Strawberry Shortcake

June 24, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We’re kind of into strawberries around here. And I’ve been buying them like crazy this year, as usual, even though they’re not that great (all the rain around here made them kind of tasteless). Usually at my house we just eat them fresh with yogurt, or just, well, fresh. But since they don’t have a lot of flavor this year, I’ve been making desserts out of them (add lots of sugar and voila, they taste better!), like strawberry pie, and this amazing strawberry shortcake.

The strawberry shortcake I grew up on was basically a buttermilk biscuit recipe with a little more sugar in it. My husband grew up on angel food cake as the cake part. Both good, but this is so, so much better. The shortcake is so delicious that I’ve been just eating the leftovers plain-ahem-for breakfast. And the recipe is super easy since it’s done in the food processor. I was stressed because I didn’t start making it until after dinner, but it was no problem!

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe! But first….you should really invest in a food processor. It’s one of my most-used kitchen tools! Mine is a Cuisinart from the early 90’s that I got from my mom. (She hates to cook, but when I was a kid thought for a minute that she might like it and took a bunch of cooking classes and stocked our kitchen with fancy tools. Lucky for me, I have most of that stuff now.) Anyway, it’s a fantastic machine and if you can find a used one at a garage sale or something, it will most likely work great! But anyway, I’m guessing you’re not going to run out and buy a food processor for this recipe, so in the meantime…I’ll give you instructions below.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

A while back we posted another recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. We might call it the shortcut shortcake because the “cake” is Joy of Cooking cream scones, which have only 4 main ingredients with heavy cream filling in for the butter and eggs. From looking at Margaux’s recipe, these will be much richer and probably more classically “shortcake” as we Americans would think of it for this dessert. I’m going to have to try this once we get strawberries up here in Minnesota. Our winter lasted into mid-May so we are waaaaaaaay behind! Hey, Margaux, how about we make these for breakfast at Wimbledon?

Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Everyday Food

the shortcake

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, and the salt until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal but with some pea-size bits of butter remaining, 10 to 12 times. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and the eggs; pour over flour mixture, and pulse until some large clumps begin to form, 25 to 30 times.

If using a pastry cutter instead of a food processor: cut the butter into the dry ingredients in a large bowl using a pastry cutter until the mixture is a coarse meal, with some small chunks of butter. Whisk together the cream and eggs, pour into the butter and flour, and using a wooden spoon (or your hands, which is easier), mix together the mixture until large clumps form. Do not overmix.

Using a half-cup measuring cup, gently pack dough, invert, and then tap out onto a baking sheet. Repeat to form 8 biscuits. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes.

The strawberries:

Hull and quarter about 6 cups of strawberries. Mix them in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup of sugar. Let is sit for at least an hour, until they get nice and juicy.

The whipped cream:

Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream with 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla until soft peaks form.

Assembly:

When shortcake has completely cooled, you can carefully cut them in half lengthwise with a serrated bread knife. Add strawberries and whipped cream and serve!

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My dad is the family cook. You can find him in the kitchen most of the time, especially when my brothers were teenagers…I remember him telling me once that he is constantly cooking something; the minute something is done, the vultures descend and gobble it up, and he just starts cooking the next thing. I probably learned the most about cooking from Dad.

Dad

He even comes to our house and cooks (nice boarded-up window in the background, huh?  The pane just fell out one day and smashed everywhere.  It’s fixed now.)

Dad

Like any good cook, he likes to test things over and over and perfect them.  The first thing that I remember him doing this with was pumpkin pie.  We ate pumpkin pie for months (well, it was probably weeks, but in my child-mind we were eating pie every night for a year), which is no problem for me because I love pumpkin pie, until he got his own recipe just right.  Another time we were having all different kinds of stovetop macaroni and cheese…also no problem for me!  This winter he’s been doing quick breads…you can pretty much always find a loaf somewhere in his kitchen right now.  This one really stood out for me.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

I love the texture and earthy flavor the whole wheat gives to this bread.  It’s super moist and dense from the sweet potato and banana, and because of the oil you can refrigerate it without losing any of it’s texture.  It’s really great plain, for breakfast or a snack, and extra super good drizzled with cream cheese glaze for a dessert.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I hadn’t had this before Margaux made and posted it, but I love banana bread and thought the addition of sweet potato would be just that much better.  I made it this morning and both Randy and I loved it!  It’s not too sweet and, as Margaux has noted, has a great texture.  It’s silky and the whole wheat flour gives a slight crunch.  Delish!  I will definitely put this in regular rotation for the occasional Sunday morning treat.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Banana Bread

1 cup white flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 small sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour (or use baking spray with flour) 9×5″ loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans like I used).

Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, sweet potato, yogurt, sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Add the oil and butter and mix until completely combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped walnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan(s), bake for 45-55 minutes (I start checking at 45 minutes and kind of babysit it. It gets really dark and crispy on top, check it with a toothpick inserted in the center.) Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack completely.

AS Cook’s Notes: I used a 9×4 pan and it took 60 minutes in my oven.  I also did not pre-sift the flours before sifting with other dry ingredients.  I thought I would try this because it seems sifting is not found in many recipes these days, even though this defies everything I learned in 4H and from Mom/Granny. 🙂 I learned recently from the Julia Child cookbook I just got that sifting isn’t necessary with today’s flours.  I used pecans and added currants, which are standard additions in my banana bread recipe.

Cream Cheese Glaze

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bread.

Any extra glaze can be stored in the freezer until next time you make the bread, or to use on something else. Or you can put way more glaze on your bread than I did! 🙂

Grapefruit Chiffon cake with dark chocolate glaze by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

snow day

Margaux says…

Snow day + uneaten grapefruits = cake.

Grapefruit Chiffon Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Actually, add in there that I kind of owe my husband, Jason, a cake for catering to my whims and painting our daughter’s room in multi-color chevron stripes, which was NOT an easy task.  It looks great, though!  So he deserves a cake.  (I’ll take any excuse, right?)

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Stella

Uneaten grapefruits because of Desi.  I bought a big bag of them because they were one of the few fruits left on the fast diminishing list of things he deems edible. Then three grapefruits into the bag he scratched grapefruits off the list.  So, being the only person working her way through this giant bag, I got tired of grapefruit, too and needed to do something else with them.  So I juiced and zested them and starting looking for ideas.  (PS. zesting grapefruits makes your house smell AMAZING.  I felt like I was in a tropical paradise in the middle of a gross Chicago winter.)

grapefruit zest

This is actually a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a couple years, gotten from the New York Times Magazine, for a yuzu chiffon cake.  But I needed a recipe for grapefruit, and part of the reason why I haven’t made this cake yet is because who the heck has yuzus?  Well, at the bottom of the recipe it says you can substitue Meyer lemons for the yuzus.  But Wikipedia says that the closest thing to a yuzu is a grapefruit.  So I’m going with Wikipedia.  And whether that’s true or not, the cake turned out DELICIOUS.  (Of course, it helps that the chocolate glaze is like rich dark chocolate pudding smothered all over the cake.  YUM.)  For the rest of my grapefruit juice, I’m going to make a grapefruit pound cake from Smitten Kitchen.  Can’t wait.

beaten egg whites

grapefruit chiffon cake

So I took advantage of the fact that Jason stayed home from work today to do the dishes (again) and make a cake KID FREE before he disappeared upstairs to work a little.  Can I add that I am so sick of doing dishes??

grapefruit chiffon cake with dark chocolate glaze by sweet and savory kitchens

You will need a tube pan for this, with a removable bottom (like an angel food cake pan). It won’t work in a regular cake pan because it will fall in the middle.

Grapefruit Chiffon Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

For the cake:

1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, squeezed

1 tbsp grapefruit zest

1½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

7 eggs, separated

¼ cup oil

¾ cup plain yogurt

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the glaze:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

½ cup milk

½ cup sugar

½ cup unsweetened, nonalkalized cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a 9 or 10″ tube pan. Sift flour, cornstarch and baking powder at least 5 times. Add yuzu zest, sugar and salt and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, strained grapefruit juice and oil. Add to flour mixture. Using a spatula, add yogurt and stir until smooth. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Quickly and gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into batter until you no longer see streaks of white, then fold in the rest until no streaks remain. Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 55 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Let cool in pan set on a baking rack for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk until incorporated. Once it reaches a low boil, whisk gently for 1 minute and remove from heat. Let come to room temperature.

3. Twenty minutes before frosting the cake, put the ganache in the refrigerator until firm (I didn’t do this, but my kitchen is very chilly). Gently remove cake from pan. Pour the ganache over the cake, covering the top and drizzling it over the sides and in the center.

grapefruit chiffon cake with dark chocolate glaze by sweet and savory kitchens

Meyer Lemon Bars

February 27, 2013

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Margaux says…

I am always looking for recipes using egg yolks or egg whites, to use up whichever I have sitting in my fridge, begging to be made into something. Like I need another sweet sitting on my counter…this time of year it’s birthday after birthday in my family, so I’m on a cake baking spree from the beginning of January until late February. But, no matter, these lemon bars were a nice break for us in our parade of cakes. I love Meyer lemon season, and try to make things with them as often as possible, including savory things with preserved lemons in them like this and this. Oh, and this.  I also usually make a batch of the preserved lemons to have on hand for the year.

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

Make sure you keep a close eye on the crust while it’s baking…I would recommend starting to check it at about 22 minutes.  The first time I made these, I just set the timer at 25 minutes and didn’t pay attention and they got rather brown.  Still yummy…but much better when they’re golden!  These can easily be made with regular lemons, and would probably be very good with limes as well.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meyer Lemon Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares.  Use a sifter to sift powdered sugar onto the top.  I’d recommend doing a couple of layers of the powdered sugar, because the bottom layers will just melt into the lemon curd (as you see mine has done in the photo).  I actually prefer them without the powdered sugar at all, but put a small amount of it on there for Jason’s sake.  🙂

Dutch Apple Pie

October 24, 2012

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Margaux says . . .
This week I bought a bag of Rome apples, mainly because they looked the best, but also because I’ve never tried them and as a huge apple lover, I feel I need to try all of them. I used to carry around a huge list of all the varieties of apples, what their season is, what their taste and texture is, and what their uses are. (I know, a little obsessive, but i LOVE apples!) That list was stolen along with my purse, and it was one of my biggest losses. So I was winging it with these Rome apples. Needless to say, they are not eating apples…But they have great flavor. I looked it up online, and apparently they’re good for cooking, so, oh darn, I have to make a pie.
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I went onto our blog to find our Dutch apple pie recipe, because I was certain that Aunt Suzy had posted it, and discovered that we had not one single apple pie recipe posted!!! WHAT?? I’m still in shock about this. I make apple pie, like, once a month in the fall and winter. Remember how I said I love apples? Well, I really love apple pie. And I know Aunt Suzy probably makes apple pie pretty often, too. So what have we been doing? Yeesh, I’m sorry to our readers out there…we’ve really done you a disservice. My Granny’s apple pie, while totally basic, is the best out there. And this Dutch apple pie is pretty stellar, too! And I have other apple recipes that I realized, while looking for this recipe, I also haven’t posted. I will do my best to get these posted ASAP, before apple season (sadly) ends!

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Aunt Suzy says . . .

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine a couple of years ago. It caught my eye because I’ve only made my Mom’s (aka Granny) basic apple pie over the years.  As Margaux said, that pie is delicious, but I’ve always wanted to make one like this with the streusel topping.  I agree that this one is really good!  And, thanks, Margaux for the reminder that we need to post more apple recipes.  We will indeed be doing a public service :-).

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Preheat the oven to 375°. Set a baking sheet on the bottom rack.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed, for the crust

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, for the topping

1/4 cup ice water

6 large cooking apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced (I used 8, but my apples were small)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup sugar (Aunt Suzy uses a little more than 1/2 cup, I used almost a cup)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

The Crust

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 cups of the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1 stick of the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Drizzle on the ice water and pulse until evenly moistened crumbs form; turn out onto a surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm. (Or just make your favorite pie crust recipe for one crust. )

On a floured surface, roll a disk of the dough to a 13-inch round; fit it into a deep 10-inch glass pie plate and brush the overhang with water. Crimp the overhang.

The Topping

In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1 cup of flour, the light brown sugar, the baking soda and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of butter and cut it with pastry cutter until sandy (I cut it in until the butter was pea-sized, then used my hands to rub it together make it sandy). Add the walnuts and mix.

The Apples and Assembling the Pie

In a bowl, toss the apples, lemon juice, sugar, 1/4 cup of the flour and the cinnamon. Spoon the apples into the prepared pie crust. Press the topping mixture into clumps and sprinkle over the pie.

Bake the pie in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cover the edge of the pie if it begins to darken. Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

COOKS NOTES: Depending on your oven, this baking time might be too long. Check after 55 minutes.

Margaux says . . . 

I know, I know…here we are posting another &^%#@! Cook’s Illustrated recipe. But I promise, these will be the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever make, so all the extra work that those blasted people at Cook’s make us do is very worth it. They really are for everyone: they’re chewy, soft and crispy all at the same time. Crispy on the edges, chewy and soft in the middle. One of the extra steps is browning the butter, which gives them a nutty, toffee-like flavor (and adds to the chewiness). The whisking and resting for 3 minutes (the other extra step in the recipe) is key to the success of your cookies.  I don’t remember the scientific stuff from the original article in Cook’s, but this process, along with the browned butter, is what makes them so chewy on the inside and crispy on the edges.  It’s tiresome, I know, but just think of it as extra arm exercises for the day! I promise you will never make a Toll House batch again.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Randy made these cookies for Valentine’s Day and they were so fabulous, I suggested to Margaux that we each bake a batch and do a joint post.  She had made them before so she readily agreed!  I must say these are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever eaten for all the reasons Margaux stated.  I also proposed that we title these cookies “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ever” :-). These are totally worth the Cook’s Illustrated extra-scientific steps, although when I got to the part where you whisk for 30 seconds and let rest for 3 minutes – TIMES 3! – I thought that a funny video could easily be made about these cookies like the one about CI beef stew that was going around recently.  You might be tempted to use an electric mixer, but these cookies are totally done by hand mixing – another thing that contributes to their delicousness.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 16 large cookies.

14 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, divided use
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1-3/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups (7-1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

To prepare oven, baking sheets: Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (AS note: my cookie sheets were on the small side, so I ended up needing 3.) Set aside.

To brown butter: In 10-inch skillet, melt 10 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. (Note: Avoid using nonstick skillet; dark color of nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when butter is sufficiently browned.) Cook, swirling pan constantly, for 1 to 3 minutes or until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma. Transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until completely melted.

To make cookie dough: Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to melted butter. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk. Whisk for 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and no sugar lumps remain. Let rest for 3 minutes. Whisk for 30 seconds. Let rest and whisk 2 more times or until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.  (I think this method sets up the leavening of the cookies, as you can see with the bubbles in the pic.)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Using rubber spatula, stir flour mixture into sugar mixture for 1 minute or until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Give dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

To shape and bake cookies: Scoop up 3 tablespoons dough. Roll into ball. Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart.

Bake 1 sheet at a time for 10 to 14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. (Note: Rotate baking sheet halfway through baking.) Transfer baking sheet to wire rack. Cool to room temperature.

Baker’s Notes:

(Margaux): You definitely want to make these the size that the recipe says…I know it seems like really extra-big cookies, but they don’t turn out the same when smaller.  I tried making them smaller once (1 1/2 tbsp) in order to get more cookies out of it, and they turned out flatter and crispy.  When baking, err on the side of under-done.  They still taste great if they get a little over-done, but they’re really great when you take them out when the center looks puffy and slightly raw.  Because you let these cookies cool in the pan, they continue to cook after taking out of the oven.  I found that for my oven and pan combination (I used a regular aluminum cookie sheet) that 12 minutes was just right.

(Aunt Suzy):  Because I like a cookie with not so much chocolate, I used 1 cup of chocolate chips and increased the nuts (pecans) to 1 cup. I agree with Margaux about the amount of cookie dough to use – don’t make them too small, although it’s tempting because these cookies are a lot of work for a small number of end product.  I ended up with 19 cookies, a little more than promised.  Taking a cue from Cook’s Illustrated, I did an experiment of my own. I baked a batch on an insulated cookie sheet – the kind with air in-between 2 layers of metal  – and a batch on a regular aluminum cookie sheet.  They came out very different!  The ones on the insulated spread out more and those on the non-insulated sheets were rounder and  a little more well-done.  Perfect timing for my oven was 10 min for non-insulated and 12 min for the insulated.  Both batches taste great, but if you’ve got an insulated cookie sheet, I’d recommend using it.  

Everything Muffins

November 21, 2011

Margaux says…

I made banana bread last week, and my husband said, “you should make this all the time, so we always have it on hand!”  He likes to grab a piece on his way out the door for breakfast.  Well, I can’t make the same thing over and over again, it’s just not in my nature.  So this has started me on a new trend of trying out breakfast breads, starting with this one.

(I get a LOT of help in the kitchen these days!)

This one is more of a cupcake, really, though…it would be great with cream cheese frosting!  I did cut back on the sugar a little bit from the original recipe, so it wasn’t TOO bad.  Definitely better than doughnuts!  And the are delicious!  (But I do recommend doing these as cupcakes with cream cheese frosting…REALLY delicious!!!  They have so much carrot in them, it’s sort of like a fancy carrot cake.)

Everything Muffins

2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup coconut (I used sweetened because it was what I had on hand, but unsweetened would probably be better)
1/2 cup raisins (I used the golden berry blend from Trader Joe’s)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular size muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until well blended. Add brown sugar and beat with whisk until well blended, about one minute. Add flour mixture and mix just until completely blended. Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, raisins and nuts.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and smooth tops. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting, if desired.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

October 30, 2011

Margaux says . . .

We have a real problem of loving things that we know are bad for us.  There really doesn’t need to be 3 oz. of red food dye in these cupcakes….they would be just as wonderful without it.  But we still do it, and it’s still one of the most popular cupcake flavors out there.  Every bakery I go to has red velvet, front and center, and I’m willing to bet they’re a best seller.  We taste with our eyes first, and that’s what makes these so tempting (and knowing that yummy cream cheese frosting is on top helps, too).

I’ve tried several different red velvet recipes, and I think this one is the best.  It has more cocoa in it than other recipes, which I prefer.  Because of the extra cocoa, it also has more dye, though, but you could definitely use less if you want.

I think red velvet is a perfect Halloween cupcake flavor…you’re biting into bloody cake, and the topping is white, so there are all kinds of decorating options.  I decided on skeletons this year, to match my son’s costume.  They turned out pretty cute, thanks to my mom, and with the help of Desi.  🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 36 cupcakes

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of room temp. water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Then remove from pans, and cool completely on cooling racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

 

Margaux says…

When I saw the recipe for this pie, I had to make it.  I’ve never had apricots in pie before, and the combination of coconut and apricots was intriguing.  The combo does not disappoint…it’s really delicious!  I love the tartness of the apricots with the sweetness of the crumble.  The pie is pretty easy to make, too; the crumble can be made in a food processor and you don’t have to peel the apricots, so prep time is minimal.  The Martha Stewart version also has shaved toasted coconut piled on top in the center for a lovely decorative touch (which I did not take the time to do).

 

Apricot Pie with Coconut Crumble
from Martha Stewart Living

For The Topping
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
For The Filling
1 3/4 pounds apricots, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (6 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Pulse coconut in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter and brown sugar, and pulse to combine. Add flour mixture, and pulse until clumps form.

Make the crust: Roll out pie dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Stir together apricots, sugars, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour filling into piecrust. Sprinkle with topping, squeezing some of the mixture into medium to large clumps and leaving a 1-inch border.

Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent topping with foil after 30 minutes to prevent burning.) Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Peach Custard Pie

July 23, 2011

Margaux says…

Various peach-custard pie recipes have really been catching my eye this year, and it looked so simple to make that I decided to just take the plunge and make one, even though we had no plans for company or anything.  Now that I’m working full time, it’s hard enough for me to be able to cook dinner, let alone give in to my baking desires.  But peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and I just couldn’t let the season pass me by without indulging just once!  And I’m so glad I gave in.  This pie is so good!  You must have good, in-season, juicy peaches for it to be good.  And for you pie-for-breakfast people out there, this one is perfect!  I had it for breakfast two days in a row!

If you don’t have a pie ring, and you are an avid pie-baker, I highly recommend it.  To me, there’s nothing worse than wrestling with a piece of tinfoil to try to get it to adequately cover the edges without burning yourself.

Peach-Custard Pie

1 recipe single pie crust

4 medium ripe (but firm) peaches, peeled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Make the crust: Roll out dough to a 1/8″ thickness on a lightly flour surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate, and trim crust to a 1-inch overhang. Fold edges under, and press to seal using the tines of a fork. Prick bottom of pie all over with fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.
2. Line crust with foil, shiny side down, and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minues. remove from oven; remove beans and parchment. Bake crust for another 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel peaches by boiling them for one minute, then allowing to cool enough to touch and peel the skin easily off. Quarter the peaches, but leaving one half intact (for the center).
4. Whisk together eggs, sugar, butter, flour, salt and nutmeg. Pour filling into pie crust. Place peach half in the center, and surround with wedges.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Tent foil ring around crust edges after 15 minutes to prevent burning (or use a pie ring). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.