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Entries in recipes (647)

Thursday
Mar312011

Feeling Toasty: Coconut French Toast With Bananas Foster Recipe from Joe Yonan

What happens when coconut, French Toast, and Bananas Foster make sweet love?

Well, find out for yourself (pervert!)--check out Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan. He was kind enough to share the following recipe from the new release:

Coconut French Toast with Bananas Foster

  • 3 tablespoons pecan halves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 thick (3/4- to 1-inch) slice rich white bread, such as brioche or challah, trimmed neatly into a round or square (crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup Japanese-style panko
  • 2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut flakes (medium shred)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 banana, peeled and diagonally sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
Procedure
  1. Toast the pecans in a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan frequently, until they start to turn dark brown and smell very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool.
  2. Whisk the egg, coconut milk, and vanilla extract together in a shallow bowl. Add the bread; let it stand for about 10 minutes, turning it over about halfway through, until it has absorbed most of the liquid.
  3. Combine the panko crumbs, coconut, and granulated sugar on a plate. Use a spatula to transfer the soaked bread to the crumb mixture, and turn to coat both sides evenly. Pat as much of the mixture as you can onto the bread.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat in a small skillet. Add the bread and cook until it is golden brown and crusted, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn it over and cook another few minutes, until it is golden brown on the second side. (Reduce the temperature as needed to keep the bread from getting too dark.) Transfer to a plate. The inside of the French toast will be fairly spongy.
  5. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Add the brown sugar and stir until it melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the banana slices and stir until they are warmed through and coated with the butter in the pan, 1 minute. Add the pecans and rum, and stir to combine.
  6. Spoon the warmed banana mixture over the French toast, and eat.

Note: Some brands of coconut milk, such as Chaokoh from Thailand, are available in 5.6-ounce cans rather than the standard 13.5 to 14 ounces. Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze in ice-cube trays and then store the cubes in freezer-safe heavy-duty plastic bags for several months.

Reprinted with permission from Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Wednesday
Mar302011

Maple Madness: Vermont Maple Cookies Recipe for Serious Eats

When it comes to baking with maple, Grade C (or sometimes Grade B; see note, below) is anything but average.

It's is the deepest, darkest, most assertively maple-flavored grade of syrup you can get; while it can be a bit strong for, say, topping your pancakes (that's Grade A territory), the higher-octane stuff lends a rich, almost caramel-like maple flavor to baked goods. These simple drop cookies, adapted from a recipe I discovered in a vintage Vermont baking pamphlet at the Maple Museum of New England, are an ideal recipe to let the maple flavor shine.

They're great on their own, or if you want to double your pleasure, sandwich two with a smear of buttercream.

Note: As I learned on this website, Grade C Maple Syrup is no longer used by USDA. Grade C Maple Syrup is now designated USDA Grade B Maple Syrup. However, while in Vermont last week, I still saw a lot of maple labeled Grade C. If you can't locate Grade C maple syrup, simply choose the darkest Grade B variety you can find.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Mar292011

Sweet and Salty: Closeup on the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars Recipe

 

CakeSpy Note: by popular request, here's an individual post, all on its own (originally part of this massive Nanaimo Bar oeuvre), for the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars. Um, plus I thought it would make for a great entry in the Denny's / Foodbuzz Baconalia challenge for a chance to win! Enjoy!

Inspired by two other Canadian specialties, these bars were made with a "blonde" (sans cocoa) bottom layer, topped with a maple-infused buttercream center, all of which was topped off with a thick layer of white chocolate sprinkled with brown sugar and Canadian bacon baked until crispy with a maple glaze.

Makes 24-36 bars, depending on how hungry you are

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder or vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Top Layer
  • 3-4 slices canadian bacon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 Procedure

  1. Melt the butter and sugar in the top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, sugar, and syrup together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as smooth and flat as possible. 
  3. Prepare the bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet with parchment. Place the canadian bacon slices on top of the parchment, and drizzle with the maple syrup. Place in the oven until it is very crispy, turning after about 5 minutes. For me, the slices were fairly thin so it only took about 10 minutes total to get them very, very crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the topping.
  4. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the white chocolate, and then crumble the bacon on top, making sure to get even coverage. 
Tuesday
Mar292011

Pie Slam Profiles: Blueberry Pie by Wendy Johnson

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry is for Blueberry pie, by Wendy Johnson. Here's her story, followed by her recipe.

