Jelly Doughnut Hearts – Gotta Love ’em!

column2 078A puffy, sweet pastry covered in sugar and oozing raspberry jelly…what’s better than a jelly doughnut? A homemade, heart shaped jelly doughnut!

Make a batch of these for Valentine’s Day and score some serious Brownie points! It’s really not as hard as you think, but you have to be willing to deep fry these; if you bake them you’ll lose some of the flavor and a lot of the tender texture.

I tried them glazed, rolled in sugar, and dusted with powdered sugar. And when I say I tried them, I mean I tried them. I couldn’t present them to you untested, right? Oh, the sacrifices I make! They were all delicious, but I think the traditional powdered sugar doughnut was my favorite.

Love those powdered ones!

Love those powdered ones!

 

Or...glazed is nice!

Or…glazed is nice!

Put a smile on someone’s face and give this recipe a try!

Jelly Doughnut Hearts
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Author:
Makes about 30 doughnuts.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups milk (2% or whole milk is best. I added a little half & half to my 2%)
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • peanut oil for frying
Instructions
  1. In a small pan on medium-high heat, scald the milk. To do this, let the milk heat until there are bubbles all the way around the outer edge, but catch it before it boils. Remove from heat.
  2. Add ⅓ cup plus one tablespoon sugar, shortening, salt, and cinnamon. Allow the mixture to cool down until it’s lukewarm.
  3. In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer) combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let it sit until bubbly – about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix the lukewarm milk mixture into the yeast mixture. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
  5. Slowly add the flour, mixing until combined. Knead well–5 minutes with stand mixer using the dough hook, or 7-8 minutes by hand on a lightly floured surface. If you're using a mixer, it will look very sticky at first, but at the end of the kneading time it should be a soft, elastic dough. If it is still sticky, add a little more flour and knead for another minute.
  6. Set the dough to rise in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough with oil. Cover and allow to rise until double–about an hour. Punch down.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ⅓ inch - definitely no thicker than ½ inch. They will puff up a lot when they're fried!
  8. Cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, getting the hearts as close to each other as possible. The first rolling is definitely the best; re-rolled dough is tougher. Remove the extra dough around the hearts, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and let them sit for 30 minutes.
  9. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a large pan until it's between 350 and 365 degrees.
  10. Drop a few hearts into the hot oil at a time, giving them lots of room to move around. Once the bottom is a dark golden brown, flip the hearts over. If yours are like mine, they’ll have minds of their own and might insist on flipping right back over. Don’t let them win!
  11. When both sides are brown, remove and drain on paper towels. Move to a baking rack to cool.
  12. When the doughnuts are just barely warm, shake them gently in a bag of powdered sugar, or roll them in granulated sugar. If you prefer glazed doughnuts, mix a little water into powdered sugar (a drop or two of vanilla is nice, too) until you have a thin glaze. Dip the doughnuts or brush the glaze on with a pastry brush.
  13. To fill, use a pastry bag with a piping tip. Fill with jelly and poke the tip in the side of the doughnut, squeezing firmly. OR (this worked best for me) use a chopstick to poke a hole in the side and use a zipper bag filled with jelly (cut one tip off) to fill the doughnut.
  14. Make sure to wipe the powdered sugar off your chin before your family comes home!

 

Cutting out heart shapes.

Cutting out heart shapes.

Frying the doughnuts.

Filling the doughnuts.

Filling the doughnuts.

Oh, yum!

Oh, yum!

I know for a fact that the glazed doughnuts freeze well, but I haven’t tried freezing the sugared doughnuts. So I guess I’ll just have to freeze the eight glazed hearts and eat all the rest. Yep – works for me!

Cinnamon Spiral Bread

Blog3 018My love of cinnamon toast brings back one of my earliest memories. I remember the night a babysitter made us cinnamon toast (a real treat, because my mother didn’t have a sweet tooth in her head) and then made me more when I asked for it. This was obviously a BIG DEAL. We certainly weren’t starved as children – Mom and Dad always cooked us wholesome meals – but we were rarely indulged when it came to sweets. Nothing tasted as good as that cinnamon toast, even though I knew I was playing that poor babysitter for a sucker!

