Saturday, December 31, 2011

hot chocolate bread pudding

Ok folks.....This is my last post for 2011. 
I swear!!! This hot chocolate bread pudding is a must before any of you start on your 2012 diets. Even I need to think about "cutting out" or "cutting back" on certain foods I eat. But sweets? No, never!!! Just a few decadent treats once in a while is totally OK in my book.....

Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding
This recipe comes from an amazing food blog that my husband turned me on to....Serious Eats. And trust me....What they blog about is serious!!!
Serves 12 - 16

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature for pan
6 large eggs
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes ***Soft or stale bread is perfect for this recipe. No need to use toasted bread.***
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

12 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

***This recipe can be easily halved. Use a 9x9-inch pan and decrease baking time to approximately 25 minutes.***

1. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish or individual ramekins; set aside. In large bowl, whisk eggs, granulated sugar, and salt until lightened, about 30 seconds; set aside. 

2. In medium saucepan, whisk brown sugar with cocoa to combine. Whisk in milk and cream and heat over medium heat until warm. Whisk in bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, and cinnamon until chocolate is melted. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Whisk in vanilla extract.

3. Add bread cubes to chocolate mixture and gently toss to evenly moisten bread. Let sit to allow bread to thoroughly saturate, 30 to 45 minutes, occasionally pressing bread gently with rubber spatula. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F.

4. Gently pour bread mixture into prepared baking dish. Tuck chopped semisweet chocolate into bread pudding, evenly distributing. Bake until pudding is just set in center, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 30 minutes before serving.

5. In chilled bowl of standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until soft peak. Serve with warm bread pudding.


Friday, December 30, 2011

peanut butter-n-jelly bars and a happy new year!!!

It's New Year's Eve Eve and it's time to bust out your resolutions. A lot of people have dieting on their lists, but before you start your New Year's diet, go into your kitchen and make these. Now! 

When I was tasting them earlier I was kinda convincing myself that these would be a great breakfast item. Yeah, right?! These peanut butter-n-jelly bars are just wrong.....but in a good way.

Peanut Butter-n-Jelly Bars
2001 Holiday Cookie Issue by Martha Stewart

Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter @ room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter ***Other recipes called for Skippy, but I went with a natural and organic peanut butter***
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs @ room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt ***I used kosher salt***
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups strawberry jam ***I like raspberry***
1 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped 

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper, dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla and mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time; incorporating each egg until it's creamy and a homogeneous mixture, about 2 minutes.

2. Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. Transfer two-thirds of the mixture to your prepared pan. Press down dough evenly with your fingers or an offset spatula. Using your offset spatula, spread 1 cup of jam on top peanut butter mixture. With the remaining third of dough, drop small clumps/dollops of peanut butter dough on top of jam. Sometimes the jam is completely covered by the third of the peanut butter dough. Not to worry, here is where you would dollop the remainder 1/2 cup of jam in tablespoons on top of the peanut butter clumps. Sprinkle with chopped salted peanuts.

3. Bake until golden, 45 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and refrigerate, 1 to 2 hours. Cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.

For Chris, Sarah, Eddie & Marilyn.....Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

munchie mix

If you've ever checked out the back of a Chex cereal box you'll find easy snack recipes that take less than 15 minutes to make. One of my favorites is the Chex Muddy Buddie recipe which I renamed "Munchie Mix" because once you start munchin' on it, you just can't stop.

This recipe is also all over the internet, but some have really unappetizing names. Like puppy chow or puppy food? Who wants to eat something that sounds like dog food? Monkey mix? I actually liked this name but after I thought about it, none of the ingredients have anything to do with monkeys. "Munchie mix" it is! So make some this holiday and munch away.....

Munchie Mix
start to finish: 15 minutes - 18 servings (1/2 cup each)

9 cups Chex cereal - rice, corn, or a combination of both. ***I used rice cereal to keep it a gluten-free recipe***
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips ***I substituted Belgium 72% dark chocolate and chopped it into small pieces. I would also recommend bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks because this recipe has a fair amount of powdered sugar in it***
1/2 cup peanut butter ***Use smooth, unsalted and natural peanut butter. Organic doesn't hurt either***
1/4 cup butter ***Again, unsalted and organic***
1 teaspoon vanilla extract***Use the real stuff - no imitations here!***
pinch of kosher salt ***my added touch***
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar ***I used Trader Joe's Organic Powdered Sugar***

1. In a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

2. In a 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate, peanut butter and butter uncovered for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and kosher salt. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into a 2-gallon ziplock food-storage plastic bag.

3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread onto a parchment paper or wax paper lined baking sheet to cool and dry. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

future DOUGH & BATTER pastry assistants

Gingerbread cookies, sugary icing, sprinkles, candy buttons and fourteen 3 year olds.....

Getting the kids excited with a story about The Gingerbread Man.

The kids had no problem creating their gingerbread masterpieces.

"Napping" gingerbread men

Monday, December 12, 2011

pizza bianca REVISITED!!!

Don't even think this is some boring white pizza, because it's not! It's chewy, crunchy, airy and studded with flakes of sea salt and fresh rosemary then drizzled with the most flavorful olive oil. In Rome, pizza bianca is eaten in the morning, the way we Americans eat buttered toast. But after you taste this deliciously flavored flat bread, you'll want to eat it all day long just like the Romans do. So forget those average loaves of french bread or baguettes from your local store or bakery and make this recipe now!!! Why now? Because if you plan on eating it, you'll need 11 - 14 hours for this dough to proof before you can even consider baking it.

I've blogged about this bread genius here, Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. Jim is truly a bread whisperer. He takes very little ingredients, barely mixes or even touches them and after many hours of "resting" your dough, your kitchen will smell like an Italian pane da forno.

Pizza Bianca
from the book My Bread by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery

YIELD: One 14 - inch pie; 6 -8 slices
EQUIPMENT: A large (at least 14 - inch diameter) pizza stone and a pizza peel

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees F - pretty much straight out of the tap)
1/4 cup (60 grams) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt ***Maldon Salt is best here***
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and yeast. Add table salt and sugar. Add the water and using a wooden spoon, your hand or a spatula, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, no more than 30 seconds. ***I prefer using my hands.*** Also make sure that ALL of the flour seems hydrated. Dough should look shaggy and wet.*** With your spatula, clean sides of bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature ( I keep mine in the oven - which is turned OFF), until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 9 - 12 hours. 

2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface (a cutting board is useful here) with flour. Coat a rimmed cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 

Generously dust top of sticky dough. Use a bowl scrapper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece onto your floured cutting board.

With floured hands, fold the dough over itself two or three times, flip it over, nudge it into a loose rather flat ball, and gingerly lift it onto your greased cookie sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface). 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Put the dough in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. ***I prefer to let mine rest for 2 hours.***

3. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500˚F, with a rack in the center, and a pizza stone at least 14 inches in diameter, on the center rack. If you don;t have a pizza stone, it really isn't necessary, I just think the stone adds heat to your pan.

Spread out the fingers of one hand, like a claw, and gently press your fingers into the dough, but not to puncture it (short nails are essential): you want to simultaneously create dimples in the dough and spread it across the your baking sheet. Continue working your hand across the dough and dimpling it until it's bumpy all over and pretty much the size of your pan. 

Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the rosemary leaves. Poke the rosemary leaves into the dough. This will help the rosemary from burning. ***We like ours super salty so we sprinkle even MORE Maldon salt on top before baking***

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the mounds but still pale in the dimples. 

6. Transfer it to a rack to cool for at least a few minutes before cutting with scissors.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

gingerbread cookies

Christmas is fourteen days away and my holiday baking is coming to an end this week. I've decorated over 400 cookies in the past 2 weeks and I'm looking forward to watch sixteen 3-year olds decorate my gingerbread people on Tuesday.

I've tried a few gingerbread cookie recipes and I feel this one from Martha Stewart is just perfect. Cakey and soft and full of gingerbread goodness......

Gingerbread Cookies
from the Holiday Cookie Issue by Martha Stewart 2005

Makes approximately 16 cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutter 

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter @ room temperature
1 cup dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons course salt
2 large eggs @ room temperature
1 cup unsulfured molasses

Royal Icing (recipe follows)

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of am electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in the spices and salt, then add eggs and molasses. Reduce to low speed and add flour mixture. Mix until combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Space 2-inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.

4. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes. Cookies should be firm and not dark. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Royal Icing

6 ounces warm water
5 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 kilo (2.25 lbs.) powdered sugar

In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together on LOW speed, warm water and meringue powder, 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and mix for another 30 seconds.
In the OFF setting, pour in the powdered sugar all at once. Mix on the LOWEST speed for 10 minutes, The icing should look thick and creamy. Cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel or plastic wrap to prevent crusting and drying. Tint with food colorings or thin the icing with small amounts water to reach the desired consistency.

Click here for a step-by-step decorating tutorial.

The cookies decorated above were adorned last year by my little friend Cassius who was two at the time. His Mom and I outlined and iced the cookies and he decorated them with sprinkles. I will be joining him again along with fifteen other 3-year olds on Tuesday. Future DOUGH & BATTER apprentices.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

lions and birthdays and drew, oh my!!!

Birthday cookies for a three year old who loves animals.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

shop-a-holiday on 23rd and shareing & careing

The weekend after Thanksgiving Day, is usually the time I start my holiday cookie orders.....This year I'm taking on a different approach to giving and I'm participating in a local neighborhood event coming up this week by donating over 250 cookies to go into gift bags. 

