Figapalooza 2019 Part I

Yep, that’s right Figapalooza 2019 is in full swing at the ol’ homestead this week. Our upstairs neighbor is on her 4th batch of fig jam. I’ve made fig ice pops, fig flatbread, fig scampi, fig n’ grits and fig tarts. So this week I’ll share with you my recipe for Fig & Pistachio Honey Tart. The secret to bringing out the pistachio here is to use it as the base for the crust. Blind baking the crust helps roast the pistachios a little to bring that nuttiness more forward. There’s just a slight orange hint from orange zest and a little orange extract to help brighten things up.

Pistachio Crust

  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter cut into cubes

Place 1/4 cup all purpose flour and the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the pistachios are ground into a fine meal. Add the powder sugar, salt and the remainder of the flour and pulse 10 times to mix. Gradually add in the chilled butter, and pulse until dough is a sand like consistency. Mix the egg, vanilla extract and milk in a small bowl and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture until dough just comes together.

Form dough into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. After the dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4″ thick and lay into a tart pan and press the dough into the corners.

Dock the shell with a fork in several places. Line the shell with aluminum foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Blind bake the shell at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil with the rice/beans and bake the shell for another 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Filling

  • 8 oz marscarpone
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 1/3 cup honey

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Fill the cooled tart shell with the cheese and yogurt filling.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill until the cheese mixture sets about 2-4 hours.

To serve, top with sliced firgs, chopped pistachios and a drizzle of hone.

 

 

 

It’s National Ice Cream Day….maybe

Homemade coconut milk based Raspberry, French Vanilla and Double Chocolate ice cream. In a triple sunday with blackberry syrup, mango syrup and marshmallow syrup and of course with a cherry on top

Depending on the website you’re looking at, today is National Ice Cream Day. It may also be this coming Sunday. But no matter which calendar you choose to follow, I’ve got you covered with ice cream recipes this week. You can also check out this link to see all my frozen treat recipes.  All of this weeks recipes will be coconut milk based and use sweetened condensed milk as the sweetener. You will need an ice cream maker. I’m aware that there are several recipes out there that don’t require an ice cream maker, I’ve not tried to make these without one so I don’t know how well they’d work without one. If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

So first up is classic French Vanilla

French Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 2 13.5 oz cans coconut milk
  • 1 13.5 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1TBS Vanilla paste

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a whisk or a electric mixer until all the ingredients are well combined. Chill ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Churn according to you ice cream machines directions. Place churned ice cream into airtight containers and place in the freezer to harden for at least 4 hours but best to make a day ahead. Yield 1 quart of ice cream.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

  • 20 mint candies like Andes mints coarsely chopped
  • ½ tsp peppermint oil
  • ½ can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Green Food Coloring (optional)

Combine, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla paste and peppermint oil (and green food coloring if you want that green color) in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill ice cream base in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Churn according to you ice cream machines directions. Once the ice cream has churned, mix in the chopped up mints. Place churned ice cream into airtight containers and place in the freezer to harden for at least 4 hours but best to make a day ahead. Yield 1 pint

Raspberry ice cream all dressed up with mango syrup, blackberry syrup, whipped cream, fruity cereal and a cherry on top

Raspberry Ice Cream

  • ½ cup freeze dried raspberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ can sweetened condensed milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until the raspberries have ben completely broken down. Chill ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Churn according to you ice cream machines directions. Place churned ice cream into airtight containers and place in the freezer to harden for at least 4 hours but best to make a day ahead. Yield 1 pint

The Ultimate Chocolate Sundae

Double Chocolate Malted Milk Ball, Cookies n Marshmallows

  • 2 13.5 oz cans of coconut milk (divided)
  • 1 13.5 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder
  • 3 oz extra dark chocolate chopped
  • 1 TBS vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 3 TBS malted milk powder
  • ¼ cup crushed malted milk malls
  • ¼ cup mini marshmallows
  • ¼ cup chocolate wafer cookies chopped
  • 3 oz of chocolate coarsely chopped (which ever kind you prefer)
  • pinch of salt

Pour one can of coconut milk into a microwave safe bowl and heat at 50% until it just starts to bubble. Place 3 oz of the extra dark chocolate into a large mixing bowl and pour the warm coconut milk over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Add in the remaining can of coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla paste, milk powder and coffee. Stir until well combined and then chill in the fridge for a few hours. Churn according to manufacturer’s directions for you ice cream machine. Toward the final 5 minutes of churning add in the the malted milk balls, marshmallows, cookies, salt and the remaining chocolate. Place ice cream base in airtight containers and let chill overnight.

 

 

 

 

 

White Chocolate and Citrus Confetti Cake with White Chocolate Citrus Buttercream

4 layers of cake with layers of curd and buttercream standing tall

There’s this misconception that a lot of people have that baking is super complicated and requires people to be super precise. I argue for most cakes, muffins and cookies that home cooks are inclined to attempt, that’s not the case. Like with all cooking, being organized is the secret to success. Reading the recipe thoroughly a few times, assembling and prepping all your ingredients before starting any part of the cooking/baking process is essential to a successful result.

One of the things I like about baking, is that by simply swapping out an ingredient here and there you can completely change the flavor profile of what is essentially the same recipe. Case in point…the cake pictured above is the same base as the Peppermint Chocolate Layer Cake from a few months ago. I just swapped out white chocolate for the cocoa and dark chocolate and swapped out citrus for the peppermint oil and instead of crushed peppermint candy between layers, I used sprinkles and crushed Belgian Butter Cookies and Corn Flakes. Then I used the same method for assembling the cake. Otherwise the only other thing that was done differently, is that I baked the cake in 2 sheet pans and then used the outer ring of my springform pan to cut out the individual layers. It turns out that the cake cooks more evenly, faster and the top is more level than if you use round cake pans.

So my hope is if you learn anything at all here its that you discover that these are just ideas and you can riff off of any of them by changing ingredients here and there.

Here are the ingredients to make this particular cake,

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp each lemon and orange extract
  • 8 oz. melted white chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 TBS each lemon zest and orange zest
  • 3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles/jimmies
  • Icing (see below)
  • 2 cups lemon curd
  • 1 cup of assorted sprinkles for decorating

Place a clean glass or stainless steal bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to make a double boiler. Break the chocolate into small chunks and place into the bowl, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, assemble the rest of the cake ingredients. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, sour cream, vanilla extract, citrus extract and eggs lightly until combined then slowly pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined by hand or with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Divide batter evenly between 2 prepared ½ sheet pans and bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely before icing.

Ingredients

  • 1lb unsalted butter (softened and room temperature)
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 2lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp each lemon and orange extract
  • 1 tsp each lemon and orange zest
  • 2 TBS corn syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup cornflakes

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt white chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Once the white chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whip butter in a large bowl or stand mixer with whisk attachment on high speed until the butter turns pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl add zest, vanilla extract, citrus extract and whisk on medium speed until flavoring is incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and add the corn syrup*. Turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides. Add ⅓ of the powder sugar and turn the mixer on to low, mix until the powered sugar is thoroughly incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrap down the sides between each addition. Continue until all the powdered has been added. You should hear the motor of the mixer slow down. Now gradually start adding the heavy whipping cream. Your looking for a nice spreadable/pipable texture that’s not too loose. The icing should be airy but still hold a peak so you may not need all the cream.

For assembly

Use the outer ring of a springform pan, or a make a 6″circle out of cardboard to cut out 3 layers from you sheet cakes. Crumble the remaining scraps, to use as your base layer. Slowly build your layers, cake, curd, buttercream, sprinkles and cornflakes. Then keep repeating that process. At the top, you can drizzle some lemon curd, or pipe buttercream roses and finish the rest of the sprinkles.

Here there be dragons…..

Homemade fortune cookies decorated for Valentine’s Day.

Every once and a while as I’m wandering around Pinterest and Instagram I see an idea that I find inspiring and I try to reproduce it or riff off of it and usually it works out how I imagined it in my head. So, with it being Lunar New Year (’cause I tend to write posts a week ahead) and with Valentine’s Day coming up I thought I’d try my hand at making fortune cookies from scratch. I love the idea of being able to customize the fortunes as well as the cookie itself being an interesting package to hide surprises. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day, right?

I can deal with doing a lot of seemingly tedious culinary tasks. I can spend hours decorating cookies and using tweezers to apply sugar pearls and such to cakes and cookies. But I have to admit these fortune cookies are a little too tedious for me. The recipe I’m going to share will make 2 dozen fortune cookies. But I actually made 10 and called it quits. The batter is super easy but the tedium comes into play with baking them 2 at a time. Then putting the fortune into the hot from the oven cookie before the cookie cools too much and starts to crack. And off course accomplishing this without burning your fingers. Turns out this is much easier said than actually done. So cool idea but a bit of a PITA. Good luck and may the odds be in your favor.

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract (or whatever other flavor you’d like)
  • 6 TBS melted butter
  • ⅔ cup AP flour
  • 24 precut sayings or fortunes

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Then mix in, salt, extracts and flour. The batter will be really thick and that’s ok. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to stir until the batter is the consistency of instant pudding.

Using a silicone mat, spread 1 TBS of the batter into a 3 ½ round.

Try to spread the batter as evenly as possible. Bake the cookies at 375F for 5-8 minutes or until they start to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven and place onto a cooling rack. Immediately use a metal spatula to loosen the cookies from the mat and place the fortunes in the middle.

Slowly press the edges of the cookie together (the cookies will still be hot to the touch) and fold over the edge of a cookie sheet or glass. I used a metal ruler I had laying around.

Allow to cool and decorate as you like. These should be eaten same day. Since there are no preservatives in them, they a susceptible to humidity.

Lemon & Lavender Shortbread

lemon and lavender cookies with nasturtium and lavender blossoms

I’ve been looking forward to posting this recipe for quite a while. We have quite a few lavender bushes around our yard and I’m always trying to think of ways to put all that lavender to use. Last Holiday season, I embedded some into resin to make coasters and trivets and I plan to make candles (ssh…they’ll probably wind up as Christmas presents for some folks) and maybe try soap though messing with lye kind of scares me so maybe not.

Anyway back to the lavender. A few weeks back I went through and picked blossoms off the lavender plants and I’ve been letting them air dry. I realize that not everyone grows their own lavender, several of the popular online spice retailers have dried lavender available and of course good ‘ol Amazon does.  Just with Amazon, make sure that its food grade or for culinary use.

Shortbread is pretty easy to make there’s no leavener, its just sugar, softened room temperature butter, a pinch of salt, flour and whatever flavoring you’d like to add, like vanilla extract or in this case lavender and lemon. They’re also nice because you don’t need any special cutters. You can roll the dough out to about a ½” thickness and then cut the dough into bars with a knife or pizza cutter. The dough is also very forgiving. I frequently re-roll the scraps though typically I will chill the dough back down in the fridge for a little while before I do that.

I suppose you can also make shortbread vegan by replacing the butter, though I’ve yet to find a shortening or similar that actually tastes good enough that I’d want to give up the butter. Shortbread dough is versatile. I use shortbread for my cut-out style Holiday Cookies and shortbread is a nice crust to use with custard style pies. Just dock the crust and blind bake before filling.

I’m using my regular shortbread recipe which you’ll find here. With a few important differences, first the cooking temperature and time which in this case is 275F for 60-75 minutes and I’ll be adding lemon zest and lavender blossoms as well as lemon extract. Baking the cookies low and slow will give them a really nice snap (perfect dunking texture). Here are the ingredients and instructions and there’s also a video below to walk you through the process.

