Kitchen Bitch

Cooking in the Kitchen with Sass & Class

For Your Sweetheart: Citrus Pie with Chocolate-Pistachio Crust February 13, 2012

Forget about going out on Valentine’s Day. Who wants to sit elbow to elbow and eat a crummy prix fixe anyway? Not us. This year, we’re staying in, and I’m cooking, of course. Dessert, though, is already made, and you’re looking at it.

This Citrus Pie with Chocolate-Pistachio Crust (which I’ve already made twice this week) actually came about by accident. I was all set to make Key Lime Pie for my father-in-law, but I ran out of limes as I was making the filling. Rather than run to the store to buy more, I decided to juice the blood oranges and lemons I had picked up at the farmer’s market to finish the filling. The resulting pie was incredibly delicious—if not very beautiful in color—and what I thought might sit in my fridge for a week was gone in two nights.

With another family gathering coming up, I made the pie again, this time purposefully using a variety of citrus, including my beloved blood oranges, which made the color much more palatable. Look at that gorgeous color! (more…)

 

Kiss My (Red Velvet) Bundt November 16, 2011

Happy belated National Bundt Day, folks!

Actually, I did celebrate National Bundt Day on time (November 15th), but I didn’t manage to post this recipe on time. That’s OK, though, because I had a lot of preparing to do.

First, I had to pay close attention to Mary, The Food Librarian, who made a bundt cake every single day for the past 30 days in honor of National Bundt Day. What a woman! I’m so impressed by Mary, and I’m just dying to make her Broken Glass Jell-o Bundt. (I’m currently obsessed with Jell-o. Strange, I know, but it’s soooo fun and entirely amusing.)

Then I had to get myself a bundt pan because, according to bundt cake experts, tube pans do NOT count as bundt cake pans. I chose this one from Nordic Ware, and I love it! Cakes come out of it easily, and it makes a very beautifully designed bundt.

(more…)

 

Cookie Exchange! Homemade Holiday Oreos December 8, 2010

Homemade Holiday Oreos. The green sandwich cookies have peppermint filling.

Last year, my best friend Laura and I threw our first annual ladies-only holiday bash. We decorated my little apartment like it was the North Pole, made more appetizers than we could ever eat, baked a million cookies for our guests to decorate, and whipped up about 15 different colors of icing to top both the cookies and homemade gingerbread houses.

Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day, but the party was a huge success and we vowed to learn from our mistakes when we planned our holiday extravaganza the next year. Fast forward one year later, and our now-annual Christmas party is only a week away.

We decided to forego a cooking decorating party for the ever-popular cookie exchange so we could greatly limit the number of cookies (and batches of icing) we have to make in advance. Plus, now we can focus more on our savory appetizers, mulled wine, prizes and our (sort of) larger-than-life Christmas decorations.

Laura and I start planning weeks in advance for this yuletide shindig: “Trophies” need to be found and assembled for each category winner; decorations need to be collected and hung; menus need to be planned; food needs to be bought and cooked as far in advance as possible; and last, but certainly not least, we need to do a trial run on our cookie recipe.

We made enough sugar cookies and royal icing last year that I don’t want to look at the stuff for at least another year, so we reviewed our collective repertoire for a real crowd pleaser.  It didn’t take us long to decide we needed to do a take on everyone’s favorite snack cookie—OREOS.

You’d be hard pressed to find a guy or gal who doesn’t love these great chocolate sandwich cookies. When two barely sweetened chocolate cookies sandwich a plump smear of sweet cream icing, great things are bound to happen (like eating a half dozen of them in a single sitting). We decided to jazz up the recipe by adding food coloring and a splash of peppermint extract to the icing to really make them festive.

If you love Oreos, you’ve got to try making these little babies at home. You’ll be the most popular person in your home or office—as long as the cookie jar stays full. :)

 

Homemade Oreos
If you want to make these really festive, you can add a splash of peppermint extract to the filling when you add the vanilla, or add food coloring to the icing for colorful holiday treat. I originally found this recipe on SmittenKitchen.com; it’s adopted from Retro Desserts by Wayne Brachman. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.

For the chocolate wafers:
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. + 2 Tbs. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

For the filling:
¼ c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ c. vegetable shortening
2 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Make cookie batter. Set two oven racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375˚F. In the bowl of an electric mixer or a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. While pulsing, or on slow speed, add the butter, and then the egg.  Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Beat until dough forms a large ball

Form and bake cookies. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake until cookies begin to crisp slightly around the edges, about 8-10 minutes, rotating once halfway through for even baking. Set cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack before sandwiching

Make cream filling. Beat together butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. At low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy

Assemble cookies. Spoon filling into a pastry bag or zip-top bag with a ½-inch round tip.  Choose two cookies similar in size and pipe a teaspoon of the filling cream into the center of one cookie. Place the other cookie on top of the cream and press gently to spread the filling. Repeat this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk in a large glass of milk.

Put icing in a plastic baggie or a piping bag. You can mix the food coloring directly into the icing in the bag and just smash it around with a squeezing motion.

