Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dutch Wooden Windmill.....an American Experience!!!


Have you ever seen a Windmill up close?? Yes, I understand someone asking about a windmill is not so "run of the mill".....Sorry I had to go there!!!

But back to the windmill....I am not just talking about  the standard windmills you see driving through the Midwest. I am talking about a true Dutch wooden windmill. If you have ever wandered up Route 84 in Western Illinois, you might have just passed it without realizing it since the windmill is exactly where you would not expect to see one  - along the Mississippi River.

This small Midwest community had the windmill manufactured and preassembled in the Netherlands and then brought to the United States and installed. When visiting, you might be lucky enough to see this mill in action. Not only do you get to see the mill and it's size, this mill is a full-size "working grain" windmill so if you stop by on the right day they may be milling flour.
And for individuals like myself, any excuse to purchase more flour is worth the trip...ha ha! (Plus, it is nice to support a local business) To be honest, it is actually one of my favorite places to take a day trip to as well as the ability to introduce those who have never visited.  I enjoy this roadside attraction because it is a great experience if you have never seen a windmill but also love the fact that it is a working mill.

On a day like today, I am always amazed at how August seems to just arrive. It seems so far away at the beginning of summer but then one day it just appears. While this is less of an issue for adults, we can all remember being children and the reality of August always caused disappointment since that meant school was right around the corner.

So to celebrate Back-to-School, I thought it was fun to do a twist on a childhood favorite -  Mini Mocha Hi-Hats. What is better than a chocolate cupcake, marshmallow filling and more chocolate?!!

Mini Mocha Hi-Hats
Turn on oven to 350 Degrees. Coat 24 mini muffin cups with non-stick spray (or softened butter). Set pan aside.

Mocha Sour Cream Batter
3 oz. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1 C Unbleached Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, softened
3/4 C White Sugar
3/4 C Brown Sugar, packed
2 Eggs
1/3 C Espresso Coffee, cooled
2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Sour Cream

Melt chocolate in a small bowl in microwave, stir every thirty seconds until melted. Cool.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until blended, about 2 minutes.  On low speed, mix in chocolate. Add coffee and stir until combined. On medium speed, add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, beat until smooth. Add sour cream until fully combined. Beat in flour and mix until smooth.  Fill muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 12 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on wire rack until completely cool.  Repeat until all batter is used.
Vanilla Marshmallow Filling
1 1/4 C White Sugar
1/2 C Vanilla Sugar
1/4 C Water
3 Egg Whites
1/4 Tsp Cream of Tarter
1 Tsp Vanilla

Fill bottom of double boiler with water and heat to a simmer on stove. (Do not place double boiler top on stove) In double boiler top, place sugars, 1/4 C water, egg whites and cream of tarter (not over hot water). Beat with handheld mixer for about one minute, or until white and foamy.  Place over simmering water, beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 10 minutes. Remove from water, add vanilla and continue beating until mixture thickens further, about 2 minutes. (Filling will firm as it cools on cupcakes)

Spoon into pastry bag (or ziplock bag cut off 1/2 inch of one corner with a piping tip). Pipe onto cupcake in a spiral into a 1 inch cone-shape mound, leaving 1/8 inch border. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet until firm. (This will keep filling from melting while being coated)
Chocolate Coating
2 C Bittersweet Chocolate
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Microwave chocolate and oil in a small bowl stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Cool about 12 minutes. Dip top of each cupcake in coating, letting excess drip off. Refrigerate about 30 minutes to set coating. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until ready. Serve cold.

It's always nice to take a moment and remember the simple things in life that remind us of a favorite time from childhood.  What is your favorite memory???

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