Chocolate Strawberry Muffins

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Want to make high-top bakery muffins?  Follow this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl whisk wet ingredients.  Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients using a spatula and do not over mix.  Fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease or line muffin tins. Fill batter to the top.  Bake for 8 minutes on 425 degrees then without opening the oven door, lower to 350 degrees and bake for about 9-12 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

 

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Katie’s Chocolate and Coffee Frosted Cake

photo 6A dense, rich chocolate cake with a coffee swiss meringue buttercream frosting surrounded by chopped walnuts.

INGREDIENTS

Cake:
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup  buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted chocolate (whatever leftover chips or scraps you may have)

Swiss meringue buttercream:
120 g egg whites
200 g sugar
360 g butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1/2 cup chopped walnuts for decorating

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour two round cake tins. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Fold in melted chocolate. Scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure everything is mixed in.

Pour the batter evenly into cake tins and bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes before you turn out.

While cake is cooling, make buttercream. Dissolve the coffee in warm milk. Place the egg whites into your mixer bowl, add the sugar and place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Stir constantly with a whisk until all sugar is dissolved. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes. Rub the egg whites between your fingers, when sugar has dissolved, it’s ready. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and start beating using a whisk attachment until glossy stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl and start gradually, piece by piece, adding butter, beating with a hand mixer on the smallest gear. First, it will get curdled, but keep mixing on low until smooth and silky. At the end add the coffee.

Frost and garnish as desired.

Apricot Sweet Tart

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Very buttery, nutty, apricoty.

INGREDIENTS

Pastry:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice cold water

Filling:
1 1/2 pounds fresh ripe apricots
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, ground almonds, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until the pastry just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than about 30 seconds.

Turn the pastry out onto your work surface, gather it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour. Remove from refrigerator, roll out and place into tart pan. Trim edges and put back in the refrigerator while you prepare apricots.

Slice apricots with skin on. Place the slices in a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Then add the granulated white sugar and toss gently to combine. Arrange the apricot wedges evenly on the pastry shell. Scrape any remaining sugar from the bowl and sprinkle over the apricots.

Bake the tart in a preheated 400 degree F oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

I worked with this recipe.

 

 

Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

You can thank me later.

INGREDIENTS

Peanut Butter Batter

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2/3  cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extra
A few pinches of flaky or coarse sea salt

Brownie Batter

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky or heaped 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
2/3 cup flour

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven: To 350°F .

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment and coat the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray or butter.

Make peanut butter batter: Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.

Make brownie batter: In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula.

Assemble brownies: Spread a thin layer of brownie batter (about 1/3 of total batter, but no need to be exact) in bottom of prepared baking pan. Dollop peanut butter batter all over in big spoonfuls. Dollop remaining brownie batter in pan, aiming, if you can, between the peanut butter dollops. Use a butter knife to swirl the batters together in loose figure-8s. Sprinkle chips all over.

Bake: For 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

I used this recipe.

Pignoli Cookies

photo 5

Another simple but amazing cookie.

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups pine nuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat almond paste and sugar until crumbly. Beat in 2 egg whites.
Gradually add sugar; mix well.
Whisk remaining egg whites in a shallow bowl.

Place pine nuts in another shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-in. balls. Roll in egg whites and coat with pine nuts.

Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks.

I worked with this recipe.

 

Peanut Butter Blobs

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So simple and so good.

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish

DIRECTIONS

Whisk together brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated.  It will form together in a ball.  Mix in chocolate.

Use a small ice cream scoop and scoop onto lined cookie sheets.  Put in freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle the dough balls lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. When finished, cookies should be golden at edges. They’ll need to set on the sheet for a minute or two before they can be lifted intact to a cooling sheet.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Engadiner (Swiss Nut Torte)

A Swiss Nut tart from Johnny Iuzinni and his book Sugar Rush.

INGREDIENTS
Tart Dough
196 g cold unsalted butter
198 g almond paste
219 g flour
1 teaspoon salt

Filling
200 g sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
225 g heavy cream
366 g chopped walnuts and pecans mixed

Glaze
1 large egg
1 teaspoon milk

DIRECTIONS

For tart dough, put the butter, almond paste into a standing mixer bowl fitted with the paddle and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the butter and almond paste are combined with no butter clumps visible.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and salt and mix, stopping to scrape down eh bowl with a spatula occasionally, until the dough is smooth.  Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, form each into a disk, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll one of the dough disks into an 11-inch circle and carefully press it into a 8-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges of the pan. Roll the other portion of dough into a 10-inch circle and transfer it to a lightly floured baking sheet.  Chill the two crusts int he refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling, put the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt into a heavy saucepan and stir with your finger until mixture is sandy. Wipe the edges of the pan with a wet finger and put the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, brush the edges of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in cold water.  Cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sugar turns a deep mahogany brown and beginning to smoke.

