Berries & Cream Chocolate Eclairs

Berries & Cream Chocolate Eclairs

Berries & Cream Chocolate Eclairs


I like to lie to myself sometimes. I lie and tell myself that yes, I really Do look good with a muffin top in my jeans and I am the only one around who can totally rock that style. Then I sob hysterically and smack myself around for lying.

I lie and tell myself that I will be just fine with only 3 hours of sleep because I stayed up late watching reruns of Cold Case (gosh, I love that show). Then I look in the mirror the next morning and wonder who had to have rubbed purplish black makeup all under my eyes while I slept and why my wrinkles suddenly look deeper. Then I sob hysterically and smack myself around for lying.

I lie and tell myself that rereading The Proud Breed by Celeste DeBlasis for the 15th time counts as deep reading because she has well researched information on the history of the state of California in it amidst all the love scenes and dramatic romance. Then I get sad when I realize how few functioning brain cells I have left because I continue to read books like that. Then I sob hysterically and smack myself around for lying.

I lie and say that eating Brachs Fruity Gummis for dinner is perfectly all right because I am 48 years old and am allowed to make decisions like that. Then I wake up the next morning and try to stuff myself into a pair of jeans that has magically grown too small. Then I sob hysterically and smack myself around for lying. And the cycle begins all over again.

I also lie when I eat desserts like this and tell myself that because it tastes so light, it MUST be low calorie and quite possibly as good for me as say, a lean chicken breast and a green salad. I lie and ignore the eggs, the cream, the chocolate, the more cream etc etc etc. Then I sob hysterically…and well, you get the point.

I lie a lot. But only to myself. Well, maybe also to my kids when I say that I ate all the chocolate when I know it’s just well hidden.

But sometimes lies are totally worth it. And if lying lets me eat one or eight of these eclairs, I’m all for a life lived lying. The pastry cream alone is worth a lie or two…or three…or fifty. Add in the puffy pasty outside and the thick sour cream chocolate icing and you’ll be willing to lie too. But I take no responsibility for your morals when it comes to chocolate. It’s all on you.

You will probably end up with leftover pastry cream and frosting. I promise… you won’t mind. Take it and layer it in parfait glasses and make somebody happy. It’s an easy way to let little kids enjoy this dessert without the mess of them trying to eat an eclair.

You know the drill. Get to cookin’.

Berries & Cream Chocolate Eclairs

  • Choux pastry-
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Pastry Cream-
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups mixed berries (I used blueberries and blackberries. Use your favorite)
  • Chocolate Sour Cream Icing-
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  1. Make your pastry cream-
  2. In a medium (preferably non-stick) saucepan, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Stir in the milk until you have a smooth mixture. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil and thickens. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Beat a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them, stirring it constantly. Then slowly pour the hot yolk mixture into the pot of the hot milk, stirring constantly.
  4. Cook over medium low heat until mixture again thickens up and coats the back of the spoon. Don’t let it come to a boil; it could separate.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled. Meanwhile, make your eclairs.
  6. For the eclairs-
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking sheet.
  8. In the same medium saucepan from earlier (washed of course) heat the butter, salt and water over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Pour in the flour all at once. Stir vigorously until mixture comes together and leaves the side of the pan in a ball.
  9. Add in the eggs, one by one, stirring well after each one, until smooth.
  10. Let the mixture cool slightly, then drop large spoonsful of it into the prepared pan, shaping into a roughly rounded rectangular shape.
  11. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until the eclairs look lightly browned and dry. Take them out and cut a small slit in the side of each, then put them back into the oven and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. The cut helps the inside dry out.
  12. Take out and cool on the pan for about 15 minutes. Then cut them in half and carefully pull out the doughy insides of each one.
  13. Get your pastry cream out to finish preparing it. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until it forms fairly stiff peaks. Stir about a quarter cup of it into the pastry cream to lighten it up, then fold in the rest of the cream until no white streaks remain.
  14. For the icing, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments at 60% power until you can stir it freely and it is totally melted. Stir in the sour cream. If it thickens up too much to spread after the cold sour cream hits it, microwave it again, 15 seconds at a time, at 60% power, until it is smooth and glossy.
  15. To put the eclairs together-
  16. Fold the berries into the prepared pastry cream. Spoon about 1/3 of a cup of the pastry cream (more or less as desired but know if you use more, you will NOT be able to pick these bad boys up without a mess lol)  into the bottom half of each eclair then put the top half on top of that. Then spread each eclair with a good dollop of frosting.
  17. If not serving immediately, these need to be refrigerated but I strongly suggest NOT doing final prep on them until just about ready to serve as the eclairs will get soggy otherwise.

