Showing posts with label sweets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweets. Show all posts

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Low cal.-Low Fat, Moist Delicious Cupcakes...too easy


are you really serious about that BIKINI ? 

go to the gym 4 times a week ?

eat fish and vegetables EVERY DAY ?

give up on all the sweets ???

NO...but you might want to consider some alternatives...

BEWARE...that swimsuit will be moving to the front of the closet before you know it.


DIET SODA CUPCAKES
original found everywhere on google, but i like Skinnytastes blog
makes 18 "good size" cupcakes at about 100 calories each...

1 box cake mix
for this one i used the sugar free vanilla cake mix
10oz diet soda. i used diet ginger ale
2 egg whites, slightly beaten

preheat oven according to cake mix
spray muffin tins (these stick to paper cups)
OR...i  like to use silicon muffin cups, then put them in paper cups after cooled.  i HATE it when some of my cupcake sticks to the paper!

mix eggs, cake mix and soda
pour into cupcake cups of choice... 3/4 full
bake as directed on the box.
let cool completely and add icing...SPARINGLY

ICING
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon extract
1-2 Tbsp milk of choice
add only enough milk to get icing consistency.  if it's too thin add powdered sugar...too thick? add a little more milk.
put into a small freezer baggie and cut the tip for an easy throw away piping bag.  you probably will not use all the icing (icing equals more sugar...equals more calories).  save in the fridge in the piping baggie for the next batch you will be making soon.

NUTRITION (approx,) PER 18 CUPCAKES
without icing...82 cal...19.4g carbs...1.7g protein...2.3g fat...0 sugar
with icing (if using ALL the icing), i'm guessing....110 cals, 26g carbs and 6g sugars

use the icing sparingly and they will be about 100 cals each for a good size cupcake.

go ahead, eat 2 !

BY THE WAY....the flavor combinations are endless...chocolate cake with diet cherry soda, 7 up with lemon cake, pineapple ginger ale (shown here),  cream soda with vanilla cake,  diet chocolate soda with chocolate cake(shown here)?...
you get the idea...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Pecan Cookies w/Fleur de Sel. Method #2, FAVORITE !


i know you've all seen this cookie before...but
THIS ONE IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT...
i've done them before, BUT i used Franscois Payard's Recipe and method.  they are similar in taste, but i hate to say this recipe received better reviews.  i'm not saying Franscois weren't absolutely delicious...i'm just saying these are DIFFERENT and to each his own.
these are more dense and thicker than the "Payard Cookie"...
and, as usual... i've added a touch of espresso and a little kick of cayenne.

these are more like intense little chewy crunchy lumps of chocolate coal.
they seem to hold up better and will package well for for your chocolate loving friends.


these are too easy to pass up...
the flourless chocolate fudge cookie is a must for that intense chocolate fix.  it's definitely the chocolate lover's cookie.  i know you have some gluten-free friends or there's always a gluten free person in the room and you don't want to leave them out.  more and more people are going gluten free just for health's sake, so you better throw some of these delicious lumps of chocolaty goodness in your repertoire.


FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO PECAN FUDGE COOKIES W/ fleur de sel

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fluer de sel or smoked salt.....plus more for sprinkles
3 large egg whites
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp pure vanilla
2 cups toasted pecans
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp cayenne...optional
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

preheat oven to 350F degrees.  line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  give the parchment a LIGHT spray of non-stick spray or a quick swipe of the butter stick.
in a bowl of a stand mixer, mix powdered sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cayenne and salt.
mixer on LOW, add egg whites one at a time.  add vanilla.

HERE ARE THE 3 MAIN DIFFERENCES...
#1...mix on medium speed for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes slightly thick.
now...stir in the toasted pecans by hand.  i went ahead and threw them in the mixer for a minute, then finished by hand.  let the batter sit in the bowl for about 15-20 minutes...it will thicken.
#2...place on prepared sheet and let sit for another 15-20 minutes.  i wanted to shoot the delicious dough so they sat for 25-30 minutes...this is how i got the "lumps of coal look" as seen in the 2 photos directly below.
#3...you've already done this, but there are only 3 egg whites not 4 like Payard's Recipe.  this makes for a thicker dough.
sprinkle with smoked salt while they sit in waiting.

put sheets in the oven and immediately lower the oven to 320F.  bake for 16-18 minutes, until outside looks cracked and shiny.  cool on cookie sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes then move cookies to wire rack and cool completely.
IMPORTANT NOTE about removing cookies from parchment...as noted in post about the "Payard Cookie", these cookies stick to the parchment even if you give it a light spray.  i do not recommend more spray.
when cookies are completely cool you need to carefully peel the cookie from the sheet.  do not use even a "thin" spatula.  it will mess up the bottom.  just peel the paper slowly from the cookie.

raw dough (above) after sitting out 25-30 minutes.  below is from same batch.

above is an example of the "Franscois Payard Flourless Chocolate Cookie".  as you can see it is a much thinner, but still fabulous, cookie.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate Aztec Truffle Bon Bons


no need for mistletoe this year with...

