Sunday, August 30, 2009

Symphony Chocolate Toffee Almond Scones and a Vegetable Goat Cheese Tart

I have been taking some cooking demo classes at our local natural foods market.  Most of them that I've taken are by an amazing local chef, Paige Vandegrift.  She makes some amazing and wonderful food--food that I would never have thought I'd make or (and especially) like eating.  Like for instance, she uses onions a lot.  And we ALL know how I feel about onions.  But (and Mom, you'd be proud of me), I always taste/eat everything she makes.  You see, how could I turn down this wonderful food that we in the class have just watched her prepare for us?  Everything is always so good.  I think I'm also drawn to these classes because every now and then I get to go have someone cook for me, I won't hear anyone whining or complaining and I get to just leisurely enjoy my food.  What a great thing!  And as a bonus, I'm learning a lot from the lovely Paige, Le Cordon Bleu in London trained chef.  To me, she's like our own Julia Child right here in little ol' Kansas!  I wish I could blog everything she's made in all the classes I've been to, but that would take a separate blog in itself.  She makes usually 4-5 different dishes at each class. 

I've made a lot of Paige's recipes since taking some of her classes.  Maybe not the prettiest dish, but I made this Corn, Zucchini and Pink Eyed Peas Succotash (yep, there's onions in there and I even put them in.  I know, you're feeling so proud of me!)  And while I could taste the onions, all the other flavors were really good and the onions wasn't too overpowering.

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I've made other things as well but especially wanted to share Paige's scones with you as well as a perfectly flaky and wonderfully flavored vegetable goat cheese tart.  At the last class I went to just last week, Paige served us cornmeal shortcakes with peaches, mint and soured cream.  Yes, it was as good as that sounds!  I have had some friends over the last couple years talk about some amazing scones they got the recipe for from these classes they've taken.  I didn't realize at the time they were talking about Paige's scones, as I hadn't taken any of the classes then.  I heard from a number of people how great these cream scones are.  Paige mentioned at this last class that the cornmeal shortcakes were similar to her scones without the cornmeal and replacing the butter for all cream.  That's it, I'd heard enough talk about them and decided I needed to make some!  I have only made scones one other time and that was in May when I tried some pumpkin pecan butterscotch scones that Anna at Cookie Madness made.  They were good. 

So I made Paige's scones.  They are a base for scones that you can add anything you want to and so I did!

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You had to know there would be chocolate in my scones.  Hershey's Symphony Milk Chocolate, Toffee and Almonds to be exact.  These. were. really. great!  These could not be more simple to make.

Cream Scones with Chocolate, Toffee and Almonds, adapted by Katrina (recipe from Paige Vandegrift)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream (plus a little more for brushing on the tops)

turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on the tops)

3 ounces Hershey's Symphony Milk Chocolate, Toffee and Almonds bar, chopped

1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

1/4 cup Heath chocolate toffee bits

1/4 cup Ghiradelli 58% cacao baking chips

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Whisk to blend well. Add the "mix-ins." Stir in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula while pouring the cream, continuing to stir until a soft, sticky dough is formed.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly (8-10 times). Pat the dough into a circle 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Cut the circles into 8-12 wedges (depending on the size you want, I did 12!) and place the wedges an inch or so apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush each scone with cream and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Bake at 425°F until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  (Mine took 13 minutes.)  Remove to wire rack and cool. 

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These scones are really healthy, so eat 2 or 3.  Oh yeah, kidding!  Well, there's almonds, those are healthy. ;)  Splurge, I say, you'll be happy you did!  I can't wait to try this scone recipe with lots of other mix ins.  You should use about a cup of mix-ins.  I may have used more than that, so sue me!

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Then there's this Provencal Vegetable Tart with Herbed Goat Cheese.  It was a little work, but worth it.  We had our neighbors over for dinner and they loved it and I loved it.  Kevin thought it was just okay, but that's just because he thinks everything should be spicy and he didn't think it had enough flavor.  Of course I'm going to think/say this, but the one Paige made in class and served us was better than mine.  This was made with a wonderful and easy short crust pastry dough.  It rolled out beautifully and will have to be a pie crust I try in the future for other things. 

