Friday, March 28, 2008

Hungarian Shortbread

I have been really enjoying baking these days. I even have been planning out more sweet selections to experiment with. My latest creation is this Shortbread recipe that I found in Saveur magazine. I love shortbreads. I love how they are crumbly and not overly sweet. This recipe came out very nice. I did substitute the Raspberry jam with my sister in law's delicious homemade Plum jam though, the hint of bitterness from the Plums is exquisite. Enjoy!

SERVES 8 – 10

The light, crumbly texture of this shortbread owes to a clever technique:
freezing the dough and grating it. This recipe is based on one in
Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan (Morrow, 1996).

2 cups flour, plus more as
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄8 tsp. fine salt
1⁄2 lb. unsalted, uncultured
butter (like Straus), plus more for
pan, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3⁄4 cup raspberry jam

1. Using a sieve over a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt;
set aside.
Cream butter in a large bowl, using a hand mixer on high speed, until fluffy,
about 2 minutes. Add sugar and egg yolks; mix until sugar is dissolved and
mixture is light, about 4 minutes. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour
mixture; mix until dough just begins to come together, about 1 minute.

2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; bring it together with
your hands.
Divide dough in half and form 2 balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap;
freeze for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

3. Arrange an oven rack in center of oven; heat to 350°. Grease a 10"
springform pan with butter. Remove a ball of dough from freezer,
unwrap, and grate, using the large
holes of a box grater, directly into prepared pan. Gently pat grated
dough to even it out. Spread jam evenly over dough, leaving about
a 1⁄2" border around edges. Grate remaining dough over jam layer;
pat gently until surface is even. Bake until light golden brown,
about 25–30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, on a rack, before
cutting into wedges.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lemon Curd and Grand Marnier Cupcakes

After my successful attempt at baking the other week, I was excited to try again. So this time: Lemon Curd and Grand Marnier. Anything with Lemon Curd involved is divine, and I just happen to have some lying around... Grand Marnier on the other hand can have quite a strong flavor so I was careful not to use too much in the recipe. As I mentioned with the Chocolate Cupcakes previously, I actually had a recipe, these beauties I did not. I just made it up as I went along. So the measurements that follow are approximations because again, I just came up with it. The Cupcakes did come out absolutely lovely. The cupcakes were tremendously moist and the sweet lemon was a delicious addition. Unlike the previous cupcakes, I did not ice them. At first I was going to top them with a similar cream cheese frosting with lemon and orange zest, but when they came out so citrusy sweet, I decided to just dust them with confectioners sugar. Enjoy!

1 Vanilla Bean scored down side
1 cup milk (heated with vanilla bean, then cooled)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp Lemon curd
1 1/2 Tbsp Grand Marnier Liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Eggs
Whisk all ingredients together. Whisk in eggs one at a time.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Butter pans then fill with batter and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

I suppose I made these in honor of St. Patrick's Day, or just as an excuse for me to check up on my baking skills, or as another excuse to be able to drink and eat at the same time. Either way, you can't go wrong with Guinness Stout and Chocolate. My brother gave me the recipe, and as you might have noticed I haven't posted the particulars of recipes in the past, either because I was too lazy or I just threw the portions together and came out with the dish. Well, this, I actually measured each ingredient, so the recipe follows. The cupcakes came out moist and delicious. The flavor of the Guinness is very faint, not overpowering at all; the recipe only calls for 12 ounces, but it definitely gives the cupcake a light and airy texture. Enjoy!

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50 mins (25 mins Active)
24 cupcakes

1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness stout
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for garnish
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
For the Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 pound confectioners' sugar
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Guinness mixture.

Butter 24 muffin tins and divide the batter among the muffin tins.

Bake 25 minutes, until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out of the tins.

Make the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. Slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar.

Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Broccoli Cheese Soup

One of my favorite soups. Broccoli Cheese. Pretty much anything with cheese and cream in it is delicious as far as I am concerned.
Onions, garlic, Broccoli broken up into small pieces. A bit of water added to help the Broccoli cook. I added a few strands of Saffron to this recipe, for an added boost of color as well as to deepen the flavors. Grated Cheddar and Swiss cheeses. Simmer down, add heavy cream. Simmer everything for twenty minutes or so. Salt and pepper of course to taste. Just that easy.