Pipe a small blob of filling onto one cookie and sandwich with the other cookie. Voila! Homemade oreos

 

An Outrageous Halloween Candy Concoction October 28, 2010

Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar

I love holidays because they offer us home cooks a time and space to make ridiculous dishes and desserts just chalk them off to whatever holiday is right around the corner.

For example, at Thanksgiving I’ve made four-layer pumpkin cakes, pumpkin pie crème brûlèe and 10-ingredient brines for my turkey; at Christmas I fashion a gorgeous boûche de Noel (yule log) out of homemade jellyrolls and luxurious chocolate icing and make dozens of cookies for the annual cookie exchange I host with my best gal, Laura.

So, it probably goes without saying that this year Halloween needed its own fabulous treat—something that took really took the notion of Halloween candy over the top. Flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit, I found what I was looking for: a dessert MADE out of Halloween candy. A concoction so ridiculous that even Mr. Milton S. Hershey would be impressed. Because you need a friend when making something so insane, I recruited Laura to help me out.

This Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar is super easy to make and modify according to your own candy preferences. Laura and I swapped pretzels for Reese’s Pieces and attempted to dye the white chocolate orange with food coloring. Don’t bother trying that—the white chocolate just looks brown like the rest of the chocolate bar. We also used the microwave to melt both chocolates, but I would suggest doing the white chocolate over a double boiler because it’s the most temperamental of all chocolate and we had some trouble doing it in the microwave.

Whatever you do, share it with a friend, because this stuff is too good to eat alone.

Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar
This recipe from The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen appeared in the October 2010 issue of Bon Appétit. I modified this recipe by using ¼ c. pretzels instead of Reese’s Pieces and attempting to dye the white chocolate orange (don’t bother). Yield: Makes about 2 pounds or 30 two-inch pieces. Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes. Per serving: 169 calories, 12 g fat, 2 g fiber. Click here to download a copy of this recipe

1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips, Ghiradelli brand recommended
3 (2.1-oz.) Butterfinger candy bars, cut into irregular 1-inch pieces
3 (1.4-oz.) Skor or Heath toffee candy bars, cut into irregular 3/4-inch pieces
3 (1.5 oz.) peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges
¼ c. honey-roasted peanuts
3 oz. high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
Reese’s Pieces and/or yellow and orange peanut M&M’s

Make base. Line baking sheet with foil. Stir chocolate chips in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Pour chocolate onto foil; spread to 1/4- inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle).

The melted bittersweet chocolate on a foil-lined sheet pan

The candy: peanut butter cups, Butterfinger bars, Health bars, and honey roasted peanuts

Add candy. Sprinkle with Butterfinger candy, toffee, peanut butter cups, and nuts, making sure all pieces touch melted chocolate to adhere.

The melted bittersweet chocolate with the candy pressed on

Melt white chocolate. Put white chocolate in heavy small saucepan. Stir constantly over very low heat until chocolate is melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Remove from heat. Dip spoon into chocolate; wave from side to side over bark, creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s over, making sure candy touches melted chocolate.

The bark after the white chocolate has been swirled over.

Chill and cut. Chill bark until firm, 30 minutes. Slide foil with candy onto work surface; peel off foil. Cut bark into irregular pieces.

A lovely pile of Halloween bark

The Halloween bark, up close and personal

 

Oven-Baked Pancakes for Dessert? Yes Please! September 21, 2010

Oven Crespella with Nutella Sauce and Macerated Strawberries

If you’ve ever been to Europe—or maybe just your local European import store—you’ve come across Nutella, a wonderfully creamy hazelnut chocolate spread. Pietro Ferrero invented Nutella in the 1940s in response to the rationing of chocolate during World War II. Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are abundant in the Piedmont region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply, and Europe has never been the same.

Nutella is ubiquitous in Europe, but it’s making the rounds in the U.S., too. You can find it stuffed into croissants or pastries, spread onto crepes or crunchy Euro breakfast toasts, or used as a dip for fruit. Today I’m offering you a Nutella sauce to drizzle over a fresh-from-the-oven crespella, or Italian pancake.

Pancakes for dessert? YES PLEASE! A crespella is somewhere between a crepe and a pancake, but easier to make because all you have to do it is bake it— no fancy flipping or turning required. This baby does all the work for you, right in the oven.  Simply invert the cooked crespella on a cutting board, sprinkle with powdered sugar, drizzle with Nutella sauce and top with macerated strawberries, if desired.

Of course, with this crespella’s crisp edges and tender center, it could be served for breakfast or dessert—or both, if you eat the leftovers the next morning like I did.

Oven Crespella with Nutella Sauce
This recipe is adapted from one by Melissa Roberts that appeared in the April 2008 issue of Gourmet. It’s easy enough for a weeknight and beautiful enough for company. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Active time: 15 min; total time: 40 min. For a print copy of this recipe, click here

¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
¼ c. granulated sugar, plus 2-3 tablespoons for strawberries if desired
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1½ c., plus 3 tablespoons whole milk, divided
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
½ c. chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella
Confectioner’s sugar, for garnish
Chopped strawberries, for garnish

Prep strawberries. In a small bowl, combine chopped strawberries and a few tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

Make batter. Put a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1 1/2 cups milk in a bowl.

