker cookies.  They take a couple of minutes on the stovetop and 10 minutes in the oven.

Gather together a sleeve of saltine crackers and lay them out on a 10.5″ x 15.5″ (27 x 39 cm) stoneware dish with a short lip if you have it.  Otherwise, a jellyroll pan or other pan with sides will work fine, but you will want to cover the bottom with parchment or heavy duty foil.

Next you’ll gather together vanilla extract, butter, brown sugar, and chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet for this recipe.)  If you’d like to make these Christmasy, also put a couple of candy canes in a zip-closed bag and smash them with a sturdy saute pan to crush them.

You’ll need a small saucepan to melt together your butter and sugar.  Once melted you simply add the vanilla and pour the mixture over the saltines.  Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes, remove, and add your chocolate and mint if desired.

Separate and cool in the fridge and you’re done!

Here are the details:

 

Ingredients:

About 40 saltine crackers

1 c. butter (1/2 lb, 227 g)

1 c. lightly packed light brown sugar (200 g)

9 oz chocolate chips (255 g)

1 tsp vanilla (5 ml)

candy canes or peppermints, optional.

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C).

Lay saltines out on a 10.5″ x 15.5″ (27 x 39 cm) stoneware jelly roll pan or other pan with a short lip around the sides.  If you do not use stoneware, line your pan with parchment or heavy duty foil before laying out the crackers.  If you don’t they will stick big time.

Put butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat.  Melt completely and remove from heat; this takes 1-2 minutes.  Stir frequently, do not boil, and do not leave this on the heat too long or it will thicken and burn.

Add the vanilla extract to the butter and brown sugar mixture and pour over the saltines.

Put in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove, add chocolate chips and let them rest a moment.  You’ll see them turn glossy.  Spread them to cover the crackers. Sprinkle with crushed mints if desired (To crush: throw them in a zip-closed bag and smash them with a sturdy saute pan.).

To cool, remove them from the stoneware to either a large plastic container or lined cookie sheet (wax paper, parchment, or the glossy side of freezer paper all work well) and put it in the fridge.  I don’t recommend cooling first and then separating as they’ll stick together.

Enjoy!

 

Frosty the Fudgeman

23 Dec

Hi Blog!  I’ve missed you 😦  Let’s make some fudge shall we?  I have a recipe that was handed down from my Grandma to my Mom to me.  I’ve been making it since I was about 9 years old.  It’s quick, easy, creamy, and delicious.  Don’t have a candy thermometer?  No worries; you can still do this.

A word of caution.  While I started making this as a kid, please please please supervise closely if you are allowing your kid to make this.  I recommend making it yourself first, so you know what to expect.  Sugar burns are nasty.  Please be very, very careful. Also note, this pot is heavy when you pour it out; you’re pouring 3-1/2 pounds of fudge. Doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, but it sure feels it when you’re holding the pot in one hand and and scraping it out with the other.  Rest it on a hot mat if you need to.  And if you want seven pounds of fudge?  Don’t double it; make it twice.

Another word of caution.  It’s addictive 🙂

Here’s all you need:

Update: Be sure to check your labels to confirm all items are gluten-free if you are gluten intolerant!

semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate candy bars (It originally called for three 5-cent Hershey bars.  They’re a bit more expensive now :)), marshmallow creme, evaporated milk, and sugar:

oh, and a marble slab or plastic mold and some butter to coat.  If you don’t have these, then a cookie sheet or regular casserole dish will work just fine.

A candy thermometer will be handy to have, but is not an absolute necessity.  If you don’t have one, grab a clear glass and fill it with ice cold water.

Let’s talk candy cooking stages for a moment.  You’re going to put the milk and sugar into a large sauce pot and cook it for about ten minutes, bringing it to a stage of boiling called “soft ball” stage.  This is because when you drop a bit of this mixture into cold water, it will literally form a soft ball.  It will be 234 F (112 C) on your thermometer.  My thermometer says 240 F (116 C) is soft ball stage.  If yours does, too, ignore it or you’ll have grainy fudge.  Initially the milk and sugar mixture does nothing, and stays that way.  Then all of a sudden it decides it’s time to boil and and will look like this…

And it will rise. Fast.

See how it rose about an inch and is more golden colored?  Once it gets here, it will stay here a few minutes.  Watch the thermometer crepe up.  Again, if you don’t have a thermometer, just test your mixture.  If your water is ice cold and the mixture goes splat, it has not cooked enough.  Wait a minute and try again.  You’ll eventually see it form a ball.  Put your fingers in and feel it; it will be squishy.  If you cook it a bit too long, it will form a hard ball (hard ball stage) and if you cook it a lot too long you’ll eventually reach hard crack stage where the mixture will literally spin a hair in the cold water.  This is peanut brittle, not fudge.

Once you’ve reached softball stage, you simply remove it from the heat, add the chocolates and marshmallow creme, stir and poor onto your slab or into your mold.  I buttered my mold and added confectioner’s sugar for ease of release and to make it look like Frosty 🙂

Stover’s Fudge

Update: Be sure to check your labels to confirm all items are gluten-free if you are gluten intolerant!

4-1/2 c. (855 g) white sugar

1 lg can (12 oz, 359 ml) evaporated milk     [_not_ sweetened condensed milk]

1 lg package (12 oz, 340 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 milk chocolate bars [1.55 oz. (44 g) each for a total of 4.65 oz (132 g)]

1 jar marshmallow creme (7 oz, 198 g)

2 c. nuts, optional

Cook sugar and milk together until soft ball stage. (See notes above recipe for candy stages.)  Stir constantly or it will stick.  Remove from fire.  Add marshmallow creme, chocolate chips, chocolate bars, and nuts (if using).  Mix well and poor into buttered dishes.  Cool.

