Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I had been trying to figure out what to publish for my 100th post... was being very indecisive, but Thanksgiving seems to have taken care of that for me.

May you each have a blessed day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mini Pecan Tarts Topped with Mascarpone Frosting and Glazed Pecans

Mini Pecan Tarts ButterYumI'm so happy to be a guest blogger on Centsational Girl's blog this week. Kate has the most wonderful DIY blog - such a creative homemaker. Her before and after transformations are truly amazing!!

On to my Mini Pecan Tarts. I developed this recipe specifically for this guest blogging event. I'm a little OCD in the kitchen, so I tweaked and fussed and researched for what seemed like forever before I was satisfied with the finished recipe. Let me tell you, I have a whole new appreciation for cookbook authors after this little project! Anyway, the family absolutely devoured these little treasures, so I guess that means they turned out well. Let me know if you give them a try!

To begin the recipe, let's make this very easy crust. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine room temperature butter and cream cheese; blend using the flat beater attachment (or better yet, use the fabulous BeaterBlade!). When butter and cream cheese are combined, add salt, cocoa, and flour; combine. Dough will be soft, but easy to handle.

Spray a mini muffin pan with an oil/flour baking spray (wipe excess spray off the top of your mini muffin pan). Roll dough into 24 balls and place into muffin pan. Refrigerate for 15-2o minutes, or until it firms up enough to not be too sticky to press it into place.

Press dough into muffin indentations using your fingers or a pastry tool dipped in flour. Pop the dough back into the fridge while making the filling.

Because these mini tarts are s0 tiny, be sure to chop your pecans into small pieces.

Combine butter, cane syrup (or corn syrup), salt, and confectioner's sugar in heavy bottomed sauce pan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for one full minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer hot sugar mixture to a glass measure and pour or spoon mix into prepared pan, being very careful to not fill them more than 3/4 full (if you do, you'll have a hot, bubbly mess on your hands).

No matter how hard you try, you'll probably have some filling bubble over the sides of the tarts during baking. If this happens to you, you can easily trim away any excess caramel with a pair of kitchen scissors. Allow the tarts tarts to finish cooling while we make the glazed pecans and Mascarpone frosting.

Okay, let's do the glazed pecans first (incidentally, you can do this with just about any kind of nut). Have you ever tasted Lyle's Golden Syrup? It's a sugar cane syrup that has the most wonderful caramel flavor and color. Look for it in your baking aisle. If you can't find it... you can easily substitute corn syrup.

In a heat proof bowl, mix the granulated sugar and sugar cane syrup together. Microwave on high for 10-20 seconds until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very liquidy. Quickly pour over nuts and toss to coat.

Place the nuts in a single layer on a silicone baking mat and toss them into the oven for 15 minutes; tossing once half way through the baking.

Use a fork to separate glazed nuts after they're removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely before using. Can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight container.

For the Mascarpone frosting, combine room temperature Mascarpone cheese, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract by hand. Pipe swirls of the frosting on tarts that have been allowed to cool completely; refrigerate. Just before serving, top with glazed nut and serve immediately.

Mini Pecan Tarts Topped with Mascarpone Frosting and Glazed Pecans

makes 24 tarts

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder for color (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the flat beater, combine the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the salt, confectioner's sugar, flour, and optional cocoa powder; combine. Divide into 24 equal portions, roll into ball shape; place in a greased mini muffin pan. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before pressing dough into the mini muffin cups using fingers or a pastry tool dipped in flour. Refrigerate while making the filling.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine everything but the vanilla extract. Bring to a boil for one full minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pastry, filling no more than 3/4 full. Place mini muffin pan on a larger sheet pan to catch any drips that might spill over. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Allow tarts to cool in pan for 25 minutes before removing. Trim excess caramel with kitchen scissors if needed (while the caramel is still pliable).

Mascarpone Frosting
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together by hand. Pipe or spoon onto completely cool tarts. Refrigerate. Don't add the glaze pecans until serving time.

Glazed Pecans
1/2 cup pecans
1 tablespoon Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine sugar cane syrup, salt, and granulated sugar in a heat safe bowl and microwave on high for 10-20 seconds until sugar dissolves and mixture is very liquidy. Immediately pour over nuts and stir to combine. Place nuts in a single layer on a silicone lined sheet pan (greased foil or non-stick foil will also work). Bake nuts for 15 minutes, tossing half way through baking. Remove nuts from the oven and use a fork to separate them from one another; cool completely. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container. Top tarts with glazed pecans just before service, otherwise the glaze will start to melt into the Mascarpone frosting.