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Mounds Bars Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream

 

Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream

Mounds Bar Brownies With Coconut Buttercream


Respiratory illnesses suck. Just sayin’. I am one of those people who doesn’t get a mere cold. Oh nooooooo… my body is as ornery as my personality. I get the sniffles and we know to have 911 on standby for when I start coughing up bits and pieces of a lung or twelve. Thus why I have been gone almost 2 weeks. It takes time to piece back together a lung. And I’ve never been good at puzzles. I tried yesterday and I am pretty sure that my lung is NOT supposed to be on the bottom of my foot. But that’s ok. It tickled. I kinda liked it.

It’s been a LONGGGGGG 2 weeks. This may have effected more than lungs and sinuses. Oh hell, who am I kidding. I’m acting no weirder than normal.

Seriously though, sorry I was gone so long. I’m more or less on the mend now. Still coughing like crazy and still need meds to breathe at night but good otherwise. Definitely ready to get back to work.

And I started out way over the line on the decadence side. Gee. imagine that huh? Me? Making naughty foods instead of quinoa salads?

These brownies are yummy. Yummy may be an understatement. They kind of cross the line over into “OMG, I am gonna need to work out for 3 hours if I eat one of these!” territory. The brownie part of these is barely adapted from Ina Gartens Outrageous brownie recipe. I simply more or less cut it in half (changed it a touch but like I said, barely). Then I shoved some fun size Mounds bars and semisweet chocolate chips into the batter before baking. THEN to add insult to injury, I topped it off with a creamy coconut buttercream. But wait! Order right now and pay just ONE shipping and handling!

Sorry. I was having an infomercial moment. As I was saying… then, I covered it all with a rich thick chocolate ganache. Then (how many times can I say then for one recipe?) I coated THAT with some crunchy toasted coconut. So what do we have here? Thick, chewy, chocolatey, mounds bars, buttercream, ganache, more coconut. I think I may have broken some laws somewhere with this one.

You know the drill. Get to cookin’.

