Sunday, January 29, 2012

momofuku milk bar's carrot layer cake

I've baked more than I have blogged this past week and I've got some sweet stuff lined up for future posts. But today's post I REALLY wanted to share (or should I say brag) because it was THAT good!!! 

If you live in New York City or Brooklyn, go to a Momofuku Milk Bar and try something!!! ANYTHING!!! My faves are any of the Cake Truffles, Birthday Cake, Corn Cookies, Cereal Milk, Cereal Milk Ice Cream, Blueberry & Cream Cookies, Chocolate-Chocolate Cookies, Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies, and obviously Crack Pie which I blogged about here. And now I can add to my list...Carrot Layer Cake. I will not be attaching a recipe to this blog post mainly because the level of difficulty involved in making this cake. I'm always up for a challenge and frankly, a little obsessed. And if you are too, drop me a comment or go out and buy this cookbook!!!

Oh yes, I am completely obsessed!!! I'm currently making my way through this cookbook and if you plan on seeing me in the near future you will forced into eating a plethora of yummy goodness.

So let's just take a look at the Carrot Layer Cake recipe.....First component to the recipe is Carrot Cake. OK. That sounds reasonable. Next? Plain old milk. No problem.

Third component....Liquid Cheesecake????? What??? What??? What???

Next comes Milk Crumbs. I've made these before for the Blueberry & Cream Cookies, but that's a whole other post. 

And finally Graham Frosting!!! 

Can you see why I DIDN'T include the recipe????? This as well as the other cakes listed in the book are super special cakes. They are extremely time consuming but worth every delicious morsel. My husband and I met up with his cousin and his partner for dinner last night and of course I brought the dessert.....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

dulce de leche

I'm holed up at home due to extremely cold temperatures outside, snow and slush on the ground, and I've just held my first wedding cake consultation and cake tasting for 2012 with the sweetest bride & groom. One of their "tasting" requests was for dulce de leche. Dulce de leche??? No problem!!! You can easily buy it pre-made but it's just as easy (and tastier) if you make it yourself. 

There are a few ways to make dulce de leche, but I really prefer using the oven method. But if you want to try others, check it out here. Again, it's super easy and the outcome is the most caramely-milky-gooey-goodness.....

Dulce de Leche

one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk ***Please do not confuse yourself and use evaporated milk. It's not the same thing and you'll be very sad.***
pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 425˚F.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into an oven-proof dish. I use a glass Pyrex pie pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and tightly cover it with foil.

Place the covered dish in a larger roasting pan and fill it up with water until it reaches three quarters up the sides of the covered dish to create a water bath. Bake for 60 - 120 minutes checking every 30 minutes on the water level and add more as needed. 

Dulce de leche is ready when it takes on a brown and caramel-like color. Remove from the oven and whisk until smooth. Let cool completely before storing in the frig.

My 10 favorite ways to enjoy dulce de leche:
1. stirred into a cup of coffee
2. drizzled on top of a cappuccino or latte
3. mixed in an iced coffee
4. mixed in hot chocolate
5. sandwiched between two shortbread cookies
6. on toast
7. on pound cake
8. on pancakes/waffles
9. on ice cream
10. or simply with a spoon

Friday, January 20, 2012

mini sour cherry pies

It's barely mid January and I'm already wishing for warmer weather. A few snowflakes were in the air over the weekend and it quickly turned into annoying rain as the temperature warmed up slightly. And I mean.....Slightly.

There's not a lot going on at the farmer's market these days but in the summer, during a two-week window of sour cherry season, I stock up my freezer with these tart ruby red gems. Before I moved to the East Coast, I had no idea that sour cherries even existed. I mean, I've indulged on cherry Hostess hand pies and actually HAD cherry pie, but I never knew it was made from sour cherries. Sour cherries are not the kind of cherries you want to eat raw. They're called "sour" cherries for a reason because they are sour but add sugar plus a few other ingredients and they're perfect for baking into a pie or mini sour cherry pies......

In the summer, my husband gets me a few baskets, I hand pit them, and freeze them for future baked goods. That way we have summer any time we want to.

Mini Sour Cherry Pies
from Martha Stewart for Individual Sour Cherry Pies
Makes 6 3-inch mini pies

6 mini pie tins
One half Easy Pie Dough, cut into (6) 3 1/2-inch circles for base of mini tins and (6) 2 3/4-inch circles for tops. Fit the 3 1/2-inch circles into mini tins, leaving 1/4-inch around the lip of the pans. Chill in the frig along with the (6) 2 3/4-inch circles until ready to fill.
2 cups sour cherries - fresh or frozen ***If frozen, defrost and drain thoroughly***
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
drop of vanilla extract
pinch of lemon zest
a small squeeze of lemon juice

1 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together sugar, flour and cornstarch. Add cherries, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Combine until all of the cherries are coated with the sugar/flour mixture.

