Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thin Mint Scones

Thin Mint Scones - ButterYum
St. Patrick's Day is a special day in our house because it's our oldest daughter's birthday.  She loves Thin Mint girl scout cookies so I bought a box with her in mind.  The very next day I spied Thin Mint Scones on The Food Librarian's blog and knew they would be perfect to make for my birthday girl's breakfast.  They were very tasty and the family loved them - I hope you will too.

Thin Mint Scones
recipe adapted from The Food Librarian
makes 12-14 scones

10 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12 Thin Mint cookies, chopped into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon mint extract

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons sanding or turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)

Preheat over to 425F.  In a glass measure, combine heavy cream and mint extract; set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles small pebbles.  Add heavy cream and chopped cookie bits; blend together quickly, being careful not to over mix.  Press mixture onto a lightly floured surface and roll to 1/2-inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife or floured biscuit cutter, cut into shapes and place on parchment or silicone lined sheet pan.  Make egg wash by combining egg and water; brush onto the tops of each scone; sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until baked through and golden brown.  The shamrock shaped cutter I used can be found here.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Secret Recipe Club - Oatmeal and Almond Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal and Almond Raisin Cookies (Secret Recipe Club) - ButterYum

Have you ever met an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie you didn't like?  I love, love, love them... and couldn't wait to try this version when I got my Secret Recipe Club assignment.  The recipe is unique in the fact that it includes a touch of almond extract - something I don't think I've ever seen in an oatmeal raisin cookie before, but I was eager to try it out.  I have one word for these cookies - YUM!  Thanks to Heather and Madeline (Her adorable daughter/sous chef) from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Oatmeal and Almond Raisin Cookies
makes about 30 cookies
Printable Recipe

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cup raisin

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined; set aside.

Beat the butter, sugars, eggs, almond, and vanilla until well blended in a large mixer bowl. Gradually add the flour.  Stir in the oats and raisins until well combined.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on a baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake - ButterYum

I spotted this Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake on Smitten Kitchen recently and, after reading the most tantalizing description, hoped an opportunity would soon present itself so I could make it.  To my delight, a dinner invitation was extended to our family shortly thereafter.  The cheesecake was a huge hit and several dinner guests proclaimed it to be the best cheesecake they'd ever eaten.  Here's the description that won my heart:

"...this cake is ridiculous, ridiculous bordering on obscene, so obscene that even a wee sliver of it takes an eating intermission mid-slice just to get through. Perhaps you’ll go get yourself a glass of water, do some stretches or deep yogic breathing, but I guarantee that you’ll do whatever it takes to psych you up enough to take on the second half.  

Because did I mention the part where this cake is ridiculous? Let’s start from the bottom. A standard cheesecake crumb crust consists of ground cookies and melted butter. This crumb crust takes those ground cookies and melted butter and raises it some brown sugar, fresh nutmeg and, oh, nearly half a pound of ground up bittersweet chocolate. For real. 

From there, a normal cheesecake would delve into the, you know, cheesecake layer. Not this one. This one decides that you need a cushion of fudgy Kahlúa-spiked ganache to soften the blow of the cappuccino cheesecake layer, which — as I am sure you’ve figured out by now — is also less than intuitive. You’d think that to make a coffee-flavored cheesecake, you’d simply dissolve some instant espresso in your batter. You probably wouldn’t think to also stir in rum, vanilla, and molasses (molasses, people!) but I did as the recipe instructed and landed on a coffee cheesecake that is neither sweet nor obvious, but laced with the faint bitter complexity you’d want from a good cup of coffee. You know, if that good cup of coffee had four bricks of cream cheese in it.  

I suspect by now you yourself need an intermission, and perhaps a run around the block to clear your head before you take on the rest of this description and yet the cheesecake marches on, slicking a sour cream-vanilla layer upon the cheesecake, and more Kahlúa ganache atop that and then, since we are obviously no longer pretending we care anything about subtlety, you might as well stud it with some chocolate-covered espresso beans. To make sure people get the idea."

I used a plain round tip to pipe the lattice design and a star tip to pipe the decorative edge.

 Important Tip:
Don't let the piped ganache border chill against the springform pan because the cold ganache will glue the pan and cheesecake together like cement.  To avoid this, I removed the pan sides before piping, wrapped the naked cheesecake with a long strip of parchment paper, then piped the border and chilled the cheesecake until the ganache was firm before carefully peeling the parchment away.  For a clean presentation, each cut I make into any cheesecake is done with a sharp knife that has been warmed with hot water and dried.

Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake 
(a 2002 Bon Appetit recipe adapted from
makes one 10-inch cheesecake 

9 ounces chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

4 (four) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature (that's a total of 32 ounces, or 2 pounds)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons rum (light or dark)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons molasses
4 large eggs

16 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
For the crust:
Combine cookie crumbs, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, nutmeg, and melted butter; press into a 10-inch springform pan, bottom and sides, to within-1/2 inch of top edge.  Chill while you make the ganache.

For the ganache:
Bring whipping cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlúa. Whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups ganache over bottom and sides of chilled crust. Freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for garnish. 

For the filling:
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350F. Using a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth.  Add flour, rum, espresso powder, vanilla, and molasses.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl if needed. 

Pour filling into frozen cookie crumb and ganache crust.  Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and center 2 inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly). Maintain oven temperature. 

For the topping:
Whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to cooling rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours. 

Run small sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Using a pastry bag and tips of your choice, pipe ganache in a lattice design on top of the cheesecake, and pipe a decorative border around top edge.  Garnish with coffee beans, if desired.  Chill until lattice is firm (15 minutes or so).  Cheesecake can be made up to 4 days ahead.  Keep chilled in an airtight container.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie - ButterYum

Welcome to this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge - Spaghetti with Red Sauce.  When I read what this month's challenge would be, I knew right away I wanted to make Spaghetti Pie.  It's a fun pasta dish which is baked in a springform pan.  The baked pie is allowed to sit at room temperature to set up so when you unmold it, it holds its shape.  The pie is cut like a piece of cake and served warm or at room temperature.  When I've made this in the past I haven't used a recipe, but I found this tasty version on the blog Gourmet Rooster by Courtney.  It's easy to prepare and can be assembled a day ahead and tucked it into the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it.  Served with a salad, this is a wonderful meal for hectic days when family members aren't able to sit at the dinner table together - great for picnics and potlucks too.  I hope you'll give it a try the next time you find yourself with leftover spaghetti and meatballs.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
makes one 9-inch springform pan, serves 8-12

1/2 pound leftover cooked spaghetti
1 1/2 - 2 cups leftover tomato sauce (like my San Marzano Tomato Sauce)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
20 medium size cooked meatballs, chopped
(optional) 1 cup fresh veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, etc.

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
(optional) 6 medium size cooked meatballs, sliced in half 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat eggs together.  Add pasta, sauce, and both cheeses; stir to combine.  Pour half of the spaghetti mixture into the prepared springform pan, add chopped meatballs and optional veggies (if using), add remaining spaghetti mixture, and top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese (press everything down to make it compact).  Dot the top with the optional meatball halves (if using).  Cover springform pan with foil and place on a rimmed half sheet pan; bake for 55 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese browns nicely on top.  Remove from oven and rest for at least 20 minutes (30 is even better).  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

My notes - I prefer to serve extra sauce on the side (if the pie is too wet, it won't slice nicely).   You can make this without meatballs.  Alternately, Italian sausage would be a great substitution for the meatballs, and I think sauteed mushrooms and chopped basil would be great additions as well.