Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Caramel Cheesecake Brownies

What do you do when you have leftover caramel and cream cheese? Make caramel cheesecake brownies, naturally. That's really all I could come up with to use up my leftover ingredients and I'm sure glad I did.

Brownie Batter:
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2/3cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler. Stir to homogenize.
2. While the chocolate melts whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Temper the egg mixture with the now melted chocolate/butter mixture. Once tempered, mix in all the chocolate. Last, mix in flour.
5. Preheat oven to 350F. It can heat while you assemble to cream cheese mixture and get your caramel out. Adjust as necessary if you're making the caramel from scratch.

Cream Cheese Mixture:
8 ounces softened cream cheese (I just used what was leftover from my stuffed french toasts)
1/4 cup of sugar (I used icing sugar)
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce - see recipe here.

1. Now that you have all your batters assembled, take an 8x8 baking pan and line it with parchment paper. This will definitely save on cleaning sugary batter and caramel and cream cheese off of your pan. Trust me.
2. Place brownie batter on bottom. Dollop cream cheese on top, and then drizzle all over with generous spoonfuls of caramel. It's up to you how much you put in. Obviously don't go apeshit and but a whole cup in, but 3-4 tbsp of caramel never hurt.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Jack Daniels on Jack Daniels on Jack Daniels...

A beautiful marriage.

So, it was up to me to make brunch for the fam this Sunday. I moved back home last month and we usually get together about once a week for a warm meal together, my mum, her partner and my g'ma. Now that I'm older I really, really appreciate these afternoons together, especially because I'm usually in charge of cooking. I get along with my family AND I get to clog their arteries with all the butter they can handle? Hot dog! (love you mum).

So, because I had to make brunch this morning I decided the best thing to do last night would be to go out dancing and have as many "Burt Reynolds" shots as I could. Has anyone ever heard of this monstrosity? It's rum and butter ripple schnapps and it is designed to make you think you're having a tasty treat when you're actually consuming liquified evil. I awoke, under slept and bleary-eyed, recalling, once again, why I never drink.

What to do, oh what to do? Well, make some Jack Daniels caesars and carry on with your day, is the obvious answer. The JD eventually made it's way in to everything else, and the day was saved! May I present to you stuffed brioche french toast with Jack Daniels, with a Jack Daniels caramel.

No brunch would be complete without a mimosa.

Stuffed French Toast for 4

1 loaf of brioche, or your favorite bread
3 eggs
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Jack Daniels

1 brick cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp whipping cream
your favorite fruit compote, but make sure it's not too liquid

1. Place eggs, cream, cinnamon and JD in a shallow pan and beat the hell out of it.
2. beat softened cream cheese, icing sugar, and whipping cream together until light and fluffy.
3. Slice your brioche. I was able to slice my loaf into 12 slices of about medium thickness. Take one piece and put about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on one side. Take another piece and put your fruity stuff on it. Yes, you are actually making a sandwich with it. Slap 'em together and do this to all your pieces.
4. Heat your skillet at medium-high and spray it down with non-stick cooking spray. **Dredge your sandwiches quickly in the egg mixture that you've got waiting. Don't let them soak in the mix or they will become too soggy. The way I do my french toast is nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
5. Cook those suckers like a little grilled cheese sandwich, flipping when golden.

Jack Daniels Caramel

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp Jack Daniels

1. Put sugar into saucepan with heavy bottom. Whisk in water to dissolve. Heat on medium-high heat, swirling often to prevent burning, until sugar turns an amber colour and smells just lightly burnt. If you are using a candy thermometer it should read 350F.
2. Turn off the heat, leave on the element. Add in tablespoons of butter, whisking to fully melt. It will hiss and spit at you, but don't worry, those are just the happy sounds of butter and sugar uniting.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream until properly incorporated. Whisk in JD. Put it on EVERYTHING. You're welcome.

**I had an insane Italian boss years ago, back in high school. We cooked exclusively Italian food, yet one day I came in and he had me learn to make "the perfect french toast" with him. 16 years old, and terrified of him, I just accepted my lesson and moved on. But boy, this is one lesson I'm glad I received. He taught me that you want to put your well-greased frying pan on medium-high to high heat and only allow you egg mixture to coat the outside of the bread without actually saturating it. This allows a nice, cooked, golden outside and a fluffy inside. It's lovely. Try it.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Brioche, attempt one.

