Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pralines

Pralines, Two Ways - ButterYum

Do you like your Pralines chewy or crystallized?  I'm a chewy gal, but what the heck, I'll share a recipe for both today.  I probably shouldn't share either recipe with you because these are so darn dangerous.  Warning - do not make pralines unless you have a crowd to share them with because you probably won't be able to resist eating them all yourself.  Yes, that nearly happened to me - had to box them up and send them to out the door with the teens.  Oh my, sooooo good!

Notes:  The crystallized pralines are ready to eat in about 30 minutes, but the chewy pralines need several hours to set up. Be sure to have all ingredients ready to go - once the sugar syrup starts to boil, things happen pretty fast.  Be sure to have a parchment or silicone lined sheet pan close by too.  For best results, don't make pralines on a rainy or humid day.



Chewy Pralines
makes 15

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or Lyle's Golden Syrup, my preference)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans, whole or chopped

Have all ingredients ready, and have a silicone or parchment lined sheet pan prepared and set aside.  In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine sugars, baking soda, cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt; stir to dissolve.  Raise heat and bring mixture to a boil; don't stir while boiling.  When mixture reaches 240F, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans.  Working quickly, spoon mixture into 15 equal portions onto prepared sheet pan.  Cool for several hours until caramel sets.  Store on silicone or wax paper, in a single layer, in an airtight container.


Crystallized Pralines
makes 10

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, whole or chopped

Have all ingredients ready, and have a silicone or parchment lined sheet pan prepared and set aside.  In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine sugars, cream, butter, and salt; stir to dissolve.  Raise heat and bring mixture to a boil; don't stir while boiling.  When mixture reaches 240F, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans; continue to stir quickly for a minute or so until mixture starts to crystallize.  Working quickly, spoon mixture into 10 equal portions onto prepared sheet pan.  Cool and serve.  Store in an airtight container between layers of wax paper.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Arizona Chocolate Chip Cookies

Arizona Chocolate Chip Cookies - ButterYum

I recently stumbled upon an intriguing recipe for Arizona Chocolate Chip Cookies on a blog called Artfully Graced by Jane.  Jane didn't know how these cookies got their name, but her family couldn't get enough of them so I was inspired to make a batch. Wow, am I glad I did - they're fantastic.

My youngest hates coconut and had no desire to try them until everyone else proclaimed how wonderful they were - she tried them, she loved them, she called them Amazing.  My other daughter shared them with a friend who doesn't like coconut - she loved them  too.  And then there's Mr. 18 year old, who doesn't care much for cookies in general - he ate lots of them, he loved them, he called them Delicious.  What can I say - you better give them a try.  Thank you, Jane, for sharing this wonderful recipe.


Photo by ButterYum


Arizona Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 75 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup butter, softened (1/2 pound)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups oats (Jane prefers old-fashioned oats, but quick oats would work too)
2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips 

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the reserved flour mixture; beat just until mixed.  Lastly, add the oatmeal, shredded coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips; beat just until the ingredients are incorporated.

Using a #50 cookie scoop (about the size of 1 tablespoon), portion dough onto parchment or silicone lined baking sheet (I was able to get 15 on each 1/2 sheet tray).  Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free-form Buttermilk Biscuits

Free-form Buttermilk Biscuits - ButterYum
A few weeks ago I told you I would be testing several biscuit recipes so today I'm posting a recipe for free-form buttermilk biscuits that a friend shared with me.  For this recipe you don't need a biscuit cutter - the dough is divided into 12 equal portions which are then formed by hand, so each biscuit has a unique shape and there are no dough scraps left to press together and re-roll.  The recipe also calls for cake flour and a touch of sugar, resulting in very tender and tasty biscuits (they're really good the next day too!).  I hope you'll give them a try.

Note - I tested a batch using just all-purpose flour and they turned out very well, so don't miss making these if you don't have cake flour on hand.  Alternately, you can make your own cake flour as directed below: 
  • To make 1 cup of cake flour -- measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour, subtract 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (corn flour).  Whisk well to mix together.

Free-Form Buttermilk Biscuits
makes 12

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3/4 cups cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450F.  Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  Using two knives or a pastry blender, "cut in" butter cubes until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the cold buttermilk just until all the flour is moistened and forms a ball (don't over mix - there should be lumps).  Gently pat the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a biscuit and place on a cookie sheet.  Brush tops with buttermilk and bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy.


I'm sharing this post with Trisha at Sweetology.









Monday, February 13, 2012

Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies - ButterYum

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Bitchin Kitchin by Ellie in NJ.  Ellie is a true foodie and her wonderful blog is full of savory and sweet selections, complete with lots of great photos that walk you through her recipes.  If you get a chance, you must check out her cupcakes (so many tempting flavor combinations). It's been a very hectic month in the ButterYum household, so I chose a simple recipe to share with you today - Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  And yes, Giant is an accurate description as each cookie measure about 4-inches in diameter.  These cookies are a bit unusual - the recipe calls for only 1/2 cup flour, but an entire pound of chocolate, 4 large eggs, and 1 3/4 cup brown sugar.  They bake up big and heavy, but with a meringue-like quality to them - crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

My Notes:  The cookie batter is a snap to make, but it has to chill for 45 minutes before baking.  I used a # 20 cookie scoop to portion out the dough, which yielded exactly 24 large cookies,  I baked only 6 cookies per sheet pan, chilling the dough between batches.  Much like dipping ice cream, rinsing the scoop with hot water every couple of dips allowed the hard, cold dough to release from the scoop easily.  Plan to use several sheet pans as the cookies need to cool completely before being moved.  Also, I see no reason why you couldn't make them smaller if you wanted to - simply adjust the baking time. These fantastic cookie are even better a day or two after they're baked.


Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies
makes 24 cookies (using #20 scoop)

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
7 ounces chocolate covered toffee bar bit, chopped (Skor, Heath, etc)
optional 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (black walnuts would work particularly well here)

(No need to preheat the oven yet - the dough needs to chill before baking).
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a double boiler over medium heat, slowly melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth (my chocolate seized a bit before finally melting - probably caused by the moisture content of my butter.  I just moved my double boiler off the heat and stirred the firm chocolate mass every few minutes until it relaxed into a melted puddle of chocolate goodness).  Set melted chocolate mixture aside and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Beat sugar and eggs together for about 5 minutes until thick (I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment).  Slowly add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract.  Next add the flour mixture, followed by the chopped toffee candy and nuts.  Cover bowl with plastic and chill for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Drop cookie dough 2 1/2-inches apart onto sheet pans lined with parchment or silicone (6 cookies per sheet pan).  Bake for 15 minutes; cool completely before removing.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coeur a la Creme - Redux

Coeur a la Creme ButterYumCoeur a la Creme - Ooh-la-la!

How to make Coeur a la Creme ButterYumThe cast of characters - cream cheese, heavy cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds - Hello! What's not to love?  I can't think of a more perfect dessert for Valentine's Day.

You'll also need some cheesecloth and a coeur a la creme mold.
Alternates for both listed further down, so keep reading.


This is a traditional French porcelain coeur a la creme mold. I'm not at all fond of the shape of this porcelain mold (too pointy and kinda weird).  So I decided to make my own.


How to make a Coeur a la Creme Mold ButterYumI found this plastic candy dish at Wal-Mart for $1.50. I simply drilled holes in the bottom and voila, a coeur a la creme mold in a more pleasing puffy heart shape.


But hey, you don't need a heart-shaped mold to make this yummy dessert. You can use a mesh sieve.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumThe porcelain molds have little feet on the bottom. My homemade mold doesn't, so here I'm using a mixing bowl to suspend the mold and catch the liquid as it drains.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumA bird's eye view of the set-up.


Coeur a la Creme ButterYumBefore we begin mixing the ingredients together, let's line our mold with cheesecloth. No cheesecloth?  No problem - you can use coffee filters or paper towels instead.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumTime to mix the ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the softened cream cheese and sift the confectioner's sugar on top.


sift to remove lumpsI always sift clumpy ingredients like powdered sugar and cocoa powder.


BeaterBladeI know I sound like a broken record, but I LOVE my BeaterBlade attachment.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. If you own a stand mixer, you need to get one!

Okay, combine the sugar and cream cheese and beat on high for 2 minutes
Next we'll add the pure vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.


Vanilla Bean ButterYumI love using vanilla beans - cut it down the middle with a sharp knife...


Vanilla Bean Seeds ButterYum...and scrape out the seeds.  Easy!


Vanilla Caviar ButterYumMmmm.  Look at all of that yummy flavor!


Make Vanilla Sugar ButterYumDon't throw that vanilla bean away - make vanilla sugar by submerging the pods in granulated sugar and store in an airtight container.  Keep adding bean pods and sugar and you'll always have a supply on hand to make cookies, desserts, beverages... really great stuff!


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumBack to our Creme - Beat in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds. See all those yummy vanilla specks?


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumAdd the heavy cream and replace the paddle with the whip attachment. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumPour the mixture into the prepared mold - it will shrink a bit as it drains.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumWrap the excess cheesecloth over the top and place the mold in a container to catch the liquid that will eventually seep out.


Making Coeur a la Creme ButterYumI ran into an unexpected problem when I placed my filled mold in the mixing bowl to drain. The mold was kind of top heavy and kept tilting sideways - I solved the problem by placing plastic wrap around the rim of the bowl which acted like a gasket and kept the plastic mold from tilting.


Molding Coeur a la Creme ButterYumDairy products are notorious for absorbing refrigerator odors (not that there are any in MY refrigerator), but you never know when one of the teens is going to put an open container of leftover Chinese take-out in there. So just to be on the safe side, I wrapped it well with plastic wrap.


Unmolding Coeur a la Creme ButterYumHere we are after 24 hours. See how the creme has compressed a bit. You can't tell by looking at the photo, but the cheesecloth is completely saturated with liquid that drained out of the Creme.


and look at how much liquid collected in the bottom of the bowl.


unmolding Coeur a la Creme ButterYumEnough with that - time to unmold our glorious creation.


unmolding Coeur a la Creme ButterYumPlace the Creme on a serving platter and lift the mold straight up so as not to mar its soft surface.


unmolding Coeur a la Creme ButterYumCarefully peel away the cheesecloth - I love the impression it leaves behind.


making chocolate sauce ButterYum
If I was serving this dessert on a white platter, I would probably have made a strawberry or raspberry sauce, but since I'm serving this one on a red platter, I thought chocolate sauce would be more appropriate. I made a simple sauce by combining 1 part dark chocolate with 2 parts heavy cream; stirring constantly over med heat until combined.  Cool before using.


I garnished with some wild black raspberries I had stashed in the freezer.
Voila!

Coeur a la Creme
French translation - Heart has the Cream
adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten
serves 4-6


6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (or better yet, a BeaterBlade attachment), slowly combine the softened cream cheese and the confectioner's sugar until the risk of spewing powdered sugar all over your kitchen has passed. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off. Add vanilla extract and vanilla seeds, combine on low. Add cream and continue to combine on low until incorporated (scrape sides of the bowl if needed). Turn mixer off and replace the paddle attachment with the whip attachment. Whip mixture on high until stiff peaks form. Pour mixture into a cheesecloth lined mold. Place mold in a bowl to catch the juices that drain. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. unmold, garnish, and serve.

Chocolate Sauce
makes about 1 1/4 cups

4 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream

In a heavy bottomed pan over med heat, melt chocolate and cream together; stirring constantly. Cool before using.

Serving suggestion - hand each of your guests a spoon and watch them dig in!


Tip:
Cream cheese will dry out quickly if exposed to the air, so be sure to keep it wrapped while coming to room temperature.

If you're pressed for time, you can quickly bring cream cheese to room temperature by placing it in a sturdy zip-top storage bag and knead it with your warm hands for a few minutes. It will soften up in no time flat.