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.

 

 

 

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

I was having all sorts of technical issues this week, but finally go them resolved and was able to actually upload images again. So now that’s all taken care of for this weeks post I’m making cookies. Though this time around, I’m dressing up that timeless classic chocolate chip cookies. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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.

Holiday Treats Part III – Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

For part three of my holiday baking series, I’ll share with you my recipe for biscotti. Like my other holiday treat recipes, this ones fairly easy and doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients. You can make them with whatever you’d like. This variation is with pumpkin seeds and cranberries, but you can make them with just about any combination of nut and berries.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
3 ¼ cups a.p. flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ vegetable oil
3 eggs
zest of one orange
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix the 3 eggs, orange zest, sugar and oil together. In a separate bowl or on a large sheet of wax paper, combine all the dry ingredients. Then slowly add them to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix until it stiffens into a firm dough. Add the cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Form into two loaves 1 ½ inch thick loaves and place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and remove from the cookie sheet to cool for an hour. Once the loaves are cool enough to handle, slice into ½ inch thick slices, place onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and back at 325ºF for 8 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 5 minutes.