Today I got brave. Today, I decided to make brioche. By hand. With no mixer. My mixer, alas, is in another province for the time being and I have been left bereft. At first I was scared, but then I thought to myself: pull yourself together woman. You think you're the first person to make brioche without a kitchenaid? I'm no historian, but since brioche is hundreds of years old I'm fairly certain that it was made without a mixer for years. But what do I know. I only have an arts degree.

The original recipe came from Delicious Shots and can be found if you follow the link.

As this was my first attempt, I really had no idea what to expect. I'm fairly pleased with the overall result. I know I sliced it a little too soon in my zealousness to take photos of it, but other than that I have no complaints.  Tomorrow I shall make stuffed french toast with it. More details on that to come.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Mocha Cupcakes

Oh Martha, you devious bitch you. What will you think of next?

The mutti demanded I make her Martha's mocha cupcakes for her birthday, and thus, Martha's mocha cupcakes were born. You do not disobey the mutti.

The Swiss meringue buttercream, while a pain in the meringue to make, is worth the effort. Look at those delicious, mocha peaks! (If I had a dollar for every time I heard that...yeah, I'd probably only have a dollar. My life needs more excitement.)

Mocha Cupackes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1 1/12 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso (just coffee worked fine, I found)
1 tbsp instant espresso powder

1. Heat over to 325F.
2. Whisk together cake flour, and cocoa. With your mixer on medium-high, cream butter until light and smooth. Add sugar, eggs and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt; continue beating.
3. Reduce speed and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with sour cream. Mix coffee and espresso powder together, mix into batter until smooth.
4. Divide evenly between cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake for 22 minutes, rotating pan half way through.

Swiss-Meringue Coffee Buttercream

1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Continue to boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230F.
2. Whisk egg whites on medium-high until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining sugar.
3. Pour syrup down sides of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high. Whisk until mix is completely cool and stiff peaks form, about seven minutes. Add 2 tbsp pure coffee extract, whisking to combine.

The best and worst thing I have ever done

"My god, what have you done?"
                                                                                 - my roommate

The above quote is what my roommate said after she tried my newest drink concoction. It sounds a bit gnarly and like it might give you a bad hangover, which very well may be true on both accounts. However, it tastes like you're drinking unicorns dancing on rainbows, so I'm willing to forgive.

1 oz cake vodka over ice
top off with cherry 7-up

Sure, not really a 'recipe' per se, but I just had to share this with the world. Everyone needs one! Unless of course, you've given up drink, in which case this is now really awkward...

Reine De Saba

I just moved back to my hometown after being away for seven years! Yeah, big adjustment. Especially when I looked at our Wikipedia page and discovered that the average age of the citizens of O-town is 58. Le sigh. BUT!!! (oh yes, there is always a but) I also got hired on at the new, and really, REALLY amazing bakery in town. It is just the kind of bakery I've wanted to work at - local, seasonal, amazing owners, cute baby crawling around, fancy tools for me to break, you know, the usual.

Now, how did I, the untrained chef, get this job, you might ask? I'm going to go with a mixture of charisma, nice eyes, and this cake that I used as a "business card." Because conventional methods are so over-rated.

Seriously though. This cake. My mother's coworker actually said: That's the closest thing I've had to an orgasm in a long time. And you'll understand when you eat it. Some might argue that you can add a pound of butter to anything and have it taste good...and they'd probably be right. Julia Child was on to that schtick long before any of us. Bless her. And bless butter.

Julia Child's Reine De Saba

For the cake:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate melted with 2 tbsp rum or coffee
1/4 lb. softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
dash o' salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup pulverized almonds
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
1/4 tsp almond extract

1. Oven at 325F
2. Simmer some water in a double boiler. Once it has stopped simmering, remove from heat, and place chocolate and rum (or coffee, if you're being a wimp) in top of double boiler. Now leave it alone. We'll come back to that later.
3. Beat egg whites and salt in to soft peaks. When it has reached the soft peak form, add the tbsp of sugar and beat to stiff peaks.
4. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat some more. Beat it, just beat it...
5. Now we come to the melted chocolate and rum. Mix it together to emulsify it, then add it to the egg/sugar/butter mixture. Now add the almonds.
5. Fold in the egg whites and flour in, in thirds.
6. Bake 25 minutes, until cake has puffed and center is still a wee bit jiggly. Cool and ice.  