I’m sure if I were stretched out on a psychiatrist’s couch right now, he’d be connecting the dots between my sweet “deprivation” as a child and my obsessive baking now. Pffft.

Since I’m in Valentine’s Day mode, I took my cinnamon spiral bread recipe and played with it just a bit. Instead of rolling each half out into an 8×12-inch rectangle, I rolled it out into approximately a 14×16-inch rectangle with the long side towards me, added cinnamon and sugar and rolled it up, then cut it in half, pinched the ends closed, and stuffed the rolls into buttered heart shaped canape tubes. (Or save yourself some work and use a baking spray that has flour in it.) I left one of the caps on, but I don’t think it makes a lot of difference.Don’t stand the pans upright – keep them horizontal to rise and bake. And remember, they’re smaller loaves, so only bake them about 35 minutes.

(You may have noticed that those canape tubes have been getting quite a workout lately. They were in my Valentine’s Day tub, so the novelty factor has been calling to me.)

When cooled and sliced, you’ll get pretty little spiral hearts. When toasted and buttered…heaven. And if you want to put a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze over the wide end of the heart loaf before slicing it, I won’t tell. Here’s my basic recipe:

Cinnamon Spiral Bread
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Author:
This is a sweet white bread that makes 2 standard loaves, or 1 standard loaf and 2 canape bread loaves.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups very warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 6 cups white flour
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon flour
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and teaspoon of sugar. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer works best) mix together the sugar, salt, vegetable oil and butter.
  3. Add three cups of the flour and the yeast mixture to the large bowl and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the remaining flour a cup at a time until the dough comes cleanly off the side of the bowl. This should be a fairly soft dough, but not sticky.
  5. If you are kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. If you’re using a dough hook to knead, 5 minutes is plenty.
  6. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in warm spot to rise until doubled (about 90 minutes.)
  7. Punch down the risen dough and let stand for 5 minutes. Divide into 2 equal chunks and roll each one out approximately 8-inches by 12-inches, with the short end facing you.
  8. Combine the ⅔ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon flour. Sprinkle half of the mixture (you don’t have to use this much – just make sure the dough is covered) evenly over each rectangle, pat the surface firmly, and roll, beginning at short end. Pinch the seams to seal.
  9. Place in 2 generously greased bread pans and cover with a towel. Allow to rise until double – about an hour. Depending on the temperature of your house, it may take a little longer.
  10. Heat the oven to 375 F.
  11. Bake the loaves for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is a deep brown. Let the bread sit in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn the loaves out on their sides to cool.

The photos below will show you how to make the heart shaped bread.

For canape pans, roll dough out to 16"x14"

For canape pans, roll dough out to 16″x14″

Pinch the seam.

Pinch the seam.

Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends to seal.

Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends to seal.

Place dough roll in prepared canape pan.

Place dough roll in prepared canape pan to rise.

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Slide the bread out and cool on a rack.

Slice and serve!

Slice and serve!

Of all the fragrant aromas of baking, breads and pastries containing cinnamon are the most exquisite. Maybe I need to develop a perfume; I’ll bet cinnamon and vanilla would work better than any pheromones. Of course, women would probably end up walking around like the Pied Piper, with a trail of hungry men following them. Hmm, that’s sounding better and better…

Boston Brown Bread (without the can!)

blog2 148When I was young,  B&M Boston Brown Bread (straight from the can) and baked beans were the traditional side dishes for hot dogs or hamburgers. I’m sure there was a bowl of fruit, too, but this was probably the only meal my mom made that wasn’t accompanied by at least one vegetable. Rarely did we get a meal that didn’t have a protein, a starch, a fruit, a vegetable, and milk. I still feel guilty if I don’t follow this rule.

A bite of Boston Brown Bread – sweet, a little grainy, and full of plump raisins – immediately takes me back in time. I made some today that tastes exactly the same, and it wasn’t difficult at all, once I figured out the best way to steam it.

Traditionally, homemade Boston Brown Bread is baked in coffee cans. I can’t bring myself to do this (nasty BPA linings) so I tried some in a standard loaf pan. Meh. Just not the same. I made some in tubular canape pans, and that worked very well, but they were too tall for most of my steaming options.

