Sunday, October 21, 2012

truffle hot chocolate balls {winner!}

Truffle Hot Chocolate Balls from Michelle:
Recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe
book: Polar Express

*Makes about 9-10 hot chocolate balls
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Microwave for one minute intervals, stirring often, until the mixture is combined and very smooth and silky. When you first start stirring, after the first minute or so, you'll wonder if this mixture will ever come together. It will look grainy and messy but after it heats thoroughly and is whisked to combine, it will magically become beautifully smooth. Be careful not to overheat as the chocolate can seize. The trick is to stir often since the mixture will blend together even when it looks like the chocolate chips haven't melted completely.
Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until the ganache mixture is firm and scoopable, about 2-3 hours. Scoop out about 1/4-cup spoonfuls of the mixture and place them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. My cookie scoop is about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I mounded two of the heaping cookie scoops full of ganache on top of each other to form one ball. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let the mounds harden slightly, about 15-20 minutes. Roll the chilled mounds into balls and place on squares of plastic wrap (about 4 inches by 4 inches). Pull the sides of the plastic wrap over to cover the ball and place the balls in the freezer until ready to use.
To make the hot chocolate: pour 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (depending on how rich you like your cocoa) milk into a microwave-safe mug. Carefully drop one unwrapped truffle hot chocolate ball in the milk. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir well until the chocolate is combined with the milk. Serve warm!

gougeres and profiteroles.

Grougeres/Profiteroles from Shalee:

Pate a Choux:

1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, sifted
4 eggs, beaten

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water, salt, sugar, and butter to a boil, making sure the butter is completely melted. Off the heat, add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Return to the heat and continue beating until the dough forms a solid, smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.

Take off the heat and empty the dough into a clean mixing bowl and let cool a bit so that the dough doesn't cook your eggs. Little by little add the beaten eggs, beating vigorously in between each addition, until the dough forms a smooth, supple mass (This can be done by hand although I do it in my stand mixer).

Divide the dough into 2 even quantities, 1 part to be used for the gougeres, the other for profiteroles.

The dough is ready at this point to make the profiteroles. Just pipe onto cookie sheet (approximately the size of a silver dollar) lined with parchment paper or silpat mat and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooled, cut the tops off and serve with icre cream or whipped cream, fruit, chocolate sauce, etc. Can brush the tops prior to cooking with an egg wash for a glossy finish.

1/2 recipe Pate a Choux, recipe above (if you do not want to make profiteroles and wish to use the entire dough for gougeres just double the cheese below)

 1/2 cup grated Gruyere (I used Jarlsberg but if is fun to experiment with different cheeses and spices. I also like to add garlic, chives, greent onion, etc.

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 egg, beaten

Special Equipment: pastry bag fitted with a #10 star tip, baking sheet, parchment paper, pastry brush (I just use my cookie scoop or put it in a large ziplock baggie and cut the corner)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small mixing bowl, add the grated cheese and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper to the half-recipe of pate a choux. With a rubber spatula, scoop the pate a choux into the pastry bag and pipe out approximately 25 (1-inch) rounds, spaced 1 to 2 inches apart on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly with the beaten egg and place in the oven. Cook until golden and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool briefly on a baking rack. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*After I do the egg wash I like to sprinkle a little cheese on the top.

Serving: The puffs are best served warm, and if making them in advance, you can simply pipe the gougères on baking sheets and cook right before your guests arrive, or reheat the baked cheese puffs in a low oven for 5-10 minutes before serving. Some folks like to fill them, or split them and sandwich a slice or dry-aged ham in there, although I prefer them just as they are.

Hints: These really are so easy so don't let the recipe scare you away. They seem to puff/stay puffed better when they are not too large. Also, make sure to beat your eggs in really well to give the pate a choux dough the elasticity it needs to really puff in the oven. Finally, make sure they are good and golden before removing them from the oven and try not to open the oven door at all until you are ready to remove them.

coeur a la creme with raspberry puree.

Coeur a la Creme with Raspberry Puree from Jenn:

This recipe requires a special mold or a small colander and cheesecloth

3 oz good white chocolate (Valrhona is recommended by the author)
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese (not low fat) at room temperature
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Prepare the mold or colander by cutting two sheets of cheesecloth large enough to line the interior and extend beyond the edges enough to enclose the filling completely. Wet the sheets of cheesecloth under the tap, wring them out well, and line them up together so they form a double layer. Lay the cheesecloth over the mold or colander, pressing it smooth along the base and walls. Set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, microwave the white chocolate on high for 20 seconds at a time, stirring well in between, until just smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of the cream and the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the white chocolate, and beat until very smooth, about 2 minutes, set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the finished batter into the prepared mold, smoothing the top with a spatula. Fold the cheesecloth over to enclose it completely. Place the mold on a rimmed sheet pan or another rimmed dish. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Raspberry Puree

1 - 10 oz bag frozen, unsweetened raspberries, thawed
3 T sugar

In a blender combine the raspberries with their juice and the sugar. Blend until smooth. Press the puree through a sieve into a small bowl to remove the seeds. Cover and chill up to 4 hours.

When you're ready to serve, remove the mold from the refrigerator and discard the liquid, if any, that has collected beneath it. Pull back the cheesecloth and carefully invert onto a serving platter. Gently pull away and discard the cheesecloth.

