Baking


I don’t bake nearly as much as I used to.  It used to be once-a-week.  Now, it’s about…well, it’s once in a while.  And when I do I try to use less sugar.  We aren’t getting any younger and it is harder and harder to ‘work off’ the sweet treats.

But every once in a while we really want something sweet.  Last week we really wanted something so I made Keller’s Cheesecake – using Splenda and Stevia.  This week it is chocolate as in…

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BROWNIES!

Keller says brownies remind him of family, comfort, and childhood.  I feel the same way.  Mom used to make brownies.  They were always a treat.  ALWAYS!

I made these using Splenda and Stevia as well.  Instead of 1 3/4 cup sugar I used an equal amount of Splenda and ADDED about 1/4 tsp of bulk Stevia.  INTENSE chocolate flavor (1 cup cocoa), just sweet enough, and very little guilt. Well, as little as you can have with 3 STICKS BUTTER!!.

The recipe is from Keller’s ad hoc at home. {page 303} Also found it on Pretty Simple Sweet.

I’m linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily’s Cooking (Makan2).

I have found my new go-to CHEESECAKE.  Over the years I have had several recipes that I have used.  Junior’s, AB’s, Dorie’s.  And it seems every time I try a new one it becomes the best one.  Well, let me tell ya’ THIS one is it!  Probably!

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Rich! Creamy! Rich!  Yes, that’s twice but it is THAT RICH!! And then drizzled with a little caramel! YES!!!

Crust

      1 cup graham cracker crumbs

 

      3 T granulated sugar

 

    5 T unsalted butter, melted

Filling

      1 lb (two packages) cream cheese (not reduced fat)

 

      8 oz mascarpone cheese

 

      1 cup granulated sugar

 

      4 large eggs

 

      2 large egg yolks

 

      2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)

 

      1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

      grated zest of one lemon

 

    1/4 cup plus 2 T heavy cream

Combine the ingredients for the crust and press into a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned, and set aside to cool.

Bring a pot of water to boil for a bath.  Combine the cheeses and sugar in your stand mixer and beat at low speed to mix, then raising to medium speed.  Beat for three minutes until light and smooth.  In a bowl, beat the eggs and the extra yolks. Add the lemon juice and slowly add to the cream cheese mixture, beating until combined, until there are no lumps. Add the lemon zest and the heavy cream and mix until well combined.

Wrap the springform pan in foil to prevent leaks.  Boil water in a pot (you should have started this before hand) and create a water bath. Put the springform pan in the water bath so that it goes up halfway on the sides of the pan on the outside. Fill the filling inside the cheesecake and bake for one hour at 325 until set and a light golden brown.

Allow to cool in the water bath, as the water cools (so it cools slowly and does not crack {mine still cracked a little around the edge}). Then refrigerate and serve chilled.   {ad hoc page 313}

I looked everywhere for Mascarpone but was unable to find it.  Tags for it, yes, cartons of it, no.  So I made my own and it came out just fine.

THIS is one of the best cheese cakes to come out of my kitchen. You HAVE to try this one if you love cheesecake!

 “I’m linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily’s Cooking (Makan2).

April!  Time for another less used cookbook to hit the spotlight.  This month for Cookbook Countdown I am cooking through Thomas Keller’s ad hot at home .  I have had this book since 2011 when it was recommended by a good friend and fellow cook/baker.  I have made only two things from it:  meatballs with pappardelle and scallion potato cakes. Both were good but then I put the book away and haven’t opened it much since.  Big Mistake!  There are some wonderful recipes in it.  It is, therefore, a perfect candidate for the 4th {my third} month of Cookbook Countdown.  ENJOY!!

I started with something simple – Buttermilk Biscuits.  I have been using Dorie’s  Basic Biscuit recipe forever so it was time for something different.  Good Call!  There were buttery (2 sticks of butter)!  And flaky.  And delicious!  Enough butter IN the biscuit you don’t really need any butter ON the biscuit.  Yeah, RIGHT!!!

