Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bake Together - Panna Cotta

I apologize for the brief hiatus.  Back-to-School is even more involved when your children are on the Autism Spectrum.  There's all the ironing out of transportation, classes, who has to be where, when - and Oh, the Paperwork!  But still - Bad Blogger!  No biscuit!

This month's "Bake Together," the brain child of the inimmitable Abby Dodge, is actually a "no bake" Bake Together.  A concept that would have made more sense for me had I been efficient and done mine in the hot, early weeks of August.  Rather than now, when the nights are getting into the 50's and the Farmer's Market is full of apples!  But it was still fun.

The source recipe is here, Ricotta Panna Cotta with Brezza Fresca.  We'll use that as our jumping-off point.  First, I should admit that I find panna cotta a bit intimidating.  Possibly because The Cygnus restaurant at the top of the Amway Grand in Grand Rapids, MI serves a fan-tabulous Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Syrup that I worship and have never managed to replicate.  But I was game.
I present Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Bellini Sauce:

I eliminated the water, and used 3/4 cup of milk and 1/2 c. cream instead.  (More liquid, because the mascarpone was so thick.)  I replaced the ricotta with 8 oz of mascarpone.  I bloomed the gelatin in the milk.

And then melted it very carefully in the microwave.  My version is sweetened with 1/4 c. sugar and 2 Tbsp honey, and flavored with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract.  Then they went into the fridge to set.  I did try to whisk them to combine, but he mascarpone was a bit too thick.

I had to break out the stick blender.  In hindsight, after doing so, I SHOULD have allowed them to sit on the counter for a while for all the bubbles to pop before I put them in the fridge.  They set up pretty quickly!
The sauce is equally easy:
Cut up 1 white peach and 1 yellow peach.

Add 1/3 c each sugar and Prosecco (Or 1 Tbsp lemon juice plus enough water to make 1/3 c), and heat until sugar is dissolved and peaches are slightly softened.
And there you are!

Thanks, Abby!  This one was fun, even without the baking!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fall Preview - Apple Skillet Cake

While the sun is still sunny and the beach has yet to be closed down for the season, a trip to the farmer's market does highlight the fact that weird weather this year has things on a bit of a fast-forward.  It's early (well, mid) August.  Peaches are winding down and apples are already available.  Beyond just the early transparent varieties.  So I grabbed a 1/2 peck of Paula Reds (don't get me started on Honey Crisps, marketing, and the terroir of apples), and went hunting for a good recipe - whist the Empress of Cute ate a couple freshly sliced.

I went wandering through some of the recent additions to my collection of vintage cookbooks - liberated from my mother, who is amused by my new "hobby."  These included a copy of the Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook from the 8th contest - which would put it around 1956 (the cover is gone).  There were so excellent choices all around, but I decided to make you this:

Apple Skillet Cake was the 3rd Prize Winner in the Junior category.  It's still a keeper.  See?

Apple Skillet Cake

3 Tbsp butter
1-1/3 c. packed brown sugar, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 c. peeled baking apples, thinly sliced
1-1/2 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP blend OR
1/4 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch

2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. shortening
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 10" skillet (OK, mine was 12" - it makes for a thinner cake, but still works), melt the butter.  Stir in 2/3 c. brown sugar and cinnamon.  Arrange the apples in the sugar mixture.
In a bowl, mix flour, salt, soda, and xanthan gum.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and white sugar.  Add remaining 2/3 c. brown sugar in two additions.  Cream thoroughly.  Add egg yolks and vanilla. 
Alternately add dry ingredients and evaporated milk in several additions.  Beat on medium until smooth.  Meanwhile, beat egg whites until stiff but no dry.
Fold egg whites into batter.  Pour into skillet over apples.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
De-pan immediately.  (Small confession:  About 10 minutes before the cake was done, I realized I didn't have a big enough pan to hold it.  So I unmolded mine onto a cutting board covered with a sheet of parchment paper.
This is an oldie, but a goodie.  The cinnamon was my edition.  I omitted the raisins, but you could include some if you like.  It's begs for a little whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dark Secret Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

It's summer, so I spend a lot of my time outside.  Since the Coast Guard Festival (the local annual Big Event) wound up this past weekend, it's even finally possibly to go downtown.  So today was devoted to wandering around town and taking the girls to the newly installed "splash pad."  This, for the uninitiated, is a cement area with multiple fountains installed for kids to run through on hot summer days.  Once we got home, cupcakes happened.  This recipe is an adaptation of a chocolate cake that appeared in the 3rd Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Though the buttercream icing is my own addition.