Pate Brisee (Short Crusty Pastry), by Paige Vandegrift

1  1/3 cups all purpose flour (150 grams)

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (114 grams)

3-4 tablespoons ice water

Combine the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons of water over the flour/butter mixture.  Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary.  Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound.  Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps.  Continue until all of the dough is flat.  Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do.  Form the finished dough into a thick disk.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.   (*Disclaimer, Paige did all this by hand and strongly suggested that you NOT use a food processor, but me being the rebel that I am (and lazy), I used the food processor.  Short little pulses with the flour and butter, the key is not to over blend it.  And then she said if you do use a food processor to never add the water in the processor, do that part by hand.  I actually forgot and just added the water right to the processor, pulsed a few times, then turned the dough onto the counter and formed it.  It worked just fine, just DO NOT OVER PULSE IT.)

To roll out the dough after letting it warm up for a few minutes at room temperature.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 1/8 inch thick and is about 13 inches across.  Transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

From this point, I will skip a lot of the details, but if you'd like a more complete recipe, let me know.  The tart is then layered with a softened goat cheese (8 ounces) with about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme.  Then about 12 ounces of Japanese eggplant, 12 ounces zucchini and 3-4 Roma tomatoes.  The eggplant and zucchini were broiled in the oven before going on to the tart.  The tomatoes (which I didn't have Roma and used cherry tomatoes) were sliced and lightly salted, then put on paper towel for 10-15 minutes to remove some of the excess liquid.

After assembling the goat cheese and vegetables on the tart, fold up the edges and bake in a 375 degree oven on the lowest rack until the tomatoes are slightly puckered and the crust is crisp and golden brown--about 45 minutes.  (I baked mine about 50 minutes).  Drizzle the tart with olive oil if desired and let rest for five minutes (or cool until just tepid) before serving.  Also the variations of flavors and vegetables to this are endless.   Again, let me know if you'd like more detailed directions to broiled the vegetables as I shortened this quite a bit for the recipe we received from Paige!

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Ready for the oven.

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Slice and serve.  Want a bigger piece?  You will.  Thanks, Paige!  Love the classes and all I'm learning in them!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fun Pictures and a Couple Goodies (there may be some ice cream! Shock!) Heavenly Chocolate Ice Cream (No Eggs)

Every Monday night we have Family Night.  We have a quick little gospel lesson with the kids, then an activity/game and treats.  Each person takes turns with different assignments for the evening.  One is the lesson, one gets to choose the activity and what treats to have, among a couple other assignments.  It was Taylor's turn to choose the treats a couple weeks ago.  And I asked him what he'd like to have and he said, "Gingerbread men"  O---kay.  I explained to him that those are something better in the winter around Christmastime.  He didn't care and was pretty adamant about gingerbread cookies.  So that morning, he and Sam helped me make the cookies.

I used this recipe from Allrecipes for Big Soft Ginger Cookies, as I read that some were making them into gingerbread men.  I did have to add quite a bit of extra flour.  It was suggested that you chill the dough if you're going to roll it out, but we didn't have time to wait for chilling, so I just added enough flour until the dough was good enough for rolling.  (The recipe says to use margarine, but I used butter.) 

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Sammie chowed down on the cookie dough!  I love how in this next picture you can see some flour on his nose.

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Don't worry, Mom, he got a haircut last week.  I haven't taken a decent picture of it yet, but it's the shortest it's been (although still curly!).  I love his dirty bum in this picture and the back of his haircut with mussy hair.

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That night for Family Night, everyone got to decorate their own gingerbread cookies.

Parker and Taylor went to town with all the candies and sprinkles I had for them to decorate with and I have no idea why they both chose pink sprinkles for the "pants" on their gingerbread men.

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Scott wouldn't be in a picture with his cookie (surprise!), and for some reason his is holding a Halloween pumpkin. ???

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Kevin went ALL OUT decorating the two cookies we made for him!

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And my lovely little cookie.  The only gingerbread girl of the bunch!

