Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lemon Poppyseed Scones


Quick post...I am back into the full force of things with school and I haven't had a chance to do much baking.   School is going well....actually, school is fantastic!!!  I love my mentor, I love all of my teachers, I love lab time where we work on projects and learn hands-on!  I can't even describe how wonderful this program is and how lucky I am to experience it.  My classmates are all wonderful and like a second family to me....I love my peacocks!  (Yes, that is what we are...we are peacocks!  Each class picks a mascot and ours is the peacock!)  These lovely scones were baked for my peacock classmates and they were all gone, so I assume that means they were good.  I used a recipe from Bon Appetit but increased the lemon zest and juice....you can never have too much lemon!  :)

Lemon Poppyseed Scones (mini) adapted from Bon Appetit

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cream or half and half

Glaze:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the large bowl of a food processor, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt), pulsing a few times until combined.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Whisk egg and lemon juice together in a small bowl, then add to the food processor.  Pulse until moist clumps form.  Add the cream, and pulse just until the dough comes together.

Using floured hands, gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a 4x4-inch square on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Cut the square into three even rows and three even columns, forming 9 smaller squares.
Cut each square in half diagonally to form two triangles, making a total of 18 triangles. 

Spread the triangles evenly across the baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven until scones are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the lemon glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, zest, and lemon juice until a pourable glaze forms.  Once scones have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle icing over the scones (or transfer the icing to a ziplock bag, snip off the corner, and squeeze out).  

Enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Banana Nut Bread (and maybe a little procrastinating too)


Do you ever have one of those days? Oh wait....I need to tell you what type of day it is.  I have a list a mile long of things to do!  No really....I'm not exagerating....it really is a mile long.  Ok....I'm exagerating a little bit....but it feels like it's a mile long.  I have work stuff, school stuff, house cleaning stuff, more work stuff, tax stuff, and stuff to do for the kids.

I have so much stuff to do and do you know what I'm doing???  Um really?  I thought it was kind of obvious....I'm talking to you guys!

I got up early to walk the dog and start working.  Walked the dog....check one thing off the list.  But wait....I'm kind of hungry and there's these bananas getting black on the counter....banana bread.  Gotta make banana bread.  Ok...check....banana bread done.  Now I really should work but the banana bread was super tasty, so maybe I should take a picture of it.  Picture taken...check.  NOW I really should work.....but I feel like I should share with the world that my banana bread is pretty and super tasty.

That leaves us here....right now....with me blogging....when I really should be working and organzing my taxes and doing homework.  Soooooo.....I guess I should go.  Sorry this is such a short post but I think I have procrastinated long enough.  Anyways...what more can I say?  Banana bread is yummy, it's super easy to make and it's perfect when it's kind of a drizzly chilly morning.  It's also super good for giving you something to do when you don't want to do the things you really should be doing.

Ok people...don't be like me....go out there and get your stuff done!  (oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!)


BANANA NUT BREAD via Joy of Cooking

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 1/3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a mixer, beat butter and sugar on high speed until lightened in color and texture, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the flour mixture until blended and the consistency of brown sugar.  Add the vanilla and the eggs and beat until thoroughly mixed in.  Fold in bananas and nuts.

Scrape batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan that has been sprayed with baking spray.  Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.

Let cool on rack then unmold from pan.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dulce de Leche Brownies


My busy, busy, busy life is starting up again!  I am starting the second semester (of 4) in the Interpreter Preparation Program at Ohlone College in Fremont.  As if this isn't exciting enough, I also started working with my first mentor, the culinary arts instructor at California School for the Deaf in Fremont.  This semester is feeling a bit like a dream come true!  I LOVE school!  This is an intense program with a lot of hard work but the best, top-of-the-top professors and the best classmates I could ever ask for.  AND....I get to be mentored by a wonderfully kind and talented woman and work alongside of her with all of these talented and sweet kids.  These kids are fantastic....I can't imagine being as talented in the kitchen as they are at such young ages.

Needless to say....there will likely be a lot of quiet weeks coming from Baker Becky.  I really tried to pre-write some blog posts to save for later, but I ended up posting everything.  So I will just have to do my best and promise to try to get some great recipes out to all of you.  School, work, and raising two teenage boys....piece of cake! Ooooh...cake....


For now I will leave you with these delicious brownies with fabulous globs of dulce de leche waiting to surprise you with every bite you take!  Bake these brownies when you are in the mood for some serious rich gooeyness....I would tell you that they go great with red wine but, let's be honest....everything goes great with red wine!


