Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Heated Enlightenment

My wonderful, beautiful and fabulous friend Stephanie enrolled the two of us in a Desserts How To at our Williams Sonoma. We have both been very excited about if for the past month and I couldn't wait to blog about it.... So off we go stomachs empty, open minded and camera in tow to the mall for our class. The chef who was teaching the class is THE best pastry chef here in Huntsville and owns a little restaurant downtown. I have not eaten there, but hear it is fabulous..... I am planning to go soon!
As I mentioned earlier, I did carry my camera (the mark of a true blogger) and started taking pictures right away. I was about 20 minutes into my photo shoot when The Manager Lady comes over to me to ask me what I was going to do with the photos... " Well, I have a little blog called Lick The Spoon, where I document my dessert escapades and I plan to post them there.." She didn't seem the least bit impressed, but that answer seemed to satisfy her. 10 minutes later she comes back over and asks me to please not photograph the Williams Sonoma name because it is "really against store policy to have cameras instore". HUH? Is there some sort of secret kitchen product that is sold there that I am not aware of?!? She acted as if I was some sort of superspy for high end kitchenware shops.... surveying her store and planning on stealing the latest greatest spatula design. I got the fact that she didn't want me to take anymore pictures, BUT because she was being so very passive aggressive about it, I decided to continue shooting. I really went overboard..... taking about 60-70 pictures. Ridiculous, really. But I was there to learn and observe and blog and there was no way in hell some middle aged passive aggressive lady in a WS apron was going to keep me from documenting desserts! And I am glad to say...... she didn't.

The chef started out making a butter cake in the Williams Sonoma
SandCastle Bunt Pan filling it with Chocolate Jack Daniels Ice Cream... The cake was a perfect little butter cake.... simple and delicious. The ice cream was.... intresting. It was a little on the strong side. The JD really made it's presence known and bit you right in the throat. When (if) I make this ice cream I think I will use less of the JD...
Nest came a Chocolate Walnut Pie. Yeah, delicious. Very delicious. The crust was made of chocolate wafers, butter and sugar and the innards were Schaffer Berger chocolate, butter, and walnuts. OMG... This was so delicious and easy. So easy I may just have to make it... soon!
Next came a chocolate Rum cheesecake. He makes his cheesecake in regular 9" cake tins. So I will have to try that... he says it prevents water leaking in and that the springform pan is the stupidest invention in cooking. I though those were pretty harsh words, but he seemed pretty passionate about it. The cheesecake was PERFECT. Not a crack in site. I do with the rum flavor had been a bit more pronounced... you know how I feel about rum.. but it was still divine. The absolute perfect creaminess and density. As he was making all of this he was spewing beautiful tid bits about chocolate and how easy it is to seize it up. He talked to use about pastry making, butter, cream ,half&half, ice cream and hazelnut flour. He told use about his other chef friends and how he is the weird one of the bunch.....
He told us that a friend of his makes a great Chocolate Key Lime tart and that stuck with me. It was all I could think about and so a few days later here I am..... with a Chocolate Key Lime Tart in the fridge.

Chocolate Key Lime Tart

1 pkg Nabisco Famous Wafers
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 tablespoons sugar

Place all 3 in food processor and pulse until bunch forms a mealy crumbly mess. Press into tart tin with removable bottom.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
dash of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lime zest

3 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Lime zest

Mix all ingredients together and pour into crust. Spread merguine on top and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. That's it. Really....

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Naughty Naughty

Yes... That is what you think it is.... And yes it is on an innocent cupcake. Yes, the toasted coconut does represent what you think it represents...
and yes, it was for a bachlorette party. Yes, all the girls thought they were cute and yes, they tasted delicious....
They are simply fairy cakes gone in the gutter.... the recipe is in July archives somewhere.....

I wonder if Nigella would approve

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blondies really do have more fun.....

She was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole
in a stained glass window.
Raymond Chandler

The blondie, like a true blonde, is a simple beauty. No exotic ingredients, no special mixer attachment, no twine or parchment paper involved. Just flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Simplicity at it’s finest.

Now, you can dress the blondie up with chocolate chips, walnuts, cream cheese, peanut butter, white chocolate, almonds and just about anything your heart desires, but underneath all that “make up” is a simple girl who is as sweet as can be. A simple girl whose blonde ambition is rarely ever duplicated in fancy schmancy tortes. This is the girl who makes you feel at home and comfortable and alright with your self…. And ready for seconds, and this time make mine a la mode…..

Remember, a true blonde is just flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs and vanilla. That’s it…
The only hard thing about blondies is trying to find a real one……..