Divide the cherry filling evenly into your prepared mini tins. Dab a little water onto the rims of the pie crust to adhere the tops. Gently press them together with the tines of a fork. ***Make sure the two crusts are sealed to prevent the filling from oozing out while baking*** Cut a small vent on the top of pies. Brush lightly with heavy cream.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

chocolate chunk, macadamia nut & coconut cookies

It's Sunday afternoon, a chilly high of 23˚F, and I've baked two things from my own blog, homemade bagels & perfect chocolate chip cookies just to keep the house warm. Our baseboard electric heat can run our bill sky high in the winter so instead of turning it on....I bake. ALL. DARN. DAY. 

Most of the recipes from my blog I bake/make on a regular basis and some of them I've made several times. No lie. I also try and update the recipe if I have found that I've missed something like a step or ingredient. So if you follow them step-by-step you should have no problem creating them. But if you do, PLEASE let me know what didn't work for you and I hope to help you out......

Chocolate, macadamia nuts and coconut are my favorite flavor combos for cookies. I've taken the recipe for perfect chocolate chip cookies and added my personal taste spin to it. This recipe has a fair amount of sugar in it and crazily I add a tiny bit more with sweetened coconut. You can use "unsweetened" coconut, but it's not going to give you that chewy texture like sweetened does. Also, try and use a dark chocolate. There's less sugar in dark chocolate and dark chocolate just tastes better!

Chocolate, Macadamia Nut & Coconut Cookies adapted from the blog The Way The Cookie Crumbles via Cook's Illustrated

makes 16 cookies

1 3/4 cup (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks 
3/4 cup toasted macadamia nuts
1/2 - 3/4 cup sweetened coconut

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375˚. Line two sheets with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, whisk flour and baking soda together.

Heat 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter over MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT until melted, 2 minutes. Continue cooking until butter is dark golden brown with a nutty aroma, 1 - 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 4 tablespoons of COLD butter. Whisk to melt completely. 

Pour browned butter into a large bowl. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla extract and whisk for 30 seconds. Mixture should be smooth with no lumps. Add the whole egg and yolk and whisk for 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat the process 2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth and super shiny. 

Fold in flour and baking soda until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks, macadamia nuts and coconut.

Scoop or spoon into 16 cookies. ***I use a 2 ounce cookie scoop***

Bake for 12 - 16 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Cookies will look and feel a little raw.....don't worry. You want them underdone slightly. Cool on wire rack.

These cookies keep well in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

meyer lemon meringue tarts

A bitter blast yesterday officially marked winter on the East Coast. The temperature has been strangely mild so far but on the third day of 2012, it hit a high of 24˚F. Today is going to feel somewhat the same, COLD!!! You can guarantee if it's cold outside, I'll be in the kitchen baking something. And since yesterday was bone chilling and I was longing for the warmth of California's sunshine, I made meyer lemon meringue tarts.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than ordinary lemons. Their peel/zest is smoother, brighter and extremely fragrant and let's not forget...juicy! They're easily grown in California and if you've ever purchased meyer lemons in a specialty food shop in NYC, they can start at $1.25 a lemon. I originate from California and luckily my Dad and both of my sisters all have meyer lemon trees. In fact my oldest sister has planted in her backyard my husband's meyer lemon tree that we had to leave with her 11 years ago when we moved to NY. So when we go home for the holidays, I stock up on my meyers. I love bringing home to NYC some California sunshine.....

Lemon Meringue Pie
the original recipe, a pie not tarts, comes from the blog serious eats was made with ordinary lemons

***The juice and zest of 2 meyer lemons were perfect for this recipe. Since meyers are sweeter in taste, I cut the sugar down to 10 ounces or around 1 1/2 cups. And if you're making little tarts, depending on the size, will yield 12 - 14 more or less***

  • One half recipe Easy Pie Dough, shaped and chilled in a pie plate or tart pans ***I made the whole pie dough recipe and froze the other half for future baking***

zest of 2 - 3 lemons, depending on their size and how juicy they are
  • 4 3/4 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon) freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice

  • 14 ounces (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water

  • 17.5 ounces (2 1/3 cup) granulated sugar, divided

  • 1.5 ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into small pieces

  • 4 egg whites

  • Pinch salt

  • Pinch cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat he oven to 425°F. Line the shaped, chilled, pie crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with weights (or reuse dried beans) and bake for 15 minutes on the lower rack. remove the liner and weights and bake until the whole crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 

2. Place the lemon juice, water, and zest in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk together the cornstarch, 9 ounces (1 1/3 cups) sugar, and salt, and add it to the saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks then add them to the mixture and whisk continuously over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and bubbles, 7 to 8 minutes. ***It was closer to 10 minutes for me*** Whisk for an additional two minutes once it's begun to bubble, without stopping, then remove from heat. Whisk in the butter until it's completely melted. Pour the mixture into the baked pie shell/shells and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Allow the pie/pies to come to room temperature, then chill for at least four hours (ideally, overnight) with the plastic wrap still on top.

3. Before serving: Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer. Combine egg whites, remaining sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Remove the plastic from the top of chilled pie/pies and top with meringue. ***I used a large star tip to pipe out my meringue*** Place the pie/pies under the broiler and watch it carefully, the top should brown but not burn, and it changes quickly. ***If you feel safe and you have one, you can use your blow torch*** Chill for 10 minutes, then serve.

One taste brings me back to California but in my head I'm still singing "Baby It's Cold Outside".....