Dessert

Chocolate Truffles & Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels

Christmas Candy 2

Well, it’s December 23.  Can you believe it?!  I feel like I just finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, and we’re already 2 days out from Christmas.  This year has absolutely flown by.  Not only is 2013 nearly over, but next Wednesday will mark the halfway point in my pregnancy.  Yikes!  When did that happen?  We could not be more thankful and excited for what 2014 has to offer us,  but until that comes, we still have one (big) holiday to get through.

Every year for the past several years, I have made some kind of candy or cookie at Christmas time.  Eggnog macarons, candy cane meringues, rum balls.  And for the past 2 years, truffles and caramels have taken center stage.

These are the best gifts to give to people this time of year.  I have a huge extended family, and making treats has always been the best way to make sure everyone gets some holiday love this time of year.  Truffles are fantastic; so, so easy to make, and so easily customizable to whatever flavors you want.  I did one basic truffle recipe with two different toppings: pistachios and cocoa powder.  Truffles dipped in cocoa powder are my personal favorite; so rich and decadent, that I have a habit of eating about 12 before even realizing I’ve consumed that much chocolate.  Whoops.  😉

Christmas Candy 1

These caramels are a take off of the Truffled Truffles I did on here awhile back.  Rich, super buttery caramels with that little truffle oil finish, and the bite of the sea salt … these are the best caramels ever.  The main trick that I’ve finally picked up on with caramels is to never stir the sugar; only swirl the pan.  Stirring the sugar can create crystallization, which makes for gritty caramels, very unappealing.  These little babies are smooth as can be, and melt in your mouth immediately.  Before I got everything cut and wrapped, Shawn was surreptitiously taking slices of it off of the brick, he loves these caramels so much.  Ahh, the rush of Christmas sugar.

I love Christmas.  We will be eating fondue and crab Christmas Eve with my family, followed by a Christmas morning of stockings, gifts and a delicious brunch.  This year is particularly poignant, as it is the last year for Shawn and me as a family of two.  This time next year, we will have a little 6-7 month old, and will get to start all of our own traditions to carry on throughout the years.  I can’t wait to see what the coming years have to bring us.

And to you, my lovely readers, I wish all who celebrate a very merry Christmas!  THG

Chocolate Truffles
Yields 50
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Ingredients
  1. 24 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided
  2. 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 1/2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  5. 3 Tbsp. good brandy
  6. 2 Tbsp. coffee liqueur
  7. 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  8. 1 cup green pistachios, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together 16 oz. bittersweet chocolate and unsalted butter. Stir until just smooth and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until bubbles just begin to form along the sides of the pan. Quickly pour over melted chocolate and stir a few times to incorporate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes and stir until mixture is smooth. Add brandy and coffee liqueur and stir to incorporate. Pour into glass baking dish and refrigerate 1 hour to set.
  3. Using a melonballer, scoop chocolate mixture and roll into 1 inch spheres. Place on a parchment sheet and refrigerate another 1 hour.
  4. Melt remaining 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water until smooth. Allow chocolate to cool to about 92-93F. Using two regular teaspoons, roll truffles in melted chocolate until fully covered. Tap on the edge of bowl to release any extra chocolate from around truffle. For cocoa powder truffles: add chocolate dipped truffle to bowl of cocoa powder and gently roll to coat. Tap to release excess powder and set on parchment paper lined baking sheet to set. For pistachio truffles: place chocolate dipped truffles on parchment paper lined baking sheet and quickly sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
  5. Let truffles set with chocolate at room temperature for another 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/
Truffle-Sea Salt Caramels
Yields 40
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups white sugar
  2. 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 3 tsp. truffle oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  6. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  7. 2 tsp. pink sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Line a 13x9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment paper with vegetable oil and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, water and 1 tsp. truffle oil over medium-high heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture; just swirl as necessary. Allow sugar to bubble and darken in color to a deep golden brown (keep a close eye to make sure sugar doesn't burn.)
  3. While the sugar is caramelizing, bring heavy cream, butter, remaining 2 tsp. truffle oil and sea salt to a boil. Set aside.
  4. Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep golden brown, remove from heat and quickly whisk in heavy cream mixture. Be careful; it will quickly bubble up! Once heavy cream mixture is incorporated, whisk in vanilla and return to medium heat. Heat caramel to firm ball stage, about 250F. Immediately remove from heat and carefully pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until caramel has set, about 2-3 hours.
  5. Cut up several 3x3 inch squares of either parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly brush vegetable oil on a cutting board and large knife. Remove caramel from the pan and parchment paper and place on cutting board. Sprinkle generously with pink sea salt. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, and then into 1x1 inch pieces. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper and set aside. Continue to brush knife with vegetable oil as needed. Refrigerate wrapped caramels until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps

cookieswaplogo2013

 

The day has arrived!  The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has come to a close, and today is the day everyone who participated is sharing their delicious recipes.  

It was so much fun participating in this massive cookie exchange; definitely one to do next year as well.  How it works is this: after signing up, you are assigned 3 random bloggers to send cookies to.  A dozen cookies each, all an original recipe.  In return, 3 different bloggers send you a dozen cookies, so everyone ends up with one dozen of 3 different kinds of cookies.  Too fun, right?

Chocolate Gingersnaps 1

 

I was assigned to make cookies for Brooke from 2 Texas Gals, Crystal from Mrs. Happy Homemaker, and Khandra from Cakes by Khandra.  Let me tell you, trying to decide on one recipe was tough.  I needed to do something that would hold up well to shipping, but I still wanted to do something original and somewhat festive and holiday-like.  I finally decided on gingersnaps, with a little twist: dark chocolate gingersnaps.  I had made something similar years before, but more as a firm, wafer-like gingersnap.  These were soft and chewy, perfectly spiced and that nice rich hit of dark chocolate.  I made an extra dozen to have at the house, which were quickly devoured by both Shawn and myself.  Cookies don’t have a long life in our house.

Chocolate Gingersnaps 2

 

Speaking of which, I can’t forget about the cookies that showed up at my front door!  I don’t know if everyone that participates is this talented, or if I just got real lucky, but we had an absolute sugar feast with our shipments.  Megan from Nutrition Awareness sent maple gingersnaps, with the maple sourced from her family’s farm in Ohio.  Sweet and spicy and simple, perfect little gingersnaps.  Ace from The Toasted Sprinkle sent in “Faux-reos”: chocolate shortbread with white chocolate filling.  I nominate these to take the place of real Oreos, they were seriously that good.  And finally, Nicole from Cooking for Keeps sent us sugar cookies dipped in white chocolate with peppermint candy and pretzels.  I cannot tell you how insanely good these were.  Super soft, buttery cookies, with the sweetness of the white chocolate, the coolness of the peppermint and the salt of the pretzels.  I was deeply disappointed to only get 12; I could have eaten a truckload full of those babies.  So, so good!

Needless to say, in my humble opinion, the Cookie Swap was a great success!  If you are curious about how to participate next year, you can go here for more information.  Happy baking!  THG

Dark Chocolate Gingersnaps
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  5. 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  6. 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  7. 1 tsp. ground allspice
  8. 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  9. 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  10. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  11. 1/2 cup sugar
  12. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 1/4 cup heavy molasses
  14. 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  15. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  16. 2 eggs, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cream of tartar. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until thick. Add molasses, fresh grated ginger and sea salt; mix well to combine. Add eggs one at a time to wet ingredients and beat well. Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix to combine. Work together with your hands into a large ball of dough.
  4. Scoop the dough using a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop. Roll into balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Leave on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move cookies to cooling rack. Serve at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

A Lil’ Oven Baking

Well, I promised an announcement on Monday, and I’m here to deliver.  Care to see what I’ve got baking in the oven?

Cinnamon Bun 4

 

Yes, the Humble home is gaining another mouth to feed.  Shawn and I are expecting our first child in May 2014!  We are over the moon, couldn’t be more excited.  We had started trying to get pregnant at the start of the year, and then with all of my health complications, we had to put the whole baby train on hold.  But, in June, my doctor gave us the go-ahead to start trying again, and now here we are!  