Meanwhile, warm the cream in another saucepan over medium heat until warm.  When the caramel is ready, slowly and carefully whisk in the warm cream. Bring the mixture back to a boil and stir in the nuts. Remove from the heat and pour the filling into a large bowl to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F.

To assemble the tart, pour the cooled filling into the bottom shell and spread evenly.  Carefully lay the pastry circle on top of the filling and press on it lightly to compact the filling and seat it at the edges. Lightly press the bottom and top crust together at the edges, trimming away any excess dough.

Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl and brush the top.  Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 35-50 minutes until crust is deep golden brown.  Cool the tart completely in pan before slicing.  Keep covered and at room temperature.

Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt

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I’m on a Dorie Greenspan kick. I used this recipe but there was a key step missing so I added it below in my recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coffee, hot or cold
teaspoon espresso powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
large eggs
teaspoons pure vanilla extract
cup whole milk, at room temperature

DIRECTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, ground walnuts, baking powder, and salt.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, cut into 4 pieces, into the bowl, along with the chocolate, coffee, and instant coffee. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate are melted and everything is smooth and creamy—keep the heat low so that the butter and chocolate don’t separate. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes—you’ll have a thick paste; this won’t be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. The mixture should look smooth and satiny. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, adding the dry mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients).

Pour half the batter (without the chocolate coffee mixture) into the prepared bundt pan.  Then pour the chocolate coffee mixture on top of that.  Do a final layer of the rest of the batter.  Take a knife and make gentle swirling motion around the pan. Just go around once trying not to scrape the sides or bottom with the knife.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the Bundt pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake completely on the rack.

Decorate or frost as desired.  I used a shot of espresso and 2 cups of powdered sugar.

Cardamom Crumb

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan for this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

Crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Cake
cups flour
teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
tablespoons finely grated orange zest
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers or the spatula, mix everything together until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. It’s nice to have a few big pieces, so don’t overdo it. Set the crumbs aside.

To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper, and put the sugar and zest in the bowl. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong, then return the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to blend.

Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk them to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir – don’t beat – to mix. Stir only until you’ve got an evenly moistened batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs ever so gently into the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake has risen (it will crown), the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan before serving warm or at room temperature.

You can unmold the cake if you want to, but you’ll lose some of the crumbs when you turn it over. Dorie prefers to cut the cake in the pan, taking care not to nick the surface of the pan with my knife. (This is a good job for a plastic or silicone pie server.)

Serving: Cut the cake into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Storing: This cake is best served the day it is made. It can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; once it defrosts, it benefits from a quick warm-up in a 350-degree-F oven.

I got the recipe here.

Eclairs

Pâte à Choux can be tricky but this recipe is pretty easy. I’m just not that great at it.

INGREDIENTS

Pastry Cream

2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup cream (whipped before filling eclairs)

Pâte à Choux
1
cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
10 oz dark chocolate for topping

DIRECTIONS

Pastry Cream
In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.

Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.

Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours.

Pate a Choux
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is simmering.

Add in the flour all at once, and continue to cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the dough gathers itself into a ball and a film begins to form on the bottom of the pot.

Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed.

Drop in the eggs, one at a time, while continuing to beat. Allow each egg to become fully incorporated, before adding the next (about 30 seconds to a minute).

Pipe or spoon the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing about 3 inches in between each puff.

Bake time can range from 20-40 minutes, depending on size. Remove from the oven when they are puffed, golden brown, hollow, dry, and light.

Fill Eclairs

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold into chilled pastry cream until smooth. Fill pastry bag for piping into cooled shells. Use a chop stick or something similar to poke three holes in the bottom of the the cooled puffs. Pipe into eclairs.  Melt chocolate by putting chips into microwave for 30 seconds at a time until smooth.  Dip eclairs on one side.  Let set and serve.  Refrigerate if not eating immediately.

I used this recipe for the Pate a Choux.

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