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Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween treat #1: Candy corn marshmallows

I wanted to give you one fun Halloween-y treat each full week in the month of October.  I was super excited when I came up with this adorable little treat...a riff on a Halloween candy.



I can barely hold it in....I made....wait for it....Candy Corn Marshmallows!!  Now, before I go any further, I need to tell you that while they look like candy corns, they don't taste like candy corns.  Partially because I think candy corns are sickeningly sweet, partially because I don't love the taste of candy corns, and partially because I wouldn't even know where to start in terms of flavoring the marshmallows.




I took a short cut....I made one batch of regular marshmallows, and then took out some plain white marshmallow batter, added some yellow food coloring and then removed some yellow marshmallow batter, and then added some red food coloring to make orange batter, and lastly removed that and placed it in the pan.  Unfortunately, I didn't make enough yellow batter and some of the marshmallows had thinner sections of yellow (I chose not to photograph those marshmallows).  Next time, I might make 1.5 times the marshmallow batter and then use a slightly larger pan to make them.

I have to say, even though I am biased, that they're pretty darn cute!

Candy Corn Marshmallows
Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients:

1 cup water, divided
3 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin (3 envelopes – envelope is 1/4 oz. each, for 3/4 oz. total)
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. fine salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla or vanilla bean paste

Yellow and red food coloring

For the coating:

1.5 cups of confectioners sugar
1 cup corn starch

Directions:

Spray a 9x9 or 7x11 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (Recommendation: cut to fit flat on the bottom, with the edges of the paper over-hanging the sides. The ends are fine just sprayed.)

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, pour in 1/2 cup of the water and sprinkle the gelatin over.
Let stand.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of water.
Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.
Stop stirring and once mixture comes to a rolling boil, continue boiling for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat. (Recommendation: the original recipe said that they like to carefully pour mixture into a 2-cup glass measuring cup, to make it easier to pour into mixer.  I did this and found it extremely helpful!).
The mixture is very, very, very hot.  Be extremely careful!

Turn the mixer to low and mix the gelatin a bit to loosen.
Very slowly and carefully add the hot sugar mixture by pouring it gently down the side of the bowl.
Continue to mix on low until all the sugar mixture is added.

Turn the mixer to high and whip the mixture for 10 to 12 minutes until the marshmallow batter almost triples in size and becomes very thick.
If you have a smaller mixer bowl, you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to avoid the batter overflowing as it grows.
Stop the mixer, add the vanilla, and then whip briefly to combine.  When I added the vanilla, mine thinned out a bit.  Just an FYI.

Remove 1/3 of the marshmallow batter and
place the mixture into the prepared baking pan (a silicone bowl scraper works like a charm for this).
Turn the mixer on again and add yellow food coloring until desired color.
While the mixer is going, use a spatula or bench scraper to spread the white marshmallow evenly in the pan, pushing it down into the corners.
Work quickly, as the marshmallow becomes more difficult to manipulate as it begins to set.

Remove 1/2 of the remaining yellow marshmallow batter and place the mixture into the prepared baking pan on top of the white marshmallow (a silicone bowl scraper works like a charm for this).
Turn the mixer on again and add red food coloring until desired orange color.
While the mixer is going, use a spatula or bench scraper to spread the white marshmallow evenly in the pan, pushing it down into the corners.
Work quickly, as the marshmallow becomes more difficult to manipulate as it begins to set.

Remove remaining orange marshmallow batter and place the mixture into the prepared baking pan on top of the yellow marshmallow (a silicone bowl scraper works like a charm for this)..
Work quickly, as the marshmallow becomes more difficult to manipulate as it begins to set.

Spray a sheet of plastic wrap liberally with cooking spray and lay it across the top of the marshmallow, sprayed side down.
Using you fingers, smooth the plastic wrap on top of the marshmallows a bit to seal it smoothly and tightly against the mixture.
(I did this between the white and yellow layers but found that it took too long and made is slightly harder for the marshmallow layer to stick to the one beneath it, so I skipped it when I added the yellow marshmallow.)

Leave the marshmallow to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours or, even better, overnight.
The marshmallow will be too sticky and soft to cut if you try too soon.

Mix together the coating ingredients in a bowl.

