Saturday, December 23, 2017

Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

Are you all ready for Christmas?  I am!  We always have a mellow Christmas celebration and my husband and I always emphasize the importance of the birth of Jesus instead of having lots of gifts under the tree.  It helps with all the craziness that's going on around the season.  It really doesn't matter if we have many gifts or only one.  We tell our son that the important things is to be with family and enjoy the season by doing something good.  I digress.

Every Christmas I try to bake a fruitcake.  I have a couple of favorite recipes but this year I wanted to try something new.  This recipe is a keeper.  As it stated in the original King Arthur Flour website, this is more of a cake than a traditional fruitcake.  I do like the light version of fruitcake but I don't mind the dark one if it's being offered to me :)

My family likes fruitcake as well so they're looking forward to it every year.  And even my son commented that this was a good one!

Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups dried fruits (I chose a combination of golden raisins, dried currants, dried apricots, and candied citron)
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 3/4 cups candied red cherries

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon orange oil
4 large eggs
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup orange juice
2 cups diced pecans

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup suagr

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Enough milk to make a thick but pourable icing

Prepare the fruit:  Combine dried fruits with orange liqueur in a bowl.  Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stir, then set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.

Prepare the cake:  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy.  Beat in the baking powder, salt, and flavors.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.

Stir in the flour alternately with the orange juice.

Stir in the undrained fruit, the candied cherries, and pecans.

Lightly grease two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans.

Spoon batter into the lightly greased baking pans, filling them about three-quarters full.

Bake the cakes for 50 to 70 minutes.  When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over, and a long skewer inserted into the center will come out clean.  If cakes brown too quickly during baking, cover lightly with aluminum foil.

Make the glaze:  Stir together the orange juice and sugar while the cakes are baking.  Warm briefly in the microwave; about 45 seconds.  Stir to help dissolve the sugar.  Set aside to rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally to continue dissolving the sugar.

Remove the cakes from the oven, place on the cooling rack.  Let cool for 10 minutes then turn them out onto the rack.  Brush the warm cakes all over with the glaze, continuing to brush until you've used it all.

When completely cooled, wrap well and let "age" at least 24 hours; the cake improves with a 24-hour rest.

Drizzle with icing just before serving.

Store cake, well wrapped, at room temperature; it should keep for a couple of weeks.  Freeze for longer storage.

Source:  adapted from King Arthur Flour website

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

I made this cake when I had a break, that is over Thanksgiving break :)  I know I'm way behind posting related recipe according to the season; but I've given up trying to follow the trend because it's just not enough time in my life to do that anymore.

I thought this cake is delicious all around; it was a moist and has tender crumbs.  It reminded me of my mom's pumpkin roll cake--flavor-wise--but hers uses no eggs while this has.  This year I'm in love with pumpkin spice all over again.  My favorite beverage right now is chai tea latte with lots of pumpkin spice; it's a nice drink to have when the weather is dropping down to the 30's.

The caramel whipped cream is equally good, I actually have never made it before and thought, why didn't I try this sooner?  Combining caramel and whipped cream is simply divine.  The original recipe doesn't use salt but I did put in a generous pinch of it because I really thought it needed it.

The recipe came from my favorite book in my book shelves, The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.  There are numerous recipes that I haven't even tried and all sounds very yummy.

Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Walnut Cake

Makes one 9-inch square cake

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine well, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs with both sugars at medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the oil, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until blended.  Add the flour mixture at low speed in three additions, mixing just until blended.  Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the walnuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, cut the cake into squares, and top each with a large dollop of the cream.