I sent an e-mail to King Arthur Flour (whose catalog is dog-eared even more than my seed catalogs) and begged them to make brown bread pans, about the size of large bean cans. Ideally they’d have tight fitting (or screw-on) bottoms. Their customer service wrote back to me, saying it was a great idea and they’d pass it along to the right people. I’m desperately hoping that this wasn’t a form letter – that they’ll really consider manufacturing these. I know I’d buy several, and I’d browbeat all of you to do the same so I didn’t look like a total idiot!

Update: I contacted them again six months later, and though the pan is still on their “Customer Wish List”, they have no plans of adding them to their line. So…I wrote to USA Pans to see what they would say. Their pans are made in the USA and are PTFE free, a big plus for me. I’ll keep you posted.

For now, my best results came from the canape pans, using my big pressure canner as a steamer – not locking the lid, of course. Any kind of tall pot with a lid will work, as long as the lid can fit over the upright canape pans that are sitting on a rack in the pan.

Here’s my recipe:

Boston Brown Bread (without the can!)
Print
Author:
This will make 3 tubular canape pans of bread.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 cup corn flour (or you can put cornmeal in the blender briefly for finer texture)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Generously butter (or use a baking spray with flour - my favorite method) the insides of the tubular canape pans. Put a piece of foil over the bottom of each pan and place each firmly into their bottom caps. Put a larger piece of foil on a flat surface. Set one of the canape pans in the middle and bring up the foil, wrapping the pan snugly almost to the top. (This will keep any water from getting in from the bottom.) Repeat with the other two pans. Set aside.
  2. In a very tall pot with a rack on the bottom, add about 2-3 inches of water. Bring it to a simmer while you're making the batter.
  3. Blend the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the molasses, vanilla, buttermilk, and raisins.
  5. Stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture until it is well combined.
  6. Divide the batter between the three canape pans, approximately ⅔ full. Cover the tops with a piece of foil, pressing around the sides firmly.
  7. Set on the rack in the simmering water. Cover. Turn heat up to medium and allow the bread to cook for about an hour and a half, checking the water level occasionally. You may need to pour in a little more water if it gets too low.
  8. Test with a long skewer to make sure the bread is cooked through.
  9. Move the pans to a cooling rack and remove the top foil. The bread should be pulling slightly away from the pan. Allow them to cool for an hour, and then remove the foil and bottom cap and press gently on the end of the bread. It should slide right out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

Steaming rack in the bottom of my big canner

Steaming rack in the bottom of my big canner

Filling the canape pan

Filling the canape pan

Wrapped and ready for the steamer.

Wrapped and ready for the steamer.

Remove the cap and press the bread out!

Remove the cap and press the bread out!

Some people steam their bread in the oven. I tried it, and found that the bread didn’t bake as evenly. But if you don’t have a pot tall enough for the stovetop method, use the tallest oven-proof one you have and follow the same procedure. Just lay a loose foil tent over the top. Bake for about 1 1/2 -2 hours at 325 F.

This bread ages well; it just keeps getting better and better. The flavors stand out even more after a couple of days of rest – if you can keep it around that long! Refrigerating can dry it out, so make sure you keep it well wrapped if you like it cold. I do…with a scraping of butter. And beans and hot dogs on the side!
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A (eeeeuw) Fly on the Wall

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For those of you with voyeuristic tendencies, or who just want to see if someone else has a home that is more dysfunctional than yours, wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on the wall – to see how their household rolls when they think no one is looking?

A group of bloggers gets together every month to give you an “up close and personal” glimpse of their lives, and this month I’m joining them – so put on your sticky shoes and goggles and enjoy!

But first, I’ve just got to say…I’m having a hard time getting past the whole concept of you being a fly on my wall. I hate the damn things! Did you know they vomit in your food before they eat it? If that isn’t bad enough, they also quickly lay eggs and poop in your meal too. So…we have a vomiting, egg-laying, pooping, buzzing creature with its sticky feet on MY WALL watching me do things that will certainly blow my credibility as a clean, cheerful, fun baker??

Sounds good…I’m in!

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The first thing you will see today is dishes. Lots of dishes, pans, utensils. Ugh. That’s the problem with having a baking addiction – unless you’re married to someone who is willing to run behind you tidying up, it piles up quickly. Everything comes to a screeching halt when the clean equipment runs out, and that’s when you’ll see me drinking a cup of coffee, glaring at the bowls and pans that are “soaking” in the sink. Eventually I get them done, but right now you have a nice sticky mess to go buzz around, and I am relaxing with a cup of coffee…studiously ignoring the mess.coffee in winter

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So I just heard that in New Guinea a woman is measured by how many pigs she’s worth! Well, I’ll tell you what – bring on the pigs! I am at least a 10 pig woman today. I made homemade raspberry turnovers, which was a much bigger project that I expected (involving most of the day), cleaned up after myself, and still served up a lovely meatloaf dinner. That should be worth 10 of those little buggers, right?

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The Man has been ill. I’m not allowed to discuss “his business” on public sites, so suffice it to say the crisis has thankfully evolved from a serious life-threatening situation to a he’s-not-an-invalid-but-trying-to-achieve-tenure status because of the perks involved. He loves being coddled (as do all of us) and is milking it for all it’s worth. After being scared to death, I’m a willing enabler. I will regret this soon, I know.

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I watched “The Secret” tonight. At first I thought it was new-age BS, but the more I thought about it the more possible the concept seemed. It would explain why an old friend would call out of the blue right after I was thinking about her. I always assumed it was a psychic experience – knowing what was going to happen beforehand. But maybe it’s a matter of your mind/desire/want attracting the communication. I liked the idea that people need to focus on what they want, need, or desire and try not to think about everything else. If you think about good things, you will attract good things. If you think about bad things, you will attract bad things. Sounds perfect to me; I’m definitely a head-in-the-sand person and am thrilled to have an excuse for ignoring the news. That’s why you are watching me sit here with my eyes closed, visualizing a mailbox full of checks!

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My Facebook page hit 300 likes the other day, so I threw my first party – with a little hand holding by Karen (Baking in a Tornado), who basically confirmed what my mother had taught me: Invite everyone so feelings aren’t hurt, make sure things look nice, see that everyone feels welcome, be appreciative of gifts, and thank everyone sincerely for coming. Oh, and let the booze flow freely. Well…that didn’t apply in this case, but in the real world (as in, not my alter-ego blogging world) it’s still an important factor. I’ve had some very bad parties. Some real stinkers, where I put a lot of thought into the food, drinks, and decorations and didn’t consider what people would actually DO at the party. I remember one Halloween party we threw where everyone left early and went to a bar! (I still think the whole crisis could have been averted if I’d just cranked the music up.) Another parallel between a real party and a Facebook party is pretty basic: to enthusiastically return the favor and go to other people’s parties when you’re invited (or to crash them when you’re not.)

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Here I am, lying curled up on the loveseat with a major backache. I am wishing I had the heating pad that is, at this very minute, underneath the cat. He has discovered its soothing warmth and appropriated it for himself, and I’m too big of a sucker to go steal it out from underneath him. Stop laughing – flies can’t laugh. Can they?

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If flies CAN laugh, you might get a giggle out of this joke: Two flies are sitting on a piece of shit, one of them cuts a fart and the other one says, “Hey! I’m eating here”

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I unfriended someone today. I won’t go into details, but I guess it was for the same reasons I would back away from someone in the real world…our beliefs and opinions were incompatible. Unlike the real world, it’s pretty hard on Facebook to say “hey, let’s just not talk about that, okay?” which led to a lot of eyebrow raising and eye-rolling on my part; probably on hers, too.
I didn’t understand that I could just “ignore” her, so I made that very final decision that led to a tirade of hurt/angry/accusatory personal messages. I can’t undo it, and wish I had handled it differently, and hate feeling guilty. But…I don’t have to roll my eyes as often now!

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Speaking of rolling my eyes (and no, this has nothing whatsoever to do with 50 Shades of Grey) if you had your sticky feet on my wall right now and were spying on me, you would see a wonky-eyed woman trying to read her laptop screen with the help of a pair of Walmart reading glasses that only have a lens on the right side. That’s because I have one nearsighted eye and one farsighted eye, and I ran out of contacts six months ago. Since my vision coverage only covers an exam every two years, I’ve been stubbornly doing without. Usually I can make my eyes work independently, but age is really beginning to laugh at this ability, and my eyes are not cooperating. So the farsighted one wanders somewhere off to the right, which probably makes me look a lot like a frog – and this should be making you, my buzzing little friend, very nervous!

