Sweet Baked Goods

Cheese Cake Filled Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Nora Carey's Perfect Preserves book has some amazing recipes but when I got the book I couldn't wait to try this cake. I can't imagine someone who doesn't like cheese cake and I know how to prepare some using super different recipes. What I liked about this one in particular was that is actually a cake with cheesecake filling...most likely closer to the original cheese cake than the one prepared with crackers.

This is a great variation to the regular recipe and the end result is quite amazing. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and it doesn't strike you as a cheesecake when eating it. I used my own blueberry sauce -we just finished blueberry season- but you can use store bought (or cherry?). The current wife loved it but this time she was good: she allowed me to have a slice. Oh love...


Cheese Cake Filled Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 18 servings
Ingredients
1 Stick (1/2 Cup) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 Cup Sugar

4 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp Milk

1 Tbsp Vanilla

1 Cup Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Lb Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

2 Cups of Blueberry Sauce





Cooking Instructions
1. Using your mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 Cup of the sugar until the mix is light color and fluffy.

2. Beat in the 2 eggs, one at the time, making sure that the first one has incorporated perfectly.

3. Beat in the milk and the Vanilla and mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mix until incorporated. Reserve.

5. Let’s prepare the cheese filling: In a small bowl whisk the cream cheese and the sour cream until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 Cup of sugar and the remaining 2 eggs, one at the time.

6. Pour the cake batter into a buttered and floured  10 inch. spring pan (removable bottom) and using a spatula spread it so it is even. Now pour the cream cheese mix into the center and bake for 60 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

7. Allow it to cool and carefully remove the spring mold. 

8. Serve with blueberry sauce and enjoy! 


Jell-O Cookies

In search for recipes that come from way back then and trying to add to my recipe collection dishes and treats that are still around, I found this Jell-O Cookie recipe that I though could be fun to bake. It is a mega easy recipe and honest it takes 20 minutes from the beginning to the end. Can't get better than that.

I know that many people would snob this kind of recipe and I gave it a lot of thought before posting but, after days of considerations I decided that I couldn't care less if other people looks down this kind of every day cookies. Many times easy is the way to go and the cookies are actually quite nice. If you want more elaborate recipes just look in other recipes in the blog...they are there.

So while it hails outside I eat cookies and blog. This is the life...

Jell-O Cookies

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes   Makes 30 servings
Ingredients
1 1/2 Cup Flour

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1 1/4 Cups Butter, softened

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/8 Tsp Salt

1 3 oz Jell-O (any flavor), divided

1/2 Egg

1/2 Tsp Vanilla



Cooking Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a mixer combine the butter with the sugar until light colored and fluffy.

2.While the butter is getting mixed, combine the dry ingredients, except for the Jell-O

3. Add the egg to the butter mix and once incorporated add the vanilla and the first part (3/4 of the box) of the Jell-O

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you get a Play dough consistency.

5. Shape into one inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on baking sheets (use parchment paper if necessary). Flatten with the bottom of a glass and sprinkle with the remaining Jell-O

6. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown color shows. Remove and place to cool in a cookie rack.

7. Enjoy !There is nothing that compares to Brownies. Somehow people just love them and...they are not that difficult to make. I bake brownies more than other cakes as the current wife absolutely loves them. Usually I don't even take them out of the oven when she already started eating them !!

Also..when talking about ice cream, who doesn't love Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia? I could just buy the ice cream and put it next to a piece of brownie and...it will be a success, no doubt. Instead I decided to try something I saw (sorry I don't remember where) and I tried to do it: Cherry Garcia Brownies!!!

The Brownie recipe is from Tom Douglas book and I think is one of the best brownies recipe I know..next to Gu's and Bea's.

So..the experiment worked out. The top was not as I wanted as in my head I thought it would end being white with the red cherry accent..instead I got this brownish top which doesn't look as great but...wow...the flavor is incredible. Try it !!!

Cherry Garcia Brownies


Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients
Brownies

9-inch square baking pan

3/4 Cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for the pan

4 oz Unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 oz Bittersweet chocolate, chopped 

1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 Tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 Tsp. kosher salt

2 Cups sugar

2 Large eggs

1 Tsp pure vanilla extract

1  Cup roughly chopped toasted pecans


Cherry Garcia Top

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 Large egg

1/2 cup. Sugar

2/3 cup. Cherries, pitted and quartered

1/2 cup. Chocolate chips


Cooking Instructions
1 Preheat oven to 350F. 

2. Butter the pan, then line the pan with a 9-in-wide strip of parchment paper that fits the bottom of the pan and up 2 of the sides with a little overhangButter the paper

3. Melt butter and chocolate in a double broiler, (do not let the water boil!) and stir mixture to combine using a rubber or silicone spatula. Reserve

4. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and use a whisk to combine. Reserve

5. In a large bowl (third bowl!!), whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together until smooth and add the chocolate -butter mixture and whisk again until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate-egg mixture, folding with a rubber spatula until well combined.Fold in the cup of the pecans

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula.
THE BROWNIE PART IS READY, now the Cherry Garcia Top…

7. In a medium size bowl, beat cream cheese, vanilla, egg, and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.

8. Pour brownie batter into the prepared baking dish. Dollop the cream cheese-cherry mixture over the brownie layer, then run a knife through mixture and batter to create a swirled effect.

9. Bake until the top looks dry and a skewer inserted into the brownies comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs clinging and maybe just a small streak of batter, between 40 to 60 minutes rotating the pan halfway through the baking time

10. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour (two or three is better)  before unfolding. (don’t panic! the brownies will be soft when they are warm but will set up as they cool.) 

11. To unfold the brownies, run a small knife along the 2 sides of the pan that are not lined with parchment paper, then unmold.



Italian Easter Bread



Buñuelos de Rodilla (Mexican Thin Fritters)

The buñuelos de rodilla are a Mexican tradition that is hard not to prepare, more so during Christmas time. They get their name because way back then they use to press the dough on the knees to get them paper thin. Nowadays people use pasta machines or a roller pin. I guess that is why all men used to gather in the kitchen to "observe and help" the women to prepare these...more so because it was a great opportunity to glance at the women's knees!


I didn't know about buñuelos de rodilla until I met the chosen one. Her mom claims she used to make them herself BUT I highly doubt it. All I know is that she used to ask some nuns to make them for her in huge quantities. I do get that the nuns were happy to make them for her and get some money for their nunnery. She still goes every year to get them...same mother in law same nuns...



As I don't have access to nuns, nor I want to, and I love Mexican cooking...I always do my own. They are far from perfect but they do the trick. Every year I try a different recipe until one day I will nail them to perfection, but the ones in this recipe are quite good. They are so good that they disappear in less than  a week. Healthy healthy they are not but, at the end...you can die healthy or die happy. Your choice. And...we only make them once a year...the rest of the year we eat kale and quinoa and organic and fat free and sugar free...well...some people do...poor people....


Buñuelos de Rodilla (Mexican Thin Fritters)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients
1 Cup of flour

1 Egg, beaten, room temperature

1 Tbsp Butter, room temperature

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/8 Tsp Salt

  • Water as needed, room temperature

- Canola Oil as needed

Cooking Instructions
  1. The most important thing for this recipe is that the fritters must be done by hand and not in a mixer.

2. In a small bowl mix all the dry ingredients.


3. In a flat clean surface, mix the dry ingredients with the butter. You should get a dry crumbly mix.

4. Add the  beaten egg and mix again, then little by little add the water  and keep kneading until you get a soft and elastic m dough. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for about two hours. 

5. Meanwhile in a large frying pan (as large as you can) bring to a medium heat enough (I used half a bottle) oil until you reach a temperature of 375˚FKeep that temperature at all times.


5. Divide the dough in two and put back into the fridge one half. We will work with one half first and then with the other.  Separate a piece of dough and roll it to a golf ball size. Using a rolling pin (next time I’ll try my pasta roller to see if I can achieve a thinner dough) roll and roll until you get a tissue paper thin round. Thicker won’t work!!!..you have to be able to almost see through it, honest.

6. Very carefully take the thin round dough and place it into the warm oil. It will bubble like crazy…using two wooden spoons submerge the dough so it cooks evenly (the dough will try to float, that is why we use the spoons to submerge it).
Once is a bit brown under…turn it and fry the upper side.

7. Once is brown in the two sides, carefully remove, drain into the oil pan

and place the buñuelo on a paper towel to absorb the remaining oil. Repeat until you finish the batch and repeat with the remaining dough that you have left in the fridge.

8. By now they are quite brittle. Serve warm and sprinkle with a mix of sugar and cinnamon or pour some piloncillo (pana, raw sugar) syrup* and enjoy!







Piloncillo Syrup
  • The piloncillo syrup is quite easy to make:

Ingredients

2 Piloncillo o pana cones (buy at a latin shop)

2 Cups of water

2 Star anise pieces

1 Cinnamon stick

Procedure

  1. At a latin shop buy pana or piloncillo which is a form of raw cane sugar…quite brown. Usually it comes as cones. You will need two or three cones to prepare the syrup.
  2. In a medium size pan put the piloncillo cones, two star anise pieces and a cinnamon sick and two cups of water.
  3. On a medium-low heat, dissolve the piloncillo and allow it to thicken a bit (remember that when it cools down it will thicken way more!). Let it rest for an hour and remove the star anise and the cinnamon.  Then is ready to use.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

So, the current wife gave me another fantastic baking book: Irvin Lin's Marbled, Swirled and Layered. I know the author from his blog and from reading some of his great recipes. The book is filled with all sorts of baked goods that are calling me by the second. I just want to bake one, have the wife eat it and then bake the next. 

My book collection keeps growing and growing and I love it. Many people tells me that cooking books are outdated thanks to the internet, but they are wrong -they are wrong because I disagree, just to start with-. There is nothing like a good book in your hands when you are looking for a recipe and more so when you are cooking or baking. The internet is a great source no doubt but...the books are warm, human...eventually they are stained, dirty and used...they have proven their worth. So... books yes, internet ...yes if you know the website (like this one). Oh...I can tell you stories of recipes that look great on the web and when you do them they just fail. A book at least can be good fuel for my fireplace if is no good.

In any event, this recipe was on my radar thanks to Thekitchn from Apartment Therapy Co. which has amazing recipes and is quite accurate. The combo between Thekitchn and Irvin's book is what gives birth to this recipe. Honestly I barely did any adjustments as it works as a charm.
I have made white bread many many times (who doesn't love white bread?) and the name of the bread was known to me by the current wife as it happens that is one of her favorites in the whole planet.

So...the Monkey Bread was baked (three and a half hours) and consumed (two days...wow). Now with a happier wife and being close to Christmas...well...this might be my lucky Christmas and might get some love. Who knows.... 




Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Baking Time: 45 Minutes    Prep . Time 3 hours   Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

2 Lb White bread dough (recipe in this recipe!)

1 large Granny Smith apple (at least 8 ounces)

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup packed light or dark brown sugar

2 Tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 Tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 sticks Unsalted butter, melted but still warm

All-purpose flour, as needed





Baking Instructions


Basic White Bread Recipe (make this first)

Makes 2 loaves or use 2/3 for this recipe

Ingredients

2 Tsp active-dry yeast (1 packet)

1 Cup (8 oz) warm (not hot!) water

1 Tsp sugar

2 Tbsp (1 oz) unsalted butter

1 Cup (8 oz) milk

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 Tbsp salt

5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups (24 3/4 ounces - 29 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

Baking Instructions
1. Make sure the water is warm to the touch, it should be warm not hot, otherwise you will ruin the yeast.

2. Pour the water into the bowl of a standing mixer or large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top (I mix it) and add one teaspoon of sugar. Let this stand for 10 minutes in a warm place -I use the inside of the oven with the light on-. The mix will be ready when it has increased in size and looks bubbly.

3. Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the milk, sugar, and salt.

4. Pour 1 cup of flour and the milk mixture over the yeast. Stir until this comes together into a loose, lumpy batter.

5. Add another 4 1/2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining cup if the dough is sticky during kneading. Stir until a floury, shaggy dough is formed.

6. Using the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.

7. If the dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl or the counter, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked.

8. Clean out the mixing bowl and film it with a little oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot (inside the oven with the light on) until doubled in bulk, about one hour and a half.

9. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough in three. We will use only two of the three parts, the other you can freeze for white bread buns for another day.

10. Let the remaining ball rest for 10 minutes (the other one cover in plastic and freeze)




Baking Instructions for the Monkey Bread

1. Peel, halve, and core the apple. Cut it into 1/2-inch dice. You will need 60 apple pieces. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

2. Whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl. 

3. Take 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture, sprinkle it on the apples, and toss to coat; set the spiced apples and remaining sugar mixture aside. 

4. Place the melted butter in a wide, shallow bowl. Brush the sides and tube of a 12-cup Bundt pan with a thin layer of the butter; set the pan and remaining butter aside. 

5. Divide the bread dough into 6 equal pieces. Rolling it between on a work surface, roll each piece into a 10-inch-long rope. Using a knife or metal bench scraper, cut each rope into 10 pieces. You should now have 60 small pieces of dough; cover loosely with plastic wrap.

6. Press 1 piece of apple into a piece of dough, wrap it completely in the dough, and roll it into a ball. Clean your fingers each time so the dough stays sticky and each ball closes otherwise it won’t close the balls! 

7. Return the dough ball to the work surface and repeat  until all the dough pieces are filled with apple.

8. Working with 6 dough balls at a time (softly put together 6 small balls into a larger one), roll them into the butter to coat, then roll them in the sugar mixture to coat. Rewarm the butter as needed if it cools down and starts to congeal; warm butter makes a thinner coating.

9. Place the sugared dough balls into the prepared pan, layering them over any spaces as you go. (Don't worry about being too precise.) Repeat with the remaining dough. The pan should be about half full.

10. Drizzle the remaining butter over the monkey bread and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture. This will turn into a caramel over the monkey bread.

11. Cover the pan loosely with the plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (again…the oven with light on) until puffed and risen to about 1 inch from the top of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

12. About 20 minutes before the bread is fully risen, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.

13. Uncover the monkey bread and bake until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Place  the pan on a wire cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes. (Do not cool any longer or the caramel will harden and stick to the pan.)

14. Invert a cake stand or serving platter over the Bundt pan. Holding onto the platter and the pan at the same time (use oven mitts or a towel — it's hot!), flip it over. 

15. Remove the Bundt pan (you may need to use a fork or knife to pry the pan up to lift it off). Let cool at least 15 minutes more before serving warm. Warm is just fantastic!

16. Enjoy!   




















Banana and Raisins White Bread

I have always felt awkward when buying bananas at the supermarket. I almost feel that I am doing something wrong and illegal when I break in two a bunch of bananas, leaving the other half there for someone to pick. The problem is that I am the only one who eats bananas at home, as the current wife just doesn't like the texture. She does, however, likes cake or bread and it doesn't matter if contains bananas or not. Go figure.

In the other hand I do like banana bread basically because: one, I don't like the idea of throwing them away when they turn brown  (which often happens as all bananas ripe at the same time!) but I don't like the look of the traditional banana bread. It just looks...too ...hmmm...healthy?...brown?...plain?

So, this week I had two bananas left and decided to bake a bread, a banana bread. This time, though, I was going to do it more appealing to me, so this is recipe shows what I did and, I have to say, the cake is easy to make, moist, tasty and...looks great! I baked it yesterday. Today there is only half: the current wife has awakened!...any baking goods are in danger and there is no hero to come and save them. Cruel destiny of a tasty cake.

Banana and Raisins White Bread 
Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

125 g Butter, room temperature

200 g sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature


2 Tsp Vanilla

2 Ripe bananas (large)

1/2 lime (the juice of)

3 Tsp Baking powder

300 g Flour

1/8 Tsp salt

100 g Raisins

optional glazing sugar for decoration



Baking Instructions
  1. Mix the butter and the sugar until you get it creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes, medium speed.

2. Add one egg at the time and continue mixing for another 2 minutes, until fully incorporated, then add the vanilla. Reserve

3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and the juice of half a lime and mix until fully incorporated. Reserve

4. Turn on the oven to 350˚F and butter a bundt pan (or a bread pan)

5. Add the first 100 grams of flour and one teaspoon of baking powder to the butter-sugar mix, combine well, then add 1/3 of the banana mix (2 minutes); then add another 100 grams of flour, another teaspoon of the baking powder and 1/3 of the banana mix. Combine until incorporated (2 minutes); then add the last 100 g of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and the last third of the banana mix, combine until incorporated -2 more minutes-. At the end add the salt and mix all together until you get a consistent (a bit wet) mix. Reserve

6. Fold the raisins

7. Pour the mix into the baking pan and put in the oven for about 60 minutes (mine took 90 minutes!) but keep an eye on it and check how well is done at 45 minutes and then every 15 minutes or so. You will know that is ready when the toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden.

8. Allow it to cool in a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then unmold and allow it to cool completely.

9. If you want, decorate with powdered sugar and

10. Enjoy!

C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Trying to keep my creativity spurge and hiding from the Sun (it is warm today and I rather wait until I'm in Hell to suffer this kind of heat) and based on the famous B-52 classic drink, I decided to create this cake to pamper my ex-student, now friend, that came for a visit yesterday. She is not a person who likes sweets so I took this in consideration. Also as Canadian (yes, yesterday I was in my Canadian mood) I decided to give a twist to the B-52 cocktail and add the Cabot Trail Maple Cream which on its own is fantastic (and...no, they don't pay me to say this).

The cake is not hard to make, but it takes a bit longer to bake than a traditional cake because I didn't want to loose the liquors flavors due to high temperatures. The frosting is soft and delicate and creates a fantastic mix with the chocolate cake. I served it on a bed of Kahlúa and Cabot Trail and...wow...it is absolutely fantastic. It is moist, soft and creamy. I kind of think that even kids can eat it without the cocktail bed.

The evening was great and the catching up was very nice. The current wife also was there, but I am guessing that she was more for the cake than for the chat...but it is only my guess.... 

Today there is only 50% of the cake left. My prediction? It won't make it till Sunday. Honestly I can say that when the end result is so fantastic and is one's creation..it feels good. 

Please feel free to copy the recipe, just credit the site !


C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Baking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 16 servings

Ingredients



340 g Dark chocolate, chopped into pieces 

340 g  Unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup milk  (lukewarm)

1/2 Cup Kahlúa

1/2 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

1/2 Cup Grand Marnier

2 Tbsp instant coffee

1 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 Cups (450 g) Sugar

3 420 g All-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

3/4 Tsp kosher salt
3 Large eggs, room temperature

Glaze 

1/4 Cup Kahlúa

1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1/3 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

 8 Oz (one packet) Cream cheese, room temperature

175 g confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1/4 Tsp kosher salt


Instructions

1. Preheat an oven to 300˚F and generously butter a 12-cup bundt pan all over to the very top of the pan, making sure to get every single millimeter!. Dust it with flour and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and over low heat, melt the chocolate-butter-milk mix, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier and Cabot Trail and add the instant coffee and vanilla, stir for 5 minutes then remove from heat.


3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar 1/3 part at the time and beat to incorporate between additions, about 10 minutes, then add the flour one cup at a time, stirring on slow speed until the flour is absorbed before adding the next cup. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir on slow speed to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate before adding the next egg. Pour the batter  into the prepared bundt pan... it will be a wet mix, don't worry. It will fill the pan up pretty high so
make sure the pan is on a baking sheet because it will overflow (it actually overflows...but reserve the overflow bits and eat them warm....yum)

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes -depends on your oven- until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (mine takes 1 hour 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert the pan while still hot (wear heat proof oven gloves!) onto a wire rack. Remove the pan and let cool
completely (2 to 3 hours)

5. To assemble the cake, brush 1/4 cup of Kahlúa and 1/4 cup of Grand marnier over the entire cake, letting it absorb the liqueur. Place the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, the Cabot Maple Cream and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until a glaze forms. If will be a super creamy mix…don’t eat it, remember is for the cake.

Put the glaze on the cake with a silicone paddle and let the glaze
dry before serving.

Serve on a plate with a small amount of Maple Cream and Kahlúa around it. It is nothing but extraordinary!


Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake)

So, the current wife invited a couple for dinner -long time friends she claims- and it just happens that one of the guests to come is celiac (for real), so the menu had to be 100% gluten free. I had some days to think about it and I decided to cook some appetizer -which I can't remember-, then Plantain stuffed chiles rellenos with Mexican rice and...I went all food designer and created my very first Mexican Cheesecake. I replaced the Graham crackers with Roasted Amaranth seeds (that are vanilla flavored and that I bought in Mexico in our last trip) for the crust and I incorporated them into the actual cheesecake. I served the cheesecake with my world famous (yeah right) Tequila drunken cherries and...success.

The couple had never tried plantain, so that was great (and if they didn't like it then they deserve an Oscar for best Guest Performance of the Night) and the dessert was the jewel on the crown. Once they had annihilated the food supply, they left. All we had left was the memory of a great dinner and good company and...my ever disappearing memory of the recipe adaptation.  As Summer is here I am overwhelmed by heat and garden duties, so just because today it is MEGA warm I am indoors and decided to write down the recipe and share. I do this while I am creating (wow...now I "create") a C-52 Cake for this incredibly smart and pleasant ex-pupil who is coming for a coffee later on today. The house smells great...if this C-52 cake works... I'll post and if it doesn't...well...tough.

So, here it is. My own recipe of a cheesecake, which I called Mexican because I relate Amaranth seeds with the Country that claims that I born in and because Alegrias are one of my favorite street treats in Mexico. If you are celiac, gluten free or just plain weird...this is for you. You will love it.

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake) 

Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients 

1 Cup of Vanilla Roasted Amaranth Seeds*

1/3 Cup plus 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, separated


6 Tbsp Butter, melted

3  (225 g ea.) Packages of Cream 
Cheese, softened and room temperature

100 g Sour Cream

1 Tbsp Cornstarch 

3 Large eggs, room temperature

2 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds




Cooking Instructions 

  1. In a medium size bowl combine the roasted vanilla amaranth seeds* with 1/3 of the granulated sugar and the melted butter until fully incorporated.

2. Cover the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.

3. Pour the amaranth mix into the pan and distribute evenly only on the bottom, not the sides, and press firmly so we get a compact base for the cake. Reserve 

4. In the bottom of the oven -or the bottom rack- place a shallow baking pan with boiling water and turn on the oven to 300 ̊F. The rack for the cheese cake will be in the middle. 

5. In a mixer combine the cheese and the sour cream with the rest of the sugar until combined, then add, one by one, the eggs and keep mixing until incorporated (you will get a semi-liquid mix...don’t panic, that is what we are looking for). 

6. Add the vanilla and the cornstarch and mix a bit more until incorporated. 

7. Finally fold the 1/4 Cup of the Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds and pour the mix into the prepared pan. 

8. Place the pan into the oven (middle rack), which will be a bit steamy. Allow it to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, but it might take longer (if so, verify every 5 minutes). 

9. You know that the cheesecake is ready when the outer ring is firm but the center jiggles like undone jello -you feel that is not going to happen…too liquid, but that is what we want).

10. Turn off the oven, remove the water bath and run a thin knife around the edges so when the time comes it won’t crack. Then remove the cake and allow it to cool in a semi-warm spot in the kitchen -as cooling it fast will create cracks-. This is a two hour wait. Do not unmold!!!

11. Once is cool enough, unmold and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

12. Enjoy!

Here is the most important parts: 

-We know that the cheese cake is ready when we shake the pan -lightly- and we see the center part wobble but the sides not. It is shinny on the top. If it does not wobble...you over cooked the cake (still is good but not fantastic) and if you take it out when is not ready...you will have a mess. Keep an eye on the “wooblyness of 
the cake” 
-When ready, remove and place the cake in a cooling rack for 2 hours without opening the mold. 

* Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds are available in Mexican Specialty Stores, Organic Food Stores or on the internet (Amazon). Just make sure that they are actually amaranth and no artificial additives whatsoever.

Please feel free to copy the recipe but please credit the site !

Mojito Cupcakes!

Winter is coming...in Westeros. Here is Spring looking forward to Summer so, in order to welcome Winter in Westeros the way to go is...to celebrate! Mojitos to say good-bye to the 6 season long Summer and get ready for Winter. Honestly I can't even imagine that the Night King (ugly as hell) would say no to a fantastic and heavily rum loaded Mojito Cupcake. If John and his ban are smart, they should be baking like crazy: lots of mouths to feed BUT, I guarantee that after four or five of these each...they will gladly stay in Summer land and ditch the ugly king. I would.

The wife eat all the Margarita Cookies and wanted more, so to make a small change I modified Lawren Moneta's recipe and the end result was fantastic. She suggested a meringue-butter topping but I am not crazy about meringue and even less would be the current wife once she takes one to work every morning. I substituted with a butter topping with rum and honestly is absolutely great.

So, at the end of the day, sure, Winter is coming but while that happens let's have a mojito cupcake eating contest and see who wants to play "let's memorize the huge title of Khaleesi: the Queen of Meereen, Queen of Andals, the Rhoynar Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady Regnant to the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons (they should add "the Queen of dramatic entrances and the Queen of flammable clothing".

Mojito Cupcakes  


Cooking Time: 120 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

CUPCAKES

1⁄2 Cup (125 ml) whole milk

 1⁄2 Cup+2tbsp(125ml+30ml) packed fresh mint leaves, divided, plus extra for garnish

 11⁄2 Cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour

11⁄2 Tsp (7 ml) baking powder

1⁄4 Tsp (1 ml) salt

1⁄2 Cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Cup + 1 tbsp (265 ml) granulated sugar, divided

2 Large eggs

2 Limes, zested and juiced, plus extra lime slices for garnish

6 oz (125 ml) rum, divided (4 oz and 2 oz)

1⁄2 Tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract

- thin lime wedges and fresh mint, for garnish

RUM BUTTERCREAM

175 g Unsalted butter, room temperature

400 g Icing Sugar

1 oz Rum



Baking Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, stir together the milk and the 1⁄2 cup of the fresh mint leaves (extract won’t work!) over medium heat. Warm until steaming, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain through a  fine- meshed sieve into a small bowl, pressing on mint leaves to extract  flavored milk. Discard mint and set milk aside to cool.

3.  Preheat oven to 325˚F . Line 2 standard-sized muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together  four, baking powder and salt.

5. In bowl of a stand mixer  fitted with paddle attachment, beat together butter and 1 cup (250 ml) sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. 

6. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine after each one.


7. Beat in lime zest and juice, rum and vanilla extract until thoroughly incorporated. Add  flour mixture in three batches, alternating with  flavored milk in two batches.


8. Mix just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, give batter one last stir. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. 
9. Bake, rotating pans after 12 minutes, until cakes spring back when touched and a wooden skewer inserted only has a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes total.


10. While cupcakes bake, we are going to prepare the syrup, so combine the remaining 2 oz of rum, 2 tbsp of the mint and 1 tbsp of sugar in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until sugar has melted and mixture is just warm, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover and let steep.

11. Carefully remove cooked cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to cool
on a wire rack for 8 minutes. Brush top of cupcakes with infused rum syrup and allow to cool completely.

12. While cupcakes cool, let’s make the Rum Buttercream.

13. On your mixer bowl combine the room temperature butter with the icing sugar and mix for about 6 minutes until the mix is smooth and you can’t feel the sugar in your mouth, then add the rum and mix for another 2 minutes. You should have a very soft and runny butter mix. That is what we are looking for.


14. Using a bag pipe, decorate the top of the muffins and garnish with a fresh mint leaf and a thin lime slice (I didn’t do that as limes are so expensive and the lime slices will go to waste, but is up to you!)

15. Put in the fridge for an hour so the butter gets harder. Then serve and…

16. Enjoy!








Margarita Cookies

Spring is though for me as I struggle to balance my hobbies. In one hand my garden is in need of attention after Winter time (plus all crazy new projects that I want to do which usually take the whole Spring and Summer to complete) and cooking/baking. Then we have sun and that means that my body wants to go out with the current wife and walk, visit places and enjoy the fantastic place where we live. I struggle but I try to do bits here and there.

I already expanded my rock planter in the back garden and I have started a new patio of stone with a water feature that can be seen from my Music Room, Hallway and Living Room. Looks so fantastic and it is not even finished!

Also my cooking mood changes and I look for different recipes that will satisfy my sugar craving, keep the current wife happy (otherwise is "Danger Will Robinson...danger!") and when I can do something unusual but tasty. The Margarita Cookies is exactly that. A great mix of two of my favorite things...sugar and tequila. I baked yesterday and I used a recipe I saw long time ago in a magazine -but I couldn't find it- so I decided to do butter cookies with a twist and using my ever fading memory. The original recipe called for more sugar, orange extract and a nit of tequila. I went the other way. I used Grand Marnier (which I use for my Margaritas) and a bit more tequila (just a teaspoon wouldn't do it for me!). Also I changed the glazing as I wanted more of the lime juice kick. 

The end result is great. Fantastic grown-up cookies. If your kids want some just buy them Oreos...what do they know. I tried to hide them from the wife but she found them using her uncanny smelling ability. When I came back home from my classes half the batch were gone. Then at dinner time she just asked for a bit of the main dish because "she was stressed and weren't hungry". Yeah right...stress...plus 14 cookies....

Margarita Cookies !

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 24 servings

Ingredients


Cookie Dough

2 Cups of flour

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 1/2 Butter sticks, room temperature

6 Drops green food coloring 

1 Cup Granulated sugar

1 Egg, room temperature

2 Tbsp Lime peel finely grated

3 Tbsp Grand Marnier

1 Tbsp Tequila reposado

1/2 Cup Sanding Sugar

1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt

Tequila/lime Glaze

1 Cup Confectioner’s sugar

3 Tbsp Tequila Reposado

3 Tbsp Lime Juice



Baking Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients for the cookies (flour and salt) and reserve.

2. Using your mixer, medium speed, beat the butter and the sugar until smooth and fluffy (10 minutes or so), then add the egg and keep beating for another 5 minutes.

3. Now let’s add the lime peel, food coloring (it will look pale but that is what we are looking for), and the dry mix in three batches.

4. Now add the Grand Marnier and the Tequila and mix for another 5 minutes. While this happens drink a tequila to celebrate that you are baking today. 

5. The dough will look pretty much like Play-dough. Divide it in two and roll both halves so they form two 1 1/2” bars. Wrap them in wax paper and refrigerate for an hour. Drink another tequila to celebrate that you are so patient.

6. After an hour the dough bars should be firm. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

7. Mix the Kosher Salt and the sanding sugar (the one you use to decorate cookies with. Basically it doesn’t melt with the oven heat) and roll each bar to cover the bars fully.

8. Cut in 1/4” thick slices and place the cookies on a non stick baking sheet (don’t butter it though) and place in the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the sides start to look a tinny golden  but not brownish.

9. Remove from the oven and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, them move them to a cooling rack and leave them for an hour or so.
10. Now, let’s do the glazing: basically mix the confectioner’s  sugar with the tequila and the lime. Taste it until you get a tequila flavor with a lime kick (play with the mix as sometimes limes are not the same). Beat like crazy so we get a smooth and aromatic mix. Drink another tequila to celebrate the glazing preparation.

 11. Sprinkle the cookies with the glazing (the first time I over did it and I found them too sweet, so make them so they get some thin lines and drops of the glazing but don’t cover them with it).

12. Enjoy!

* Sorry…not for the kids, though.


Game of Thrones Cake

So, this is Game of Thrones season 6 final countdown. I am quite exited and ready. The current wife shares the feeling and last night she surprised me with a Dragon mold from Think Geek (they don't give me a commission...so you know). The following day, a rainy Friday, I was ready to bake my Game of Thrones cake. Obviously there are no recipes out there and I wanted a Dragon with the eggs cake, so i modified my Rum and Raisins cake (not published) and went crazy. I couldn't find a way to use icing sugar to paint the cake and I don't like fondant, so I use my well known creativity and decided to mix my colors with different liquors (I know...) and, after 2 hours of ice sugar painting this is what I got. 

I know as a fact that the Rum and Raisins cake is fantastic...all I added was the creativity and some more alcohol -why not-. I dedicate my cake to the Lannisters, my favorite family. They make me realize that I had a GREAT family...they make me feel good. First slice in honor of King Joffrey that makes my son look like an angel.



Game of Thrones Cake
Cooking Time: 120 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

225 g Room temperature Butter
4 Large eggs room temperature
1 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tbsp Vanilla
2 1/4 Cup sifted flour
3 Tsp Baking powder
1 Cup raisins *
1/2 Cup Run

* A day prior put the raisins on the rum, cover with plastic film so the raisins absorb the rum

Decoration

-Icing sugar as needed
-Grand Marnier
- Vasari Nero liquor
- Blue Curacao
-Red food coloring
-Blue food coloring
-Green food coloring

Mold
Think Geek's Dragon Mold 

Patience
...lots


Cooking Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F˚ and butter and flour the whole dragon mold

3. In a bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.

4. Using a mixer beat the butter (must be room temperature) until softened and add the sugar for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

5. Add to the butter-sugar mix the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (if they are small use 5 eggs).

6. Beat in the vanilla and in three additions incorporate the flour mix and milk alternately. Mix well until combined. Now fold in the raisins with the rum. If the batter is too dry...and a bit more rum -little by little-

7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and get rid of the air bubbles by pounding it on the cooking table like crazy.

8. Bake for 50 or 60 minutes minutes (at 350 F˚) until golden brown and when we insert a
toothpick  and comes out clean. Because this is a thick cake most likely it will require more time than usual...don't worry...check every 10 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean (you don't want an under baked cake). If it takes 90 minutes, then so be it.

9. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven but keep it in the pan. Place the pan in a cooling rack.

10. Let it cool for an hour and remove from the pan.

Decoration

1. Using small bowls (I used 4) put a teaspoon of icing sugar on the first one and put about 8 drops of
red coloring and a bit of Grand Marnier...add the Grand Marnier as needed. We are looking for a semi-wet (not wet-wet) mix.

2. Mix the icing sugar with the red and the Grand Marnier until you get a smooth mix. Using a small paintbrush paint the dragon part trying not to touch anything else. At first it will look like nothing is happening. Don't worry. Repeat the same procedure until you see the dragon RED. I used two small bowls to get the texture right.

3. Clean the brush with cold water and repeat the procedure with the Green and some water. Do the first egg.

4. Then again clean and do the blue egg with the Curacao and the blue coloring.

5. Finally do the same with the green and the Vasari Nero...to get the dark egg.

6. Go back to your red and re-touch as needed and do some blue touches to enhance the Dragon's lines.

7. Allow it to cool for 3 hours and rectify if needed. I was "painting" my cake for almost 2 hours...it is worth while.

11. Turn on Game of Thrones... time for cake and whatever makes you happy. Enjoy!


















Blood Orange and Lime Tart

Last year I saw this recipe in one of my books or one of my magazines that I own. It got stuck in my head ...well..for a year, so now that is blood orange season I decided to look for it and try it. The problem was that I couldn't remember from which magazine or book came from. I looked in all my pastry books and nothing...so I went to look for my magazines and...after days of looking for it, I got it.

This is a fantastic recipe. The flavor is just out of this world. The mix of flavors, the color, the texture...it just works.

So, here it is....enjoy while blood oranges are in season!

Blood Orange and Lime Tart


 Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

Crust

1 Cup (250 ml) Unsalted room temperature butter


1/4 Cup (50 ml) brown sugar

1/2 Tsp (2 ml) Finely Minced fresh rosemary   

1/4 Tsp (1 ml) Salt

2 Cups (500 ml) Sifted flour

Tart Filling

1/2 Cup (125 ml) Unsalted room temperature butter

1/4 Cup (50 ml) Freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 Cup (125 ml) Freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1/2 Cup (125 ml) Granulated sugar
  • Zest of a medium size lime
-Zest of a medium size blood orange

3 Room temperature large egg yolks

3 Room temperature large eggs
  • Finely sliced blood orange slices 
  • Finely sliced lime slices

Sliced Fruit Shine

1 Tbsp Brown sugar

1 Tbsp Water

2 Tbsp White Corn syrup



Cooking Instructions
  1. Lightly butter a 9 inch (23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom  (I use parchment paper for the bottom). Reserve

  1.  With an electric mixer beat butter and brown sugar on high until you get a light and fluffy mix, about 3 minutes.

  1. Lower the speed of the mixer to the minimum and add the salt, the rosemary and the flour until the dough gets together -it will look too soft, don’t worry!- Do not over mix.

  1. Gather the dough , form a flattened disk and wrap with plastic film and chill for at least 1 hour.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Extend it until you get the desired diameter (if the dough is too hard, don’t worry, just let it out for periods of 15 minutes and try to work it again…it should be a bit hard, but not brittle). Transfer to the tart pan, making sure that the edges are fully extended up sides.

  1. Bake for about 10 minutes and remove from oven. Allow it to cool down on a cooling rack.

  1. While the tart cools down we are going to prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 375°F and place the baked tart pan on a baking sheet -we don’t want a mess-

  1.  Add butter, lime and orange juices, sugar and zests into a saucepan and melt butter over low heat. Reserve.

  1. Beat the eggs and combine with the egg yolks. Beat until incorporated, then pour into another medium saucepan. Add the salt. 

  1. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the warm butter mixture to temper. 

  1. Now, slowly whisk egg mixture into the butter mixture and stir over low heat until starts to thicken (be patient!.low heat is a must!!)…about 10 minutes. Do not stop stirring and do not boil or bring up the temperature or you will ruin the filling!

  1. Once the curd thickens, remove from the heat and pour into the pre-baked tart shell. Reserve

  1.   Now, let’s decorate with the lime and blood orange thin slices and bake for approx. 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reserve. 

  1. In a small saucepan mix the brown sugar, the corn syrup and the water over medium heat. Now we have the “shine” we want for our fruit slices. Brush them carefully and allow it to cool at least 2 hours before serving.
  2. I like it cool so I put it in the fridge for another hour or so.

  1. Enjoy! (you might want to serve with whipped cream… sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t…up to you)





Sour Cream Coffee Cake

As most of you know, sometimes life gets on the way and we tend to pay attention to the urgent and leave aside the important. My website, which I'll keep, will take a break. Just last year I spent tons of time traveling (family not vacation!) , plus my classes and attending the current wife's needs, which are quite a bit.

I am grateful that so many people have been following me and trying my recipes. I will continue cooking and writing my recipes, but for now I won't be posting any. I will come back, though...I just need to reorganize life in a more efficient manner.

This last post is about a fantastic coffee cake that stands high in my coffee cakes. It is a wonderful flavor mix, soft, moist and doesn't last long (more so if you have a hungry wife like I do). This one I did just before leaving to my 30 day trip to Mexico -that included a 3 day vacation-.

Enjoy and keep cooking. I promise I will do that too!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 Sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
3 Extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 Cups sour cream

2 1/2 Cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp kosher salt

For the streusel:
1/4 Cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 Tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 Cup chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
1/2 Cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp real maple syrup

Baking Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. 
3. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. 
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and reserve.
5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed. Reserve
6. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and mix the ingredients together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts Reserve.
7. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a spatula. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the streusel mix. 
8. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. 
9. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester (I use a bamboo skewer) comes out clean.
10. Let it cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes. 
11. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. 
12. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.
13. Enjoy!

Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties


Peaches Pratt (Pesche di Pratto)

My current wife's mother (Mi Santa Madre Inmaculada she calls her) has been my best recipe book provider by far. That is great as is but the most interesting fact is that she has never ever liked to cook whatsoever. As she still claims, she HAD to cook for her family but she always thought it was kind of torture. Nevertheless she accumulated a good amount of cook books from different parts of the world. 

She had (and I say "had") because she has given them to me... books in Spanish, which seems reasonable because that is the language she claims to speak. The funny thing is that she also had books in German, Italian, Chinese and Gibberish. Gibberish she kinds of uses it often, but the rest she doesn't. She comes from Italian parents (some sort of gangsters as far as I have heard...La Familia del Mattone ) but honestly my Italian is as good as hers... 

In any event, between the books she has given me (I will talk about the "family recipes" another time) there is one called Dolci Per Un Anno by Massimo Alberini. In that book with few illustrations I found this recipe and, with help of my humble dictionary and Mr Google I was able to translate it and bring it back to life. 

Pratto is a city and commune in Tuscany at the foot of Monte Retalia and this absolutely delicious buns are their pride and joy. The thing is that they call for Alkermes, a red liquor that can only be found -as far as I know- in the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This pastry can be found in good pastry shops from Firenze to Pistoia. I obviously lacked of this red liquor so i had to improvise. After hours of research, I understood that Alkermes is a liquor made of many spices and reminded me of Luxardo, which I have and use for my Maraschino Cherries. It is white, though...but the flavor just seemed right.

I went on and after translating, I made them. The end result is honestly glorious. The pastries are soft but with body (I dislike pastries that you bite into and you feel empty just 10 seconds after...) and a flavor out of this world. The mix of the freshly baked brioches, the soft and delicious filling and the master touch that was the syrup/coating... oh wow... they were fantastic.

So, here you have it. From Italy to my mother in law and then to me...and now to you. I really hope you like them!!!!



Peaches Pratt (Pesche di Pratto)

Cooking Time: 120 Minutes*   Makes 10 servings


Ingredients


Milk Rolls or Brioches

550 g Sifted flour

120 g Sugar

70 g Room Temperature Butter

5 Room Temperature Eggs

2 8 g Instant Yeast Packets

- Seeds of a Vanilla pod

20 g Honey (Acacia would be best!)

70 g Filtered or Spring water room temperature

1/8 Tsp Salt

Custard

180 g Room temperature milk

75 g Cream (whipping cream will do)

20 g Flour

3 Egg Yolks

1/8 Tsp Salt

Seeds of a Vanilla Pod

Lemon Rind (one lemon’s)

Syrup

60 g Sugar

40 g Water

60 g Alkermes Liquor (I used Luxardo, even though is white, not red)

* plus rising time


Cooking Instructions
  1. Let’s mix the dry ingredients first: in a medium-large bowl mix the sifted flour, the sugar and the yeast.
2. Now we add half the butter and the water to the dry mixture and  knead well on a clean floured surface until you get an elastic and smooth dough. Transfer the dough to a clean (and oiled) medium bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow it to rise for 2 hours (I put it inside my oven with the light on…it works fantastically !). It should double in size.

3. Now we’ll incorporate the eggs, the rest of the butter, the seeds of the vanilla pod, the salt and the honey. Knead well until you get again a smooth and elastic dough. If you need to add a bit more water is OK, just add it bit by bit.

4. Put back the new dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a plastic bag and allow it to double in size for another 2 hours (again…I use my oven with the light on).

5. After the final rise, we are going to shape the dough into a long shape (like a baguette) and cut it into small 20 grams balls (like the size of a walnut). Place the balls on a prepared baking tray (parchment paper or butter)… but remember to leave room between the balls, as they still will rise. Cover them with plastic film and allow it to rest for another 30 minutes.

6. Turn on the oven and set to 425˚F

7. Once the half an hour has passed, put the baking sheets in the oven for 6 to 9 minutes (depending on your oven). They are ready when they are golden (not brown!).

8. Allow them to cool down on a cooling rack. reserve.

9. Now that our rolls are cooling down we are going to prepare the custard: on low heat mix the milk, cream, vanilla seeds and lemon rind and let it simmer for 20 minutes (very low heat!).

10. Now let’s mix the sifted flour, sugar and salt. Bring up the temperature to high  and add half the mix, and add one by one the egg yolks making sure that you keep mixing all the time as it will want to thicken fast (or cook the egg yolk which is even worst). The add the second half of the dry mix and keep mixing to maintain an even consistency.  

11. Once the mix is a bit thick, turn off the heat and allow it to cool down. It will thicken to the proper consistency…. if not you can always thicken it with some corn starch…

12. Now let’s do the syrup: Combine in a saucepan the water and the sugar until dissolved. Allow it to cool completely and then add the Alkermes liquor or the Luxardo (if you have Alchermes Liquor you must be very special… I can’t find it anywhere in North America!!!). Reserve.

13. Assembly. The last part!. Now we are going to carefully take a roll at the time and fill it with the custard using a piping bag with a cone tip (the cream is thick, so use a medium size one). Repeat until all the rolls are filled.

14. Carefully dip each ball into the liquor/syrup mix and then roll it on the sugar. Reserve.

15. Now the cute stage: If you have the patience and want to be mega traditionalist, then decorate each ball with a slice of candied orange and a mint leaf (I didn’t but next time I will….).

16. Enjoy!


Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake


Sometimes we want to be like kids again and sometimes we just want to enjoy the perks of adulthood. Most of the time you just can't do both. But, as they say...when there is a will there is a way:
I do like sweets and I do love bake goods. The current wife claims that she doesn't have a sweet tooth but she always ends eating most of my candy and chocolates... I do like to drink -sometimes- and the current wife doesn't...or at least that is what she claims.... 

In the last Library's book sale I bought a weird book called "Booze Cakes" . The title on its own grabbed my attention so I bought it (I can't resist sales!!!) just to discover later on that their ideas are great but some of the bake good recipes I can do better (sorry...to the book's authors) as I have baked most of the things they have recipes for. Been there done that kind of thing.

They have this Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake recipe and I loved the idea (who doesn't like cupcakes?...who doesn't like cocktails?...) so the combo sounds great to me.

Based on my own upside-down pineapple cake recipe I bake, I decided to give it a try. I used my cupcake recipe and I used their idea of the cocktail combo plus plus... I did increased the Rum and Curacao amount by quite a bit and I did change the way to incorporate them into the recipe. The end result was absolutely fantastic. The cupcakes were (I know... "were" because the current wife ate them all but one) out of this world good. They are moist, aromatic and flavorful. They are NOT by far a kids treat but if you are having friends over -I never do because I have no friends- this can be the cherry in the cake after a good dinner. I can guarantee you that they will disappear!

Blue Hawaii Upside-down Pineapple Cupcake
Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings


Ingredients

Pineapple Top

65g Butter, room temperature

1/2 Cup brown sugar

4 Tbsp Rum

10 canned pineapple rings, drained

12 Maraschino cherries (store bought)

For the cake 

125g Butter, room temperature

2/3 Cup caster sugar

1/8 Tsp Salt

2 Large eggs, room temperature

1 Tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 Cups sifted flour

2 Tsp Baking powder

1/4 cup milk

For the Finishing

1/4 Cup Curacao

1/4 Cup Rum

1/4 Brown sugar

Cooking Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place the 65 g of room temperature butter in your electric mixer bowl and add 1/2 Cup of brown sugar. Mix well until soft but a bit crumby. Add the 4 tbsp of rum.

3. Drain the pineapple rings from the juice but keep the juice. Reserve

4. Grease your cupcake pan. Here you have 2 choices: you  can use a “jumbo” cupcake pan or a medium size cupcake pan -that is what I used-, If you use the “jumbo” one, then you will have less cupcakes but of larger size and the pineapple will be whole. I like smaller bite size cupcakes, so I went for the smaller, regular cupcake pan.

5. Place about a teaspoon of the butter-brown sugar-rum mixture in each cupcake dish and press the mixture down.

6. Place a pineapple ring on top of every layer of butter-brown sugar-rum mixture if you are doing the jumbo cupcakes OR break in medium size pieces the pineapple rings and place them in each cupcake dish trying to recreate a ring (remember that the cherries will go in the center!).

7. Add a Maraschino cherry to each cupcake dish. Reserve

8. In a large mixing bowl, add the 125g of the room temperature butter and the salt and add the sugar. Mix until soft and creamy, then add one egg and mix again until incorporated. Add the second egg until fully incorporated.

9. Add the vanilla extract. Reserve

10. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and the baking powder and mix.

11. Now we are going to incorporate our dry ingredients to our buttery mix we have in the electric mixer bowl. Add 1/3 of the dry mix and incorporate well (about 2 minutes), then add the pineapple juice, then 1/3 of the flour mix and incorporate (about 2 minutes), add the milk and finally add the last bit of flour mix and incorporate.

12. NOTE! If your mix is too dry (happens often) then just add a bit of the pineapple juice and mix. We want a soft batter…not liquid but definitely not heavy and dry. 

13. When the batter is ready, divide an equal portion of batter for each cupcake dish. I usually use a spoon full for this.

14. After dividing in equal parts the batter (you know…take a bit from this one and put it in that one kind of thing…), tap the pan to get rid of air bubbles. REMEMBER DO NOT OVERFILL!.

15. Place in the oven and bake at 350°F for 20-25mins. Watch the cupcakes. They are done when the tops are golden brown. They will be a bit -or a lot- overflowed than the actual mold. No worries…we can eat those separately.

16. Allow the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes on their own pan.

17. While they are still warm, use a very sharp knife or bread knife and slice the tops of the cupcakes off. You can eat the tops later on…. they should taste great!

18. Make sure that you don’t have a stuck cupcake, so run a soft spatula around each one to make sure they will unmold easily.

19. Plan a large baking tray over the cupcake pan. And quickly invert over. Then, one by one and super carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool for about 1 hour.

20. Once the cupcakes are room temperature, we are going to add the grownup part: in a small coffeecup dish put the Curacao. Carefully take each cupcake and press on the liquor until is fully incorporated to the cupcake base (it will look blue!…easy) and put them back on the cooling rack. 

21. Now, we are going to add the final touch: in a small sauce pan mix the 1/4 cup of rum and the final 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Using low heat do a syrup. Pour the rummy syrup on top of each cupcake. If you ran short, then just do a bit more syrup. The idea is that we want moist cupcakes (moist on the bottom and moist on top).

22. Enjoy!

* To keep them fresh, use a cake holder (the ones you use to transport cakes) or a Tupperware so they stay fresh and moist. Do not leave them exposed or they will loose the buzz part…




Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style
Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 12/16 servings

Autumn gives me this feeling of home, the warmth of the fireplace and the smell of spices. Outside is raining and I realize that even though the current wife is home today, after almost 30 years of unparalleled happiness  she is doing her thing and I am doing mine. Happiness I tell you.

Just last week after the mysterious case of the disappearing Chocolate Madeleines, at the moment still unsolved (I baked 2 dozen and the day after they just disappeared and the only one around is the wife who denies even touching them), I decided to finally use my pumpkin shaped blunt cake mold that I got on sale at William Sonoma last year. You can not say that I'm not patient!

Spices can be a bit delicate because if you just add a bit too much of any...the end result is a disaster, and this cake has plenty of spices, so the risk of failure was high. The recipe I got from William Sonoma as the combo of spices, candied ginger and toasted walnuts made it special. The rest of the recipe looked OK to me, so I went for it with a big BUT....

I do like spices, I do like some Fall flavors BUT I do not like pumpkin flavor. You will never see in this website any recipe that calls for the flat taste of pumpkin (pumpkin cheese cake....NO!). My reasoning of this dislike I place it in the heritage of the foods and flavor tastes of when I was a kid. I am fully convinced that one likes what one had as a child, as if the taste buds develop when you are growing up. 

I grew up in Mexico City as you probably know by now. In Mexico pumpkin is not a big thing. We eat its flowers (the weird current wife does...big time) and we eat the whole thing near Day of the Dead BUT barbecued-candied (they call it "calabaza en tacha"). That I like. As the Calabaza en Tacha calls for Piloncillo (unrefined raw cane sugar) I decided to modify the recipe to please my taste buds. The end result was absolutely fantastic! How do I know it was so good you might ask?... I know because the Queen of the Secret Circle eat a whole slice... a whole slice!. Unheard of...

So, here is the recipe. You can use any blunt cake mold, but if you have the one I used...then the wow factor reaches the roof. 

Spiced Pumpkin Cake Mexican Style

Ingredients


For the cake:

2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

2 Tsp. Baking powder

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 1/4 Tsp. salt

2 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/4 Tsp. ground ginger

3/4 Tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. ground allspice

1/8 Tsp. ground cloves

1 1/4 (150 g) Sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 Cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

3 Eggs room temperature

1/3 Cup milk, room temperature

2/3 Cup Piloncillo* Syrup (or molasses)

1 1/4 Cups Mexican Style pumpkin puree** (or pumpkin puree)

2/3 Cup chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 Cup diced crystallized ginger

For the frosting:

8 oz. (225 g) Cream cheese, room temperature

1 (115 g) Stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract

Food coloring as desired

Mexican unrefined cane sugar (AKA Panela sugar)
* From pureed Calabaza en Tacha -Mexican Dia de los Muertos' food-

Cooking Instructions

1. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of the great pumpkin cake pan, if you have one, otherwise any blunt cake pan will do; tap out excess flour.

2. To make the cake, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside. 

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes…NOT LESS THAN THAT! , stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the piloncillo or molasses syrup and beginning and ending with the milk, then the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

5. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the roasted walnuts and crystallized ginger until incorporated. The batter should look and feel heavy but not dry. If it feels dry just add a bit of milk, incorporate and check again…

6. Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap vigorously the pan against the kitchen counter to eliminate air bubbles.

7. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Mine takes a bit longer… about 15 minutes longer.

8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pan for 15-30 minutes.

9. Gently tap the pan on a work surface to loosen the cake halves. Carefully invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake halves cool completely before decorating, about 2 hours.

10. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

11. Using a bread knife, cut 1/4 inch off the flat side of each cake half, or enough so the two flat sides can coincide.  Place one cake half, (if you have the pumpkin mold the bottom part of the pumpkin) flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the pumpkin frosting on top. Place the other cake half, flat side down, on top. 

12. Add food coloring as desired to the reserved frosting (green for leaves and tendrils). To create leaves and tendrils, using a rubber spatula, transfer the green frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a leaf or medium plain tip. Pipe leaves and tendrils on the top of the cake.

13. I melted a bit of butter, painted the cake with the melted butter and sprinkled the cake with a mix of sugar/cinnamon. That is optional though!

14. Enjoy

Mango Cheesecake with Mango Spheres

So, the Molecular Gastronomy learning process is happening. My second attempt was to do a mango cheese cake (it is mango season...) and accompany the cheese cake slice with a Mango Sphere. I used Jozef Youssef Molecular Gastronomy at Home book (a Firefly book) and the not always willing help of the current wife. As she thinks is a chemist, an engineer, a rocket scientist or the reincarnation of Einstein... I decided to invite her to participate in this new venture (also I have to admit...just in case of tremendous failure I can always blame her).


For the mango cheese cake I used my recipe (here) and instead of Grand Marnier I used the pulp of fresh Manila Mangoes. For the topping I used more mango pulp but with some unflavored gelatin. As you can see from the pictures it was a success. The mango cheesecake is a fantastic Summer dessert and the addition of the mango sphere is just gravy (literally).  I called the dessert a success as our friend Betty not only ate it but actually she liked it -and she is hard to please when experimenting with flavors or textures-. It was a big risk but I could always blame the wife.

So... this is it. The molecular gastronomy ingredients you can buy on line Molecule-R products, and they are not paying me to advertise or at any other store that I don't know of... I'm just being a nice guy. It sounds harder than it is, honest. Try it and you will see. Any comments (besides the archaic semi-cousin of mine who only understands food if its cook as his grandma used to or Cosmo magazine suggests). Enjoy then:

Mango Cheesecake with Mango Spheres

Serves 12 but the spherification is only for 4 spheres at the time

Cheesecake Ingredients:


2 Mangoes (The pulp of Fresh Manila Mangoes)
1 Tbsp Honey

Cheesecake Topping

1/4 Cup of water
1 box of Knox or any unflavored gelatin
2 Manila Mangoes (the pulp of)

The Mango Spheres:

1 tsp (5 g) Calcium Lactate
2 Cups (500 ml) Water
1/2 tsp (2.5 g) sodium alginate
1 Cup 100% Mango juice (mango nectar, no additives like sugar, flavors, etc)

Procedure:

1. For the cheesecake just follow my cheesecake recipe substituting the Grand Marnier with the mango pulp which should be folded in at the very last step before putting in the oven.

2. While the cheesecake bakes we'll prepare the toping: in a medium pan warm the water and incorporate the Knox gelatin until fully dissolved, then add the mango pulp and mix again. Allow it to "cook" for 10 minutes or so in a medium-low heat, then remove and allow it to cool at room temperature.

3. When the cheesecake is ready and cool, the mango gelatin should be ready... it is going to be dense though. If the cheesecake is not 100% cool pouring the gelatin will destroy the cake. Pour it slowly so it doesn't spill and allow it to sit, room temperature for at least 2 hours, then move the cake to the fridge.

4. Now the Mango Spheres part:

You will need four glass containers: one for the mango juice, one for the calcium lactate, one for the sodium alginate and one for the water bath.
Drop the mango juice into the Calcium

1. Prepare the calcium bath by whisking the calcium lactate into the water in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a blender (I use a hand held immersion blender) mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 of the mango juice. Mix for about 3 minutes so the sodium alginate is 100% dissolved. The less air bubbles the better.

3. Add the other half of the mango juice to our sodium alginate mix and mix again with a whisk.

4. Using a measuring spoon (I use the 1/2 tablespoon size) and scoop up
Drop it carefully!
some mango juice mixture and gently pour it into the calcium bath leaving the bubble to "cook" for about 1 minute (no more!!!!). With your slotted spoon move the liquid around the bubble so it cooks evenly.

5. Using the same slotted spoon, remove the mango bubble and transfer it to a clean water bath and move it again with the spoon so the bubble gets "clean" of any excess calcium.

6. Remove from the water and use immediately. I used this time a Japanese spoon (it must have a name but I just don't know it).



7. Enjoy!!
Remove the mango bubble...


Transfer to a clean bath...











Carefully drop it on a spoon...














Final Presentation...















Casatta

Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 24 small servings

Ingredients

Cake:
15o gr. Room temperature butter

Room temperature Eggs
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup of sugar 
2 Tsp. Vanilla
1/4 Cup Lukewarm  milk
1 1/2 Cups of sifted flour de
2 Tsp. Baking powder
1 Tbsp Orange grind
2 Tsp Grand Marnier

Syrup:
75 gr. Icing sugar
200 ml water
1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

Cassata filling

500 gr Ricotta cheese* (do not use fat free or low fat!!) or room temperature cream cheese. 
200 gr Icing sugar (125 grams if using Cream cheese)
1/2 Cup of semi-sweet chocolate (small pieces, like chocolate chips size)
1/2 Cup of candied orange (must be fresh), cubed in small pieces.

IMPORTANT!
If you are doing the recipe with ricotta, you must drain the ricotta at least 12 hours and then start to bake this cake. If you are doing it with cream cheese, then you can just go ahead and do all the same day.

Icing:
3/4 Cup Icing sugar
1/4 Cup water
1 Tsp Grand Marnier

Decorating:
8 or so Maraschino Cherries
8 or so slices of Candied Orange


Cooking Instructions

Cake:
Preheat the oven to 375˚F and butter and flour a #9 springform baking pan (I like to use parchment paper on the bottom to unmold easier) .
In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients: sifted flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In a blender soften the butter until it gets of light color and fluffy…creamy. Then add the sugar and keep mixing until fully incorporated (about 10 minutes or so).
Add one egg at the time and keep mixing for about 8 minutes.
Add in small batches the dry ingredient mixture and keep mixing until fully incorporated.
Fold in the orange grind and the Grand Marnier
Pour into the buttered mold and bake for about 35 minutes (you will know that is ready when you incorporate a toothpick and it comes out dry and also the top of the cake looks a bit golden).
When the cake is ready remove from the oven and put it on a cooling rack and leave it there for about 15 minutes, then unmold and reserve.

Cassata filling

First we are going to prepare the syrup for the cake, as we need it cool. In a small saucepan melt 75 grams of sugar in 200 ml of water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. We’ll add the Grand Marnier at the very last minute.
For the  ricotta filling: put the ricotta cheese to drain for 12 hours. If you are using cream cheese, then just have it room temperature. 
Mix the cheese with the icing sugar until incorporated (I usually use 125 grams of icing sugar if I’m using cream cheese).
Fold in the chopped chocolate.
Fold in the cubed candied orange. Reserve.

Icing
In a medium bowl put all the icing sugar and start adding the water bit by bit (that is…not all water at once!)
Add the Grand Marnier and keep mixing; we are looking for a smooth but super thick mix, so we must keep mixing until the icing is formed but it doesn’t feel “sandy”.  If the mix is too soft, add icing sugar and if the mix is too thick add a tinny amount of water.
Once the icing is formed and thick, we cover it with plastic and we leave it room temperature. We know that the icing is ready when you scoop some with a spoon and if you turn it upside-down it won’t drip.

Putting it all together

First slice open the cake in two halves (some people do it in three but I’m not that brave).
Now we are going to pour the syrup onto the two halves BUT first we are going to add the Grand Marnier to the syrup and mix it well. 
Using a big spoon distribute the Cassata cheese filling and close the two halves. 
Pour the Icing on the cake and distribute it evenly with a baking spatula.
Allow it to rest for at least half an hour.
Decorate using the Maraschino Cherries and Candied Orange.

Enjoy!!!Sometimes good things happen and this is one of those occasions. In one of my Spanish classes where I teach the elderly and the disoriented, there are lots of good people and there are some just plain mean and evil. This recipe comes from two of the good ones, kind of.

Esther is  a good soul who every year goes to Guatemala with a large group of doctors to perform tons of surgeries to help those who need the most. I have heard of the rumors that claim that she and her doctor-friends are going there to make some research as they are trying to prove that Central Americans are the same as the Canadians. After many years of doing the same annual research trip, Esther and her group has learned that they are not the same: the Central Americans speak Spanish!.

On her last trip Esther was given 3 cows, 5 goats, 200 chickens, Guatemalan coffee and... fresh cardamon. As she is a very generous soul, she tried to share the cows and some chickens but I had to decline as I fear that the current wife would eat them alive. Instead I too the cardamon. 

The second good soul is Carol, the Robinson Crusoe of the group. She travels and travels and travels and, when she is here she does golfing, host legendary parties that last some times a week and ... takes classes with me. When Carol heard that Esther has given me some cardamon, she went to the supermarket, bought a chicken and exchanged the poor bird for some cardamon (what she didn't know is that Esther only wants live chickens as she needs them to perform some sort of surgery that is becoming very popular with the high society)

Carol came and shared the cardamon cake with the rest of us and... I really liked it!... so, after some recipe modifications here I am sharing the recipe with you:

Cardamon Cake

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

1 1/2  Cups Flour
1/4 Tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp Baking Powder
3/4  Cup Room Temperature Butter
3/4 Cup Granulated White Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Milk 
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground cardamom
1/2 tsp Fresh Ground nutmeg


Cooking Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F˚ and butter and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan (8 x 4 x 2 1/2 inches). 

2. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper (only the bottom).

3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ground cardamon and ground nutmeg.

4. Using a mixer beat the butter (must be room temperature) until softened and add the sugar for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

5. Add to the butter-sugar mix the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

6. Beat in the vanilla and in three additions incorporate the flour mix and milk alternately. Mix well until combined.

7. Pour the batter into the baking pan and get rid of the air bubbles by pounding it on the cooking table.

8. Bake for 50 minutes (at 350 F˚) until golden brown and when we insert a toothpick  and comes out clean.

9. When the loaf is ready, remove from the oven but keep it in the pan. Place the pan in a cooling rack.

10. Let it cool for an hour and remove from the pan.

11. Enjoy!



Upside-down Pineapple Cake

Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Sliced Pineapples 

1 Medium fresh pineapple sliced 

1/2 Cup Orange Juice

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Rum or Pisco

1/4 Tsp Salt

8 Maraschino cherries

Caramel

Candy thermometer is suggested (you can try using your fingers but it hurts)

1/4 Cup Water

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup Whipping Cream room temperature

1 Tbsp vanilla

1/4 Tsp salt


Cake

1/2 Cup Butter room temperature

1 Cup sugar

4 Eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 Cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Baking soda

1/2 Tsp salt

1/2 Cup Yogurt or buttermilk

1 Tsp Vanilla



Cooking Instructions

Line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper and butter the wall of the pan with butter. Place the pan on a cookie sheet.

Pineapple preparation

2. Peel and slice the pineapple into 8 (or so) 1/2 inch thick rings and remove the core from each slice (I use a cookie cutter)

3. Place the pineapple slices into a large saucepan and cover with the sugar, orange juice, rum and the pinch of salt. If you want to skip the rum...go ahead...it is just sad that you want to do so

4. Bring to simmer and cook on low heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup and the pineapples are a bit caramelized (they look a bit translucent… it should take about 10 minutes) 


5. Remove from heat and let the pineapples slices cool in the syrup. Reserve.


Caramel preparation

6. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook in a medium heat without stirring (just swirl the pan if the mix starts to crystalize) until syrup starts to turn amber color, about 8 minutes, to about 390˚F . Remember to use your candy thermometer... but if you don't have one, then just watch that the mix doesn't burn (you will know that the mix is burning when the fire alarm activates and the firemen are knocking at your door)


7. Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream while stirring with a wooden spoon (it will bubble and foam like crazy!!!… fast…be careful). Don't say I did not warn you: it will foam!!!

8. Return to burner, medium heat,  and add vanilla and salt and continue to whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Reserve.

9. Once the caramel has cooled down, pour into prepared springform and tilt so the caramel coats the bottom evenly. Reserve (you don't have to use all caramel...if you have leftovers then use them for something else)

Cake

10. Arrange pineapple slices in bottom of the pan, placing them on top of the caramel and place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Reserve the syrup where the pineapples were!…we’ll use it later.

11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

12. Now let’s prepare the batter: place the butter in the bowl of a standard mixer and beat until is light, fluffy and clear color. Add the eggs, one at the time and keep beating until incorporated. No mixer?...no problem... grease elbow time !

12. In a separate bowl we are going to mix our dry ingredients: the sifted four, baking powder and salt. 

13. Add the dry ingredient mix alternately with the reserved pineapple syrup and the yogurt and beat until smooth.


14. Spread the cake batter over the pineapple slices and place the pan (that is on top of the baking sheet…just in case the caramel leaks...which happens and it will be your fault!!!) ) into the oven and bake  for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and it comes out clean. Don't worry if it takes longer...patience is the key... not all ovens are born the same.

15. Remove from the oven and let it cool in pan for 15 minutes, then run a plastic knife and loosen the springform gently. Then, carefully remove the bottom of the pan along with the parchment paper (oh… of course…you have to turn the cake upside-down first so the pineapple part is facing up)  and allow it to cool for another 15 minutes.

16. Finish the cake by pouring the leftover syrup, if you have any, on top of the pineapple slices. Then serve warm…or cold.

17. Enjoy! 

Dark and Stormy Rum Cake with Lime Glaze

Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Yields 16 servings
Ingredients


2 1/2 Cups Sifted flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp Baking soda

2 tsp Ground ginger

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp All spice

1/2 Cup Crystalized ginger chopped

1/2 Cup Molasses

1/2 Cup Dark rum

1 1/4 Cup Room temperature Butter

1/4 Cup Brown sugar

3 Large eggs, room temperature

2 Egg Yolks -from large eggs-


Lime Glaze Recipe

1 Cup Sifted Icing Sugar

1 tsp Dark rum

1 tsp Coconut oil *

3 tsp Lemon juice

1/2 tsp Lime zest

1 1/2 tsp Coconut milk or whole milk -I use regular milk-

* Coconut Oil: I wish I had all the necessary ingredients for all recipes I do but due to limitations in budget and kitchen space… sometimes I resource to some allowable substitutions. Coconut oil is one of those ingredients (along with avocado oil, chestnut oil, etc). For what I understand, coconut oil is used as a thickener, so I used butter instead… knowing that butter will add another flavor to the icing, but who doesn’t like butter?


Cooking Instructions

CAKE:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease and flour a 2.5 L Blunt cake mold making sure that we cover every inch of the mold. Tap excess flour and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl we are going to mix all dry ingredients BUT the brown sugar. Reserve.  

3. On a different bowl mix the dark molasses, the rum and the crystallized (and previously chopped) ginger. Mix well and then cover with plastic wrap and reserve.

5. Now we are going to cream the butter: in a mixer bowl combine the brown sugar and the room temperature butter (of course using the mixer…) until we get a light yellow cream (it must be light color). 

6. Add, one at the time, the eggs and keep mixing. Now add the egg yolks and continue mixing for another good 3 minutes so we end with a nice, soft mix. Keep scraping down the mix so we make sure that all is combined and we have no waste.

7. Now, let’s incorporate the dry ingredients mix and the molasses-rum mix: mix first 1/4 of the dry and wet mix alternately, then the second, third and fourth quarters until we have only our final and fabulous scented mix. 

8. Pour the mix into the buttered blunt pan and firmly tap it on the work surface to get rid of air pockets and to make sure that all corners of our mold are filled.

9. Bake for around 45 minutes until you get a dry wooden skewer when inserting it in three different parts of the cake. You will know that is almost ready when the top has raised and has already started to crack open.

10. Remove and allow it to cool down on a wire rack for at least 1 1/2 hours (don’t be impatient!). While you wait, let’s do the icing.

ICING:

1. In a medium bowl sift the icing sugar and add first the rum, then the coconut oil (I used room temperature butter instead), the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Start stirring. At first the mix is going to be heavy and hard to manage. Add a bit of the milk to get it less dense. If you have finished all the milk and the mix is still dry, then add lemon juice bit by bit until achieving the right consistency (which is semi-liquid and semi dense…when it “clings” on a spoon and drips slowly).


PUTTING IT TOGETHER:

Unmold the cake which should come out easily (if you buttered and floured  it correctly) and slowly and carefully distribute the icing mix to decorate (artistic direction not included in this recipe…sorry)

2. Enjoy!


Halloween Peanut Butter Cookies

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 16 pieces

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups of sifted flour

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 Tsp Kosher salt


1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Stick (125 g) Butter, room temperature

1 Cup White sugar

1 Egg, large, room temperature

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1/2 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter


Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium bowl we are going to mix our dry ingredients: whisk together the sifted flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Reserve.

 2. In a large bowl (I use my mixer’s), cream together butter and sugar until light, smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and the vanilla extract. 

3. Add our dry ingredient mixture to our butter-sugar mix and beat until just combined. Dough should come together (actually looks shinny but it feels like play dough…somehow heavy but not crumbly. If crumbly add a tinny amount of water and mix…don’t overwater!!!)

4.  Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.

5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

6. We are going to divide the dough in half and roll one half out onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of approximately 1/8th- inch. I keep adding flour to my surface because the dough is quite sticky. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

7.  Cut out 12 pumpkins using a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter and transfer to a prepared baking sheet (with parchment paper) . Be careful: the unbaked cookies are quite fragile, so be gentle when transferring them. You should have approx. 16 cookies. These will be our bottom part of the cookies. Reserve

8. We are going to do the same with the remaining dough, but this second batch will have the jack-o-lantern faces. I have to admit: it sounds easier than it is -at least for me-. As I don’t have tinny cooking cutter shapes (eyes and mouth) I ended using the tip of a small funnel for the eyes and I cut the mouths with a pairing knife. They don’t look like a Martha Stewart’s confection but they look good enough for me. Transfer them to the second prepared baking sheet. Again…they are fragile so take your time. Obviously these are the top part of our cookies and we should have approx. 16 faces. Reserve.

9. Bake the first batch for 10 minutes or until the top looks dry on top. (I bake mine for 12 minutes because I like them crunchy). When ready, let them cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack (if you transfer right away they will brake and you will feel frustrated and cranky).

10. Now we are going to bake our second batch, exact same as the first batch. Follow the same instructions for the cooling method. Reserve.

11. Once the two sides have cooled perfectly (I waited half an hour), spread the flat side of our faceless cookies with about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter. I really like the texture of the crunchy one, so that is what I recommend. Top them with the flat side down, so the two flat parts are the ones that touch the peanut butter. Press carefully the sandwich so a bit of the peanut butter comes out of the eye sockets and mouths.

12. Eat one and be strong, otherwise you will end eating half your cookies. I keep them in a Tupperware with paper towels so they keep dry and crispy, while they last…mine didn’t make it to Halloween. If so, feel sorry for the kids…and give them Oreos or something.

13. Enjoy!




Tipsy Cranberry and Almond Whiskey Cake


Somehow people associate cake with kids...I don't. A grownup has as much right as any kid to eat cake -or even more right-. In the other hand people associate alcohol with grownups...and I agree. Kids are cute, at a distance, but a kid and alcohol does not mix. Sorry kids.

And once we are debunking urban myths,  I would like to talk about food and alcohol. Some people (let's call them weirdos) are convinced that the only wine, rum, cherry, etc...that is to be used in the kitchen  MUST be of lower quality -cheap-. I totally disagree. To me drinking a good wine is as pleasant as tasting it on a dish. Cheap wine on a dish equals cheap flavor. Not a good thing.

With all these thoughts out of my system, I want to share a real tasty and grownup cake that uses Whiskey... and quite a bit. Between the needed Whiskey for this cake and the ones I drank while baking it...I finished a bottle -or at least that is the last thing I remember-. Who put me on my bed  is still a mystery to be resolved...

Here it goes!

Tipsy Cranberry and Almond Whiskey Cake
 Serves 24 small slices or 12 generous slices

Ingredients

1 Cup of dried cranberries
1 Cup of Raisins
2 Tbsp Lemon zest
2 Tbsp Orange zest
1 Cup Whiskey (I used Buchanan's)
175  g Room temperature butter
1 Cup Brown sugar
3 Eggs, room temperature and separated
1 1/2 Cups Flour 
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 pinch of Kosher salt
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
3/4 Cup chopped and toasted almonds.

Instructions

1. Combine cranberries, raisins and the whiskey in a metal or glass bowl and add the lemon and orange zest.

2. Mix well the cranberry-raisin mix and cover with plastic wrap (tight) and leave it room temperature overnight. You can drink couple of glasses of whiskey just because you deserve it.

3. Cream the butter with the brown sugar together until it becomes a soft, pale color mix.

4. Separate the eggs 

5. Turn on the oven to 375˚F and butter and flour a 9 inch bunt pan. 

6. Incorporate, one by one the egg yolks to the butter mixture until incorporated. Reserve.

7. Mix the dry ingredients -sifted- : the flour, the baking powder, the salt and the cinnamon. 

8. Toast the almonds and let them cool. 

9. Incorporate the toasted almonds to your butter mix. Reserve.

10. Now incorporate in three additions the dry ingredient mix. You will have a dry dough. Don't worry...drink another whiskey. Reserve

11. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff . Reserve

12. Incorporate the drunken berries to your dry mix and fold the egg whites. Don't over mix it !

13. Pour the mix into the prepared pan. Shake it a bit to get rid of air bubbles. 

14. Bake for 45 minutes (can go up to an hour) and you will know that the cake is ready when you insert a toothpick and comes out dry.

14. Allow the cake to cool in a wire rake. The house should smell fantastic!

15. Enjoy!...and make sure that you tell your kids that this cake is not for them. They will cry...then drink another whiskey and ignore them.

Whisk the eggs until stiff

Fold the egg whites...

The cake before baking it

The end result (very nice)

And a small slice...tipsy!




Strawberry Bread

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

1/2 cup (113 grams) Unsalted butter room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) Granulated white sugar
3 Large eggs  
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 cups (260 grams) All-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (120 ml) Sour cream or plain yogurt (I use yogurt)
1/2 cup (120 ml) Toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) Fresh strawberries, diced in 3 or 4 pieces, dusted with flour (so they don't go to the pan's bottom)


Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350˚F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.

2. Butter and flour a loaf pan (9” x 5” x 3”)

3.  Place walnuts in a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until slightly brown.

4. Once ready, chop coarsely the nuts and reserve

5. In a mixer (or by hand if you are old fashion and brave) beat the butter until softened and add the sugar until completely incorporated -it should be now smooth and cream color-

6. Add the tree eggs, one at the time and beat until incorporated and also beat in the vanilla extract. Reserve

7. Now we are going to mix our dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder , cinnamon and salt.

8. Add the flour mix into our butter mix in three additions.

9. Add the yogurt (or sour cream) until perfectly combined.

10 Fold the walnuts and at the very last minute, add the strawberries

11. Fill your pan with the mix and get rid of air bubbles by hitting the mold hard on a firm surface.

12. Bake for about 60 minutes or when the bread has risen and looks a bit golden (check if it’s done using a wood skewer, which should come out perfectly clean)

13. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes (do not remove the bread from the pan or it will break and you will blame me for giving you wrong instructions!

14. After the half hour remove the bread from the pan and allow the bread to cool for about 2 hours.

15. Enjoy!

** You can keep the bread at room temperature (covered) for about a week and also you can freeze it.


Peach and Amaretto Biscuits


As empty nesters (for now...) at home is only my wife and I. One of the two complaints that is getting fat...er but I won't tell you who to keep the culprit anonymous and so my wife doesn't kill me. My lips are sealed.

The story is that when I bake cookies they usually don't last, I guess because cookies are so easy to grab and eat. I baked these cookies on Sunday and by Tuesday the cookies were gone. This kind of cookies (biscuits if you are from the Motherland) are so hard to resist... the lightness and almond flavor is tasty as it can be plus the semi-sweet mix of peach, Amaretto and lemon makes them impossible not to eat. Proof of that is that they are gone...

I promised my wife that I wouldn't bake cookies for a while, so I will bake some scones, sweet and savory bread (I love home made bread!) and cakes... I am such a good husband. 


Peach and Amaretto Biscuits

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 20  servings

Ingredients


170 g  Almond Flour(almond meal)

170 g  Flour, sifted

170 g Butter, room temperature  


115 g Caster Sugar

-       Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp Amaretto (or vanilla for kids)

1 Egg white

1/4 Tsp Kosher salt

30 g Flaked almonds, chopped

250 ml Peach jam

1 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice

1 Tsp Amaretto (grown up cookies!)…if not just skip


Baking Instructions

1. Mix the almond flour with the sifted flour. Reserve

2. With an electric mixer cream the butter with the caster sugar until soft and pale yellow color -light and fluffy-

3. Stir in the lemon grind , the Amaretto and the salt.  

4. By now we have a semi-dry dough that breaks easily...that's what we are looking for so don't panic!
   Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic (so it doesn’t absorb any fridge odors) and          refrigerate for an hour.

5. Close to the hour preheat the oven to 225˚F or   180˚C  and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (or butter them), also take out the dough ball of the fridge.

6. We are going to divide the dough ball in 4 equal pieces, as we’ll work on one quarter at the time. On a flowered surface we are going to roll out to a thickness of 1/8” (3 mm) the first quarter, then we repeat the process with the second quarter.

Oh!…if your rolling pin sticks or lifts some dough… put some flour in both, the rolling pin and the dough

8. Now  use a 3/4” (2 cm) circular pastry cutter to stamp circles until we have no dough left. We put the first circle batch on the baking tray...which should end full. We'll separate each dough circle from the next about one centimeter.



9. Now repeat steps number 6 and 7 for the last two quarters.



10. With the second and third dough batches cut circles in the middle of each circle with a circular pastry cutter of 3/4" (2 cm)... and you will have some VERY FRAGILE SMALL dough - like cookies (well... pre-cookies). Be very careful and move them to the second baking sheet -the dough is quite fragile and the shape doesn't help... (I use a baking knife to do this)


11. Bake the first batch (the ones without a hole on them)  for about 15 minutes or until the cookies start to look a bit brown. 

12. Meanwhile brush with the egg white the surface of all or second batch (the one with the holes) and sprinkle the chopped almonds on top. When the first batch is ready then take it out and put this one in, same 15 minutes.

13. WAIT AT LEAST 10 MINUTES before you move the first batch to a cooling tray, otherwise they will brake (been there done that). Do the same with the second batch...you will notice that by now your kitchen looks invaded by cookie circles and semi-doughnuts, don't worry, we are almost done.

14. In a sauce pan melt the jam with the lemon juice and the Amaretto (you can skip the Amaretto) until it comes to a simmer and gets less thick than when we started. Keep stirring until you get a soft and creamy jam. It’s time to do the last part…

15. Brush each one of the whole circles (be generous!!!) with the semi-liquid jam covering the whole cookie, and sandwich them with the semi-daughnut together using two or three fingers…as they are super brittle.


16.We eat a cookie to taste if they are perfect... if they are, then eat another one, but if they didn't then keep them for the next family reunion or for the office party.

17. We share with the family and enjoy!




Sinner's Chocolate and Walnut Cookies



Cooking Time: 30 Minutes   Makes 24 servings

Ingredients

60 g Semi sweet melted chocolate

1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Egg lightly beaten

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Kosher Salt

1/4 Cup Milk, room temperature

1/2 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar

2 Cups Flour, sifted

1 Tsp Baking powder

250 g Semi sweet chocolate , cut into rough and not that small pieces

3/4 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped



Cooking Instructions

1 Preheat oven to 350˚F

2 Melt the 60 grams of chocolate and reserve

3. In a big bowl we mix the butter with the sugar (I use a mixer…but if you want to build muscle…then doit by hand) until you get a smooth light yellow paste.

4. Add the beaten egg and continue mixing. 

5. Add the melted chocolate, the vanilla, the salt and the milk and continue mixing until well incorporated.

6. Add the confectioner’s sugar and baking powder and mix until incorporated. By now the dough is kind of a paste…don’t worry, that is what we are looking for.

7. Now, fold (by hand…sorry) the 250 grams (!!!) of chocolate and the chopped walnuts and fold again. It looks like a lot of chocolate, but hey, there is only one life to live.

8. Cover with parchment paper a baking sheet and use a tablespoon to drop the dough in the baking sheet. The tablespoon needs to be a bit overflown. We can fit 12 cookies per sheet, so we’ll repeat this step twice to get the 24 cookies.

9. We put them in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes (10 is the max!). The cookies will look a bit soft but will harden as soon as they cool down.

10. Once removed from the oven, we let the cookies sit for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then we move them to a cooling rack.

11. We repeat the process to do the second batch.

12. Once all the cookies are ready, be ready to succumb to their chocolate aroma…you will not be able to resist. Be weak…


13. Enjoy!I know... I have this thing with chocolate. I baked last week the most decadent chocolate cake. It was fantastic...but with tons of chocolate (actually the chocolate cake with more chocolate in it that  I have ever baked)...and a Grand Marnier 1/2" thick frosting. Thanks God my wife loves to eat.. in less than a week is gone.

With that as our decadent past, full of calories...but one has to die of something, right? today I decided to bake some Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes. No frosting because my wife then can't take them as lunch to work. I also did some Chocolate-chestnut cookies . Eventually I will post it here...but not today. Today we are baking some cupcakes!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes      Makes: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

1/3 Cup Butter room temperature

1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (I use chunky)


2 Eggs, room temperature, beaten

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract

2 Cups of Flour

1/2 Tsp Salt Kosher

2 Tsp Baking Powder

3/4 Cup Milk, room temperature

1 Cup Chocolate Chips (semi sweet)


Procedure

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F

2. Beat butter until soft and blend with one cup of brown sugar until incorporated and soft.

3. Add the peanut butter and the two eggs and mix until incorporated

4. Incorporate the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and the vanilla until light and fluffy

5. Sift flour and add the salt and the baking powder. Incorporate into the mixture

6. Finally add the milk and mix until you get an even mix -not solid but not liquid-

7. Fold the chopped chocolate chips  

8. Pour into a lined 12 cup muffin pan.

9. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops look a bit golden

10. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes, then

11. Enjoy!





Grand Marnier Valrhona Chocolate Cheesecake

 Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

1 Cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs

1/3 Cup plus 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, separated


6 Tbsp Butter, melted


1/3  (225 g ea) Packages of Cream Cheese, softened and room temperature

3 Large eggs, room temperature

1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs



Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium size bowl combine the cracker crumbs with 1/3 of the granulated sugar and the melted butter until fully incorporated. 

2. Cover the bottom of  a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides. 

3. Pour the cracker mix into the pan and distribute evenly only on the bottom, not the sides, and press firmly so we get a compact base for the cake. Reserve

4. In the bottom of the oven -or the bottom rack- place a shallow baking pan with boiling water and turn on the oven to 300˚F. The rack for the cheese cake will be in the middle.

5. In a mixer combine the cheese with the rest of the sugar until combined, then add, one by one, the eggs and keep mixing until incorporated (you will get a semi-liquid mix…don’t panic, that is what we are looking for).

6. Add the vanilla and the Grand Marnier and mix a bit more until incorporated. Take a deep breath because the aroma is fantastic.

7. Finally fold the cocoa nibs and pour the mix into the prepared pan.

8. Place the pan into the oven (middle rack), which will be a bit steamy. Allow it to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, but it might take longer (if so, verify every 5 minutes). Here is the most important part:
-We know that the cheese cake is ready when we shake the pan -lightly- and we see the center part wobble but the sides not. It is shinny on the top. If it does not wobble…you over cooked the cake (still is good but not fantastic) and if you take it out when is not ready…you will have a mess. Keep an eye on the “wooblyness of the cake”

9. When ready, remove and place the cake in a cooling rack for 2 hours without opening the mold.

10. While the cake cools down we are going to prepare the Valrhona chocolate cover. First pour some water into a medium size pan that can fit a glass or metal bowl on top -without the bowl touching the water- and put it on the stove, medium-high.

11. Put the metal bowl on top of the boiling water pan and pour the Valrhona chocolate pieces so it melts slowly. Keep stirring until all is melted and forms a smooth texture.

12. Remove the spring form outer ring from the cake and put a tray or a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the cake’s cooling rack and pour the melted chocolate on top trying to distribute it evenly -only on the top-. It will drip a bit on the sides… that is what we want. Recycle the drippings so we use all the chocolate -put it back and melt it a bit-

13. Once the chocolate cover is even, put the cheese cake in the fridge and allow it to cool for at least 4 hours, then with care remove the bottom of the spring form pan and put the cheese cake in a presentation plate.


14. Enjoy!




Maple Glazed Baked Apple Doughnuts

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois are  great bakers and very well known for their five minute artisan bread books and healthy recipes. As I discovered that baking makes me happy and relaxes me... I bake a lot. The idea is to see how much my wife can eat in a year... the experiment continues.

These doughnuts are just amazing. They take a bit of time to prepare, but the end result is really tasty. They are best just out of the oven -like almost all bread-, but eating them the same day works too. I divide the recipe in three so I have fresh doughnuts three days in a row.

Now, if you don't like doughnuts... I recommend a visit to the psychiatrist.


Preparation Time: 90 Minutes Serves 18 Doughnuts

Ingredients 

Doughnuts

3/4 Cup Lukewarm water

2 Tsp Yeast (one 8 g packet)


2 Tsp Kosher salt

3 Eggs -lightly beaten-

1/2 Cup Brown sugar

3 3/4 Cups Flour

3/4 Cup unsalted butter, melted

2 Small  apples, diced (small dices). Do not use medium or large apples!


Cinnamon-sugar dusting

1/4 Cup Granulated sugar

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon



Maple Glaze

3/4 Cup Confectioners sugar

1 Tbsp Heavy cream (must be heavy, not whipping cream)
2 Tbsp Maple syrup

1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract



Instructions

Doughnut Dough

First let’s try the yeast: In a small container mix the yeast (I use instant yeast) with a teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Mix and let it set for 15 minutes. It should bubble and rise a bit, otherwise it’s not good.

While the yeast is rising, in a large container mix the flour,  brown sugar, salt, lukewarm water and butter. Mix until combined -by hand, not mixer as we don’t want to overwork the dough-. 

3. By now the yeast should have risen, so let’s add it to our mix and fold until incorporated. 

4. Add the diced apples and fold again. 

5. In a warm place (I use the inside of my oven with a light on), we are going to put the dough to rise for two hours, so cover it with a damp towel and let it rest.

6. Once the two hours have passed, then we must chill the dough. We put it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (I leave it overnight, covered with a wet towel). If you don’t cool it…no doughnuts!

7. After the 3 hour long wait -in my case the next day-, the dough should have risen again, so punch the dough to get rid of the air and knead it for 5 minutes on a floured surface. The dough is sticky and a bit wet… don’t worry. (if the dough is too wet, then add a bit more flour. Reserve

8. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

9. Cover with parchment paper the baking sheet

Cinnamon Dusting

In a small bowl combine the granulated sugar with the cinnamon.

Almost ready to bake…

Take the dough and with floured hands divide it in 18 3 oz. pieces (golf ball size). *

2. Form a ball with each piece and poke with your thumbs through the middle of the ball and create a hole. Stretch the “doughnut” so it’s about 3” wide. 

3. Dredge each doughnut in the cinnamon-sugar mix and place it on the baking sheet. I can only fit 6 doughnuts per sheet, so I reserve the rest of the dough in the fridge while I bake this batch.

4. Let the doughnuts rest for another 30 minutes

5. Bake the doughnuts for about 18 minutes or until golden brown

And… the glazing!

While the doughnuts bake, in a medium bowl mix the maple syrup, heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until you get a heavy glazing. If you feel the mix is a bit dry, just add a bit more maple sugar (not water!). Reserve
The final step. 

Once the doughnuts are ready, put them in a cooling rack with the parchment paper under to catch any drippings.

2. Drizzle the glaze over them and let them set up.

3. Enjoy! **

I have a small family so I divide the dough in three parts and bake only one 6 doughnut batch per day -so I guarantee the freshness-. The remaining dough I keep in the fridge covered with a wet towel. The dough lasts for 3 days no problem.

** These doughnuts are amazing just out of the oven, but you can enjoy them the same day, otherwise they get a bit stale (also you can put the uneaten doughnuts in an air tight container and just warm them up as needed, maximum for 3 days)


PEANUT BUTTER, BACON, BOURBON AND CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 24 servings
Ingredients
9 Strips of Bacon

1 1/2 Cups Flour (sifted)

1 Tsp Baking soda

1/2 Cup Unsalted butter room temperature

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup light brown sugar (packed)

1/4 Cup Peanut butter (smooth)

1/4 Tsp Kosher salt

1 Large egg room temperature

4 Tbsp Bourbon or  2 Tbsp vanilla

2 Tbsp bacon fat

1/3 Cup Dark chocolate (chopped)

Cooking Instructions
1. In a large frying pan we are going to cook the bacon until it gets crispy. Keep the bacon fat for a later use. (I like it better in the microwave but then I don’t have the bacon fat for later… you choose)

2. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to remove the fat. Once cold, chop it in SMALL pieces for later use. Separate the bacon: 1/4 for garnish and 3/4 for the cookies. Reserve

3. Mix the sifted flour with the salt and the baking powder. Reserve

4. In a mixer bowl (mixer with paddle attachment) we are going to creme the butter with the 2 sugars until incorporated -about 7 minutes-

5. Incorporate to the mix the dry ingredients (do it in3 batches) and then add the egg, the peanut butter and the bourbon until it becomes one even mix.

6. Add the chopped bacon (the 3/4 cup) and the 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Reserve.

7. Turn on the oven to 350˚F

8. Line with parchment paper two large baking pans. Reserve

9. With 1 tablespoon of batter we are going to form a ball. Place the ball in the baking tray and repeat until you finish the batter.

10. Flatten each ball (I use the bottom of a glass)

11. Put in the oven and bake for around 10 minutes or when you see the edges browning a bit. Repeat for the two trays.

12. IMPORTANT!. Let cook the cookies IN THE BAKING PAN for 5 minutes or so because we need them to be a bit stiff, otherwise they will brake into pieces.

13. Once the cookies are cold enough to move them without breaking, transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

14. Let’s do the last part. Now in a heatproof bowl over a sauce pan with water we are going to melt the chocolate until smooth. It will take you from 5 to 10 minutes. When smooth, remove from the heat (just make sure that the water doesn’t touch the chocolate).

15. Distribute the 1/4 of bacon bits on top of the cookies (just a couple of bits per cookie) and drizzle with a fork the melted chocolate. Allow it to cool 100% (two hours).

16. Transfer to a serving plate and…


17. Enjoy!