                                      Mounds Bar Brownies With A Creamy Coconut Buttercream

  • Brownies-
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 fun size Mounds Bars
  • Buttercream-
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut (found with the mixers in the drink aisle)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream (more or less as needed to get desired thickness of buttercream)
  • Ganache-
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted coconut for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper then butter the paper.
  2. In a large glass (or other microwave safe) bowl, place the unsweetened chocolate, the butter and the 8 ounces semisweet chocolate. Microwave on 70% power for 2 minutes. Stir well, then microwave on 70% power for 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until all the chocolate is melted. Stir for about two minutes to help cool then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl,  stir together the eggs and egg yolk, the vanilla and the sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture then allow it to cool to room temp.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir well (no beating, just stirring). Stir in the 12 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Lay the 12 Mounds bars in 4 rows of 3 down the length of the pan, pressing them down slightly into the batter.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle (make sure to not hit a Mounds bar) comes out barely clean, with just a few moist crumbs on it. Don’t overbake! Nothing worse than a dry crumbly brownie.
  7. Let cool thoroughly in pan on a wire rack before frosting. Also nothing worse than watching your frosting melt into a puddle on a too warm baked good.
  8. Meanwhile, make your buttercream.
  9. In a a large bowl (you’re welcome btw for all the dirty dishes. Don’t mention it.) combine the butter, cream of coconut and coconut extract. Beat well until mixture is smooth. Stir in the 4 cups of powdered sugar. I’d advise actually stirring at first to incorporate some of it before turning on the beater unless you are aiming to powder the kitchen. When you have it mixed in well, turn the beater on high and beat well for about 5 minutes. You’re trying to get a nice thick creamy mixture. Add the heavy cream in, one tablespoon at a time, until you get a good spreading consistency.
  10. When the brownies are completely cool, spoon on the buttercream and spread to the edges of the brownies. Chill while you make and cool the ganache.
  11. Ganache-
  12. Put the 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a small glass bowl.
  13. Microwave the 1 cup cream just to the simmering point. Don’t boil. Pour all of the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes or so. Stir well. The heat from the cream should have been enough to totally melt the chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined then let sit until the ganache has cooled completely and thickened up. Pour in a steady stream down the middle of the buttercream. Spread to the edges of the brownies. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
  14. Chill brownies in fridge for at least 3 hours to give the buttercream and ganache time to set.
  15. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, cut the brownies into desired size squares. These are extremely rich. I suggest small squares. Also, they are best if you let them sit for a while after cutting. They get fairly hard when cold. Though I know some people who like that, if you want them softer, let them sit.


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Maple Creme Brulee For Two

Maple Creme Brulee

There are some things in life that can only be called dangerous and dangerous with good reason. Bungee jumping? Dangerous. I understand that whole adrenaline rush idea but jumping off of a 300 mile high surface into mid air connected to only a piece of frayed yarn (yeah yeah I may be exaggerating just a bit here but not much) isn’t my idea of a woohoo good time. Though I admit to a strange hankering to sky dive, which is the exact same thing, only from a moving plane this time. holding a plastic grocery bag over your hand and hoping it expands enough to keep you from becoming part of the scenery.

Race car driving? Dangerous. Again; I can see the appeal. Hell, I see people in my own town driving like bad versions of Mario Andretti and I’ve been known to have a lead foot at times when I am sure I am *ahem* not being watched she says tactfully.  But getting into a large chunk of metal with an engine that is about 2 inches in front of you and hoping that you can drive well enough to where said engine doesn’t end up in your lap whilst only being protected by a helmet and a body suit that is NOT made of titanium or something good like that? Yeah. Dangerous.

For me personally? Having a full bag of gummy candy near me? Dangerous. A pint of Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato sitting in front of me? Dangerous. It will soon be empty and I will be smacking myself upside the head for being a glutton at the same time that I’m sticking my face down in the carton sucking up the last drips. Creme Brulee? Dangerous. Any flavor whatsoever. But this one was particularly so with my love of all things maple. Thank God that it only makes 2 servings. Because if it made more, I would have eaten more than the one I had. Creme Brulee is, contrary to what many think, an extremely easy dessert to make. It tastes like it took you all day but in reality if you can hold a whisk in your hand and separate eggs, you’re good to go. Just don’t eat this thinking it is low calorie. It’s more like enough calorie to keep you alive for say, a week. So as I always say… git to cookin’.

Maple Creme Brulee (For Two)

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (the real thing, not Mrs. Butterworth)
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (can be found with the vanilla extract in stores)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (USE the salt… it brings out flavor)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of either maple sugar or demarara sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place 2 8 ounce ramekins or custard cups into an 8 or 9 inch square pan.
  2. In a large measuring cup (makes it easier to pour later), whisk together all the ingredients except the maple sugar. That will be your crackly topping later. Pour the liquid evenly between the two ramekins.
  3. Place the pan with the ramekins into the 300 degree oven then carefully pour very hot water into the pan to where it goes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  4. Bake at 300 for about 45 minutes or until the top has only a slight jiggle in the very middle when you gently shake it.
  5. Take the ramekins out of the hot water so they don’t keep cooking and set them aside to cool to room temp, then place in the fridge until serving time.
  6. When ready to serve, sprinkle half the sugar onto each creme brulee and either use a kitchen torch or the broiler to caramelize the sugar. if doing it under the broiler, make sure your ramekins are broiler safe. Not all of them are.

