Pudding It Out There

Liquid sunshine, anyone? Once in a while, a baker will come across excess yolks – probably having whipped up a whites-based dessert like meringues, angel food cake and the sort. Finding myself in a similar predicament, a bowl of golden yolks and perfect timing leaves me with the ideal March-inspired treat. Celebrating with high spirits, Baileys Chocolate Pudding was made for St. Paddy’s Day festivities.Baileys Chocolate Pudding 3 arr

Combining my favourite ingredient – undoubtedly chocolate – with a very special Irish Cream, you really can’t go wrong with the complementary pairing of the aforementioned duo. Rich, chocolatey and infused with a hint of an old country export, homemade pudding is something else: it’s elevated nostalgia. Clearly, a must-indulge item in my books!

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 2 arrTo make your own holiday pudding, choose a scratch recipe of choice. Following the steps of the Barefoot Contessa – Ms. Ina Garten, of course – I really enjoyed following her simple instructions for a double chocolate pudding. Doing things my way, however, I take her very good recipe and tweak it to cater to my preferences. Specifically, I had nine yolks to start though the original recipe calls for six. Presented with three more than less of what’s required, I still count myself lucky. Glass bowl looking beyond half-full, circumstance is boding well and, so, I persist to do as any good baker would – I sharpen my math skills. In other words, I take note of the existing quantities and appropriately increase measured amounts for all remaining ingredients, including: sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, milk, heavy cream, pure vanilla essence and fine quality chocolate. Though Ina’s original calls for butter and semisweet chocolate, I omit the butter altogether and use premium dark chocolate – minimum 70% cocoa.

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 4 arrFortunately, the outcome of this cocoa-rich indulgence is nothing short of pure decadence. And, although I-rish I could stop at the making of double chocolate pudding, a must-indulge St. Paddy’s dessert must-have a little touch of Shamrock. As for the final touches, then, I keep with precision and happily exchange the plain heavy cream with an addition of Baileys Original Irish Cream. From here, the well-mixed pudding mixture is poured into individual dessert dishes and refrigerated. Ultra delicious and made for chocophiles, serving chilled portions of Baileys Chocolate Pudding on its own – as-is – or topped with sweetened whipped cream will surely yield happy hours to come. Ultimately ‘pudding’ a spin on a classic, this crowd-pleasing custard is meant to be shared and savoured responsibly – please, use a spoon! Happy Saint Patrick’s, everyone!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Red Velvet That Will Please

 

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-8-arrWant a Valentine’s dessert that will make your special someone blush beet red? Saying “YES” to all things homemade, I have the perfect baked treat in mind. For your sweet – or sweet tooth – I’m thinking: Red Velvet Cupcakes. Satisfying for more than its V-Day symbolic hints of love – chocolate and heart-red hue – this cocoa-rich yet moist bite-size indulgence is made extra irresistible thanks to a generous smothering of cream cheese frosting. As scrumptious as it sounds, red velvet is not for everyone but, when made right, is sure to leave you with a smile.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-4-arrEnticed, yet? Love it or hate it, I’m in the mood to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Still tempting to some, red velvet persists to be a sought-after southern delight since its revival on the big screen – watch the retro hit, Steel Magnolias. Movie buff or not, however, others find nothing delectable about consuming a piece of red-dye cake that’s, too, criticized for being bland. Honestly, I can’t blame them! Also choosing to forgo the Texas band-waggon – sorry, Adams Extract – a little research is all it took to find the ‘one.’ Clearly convinced that ‘red’ can be made right, I’ve found a non-greasy red velvet cake instruction that’s highly flavourful all the while omitting oil and food colouring.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-6-arrGetting back to the basics, the start to producing a genuine ‘rouge’ cake batter is as simple as this: just ‘beet’ it! Truly, the inclusion of beetroot veg will evoke desired vibrancy without emptying an entire bottle of food colour – L-O-V-E this! Further match-made for more reasons than one, I use Pamela Moxley’s Red Velvet Cake recipe that calls on butter, equally appeasing to my desire for an oil-free batter. And as if things couldn’t get any better, directions ask that you purée the cooked and peeled beets so you’re solely left with smooth – ‘au naturel’ red – velvety liquid texture. As for the taste, this cake is not intended to be overly chocolatey nor are you left with a strong beet flavour.  In contrast, these cupcakes are mildly sweet and are all about a ‘chemical romance.’ Explanation provided: the appearance of reddish earth tones should result upon combining neutralized Dutch-process cocoa powder with buttermilk, and acids such as white vinegar and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, as Moxley’s steps indicate.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-11-arrAs for my experiment, I can attest to a fairly ‘reactive’ outcome in the test kitchen. From burgundy to crimson, the looks of lovely red are pleasantly evident and ever-changing between baking stages. A chameleon cake of sorts, that’s exactly what you want to see when attempting this vegetable-infused dessert recipe. Be bold, then, and prepare to welcome variations of red that doesn’t include lipstick or candy apple – any other shade, mind you, wouldn’t reflect an authentic beet cake.