I know the picture above is a literal cinnamon bun baking in the oven, but I thought what better way to announce a pregnancy on a cooking blog?  Besides, this cinnamon bun is scrumptious (adapted from The Farm Girl recipe) and you will want to bake it for yourself, with or without baby.

Cinnamon Bun 3

 

For those of you who are curious (because a lot of people are), I’ve been feeling pretty good.  Some nausea, some morning sickness, but very little.  I’ve had some pretty crazy reactions to food though.  Early on, I grabbed a handful of kettle corn for a snack (normally a favorite), and nearly spit it right back out.  It tasted like pennies.  SO disappointing.  Since then, my normally over-active sweet tooth has been seriously depleted, and all I want is cheese, pickles, and all things salty.  I had about 3 weeks where all I wanted to eat was Shawn’s spaghetti (he makes the BEST spaghetti sauce; I will post a recipe sometime for you!) cold, with cornichons.  Weird combo, I know, but it tasted amazing.  I always thought the pregnancy cravings thing wasn’t totally real, but you really do get turned off of foods and combinations you normally love and develop obsessions with other foods.  Very bizarre.

So, that’s my news.  We’re chugging along just fine with our little HB (baby’s in utero nickname: stands for “healthy baby”), and now that we’ve passed the first real milestones, we’re giddy to start sharing the news with all of our family and friends (and you of course!).  I’ll post updates as they happen, and definitely once our little bundle is here, but this will remain a food blog.  I may delve into kid and baby friendly recipes as time goes on (especially if there seems to be a lot of interest), but I’m still here, posting recipes with tons of chocolate, butter and cheese for us all to drool over.  I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have about our lil’ announcement (leave them in the comments).

Thank you for sharing in this exciting news with us.  Now, let’s eat some cinnamon buns!  THG

Cinnamon Bun 1

 

Giant Cinnamon Bun
Yields 1
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Dough
  1. 3/4 cup warm buttermilk
  2. 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 4 1/4 cups (21 ¼ ounces) flour
  5. 1/4 cup sugar
  6. 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  7. 1 1/4 tsp. salt
Filling
  1. 8 Tbsp. melted butter
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp. cinnamon
  4. Zest of 1 large orange
Glaze
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 tsp. orange zest
  3. 1 Tbsp. orange juice
  4. 1 Tbsp. milk
For the dough
  1. Whisk the warmed buttermilk and butter together in a large measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs. Mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still overly sticky, add a tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but has a slight tacky feel when pressed between your fingertips.
  2. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a small bowl until well mixed and set aside. Grease 1 9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  4. When the dough has risen, gently punch down and roll into a roughly 24X6-inch rectangle. Brush the melted butter evenly over the entire surface. Top with the cinnamon sugar mixture, evenly pressing the sugar mixture gently into the butter. Starting with a shorter side, roll the dough tightly into classic cinnamon roll form, pinching the edge to seal. Gently take the rolled dough and coil it around in one of the prepared baking pans. The layers will want to fall apart a bit, but they will come back together during the baking process. Lightly cover the cinnamon roll with greased plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Bake the roll for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden on top and cooked through. While the roll is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Remove the cinnamon roll from the oven and using a spatula, nudge it out of the pan onto a cooling rack set over waxed or parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over the cinnamon roll. Slice the cinnamon roll into pie-shaped wedges and serve warm.
Adapted from The Farm Girl
Adapted from The Farm Girl
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Chocolate Bavarian Cream & An Anniversary

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 2

 

Today is my second anniversary as The Humble Gourmet.  Yay!

I have so enjoyed this journey with all of you, and I look forward to sharing more recipes and stories and life events in the future.  I hope you have all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Reflecting back on the two years, I have accomplishments that I’m proud of, and more that I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  I’ve shared some personal stories and moved to a new location.  We’ve had Coffee & Doughnuts, the Best Granola Ever, and Christmas Dessert in February.  I haven’t been as productive on the blog as I wanted to this year due to my health issues, but now I’m feeling good and rarin’ to go.  I’m hoping in the next year to have more diverse recipes, I want to develop a new series of posts (in the works now, as a matter of fact), and possibly my first giveaway!  So much more to do, I hope you’ll all be here with me for it!

