29 June 2012

Tipsy Chocolate Cherries

I wanted to call these drunk cherries, but there isn't very much alcohol in them.  Just enough to add a little flavor kick!
Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  If you haven't tried them, try them.  And then make more ganache, because it's like a whiskeyed chocolate fondue.  And what goes great with whiskey chocolate fondue?
Cherries.  Lots of juicy, sweet cherries.
Whiskey?  Check.  Dipping things in chocolate?  Check.  Summer dessert?  I'm all over it!
No cherries because all the buds froze in a freak-weather incident?  No problem.  Use strawberries.  Or head down to the grocery store and let the shame of California cherries battle with your strong desire for another classic spring fruit.
I think it goes without saying...the cherries won.

26 June 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make these cupcakes.  An adult campfire with hobo pies and full coolers was exactly the event I'd been waiting for.
 Rachel told me about them back in March (they make great St. Patrick's party food).  The original recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker.

Any recipe that starts out like this is a keeper in my book:
A cup of Guinness and a cup of butter simmer on the stove.  Feel free to drink the rest of the Guinness while baking, just to really get into the spirit of things.
While that's heating up, mix up the dry ingredients.
Also mix up the wet ingredients (eggs and yogurt).
Add cocoa powder to the saucepan on the stove.
Let that cool, then mix it with the other wet ingredients (if it doesn't cool, it will cook the egg).  Then slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
Pour into cupcake pans and bake on 350* for 17 minutes.
Whilst those are cooling, whip up the ganache (cupcake filling).  Heat up heavy cream on the stove, then pour it over 8 oz of bittersweet dark chocolate chips.  The bag I bought was 10 oz, so someone had to eat those extra 2 oz...darn.  I tell ya, the sacrifices I make to stay true to my recipes...
Let the cream sit for one minute (it melts the chocolate), then stir it slowly with a spatula.  Stir in a shot of Jameson Irish whiskey.  It should smooth out into a velvety chocolate ganache.
Make indentations in the cool cupcakes.
Add a couple teaspoons of ganache to each.
 Whip up the frosting!  Whip 2 cups of heavy whipping cream with 1 cup of powdered sugar until peaks start to form.  Add a shot of Baileys Irish Cream...or in my case, Irish creamer.  Frost each cupcake.  Since I'm not great with icing things, I added a mint leaf for garnish so they looked halfway decent.  Sprinkles would also be a great distraction from poor icing jobs.
BEB uses a buttercream frosting, but that sounded way too rich for me, so I used a whipped cream frosting.  It had a cup of powdered sugar in it, which I think was too sweet.  Try 3/4 cup.  Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker:

1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
6 oz plain yogurt - if you buy a single serving cup, vanilla works okay.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Whipped Frosting:
2 cups heaving whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 oz Baileys Irish Cream
Green food coloring (optional)

Directions for cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350*.  Put the Guinness and butter in a saucepan on medium heat and simmer.  Mix in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Let it cool.
2.  In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt and eggs until smooth.
3.   Pour the Guinness mixture into the yogurt/egg bowl and mix.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well.
4.  Pour batter into muffin tin lined with cupcake papers.  I made 27 cupcakes out of this batter, the original recipe says 24.  Bake for 17 minutes.

Heat up the cream on the stove until it barely simmers.  Put the chocolate chips in a glass bowl and pour the cream over them.  Let sit for one minute, then slowly fold with a rubber spatula until smooth.  Add 2 oz whiskey.  Let cool until thick enough to spoon.

Whip the cream until peaks begin to form, then slowly add in powdered sugar.  Then add in the Irish cream and food coloring.

Make indentations in the cupcakes (I used a clean finger).  Add two tsp of ganache to each cupcake.  Frost with whipped frosting.  The alcohol in the Guinness cooks out, but the whiskey and Baileys are still potent, so do not serve to kids!

22 June 2012

Homemade Kahlua

 Homemade kahlua is SO easy.  And since one of the ingredients is chocolate syrup, I thought I'd throw in the recipe for homemade chocolate syrup as well.  It's also incredibly easy and it uses ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
Let's start out with the chocolate syrup, because that is an ingredient of the kahlua.  Mix cocoa powder and water in a saucepan.  Heat and stir until dissolved.
 Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Boil for three minutes, then add salt and vanilla and let cool.
Voila!  Chocolate syrup.
Okay!  On to the kahlua.  A quart of water mixed with instant coffee and lots of sugar reduces on the stove for three hours to create a coffee syrup.
Wait for that to completely cool.  Then add vanilla and vodka and chocolate syrup.
Ta-da!  Kahlua.  For some reason, this feels like a mug-shot.

Real instructions:

Chocolate syrup:
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 c water
2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix cocoa powder and water in a saucepan.  Heat and stir (dissolving the cocoa powder).  Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Boil for 3 minutes, taking care not to let it boil over.  Add the salt and vanilla.  Let the mixture cool and pour it into a clean pint jar.  Keep refrigerated.

1 qt water (4 c) water
9 tsp instant coffee
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 c brown sugar

Cook all ingredients for three hours to reduce.  Make sure it has fully cooled.
Add 3 tsp vanilla and 2 1/2 cups of vodka.  Add chocolate syrup to taste.

20 June 2012

Crab Rangoons

This is going to be one of those posts where the photos really tell the story.  I had an extremely full weekend!  I'm pretty sure I packed at least five days worth of activity into 2.5 days.  My dad requested crab rangoons, so that's what I made for him on Sunday.
Wow!  It all started when I got out of work early and headed to the Great Wolf Lodge, courtesy of Kyle's mom (major thank you!).
We also walked the docks in Traverse, where I got a great photo...of Kyle with his eyes closed :(
The next day we played in the water park, got massages, and then off to the mall to find the cheapest dress I could for a social event this week.  Then that night Kyle and I went to friend's house for pulled pork and a movie!
The boys made mojitos using fresh strawberries!
Then on Sunday, I whipped up some rangoons then it was off to Mom and Dad's for lunch.  Photos completely lacking here.  But later that afternoon, we took some of my favorite people sailing!  They aren't in this photo, but this is probably the best sailing picture I've got :)
Crab rangoons:  extremely easy to make.  You can probably bake them, but I chose to deep-fry, because it was a special occasion.
Imitation crab...that mysterious, pollock-based substance.  Chop it up.
The filling is made of green onions, sriracha, imitation crab, cream cheese, and seasoned w/ some S&P.
Take that filling and put a dab of it in the middle of a wonton wrapper.  Brush egg along the outer edges of the wonton.
Fold the wonton in half, squeezing out all the air and sealing the edges of the wrapper.  Fold as demonstrated in the photos, if you can follow them.
I think they look like little sharks.
 There are many other ways to fold these.  Check out youtube for more ideas.  In hot oil (350*), drop as many of these guys as you can fit.
These were shallow-fried, so I had to flip midway through.
This filled 50 wontons, and there was still filling left.  

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6 oz imitation crab
  • 6 green onions
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • S&P
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package (40-50) wonton wrappers
  • Oil for frying
  • Slice and dice the crab and green onions
  • Mix the cream cheese, crab, green onions, onion powder, hot sauce, and S&P
  • Put 2 tsp of the filling in the middle of each wonton.  Brush the edges with egg
  • Close the wonton, squeezing out all the air and sealing the edges
  • Fold any way you desire
  • Fry in oil until browned

18 June 2012

Swedish Parfait

I don't make dessert that often.  But every once in a while I entertain guests so special that a normal dessert just won't make do.
Sometimes you have to go all out.  Sometimes you need to decorate the plate, layer your dessert, and garnish with mint.

Recipe here.  Since this recipe is all lovely and Swedish, all the measurements are in grams and ounces, which really don't mean too much to me.  And, lacking a kitchen scale, things might have gone awry.  I'll never know.  I'm not complaining about the result.
"Place egg yolks in a bowl, add sugar and beat vigorously over boiling water to a fluffy, sabayon-like consistency."  Ah, yes.  Sabayon.  A culinary creation I am so familiar with (sarcasm).  This part was not nearly as daunting as I first pictured.  Let me break it down for ya.  When it says to beat over boiling water, it does NOT mean double-boiler style.  It means hold the bowl in the steam to lightly warm the egg mixture (supposedly shouldn't exceed 98*F).  And you'll know when it reaches the fluffy, sabayon-like consistency, because it becomes thick and a nice creamy yellow color.
Instead of strawberry jam, I took some berries and processed them in the manual food processor for a sec.
I also added a splash of watermelon liqueur.  Cheap watermelon liqueur.  Don't be like me.  Spring for some top-shelf stuff.
I mixed the berries with the sabayon.  In the meantime, I hand-whipped some heavy cream.
I folded that into my sabayon mixture, then poured that into a 9x13 dish prepared with wax paper.
The whole thing went into the freezer overnight.  The next day, I started putting together the nut bottom for this parfait.  I am sadly lacking photos for this part because I was a little pressed for time.
This is the part that might have gone a little awry due to measurement discrepancies.  However, it still tasted great.
In the meantime, I used a wine-glass to mark circles in the frozen parfaits, then cut out as many circles as I could fit.
The parfaits went back in the freezer to wait until after dinner.
Then, disaster struck.  Whilst making dinner, I started preheating the oven.  Suddenly I caught of whiff of smoke...and remembered:  I had put the nut bottoms back in the oven so that I had more counterspace.  I opened the oven and smoke poured out.  Small blessing:  the parchment paper didn't catch fire!  So I had to quick whip out another nut bottom.  Crisis averted.  And I even had time to air out the house so it wasn't smoky when guests arrived.
So those are the components.  I cut out circles in the nut bottoms right before serving.
My dinner guests appreciated the extra effort - and I'm counting this meal as a success!

I halved the parfait recipe but made the entire nut bottom recipe.  I skipped the sauce in favor of a strawberry sauce and chocolate syrup.  The original recipe calls for cloudberries, which aren't so common here in northern Michigan, so I opted for strawberries.  Here is the recipe, as printed on sweden.se:

Ingredients (conversions)
8–10 servings
8 egg yolks
200 ml (1 cup) strained cloudberry jam
100 ml (½ cup) cloudberry liqueur
100 g (3½ oz) sugar
600 ml (3 cups) heavy whipping cream

Nut bottom:
50 g (2 oz) ground hazelnuts
50 g (2 oz) ground blanched almonds
25 g (1 oz) flour
160 g (5 oz) sugar
2 egg whites
50 g (2 oz) melted butter

2 egg yolks
40 g (1½ oz) sugar
50 ml (¼ cup) cloudberry liqueur
200 ml (1 cup) heavy whipping cream

 Place egg yolks in a bowl, add sugar and beat vigorously over boiling water to a fluffy, sabayon-like consistency. Remove from the heat, continue to beat until cooled and blend in the cloudberry jam (first put through a strainer to remove the seeds) and liqueur. Whip the cream into a foam that is not too hard, then carefully pour onto the egg batter. Divide the parfait into two low, round molds. Place the molds in the freezer for at least 3 hours or until the parfait has become completely hard.

Mix all the dry ingredients for the nut bottoms. Beat the egg whites a little, blending them with the butter and with the dry ingredients into an even batter. Spread out in three circles (equivalent in size to the parfait molds) on a greased baking sheet or baking paper. Bake in the oven (200oC/400oF) to a golden brown color. Take out and remove from the surface before they completely harden.

To make the sauce, beat the egg yolks, sugar and liqueur into a fluffy sabayon over low heat. Remove from the heat and continue to beat until cooled. Whip the cream and carefully add to the sauce.

Place the parfait bottoms between the nut bottoms and sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar on top. Serve with the cloudberry liqueur sauce.