Friday, December 20, 2013

Crazy Ingredient Challenge December: Cookie Dough Bites

This month we are combining GARLIC and WHITE CHOCOLATE!

I think I have finally become comfortable with this cooking challenge. I think it's because gingerbread spice and onions threw me for such a loop last month that I immediately guessed that garlic would be at play this month (I thought garlic and peppermint - white chocolate is infinitely better!) I had decided last month to stick to something that didn't seem too strange and most persons would definitely want to try. This month, however, I threw caution to the wind. I was going dessert and daring everyone to jump on this dessert train with me.

In fact, minutes after the announcement, I had gone to the kitchen, rolled some cookie dough in garlic powder, baked it and surprisingly - LOVED it. It's like adding salt to desserts. It gives the dessert this extra edge. It's not so much that it becomes unpalatable but it is enough to really heighten the taste. Garlic powder is not as assertive as raw garlic so that definitely helps a lot.

I definitely preferred the baked cookies to the unbaked dough. But I really wanted to play with my candy mold. So today I present some garlic chocolate chip cookie dough that's dipped in white chocolate. Give it a try - you might be surprised.

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Garlic (!) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites                                                                                               Print
Recipe by:   Kelster
Yield: Depends on size
½ cup of oats
½ cup of flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup softened butter
½  cup brown sugar
1/3  cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or standard sized chips chopped
5 ounces of white chocolate (see notes)
Process the oats until is all fine uniform crumbs. Combine with flour and garlic powder and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars along with vanilla until fluffy. Stir in the oat mixture until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips until just combined.
Form cookie dough  into balls or desired shapes then place in freezer for 15 minutes.
Melt chocolate according to package and coat each cookie dough bite. Allow to dry.
The amount of white chocolate needed will depend on how you choose to enrobe the cookie dough bites.

A Birthday without Cake is Just a Day: Cinnamon Chocolate Cake

Alternative title: It's my birthday and I'll bake my cake if I want to.
Last week I celebrated a birthday and among the well-wishes were several persons saying that they hoped that I didn't make myself a cake. "Too late," was my response. In fact, I'd baked and frozen the layers several days before and frosted and decorated the night before.
I started thinking about my birthday cake back in September. I even created a notebook on Springpad dedicated to the planning. But despite that early start, a week before, I still had no idea what I wanted. Chocolate is my default but I didn't want chocolate or if it were to be chocolate, there had to be something "different".
Circular or rectangular? French, Swiss or Italian Meringue Buttercream? Three or four layers? To temper or not to temper chocolate? Decisions. Decisions.
I ended up with this Cinnamon Chocolate Cake. It's frosted with a raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream and surrounded white chocolate. I absolutely loved the look and couldn't be happier with it.

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Cinnamon Chocolate Cake                                                  Print
Recipe by:   Kelster  Adapted from: Hershey’s Kitchens
Yield: 1 cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup  cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot strong coffee
Preeat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda. cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric for 2 minutes.
Stir in hot coffee (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Hot water may be used instead of coffee. The coffee helps to enhance the chocolate.
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream                                                     
Recipe by: Sweetapolita  
Yield: 5 cups 
See Sweetapolita for ingredients and directions.
A single batch just frosted this cake. I’d recommend using 1.5 times the recipe if you want thick layers of frosting between each layer.
I didn't have fresh raspberries so I reduced frozen berries, mashed them a bit, cooled it and stirred it into my Swiss Meringue
Chocolate Shards                                                           
Recipe by:  Mandy at What the Fruitcake
See for What the Fruitcake ingredients and directions.
You can use candy melts for this if you don't want to temper chocolate.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I like Big Bundts 2013: Oat & Raisin Spice Cake

I made my first bundt cake in August of 2010 when I borrowed a friend's bundt pan to make a birthday cake for another friend. I was enamored! It seemed too easy! I didn't need to unleash my HORRIFIC decorating skills on a poor, defenseless cake. I wanted to keep her bundt pan forever. She, strangely enough, wanted it back. A few weeks later I bought myself bundts of different sizes. You know, it was not until I wrote that sentence that I realized that I own 3 full size bundts, 4 minis and one that is in between.  I'm no Food Librarian, but I do like my bundts!


I think it was in 2011 that I discovered Food Librarian's blog but I even though I had it in mind that I'd make a bundt cake to celebrate with everyone, I plum forgot. But not this year!! Oh no! I almost did though. Shh! But here you have it! Finally, a bundt cake for National Bundt Day! (Look, I am willing to ignore the fact that National Bundt Day was November 15 and today is November 20, if you will. Honestly, I did make the cake for Friday! I swear!)

