Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day…….Take a Moment to Reflect!!!



Happy Memorial Day! 

Take a moment to thank those who sacrificed!

These days tend to remind me of the past - family, friends and even my childhood. I realize it is important to remember those in our past and what they have given for us to be where we are. Whether it is service to our Country or giving for the needs of the family. 

There are those in our lives every day who give and aren't always appreciated for these sacrifices…. we need to remember they choose to give and let them know we appreciate them!

When I look back at my own family history, some gave for family, some for the Country and others in their daily lives continue to give.  We can so get caught up in the world, the barbecues, and even technology we forget the importance of life. 

I admit I am at fault for this……I work each day to remember this life is compiled of so much more than the daily grind……I need to remember to enjoy each moment and be grateful every day! 

In taking this moment to reflect, I thought I would reflect back to the past. We all remember these from childhood….so I hope you enjoy Oatmeal Cream Pies


I thank each one of you for what you give every day…….
I hope others in your life have done the same…
but if not…..please hear this from me….. 
I THANK you for what you do, who you are…
and what you have helped the world become!


Oatmeal Cookies
1 C Unsalted Butter, room temperature

3/4 C Brown Sugar, packed

1/3 C Sugar

2 Eggs

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla

2 C Unbleached Flour

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 C Quick Cooking Oats
1 Tbsp Molasses

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar together. Add eggs, molasses and vanilla mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed butter until combined. Stir in oats by hand. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a dough scoop, Drop onto baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until edges brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely

Marshmallow Filling:
2 Egg Whites

1/4 C Sugar
1/4 Tsp Cream of Tartar

1 Tsp Vanilla

In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is frothy. Note: Do not stop stirring….or walk away!

Transfer to stand mixer bowl and whisk on high until stiff peak stage. Gently stir in vanilla.
Cool completely.

Place filling between two cooled cookies. Press together and enjoy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alfajores…….Ever Heard of Them?





Alfajores! Have you ever heard of them? Me either. 


I didn't even know how to say the word when I first heard of them. But now I have spent a day enveloped into this wonderful treat.  I first came across these treats through a well known gourmet cookware store. When you see them being sold for $40 a box, it makes me want to  take on a challenge. So of course, I will not be beaten…..lol.


Alfajores are a wonderful South American treat…..a type of shortbread sandwich cookie that are filled with Dulce de Leche (caramel filling).


As one may know, I am a HUGE fan of Dulce de Leche…so how could I resist another recipe allowing me to use it. While I have yet to conquer tempering chocolate to the level I would like I wasn't totally disappointed this time. There are so many variations of this wonderful treat ….so here is mine…..


Chocolate Dipped Alfajores 
3/4 C Unsalted Butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cup Sugar

2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla

1 Tsp Whiskey
3 C Unbleached Flour

½ Tsp Salt

2 Tsp Baking Powder

2/3 C Milk

1 C Dulce de Leche (cook 4 hrs for thick caramel for this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Line pans with parchment paper and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar on medium until creamy about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla and whisky until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add dry mixture to butter mixture mix well. Add milk and stir until combined.  Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Using a tablespoon or a small scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Transfer to oven and bake until golden, 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack until completely cool.

When cookies are cool, match them up into pairs of like-sizes (I cut cookies with a cutter to make uniform). Turn one cookie over and spread a dollop of dulce de leche onto the flat part of the cookie. Note: Dulce de Leche needs to be VERY thick. (if not thick, put in pan over med-low heat  and stir constantly until desired thickness is reached.) Place its partner on top and gently press so that the caramel comes to the edges.  Place on clean baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

Once chilled, dip each cookie in tempered chocolate and place on cooling rack to harden. Note: Only leave on rack until hard, cookies will stick if left on too long.  
 Classic Alfajores rolled in Coconut

How to Temper Chocolate
1 LB Chocolate (Bittersweet or Milk)
Double Boiler
Digital Thermometer

Place 2/3 of chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir with a rubber spatula until temp reaches recommended temperature for chocolate (115 degrees for Dark, 110 for Milk/White). When temperature is reached remove top of double boiler on a heat-proof surface. Immediately add remaining chocolate and stir until melted (this will bring down temperature). Cool chocolate to below 84 degrees. Once cooled, reheat chocolate over double boiler for 10 seconds and remove. Stir and repeat until temp reaches 89 for Dark (87 for milk/white).  Remove from heat and use immediately. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!


