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Saturday
Nov292014

Tapioca Pudding with Coffee Syrup and Caramelized Tapioca 

Lucky you, dear readers! What we've got here is a guest recipe and excerpt from the fantastic new book Brazilian Food by Thiago Castanho and Luciana Bianchi

This is a really lovely book, with photos as vibrant as what I imagine Brazil to be (having never been, it's all imagination for me!). The recipes are accessible, flavorful, and interesting--and exotic. It's a cookbook to dream on, and I think it would make a nice holiday gift!

And, well. Even if none of that intrigued you, the fact is this: the cover features rainbows.

 Note: the photo and recipe in this post are used with permission from Brazilian Food by Thiago Castanho & Luciana Bianchi, Firefly Books 2014, $39.95 hardcover.

‘Bolo podre’ com calda de café e tapioca caramelizada 

Tapioca pudding with coffee syrup and caramelized tapioca 

This is a traditional pudding of the Amazon region. It does not contain wheat but granulated tapioca flakes, usually moistened with coconut milk. We eat it in the morning or late afternoon, but it is always accompanied by a cup of freshly brewed coffee. 

Serves 10 

* 2 vanilla beans   

1/2 cup (50 g) unsweetened, finely shredded dried coconut 

* 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk  

* scant 1 cup (200 ml) sweetened condensed milk  

* scant 1/2 cup (100 ml) unsweetened coconut milk 

* 1 cup (120 g) farinha de tapioca (granulated tapioca) or Farinha de Tapioca substitute (see page 82)  

* oil, for greasing  

Coffee syrup   

* 2 ¾  oz (80 g) rapadura or unleveled . cup (80 g) dark brown sugar 

* 1 cup (250 ml) hot espresso coffee 

Caramelized tapioca 

* unleveled . ¾ cup (100 g) farinha de tapioca (granulated tapioca) or Farinha de Tapioca substitute (see page 82) 

* unleveled . ¼ cup (60 g) superfine sugar 

1. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Put the seeds, bean pods, shredded coconut, and all the milks in a saucepan. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches scalding point. Discard the vanilla bean pods. 

2. Put the farinha de tapioca in a large bowl, and add the hot milk mixture. Stir well. Pour the pudding batter into a generously oiled 12 x 4.-inch (30 x 11 cm) loaf pan, and refrigerate it for 3 hours, or until it is firm. 

3. To make the coffee syrup, combine the rapadura and . cup (60 ml) of water in a saucepan. Heat for 2 minutes, stirring until the rapadura has dissolved. Add the coffee and remove from the heat. 

4. For the caramelized tapioca, combine the farinha de tapioca and sugar in a saucepan, and heat gently, stirring constantly, to melt the sugar. Cook until the caramel is a light golden brown. Pour the mixture into a nonstick baking pan and let cool. Store in an airtight container. 

5. Transfer the chilled cake to a serving board, and sprinkle with the caramelized tapioca. Serve in slices, accompanied by a drizzle of coffee syrup. 

Tips from Thiago: When pouring the pudding batter into the pan, press it down gently to pack it together and prevent it from falling apart when it is removed from the pan. 

Friday
Nov282014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Red.

Today's links are brought to you by the color RED. 

Need a good way to use up all that leftover pie? Pumpkin pie shakes for all! (CakeSpy)

One of my favorite Christmas cookies: pistachio cookies. (CakeSpy)

Another fave: Stained Glass Cookies. Get ready for compliments if you make these! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Very intrigued: 7-up biscuits! (Bake.Frost.Repeat)

Cardamom rolls: so spicy and delicious-looking! (Fresh April Flours)

A helpful primer on cake knives. (Bakery Boy Blog)

No-bake peppermint cheesecake. This one's a showstopper. (Beyond Frosting)

Cappuccino eggnog donuts. So into these. (The First Year

Mini gingerbread house mug kits by my friend Not Martha. (Not Martha)

Savory whipped cream! Really?? Really. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

DIY horchata. Or, add rum and make it "rumchata". (CakeSpy)

French Toast Swirl Sticks. I'd go there. (Pepperidge Farm)

Interesting: a historian chases down the history of baby food. (Saratogian)

Brown sugar chess pie. YES. (Grandbaby Cakes)

Cherry buttercream. It's a winner. (CakeSpy

Book of the week: CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. Yes, MY book! Because it's a great holiday gift.

Thursday
Nov272014

How to Draw Food

From discussing boneless, skinless chicken breast versus drumsticks to watermelon and ice cream, I will teach you how to draw food just right. Read the full post here.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Best-Ever: Pumpkin Pie with Sweetened Condensed Milk

If pumpkin pie made with evaporated milk simply stopped existing today, I wouldn't really care. Because even though that's the "back of the box" classic version, I prefer mine with sweetened condensed milk.

Adding sweetened condensed milk not only saves you the trouble of measuring out sugar, as it provides all the sweetness your pie will need, but it also imparts a creamy, rich flavor. It's perfectly accented with a little salt, which takes the pie from earthy to ethereal, and completely crave-worthy. 

It's also almost sinful how easy this pie is to make, so instead of using pumpkin pie spice I used all the spices separately. It made the recipe seem more impressive, I think. 

I consider this the best way to eat pumpkin pie, and I hope you will, too. 

Pumpkin pie made with sweetened condensed milk

Makes one 9-inch pie (8 servings)

  • One 9-inch pie crust, unbaked (I prefer the King Arthur method)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (note: I like my pie fairly salty. If you don't, use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 large eggs
  • One (15 ounce) can plain pumpkin puree
  • One (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Procedure

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (212 degrees C).
  2. Roll the pie dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter; place it into the pie pan and crimp the edges. Keep the dough refrigerated while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs; stir in the pumpkin and the sugar-and-spice mixture. Once well incorporated, stir in the sweetened condensed milk (it may incorporate better if you add the milk in three additions, ensuring that each addition is fully mixed in before adding the next). Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate the pie and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. If desired, serve topped with whipped cream.

PS: Pumpkin pie not for you? Here are some other pies and ideas for Thanksgiving from around the web that I suggest.

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet ones!

Monday
Nov242014

Pop-Tarts That Should Exist

Pop tartsI'm thankful that Pop-Tarts do exist, but I wish these ones did, too. New print in my Etsy store!

Sunday
Nov232014

Best of New Mexico: Homemade Blue Corn Pinon Bread

This one's dedicated to my Santa Fe friends.

If you've ever been to Santa Fe, New Mexico, you know that it is a special place indeed. The food reflect's the city's "tri-cultural" background: Native American, Mexican, and Spanish. With, of course, a touch of modern hippie and crystal-chaser in the mix. It makes for an interesting food scene, to say the least. (for my ultimate review of New Mexico sweets, check out this post!)

Two ingredients which are in frequent rotation in both baked goods and savories alike are blue corn and piñon nuts (pine nuts), respectively. One beautiful example of a delicious fusion of these ingredients was found in the beyond-locally famous atole-piñon pancakes served at Tecolote Cafe, a funky little breakfast place on Cerillos Road that is famous for their "no toast" policy. 

Tecolote Cafe, Santa Fe

Well, me and everyone in Santa Fe was saddened when Tecolote shuttered their doors earlier this year due to a lease matter. I mourned those pancakes. 

Well, I am happy to say that Tecolote has found a new home and will be re-opening soon. In the meantime, I will "toast" them with a food that is inspired by them but that will never-ever appear on their menu: blue corn piñon bread.

Made with part blue corn flour and plenty of buttery piñon both in the bread and on top, this is a beautiful loaf with a novel, slightly blue-purple tint when looked at from the right angle. Taste-wise, it's lightly nutty; the blue corn gives it an intriguing, earthy taste. With mellow little lumps of rich piñon punctuating every bite, it's an absolute delight served with butter and a little salt.

Since it's made with whole wheat flour, too, it has a firm enough structure so that it is also appropriate for any type of dish you'd make with sandwich bread. 

Blue Corn Pinon Bread

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: 1 large loaf 

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons soft butter
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 1 cup blue corn flour, sifted
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup piñon, to taste

 Procedure

  1. Combine the water and yeast. Once the yeast begins to bubble lightly, proceed.
  2. Mix all of the remaining ingredients with the yeast mixture in the order listed, reserving 1/4 of the piñon to top the bread later.
  3. Knead, either by hand with a dough scraper or with a stand mixer, until it has progressed past a shaggy texture to a solid, slightly sticky mass. This can take up to 5 minutes by hand; less when using a mixer. It will never quite take on the smooth elasticity of wheat flour-only bread, but the extra moisture is necessary as the whole grains will absorb it. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rise at room temperature until it’s quite puffy and doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Gently deflate the dough with your hand (a gentle pressing, not a knockout punch), and shape it into a fat 9″ log (it may still be slightly sticky; I used lightly oiled hands). Place it in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining piñon on top.
  5. Cover the pan, and let the dough rise for 2 hours or even overnight, or until it has formed a crown which extends 1 inch or slightly more over the rim of the pan. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  6. Bake the bread uncovered for 20 minutes. Tent it lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top, and when knocked lightly, yields a slightly hollow sound.
  7. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out onto a rack to cool. When completely cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature. 

Have you ever baked with blue corn flour before?

Saturday
Nov222014

Easy Recipe: Horchata

Have you ever heard of horchata? No, I am not insulting you. Horchata is a delicious, milky beverage which is actually not always made with milk, but often rice or nuts ground into a "milk". It's nearly always spiced with cinnamon, and is often sweetened. It's common in Mexico, and common enough in New Mexico that I have become quite intimately knowledgable of the stuff.

Photo via flickr member sstrieu

Now that you're intrigued...how about making some horchata?

It's so easy and tasty that there's no reason for you to say no. And I'd bet that it's pretty likely you have a lot of the ingredients on hand already!

There's nothing to lose. Make it now. This version does have milk, which I think makes it extra-nice. You don't have to add it if you don't wanna. And oh, if you wanna get really naughty, add some rum!

