fat bottom

fat bottom

Saturday, January 24, 2009

red velvet and cream

so... maybe it's because i'm going stir-crazy just wanting to have this baby already and i'm trying hard to keep my mind occupied... or maybe because the hubby's at work and i had nothing better to do... but i got the baking bug today... i mean, i have it almost everyday... but today it bit me big time...

i know i just baked some fantastic brownies 2 nights ago... but i needed to get my willies out in the kitchen... so i decided to bake some red velvet cupcakes from a recipe i got from this months "runners world" from a bakery in nyc called "how sweet it is"... i was going to save these for valentines day... but why wait!!!

i've made red velvet cupcakes before, using a recipe from paula dean of food network fame... and they weren't half bad... but i wanted to try this recipe... and it's not because it's half fat or fat free or anything like that, cause they aren't... but the picture made me crave 'em... and hey... why not...

red velvet cupcakes recipe:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup veg oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 lrg eggs
2 tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vinegar
1. preheat oven to 325 and line cupcake tins
2. sift together flour and salt
3. combine oil, buttermilk, and eggs and beat together, then beat in the sugar
4. combine the cocoa and the food coloring, then add to batter
5. beat in the flour, and combine well
6. blend in vanilla, and scrape down the bowl
7. in a small bowl, combine the baking soda and the vinegar, add to the batter and combine well
8. fill cupcake tins until 2/3 full and bake 15-20 minutes
9. cool on wire rack before frosting

i chose to do what almost everyone does when making red velvet cupcakes, i frosted them with a creamy vanilla cream cheese frosting... i love cream cheese frosting, slightly tangy, oh so creamy and sweet...

cream cheese frosting recipe:
8 ozs cream cheese softened
3-5 tbsp heavy cream (depending on how creamy you want your frosting)
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioners sugar
vanilla extract to taste

1. soften cream cheese
2. in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, and alternately add heavy cream by the tbsp and the confectioners sugar, blend in vanilla extract... mix until creamy and combined to your liking

and here they are, all dressed up with a few bittersweet chocolate shavings... enjoy!

and did you know... that the reddish tinge in these cupcakes comes from an antioxidant in the cocoa reacting with the acids in the buttermilk and vinegar... using red food coloring just kicks up the color! you learn something new every day!

guess who's coming to dessert...

so once again, thank you dorie greenspan... and above all... thank you katharine hepburn!! without these two ladies i would have never had come across with what i consider one of the most amazing brownie recipes i have ever had the pleasure of making and of course... EATING! chocolaty, super fudgy with this spicy cinnamon undertone that lingers on your palate and just takes it to another level...

supposedly, katharine hepburn was famously remembered not only for her oscar winning performances but also for her outrageous brownies, once giving these 3 rules to live by... (1) never quit, (2) be yourself, and (3) don't put too much flour in your brownies...

pretty good advice...

anyways, this recipe that is featured in dorie's book "baking: from my home to yours" is an adaptation of ms. hepburns recipe... and its is DELICIOUS!
caution for all you chocolate lovers out there... you might overdose on pure happiness!

brownie recipe:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. fine ground instant coffee or espresso
2 lrg. eggs, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 ozs good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. center oven rack and preheat oven to 325
2. butter a 8 inch baking pan, line bottom with parchment, re-butter the bottom and dust with flour (tap out the excess) and place pan on a baking sheet
3. whisk together thee flour, cinnamon and salt
4. in a heavy bottom saucepan, over low heat start to melt the butter, once it starts to melt, sift in the cocoa powder and the instant coffee
5. continue to cook, stirring until the butter is completely melted and the coffee and cocoa powder is blended into it
6. remove from heat and let cool for 3 minutes
7. using a whisk, or rubber spatula, beat in the eggs one at a time into butter cocoa mixture
8. next stir in the sugar and vanilla, but dont beat too vigorously as to add more air into the batter
9. whisk in the dry ingredients, and then the chopped chocolate, and scrape the batter into the pan
10. bake for 30 minutes, and transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes before taking them out of the pan. cool completely before cutting into pieces

oh so fudgy... oooey gooey... just dont forget the icy cold milk!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

oh thank heaven!

if there's one thing i love it's melt in your mouth desserts... and this, let me tell you is one of 'em! my sister is always requesting i make these... and i oblige as often as i can... but these do take a little time... but they are well worth it in the end!

these are my homemade tiramisu cupcakes... made from a delicate angel food cake and topped with a fluffy marscapone coffee cream (you might have noticed i love using marscapone in making some frostings)... simply delicious! and when it's paired up with a tall glass of cold milk, a cup of coffee or for me it's usually an espresso or latte...oh boy... it just makes me smile!

my favorite angel food cake recipe is by alton brown... i love that guy...

