Archive for ‘Frosting’

September 27, 2013

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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Summertime in Strasbourg means discovering gardens. As a Long Islander, born and raised, the only two times anything grew in my backyard was when 1) a pool appeared and 2) my Italian great uncle Cono managed to make a cucumber grow out of the sandy soil.

As you can see my experience with fresh produce, literally in my own backyard, was fairly limited up until this year.

The Beard’s mom has a garden. And she has zucchini plants. Flowers? What do we call those anyway? Alls I know is that we received zucchini deliveries by the crateful. The weekly task is therefore to find ways to use them all up before they go bad.  There was therefore a lot of cake made in our household…

..but it is zucchini, so it is healthy, right?

Or so I told myself…

This recipe was unbelievable, my only qualm was that it didn’t make yield nearly enough muffins!

 

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup Nutella (or the German knockoff NUSS-something or other)

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large enough bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Whisk to mix well.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Beat the egg in.
  3. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and lemon zest.
  5. Use a ¼ cup scoop to evenly distribute the batter between the muffin liners. They should be 2/3 full.
  6. Dollop 1 teaspoon of Nutella on top of each scoop of batter and swirl with a toothpick.
  7. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Check the centers with a toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean before removing the muffins from the oven.(I am sure this would make a wonderful zucchini loaf, to be baked for about 35-50 minutes, depending on the loaf size.)

Bon app!

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(look at that swirl!)

August 8, 2013

chocolate caramel bark aka lovexcore cookies

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These treacherously delicious cookies have several names. My father calls them “heart-attack” cookies. My friends and I used to call them “lovexcore” cookies. Traditional society would probably call them “bark.” Whatever their actual title, these cookies were a big favorite growing up on the Long Island peninsula. Whenever Kelly came over with a tin or a Tupperware, you knew what she had up her sleeve. These puppies.

With such simple, everyday ingredients (but perhaps some shocking quantities?) these are easy to whip up. Just be sure to have the patience to let them cool down in the refrigerator before plunging head-first into the baking tray.

The saltiness of the saltine crackers coupled with the butter and the chocolate make for an addictive and compulsive treat. I suggest that you test these bad boys out when you are going somewhere and you are going to share them. In fact, this was probably Kelly’s technique all along…

The French are normally not a big fan of a salty-sweet combination (WHAT? I live for this happy marriage of flavor) but those who did get a taste gave this treat a healthy, happy, albeit metaphorical two thumbs-up.

Fun fact: In just thinking of a French person giving two thumbs up, I had to ask myself — do the French even do this sort of gesture? According to wordreference, this is not translatable.

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Kelly’s lovexcore cookies aka Chocolate Caramel Bark

What you’ll need:

  • 40 Saltine crackers or something similar (I’ve heard tell of doing this with Matzo)
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
  • 1 cup (220g) packed light brown sugar
  • A big pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional but who doesn’t love extra sea salt!)

What now?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. While the oven is heating, line a large baking sheet (11 x 17) with aluminum foil and THEN parchment paper. You want to fit these two perfectly on the baking sheet. I’ve learned that the parchment paper really helps the lovexcore cookies to NOT stick.
  2. Line the now covered baking sheet with saltine crackers. You may have to break them apart in order to completely cover the baking sheet. Don’t worry about it looking perfect, just get that baking sheet covered.
  3. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Once it’s come to a boil, let it continue to boil, stirring it often so that it thickens (or becomes a caramel!)
  4. Remove from the heat and add salt and vanilla extract.
  5. Quickly pour caramel over the saltine crackers and spread if you can to cover every part of the crackers.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the outer edges of the crackers start to brown. Pay attention! You don’t want it to burn or get too dark.
  7. Once removed from the oven, immediately cover the saltine crackers with the chopped chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, until the chocolate has become melty and spreadable. Using a spatula, spread the wealth chocolate deliciousness to fully cover everything. If using, sprinkle the chocolate with sprinkles (hehe)/ almonds / nuts / whatever you’d like.
  8. Wait an eternity (or put it in the fridge) to cool. Once cool, break the saltines up into bite sized pieces of your choosing. Try not to taste the entire baking sheet while you are breaking them apart. Been there, done that.

Bon app!

2

June 9, 2013

Banana Bread Crepe Cake | gâteau aux crêpes

crepecake

Here is a cake that trumps all cakes.A crepe that trumps all crepes.

The kind of cake that makes the French tremble in their booties.  What a sacrilegious idea to combine crepes to make something other than a traditional crepe, egg and ham dish? Though they all shudder at the thought of a crepe cake, they always come back, eye-ing the photos, interested, wondering if they could put their culinary preferences aside for the moment in order to engage in such an American spin on the crepe.

This is the kind of cake that says “I am sorry but I don’t have a birthday present for you.” This is the kind of cake that says “breakfast, lunch and dinner”. This is the kind of cake that says “squish” when you cut into it. This cake is divine. The recipe seems long and daunting but once you have mastered the crepe technique (which is essentially the pancake technique but easier) this cake is a breeze. No oven needed. Can be stuck in the freezer for faster consolidating results. Even the most anti-banana beards on the planet have approved the subtle hint of banana that infiltrates the palate. It marries perfectly with the cream and the butterscotch. There really is no other way to eat 10 crepes in one bite than this way.

crepecake2

Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

(serves a many, but was eaten by 2.)

What you’ll need:

Crepe batter

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 large ripe banana (should yield about 1/2 cup peeled and squished)
  • 1 cup (235 ml) milk
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Cream cheese yogurt filling

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, well-softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (345 grams) plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Walnut butterscotch topping

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (about 50 grams) chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste

Now what?

  1. Crepe batter: Mix together banana and butter in a food processor or with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing until obtaining a smooth liquid. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 1 hour minimum. This part is essential since it helps your crepe batter thicken up significantly. If possible, overnight will yield the best results.
  2. To make the crepes: Heat a non-stick skillet or a crepe pan on medium heat. The best part about France is that a crepe pan will cost you 2 euros whereas in America where it will be deemed a specialty item. Melt a nub of butter in the pan. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the crepe batter in the pan as you swirl the pan around so that the batter spreads out evenly and thinly across the whole pan. Emergency fill in any open holes carefully with fresh batter if need be. The French will argue that an ideal crepe is a thin one. Let the crepe cook, untouched for 2-3 minutes. Once it is ready to be flipped, the crepe will be golden brown and it will peel right off and flip easily. Cook for 30 seconds on the second side, and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, you should get 10-11 crepes. Cool crepes completely before assembling the cake.
  3. Cream cheese filling: Beat cream cheese until fluffy, then add the greek yogurt, sugar and vanilla and beat for another minute, until fluff-city.
  4. Cake assembly: Lay the very first cake on your cake platter or plate of choice. Spread with 1/4 cup of the cream cheese filling and then place another crepe on top. Repeat until the crepes or the cream cheese filling runs out, but be sure to end with a crepe hat on top.
  5. Butterscotch topping: Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. After 10 minutes, once it smells toasty and feels thick to the touch, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, then walnuts. Immediately pour over stack of filled crepes. Spread the butterscotch over all of the “hat” so that everyone gets their share of butterscotch topping.

Bon app!

September 12, 2012

Filling the Void: Macarons (A Guest Blog by Susan Elliot)

Musings from my counterpart all the way in the United States of America, 12 days away from France….a post from Susan Elliot:

Filling the Void

Filling the void with dark chocolate ganache. It’s the only appropriate thing I can think of. Leaving the place and the people, surtout one certain person, has been more of a ‘ripping out, roots and all’ experience than I had expected it would be. It’s bittersweet and, at the moment, more bitter than sweet.

So dark chocolate is the only option I think. At least 70%, as the recipe suggests.

From one day to the next, I’ve jetted so far away from these people, the place, a best friend; the results of my choice yet I couldn’t have foreseen the sentiments this experience would evoke for me.

It’s my attempt to get back there, to feel closer to you, to feel as if you would be with me in the kitchen. These macarons are my attempt to bridge the gap between us. From one side to the other with dark chocolate ganache, just what you’ll find in the middle of this chocolate macaron.

The goal was smaller, traditional macarons, but in the end, one big maracon cake was the best I could pull off for this first attempt.

July 26, 2012

Vegan Iced Apple Cake Squares

In France, it is normal to eat a lot of cheese and a lot of dairy.  A LOT of dairy.  The only difference between French dairy (le laitage) and American dairy is that in France, it is ACTUALLY dairy.  Sounds redundant. Let me explain.  The first time I poured myself a glass of milk in the US after my first year in Strasbourg, I gasped at the lack of opaqueness.  It looked like milk-water.  It tasted like milk-water.  I was shocked.  I was unfazed however and then proceeded to make a cake with American butter.  But why was it white? In France, the butter is yellow, creamy, and potent.  It all boils down to differences in pasteurization I imagine but the quality and breakdown of these ingredients are fundamentally different here.  In any case, being born and raised with an American belly (but with French taste buds), I have a hard time adjusting to the strength of French cream, milk, butter and cheese.  I eat it, love it, enjoy it, and then regret it almost systematically.   Hence, on a coup de tête (or a whim, as I do most things) I decided to implement some entirely vegan days into my week in order to neither terrorize my stomach nor deprive myself of the delicious wonders that France has to offer.  I was a touch skeptical about the quality of a vegan apple cake, but I must admit that it was very addictive, delicious and absolutely passable as a normal dairy filled cake substitute!  Best to eat it piping hot….

Vegan Iced Apple Cake Squares

(adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen)

Makes 1 8-inch cake

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 gala apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond milk (or soy/rice/milk)

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c.  Grease pan and line it with wax paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together oil, vanilla and vinegar.  Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ones and mix well until combined.  Add apples and walnuts and mix well.
  3. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until cake is set and slightly brown on top.  A knife or toothpick should come out clean.
  4. While the cake is baking, combine powdered sugar and almond milk until smooth.
  5. Once cooled, cut the cake into squares and ice as you please!
  6. Try to wait until it is cooled before eating so that you do not burn your tongue (I speak from experience.)

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