Monthly Archives: December 2008

Sticky Toffee Pudding

A co-worker was so kind to give me cool new non-stick baking molds. I had to think of the stickiest cake to try them out. So I made these sticky toffee puddings for our holiday party. There was a tiny but of sticking on the very bottom, little piece of dates. But over all I was very impressed.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Cake:
10 oz dates
1 ¾ cup water, boiling
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tablespoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

Chop the dates in a food processor until fine. Place the dates and the baking soda into a large bowl. Add the boiling water and stir to combine and break up all of the dates. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until well incorporated. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and beat to combine. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Ass the baking powder and flour and beat on a low speed to form a thick dough. Scrap down the bowl again with a rubber spatula. Slowly add the date mixture and beat on low speed till fully combined.

Spray small molds with cooking oil spray and align them on a cookie sheet. Fill each cup half way full. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cakes are a dark golden brown and a tooth pick some out mostly clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack before removing from the molds.

Toffee Sauce:
1 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup corn syrup
Pinch of salt

Place all items into a heavy bottom sauce pan, heat on medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a low boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and boil for 3-5 more minutes. Let the sauce cool somewhat before serving. It is best served warm. You can either heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds or on the stove top.

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all items together with an electric mixer to form stiff peaks.

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cupcakes

This year since the market is so bad, we have a “self funded” holiday party at work. The theme was a dessert potluck. I knew I needed to come up with something really amazing to prove to my work that I rein supreme. My cupcakes were the first item to go on a table of 30 desserts. And apparently, people are still talking about them later throughout the week.

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter flavored shortening
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add all ingredients to the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix with a spoon to combine. Whip the mixture on high for 5 minutes until the batter is lighter in color, fully incorporated and fluffy.

Place cupcake liners into muffin tins and fill each liner to just under halfway full. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.

Move to a wire rack to cool.

Peppermint Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix all of the ingredients in a sand mixer to form stiff peaks.

White Chocolate Butter Cream Icing:
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips

Place the egg whites and sugar in the metal bowl from a stand mixer. Place over a pan of water on medium heat. Beat the egg whites with a whisk over the water as it gets warmer. The egg whites will turn white and the sugar will dissolve. Keep beating over the heat until the mixture is warm and the sugar is fully dissolved.

Place the chocolate into a small metal bowl and place it over the warm pan of water. Mix with a rubber spatula until the chocolate if fully dissolved.

While the chocolate is melting, move the egg whites to the stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Add the soften butter and vanilla and beat for another 3-5 minutes.

Let the chocolate cool slightly. Add it to the icing base and beat on high for another minute or two, till its combined.

Assembly:
Chocolate Cupcakes
Peppermint Whipped Cream
White Chocolate Icing
Crushed Peppermint Candies

Cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake using a small pairing knife. Trim the pointy part of the cone off to leave just a thin cap. Scoop out more of the interior of the cupcake to make a pocket for the cream filling.

Using a small spoon, fill each cupcake with the peppermint whipped cream and place the cap back on top to seal in the filling.

Using a star tip and a Ziploc bag, pipe a tall swirl of icing onto each cupcake.

Sprinkle each cupcake with the crushed candies and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Roast Sirloin of Beef with Cilantro Sauce

To celebrate the holidays, I got together with some friends from business school for a great dinner over at the Chubb’s apartment. Zach and Laura have the best kitchen and a great convection oven which I love using. This dish is super easy but really impressive.

Cilantro Sauce:
1 bunch cilantro, washed
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 pinches red chili flakes
½ teaspoon sugar

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Turn it on and chop until it creates a cohesive sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt, sugar, chili and vinegar till it tastes good.

Roast:
1 5 lb sirloin roast, fat on
sea salt
pepper
olive oil

Place the roast into a large metal bowl. Sprinkle it generously with lots of sea salt on all sides and some pepper. Rub in olive oil and a few tablespoons of the sauce. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the over to 475 degrees. Place the roast onto a rack in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Insert a probe thermometer into the roast so that it reaches the middle. Roast the beef in the oven for 15 minutes at 475. You should hear the fat cooking and the top will start to brown. Reduce the temperature to 350 and cook the roast until the probe thermometer tells you that it has reach rare. Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes, covered in foil, to lock in the juices. Heat the sauce in a small saucepan on medium low until it is warm and the sharp taste of raw onions is gone.