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 1

 

So, in honor of this second anniversary, I’ve made chocolate Bavarian cream.  Haven’t had Bavarian cream, you say?  Well, now’s the time to try it.  Almost like a cross between a mousse and a panna cotta, Bavarian cream is smooth and creamy, but uses gelatin to hold its form.  It’s typically done in a large batch and put into a decorative mold, which is then turned out on a platter and adorned with cream and berries, but I went simple with this one.  We are a household of two, so small ramekins are a better fit for us than a large molded version.  But my goodness, were these delicious.  They were gone almost as quickly as they were set.  A little pink sea salt to bring out the chocolate, a couple of fresh raspberries (the last of the season here…boo!), and a sprig of mint and my friends, we were in business.  I know working with gelatin can be intimidating, but this dessert is practically fool-proof.  Consider it your entry to the gelatinized, set dessert club.  You won’t be sorry.

What sort of things would you like to see on The Humble Gourmet in the upcoming year?  Any recipe suggestions?  Posts?  More stories?  Let me know in the comments!  THG

Chocolate Bavarian Cream 3

 

Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered unflavored gelatin
  3. 1/4 cup cold water
  4. 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 1 tsp. pink sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  8. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  9. 2 cups heavy cream
  10. Raspberries and fresh mint, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate over medium heat until fully melted and smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle powdered gelatin over cold water and let bloom, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, sea salt and vanilla until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat milk until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat. Pour hot milk into the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Return egg and milk mixture to saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture coats the back of a spoon (about 5-10 minutes). Do not let it boil. Add bloomed gelatin and whisk to incorporate (it may bubble up; be careful not to let the mixture overflow). Add chocolate and mix until combined. Strain mixture into a clean bowl and set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer, whisk heavy cream until just before stiff peaks form (peaks should be firm, but fold over when lifted). Fold in half of the chocolate mixture until smooth, then fold in the remainder. Continue to gently fold until mixture is completely incorporated. Divide mixture among 6 small ramekins or one large gelatin mold, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator to set, at least 3 hours.
  6. Once mixture has set, remove from refrigerator. To unmold: dip the mold or ramekin in hot water just up the sides for about 5 seconds. Run a butter knife around the edges. Turn a plate over the top and, holding onto the plate and mold, flip over. Carefully pull up the mold, wiggling gently if necessary to release the cream. Garnish with berries and mint and serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 2

Happy Halloween my friends!  The bewitching hour is upon us.  Who has plans for tonight?  Party?  Trick or treating?  Stuffing your face with pizza and candy while you watch the scariest movies Netflix Streaming has to offer?  Just me?  Okay.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 4
If you do find yourself in the mood for a decadent and devilish dessert, I have just the thing for you.  Pumpkin pots de creme with a chocolate ganache cap.  Rich and sweet and perfectly adult.  I have seen so many great kid’s Halloween desserts on the Internets lately (some of them are incredible), but I thought a nice adult Halloween dessert would be in order.  Not to say kid’s won’t like it; but I have a feeling you will be the one licking the bowl clean this year.  😉

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 3
A variation of my Sweet Potato Pots de Creme from two years ago, this one features pumpkin puree, cardamom, and pinch of sea salt for variation.  Plus, that dark chocolate ganache is the perfect compliment; thick and rich and bittersweet to compliment the earthy custard below.  An elegantly ghoulish dessert for this Halloween night.