Black and White Blondies
Magnolia Bakery

1 ½ cups cake flour (not self rising)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, soft
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chopped white chocolate
½ cup chopped semi sweet chocolate
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In smallish bowl mix together the cake flour, the baking powder and the salt. Set aside.
In mediumish bowl cream the butter with the sugars. Add the two eggs and the vanilla. Mix well. Add in the dry ingredients and blend well. Dump in the chocolate and the walnuts and mix well. Pour batter into 13x9 baking pan that has been greased and floured. Bake for 35-40 minutes…. But please, for heavens sake, don’t over process the blondes.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Photogenic Souffle

Well, I have to say... Donna is giving Nigella a run for her money in this kitchen! I have had the Modern Classics 2 cookbook for a couple of months now, but have been to busy with Nigella and Magnolia Bakery....WHY?!!? Donna Rocks!! I have made a few recipes out of this cookbook already and they have all come out very well. The Banana Cake
with Caramel Sauce, The Carrot Cake and now (drum roll please) Lemon Souffle!! I am very very proud of these little babies! They look so beautiful and are very photogenic. My husband was like " Alright, enough already with the pictures... Can I eat it now?" Heavens to Betsey.. Souffles are delicious! I have never had one before, so I don't have anything to compare these too, but they seem to be what a souffle should be. So very creamy and light... but rich. Frothy. This recipe has a very strong lemon flavor, almost too strong. My teeth are squeaking... I would love to try this in raspberry or pistachio (Nigella, I haven't forgotten about you, love.)

The preparation wasn't too bad on this.... I had two babies running around the house tonight, so my sugar and lemon juice did boil over leaving a nasty mess on my smooth cooktop. Ick. I did grind my sugar in a food processor to get caster sugar.... I am not sure that is necessary, but I wanted them to turn out right. I let the egg whites come to room temp before beating them... So this is a recipe you cant just slap together. It takes time and preparation.

I have made the official decision that The Souffle will be my new signature dish (because I am soooo good with time and preparation). I am going to try and make this in every flavor imaginable. Oh, and I have pledged my second born child to Donna Hay... I would pledge the first born but we have kinda gotten attached to her......

Edit Here: I have had MANY requests for this recipe so here it is! Enjoy!

Lemon Soufflés

Butter, softened, for greasing
Superfine sugar for dusting
3 ½ oz fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons water, extra
5 egg whites
1/3 cup superfine sugar, extra

Grease your ¾ cup capacity ramekins with butter and dust with sugar. Cup parchment paper in strips to circle around the lip of the ramekin and tie with kitchen twine ( I had to use tape….) to make collars that stand about 1 ¼ inch above the rim. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Combine the lemon juice, sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Combine the cornstarch with the extra water to make a smooth paste (this is weird, the paste is very ….. weird. You will see….. ) Add to the pan and continue to cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Refrigerate until mixture is cold.
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the egg in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Add in the extra sugar and beat until glossy. Place the lemon mixture in a large bowl and fold in the egg whites. Spoon into the ramekins and bake for 12-15 minutes or until risen and golden. Gently remove the collars and serve immediately.

Easy. Look, if I can do this and pull it off…. You can absolutely do it. And it looks soooooo impressive when it is served.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Eye Candy

I have really become fearless when it comes to food these days.... I just have a new attitude on it all. If it works out great, if not, no biggie. At least I have tried it... and who knows I might just pull it off....

I have been flipping through the Donna Hay Modern Classics 2 book lately, lusting over the food porn, and settled in on the lovely Carrot Cake recipe. I needed this Carrot Cake. I needed the familiar comfort of it... the cinnamon, the walnuts, the cream cheese. I just wanted something old fashioned and something to which my family wouldn't say " What is that??" I didn't feel like having to explain the dessert... I just wanted it to be. And it was.
I used the Donna Hay recipe as a jumping off point; adding in pineapple, coconut and walnuts. I love this cake... I had to give it away so I wouldn't stand in the kitchen, hovering over the stove at 2 am and inhale it all....

The frosting was (finally) perfect. My mother called me after I dropped it off to tell me that she was tempted to lick all the frosting off the cake. Wow... now that is a bold statement! Usually I just get a "Yeah Sister (they call me sister) that is pretty good" and it is left at that. I am not sure if they are becoming jaded to desserts or if my baking is just really that bad....

The cake was (finally) moist and light and yet dense all at the same time. Hearty. I think the pineapple along with the VERY coarsely grated carrots added quite a bit of moisture...
I topped it all off with toasted coconut and it was the perfect addition. Again, nice and clean and simple and old fashioned. Just what this girl needed.....

Here is the Donna Hay and Chan collaboration, for Sweetnicks!

Carrot Cake

1 cup pecans or walnuts
2 1/2 cups grated raw carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups crushed pineapple
1 cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz (2 pkgs) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Finely grated lemon zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine brown sugar and vegetable oil in bowl of electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add in eggs,
one at a time, and beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients in bowl and sift well. Add dry mixture to sugar mixture and mix until incorporated. Add in carrots, pineapple, walnuts and coconut. Mix until combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting.