Slice the roast against the grain and serve with the sauce.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love all of the flavors of fall and the gluttony. I decided to stay in NYC this year so that I could spend it with some of my best friends and I got to make what I want. I cooked for 2 days straight but it was worth it for the great turducken and all of the delicious mini desserts. See the next three posts to see how to make everything. Brian was gracious enough to open his apartment and everyone contributed amazing slides. It was my best Thanksgiving to date!

Thanksgiving Turducken

I have been obsessed with turducken for quite some time. I have only had it once before. My old boss, Mary K had ordered one a few years back during the holidays. Though the butcher thought I was crazy for trying to sew this together myself, it actually was pretty easy. I made a 30 lb bird total and it took 6 hours to cook in my busted oven, but it was worth every second. It came out juicy, flavorful and was a breeze to carve. Needless to say, my friends were very impressed. I think I will attempt to make a smaller version next time that is just all breasts. At that point, you can have it on non-special occasions.

Stuffing:
1 ¼ lb chorizo, casing removed
1 ¼ lb pork sage sausage, casing removed
1 ½ cup minced onions
1 cup minced celery
4 slices of wheat bread, shredded or copped in the food processor
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon parsley
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
½ cup chicken broth

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Using your hands, mix to combine.

Turducken:
1 10-15 lb organic turkey, de-boned
1 6 lb organic duck, de-boned
1 4 lb organic chicken, de-boned
Salt
Garlic powder
Cajun seasoning
Olive oil
Butcher’s twine and needle

Have the butcher de-bone all of the birds and brine the meats over night. You could do both of these steps yourself but they are both very time and space consuming as well as REALLY messy.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. On a large cutting board, sprinkle both sides of the turkey with a generous amount of the seasonings. Place the turkey skin side down and put about a third of the stuffing on the turkey meat. Push the stuffing around to make an even layer.

Coat the duck on both sides with the seasonings and place it on top of the turkey, skin side down. Try to stagger the layers of dark and white meat. If the dark meat in the turkey is close to you, place the dark meat side of the duck far away from you. Cover the duck with a third of the stuffing and press it into an even layer.

Coat the chicken with the seasonings on both sides and place it on top of the duck. Fill it with the rest of the stuffing.

Thread the needle with the string. Fold the turkey together and starting as the tail end, and brign it closest to you, sew up the turkey. You can tighten the stitches, like tightening your shoe. Make sure that all open parts of the birds are completely sewn together.

Transfer the birds to a rack in a large roasting pan, sewn side down. Sprinkle the sin with olive oil, and the seasonings. Insert an ovenproof probe thermometer into the middle of the bird. Cover the bird with foil and roast in the oven for several hours.

Once the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, remove the foil and keep roasting until the bird reaches 160 degrees. Let the bird rest for 15 minutes, and carve and serve.

Gravy:
All of the bones from the turkey duck and chicken
1 package of fresh poultry herbs: sage, thyme and rosemary
olive oil
water
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
¼ – ½ cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Please all of the bones and herbs into a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for two hours.

Transfer all of the bones to a large stockpot. Cover with water and boil for one hour. Remove all of the bones and herbs and refrigerate over night.

Skim the fat off of the top of the gravy and discard. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste the broth and adjust by adding more salt and pepper. Depending on the amount of liquid in the pot, mix more or less flour with water to form a smooth slurry.

Turn the heat down to medium low and whisk the slurry into the broth. Keep whisking until the mixture returns to a low boil. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Thanksgiving Morrells and Haricot Vert

I hate green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. It is too mushy and the flavors are never bold enough. I took the same main ingredients and made this great gourmet alternative. Thanks to my dad for the never ending stash of morrells.

Morrells and Haricot Vert

1 cup dried morrells
½ rose wine
water
1 cup diced pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz sliced baby bella or button mushrooms
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
haricort vert or green beans
salt and pepper
truffle oil

Cook the morrells and a pinch of salt in the wine and enough water to cover on medium heat until the liquid is basically evaporated.

In a large pan, cool the pancetta in the olive oil on medium high heat until the pancetta is golden brown. Add the sliced mushrooms, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper. Sautee until the mushrooms caramelize and there is no liquid in the pan. Add the morrells and stir to combine.

Boil a large pot of salted water and blanch the beans for about 5 minutes until they turn a bright green but don’t get soft. Add the drained beans to the mushrooms, drizzle with the truffle oil and more salt and pepper. Sautee the vegetables for just a few minutes on medium heat. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as necessary.

