Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homemade mochi ice cream!

Brownie here! It's been a whirlwind fall--I married my longtime taste-tester in August and am working on proposing my dissertation--there hasn't been opportunity for much baking!

Pro tip: let them refreeze before slicing!
We'd both been craving some Japanese treats and so I ventured to our local Japanese market, and there I spotted Shiratamako flour, made from pounded sweet rice. We had tried making mochi with Mochiko flour before and hadn't been successful, although I attribute that to my possessed college microwave. I had read that using Shiratamako was a little more fool-proof, and it seems the internet was right (as usual).

You can use Shiratamako to make a variety of mochi treats, but I wanted to make mochi ice cream--and since I was making it myself, I was able to use lactose-free ice cream. These are naturally gluten-free as well, although you should ensure that your shiratamako and potato starch aren't processed in the same place as wheat products if this is an issue for you. Mochi ice cream isn't particularly Japanese, but you get the delicious chewy mochi texture all the same. I adapted a recipe from Just One Cookbook to suit my needs.

To make about 12 mochi, you'll need:
  • 1.5 cups ice cream in your favorite flavor--strawberry and green tea are typical flavors (I only had vanilla)
  • 3/4 cup (about 100 grams) Shiratamako flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Scant 1/4 cup white sugar (depending on how sweet you like your mochi)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup potato starch (you could substitute corn starch if need be) 
And some tools:
  • 1-inch cookie scoop (you could go up to 1.5 and the ratio would still be good)
  • Muffin liners
  • Rolling pin
  • Stiff rubber spatula
  • Thin wire whisk
  • Microwave (1000-1500 watt)
  • Round-ish cutter, 2.5-3 inches in diameter
At least an hour ahead of time, scoop 1-inch hemispheres of ice cream into the muffin liners and put in the back of your freezer until firm.

Combine your shiratamako, sugar, and water in a 2-quart (or larger) microwave-safe bowl, whisking thoroughly. You might have some parts that seem undissolved; everything will come together once you heat it. It should look like slightly gluey pancake batter (how appetizing!).

Cover with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap is well above the food) and microwave on high for 1 minute. Wet the rubber spatula and beat the mixture, folding it back and forth to break up the emerging lump in the middle.

Microwave on high (still covered) for 1 more minute. The mixture should look uniform. Beat with the spatula again, and return to the microwave for 30 more seconds (covered). The mixture should look more translucent than before, and should be very glutinous and sticky. Caution--the mixture will be VERY HOT in the center and it can stick to your hands and burn you, so be very careful with these next steps.
Pie crust thickness!

Cover your work surface with some foil or a cookie sheet, and dust about 1/4 cup of the potato starch over it. Scrape the dough out onto the potato starch and dust a little more over the top and on your rolling pin. Roll the dough out to the thickness of pie crust--about 1/4 to 1/8 inch. Don't worry if you can't get it that thin right away--it's a bit easier as it cools. Stash it in the back of your fridge for 15-20 minutes.

I don't own round cutters, so I used a tartlet pan.

Take the dough out of the fridge and start cutting out your rounds--you'll probably get 6-8 out of your first pass. Then take the scraps and pinch off 1-inch balls of dough. It's easier to roll out these balls individually than to combine the scraps into one mass--too much potato starch will stop it from coming together. Roll out into rounds the same size as your cut rounds.
Give the mochi an ice cream hat!

Working with one ice cream ball at a time, tip it out onto a prepared mochi circle and gather up the dough around it. You can end with the seams on top (like a dumpling) or try to hide them on the bottom.

I think dumpling-style is prettier.
If they're sticky at all, roll your finished mochi in more potato starch. You can return the mochi ice cream to the muffin liner or another container and store in the freezer.

The finished product

Friday, August 22, 2014

What's Baking?: Cassatedde

It's time for another What's Baking? entry!  This month, Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen challenged us to make a dish celebrating our heritage.  The largest part of my background is Italian, so that's where my mind immediately went.  Plus, I mean, there's a huge list of delicious Italian pastries to choose from!  I've already made pignoli, tiramisu, amaretti, and pasticiotti, so I obviously like Italian desserts...the trick was finding one that I haven't made before!  I was perusing Cooking With Nonna to get some ideas, and cassatedde jumped out at me.  They looked like cannoli, which I love, but without the need for cannoli forms, which I don't have.  Now, as it turns out, they're rather different from cannoli, but still very delicious!  A flaky pastry is filled with a slightly sweetened mixture of ground almonds and could it be bad?!  If you're looking for an Italian pastry that's a little bit different, I highly recommend cassatedde.