Caramel Cream

Makes about 3 cups

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
Generous pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extra

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color, about 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add 1/2 cup of the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up) and sea salt, stirring until smooth.  Carefully pour the hot caramel into a heatproof glass measure and loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the caramel until chilled, about 2 hours.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream with the mascarpone cheese and vanilla at medium speed until blended.  Add the chilled caramel and beat at a high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks.  Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

Source:  The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

Friday, December 8, 2017

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

A whole wheat apple cake that's moist and choke-full of apples.  I love making easy cake like this because it's flavorful and light enough for after weekdays after dinner desserts.  We eat it for breakfast, of course, because the recipe said that it was for that time of day :)

Any apples will do for this cake, I had some homegrown Fuji and Gala that I used.  It's a recipe that uses spices that are so wonderful this time of year.  The house smells so fragrant while I baked this cake.

The cake is slightly darker here because I didn't cover it after 45 minutes of baking.'s something that I missed, as usual, for not reading too carefully towards the end.  The color is pretty dark on top but the inside is still moist. 

So here is the recipe for your enjoyment!

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

Makes 1 9-inch cake

3 apples, Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  In a medium bowl, combine apples, 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.  Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  Add vanilla extract, and combine.  Add reserved flour mixture and yogurt; stir until well combined.  Fold in two-thirds of the reserved apple mixture.

Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining apple mixture evenly over batter.  Top with remaining batter; smooth with a spatula.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Bake cake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes.  Cover with foil after 45 minutes of baking.  Let cool 20 minutes before releasing cake from the pan.

Source:  adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mini Chocolate-Cinnamon Rolls

I'm so excited with a week break I have from work.  Yes, it is a Thanksgiving break for me and what do I have in mind?  My plan is to bake and cook!  I'm trying to squeeze in as many baking activities in a week, plus some cooking for Thanksgiving day for my family.

So far, I've managed to make these mini chocolate-cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  They're bite-sized morsels that I don't think it is a sin that they are categorized as desserts.  I slather these buns very well with butter and cinnamon-sugar.  Then chocolate chips were added liberally all over.  Then I rolled them as tight as I can, not an easy feat because the dough is pretty thin, but it can be done!  When it's still warm, the melted chocolate is a delicious addition to these buns.

When they're this small, my family can eat about 5 at once for breakfast.  I'm surprised that I only ate 3 but then I ate another 2 for desserts :D

The week will get busy so I better share this today!

Mini Chocolate-Cinnamon Rolls

Makes about 40 small buns

1 cup water
1/4 cup dry milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon bread machine or instant yeast

1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened; divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk, more if needed to make a flowing consistency

I used bread machine to make my dough so place the ingredients for the dough into the bread pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Select Dough Cycle.

For the filling:  combine ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a small bowl.

Once the cycle is done, remove dough to a lightly floured board; cover with a large bowl and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll out each half to a 20-by 7-inch rectangle.  Spread one rectangle with 3 tablespoons soft butter to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture then scatter half of the chocolate chips over the dough. 

Beginning at the long side, roll jellyroll-style.  Pinch to seal seam.  Cut into 20 1-inch pieces.  Place these, cut side up,  on a large baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat procedure with remaining dough.  Cover and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until buns start to brown around the sides.  Allow to stand for a few minutes while preparing the glaze.

For the glaze:  combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl and whisk until well-combined.

Drizzle the glaze onto the buns while they are still warm.

Source:  adapted from 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Oh my, November is here already.  The fall color is spectacular here and the weather is actually pretty nice up until a few days ago.  I think it is time to crave for comfort foods again.  I've been doing some cooking with my Instant Pot and the dishes I made were stew and casserole.  My family also has been craving hot apple cider and hot cocoa; I love having them while snuggling up with my comfy blanket.

One of the requests my family has been asking me to make is cookies.  I guess they are starting to miss my baking.  The last time I baked was when my son had a birthday about three weeks ago.  I cheated because I used boxed cake mix, but I made my own marshmallow frosting.  It was a delicious cake nonetheless and I think I like to make it again using a homemade cake.

So here it is, oatmeal-cranberry cookies that I made over the weekend.  The recipe is quite simple; originally it was a oatmeal-raisin cookies but we love cranberries more than raisins.  I like how the recipe uses nutmeg instead of cinnamon.  I think there's cinnamon overuse in baking that I'm glad I don't have to use it all the time.  These cookies are chewy with a little crunch on the edge.  My family is loving the treat in their lunch boxes this week!