Recipe

  • 3 ½ standard sticks of room temperature softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lavender blossoms
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup of powdered sugar for dusting rolling pin and work surface
  • white sanding sugar, 1 TBS more of lemon zest and lavender for decorating (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bow or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the your flavorings and slowly incorporate the salt and flour. Blend until dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl and a ball starts to form. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for at least an hour. Roll out and cut into desired shape and dock cookies several times with a fork or toothpick. Optional step: sprinkle with the sanding sugar, zest, lavender blend and use the rolling pin to slightly press the decorations into the dough.  Bake at 275F for 60-75 minutes. Larger thicker cookies require more baking time. You want the cookies to be golden brown on the bottom and set. Let cool on a wire rack

Mmmm Donuts…

freshly decorated donuts and fritters

A few weeks back, I made peach fritters and teased that I will show you how to make the donuts that are actually the beginning of the fritter process. Raised donut are pretty easy to make and the ingredients are inexpensive. The process takes a few hours, but that’s mostly idle time waiting for the dough to rise and proof a few times. Donuts are also a fun way to get the young’ns in the kitchen to help and have fun decorating their own donut creation. So without further stalling, here is my recipe for Yeast Raised Donuts.

Yeast Donuts Recipe

Ingredients

2 packets instant yeast

4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup shortening

⅓ cup warm water

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

¼ cup buttermilk powder

Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, bloom the 2 packets of yeast in warm water and set aside.

yeast getting frothy.

While yeast is blooming, melt the shortening in the milk over low heat then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix salt, flour and buttermilk powder.  The yeast should be frothy by now. slowly add the milk shortening mixture, beaten eggs to the yeast mixture.

Gradually add the flour and mixing with the paddle attachment until all the flour has been added. Switch to the dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes or until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be quite sticky but that’s ok. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or grease cling wrap. Let the dough rise until its doubled in size. Pound it back down and let it rise a second time.

Once the dough has risen a second time, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding bench flour if the dough starts to stick. Then roll the dough out to about ½” thick and cut to desired shape and fry at 350F until golden brown. Let drain and cool on a wire rack before decorating.

The decorating

For me, the fun part is the decorating and coming up with interesting taste combinations.

Basic Glaze

Classic donut glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted butter

Pinch of salt

1 TSP Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup whole milk

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter salt and vanilla extract. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture. This glaze is good for fritters or for basic glazed donuts.

Chocolate Glaze

S’mores donut with easy chocolate glaze

its basically the same recipe as above with the addition of 4 TBS cocoa powder.

Chocolate and Coffee Glaze

chocolate and coffee donut with dark chocolate and coffee topping

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted butter

Pinch of salt

4 TBS Cold Brew Coffee

1/4 cup milk whole milk

4 TBS Cocoa Powder

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter, salt, cocoa and coffee. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture.

Maple Glaze

Maple glaze with crispy bacon

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted bacon grease

Pinch of salt

8 TBS premium maple syrup

1/2 cup whole milk

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, bacon grease, salt, and maple syrup. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture.

Or..

You could just keep it simple and toss the donuts in some powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or plain ol’ white granulated sugar.

Bonus…

I made passionfruit curd and filled some of the donuts with it. Here’s how to make passionfruit (or any) curd:

6 Egg Yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

½ cup Passionfruit juice

3/4 stick chilled butter cut into cubes

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine egg yolks, sugar, passionfruit juice, in a heat bottomed sauce pan over low heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Run mixture through strainer to remove any large pieces. Then slowly stir in the butter until all the butter has been added and is melted. Cover curd directly with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming and let cool in the fridge before using.

To use as donut filling, Put curd into a pastry bag fitted with the largest round tip you have. Insert the tip directly into the side of the donut and slowly but firmly squeeze the pastry bag. You should be able to feel the curd filling the donut.