Cassatedde (adapted from Cooking with Nonna)

  • 1 lb. flour
  • 2.5 oz. shortening
  • 5 oz. sugar, divided
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk, divided
  • 3/4 c. white wine
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 1/4 lb. almond flour (you can substitute 1/4 lb. of almonds ground in a food processor, but the filling will not be as smooth)
  • Splash of almond extract

In a stand mixer, mix the flour, shortening, 2 oz. sugar, 1 egg yolk, and white wine until a dough forms.  You may need a tad more than 3/4 c. wine.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, almond flour or ground almonds, almond extract, and remaining 3 oz of sugar.  Refrigerate the filling until it is needed.  Take the remaining egg and scramble it with a little bit of water.

Roll the dough out to about 1/16" thick--it needs to be pretty thin.  Cut out 3" rounds.  Brush the edges with the egg wash, and fill with about half a tablespoon of filling.  Fold it over, and seal the edges.  An empanada press works great for this.

If baking the cookies, brush with canola or spritz with cooking spray, and bake at 375*F for 7-10 minutes, or until crispy.  If frying, fry the cookies at 375*F for 3 minutes or until golden brown.  If desired, dust with powdered sugar when cool.  As written, the recipe makes about 5 dozen cassatedde.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Pie

The other day, I was browsing around Confections of a Foodie Bride (she has some AMAZING margarita and burger recipes...yum!), and I came across this recipe for a roasted cherry brownie sundae.  I love cherries, and they go brilliantly with chocolate, so this recipe got filed away in my mental recipe box.  Fast forward a few days.  It was a friend's birthday, and she loves chocolate.  I wanted to make her something decadent and chocolatey, but I also wanted it to be easy and quick to make, because we were celebrating her birthday on a Wednesday, so it would have to be made after work on Tuesday.  I decided on a chocolate pie, because pies are easy and delicious.  But chocolate pie seemed too plain.  And then I remembered the roasted cherry brownie sundaes.  And decided to stir the roasted cherries into my chocolate pie filling.  This, my friends, was a very good idea.  So good of an idea, in fact, that the pie was devoured in its entirety, before I had a chance to take a picture.

But really, the pie didn't look all that pretty anyways, because I dropped it as I was getting into my car.  Go me.  Thankfully, the lid stayed on, so all the contents stayed inside the pan.  It was just a little...shaken up.  Anyway, you should make this pie.  And try not to drop it.  And try not to eat it all in one sitting.  I dare you.

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Pie (adapted from Epicurious and Confections of a Foodie Bride)

  • 1 lb. sweet cherries
  • 1/2 c. port
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbl. cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 chocolate graham cracker pie crust (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbl. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract

Remove the pits from the cherries, and cut them in half.  Combine them with the port in an oven-proof baking dish.  Roast at 425*F for 30-40 minutes, or until the cherries are soft and the port has reduced to about 1/4 c.  Remove from oven and drain the cherries, reserving the liquid.

Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  Add the port and milk, whisking to combine.  Heat over medium heat until just steaming.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until thoroughly combined.  Slowly whisk in about 1 c. of the steaming milk mixture, to temper the eggs.  Add the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens significantly.  Be careful not to boil it to avoid scrambled eggs.  Remove the pudding from the heat, and stir in the vanilla, cherries, and chocolate chips until chocolate chips are melted.  Pour into the chocolate graham cracker pie crust.  Note: if you use one of the store-bought ones, you will have some filling left over, since they're closer to 8" than 9".  If you make a 9" one at home, you will not have filling left over.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, and then press plastic wrap down onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, until set.

Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract, and whip until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Bourbon Bacon Blondies

There's a fantastic local BBQ joint near the Husband and's owned by a guy who has been a chef at a lot of the top local restaurants.  He's a classically trained French chef, but he got tired of doing the fancy food, so he started a BBQ restaurant.  He brings all the same attention-to-detail that high-end cuisine requires to a very unfussy local hangout.  And it shows.  You can drive by this place at 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, and it's packed.  Because of his extensive culinary experience, the chef comes up with some interesting desserts, too!  We once had some bacon brownies there (delicious), and last time we were there, the Husband had a doughnut topped with peanut butter frosting, bacon, and a chocolate drizzle.  Now, I'm not big on either doughnuts or bacon, but it was an interesting combination.  Fast forward a few weeks, and when the Husband requested that I make peanut butter blondies, well, I knew how I was going to jazz them up!  These blondies were a huge hit--the perfect balance of salty and sweet!

Peanut Butter Bourbon Bacon Blondies (adapted from my mom's blondie recipe)

  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl. bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 oz. Reese's minis, chopped (or Reese's pieces)

Melt butter, and mix in brown sugar until well-combined.  Cool slightly, then stir in the bourbon, egg, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then stir it into the wet ingredients until a few streaks of flour remain.  Lastly, add the bacon and Reese's, and stir gently until just mixed.  Spread into a greased 8x8 pan, and bake at 350*F for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake in a Glass

Remember when I made those watermelon rum-aritas two years ago?  No?  Well, you should re-visit the recipe (and try it with jalapeño-spiked rum or tequila while you're at me).  One of my favorite things about that recipe is that it uses fresh fruit, liquor, and not much else--no soda or syrups, and it uses whole fruit, rather than juice, so you get more nutritional value.  Yes, I referred to the nutritional value of a cocktail.  I can rationalize anything.  Keep reading.

This next recipe falls in the same vein.  It has 3 simple ingredients, two of which are healthy!  The third is vodka.  How could you go wrong?  This is a beautifully sweet way to cap off a meal.  It also makes a great afternoon snack (hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?) because it's very filling.  And it quite literally tastes like strawberry shortcake in a glass.  Don't let strawberry season pass you by without giving this a whirl (pun intended)!

Strawberry Shortcake in a Glass (a Blondie original)

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 to 1 1/4 c. milk (skim works, whole tastes richer)
  • 1 c. cake vodka (we like Pinnacle, but I'm sure other brands work, too)
  • 3 basil leaves (optional)

Combine strawberries, milk, vodka, and basil leaves (optional) in a blender.  You can adjust the amount of milk depending on how creamy you would like it.  Blend until smooth, and then drink up!  Makes about 4 glasses.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's Baking?: Walnute Nectarine Muffins

*Blows dust off blog*  Wow, has it ever been a while.  Suffice to say, between work and life, I haven't had a lot of time to be blogging lately!  When the What's Baking? group threatened to kick me out for lack of participation (ooops, sorry guys!), I figured I should get my behind in gear and get a post written.

This month's challenge, brought to you by Yudith of Blissfully Delicious, was to bake using summer produce.  Now, I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts of summer is all of the fresh produce!  Watermelons, berries, peaches, plums, cherries--don't make me pick, I love them all!  But for this recipe, I'm using nectarines, because they were on sale at my grocery store.  Grocery store, you ask?  Not Farmers' Market?  Let me tell you.  You would think, given that I live in a rural area, that there would be a lot of Farmers' Markets or other opportunities to buy fresh produce.  Do you want to know what the ONLY stall at my Farmers' Market last week was selling?

Funnel cakes.

Yup, funnel cakes.  Nothing else.  No tomatoes, no cucumbers, no zucchini, and certainly no fruit.  So, grocery store, it is.  I will be scouting various other Farmers' Markets over the next couple weeks in hopes of finding one that actually sells *gasp* produce!  In the meantime, Husband (yup, he graduated from Fiancé!) and I will be enjoying these nectarine walnut muffins for breakfast.  We took his mom's basic muffin recipe and adapted it, and they turned out deliciously!  You could make these with any fruit you wanted, truly, although you'll have to play with the amount of milk, based on how juicy your fruit is!  I'm thinking they would also be delicious with white chocolate chips substituted for the walnuts....

