Categories
Dessert Uncategorized

Cranberry Kuchen

    Cranberry Kuchen
    Cranberry Kuchen

    With all of these fresh cranberries at the grocery store right now, I’ve been inspired to try out some new recipes. This one comes from an old, out-of-print, Martha Stewart cookbook I have, called Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook: 200 easy and elegant recipes from the author of Entertaining.

    I’ve had this book for almost 20 years and it is still a “go-to” for me. Back then, it was the first cookbook I used when attempting to host elegant dinner parties for my friends (at the ripe old age of 20). The fact that this was her version of a 30-minute meal was lost on me. It all seemed so over-the-top. Menus like: Chicken Paillard, Risotto with Porcini, Hot Salad of Escarole and Pancetta, Italian Flat Breads and Oranges in Red Wine don’t exactly evoke the thought, “quick and easy,” but indeed, while these recipes are very elegant, they’re not sooo time-consuming.

    Like this cranberry kuchen for example. Basically, you make a compote in one pan, whip up a batter in a bowl, pour them both in a cake pan and bake. If you have an oven-proof, decorative, round pan, then definitely bake it in that. Then you’ve got oven-to-table ease. A springform pan would be another way to go. I currently have neither of those, so I ended up cutting the cake into bite-size pieces and serving them on a platter, which would be a good way to present it on a buffet table. It’s definitely best served hot from the oven. That way, the cake part is moist and fluffy and the cranberry compote is warm and comforting. It’s almost like a cobbler in that state. You can also serve it with cream and a sprinkling of sugar.

    Martha’s recipe calls for the juice and zest of an orange. I decided to try it with a grapefruit and compensate with a little extra sugar. It was fine, but an orange might be better. Try it and let me know what you think.

    The other substitution I made was to substitute Oikos Greek Yogurt for the sour cream that is called for in Martha’s version. The nice people at Stonyfield Farms recently sent me a few free sample coupons, so I’ve been using it in recipes that call for sour cream and it’s great. It has absolutely NO fat in it. Amazing.

    Stonyfield Farms Oikos Greek Yogurt
    Stonyfield Farms Oikos Greek Yogurt

    Cranberry Kuchen
    (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook)
    Makes one 9-inch round cake

    Ingredients

    Topping
    12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
    1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
    1/4 cup water
    Juice of 1 grapefruit

    Batter
    2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2/4 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/4 tsp baking powder
    3/4 cups milk
    3 Tbsp Stonyfield Farms™ Oikos yogurt
    Grated rind of 1 grapefruit
    Fresh grated nutmeg to taste

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the topping. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

    3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to incorporate.

    4. Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Stir the flour into the butter mixture, a little at a time, alternating with the milk and the yogurt. Stir in the grapefruit rind and nutmeg.

    5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the cranberry mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and serve immediately with cream and a sprinkling of sugar.

      Categories
      Dessert Uncategorized Vegetarian

      Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

        Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes
        Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes

        Day 8 of 14 Days of Apple and it’s time for celebration, because this is my 100th post! Celebrations call for cupcakes, right? The other day, I stumbled across this cupcake cookbook in the children’s section of the library. Published in 2005, it came out long before the current cupcake craze and before the more famous Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make. I always like an underdog, so I am happy to feature this book with its beautiful photographs and varied recipes.

        These cupcakes are divine. They absolutely melt in your mouth. Although the recipe called for grating the apple, I purposely diced the apple finely so that there would be little apple chunks and I don’t regret that decision at all. I like having the little bursts of apple flavor. What really bursts through though is the cinnamon-sugar flavor – the “streusel” itself. By the way, “streusel” is German for “sprinkled topping.” I like the fact this “sprinkled topping” of butter, cinnamon and sugar, makes it unnecessary to make icing.