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Our friends, Bob and Tes, went on a vacation and they always bring each of the kids and Kevin and I little souvenirs.  I think this one might be one of the funniest things I've ever seen.  It is a "Genuine Old Weather Rock".  Here is what it says on the wood.

Place Unit Outside and Observe following

1.  If the Rock is WET--it's raining!

2.  If the Rock is WH"ITE--it's snowing!

3.  If the Rock is moving back and forth--it's windy!

4.  If the Rock is hard to see--it's foggy!

5.  If the Rock is casting a shadow--it's sunny!

6.  If the Rock is cold--it's cold out!

7.  If the Rock is warm--it's warm out!

Your Old Weather Rock is Never Wrong!

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That makes me laugh every time I see it or think about it!

Bob also gave us this cob of popcorn.  Have  you ever seen one of these?

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We were a little skeptical that it would really pop. 

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It popped!

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The boys really got a kick out of this.  Thanks, Bob and Tes!

Would ya look at this?

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That is chocolate ice cream, my friends!  Surprise, I told you there would be ice cream!

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Into the freezer you go (although it was FABULOUS at this stage!)

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What ice cream is that?  Why it's David Lebovitz' Perfect Scoop, Philadelphia-Style Chocolate Ice Cream.  Everytime I make another ice cream, it seems that I say it's the best I've ever had.  Well, I'm tempted to say it again.  I LOVED Dorie Greenspan's chocolate ice cream (custard style-with eggs).  It is amazing in its own right--lots of great, dark chocolate flavor.  But I've decided I like the non-egg kind of ice creams better than the eggy ones. 

Chocolate Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style, by David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

adapted ever so slightly by Katrina

2  1/4 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

6 ounces  Hershey's Special Dark chocolate, chopped (wow, I just realized David's recipe says unsweetened chocolate and I thought it was just supposed to be bittersweet!)

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up).  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it's completely melted, then whisk in the milk and vanilla.  Pour the mixture into a blender for 30 seconds, until very smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (I like putting it in a bowl and then in an ice bath until the mixture is cold, then refrigerate.)  I didn't churn mine in the ice cream maker until the next day and I think that made it even better!  Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

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This ice cream was so perfectly scoopable after about two hours in the freezer and what I like about it is that it never got hard as a rock after being in the freezer for a couple days.  The mix-in possibilities for this chocolate ice cream are endless!

That'll have to be all for now, but I've got more, Folks!  (I also made DL's Chocolate Sorbet--delish--super rich and I can only eat a little bit at a time.  I actually haven't even really eaten much of the chocolate ice cream because the sorbet is a lot lower in fat and cures my chocolate cravings.  I usually just taste these ice creams when I clean out the ice cream maker bowl.)

Come on back!

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Sam's nap today (Thursday)--in our bed.  Um, let's not have this be a new trend, Buddy! ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peanutty Madness!

Way back in July (ha!) our neighbors went out of town for 2-3 weeks.  They didn't ask us to watch the house or feed their pets or water their plants or anything.  But 3-4 days after they left, I noticed newspapers were piling up in their driveway.  No biggie, I just decided to pick them up everyday.  And I sent the neighbor a quick email letting her know that I was picking up their papers so it didn't look like they were out of town.   She wrote me back and was grateful that I'd do that, but perturbed that her papers were showing up since she'd asked the "paper people" to hold her subscription until they returned.  Sigh.  I told her in an email that we'd (Kevin!) love to mow their lawn for them if they'd like.  But I assumed she was having that done, too.  And I was right.  They had set up with a mowing company to do it.  Not to be a rat, but they came and did a real hack job on their lawn, no trimming, lots of missed patches.  So I just wanted to let the neighbor know that while it wasn't lowering our street's home value, that the service she paid for wasn't very good. 

Anyway, long story REALLY needing to be cut short, everything was taken care of.  But Ruth is just such a nice neighbor and friend that while they were on their trip, they got us a little thank you gift for looking out for their home.  Totally unnecessary.  Part of their trip they'd gone to Virginia and she gave us the most delicious can of peanuts I've ever had.  Oh, you'd think all peanuts are created equal, but oh, no, my friends.  These Virginia peanuts were far more superior than any peanuts I've ever had.

