Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Coconut Tira-wheee!-su!

I've been something of a Daring Baker's slacker these past few months. Not to bore you with whining, but it's been busy, none of the challenges have appealed to me, yadda yadda boo hoo hoo. But that all changed this month, when I learned that the challenge was tiramisu.

Whoooo, I LOVE me some tiramisu! Or, as I like to call it because I'm a lame cornball, tira-wheeee!-su.

My love of tiramisu is a little incongruous, since I don't drink alcohol or coffee, and tiramisu is basically a big ole boozy, caffeinated party. But the fact remains, anytime you have heavenly soaked cookies and luscious mascarpone-based cream in one dessert, I will be there, moochin' fork at the ready, drool already making its way down my chin.

So I was more than excited to tackle homemade tiramisu, and add my own teetotaling spin. I decided to combine two of my favorite flavors to make Chocolate-Coconut Tiramisu.

Part of the challenge was to make all of our own components to the dessert, including pastry cream, zabaglione, and ladyfingers:
Since I did individual desserts in dessert cups, I piped round ladyfingers the size of my cups. I've made ladyfingers before, but this recipe was by far better than any others, and it'll definitely be my go-to recipe next time I need to make them, which happens...every 4 years or so.

We also made our own mascarpone cheese:

Who knew you could do this at home?! And all it takes is heavy cream, a little lemon juice, and a whole lot of stirring and patience. It also takes a shiny new candy thermometer:
Look, Mama FINALLY got a new thermometer! If you look really closely at the old, beat-up one on the left, you can see a faint scratch in the middle of the thermometer. That, my friends, is at 245 degrees, and it is the scratch by which all other temperatures were estimated. See, each quarter-inch was about 10 degrees, so I'd squint at the scratch and estimate distance with my eyes and do a little voodoo and hopefully come to an approximation of the correct temperature. And yes, this went on for a long time. And yes, I do make multiple candy recipes a week as part of my job. And yes, I know they only cost $15 and I could have saved myself months of annoyance by simply buying a new one sooner. No matter, it's here now and performing admirably. Back to the tiramisu!
Since I didn't want to include coffee or alcohol, I decided that my major flavors would be chocolate and coconut. I made the pastry cream with coconut milk instead of regular milk, and soaked the ladyfingers in hot chocolate made with coconut milk. The hot chocolate mix was from Green & Black's, and was perfect--not very sweet at all.
I also added an extra layer of chocolate ganache in between the ladyfingers and the cream mixture, to up the chocolate flavor (and decadence.)
To top the tiramisus I used some lovely shaved coconut from Bob's Red Mill (I just love the large flakes) and chocolate shavings made with a vegetable peeler and a poor chocolate bar. The chocolate arcs were made by pouring some molding chocolate over an acetate-covered rolling pin, and the cookie is a coconut tuile, twisted around a spoon handle to form a spiral.
The verdict? Love, love, LOVE! I often don't eat that much of what I make--I'll nibble bites here or there, but we try to give it away (or even throw it out, sniff) as much as possible, to avoid dying of excess sugar consumption. However, hungry hungry hubby & I polished all 4 of these off in just a few days.

Everything was fantastic. The coconut flavor from the pastry cream and soaking syrup was strong but not overpowering, and the chocolate ganache really helped boost the dark chocolate taste. The taste and texture of the mascarpone cream mixture was to die for, and we loved how the coconut, chocolate, and tuile on top added the perfect amount of texture and crunch. If I had to do anything differently, I would try to squeeze in one more layer of ladyfingers, since the soaked cookies are one of my favorite parts, but overall this was a home run for us. I will most definitely be making this again (although maybe with store-bought mascarpone, as I'm not sure the homemade added anything special, and I'm afraid the extra is going to waste) and am thrilled to have found such a great, reliable recipe for one of my favorite desserts.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. World's absolute longest recipe under the cut!