Dulce de Leche Brownies David Lebowitz

8 tablespoons butter
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8-inch square pan with a sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Spray the bottom and sides of the foil with non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Enjoy!

Recipe Shared On:
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Freedom Fridays
What'd You Do This Weekend
Treasure Box Tuesday

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cream Puffs


About 6 years ago I took a French Patisserie baking course through a local cooking school.  I learned to make puff pastry, baba au rhum, palmiers and pâte à choux.  Since that time I have only ever made a pâte à choux for gougères one time.  All those hours in a classroom and I haven't done a thing with it!

For those of you who are not familiar with pâte à choux I will give a little background:  choux pastry, or pâte à choux (pronounced: paht ah shoo), is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles (cream puffs), croquembouches, éclairs, French crullers, and gougères.  

Sounds super fancy and difficult....right?  Well, it is not.  It is actually very simple to make and fairly fool proof.  There are very few ingredients in it, you need a mixer and you need an oven.  Most people pipe the dough onto parchment paper but you could just as easily scoop spoonfulls.

The ingredients are cooked on the stove top, the flour is added and then cooked a bit....then you put the dough into your mixing bowl to cool for a bit (we don't want to cook those eggs as we mix them in)!


Once it has cooled you beat the eggs in and you will have a nice smooth batter that is easy to pipe. (Not the smoking kind of pipe....the piping bag kind of pipe.  Geez....get your minds out of the gutter)


It really doesn't matter how you pipe them, what size, what shape, etc.  It only matters that they are all uniform so that they bake at the same time.


The baking time may seem pretty long for these little beauties but you really want to make sure the inside isn't doughy and that it dries out.  I tend to sacrifice one of the puffs and open it up and make sure the dough is cooked through.  The only other way to know for sure is through experience of doing it time and time again.


Once they are cooled, fill them with anything you like.  I did a sweetened whipped cream but I think a pastry cream would be fabulous or even a chocolate mousse!


Seems pretty simple doesn't it?  I love when those desserts that we think of as fancy are really simple and not a lot of work.  I guarantee if you make these for dessert, your guests will be truly impressed with you!

Cream Puffs adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes 2 dozen pastries (depending on size you make them, mine were 2" in diameter)

Choux batter:
1 cup water
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper.

Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan, heat until the butter has melted, and bring to a rolling boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously.

Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring all the while, until the mixture smooths out and follows the spoon around the pan; this should take less than a minute.

Transfer the mixture to a mixer, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes until warm but not hot.  Beat in the eggs one at a time; it'll look curdled at first, but when you add the last egg it should become smooth. Beat for at least 2 minutes after adding the last egg.

Scoop batter into piping bag and pipe small mounds 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter (can make any size, adjust baking times accordingly).  Space the mounds about 3" apart, to allow for expansion. Wet your finger tip to smooth down any tips on the mounds (to avoid burning).

Bake the pastries for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until pastries are a medium golden brown and sound hollow when you tap on them. Don't open the oven door while the pastries are baking.

Remove the pastries from the oven and turn oven off.  Make a small slit in the side of each, and return them to the oven for 5 minutes, to allow the steam to escape. Place them on a rack to cool. 

Whipped cream filling:
2 cups whipping cream
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place ingredients into mixer and mix on high until stiff peaks form.

Chocolate glaze:
2/3 cup (4 oz) good quality dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons milk

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave or double boiler, then stir in enough milk to make it smooth.

Assemble cream puffs:
Split puffs in half and pipe or spoon whipped cream into shells.  Replace shell lid and spoon melted chocolate glaze over the top.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to a few hours.

These are versitile shells and can be filled with pastry cream or whipped cream or any other filling.  You can pipe the filling into the center instead of splitting them in half. You can top the shells with powdered sugar or any other glaze.  Make them to suit your tastes and enjoy!!!

Recipe Shared On:
Freedom Fridays
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Wednesdays Adorned From Above Link Party
What'd You Do This Weekend

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dark Chocolate Milano Cookies


I don't think my children have any clue that I am not your average Mom.  They seem to think that all kids go to their Mom's and say "hey, can you make homemade poptarts?" "Mom, can we have homemade twinkies?" "can you pleeeeeease make homemade cinnamon rolls?" Really....do all kids do this?  And if they do....do all Mom's say "sure, let me drop everything and do that for you".  Oh wait....that may be why they do it....hmmmmm.....