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I've always wanted to try homemade peanut butter, so I took 1/2 cup of these peanuts and blended them up in the food processor until they were a nice paste.  I might have added a teaspoon of canola oil, I actually can't remember.  No matter, the peanut butter was fantastic!  Parker liked them so much right out of the can that I had to hide it from him. ;)  Yes, I shared, but he would have eaten them all!  And I really wanted to showcase them some more in some other recipes. 

These peanuts have the most perfect crunch and saltiness.  And they are huge, you can't really even tell from my photos.  Just trust me.  http://www.whitleyspeanut.com/

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How about these?---

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Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!  I was a little worried about how these would turn out when I saw the list of ingredients, but they really looked like just what I wanted to do with these peanuts.  And surprisingly, these cookie bars are GREAT--especially if you are a peanut butter/chocolate lover.  I'm even going to go as far as saying that these are one of the BEST tasting peanut butter-chocolate treats I've tasted.  The cookie base is a mix between a crisp cookie and a fudgy brownie.  I really like how they turned out, even if they are made with a cake mix, which I try not to use too much.  It's just necessary sometimes and I know I'll make these bars again.   

Well, get on with it Katrina--do tell.  (Sorry, sometimes I talk to myself.)

Have you seen or do you receive the Kraft Foods food & family magazine?  It's free.  You can go to the link and sign up to receive it, but you can also get this recipe right there on their website.  (I just saw it there right on the front page of the link as I was getting it for you.  I made a few minor adjustments to their recipe so I will post it as I made it, but feel free to get their version as well.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Bars, from Kraft Foods, adapted by Katrina

1 chocolate cake mix (I used Devil's Food)

1 package (3.9 oz.) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding

1/2 unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup cold milk (I used fat free--so these are healthy, right?) bwah

6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped (chips would work)  I used Hershey's Special Dark, chopped

1 cup Whitley's Virginia Peanuts, divided  (Kraft suggests Planters peanuts)

1  3/4 cups creamy peanut butter  (Kraft recipe only uses 1 cup, I thought it needed more)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray. 

Mix the first 4 ingredients until blended.  (The dough will be thick.)  Press half the cake mix mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake this for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle half the chocolate and half the peanuts over the hot crust.  Top this with peanut butter.  For easier spreading, let it sit a few minutes to warm and thin out.  (Again, original recipe only calls for 1 cup of peanut butter, but I thought it spread better when I added more AND it's good!)  Sprinkle the remaining cake mix mixture over the peanut butter and then the rest of the chopped chocolate and peanuts.  Press down gently with a spatula.  Bake 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate 4 hours before cutting into bars.  (Don't skip this and try to cut them too early.  It REALLY helps them set up.) 

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Look at those peanuts!  I love the whole ones that look like pac-man. 

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Yes, I plated these up and gave them to my friend, Mindy who watched the boys for me tonight and plated some up for Ruth, who gave me the delicious peanuts.  These are dangerous for me to have here and I'm glad they are gone!

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I have also been hankerin' for a good peanut butter cookie ever since Anna at Cookie Madness made some a couple weeks ago.  She made a recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for some peanut butter cookies that are made with natural peanut butter, whole wheat flour, maple syrup and olive oil.  Anna's cookie looked great, but she used an olive oil that she said she could taste too much in the cookies and suggested if anyone else tries them to use a different oil.  So I made these and used coconut oil (which I am so far loving in everything I've baked with it as a butter replacement.)

These are a great peanut butter cookie if you're looking for one that is not too sweet.  I often think some are too sugary tasting.  The peanut taste is showcased in these and they are about as healthy as a cookie could get.  They are also egg free.

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You can leave these rounded, or flatten them with the fork criss crosses.

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Or you can dip some in a quick ganache with bittersweet chocolate and some cream.  Or sandwich some chocolate in between two cookies.  I was having fun with these.  But I really think my favorite are the plain peanut butter cookies.