Coconut-Chocolate Tiramisu


For the mascarpone:
500ml/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (I used ultra-pasteurized heavy cream and it was fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the ladyfingers:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar

For the zabaglione:

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee) (I used water)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the coconut pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml coconut milk or cream

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

For the ganache:
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml strong hot chocolate, prepared with coconut milk, room temperature
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder


For the mascarpone (make one day ahead):
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

For the ladyfingers:
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips. (I drew circles the size of my glasses and used these as guides to pipe my circular ladyfingers.)
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

For the ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently to incorporate. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to spoon, about 4 hours or overnight. It will remain a soft, silky ganache.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice. (I made four individual desserts.)
Prepare the hot chocolate using coconut milk instead of regular milk. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the coconut-chocolate mix, about 1-2 seconds per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Pour or pipe a layer of ganache on top of the cookies.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ganache, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with shaved chocolate and shredded coconut. Decorate with chocolate decorations and coconut tuiles.

Coconut Tuiles

1/2 stick ( 2 oz) butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Place the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter and sugar have melted. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, add the flour and continue to cook and stir for one minute, until the mixture thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut. Set the mixture aside until it cools to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the batter in small scoops on the baking sheet, pressing them with your palm to flatten them. Leave plenty of room in between, because these suckers will spread. I usually only do 2 or 3 at a time.
Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
Once out of the oven, allow to cool for 1 minute, or just until you can begin to lift them from the baking sheet. You can roll them over a cone mold to form cones, drape them over a rolling pin, or roll them around a wooden spoon handle. To make the twists, I used a pizza cutter to cut strips about 1/2 inch wide, then twisted the strips around a wooden spoon handle.
If the tuiles get too brittle, return the sheet to the oven for 30 seconds-1 minute to soften.
Also delicious on their own, or dipped in chocolate!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adventurous Female Seeks Robust, Peanutty Cookie for Longterm Relationship

The other day I was making something with peanut butter--I think it was this wonderful West African Chicken Peanut Stew, which might sound iffy but I promise is really wonderful--and my husband, who was lurking around the kitchen stealing bites of everything, started making big puppy dog eyes at the peanut butter.

He proceeded to toy with my emotions as he told he how much he looooves peanut butter cookies and hasn't had a good one in years, and his love of the cookies stems back to the time in grade school when his mom used to make chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies to celebrate his birthday, and he would bring them to school, and all the kids loved them, and loved him, and his mom too...

Well, by the end of this story, how could I not make him some cookies? And did I mention the puppy-dog eyes?

Unfortunately, these particular cookies were nothing to go gaga over. I used a recipe from the usually-reliable Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but they were pretty blah. Not a strong peanut butter flavor, and a weirdly soft, insubstantial texture. At one point we described them as "wussy." Certainly nothing you'd want to bring to school on your birthday!

So if you have an awesome peanut butter cookie recipe, I'd love to hear about it--either a book recommendation or a link to an online recipe. Our ideal PB cookie has a strong peanut flavor, and a nice chewy heft (but I do prefer the ones with flour, as opposed to the simple pb/egg/sugar combos.) Thanks, yo!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TWD: Honey Wheat Cookies

I had my doubts about these Honey Wheat cookies. The truth is, I OD'ed on wheat germ back in high school, and it's been years since I've even wanted to be in the same room with the stuff. (Lunch every day involved yogurt with gobs of wheat germ stirred into it. Four years of this will cure you of any wheat germ cravings right quick.) So I wasn't too excited at the thought of trying to turn my old frenemy into a tasty cookie ingredient.

However, I actually kind of loved these. They weren't my usual crisp on the outside, soft in the center, bursting-with-chocolate extravaganza, and it was refreshing! I loved the chewiness the wheat added, I loved the strong honey flavor, and I loved the addition of lots of lemon zest. I also added a teaspoon of cardamom, which I was hoping to love, but I couldn't taste it at all in the finished cookies, so I guess I'll double it next time and love it later.