 

Berry Mascarpone Cheesecake Bars

Mascarpone Berry Cheesecake Bars-001

I have decided to build an ark. Yep. An ark. Because I am pretty sure it is never ever going to stop raining here in my part of Kentucky. Usually here in mid May, we are hovering around the 80’s and already worrying about drought. This year however, it has rained almost every day for almost 2 weeks and the temp, while pleasant, is most certainly not hovering near the 80’s. Right now it’s 62.

But!!! Being me, I will not be filling my ark with two of every animal. Nope. Noah already did that and I don’t want to be a copycat. There will be animals of course. I’ll have monkeys. I like monkeys. And cats. And platypus for comic uses. But no elephants unless one of you wants to offer poop scooping services. And you’d darn well better believe I’m leaving mosquitoes behind. And centipedes. Those things ick me out. They have got to be the most prehistoric bug ever. If some director wanted to make a killer horror movie, he/she would only need to have a few scenes with centipedes crawling over the tied up heroine. *shivers*

So what will my ark be filled with? Duhhhh man, this is ME. What do YOU think? CANDY!! Twelve (why stop at two) of every kind of chocolate, lemonheads and of course my current craze, fruity gummi candy. I may also throw some cheetos on the ark just cause.

But, if you’re one of those weirdos who wants their fruit with no preservatives and actually *gasps* REAL, try these cheesecake bars. I based them off of the ubiquitous blackberry pie bars that you can find everywhere online, including right here on my blog . The pie bars originally came from The Pastry Queen cookbook. These cheesecake bars are based on that recipe. They use the same crust but the filling is changed up. These are quite yummy. The crust is sweet and buttery and the filling is creamy, tangy and sweet all at the same time. Plus- they have crumbs on top. Butter, fruit, mascarpone and crumbs. Need I say more? They couldn’t be any easier to make so you know the drill… get to cookin’!

Berry Mascarpone Cheesecake Bars

  • Crust and crumbs-
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cold
  • Filling-
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed and drained well
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen blackberries, thawed and drained well
  • Fresh berries to scatter on top (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13×9 inch pan then line it with parchment paper and butter the paper.
  2. Combine the 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside 2 cups of the mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until it is golden brown. Let rest while you prepare the filling.
  4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, together the mascarpone, cream cheese and sour cream. Add the sugar and beat just until well combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract and beat well. Mix in the flour. Gently fold in the drained berries.
  5. Spoon the mixture over the prepared crust. Sprinkle evenly with the crumbs that you held back earlier.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees about 55 minutes. You want the top to be firm but still to have a little jiggle in the center third of the bars, just like with any other cheesecake. The crumbly top will be a nice light golden brown. This will firm up as it cools so don’t overcook it.
  7. Let this cool for at LEAST an hour or so before cutting, but it’s preferable to cover it and let chill overnight. Use a sharp serrated knife that you’ve heated under hot water if you want to get clean cuts.

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling


Ya know, for a woman who once claimed to not like coconut, I have noticed that my tune has changed and I have quite a few coconut recipes in here now. I’ve always thought that that aspect of human physiology was interesting. We can hate or love something for years and then all of a sudden, we do a 360 on how we feel about it. Other than Mounds Bars or Almond Joy bars, just 2 years ago you’d be hard pressed to find me saying anything nice about coconut. Coconut flavor I was fine on as well as coconut milk (I could happily drink it with a straw 😛 ) but actual coconut? No way.

What about you? Anything that you have changed your mind on in either direction as you’ve aged? Food wise that is.