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101 Cookbooks Peanut Butter Cookies, adapted by Katrina

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup organic, natural peanut butter (I used creamy, Heidi suggested chunky)

1/4 cup Whitley's Virginia peanuts, chopped

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

1  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla.  Whisk together to combine well.  Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until barely combined, even with some flour still visible.  Let sit for five minutes.  Give it one more quick stir, not too much.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Press down on each one with a fork.  You can also chill the dough for an hour.  Bake for 10 minutes, but don't overbake.  Let cool five minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack.  This made 30 cookies.

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These are a great peanut butter cookie that I will be making again and again.  And now, I'm all peanutted out! ;)

 

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD--Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie--With MY Twist (And You'll Never Guess What It Is)

I hummed and hawed about making this week's TWD pick-Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie, chosen by Linda from Tender Crumb.  I just wasn't feeling like getting it done.  But the great program that is Tuesday's With Dorie got the best of me and on Monday I decided to just do it. 

I am happy to say that the cream came together for me easily.  I was a little worried about whisking, whisking, whisking to get the cream to thicken.  Here's a few things about the recipe--the three limes I zested produced about 2 1/2 tablespoons of zest, which seemed like a lot, so I only used about 1  1/2 tablespoons of it.  Then I juiced 6 limes and only got about 1/2 cup of juice.  I was torn about that--make another trip to the store, use some lime concentrate or just call it good with the 1/2 cup.  I went with the latter and just used 1/2 cup of lime juice.  I'm glad I did, it was PLENTY lime-y!  I did use the fresh ginger and got a good teaspoon/teaspoon and a half from grating about one inch of ginger.   And then there's the case of the butter.  Whoa--a lot of butter.  I'd read on the P&Q's that some were using less butter still with success.  But I didn't know how much less.  So I took a chance and went ahead and only used 1 stick (instead of 2 1/2!) of butter.   Some "complained" about how long it took the cream to come to temperature and thicken over the double boiler.  Mine took 9-10 minutes (just as Dorie said it should) and I was very happy about that.  My arms were killing me so I'm very glad it didn't take longer!

See--creamy--this is after it had been in the fridge for about two hours.

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I tasted it and realized (again, I've realized it before) that I just don't LOVE eggy type custards/creams.  And this tasted eggy to me--and very lime-y.  It was at this point that I decided to take a stand for myself (kidding!).  But I decided at that point to not make a lime cream meringue pie.  I also knew that the boys probably wouldn't like the pie and Kevin would probably just eat a courtesy piece--he just doesn't love eating really sweet things.  (I know, I know--how in the world did we get together? ;) 

Anyway, I did what only I could/would do--I made lime ice cream!  I took the lime cream and added 1 cup of half and half and 1 cup of whole milk, whisked it all together and poured it into my beloved ice cream maker.  While it was churning, I drizzled in 4 tablespoons of honey.  It just seemed like a good thing to do--honey, lime, ginger ice cream. 

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I scream.  It's pretty darn good.  Still, a little too eggy for my liking, but definitely edible.

Back when I was planning to make the pie (okay, moments before I churned), I WAS planning to make a graham cracker crust for the pie.  So I felt it only right to make graham cracker ice cream sandwiches.

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And THIS was really good.  The cracker helped cut some of the extreme tartness of the lime.

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So I made some for the boys, too.

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And just for fun, I wanted to see what it would be like to make a quick graham cracker crust using some graham cereal I have.  So I made just enough to put into two ramekins.  Baked it off briefly, cooled it and filled them with the lime ice cream.  Then I turned it out of the ramekin like a flan.  While it tasted great, the graham cereal was quite crumbly.

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I will say this.  I think I've overcome any fear I had for making custard/cream on the stove.  But by skipping the meringue pie, someday I'll still need to get with it and learn the art of making meringue (again, it just turned in to a good excuse not to make it since I don't really care for the eggy taste and airy texture of it.  When I was going to make the graham cracker crust pie, I'd planned to put some whipped cream on each serving instead of the meringue.  Someday I'll do it though.  And thanks, Linda at Tender Crumb for picking a fun, new, challenging recipe.  You can get the recipe on Linda's blog and go check out the other TWD baker's pie creations on the TWD link above.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe and Zucchini Lemon Cranberry Walnut Muffins Recipe

It's that time of year.  You practically have them growing out your ears.  I'm talking about zucchini.  Some of them are huge.  They aren't quite as good for savory cooking when they get too big.  But they make a dang good killer chocolate cake!  Bah--look at this!