Dark Secret Cupcakes

3/4 c. cocoa
1/3 c. + 3 Tbsp unsalted butter or shortening, divided
1-1/4 c. sugar
1 c. milk, divided
2-1/4 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, OR
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
3/4 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp potato starch
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. Bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liner.
In a small saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp of butter and stir in cocoa.  Stir in 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 c. milk.  Cook and stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, combine flours, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Whisk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together 1/3 c. shortening and 1 c. sugar.

Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and chocolate mixture alternatingly, then add 1/2 c. milk.  Beat on medium-high for two minutes, until smooth.

Stir in chopped chocolate.

Portion into cupcake liners with a 2 oz disher and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Dulce de Leche Buttercream

This is yet another adaptation of my favorite recipe, The Brave Tart's German Buttercream.  This time, in lazy fashion.  I used purchased Dulce de Leche, found in the International section of my local supermarket.  It's made by Nestle, and it's very tasty!

1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 c. milk
5 oz. sugar
3/4 oz cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 can (~7 oz) Dulce de Leche
1 lb. unsalted butter

Stir together sugar, salt and cornstarch.  Beat in egg and egg yolk.  Set aside.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until just scalded.  Temper in the egg mixture.  Return to heat and cook until mixture thickens.  Place mixture and Dulce de Leche into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until mixture reaches room temperature.  Add butter 1 Tbsp at a time until all butter is incorporated and mixture is light and fluffy.  Pipe atop cucpakes.

These cupcakes are remarkable complex, with a distinct bitter undertone (which my children did not seem to mind).  The caramel icing complements the slightly-salty, not-to-sweet cupcakes very well.  Try 'em out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First on the First - GF Baked Peach Empanadas

It's the first of the month again and you know what THAT means: First on the First!  Follow the links at the bottom to explore other First on the First creations on the theme of "empanadas".

I actually had NOT made empanadas before.  Though in a way, they're not that different from the "pocket pies" of many cultures.  Because I am who I am, I chose a sweet version though savory are common as well.

I looked over a lot of recipes before arriving at this one.  And, to be honest, if I were to make them again (and I might) I'd tweak it.  Probably a tablespoon of sugar in the dough would help, as the dough was  a bit flat and didn't brown all that well.  Though I might even just use the adaptation I did of Abby Dodge's pie crust recipe for my Gooseberry Pie.  Either way, I might even turn the oven up to 400 to also improve browning - but watch them closely!  Small pastries burn very quickly.  Anyway, on to the main event!

Empanada Dough

1 c. masa harina
1 c. Fancy Flour Blend, other GF AP flour, or
2 Tbsp millet flour
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks and frozen
1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 Tbsp cold water

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor, place flours, masa, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla, and 4 Tbsp water.  Add to dough mixture while continuing to pulse.  Add additional water if needed until mixture just begins to stick together into larger granules.

Gather together the dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Peach Filling

1 c. chopped fresh peaches
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp cornstarch

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.  Add peaches and lemon juice, then toss to coat.  Cook over medium high heat until filling thickens and turns translucent.  Remove from heat and chill.


Roll out a portion of the dough between to sheets of waxed paper, stopping often to peel the paper off the dough and replace.  Turn over the dough frequently to keep it even.  Cut with a 4" round cookie cutter.  Place a scant teaspoon of filling on each round.

Fold in half and seal with a fork.  Place on baking sheet, brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp of water) and sprinkle with sparkle sugar.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light brown.

I toyed with the idea of making some dulce de leche dipping sauce for these.  Or even dipping them in a thin powdered sugar glaze, a la Hostess snack cakes.  The sky is the limit!