        Cinnamon Sugar in the middle turns to swirl
        Cinnamon Sugar in the middle turns to swirl

        Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes
        Makes 12 cupcakes

        Ingredients

        Swirl & Topping
        1/2 cup sugar
        2 tsp ground cinnamon

        Cupcakes
        1 cup grated, peeled apple (1 large apple)
        2 Tbsp cinnamon-sugar (from above)
        1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
        3/4 cup sugar
        3/4 tsp baking soda
        1/4 tsp salt
        2 large eggs
        1 cup1/2 cup canola or corn oil (see comments)
        1 tsp vanilla extract
        3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

        Method (rewritten by me)

        1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a dozen cupcake tin cups with paper liners.

        2. Using an apple peeler/corer/slicer (or by hand), peel, core and slice one apple and then dice into small bits. In a medium bowl, toss the apple with 2 Tbsp of the cinnamon-sugar. Set aside.

        3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a small well in the center and the eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix until just blended and smooth. Stir in the apple/sugar mixture, as well as any apple juice that was released.

        4. Drop 2 Tbsp of batter into each muffin cup. Spoon 1/2 tsp of cinnamon-sugar on top of the batter. Drop another scant 2 Tbsp of batter on top. Then brush or dollop melted butter on top of the batter in each cup. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar on top of each cup of batter.

        5. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove cupcakes from tin to cool completely. You can do this picking them out individually (careful not to burn yourself) or flipping them out by inverting them onto a wire rack and inverting them again.

        Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes
        Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirl Cupcakes
          Categories
          Breads Dessert Uncategorized Vegetarian

          Apple-Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

            Apple Carrot Cupcakes
            Apple Carrot Cupcakes

            Day 3 of 14 Days of Apple and I decided I wanted to make an apple muffin/cupcake. I was looking around at different recipes for inspiration and guidance when I found one I like at MarthaStewart.com. That recipe calls for shredded apples and something about imagining myself taking an apple to a grater made me think of shredded carrots. I still have a scar on my thumb from shredding a carrot a little too aggressively when I was 12, but that’s another story. Anyway, I decided to split the four cups of shredded apples into two cups apples, two cups carrots et voila.

              Categories
              Dessert Uncategorized

              Pumpkin Pudding

                Pumpkin Pudding
                Pumpkin Pudding

                It’s day 30 of 31 days of pumpkin, my friends, and I’ve gone back to basics and back to the book that inspired me as a young home cook so many years ago. My mother gave me this book when I was a junior in college and I cooked from it religiously back then. Now it’s funny. Some of the recipes feel a bit dated. There’s even a recipe in there for a pumpkin mold: a kind of custardy, pudding-like thing that you chill in a bundt cake pan and turn out. I didn’t have the energy to actually make it, although I considered doing so just for the retro appeal and possible shock factor of the resulting photograph. (Tastestopping, here we come)! It will have to wait until next year.

                  Categories
                  Breakfast/Brunch Dessert Pumpkin Uncategorized

                  Spice Pumpkin Custard with Orange-Infused Granola

                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w. Orange-Infused Granola
                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w. Orange-Infused Granola

                    Day 27 of 31 days of pumpkin and I have to say this recipe is a real highlight. How could it not be? I’ve taken a layman’s stab at a recipe in Claire Clark’s stunning book, Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts.

                    Who is Claire Clark, you ask? Why, she is simply one of the world’s greatest pastry chefs. Back in London after spending 4 years as head pastry chef of The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, she’s currently working on a project of her own which is set to open in the Spring 2010. Indulge is an amazing book, as is the French Laundry Cookbook itself.

                    The granola on top of the custard is literally one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth and I’ve eaten at The French Laundry. Twice. That I can make this at home anytime I want is a true revelation. Now I’m thinking I should do a mega marathon, like cook through her entire book of 100 recipes in a year or something. Oh wait. That’s been done already.

                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w/ Orange Infused Granola
                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w/ Orange Infused Granola

                    I read in the French Laundry Cookbook that Thomas Keller dictates that a liquid in his kitchen should never pass from one pot to another without first passing through a sieve. Claire Clark’s recipe reminded me of that today and the pumpkin custard passes through a sieve TWICE. I love it. It really makes a difference and is something I want to do more in my everyday cooking life.