The event is being sponsored by the retailers in my neighborhood of Astoria, NY. My good friend, Kristie Foster, owner of my favorite indie-clothing boutique, krisTEES, kindly asked me to participate in giving to a very important cause. 

On Saturday, December 3rd, from 12pm - 5pm come out to Astoria and shop the participating retailers on 23rd Avenue and 10% of all sales will go to the Shareing & Careing Breast Cancer Support foundation. 

Madagascar vanilla bean sugar cookies frosted with a hint-of-lemon royal icing. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

pumpkin cheesecake & happy thanksgiving!!!

Not pumpkin pie. But pumpkin cheesecake. It's probably too late in the day to make this, but save the recipe for next year. Or what the heck? Make it this weekend!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Pumpkin Cheesecake I got this recipe from my sister. Who knows where she got it and how old it is. The last time I made this we were living in San Francisco.....
makes one 10-inch cake 

for the CRUST
1 1/2 cup gingersnap crumbs ***I use Nabisco's Gingersnaps - about 30 cookies***
1  1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter @ room temperature
pinch of salt

for the FILLING
4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese @ room temperature
***OR for a lighter cheesecake - use 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese and 1 cup sour cream***
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin ***I only had 1 15-ounce can and it worked perfectly fine***
9 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg ***grind some fresh stuff***
4 large eggs @ room temperature

Prep your springform pan by wrapping the bottom and sides with foil making sure that the sides are completely covered. The cheesecake will be placed in a water bath for baking. 

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Find a shallow baking dish at least 2 inches wider than your cheesecake pan. Set aside.

In a bowl of a food processor grind gingersnap cookies, pecans, light brown sugar, unsalted butter and salt until it looks like wet sand.

Press this mixture into your pan with a removable bottom. You can just press it on the bottom or I like to go up the sides slightly. Set aside. 

Bring a kettle of water to a boil for the water bath.

In your bowl of your stand mixer, cream the cream cheese so that it's smooth and not lumpy. Add the sugar, pumpkin, all spices and vanilla. Mix on LOW until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and add the heavy cream. Mix on LOW. Add eggs 1 @ a time on LOW speed, incorporating each one before adding the other. Careful not to mix too much, especially at a high speed, because you do not want to incorporate air into it. Scrape down sides to make sure everything is mixed in thoroughly.

Set your prepared crusted pan into shallow baking dish. Pour your cheesecake mixture in. Carefully place this on the middle rack of your oven. Gently pour hot water into the shallow pan so that the water level is halfway up the foiled cheesecake pan; making sure you don't get any into your cheesecake.

Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Carefully "jiggle" the cheesecake. It should "wiggle" in the middle when it's done. Remove from water bath and cool completely before placing it in the frig. Refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours or overnight before consuming.
We were doing some pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner quality control so we thought we'd give it a try for lunch. I made a simple caramel sauce with sugar and heavy cream and drizzled it on top. A little smokey sea salt didn't hurt it either.....Have a happy and healthy one!!! gobble gobble

Sunday, November 20, 2011

fall leaf vanilla sugar cookies

Yesterday I got to go see my friend Dave kill it on the drums with Sondre Lerche on David Letterman's LATE SHOW. I greeted the band backstage with these fall leaf vanilla sugar cookies and my friend Dave shared one with the guest on the show, Amy Sedaris. Pretty cool......

Royal Icing
6 ounces warm water
5 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 kilo (2.25 lbs.) powdered sugar
gel food colorings

In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together on LOW speed, warm water and meringue powder, 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and lemon juice and mix for another 30 seconds.
In the OFF setting, pour in the powdered sugar all at once. Mix on the LOWEST speed for 10 minutes, The icing should look thick and creamy. Cover the bowl with a damp tea-towel or plastic wrap to prevent crusting and drying. Tint with food colorings or thin the icing with small amounts water to reach the desired consistency.

To decorate cookies you'll need the following:
- tinted royal icing
- disposable piping bags
- coupler
- a number 2 round tip
- damp paper towels
- skewers

Once your cookies have cooled completely, you'll need to pipe a flood line. This prevents the icing from running all over the place. Let this dry for at least an hour or more. 

Now is when you can fill-in the outlined cookie. I like to spoon small amounts of icing into the middle of the cookie and then drag towards the sides with a skewer. 

To create a marbled effect, gently drag your skewer through the different colors of royal icing.

Once the royal icing has set for 1 - 2 hours you can pipe on your details. 

Iced sugar cookies need at least 24 hours to dry before packaging in cellophane bags or cookies boxes. If it's slightly humid out, it may take a little longer.