Ok...yes....I spoil my children with baked goods (and lots of love) but I enjoy doing it.  I also see it as a way to trap them into spending time with me (bwaaaahaaahaaahaaaha) (evil laugh....hard to convey via typing).  I can usually get them to help me because they really want to eat these baked yummies.  It doesn't matter that I go to school full time, have homework, have a job and occasionally need to sleep (let's face it....I don't sleep).....I always make time to bake for my boys.


What was my point?  Uh oh...senior moment....  Oh yes....so....today Max came to me and asked if I could make homemade golden oreos or milano cookies.  I decided these were the easiest to master in a day....I'm not sure what the heck a golden oreo is.


The dough is easy to make and easy to pipe.  Make them any size you like but they really spread and flatten so I would just make a little 1 1/2 inch long log.  You don't need to flatten it or do anything to it, these spread on their own in the oven.


Watch them closely so they don't brown too much around the edges.  Then allow them to cool completely before you make little sandwiches with your delicious ganache.  These were for my kids but if they were for an adult get together, I would have added a liqueur to the ganache....maybe a tablespoon of grand marnier. YUM!


Dark Chocolate Milano Cookies adapted from Gale Gand
Makes 3 dozen cookies

Cookies:
12 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
Cookie filling, recipe follows

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Cream the butter with a paddle attachment then mix in the sugar. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1 1/2-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.

Ganache: In a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl. Whisk to melt chocolate. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools). Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.

Enjoy!

Shared on:
Wine'd Down Wednesday
Freedom Fridays
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
Wednesday's Adorned From Above
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chocolate Ice Cream


Pull your ice cream machine out again because this is the BEST CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM EVER!  No joke....all chocolate ice cream has been ruined for me....I will have to make this when I am in need of a chocolate fix!  


This recipe is from Ghiradelli so I actually used a Ghiradelli dark chocolate bar (70%) chopped and melted in the cream and milk mixture.  You can really use any good quality dark chocolate for this recipe.....ice cream has so few ingredients so quality is key.



So good, you don't even need to add any toppings and you don't need to worry about freezer space because this stuff won't last long!  :)

Chocolate Ice Cream adapted from Ghirardelli.com

8 ounces Good Quality Dark Chocolate
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and chocolate over medium heat, whisking frequently, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is hot but not boiling. Pour this hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture whisking constantly, then return the mixture to the pan. Heat over low heat to 170°F, or until the mixture coats a spoon, stirring constantly. Immediately strain into a bowl and whisk in the vanilla.

Cool the mixture in the refrigerator. Freeze in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions until the ice cream has the consistency of whipped cream. Transfer to a plastic container and store in the freezer.

Enjoy!

Recipe Shared on:
Treasure Box Tuesday
You're Gonna Love It Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party
Freedom Fridays
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party

Monday, January 13, 2014

Salted Caramel Butter Bars


I pinned this recipe quite a while ago and then completely forgot to make them....I'm not sure how anyone could forget to make caramel bars....but I did.  Luckily I eventually remembered that I wanted to try them because these are sooooo goooooood!  Be warned....these are not diet bars.  There is a pound of butter in them but that is what makes them soooo goooood!  :)


The crust and top crumble are made from your basic shortbread recipe.  Lots of butter, sugar, flour and vanilla.  Super simple.


The caramel layer is made from melted caramel candies and cream.  Pretty much guaranteeing you will make them because they are so simple.  After I spread the caramel over the crust, I sprinkled some maldon salt over the top.  You can see the beautiful flakes in the picture above!  If you prefer your caramel layer to be unsalted, that is no problem.....it will still be delish!


Once the bars are baked and golden brown, let them cool completely before cutting.  The caramel is much easier to cut once it has cooled and hardened a bit.


Try to take some pictures before your children and their friends sneak into the kitchen to eat them all....not that I ever have that problem.....but man, those kids are quick!  


Salted Caramel Butter Bars adapted from Cookies & Cups

Crust:
1 lb. salted butter room temp
1 cup sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
⅓ cup milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 T. coarse sea salt (optional)

To make the crust:

Preheat oven to 325°

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.
Bake crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.

While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.  Once the caramel is melted add in your 1/2 tsp vanilla and stir until combined.

Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now.
Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 - 30 minutes.

Let cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy!

Recipe shared on:
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
What'd You Do This Weekend
You're Gonna Love It Tuesday
Treasure Box Tuesday
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party
Freedom Fridays
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party