Combine all ingredients for frosting in bowl of electric mixer. Mix on medium speed about 3-5 minutes LONGER than you think is necessary…. This gives the frosting fluffy lightness. Spread onto cooled cake and garnish with toasted coconut…..

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Oooey, Gooey, Hot, Melted Loooove

That's right, baby... I'm talkin' about S'mores. Dripping hot melted love, sexy chocolate topped with virginal white wholeness and sweetness....Sticky and hot and running down your fingers and..........

Okay, okay... exit Barry White and enter Chan. That was getting way out of control.

So we hosted ANOTHER celebratory dinner for my new job. My good friends Steph and Caleb came over with their hansome little baby, Finn.... and my very beautiful friend Dawn came in all the way from Florence. We had a delicious Italian inspired dinner and for the finale we feasted on S'mores. These were not your run of the mill-kids by the campfire- hersey's on a graham cracker- kind of S'mores either. Theses little babies were made from divine Italian bread cut into slices and covered with butter and sugar then popped in the oven to develop a dusty tan crust. The topped off with Lindz chocolate and a gorgeous marshmallow. They went back in the oven under broil just long enough for me to pop open a bottle of champagne, then out came the fragrant oooey gooey little gems.... The chocolate was so sexy, just barely beginning to melt and drip over the sides and the marshmallows became toasted and enveloping.... They were so delicious. Each one seemed to evoke something different in everyone, but one thing was unanimous... They were damn good. And so was the champagne.......

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I Scream, You Scream....

WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!! I am usually not a HUGE ice cream kinda gal..I mean a spoonful here and there is cool, but I don't ever just sit down with a bowl of ice cream and go to town. I also don't cry tears of sorrow into pints of rocky road..... never have. We use to have a Baskin Robbins over here close to our house and I did like going there. Raspberry Sherbert.... ahhhhh. I loved Raspberry Shebert.
When I turned 16 my dad wouldn't allow me to drive into "town".... I could only drive out in the county and to school and back. Well.... Baskin Robbins was JUST inside the city limits... and a month or so after I turned 16 I got a severe hankering for some RS. Meredith Corlew and I piled up in the 1986 red prelude and headed out to Baskin Robbins. On the way back we were sure we had gotten away with it when BAM!!...... I rearended a red Sunbird. The guy had just gotten the stupid car and I totaled it for him..... My dad had to come and get me and he was NOT happy... at all. He really became furious when he looked in the car and there in the floorboard set a drippy cone of Raspberry Sherbert... He reminds me of that often. Quite often, actucally......

We had a celebratory dinner tonight to celebrate my getting a new job... I am really excited and am VERY ready for the change... Anyhow my husband grilled delicious chicken and I made a neat little ice cream pie that is featured in this month's Cooking Light. The Malt Shop Ice Cream Pie....
It was so very simple to make, but it does take a bit of time. I didn't get started on it early enough and it could have stood being a bit more frozen but it was still delicious. The crushed cone crust is neat and kinda like a novelty.... it makes it fun and kid like to me... My daughter loved it. Well, we all loved it... Have fun with the toppings, they really make this pie!

Here is the recipe.
12 Sugar Cones, crushed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup low fat vanilla ice cream
1 cup low fat strawberry ice cream
1 cup strawberry sunday topping
1/4 cup malted milk

Combine first 3 ingredients and press into 9 inch pie plate. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Place softened strawberry ice cream into a mixing bowl with half the malted milk and blend until smooth.... pour into firm crust. Freeze for 30 minutes. Spread with strawberry topping. Place softened vanilla ice cream into mixing bowl with other half of malted milk and blend until smooth.... pour on top of frozen strawberry ice cream and topping. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours.....
To slice warm a knife in warm water and slice pie, cleaning knife and rewarming after each slice. Top pie slices with chocolate sauce, pecans, bananas, cherries and whipped cream... whatever floats your boat....

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go....

I know, I know!! Now you are going to have that George Michael song in your head all daaaayyyy loooooonnnnnng!! I have been singing it every since I heard the Sugar High Friday theme for this month was COFFEE!! I love cafe, but I am a simple girl when it comes to all the accouchements that go along with coffee. I like my coffee strong with sugar and a bit of plain cream. That's it..... no vanilla, no Irish cream and no creme brulee creamer (Heather!) . Just plain coffee.... and I can drink it only until about 11am then it is on to sweet tea.

I was excited about this SHF, because it is my first one to participate in and also because I have not used coffee in a dessert yet. I thought about a cheesecake, but I am cheesecaked out. Then I found a recipe for a Deep Chocolate Torte with Mocha Buttercream Frosting... but that sounded insane and couldn't wrap my head around it.... then I found THE recipe. Jolt Cake. Apparently this is a New Orleans classic, but I wouldn't know since I have never been there.... But the description described this cake as intense and not for the faint of heart.... I was IN!! This is my kind of cake!!
I have to say the recipe was a simple one.... It took me about 30 minutes to whip it up and get it in the oven.... I brewed my coffee (EXTRA EXTRA STRONG) about an hour before and let it cool a bit, but I don't think that is necessary. Also on the coffee, I couldn't find espresso at the crappy grocery store closest to my house but they did have a coffee/chicory blend that I thought would suffice, and it did. I also didn't have any orange extract, so I used the next best thing.... RUM.
This is a very strong cake. It is flourless with 16 oz of chocolate and a cup of strong coffee...... get my drift here?? It is very good and only takes a few bites to satisfy. It has a very creamy and custard like inside that is very moist and buttery.

Here is the recipe....

Jolt Cake
November 1989

Trust me, this cake is NOT for the faint of heart. It is basically a flourless chocolate cake with a
New Orleans twist. The flavors of both chocolate and coffee are intense. New Orleans is, after all, an intense city.

4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter
1 cup brewed espresso
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs, beaten lightly

In a small saucepan melt the butter over moderately low heat, stir in the espresso, sugar, zest, orange extract and Grand Marnier, and transfer the mixture to a bowl. In the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water melt the semisweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate, stirring occasionally. Stir the chocolates into the butter mixture and add the eggs, stirring until the mixture is just combined.
Line the bottom of a buttered 9-inch cake pan, 2 inches deep, with parchment paper and butter the paper. Spoon the batter into the pan, put the pan in a baking dish, and add enough hot water to the dish to reach halfway up the side of the pan. Bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour.
Remove the cake from the water bath and let it cool on a rack, and chill it, covered loosely, for 3 hours.Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan and dip the bottom of the pan in hot water for 3 seconds. Invert a platter over the pan, invert the cake with a sharp rap onto the platter, and cut it with a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cleaning the knife before cutting each slice.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Margaritas and Empanadas

Well.... I am home. No more tan than when I left. I may be a little whiter to be honest.... but I had a good time. I slept in REALLY late everyday and shopped and shopped and shopped.... and looked at the beach when we would drive by. The beach is pretty in the rain!

My girlfriends came down on Thursday and we all had a fabulous time. We have all been friends since middle school and have stayed in touch all this time.... It is always so nice to be with all of them!

My lovely friend Stephenie made these really good Watermelon Margaritas. She has had this recipe in her head for some time and was really excited about making them. They were SOOOOO delicious. They reminded us of Watermelon Jolly Rancher candies..... remember those?? She did it all and I only made one small contribution.... SIMPLE SYRUP. I made a ridiculously big deal out of putting simple syrup in there that finally she said "FINE CHAN.... put in the damn simple syrup!!" And all was right in my world again.

Here is the beautiful recipe she came up with....
3 cups watermelon, cubed and frozen
1 cup ice cubes
2 oz Cointreau
4 oz Tequila
½ cup lime margarita mix or lime juice
½ cup Simple Syrup

Makes 4 big margaritas

When I got home from the beach my mother in law had made some delicious Pumpkin Empanadas... I was hoping to learn the recipe she uses because I have tried empanada dough before and it didnt turn out at all.... My very handsome Mexican husband thinks it is weird that I try and make savory empanadas.... he says he has only had them the way his mother makes them, which is sweet. Anyways, I came home to a HUGE bowl of gorgeous tanned empanadas. They are so very good.... She makes some sort of pumpkin filling to go in them that has a bit of spice to it. The next time I go to San Antonio I hope she will teach me....

I have to get back to baking today!! I have missed it terribly! It is Sugar High Friday week this week and the theme is Coffee.... I have to get on the ball and get something made .... soon!!!

Friday, August 05, 2005

aint no sunshine when she's gone....

oh my... i literally have been basking in the sun for an absolute total of ONE HOUR since I have been here ... that would be Sunday.....Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain.....
But luckily.... I am one of those sullen soles that totally enjoys the rain and the darkness..... how sad, huh?? More time to cook without the gulit of "It's beautiful... i shoud be outside doing something....".... I have made a blueberry breadpudding and I have made several cups of REALLY good coffee... that's it.... But I have eaten good seafood and drank many many many delicious cockatils created by by fabulous girlfriends.... Watermelon Margaritas.... yeah. Good..... Very Very Very Good...
Cheers to all the lovelies that read this... I love you all... and yes... I have been drinking a wee bit.... :)
Cheers to you all and I will be back cooking and in sound mind on monday....