Happy New Year everyone! Wow, we are already done with the much awaited holiday season and about a week into 2016! Seriously, where does the time fly! So, this is to prove the that I did actually work on this recipe at the beginning of the year – to be more precise, a few days into January 2016! Wow, how unexpected life could be!
I hope this year is off to a great start for all of you! Did anyone make any lofty resolutions? I didn’t! I am finally in terms with the fact that, you either want to do something or not – regardless of whether it is your latest and greatest resolution or not! Honestly, the timing couldn’t be better! Why would you want to try this absolutely show-stopping creation right after all the indulgence in fine things! Less than 2 weeks before the waists start expanding seem like THE perfect time to share this recipe with you all! PLEASE…I really mean, PLEASE, don’t let the pictures fool you into thinking this recipe is super hard! It really is not! Believe me!
This croquembouche recipe (inspired by a recipe on Food Network) is one such thing! It’s true that you can’t stop with one, but if you want to have your cake and eat it too, then, yes, you can pull together all your willpower and stop with one! It’s a satisfying sweet treat that satisfies your sweet tooth without adding hundreds and hundreds of calories!
OK, before you to the recipe, let me warn you not to get spooked by the ingredient list or the long directions. It’s not all the bad. Breeze through the recipe first to get a feel for how very easy the recipe is so you know what to expect. It’s really a pretty fool-proof recipe with an amazing end result. Also, if you are not keen on making the caramel, you can easily skip it! The taste will still be amazing without the caramel coating.
DARN, how I wish I had taken a picture of the little baby after the first bite, revealing the delicious, creamy filling inside! (Note to self: It’s likely you will make this again this holiday season, so can you please post a picture showing the yumming filling(s) inside?)
¼ oz packet unflavored gelatin
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
12 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1½ cup heavy cream
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1. Begin by preparing the cream filling. Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of cold water in a small bowl and let it soften (bloom).
2. Measure out the milk in a heavy bottom pan. Add the vanilla and bring a simmer over medium high heat. Once the milk starts to simmer, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Whisk the egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, cornstarch and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Gradually whisk one-third of the milk into the egg mixture to temper the yolks. Add rest of the milk and whisk together. Return the pan over medium heat and cook the mixture while constantly whisking the mixture.
4. Cook the custard till the mixture boils and thickens. This will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Continue cooking till the mixture turns into custard consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Add in the softened gelatin.
5. Microwave the chocolate chips for 30 seconds, stir and heat again in 30 second increment till the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in 2 tablespoons of hot water. Stir in the coffee and chocolate into ½ the custard filling. Keep the other half plain. Cover both the bowls with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the surface to prevent any film from forming on top and chill the custard for 2 hours.
6. When ready to fill the puffs, whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. Fold half of it into the vanilla filling and the other half into the chocolate filling.
7. Transfer each filling to a large pastry bag with a 1/4-inch tip and set aside.
8. Prepare the pastry puffs while the custard is cooling. Preheat the oven to 450F.
9. Bring 1 ½ cups of water, remaining butter, sugar and salt to a simmer in medium saucepan. When the butter melts completely, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Return the pan to heat and cook stirring constantly till the mixture pulls from the side and turns shiny. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
10. Transfer the paste to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and start mixing on medium low speed for about a minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time till fully incorporated.
11. Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch tip. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and pipe 1 1/2-inch balls of dough onto the paper. You should get about 40 plus dollops.
12. Smooth out any pointy tips of the piped dollops with a wet finger. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, till the dough is puffed. Lower the temperature to 350f and bake until the puffs are golden and feel light. Turn off the oven and keep the puffs inside for another 10 minutes or so. Remove the puffs to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
13. Assemble the croquembouche as close to serving time as possible. Fill half the puffs with chocolate cream and the other half with vanilla by piping the cream from the bottom. You can lightly push in the piping from the bottom and squeeze the filling till the puff feels pretty full. Take care to avoid overfilling so the custard doesn’t explode out of the puffs.
14. Let the filled puffs chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.
15. To assemble the puffs as a tower, you need to make the caramel. Mix the 3 cups of sugar, corn syrup and 1 cup water in a saucepan, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the syrup till it turns deep amber. Take care not to burn the caramel. Another way to do this is to use a candy thermometer and boil the syrup till it reaches hard candy stage.
16. Immediately dip the bottom of the saucepan in a large bowl of ice water for a few seconds to stop the cooking. Let cool for a couple of minutes. The syrup should still be quite liquidy.
17. Partially dip each filled puff into the caramel and let the excess drip off. Arrange the puffs around the circle. If the caramel hardens, microwave until soft, 45 seconds.
18. Fill the base circle with more puffs for stability, then continue building a conical tower of smaller circles.
19. Dip the tip of a fork into the caramel and wave it around the tower, letting the syrup fall in strands around it. If the syrup is on the liquidy side, the syrup might not form the web look you are after. Let the syrup cool slightly and drizzle it slowly so it will cling better to the puffs and create the web look.
First and foremost, I must apologize to anyone that visits this blog for my extreme tardiness in posting new recipes lately. I won’t lie – I truly, honestly, sincerely felt so guilty not doing it, but something or the other kept me away. So, here I am, trying to keep up my promise to post the recipe for the simply wonderful and autumny apple muffins that I had posted a picture of earlier this week!
Something about fall and the crisp air! As the temperature drops, apples take on a whole new dimension! They somehow make fall the best season and they also try to comfort you into believing winter wont be that terrible after all. I have tried to play around with several recipes, but wanted to try a recipe that not only looked great, but also tasted wonderful! That’s when I stumbled upon this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction. She has great recipes on her site – so if you are looking for some comfort recipes, you should visit her site. 🙂
So, back to this recipe…true to what she mentions in her recipe, these muffins do rise well, and taste so cake-like and full of apple goodness. I did use some apple cider in the wet ingredients per one of the reader comments and skipped the glaze. Honestly, I don’t think the glaze is really needed except for that picture perfect oozy look! Yum!
Whip up these muffins this weekend and watch them disappear!
Autumn Apple Muffins
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup plain, fat free Greek (or regular) yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (better the quality, better the cinnamony goodness)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white, whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider
2 small Gala apples (or any firm kind), peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners and set aside.
2. Prepare the crumb topping: Combine all ingredients and gently toss together till they are crumbly. Set aside (wow, that was easy!)
3. Using a handheld mixer, cream butter. Add the sugars and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Beat in the eggs, yogurt, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and set the bowl aside.
5. In a separate bowl, toss together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a rubber spatula or whisk. Add the milk, gently stirring to mix in. Small lumps are OK. Fold in the apples.
6. Spoon the muffin batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. The tins will be quite full, which is great for making tall-domed muffins!
7. Distribute the crumb topping evenly over all the batter, pressing lightly with your hands so the crumbs will stick to the baked muffins.
8. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F, then reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, till the top is golden and muffin tests done.
9. Let the baked muffins stay in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cooled muffins can be stored at room temperature for about 5 days. These freeze well as well.
Blueberry season is winding down! This to me means two things…get to a u-pick farm FAST for several pounds of the blue gems and finding as many ways to use them up throughout the year as possible!
Throughout the past several years, July has become the month of continuing our family tradition of picking blueberries at a local farm! I get all excited as soon the farms open for the season. I immediately start to think about how many pounds to pick so I have enough to freeze for the rest of the year. Usually, if we pick about 15 pounds or so, they last till about March or April. That’s a lot of picking! And perhaps that’s why my kids never get super excited about getting ready for this day! I guess the summer heat, rivers of sweat pouring down your back and all the patient work to pick the bluest berries could possibly make you a bit less excited! 🙂 But, to their credit, they always go with us, try their best to do their part, and even have a bit of fun!
So, after couple of hours of sweating buckets in the scorching sun, we managed to pick almost 13 pounds, little shy of what I would have ideally liked! After sorting through, rinsing, drying and freezing most of the berries, I saved just enough to try hand at my first batch of ice cream – blueberry cheesecake ice cream, combining two of my favorite things!
The original recipe is found on the Eagle Brand website. With couple of minor tweaks, including substituting bit of milk for some of the heavy cream and incorporating crushed graham crackers, the ice cream turned out to be quite something! Although the recipe called for at least 4 hours of freezing, mine didn’t quite freeze to an ice cream consistency at 4 hours. But that didn’t stop me from serving this as soft serve for dessert following dinner. It was delicious! I did have enough to let freeze all the way. Next day, it was perfect! You may need to let the container stay at room temperature for about 5 minutes to make it easy to scoop.
This is the scoop served “soft-serve”
This recipe is super easy to whip up! Literally! So, go ahead and give it a try! You will be happy you did!
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice-Cream
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 container sweetened condensed milk
1/2 package reduced-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1. In a small pan, simmer blueberries, lemon juice and sugar till the berries start to burst. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes till the sauce thickens a little. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.
2. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream till stiff peaks form. Keep aside while you proceed to the next step.
3. In another medium bowl, using hand held mixer, combine the condensed milk, milk and cream cheese till smooth. Add vanilla and the lemon zest.
4. Slowly incorporate the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture.
5. Layer one third of the blueberry mixture into a plastic container (with a tight lid). Ladle in 1/2 of the ice-cream base. Sprinkle a tablespoon of crushed graham crackers. Now, gently swirl the two layers. Repeat with the remaining berry mixture, ice-cream base and graham crackers. Cover and freeze till completely set. This will take about 4-5 hours.
Serving tip: Let the ice-cream stay at room temperature for about 5 minutes to make it easy to scoop! Serve with additional blueberries and a sprinkling of crushed graham crackers!
Berries are a perfect way to start off a sunny morning -even a weekday one! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries….I just love them all!
I hope you have had the opportunity to try my raspberry scones! They are divine. Although I debated another scone recipe this morning, I went for buttery streusel topped blueberry muffin instead. This recipe is adapted from the original at the Café Sucre Farine. The recipe called for the blissful combination of lemon and blueberries! Heavenly!
This recipe is so easy – I mean it. Even though the original recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar, I decided to skip that step, mainly because I have made several batches of muffins before and I felt confident the muffins will turn out just fine without this additional step.
So, grab yourself the basic ingredients I am sure you already have in your pantry and whip up this recipe in time for a great grab n’ go breakfast.
Perfect Blueberry Muffins
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (set aside for 5 min)
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups frozen wild blueberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1. Heat the oven to 375F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. You can also use muffin liners.
2. Prepare the streusel topping by combining all ingredients till crumbly. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
4. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sour cream, curdled milk, oil, melted butter, lemon zest and vanilla.
5. Gently stir in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture just until moistened.
6. Fold in the frozen berries taking care to avoid breaking too many berries. I say this because it is inevitable your batter is going have bluish tint running through it no matter how careful you are!
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Don’t level the batter. Top with a generous amount of the streusel topping.
8. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 375F. Decrease heat to 350F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes till the tops are golden and the muffin is cooked through.
9. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the tin and let cool on a wire rack till completely cool.
10. While the muffins are cooling, prepare the glaze (optional) by vigorously stirring together the lemon juice and powdered sugar to a “drippable” consistency (say, like honey).
11. Lightly drizzle over the muffins. Let set.
12. Store muffins tightly covered for up to 5 days.
Hi folks, it’s been a long time! One of those whirlwind of few weeks and I really missed posting.
So, what better way to make a come-back than with a recipe that calls for an unlikely combination of fruits. Seriously, kiwi, cranberry and raisin? Yes, yes! And trust me, you won’t be sorry that you invited them to the same party!
The idea to use kiwi came from having a bag of dried candied kiwis sitting around in the pantry waiting to make an appearance in a recipe – any recipe. This was around the time I was contemplating whether to bake homemade treats for school lunches in an attempt to make them a little less “junk”. Although this adaptation of a Cooking Light recipe still has more sugar than I prefer to add, the website has these at under 140 calories per serving size (and their serving size was larger than how I cut my bars). In my version of the recipe, since I used candied kiwi and sweetened cranberries, I reduced the sugar to 1/2 cup. I guess that’s not too bad – or so I hope!
These bars have the right sweetness balanced by the fruity firm, chewy texture of the candied fruits. Needless to say, they were quite a big hit with my family. Give it a try!
1/2 cup of dried/candied fruits – kiwi, craisins and raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, if desired
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Sprinkle water over the dried fruits and microwave for 20-30 seconds. Remove from microwave and set aside to cool.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a large bowl, combine butter and brown sugar. Use a hand mixer to make the job easier. To this, add the mashed banana, buttermilk, vanilla extract and egg whites one at a time. Mix well to combine.
5. Mix in the dry mixture in two parts just until combined. Fold in the fruits and walnuts.
6. Spoon the mixture into the baking pan and smooth the top.
7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes till the top is set and golden.
8. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Cut into 24 pieces. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Store covered in an airtight container for about 5 days.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to call this recipe. I came across the recipe somewhere online and can’t seem to trace back my steps. I was searching frantically for a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cookie recipe the other day. As you can imagine, too much “free” meant I was coming up empty with my search results, until I came across this recipe. Even though, it is gluten and dairy free, it was so addictive and delicious, it is definitely going to be a keeper! So, even though the title of this recipe is Special Diet Snickerdoodles, I really have to de-emphasize the diet part as this cookie is too delicious to be a diet cookie!
I was dismissing all the other recipes as I thought my special guest wouldn’t eat anything with even unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup. Boy, was I glad she actually was OK with that. Yes!
I couldn’t control my joy when I found out the recipe used almond flour/meal rather than myriads of others that I came across using other not-so-common flours like coconut flour etc. Since I had almond meal and some Vermont maple syrup on hand, this recipe was going to be it!
This recipe is so quick to make and requires such few ingredients, I am sure this will become a go-to recipe for you even when you don’t have to make this for someone who is gluten and dairy-free!
Special (Diet) Snickerdoodles
2 cups almond flour/meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted shortening
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon stevia or refined sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.
3. In a small bowl, combine melted shortening and maple syrup. Add vanilla essence and stir well.
4. Add liquid ingredients to the almond flour mixture and combine to make a wet dough.
5. Make 20-24 equal size dough balls (about 1″ diameter).
6. Stir together 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and stevia (or regular sugar). Dip the dough balls in the cinnamon mixture.
7. Transfer the dough balls to the parchment lined baking sheet. Using tips of your fingers, or glass bottom of a jar, flatten the balls into a disk about 2 1/2″ wide.
8. Bake for about 8 minutes. The center will look soft and uncooked, but the cookies will continue to cook while cooling.
9. Let the cookies cool completely on the tray. Remove then and store in an airtight container.
Happy New Year everyone! It’s been almost a year since I started with this blog! It’s been a whirlwind of an year, wouldn’t you agree! Anyway, as I start the first weekend of 2015, I couldn’t help but start with a post on an all-time favorite breakfast time! Pancakes! Yes, sure, it takes a bit of time in the kitchen, but don’t you think it is so worth it when you dig your fork into the pillowy soft yumminess!
On those lazy mornings when I do have some time to linger over a good breakfast, I try to alternate between pancakes and waffles. I especially like pancakes because I don’t have to fuss with them like I need to with waffles! Also, I personally think there are countless more recipes for pancakes than waffles! So, for someone who likes frequent changes, pancakes are probably a better choice than waffles – although I guess you could top a basic waffle with a zillion different toppings. 🙂
So, this recipe is one of those recipes I happened to try out when I was seeking a change from the mundane basic pancake. This one uses an equal blend of whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and fine yellow cornmeal. The pancake is made pillowy soft with the addition of sour cream and yogurt. And yes, it gets a touch of sweetness from honey!
Feel free to add in grated lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon for a lemony twist to these flapjacks! And top them off with a squeeze of lemon and powdered sugar! Just for this one, please move over syrup!
Tri-Flour Fluffy Pancakes
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional
1. Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients until well combined (tip: mix honey with melted butter first as yogurt, sour cream and milk will be too cold to incorporate it well)
3. Gently mix the wet and dry ingredients. If using lemon zest and juice, add them now as well. Don’t over mix, batter will be lumpy.
4. Let the batter sit while you preheat a griddle over medium heat.
5. When hot, dab with a touch of butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and cook for 3 minutes. When the edges look set, flip and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes or so.
6. Stack the pancakes while you cook rest of the batter. Serve warm with your favorite syrup or a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.
Decadent brownies! Yikes, I wasn’t really planning on preparing something so indulgent, but I had to prepare them for school and so I did! And OK I confess, I did have a piece (and I promise, it was just one piece) and it was DIVINE!
These brownies are so rich and satisfying that you only need to indulge in one to satisfy your craving for something sweet to round off your meal. The recipe is adapted from the original posted on http://www.bonapetit.com. My version uses less sugar, bit of ground flax, bit of instant espresso, 1/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips and mint extract.
If you don’t like your brownies too sweet, feel free to reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup. I found 1 cup sugar to be a bit too sweet for my liking, so I will definitely be cutting it down next time around! Also, if you are watching calories, bonapetit.com says these are 110 calories per piece (16 pieces total). I baked mine in a 9″X9″ metal pan and cut them into 20 pieces. So even though I added just 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, these brownies cut into 20 pieces should be a 100-calorie dessert. Just guessing!
Decadent Minty Brownies
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 level tablespoon instant espresso
1/2 – 1 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder (you can omit this if you are using regular cocoa powder)
1 heaping tablespoon ground flax
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350F (325F if you are using glass pan)
2. Prepare the baking pan by spraying it lightly with nonstick cooking spray
3. Combine sugar, cocoa, espresso and salt in a medium bowl.
4. Add melted butter to the above and stir well to combine.
5. Add eggs one at a time and whisk to incorporate well. Follow with mint extract.
6. Combine flour, ground flax and baking powder.
7. Stir the flour mixture gently into the cocoa mixture.
8. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
9. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are well set and middle tests done.
10. Let cool and cut into 16-20 pieces.