Pie : a (true) love story

Did Grandma Radi make pies?  I asked.

No, that’s the one thing she couldn’t cook.  They came out tough.

And Grandma Johnson?

No, she couldn’t really cook anything.

Well, how did you start making pie?

I just taught myself, the first pie I made was when we were first married, maybe just a week. That was the best pie I ever made, I could never get them to turn out as good.

What kind was it?

Lemon meringue.

Mom was red-eyed, staring out the passenger window as we drove through the stultifying Texas landscape of oil wells, pawn shops and used car dealerships.

She would silently work a crossword for awhile, or concentrate on her knitting, and then suddenly start in about how they met, about the awful yellow sweater he was wearing when his friends came up to her friends after a Sweet Home High School Basketball game.

Or about how he courted her in his father’s 1960 dark blue Buick LeSabre convertible with the white ragtop. Ray Charles would’ve been singing “I can’t stop loving you.” They’d put the top down, blast the heat and cruise around Buffalo, New York in the chilly spring of 1962.

As we neared Birmingham Alabama, she told me without malice of how dad’s parents had offered him money to prevent the marriage of their son to the daughter of Italian immigrants. Of how my Grandmother, on her death bed, had said to my mom, “I was pretty hard on you wasn’t I? I’m sorry for that.”

The Lemon Meringue was the first tradition that they alone owned. Not from his family or hers. My mother created pie for my father. Over the years they shared, almost 50, she honed her skill, her deft first generation hands turning flour and butter and fruit and sugar into expertly sculpted deliciousness, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, between lightness and substance.

And what about the last pie, do you remember what it was?

It must’ve been blueberry. Your father loved blueberry.

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Pie

For the Butter Pastry:

  • 2 cups all purpose unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cups unsalted butter (or 2/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup leaf lard.) 
  • 1/3 cup cold water (may add 1-2 tsp cider or white vinegar.) 

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups Blueberries and 3 cups Wild Blueberries 
  • ½-1 cup light brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • The juice of one fresh-squeezed lemon
  • Nutmeg (1/4 tsp), Cinnamon (2 tsp), Cardamom (1/4 tsp), Ground cloves (1/4 tsp) and ground ginger (1 tsp.) (add spices to taste)

 Procedure 

  1. Put everything in the refrigerator for an hour or so before making the pastry (the mixing bowl, the water, the lard, the butter).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl and work with a pastry cutter until the butter chunks are the size of peas. You should still be able to see small pieces of butter. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and use your hands to flatten some of the bits of fat into flakey pieces. Add the water all at once and gather the jumble together without really stirring or kneading, just until the mixture comes together to form a shaggy mass. Without handling the dough any more than necessary, divide in half and press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate it while preparing the berries.
  2. Wash fresh berries, or use frozen.  Put all berries in bowl and toss with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and spices.  Add more sugar or spices to taste, but be careful not to over sweeten.
  3. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of the pastry into a 12-inch circle onto floured parchment paper.  Lift the parchment paper and place dough-side down into a buttered 10-inch pie pan. Press the pastry into place and pour in the berry mix. Roll the second disk of dough into a 12-inch circle and plant it squarely on top of the filling. Crimp the edges together to create a seal, then trim off an excess dough. Pierce the top crust with a fork or knife to vent juices. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is boiling out of the crust a bit, about 1 hour. Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.

(Pastry recipe adapted from: Greg Atkinson, Copyright 2007)

Tuesday
Mar292011

Peanut Buttery Goodness: Chocolate Pasta with Peanut Butter Sauce Recipe for Peanut Butter and Co

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you still eating regular pasta, like a jerk?

Time to get with the program: I’m talking chocolate pasta. It’s readily available online, and it’s well worth the investment.

But even an inherently perfect product like this can stand to become slightly awesomer, and so I propose Chocolate Pasta served with peanut butter cookie “meatballs” and a rich, crunchy peanut butter buttercream sauce. It may not be pretty, but it tastes like heaven on a plate. In fact, the only thing that might make it better is a thick slice of buttered pound cake on the side.

Lastly, this makes a swell April Fools’ dessert for someone or some people you love to have fun with

For the full entry and recipe, visit Peanut Butter and Co.!

Sunday
Mar272011

Foodbuzz 24x24: Nanaimo Bar Extravaganza

It is with a heavy heart full of sadness that I realize that many of you have never even heard of--much less tasted--the wonderful thing that is the Nanaimo Bar.

But it is with the lightness and joy of 99 luftballoons floating in the summer sky that I realize that I am going to show you the light, in the most delicious way possible.

That's right. It's time for an absolute education and delicious extravaganza featuring the Nanaimo Bar. This post is my entry for the Foodbuzz 24x24 project, and it's broken down into three parts: History (wherein you will get educated on the ways of the Nanaimo), Recipes (I made 7 different versions!), and Testimonials (loving thoughts and odes from eager eaters).

You say Nanaimo...
First things first. It's pronounced "Nuh-nye-moe". And it's named after the city where, if not officially where the bar was invented, the city where it came into its own. But don't worry, I'll tell you much, much more.
As previously mentioned, I realize that it is possible that you have never tried--or even heard of--the Nanaimo Bar, which I lovingly refer to as “the best thing Canada has ever invented”.  Let me briefly try to explain its wonder of this three-layer no-bake bar cookie, building it from the bottom up:

The bottom layer is a sturdy, tightly packed layer of chocolate, graham cracker and coconut, bound together with melted butter.
The middle layer is a buttery, frosting-y, creamy, custard-y stuff that is so much the opposite of low-fat that it makes you want to weep with pleasure.
The top layer is a solid chocolatey layer, which is firm but not hard.

As you may have come to suspect, each layer is tasty enough to stand on its own--but when combined, you’ve basically got a triple threat of intensely rich, decadently condensed deliciousness.

That is to say--super yum.

But where did this bar come from? There’s a popular story about how the bars were the winner in a baking contest, invented by a housewife who named them Nanaimo Bars in a burst of civic pride. While said housewife does figure into the equation (see below), it’s definitely not the whole story.

There are several purported predecessors of the bar going by “New York Slice”, “Chocolate Slice”, “Refrigerator Cake”, “Miracle Bars”, “Ribbon Bars”, “Smog Bars” (or “London Smog Bars”). 

It’s those Smog Bars, though, that seem to be the closest relative to the Nanaimo Bar, as evidenced by an interview with Jan Pare, who wrote Company's Coming: 150 Delicious Squares, who spent her formative years (1927-47) in Alberta, Canada:

"Nanaimo Bars were originally called Smog bars, and everybody made them: graham-cracker crust, cocoa, Bird's Custard in the filling. My Grandma Locke made smog bars, so did my mother."

Proof is in the pudding--or rather, custard: Bird’s Custard, a popular custard powder invented in the UK and a key ingredient in Nanaimo bars, easily could have immigrated to the area in the early 1900s when there was a large wave of new immigration from Europe; this would have been well-timed with the advent of iceboxes as a common household item in Canada, which would explain for the bar’s UK influence but Canadian birth.

In fact, the first published instance of the phrase Nanaimo Bars dates back to 1953, in the Vancouver Sun, but the recipe itself is for London Smog Bars, with a footnote that “These are also known as Nanaimo Bars”.

It doesn’t seem too far-fetched then, to conjecture that this confection, like those European settlers, migrated westward; a recipe that resembles the Nanaimo bar in basically all but name, entitled “Chocolate Slices”, was submitted by a Mrs. E. MacDougall in 1952 Women’s Auxiliary Cookbook.

But regardless of how they got there, one thing is for certain: even if they weren’t invented in Nanaimo, it is where the treat took root. And it’s here that the humble housewife mentioned earlier shows her important role: Mrs. Mabel Jenkins of Cowichan Bay submitted her recipe for the bars to the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook, which was sold in the early 1950s in the region as a fundraiser. It was a popular favorite in the book, and because the bars are ridiculously delicious and keep well, the recipe gained popularity in the province's households and working-class towns, and was sold in many of the coffee shops on Nanaimo’s Commercial Street.

In more recent years, the bars have been called “Canada’s Favourite Confection”, and all I can say is, Butter Tarts never stood a chance.

Part 2: The Recipes

How did I do it? I made a variety of different types, starting with the traditional recipe, then creating several riffs on it (many inspired by other Canadian specialties!). I then got testimonials and stories from the eaters (scroll to below the recipes for those), who ranged from professional Nanaimo Bar eaters to first timers. Some were even Canadian.

Recipe 1: OFFICIAL NANAIMO BAR RECIPE

Bottom Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder (Cake Gumshoe Kate adds that if you don't have or can't find custard powder, instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
  • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.
---------------------------------

Recipe 2: Maple Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (the darkest you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Serve lightly chilled, or let come to room temperature. When you're ready to serve, use a sharp knife to slice the bars, and keep a towel on hand to clean the knife frequently between cuts to ensure clean, good-looking bars which showcase the pretty layers.

----------------------------------------

Recipe 3: Blonde Nanaimo Bars

These have a white chocolate topping and a mix of cocoa and brown sugar in the base, making for maybe more of a dirty-blonde, but a very delicious variation.

Bottom Layer 

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

 Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

 Top Layer

  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter and sugar in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Make the topping. Melt the white chocolate either in 20 second intervals or over low heat until it is smooth and creamy. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. 

 ------------------------------------------------

Recipe 4: Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars

Inspired by two other Canadian specialties, these bars were made with a "blonde" (sans cocoa) bottom layer, topped with a maple-infused buttercream center, all of which was topped off with a thick layer of white chocolate sprinkled with brown sugar and Canadian bacon baked until crispy with a maple glaze.

Bottom Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • ½ c. finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
Middle Layer
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder or vanilla instant pudding powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Top Layer
  • 3-4 slices canadian bacon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 Procedure

  1. Melt the butter and sugar in the top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, sugar, and syrup together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as smooth and flat as possible. 
  3. Prepare the bacon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet with parchment. Place the canadian bacon slices on top of the parchment, and drizzle with the maple syrup. Place in the oven until it is very crispy, turning after about 5 minutes. For me, the slices were fairly thin so it only took about 10 minutes total to get them very, very crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the topping.
  4. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the white chocolate, and then crumble the bacon on top, making sure to get even coverage. 

-----------------------

Recipe 5: Butter Tart Nanaimo Bars

For these babies, combined the regular Nanaimo bar crust recipe with that of Butter Tart filling. I omitted the raisins - not my style.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs, very fine
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (the darkest you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 4 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter and sugar in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan; bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer, very gently spreading so that it covers the entire layer--you will need to do this fairly quickly so that the second layer doesn't start to melt or meld with the top layer. Let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. Serve lightly chilled, or let come to room temperature. When you're ready to serve, use a sharp knife to slice the bars, and keep a towel on hand to clean the knife frequently between cuts to ensure clean, good-looking bars which showcase the pretty layers.
---------------------------------

Recipe 6: Nougabricot Nanaimo Bars

What is Nougabricot? It's a Québécois preserve consisting of apricots, almonds, and pistachios, that's what. Here's a Nanaimo bar made with a white chocolate topping studded with apricot, almond, and pistachio, inspired by this specialty.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • About 3/4 cup of a mix of almond bits, dried apricots, and pistachios (make the mixture to the proportions of your liking)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after heating, until it is melted and smooth enough to spread on top of the buttercream layer. Spread it on top as quickly and smoothly as you can. Directly after adding the topping, scatter the fruit and nut mixture on top to ensure that it sticks to the still-tacky white chocolate. Let set before serving.
---------------------------------

Recipe 7: Poutine Nanaimo Bars

So, I thought to myself, "what if I used a Nanaimo bar as the base for a batch of Poutine?". Poutine, of course, being that famous Eastern Canadian dish consisting of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (in NJ, where I grew up, we had a decidedly less pinkies-out version consisting of Cheez Whiz and gravy on fries, known as "disco fries"). Guess what? Not delicious. But pretty fun to make.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon cream
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (instant vanilla pudding works in a pinch)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Top Layer

  • 1 cup cheese curds ( had fairly big ones, which I warmed and kind of squished into place, which gave them a sort of ricotta cheese look)
  • 1/2 cup gravy

Directions:

  1. Prepare the bottom layer. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased, parchment-lined 8" x 8" pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until cool to the touch.
  2. Cream butter, cream, custard powder, maple, and confectioners' sugar together well. Beat until light; it should be a thick consistency, but still spreadable. If desired, stir in food coloring until completely mixed in. Spread over bottom layer, making sure that it is as flat as possible (I use a metal spatula to "scrape" it into a flat top). Return to the fridge until the middle layer is completely set. Sometimes I even put them in the freezer so that they will be extremely firm before adding the top layer.
  3. Place the cheese curds on top of the Nanaimo Bars. Let come to room temperature before serving; ladle a little gravy on each slice before serving.