angel food cake recipe (adapted from alton brown):
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 egg whites (the closer to room temperature the better)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or extract of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a food processor spin sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside.
3. In a large bowl, use a balloon whisk to thoroughly combine egg whites, water, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar.
4. After 2 minutes, switch to a hand mixer, or stand mixer. Slowly sift the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium speed.
5. Once you have achieved medium peaks, sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula fold in gently. Continue until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
6. Carefully spoon mixture into an ungreased and unlined cupcake tins till about 2/3 full and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean... anywhere between 15-18 minutes.
7. Let them cool completely in the pan and carefully release them from the pan... sometimes you might need to run a knife around the sides of the cupcake to unstick it.
now that the cake part is finished, i gently soak the tops of them with a little simple syrup that i made by boiling together 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water and a handful espresso beans... you could also use some strong brewed coffee or some espresso... but just let me tell you, unlike lady fingers which are used in classic tiramisu and are a bit on the dry side, these cupcakes are super moist, so you dont want to make them soggy... so be careful and use it sparingly if you decide to!
now the marscapone cream is made like any other time you would make tiramisu... a combo of 8ozs. marscapone, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar and a tsp. vanilla extract... beat them all together until combined, scraping down the sides, and then beat in 1/3 cup of kahlua or any coffee flavored liqueur.
now as for decorating... you can go as simple or as overboard as you like... for these i sifted a little cocoa powder on top, a few bittersweet chocolate shavings, and then a coffee and espresso flavored malt balls... did i overdo it??
i dont think so... just so goooooooood! like little bites of heaven!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

sweet tart!

so... i'm officially done with this pregnancy thing, 9 months is 3 months too long in my opinion... i feel like i've been pregnant forever... as of now, i have 10 days until my due date... sheesh... so in trying to get my mind off this whole pregnant feeling, i wanted to make something fresh and yummy... 2 days ago i bought a new tart pan so i could make a quiche for dinner, but why not make something sweet along with something savory...

so i picked up my favorite dorie greenspan book (baking from my home to yours), and got to thinking...what can i do with some fresh strawberries, some plump vanilla beans, and butter and cream... hmmm... how about a fresh strawberry tart... complete with a luscious vanilla bean pastry cream...
so lets get started with the tart...

i love, and i mean love her classic sweet tart dough... its so simple to make, and its so buttery, has a perfect crumb to it, and it is not too sweet... i would eat it all on its own... you must try it... delicious!
sweet tart dough recipe:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick + 1 tbsp (9 tbsp) very cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 lrg egg yolk (slightly beaten)
1. pulse the flour, confectioners sugar and salt in a food processor to combine
2. scatter the butter over the dry ingredients, and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in
3. add a little yolk a little at a time, pulsing after each addition... when the egg is in fully, pulse for about 10 seconds at a time until the dough forms clumps and curds
4. turn the dough out and knead slightly to incorporate any dry ingredients that escaped mixing
5. press the dough into a buttered 9 inch tart pan, dont be too heavy handed, once all pressed in, freeze the dough about 30 minutes before baking
6. preheat oven to 375, butter a shiny side of a piece of foil and press tightly against the crust and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, then cool to room temp before filling
pastry cream:
2 cups whole milk
6 lrg egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
1. bring the milk to a boil
2.in a medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended
3. while still whisking, add about 1/4 cup of the boiled milk to the yolks to temper them
4. still whisking, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk
5. place saucepan over medium heat and whisk thoroughly until it comes to a boil, and keep it at a boil still whisking for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
6. whisk in the vanilla and then let it sit for 5 minutes before whisking in the bits of butter until fullly combined and smooth... then chill covered in plastic wrap (placed on the surface) until needed

and her recipe for pastry cream... yum... it's easy to make, and honestly i would eat it off of cardboard... the only thing i did differently was that i added a vanilla bean to the milk while it was boiling... like what you do when you make a creme brulee
anyways... here's what we got... a buttery tart, a smooth layer of my dads fresh homemade blueberry preserves, covered with a silky layer of pastry cream and then topped with fresh strawberries that were coated in a raspberry liqueur and a little cracked black pepper...

it was just the thing i needed to take my mind away from this pregnant belly... mmm... mmm...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

holy moly macaron-oly!

first off... i just wanna give myself a big round of kudos! right now, being overly pregnant (the baby is due any day now!) it takes a lot to get me in a good mood (just ask my hubby!)... anyways i decided to tackle the popular but somewhat tricky macaron... and for a first timer to this little Parisian sweet i have to say i am mighty proud of the results!
i have been researching these little confections for quite some time, and i finally got up the nerve to make 'em... i've been reading several other bloggers posts, though mainly from a awesome lady who goes by the name "tartelette"... and dude, if you haven't checked out her site do so... its incredibly yummy and very inspiring! and i think the hubs was happy i finally decided to make 'em, cause i've been talking about them for months... and he really had no idea what to expect so he was just as excited to eat them as i was to make them!

anyways... after much deliberation, i decided to go with a simple macaron sprinkled with a little dark cocoa powder and filled with a marscapone Kahlua cream (you know, tiramisu!)... so i got my egg whites out and "aged" them, ground my almonds and i was ready to go!

so here we go...
macarons adapted from "tartelette"
for the shells:
3 egg whites (about 90 grams)
40 grams granulated sugar
200 grams confectioners sugar
55 grams ground almonds

1. For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over beat your meringue or it will be too dry.
3. Combine the almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
4. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.
5. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
7. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on their size.

for the filling:
4 ozs. softened marscapone cheese
2 tbsp Kahlua
1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar

1. let the marscapone soften, and mix in the Kahlua and confectioners sugar until smooth and creamy (you can add more Kahlua and confectioners sugar to taste if you like)
2. spoon the filling onto one macaron and sandwich with another, then enjoy the sweet goodness!

don't you just wanna sink your teeth into this!

so as i said before, i'm grinning from ear to ear... hella proud of myself for my first attempt which was a crazy success! i was majorly afraid they were gonna come out like my "whoopie pies" which weren't the loveliest confections on the block... but now with some macaron confidence, there's no stopping me!