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Yep, believe it or not, there is zucchini in there!  I know.  I hear ya.  You just would NEVER know it's there.  So this means this cake is healthy, right.  Well, we can pretend anyway.  Sigh. 

Yeah, it's not healthy.  But for goodness sake, it's delicious!  (Dad--it's chocolate cake!)

After buying two giant, cheap zucchini at the farmer's market last week, I went on a Google search for just what to do with them.  I already shared with you my zucchini ("apple") crisp.  I knew there were all kinds of quick breads and muffins out there with zucchini and I even knew there were zucchini snack cakes.  But THIS cake, it's not just your run-of-the-mill "snack".  This is big time dessert here.  Kevin was even a little bummed that I didn't have any ice cream to serve with it.  (I know, me, slacking on the ice cream making! ;)

I found this beauty on Em's blog,  The Repressed Pastry Chef.  I actually didn't even know she was a fellow TWD baker.  (What?  I can't read them all.  I wish.  But after finding this cake on her blog and browsing around a bit, I've added her blog to my reader.)  Em found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website.  I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 inch baking pan.  I made some minor changes, so here's the recipe as I made it, but please when you're done with me, go look at Em's!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake, adapted by Katrina from The King Arthur Flour Company and Em at The Repressed Pastry Chef (halved)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup canola oil

6  1/8 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup buttermilk (original recipe calls for sour cream or yogurt)

1  1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1  1/8 ounces Dutch-process cocoa

(optional 1 teaspoon espresso powder)  I did not use it

1 cup zucchini, finely grated (middle/seeds removed)

1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips  (I used 58% cacao Ghiradelli chips)  (I didn't halve the chips)

Ganache Icing--

3 ounces heavy cream

4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli chips)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil.  Spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Beat in the egg.  Scrape sides of bowl. 

Stir in the buttermilk alternately with the flour.  Then add the cocoa.  Mix until well combined.  Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour and spread the batter evenly in the baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine took 32 minutes), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake on a wire rack.  Remove the cake from the pan using the foil edges.

Prepare the ganache by heating the cream to a simmer.  (I actually used the microwave and it worked great, just do it in 20-30 second intervals and stir in between.)  Pour the cream into a bowl with the chocolate chips.  Let sit a minute or two.  Stir the melted chocolate and cream until combined and smooth.  Spread over cake evenly with an offset spatula.  See how long you can wait before cutting slices of the cake and eating it.  (The ganache hardens as it sits, but doggonit it's good right away! ;)

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You know you want a bite.  I'm not kidding, there's zucchini in there.  (You would never in a million years know it, Bob!)

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Now after all that, take a deep breath, it's going to be okay.  Breathe.  Okay.  I kind of feel like these poor little muffins will take a huge back seat to that cake, BUT just keep in mind, sometimes you feel like a muffin and sometimes a little cake and the muffins really could be considered somewhat healthy and a great grab and go breakfast or perfect snack and they are also delicious if I do say so myself.   You'll have to try them and give them the credit they too deserve just as much as that cake.  Again, in my Googling around, I ran across this Low Fat Lemon Zucchini Bread on about.com.  These muffins were inspired by that bread, but I changed many things and came up with these darn-tootin' good muffins.

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Zucchini-Lemon Cranberry Walnut Muffins, by Katrina

1  3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or could use all purpose)

1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)

1/4 cup coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)

1 large egg

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup low fat buttermilk

1 cup zucchini, seeded and finely grated

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

turbinado sugar for sprinkle over top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners (this made 14 muffins). 

In medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Whisk together and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest, combining it together with your fingers until the sugar is moist, yellow and fragrant.  (I got this idea from Dorie Greenspan and love it.)  Combine the zesty sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk until well mixed with a wire whisk.  Stir in zucchini.  Add the dry ingredients with the wet and fold together just until moist.  Fold in nuts and cranberries.  Fill each muffin cup with a good sized scoop of batter.  Sprinkle each with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Set pan on wire rack and cool for five minutes.  Remove the muffins from the tin and cool to room temperature on wire rack.

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There is some nutty, berry-sweet goodness hiding in there and a wonderful lemon flavor!

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You've seriously got to try these.  Coming soon--more zucchini!  I bought two giant ones remember.  These two recipes didn't even use one whole one.  Did you know you can grate the zucchini and freeze it in plastic bags?  It will last a couple months in the freezer.  Run to your gardens, neighbor's gardens, farmer's markets, grocery stores now and stock up!  You'll for sure want to make this cake and these muffins over and over again! ;) 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Absolutely Delicious Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

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Maybe it's not really that attractive, but you have got to try this if you love bananas, chocolate and walnuts.  This is one of those kinds of things that I could just keep eating and eating.   I first saw this cake over at Donna's blog, My Tasty Treasures.  (I'm just saying, be forewarned about her blog, but doggonit, her food always looks so yummy and I've made a recipe or two she's posted-always great!)  So Donna posted this cake who got it from so-and-so, who got it from.....well, you know how it goes.  It's actually from Bon Appetit 2003.  I adapted it a little, so here's the recipe as I made it, but go check out Donnas and whoever else made this.  It's one of my most favorite treats now.  I even adapted the recipe more since this one and made cupcakes.  Stay tuned for that!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake, adapted from Bon Appetit 2003

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon (heaping)

1  1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 ounces coconut oil (original recipes uses 1 stick unsalted butter--I was actually out of butter (gasp), but loved how this turned out with the coconut oil

1 large egg

1  1/3 cups very ripe banana, mashed (I used about 4 small-medium bananas)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

Prehead oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8 inch square pan (although I used a 10 inch round springform pan and it worked great!)

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together to sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (this can be done all by hand if you use the oil as opposed to butter which beats together with the sugar better in a mixer), beat coconut oil and sugar until well combined.  Add egg and beat until fluffy.  Stir in mashed bananas and buttermilk.  Add dry ingredients  and blend well.  Spread half the batter in prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle half the streusel evenly over the first half.  Spread the remaining batter over that and top with the rest of the streusel topping.  Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (the original recipes says 45 minutes), with my bigger pan, I only baked it 25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

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Just writing up this post and looking at these photos makes me REALLY wish this cake wasn't all gone! ;) 

Well, and like I said I made another batch into cupcakes and made them even a little "healthier".  What?  Are you trying to tell me healthy cupcakes is an oxymoron?  Well, whatever.  While this cake is fabulous, I still don't just absolutely love cinnamon and chocolate together, so when I made the cupcakes, I left out the cinnamon.  I halved the cake recipe and it made 9 wonderful, moist cupcakes--no frosting needed!

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What?  Those don't look healthy to you? 

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cupcakes, by Katrina

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 heaping cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted (okay, it was probably about 1/3 cup!)

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil (can use butter or even canola oil)

1/2 an egg  (about 2 tablespoons of beaten egg) (I have powdered eggs, so I used 1 T. of powdered egg and 2 T. water)

3 small ripe bananas, mashed

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Prehead oven to 350 degrees.  Line 9 cups of a standard size muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the chocolate chips, brown sugar, and walnuts.  Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together to sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (this can be done all by hand if you use the oil as opposed to butter which beats together with the sugar better in a mixer), beat coconut oil and sugar until well combined.  Add egg and beat until fluffy.  Stir in mashed bananas and buttermilk.  Add dry ingredients  and blend well.  Drop a heaping tablespoon or so of batter into each cupcake liner.  Sprinkle each with some of the streusel topping.  Add the remaining batter equally to each cup and top with the rest of the streusel topping.  Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  (Although these are GREAT still warm!)

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You cannot resist these!  (Okay, I cannot resist these!)  I have some ripe bananas sitting on the counter right now and I'm not afraid to use them!  Okay, I'll wait until tomorrow, but only because it's 11 p.m.!  Nite!

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