20 November 2014

Chocolate Cream Pie for Two

Chocolate Cream Pie is something I rarely have because a whole pie is too much for two or three people. Fruit pie I'll eat for breakfast, so no problem there. But chocolate, well, I can't justify having that for breakfast. Then I thought, Why not just make a small one?

I had some leftover buttermilk recently, and you know how I hate to waste food. Happened to be making a pie one day and decided to use buttermilk instead of water. Loved it. And here I am again with buttermilk on hand, so I made buttermilk pastry for this pie.

Thing is, I'm not sure I even like regular pie crust for chocolate cream pie any more. I'm thinking I might like some sort of crumb crust or maybe the nut crust I use on my Chocolate Creamy Dreamy.

The Whipped Cream Fiasco
Subtitle: Some days it just doesn't pay to even go into the kitchen!

Then there's the whipped cream. I'm thinking I might actually prefer meringue. But that might just be because I had such an ordeal with the whipped cream. Yes, an ordeal! The store was out of my favorite organic heavy whipping cream, so I got a different brand. It would not whip!

I've never had that happen before. The heavy whipping cream was cold. The bowl was cold. The wire whip beater was cold. I made it just the way I always do. It would not whip! I always use number 5 on my mixer for whipped cream. After 10 minutes on number 5, the cream was barely thicker than when it came out of the carton.

So I cranked it up to 8 for a few minutes. No change. I turned it all the way up to 12 for a few minutes. No change. I gave it 20 minutes total before deciding there was something wrong with the cream. My husband made an emergency run to the nearest grocery store and bought another pint of heavy whipping cream, and I started over.

No problem, as you can see from the photo. Question: Ever happen to you? Or: What is your latest kitchen fiasco? 

Chocolate Cream Pie

(Makes one 6- to 7-inch pie, 4 servings)

The Buttermilk Pastry for one 6- or 7-inch pie shell

3/4 dip-and-sweep cup (3.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, well chilled, cut into thin pats
3 to 4 tablespoons buttermilk

The Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon triple-strength coffee,* optional
2 large egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* For triple-strength coffee, I put a tablespoon of ground coffee in a one-cup paper filter and pour over 1/4 cup boiled water, then keep it in the refrigerator for a few days to use in various things. (I don't really know if that's precisely "triple-strength," but that's what I decided to call it!)

1 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With pastry cutter or fingertips, cut butter into flour, leaving some larger pieces. With a dinner fork, stir in buttermilk a little at a time, using only as much as necessary to form a shaggy dough. Wrap the dough in a square of plastic wrap, forming the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Save the piece of plastic, you'll be using it again.

2 Roll out pastry to an 11-inch circle and transfer dough to pie plate, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit pie plate with about a one-inch overhang (trim with knife or scissors), crimp edge, cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes, dock (poke holes all over bottom and sides with a fork). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until well browned. Cool on wire rack. 

3 When pie shell is just about cooled, start making filling. In heavy-bottomed 1.5-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, coffee and, gradually, milk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until you see bubbles forming at the edge and the mixture thickening, about 5 minutes or so. 

4 Strain through fine-mesh sieve, and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled crust and smooth top. Cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature for one hour; place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  

5 In bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer with wire whisk attached, beat cold cream, sugar and vanilla on medium speed. After about 4 or 5 minutes of thinking nothing is happening, you'll start to see the cream thickening. Continue to beat at medium speed, watching for the soft peaks stage, then the firm peaks stage. If you're just spreading the whipped cream on the pie, stop there. If you want to pipe the whipped cream, beat until whites hold stiff peaks. Pay close attention at every stage; it can turn to butter before you know it!

6 With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D tip or 1M tip, pipe rosettes of whipped cream onto pie.

13 November 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin pecan cookies are an autumn favorite. I just love the spicy scents wafting around the kitchen as they bake. Funny, but I rarely make anything with pumpkin during spring or summer. Funny because I prefer to use canned pumpkin, which is available year round.

I buy organic pumpkin in 15-ounce cans, which hold 1 3/4 cups. I absolutely hate waste (My Grandma would be so proud!), so if a recipe calls for anything less than the whole can I have to have two recipes lined up to use it all. So when I make my Steamed Pumpkin Pudding that calls for 3/4 cup, I also make this cookie recipe that calls for the remaining cup.

Granted, these may not be the most photogenic cookies, but they are "healthy" cookies, having less sugar and fat than typical cookies. The raisins are naturally sweet and the spices add an illusion of sweetness, so you won't feel deprived that each large cookie has just a teaspoon of sugar.