For the icing:
2 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 tbsp rum or coffee (I used rum again, of course)
5 to 6 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Perform the same trick with the chocolate and rum as you did for the cake. Simmer, heat off, melt. You know the drill.
2. Once melted, beat in the butter, on tbsp at a time. Then beat over an ice bath until it has reached the spreading consistency. I know it sounds like a pain in the ass, but the end result is really worth it. Or just stuff it in the freezer for five minutes and then beat the hell out of it. Whatever you want.
3. Spread it over the cake and decorate with sliced almonds, how you see fit. As you can see, I didn't have any sliced almonds on hand and the world didn't end. Bon Appetit!

p.s. for maximum effect, dig out some old pearls and wear those in the kitchen while also doing your best Julia impression.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Tonight's Dinner

I made dinner tonight, for me and my gran. I have absolutely no idea what I made, but it was tasty as all get out. We found some local endive at the grocery store and I happened upon a tray of discount fruits (read: slightly bruised yet totally edible) so I tossed this quick meal together.

Endive Salad with Pears and Egg on a Red Wine - Plum Reduction

1 pear
3 small endives
1 thin slice of onion
1 tbs tangy salad dressing (I used Little Creek Dressing, which, if you haven't tried, shame on you)

2 soft boiled eggs (I over-boiled mine, I'll admit it)

2 large plums
2 tbs red wine
1 tbs agave nectar

1. Start the reduction. Dice plums, place in pot with red wine on med-high heat. When it begins to bubble, lower the heat a bit and occasionally stir/use the back of your spoon to mash the plums a bit to help them break down. Add the agave to sweeten it just a bit. When the plums can no longer reduce, sieve the contents of the pot, reserving the delicious liquid that comes out. Do what you like with the plum pulp. Because I have been brainwashed from a young age not to waste things, I just ate it. It was delicious!

2. Reserve 6-8 outside leaves of the endive, for plating. Finely dice the pear, endives, and onion. Mix together in bowl with salad dressing.

3. Plate it however your artistic little heart desires. Below you can see what I did with mine. Happy eating!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Martha's Berry Crumble

Sigh. Yet again I fail at food blogging. I lost the recipe for this. BUT, I still have the pictures, so...partial win? What it is, is Martha Stewart's Berry Crumble with a sweet biscuit topping. I vaguely remember the biscuit having buttermilk in it, and a fine sprinkling of sugar on top. I feel like there are many recipes like this out there, and if you want you could definitely find a similar one. Because man do I love this idea, and did it ever taste delicious. The parts of it that I could taste at least, having burnt myself on hot berry juice because I couldn't wait to eat it! The berries themselves were blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, mixed with sugar and a few tbsp's of cornstarch, an a few drops of lemon juice.

Challah Hamburger Buns

Challah Hamburger Buns

You will probably have as much fun making these buns as you will pronouncing them. I know I did. This was, of course, my first attempt at making this bread and I think it turned out really well. The buns were absolutely massive, but they were so soft and light I really didn't care how big they were.

Contrary to my instincts, rather than shape a ball of dough, this recipe suggests that you grab a hunk of dough with your hands and pinch the bottom until the top is smooth. You'll understand what I mean when you actually try it.

  • 6 2/5 cups bread flour, or more all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (around 100°F)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds ( I used black seeds because they so pretty)
1. Mix 1/4 cup of flour, sugar, yeast and water together. Let sit until yeast is foamy. I always like to use warm water (not too hot!) because I read somewhere that the warmth helps promote growth in the yeast. It can't hurt.

2. Whisk in the honey, oil, eggs, and salt. Add the flour a cup at a time, until it thickens. When it is thick knead it for about five minutes, adding the flour in as you go. I did this in my kitchenaid.

3. When the dough is smooth cover it and store it in a warm place until it doubles in size. Make sure you cover it with plastic wrap and that your bowl is clean.

4. When it has risen (that sounds like it should have ominous piano music playing after it) punch it down, and knead that baby for five more minutes. Divide it in to eight even pieces. Take each piece and turn and pinch it in to shape. Do not roll it in to balls. Place on baking sheet lined with non-stick element of your choosing.

5. Let balls rise again four about and hour and a half, or until doubled in size. You may want to check on them half way through, as mine rose to gargantuan size. When doubled, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 325 F for 40 minutes, or until golden.

tip: when you take them out tap on their bottoms. If they sound hollow, they're done! If not, stick 'em back in. Good luck!