Sunday, April 25, 2010

homemade apple pie

I spotted some delicious granny smith apples at the Farmer's Market and instantly started to crave apple pie.

crust recipe
1/2 cup ice-cold water
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 salt (omit if using salted butter)
12 tbsp butter (cut into cubes)

Combine butter and flour in a electric mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Turn to low speed and gradually pour the water until the dough begins to clump. Divide the dough into two balls. Wrap the dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
*You can always freeze it for later use, as well.*

Meanwhile you can begin to make the pie filling.....

Pie Filling
3 granny smith apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tbsp nutmeg

Peel and slice your apples. Combine with sugar and spices.

Now that your pie crust has had plenty of time to cool, divide it into two, equal halves. Roll one of the balls of pie crust out until it is around 1/8th of an inch thick. Once you have rolled out the dough, wrap it around the rolling pin and unroll it onto your pie pan.

Once you have shaped it to fit the inside of the pan, take a fork and poke holes in the bottom of the crust. This will let the steam out as the pie bakes. Dump all of the apples in the pie. Place about 4 chunks of butter on top of apple filling. This will give the filling rich flavor. Roll out the remaining pie dough and place it on top. Create a pattern around the edge of the pie by using the back of a knife. Cut long strips of tinfoil and place them around the edge of the pie. This will prevent the crust's edge from burning while it bakes. You will want to take the tinfoil off about ten minutes before the pie is done. This way, the apple pie will have a golden brown edge. Bake your pie at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes. For a glossy effect, brush a small portion of egg white on top of the crust when you remove the tinfoil.

hint: Place a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil on the lowest oven rack (not on the same rack as the pie) to prevent any overflow from reaching the bottom of the oven--easy cleanup!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

almond raspberry mini-cakes

This recipe is very cute for valentine's day!!!

cake ingredients
1 2/3 cups toasted slivered almonds
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 large egg whites, at room temperature

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the almonds with 2/3 cup of the sugar and pulse grind until it is a coarse flour. Transfer the almond flour to a large bowl. Add the all-purpose flour, an additional 2/3 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder, and whisk to combine.

Have ready a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat. (The butter will melt first, and then the milk solids will settle to the bottom. After a little while, the milk solids will start to turn golden.) When the milk solids have reached a nutty brown color, immediately remove from the heat. Using the fine-meshed strainer, strain the butter into the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Discard the butter solids. Stir in the vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. If there is even one speck of yolk in the whites they will not form soft peaks properly because the fats in the yolk will prevent the proteins in the whites from adhering to one another. In a slow steady stream, with the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar. Increase the speed to high. Beat until there are firm – not dry – glossy peaks of meringue.

Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold one-third of the meringue into the batter to lighten it. Add the remaining meringue and gently fold in until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spin the pans or use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely.

raspberry filling ingredients
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
4 oz. heavy cream
1/8-1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon raspberry liquor

In a bowl mix together the cream and sugar until it has a thick whipped consistency. (I only used about 1/8 cup of sugar as I didn't want it to be super sweet. Add the cheese and liquor and mix until all ingredients are combined. It will have a fairly thick consistency.

Now you are ready to assemble your cakes. U
se a serrated knife to trim off any excess cake that has domed or risen up, and make your layers as flat and even as possible. Use a round cookie cutter and begin cutting small circles of cake. Now you are ready to construct the layers. Spread with a spatula a small amount of the raspberry filling and then "sandwich" it with the second cake circle. Finish garnishing by adding another dollop of filling on top and decorate with fresh raspberries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (at request of my husband). Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

turtle cheesecake

This was the first time my cheesecake did not crack. I put it on a wire rack immediately after removing from oven. I planned to let it cool on my kitchen counter, but remembered that my cats are little piglets and would most likely nibble it. I decided to put the cake (still sitting on wire rack) in the microwave. It just fit. I left it in the microwave for about six hours (actually forgot it was in there while watching the Saxondale). I put it into the refrigerator to chill overnight. In the morning it was PERFECT, no cracks!

1 3/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons caramel syrup or ice cream topping
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease 9-inch springform pan. Combine crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan.
Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in large mixer bowl until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lime juice and vanilla extract; beat until combined.
Microwave 1 1/2 cups of the milk chocolate morsels in medium, microwave-safe bowl on high power for 1 minute and stir. Morsels may retain some of their shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir 2 cups of cheesecake batter into melted morsels; mix well. Alternately spoon batters into crust, beginning and ending with yellow batter.

Bake for 1 hour and15 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Cool completely on wire rack in microwave for 3-5 hours. Drizzle caramel syrup over cheesecake. Sprinkle with pecans and mini morsels. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of pan.