Ultimately doing all things in love, I hope you try a scratch recipe of choice or cake mix – no judgement here – and, when the little cakes are cooled, begin to decorate with frosting: butter-cream, cream cheese or ‘roux’ icing. beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-13-arrCreating cream cheese frosting for my individual ‘reds,’ all I do is combine the following in a bowl: softened unsalted butter and cream cheese – both left out, at room temperature – icing sugar, plus a final dash of Madagascar vanilla essence. Once fluffy and ready to go, I divide the frosting into separate containers, get a piping bag and tip assembled, and do the unexpected: I use food colouring gel. It’s true but, only a few drops – promise! All in the name of happy baking, I couldn’t resist arranging a bed of edible roses. Seriously worth the addition of colour, who would deny wanting these thorn-free flowers for V-Day? Admittedly beautiful, lush, and fragrantly sweet, red velvet rosette frosted cupcakes are for the making, baking, and taking – by the dozens!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Legends of a Fall Haul

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-5-arrFall harvests are in, and I’m going for the season’s best – C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-I-E-S! Between beverages, sauces or jarred condiments, this fruit – when available – is conveniently within reach at the local grocers. So, why all the excitement? Clearly, resisting not – to test a new recipe – a baker’s gonna bake! And this time, use of these fresh and vibrant ruby red crops call for the making of a zingy orange and cranberry walnut-crusted tart.

Like most pie and tart recipes, you can pair various fillings with your preferred crust recipe.  Choice is yours, and for this baking endeavour I – somewhat – follow Martha Stewart’s instructions. Similar to the original, my take on the filling uses fresh cranberries, sugar, water, and gelatin. Also calling for a cup of currant jelly and two tablespoons of cognac, I decide to do things differently and cater to my palette – I swap the currant jelly for cranberry jelly to maintain consistency, and incorporate the zest of one orange plus its juice in place of liqueur.

Yay or nay, to making changes? Well, I usually don’t like to mess with a “good thing.” cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-2-arrBut, as in this case, orange citrus is the right substitution to elevate the sharpness of cranberries and to yield an ultimate jamming filling. Being sure to use precise measurements of juice in combination with fruit peel, you can even try making a zesty lemon cranberry version like the orange variation for an ultra-tart take on this delicious recipe. Definitely worth re-making, I also recommend simmering another batch to preserve in a mason jar. Versatile in its uses, this alcohol-free orange cranberry filling is not just a filling anymore. Think of it this way: it’s a cross between fruit compote and jam that can be topped on your breakfast ‘favourite’ – toast, waffles, pancakes, yoghurt/yogurt – or as an appetizing accompaniment to Brie, Camembert or other soft cheeses. Needless to say, the enhanced cranberry filling recipe is a winning YAY!

As for the nutty crust counterpart, Martha Stewart’s listed ingredients include: finely chopped walnuts, unsalted butter, flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla essence and ice water. cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-3-arrFrom here, and using Martha’s recipe or your own, evenly spread out the dough mixture onto the tart dish and freeze it for thirty minutes. Now ready for the oven, bake the crust at 375°F for about 40 minutes or until the shell is revealing of a golden brown colour. Wishing fellow bakers optimal results – and happy baking – here’s a helpful hint: keep a watchful eye on the cooking time for both the crust and filling or otherwise risk yielding a burnt crust, and watery – ocean spray – content of burst cranberries. Being careful – myself – this rewarding cranberry orange walnut-crusted tart wins crowds on texture and appeal. It look goods, tastes good, and remains a seasonal fruit dessert befitting of the fall season.

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-7-arrPucker your lips sour, this cranberry-based recipe is obviously not as sweet as many other treats. With that in mind, you may choose to add more sugar to the filling mixture as you see fit. Equally packed with a load of acidity, I initially wasn’t sure if I would win-over family members with this slightly acidic ‘after,’ especially as an end to a hearty Thanksgiving meal. But, truth be told: they loved it! Serving a humble portioned square pleasantly complemented an otherwise bountiful plate. Word to the wise, then, the following might be worth remembering: heavy meals pair well with lighter desserts, and lighter meals allow room for more rich and dense cakes or pastries. With one notable day of thanks past, and another upcoming in November – American Thanksgiving – this delectable tart is not overbearing and one possible dessert route to pursue as a finale to an epic holiday meal. Above all else, those who love cranberries need not wait for a calendar event to enjoy a piece of cranberry tart – afternoon snack times are occasion enough!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Something Berry Wonderful

 

Swiss Jelly Roll 5 arrHappy belated! Yesterday, love of country was on display for none other than Canada Day. Marking the nation’s birthday in patriotic fashion, the first of July is nothing short of seeing all things red, white and – especially for foodies – deliciously homegrown.

No exceptions, the baker-in-me equally celebrated the best way I know how – via dessert! Clearly adding caloric ‘fuel’ to complement eventful fireworks, I had one specific treat in mind. Swiss Jelly Roll 4 arrGoing for something ‘berry’ seasonal, I forgo prized sweet sap – pure maple syrup – and highlighted the occasion by following instruction for a raspberry inspired recipe. And so, a day off – for this Canuck – was a day well spent in the kitchen, making homemade Swiss Jelly Roll.

Consistent with layers of tart raspberry fruit preserve and lightly sweetened whipped cream, this sponge sheet cake is generously filled, rolled, and sliced to appease any birthday guest. Swiss Jelly Roll 1 arrEven suitable for afternoon tea, this rolled cake is too irresistible not to remake and share. Kindly note, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe though you can commit to a reliable sponge cake recipe of your own choosing. Likewise, feel free to swap the raspberries for alternate ‘red’ fruit such as strawberries or cherries – as always, cater to ‘your’ preferences and palette.

Party planning still in the works – for some – upcoming national festivities like the Fourth of July and Bastille Day on the fourteenth are more reasons to bake, share and devour this versatile cake. Swiss Jelly Roll 7 arrIn recognition of the allied tricolour flags, I recommend using the exact sheet cake method and simply adding blueberries in combination with your choice of edible ‘rubies’ – fresh fruit and compote alike – to ultimately represent red, white and blue. What’s more, now you have three legitimate grounds – or excuses – to eat cake to your sweet tooth’s content. Baking up more reasons to celebrate with food, Happy International July Days!!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

The Latest Scoop

No-Churn Ice Cream 2 arrAsk any ice cream fan, and I bet they have their ‘favourite.’ While mint chip and rocky road are popular flavours, mocha almond fudge tops my list.  Whatever your preference, most would agree that quality ─ real dairy ─ ice cream can’t be beat.  And much to my delight, “no-churn” recipes are no-fuss and all things decadent, rich, creamy, and simply divine.

Too irresistible not to try, I put a three ingredient “no-churn” ice cream recipe to the test. Happily evading use of an ice cream maker, I only need an electric mixer and these “must-haves”:  2 cups of heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a couple dashes of vanilla essence.  Once the aforementioned ‘magic three’ are whipped and form soft peaks, I pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover it with a lid, and set it into the icebox for at least five hours.

No-Churn Ice Cream 3 arrThat’s it! Truly, your work is done ─ “no-churn” vanilla ice cream 101.  But why stop there, right? ─ Right on!  Getting creative, I double the ‘basic’ vanilla recipe, and divide the ‘very good’ vanilla bean ice cream into four separate loaf pans.  Creating a blank canvas of sorts, you can stick with vanilla-infused ice cream and later incorporate added texture and taste via your imagination.  For instance, consider the following:  chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fresh berries or fruit preserve, nuts, crumbled cookies, liqueurs or even mint extract for a more refreshing taste.

No-Churn Ice Cream 4 arrGoing for delicious scoops of ‘breige,’ my ice cream cloud is made of plentiful shades of wonderful: vanilla bean, espresso, double chocolate and mocha almond fudge.  For the already mastered classic, use of pure vanilla extract is a given.  Catering to purists, I also recommend following suit by integrating the scraped black seeds of an authentic vanilla pod for an elevated flavour profile.  As for a chocolaty spin, whip a few tablespoons of cocoa into the basic mixture until it appears homogenous, and then stir in shavings of dark chocolate.  In similar fashion, treating the basic vanilla mixture to an “afternoon pick me up” is as easy as blending it with chilled brewed espresso or with a few tablespoons of the ‘instant’ alternative.

No-Churn Ice Cream 1 arrReserved for last, but certainly not least, my favourite ─ mocha almond fudge ─ tastes like the real-deal. Best part is:  the only place I need to ‘bask in’ for the making of this confection is the kitchen.  Kid you not, this take on mocha almond fudge is ‘that’ good!  And, here’s how to make your own:  blend the basic vanilla mixture with cocoa powder, espresso powder ‘et voilà,’ you got the mocha part ready.  Half-way done, freeze the mocha ice cream for about an hour while you prepare the fudgy addition.  No-Churn Ice Cream 6 arrFor my interpretation of a DIY nutty ganache filling, I take a dark chocolate almond bar ─ the family-size variety, about 300 grams ─ save some with which to later decorate, and then melt the rest with some heavy cream over a double-boiler.  Once the contents have melted and the ganache has cooled, remove the mocha ice cream from the icebox and spoon in the filling, trying to create chocolaty almond ribbons.  Finally, top off the mocha almond fudge ice cream with a crunchy combo of toasted sliced almonds and chopped chocolate chunks, and really freeze it this time ─ a solid five hours should suffice.  Wait time ‘somehow’ endured, appeasing to one’s appetite for homemade “no-churn” frozen dessert is undeniably a cinch.  As for the question of brain freeze, “no-churn” is still a no-brainer ─ happy ‘paced’ consumption!

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

T.F.’s “Ultimate”

TFU Cheesecake 3 arrSay, “Cheese-cake!” I don’t always make cheesecake but, when I do, it must be in following Tyler Florence’s Ultimate recipe.  Seriously the best homemade cheesecake instruction I have come across ─ to date ─ let it be known:  a piece of this all-American style dessert is not for the faint of heart.  Dense, rich, and reassuringly decadent, Tyler’s take on this classic is full of flavour ─ a.k.a. saturated fatty deliciousness.  Needless to say, the anatomy of this three-part cake is telling of a very good ─ for your taste buds ─ anticipated treat:  tart fruit topping, velvety smooth filling, and a buttery cinnamon-infused graham cracker crust.

TFU Cheesecake 5 arrCare to get your own cheesecake factory up and running? Clearly I do, and you can too!  Simply remember:  all is possible with some precision and elbow grease.  So for the making of your own cheesy round, start by getting your hands on the ‘necessities’ and separately prepare each required layer.   Crackers smashed and blended with melted butter and spice, mould the dry crumbs into a cake pan and set it aside into the fridge.  Now for the filling, here’s what you’ll need:  cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and lemon zest.  Filling made and crust chilled, continue by pouring the abundant batter into the cookie shell and wrap the cake tin’s exterior ─ twice, for safe measure ─ with foil.  While some recipes omit a steam bath ─ ‘bain-marie’ ─ this one calls for it.  TFU Cheesecake 7 arrAnd so, it’s a must to ensure the aluminum package is tightly sealed prior to submerging it into a roasting pan filled with hot water.  Finally ready to bake, carefully place the pan-filled contents into a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, as per Tyler’s directions.  A tad bit extra work ─ I know ─ but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Messing not with this cheesecake recipe, then, I can attest that adhering to Tyler’s steps will yield optimal results: a perfectly smooth moist cake.  And once chilled, this delicately sweet creamy cheesecake can be enjoyed ‘as is’ or made more scrumptious with the addition of a fruit topping.  TFU Cheesecake 9 arrWhile the original recipe proposes a simmering of citrus zest and blueberries, my preference lies with seasonal ‘rouge’ embellishments.  In effect, I replace Tyler’s warm blueberry lemon topping with vibrant red raspberries.  Still refreshing and bursting with bright flavour, I first enrobe the plain cheesecake canvas with a spreading of sieved raspberry preserve, and then decorate the glistening surface with orderly rows of fresh ruby berries.  ‘Et voilà,’ this presentable cake is now ready to slice and share.  Indeed living true to status, this “ultimate” cake boldly delivers in taste, texture, and appeal.  Obviously beyond words, it’s just one of those things ─ ‘c’est du fromage!’

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

Pithiviers aux Amandes

Pithiviers 1 arrWhen I think of aromatic breads, divine pastries and scrumptious cakes, French recipes and masters of the trade definitely come to mind. Truly synonymous with all things deliciously baked, it’s no wonder I celebrate this year’s Epiphany with ‘galette des rois.’  Loosely translated to ‘king cake,’ this regional favourite is made and enjoyed to commemorate the arrival of the Wise Men.

More pleasing for foodies, ‘pithiviers’ generally refers to a filled puff pastry pie that can be either sweet or savoury. For the making of this particular ‘galette,’ I decide to encase two sheets of puff pastry with almond frangipane.  Just like Martha Stewart, I follow her frangipane recipe and baking instructions ‘to a T.’  Keeping things real-ly honest, however, I forgo the making of ‘pâte feuilleté’ from scratch and stand by a very good purchase of pre-made ‘quality’ frozen puff pastry.  Great news is:  “You can too!” Still buttery, flaky and rich, store-bought puffy pastry is my kind of “good thing!”Pithiviers 2 arr

Recipe, now simplified, I expedite the process slightly further by spreading refrigerated ─ not frozen ─ frangipane filling onto one of two cut rounds ─ 9 inches in diameter ─ of puff pastry. Being sure not to spread the almond filling right to the edge of the pastry dough, I continue by brushing egg wash along the circumference of the first disc, then cover it with the second cut sheet, and finally seal the two.  Adhering to the remaining steps, I remove the chilled encased ‘pithiviers’ from the icebox and prepare the final stages.  For its completion, here’s what to do:  brush the domed exterior with the remainder of egg-wash, score the top with a pattern of choice, and finally bake the ‘galette’ into a preheated oven for the specified time.Pithiviers 4 arr

Time-elapsed and house-filled with the scent of victoriously baked sweetness, here’s the end result: it looks, smells, and tastes nothing like “store-bought!”  Golden on the outside and delicately perfumed with a creamy nutty interior, this take on almond ‘pithiviers’ is indicative of ‘kingly’ flavour and desired light crispy texture.  Also saving time and exceeding expectation, celebrations are clearly in order with this share-worthy pastry ─unequivocally, a piece of cake!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