These didn't prove as popular with the husband, as he pronounced them "healthy-tasting" with an unmistakable whiff of disdain in his voice. I tried to explain how much butter and sugar was in them, but it didn't do much good. So it's up to me to polish these off, but don't worry, guys, I think I'm up to the job.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Best Idea I've Had All Year

Last week I was invited to a fondue party. It was all of my favorite things in one room: friends, melted chocolate, and an immense smorgasbord of bite-sized dippable goodies. What a world we live in, that communal chocolate-dipping is a socially accepted--even celebrated--ritual!

For the fondue party, we were all asked to bring some sort of dipper. I wanted to bring something besides fruit or pound cake, as those are classics I was sure someone else would gladly cover. I debated between homemade marshmallows (good), gourmet rice crispy treats (gooder), until I settled on the most genius idea I have ever had in my life:


I am here to tell you that the combination of moist, fragrant, spiced banana bread and melted chocolate is pure bliss. But you don't have to go to the trouble of whipping up a batch of chocolate fondue to recreate the experience. Adding chocolate chips to your banana bread is almost as good, and it's a heck of a lot easier to transport in lunches and things.

I don't want to be immodest, but this was truly one of the better things I've baked so far this year. As soon as I tasted it, I wondered why I wasn't baking banana bread on a weekly basis--it's that good. Moist, flavorful, with a hint of cinnamon and--let's be honest--way more than a hint of chocolate, I couldn't stop nibbling and picking at it. The recipe is right after the jump...

Moist Banana Bread

Yield: 2 large loaves

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil (I used half vegetable, half coconut--you can use all veg)
3 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (about 5-6 large)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 cups mix-ins like toasted nuts, chocolate chips, etc (optional)

Spray 2 9x5 loaf pans well with nonstick spray, dust lightly with flour, tap out any excess flour. Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, set aside.

Beat together eggs and sugars in bowl of electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream, mixing, then mix in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in flour mixture and any mix-ins thoroughly.

Divide batter between loaf pans, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Cool loaves in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and cool completely.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TWD: Chocolate Chip Cookies

When people hear I'm a pastry chef, they often ask similar questions, like "What's your favorite thing to make?" and "What's your favorite dessert to eat?" I never know how to answer the first question because, seriously, it's work. I enjoy it, but it's still a job, it's not like I waltz into the kitchen every morning and make whatever the spirit inspires me to make. (This is not the usual answer I give, because I want people to think I'm nice. Suckers.)

The second question is equally tricky. While I'd love to dazzle people with my well-refined pastry palate, the truth is that I'm really a cookie and brownie girl at heart. If I'm going to bake for myself, it's probably going to be some variation of soft, gooey, chocolatey cookies or bars. That's why this week's recipe, for Dorie's "Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies," was made several weeks ago...any excuse for a chocolate chip cookie!

But before we get to the good stuff, we must discuss the not-so-good stuff; that is, how these cookies originally turned out. Any cookie called "Best-Ever"deserves some respect, so I followed the recipe to the letter, even going so far as to time the beating of the butter and sugar to make sure I got the right results. And what I got was this:

Flat, crispy cookie frisbees with some chocolate chunks. Now I know there are some heathens out there who insist on crunchy chocolate chip cookies, but I've never tolerated them OR their brittle pucks (apologies if this applies to you--change your mind and we can be friends again), so you can imagine my dismay when I realized I'd produced a batch of the offending cookies in my very own oven. The culprit was obvious: too much butter and too much beating time produced cookies that spread far too much.

Instead of scrapping the rest of the dough, I put it back in the mixer, added more flour (I think about 1/2 cup more) and a touch of baking powder, and baked off another test batch. MUCH better! (Original batch on the right, extra-flour batch on left.)

Now THIS is a cookie I can believe might be someone's "best." Crisp around the edges, but still very soft--almost a touch underbaked--in the middle. I didn't go too crazy with the flavors, because I tend to be a traditionalist...just added some toasted pecans to half the dough to give it a little crunch.