A FLAVORFUL PUNCH IN THE KISSER

smoky espresso chocolate, bright sunny orange zest, warm cinnamon and a kick of chipotle.

who doesn't love a few homemade "bon bons" around the holidays ?



AZTEC TRUFFLES
idea from About.com by Elisabeth La Bau
makes about 33

8 oz. good dark chocolate
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp chipotle in adobo...(see NOTE)
1/2 rounded tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp karo syrup...optional
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
zest from 1 small orange...maybe a little less

NOTE about chipotle...use chipotle with adobo in the can.  push 3 chipotle peppers, dripping in adobo sauce, through a medium fine strainer.  you want to end up with almost 2 Tbsp.

in a small sauce pan...add heavy cream, strained chipotle, espresso powder, cinnamon and orange zest.  bring to almost boil.  stir, or whisk to combine while heating.

put chocolate in a medium glass bowl and add vanilla bean paste and Karo syrup.  Karo syrup is optional.  pour cream mixture through a strainer over the chocolate.  press the cream through strainer with a spatula.  let it sit for a minute or 2.  start to stir in the middle.  keep stirring until you see it is well combined and you have a nice shiny ganache.  TASTE TEST.  at this point i added a bit more zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  you be the judge.
put in the fridge for and hour or 2...come back and give it a stir.  let sit over night or at least a few more hours to REALLY SET.
when it is quite firm...make into 3/4 inch balls...do this with thin rubber gloves if possible.  the warmth of your hands really creates a mess.  refrigerate truffles for about 1 hour.
at this point you can roll a few in cocoa powder for a different look, but the crisp dark chocolate outer layer really lends to the whole chocolate experience and is worth the effort.

before dipping, take them out of the fridge while you are preparing to temper.  i have found dipping near room temperature truffles prevents the seepage that can happen and cause the need to repair and double dip.

please click HERE for some "tips and tricks" (post about Spicy Chocolate Bacon) on tempering and making your chocolate  a successful experience.

NOTE...you will have left over "tempered chocolate".  be prepared with other goodies to dip, like pretzels, cookies, BACON or throw a bunch of stuff in and make bark.



EASY MICROWAVE TEMPERING...(dark chocolate)
adapted from Alton Brown's Microwave Tempering Method found HERE.  he uses "pure cocoa butter".  i find seeding with 1/4 of your chocolate quantity works well.

you'll need 1 pound of "coverture" chocolate.  i use Guittard 61% dark chocolate discs in a 1 pound box.
put 12 oz. of the chocolate in a glass bowl.  set 4 oz aside.
microwave chocolate for 30 seconds.  STIR.  microwave again for 30 seconds...STIR.  one more time 30 seconds...STIR.  now microwave for 15 second intervals (should be 2-4 times) stirring between each run until it reaches 100 F.  STIR.  microwave for 10 second intervals (maybe 2-3 times) until it reaches 115 F for dark chocolate.
stir in the other 4 oz. of chocolate.  stir well with spatula, cleaning the sides of the bowl and incorporating the chocolate.  the fresh chocolate will soon melt and will bring the temperature down.  this process is called "seeding".  i read that a lot of stirring helps bring back the sheen...so i stir well.  you are looking for 90 F degrees.  at this point your chocolate is dip-worthy.
at 90 F  place the chocolate bowl in another bowl lined with a dishtowel...this is to help keep your chocolate warm and snugly while working.  STIR chocolate periodically.  if it is getting too thick, take the temp.  give it a shot with the hot blow dryer and STIR to keep from getting hot spots.  do not reheat the chocolate too fast or too high.  it will lose it's temper.

start dipping.  use a fork or dipping tool to lift out.  lightly tap on the edge of the bowl and let excess chocolate drip off and place on prepared parchment.  sprinkle with smoked salt while the chocolate is still wet.  do about 4-5 balls at a time so you can get your salt on before the chocolate sets.  stick in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes if necessary.  then let come to room temp before putting them in an air tight container.  do not close them up with condensation on them.
i do not know exactly how many days these will last at room temp.  probably at least a week.  they can be prolonged in the fridge, but they should come to room temp "no condensation" before packaging up for gifts.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bacon Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolates !


1#pound of bacon...

1#pound of chocolate...

a handful of pretzels 

and a little peanut butter...

hands down...call your mama...
shut the front door...
absolutely one of the BEST BITES i have made all year. 


CHOCOLATE...
my newest obsession.

i think this holiday season you might be seeing a lot of chocolates.
i've already made 5 different chocolaty morsels and i can't stop myself from dreaming up new ones.

i'll be posting about the others, but...
this is one of those...stop and take a moment type of unbelievable bites.


BACON PEANUT BUTTER PRETZEL CHOCOLATES

what you'll need...

1#pound of good chocolate...61% works well.  couverture chocolate is preferred.
1#pound bacon...cooked, CRISPY...chopped to small bits
NOTE...bacon is 1# before cooking
small pretzels...for this i used the Snyder's peanut butter pretzel sandwiches because they are small and round... twisted in half.
Jiff creamy peanut butter...natural PB is too runny.
smoked finishing salt, like Maldon 
small cupcake papers.
 mini muffin tins just to help hold the cups.
NOTE...i also made a few GLUTEN FREE by using small gluten free pretzels.

for tempering chocolate...
you'll need a medium glass bowl, digital thermometer and a clean spatula...at no time should ANY moisture touch the chocolate.
i use Alton's method quickly explained below.

put 3/4 of your chocolate in the glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  STIR.  microwave again for 30 seconds.  STIR.  do it one more time.  STIR.
microwave 3-5 more times, stirring well between each time until it reads 100 F degrees.  STIR.
now microwave for 10 second intervals stirring between each time until it reaches 115 F degrees.
remove from microwave and stir.  stir in the 1/4 pound of chocolate (this is called "seeding").  if you have some 100% cocoa butter, stir in 5 grams of that as well. Alton uses the 100% cocoa butter method instead of seeding with chocolate.  i used both.
keep stirring until all chocolate is smooth and it reaches 90 F degrees for dark chocolate...88-85 F degrees for milk chocolate.

while your chocolate is coming down to the 90 F degrees (don't forget to stir!), get everything ready.  prepare pretzels with a small dollop of peanut butter...approximately 25-30 pieces.  make sure they will fit in your cupcake papers.  place paper cups in the muffin tins.
add bacon to tempered chocolate.  keep bowl warm by placing it in a larger bowl lined with a cloth towel so it will be snugly and warm while you work.

add a small amount of bacon chocolate to your paper cups...only do 3-5 at a time.  place the pretzel, peanut butter side down, in the cup on the chocolate you just put in.  push it in slightly.  now add another small amount of bacon chocolate to cover the pretzel and fill the sides.  sprinkle a little smoked salt on top before it starts to harden.  proceed with the next 3-5 cups...
when you have finished 1 muffin tin full, gently knock it a few times on the counter to settle everything...then refrigerate for about 10 minutes...they should set by then.  take them out of fridge and keep in a cool dry place.
keep working quickly until you have filled as many as possible.
i got 25 pieces.

NOTE...i am not a professional chocolate person!  please check links given and seek out any other information necessary.  this is how i do it and my chocolates have been good and snappy for over a week...no blooming, no streaks...i don't have the shiny sheen down yet, but i will soon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cardamom Buttermilk Pound Cake



buttery soft
fabulous texture
tight crumb
flawless appearance
fan favorite

POUND FOR POUND...THIS ONE'S A WINNER

except this one is a 1/2 pounder

8 oz butter...8 oz flour...8 oz sugar
almost 8 oz eggs
and a few other essentials.


like i've said before...i don't think there is a bad pound cake...butter, sugar, flour and eggs is all you really need for the classic pound cake.   this one is almost true to the old school measurements, but has a few extra ingredients.  the vanilla cardamom combo is subtle and delicious.  be careful with cardamom...it is very easy to over do it...it can get perfumie and overwhelm your baked goods. 

this is not the last of the pound cakes you'll see this month... 
i have a few up my sleeve and i'll just keep making them, one after the other.
the problem IS...no one in this house is as fond of "the pound cake" as i am.  
i think my fondness of pound cake is bordering on obsession. 

i consider the cake a blank canvas.  not only is it a good showcase for homemade jams.  it goes with anything and can be transformed into anything.  from a quick breakfast bread to a beautiful trifle...tucked in a school lunch or served at the big soiree.

i DO have a couple important suggestions for maximum enjoyment of your favorite pound cake...

of course a slice warm out of the oven is fabulous with the delicate inside and crunchy exterior, but i like to...
let the cake rest over night.
cut the cake chilled for nice clean sharp slices.
let come to room temperature.
or to really wake up the flavors...
lightly, i say lightly, butter and saute each piece as if you were making a grill cheese sandwich...

HEY !!! not a bad idea...

GRILLED CHEESE POUND CAKE SANDWICHES ???!!!

i know it's been done...no new idea is ever a NEW idea...but...
how about a sweet rosemary pound cake ...grilled with brie and granny smith apples or a nice crisp Bosc pear...YUMMM !
to be continued...


VANILLA BEAN - CARDAMOM 
BUTTERMILK POUND CAKE
slightly adapted from Jennie's Kitchen

8 oz butter, softened
8 oz, sugar
8 oz, flour
1.2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
3 large eggs, room temp.- slightly beaten
1 whole vanilla bean, scraped
my vanilla bean was quite dry so i added 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

preheat oven to 325 F degrees.  butter a 9 inch loaf pan.
whisk flour, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside.
combine eggs, vanilla bean seeds and buttermilk, set aside.
in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
pour half the egg mixture and mix again until just combined.
repeat with remaining flour and then egg mixture.
do not over mix.

scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 70 - 75 minutes or until deep golden brown and toothpick or metal skewer inserted comes out clean.

again...let your pound cake rest for a day.  i always chill my cakes for easy slicing.  serve at room temp...
then store the cake in the fridge.  leftovers?...when ready to serve...slice chilled out of the fridge, give it a light saute in a hot skillet with just a brush of butter.  the middle stays soft while you get a good light brown crisp on the outside.


i just noticed that the picture above looks as thought the heavens opened up and this fabulous cardamom cake appeared...maybe it did,  this cake is THAT good.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Japanese Cheesecake with Ginger White Chocolate Ganache



oooh, the Japanese Cheesecake.

ever so hard to master the perfect cake, 
ever so delicious when you get it almost right.
and if this is almost right...i'm good with that...for now.


covered with a GINGER WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE...
it's a whole new ball game...

on it's own the cake is fabulous, light and airy, but matched with the rich ginger chocolate ganache it makes an even more fabulous decadent dessert...perfect for any special occasion.


this particular recipe is baked in a round spring form pan, but i think it is traditionally presented in rectangular servings.  to get the rectangles you lose a bit of cake, but throw some ganache on the funny shapes and i assure you, nothing will go to waste.
i consider those little scraps..."abstract petit fours".


as shown in the photo above you can see 
i have not conquered the perfect Japanese cheesecake.
i followed the instructions and tips from Little Teochew's fabulous blog post, but as she mentions over and over again in the comments...it's all in the egg whites.  i DO know how to whip a good egg white, but i think it takes practice to get it just right for this cake...AND PRACTICE I WILL.  i love this cake... light texture, slightly moist, holds up very well, cuts crisp and clean and works as a great blank canvas for ganache and other flavorful toppings.
photo on the left shows the shrinkage that i encountered.  this is something one tries to avoid, again, by following the tips from Little Teochew...and the photo on the right is a different kind of bain marie method.  instead of putting your cheesecake in the bath and risking leakage into the cake you set small dishes of water in the corners of the oven.
   

Japanese Cheesecake Recipe please go to Little Teochew's blog.  read all the comments and follow her instructions to the "T".  you might not have the perfect cake, but i guarantee you will have a delicious cake.

GINGER WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

6 oz. good white chocolate, chopped.  i used Guitard white chocolate.
1/2 cup heavy cream (plus 1-2 Tbsp extra that gets lost to the pan and strainer)
1 heaping Tbsp. minced fresh ginger.
(you might need to make more (like 1/2 again) if you are doing total coverage of the cake)

put chocolate in heat resistant bowl.  set aside.
slowly heat your cream and ginger in a small sauce pan...stirring to almost boil.
pour hot cream/ginger through a strainer over chocolate in bowl.
let sit for a moment then begin to stir until all the chunks have melted.  i needed to set this over a double boiler i had ready just to melt the last chunks.  i found that i needed to stir vigorously towards the end because white chocolate acts different than regular chocolate.  it wanted to look separated.  if this happens just whisk until it comes together.
let it cool slightly so its not piping hot.  the hotter it is, the thinner your coating will be.  i like to have my cake slightly chilled when going for the "drip down the sides look".
if you want total coverage i suggest you put the cake over a cooling rack.  try to pour over the cake in one fell swoop...with ganache it needs to be one big pour for a smooth finish...no going back for a re-touch...that's why i like the drip method.  there is a little more leeway.

let sit to set...or chill in fridge for a more firm set.
i prefer the cake with ganache after it has set in the fridge.  it will have a slight dull finish, but after you bring it out and by the time you serve it should retain a slight beautiful sheen.
photos are after it set in the fridge, so you can see the sheen came back.

PS...if you have ganache left over...rewarm over double boiler.  you will need to whisk vigorously because of the separating i mentioned above.  i thought the left-overs were a gonner, but after whisking it came together and worked well for my "Abstract Petit Fours".



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