When marshmallows are ready, grab the edges of the parchment and lift the marshmallows from the pan.
Remove the plastic wrap from the top and fold down the parchment on the sides.
Using a pizza cutter or a large knife, cut the slab into 1x1 inch squares.
I also made a few triangles to make them look even more like candy corns.
Roll each of the freshly cut marshmallow squares in the coating mixture.
Put them on a baking sheet to dry slightly before packaging them up (about 30 – 45 minutes).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cream cheese stuffed carrot cake

This year, I baked a cake for Yom Kippur's pre-fast dinner and then also one for the break fast the following day.  The cinnamon apple pie cake I baked for the pre-fast baked up quite well, with the exception of a little smoke in my apartment.  I chalked it up to the extra cinnamon sugar I put on the cake.  I turned the oven off; let it cool a little.  I even turned on the air conditioning in the apartment and cracked the windows a little.


Then, it came time to bake this cream cheese stuffed carrot cake.  I started the cake and realized that I had run out of granulated sugar (I was about 1/4 cup short) so I subbed in a little extra light brown sugar.  No biggie.  I stood there and hand grated 3 cups of carrots.  I preheated the oven.  And then the oven started smoking.  This?  This was "a biggie."  Smoke (minimal amounts) was coming out from behind the stove top and then also when I opened the oven door.  Scratch that, I wasn't baking the cake in my apartment.  It was 11:25 p.m. on a week night.  I frantically texted my sister, who lives about 15 blocks away from me, to see if I could go to her apartment early the next morning to bake the cake, which she of course said I could.  Then, a few minutes later, B called me to chat, and I told him about my oven ordeal, and he suggested I go bake the cake at his apartment...then.

So I packaged up the cake -- already assembled and in the pan -- with layers of tin foil, then tied it in a plastic bag, and then put it in another plastic bag.  Then I -- and the cake -- hopped in a cab (at midnight) and took it 80+ blocks to B's apartment so that I could bake the cake.  So, basically, this is my very long winded way of saying that in case the cake doesn't look perfect, please forgive me.  This cake has been through a lot (not to mention it's trip to Brooklyn that morning and then to Westchester to my parent's house...and then to my aunt's house to break the fast).




Just a note -- this cake is nut and raisin free (nut free for my allergic cousin, raisin free because one of my sisters doesn't like raisins and also because I forgot them at the store).  Personally, I think it needed the raisins, but I won't forget them from the store next time I make it.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Carrot Cake
(Assembled by me, individual recipes get their credit below)

Carrot cake 
(the original recipe was for cupcakes, but I decided to make a bundt cake this time)

Ingredients (for 24 full-sized cupcakes):

4 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used unsweetened)
1 cup golden (light) brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) ground cinnamon
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots (hand grated....trust me.  Freshly hand-grated.  Don't buy the pre-shredded carrots)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts (like I said above, I subbed in 1 cup of raisins...but no one would fault you (or me, in the future) for using 1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and raisins...however this time I left them both out)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spray a bundt pan with baking spray.

Using an electric or stand mixer, mix the eggs, canola oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon until combined.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients until no clumps remain.
Stir in vanilla, carrots, pineapple, and chopped walnuts (or raisins, or both).

Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan.
Add the cream cheese filling here (see below for the recipe and directions). 
Add the rest of the carrot cake batter.
Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool.

Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
(I didn't bring my powdered sugar home with me, and my aunt didn't have any, so I left it off this time.)

Cream Cheese Filling
From Alida's Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Add to cake in the step above.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cinnamon apple pie cake

Confusing, right?  Pie....and cake?  I did it once before with those Key Lime Pie Cupcakes, which had a graham cracker crust with a cupcake baked on top, so I guess it's not that crazy.


This recipe is a pie-cake hybrid - it's filled with sliced apples, and then a yummy batter is poured over the apples and allowed to seep down between the layers of apple, and then the whole thing is covered in a healthy coating of cinnamon sugar.  I thought it would be a great dessert for our pre-fast dinner on Yom Kippur!



I ended up using different apples (I had planned to bake something else for that night but then last minute changed to this....after I had already bought 2 dozen apples of a different variety), but recommend sticking with the granny smiths, since my cake was a little wet (but delicious) inside

One thing is for sure -- this cake is a keeper!

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake
From Recipe Girl

Ingredients:

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1.5 Tbsp cinnamon-sugar (1.25 Tbsp sugar plus 1/4 Tbsp cinnamon)
3 large eggs
1.5 cups superfine white sugar (if you don't have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor a few times)
1.5 cups vegetable or canola oil
3 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all purpose flour
More cinnamon-sugar to sprinkle on top (use the same proportions as above)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spray a 9.5" or 10" springform pan with nonstick spray.
Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
Spray the pan again.

Layer the apple slices in the pan until they come up about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the side of the pan.
Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the apples.

Prepare the batter by beating the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the oil and the vanilla and beat well.
Stir in the flour.
Pour the batter on top of the apples.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with more cinnamon sugar (I was not shy, I used a lot!).
Tap the pan on the counter a few times to allow the batter to sink down and around the apples.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Keep an eye on it....mine baked up in 1 hour and 5 minutes!)
Cool COMPLETELY in the pan.
I needed to run a knife around the pan so that it didn't crumble when I loosened the pan.
The original recipe states "If you try to remove the cake from the pan while it is still warm, it will tend to break apart.  I refrigerated my cake before slicing, and that worked out well."
Serve slices with ice cream (warm individual slices in the microwave, if desired).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Jalapeño cheddar scones

Last up, a tried and true scone that I swear by: Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones from Smitten Kitchen!!  I've made these before, several times, but shared them on the blog with you about a year and a half ago here.  They're SO good, that I decided to share the recipe again below, so that you don't have to flip back and forth between this post and the previous one!

Jalapeño Cheddar Scones are the second from the left.
Jalapeño-Cheddar Scones (from SmittenKitchen.com)

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, diced - I always use white cheddar, although i'm not completely sure why.  I've also thought about trying monterey jack or pepper jack cheese, but I always stop myself, because why fix something that doesn't need fixing?
2 small jalapeño peppers, minced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft.
Let them cool, then mix them with the cheddar cheese in a small bowl and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour.

Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt.
Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized.

Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together.
Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is well-mixed.

Put the dough on a well-floured surface and gently knead it till it comes together well (less than one minute).
Pat dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness and either cut into 8 triangles or the shape of your choice with a biscuit cutter. I made mine mini for the shower (and generally make them mini when serving as an appetizer).

I then froze mine, and actually baked them up AT the shower, since I think they are THE BEST when they're fresh out of the oven.

When ready to bake the scones, remove the from the freezer and then start from here:

Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water.
Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  My mini ones take much less, about 8-12 minutes depending on the oven.

Cranberry orange scones

The fourth variety of scones that I made for L's baby shower were these cranberry orange scones.

These cranberry orange scones are in the center.

I know I've said it before, but i'll say it again: I don't love orange zest in baked goods.  But something about this recipe -- and the fact that people seem to love the orange and cranberry combination -- made me want to make these for the shower.  I have to admit, though, that these were pretty darn good (and that's coming from the orange zest hater)!  And easy to make, too.


Just beware -- this recipe makes a TON of scones!  And I made mine without the glaze, but included it for you in case you prefer glazed scones.


Ina Garten's Cranberry Orange Scones

Ingredients:

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
(I used Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, and only used 1/4 cup of granulated sugar)
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten (I didn't see the "extra" part of that until I copied the recipe NOW, 2 weeks later, but I used large eggs and they were fine)
1 cup cold cream
1 cup dried cranberries

1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp water or milk, for egg wash (I left this off until I took them out of the freezer to bake them)
Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
4 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest.
Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest sped until the butter is the size of peas.
Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on the low speed, slowly pour it into the flour mixture.
Mix until just blended.  The dough with look lumpy!
Combine the dried cranberries with 1/4 cup of flour.
Add to the dough.
Mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well floured surface and knead it into a ball.
Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 inch thick.  I prefer to do this between 2 pieces of floured wax or parchment paper.
You should see small bits of flour in the dough.  Keep moving the dough so that it doesn't stick.

Flour a 3 inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough.  I used a slightly smaller cutter, maybe 2 or 2.5 inches.
I once learned a trick that says you're supposed to just push the cutter into the scone and remove it, and NOT to twist the cutter, since it makes the scones not rise as well....so I'm passing that tip along to you.

Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Collect the scraps neatly.
Roll out the scraps.
Cut more circles.
I froze mine here.

(If you freeze your scones, remove them from the freezer to bake them.  There is no need to defrost them, as I baked mine when they were still frozen and have baking times listed below.)
Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash.
Sprinkle with (Turbinado) sugar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Out of the freezer, ,my (slightly smaller) scones took 18 minutes to bake.
Tops should be browned and the insides fully baked; the scones will feel firm to the touch.

Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes.

If using the glaze, make the glaze:
Whisk together the confectioners sugar and orange juice.
Drizzle over the scones.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pumpkin scones

Third up in the week of scones are these pumpkin scones.   (Sorry for the delay in posts, as the past few days were the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah and I was away from the computer.)

The pumpkin scones are all the way on the right.
I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again.  I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pie spices, but I figured that pumpkin would be a nice fall flavor for the baby shower.  Boy was I right -- a bunch of people came up to me and saying that their favorite was the pumpkin scone!



These froze up beautifully, and then I just popped them into the oven to bake them.  If you do like pumpkin pie flavors, these are the scones for you!

Pumpkin Scones
from Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

For the scones:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cloves (I decreased this just a bit, since cloves and I are not friends)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp milk
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze (I left this off, due to lack of time):

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp milk

For the spiced glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silcone baking mat.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.  You can also use a Kitchen-Aid mixer or a food processor.
Add cold butter, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, milk, egg, and vanilla.
Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together.  I like to do this on floured waxed or parchment paper, making clean up much easier.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 by 7 inch rectangle, about 1" thick.
Using a large knife or pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 2 even pieces crosswise, making 4 rectangles.
Then cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 8 triangles.
I cut mine differently, making smaller triangles, since I wanted mini scones.

Place scones onto prepared baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the glaze.
Combine the confectioners sugar and milk.
Whisk until smooth.
If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside.

Make the spiced glaze.
Combine the confectioners sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and milk.
Whisk until smooth.
Mine was too thin, so I added some extra confectioners sugar.
Set aside.

When the scones are done, cool for 10 minutes.
Spoon the glaze on each scone (I skipped this stage, since I didn't make the plain glaze).
Then, drizzle with the spiced glaze.

Allow the glazes to set before serving.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prosciutto, cheese, and scallion scones

For L's baby shower this past weekend, I wanted to add some savory scones to the sweet ones that I was going to make.  These were my first savory scone that I baked for the shower, and also happen to be the second installment of the week of scones!

The Prosciutto, Scallion, and Gruyere Scones are the 4th from the left.
These were also pretty easy to make, in part to the pre-chopped prosciutto that I found near the deli counter.  What a time saver!  Definitely appreciated given the sheer variety of scones that I was making (plus, there were cupcakes, too!).  I made these mini, too, since there were going to be so many varieties of scones, and I figured people might want to try more than one flavor.  I ended up getting 19 mini scones, plus I had tons of leftover dough that I just re-kneaded and made about 10 more mini scones.

I have to say, I'm a HUGE fan of these savory scones!  They're perfectly savory, salty, and delicious without being too salty!  My only regret?  The minis are so mini...I want to eat more than one at once!

Prosciutto, Gruyere, and Scallion Scones
from Kitchen Confidante

Ingredients:

2.5 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
2/3 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup shredded gruyere (I hand grated mine)
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 cup chopped green onion (scallion)
2 Tbsp half and half
Sea salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Using a pastry cutter (or two forks, or knives, or a food processor), cut the butter into the flour mixture, until you have course crumbs.

Whisk the eggs lightly and combine with the buttermilk.
Add to the flour mixture and stir until just moist.

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses, prosciutto, and scallions.
Add this to the batter and mix lightly.
* The dough will be sticky.

On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and knead lightly until all the cheese, prosciutto, and scallions are incorporated into the dough.
Roll the dough 3/4 inch thick.
Cut out 3 inch squares, then cut diagonally to make triangles.  You should have about 10.
Or, you can make mini scones like I did, with a 2" circle cutter.  Punch down with the cutter, but do not twist.
Place the scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Lightly brush the top of the scones with half and half.
Sprinkle with sea salt.

Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes.

*Since I made the scones a few days before and planned to bake them the morning of the shower, I left off the half and half and salt when I froze them, and did that when I took them out of the freezer to bake them.  I ended up using an egg wash and left off the salt, since I was afraid that they might be too salty.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Once the scones are chilled, bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.
I baked my mini scones for about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and serve warm.
Since I did this at L's mother-in-law's apartment and I forgot to bring the parmesan cheese with me, I inadvertently left that off.  Oops!