-------------------------

Part 3: Nanaimo bar Testimonials 

To get a variety of reactions on La Belle Nanaimo, I took it to the street--literally.

First, I took a batch to the Seattle waterfront, set myself up nearby the ferry to Canada and swapped treats for tales, asking eaters "What's the best thing about a Nanaimo Bar?".

Most people were quite receptive to swapping treats for short tales, and after about 20 minutes my batch was gone. Some remembered the bars as a childhood treat; some recalled them from ferry rides; one person said that the best ones are found at the grocery store baker's case; and for some people, this was their first-ever Nanaimo bar experience (I'm so glad I got to share it with them).

My favorite response, as it happens, was from a homeless guy who asked if he could have one. After taking a thoughtful bite, he told me that these were much better than "the package cookies". This made me feel sort of like laughing, and sort of like crying, all at once.

Next, I brought a big batch to the Bake it in a Cake Cupcake party at CakeSpy shop, where I got some real-live testimonials on the bars.

Mr. Spy expands on what is so great about a Nanaimo Bar, including how it is better than Rick Moranis:

A couple of other store visitors, upon tasting the Maple Canadian Bacon Nanaimo Bars and the Blonde Nanaimo Bars, respectively (both were first-time Nanaimo bar eaters!) had this to say:

...and yet more eaters had this to say:

 

...but  I will tell you the truth, after one bite of the poutine version, it became very clear that this probably is not a food trend that will take off, so I didn't serve those. 

All in all, people loved learning about and devouring these delicious bars, and I feel as if I have done my job to spread the word about this sweet Canadian treat. So...til next time...

Thursday
Mar242011

Pie Slam Profiles: Pumpkin Pie in a Gingersnap Crust by Sarah Spiller

Note: This is not Sarah's pie, but it gives you an idea.CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry came from Sarah Spiller, a Seattle University Student and dorm baking expert. Sarah was disappointed with the end result as the pie was soft when served-- but when put into cups for individual servings, it was very delicious, and nobody complained one bit.

Here's her story:

My Grandma Brennan was a no frills baker. An amazing baker, but a no frills baker. Snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, molasses, and gingersnap cookies were right up her alley. Classic birthday cakes and summer fruit pies were always top notch. She was a master at canning, piecrusts, and putting hot, wholesome meals on the table. Dessert was always present, even when it was just a dish of Tillamook ice cream (Brown Cow was her favorite, and mine too). I picked up a lot of things from my grandma, namely my love for green beans that have been cooked into soft submission, probably a result of many days spent with my grandma as an infant.

I also seemed to inherit her love for baking and even greater love for pumpkin pie. Never ever a picky kid, I picked up on the greatness of pumpkin pie at a very early age. Around kindergarten, when the buildup before Thanksgiving was big – full of hand turkey crafts and talking about being thankful – all I could think about was pumpkin pie. I WAS OBSESSED. When the day finally came, all I could do was wait – wait those torturous hours before I would receive my beautiful, luscious, perfectly spiced piece of creamy pie.

When it FINALLY came time to slice the pie, my grandma sliced and handed to me what may have been the BIGGEST piece of pie I had ever seen in my six years of life. My eyes lit up with excitement, thrill, and disbelief that this huge amazing piece could possibly be for me! But I didn’t dare say a word and quietly started back to my seat at the kids’ table. Suddenly, my grandma looked up and realized what a large piece she had given me by accident and said, “Oh that’s far too big for Sarah,” and took it back. My eager grin turned to sheer disappointment in the blink of an eye. My parents were watching the whole thing and trying very hard not to burst out laughing. Grandma cut my piece in half and gave it back, still a fairly large portion for a little girl. It was delicious in all ways possible, of course, but I was still hankering for more.

