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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raspberry Tiramisu Cake

makes one 9" cake
recipe adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
prep time: 1 hr / cook time: 28-30 min

2 c cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), room temperature
1 c sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c buttermilk

2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp boiling water

1/2 c water
1/3 c sugar
1 tbsp amaretto, Kahlua or brandy
* I used Kahlua

8 oz. mascarpone
1/2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp amaretto, Kahlua or brandy
* I used Kahlua
1 c cold heavy cream
2 1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or about 1/2 cup store bought mini chocolate chips
1 lb. fresh raspberry
Cocoa powder
24 lady fingers
* I used Vicenzi brand

• Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F.
• Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line hte bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
• Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
• Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
• Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
• Add the eggs one by one and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
• Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if hte mixture looks curdled.
• Reduce the mixer speed to low and ad the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter.
• Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Rap the pan a few times before putting into the oven.

• Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

• Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tbsp of the espresso extract and the liquor or brandy; set aside.

• Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and liquor in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
• Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks.
• Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone.
• Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

• If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them out.
• Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper.
• Reserve one third of the espresso syrup and set aside.
• Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup.
• Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer, approximately 1 1/4 cups, and gently press the chopped chocolate and raspberry into the filling.
• Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling.
• Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.
• For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling.
• Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add.
• If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
• With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the side of the cake and over the top.
• Line up the lady fingers and lightly dust with the cocoa powder.
• With the reserved espresso syrup, gently soak the non-dusted side of the lady fingers.
* I did not soak the lady fingers all the way through, just enough to wet them so they'd still stick to the cake and not turn to mush when I wrap the ribbon around it.
• Carefully attach the soaked lady fingers around the cake.
• Place the raspberries on the top of the cake and add chopped chocolate over the top.
• Lightly dust the top of the finished cake with cocoa powder.
• To finish, tie a ribbon around the cake.

• Rather than chopping a bar of chocolate, I found it a lot easier to use a vegetable peeler.
• This cake came out to be around 4 1/2" tall. The brand of lady fingers I used was perfect for the height of this cake.
• I baked the cake a day before I made the filling. The cake was still moist and soft, so this is a good recipe to use if you want to make parts of the tiramisu cake ahead of time. After the cake completely cooled, I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap. I did not place the cake in the refrigerator.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

make 8 rolls
recipe adapted from Epicurean Escapism
prep time: 45 min / cook time: 20 min

2 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp sugar
* For a slightly sweeter dough, I'd add a 1 or 2 tbsp more sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c buttermilk
6 tbsp melted butter

2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

3/4 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp water
* I used 2 tbsp low-fat milk
1 oz. cream cheese, softened
* I would change this to 2 oz. of cream cheese

• Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
• In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the dough (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
• Stir in the butter and buttermilk.
• At this point, the dough will be sticky, so spoon it out on top of a heavily floured surface and add a bit more flour to the top.
• With floured hands, gently knead the flour into the dough (adding more flour if necessary) until the dough is manageable and is fairly smooth.
* Be careful to not over knead the dough.
• With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle/square of approximately 1/2 inch thick.
* I rolled it out to approximately 16x12.

• Spread the surface of the dough with 2 tbsp of melted butter, then sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar.
• Roll the dough from the longer side and cut the dough to about 2 inches thick.
• Place the rolls in a lightly greased pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the edges have turned golden brown.
* I didn't grease the pan and they came out of the baking pan just fine.

• Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk (or water).
• Pour onto the rolls while they're still hot.

• I didn't find the dough or filling to have the right amount of sweetness, so if you don't like overly sweet breakfast food, this is a really good recipe.
• For the filling, I would consider putting some light brown sugar.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ginger Pear Macarons

makes 2 dozen macarons
macaron recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
prep time: 35 min / cook time 10-12 min

1 c powdered sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsp granulated sugar
green food color, 5 drops

1/3 c butter, softened
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tbsp candied ginger, minced
* Add a bit more if you want a more intense ginger flavor.

• Preheat oven to 350˚F.
• Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2 inch) ready.
• In a blender or food processor, grind together the powdered sugar, almond powder/meal and pear powder so there are no lumps.
• Add green food coloring to the sugar and mix until combined.
* The green in the macaron will not be as bright as the sugar, so if you want a brighter green you will need to add more food coloring.
• In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape.
• While whipping, beat in the dyed granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
• Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula.
• When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag.
* Standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone.
• Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1 inch circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced 1 inch apart.
* I piped out my macarons into 1 1/2 inch circles.
• Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the countertop to flatten the macarons.
• Bake for 10-12 minutes.
• Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy.
• Slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
• Add minced candied ginger and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
* If needed, add a little bit of milk to thin out the buttercream.

• Pair up macarons that are the same size.
• Spread ginger buttercream on one side of the macaron and then sandwich them together.
* You can pipe out the filling if you prefer.

• To help keep your macarons a consistent size, you can create a template on the computer and slip it under the parchment paper or draw out circles on the underside of the parchment in pencil.
• This recipe did not use aged egg whites like most macaron recipes.
• I stacked two baking sheets when baking the macarons.
• If the macarons stick to the parchment paper after they have cooled, put a little bit of water between the baking sheet and parchment paper to help them come off more easily.
• Let macarons come to room temperature before serving. This doesn't take long, about 5 minutes.

Macarons can be stored up to 5 days in an airtight container.



Sunday, September 05, 2010

Cherry Almond Cream Scones

recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated
makes 8 regular scones or 24 mini scones
prep time: 15 min / cook time: 12-15 min

2 c unbleached all-purposed flour
* preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar, divided
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 c dried cherries, chopped
1/3 c sliced almonds
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* vanilla extract can be substituted for almond extract if you like a stronger almond flavor

** If you want a less cake-like scone, use 5 tbsp of butter and 1 c heavy cream

• Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425˚F.
• Place flour, baking powder, 3 tbsp sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk
* Or in a work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse 6 times.
• If making by hand, use two knices, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in cherries and almonds. Transfer dough to a large bowl.
* If using a food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add cherries and almonds, pulse 1 more time. Transfer dough to a large bowl.
• Stir in beaten egg, 3/4 cup heavy cream and vanilla/almond extract with rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
• Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5-10 seconds. Cut scones into wedges.
• Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet.
* Baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.
• Brush tops of scones with 1 tbsp heavy cream and then sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp sugar just before baking.
• Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes (regular sized). Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at rooom temperature.

• I didn't find this recipe to have a lot of flavor. You might want to add lemon or orange zest to perk it up.
• I felt the recipe could use a bit more sugar, perhaps 1 extra tablespoon.
• If possible, taste your dried fruit before hand. The cherries I purchased were not sweet so I didn't taste the cherry flavor.


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