I added a brown sugar glaze to this and instantly regretted it the moment I poured the first bit out. The glaze is delicious, don't get me wrong. But this cake can stand by itself. It does not need any accompaniments. It's moist and full of flavour and I should have left well enough alone. Ah well. I apologise for my bad glazing skills and present you a glaze-free but delicious recipe.


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Oat & Raisin Spice Bundt                                                   Print
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: 16 servings
1 cup quick cooking oats (see notes)
1 ¼ cup of boiling water
¾ cup of raisins
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
Place oats in a medium bowl and pour boiling water over the oats. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
Place the raisins in a small bowl and add just enough water to cover the raisins.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour and bundt pan. Be sure to completely cover the entire surface
Whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
In  a large bowl, mix together sugars, vanilla and butter for 4 minutes. The mixture will resemble wet sand. Add eggs one at a time and beating well after each.
Add a third of the flour mixture and mix until just combined followed by ¼ cup of sour cream.  Repeat, ending with flour.
Stir in oats and drained raisins.
Pour into prepared bundt. Bake for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
 I used rolled oats but let it soak for almost an hour. If you use rolled oats, you will have bits of chewy oats in your cake. I certainly did not mind. You can pulse the rolled oats a few times in a food processor or blender to break them down a bit.

Crazy Ingredient Challenge November: Spice Burgers on Onion Rolls

This past month (year?) has been hard. My emotions, my life - they have all been on a rollercoaster. This month's CIC certainly did not make it any easier. Gingerbread spice and onions?! Say what?!! I came up with several ideas though. And decided to go with Guinness mini burgers served on onion rolls with onion rings and a Guinness spice barbecue sauce. It would have been great. Except for the fact that I don't like Guinness. Or onions (kinda). That Guinness spice barbecue sauce? Made it; hated it. Too much Guinness. The onion rings? Made them. Liked them. But I am just not an onion rings kinda girl. I was cloyed after 3 rings. I guess that's something that I'd remake for someone who loves onion rings because they were pretty good

I decided to make the burgers without Guinness and ditched it from the sauce too and had winners that went AMAZINGLY with these soft onion rolls. There's just enough onion to give them a little oomph (smells great too) but not enough to be overwhelmingly oniony. I apologise for not sharing the barbecue sauce. But for the life of me, I just could not remember how much vinegar and sugar I added to the winning combination and I did not have time to remake it.

Please accept these delicious burgers as token of my apologies. They definitely make up for the missing sauce on their own.

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Onion Rolls                                                                   Print
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: 12 rolls
15 oz all purpose flour
0.25 oz active dry yeast
1 oz sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup onion, chopped
1 large egg, room temperature
2 oz butter, softened
1 oz sour cream
2 oz  of warm water
1 egg white
Puree onion or finely chop. Combine yeast (see notes), flour, sugar, salt, egg, onion, butter and sour cream. Slowly add enough water to yield a soft, tacky but not sticky dough. Start with scant 2 oz of water and add additional water by the teaspoon, if needed.
Knead for 5 minutes then cover and allow to rise at room temperature for approximately 1 – 2 hours or  until doubled.
Gently degas the dough and divide dough into 12 equal pieces.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Form each piece into a tight ball and place on a baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Balls should be doubled in approximately 30 – 60 minutes.  When doubled, brush with egg white and bake for 15- 18 minutes or until golden and at an internal temperature of 200 F.
The yeast that I use allows me to add my yeast directly to my ingredients and warm any liquids to 120 F. This may work for you too. However, if unsure, follow the proofing instructions on your yeast.
You can use as little as ¼ cup of onion puree.

Spice Burgers                                                                 Print
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: 8 patties
1lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice
1.5 * teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Mozzarella cheese
Gently flatten the ground beef. Sprinkle all the seasonings evenly across the surface. Gently fold the beef over on itself to combine the spices. Don’t overwork.
Divide into 8 2oz pieces. Shape each piece into a flattened ball. Flatten the center of each ball a bit more as the patty will puff as it cooks.
Place in refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat a lightly greased grill pan or skillet.  Cook burgers to desired doneness. Top the first cooked side with a slice of mozzarella cheese and allow to melt as the second side cooks.
Slice the onions rolls in half, top with a cooked patty and your favourite burger fixings.
 Some prefer to salt their patties after forming. Do what you think is best.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crazy Ingredients Challenge October: Pumpkin Tortillas & Pumpkin Salad Dressing

I know that pumpkin signals fall and cool weather for Americans. For me, however, pumpkin reminds me of the pot of soup that was always cooking on a Saturday in my mother's kitchen in Jamaica. I think it's safe to say that a large percentage of Jamaicans drink (drank?) soup on Saturdays - all year round. Most of those soups also had pumpkin. If I was helping my mother in the kitchen, it would be my job to dice the pumpkin for the soup.

On Sundays, it was my job to make the coleslaw. Each time I go home, I slip seamlessly back into my role as coleslaw maker. Except for the last time. You see, for most persons, carrots, if used, are just an accent in coleslaw. I LOVE carrots so I made them more than just a background player. My mother and brother did not share my view. It's not like I served them a carrot slaw and they had to hunt for the cabbage. It's not like it didn't taste good either. They just preferred their coleslaw with a different cabbage to carrot ratio.

For this month's Crazy Ingredients Challenge, I resisted the urge to make dessert and decided to satisfy an odd vegetable craving with a simple salad topped with  spicy pumpkin dressing served on pumpkin tortillas. You will notice that in the ingredients, I list each item without measurements. This is because I believe that the proportions in a salad should really be a personal choice.  Maybe you are like my mother and brother and don't love carrots as much as I do. Maybe you want the red cabbage to shine. Or perhaps, you are partial to broccoli. Toss your favourites in your preferred proportions together. But do not, I repeat, do not skip the dressing. In fact, be prepared to eat it with a spoon.

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SPICY PUMPKIN DRESSING                                               
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: ~ 1 cup
½ cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling/mix)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Blend all ingredients together. Refrigerate.
This tastes better if it’s allowed to sit for at least an hour before using.

PUMPKIN TORTILLAS                                                      
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield:  8
2 cups flour (all purpose, whole wheat, or a mix)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ cup pureed pumpkin
¼ cup to ½ cup warm water
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle in vegetable oil.  Blend pumpkin with  ¼ cup of warm water. Add to flour mixture. Knead for two minutes to form a soft dough drizzling additional water by the teaspoon as needed.
Cove dough and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After dough has rested, divide into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Let these balls rest for 10 minutes.
Heat a skillet on medium-high.
Roll each ball out into a thin 8 inch circle.  Cook each tortilla for about thirty seconds on each side.

JUST THE WAY YOU LIKE IT SALAD                                   
Recipe by:    Kelster
Red cabbage
Chopped chicken
Shred broccoli, carrots and cabbage and toss together in a bowl. Top with chicken and raisins. Spoon dressing over salad just before serving.  
If you really want some guidelines on how much to use,  just let me know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World Bread Day 2013 - Jamaican Coco Bread

World Bread Day 2013 - 8th edition! Bake loaf of bread on October 16 and blog about it! I've been thinking about home (Jamaica) a lot lately. Now more than ever, my actions, my cooking, my everything have included more than a touch of home. When I saw that World Bread Day was coming up, I knew that I had to make either Jamaican Hard Dough Bread or Coco Bread. I went with Coco Bread this time because it evokes the most pleasant memories. Quick trips to one of the bakeries down the road from my house. Biting into the freshly baked coco bread and savouring that melted butter that seemed to ooze out of the bread.

Every bakery in Jamaica makes Coco Bread a little different. Most use MUCH less butter than the bakeries near my house. In fact, I knew persons who would make special trips to my little town just for that extremely buttery Coco bread. My version here isn't quite as buttery but it's still delicious. I'll keep working at this recipe and I think that one day, I will make coco bread worthy of my hometown.

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Jamaican Coco Bread
Recipe by:    Kelster
Yield: 8 - 10
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast*
½ cup warm water*
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
¾ cup warm milk (or additional water)
¾ cup butter, softened

*Follow manufacturer’s directions for proofing yeast using some of the water at the specified temperature. (For example, my yeast (Red Star) allows you to add the yeast to the ingredients and warm liquids to 120 F. Other brands state that you add the yeast and sugar to water that’s heated to 110 F.)

Combine yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil in a large bowl.  Add all of the warm milk and mix. Slowly add the remaining warm water. You want a dough that is tacky but not sticky.  Add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary.

Knead for 4 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to bulk ferment for 1 hour or until dough has doubled.

Divide dough into 8 – 10 pieces. Working quickly, roll each piece out into an approximately 6” x 6” square.  Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of butter over the dough avoiding the edges. Fold in half. Place on ungreased sheet pans.

Allow to proof, covered for 30 minutes.

After you have finished rolling and buttering the dough, preheat the oven to 350 F. Once the dough is puffy, bake for 18 minutes.

Melt the remaining butter and brush over coco bread as soon as it is out of the oven.

Serve warm.

Notes Coco Bread is often served with a Jamaican patty. The bread is opened at the split and the patty placed in the middle. Patty recipe soon!