Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Pie

Normally, I'm not into pumpkin pie, but I love this pie! It's lighter with a lot of cream and some banana flavor. A regular Uy Thanksgiving dish for as long as I remember. From Ina Garten.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble gobble :)

For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed (not too ripe, or pie will be too watery)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream

For the topping:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. In 2 8 inch pie pans press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

French Macarons

I didn't know these type of macarons existed (vs the sticky condensed milk and coconut version) until I went to France. They come in adorable colors and delicious European flavors, totally my kind of dessert! They were not cheap though (cheapest was $1 at McDonalds, which still tasted pretty awesome), so I've always dreamed of making them. I've heard they are insanely hard to make, but I enlisted my brother as sous chef Hans to assist me. We're a great team.

Natalie: *folds ingredients*
5 min later
Natalie: *still folding*
Hans: dude, if this is Iron Chef you're never gonna make it.
Natalie: well, I'm sure on Iron Chef, the sous chef wouldn't waste time just standing there watching the head chef! 
Natalie: I'm not sure if that pipe tip is big enough...
Hans: fine then *tips bag upside down and dumps out the merengue onto tray* this looks kinda like Snowball's crap

We also only had unsweetened baking chocolate for the ganache, so we improvised:

Natalie: *tastes* ugh, its really bitter *dumps sugar*
Hans: man, if it's YOU who's dumping that much sugar, that's really disturbing *tastes* blah!
Natalie: *adds more sugar* well just think how much sugar is added to normal milk chocolate then.
Hans: I'm sure there's more to milk chocolate than just sugar. They probably add milk. This is like adding pure sugar to lemonade without adding any water.
Natalie: *tastes* I think it's okay now, but I'll just add a bit more sugar
Hans: yeah, just wait. Imagine people saying, "gee this is so sweet, what chocolate did you use?" and us saying, "oh unsweetened...we just dumped too much sugar on it!" 
Hans: out of the way, I'll be the head chef and you'll be the sous chef! 
Natalie: your cookies are so humongous they look more like burgers than macaroons. 
Natalie: I think I made too much ganache filling, when dad comes back I'll half batch it.
Hans: Are you kidding? This is DAD we're talking about. Haven't you seen how much peanut butter he puts in his peanut butter sandwiches!? 
Natalie: you're adding way too much ganache, there's more filling than cookie!
Hans: Oh yeah? Just wait til we taste them. Mine will be AWESOME and yours will just be air.
Our final result! (sorry about the blurriness)
Anyway, they're not hard to make and eat....they're hard to make them pretty. But who cares, they're delicious! The cookie was a bit sweet but the more dark ganache balanced it nicely. Recipe from David Lebovitz, filling adapted.

Macaron Batter:
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Chocolate Filling:
½ cup heavy cream (used whole milk instead)
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

DirectionsPreheat oven to 350º F (180º C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2-inch, 2 cm) ready.

Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder and cocoa so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes. Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula.

When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone). Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten themacarons, then bake them for 15 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart.

Chocolate Filling: Heat the cream in a small saucepan . When the cream just begins to boil at the edges, remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit one minute, then stir until smooth. Let cool. Assemble into sandwiches!

Notes: separate egg white beforehand and let sit at room temp overnight. The older the egg white, the better because of less water content Merengues absorb moisture from the air and will "weep" aka become soggy so eat fast. Or store in airtight container and keep cool and dry.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Fruit Crisp

My research PI asked me for ideas on desserts for the lab outing since he knows I bake a lot, and wanted something healthier than s'mores, the traditional lab outing dessert. With my love of fruit, I suggested a summer crisp. He's into good food (who else uses fancy chocolates for s'mores?) and we decided on this recipe from Epicurious.

In his daughter's incredibly fancy summer house kitchen and with my cooking assistants, I felt like such an Iron Chef!

It's a little hard to recall the exact proportions since I quadruple batched the amount and kinda made it up as I went, but it's something like this:

6-8 cups blueberries, blackberries, peaches
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Crisp topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Pyrex pie plate.

Gently combine the fruits with the sugar, flour and cinnamon; place in the prepared pie plate.

Prepare the topping: Combine the oats, flour, both sugars and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry blender or 2 knives to work in the butter until topping resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Remove the crisp to a rack to cool slightly. Serve in dessert bowls with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tres Leches

A tres leches recipe from Allrecipes. I had made one a long time ago but I couldn't remember where I got the recipe, so I tried a new one which turned out pretty good. Next time I would reduce the condensed milk so it's not as sweet. I tossed out the milk (and used it for a very sweet rice pudding) thinking I had extra, but it completely absorbed all the milk and I wished I had more.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.

Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside. Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.

Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.

Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Be sure to keep cake refrigerated, and enjoy!
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Oatmeal Banana Bars with Chocolate Chips

So I have a lot of overripe bananas, and it looks like I have a slug infestation in my fridge. I was tired of banana muffins/bread and I also had a lot of oats (which I have this past year developed a huge obsessions for) so I stumbled upon this lovely recipe from Delish. It's slightly healthier, but not by much... I would take out maybe 1-2 tablespoons butter next time, as it was slightly oily when baked
Ingredients 1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
2 mashed bananas
1 egg
1 cup (uncooked) rolled oats
chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, anything!

DirectionsPreheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 8"x8" baking pan.

Using a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add mashed bananas and eggs; beat until smooth. Then mix in dry ingredients, scraping bowl occasionally. Fold in rolled oats and chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake on center oven rack 25 minutes until golden brown.
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coconut Banana Muffins

From Epicurious. I had cut back on the sugar and left out the coconut topping but afterwards wished I hadn't. Oddly, a pool of butter sat in the muffin tins after baking, but I transferred the muffins to a new plate and it appeared to be fine.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

I looove molten chocolate lava cakes. They're not pudding, brownies or cake but a mix of all three. A very impressive looking dish! It's like an easy version of chocolate souffle; they rise when you take them out and deflate quickly. From Allrecipes.

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or bars, cut into bite-size chunks
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons flour
8 extra-large paper muffin cups (or use regular paper muffin cups, which will make 12 cakes)

1 (6 ounce) container raspberries, barely moistened and rolled in about
1/2 cup sugar right before serving

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture into chocolate until smooth. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined. (Batter can be made a day ahead; return to room temperature an hour or so before baking.) 

Before serving dinner, adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter among muffin cups. 

Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates. Top each with sugared raspberries and serve immediately.
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Indian Curry

Real food! Recipe given by the boyfriend (who likes very spicy food)

1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 cups of heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Marinate the chicken with yogurt, lemon juice and spices. Refrigerate for 1 hour

Pan fry/grill the chicken until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Melt butter and saute the garlic for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 1 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Plum and Apple Galette // Pâte Brisée Crust

I received a lot of plums from my boyfriend B and after eating so many, I figured I should bake with them. By the time I got around to baking, however, I had eaten almost all the plums, so I threw in apples as well. I didn't have a pie tin but solved the problem with a galette, which is like a pizza and can be baked on a cookie sheet. The crust was deliciously flaky and it was interesting to have both sweet and sour plums in the same bite. From Simply Recipes

2 apples, peeled and cut
8 tart plums, pitted and sliced (about 1 1/4 pounds net)
Zest from one lemon
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
pie crust (see below)

In a medium sized bowl, gently toss the plum and apple slices with the lemon zest, flour and sugar.

Preheat oven to 375°F. If you are using homemade chilled pie dough, remove it from the refrigerator to let stand for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pie dough to a 13-inch round of even thickness.

Place rolled-out pie dough in the center of a small-rimmed, lightly buttered baking sheet. Place plum mixture in the center of the pie dough round, leaving a border of 2 inches on all sides. Fold the edges of the pie crust up and over so that circle of the filling is visible.

Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375°F for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbly. Cool on a rack for an hour before serving.


All Butter Crust for Sweet and Savory Pies (Pâte Brisée) Recipe. From Simply Recipes

This recipe makes 1 pâte brisée crust, enough for one tart. If you are making a pie with a bottom and top crust, double this recipe and form two discs of dough instead of one.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar (increase to 2-3 teaspoons if for a sweet recipe)
4 to 6 Tbsp ice water, very cold

Start by cutting the sticks of butter into 1/2-inch cubes and placing in the freezer for at least 15 minutes (preferably an hour or longer) so that they become thoroughly chilled.

Combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water.

Carefully shape into a disc. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Sprinkle the disc with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Choc Chip Banana Muffins/Bread

My first baking to christen my new summer apartment kitchen. They're dense and hearty from so many bananas but flavorful. From Simply Recipes, bananas and chocolate chips courtesy of Stern Dining (stolen by me and my roommate Clarissa). 

I didn't have any baking soda except the kind in the deodorizing boxes; however, upon googling I learned two facts 1) they're the same thing and 2) you cannot leave it out and still get normal muffins.

4 ripe bananas, smashed 
1/3 cup melted butter 
3/4 cup sugar 
1 egg, beaten 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
pinch of salt 
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour 
chocolate chips 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). 

With a wooden spoon (no need for a mixer for this recipe), mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, and mix. 

Pour mixture into a buttered muffin pan. Bake for 1/2 hour.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coconut Madeleines

My godmother lives in France and when she came to visit gave us two beautiful madeleine trays. They look hard and fancy, but really aren't! Recipe by Ina Garten.

1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, to grease the pans, plus 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Confectioners' sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly butter and flour themadeleine pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy. Add 1/4 pound of butter and mix. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Stir in the coconut.

With a soup spoon, drop the batter into the pans, filling each shell almost full. Bake the madeleines for 10 to 12 minutes, until they spring back when pressed. Tap the madeleines out onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper and allow to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
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