Archive for ‘Dessert’

September 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Creme Pie

by Lauren

About one month ago the cooking blogosphere was filled with peanut butter creme pie recipes. Why was nearly a whole page of foodgawker.com coming up with similar looking peanut butter pies? Jennie, a food blogger extraordinaire, lost her husband, Mikey, unexpectedly. He loved peanut butter pie and the community of bloggers united to make a peanut butter pie and share it with loved ones.  My roommate and dear friend had her birthday this past week and I thought of this pie.  (Sorry for the phone camera quality of the picture.)

Peanut Butter Creme Pie (Adapted from RecipeGirl’s Nutter Butter-Peanut Butter Pie)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces chocolate cookies (I used Oreos)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup hot fudge
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (not the natural kind)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip, defrosted
  • chocolate sauce (for top)
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – Minis (for edge)
Instructions:

In a blender, combine chocolate cookies and butter. Press the mixture into a pie plate/tin. Drizzle hot fudge on top and smooth it with a spoon. Place in the freezer to set.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in about 1 cup of the Cool Whip with the mixer. Set the beaters aside and fold in the rest of the Cool Whip using a rubber spatula.

Spoon the peanut butter filling into the frozen pie crust, smooth top down nicely, and place back into the freezer. Freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight. Decorate with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and/or chocolate sauce.  You can move it to the refrigerator before serving.

Share with those you love.

September 4, 2011

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

by Lauren

I purchased an ice cream maker in April when I was eagerly waiting for summer.  Since Labor Day weekend is the unofficial “the end of summer,” I figured it was an appropriate time to post an ice cream recipe.  I tried my hand at salted caramel, vanilla bean, and strawberry throughout the summer, but with a dark chocolate lover visiting there was no better time to get over my fear of a chocolate based ice cream.  This recipe comes from  Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  It is rich, seriously rich.  I haven’t even completely let it harden into it’s true form, but a few spoonfuls of the base (pre-hardened liquid or more like mousse in this case) and straight from the ice cream maker (shown below) indicate that this will be an intense chocolately explosion in your mouth.

 

So finally, the recipe:

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream, by Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours (page 430)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used one bar of 70% Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate and one bar of 85% Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar (It called for 1/3, but we added a bit because the store only had one bar of 70% chocolate and we were going to use 2 bars of it)
  • You will also want a thermometer
Instructions:

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring ¾ cup of the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit a minute, then using a rubber spatula, stir the cream into the chocolate in larger and larger circles. When the ganache is smooth, set it aside.  Try not to eat the ganache, I repeat, try not to eat the ganache.

Bring the milk and the remaining ¾ cup cream to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until well blended and just slightly thickened. Keep whisking and drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid—this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle (and become scrambled sugar eggs). Always keep whisking and slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, while stirring, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly and stir the custard into the ganache.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled (I let it refrigerate overnight because my ice cream maker had to cool in the freezer overnight) before churning it into ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into the container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1 quart.

Happy last weekend of summer!

July 31, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Pie

by Jen

I have been in the mood to make pie, and this fresh strawberry pie was my third this weekend.

The first was a rhubarb custard pie, from a recipe of my friend Helen’s mother.  I have such fond memories of sitting at Helen’s house in Ohio eating that pie, and as a birthday present for me this year, she shared the recipe.  I’m eager to make it again, at which point I may be able to post it.

The second was a semi-reciped-semi-improvised pie with a filling of raspberry, nectarines, and plums.  It did not turn out quite as well as I might have hoped, mostly because the crust got burned early in the baking process.

And finally, this afternoon I made this fresh strawberry pie with a graham cracker crust.  I’m planning to bring it to my brother’s house for a dinner party tonight, which I am excited about because my brother is a very good cook.

The offer to bring pie was made while slightly drunk, while the pie itself was made while slightly hungover (inexplicably) — but it was ultimately pretty simple to make, and now it exists and I’ll get to eat it, so win-win.

Recipe for the graham-cracker pie crust (from Joy of Cooking):

Crush up 9 graham crackers (I did this by banging the bag containing the 9 graham crackers with a rolling pin for a while until they were mostly crumbled, then opening and emptying the bag and mushing it with my hands) and mix in 6 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  Put the mixture in a pie pan and try to convince it to cover both the bottom of the pan and the sides.  I did this with the help of a water glass to get an even surface.  Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Recipe for the pie (also from Joy of Cooking*):

Wash and hull about 6 cups of strawberries: 2 cups should be basically intact attractive smallish strawberries for the top layer; 2 cups should be in thick slices for the bottom layer; and 2 cups (the most mediocre) should be pureed in a food processor.  Then, in a medium saucepan, stir together 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 1/8  tsp salt.  Once the cornstarch is well-dispersed in the sugar, add 1/2 cup water, the pureed berries, 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (the 2 Tbsp you didn’t use for the crust!).  Put the mixture on the stove over medium high heat and cook for a minute — it will thicken up substantially.

Now the fun part: layer the thick sliced strawberries over the crust.  Pour a bunch of the hot berry mixture over them to make a uniform layer.  Then make a second layer with your most attractive strawberries, and add more hot berry mixture as desired.  (I just put it over part of the top layer, but you could add another complete coat.)

Recipe for yogurt topping:

Mix together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract; and 1/4 tsp almond extract.  Serve with slice of pie.

One nice outcome of all this pie-making was left-over ingredients — I had a bunch of pastry dough leftover from the rhubarb pie.  So I rolled out the pastry dough, cut some circles, put those circles into muffin tin openings, and cooked them until they browned.  Then I pulled them out, filled them with leftover strawberry mixture, and topped with strawberries.  They wound up being rather unpolished and messy in appearance (rustic!) but I am excited to eat them.

* My friend Yin dreamed of producing a book called Joy of Eating which would be pictures of him eating every recipe in Joy of Cooking.  I hope one day he achieves that dream…

July 17, 2011

Vanilla-Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes

by Alexa

I’m not really in to the whole cupcake trend that started up a few years ago and seems to be going strong.  Fancy bakery cupcakes always seem weirdly dense to me, and they invariably have too much super-rich frosting.  I mean, I’ll eat them and all, don’t get me wrong,  but I am a much bigger big fan of homemade cupcakes–they’re fun to make, fun to eat, and great to share with a crowd.

I made these cupcakes for a party, cobbling together a few different recipes to create a vanilla cupcake with a strawberry filling and a chocolate frosting.  They were a big hit!

(This recipe was very improvisational, so the quantities of batter, filling, frosting etc are a little inexact.  Just go with it, it will be awesome, I promise)

Step One:  Strawberry filling

  • Approx. 1.5 quarts strawberries, washed and cut into pieces (using frozen would be fine)
  • about 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Put the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in to a saucepan over medium heat.  The strawberries will soften and release their juices–use a wooden spoon to crush the berries against the side of the pan.  When the berries are mostly a mush, use a ladle to scoop out a bit of the hot strawberry liquid.  In a small bowl, mix the liquid with the cornstarch until you have a smooth paste.  Add the cornstarch mixture back into he strawberry pot, stirring well.  Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, and then remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.

Step Two: Cupcakes

I used one of my favorite cake recipes for the batter–  “Golden Layer Cake” from the 1960 Better Homes and Gardens Dessert Cookbook, a fabulous source for all manner of retro sweets printed by the Meredith Publishing Company.

It is a basic yellow cake, moist and fluffy with a hint of lemon.

I actually doubled the recipe to make 36 cupcakes.  Here is the recipe with the doubled proportions:

  • 1 cup shortening (I used softened butter instead)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (I used a bit more)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups sifted cake flour (I used all purpose flour.  I’m not actually a fan of the texture cake flour gives cakes)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I didn’t have any–I mixed 2 scant cups regular milk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and let it sour for about 10 minutes)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and lemon zest.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition and ending with flour.

Line a cupcake pan with paper liners, and fill them a little more than halfway with batter.  Drop a rounded teaspoonful of your cooled strawberry filling into the center of each cupcake.  Cover filling with a little more of your batter. smoothing it with the back of a spoon until all the strawberry is covered.  Put pan in the center rack of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden and spring back if you gently press their tops.  (I baked mine in shifts so there was only one pan in the oven at a time)

After cooling in the pan for a moment, I took the cupcakes out and let them cool on a rack while I made some frosting…

Step Three: Chocolate Frosting

I used this recipe for my frosting.  It was good, but not quite chocolatey enough for me, so I threw in a few tablespoons of cocoa powder at the end and mixed it in.  When the cupcakes were cool, I frosted them and decorated them with some strawberry slices, and voila!

strawberry cupcake

July 10, 2011

Lazy Sunday

by Jen

I often cook on Sundays, in part so that we will have leftovers to pack for lunches early in the week.  However, today I was feeling very lazy.  So instead of a recipe, I wanted to share a historical photo from Cake Day of last year (August 15, 2010).  These are beautiful and delicious cupcakes that Jaime brought in this cute basket (which seems designed with cupcake-carrying in mind!) — I seem to remember that they were red velvet cupcakes, but I may be mistaken.  I was reminded of these cupcakes after eating more delicious cupcakes at her house last night.

Cake Day is a holiday Alexa invented many years ago, and which we wish to promote, because it is awesome.  She will write more about it in a future post.

And to conclude, here are two completely unnecessary photos of our cat Fuji, lounging.  This is basically what I did today as well…he just made it look so appealing…

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