All that said, obviously the recipe for today contains coconut. What? You were expecting goose liver perchance? Some Morels? Not sure either of them would have gone as well with this cake. And believe me, coconut goes well in this. the first two “taste testers” I served this to took a bite and then their faces went into that “omg, this is good” look that all food bloggers love to see 😀

This is a very moist cake, which makes it a good keeper if you make sure it stays covered. The coconut filling is very reminiscent of a Mounds bar but with a bit of an almond flavor to it (if you’re not a fan of almond extract, feel free to omit it.)  Then there is the chocolate ganache glaze. Really? Do I need to describe it? Chocolate ganache. Enough said. Go… shoo… bake. Thank me later.

Chocolate Bundt Cake With A Creamy Coconut Filling

  • Filling-
  • 2 cups (one small bag) shredded sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Cake-
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sifted (yes, sifted; cocoa always has those little lumps it leaves behind otherwise) unsweetened cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
  • 5 eggs, room temp
  • 2 cups sour cream (NOT low fat)
  • Glaze-
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish-
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  1. Combine all your filling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. For the cake- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. If, like me, you only have a 10 cup pan, also grease 5 king sized muffin cups because if you try to fit all this batter into a 10 cup pan, you WILL have it overflow all over your oven. Been there, done that, learned my lesson.
  3. Whisk together your dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter at high speed until creamy. Add the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and coconut flavoring. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add it in three batches, alternating with the sour cream.
  6. Spoon a little less than half of the batter into the prepared bundt pan. (If using a ten cup pan, FIRST fill the 5 prepared muffin pans about 2/3 full THEN go to the bundt pan, using about half of the remaining batter. Don’t use the coconut filling in the cupcakes; just think of them as extras to hoard for yourself :-p )
  7. Carefully spoon the coconut filling over the batter in the pan. Make sure it is in the middle of the pan, not touching either side or it will stick and make the cake difficult to remove.
  8. Spoon the rest of the batter carefully over the top of the filling, smoothing it down where needed.
  9. Bake at 350 for about an hour and ten minutes for the 12 cup pan, about 50 minutes for a ten cup (about 20 minutes for the cupcakes) or until a wooden skewer inserted in the cake (make sure to get the cake not the filling) comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool until just barely warm then turn the cake out onto the rack to finish cooling completely before glazing.
  11. For the glaze- heat your cream just to boiling in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl and let sit for about 3 minutes, Stir to combine. Let it sit for a bit to thicken up somewhat. Spoon over the cooled cake. Garnish with the toasted coconut.
  12. If you have any glaze and/or coconut left (which you will) just dump the coconut into the ganache, stir well then put it into the fridge until it firms up. You can then scoop it out and form it into small truffles. Or just spoon it out and eat it in front of the TV watching bad reality show reruns. I won’t tell.

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Double Ginger Citrus Pear Bread

Double Ginger Citrus Pear Bread

Double Ginger Citrus Pear Bread


I mentioned this bread on my facebook page a week or so ago when I gave the choice between it or scones. The scones won. 😛 But I finally got around to making the bread yesterday.

I wish now that I’d waited until today to make it. Mother nature seems to be confused as to month and it’s rainy, chilly and totally ICK here right now. I think we MIGHT have made it up to 50 degrees. And while I know that that would still seem balmy to some in May and would have to me too had I stayed in my hometown of Chicago, here in Kentucky, high 40’s in May is COLD darn it! So having the oven on and baking sounds like a great idea.

I wasn’t sure about this bread when I first made it yesterday. You know how it goes… you make a quick bread, tell yourself to let it cool so it will slice better, then end up cutting it when it’s warm anyway because you just can’t resist. This however is one of those quick breads that NEEDS to meld for a day. yesterday, it seemed rather bland and boring and I wasn’t even sure I would blog about it. After sitting overnight however, I tried a piece and it was was quite good. It’s moist and dense; almost pound cakeish in texture, plus the ginger flavor is more pronounced as is the pear. Make sure though, that you use ripe flavorful pears in this.  And I think that next time I make this I will add about a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh nutmeg. It just needs a bit of spice.