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As a fly you have approximately 30 days to live, so if I were you I’d fly to some of these other awesome blogs and see what THEY are doing. Hopefully they’ll be a lot more interesting than I. Oh,and if you take a quick look in the front yard, on top of the two feet of packed snow you should find lots of good eats, thanks to the dogs, cats, and turkeys. Knock yourself out – my pleasure!

Shoo!

Baking In a Tornado
The Insomniac’s Dream
Stacy Sews and Schools
My Brain on Kids
Just a Little Nutty
Sanity Waiting to Happen
Menopausal Mother
IBD, Daddy and Me!
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
When Crazy Meets Exhaustion
The Momisodes
DeBie Hive
SpecialEd/Army Wife

Chocolate Cherry Angel Cakes



chocolate cherry angel cakes watermarkWhen I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t think of fancy dinners, champagne toasts, flowers, or candlelight. Oh, I’ve experienced those moments a time or two, but most of my memories are of last-minute scrambling to complete Valentine cards (one for everyone on the list…yes, even the dorky kids) and frantically baking for class parties. In my next life I’ll be wined and dined. In this one, it’s okay that romance took second place to cookies and cupcakes!

If you’ve never made an angel food cake from scratch, now’s the time. It really isn’t hard at all. And you don’t have to bake it in a tube pan…cupcakes or loaf pans work very well. Here’s the recipe I used for these pretty little cakes: If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can put sugar in a blender and blend it briefly. The goal is to make very fine sugar, NOT powdered sugar!

This is one of those recipes where you do actually have to follow rules. Sorry. That means room temperature eggs, careful measuring, thorough sifting, gentle folding. It’s all about getting a light, airy texture – worth the extra effort, right?

Chocolate Cherry Angel Cakes
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Author:
If you're making little bite-size cakes, this recipe will make approximately 7 dozen. (I made 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes and 24 bite-size cakes.)
Ingredients
  • 18 maraschino cherries
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 1⅓ cups egg whites (11 or 12 eggs), room temperature
  • 1¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Finely dice the maraschino cherries. Roll them in a couple of layers of paper towel and press to remove as much of the juice as possible.
  3. Set aside the cherries and chocolate - those will get folded into the batter last.
  4. Sift flour 3 times with ½ cup of the sugar into a small bowl.
  5. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle the salt and cream of tartar over eggs and beat until they hold soft peaks.
  6. Add the rest of the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  7. Add the flour mixture in three additions, folding gently each time with a large metal spoon.
  8. Fold in the chocolate and cherries, being careful not to stir. You don't want to lose any of those precious bubbles!
  9. Spoon into cupcake liners, ⅔ full.
  10. Bake bite-size cakes for about 20 minutes. Bake regular cupcakes for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Cool on racks.

Fold the flour into the egg and sugar mixture.

Fold the flour into the egg and sugar mixture.

Fold in the cherries and chocolate

Fold in the cherries and chocolate

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake to a light golden brown.

Bake to a light golden brown.

I like a dollop of whipped cream on my angel food cake, but it’s not very practical unless you’re serving dessert immediately. So I used a marshmallow-type frosting. It is very soft and fluffy when you are working with it, and then it firms up to more of a soft marshmallow texture. Not too sweet – perfect for these cupcakes. Here’s the recipe.

Marshmallow Frosting
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
Red or pink food coloring, if desired.

In medium bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and vanilla at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until soft peaks form and sugar is dissolved.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring corn syrup just to a boil. Holding pan high above egg mixture, pour in a very thin stream, beating at highest speed until frosting is thick. Blend in food coloring, if desired.blog2 184

I piped melted chocolate onto waxed paper, making little heart shapes for decorating. You could also use sprinkles or Valentine’s candy. If you’re making the larger cupcakes, a chocolate covered cherry on the top would be lovely!

This recipe makes a lot of cupcakes. Take one to a neighbor or a shut-in; everyone needs a little love!

