Monthly Archives: August 2011

Italian Buttercream, the icing of professionals

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Yikes I haven’t posted a recipe in a while! Sorry ’bout that. It’s been quite hectic in this household. Any who, I figured I would share with you a recipe for Italian Buttercream.

Italian buttercream is the go-to icing for professional pastry chefs because of its stability and durability. It is made from Italian meringue (meringue made from whipping egg whites with boiling sugar) and combined with butter and a bit of shortening to give it a nice mouth feel and icing texture.

***DO NOT SUBSTITUTE MARGARINE FOR BUTTER IN THIS RECIPE. IT WILL NOT WORK!***

Ingredients:

-1 1/4 cups white sugar
-2/3 cup corn syrup
-2/3 cup water
-5 egg whites
-1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
-2 2/3 cups shortening
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just enough to dissolve the sugar. Heat to between 223 and 234 degrees F (106 to 112 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dripped from a spoon forms a soft thread. It should take 1 or 2 minutes.

When the sugar mixture has reached the thread stage, remove it from the heat and set aside. Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer. When the whites can hold a stiff peak, pour in the sugar syrup in a thin stream while continuing to whip at medium speed. Be careful not to pour too quickly, or it will all end up at the bottom of the bowl. When the syrup is incorporated, continue to mix for 10 more minutes to allow it to cool. The egg whites will be fluffy and glossy.

Add pieces of cold butter one at a time to the egg whites and continue to whip at medium or low speed. Then do the same with the shortening. The buttercream will break down and look curdled, but keep mixing and it will come back together in about 10 minutes. When it comes back around, mix in the vanilla.

Store at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To use after it has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature, then beat with a mixer before using. If cold, heat over a double boiler until you have liquid visible just around the edges. Beat with a mixer until smooth and fluffy before using.

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Heath Bar Cookies!

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Toffee is my absolute favorite candy in the entire world! This recipe is for cookies made with Heath bars. They are positively scrumptious. It’s a cookie you’ll definitley keep around. =)

Ingredients:

-1 cup packed brown sugar
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup shortening
-2 eggs
-2 1/2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-6-8 Heath candy bars broken into pieces
Cream together sugars and shortening. Add eggs and beat. Combine flour, soda and salt and add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Blend in candy bar bits. Drop by teaspoon of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Banana Creme Pie…

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This may come as shocking to some of you, but I *HATE* bananas. I mean, with a passion. I don’t like them in almost everything, everyway. But I know a lot of people that love them. Which is the reason for this recipe. Banana creme pie is a much a staple on my family’s Thanksgiving dessert table as pumpkin pie (which I don’t care for either believe it or not). Gramma has been making this recipe for years. She found it in a cookbook (that she can no longer remember the name of) the year she got married (1969) and has tweaked it over the years to better suit my papa’s discriminating tastes. I hope you all enjoy it!

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 9 inch pie crust already baked
  • 4-5 bananas sliced

 

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt.  Add milk in gradually while stirring.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly.  Keep stirring and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the burner and stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks (this is called tempering. You do this so you don’t make scrambled eggs!). Immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture.  Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring!  Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla.  Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency. If you did curdle pieces of your mixture, whisk it vigerously before you take it off the stove. This should help to break up any pieces. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell.  Top with pudding mixture. Bake at 350 degrees  for 12 to 15 minutes.  Chill for an hour. Decorate with piped whipped cream, slices of bananas, even a drizzle of caramel would be great!

 

In honor of NATIONAL SPONGE CAKE DAY – Lemon Sponge Cake

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Today is National Sponge Cake day and in honor of that, I am posting my favorite lemon sponge cake recipe!

 

Ingredients

-6 eggs
-1 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-zest from 1 lemon
-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 325°F. Beat yolks of eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in the sugar, grated lemon rind, and juice. Fold in half of the stiffly beaten egg whites. Cut in sifted flour and salt, add nuts, and remaining egg whites. Bake in a slow oven for about one hour or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out nearly clean. 

Comin up this Saturday…

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This Saturday, my mother-in-law and I have planned an all day bake-a-thon. We hope to start around six in the morning and bake as much as we can, all day. Our focus is going to be on cupcakes. More specifically, cupcake recipes that WE come up with using special ingredients. Wanna glimpse of the types of ingredients we are talking about?

-Cayanne pepper
-Blueberry Vodka
-Espresso beans
-Brandy soaked cherries
-Bailey’s Irish Cream

That’s just a sample! And for those of you that don’t like the idea of alcohol in baked products, just know that all of the alcohol will be baked out of the product before testing begins. =)

During this bake-a-thon, I will be taking tons of pictures and hopefully some movies to post here (probably Sunday). I will also try to include some of our awesome recipes and remember, I am always open to suggestions on recipes/products/etc.

Snickerdoodles anyone?

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I know I say this alot (maybe it’s because one can never have too many all-time favorites) but one of my all time favorite cookies are snickerdoodles. I remember as a child, Gramma would announce to my papa and me she was going to bake something for dessert that night; but she would never tell s what. Then, an hour or so later, we’d get a whiff of the enchanting aroma of cinnamon and know immediately we were being treated to Snickerdoodles! Not only is this cookie one that is timeless and amazing, it is a cookie that you will enjoy saying all the time! I mean, come on… Snickerdoodle! It just sounds yummy =)

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1 1/2 cups white sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla and eggs.  Mix well. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Blend well.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon(I always use a little more cinnamon because I LOVE the taste!).  Roll dough in the mixture and place 2 inches apart on  baking sheets.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack immediately after taking out of the oven and enjoy!

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes

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I know what you are all thinking… Sauerkraut in a cupcake? Sauerkraut in ANYTHING?! I was just as hesitent as the rest of you when I frist heard about this. I mean, how would sauerkraut make anything sweet taste good? The truth is, sauerkraut has been in baked goods for years. According to my Gramma, her great gramma had a recipe for a sauerkraut cake that the president at the time  tasted and fell in love with (don’t know which one, nor do I know if it is true or just a story). This recipe is for a chocolate cupcake enhanced with sauerkraut. The finished product is to die for. I can guarentee you will crave these all the time once you try them!
Ingredients

-2/3 cup sauerkraut
-2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup sugar
-3 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 1/4 cups cake flour
-1/2 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup water
-1 cup mini chocolate chips

Rinse and drain the sauerkraut, then run through the food processor to make fine. Cream the butter and sugar til light and fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla and beat till well incorporated. Beat in the sauerkraut. In a medium bowl, fluff the dry ingredients. Add to the batter in thirds, adding the water between additions and beating only lightly each time. With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

Fill muffin tins with cupcake liners and fill with batter using two spoons, one to scoop, one to scrape. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan. Let cool completely before icing.

Icing Recipe:

Ingredients

-3 tablespoons butter
-3 tablespoons cream cheese
-1 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processes unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1 tablespoon cream
With a mixer, combine all but the milk until smooth. Add milk by the teaspoon to reach desired consistency. Spread over cupcakes or put into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe the icing on. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles, candied sauerkraut, anything you like!