This cools really fast when you pour it onto a cool surface so don’t worry about it running over the edge of the slab.

To serve, I cut pieces as needed.  If you cut it in advance they’ll dry out.  For gift giving, cut off small sections and wrap in plastic wrap.

Enjoy!

French Bread

28 Nov

We’re going to talk about bread today.  Remember that bread machine that you put out in the garage ’cause you never used it?  Pull it out.  You’re going to make this…

“But that didn’t come out of a bread machine!”

Nope, it didn’t, but the dough did.  You _can_ get a good loaf out of a bread machine, but if you don’t want anyone to know how easy it was, you don’t want it to _look_ like it came from a machine 🙂

A bread machine has a great environment for making dough.  It mixes the dough, kneads it, lets it rest in a just warm enough environment, and then lets you know it’s ready to be shaped and finished.  All you have to do is toss ingredients into the machine, shape the ball of dough when it’s ready (easy peasy), let it rise, and bake it.

Before we get started, a few tips and tricks…

Tips and Tricks

Order of ingredients: I use the order given.  However, I did recently discover that the order called for in my bread machine directions is different; apparently I forgot somewhere along the way 🙂  This has been working for me for years tho.  Use your manufacturer’s recommendations if you know them.

Keep the salt separate from the yeast to start with or you’ll weaken or even deactivate your yeast.

Temperature of ingredients:  My machine has a rest time in which it brings all ingredients up to room temp.  If yours does this, cold water will be fine.  If not, warm the water a bit to take the chill off or you’ll kill the yeast.

Yeast:  If you don’t have instant yeast, I recommend you buy a packet of “bread machine” yeast instead of active dry so it’ll stand up to the bread machine.

Parchment paper:  I love it (not the cheap stuff tho).  You can use it over and over, until it’s brown and brittle (2-5 uses, depending mostly on temp).   I understand a Silpat mat works similarly, but I’ve not used one.

Ready?  Here we go.  This is what you have to look forward to…

Ingredients

8 oz (240 ml) water

1 tsp salt

1 T (15 g) sugar

2-3/4 c. (330 g) bread flour

1-1/2 tsp instant yeast (I use SAF instant yeast in the red and white bag)

1 small egg

Directions

Put all ingredients except the egg into your bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer (see Tips and Tricks above).  Please make sure the paddle to your bread machine is actually in the proper place and not lost in the box somewhere.

Set your machine to “dough” and hit start.

When the dough is ready, pull it out, squish it around in your hands, and roll it up into a log on a lightly floured surface.  Place the log on a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet (see Tips and Tricks above).  Now there are different techniques to rolling a log, but don’t worry about it.  If it looks like a log, it’ll be fine.

Slash the top with a sharp knife (or lame if you have one) three or four times.  Now put a little oil on some plastic wrap and spread it around so it’s all greasy.  Cover your dough with it.  Top that with a towel and leave it for an hour in a warmish spot.  If your house is cool, it may take a little longer (can heat oven to 100, turn it off immediately, and let it rise in there if you like).  It should be about double in size.

Preheat your oven to 400F (200C).  Wait for the oven to heat up before you bake your bread!

Beat the egg with a fork or egg whisk in a small bowl.  If it’s not mixing well, add 1 T water.  Brush the egg mixture gently over your loaf (you’ll have leftover).

Bake for 20 minutes.  If it’s a beautiful brown and you thump it and it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Enjoy!

Chili Rellenos Casserole

20 Nov

 

I’ve had many requests for this recipe of late.  (Pardon the picture.  It’s too late to get a better one — all gone 🙂  A friend of mine gave it to me many years ago.  I’ve since modified it quite a bit and made it mine.

Here’s the fun part…

Grating the cheese is part of mise en place, literally “put in place”.  It just means to get all of your ingredients together before you start making the recipe.  Also read the directions so you don’t end up doing something like getting everything all set up for a recipe you need ASAP and then find you need to let it rest overnight (no, you don’t need to for this one; it’ll be done in an hour).

Here’s my mise en place for this recipe…

Simple, eh?  For this dish you will be mixing together some ingredients and then layering them into an 8″x8″ (20 cm x 20 cm) casserole dish.  Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients:

1-1/2 c. (355 ml) milk (I use fat free)

3 extra large eggs

1/3 c. + 2 tbls (65 g) all-purpose flour

7 oz. (200 g) can green chiles (chopped or whole; I usually use chopped, but both work fine)

8 oz. (1/2 lb, 230 g) medium cheddar cheese, grated

8 oz. (1/2 lb, 230 g) monterey jack cheese, grated

8 oz (230 g) can tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s)

7-3/4 oz (220 g) El Pato tomato sauce (aka duck sauce.  optional spicy, mexican tomato sauce.  fyi, it comes in a yellow can with a picture of a duck on it.  hot! but great flavor)

Directions:

Get out an 8″x8″ (20 cm x 20 cm) casserole dish and preheat the oven to 350F (177C).

After you grate your cheese, mix together the two types and save 1/2 c. for the top.

Mix together the milk, eggs, and flour in a large measuring cup with a whisk or immersion blender (aka stick blender).

Now look at your egg mixture to see how much one-third of it will be.  No need to separate it out; just check it out.  It should be about 3/4 c. per layer.  Also visually divide your cheese in half, except for the 1/2 c. on top.

Layer your ingredients as follows:  egg mixture, cheese, chiles, egg mixture, cheese, chiles, and then one more layer of egg mixture.

Now pour your tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Serve with El Pato if you like some heat 🙂

Enjoy!

It should look something like this when you place it in the oven…

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