Pumpkin Chocolate PDC 1

I wish you all a safe and happy All Hallow’s Eve!  And, for fun, check out this great article from howstuffworks.com on the history of trick or treating.  Happy Halloween!  THG

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 5 egg yolks at room temperature
  5. 1/3 cup sugar
  6. 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  8. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  10. 5 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, vanilla pod and beans, and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and let spices steep for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, whip egg yolks and sugar together until thick and ribboned. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the cream mixture. Slowly pour hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the eggs. Once cream is mixed in, add pumpkin puree and mix throughly. Add cardamom, sea salt and nutmeg and mix.
  4. Place 6 small ramekins or teacups in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about 1/2 of space. Add hot water to the roasting pan so that the bottom 2/3 of the ramekins are submerged.
  5. Bake ramekins in roasting pan in the middle of the oven for about 30-45 minutes, until sides are set and center is still slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  6. Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. heavy cream in the microwave, about 30 seconds (mind that it doesn't overflow). Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted and glossy. Spoon chocolate over set pots de creme and smooth the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

 

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet & An Announcement

Alright my little chickens. We’ve got a little blogging announcement and a little dessert, so let’s start with the announcement.

The Humble Gourmet has moved! I have been working the past couple of months on developing a self-hosted site, and it is now ready. I am now going to be cooking and blogging at www.thehumblegourmet.com, complete with a total website design overhaul. If you visit the current website you will be automatically redirected, but all the new content will be on www.thehumblegourmet.com. I’m really excited about this new direction for the blog, and hope you will join me in the move!

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 4

Now, all housekeeping aside, let’s talk sherbet. I am a huge fan of sherbet; creamier than sorbet since it does have a dairy base, but much lighter and slushier than ice cream. Sherbet is the best when using fruit juices for flavoring; the lighter dairy content let’s the fruit flavor really shine.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 3

I had bought some lychees a couple of weeks ago with no idea how I wanted to use them. I thought about doing a panna cotta, or a mousse. Then I thought about combining it with kiwi and doing a granita. It was a lovely husband who suggested pairing the lychee with the watermelon. GENIUS. Once I had that in my mind, I knew what the best possible recipe would be: sherbet all the way.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 2
 

It’s a perfect combination of the two flavors; sweet and very fruity. Because both of the fruits are very sweet on their own, not a whole lot of extra sugar is required. It’s a really light flavor; a perfect summer flavor profile to close out the season. A little lime juice helps brighten everything up and really pull the watermelon and lychee out. Too, too good.

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet 1

Thank you everyone for all of your support over the past (almost 2!) years. I am so excited to keep bringing you fresh recipes and inane chatter, and hope you will join in on the conversation. THG

 

Watermelon Lychee Sherbet
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Ingredients
  1. 8-10 large lychees
  2. 1/2 small seedless watermelon
  3. zest and juice of 1 lime
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 1 tsp. sea salt
  6. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  7. 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
Instructions
  1. Peel lychees and set aside. Cut up watermelon into 1-inch pieces, rinds removed. Puree lychee and watermelon together in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Whisk lime zest, lime juice, sugar and sea salt into juice. While whisking, pour in heavy cream and milk. Whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
  2. After refrigerating, prepare according to ice cream maker's instructions. Freeze or serve immediately.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Creme Fraiche and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

Pepper Ice Cream 5

I have reached the pinnacle of dessert making awesomeness: I own an ice cream maker.  I have wanted to make ice cream since I was a little kid.  My mom always told this story about her grandfather who would make homemade strawberry ice cream, and eat it wearing his winter coat.  I remember a recipe for snow ice cream in my old Boxcar Children cookbook which fascinated me.  But, up until now, I had never made ice cream myself.  That has changed.

Pepper Ice Cream 1

Since I got my KichenAid ice cream maker, I have made ice cream 4 times: chocolate peanutbutter, homemade Cherry Garcia (intended for my sister, but my parents got to it first), toasted coconut and caramel (for my dad’s birthday), and this one: creme fraiche and pink peppercorn.

Pepper Ice Cream 4

I have had this recipe rolling around in my head for months.  The tart creme fraiche with the bite of the peppercorn.  I’ve had creme fraiche ice cream, and peppercorn ice cream, but never the two combined.  Experimentation was definitely in the cards on this one.

