Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Adrenalin Junkie Cheesecake

Two forms of dark chocolate, chocolate covered espresso bean and cookie crumb crust and espresso sugar, what's not to love.
24 chocolate wafer cookies (from one 9-ounce package)
half a dozen chocolate covered espresso beans (Ok, I used a few extra  Look a Squirrel!!!)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 3-inch-high sides. Chop espresso beans in food processor until chopped, then add in cookies and process until finely ground.  Blend in sugar and melted butter and process until blended.  Press the crumbs onto the bottom only of the prepared pan.  Bake about 5 minutes.  Leave oven on but remove crust and let cool on a wire rack.

1 9.7-ounce bar Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped (Lindt is a good substitute but don't use Baker's chocolate as it is too grainy for this recipe)
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature  (that's four normal sized bricks)
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons of  Scharffen Berger unsweetened cocoa
1 Tablespoon  instant espresso powder (I use the Starbucks instant coffee)
a drop  or two of Madagascar vanilla
4 large eggs

Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl  and set aside to let cool  until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, cocoa and espresso powder in clean food processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Leaving the mixer on, pour in lukewarm chocolate. and mix until blended.  Pour filling over crust; smooth top. Bake for 55 minutes to one hour.  Center should be set and just appears dry.  Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen and when completely cool, cover loosely with foil and chill overnight


An hour prior to serving:

3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate,* chopped
1 tablespoon  Artisano's espresso sugar (they ship if you contact them)

Stir cream, 6 ounces chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes and pour over cheesecake, spreading with a spatula..
Top with whipped cream and more espresso sugar if desired.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"It's So Fluffy" Waffles

These waffles have a very fluffy, tender texture, almost like a pancake or pastry. They are light in crumb with just enough crisp on the top to hold in those delicious pockets of butter and syrup.

It sounds like a lot of work, but both waffles and syrup can be ready in less than 20 minutes and the recipe easily doubles.

Makes four 4-5 inch square waffles

3/4 cup White Lily self rising flour (soft winter wheat makes a big difference in your waffle or biscuit).
1/4 tsp baking SODA
1 extra large egg separated
1/2 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Penzey's vanilla sugar (or use granulated white to which you've added a drop of vanilla).
3 Tablespoons butter - melted

Set egg out on counter to bring to room temperature.

Have two medium sized bowls, clean and totally dry, and one soup sized bowl ready.

Mix Braggs and whole milk in soup bowl.  Let set 10 minutes while you mix everything else up.

In one bowl mix flour, baking soda and vanilla sugar.

Prep your waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

Separate your egg.  Add yolk to the butter mixture and put egg white into remaining clean bowl. 

Microwave butter in a coffee mug to melt and set by the bowls.

Using a hand mixture, beat egg white until soft peaks form.

Slowly add butter to milk mixture while stirring constantly.  Add that bowl to the flour mixture.  Stir until combined (there may be just a few small lumps, the less stirring the better).

Carefully fold in egg white. Incorporate thoroughly but do not overmix. The batter will have almost a souffle like consistency

Use about 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon batter per small waffle square.

Serve with butter and Maple Buurbon Cider Syrup

1 cup apple cider
1 cup maple syrup (REAL maple syrup,  not the thick and buttery flavored stuff)
1/2 shot Bourbon
pinch of cayenne

In a small saucepan, combine cider and syrup.  Bring to boiling over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add Bourbon and cayenne and simmer another 3-5 minutes.  Makes about 1 cup of finished syrup

Danish Braid

Danish Pastry is a “laminated” dough, which means that it’s made up of dough and butter layers. There are two components to it – Detrempe, the ball of dough and Beurrage:  otherwise known as a butter block.  The dough is rolled out in to a rectangle and folded up into thirds like a business letter, let to rest, and rolled out and folded, several more times, which makes all the wonderful little flaky layers of pastry. (If you've made croissants, this will be a snap).  It is then filled down the center, while the edges are cut into strips to braid over the filling before baking.

I recommend reading the directions carefully a couple of times, I've added some hints  in red print from my own experience making it.  Due to the poor light in my crash pad night kitchen  (no windows) I don't have decent photos of the braid process, but it's not as complicated as it sounds.  If you can fold a letter into thirds and make a braid with your hair, you can make this. 

Adapted from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking (a great book!)

The version , for a small household makes 1  - 1/2 pound pastry, but easily doubles (to double, use the amounts in purple print in the parenthesis)

DOUGH (detrempe)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast   (1 T)
1/4 cup whole milk   (1/2 cup)
3 Tablespoons sugar   (1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest finely grated   (zest from a whole orange)
8 green cardamom pods, cracked scraped and ground or  heaping 1/4 t, dried)   (16 pods scraped or 3/4 tsp. dried)
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract   (2 tsp)
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped   (1/2 bean)
1  large egg, chilled  (2 eggs)
2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice, pulp strained   (1/4 cup)
1 and 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour  (3 and 1/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt  (1 tsp)

BUTTER BLOCK (beurrage)

1 stick cold unsalted butter  (2 sticks)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour   (1/4 cup)

Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat an additional 1 minute (it should be smooth and lump free.) Set aside at room temperature.

Preparing the dough - Detrempe

Slightly warm the milk in a bowl from a stand mixer, add 1 Tablespoon of sugar from the sugar allotment and add the yeast.  Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Mix with a paddle attachment on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, egg, and orange juice. Mix well, adding  the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Switch to dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. Add a little more flour if it is too sticky. (amount you add varies on humidity and moisture content of the flour.  The dough is about ready when it quits sticking to the side of the bowl and begins stalking the dough hook as it spins, then starts flopping around in a ball shape). 

Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Do NOT cheat on the 30 minute sesssions, the butter needs to chill and the gluten, to rest, have a glass of wine, relax)

After the dough has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the into a rectangle approximately 18 x  13 inches and 1/4 inch thick.

The dough may be sticky, so dust it lightly with flour as needed. Spread the butter block evenly over the right two thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the dough to the right, covering half of the butter (like you'd fold  a piece of typing paper into thirds to stick in an envelop)  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. You will be turning it more times so keep track on a piece of paper.

Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left.

Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, 1/4 inch rectangle. (Use long, continuous strokes to roll the dough rather than short jerky ones, to make sure the butter is evenly distributed). Fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  that's your second "turn".

 Refrigerate the dough for another 30 minutes.

Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours
or overnight.

The Danish dough is now ready to be used.


1 and 1/4  cup of fruit preserves, 1/4 to 1/3  cup cream cheese (more or less filling, to taste)

Prepare egg wash  - whisk together 1 large egg , 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of milk (if you want a crispier, darker surface, omit the milk).

Time to make the braid

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface,
roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle,1/4 inch thick.   If the dough shrinks back when it's rolled (too elastic) let it rest for a few minutes then roll again.

Place the dough on the baking sheet. (Visually divide up the dough into thirds.) Along one long side of the pastry (one third of whole pastry)  make parallel, 5-inch- long cuts with a knife, each about 1 inch apart (to form 1 inch flaps, which will be braided) Repeat on the opposite side, eyeballing it to  line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.

Spoon the fruit filling down the center  1/3 portion of the rectangle and dot with teaspoons of the cream cheese   Before beginning to “braid”, fold up the dough at each end of the braid, to keep the filling from leaking out. Start at the top and alternate sides, folding the side strips in towards the middle and covering the filling.  The dough strips should overlap in the middle. You may want to wet the strips a bit with a clean finger dipped in milk so that they stick to each other better where they overlap. Once it's all corseted up (and you will need a corset after eating this).

Proof and Bake

Spray cooking oil onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof in the warmest room of the house, or the oven that you've heated up to about 100 degrees, then turned the heat off.  When it's ready it will be double in volume and light to the touch.

Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (I you're proofing the pastry in the oven, please remove it first!)

 Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash.  Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so the end of the pastry that was in the back of the oven is now in the front. . Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Glaze with a mixture of powdered sugar and milk  (1 tsp of cream or milk per 1/2 cup sugar) when cooled just slightly as desired.


Makes six small crepes or 3 large.

1 cup all purpose flour
small pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon plus one pinch sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup good spring water
7 ounces milk (1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup if using measuring cups)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons butter (melted)

Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and make a crater in the center.  Mix the egg, milk and water together and slowly pour into the crater, whisking constantly just until you have a smooth batter.  Stir in the melted butter, cover and put in refrigerator for 20 minutes while you prep pan and make some bacon.

I don't own a crepe pan, a medium sized cast iron pan, lightly coated with  a dab of melted butter worked just fine.  Over medium (moderate)  heat, pour in enough batter to cover bottom of pan in thin layer (for large crepe) or use a third cup measure to make small crepes, pouring directly in the center of the pan. For the first time cook, try the small crepes first, they are easier to work with as you have some bare pan to get the spatula in and around them to flip.

Cook over medium heat for a minute to a minute to a minute and a half.  The crepe will not bubble up like a pancake but the edges should start to pull away from the side of the pan or appear light brown and the center will look somewhat dry.  Flip carefully with a large spatula and cook for another two minutes. They do not brown up like pancakes but should not appear "wet" when they are done.

Unlike pancakes you can NOT make these in the shape of Mickey Mouse (look kids, an amoeba !)  They should be very thin and require a delicate hand when flipping.

If making a double batch, stack the crepes on a plate with pieces of wax paper between them and cover with foil to keep them warm and pliable.

Fill with a tablespoon or so of preserves and dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bacon Butterscotch Brownies with Salted Caramel

The Brownie
Makes one small loaf pan or double for an 8 x 8 pan
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 small egg (if using large egg, break, whisk and use 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon mexican vanilla.
1/2 cup flour
3/4  teaspoon baking powder
slightly less than 1/2 tsp salt (almost to the top of the measure, but not quite)
2-3  pieces applewood smoked bacon, cooked and chopped (reserving a few pieces for topping)
Melt butter, pour over brown sugar and stir till the sugar starts melting.  Cool slightly and whisk in egg.
In small bowl, mix remaining ingredients and pour into sugar mixture, stirring until blended and no longer grainy.  Place in well greased bread pan (mixturewill be thick) and bake 25-30 minutes (this one burns easy, check at 25 minutes, if edges are darkening and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean remove immediately otherwise check very minute til done). When it comes out of the oven, brush with some of the salted caramel, reserving more to serve with it when slightly cooled, topping with additional bacon, if desired.
The Salted Caramel Sauce
If the caramel sauce is intimidating, you can use about 1/4  cup of jarred caramel sauce and add the sea salt, but with practice this makes an incredibly rich buttery caramel you just can't buy.  This recipe makes enough for an 8 x 8 pan plus a little bit extra to dip pretzels or apple slices.
1 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons butter cut into fairly thin slices or chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla.


Place sugar in a quite heavy and tall saucepan set over medium-high heat (a tall cast iron pot works well). Do not use a pan  a lot bigger than the burner or your sugar will cyrstalize around the edge.
Stir continuously until sugar begins to melt. Do NOT walk away from this. Continue stirring until the sugar melts completely, begins to darken and all the chunks are dissolved, about 10 minutes. Stop stirring and continue to cook until the sugar begins to smoke and turns a dark shade of amber.  That can be from 3 to 7 minutes, but remove it from the heat at the VERY first wisp of smoke, don't wait for the color at that point.  Remove from heat and wait 30 seconds. Yes, you might burn your first batch, but trust me, it's worth tinkering with again.
Whisk in butter until melted and combined. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cream, taking care because it can bubble over. Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanillaa nd stir to combine. Transfer sauce to a jar and cool completely before refrigerating.