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

(Makes 3 dozen cookies)

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pecans
1 cup (5.6 ounces) raisins

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees (375 if using insulated cookie sheet). In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. 

2 In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar; add egg, then pumpkin puree, then dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins. 

3 Drop by #40 scoopfuls (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) onto cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Flatten scoops of dough a bit unless you like a spherical cookie. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

06 November 2014

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake - Slow Cooker

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cheesecake is the dessert we order most often when dining out. Since I started making cheesecakes in the slow cooker, I make them much more frequently; so we can Just Say No to expensive desserts at the restaurant and go home to homemade cheesecake!

It is pumpkin 
season, so pumpkin cheesecake was in order. But I like vanilla so much I thought I'd compromise with a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. Of course, as usual, I just made it up as I went along. 

I thought 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree mixed into 3/4 cup of the cheesecake batter would be about right for the swirl. Took a stab at the spice amounts; couldn't go by taste because I do not eat anything with raw eggs in it. Turned out well!

Do you think this might make a change from pumpkin pie on your autumn celebration menus? Or an addition? Think I'll have just a tiny sliver of each!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

(Makes one 7-inch cheesecake, 8 servings)

The Crust

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature (for pan)
1 cup crushed crisp ginger cookies
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

The Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, each cut into 8 squares, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of ground cloves

1 Butter bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan with the softened butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the pan, press it in the buttered pan, then turn it over and press it into place. 

2 Combine crumbs, and melted butter until the mixture comes together. If you used a food processor to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust in it as well. If you used your fingers or the rolling pin/plastic bag method to make the crumbs, you can mix the crust with a fork in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture evenly and firmly over the bottom of the pan.

Note: The ginger cookies I used would have been impossible to crush without a food processor!

3 With electric mixer on medium speed, mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beaters/paddle. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, mix in sour cream just until well combined. Remove 3/4 cup of the cheesecake batter; set aside. Pour half the remaining batter into the prepared pan.

Note: Don't get in a hurry like I did and not allow enough time for your cream cheese to come to room temperature and soften, or you end up with little chunks of cream cheese throughout the batter. Even if it all smooths out as it bakes, I don't like it! Do as I say, not as I do!

4 Stir together the reserved 3/4 cup of cheesecake batter and the pumpkin puree and spices until thoroughly combined. Place spoonfuls of the pumpkin batter on top of the filling in the pan; pour the remaining half of the batter into the pan. Place spoonfuls of the remaining pumpkin batter on top of the filling in the pan; cut through batter several times with a knife to make swirls (being careful not to disturb the crust).

5 Place rack in bottom of cooker, and add water to just below the rack (that's about 2 1/2 cups in the Cuisinart MSC-600 Multicooker). Set the cheesecake on the rack. Cover the slow cooker with a triple layer of paper towels and the lid. (The paper towels will prevent condensation falling from the lid onto your cheesecake.) Set to Slow Cook on High for 2 hours; do not lift lid. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour; do not lift lid until the hour is up.

6 Remove the lid and paper towels, and remove cheesecake to wire rack. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake; cool for 1 hour. Run the knife around the edge again and remove the sides of the pan. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving.

Disclosure: Some posts contain links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thanks for supporting Delightful Repast when you shop at Amazon!

30 October 2014

GIR Ultimate Spatula and Kitchen Tools - Review and Giveaway

GIR Spatula Pinwheel / www.delightfulrepast.com
Photo courtesy of GIR

You might ask, What's the big deal about spatulas? A spatula is a spatula, right? Up until recently, I might have said so. I've tried dozens of spatulas over the years (as you may know, I have a serious gadget habit), and this is the first one I've been completely happy with.

The biggest problem with most spatulas is that they are a silly two-piece design. If you've ever had the business end pop off the handle and get stuck in whatever you're making, you know what I'm talking about. Or you might not have realized it was a two-piece gadget until you were washing it one day and it came apart and you spotted moldy gunk inside!

A few one-piece spatulas have found their way into my kitchen and have quickly been shown the way out! They were so rigid as to be completely useless. I always thought, Why can't someone make a good spatula? Well, someone finally did. GIR, ProductofGIR.com. Love these unibody silicone tools! One piece of molded food-grade silicone with reinforced interiors, heat-proof to 464 degrees, eco-friendly material, BPA-free, easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

This giveaway is open to readers everywhere in the world!