I think I might laminate this picture and keep it in my wallet, so that next time someone asks my favorite dessert, I can brandish it proudly and declare, "the humble chocolate chip cookie!" And then wipe off their drool.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Crepe Balls of Fire

This year marked the 8th year my husband and I celebrated Valentine's Day together. Our first V-Day, we were both in college, and I cooked him crepes in my dorm kitchen (always a scary proposition) and we ate them on a blanket on the floor of my dorm room. Maybe it was the fumes from the aerosol can of whipped cream that swayed him, but I like to think that it was the magic of crepes that sealed the deal. We were engaged later that spring and married a year later.

So every Valentine's Day since then, we have celebrated by having crepes for dinner. We try to make it a nice affair:

(Note the weird toppings that he insists on, like maple syrup over canned pears. He SWEARS by it!)

My crepes usually look something like this: Nutella or chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and berries. What's not to love?
This year, though, he got shook up our time-honored crepe routine. I sent him out to get berries and cream, and he comes back with Kit-Kat bars. Kit-Kat bars! I think he's been reading Katrina's blog...I kept waiting for him to bust out the Rolos and make Turtle crepes or something.

Not wanting to stifle his budding culinary creativity, I chopped them up and added them to the buffet of crepe toppings. Holy Cupid, they were actually GOOD! Seriously. The bits added a really light, fun crunch to the crepes.

So there you have it. 8 years in and he's still delighting and surprising me in new ways every day. It must be love.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Candies

If the garlands of red roses and stacks of heart-shaped chocolate boxes and giant inflatable Cupids in stores haven't tipped you off already, allow me to warn you: Valentine's Day is nearly here. If you're looking for fun V-day sweets, here are some cute things I've recently been featuring on the candy website:

Homemade Conversation Hearts (link is to a photo tutorial)
Now you'll never be stuck passing out lame messages like "Tweet Me" and "UR A 10." With a set of food-safe markers, you can make the sassiest, funniest, in-jokiest candies to put Necco to shame.

Tuxedo Strawberries (link is to a photo tutorial)
Love, love, LOVE the look of these. The only downside is that it made me talk to my food more often and made me slightly more reluctant to eat them. I would pick one up and say, "Aren't you a handsome devil today?!" and then feel guilty about biting his head (or would that be feet?) off.

Aka, brownie pops with a Valentine's twist. These can also be made with regular cake, banana bread, pound cake, etc. I used a cutter for the hearts, but cut the tulips and lips out freehand, and the recipe includes tips for how to do this.

Happy Valentine's Day! What are YOU making to celebrate?


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Me + Rick Katz's Brownies = True Love

It is fitting that we made these brownies the week of Valentine's day, because I am in love with them.
Yes, I said it.
And I'll say it again: LOVE.
Inanimate objects, you say? Psh. Details.

Now I know my husband reads this blog, so it might get a little awkward around the house, but that's a small price to pay for a brownie this good.

In the eternal debate of cakey vs fudgy brownies, I have always fallen on the side of the fudgy folks. The gooier, the better. And you can't get much gooier than this:

These were really, truly, outrageously good if you're a fudgy brownie fanatic like myself. I don't know how they held their shape so well when cut, because they seemed to melt into pure chocolate bliss as soon as I bit into them.

I added some hazelnut paste and chopped hazelnuts, which turned out to be a good call. I think the brownies needed some kind of crunch to break up the gooey texture a bit. I couldn't really taste the hazelnut paste in the brownie part, though, so next time I'll double it so it has a chance against all of that chocolate. (Really, though, I can't believe it's only 6 ounces. Tastes like 60!)

My husband has taking to having a nightly bowl of vanilla ice cream, topped with a warm hazelnut brownie, and I have taken to stealing bites of it every night. People, I swear to you, this is the closest thing to heaven on earth you will find.

In fact, this might be more than plain love. This might be Princess Bride-style twu wuv, which as we all know, will fowow you foweveh. So tweasure your wuv! I know I'm treasuring mine several times a day.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Edible Superbowl Footballs

[I posted this recipe last year, but these candies are just too cute to not share again!]

"All right, gang, huddle up!"
"This is the Superbowl, so ya gotta bring your A-game. Johnson, go long for the pass from Brown. Franklin, don't let their guys get within 10 yards of Burton. Smith, stand around and look delectable."