Serve in generous dollops in shallow bowls, topped with raspberry puree.

neiman marcus bars (chess bars)

Neiman Marcus Bars (Chess Bars) from Heidi:
book: Target Underwear in a Vera Wang Gown

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 and spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan. Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about 1-2 mins. Pour on top of crust. Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until top is golden brown.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins with streusel topping.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with Streusel Topping from Brittany:
Recipe From: Our Best Bites
book: If You Give a Moose a Muffin

1 Duncan Hines spice cake mix
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 12-ounce package of chocolate chips

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 T butter

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, pumpkin, sour cream, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix on low for 30 seconds or until all the ingredients have been moistened, then beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the batter is smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly into prepared muffin tins. 

Whisk together the flour, sugar and pumpkin pie spice, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles  coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake the muffins for 20-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 24 muffins.

french peasant bread.

French Peasant Bread from Beckie:
From “Favorites” Cookbook
book: Les Miserables

1 package dry yeast
2 c warm water
1 T sugar
2 t salt
4 c flour
corn meal
melted butter

Place yeast, water, sugar and salt in warm bowl. Proof and stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size. Flour hands, removed dough from bowl and place in 2 rounds on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the top with melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 375 and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with butter. Serve warm.

Tips: I use a large rubber scraper to divide the dough in the bowl and scoop it out, this dough is very sticky. Sometimes I just spray the pan with Pam because it's faster and easier than oil. I usually use about 2 T butter. Sometimes I like to substitute 1/4 c whole wheat flour for white, gives it a nice flavor and texture. 

apple butter cinnamon rolls.

Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls from Lauren:
book: Small and Simple Things

Ingredients for a Half Recipe (about 15 rolls):

1 T yeast
3 T plus 1 tsp. sugar
½ cup butter, soft plus another 1/4 cup for frosting
1 egg
½ cup whole milk, plus another 1/4 cup for frosting
1/4 cup plus another ½ cup water
 1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour
2 cups apple butter, the best quality you can find!
brown sugar
3 cups powdered sugar

1-Stir 1 T yeast and 1 tsp. sugar into ¼ cup of very warm water. Set aside to rise (I try to set mine in the window sill where the sunshine can heat it a bit).

2-Mix together in your kitchen aid using the “whisk” appliance or you can mix by hand in a large bowl: 1 egg, ½ cup water, ½ cup milk, 3 T sugar, 1 tsp. salt, ½ cup soft butter. After mixing those ingredients a minute or two, add the yeast mixture.

3- Add 2 cups of flour and mix. Change the “whisk appliance” on your kitchen aid to the “hook” and add the other two cups of flour. Allow the kitchen aid to knead the dough until the bowl comes clean, about five minutes I think.

4- Test the dough with your finger, and if it feels really sticky, add another ¼ cup of flour.

5- Rub butter all over the outside of your dough ball until it has a nice sheen.

6- Lay a damp dish towel over top of your bowl so the dough doesn’t dry out, and set it in a warm place. I like the window sill or the stove top if the oven is on. Another option is to put the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds and then turn off the microwave but leave the dough inside (don’t open the door) so it stays warm. Allow dough to rise 1 ½-2 hours for maximum fluffiness!

7- Roll out dough onto counter into large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Spread a thin layer of butter over dough and then spread apple butter over it, kind of like pizza sauce. I used about a cup in total. Then sprinkle generous amounts of both brown sugar and cinnamon over the apple butter. Roll the long side of the rectangle up and slice the dough into cinnamon rolls. Arrange in a buttered baking pan. 

8- Allow rolls to rise a second time and then preheat oven to 350 and bake rolls for about 20 minutes until golden. 

9- Mix 1/4 cup butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup apple butter in mixer. Add more powdered sugar or apple butter, according to your taste. You can also add a 1/4 tsp allspice or ground cloves to taste.

butter beer cupcakes.

Butter Beer Cupcakes from Tamara:
book: Harry Potter

Adapted from Amy Bites
Yields 18 cupcakes

Butterbeer Cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and butter flavoring.
Fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour mixture, cream soda, and then the remaining flour. Folding in these ingredients will prevent over-mixing and will result in a fluffier, less dense cupcake. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched. Cool completely before frosting.

Butterscotch Ganache
11 ounces (1 package) butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips into the heavy cream, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

Butterscotch Buttercream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup butterscotch ganache (recipe above)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
Pinch of salt
3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Splash of heavy cream (as needed)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the butterscotch ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt. Beat in the powdered sugar for 2-3 minutes, starting with 3 cups and adding more only if necessary. Add the cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved (I only needed 1 tablespoon).

To Assemble
Pour butterscotch ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. Stab the tip of the bottle into cupcake and fill each cupcake with butterscotch ganache until it starts to overflow.

Fill a pastry bag with butterscotch buttercream and pipe onto the top of each cupcake. Drizzle on the butterscotch ganache. If you have any leftover butterscotch ganache, it can be used as ice cream topping.

bean dip.

Bean Dip from Jenni:
book: The Gas We Pass

1 can of Chili (with or without beans)
1 block of cream cheese

Melt in microwave and stir to combine. Serve with chips.

the best blueberry muffins.

The Best Blueberry Muffins from Shauna:
book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Lemon-Sugar Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
zest from one lemon

2 cups frozen blueberries (or two cups fresh)
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 T butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping, stir together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

For the muffins, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Rinse one cup frozen berries under cold water and spread on a double layer or paper towels to dry well. Bring remaining one cup berries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Toss the berries that have dried on the paper towels in with the flour mixture. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into flour mixture  into flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy with a few dry spots of flour - don't overmix. This is the key to moist and tender muffins.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin cups until they are about 3/4 full. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into the center or each mound of batter. Using a skewer, gently swirl the berry filling into the better using a figure eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

Bake until the top of the muffins are golden and just firm, 17-18 minutes. Cool muffins in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe via Mels Kitchen Cafe
adapted from Cook's Illustrated