Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Mint Eclairs

I've completed my 3rd Daring Bakers challenge!
This one was quite easy and a lot of fun. This months recipe was chosen by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK. I decided to make a chocolate-mint eclair and used this recipe to make the pastry cream and added mint chips when I added the chocolate, then drizzled melted mint chips over the top of the chocolate glaze to garnish! I would definitely make this recipe again, but probably find a glaze that has a few less steps :)

Chocolate Mint Eclairs

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tamale Pie

This is my first time trying a recipe from a Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. This Tamale Pie comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. This was absolutely delicious! I will be making it again.

2 t. Olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
3 T. minced garlic
1 T. cumin
2 t. coriander (I omitted)
1 t. oregano
1-2 T. water
1 c. peeled diced carrots
1 c. diced bell pepper
1 c. diced zucchini
1 small chile seeds removed (I omitted)
1 c. crushed canned tomatoes (15oz can) (I used fresh, crushed tomatoes)
1 ½ c. kidney or black beans
4 oz. grated cheddar
¾ c. cornmeal
1 T. flour
½ t. salt
1 t. powder
¼ t. soda
2 egg whites
½ c. buttermilk
2 T. oil
sour cream

Warm oil in saucepan add onion and garlic. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, oregano and water to prevent sticking. Add carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes. Add peppers, zucchini, and chile cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beans, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes remove from heat add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare 2 qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread mixture in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
In bowl combine flour, meal, salt powder and soda. In separate bowl combine egg, milk and oil gently fold wed ingredients into dry . Pour on top of veggies bake 30-35 minutes. Garnish with sour cream and scallions.

Greta's Rating: Greta really liked this- she enjoyed every element of it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one awesome cookie recipe! I found it at of all places! The recipe had 15 reviews and all were 5 stars, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. Quick and easy, I would give these 5 stars myself!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cream butters, add sugars. Mix in egg. Add dry ingredients and stir in chips. Bake at 350 for about 10minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Magnolia Cupcakes

Have I ever had a Magnolia Cupcake? No. But this recipe is great and that is all I need to know.
I made a few adjustments because I did not have self-rising flour- I've noted them below. This recipe is from Macaroni and Cheesecake.
Yum! A perfect treat for a Saturday afternoon.

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
Original Source: Allysa Torey's More from Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen

3/4 cups self-rising flour (I used 1 1/4 c. AP flour plus 2 T., 1 t. baking powder and a pinch of salt)
1/2 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (this amount included in total above)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 1 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, sift and combine the flours. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Vanilla Buttercream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar (I used 2 c.)
1/8 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Best Pizza Dough

This is the best pizza dough recipe I've found!
I first saw this recipe on Annie's Eats. This dough made my BBQ chicken pizza better than ever!

Basic Pizza Dough


½ cup warm water (about 110°)

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tsp. salt

olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl


Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cherry Cobbler

My Aunt Connie from Texas came to visit last night. You know your very favorite Aunt that you have always had a special affinity for? That's my Connie. She always calls me "her little Sherri" and I love it!
Anyway, we ordered pizza from a local pizza joint and I made a cherry cobbler for dessert. The original recipe is for a cherry rhubarb cobbler- I skipped the rhubarb. The ginger in this recipe is what makes it spectacular. My husband said this was his favorite dessert ever!

Cherry Cobbler

4 C. Fresh Cherries, pitted and halved
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. ginger
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. flour
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. whole milk

In large bowl, toss cherries with other filling ingredients. Set aside.
In separate bowl combine all topping ingredients except for milk. Use pastry blender to combine until crumbs are about the size of peas. Add milk and gently fold in with fork. Pour filling mixture into greased 9" round deep dish pie pan. Form 1 1/2" balls with dough and place staggered on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

Reference: Whisk and Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Monday, August 18, 2008


This is the best kind of recipe...easy and awesome! I love naan and had no idea it was so easy. I found this recipe at Liz's Cooking Blog. I think I'll try adding some fresh garlic next time!

