Archive | February, 2012

Nutella Souffle

20 Feb

Did you know it’s customary to give your loved ones gleaming, brand new stand mixers for President’s Day? It’s my new favorite holiday tradition. Alert your family–it’s time you got in on this too. This is a particularly useful and beautiful gift: especially when the one you owned before decides to give up the ghost in the middle of your big cupcake project. Yes, I love my ice cream scoop but it can only go so far.

She is the most precious thing I’ve ever laid my eyes on. She is the sports car of my kitchen: so powerful and shiny. The admiration I feel is only surpassed by the urge I have to make things with her. Which brings me to her maiden voyage: Nutella souffles. (If you’ve never had Nutella, getting some right now and eating it with a spoon directly out of the jar is your top priority. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.)

I was tempted to make something that required a lot of mixer work–like meringues so she could really show what she’s got. But I have to admit that my desire to eat Nutella all the livelong day got the better of me. The truth is, you probably shouldn’t attempt this dessert unless you’re serious about the amount of chocolate you’re ready to consume in one sitting. It’s intense–and once you delve into one of these babies there’s no turning back. But oh, it’s so worth it.

Nutella Souffles

Adapted from Chocolate and Carrots

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee

4 ounces chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter

3 eggs

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

about 6 tablespoons Nutella

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare ramekins with cooking spray and find a roasting pan that is large enough to accommodate all of them.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and instant coffee. Set aside. Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and butter together. Let cool slightly.

Beat together eggs, vanilla, and sugar until the mixture turns light yellow. This should take about 5 minutes.  With the mixer running on low speed, pour in the cooled chocolate mixture, beating until incorporated. By hand, fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fill each ramekin about halfway and drop a generous tablespoon of Nutella into the center of each one. Top with the remaining batter.

Place the ramekins in the roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water in until it reaches about half way up the sides. Bake 30 minutes, until the cakes appear dry on top.

Ben’s Cinnamon Pecan Cheesecake

14 Feb

“You are the only person who has understood even a whisper of me, and I will tell you that I am the only person who has understood even a whisper of you.” -Everything Is Illuminated

Yes, I know Valentine’s Day is a sort of baloney holiday. We should be showing the people we care about how we feel every day, not just the one time a year Hallmark has rigged up for us. But I have to admit that it does feel special to devote a whole to, well, devotion.

My valentine and I won’t be able to spend the holiday together this year–life has taken us down separate roads for the time being, so this 14th is a little bittersweet. Being apart like this probably has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life: so many low moments and less-than-sane moments. In the end though, we make the choice every day to stay the course, to say “I love you” before we go to sleep, and wait for the time when we are together again. I will be forever grateful to him for sticking with me even when we both seem like crazy people.

The very first thing I ever baked for him was a cinnamon pecan coffee cake, and he said this was the first time he knew he liked me. Some people write love songs, others love poems–I do love baking. I developed this recipe for him over winter break the last time we were together. He challenged me to compete against his mom in a “cook-off” of sorts, but she’s a chef and I’m a baker, so we each naturally chose our specialty. This dessert was a little nod to that very first thing I made for him, but all wrapped up in an elegant cheesecake. Make it for someone you love!

Cinnamon Pecan Cheesecake

Printable Recipe

Crust

11-14 graham crackers

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch of salt

Cheesecake

3 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened (7 8oz. packages)

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

5 eggs

Topping

1 cup water

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup whole pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″-10″ springform pan.

Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Mix the crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together and press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Refrigerate the crust for about 15 minutes, until it is set. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes. Let cool.

In the meantime, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it is fluffy–about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and flour and beat together until incorporated. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined.

Pour the filling into the cooled graham cracker crust and place the springform in a large roasting pan. Carefully pour boiling water in the roasting pan around the springform. The water bath will keep the cheesecake from cracking. Put the whole rig in the oven and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 325° and continue baking for about 30 minutes–or until the cake is starting to brown on top but is still a little wobbly in the middle. Turn off the oven but let the cake rest inside with the door open a little for about an hour.

Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. Run a knife along the outside of the cake and remove the ring of the springform before serving.

To make the syrup, heat water and sugar in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes, until it is slightly reduced. Add the pecans and stir to coat. Pour the sauce over the cheesecake and serve immediately.

Champagne Cupcakes

12 Feb

I used to dread making cupcakes–the many batches and the scooping and the way the papers never look as pretty after they’ve been baked.

My mom and I recently teamed up to do a major cupcake project (think 100+) and in the interest of consistency, I suggested using an ice cream scoop to do the dividing.

What. a. difference. It’s amazing how one handy kitchen tool could change this baker’s opinion of the little guys. I feel like a new woman.

I’m really proud of these babies–so tender and fluffy, with a little celebratory champagne zing. Nothing says celebration like champagne and they really are ready for a celebration. For me, what better celebration is there than opening my heart to cupcakes? Orrr if you’re looking for a real celebration I suppose you could use them for a cute Valentine’s Day dessert.

Champagne Cupcakes

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Printable Recipe

2 3/4 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup champagne

6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix the flour mixture into the creamed butter in three batches, alternating with the champagne.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten the mixture, then fold in the remainder.

Divide the batter into the cupcake lines, filling about 2/3 of the way (about 1/2 a scoop!). Bake for 20 minutes, until barely golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

3 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup champagne

Beat together sugar and butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add champagne and vanilla and continue beating for another minute. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

(And another hint–foil cups always look beautiful, no matter how long you bake them!)

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Marshmallows

8 Feb

A happy day in middle school–nobody failed their Chapter 2 test! This is particularly celebration-worthy because of the dismal results of the Chapter 1 test. I wanted the kiddos to know how (very) impressed I was, so I whipped them up a little treat.

I reinvented the marshmallow recipe that I used for the Hot Cocoa on a Stick recipe. The raspberry marshmallows are unexpected surprise inside the chocolate coating and the little size makes them a perfect little gift. You could use a heart-shaped cookie cutter instead for a cute Valentine’s day snack for your sweeties.

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Marshmallows

Printable Recipe

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cold water

2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon raspberry extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 drops red food coloring

2 packages (12 oz. each) Wilton candy melts, light cocoa flavor

Grease sides and bottom of a 8″x8″ baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Dust with powdered sugar.

Pour cold water into bowl of a mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let sit.

In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water over low heat. Stir constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and heat the syrup to boiling. Boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 240° on a candy thermometer. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and, with the mixer running on low, pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the gelatin.  Gradually increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat until the mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume–about 8-1o minutes.

Add the extracts and food coloring and mix about a minute more to combine.

Pour marshmallows into prepared pan and allow to sit at least one hour to let them dry out a little bit.

Once they have set, carefully run a knife around the outside edges and lift the marshmallows in a single sheet onto a piece of parchment paper. Dip your cookie cutter in water and cut out the marshmallow shapes. Marshmallows have a sort of self-healing tendency, so the cutting of the shapes will require some tenacity on your part. Don’t lose heart!

In a metal bowl set over boiling water, melt the candy melts. Dip each marshmallow in the candy, using two forks to lift them in and out and scrape off any excess. Set on parchment paper to harden. Package each star in a cellophane treat bag.