Thanksgiving Mini Desserts

By the time I get to dessert at Thanksgiving I’m always stuffed. I want to try everything but it seems impossible since there isn’t any room in my tummy. This year I got smart and made everything as miniature bite-size desserts. Each of these deserts uses the same mini muffin tin for a consistent size. We had a sea of mini pastries, simply delicious.

Mini Stout Gingerbread 
Cupcakes

Gingerbead:
1 cup Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large eggs

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil


Boil the beer and molasses in a large pot. Then remove it from the heat and add in the baking soda. Whip the mixture and let it sit to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the eggs, sugar and oil. Then add the flour, baking powder and the rest of the spices. Pour in the beer mixture and mix to combine.

Fill cupcake liners to half way and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks. Make these cupcakes one day in advance and let them sit overnight at room temperature before frosting. The cake gets better after a day.

Caramel Butter Cream Icing:
1 cup sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2 1/2 sticks butter
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla Extract

Heat the cup of sugar on medium high heat in a heavy bottom pan. When the edge starts to turn brown and bubble, swirl the pan and keep heating to make an even caramel. The sugar will met totally and caramelize, take the sugar off of the heat and swirl the pan to make sure that all crystals dissolve and that the sugar doesn’t get too dark or burn.

Pour the cup of cream into the sugar and let it continue to cook. After 10 minutes, stir to pull the sugar off of the bottom of the pan and continue to cook so that the mixture thickens. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool.

Beat the butter and margarine together on high, till fluffy, with an electric mixer, set aside.

In a heat proof metal bowl, over simmering water, like a double boiler, wisk the egg whites and remaining sugar. The sugar crystals will dissolve and the mixture will get thick and turn white. Be careful not to cook the eggs.

Wisk the vanilla into the egg whites using an electric mixer. The egg whites will thicken and form soft peaks. Add the egg whites and the caramel to the butter mixture. Beat on high until well combined and fluffy.

Using a star tip and a zip lock bag, pipe the icing onto the top of the cupcakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mini Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cake:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs in a large metal bowl. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla. Fold in the carrots. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk to form a smooth batter. Fill cupcake liners to half way and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks to room temperature before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 package of powdered sugar (1 lb)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and butter on high in an electric mixer until fluffy and combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar, stirring on low speed after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat it on high again for about 3 minutes till fluffy. Using a plain tip and a zip lock bag, ice the cupcakes. Store the finished cakes in the refrigerator before serving.

Mini Poached Ginger Pear and Chocolate Tarts

Crust:
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup water

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell. Fill your pans and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Poached Pear:
½ cup rose wine
1 cup sugar
¼ piece of fresh ginger, pealed
½ cinnamon stick
3 cloves
water
1 ripe pear, pealed, seeded and cut in half
caramelized ginger

In a medium heavy pot, mix the wine and sugar and a little water to dissolve. Add the spices and pear. Add enough water to cover the pear, place a small plate over the pear to keep it submerged. Cook the mixture on medium heat for 30 minutes to cook the pear until tender. Cool to room temperature. Drain the pear on a paper towel. Cut the pear and ginger into small chunks.

Ganache:
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 heavy cream

Place a small metal bowl over a small pan of water on medium heat. Heat the chocolate and cream until the chocolate melts. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Whisk, starting in the center of the bowl till it forms a silky ganache.

Fill the tart shells with a spoon full of the chocolate ganache. Place one chunk of pear and ginger in each tart. Serve at room temperature.

Mini Pumpkin Pie

Crust:
3 cups flour
2 sticks of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell.

Pumpkin filling:
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
¼ cup sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Fill the mini pie shells 2/3 of the way full and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.

Mini Pecan Pie

Crust:
1/2 cups flour
1 sticks of butter, slightly cooler than room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup water

In a large metal bowl, mix all ingredients, except the water with a fork or pastry cutter. The goal is to incorporate the butter until it is the texture of course meal. Slowly sprinkle in the water and quickly mix. Making sure not to put in too much water, briefly kneed the pastry so that it forms a cohesive ball. Pull out about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten into a round, place it into a mini-muffin pan to form a miniature pie shell.

Pecan Filling:
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
8 oz chopped pecans

Pre-heat the over to 350 degrees. Add all of the ingredients, except the pecans to bowl and beat with a whisk until combined. Fill the tart shells with the chopped pecans. Cover with a spoonful of the sugar minter. Bake for 30 minutes until the pies are golden brown and crisp. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.