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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Amazing Toffee

This post would have been handy a week or so ago when you were probably stressing about what to give those people in your life whom you sort of like, but who aren’t worth a  trip to the mall.   Oops, sorry.  I told you I’m not good at this blogging thing.  Well now that the season of giving is over, you should make this just for yourself and scarf it down before the New Year’s resolutions kick in.

If you aren’t familiar with candy making, this is a nice easy introduction.  And no candy thermometer is necessary. Basically you cook water, sugar and butter until it is about done (more on that below).  Then pour it out onto parchment paper.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread, then top with chopped pecans.  Let it cool, break it up.  Boom.  Toffee.  Details and better step by step instructions after the jump. (more…)

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Please excuse me for my lack of posting. It’s been sort of a whirlwind weekend. I also flaked out on yesterday’s post with Tuesdays With Dorie (next week, I promise). You see, Saturday I got some news. After waiting over three months (96 agonizing days), I finally (finally!) received a little white envelope in the mail from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners… I PASSED THE BAR!!! This means I am now officially a lawyer, albeit an unemployed lawyer, but capable of practicing no less! I finally put the “(e)squire” into “Chefsquire.” There are no words to describe how big of a weight that has been lifted off of my shoulders. As you can imagine, this weekend I did a lot of celebrating, relaxing, and gloating, though not much cooking.

Ok, enough patting myself on the back. Unless you are trolling food blogs in search of a middle of the pack law school grad now licensed in Massachusetts to hire at your firm, you are here for the food. I have several wonderful dishes in my to-blog-about queue, so check back daily! Today, I will tempt you with these delectable Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Read on for more photos and the recipe. I promise no more bragging!

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I have had this biscotti recipe bookmarked for a few weeks and after awakening with a hankering for chocolate and almonds, I thought today they perfect day to try it.

I followed the original recipe to a tee (with the exception of a dip in chocolate), and there was not one thing I would have changed. As the recipe’s original creator describes, her cookie is a “hole in one.” This biscotti combines the perfect proportions of orange, almonds, and vanilla. I debated adding a hint of almond extract but I restrained myself; too often I succumb to my temptations and the results fall into the “too much of a good thing” category. Without the almond extract there is still plenty of almond flavor and enough room to allow the other flavors to shine through. The aroma as I mixed the wet ingredients was heavenly and my whole home smelled of citrus and vanilla as the cookies had their first visit to the oven.

One hint I would like to add, that is not in the recipe, is that the cookies will not yet have their characteristic crunch when removed from the oven after the second bake. Don’t worry, be patient, they will harden a bit as they cool. I don’t want you to have a repeat of my Christmas five or so years ago, the first time I made biscotti. I thought they would be completely crunchy when removed from the oven and, lets just say, Santa lost a tooth and didn’t leave me much under the tree.

Anyhow, back to these biscotti. After the second bake I was unable to exercise restraint (I told you I have a problem with this), and melted up some Ghirardelli. About one-third of the biscotti were left naked; another third were given just a drizzle of chocolate; and another third was dipped cut-side down in a puddle of chocolate. This was not too much of a good thing, in fact, it was a rather delectable finishing touch.

This is an absolutely wonderful biscotti recipe I am sure I will make again and again. Please click here to see the original recipe (redirects to Smitten Kitchen).

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This is my first post with Tuesdays with Dorie. TwD is a blogging group which picks 4 recipes per month from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Kitchen to Yours. I have had Greenspan’s book for a whole year and have yet to make anything from it, though many recipes are bookmarked. I thought this group would motivate me to crack it open and get cooking.

Unfortunately, this first recipe just didn’t impress me. I now realize that many TwD members post about their experiences as they make the recipe before actually posting in their blogs (which must be on Tuesday). I wish I had known that before because perhaps I could have prevented the dry result of these cupcakes. I was eager with anticipation before cooking the batter. I sneaked a taste of the batter before cooking and it was so light and perfectly sweet and chocolatey. I wish I could say the same about the cupcakes when pulled from the oven. I thought they were dry and lacked the rich chocolate flavor I was expecting. Next week we are making a dessert I have never tried, rugelach.

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Apple Cake

You will probably be seeing a lot of apple recipes from me lately, though I will try to space them out. Apples are one of my favorite fruits, but there is no doubt they are best this time of year. I fancy myself a wannabe apple connoisseur. The US grows about 100 varieties of apples commercially. Of course I usually stick to the usual Cortlands, Macs, Galas, and Granny Smith’s, but it is always a treat to go to a farm stand and find Honeycrisp, Paula Reds, Macouns, and Ginger Gold’s. I will admit though, I don’t get most of my apples at the grocery store or farm stand. No, I am a sucker, I pick them myself. You see, there is something immensely satisfying (er, crazy) about paying $12 admission to a pick-your-own farm in order to fill my baskets and then fork out another $4 a pound. Why I pay about $40 for fruit that would otherwise cost me $10 is a mystery likened to why Americans pay for bottled water when the tap is practically free and just as good.***

Anyhow, I have roughly one zillion apples, so in addition to this apple cake, I will be posting some other treats in the upcoming weeks utilizing the fruits of my harvest (pun intended).

