Monday, August 25, 2014

Cookies in a Jar

To sum up some of the baking I've been doing but not posting: although I haven't gotten puff pastry down yet I did make some very good croissants last weekend. They were perfect to reheat every morning for a great breakfast. Unfortunately I've been super busy with high school just around the corner and fall sports setting in, so the posts have been pretty much non-existent this month.

However, the end of August brought around a great inspiration for today's post.
In the last two weeks of August, 5 of my best friends have birthdays. This calls for gifts that could potentially add up to being quite a bit of money.  This got me to brainstorming some inexpensive gifts that anyone would like.
Then, I stumbled across an old recipe book for cookies in a jar.

The book had some great recipes that could be made for under $3, and who doesn't like an easy way to make fresh cookies?

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar

 Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
Adapted from: Cookies in a Jar

You will need a 32 oz canning jar.

For the mix:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 cups  flour mixed with 1 tsp. baking soda and a dash of salt

Staring with the sugar and working down the list, add each layer to the jar firmly packing down each layer before adding the next.

For the recipe card:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened

Empty jar into large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.
Shape into approx. 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on sheets before transferring to racks to cool all the way.

Cookies in a jar can be gifts for just about anyone! You can also substitute chocolate chips for other flavors such as butterscotch, toffee, or chocolate candy pieces!

Until next week!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A little rant about food blogs and puff pastry

If you have looked much into food blogs, you might have noticed something probably along the lines of perfection. Shiny professional quality photos intermittently placed within the lines of a funny personal story make up the basis of a post. A beautifully written original recipe follows suit, with maybe another outstanding picture or two at the end.
Honestly it makes my head spin. How on earth can they never fail recipes? I know many of them are professionals in their craft, but for armatures like me I definitely have some recipes that don't/can't make it on my blog.

I'm still very much learning pastry and that calls for many failures coming out of my oven. Just two weeks ago I decided to take on puff pastry, a two day dough involving a ton of refrigerator time. After a large amount of rolling and refrigerating it was finally time to put it in the oven. The butter began to ooze from the pastry and onto the floor of the oven, causing quite a bit of soke. They came out looking a bit like this:

Which leads me to something I'm planning on doing for the rest of the summer. 
I'm planning on perfecting this dough. It took me three tries to successfully make both pate a choux (see: cream puffs) and macarons (see: raspberry macarons). So, I'm going to put in the work and re-create this dough until I'm successful at it.

So, unfortunately no recipe this week. However, I'm excited to get to work perfecting this dough and will hopefully churn out some great recipes for the rest of August.

I'm going to start my next batch of pastry tonight, so I'll keep you all updated!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pecan Pie

The one thing that's better than getting a shiny new cookbook with crisp glossy pages, is getting an old dusty one.

I'm one of those people who walks into the book store, goes right to the cookbook section and could plop myself down in the middle of the isle and spend an hour or two picking out the perfect one. Each has its own unique style of photography as well as recipe type, information, and writing style.
This past week I had the opportunity to go through my great aunt's cookbooks, as she was getting rid of most of them. I took quite a bit of them, and have spent the past few days sticky-noting the recipes I like.

However, on top of giving me cookbooks, she gave me recipe cards. Multiple of them in fact, and they were old. They were actually family recipes, ones that she had gotten from her grandmother. I of course jumped at the advantage to make my great-great grandmother's pecan pie that she told me was  the best of its kind. (Let me also say that I completely back that statement after having tried it.)

So without further ado...

Pecan Pie

Makes 1 nine inch pie

For the Crust
1 1/4 cups flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup butter
2 to 4 Tbs. cold water

In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Add water a tablespoon at a time, and mix well after each addition until dough forms a clump. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Flour work surface. Knead dough until it is soft enough to roll out. It is important that you do not  over knead and make the dough too soft. Roll out the dough into a 9 1/2 inch circle, and transfer the dough into the pie plate.

For the Filling
1 1/2 cups dark Karo syrup
4 well beaten eggs
4 1/2 Tbs. melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and pour into the raw pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 min. Then reduce heat to 275 and bake for 50 minutes. Jiggle around the pie to see if it is done. It should be pretty wiggly, but not soupy. If the pie isn't set, bake about 5 minutes longer. Cool for about an hour before serving to allow the pie to set.

That's it! It's super simple. The crust took me about 15 minutes to get it made, and another 5 to roll it out. The filling took me about 10 minutes. It's honestly super good and most of the ingredients can be found right in your house.

Until net week!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nutella Ice Cream

So a bit of a middle of the week post today. I currently have a new obsession this summer that started from traveling abroad to Germany. I cannot get enough of Nutella, and the top shelf of the pantry always seems to be stocked with it these days.

I made Nutella cookies a while back, and I wanted to make a summer dessert with the ingredient as well. So, I decided to work it into an ice cream recipe.
The result was something quite different, but really good. When I used the condensed milk and the Nutella together, the thickness of the ice cream nearly doubled, creating a super creamy texture.

Just as great about this recipe is that is doesn't need a costly ice cream maker. Just pour it into a pan or a serving container or glasses, or whatever you want and pop it into the freezer overnight.  

Nutella Ice Cream

Adapted from: A Sweet Simple Life
Yields a pint and a half

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream and vanilla until thick peaks begin to form. In a medium bowl beat together condensed milk and Nutella. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream mixture into the condensed milk mixture.  Fold the rest of the condensed milk into the whipped cream. Pout into a covered container and freeze overnight or at least 11 hours.

That's it! It's super easy, and a great little recipe for summer!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Peaches Melba

Wow, its been a while. Summer has gotten super busy for me, and most of my Sunday's are spent at my cabin without Internet connection. I have a line-up of posts coming this week though, and I wanted to start off with my favorite summer treat: peaches.

Peaches Melba is a wonderful dessert or snack for summer that was a great hit with all of the guests at our cabin last weekend. It's perfect for large or small group as the recipe is very easily tweaked for more or less servings.

The pictures this week aren't also great because they were literally fast snapshots while I was serving up the rest of the guests.

Peaches Melba

Adapted from:

For the Stewed Peaches:
6 ripe peaches
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 sprigs rosemary

Boil a large pot of water and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Place 3 peaches in the boiling water with a slotted spoon for about 15 seconds. Remove peach from the boiling water and move your thumb firmly across the skin. If the skin wrinkles and feels loose place that peach in the ice water. Repeat with the remaining two peaches. If the skin doesn't wrinkle return the peach to the boiling water for another 15 seconds. Peal the peaches with your fingers starting opposite from the stem. If the skin doesn't come off easily, place back in the boiling water to repeat the process.
Repeat this process with the other three peaches.

In a large sauce pan large enough to hold all peaches in a single layer, add water, sugar, and vanilla. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stop stirring and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes to create the syrup. Turn down the heat to medium low so the syrup gently simmers, and add rosemary and peaches in a single layer. Cook covered, about 20 min, turning the peaches with rubber spatulas a couple times in order not to mar them. Baste occasionally with the syrup.
(How much you want the peaches cooked is up to you. They shouldn't be mushed, but it really depends on what consistency you want. I usually go with: if you can make a deep scratch with a toothpick easily on the peach, its done.)

Place finished peaches in a casserole pan. Raise the heat under the syrup to medium, and boil for about 5 more minutes to make a thick syrup. Pour the syrup and the rosemary over the peaches, and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

For the Raspberry Sauce:
2 pints raspberries
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Mash the berries through a stainer to just gather the juice. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Cut peaches in half. Serve on a small plate or in a small dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

Whew! It looks like a lot, I know, but it only took me about an hour and a half. I had some not-so-ripe peaches and they didn't really work that well so be sure your peaches are ripe.

I will be posting another recipe soon sometime this week that was also a big hit at my cabin so check back later!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Honey Ice Cream with Chocolate-Honey Sauce

Just got back from Germany a few days ago, and the trip was amazing. Before I went I knew some German, but during the host family stay I realized I had so much to learn. The whole experience taught me more about the culture and language and it was the best.
Our family stay was around Ulm, and for the rest of the time we explored Munich. Both cities were laced with gorgeous historical buildings and, of course, amazing food.
(Of course, I have some pictures to share as well.)

This week's recipe was supposed to be from a cookbook I bought there. However, my egg white cookies flattened and turned to mush with the humidity. So I was sitting there with a pile of gooey egg whites and nothing to post about, but I quick found a recipe that interested me in an old cookbook my aunt gave me a while back.

First, a few trip pictures and then the recipe...

The castles were one of the best parts of the trip. This is a picture from the inside of Nymphenburg Palace which is just a bus ride from the Munich city center.

We also got the opportunity to tour the countryside and see the outskirts of the alps. Living in Minnesota where everything is flat it was breathtaking to see the massive mountains rise from the horizon.

The English Garden in Munich is one of the largest urban parks in the world, it was a great place to hang out and relax in between busy traveling days.

And now this week's recipe...
First, I wanted something frozen. It's been a while since I've done a frozen dessert, but I think the heat is demanding for one. This ice cream is actually mousse, so it requires no ice cream machine, and it is very light and airy. It's perfect for a middle of the day snack as well as a dessert.

Honey Ice Cream with Honey-Chocolate Sauce

Adapted from: Maida Heatter Book of Great Desserts
Serves 8 to 10

For the ice cream:
6 egg yolks
1 pound (1 1/2 cup honey)
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Place eggs into a medium bowl and whisk briefly. Beat honey into eggs and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. (This essentially creates a makeshift double boiler). Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture has reaches 185 degrees F. Remove from heat and place the bowl into an ice water bath. Add the vanilla and continuously stir until cool. 
Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the honey mixture. Then, pour the honey mixture into the remaining cream and fold together. 
Pour into 2 medium sized loaf pan or a 9 x 13 square pan and freeze overnight.

For the chocolate sauce:
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs grated orange rine

Combine both chocolates, honey, and cream in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in orange rind and rum. Pour into a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When ready to use remove the sauce from the fridge and place in the microwave for 20 seconds stirring at 5 second intervals until sauce has returned to a runny consistency.