Happy Mother's Day!!!

This time of year makes me reflect back on my childhood. Both of my grandmothers' birthdays were one day apart in May. I miss them every year when Mother's Day arrives! These amazing women were the individuals who both provided me with my interest in baking and the support to fail or succeed with it.

My father's family is originally from Northern New England. A quiet little town with a paper mill, a covered bridge and a fresh water spring on the edge of town. No, I am not kidding! When I would go back there to visit, I loved it because it was like going back in time. There was no major traffic, no cell phone service (shocking...i know!), and a quite nature when with those you care about was just about the best thing about it. Time slowed down and when family was together we actually spent time on the porch talking, doing day trips to Ben and Jerry's or a venture into nature. Some times I wish I could get back there on occasion now....

One of my favorite things about visiting was waking up every morning to baked goods from the kitchen. My grandmother was of the tradition there was a coffee cake made almost every morning to go along with breakfast. These were the only times I really ever ate coffee cake....but every so often when my memories take me back I always want to bake one....

So I share with you my Quick Coffee Cake recipe. I personally add cinnamon to the batter since I am a fan but I also think apples would be pretty tasty as well! Guess I will save that for the next time I bake one.

I wish everyone a wonderful Mother's Day with those you love and wonderful memories of those who are no longer with us! I love you, Grammie!


Quick Coffee Cake

1/2 C Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 C Unbleached Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Milk (can replace w/ Buttermilk or Sour Cream)

Topping:
1/3 C Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 C Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Pecans, chopped

In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients and set aside.

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan, set aside. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and milk. Mix until combined. Place half of batter on pan, sprinkle with half of topping. Place rest of batter on top and sprinkle with remaining topping.  Bake for 30 minutes or until testing with a toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Along the River......Joy!!!


My favorite time of the year is Apple Season!! So every May I think I go through withdrawal knowing the growing season is on us but I still have to wait months....until it is once again it is apple season...It's like an addiction!

This is becoming the same thing for me with Summer here in the Midwest. I was never a huge fan of the humid humid summers here. However, over the last year I have been exposed to times and events during the summer I have come to love. So now I am already imaging sitting along the river listening to music and catching up with those I enjoy spending time with. Or venturing on a daytime road trip to see what entertainment can be found. 

So what are you looking forward to this summer??? Anything I haven't heard of yet?! I hope you have a wonderful May. Join me in thinking up all the exciting things coming up this Summer which will be here before we know it and while you do.....enjoy Cinnamon Apple Pie with Currants and Crumb Topping.

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Currants and Crumb Topping
Adapted from Epicurious.com

Crust:
1 1/2 C Unbleached Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 C Unsalted Butter (chilled), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 C Ice Water
1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Filling:
1 C Light Brown Sugar, packed
3 Tbsp Unbleached Flour
1 Tsp Lemon Peel, finely grated
1 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored (about 8 cups)
1 C Currants
2 Tsp Vanilla

Crumb Topping:
1 C Unbleached Flour
1/2 C Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/8 Tsp Salt
1/2 C Unsalted Butter (chilled), cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 1/4 C ice water and vinegar in small bowl then add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonful if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp, forming crust sides 1/4 inch above rim of pie dish. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

For filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F.

In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Add apple slices, currants, and vanilla; toss until well coated. Transfer filling to unbaked crust, mounding filling slightly in center. Bake pie until apples begin to soften, about 30 minutes.
 For crumb topping:
While pie is baking, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture begins to clump together.

Sprinkle topping evenly over hot pie. Continue to bake pie until apples are tender and topping is browned and crisp. Be sure to cover pie crust if needed if browning too quickly, about 40 minutes. Cool pie on rack at least 2 hours.