Nectarine Walnut Muffins (adapted from Shirley)

  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbl. double-acting baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 nectarines, diced (peeling is optional--I didn't bother)
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Add the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla, and mix until mostly combined.  Gently fold in the nectarines and walnuts until they are incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.  Divide batter evenly among 12 jumbo muffin tins (or 24 normal-sized ones).  Bake at 375*F for 20-25 minutes for jumbo muffins or 15-20 minutes for normal-sized muffins.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Cherpumple...errr...Chersweetby?

Brownie here!  It's been a very busy few months for me so most of my baking went unphotographed, but next week is the boyfriend's 26th birthday and after I had told him of the existence of the
His favorite color is green
, he told me he would request one every year until I made him one.  Now, I live by myself, and consuming the remainder of 3 pies and 3 cakes sounded like an insane feat, so I sought to make a mini version of the cherpumple, something a few people could manageably eat.

For those of you who don't know, the cherpumple is a monstrous creation, 3 layers of pie (cherry, pumpkin, and apple, respectively)-stuffed-in-cake.  These things are ginormous.  I decided to use a birthday gift from the boyfriend's sister, this cute tiered cake pan, and make a smaller version.  Normally I do from-scratch baking, but a paper deadline and the enormity of this task required a few compromises...

To make my version, you'll need:

1 4-inch cherry pie (I bought mine from the freezer section because I only had so many tiny pie tins)

Clockwise from left--sweet potato, Kentucky Derby, and cherry
Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Pumpkin Pie, subbing sweet potato for the pumpkin puree, subbing evaporate milk for both the milk and the cream, and scaling it up by 25% if you want to make a spare pumpkin pie, or making only 1/4 of the recipe if you just want the mini ones.

Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Kentucky Derby Pie (I ended up using 1.5 pie crusts for this because using smaller containers contains less volume per crust amount)

1 box yellow/vanilla cake mix, plus the eggs/oil/water it calls for
Spices of your choice (I used 1 Tbl cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves)
Chocolate pudding mix/cocoa-sugar blend (to turn vanilla cake into chocolate; pure cocoa just gets too bitter).

1.5 cups butter, softened
~3 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup dark spiced rum

Two days ahead, make the pumpkin pies.  I used something like these mini ramekins that I bought at an estate sale ages ago.  They're a bit deep-dish but that works out well for the cake pan.  Obviously in the small pans they bake a lot faster--mine were done in 10-15 minutes.  Put cooled pies in the freezer.  Eat the big one if you made it--it's a great recipe.

One day ahead, make the Kentucky Derby pies.  I baked these in tartlet pans (I bought mine on Amazon from Fox Run; you want to use ones without a false bottom unless you're really confident in your pie crust since syrup pies can leak) and again shortened the baking time.  Freeze the cooled pies.

Leave some space for them to rise!
The day of, make the cake mix according to the package directions, and divide it into 3 bowls, but not evenly--one bowl should have about 1/5 of the batter (this will be chocolate), and the remaining two will split what's left, with a little extra going to the plain flavor (the medium amount is for the spice cake).

Add the spices of your choice to the spice one, and the chocolate putting mix or cocoa-sugar blend to the chocolate (to taste), and prep your pan by cutting out solid circles for the bottom tier and rings for the upper 2 tiers. You could also spray and flour the pan thoroughly.

Cut the frozen cherry pie into 4 wedges (no more than 1 inch in diameter). Drop a wedge inside each cavity, and top with the chocolate batter. Repeat with the pumpkin and the spice batter, and then finally top with the Kentucky Derby pie and yellow batter (careful not to overfill).  Conveniently, the chocolate batter will be the thickest, so you shouldn't have much trouble with things blending together--my layers were quite distinct.

The glory shot
Bake according to the package directions, and test by springiness rather than a toothpick so you don't misinterpret pie goo as raw batter.  Let cool thoroughly and then invert for 1 hour or so, hoping that the cakes fall out. They might break into the 3 layers but that just gives you more opportunity for frosting.  Refrigerate (or if you want to do a crumb coat, freeze) until ready to frost.

To make the frosting, reduce 1/2 cup of rum in a pan by half, while blending the softened butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Alternate the reduced rum and remaining sugar, and then whip in the un-reduced rum (replacing the milk in a normal buttercream). Try to get the buttercream as airy as possible (using whisk attachment) since the cake is so rich.

Frost the cakes (I did a crumb coat and then froze again), then slice carefully and wow all your friends!