That other half slice haunted me the rest of the evening. Being a very observant mother, my mom picked up on this and offered me a solution = pie for breakfast, possibly some of the greatest words to come out of her mouth. I was unsure if my mom would follow through, but the next morning when I asked for pie for breakfast, I was greeted with a beautiful piece of pie, even better the next day. This blossomed into a family tradition that I am always happy to participate in each year.  

Things haven’t really changed at all. I’m still obsessed with pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving, waiting for weeks in anticipation for the big meal. This being my first year away from home, I made several phone calls to my mom before my trip home, making sure EVERYTHING would be exactly the same. I told her all menu changes must go through me – the president of the Thanksgiving Board of Trustees. While my grandma now has Alzheimer’s and no longer bakes the pies, she can still remember this story and chuckles at it every year – jokingly reaching for my plate. Now the baking responsibilities are in my hands – but so is the serving knife, guaranteeing a very big slice for me, both after dinner and for breakfast.

Here's the recipe:

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie (Adapted from Joy the Baker)

For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers or crisp ginger snap cookies
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Procedure
  1. In a medium bowl, combine crushed graham crackers or ginger snaps with sugar, salt and melted butter.  Toss together to coat the entire mixture in butter.  Press into a 9-inch baking dish, a tart pan with a removable bottom or 8 individual ramekins.  I like making these no bake desserts in a tart pan or in individual ramekins so I don’t have to fuss with fighting to remove the sliced pie from the pie pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling.
For the Filling:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
Procedure
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Both fats should be well softened to ensure the filling is lump free.  Add the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree and beat until thoroughly combined.  If you find that your filling is lumpy, pass it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  I did that.  No shame in that game.
  2. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie or tart shell, or divide into individual ramekins.  Let pie chill in the fridge overnight.  This is actually important… the pie won’t be settled enough in 2 hours.  Overnight is best.
For Topping:
  • Cool Whip
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Procedure
  1. Beat together cool whip and maple syrup until cream is in soft peaks.  Spread over the chilled pie. Slice and serve.
Wednesday
Mar232011

Not Tai Chi: Chai Tea Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Frosting Recipe from Betty Crocker Wannabe

Image and recipe c/o Betty Crocker WannabeCakeSpy Note: You know what's totally sweet? Receiving great recipes from readers. This recipe, dreamed up by Tiff of Betty Crocker Wannabe, is possibly the most delicious-sounding use of chai spice I've ever heard of: chai cupcakes with pumpkin spice frosting. As the French would say, "le nom nom nom". Here's her intro:

When I went to Nevada in December, my best friend’s daughter made me a fabulous hot drink.  It was Chai tea with pumpkin spice creamer.  I had never tried Chai before and fell in love with it!  As I was brainstorming cupcake flavors to invent, I instantly thought of a Chai cupcake with pumpkin spice frosting.  Here’s what I came up with.   Let me know what you think! (the frosting is a twist on the Perfect Cupcake Frosting recipe from Our Best Bites).

CHAI CUPCAKES & WHIPPED PUMPKIN SPICE FROSTING

CAKE:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. instant Chai mix (I used Spiced Mystic Chai from Sam’s)
  • 1 cup real butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, at room temp
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup liquid Chai tea concentrate (I used Oregon brand from Wal-Mart)
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temp

Procedure

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and dry Chai mix in medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In separate bowl, or measuring cup, mix together milk and liquid Chai concentrate.  Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, preferably a bowl to an electric mixer, beat together butter, sour cream, and sugar until smooth.  Add one egg at a time, beating until well incorporated.
  4. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture.  Be sure to start and end with the flour mixture.   Do not over beat!
  5. Divide the batter among paper lined muffin tins.  Fill each paper 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.

FROSTING: (doubled from OOB)

  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin spice coffee creamer
  • 1 cup real butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (THIS is what makes this frosting fabulous!)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Procedure

  1. Whisk together the flour, creamer, and  milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat.
  2. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through.
  4. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.
  5. Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.
  6. In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter,  sugar, and pumpkin pie spice for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides.
  7. Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. ENJOY!

For more of Tiff's work, visit bettycrockerwannabe.com.

Wednesday
Mar232011

Pie Slam Profiles: Fig, Apple, and Walnut Pie by Aharona Ament

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry came from Aharona Ament, a recent Chicago transplant to Seattle, who has the sweetest smile in the world, is a very good story-teller, and makes a mean pie (making her a big winner, in this spy's book).

Here's her story:

Fig by Aharona Ament

Arthur Wendell “Fig” Newton,was born on March 14th at almost two in the morning, 1:59 to be percise.  His parents, both math teachers, were very happy to have thier son born on such a special day, Pi day! They dreamed that their son would grow up in their footsteps to torment confused adolecents with numonics about dear Aunt Sally and cosines laws that could get you arrested in some states. 

No one in Fig’s class knew that he was a desendent of Issac Newton and that an apple falling on top of a math equastion was part of his family’s coat of arms. Maybe if they knew that, they wouldn’t have given him the nickname of “Fig”, mocking both his heritage, and the fruit and cake concoction.

Fig, liked that he was born on Pi day, but favored the word of a different varerity. P-I-E! Fig spent most of his time in the kitchen. While his parents toiled away at number sequenices imported all the way from Italy, Fig was working at making the perfect pastry crusts with imported Danish butter.

Fig’s baking talents grew and grew. His ability to figure out fractions improved one whole half because of his love for making treats. He could double, triple and even quadruple recipes without the aid of a calulator or counting on his fingers. He knew that 2/3 cup = 1/2 cup plus 2-2/3 tablespoons and that 5/8 cup = 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons and he even knew that 7/8 cup=3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. There wasn’t a numurator or demoninator that Fig couldn’t place perfectly in line and all of his cakes, pies, lemon bars, quiches, cupcakes, brownies, breads, muffins, croissants, tarts, paczkis and danishes came perfectly out of the oven, tasty, sweet and bursting with symmetrical sweetness.

When Fig decided that he wanted to be a famous pastry chef instead of a famous mathamatician, his parents, fat from miscalculations over caloric intake were upset. (yes, that extra piece of triple chocolate fudge goo cake cut in a perfect 45 degree angle of 250 calories will result in one pound or 3, 500 calories gained per week. Especially if it was so good that you ate two.)

“How can you not do real math problems all day?” his mother asked him? “You know, with a pencil and piece of paper and lots of head scratching”?  Fig’s father was a bit more upset. “ Baking pies for a living is as irrational as pi itself, because its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction! Fig’s father growled confusing pastry with the mathematical constant and making no logical sense whatsoever.

No, said Fig. I like to bake pies and treats, you like to do math. There is nothing wrong with either.

But they suddenly realized that Fig’s baking talents were also his gift with numbers. How else could they explain the ongoing assembly line of mathmatically perfect confections coming out of the kitchen and in to their mouths? They were so excited that they joined him in the kitchen to learn math problems with flour, sugar and butter, but couldn’t figure out how to work the flour sifter.  Fig sent them off to see if they could figure out the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter with a whole number. He knew that that would make them hungry, so he started to prepare a perfect treat.

Here's the recipe:

 For the Crust

  • 12 tablespoons cold salted butter
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • a few tablespoons ice water (about 1/2 cup)
  • Egg (for brushing) 

For the filling

  • 3-4 apples
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 2 cups figs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Procedure 

  1. Make the crust: Mix dry ingredients together. Cut up butter into cubes and add along with vegetable shortening and mix in mixer.
  2. Add water slowly and pulse mixer until dough forms a ball. Wrap in wax paper and chill.  
  3. Meanwhile, prepare filling. Cup up apples and mix in walnuts, figs and sugar in a bowl.
  4. Roll out dough and fill pie pan. There will be enough to make a top layer Add mixture. Brush pastry with beaten egg.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Yay!
Monday
Mar212011

Devilishly Delicious: Deviled Cadbury Creme Eggs Recipe for Serious Eats

It's the most wonderful time of year, when Cadbury Creme Eggs proliferate in food and drug stores, like sweet little sugarbombs just waiting to be hatched in your mouth.

Last year, I employed these sweet treats to create a masterpiece called Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict.This year, here's another classic (savory) egg dish reinterpreted in sweet form using these fondant-filled nuggets of joy: Cadbury Creme Deviled Eggs. Extremely easy to make and very sweet to eat, these are a sure-fire way to kick off Easter Candy season in style.

Note: To ensure that your "yolks" aren't runny, chill your Creme Eggs for about an hour before slicing them in half. This will ensure that the filling doesn't run all over.

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