C’est Si Bon

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 2 arrOnce upon a reverie, a dessert table befitting of all celebrations ─ Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa ─ prepared itself.  Wishful thinking, of course, planning for the upcoming holidays need not be stressful.  Joyful, joyful ─ still ─ seasonal eats may require some elbow grease but, are very manageable.  So yes, you can do it all ─ parades, shopping, dinner parties and homemade desserts ─ but, just remember:  pace yourself.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 1 arrWith the festive spirit in the air, I cast aside wintry blues ─ the best way I know how ─ and get the ball rolling with a recipe fit for success.  Even better, this task involves quality control in the form of taste testing, and includes none other than an all-time favourite ─ cho-co-la-te!  Clearly, happy times call for chocolaty measures.  Making no exceptions, then, here’s my idea of a must-indulge crowd-pleaser that’s easy to create, share and devour:  Bailey’s Chocolate Truffles.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 3 arrCourtesy of Martha Stewart’s recipe, the making of your very own cocoa rich confections are a few ingredients away.  For this highly achievable chocolate truffle, all you need is:  ½ cup heavy cream, 8 ounces of fine quality semi-sweet chocolate, liqueur, and cocoa.  Equally versatile, chocoholics rejoice!  Personalizing truffles to suit your palette is a cinch.  First follow basic instructions, then swap the Bailey’s Irish Cream for a preferred alternative, and finally enrobe the truffles with melted chocolate in place of cocoa.

Bailey's & Hazelnut Truffles 4 arrFinding this recipe too irresistible not to quantifiably double, two times the ingredients happily yields twice the amount of velvety rich morsels of creamy chocolate.  Just to recap, here’s a second take on what to do:  heat the cream, pour the liquid over the chocolate shavings or chips, add flavouring, mix contents until smooth, and chill the mixture in the fridge.  Once set, use a melon-baller to measure out even-sized rounds of ganache filling, and then work quickly to roll the truffles into your choice of possible coatings:  confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, toasted nuts, shredded coconut or chocolate sprinkles.  For my second batch, I replace Irish Cream with hazelnut syrup in addition to use of filberts for added texture.  Mindful that these decadent bites of heaven can be spoiled by a rancid nut, I recommend purchase of raw hazelnuts that can be pan-toasted or cooked in the oven.  In essence, use of fresh products will ensure premium truffles that will leave guests with a palatably sweet memory.  So good, in fact, these two-bite delights will get everyone caroling, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” ─ bonbons!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

O-re-o

Traditionalists will tell you to:  twist it, dunk it, and then bite it.  But, if I give you an Oreo cookie, you can crush and slice it.  Yes, I did mess with a good thing.  Even better, in doing so, I found there are plenty of delicious ways to consume an Oreo cookie.

Oreo IceBox Cake arrThanks to an online bank of recipes, locating the necessary steps and ingredients for a personal production of newly transformed filled cookie indulgences was fast and reliable.  My particular use of Oreo cookies resulted in triumphant truffles and a no-bake, no-fuss Oreo ice-box cake that your friends and family will adore.

Baking with Oreos is as easy as:  shop, unpack and assemble.  Truly!  Well, almost – truly worth some elbow grease.  Calling for an overload of the famed versatile cookie sandwich, both recipes – though transformed in structure – remain true in taste.  All you need for the ice-box cake are the cream-filled cookies – the real deal – and ice cream of your choice.  If you want to get fancy, just layer the ice cream onto a chocolate pie shell, then top with more cookies – intact, pieces or crumbs – and take it one step further by decorating your frozen dessert with more candy toppings, though optional.

Oreo Truffles arrAs for the truffles, create a smooth sweet and savoury mixture by combining crushed cookies with plain cream cheese.  And, chill.  Wait – the truffle or me?  Accurate, twice!  Patience remains a virtue, and this recipe demands that you refrigerate the mixture, and take a time out.  Once chilled, the firmed mixture is more manageable to scoop, shape into hand-rolled balls, and dip into melted chocolate.  Remember ‘patience’?  Yes, after a second cooling off period – of course – the end result is worth acquiescing to:  rich and scrumptious two-bite pieces of chocolate coated decadent joy.

Something good can be told of eating of Oreos the old-fashioned way – no additions, no adaptations, and no wait time.  Equally satisfying, however, remains revamping a store-shelf favourite into a batch of edible luxury – an irresistible change, I’m sure Oreo-conformists will welcome.

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.