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“Women wish to be loved not because they are pretty, or good, or well bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves.” – By Henri Frederic Amiel

Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread

blog2 164With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, heart shaped everything has been dancing in my head. You’re in for it now! To start the insanity, here is a recipe for heart shaped shortbread cookies with a dark chocolate ganache filling and a dollop of raspberry jam.

Chocolate Raspberry Shortbread
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Author:
Depending on the size of your cookie cutters and the thickness of your dough, this recipe will make approximately 36 cookies.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons milk or half & half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • raspberry jam
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 F
  2. In a sturdy bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) cream the butter and powdered sugar together.
  3. Add the milk and egg yolks and blend well.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and cornstarch. The dough will be very stiff - you may need to use a dough hook at this point. Mix until combined
  5. On a floured surface, working with half of the dough at a time, roll thinly (picture a thick pie crust.) Cut with a large heart-shaped cookie cutter. Using a small cutter, cut out a hole in the center of half of the cookies.
  6. Place close together on a cookie sheet (they won't spread) and bake for 10-12 minutes, until you just barely see a little golden around the bottom edges. Cool on a rack.
  7. Once all of the cookies are baked, make the ganache: In a small pan, heat the cream. You don't want it to boil, you just want it hot and steamy (you know you do!)
  8. Remove the cream from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit a minute or two, then stir gently.
  9. Spread a thin layer of ganache on the solid cookies, then gently set a top (with the hole) cookie over the ganache. Drop a small amount of jam into each hole, being careful not to get it on the cookie.
  10. Allow the cookies to sit until the ganache is firm, or refrigerate for an hour if you wish.

Use quality ingredients - this is SO important, especially when it comes to butter and sugar.

Use quality ingredients – this is SO important, especially when it comes to butter and sugar.

Cutting heart shapes.

Cutting heart shapes.

Baked to perfection!

Baked to perfection!

...and a dollop of jam!

…and a dollop of jam!

I (for once) kept it simple, but there are so many ways you could decorate these cookies! The top half could be glazed, then drizzled with chocolate. You could skip the jam entirely, and just let the chocolate peek through, maybe dusting the top half with powdered sugar before placing it on the ganache. Sprinkles, white chocolate drizzles, colored sugar…so many options.

One month until V-Day, and Im feeeeelin’ the love!

Endurance Crackers with a Sweet Twist

Get in my belly!

Get in my belly!

Now, don’t turn your nose up at this. I promised you something healthy, and I’m delivering! Here is a very easy recipe that is incredibly good for you and unspeakably addicting. The hardest thing you will have to do is go to the grocery (or natural foods) store and buy the four types of seeds. No gluten, no nuts. You will eat it and you will like it, damn it!

Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and chia seeds

Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and chia seeds

If you have never heard of Endurance Crackers, you absolutely must try them. Here is a link to Oh How She Glows, where you’ll find Angela’s wonderful recipe. You will be amazed at how much flavor these savory little crackers have. I literally have to try to hide them from myself, because I can’t stop at one or two. Or three or four.

Here's what an Endurance Cracker looks like when it isn't being gussied up with chocolate!

Here’s what an Endurance Cracker looks like when it isn’t being gussied up with chocolate!

I discovered this recipe when I read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and was inspired to write an article about chia for Yummy Northwest. If you’re curious about the health benefits of chia, or just want to try my yummy apple chia muffin recipe, here’s a link to the column: Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

For fun, I adapted the recipe for Endurance Crackers, removing the garlic and onions and adding a dark chocolate layer. I added just a little extra kosher salt, too, for more contrast between the seeds and the chocolate, and love the results! Then, because I JUST.CAN’T.STOP,  I added raisins. Oh, yum!

When a craving for “something sweet – no, something salty – no, something sweet” comes along, grab a couple of these. Eating them will feel sinful, but they are actually very good for you. We’ve all heard the hype about dark chocolate and how it’s full of antioxidants, right? The experts all agree dark chocolate is healthful, but can’t agree on how MUCH is good for you, so they hedge by recommending an ounce a day. This recipe uses 5 ounces of chocolate, so if you eat a few crackers as a snack, it’s well within the chocolate “limit.”

That pretty much makes me blow coffee out my nose; “chocolate” and “limit” shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence! What? Oh, fine – you busted me…substitute “wine” for “coffee.” Nitpickers.