Crespella batter

Bake. Add butter to skillet and heat in oven until golden, about 1 minute. Pour batter into skillet and bake until puffed, set, and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

The puffed crespella straight from the oven

Prep Nutella sauce. Meanwhile, whisk together Nutella and remaining 3 tablespoons milk until smooth. Thin sauce with additional milk if necessary.

Macerated strawberries and Nutella sauce for topping the crespella

Garnish and serve. Cool pancake in skillet on a rack 5 minutes (it will sink). Dust with confectioners sugar and drizzle with sauce. Serve with berries.

Crespella garnished with Nutella sauce and powdered sugar

The garnished crespella

 

Lose the Box Mix: Gourmet Brownies at Home July 29, 2010

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These Walnut-Studded Amaretto Brownies are great with milk ... or a glass of red wine after a long day.

We’ve all reached for a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix when that irresistible urge for something sweet and chocolate-y hits us. And while they’re tasty, out-of-the-box brownies are never quite as satisfying as their homemade counterparts from the local bakery (or from your home oven).

Why do we buy box mixes when making brownies at home is as easy as saying your ABCS? Well, laziness and convenience mostly, but these can easily be changed. With a well-stocked pantry, making a batch of brownies will be almost as easy as dumping that box mix into a bowl and adding oil and eggs. With just one or two extra steps, you can have perfectly moist, walnut-studded brownies with a slightly crunchy crust and hint of amaretto—just like those ones you buy from the bakery around the corner for $2.50 a pop.

I’ve searched high and low for the perfect brownie recipe, and I’ve found one that’s finally come pretty close to perfection. In my mind—and there are differing opinions about this—the perfect brownie should be somewhere between cake and fudge, with a hint of each peeking through in its texture. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then this might not be your recipe, but I suggest you give it a try. Maybe it’ll be your perfect brownie recipe, too. If not, just keep on baking until you find the perfect one. If you like cakey brownies, I suggest Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownies. If you like them with a little more chew like the boxed variety, check out Cook’s Illustrated’s Chewy Brownies from its March/April 2010 issue.

Walnut-Studded Amaretto Brownies
This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence. Make your own double boiler by putting a glass, metal or Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Be sure the bowl does not touch the water; this is an indirect heating method. Makes about 24 brownies. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
4 large eggs
2 c. sugar
¼ c. amaretto liqueur
1½ c. chopped walnuts or pecans
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Prep pan and chocolate. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper, making sure paper hangs over the edges. Grease paper with butter so the brownies don’t stick. Melt butter and chocolate over a double boiler and stir gently until smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Make and bake brownies. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs, sugar and amaretto in a large mixing bowl until combined. Pour in chocolate mixture and continue to whisk until combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, reserving about 2 tablespoons of flour to toss with chopped walnuts.  add walnuts and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Transfer batter to pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out almost completely clean when inserted into the middle of the pan. Remove from oven. Let cool for 30-40 minutes. Using parchment, lift brownies out of pan. Cut into squares, garnish with powdered sugar and serve.

 

I Need Some Freakin’ Fudge! May 13, 2010

Filed under: Chocolate,Desserts — thekitchenbitch @ 12:22 PM
Tags: , ,

Cinnamon-Chocolate Fudge

Some days I wake up with the overwhelming urge to bake. Other days, I wake up with the overwhelming urge for chocolate. Lots of it. And whipping up boxed brownies or cut-and-bake chocolate chip cookies just isn’t going to do it. Only something homemade and seriously delicious can satisfy my craving.

Last week, I found my chocolate cure-all: Cinnamon-Chocolate Fudge. As a kid, I loved buying fudge at fairs and amusement parks. But this recipe isn’t just for children. This is fudge all grown up, and it takes less than 10 minutes to make.

The warmth of the cinnamon really turns this fudge into something special. And a sprinkle of kosher salt takes it to new, fudgy heights. These dense chocolate squares are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The hardest part? Waiting two hours for the fudge to harden. If I can do it, so can you.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Fudge
This recipe is adapted from Giada DeLaurentis. A sprinkle of salt adds something really special to this grown-up fudge recipe. Semi-sweet chocolate chips can sub in for bittersweet if desired. Serves 16-20—this fudge is rich! Cook Time: 8 minutes. Total: 2 h 10 min. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

Butter, for greasing the pan
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (best you can find)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 lb. (about 2½ c.) bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips (recommended: Ghiradelli)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. pieces, at room temperature
Kosher or flake salt, optional

Prepare the pan. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper, about 14-inches long and 7-inches wide, allowing the excess to overhang the sides. Set aside.

Make the fudge. In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the condensed milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips and butter. Put the bowl on a saucepan of barely simmering water and mix until the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes (mixture will be thick). Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.

Cool and store. Run a warm knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the fudge. Remove the fudge to a cutting board. Peel off the parchment paper and cut the fudge into 1-inch pieces. Store refrigerated in an airtight container or freeze.

Fudge gets its close-up

 

 
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