Happy Baking, Roasting, and Hosting!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Death by Chocolate Cake

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumDeath by Chocolate - this is one serious chocolate lover's cake!
Requested by my hubby, who is indeed a serious chocolate lover, for his 40th birthday.

Believe me when I say this cake is extremely rich and a little goes a long way. We first had it at the The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va. There they serve gigantic slices of this cake - enough for two. At home, this 9" cake can easily serve 16. Anything more than a 1 to 1 1/2-inch slice is too much.

Anyway, Hubby always orders this cake for dessert, and the last time we ate there, he purchased the cookbook for me (hint-hint). He was a happy birthday boy when he sank his teeth into his beloved DbC Cake.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumIf you plan to tackle this cake, devote several hours of uninterrupted time. I won't go into all the details of making the various components, but before you can assemble the cake, you'll need two (2) brownie layers, chocolate ganache (made several hours ahead), cocoa meringue (bakes for 2 hours), mocha mousse, and chocolate mousse - all simple to make individually, but together they are quite involved.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumStart by topping the first brownie layer with some of the ganache.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumNext you add the cocoa meringue that has been trimmed to fit. I found the recipe made an extremely generous amount of meringue. I trimmed 1/3 to 1/2 of it away to fit nicely on the 9" brownie layer.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumNext you add the Mocha Mousse - again, there was way more than I needed. Will use the extra in some sort of parfait or something. Also, I didn't have the right size springform pan to use as a barrier (to hold the loose mocha mousse in place), so I made one from a strip of wax paper that I folded in half and glued together with a bit of ganache. Then you top with the second brownie layer and pop it into the freezer.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumAfter about an hour in the freezer, this is what the cake looks like without the wax paper collar. I smoothed the mocha mousse with a spatula (wiped away the excess), but didn't get a photo - sorry.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumThen I filled in any gaps and covered the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache. I made this casual swirl pattern by moving my spatula up the sides of the cake while spinning my turntable.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYumThe last step is to pipe the chocolate mousse on in a decortive fashion.

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYum

Death by Chocolate Cake ButterYum
I was able to find the recipe on this blog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bite-Size Cheddar Bay Biscuits with Garlic Butter and Parsley

Bite Size Cheddar Biscuits ButterYumWouldn't you like to pop a half dollar cheddar bay biscuit with garlic butter and parsley into your mouth? No???
Oh, you'd prefer 4 or 5. I gottcha. That's how many of them we eat too!

These delectable little biscuits are close to my heart for a couple of reasons. The first is obviously their size - who doesn't love tiny bites?!! But the second, most important reason, is because they were made by my daughter - she's a teen and enjoys making big messes in my kitchen. Her clean up skills still need some work, but she's really becoming quite a good baker.
(proud mother smiling)

Bite Size Cheddar Biscuits ButterYum

Aren't they adorable! It sure is nice to enjoy her freshly baked yummies, and these itty-bitty cheesy bites are some of the yummiest yummies ever!
So, without further adieu... I'd like to introduce you to ButterYum Jr.

Hi. Anyone who's been to a certain popular seafood chain falls in love with that chains cheddar biscuits the minute they sink their teeth into them. No matter how many you eat, that wonderful flavor delights you again and again.... "if only I could have these every day." Well, now you can - and you'll wonder how something so easy could be so good.

Bite Size Cheddar Bay Biscuits with Garlic Butter and Parsley

Makes 24 half dollar size biscuits

2 cups biscuit mix (Mom's recipe below)
2/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
chopped parsley (or dried flakes)

All you do is mix the milk, cheese, and biscuit mix in a medium bowl. Place them onto a sheet pan and pop 'em into a 450F oven for 8-10 minutes (two batches, 12 biscuits each). When they're done baking, combine the butter, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl. Then you simply brush the butter mixture over the hot biscuits and Ta-Daaaaaaaa! :)

Btw, a size 50 cookie dough scoop will make 24 of these bite-size tickets to heaven.

Biscuit Mix
makes 6 cups (enough for 3 batches of the biscuit recipe above)

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup instant dry milk powder
1 1/8 cups shortening

Whisk the dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until it is well incorporated. Store in an airtight container and use within 3 months.