The original recipe calls for parchment. My crackers always stick to it, even if I grease it first. Maybe I just own inferior parchment (a distinct possibility) but I find it easier to lightly grease a cookie sheet instead, and skip the parchment. And rather than cutting the crackers after the first 30 minute baking time, I tried to keep it all in one big piece to make it easier to “frost” with chocolate. Either way would work.

Here’s my version of Angela’s recipe. Do pop over to her blog, though, and try the original version!

Endurance Crackers with a Sweet Twist
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Adapted from "Oh She Glows", Endurance Crackers
Ingredients
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup raw sesame seeds
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raw chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ounces dark (at least 70% cocoa) chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (or use parchment) and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the seeds and salt.
  4. Add the water, stirring well.
  5. Press the mixture onto a cookie sheet, using a spatula or (best choice) a damp hand. Aim for a thickness somewhere between ¼-inch and ⅓-inch.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven. Loosen with a long flat spatula, cover with another greased cookie sheet, and invert. If it doesn't all flip over in one piece, don't worry. The crackers will be broken up eventually!
  8. Bake for another 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with the chopped chocolate. Wait a few minutes and then spread with a flat spatula. Sprinkle with raisins if desired.
  10. When the chocolate has hardened (you may refrigerate it if you wish, to hurry it along) break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

 

Spreading the mixture on a baking sheet. (Hint: a hand works better than a spatula!)

Spreading the mixture on a baking sheet. (Hint: a hand works better than a spatula!)

If you're using parchment, after 30 minutes you'll flip the seeds over, peel off the paper, and continue to bake.

If you’re using parchment, after 30 minutes you’ll flip the seeds over, peel off the paper, and continue to bake.

Sprinkle chopped chocolate over the hot seeds. I used a scraper, but a paper plate or a bowl works well too!

Sprinkle chopped chocolate over the hot seeds. I used a scraper, but a paper plate or a bowl works well too!

Spread the chocolate as evenly as possible.

Spread the chocolate as evenly as possible. Add raisins if you’d like.

When the chocolate is firm, break the crackers into serving-size pieces. I'll let YOU determine what a serving is!

When the chocolate is firm, break the crackers into serving-size pieces. I’ll let YOU determine what a serving is!

So…you won’t see this often, but I made it through a post without unwrapping a stick of butter or opening a bag of sugar. High five!

Tempting Raspberry Turnovers

blog2 102Puff pastry has been calling to me lately – loudly! In my last post I used the pre-made frozen kind for Biscoff Apple Pastries, which made them very quick and easy…not to mention light and flaky! I have nothing against puff pastry in a box, and always keep some on hand, but when I have time on my hands it’s just more fun and rewarding to make it myself.

Unlike croissants or danish, the dough for puff pastry doesn’t use yeast, so if you’re a yeastophobe (yes, it’s a real word…look it up!) (oh, fine…you won’t find that word in the dictionary, but it’s a very real condition!) this dough is for you. Traditional puff pastry is made a lot like croissants, with a layer of butter over the dough and a lot of folding and rolling. The method I use is easier and results in a more uniform dough, though you will sacrifice a tiny bit of flakiness. Unless you’re a French pastry chef, you probably won’t notice.

This is PLENTY flaky!

This is PLENTY flaky!

You will, however, still be doing a LOT of rolling and folding. If you don’t spend a lot of time in the gym, expect sore abs. Look at it this way: rolling pastry is good exercise for your boobs and abs (for those male readers, make that pecs and abs) and the workout means you won’t have to feel so guilty about sampling the goods later. Yes, when it comes to goodies I’m a master of rationalization!

There are shortcuts you could take if you want to try these. For instance, the filling I made is very similar to jam. I wanted some whole berries (and a little lemon “zing”), so I made it from scratch. But once the turnovers are baked the whole berries aren’t very obvious, so jam would be fine. And of course you could use frozen puff pastry…but then you’d miss out on all the buttery fun. Your call!

Here’s how I make mine:
(pictures are at the bottom of the post)

Tempting Raspberry Turnovers
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Serves: 12-16
Makes 12-16, depending on how fat you want them!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, frozen at least ½ hour
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg and 2 teaspoons of water, for an egg wash
  • 1 recipe of raspberry-lemon filling
  • 1 recipe of pastry cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar and a little milk or water for a drizzle, if desired
Instructions
  1. Using a large grater, grate the frozen butter. Return the grated butter to the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer) combine both types of flour and salt.
  3. On low speed with a dough hook, blend the butter and flour together just until mixed.
  4. Slowly add the lemon juice, and then the water - a little at a time, until the dough holds together. Don't over-mix!
  5. On a generously floured surface, roll into an 18-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Fold it like you would a letter, bringing one of the short ends over to the middle and then bringing the other end over it, always dusting off any extra flour.
  6. Turn the dough one-quarter turn and roll out again into an 18-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds.
  7. Turn, roll, and fold one more time. Wrap in heavy plastic (or put dough into a zipper bag) and refrigerate for an hour.
  8. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Roll it out, fold it, turn. Roll it out, fold it, turn. Roll it out, fold it....and cut the dough in half. Return one half to the refrigerator for now.
  9. Roll the dough half into a rectangle that's 12-inches by 8-inches for big, puffy turnovers or 16-inches by 8-inches if you prefer less pastry with your filling!
  10. Put the dough on a plastic wrap covered cookie sheet, lay another piece of plastic wrap over it, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to make sure the butter inside the dough is firm.
  11. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  12. Remove from the refrigerator and cut into 4-inch squares.
  13. Beginning at an imaginary diagonal line, spread a thin layer of pastry cream over half of each square, leaving a clean edge so it can seal properly. Put about a tablespoon of filling (or jam) over the pastry cream. Don't worry if it isn't perfectly covered...it will spread as it gets warm. Barely moisten the edges around the filling with water.
  14. Fold the dough diagonally over the cream and jam. Press the edges gently and place on a baking sheet. Press along the two edges with a fork.
  15. Mix together the egg and water and brush lightly over pastries.
  16. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a rich, golden brown.
  17. If you want to add a drizzle, mix enough milk or water into a cup of powdered sugar to make a thick liquid and drizzle over cooled turnovers.
  18. Repeat with the other half of the dough, or flatten it into a rectangle, wrap it well, and freeze for another use.

The pastry cream and raspberry-lemon filling may be made before you begin the puff pastry or (if you’re quick) while the dough is chilling. Make sure neither is warm when used on the pastry squares.

Lemon Pastry Cream

1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  1. In a medium bowl, blend the sugar and cornstarch together. Slowly whisk in the water. Add the egg yolks and beat well.
  2. In a medium pan over medium-low heat, bring the half & half and lemon zest to a simmer.
  3. Pour half of the simmering half & half over the egg mixture in the bowl while whisking.
  4. Immediately pour it back into the remaining hot half & half in the pan while whisking. Increase the heat to medium, and whisk briskly until it thickens. This should only take a few minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and lemon juice and allow it to cool on the counter, stirring often. Keep it covered when you’re not stirring.

Once cooled, keep refrigerated until needed.

Raspberry Filling

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
12 ounces frozen raspberries (not sweetened), divided
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar

  1. In a small cup whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, stir together 8 ounces of the raspberries, 1/3 cup water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar.
  3. Turn heat to medium and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Turn temperature down to medium-low and continue to cook and stir for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining berries and fold gently to incorporate. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool thoroughly. Once cooled, keep refrigerated until needed.

Here are some visuals for you – trust me, you’ll get the hang of it quickly!

Adding the grated butter to the flour mixture.

Adding the grated butter to the flour mixture.

Don't over-mix the dough...it's supposed to look like this!

Don’t over-mix the dough…it’s supposed to look like this!

Fold the dough like a letter!

Fold the dough like a letter!

Spread with pastry cream and filling, and fold diagonally.

Spread with pastry cream and filling, and fold diagonally.

Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Brush with an egg wash and bake.

Although I love the combination of raspberries and lemon, don’t limit yourself to my favorites! Try chopped apples tossed in cinnamon sugar, or apple butter, peach preserves, or finely chopped chocolate and walnuts. Please, if you come up with any unique combinations, leave a comment and tell me about it!

I promise a healthy recipe next. It’s going to be a stretch, but I’ll try.