***Disclaimer: I do not purchase bottled water. You shouldn’t either, it is the leading cause of plastic waste in the country. And don’t think you’re innocent because you recycle – that still uses energy. Click here and here and here. Ok, sorry, very off topic, back to your regularly scheduled cooking.

Ingredients

  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2/3 c. apple sauce
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 1¾ c. white sugar
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.°
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla, eggs, apple sauce, and oil until incorporated. The batter will be very thick.
  3. Stir in apples.
  4. Bake in a lightly greased and floured tube pan for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Surprise, surprise, this recipe is from Allrecipes.com. I have only ever made one other cheesecake recipe (about 100 times). It was so incredible I have never tried another one, but I figured I would try this out since it went better with the theme of the dinner than my usual white chocolate raspberry swirl (to be shared at a later date).

This turned out truly amazing. It starts out with a graham cracker and pecan crust sweetened with a little bit of sugar and cinnamon. The crust had an incredible flavor. I would definitely experiment and use the crust again for another recipe. Next, it has a traditional cheesecake filling (soo easy). Next, the cake is layered with thinly sliced apples (I used Cortland) tossed in cinnamon in sugar. The apples are then topped off with pecans.

Though the recipe called for a 9 inch pan, I would HIGHLY recommend using a 7 inch pan. Even with the smaller pan, this was still a thin cheesecake. I did not adjust the cooking time for the smaller pan. The first time I ever made cheesecake, I was warned to use a water bath (I don’t even really know the reasoning, so it won’t crack?). Either I would pour the boiling water into the “bath,” and then gingerly try to put the entire two ton thing in the oven without burning myself or slopping it into the cheesecake. Or, in the alternative, I would sit there with the oven door open, letting all the heat escape, trying to pour boiling water into the two inch space between the springform and the “bath,” inevitably splashing it into the cheesecake or on the oven floor. My most vivid water bath nightmare was when my springform pan was not quite sealed entirely. When I eagerly unlatched the springform, expecting to find a crisp crust beneath the silky cheesecake, I was instead met with a wet (not just soggy) crust and soupy cheesecake. Not this time. I decided to throw caution to the wind and skip the water bath altogether and I did not miss it one bit. I did put a small baking dish with boiling water on the lower rack to keep the cheesecake from drying out. Good riddance to the water bath.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped pecans
  • 3 Tb. white sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 c. apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ c, chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and melted butter; press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. Mix at medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in vanilla; pour filling into the baked crust.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss the cinnamon-sugar with the apples to coat. Spoon apple mixture over cream cheese layer and sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped pecans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes. With a knife, loosen cake from rim of pan. Let cool, then remove the rim of pan. Chill cake before serving.

Right out the oven (sorry a little dark)

Mmm!

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After the letdown that was Zebra Cake, my chocolate craving remained unsatisfied. Not in the mood to dirty up my kitchen baking something, I contemplated going to the grocery store to pick up a chocolate treat. Then I remembered I had no cash on me and my car keys were upstairs. Walking all the way upstairs and pulling out a credit card at the grocery store would have been far too much hassle. No, I couldn’t work that hard. I needed something easier. I needed chocolate cake from the microwave. Basically, you take a big mug, add a tablespoon of this, a tablespoon of that, zap in in the microwave, and presto, CAKE! I had a recipe back in college, which is lost now, so google helped me find one here.

Excuse the garish Ronald MacDonald mug, but here it was the biggest one I had. Here it is with just the dry ingredients added.

Add the egg, some oil, milk, and vanilla. Stir it up.

Three minutes in a 1000 watt microwave and here you go.

I didn’t even grease the mug and it popped right out.

Mmmm… I made a quick little cream cheese icing to go with it, yum!

5 Minute Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 Tb. flour
  • 4 Tb. sugar
  • 2 Tb. cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tb. milk
  • 3 Tb. oil
  • Splash of vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients in the mug (flour, sugar, and cocoa).
  2. Mix in the egg, then add the oil, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Nuke in a 1000 watt microwave for 3 minutes.

I mixed a little cream cheese icing to go with it… I took about a tablespoon of cream cheese and just added confectioner’s sugar until it was the right sweetness. I thinned it out with a teeny bit of vanilla extract and water. I think next time I make this I will try to do a half oil and half applesauce, but this was really good!

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