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Makes about 40 medium-sized cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oates
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.

Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the oats and dried cranberries until just incorporated.

Divide the dough into about 40 portions, each a generous 1 tablespoon, and roll them between your hands into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, 22 to 25 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Source:  adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Peach-Apricot Cobbler with Crystallized Ginger

My apology for not keeping up with the blog.  I feel like it's getting a bit challenging to write a post here.  Some weeks I don't even make desserts.  The desire is there but my energy is being channeled somewhere else.  This September is particularly challenging, with a new year of school starting, there's a lot of distractions and happenings at work that when I get home and especially on weekend, I don't feel like making anything.  Hopefully next month things will start to get easier and I can go back to baking on weekends.

This cobbler is one of desserts I made a while ago.  I was fortunate to get some more fresh peaches from Peach Cove Farm in Canby that I went ahead making some canned peach sauce and the leftovers were made into this cobbler.  The fresh apricot is there because I just happened to have it and wouldn't want them to go to waste.

I ate the cobbler unadorned as breakfast, but feel free to add ice cream and make it a dessert if you like.  I love crystallized ginger, that bold flavor and the zing they impart on things, a little goes but this has quite a bit.  I guess you'll have to really like it to be able to enjoy this cobbler.

Peach Cobbler with Crystallized Ginger

Serves 8

10 yellow peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 fresh apricots, pitted and sliced
1 lemon
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, plus cream for brushing
1/4 cup demerara sugar
Vanilla ice cream for serving--optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Put the peach and apricot slices in a bowl.  Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from the lemon, then squeeze 2 tablespoons juice.  Add both to the peaches and apricots.  Add the grated ginger, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and toss gently.

In a food processor, combine the flour, the baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Add the crystallized ginger and pulse briefly to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the 1 1/4 cups cream, and mix until the dough comes together.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times to bring it together into a ball.  Shape the dough into a round about 1/2 inch thick, then cut the dough into 8 even wedges.

Transfer the peach-apricot mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and arrange the dough wedges on top in 2 rows of 4 wedges, alternating the points.  Brush the wedges with cream and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Loosely cover the dish with foil and continue baking until the topping is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 10-20 minutes.  Let cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes.  Serve the cobbler with ice cream, if preferred.

Source:  adapted from Dessert of the Day by Kim Laidlaw

Friday, August 18, 2017

Roasted Cherry-Mint No-Churn Ice Cream

Well, if the weather is still warm enough to eat ice cream, I would suggest making this cherry-mint no-churn ice cream.  I fell behind posting what I made this month because I've been very busy lately, with camping last week and then some volunteer work my son and I were doing this week.  But, I have to admit, most nights I look forward to spend time with my family during the summer.  We love to watch movie and summertime is the time we catch up with movies.  And sometimes we're doing things outside.  So even as I'm still baking and creating desserts I don't have time to write the post!

The idea of making this combination comes from me starring in the opened kitchen pantry and saw a box of Girl Scout Cookie's Thin Mint.  I love those cookies!  Love it more than Oreos, really.  But buying a box of that isn't very friendly to my wallet, so it's best to ration the consumption.  Anyway, I had cherries also sitting in the fridge.  I thought by combining these two, I would get an exciting flavors.

The cherries got roasted for some time in a 400F oven.  I was thinking roasting them would bring more sweetness and give them caramelization.  Caramelization equals sweeter, right?

Okay, so here's the recipe because I need to watch a movie! :D

Roasted Cherry-Mint No-Churn Ice Cream

Serves 8-10

1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry brandy)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup roasted cherries, see instruction below
1 cup coarsely chopped Thin Mint cookies--depending on how you like the cookies, you can add more if you want!

In a large bowl whisk together kirsch and vanilla extract with sweetened condensed milk and salt.

With a mixer, whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture.  Fold the roasted cherries.

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap or wax paper.  Spoon half of the ice cream mixture.  Add half of the cookies, mix gently with spoon.  Spoon the rest of the ice cream mixture and then add the last half of cookies.  Press plastic wrap onto the surface of ice cream and wrap tightly.  Freeze until firm, or for at least 12 hours before serving.

Let ice cream stands for 10 minutes or so before scooping.

How to roast cherries:  Heat oven to 400F.  Place cherries on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 10 minutes.  Cool before using.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Peach Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping

Since the weather is awfully sweltering here in Oregon, I thought what better way than to share a cool dessert such as this peach cheesecake?  Every summer, we've always had fresh picked peaches from a friend's farm in Canby.  There's a joy of wanting for special fruits or produce when they're in season.  I love how in the summer, there's fruits to eat based on what's ripening that week.  I've had local watermelon now that they're available and boy, they're much sweeter than other variety!

I've made several things with peaches but never in a cheesecake.  This one is quite simple, basically the peaches are diced then marinated in whiskey.  In this case, I did it with Grand Marnier because that's what I have.  Then I make the crumbs and cheesecake batter.  Finally it's baked in a 350F oven.  Whether you want to bake it with water-bath method or straight bake method is up to you.  I've tried both and there's things I like with both method.  The only drawback with the straight bake one is that the cheesecake is prone to cracking.  But if you like to top it with something, sometimes it doesn't really matter.

The blueberry topping and caramel sauce is my spur of the moment additions.  I had plenty of blueberries in the fridge that I would like to use up.  They go together nicely!

Peach Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping

Serves 10 to 12

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup diced peeled peaches (about 2 medium)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or whiskey
3 packages (each 8 oz/250g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry topping:
2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought

To make the crust:  In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press into bottom of cheesecake pan and freeze.

To make the filling:  In a small bowl, combine peaches and Grand Marnier.  Set aside

In a mixer bowl, fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, yogurt and brown sugar on medium-high speed until very smooth, for 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Fold in soaked peaches, with juices, and vanilla by hand.

Pour over frozen crust, smoothing out to sides of pan.  Bake in a preheated oven until top is light brown and center has a slight jiggle to it, 45 to 55 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

To make blueberry topping:  In a saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar and orange zest.  In a small bowl, mix together orange juice and cornstarch; pour this mixture into the saucepan.  Cook in medium heat until blueberries pop, bubbly and start to thicken, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

When ready to serve, drizzle some caramel sauce on a plate, place a slice of cheesecake and drizzle some blueberry topping on top.

Source:  adapted from The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Triple-Berry Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

When I went picking a couple of weeks ago, I saw that tayberries were still available and Marionberries were beginning to ripen.  I decided to pick just a few cups thinking that I'd make berry pies.  I had in mind a pie with crumb toppings after making a double-crust pie already.

So here's what I made with those berries, a triple-berry pie with blueberries, tayberries and Marionberries.  I fell in love with tayberries this summer.  The flavor is more delicate that the other blackberry variety; it's said to have a floral and aromatic flavor.  It's a little bit too late to make jam from tayberry this year but I vow to try it next year.  I'm already thinking of infusing the jam with tea.

My family loves this triple-berry pie because apparently the combo works!  The crumb topping has crunchy pecan and toothsome oats.  Often I have too much crumb topping but I usually put them in a bag and freeze them until I need them again.  Good thing I have a few 4-inch tart pans lined with leftover pie crusts that I stored in the freezer.  The blueberries got made into these little pans with lemon zest, the juice, a few teaspoons of cornstarch, some sprinkling of cinnamon and some sugar.  The tart baked quicker than the whole pie and it's equally as good!

The bottom picture is what my individual blueberry tart looks like.  They're gone in a couple of days!

My advice is to stock up with whipped cream or ice cream to eat these various pies/tarts in the summer!  No wonder I can't store anything else more important in my fridge! :D

Triple-Berry Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

Serves 8 to 10

1 dough (makes single piecrust) from All-Butter Piecrust, refrigerated

For Filling:
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cups fresh Marionberries
1 1/2 cups fresh tayberries
1/2 cup sugar--taste your berries, if they're particularly sour, add more sugar.  I personally like less sweet of filling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For Pecan Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Drape the dough onto the rolling pin and invert it into a 9-inch pie pan.  Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching in.  Trim the edges and fold under.  Crimp edges decoratively.  Place in the freezer while you're readying the filling and crumb topping.

Combine the berries in a large bowl.  Fold in sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt.  Mix cornstarch, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl.  Pour into the filling and stir.  Set aside.

Blend flour, grown sugar and salt in a food processor.  Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles fine moist clumps.  Add pecans and oats.  Using on/off turns, do a few turn just until nuts and oats are combined.

Take the pie crust and fill it with berry mixture, smooth the mixture with a spoon.  Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over the fruits.  Mound it in the center a bit but do not overfill.  I like just enough crumbs to about 1/4-inch thick around the edges, perhaps.  Freeze the remaining crumbs for the next pie project.

Bake pie at bottom rack for 25-30 minutes.  If necessary, place an old baking pan on the oven floor to catch the juice overflowing from the pie.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degree F.  Continue baking until topping is brown and juices bubble thickly, about 30-40 minutes.  If necessary, tent the topping with foil if it browns too fast.  Cool pie on rack 1 hour.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake

Last week my family went cherry picking at Hood River and some two cups of those cherries went into this coffee cake.  We picked mostly Bings and some Rainier too.  The wind was blowing hard while we picked the fruits but the view was still gorgeous.  Lots of sunshine and surprisingly not many people went picking that day.

We went to the same farm, Hood River U-Pick Organic Cherries, last year as well.  Their fruits are large, sweet and easy to pick so we're happy to be back this year.  And as usual, we picked more than we can eat in a day or two :)  

Making a coffee cake is an easy way to use up the cherries.  It then can be served as dessert or snack.  This particular one is spot on, not too sweet, has tender crumbs and stay moist for a few days.  I meant to soak the cherries in kirschwasser but forgot, so feel free to soak the fruits if you like for overnight, I bet it'll be even tastier!

Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake

Serves 12

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  Butter an angel food cake pan.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, combine the almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon; transfer half to a second bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and 2 sticks butter to combine, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the almond extract.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.  Mix in the sour cream until just combined (the batter should be very thick).

Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan, spreading to evenly distribute it, and sprinkle with the walnut mixture.  Scatter cut cherries on top of mixture.  Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining topping.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degree F and bake until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes more.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan before unmolding and serving.

Source:  adapted from Woman's Day, December 2016/January 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

Strawberry-Raspberry No-Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

The title says it all, it's a combo of two different berries that I picked this past week, along with chopped bittersweet chocolate. The idea came because I wanted to make ice cream, the easy way.  I found recipes for no-churn ice cream and decided to try it.  This particular recipe uses less sweetened condensed milk than other recipes which made me think it's less sweet.  Other recipes use one can of that stuff but with the same amount of whipping cream; that I think is way too sweet.  But maybe I shouldn't say anything before trying it out :D

And I also recently tried a new flavor of jam after reading new books about preserving, raspberry "lemonade" jam.  It's made with raspberries, lemon juice, honey, and pectin.  I love the flavor combination and thought that the jam will go together with strawberry base ice cream.  As if it's not enough, I went ahead and chopped bittersweet chocolate to add to the ice cream.  Since I haven't provided the recipe for the jam, a regular strawberry jam can be used to make this ice cream.

When I was ready to serve this, I also had some strawberries left.  I was thinking of making something quick and easy, thus strawberry sauce was conceived :)  This sauce was the bomb because the strawberries were fresh and I picked the right variety for it.  Something that's made from in-season fruits always turn out to be the best in flavor.  I just love how fresh-picked strawberries smell!  Eating the ice cream with the sauce after dinner has become the highpoint of our summer days.

I set aside a few cupful of the ice cream for making ice cream sandwich.  Now I didn't make the cookies myself but I have Chips Ahoy! Thin Double Chocolate in the pantry.  It's a fine substitute in a pinch.  Well, well, everybody loves it!  Now I'm gonna probably play around with other flavor this summer and make more ice cream sandwich.

Strawberry-Raspberry No-Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks

Serves 8-10

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup finely diced strawberries
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup jam, raspberry or strawberry jam, warmed just until loosen up

In a large bowl whisk together vanilla extract with sweetened condensed milk and salt.

With a mixer, whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture.  Fold the diced strawberries and chocolate.

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap or wax paper.  Spoon half of the ice cream mixture.  Add half of jam, swirl with butter knife.  Spoon the rest of the ice cream mixture and then swirl the last half of the jam.  Press plastic wrap onto the surface of ice cream and wrap tightly.  Freeze until firm, or for at least 12 hours before serving.

Let ice cream stands for 10 minutes or so before scooping.  At this time, you can scoop a spoonful into one cookie, press another cookie on top.  Smooth the sides with a small offset spatula.  Wrap the ice cream cookies an freeze until firm again.

Source:  adapted from Belly Full

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I'm so happy that local strawberries are finally available.  With a longer cool season that made its way till June, I thought I wouldn't see berries ripening or even happening this month.  But, it's here and that's what makes me rejoice!

As I mentioned before, I'm running out of strawberry jam stock so I really need to replenish it.  With the strawberries, I love the flavor of local strawberries over supermarket variety, especially the Hood variety.  It's my go-to strawberry to pick for making jam and when it's in season I have to act quick or they'd be gone.  Last Sunday I dragged my family to Beaverton area, precisely to Hoffman Farms, to help me pick strawberries.  I've gone to this farm for about 2 years in a row and I really like their fruits.

This year is the first year I've picked strawberries though.  I was expecting muddy field, but they've lined the path between the rows with straws so that we didn't have to muck around in the mud.  It rained the day before and it was kind of cloudy on the day, so we always expect the worse in this Oregon weather.

There are 4 types of strawberries available and we picked Hood, Albion and Sweet Sunrise.  Like I said the Hood was made into jam; I got 5 pints out of almost 5 pounds.  The Albion will be eaten fresh, and the slightly tart-more on sweet Sweet Sunrise was made into this fresh pie.  I was glad I picked this variety because it has character and it suited this pie.

I didn't plan ahead on making pie but as it happens, I had 2 homemade pie crusts sitting in the freezer.  So it's an impromptu dessert.  I used my favorite pie crust recipe, which was used in making this Sweet Potato Pie.  What I like about it is that it makes 3 crusts which is quite handy; I can make a double crust pie and a single crust pie right away.  I think it's time to make another batch so I'm ready for the next dessert day!

Anyway, as with a fresh fruit pie, it's a messy eating but it's deliciously out of the world.  We love serving a slice with whipped cream, and we don't mind if the pie looks lopsided or is too runny!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Serves 8

1 recipe double-crust pie dough,  see this recipe

8 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
2/3 cup sugar or more depending on how tart the strawberries are (mine were sweet enough that I didn't need to add a lot of it)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Milk for glaze
2 teaspoons sugar

Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter, then fit it into a 9-inch pie plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll the other disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Toss strawberries and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl.  Let sit for about 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position; place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425F.

Drain the fruit thoroughly on a colander, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice.  In a large bowl, mix together the drained fruit, cornstarch, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt.  If the fruit tastes tart, add more sugar gradually until it suits your taste.

Dump the fruit into the dough-lined pie plate, mounding it slightly in the middle.  Cover the top with the second piece of dough.  Trim, fold and crimp the edges and cut 8 vent holes in the top.  Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.

Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375F, rotate the baking sheet, and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes longer.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set, about 2 hours; serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Source: filling adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Java Chocolate Crunch Buns

This buns were made because my husband requested chocolate bread.  I didn't realize at the time that this wasn't a sweet bun recipe, instead it was a coffee and chocolate flavored buns.  Those two flavors were faint in taste, but it did color the bread brownish.  The pistachio nuts wasn't enough to satisfy the crunch factor in my opinion.  Maybe a bit more in quantity would be better next time.

There's this book that I just bought, which is called 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes and I've been making a variety of bread from it.  It's a bread machine book, but a lot of time, I converted it an oven-baked bread.  It's fairly simple to prepare it and our family likes it better.  I own another book of bread machine recipe but I get bored easily so I had to buy another one to play with :D

My husband did used it for making his sandwich for lunch and he was happy about it.  The texture was great, it was quite soft and fluffy.  Oh, the original recipe was a loaf but since I had a bit of time on my hand, I made them into rolls :)  The recipe will make about 12 buns.  Also, I added beaten egg glaze and a sprinkling of cocoa powder on the buns.  Honestly, I don't mind making it again actually with lots more pistachio, of course.

Well, it's a short post today; and here's the recipe!

Java Chocolate Crunch Loaf

Makes 1 loaf or about 12 small-sized buns

3/4 cup water
1/3 cup freshly brewed coffee (room temperature)
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons liquid honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup pistachio nuts--can increase to 1/2 cup if you want
1 1/2 teaspoon bread machine or instant yeast

Measure all ingredients into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Insert pan into the oven chamber.

Select Dough Cycle.

At the end of its cycle, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.  Prepare a 9-x 5-inch loaf pan, spray it with nonstick cooking spray.  Or if making buns, lay a parchment paper on a large baking sheet.

Roll the dough into an 8-x 10-inch rectangle.  Working form the short side, roll jellyroll-style.  Seal the seam by pinching the dough between the thumb and forefinger.  Place the dough seam down in the pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubles in size.  Usually I preheat my oven to 150F for 15 minutes before I have to put my bread in.  I turn it off, wait for 5 minutes then put the bread in.  This will take about 1 hour for the loaf to double.

If you're interested in making small-sized buns, divide the dough into 12 balls.  Roll each ball on a floured surface until smooth.  Place them on baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise until doubles.  Before baking, brush the tops with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with a tiny amount of water) and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Bake the bread in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes for loaf; about 20-25 minutes for buns, depending on the oven.  Remove the baked loaf or buns from the baking sheet immediately and set on a rack to cool.

Source:  300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Peanut Butter-Brownie Cheesecake

Since we had the no-bake cheesecake, my family wanted me to make another one right away.  When it's that good, there's no stopping the craving!

This one is obviously a baked cheesecake, which I haven't made for a long time I didn't think I would be successful.  I managed to bake it just right with only a sliver of crack.  That 2 minutes extra time I added at the end was unnecessary obviously.

The combo flavor is the one that everyone loves.  But don't be alarmed that I used up a small jar of peanut butter to make the filling!  I'm sure my PCP won't be too happy with the cholesterol-laden food I'm eating at home.

The brownie bottom has bits of bittersweet chocolate which I thought was nice.  The recipe calls for finely chopped, but I went with perhaps bigger pieces.  Brownie was chewy and chocolaty, a perfect vessel for the creamy and smooth peanut butter filling.

We didn't polish this off in one day, we couldn't anyway.  We ate sliver by sliver until it's no more.  I found out that I like eating cheesecake when it's really cold while my son likes it at room temperature.

Well, here is the recipe; give it a try!

Peanut-Butter Brownie Cheesecake

Serves 12 servings

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

12 ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

To make the crust:  Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F.  Butter 9-inch diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.  Dust pan lightly with flour; tap out excess.

