Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Daring Bakers' March, 2011 Challenge: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I've made coffee cake before but never a yeast based one so this was a new method for me.  It tends to dry out quickly so is best if served on the day you make it.  While I made it with a chocolate chip filling, the filling possibilities are endless!  This would be a perfect addition for an Easter brunch! 
For the yeast coffee cake dough:  
4 cups (600g/1.5 lbs.) flour
1/4 cup (55g/ 2 oz.) sugar
3/4 teaspoon (5 g/ 1/4 oz) salt  
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons/7 g) active dry yeast
3/4 cup (180 ml/ 6 fl.oz) whole milk
1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fl. oz) water
1/2 cup (135 g/ 4.75 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling:
1 cup (110 g/ 4 oz) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g/ 1 oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g/ 6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate                                                                                                                    
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.  With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.  Increase mixer speed to  medium speed and beat 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon (I used my Kitchenaid mixer) stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.  Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1/2 cups of the flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes or until the dough is soft, smooth,and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, about 45-60 minutes.                                                                                                                                
Prepare your filling:
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling.  You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but it was easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough had doubled, make the meringue.  In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.  Add the vanilla then start adding the 1/2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).                                                                        

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.   Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

tie dye cupcakes

Standing in the checkout line my eyes glanced over and I saw a picture of the most amazing looking cupcakes. Betty Crocker has a small booklet out titled "Best Cupcakes and Cakes," available until April first, and let's face it... if it has cupcakes on it than I'm on it!
 While a bit tedious, it was rather simple to do.  You take a basic white cake mix and make the batter according to the instructions.  Next, divide the batter into 3 to 6 colors... the Betty Crocker version has six colors but I only wanted to work with three.  Add a different food color to each  bowl. Place 1 level teaspoon of each color batter into each muffin cup, layering your colors until all the batter is gone.  It is important to not stir the batter in the muffin cups!!! 

Each cup will be only about half full.... I find that to be a good amount especially for when I use a boxed cake mix.  Bake at 350degrees F.  for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting,

Now here comes the tricky part... use the largest size of disposable decorating bag that you can find.  I only had a small size one and getting my three colors of frosting in there was a real pain!  Unfortunately I do not have any pictures showing the frosting technique as I was unable to juggle both the decorating and the frosting at the same time.  I used my Wilton 1M star tip, but the instructions call for the #6 star tip.  I also cheated and used the 2 containers of Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy white frosting that the instructions called for... yes, a store bought frosting. Although I prefer a homemade frosting, It is perfectly ok to go the lazy route from time to time; especially when its for kids! LOL!
Place spoonfuls of each color of frosting (I used the same three colors I used for my cake batter and the instructions only used 3 colors as well) side by side in bag, alternating colors and working up from tip of bag.  Do not stir colors together.  Pipe frosting clockwise for 3 rotations, working toward the center and ending in a small peak.   

They turned out pretty cool and the kids loved it!!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

the cookie carnival: Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookies

This month's cookie carnival challenge gave us the yummy Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal cookies.  I kid you not, this is one killer cookie recipe.  It's a good thing I give 90% of my cookies to my mom as I would have been able to eat every single one of them.  Not that my mom is any better, mind you!  She uses the cookies at the place she volunteers... it offers reduced rates for people who have extended medical care (like cancer treatments) or loved ones in the hospital.  

This cookie recipe is from Quaker Oats.  I made no adjustments to the recipe as it didn't need it.  Only thing I didn't do was refrigerate the dough before baking and it all came out fine.

Chocolate Brownie Oatmeal Cookies
     One  8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 
     8  tablespoons (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened 
     1  cup firmly packed brown sugar 
     1/2  cup granulated sugar    
     2  eggs     
     1/2  teaspoon vanilla 
     2  cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted   
     1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour   
     1-1/2  teaspoons baking soda   
     3  cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked) 
     1  cup chopped nuts
     Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:                                                                                                                                                   In large bowl, beat cream cheese, margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add combined flour and baking soda; mix well. Add oats and nuts; mix well. Cover; chill at least 1 hour.                                                                                                                                       Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.     Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are almost set. (Centers should still be moist. Do not overbake.) Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.                                                     Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Store tightly covered                                                                      Cook’s Notes     To melt chocolate chips, place in 1-quart glass measuring cup or microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Or, place in top part of double boiler over hot, not boiling, water; stir occasionally until smooth.                                       Yield   ABOUT 6 DOZEN 

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks March 2011Challenge: ¡Me Encanta Perú! - Papas Rellenas

Blog-checking lines: Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I'm not as daring as I would like to be.  As much as I would like to think I am so "cool" and "with it" in my food experiences, I just don't care for sea food.... throw in it being raw and my gag reflex kicks in.  Thankfully there are hundreds of other daring chefs out there this month that are sea food lovers so I don't feel that bad about making only the Papas Rellenas recipe. 
This was a tasty recipe and even came husband approved. 

Papas Rellenas (de carne):
Makes 6
For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg
For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste
For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)
 In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.
For the dough:
1.Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
2.Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
3.Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.
While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
1.Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
2.Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
3.Add ground beef and brown.
4.Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
5.Deglaze the pan with white wine.
6.Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
7.Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
8.Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”
Forming and frying the papas:
1.Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
2.Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
3.Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
4.Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).
5.Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
6.Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.

7.Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
8.Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Irish Potato Pie

      I'm rather keen on holidays myself. While the kids were growing up I took great care to have the house decorated for every holiday. We even celebrated some of the lesser known celebration days such as Dr. Seuss day, Chocolate day... etc. The kids loved it and made for great memories and now I've restarted the tradition with my grandsweetie :-)
      Saying that, when I was asked to step in and fill the spot for the March challenge (have the cake) I was instantly drawn to traditional Irish desserts. There are many fabulous recipes sounding recipes out there but many included the use of whiskey or beer. I certainly want to try some of the stout beer recipes I found but was looking for something without alcohol. Interestingly enough, I came across this recipe for Irish Potato Pie and, to quote,"this recipe, with slight adjustments, was brought over "on the boat" by the cook's great-great-aunt shortly after a potato famine in the 1880s. When asked why she had brought a potato pie (rather than a fruit pie) recipe with her, she'd answer that she had hoped that America would have an abundant supply of potatoes, as in Ireland there was "nary a sound potato to be had there. May God bring them back." Of course, God did, and we celebrate that with the fine legacy of Aunt Bridget's potato custard pie. Mary Cummings, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, The Old Farmer's Almanac Recipe Contest, Dublin, New Hampshire."

     Doesn't sound like I could get a more traditional recipe than that! I found this pie to be a combination of vanilla custard and tapioca... taste wise, not texture wise.  The pie itself is rather firm like pumpkin pie is.

Irish Potato Pie

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
3 eggs
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
2 cups mashed potatoes (whipped smooth with no lumps)  I'm assuming they mean without milk or butter... that's what I did any way.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey, brandy, or sherry (optional)  
1 unbaked 10-inch deep-dish pie shell with high fluted edge
Freshly grated nutmeg
Toasted slivered almonds


Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Stir in the half-and-half or cream, potatoes, sugar, vanilla, salt, and liquor (if using). Beat well until smooth.
Cover the fluted edge of the pie shell with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. Pour the filling into the shell and sprinkle with nutmeg. 
Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 to 18 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle the almonds around the outer edge and dust with additional nutmeg. Serve at room temperature; store in the refrigerator.