Friday, April 25, 2008

Caramelized Spicy Peanuts

This is my mash up of two recipes from David Lebovitz. He had posted a praline almond recipe a while ago that I tried exactly as posted. They were good without being incredible. Then he posted a caramelized peanut recipe a couple of days ago. I decided to sort of do both at once. I choose peanuts and added cinnamon, chili, and butter. They turned out great and totally worth all of the stirring that you have to commit to in order to make them.

Really, lots and lots of stirring. Put on a good radio program and settle in by your stove top.
Good with a beer or served over ice cream which is my plan.
Always dessert oriented…what can I say? I love dessert.

Caramelized Spicy Peanuts
2 cups raw peanuts
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
A pinch of coarse sea salt (or smoked salt)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take 5 minutes or so. Don’t get impatient…it will happen.

2. The peanuts will get crusty and the sugar will crystallize.

3. Then the peanuts will become dry and sandy, which is perfectly normal. Lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible. If the sugar isn’t caramelizing turn the heat up a little.

4. As you go, tilt the pan, removing it from the heat from time-to-time to regulate the heat and the syrup, so you can coat the nuts with the liquid as it darkens without burning the peanuts or the syrup. This is the only tricky part—I like to get the peanuts as deeply-bronzed as possible. if the mixture starts to smoke, remove it from the heat and stir.

5. I sprinkled the peanuts with a sizable pinch of flaky salt. I also sprinkled on cinnamon and chili powder while mixing the peanuts

6. When the peanuts are dark and coated remove from heat and mix in the butter and stir till fully mixed in. Then, tilt them out onto a baking sheet or a marble countertop.

7. Let the peanuts cool completely, then break up any clumps. Store in an airtight container, where they'll keep up to a week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dorie Greenspan Coffee Cake

Yes, I am a fan of Dorie Greenspan. I've been working my way through her baking book and I like pretty much everything. On Sunday I made her Sour Cream Coffee Cake with interesting results. First, I have to admit I changed the recipe. Usually I make it exactly as printed the first time but I had some almond cream left over and decided to add it to the cake. I made it Sunday night so we could have a piece warm with ice cream for dessert and then I'd serve it again for breakfast the next day. Because I decided to add my almond cream I removed a half cup of sugar and the raisins from her recipe.

Mistakes? Yes, I should have cut the crumb mixture in half. The way I constructed the cake was by putting 1 quarter of the batter in the bottom of the bundt pan. Then I pipped in the almond cream. Then I layered 2 quarters of batter on top of this. Then I layered in the crumb mixture and topped with the final quarter of batter. Too much crumb, the top layer had a hard time connecting, literally, to the cake. Some of the chocolate and cinnamon sugar leaked out the side and really cooked to the pan making extraction difficult.

When I did remove the cake it was very floppy. I didn't even cup a piece for dessert for fear it would collapse. Instead I served it for breakfast. The cake has orange zest, cinnamon, chocolate, pecans and almond cream...almost too much on first try. We had it again this morning and it was much better. All of the flavors had mellowed and were quite good. Also, the cake was a little dryer this morning making it easier to dunk in my coffee cup. I do think the almond cream was a good addition. you can decide to experiment or not!

Coffee Cake
For the filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/3 raisins or currants
2 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt

For the cake
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
Grated zest of one orange
8 ounces unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup sour cream

1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Center a rack in the oven. Butter a 9-10 inch (12 cup) bundt pan. Dust the interior with flour.

2. To make the swirl, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the sugar and orange zest, mixing with your fingers till incorporated. Now add the butter. With the paddle or whisk attachment beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute inbetween. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add sour cream. Still working on low, add the flour mixture and mix only until incorporated.

4. Scoop one third of the batter into the bundt pan. Evenly sprinkle on half the swirl mixture. Layer in the rest of the batter. With a spatula make a shallow indentation in the center ring of the batter. Fill it with the remaining swirl mixture. Cover the mixture with the batters on the side. It doesn't have to be perfect.

5. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then unmold and cool to room temp.

Don't forget, this cake gets better the next day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Incredible Milk Chocolate - Michel Cluizel's Grand Lait

My favorite local store Amandine has started carrying this chocolate by Michel Cluizel It's a milk chocolate bar with 45% cacao. Please go buy it, it is amazing. The only reason I'm going to bike this afternoon is so I can justify eating half a bar at lunch. And when I say half a bar...I'll probably eat the whole thing. It is only 3.5 ounces after all. It has an interesting smokey taste, the bar is very smooth. The creamy milk chocolate and the dark chocolate are perfectly balanced so you get to enjoy both aspects. That gives this bar a really complex taste.

Last night I melted a bar with a little butter. Then I heated up some cream, corn syrup, sugar and a little salt. I blended with the chocolate and ended up with an amazing hot fudge sauce that I served over vanilla ice cream. I know...more biking, but totally worth it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

I have really been suffering through the end of a long winter. I know, the snowboarding was amazing...maybe the best year ever but still, how much ice is one girl supposed to take? The good news is it is finally Spring. I can tell because I'm dying to make an asparagus quiche, strawberries with a little balsamic over ice cream, a fresh green salad with just a little lemon and garlic. you get the picture. So, I started with this blueberry lemon loaf. I found the recipe on another blog and made some changes. They soaked it in a lemon syrup after baking. I instead left it alone, even reducing the over all amount of lemon because I wanted something you could toast and put a little butter on, which by the way was really good. You see, even though it is 60 during the day right now it is still 30 overnight. So, when I wake up, I want something warm with my coffee. Something I can dunk that won't fall apart. This bread was perfect and the blueberries didn't sink. Here's the bad news, I accidentally left my camera at a friend's house so I don't have my pictures. You'll just have to settle for a picture of a market I visited in Jaurez, Peru. I know onions and lemon bread don't really go together but I almost posted a picture of the guinea pigs that we had for dinner...not very satisfying and definitely not a good match with lemon bread. p.s., Susan sent my camera back! Now you can see how great look this bread is right out of the oven.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp grated lemon zest

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 ½ by 4 ¼ by 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Grease and flour the pan.

2. Sift together 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

4. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

5. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

7. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack until it is room temperature.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dulce de Leche Brownies from David Lebovitz

I've been so sick I haven't wanted to eat anything. This has been going on since Sunday evening. Well, I must be feeling better because tonight m. and I made dulce de leche for the first time. I've wanted to try this forever, don't know what took so long. I read a recipe on one of my favorite sites; David the sweet life in paris. The recipe mixes brownie batter and dulce de leche. To make dulce de leche you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 2-3 hours. Sounds crazy but it is amazing. You have to let the can cool but once you open it you have sweet caramel cream. I've always been worried about the can exploding which is silly because thousands of grandmothers all over south american have been making it this way and you never hear horror stories about the one who lost her face while making dessert, right?

Dulce de Leche Brownies

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
3. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.