Pepper Ice Cream 2

First, you start with the creme fraiche.  Most high-end grocers have this, and usually charge an arm and a leg, but did you know you can make it at home?  A little cream a little buttermilk, and a little bit of time and you’re in business.  I keep a jar in the fridge most of the time; it’s a great substitute for sour cream; tart but subtle, more mild and a much creamier texture.  I used cream, milk, and the creme fraiche in this recipe; rich and indulgent, but delicious none the less.  This is definitely not an ice cream you scarf down in a huge cereal bowl; this ice cream is best in single scoop servings, eaten slowly and decadently.  Definitely fancy ice cre

Have you made any ice cream lately?  What’s your go-to flavor? THG

Pepper Ice Cream 3

Creme Fraiche

2 cups heavy cream (unpasturized if possible)

2 Tbsp. buttermilk (unpasturized if possible)

In a mason jar, gently mix together cream and buttermilk.  Cover opening with cheesecloth and let stand out in a cool, dry space for 24 hours.  Seal and refrigerate.  Creme fraiche lasts about 10 days.

Creme Fraiche and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

1 Tbsp. pink peppercorns, crushed

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup creme fraiche

3/4 cup low-fat milk

4 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. sea salt

In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream and peppercorns to a simmer.  Let sit and infuse for 20-30 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until thick and ribboned.  Slowly whisk in warm cream mixture.  Add creme fraiche, milk, vanilla and sea salt and whisk to combine.  Place mixture back on stovetop and bring to a simmer.  Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and refrigerate until cooled thoroughly, about 4-5 hours or overnight.

Add cold mixture to ice cream maker and set to manufacturer’s instructions.  Serve or freeze immediately.

Makes 1 quart

Cherry Sharlotka

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Summer, summer, summer! I love summer! Some of the greatest foods come out of those hot mid-year months. Peaches, plums, apricots, watermelons. And cherries. How I love me some sweet, ruby red cherries.

20130605-210520.jpg

I mean seriously. Are you not drooling right now? Those are so delectable. And fresh cherries are the best, straight from the farmer’s market, still warm from the sun. During the summer, my favorite dessert is just a bowl of Bing cherries. They really have a taste all their own: sweet, a little tart, deep and rich. They taste like summer, like June, like the sun. Have you picked up yet that I love cherries?

20130605-210526.jpg

So now, this is my take on a Russian sharlotka. Traditionally a sponge-like cake stuffed to the brim with apples (see this Smitten Kitchen recipe for a fantastic take on the original recipe). I was intrigued by the recipe, but thought it was a bit out of season, more of an autumn dessert with the apples. I thought of what else I could use to replace the Granny Smiths and decided…cherries. It must be cherries.

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Do you see that cake jam packed with cherries? So fruity and light, without being too sweet. I cut down the sugar content in the cake batter since we were dealing with sweet cherries instead of tart apples. A dash of cardamom for spice, a little bourbon vanilla for fragrance. Dress it with some creme fraiche mixed with honey for a creamy and sharp topping. Too good!

What’s your favorite summer fruit? THG

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Cherry Sharklotka
1 lb. fresh Bing cherries, cut in half and pitted
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. bourbon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 1/2 tsp. honey

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour two medium (5 inch) ramekins. Split the cherries halves between each ramekin, filling to the top.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until thick and ribboned. Add vanilla and whisk in. Add flour and cardamom and whisk to combine. Pour batter over cherries in ramekin, filling to the top. Tap ramekins on the counter to break up air bubbles and allow batter to settle throughout the cherries.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool for 15 minutes and turn out of ramekins onto a cooking rack. In the meantime, whisk together creme fraiche and honey and set aside. Serve at room temperature with creme fraiche topping.

Serves 4

Persimmon Steamed Pudding

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Awhile back, we had our friend John over for a dinner and a movie night. We made squid ink pasta (my fave) in vodka sauce and watched “Sunset Boulevard”. Have you seen it? Norma Desmond? It’s the best; a little campy, a little noir, and full of Gloria Swanson at her most awesome/insane.

Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ve quoted the most famous line at some point: “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” Actually, the real line is slightly different, but funnily enough, that’s what the famous line has been turned into. Just like Mae West’s line “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” She never said it like that; she actually said “Why don’t you come up some time…and see me.” But, that’s not how we remember it. Even “Casablanca” has a misspoken line…Bogart never says “Play it again, Sam.” He only says “Play it.” and Bergman says “Play it Sam.” But no one says the line the way it became famous. Isn’t it odd how we remember and change iconic lines?

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ANYWAY, since I’m sure you weren’t looking for a Hollywood movie line lesson, back to food. For dessert that night, I decided to go with a twist on a classic: steamed pudding. I had some fresh persimmons from the farmer’s market, so I steamed them, pureed them, and folded them into the pudding. A little cardamom and we were on our way.

I love cardamom in desserts. It’s such a distinct flavor and can really cut through the sweetness of a dish like this. It’s got that great earthy, spicy quality to it, which pairs so nicely with winter fruits like persimmon and pear.

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Whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. I can get overwhelmed by too sweet a dessert, so the tart pomegranate and the spicy cardamom balance this dish out nicely. The consistency is really great too; similar to a clafoutis, but much more moist. Definitely like a cross between a custard and a cake. Super yummy.

 

What old movies do you like? What movie lines do you find are often misquoted? THG

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Persimmon Steamed Pudding
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup persimmon puree
3/4 cup milk

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Brush the inside of 4 small ramekins with the butter. Refrigerate until butter sets.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, sea salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat remaining 6 Tbsp. butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolks one at a time, beating between until incorporated. Add vanilla and beat. Add persimmon puree and beat until well combined. Add in the flour mixture in 3 sets, alternating with the milk. Beat well between each addition until all is added and well combined. Scoop mixture into prepared ramekins to just below the lip.
In a lidded casserole dish, add a dish towel to the bottom. Set ramekins on top of towel, being careful to keep about 1 inch space between each dish. Add hot water 2/3 way up the ramekins. Place lid on the casserole dish and carefully transfer to the middle of the oven.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from water bath. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4

Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart

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So, I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Quite awhile. Case in point? This dessert was made for Christmas Eve dinner. So…yeah. I’ve been lazy getting around to it.
But, I figured, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And this dessert is decadent, and involves chocolate, and red fruit. And, it’s pretty. Really, really pretty. And if you were going to eat a pretty dessert any day, it should be Valentine’s, right?

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I’m going to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Shawn is going away for a work conference, so it’s just me, the dogs, and some terrible/awesome rom-com I’ll find on basic cable. I’ve never been very into Valentine’s Day; it’s a great day for eating chocolate and smelling pretty flowers, but otherwise, I can take it or leave it. So, I’m not destroyed over spending it on my own. Shawn has a standing tradition to give me a bag of Skittles each year on Valentine’s, so as long as I get those tasty little fruit candies, I’m a happy girl. But I’ll miss my guy, just cuz
:-)

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The sweetness of the chocolate versus the tang of the goat cheese and tartness of the currants is such a great combination. It’s complex and unexpected. Plus, as I mentioned before, pretty. This is a dessert to make to impress your Valentine.

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I love the currants in the goat cheese filling. Fancy, like little rubies.

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Beautiful. And delicious, let’s not forget that.
What are you doing for your Valentine this year? THG

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Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart
Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Chocolate Filling:
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Goat Cheese Filling:
8 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh red currants, stems attached

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cubed butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in ice water, 1 tsp. at a time, until dough just comes together. Dump dough onto a well-floured surface. Roll out into a 1/4″ thick rectangle. Press dough into a 4.25″ x 13.75″ tart pan. Fork the bottom of the dough. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake in oven until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
While crust is baking, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to simmering. Pour over chopped chocolate and mix until chocolate completely melts.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together goat cheese and sugar until fluffy and well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, orange juice and zest. Add egg mixture to goat cheese mixture. Whisk half and half and heavy cream into cheese mixture until well combined.
Spread chocolate in a thin, even level at the bottom of the tart shell. Pour in goat cheese mixture on top. Tap tart pan to remove any air bubbles. Carefully add red currants to the top of the goat cheese mixture, making sure not to let them sink to the bottom of the tart. Bake in the center of oven until goat cheese sets, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.