ButterYum Jr.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Old Fashioned Pork Roast

Old Fashioned Pork Roast from Cook's Country - ButterYum
Oh my is this pork roast ever delicious! It's a recipe I saw being prepared on a PBS show called Cook's Country by America's Test Kitchen (from Cook's Illustrated Magazine). I knew immediately that I had to try it when Christopher Kimball declared it to be the best recipe Bridget Lancaster had ever developed.

Only one hitch to this recipe, you have to plan ahead because it takes 2 days to make**. Most of the cooking is actually done on day 1, then the roast rests in the fridge overnight, and finally the roast is sliced and briefly reheated on day 2. Great if you are expecting a large crowd and want to get a lot of the work done ahead of time.

Technically speaking, you can serve this roast on day one, but it will shred apart when you try to carve it. The overnight stay in the fridge does something magical to the roast that enables you to carve the most beautiful slices.

Either way, I promise this recipe is worth every minute it takes to make!

Start with a 6 pound boneless Boston Butt (also known as a Pork Shoulder Butt). I could only find one with a bone (6.5 pounds before boning). Removing the bone was much easier than I thought it would be. Click here for directions.

Once you have your boneless roast, tie it well with kitchen twine. The idea is to make the roast compact and give it a nice roast like shape (otherwise it's kind of flat and it has a hole from removing the bone). Place in a lightly oiled roasting pan.

Time to cover with a rub made from a mix of herbs, garlic, and S&P. Mmmm, the smell is fabulous!!! Now it goes into a 300F oven for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, the roasting pan is removed from the oven and the onions are added. Toss them with the rendered fat from the pan. If there isn't enough fat in the pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss to coat. Now we go back into the oven for an additional 4 hours (still at 300F).

Yes, that's a total of 7 hours in the oven. This is a long, slow braise... resulting in the most tender pork imaginable (my hubby said it was as tender as prime rib - obviously it won't taste like prime rib, but you get the point).

Caution - make sure you have lots of yummy food prepared to feed your family while this is roasting because the smell is going to drive them bonkers all day long!

Here's what it will look like after 7 hours. Oh how I wish you could get a whiff - the onions are uber caramelized and the smell is utterly amazing!!

Remove the roast to a glass baking dish and allow it to cool before you wrap the dish well with plastic and put it in the fridge overnight.

You want to reserve the onions and pan drippings separately in the fridge overnight too. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of drippings (maybe 1 1/4 after you remove the fat). Add water to the drippings if you don't have enough.

About an hour before you want to serve this yummy roast, preheat your oven to 300F, remove the twine from your roast and start slicing it into 1/4-inch slices. This took no time using an electric knife.

"Shingle" the slices in a large casserole dish. Pour about 1/2 cup of the reserved pan drippings over the slices and cover with foil. Reheat for about 45 minutes. CI suggested preparing a gravy from the leftover drippings (recipe below), but I preferred the pan drippings straight from the pan.

Season individual servings with salt and pepper and enjoy!
I served this roast with mashed potatoes and oven roasted Brussels sprouts.

Old Fashioned Pork Roast
(adapted from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook)
Makes enough to feed 10-12 hungry guests

6 pound boneless Boston Butt (aka pork shoulder)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 large red onions, sliced into 1-inch thick wedges
Olive oil (for roasting pan and possibly needed to coat onions)
1/2 cup reserved pan drippings

Tie roast well with kitchen twine and place it in a lightly oiled roasting pan.  Rub roast with mix of herbs and garlic.  Pop it into a 300F oven for 3 hours, uncovered.  Remove from oven and add onions; toss with pan drippings.  If there isn't enough fat in the pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss onions to coat.  Pop everything back in the 300F oven, again uncovered, for an additional 4 hours (check pan every hour to be sure the pan drippings don't evaporate - add 2 cups of water if necessary).  Remove the roast from the roasting pan and place it in a glass baking dish and allow it to cool before you wrap the dish well with plastic and put it in the fridge overnight.  Reserve the onions and pan drippings separately in the fridge overnight too. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of drippings (maybe 1 1/4 after you remove the fat). Add water to the drippings if you don't have enough. 

About an hour before you want to serve this yummy roast, preheat your oven to 300F, remove the twine from your roast and start slicing it into 1/4-inch slices.  "Shingle" the slices in a large casserole dish. Pour about 1/2 cup of the reserved pan drippings over the slices and cover with foil. Reheat for about 45 minutes. CI suggested preparing a gravy from the leftover drippings (recipe below), but I preferred the pan drippings straight from the pan.  Season individual servings with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Sauce from the pan drippings
makes approximately 1 cup

remaining pan drippings (fat removed)
reserved roasted onions
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple jelly
1 cup apple cider

Heat in a saucepan over med-high heat for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened. Strain onions and serve.