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Keller says to cut them 2 1/2″ and you would end up with 12 biscuits about 3/4″ high.  I patted mine to 1/2 inch and ended up with 12 for only 1/2 of the recipe.  I knew I didn’t need lots of biscuits hanging around and thought 6 would be perfect.  Ah, well… Not going to toss them:)

    2 cups each: self-raising cake & pastry flour, all-purpose flour

    1 tbsp + 1 tsp kosher salt

    1 tbsp baking powder

    1 tsp baking soda

    1 cup (1/2 lb/225 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, frozen

    1-1/2 cups buttermilk + 2 tbsp for brushing

    2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, for brushing (optional)

DIRECTIONS

In bowl of food processor, combine two flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Pulse several times to blend. Add frozen butter. Pulse until pieces are size of peas. Don’t over process or let dough come together.

Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Make well in center. Pour in 1-1/2 cups buttermilk. Stir and lift mixture with wooden spoon, gently working flour into buttermilk. Dough should begin to come together but not form solid mass or biscuits may be tough. Turn dough out onto lightly-floured surface. Pat into 3/4-inch rectangle, about 9 inches by 13 inches.

Using 2-1/2-inch round cutter (or bottom of glass), cut out biscuits. Dough trimmings can be gently pushed together, patted out and cut one more time.

Place biscuits, 1-inch apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk.

Bake in preheated 425F oven 15 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until golden. If desired, brush with melted butter. Serve warm. Makes 12 – 18.

Now I have two perfect biscuit recipes.  THAT could be a dangerous thing.

This recipe, which appeared in the Toronto Star newspaper, is a little different from the one on page 274 of ad hoc but I like that it adds an extra bit of salt.  Everything else is the same.

 “I’m linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily’s Cooking (Makan2).

Hard to believe it is already March 18th.  I am constantly astounded at how quickly time goes by.  Seems like just yesterday I received my ‘assignment’ for The Secret Recipe Club and now it already time to post about it.  This month I cooked with Sarah.  She is the cook/baker and mother of three adorable kitties who blogs over at The Pajama Chef.  Lucky for her husband she  loves to try out new dishes and he becomes her sous chef.

As usual I found more recipes than I had time to make.  For some reason I gravitated toward sides and sweets this month so that is what I went with.

First the veggies:  How about Baked Cauli-Tots Two Ways

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Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies.  As a child I only ate three – cauliflower, broccoli, and corn. And the only way I would eat the cauliflower was with cheese.  Times haven’t changed much except this time the recipe is different.  Shredded cauliflower baked with herbs and cheese.  Good Stuff!!  I made mine in mini cupcake tins and they were perfect bites.

And then two sweets.  The Man has been asking for something to eat with lunch.  Just a little bite of something sweet.

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How about Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies and not just any filling but dulce de leche – Caramel!  Yep, made from Sweetened Condensed milk.  Cooked until it is thick and super sweet.  Fortunately I keep several cans in the pantry already to use.  While she empties the can into a double boiler and cooks it until it is very thick I have always just cooked 3 – 4 cans in boiling water so I always have some.  These are very sweet and one or two are all you need to satisfy that sweet tooth.  I don’t think I will make just plain cookies again.

One night I needed something just for the two of us.  Something that would be gone in one night.  Sarah’s Twice Baked Apple Crisps were just the thing.  They were good, but the crisp just would not cooperate for me.  So we had Baked Apples in Sauce.  :(.

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I don’t know what happened here.  But it was still good, especially with a little whipped cream.  Sarah suggested ice cream and that would have been so much better.

Next on my list:

Butternut squash and quinoa salad

Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Sausage Pepper Penne”

Amish Cheeseburger Soup

and lots more….. I’ll be going back to visit Sarah because I know I will want to make more of her dishes. Too good to pass up.

Please visit the rest of Group C and see what they cooked up this month.

If you want to join in the fun visit The Secret Recipe Club to find out how.

I still have butternut squash left.  We stored it in the ‘root cellar’ aka BARN and it is still sweet and tasty.  But we are tired of eating the same ol’ same ol’ so I needed a new recipe to use up the squash.  There aren’t many recipes out there for butternut squash bread.  After looking at pumpkin breads and banana breads and zucchini breads I still had found nothing that would do.  So I made up my own.

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    3/4 cup AP flour
    3/4 cup Whole Wheat flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/4 tsp allspice
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 cup roasted butternut squash
    2/3 cup honey
    1/2 cup (Splenda) optional
    1/3 canola oil
    2 large eggs
    1 large egg white
    2/3 cup rolled oats.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9′ x 5″ or an 8″ x 8″ square pan with cooking spray.

Bake the butternut squash at 350 until it is soft. Let it cool. Cut in half, remove seeds, and scrape the meat out of the shells. I partially mashed mine up so I would have some nice chunks in the breadbut you can puree it if you like.
Mix together the flours, baking soada, baking powder, cinnamon, hutmeg, allspice and salt in a large bowl. In another large bowl mix together the honey, oil, eggs, butternut squash, and egg white until they are well combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the squash mix. Mix til just combined.

Pour batter into the pan. If using the 9′ x 5′ bake for 50 – 60 minutes. If using an 8″ x 8″ pan bake for 30 minutes or until the center is done and a knife comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

I added the Splenda to add a touch more sweetness. This is a nice little cake and bakes up quickly in a 8″ x 8″ pan for a nice snack.

Have you ever read through a cookbook and a recipe title just reached out and grabbed you? You KNOW you have to make it immediately? Yeah?  Me, too!

And this one – buttered popcorn cookies – from the Smitten Kitchen cook book was haunting me.  Calling out to me from the book sitting on the kitchen counter. Entering my dreams!!

All the ingredients were sitting in the pantry.  It seemed a shame not to make them after all their effort to get my attention.  So I did!

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Sorta like eating caramel corn.  Sorta.  They were crispy and sweet with just a tad of salty from the popcorn.  They were good.

I made a couple of changes.  Subbed in some WW flour for the AP.  Used Splenda for the granulated sugar.  Used microwave popcorn (cause that’s all I had and didn’t want to go the store yet again).

If you are using bagged popcorn: place 2 Tbl veggie oil and 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a saucepan over medium-high heat and pot until all the kernels have become popcorn. (about 6 – 8 minutes depending on your stove).  Toss with salt and 1 Tbl melted butter. You will need 4 – 4 1/2 cups total.

If you use microwave popcorn: use the buttered and use 4 – 4/12 cups of what you pop.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Splenda (instead of granulated)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup AP flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour  (Deb called for 1 1/4 cup AP flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Pop the popcorn and let cool.

Cream the butter, brown sugar, Splenda, egg and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.

Sift together the flours and baking soda then add to the sugar/butter mix.

Mix in the popcorn.  Deb said fold it in but it worked better to work it in gently with my hands because the butter/sugar batter is rather stiff.  Some of the popcorn will break up but that’s okay.

Place heaping Tbl of the batter on parchment lined cookie sheets about 2″ apart and bake for 10 – 12 minutes (mine took 13) at 350 degrees.  Let them sit on the sheet for a few minutes so they firm up before placing them on racks to cool.

I ended up with 40 cookies.

The recipe is on page 195 of Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen. I am using this cookbook in the month of February for Cook Book Countdown.

“I’m linking this post with Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily’s Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Phyllo Dough is NOT my friend.  Really NOT my friend! It’s not the phyllo’s fault.  I just have had trouble working with it.  I think it’s because my phyllo had been in my freezer too long.  Some of it was dried out, some of it was doughy.  I think I just need to work with some fresh phyllo.  That being said I won’t hesitate to use it whenever it makes a good dessert better.  Flakier.  Lighter.  Like these turnovers from Ellie.

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Apples, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg.  All cooked together.  Making my house smell sooooo good.  And so were the turnovers.

The only change I made was to use some pears I canned this summer instead of the apples. The Man does love pears and since I was making these for him….. Served warm with some vanilla ice cream, YES PLEASE!!

And… AND… only 200 calories each!!

The recipe is on page 294 of Ellie’s The Food You Crave and I found it on the FoodNetwork as well.

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