The Ultimate Spatula is the one to start with, the one most home cooks would use most frequently. There's also the Skinny, perfect for blender jars or scraping the last of the mayonnaise out of the tall jar; the Mini, just what's needed for getting all the tomato paste out of those tiny cans or scraping small measuring cups; and the Pro, really hefty for big jobs.

And there's the Scraper (bowl scraper and bench scraper), which also serves as a ruler; the Ultimate Spoon, which I'm expecting to become a firm favorite; the Ultimate Flip and Pro Flip, both of which look great for right-handers (I'm a leftie, but my husband can use them for outdoor grilling); and the Silicone Lids, which can be used for cooking or storage. 

The entire line comes in an array of beautiful colors, but what color did I choose? Black. For every single item, black. If you win the giveaway, you might want to be a little more adventurous than I! The spatulas may be more expensive than other brands, but they are guaranteed for life. 

GIR Ultimate Spatula Red / www.delightfulrepast.com
Photo courtesy of GIR
GIR Giveaway
This giveaway is open to readers everywhere in the world! One winner will receive a 5-piece set of kitchen tools from GIR, all four different spatulas plus the new Ultimate spoon in your choice of color(s); you may choose a different color for each! All readers who leave a comment about spatulas (one entry per person - and please include your email address in the body of your comment) on this post before 11:59 pm Eastern time Wednesday November 5 will be put into a random drawing. 

Winner will be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday November 6. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by 11:59 am Eastern time Sunday November 9, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline).

Buy It Now GIR kitchen tools, including the Ultimate spatula, are available on Amazon.

Disclosure: Though GIR provided silicone kitchen tools for review purposes and for the giveaway, the views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!

23 October 2014

Cinnamon-Nut Coffee Cake - Easy Danish Dough

Coffee Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

When I hear Coffee Cake, I instantly picture a yeast dough coffee cake. And since I was recently experimenting with Danish pastry (laminated yeast dough), of course I decided to use that for my coffee cake. And it was grrrrreat!

Just as I usually opt for my Ruff Puff over regular puff pastry that takes so much longer, I will probably make my Easy Danish Dough far more often than the time-consuming regular version. It's so easy to just stir it up a day or two before you need it, then do the "turns" (rolling and folding) the next day.

Sure, even the Easy Danish Dough is a bit more work than just the regular yeast dough you could use for this, but it is so worth it if you are a fan of flakiness and appreciate that little something extra.

If you just want to make one coffee cake, go ahead and make the full dough recipe and refrigerate or freeze half for another day; and make a half recipe of the filling and glaze. I know it's called coffee cake, but it is fabulous with a nice cup of tea!

Coffee Cake Slice / www.delightfulrepast.com

Cinnamon-Nut Coffee Cake 

(Makes 2 cakes)

The Dough

2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 oz/355 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1.75 oz/50 g) sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/2 cup (4 fl oz/120 g or ml) milk, room temperature
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 g or ml) water, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 oz/70 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

The Filling

6 tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

The Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon very hot water
1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1 In large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Stir in the cold chunks of butter, squishing them a bit with your fingers to distribute through the flour.

2 In small bowl whisk together milk, water and egg. Stir the liquid mixture into the flour to form a very sticky wet dough, chunky with butter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

3 Measure out the 1/2 cup flour to use on surface and for rolling out dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and pat into a square shape. With rolling pin, roll it into a 16-inch square. Fold it in thirds, like a business letter, and roll into about a 10x16-inch rectangle. Fold in thirds.

Note: You'll need a bench scraper for the first few turns, as it's pretty messy at that point--not like the smooth dough it eventually turns into (see below)! 

Easy Danish Dough / www.delightfulrepast.com

Repeat twice. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

5 Roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square and fold into thirds, like a business letter, then in thirds again to make a square.

6 Repeat twice. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

7 Make filling. Stir together nuts, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.

8 When ready to make coffeecake(s), cut the dough into 2 pieces. While working with the first one, chill the second one. If making just one cake, double wrap the second half of dough and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to a month.

9 Roll one piece of dough into a 13- to 14-inch square. Spread on half the softened butter and half the filling mixture, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Starting with edge nearest you, roll rather tightly and pinch the edge closed. The roll should end up being at least 18 inches long; if it is shorter, just press and roll until it is 18 inches. Coil in buttered or sprayed 8-inch round baking dish or cake tin. Press lightly. Cover lightly with sprayed plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours, until puffy (not doubled). Repeat with other half of dough.

Unbaked Coffee Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

10 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

11 Let the coffee cake(s) cool about 20 minutes; make glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar and hot water until smooth; whisk in maple syrup. Drizzle over cake(s). 

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