                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w/ Orange Infused Granola
                    Spice Pumpkin Custard w/ Orange Infused Granola

                    Spice Pumpkin Custard with Orange-Infused Granola
                    Serves 6

                    This is my simplified version of Claire Clark’s recipe. She of course, uses real pumpkin in her version and has you boil it in milk and use some of the reserved milk. Yum. She also reports all of her measurements by weight. I’ve converted many of them here to volume measurements for ease of use, in case you don’t have a kitchen scale (I do and I was so happy to have it today). If you want the real Claire Clark recipe, you’ll have to buy the book.

                    Ingredients for the Custard

                    1/2 cup milk
                    13 oz canned puréed pumpkin
                    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
                    3 medium eggs
                    2 1/4 oz caster sugar
                    1 1/4 oz dark brown sugar
                    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
                    1/4 tsp ground ginger
                    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
                    3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

                    Ingredients for the granola

                    1/2 cup demerara sugar
                    1/4 cup honey
                    2 Tbsp maple syrup
                    1/4 cup unsalted butter
                    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
                    1.5 oz dessicated coconut
                    3 oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
                    3 oz slivered almonds
                    4.5 oz large rolled oats
                    2 Tbsp canola oil
                    grated zest of 2 oranges

                    Method for the Granola

                    1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Put the sugar in a large pan with the honey, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla extract and bring slowly to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. I started out on very low heat, and as everything melted and dissolved, I increased it to medium-low heat.

                    2. Remove from the heat and add the coconut, pecan nuts, almonds and the oats. Mix well, and then quickly stir in the canola oil and orange zest. Work fast because the sugar starts to harden pretty quickly.

                    3. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or covered with a nonstick baking mat) and spread out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even coloring. Remove from the oven and, as the granola cools, break it up into pieces. After it cools, store the granola in an airtight container.

                    Method for the Custard

                    1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and bring water to boil in a teakettle. In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream, eggs, and milk. Warm it up over very low heat. While it is warming, add the pumpkin purée by passing the canned pumpkin through a sieve on its way into the mixture. Then add the caster sugar, brown sugar, all of the spices and mix well. Stir over very low heat until sugars are dissolved. You’re only heating it to help the sugars dissolve. Remove from heat and whisk in the melted butter. Pass the mixture through a sieve again.

                    2. Divide evenly among 6 ramekins and lay them in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and then pour near boiling water into the pan until it reaches about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. The tops should spring back when you press lightly on them. Remove the dishes from the roasting pan and let cool, then transfer them to the refrigerator where they should chill completely. Serve with the granola sprinkled on top.

                      Categories
                      Dessert Pumpkin Uncategorized

                      Pumpkin Pound Cake

                        Pumpkin Pound Cake
                        Pumpkin Pound Cake

                        Day 26 of 31 days of pumpkin and we come to one of my all-time-favorite desserts: pound cake. I love old recipes. This one is so simple. A pound of each: butter, sugar, flour, eggs. The rest is embellishment. And for me, I can’t enjoy a piece of pound cake without a cup of tea to go with it. I don’t know why exactly. It just completes the tableau somehow.

                        In my pumpkin version (which is a half-pound cake actually), I simply added 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée and upped the flour content by 1/4 cup. The pumpkin spiced flavor is subtle, but definitely there. I am glad it still tastes like pound cake. I worried it might somehow come out tasting like Pumpkin Bread, but not-to-worry. This pound cake recipe has four times as much butter and more than three times as many eggs as my Pumpkin Bread Recipe. It’s bound to be its own thing.

                        Pumpkin Pound Cake
                        Pumpkin Pound Cake

                        Pumpkin Pound Cake
                        Yields 1 loaf

                        Ingredients

                        1/2 lb butter, softened (2 sticks)
                        2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                        1 tsp baking powder
                        1/2 tsp salt
                        1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
                        1/2 tsp ground ginger
                        1/4 tsp ground allspice
                        1/8 tsp ground cloves
                        1 cup granulated sugar
                        5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
                        1/2 cup canned puréed pumpkin
                        2 tsp pure vanilla extract

                        Method

                        1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray a 9 x 5 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

                        2. Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

                        3. With an electric or stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing until fluffy. Now add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating each of them in completely. Add in the pumpkin and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.

                        4. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add in the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing by hand to incorporate each addition completely.

                        5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks appear. Fold the egg whites gently, but thoroughly into the batter. Transfer batter to the prepared baking pan and bake for about 1 1/4 hours. Let it cool completely before you slice it.

                        Pumpkin Pound Cake
                        Pumpkin Pound Cake
                          Categories
                          Dessert Pumpkin Uncategorized Video How-to

                          Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

                            Mini Pumpin Cheesecake
                            Mini Pumpin Cheesecake

                            Day 24 of 31 days of pumpkin and we come to a fun, easy video recipe provided by the Karo Company, the corn syrup makers. The clever trick here is baking the cheesecakes in muffin tins lined with paper and lined with gingersnap cookies. Mini-crusts for mini cheesecakes. Genius.

                            I feel guilty using corn syrup since I read Michael Pollan’s books, but I wasn’t sure how to substitute my way out of it here. If you have an idea, please share it in the comments section. In the end, I figured one recipe a year can’t be all that bad. Right?

                              Categories
                              Dessert Uncategorized

                              Pumpkin Spiced Cutout Cookies

                                Pumpkin Spiced Cutout Cookies
                                Pumpkin Spiced Cutout Cookies

                                Day 21 of 31 days of pumpkin and we come to the venerable cutout cookie. These are so much fun to make with your kids. It’s like PlayDo you can really eat. These cookies are not overly sweet, which leaves room for you to utterly coat them with sugar, whether it be with India Tree Sparkling sugar, like I did, or a decadent icing. I just discovered that Amazon.com carries a full line of India Tree Sparkling Sugar, so I’m planning to stock up now for all of the cookie baking that’s going to happen in early December.

                                The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to roll out and cut out the cookies, is that the dough has to be really cold. In a very short time, the dough warms up and becomes sticky and gooey. It’s impossible to work with when it gets like that, so just wrap it back up in plastic and put it in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

                                  Categories
                                  Breads Dessert Pumpkin Uncategorized

                                  Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake

                                    Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake
                                    Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake

                                    It’s day 15 of 31 days of pumpkin. I can’t believe I’m halfway there. Today’s recipe was such a joy to make. I’ve never made cheesecake before and I was nervous at each step, but everything worked beautifully. I followed a recipe in a book that my sister gave me recently. Every once in awhile, she’ll see interesting cookbooks at a used bookstore and send them to me. I love it because there are always surprises. Like this book which is based on the fourth season of a Public Television Series I didn’t even know existed: Cooking Secrets of the CIA. The video doesn’t appear to be available anywhere, but the book is still available on Amazon:

                                    The book was published in 1999 and was sponsored by Cuisinart. There is a set of pages at the back of the book featuring Cuisinart small appliances. The other thing about the book that I find fascinating is that the photography isn’t that great. The recipes are amazing, but with so much incredible food photography around these days, the lack of consistency in this book is a bit jarring.

                                    Recently, I attended two food photography sessions at the BlogHerFood09 conference in San Francisco.

                                      Categories
                                      Dessert Pumpkin Uncategorized

                                      Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies


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                                        Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies
                                        Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies

                                        Day 13 of 31 days of pumpkin and we come to a personal favorite: the brownie. Brownies are the kind of food that inspire strong opinions. People know exactly how they like their brownies. Some people like them cakey, others like them fudgy. Some like the crunchy edges so much that they buy special pans so that every brownie will have a crunchy edge. Others want the slightly undercooked gooey middle. Me? I go for the fudgy, gooey variety, made with chocolate as dark and rich as possible. That’s why I decided to make this recipe using 70% cacao Sharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate and a whole lot o’ butta.

                                        Scharffen Berger Chocolate
                                        Scharffen Berger Chocolate
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