Note: this sauce recipe has a vinegary flavor that I wasn't very fond of. I much preferred the pan drippings straight from the roasting pan, but I might have liked it without the vinegar.

I also think that this recipe would be just fine without the sage and rosemary, so if you're in a hurry, or don't want to pay $6 for fresh herbs, feel free to make it using only garlic, salt, and pepper.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baby Chocolate Oblivions - WOW

Baby Chocolate Oblivions Mocha Latte ButterYumBaby Chocolate Oblivion Cakes ButterYumDo you believe in Chocolate Nirvana?

This week's Heavenly Cake Bakers selection - Baby Chocolate Oblivion cakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

All I can say is WOW - one tiny bite is every bit as good as the finest chocolate truffle. They absolutely melt in your mouth and evoke audible groans of deliciousness from all who sample them.

If you're a chocolate lover, you're going to adore these!

Melting chocolate for baby chocolate oblvions ButterYumThis recipe is so wonderful, yet so easy. Like getting a 4-star dessert from boxed mix.

Start by by melting chocolate, butter, and sugar in a double boiler; set aside. Easy.

For the record, the recipe calls specifically for 60-62% cacao dark chocolate, but I used good ole Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips and they worked perfectly well.

heating eggs for baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumNow we whisk the eggs over the same pan of water until the eggs are warm to the touch. This takes only 2-3 minutes. Again, easy.

whipping eggs for baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumThe eggs are then whipped in the stand mixer for 5 minutes until they triple in volume. Really easy.

making baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumThe last step is to gently fold the eggs into the reserved chocolate mixture.
That's it - I told you it was easy!

how to make baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumI poured the batter into a gallon zipper bag so I could easily fill the pans.

how to make baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumThe recipe calls for placing a rack into a 9x13 pan before adding a silicone pan with twelve 4-ounce cavities, but after reading reviews from other Heavenly Cake Bakers, I was confident that my 2-ounce silicone financier pans would be the perfect size for my family. I had to scale the recipe down to 3/4 so I could make eighteen 2-ounce cakes (easy to do if you weigh the ingredients in grams).

Lekue financier pans baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumMy 2 pans were larger than the single pan Rose suggested, but they fit nicely in a 14x17 turkey roasting pan. I had to tuck the 4 outer corners down, but silicone pans are very flexible and they popped right back into shape when I removed them from the roasting pan.

baking baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumI snipped a hole in the corner of the zipper bag and easily filled the pans without any mess. The outer roasting pan is then filled with hot tap water until it reaches 1/2 way up the side of the silicone pan. Then the whole thing goes into the oven for a total of 15 minutes; the baby cakes are uncovered during the first 5 minutes of baking...

Steaming baby chocolate oblivions ButterYum...but during the last 10 minutes, a foil pan is turned upside down and placed over the roasting pan. I imagine this creates a steam bath of some sort which must keep the baby cakes moist.

Cooling baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumHere they are after just 15 short minutes in the oven. Their internal temperature was exactly 150F, just as written in the recipe. They were left on the counter to cool for 45 minutes before heading off to the fridge to chill for a minimum of 4 hours.

Covered Sheet Pan ButterYumI have this nifty covered half sheet pan. It's not airtight, but it kept my baby oblivions well protected during their overnight stay in the fridge.

unmolding baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumThe next morning I tried to remove one of the baby cakes from the silicone pan, but I quickly realized angled corners are not as friendly to delicate chocolate oblivion cakes as a round silicone pan might be, so I threw the pans into the freezer for 2 hours....

How to unmold baby chocolate oblivions ButterYumThat firmed the baby cakes up a little, but not quite enough, so back into the freezer for an additional 4 hours and that was the perfect amount of time needed to make the removal of my half size baby cakes fool proof.

Baby Chocolate Oblivion Cakes ButterYum
I dressed them up with a little piped decoration made from equal parts chocolate Italian meringue buttercream and softened Mascarpone cheese - a divine combination!

Baby Chocolate Oblivion Cakes ButterYumHmmm... I like the idea of a Mocha Latte version of these little guys... topped with chocolate covered coffee beans.  Amazing and dangerously addictive!

Update - I had to send these to my son's office so I wouldn't keep eating them - they were dangerously delicious!!!

As most of you know, the recipes reviewed by the Heavenly Cake Bakers are not shared, but they can be found in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum.