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Archive for Dessert

::indulgence:: Whipped Cream

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I am honestly ashamed of how long it has been since I have last posted. I admit, I haven’t cooked much in the past couple months. Life got the best of me and completely took over. At least I had time for a bit of baking over the holidays.

We’re now settling into our new home and the adventures of ownership have begun. Today we were supposed to have a new refrigerator delivered. As I am sure you can assume from the supposed to…it did not happen. Luckily, my new dishwasher arrived in perfect condition last week, so maybe now the time spent hand washing dishes can go back into blogging?

The saddest part for me of the new fridge not arriving? In an attempt to make leftovers tonight, I discovered the old fridge has progressed from inconveniently sucky to ruining food. The leftovers I had intended to heat were apparently in the line of fire for an ice melt, and they were full of yucky water.

What better way of making a bad day go away than a slice of homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream on top.

I have to thank photographer Joy Moody for my newest obsession. Not just whipped cream, but whipped cream with confectioner’s sugar. And using the leftovers in my coffee. I don’t have a specific recipe for you. Whipped cream for 2-4 is about 1/3 cup heavy cream, a big spoonful of sugar, and a pour of vanilla extract. I use my Bamix to make it in a flash with no mess. And then I happily lick the blender clean while PTB thinks I am still slaving away making real whipped cream.

I would tell you my new year’s resolution is to get back onto posting everyday, but seriously… I am having a baby in two months. I am not going to let myself down. But I am going to try and get back into the swing of things.

::cooking for two:: Apple Tartlets

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What was I saying about Fall? How it is awesome? Here’s my problem. Autumn makes me want to make apple pie. There are two of us. Now, normally if I bake a pie, I will try and get another couple to come hang out with us (It is really hard when you are offering homemade pie). But who am I kidding, that is still only half the pie eaten. I recognize that my sharing abilities are lacking as my appetite (belly) is growing. Maybe a whole pie isn’t the way to go right now. A tartlet however… Ok so it is still probably as much butter as I would have consumed eating half the pie, but think of all the sugar I am saving. And far less flour. Give yourself some extra planning time for this recipe as you need to chill the dough for an hour.

What You Need
Dough
Step One

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Step Two
5 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter (cut into 1/4″ pieces)
2-3 Tbsp ice water
Filling
Step Three

1 tart apple (I used a Granny Smith)
1 sweet apple (I used a Fuji)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinches cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Step Four
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (cut into 1/4″ pieces)

In a small food processor combine the flour and salt. Sprinkle the cut up butter pieces on top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Continue to pulse as you slowly add the water until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough into two and flatten each into a 3″ disc on plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and leave in the fridge for an hour.

I started the apples while the dough was in the fridge, but I like to let them sit in the seasoning for a while, so maybe it is just me. You’ll need the oven preheated to 400F, and mine takes FOREVER, so by the time I am done slicing apples, I need to set that as well.

Slice the apples into 1/4″ slices. Combine all step three ingredients in a bowl.

Before rolling out the dough, let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Roll onto parchment paper to about 7″ in diameter. TIP: Rolling between two sheets of parchment makes things a bit easier. Stack the apples in the center of the dough (about 1.5″ from the edge) building an apple tower. Fill the centers with extra apple pieces.

Fold the outer 1″ of dough up around the apples, pleating about every inch or so (see image). Brush the dough with egg white and dot the tops with butter.

Bake (on the parchment paper) for about 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I would highly recommend some home made whipped cream to go on top. Not too sweet, and it will be a perfect dessert for two. One more evening helped out by America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two Annual.

::kitschy kitchen:: Star Wars Sugar Cookies

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We go to the mall almost every Wednesday. This week we’ll go today because of the holiday. PTB buys his comics on that day. I get a treat at Starbucks and a chance to browse Williams Sonoma. It’s silly, and really the only thing we manage to do consistently, but we always have fun with our mini-trip.

I really enjoy it when, not only do I manage to drag him into Williams Sonoma with me but, he buys me something! Well, I guess this doesn’t totally count as being exclusively for me. I have never ever managed to even stay awake through an entire Star Wars movie. So yeah. But the part that is for me was the cookie recipe and my first set of cookie cutters. Although, these are more of cookie presses I guess.

I’ve never been let down by the recipes that come with my Williams Sonoma toys and these cookies were no different. The cookie cutters were incredibly easy to use, so if you have a Star Wars fan buy them now before they are gone!! As long as you kept the dough chilled and didn’t let it start to melt while you were cutting, the dough doesn’t get stuck in even the tiniest of details. And since they are presses, it makes every bit of dough turn into the perfect cookie. Just shove the last bits into a mold, press, and perfect cookie!

What You Need
Step One

1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 egg
Step Two
1 cup sugar
Step Three
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

Seriously. Take your butter and egg out ahead of time. Don’t fake room temp butter. Leaving it out ahead of time DOES make a difference!

In an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the sugar. Beating for approx. 2 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once.

In a small bowl, sift together step four ingredients. Add half the mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low until no longer dry. Add the remaining flour and continue on low until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a disc and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. This is my favorite part because I only make half the cookies at a time. That way, two days later, we have a fresh batch of cookies with very little work!

Once you are ready to make the cookies preheat the oven to 350F and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4″ thick.

Don’t be afraid to push on the cutters! They will only go so far. For me, the dough would lift up with the cookie cutter and then I would just drop it onto the parchment lined cookies sheet.

Space the cookies on the sheet about 1″ apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to the rack cool completely.

Enjoy your buttery sugary goodness!

You can make royal icing to decorate. Or you can buy the prefect colors from Williams Sonoma for decorating. I think the advantage to the press is not having to decorate them. And really, they don’t need any extra sugar. They are perfect on their own. But then again…I have never been one for icing.

::sweet treat:: Cherry Almond Cupcakes

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Ahhh!  It is almost the holiday weekend! Just a little while longer! I am completely un-excited about this weekend except the idea of spending a few uninterrupted days with PTB. I apparently have a cold! Who gets a cold in the Summer? It started with some sneezing Monday, and now has gotten progressively worse to the point that today I am full-on sick. It has killed my cooking-mojo since I am dizzy when I am standing up. But I realized that I had perfect posts to share for the holiday weekend, so I am here writing this up. It is the least I can do 🙂

I know everyone else is still going to have a great weekend, so I thought some ideas for picnics would be good. I was thinking about all the “patriotic” posts that have been everywhere this week. I was thinking how cheesy food is kind of obnoxious sometimes. And by cheesy I mean red cupcakes with bright blue icing and white candy stars on the icing. We are still part of the no kids group. I don’t need bright blue icing to enjoy a cupcake. I really don’t even need it to involve red, white and blue to eat it at a picnic for a national holiday. There will be flags hanging. I don’t need to eat one too.

But cherries. Cherries are one of those things that scream summer to me. And they are red. So patriotic! So this is why I thought, if you wanted to take a patriotic dessert with you this weekend, these cupcakes would be perfect. Oh! And there isn’t any icing – so they will be fine sitting on a picnic table!

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. I hand-mixed the batter with a wooden spoon.

What You Need
Step One

2 cups blanched almonds, divided
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Two
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Step Three
3 eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Step Four
~2 1/2 cups halved sweet cherries (~1 lb fresh)
Step Five
2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a small food processor, chop half the almonds to coarse chunks and set aside. Chop the second half coarsely and remove 1/4 cup setting aside separately from the first cup. Ad flour, baking powder, and salt to the food processor and grind to a flour consistency. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, mixing in one at a time, and then stir in vanilla extract.

Slowly stir in almond-flour mixture.

Fold in the cherries and the 1/4 cup of chopped almonds.

Stir 2 Tbsp brown sugar into the remaining cup of almonds.

Divide batter between 18 cupcake papers (~2/3 full). Top each with almond-sugar mixture.

Bake for ~20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes on cooling rack, then allow to cool completely out of muffin pan.

Yields: ~18 cupcakes

::sweet treat:: Lavender Cupcakes

lavender tree

A few weeks ago I finally had the chance to go into a little shop in Manayunk called Village Spices. I have always wanted to stop in, but it is in a spot that we only really pass walking by at night with an ice cream cone.  I never think about it when we are there during the day.  Usually a daytime trip to Manayunk means I have a mission. And usually that mission involves food. On the other end of Main Street. Can you see how excited I am about having finally stopped in?

I was like a kid in a candy store in this place. I finally found smoked paprika! An ingredient I could not find anywhere! And let me just tell you, TOTALLY different than paprika. But I am going off topic. In this tiny little shop, there was a shelf I was fascinated with. Any extract you could dream of. The lavender immediately caught my eye. I had wanted to make Lavender cupcakes since I bought the book Cupcake Heaven and learned lavender could be a flavor not just a scent. When the lavender was blooming outside, however, I completely didn’t think about it. Lavendar extract though!  Think of the possibilities! And the year round use!

These cupcakes would be perfect for a baby or bridal shower. Something very girly. I might add lavender extract to my petit fours next time I make them. The best part of these cupcakes is that the recipe is quite basic, but produces perfect results. I didn’t realize until I was putting everything together that it is almost identical to the base of the Cherry Almond Cupcakes (coming soon!).  So if you don’t like lavender, use vanilla. But if you haven’t tried lavender, you don’t know that you don’t like it 😉

What You Need
Step One

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
Step Two
2 eggs (room temp)
1 Tbsp Lavender Extract
Step Three
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
Step Four
2 Tbsp coconut milk (or regular milk)

Preheat  oven to 350F. In a large bowl mix sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time and then stir in lavender extract. Sift in all step three ingredients (dry ingredients) and stir until combined.  Lastly add the milk.

Spoon batter into cupcake holders. Should fill 12 about halfway. Bake for ~18 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack.

Once cooled, get your icing ready to making them officially “lavendairy”.

Icing
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
1 drop purple food gel

Mix the sugar and egg white until combined  Stir in desired color.  Use a spoon to spread on tops of cupcakes. Allow to set before serving.

Yields: 1 dozen cupcakes