Easy Horchata

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice, UNCOOKED
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup whole milk* (see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. In a blender, combine the rice and water. Mix on high for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients right to the blender, and let it steep for 3 hours at room temperature. This is letting the flavors come together in a very pleasant way.
  3. Strain the mixture, and pour it into a pitcher. Serve chilled (I prefer to chill it in the fridge rather than serving with ice, as I feel that it dilutes the mix).

Enjoy!

Saturday
Nov222014

Great for Holiday Baking: Plush Puffs Marshmallows

Commercially made marshmallows aren't a go-to confection for me, because so many are inferior in quality and flavor. However, a homemade marshmallow is a different thing entirely: pillowy, sweet, and just begging to be popped on top of a rich cup of hot chocolate.

I was happy to discover a company that creates marshmallows that really do approximate that unique homemade flavor and texture: Plush Puffs. They sent me a package of samples, and I was very impressed with the quality (note: the samples were free to me; I am not being paid to write this post).

They sent me their holiday flavors, which included Gingerbread spice, pumpkin pie, and peppermint marshmallows. Each of the flavors tasted season-appropriate, and had a wonderful, pillowy yet holds-its-shape texture. In looking at their website, I was delighted to see that they offer a huge selection of flavors, from vanilla bean to caramel swirl to lemon meringue to even a tantalizing-looking chocolate chip cookie inspired flavor. Oh, and they pride themselves on not using high fructose corn syrup.

While my experience to this moment has been eating the marshmallows out of hand, I can definitely see them playing a role in holiday baking, be it gingerbread s'mores, minty cocoa, or maybe a homemade holiday s'mores pop-tart? Hmmm....

What do you think I should bake with these seasonal marshmallows?

If you're intrigued, shop for your own marshmallows on the Plush Puffs website.

Friday
Nov212014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links

Need cards? Click here.Cake decorators: Win 8 Craftsy courses! (Craftsy)

I need to tell you: Oreo Peanut Butter Dip. (Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts)

Maple walnut fudge. I like it. (Eagle Brand)

I know, linking to a link post. But this is a collection of food blogs beloved by someone in eating disorder recovery. Now that's sweet! (Recovery Warriors)

Is Walkers the best shortbread in Britain? (Telegraph UK)

Intriguing: salted caramel pita chip clusters. (Naptime Chef)

Pie-fect: how to make pretty pie crust edges. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Pecan pie baklava. A naturally delicious progression for both desserts. (Crazy for Crust)

In case you've ever wondered how to make a carved dinosaur cake. (My Sweet and Saucy)

50 Cake batter desserts. YES! (Chef in Training

Spumoni trifle. FREAKING LOVE THIS! (Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

Palette knives: no longer just for paint. For cake, too! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Pear, blue cheese, and walnut rugelach. Wow! (Baking a Moment)

Ramen Donuts. Would you ever?? (Culinary Brodown)

Edible Thanksgiving place cards. (Hungry Happenings)

In case you missed it: my awesome roundup of the Pillsbury Bake-Off (CakeSpy)

Homemade carmelitas. I wouldn't lie about this. (Shauna Sever)

Book of the week: 

Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More. This book spans three decades of prize-winning cookies from the Chicago Tribune's annual holiday cookie contest. They are amazing. I will be featuring the winner from 2012 in a few days on the site, but til then, I do suggest you buy this book!

Thursday
Nov202014

Tastes Like Joy: Creme de Noisettes Recipe

Hazelnut chocolate creme

See that thing? Up there in the jar? That creamy, chocolatey looking stuff? Well, guess what--you now officially have the recipe. 

Not to break you out of the reverie, but I suppose I should tell you what it is, exactly. That little mason jar is filled with a chocolate-hazelnut slurry known as (doesn't it always sound better in French?) crème de noisettes. I never tried this when I was in France, but stateside, I've tried a little something called Nutella which brings it to mind. Ever heard of it?

This lovely recipe is excerpted from French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Appetizers, Entrées, Desserts, and Drinks.

PS: want to read more about my overseas adventures? Here's a roundup of my last trip to Paris.

French Bistro Maria Zihammou

*crème de noisettes*

Hazelnut and chocolate crème

Hazelnut and chocolate is an unbeatable combination that I downright love. My kids do too! Here, I’ve blended the two flavors into a rich and dangerously delicious crème, which my kids love to eat on baguette dipped in hot chocolate. I prefer it on a croissant, dipped in café au lait.

Makes 1 Jar 

  • ½ cup (100 ml) Nutella
  • 7 oz (200 g) dark chocolate, 70% cacao
  • 3½ tbsp (50 g) butter
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) cream
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3½ oz (100 g) hazelnuts

Procedure 

  • Place the Nutella in a saucepan. Coarsely chop up the chocolate and place it in the pan. Cut the butter into small pieces and add it too, along with the cream, molasses, and water. Warm over low heat to make a smooth sauce. Move the saucepan off to one side.

  • Roast the nuts in a dry pan for 3–4 minutes. Mix them well and blend them into the sauce. Pour the crème into a jar with a tight lid. If stored in the fridge, it should keep for at least one week.

Enjoy!

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