Make sure you actually grease and flour your pan. With the pear and crystallized ginger in it, you’ll end up with parts sticking to the bottom if you just use cooking spray.

Double Ginger And Pear Quick Bread

  • 3 ripe pears, chopped (I left the peel on; your choice)
  • 3 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a nine inch loaf pan.
  2. Stir the pears, ginger and zests together in a small bowl.
  3. Mix together the buttermilk, vanilla and lemon juice in a measuring cup.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix your dry ingredients.
  5. In yet another bowl (I know I know 😛 ) beat together your butter, oil and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  6. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beating on low speed, just until combined. Fold in the pear/ginger mixture.
  7. Pour the batter (it’s a fairly thick batter) into the prepared loaf pan.
  8. bake at 350 for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is a golden brown color, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
    Cool on a wire rack in the pan for about five minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges to loosen. Turn out onto the rack to finish cooling.
  9. Now you can wrap it, wait a day and try it after flavors have blended or cut it now…but seriously, I advise the days wait. It’s delicious after the rest period 🙂

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Sweet And Sour Pork

Sweet And Sour Pork-001

When I was young, my mom was a waitress. Heck, when I grew up, my mom was still a waitress. She was the typical divorced woman of her generation. She was undereducated yet street smart from years of living on the south side of Chicago. That in itself was rather a feat considering she was a child of the depression who grew up in very rural Alabama. She never had a “good” job but always managed to keep us fed. It may have been mayo sandwiches or ketchup sandwiches at times, but we ate. The restaurant she worked at for over 20 years was fairly popular and well known in the Chicago area. It was named the Tropical Hut and was known for it’s Polynesian food, which was a big thing back in the 60’s as people were expanding their foodie taste buds beyond burgers and baked potatoes. Thing is, other than a duck dish they had that I loved (we of course went there for every family event. Why do people do that anyway? Work someplace and then go back then when NOT working? :-P) the main food I recall from there was their club sandwich. Mom would bring it home cold at night to eat but half the time it ended up going to one or the other of us kids. I loved them.

Point being, when I was young, my main experience with food from other cultures was a club sandwich from a Polynesian restaurant in the Midwest. Go figure. While my taste buds have grown a bit more sophisticated as I’ve aged, I have to confess that I still love all the Americanized versions of Asian foods, from which some of the Polynesian foods can branch off. One that I love that you will never find on the menu of any authentic Chinese restaurant is Sweet & Sour Pork. Deep fried pork thrown together with an overly sweet yet tangy sauce with pineapple in it, then put on rice. Sounds rather gross, ehh? But in reality, it’s soooooo darn yummy. I mean, the words deep fried should tip you off right away. I’ve said before; you could probably deep fry a shoe and it would taste good.

This is the version I’ve been making for years. Authentic? Nope. Just mine. Though like I said, what is authentic with this dish ANYWAY? Back when I first started making it, I honestly didn’t even know there WAS such a thing as sweet and sour pork lol. I just took the sauce recipe from some meatballs I loved, chopped up some pork, battered it, fried it and thought it seemed Asian enough to deserve rice as the base. Isn’t it amazing what we come up with, thinking we are so original only to find out later (or sooner now that you can google a recipe in 3 seconds) that many others have been making it for years?

This is a good version, mine though it may be. Nothing weird, nothing unusual, fairly standard as it goes. But I wanted to post it for those who may be thinking that this is a hard dish to make. It’s not. If you can fry food and combine sauce ingredients, you can make Sweet And Sour Pork.

Sweet And Sour Pork

  • Batter-
  • 2 eggs 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 pounds boneless pork loin, cubed into about 1 inch pieces
  • about 4 cups canola or vegetable oil, heated to 355 degrees
  • Sauce-
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 1 8 ounce can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 2/3 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I like this served with Jasmine or Basmati but use your favorite)
  1. Start your sauce first- In a large pot, combine the pineapple with it’s juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the green pepper and onions and simmer covered for another five minutes. Set aside and keep warm
  3. Start your oil heating while you prepare the batter, which is easy peasy.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs, egg yolk, milk and soy sauce.
  5. While your oil heats (large pot), take about half the pork cubes and put them into the batter. Stir around to get them well coated.
  6. When the oil has reached 355 degrees, carefully toss in (make sure your hands are fairly close to the oil… tossing from far up because it seems safer actually isn’t. It will just make the oil splatter all over you.) pieces of the pork. Do about 12 pieces at a time. You don’t want to overcrowd or the oil temp drops and you end up with greasy pork.
  7. Cook for about 4 minutes or until a nice dark golden brown. You’ll probably have to stir them around to get both sides browned.
  8. Using a wide slotted spoon or even better, a metal skimmer, lift out your pork and lay in a paper towel lined bowl.
  9. Keep cooking until it’s all done then you can either toss it with the sauce or, as I prefer to do, serve all the components separately so everyone can fix it the way they like it. Like here, my daughter loves a lot of sauce, I prefer less.
  10. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with soy sauce

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Creamy Coconut Flan

Creamy Coconut Flan

No long winded story and bad jokes tonight. I’m sleepy and on a massive sugar crash from this flan. 😛
Ok, maybe a short story based on the whole sugar high/crash idea.

I remember when my brother, sister and I were kids. Every year we would get our mother a large heart shaped box of Fanny May candy for Valentines day. We used her money to buy it of course and I am fairly sure that any change went for things like Lemonheads and ice cream. Well, each and every year, mom would put the opened box into the fridge. She wasn’t a huge sweets eater (obviously I get my love of them from my sweets binging diabetic father hehe) so would put it there with, I’m sure, the idea that when she wanted a piece (ONE piece) she could get one (again… ONE piece. Who does that!?). Well, every.single.year. mom would invariably come to us with a heart shaped box asking what had happened. Why? Because what she held was a practically empty box bearing only one or two pieces of candy that had a bite out of the side, those pieces being the ones none of us kids liked.

Mom always said she hoped I had kids just like me. I did. I now have a “stash” of candy and junk food in my closet that the kids are supposed to stay out of. HA! yeah, right. The ones living at home go in it all the time and the ones who come and visit head straight to the stash, coming out bearing junk food galore and innocent expressions.

On a side note, taking a drink of Pepsi Throwback after eating a huge serving of flan isn’t advisable. It has absolutely no flavor according to my “sweeted out” taste buds plus I think my pancreas just cried a little, then died.

This is one yummy flan btw. Sweet (oh my, is it sweet), quite coconutty, with that mouth feel texture that everyone loves (man, that sounds vaguely obscene. but then I’m tired and everything is making me titter). The caramel sauce on the top is the perfect topping. I used to make flan just for the topping. I swear I did. I’m weird. This is intensely coconutty so if you’re so so about coconut flavor this may be one you need to pass by.

Creamy Coconut Flan

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can cream of coconut (found with the drink mixers- do NOT sub coconut milk)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut vodka
  • Toasted coconut for garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pour your sugar into a small saucepot. Heat it over medium high heat until it is melted and a nice golden brown color. Don’t walk away once it starts melting. It doesn’t take long to go from melting to scorched and wasted.
  3. Pour the sugar onto the bottom of 8 one cup ramekins, swirling to coat the bottom of the ramekins with the melted sugar.
  4. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until foamy. Add in the condensed milk, cream of coconut, cream, vanilla extract and vodka. Whisk until well combined. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl (preferably one with a pour spout) or large measuring cup.
  5. Pour the flan mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Set the ramekins into two deep baking dishes. Set into the oven then carefully add hot water to each pan to go about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. be careful not to slosh any INTO them though.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees until the center is almost set, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove from the pan (I used tongs) and set on a wire rack for about an hour, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  8. Carefully slide a butter knife all around the edges of each flan and invert onto a plate. If it doesn’t come out,  place the ramekin into hot water for a minute or so to loosen it up, then try again. Garnish with the toasted coconut if using.

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Chocolate Chip Double Berry Scones

Chocolate Chip Double Berry Scones 2-001

I can hear the outcry now… “MORE scones, lady!!!??? What the heck?? Can you do anything but scones or citrus pies or risotto!?”

Yes. yes, I can. But I wasn’t thinking the other day when I, on my Facebook page asked everyone which they would prefer- these scones or a quick bread I am trying. They chose the scones. Sooooo, being a woman of my word, I made them. Because honesty is just how I roll. Well, when I trip on our land, downhill quickly is also how I roll but I won’t blog about that. Though photos would probably be hilarious.

Moving on- been interesting in our household lately. My (very pregnant) daughter and her boys are with us through mid August while her husband goes through Basic Training and AIT (the on the job training for whatever you will be doing part of the military) so having 2 extra little ones (they are 3 and 6) has been chaotic to say the least. But I love knowing that when they move, they will, for a time at least, until it fades, have some memories of living with gramma and grampa. My daughter is due in a few weeks so I’ll have time with the baby (girl) for a while too 🙂

Plus, I’ve been having some health issues again. Not gonna go into detail here yet but I’ll cue you all in when things are more settled as to treatment. Until then, I’m just gonna continue to bake fattening things for all of you. Why? Cause I lurves you of course!!! Seriously. You have no idea what it means to me to know that people actually come here to my tiny blog, read my inane words and sometimes actually even make the foods I post.

These scones turned out delicious. I got the base recipe from The Pastry Queen Cookbook (you should have noticed by now that I love this cookbook) but changed it around. I just KNOW you’re surprised at that news. The only problem I had (which is my fault not the books) was shape. After I added the berries, I didn’t want to knead the dough, thus mushing the berries and toughening the dough, so I just reshaped it. BUT… I wasn’t able to get it back into a decent circle. so I tried making it more rectangular and cutting the scones from that. It turned out rather laughable 😛 These taste absolutely amazing… light, tender, flaky with a perfect mix of berries and chocolate and an orange glaze that just complements it all. But the way they look? Kinda wonky lol. But I promise you; you won’t care once you make some and taste them how they look. Also, you may have better luck shaping the dough than I did ANYWAY thus negating the issue. So don’t let looks fool you. Just look at the nicely glazed surface… see the pieces of berry peeking out alongside some chocolate. Then go bake. And I promise… no more scones…. for a few days anyway 😛

Chocolate Chip Double Berry Scones

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, COLD
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • zest from one large orange (about 1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • Glaze-
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a buttered baking sheet with parchment paper then butter the paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (as always, you can use these directions with a hand mixer), combine the dry ingredients on low speed, including the orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces, then add to the flour. Beat on low speed until the butter is in small pea sized pieces. Then add in 1 cup of the cream and the vanilla and continue beating on low speed. You want the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl in a clean ball of dough, no floury remnants left behind. If it still looks dry, add more cream, about a tablespoon at a time until it forms the dough ball.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and gently knead the chocolate chips into it. You’re not trying to work the gluten up like in bread dough. That will make the scones tough.
  5. When the chocolate is incorporated, gently pan the dough out into a fairly thin circle or rectangle. Lay the berries down on one side of the dough, then fold the other side down over them. Press gently to seal.
  6. Reshape the dough (circle if you want wedges, rectangle if you want squares or diamonds) and cut into either 10 wedges or if making squares or diamonds (for the diamonds, cut into squares then cut them in half diagonally), cut into 12 pieces. Brush each with some of the leftover cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes for wedges or 10 to 12 minutes for squares or diamonds. You want them a nice golden brown on top.
  8. For the glaze- in a small bowl, mix together the glaze ingredients. Whisk well to get rid of lumps.
  9. Pour the glaze out onto a shallow lipped plate.
  10. Dip the top of each scone into the glaze. Let dry for about ten minutes then dip each one again. Let dry a bit before serving though when they are warm and sticky they are awfully hard to resist 😀

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