  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup ghee or oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  1. Whisk the warm water with the yeast and sugar until the yeast is dissolved. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  2. Sift flour and salt three times into a large bowl add the yeast mixture, half of the ghee or oil and all the yogurt. Mix into a soft dough then knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size .
  3. Punch down dough then knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Let rise for an additional 10-30 minutes if you have the time. Roll each piece out into 8 inch round naans.
  4. Brush the naan with a little of the remaining ghee or oil. Heat oil in a large flat skillet. Pan fry naan one at a time for about 2 minutes on each side or until puffed and just browned, adding additional oil as necessary.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I received the cookbook Barefoot Contessa At Home for Christmas from my Mother a couple years ago. Since then, I have slowly been working my way through the book. I don't even like cornbread and I loved this! I cut the recipe in half and it made way more than enough for my husband, 2 friends and our daughter.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Greta's rating: She loved this!

Pots de Creme

What an EASY delicious dessert! Anyone can do this and it is soooo good and literally took me less than 5 minutes to prepare. The recipe is from Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Pots de Creme
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
8 oz. hot, strong coffee

Place chocolate chips in blender. Top with eggs and vanilla. Blend until fine. Slowly pour VERY HOT coffee into blender and blend until smooth. Pour into cups or glasses and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok. I was wrong.
The chocolate chip cookie recipe on the butter crisco container is NOT the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.
This is.
I was asking around for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and was referred to this recipe by Baking Illustrated. I actually think I've made it before!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brownie Cupcakes

This recipe is from the blog have cake, will travel.
She has great vegan recipes. I am not a vegan...or even a vegetarian, but I really enjoy using her recipes because they are much healthier even if you do add eggs and milk!
This is a versatile recipe that you could really play with. Another thing I love about Celine's recipes is that they usually about 1/2 of what most recipes make- so this recipe only makes 6 cupcakes. Which is great for those of us who don't know when to stop! I've tried making these cupcakes 2 different ways which I will note below along with the original recipe.

Brownie Cupcakes
for 6 standard cupcakes

1/3 cup jam of choice (I've used raspberry jam or even left over homemade chocolate sauce)
juice from 1/2 medium lemon
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 T agave nectar (I used pure maple syrup)
1 T safflower oil [any mild-flavored oil will do]
3 T unsweetened almond milk [or whatever milk alternative you have]
pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted, but these would be great)

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour [spoon and level]
2 heaping T cocoa powder
1 T instant coconut powder [optional]
1 T egg replacer powder or arrowroot (I used 1 egg)
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t baking powder

preheat oven to 350F, prepare a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.
in a large bowl, stir together jam, extracts, agave, oil, milk alternative, salt, raisins.
in a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, coconut powder, egg replacer powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
combine the two preps, stirring until you don’t see flour bits anymore, but being careful not to overmix.
scoop out batter into prepared liners.
bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
place on cooling rack. let cool completely before storing.

Penne a la Betsy

Well, here's another recipe my husband has asked that I make again...and often. I can see why this is a popular recipe. It is good and pretty mild, so I would definitely make this one for a crowd. Next time I will most likely add some sun dried tomatoes to the sauce. The recipe is from the Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Penne a la Betsy

1 lb. fresh shrimp
3 T. butter
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. whole wheat penne
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 c. chicken stock (or chardonnay)
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 c. heavy cream
fresh basil
Parmesan cheese to taste (I know, a faux pas- but delicious)

Cook shrimp in 1 T. oil and 1 T. butter in large skillet. Once shrimp is opaque, remove from heat. Prepare penne as directed on package. Chop onion and mince garlic. Add 2 T. butter and 2 T. olive oil to skillet and add onion and garlic. Add stock, tomato sauce and cream. Remove tails from shrimp and chop into bite sized pieces. Chiffonade basil. Add shrimp and basil to sauce. Season with salt and pepper and toss with pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Greta's rating: she ate the pasta- put did NOT like the shrimp.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Muffin Top Bars

These are great guilt-free bars. The inspiration is the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of my vanilla rice milk carton. I've made this recipe as chocolate chip cookie bars before and was also pleased. I wouldn't recommend making this dough into cookies (even though that is what the original recipe says it is for) -the texture is much more a muffin. These bars are great for when you are in the mood for something sweet, but they do not contain any dairy or sugar. My daughter actually prefers these to chocolate chip cookies but she prefers fresh fruit to chocolate chip cookies, so that is no surprise!

Muffin Top Bars
1 c. AP flour
1 c. Whole wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. vanilla rice milk
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
3/4- 1c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Decorative sugar (optional -just makes it a little more muffin like)

Combine all ingredients except blueberries in large bowl and stir. Fold in blueberries. Spread into greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars.