Saturday, November 24, 2012

caramel apple fruit roll-ups

I'm baking my way through a list of nostalgic foods that I loved eating as a kid. Last week it was iced oatmeal cookies and this week it's fruit roll-ups.

My first attempt for making fruit roll-ups was a few weeks ago when we were visiting my husband's family in NoCal. There was a quince tree on their property bearing fruit and it was just begging to be made into something. So fruit roll-ups were made. Making homemade fruit roll-ups are incredibly easy and tasty, it's just another recipe that you have to have a little patience.

A baking note: Don't plan on baking anything in your oven for the next 6 - 8 hours.

Caramel Apple Fruit Roll-Ups
makes 2 baking sheets 

3 - 4 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup water/apple juice/apple cider
1 - 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste)
pinch of cinnamon
generous pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
squeeze of lemon

You'll also need two rimmed baking sheets and 2 Silpat mats if you have them.

You can also use parchment paper instead of Silpats, but I haven't tried that yet.
Wash and peel your apples.

If your apples are organic and you want a little texture in your roll-ups, leave the skin on.

***Since this was technically my second attempt for making roll-ups, I didn't use organic apples. Ssshhhhh. Don't tell anyone.***

Roughly chop your peeled or unpeeled apples into 1/2 cubes.

Place them into a pot and over medium heat. Add your liquid - water/apple juice/apple cider. Cover and cook until the fruit is soft - about 5 - 7 minutes. You'll know when the fruit is done because it will look like apple sauce. Add your brown sugar and cook a few seconds more to melt the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in your cinnamon, kosher salt, vanilla and lemon. Set aside and cool slightly before blending.

After your mixture has cooled slightly, pour it into a blender or food processor. Blend/blitz until smooth.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, spread your puree evenly into a thin layer.

Place two racks in your oven evenly spaced (upper and lower thirds) and set to the lowest setting. My lowest setting for my oven was 170°F. 

Place your raw roll-ups into your oven and basically forget about them for the next 4 - 6 hours. Every two hours, rotate your pans for even drying. 

After 6 hours, test your roll-ups by lightly touching the surface. It should be sticky but not raw. Continue baking if needed.

Remove from oven to let cool completely.

Once cooled, place a piece of parchment on top and flip the Silpat mat over. Gently peel mat off of fruit leather. 

At this point it's ready for giving or storing. Roll up your fruit leather and tie with bakers string. Tie several pieces of string on the roll and cut into desired pieces with kitchen scissors.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

iced oatmeal cookies

These are not Mother's Iced Oatmeal Cookies , but they look and taste pretty darn close.....

I've been feeling a little nostalgic due to last week's news of Hostess closing their doors forever. I debated whether to make something Hostess-like this weekend, but I didn't have all of the ingredients to make anything. So sad...

I'm not gonna lie. I've indulged on Hostess products over the years like Raspberry Zingers, Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, various Fruit Pies, Chocolate Pies, Chocolate Cup Cakes and my all time favorite, the Orange Cup Cake. And since these childhood treats are soon to be gone forever I'll just try making my own and better tasting versions. 

Enter the iced oatmeal cookie.

Growing up my parents always had some sort of cookie in the cupboard. Sometimes they were homemade and sometimes store bought. I remember these iced oatmeal cookies distinctively because I loved licking off the icing leaving a soggy naked oatmeal cookie. I had the ingredients on hand to try and replicate these cookies and searched for the perfect recipe. I found many recipes on the inter-webs with similar ingredients but I liked the recipe from fancyfoodfancy. Fancyfoodfancy's recipe called for a mixture of multigrain flour but I just used plain old all-purpose flour. So here it goes.....

Iced Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from the blog fancyfoodfancy
makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies 

2 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
generous pinch of cloves & allspice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter - melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.

In a food processor, pulse rolled oats, 10 - 20 times. Oats should look broken up but not powdery. In a large bowl, whisk together the processed oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt and spices. 

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and eggs. Add both of the sugars and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold to combine.

With a 1-ounce cookie scoop (1 1/2 inch diameter) scoop out cookies leaving 3 inches between them because they will spread during baking.

Bake for 16 - 20 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through baking.

Cookies should look golden brown all over.

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks completely.
For the Icing
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 cup water plus more if needed
***One egg white can also be substituted for the meringue powder.***
2 cups powdered sugar
small squeeze of lemon

In a small bowl, whisk together meringue powder and water until frothy. Whisk in powdered sugar. The icing can be thick so add a little water at a time until it's a consistency of thick cream. Squeeze in a little lemon juice. Whisk thoroughly.

With a small offset spatula or butter knife, drizzle a little icing over the cookie. 

Lift the knife up and down, touching the peaks of the cookie with icing. The icing shouldn't look like it's spread on but drizzled. Kinda. 

Place the iced cookies back onto parchment lined baking sheets and let them dry completely. Store your cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"all it takes is heart" and a happy birthday

It's been a couple of weeks since hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the east coast and there's still A LOT to be done getting the communities and their lives back to normal. Or maybe the "new" normal......

My dear friends, Chris and Sarah Romulo from Rockaway Beach and of CROM Martial Training suffered great loss post Sandy which I blogged about here.

These two incredible people have THE biggest hearts and even though their lives, home and business seem like they've been shaken up in a snow globe, I wanted to bring them a little sweet happiness and I surprised Chris with a cake for his birthday. CROM MT's motto is, "All It Takes Is Heart," and it speaks volumes to what kind of people he and his wife are and the community unit of Rockaway.

Chris is by no means mean spirited. Don't let this growling face fool you!!!

I have made cakes for this family in the past getting inspiration from their logo or profession. You see, Chris is a Muay Thai fighter and has hung up his fighting gloves professionally but continues to educate and train others.

I was able to go out to Rockaway this week and volunteer in the relief efforts and took a shot of what was left in their gym.....

Chris, Sarah, CROM MT and Rockaway are going to come back bigger and better because ALL IT TAKES IS HEART!!!!!


***Don't judge my piping skills here. It was the day the Nor'easter hit and I was pressed for time to get it done.***

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

new york, new york cupcakes

Start spreadin' the news.....

I used this technique for creating the white royal icing disks. And with the tiniest of brushes and edible food coloring, I hand painted each and every skyline. Luckily there was only 30 (24 pictured).