"25, 31, 14....hut, hut, hike!"
"They've got the ball! Go in for the tackle!"
That's right, what's better than watching the Superbowl this Sunday? (Um, everything?) How about eating footballs instead? These adorable and delicious candies have a fudgy peanut butter and chocolate filling, covered in chocolate candy coating and decorated to look like mini footballs.

Apologies to any fans who are appalled at my faux-football terminology and dialogue above. It should be obvious that I know nothing about football--I had to google a picture of a football to know how to decorate them!--but I do know I love eating them.
Recipe under the cut!

Chocolate Footballs
Recipe first appeared on my candy site

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky (not natural)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp milk
8 ounces chocolate candy coating
2 ounces white candy coating

1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and set aside for now.

2. Place the peanut butter and softened butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Alternately, you can place them in a large bowl and use a hand mixer.) Mix on medium speed until creamy and well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.

3. Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and mix until the peanut butter is well-distributed. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides very well, and mix again on low. At this point the mixture will look very dry and crumbly.

4. Add the milk and mix on low, continuing to mix until the candy moistens and comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (This may take a few minutes.) Once it has come together, squeeze some of it into a ball in your hands to check the texture. It should hold together smoothly, without cracking or crumbling, but not be too moist. If necessary, add a little more milk, a half-teaspoon at a time, to get a consistency that you can comfortably work with and mold.

5. Using a teaspoon or a small candy scoop, form the candy into 26 balls and place them on the foil baking sheet. Elongate each ball and pinch the ends into points, so that they are football-shaped. The footballs should be approximately 1.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. (You can vary the size to get fewer or more footballs out of the recipe.) Continue until all the candy is formed into footballs. Refrigerate while you prepare the chocolate candy coating.

6. Place the chocolate candy coating into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating. Stir until completely fluid and free of lumps.

7. Using a fork or dipping tools, dip a football into the melted candy coating, submerging it completely. Remove it from the coating and allow excess to drip back into the bowl. Replace the dipped football on the foil-lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining footballs and candy coating. Return the footballs to the refrigerator to set while you prepare the white candy coating.

8. Place the white candy coating into a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted, stirring after every 45 seconds to prevent overheating. Stir until completely fluid and free of lumps. Scrape it into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, or a Ziploc bag. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag to pipe the chocolate.

9. Decorate the footballs by drawing white circles around the edges, and laces in the middle of the balls. Allow to set completely. If desired, you can cut the excess pooled chocolate from the base of the footballs to make them look neater. Footballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Q: What is the Opposite of a Bundt Cake?

Q: What is the opposite of a bundt cake?

A: How about...waffles?

I'm not sure if "waffles" is the exact opposite of a bundt cake (maybe doughnut holes would be a better answer?) but they do seem pretty far apart on the Baking Spectrum. Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes were the TWD choice this week, and as much as I tried, I just could not get excited about making them. Something is wrong when you have to give yourself a pep talk and force yourself into the kitchen to make a dessert.

So, I decided to take a pass this week and instead got my sweet tooth on by making nutritionally suspect but oh-so-delicious Breakfast for Dinner (or Brinner, if you will.) For this Brinner installment, we had banana waffles with amazingly, insanely, unbelievably good Banana Butter Pecan Topping.

Yes, it looks a bit unsavory, but trust me: this topping is so good you'll be sucking it out of the waffle holes and licking your chops for more. It has a rich caramel taste from brown sugar, with sweet banana chunks melted in and crunchy toasted pecans. I can also verify that it makes a killer addition to an otherwise virtuous bowl of oatmeal. We suspect it's also a delicious ice cream topping, but further research is needed in this area, just to be sure.

Epic Banana Butter Pecan Topping

1/4 cup (2 oz) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, halved and chopped
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter in a small skillet.
2. Add the brown sugar and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly, thick, and gives off a lovely caramel smell.
3. Add the cinnamon, bananas, pecans, and vanilla, and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring frequently. Serve warm on waffles, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream, spoons, fingers, etc...