Stir unsweetened chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Cool.  Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in small bowl to blend.  Using electric mixer, beat eggs and brown sugar in medium bowl until very thick, abut 4 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Beat in melted chocolate mixture, vanilla, and chopped bittersweet chocolate.  Add flour mixture and beat until just blended.

Spread 1 cup brownie batter over bottom of prepared pan.  Bake until firm, about 17 minutes.  Cool bottom crust in pan in freezer 15 minutes.  Maintain oven temperature.

To make the filling:  Blend cream cheese and brown sugar in processor until smooth.  Add eggs and sour cream; using on/off turns, process until mixture is smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.  Using on/off turns, blend in peanut butter.  Using small knife, spread remaining brownie batter evenly around sides of pan, sealing batter to bottom crust.  Pour in filling (filling will not be as high as brownie batter).

Bake until center of cheesecake is gently set and brownie sides have fallen to form 1-inch-wide ring around filling, about 30 minutes.

To make the topping:  Whisk sour cream and sugar in small bowl to blend.  Spread evenly atop hot cheesecake to within 3/4 inch of edge.  Bake cheesecake 1 minute longer.

Set cake on rack.  Cut around top edge of pan sides to loosen cake.  Cool cake completely.  Place peanut butter in pastry bag fitted with small (No.1) star tip.  Pipe tiny rosettes of peanut butter around edge of sour cream.  Chill cake until rosettes are firm, about 30 minutes.  Cover pan tightly with foil and chill cake overnight.

Cut around pan sides to loosen cake.  Remove pan sides.  Transfer cheesecake to platter.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Source:  adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

Saturday, April 22, 2017

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

My apology for being absent for a long time.  I think I mentioned it on my last post that I'm taking more responsibility at work now that my priorities at home has also changed.  I also don't feel like making desserts or sweet treats for a while so this break is much needed.

My son also has an early bird class which makes my day is longer than usual.  I'm in bed by 10 most nights and I believe sleep is one of things I won't miss out.  A well rested wife and mommy is a much appreciated person during the day :)

This month I finally feel the urge to start baking again.  But the first thing I made is actually involves little time in the oven.  I had a slice of cheesecake on my church potluck and I wanted to eat cheesecake at home.  I don't think I've ever made no-bake cheesecake before that this time is the right time to try it.  Strawberries have started coming in the stores so automatically it's the fruit that I fancy putting in the no-bake cheesecake.

The crust is made of chocolate graham crackers with some oats and brown sugar.  It tastes very yummy; actually this combo strawberry and chocolate is super delicious.  The addition of whipped cream and extra strawberries on top makes it even better.  This actually reminds me of strawberry ice cream without the brain freeze!

Now the fresh strawberry slices are mixed with melted marrionberry jam because I run out of my strawberry jam.  They taste just fine with it, it's just when photographed it looks a little funny with those little seeds of marrionberry.  This also told me that I need to make more strawberry jam in a month or two.

I hope you'll give this a try!

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 10

9 whole chocolate graham crackers
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (from 2 envelopes)
1 1/2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups chopped strawberries

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups fresh strawberries, cut in half
1/2 cup strawberry jam

To make the crust:  Preheat oven to 350F.  Blend graham crackers, oats, brown sugar, and salt in processor until graham crackers are finely ground.  Add melted butter and vanilla; process until moist crumbs form.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.  Bake crust until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Cool.

To make the filling:  Pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over.  Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.  Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves.  Blend cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lemon juice in processor until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.  Add berries; puree until smooth.  With machine running, add warm gelatin mixture through feed tube and blend well.  Pour filling into crust.  Cover; chill overnight.

Cut around pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides.  Transfer cake to platter.

Topping:  Using electric mixer, beat cream and sugar in medium bowl until peaks form.  Spread cream mixture thickly over top of cheesecake.  Place berries in bowl.  Heat jam in small saucepan over low heat until just melted.  Pour jam over berries; toss to coat.  Mound coated  berries on cream, leaving 1-inch plain border.  Chill cake at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Source:  adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts