Sunday, July 31, 2011

Banana Brittle Caramel Cake with Nutella Buttercream

As many of you know, I always buy a bunch of bananas at the grocery store to make my favorite banana bread each week. But, this week I decided that I was going to do something different with the bananas. And I eventually came up with making a banana cake. This cake has layers of moist banana cake, filled with salted caramel sauce & homemade mixed-nut brittle, and then covered in a nutella buttercream. I also drizzled the cake with some left over salted caramel & topped it with crushed up brittle for decoration. This cake tastes like a giant heath toffee candy bar. The banana is sweet, but you get the salty, gooey caramel with the amazing crunch from the brittle. The nutella buttercream also compliments the cake really well. I mean nutella + bananas is one of my favorite combinations, especially in a crepe! I made this cake yesterday, and we already only have one piece left... that's how much we liked it! Enjoy :)
Leftover Salted Caramel & Crunchy Brittle Covering the Outside of the Cake 
Look at the Crunchy Mixed-Nut Brittle Topping
See Them Pieces of Brittle Tucked into the Salted Caramel Filling?
Banana Brittle Caramel Cake with Nutella Buttercream 
For the Banana Cake:
2C Sugar
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
4oz Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
2 Eggs, Separated
3C AP Flour
2t Baking Powder
1t Baking Soda
½t Salt
1C Buttermilk
3 Very Ripe Bananas, Mashed
1t Vanilla

For the Salted Caramel:
2C Sugar
1½ Sticks of Unsalted Room, Temperature

2t Sea Salt (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top of the finished caramel)
1 1/3C Heavy Cream, Room Temperature

For the Mixed-Nut Brittle Crumble:
2C Sugar
½C Water
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/3C Light Corn Syrup
½t Baking Soda
¼C Cashews, Pecans, & Peanuts
Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling    

For the Nutella Buttercream:
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Softened
13oz Nutella
1-2C Confectioners’ Sugar (depending on how thick you want your buttercream)
6-8T Milk
  
Directions:
1. To Make the Banana Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 6 cake tins with parchment paper and set them aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. Mix until the mixture is smooth and fluffy (do not over beat). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beating each time until it is just incorporated, making sure to start and end with dry. Fold in the mashed bananas and vanilla until just combined. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand held mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently & carefully fold in the stiff egg whites into the batter (do not deflate them). Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes, and them invert them onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
2. To Make the Salted Caramel: In a large saucepan, bring it up to medium-high heat. Pour in sugar and keep continuously whisking until the sugar begins to melt and the lumps dissolve. This sugar will begin to turn a light caramel color, at this point add in the salt and all of the butter. The mixture will begin to bubble, but keep stirring. Finally, take the pan off the heat, and pour in the heavy cream (once again, it will bubble, but just keep stirring) and stir until it is a smooth, consistent sauce. Pour this caramel into a bowl and let it cool completely before layering it between the cakes.
3. To Make the Mixed-Nut Brittle Crumble: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup and bring it to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is a light brown color and registers to 300 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and a pinch of cinnamon. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, and then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, non-stick baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the brittle with some fleur de sel let it cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards, and then, using a knife, cut the shards into pieces, resembling a crumble (that is small enough to sprinkle in between the layers).
4. To Make the Nutella Buttercream: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together the Nutella, butter, and milk until smooth and creamy. Beat in the sifted confectioners’ sugar until lightly and fluffy. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to spread onto the cake.
5. To Assemble the Cake: Lay down 1 banana cake layer on the cake stand and slather a thick layer of salted caramel sauce on top and sprinkle some mixed-nut brittle crumble on top of the caramel. Repeat the layers of banana cake and salted caramel sauce until all of it has been used. Once it has been assembled, frost the outside of the banana cake with the Nutella-Cream Cheese Frosting in a thick layer. Refrigerate the cake for 20-30 minutes. Once chilled, pour leftover caramel on top of the cake, letting the caramel slowly drip down the sides. And then, top the cake with crushed up mixed-nut brittle for decoration. 


source: best ever nut brittlenutella buttercreambanana cake


*Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Apple Jack Panini

Do y'all love Pinterest as much as I do? I love love love it. Especially on rainy days and I have nothing to do, I literally just consume myself with billions of pictures. It is also somewhere that gives me great ideas for new & unique recipes. Well, I was wandering through the food & drink category and came across the Grilled Cheese Reinvented from a cute little blog. I couldn't help myself, but I was drawn to this sandwich (as many of y'all know, I'm a sucker for crazy sandwich combinations). Her sandwich has sourdough bread, pepperjack cheese, avocado, bacon, and apple slices. She raved about her creation, so I had to reinvent one as well, using hers as inspiration. I only made a few minor changes... I used guacamole instead of sliced avocado and I made a sweet & tangy honey mustard (because I believe that every sandwich needs a good sauce). Obviously, I made it for Mountain Man (the boyfriend) because I make him a sandwich/burger every week for him to devour. And I purposely try this outrageous combinations because otherwise he would eat the same thing every week... I gotta break this man out of his sandwich rut! Anyway, the sandwich had all the necessities... sweet, salty, tangy, creamy, and crunchy. Give this baby a go, mmk? Enjoy :)
Look at the Sliced Apples Hidden Under a Thick Layer of Guacamole  
Apple Jack Panini with Sweet & Tangy Honey Mustard
For the Honey Mustard:
5T Honey
2T Smooth Dijon Mustard
1T Grainy Mustard
1T Rice Wine Vinegar
1T Mayo

For the Apple Jack Panini:
4 Slices of Sourdough Bread, Fried in the Reserved Bacon Fat until Golden-Brown
Prepared Honey Mustard
6 Slices of Pepperjack Cheese
8 Thin Slices of Granny Smith Apples
Homemade Guacamole
6 Slices of Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Fried until Crispy (save the bacon fat)

Directions:
1. To Make the Honey Mustard: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
2. To Make the Apple Jack Panini: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a pan with tin foil and spray with Pam. Set this aside. Fry the slices of bread in the reserved bacon fat until golden-brown and crunchy. Then assemble the sandwich by spreading a layer of the homemade honey mustard on each slice, and then lay a slice of pepperjack cheese on top of each slice. On one of the slices, lay down the thin slices of granny smith apples, and then slather on a thick layer of homemade guacamole and top it with 4 slices of crispy bacon (4 per sandwich). Top the bacon with the other slice of bread & cheese. Place the sandwich onto the prepared pan and bake in the oven in order to heat the fillings and melt the cheese. Cook roughly 5 minutes or a little longer, depending on your oven.
3. Slice the sandwich in half & enjoy!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Deep Dish Key Lime Meringue Pie

Citrus is by far one of my favorite flavors. I'm one of those people that actually eats lemons & limes like an orange. I'm aware that this is a very strange habit, but I love it, so deal with it. I love lemon bars, lemon meringue pie, lemon curd, lemonade, lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange... this list goes on as you can see. But today I decided to focus on key lime pie. Key lime pie is an ultimate favorite. And in order for me to like your key lime pie, I need there to be a thick crust with a TART (I mean tart) key lime filling. I also love meringue on lemon pie, so I couldn't just leave that out. When I bake, I try to make a few subtle changes that just make the dish just a little bit better. So instead of doing just a classic graham cracker crust, I bought the gourmet Biscoff Cinnamon Cookies, which make for a crunchier crust, and lend a great flavor to the rest of the pie. I also used only fresh key lime juice. This is the only way, people. Please do it fresh... it makes all the difference! Now here comes my secret component. Just on top of the key lime filling and just below the mountain of toasted meringue, lies a layer of slightly sweetened sour cream. I know this might sound bizarre or it might sound delicious. But this layer provides a great balance of flavors. The creaminess of the sour cream really works well with the tart lime flavor. And since it's a secret, you kind of sit there while eating the pie and think, "What am I tasting". Anyway, I keep rambling on and on, and I promise I'm stopping. But, I really loved this pie, every stinkin' different layer of it. Enjoy :)
A Beauty Shot of that Golden Toasted Meringue
Deep Dish Key Lime Meringue Pie 
For the Crust:
3C Biscoff Cookie Crumbs
1C Sugar
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Melted

For the Key Lime Pie Filling:
2 14oz Cans of Sweetened, Condensed Milk
6 Egg Yolks (save the egg whites for the topping)
1C Fresh Key Lime Juice
3 Limes, Zested
Green Food Coloring (to your liking)

For the Sour Cream Layer:
1C Sour Cream
3T Confectioners’ Sugar

For the Meringue Topping:
6 Egg Whites
½t Cream of Tartar
½C Sugar

Directions:
1. For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a spring form pan with Pam, and set it aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan and bake it for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven). Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature before filling.
2. For the Key Lime Pie Filling: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, and key lime juice until well blended. And then add in the fresh lime zest & food coloring (to you liking). Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the pie filling is set, but still jiggles slightly. Remove the pie from the oven and let the filling cool & set slightly.
3. For the Sour Cream Layer: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spoon this sour cream mixture on top of the key lime filling and smooth it out into a thin, even layer.
4. For the Meringue Topping: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peeks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until stiff. Spread the meringue over the sour cream layer, making sure to seal to the edge of the crust. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (or you can broil it for a shorter period of time) until the meringue is golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours before slicing.


*Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chunky Monkey Bread

When I was little, my mom would always make us monkey bread. Especially when I would have a sleep over with all my friends in lower & middle school, we would always wake up to smell of cinnamon and sugar wafting through the air. It always hit the spot. I then graduated and started making it for my college friends when we were... well, hungover. It was the best hangover cure. Loads of carbs & sugar, it just always helped us rebound for the next night :) But after I got sick all of last year, I forgot about monkey bread & all of its' gloriousness. So, I decided that monkey bread needed a makeover. And that is how "Chunky Monkey Bread" was born. Chunky Monkey Bread uses croissant dough instead of biscuit dough.  Then, the croissant dough is glazed with sweetened, condensed milk and stuffed with roasted bananas and dark chocolate chunks. The stuffed dough is tucked into big rolled balls and placed into a bundt pan. I poured a salted caramel sauce all over the top of the croissant balls and baked it in the oven until the croissant were hot & flaky and the caramel sauce was caramelized & gooey. I then flipped the Chunky Monkey out onto a plate and glazed it with a Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Glaze. This breakfast is easy to assemble and feeds a whole bunch of people! Enjoy :)
Chunky Monkey Bread with Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Glaze
Chunky Monkey Bread is Cut & Ready to be Eaten
Look at Those Layers of Roasted Bananas, Chocolate Chunks, and Salted Caramel Sauce
For the Roasted Bananas:
4 Ripe Bananas, Cut into Slices
4T Butter, Cut into Small Cubes
¼C Brown Sugar

For the Cinnamon Sugar:
3T Sugar
1t Cinnamon

For the Salted Caramel:
½C Brown Sugar
4T Unsalted Butter
Sea Salt (to your liking)

For the Gorilla Bread Filling:
Prepared Roasted Bananas
2C Dark Chocolate Chunks
3T Sweetened, Condensed Milk

For the Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Glaze:
4oz Cream Cheese, Softened
4oz Creamy Peanut Butter
4-6T Powdered Sugar
¼C Milk
½t Vanilla
 
For the Gorilla Bread:
2 12oz Cans of Refrigerated Crescent Roll Dough
Prepared Filling
Prepared Cinnamon Sugar
Prepared Caramel
Prepared Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Glaze

Directions:
1. To Make the Roasted Bananas: Preheat the oven to 425. Place the sliced bananas and cubed butter into a baking dish, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Bake this for about 25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then, smash the roasted bananas. Set them aside to cool completely.
2. For the Cinnamon Sugar: Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set it aside until you’re ready to roll the gorilla balls in it.
3. For the Caramel: In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar with the butter over low heat until the brown sugar has completely dissolved and it has slightly thickened. Sprinkle with sea salt and keep over low heat until you’re ready to use it.
4. To Make the Gorilla Bread Balls: Break open the crescent roll packages and separate the triangles of dough. Brush each triangle with the sweetened, condensed milk, and then spread or spoon on 1-2T of the roasted banana mixture. Sprinkle some dark chocolate chunks on top of the bananas. Fold the edges of the triangle together and seal. Once you have sealed them, roll the gorilla bread balls into the cinnamon sugar until they are lightly coated. Repeat until all of the crescent roll dough has been used.
5. Assembling the Gorilla Bread: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a bundt pan with Pam. Place half of the gorilla bread balls into the prepared pan, and then pour half of the caramel mixture over the dough. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Bake the gorilla bread for 1 hour or until puffed, golden brown, & firm to the touch. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes. Place a platter on top of the pan and invert.
6. To Make the Peanut Butter-Cream Cheese Glaze: Beat the cream cheese & peanut butter together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and light. Add the milk and vanilla to the consistency of your liking. Drizzle the glaze over the warm gorilla bread, letting it run over the top and down the sides of the bread.


*Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowls

We love Chipotle (obviously not as much Willy's, but don't get me started about my obsession with Willy's). Our favorite thing to order are their burrito bowls. We usually get their cilantro-lime rice, steak, grilled peppers & onions, tomato salsa, corn salsa, and guacamole. I always add a side of their honey-chipotle vinaigrette too because I'm obsessed with that sauce. But unfortunately for us, there isn't a Chipotle in Savannah. I never understood why because we really don't have a good tex-mex restaurant to go to, and we would really eat mexican food a couple times a week if we could. So since we can't go to Chipotle here, we decided that we just had to make it. We made the cilantro-lime rice, roasted-chili corn salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and honey-chipotle vinaigrette. And we also grilled some steak, as well as some peppers & onions to top our burrito bowls. These bowls were a hit! We finally got our mexican that we had been craving, and they were wayyyyy better! What is also great about this recipe is that you can customize it to include everything you love. Some other popular toppings are black beans, shredded cheese, lettuce, chopped onion, or roasted red peppers. This will definitely be a meal that we will make again and again and again! Enjoy :)
Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowls
For the Cilantro-Lime Rice:
2C Cooked White Rice
Juice of 1 Lime
1t Salt
6T Fresh Chopped Cilantro
4t Vegetable Oil

For the Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette:
½C Red Wine Vinegar
½C Honey
2t Dijon Mustard
1t Adobo Sauce
½t Paprika
¼t Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dried Oregano
½C Olive Oil      

For the Burrito Bowls:
Grilled Steak or Chicken
Prepared Cilantro-Lime Rice    
Homemade Guacamole
Homemade Chili-Corn Salsa
Homemade Pico de Gallo
Grilled Peppers & Onions
Shredded Mexican Cheese

Directions:
1. To Make the Cilantro-Lime Rice: In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped cilantro, limejuice, rice, salt and oil. Toss together until completely mixed. 
2. For the Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients, except oil in a blender and blend on low speed for 10 seconds. Slowly drizzle the oil into the blender on low speed. Chill the finished dressing for at least an hour.
3. To Assemble the Burrito Bowls: In a bowl, layer the rice, black beans, shredded beef, grilled peppers & onions, cheese, Pico de Gallo, corn salsa, and guacamole. Drizzle the bowls with the vinaigrette. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trio of Mexican Salsa

I have been craving guacamole so bad recently. I think it's because I was watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives, and this bar had all these different guacamole options on their menu. I remember that one had pineapple in it, and another had fish. Well that got me wanting to create my own crazy guacamole, so I decided to add creamy goat cheese, roasted red peppers, & crispy bacon. And since we were making guacamole, we ended up just doing mexican for dinner, and so I made some roasted-chili corn salsa and homemade pico de gallo as well. All of the dips turned out great, and they were also great on top of our dinner. This trio would be great at any party or tailgate as well, or for a Cinco de Mayo party! Enjoy :)



Roasted-Chili Corn Salsa, Goat Cheese Guacamole, & Homemade Pico de Gallo
For the Roasted-Chili Corn Salsa:
1 Poblano Chile Pepper
1C Corn Kernels
1 Small Jalapeno Pepper, Seeded & Chopped
2T Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
2T Red Onion, Chopped
2T Fresh Lime Juice
2t Olive Oil
½t Sugar
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For the Goat Cheese Guacamole:
4 Slices of Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Cut into Cubes & Fried till Crispy
2 Ripe Avocados, Peeled & Pit Removed
4oz Creamy Goat Cheese, Crumbled
¼C Sweet Onion, Finely Chopped
3T Roasted Red Peppers, Minced
1 Small Jalapeno, Minced
1T Lime Juice
¼t Cumin
½t Garlic Powder 
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For the Homemade Pico de Gallo:
5 Whole Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
3 Small Jalapeno Peppers, Chopped
1T Garlic, Minced
2T Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
2T Fresh Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

Directions:
1. For the Roasted-Chili Corn Salsa: Turn your gas stove on high (or using the broiler in the oven) char & roast the poblano pepper until the skin is completely burnt. Once completely charred, place the pepper in a Ziploc bag and let it stream for 10-15 minutes. Peel off the skin and then remove the seeds and ribs of the pepper. Roughly Chop the pepper and add it to a mixing bowl. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and add the corn and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the corn, and then add it to the mixing bowl with the roasted poblanos. Mix the corn with the remaining ingredients, tossing to combine, and then refrigerate until ready to eat.
2. For the Goat Cheese Guacamole: Place the peeled avocados into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add bacon, goat cheese, onion, roasted red peppers, jalapeno, and lime juice. Mash together with a fork. Add salt & pepper to your liking. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
3. For the Homemade Pico de Gallo: Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Part 5)

It's backkkkkkkk! The journey of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe has returned once again. Yes, I keep updating it, but I can't help it. So here it goes. I only made two changes. The first was that I added in some browned butter. I have seen a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes lately that have started including this ingredient. Apparently it adds a deep, nutty aroma to the cookies. So I gave it a go, and it was really good, I like the depth of flavor the cookie dough gained. I also refrigerated the dough for 24 hours. The New York Times favorite chocolate chip cookie follows this step and it is supposed to help the flavors meld together and develop fully before you actually bake the cookie. It also chills the dough completely, helping the cookie to become flaky, buttery, but still dense. The cookies were a hit as always, but of course, I'm going to keep improving until I can't anymore, hopefully that is attainable! Enjoy :)
Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Browned Butter
For the Cookies:
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
½ Stick of Unsalted Butter, Grated & Frozen
½ Stick of Melted, Browned Butter
¼C Gourmet Raw Bourbon Vanilla Sugar
¼C Granulated Sugar
1 ¾C Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk
2t Vanilla
1t Sea Salt
2C Cake Flour
1C Bread Flour
½C AP Flour
1 ½t Baking Soda
3.5oz of Milk Chocolate, Roughly Chopped by Hand
4oz of 60% Dark Chocolate, Roughly Chopped by Hand
1C (heaping) of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
2oz Unsweetened Chocolate, Grated
Fleur de Sel, For Sprinkling     

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 365 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with Pam, then set aside.
2. To Brown the Butter: Heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking it frequently. Continue to cook the butter. Once the butter has melted, it will foam up a bit, and then subside. Watch it carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan. You should smell a nutty aroma and it should be golden brown in color. Remove from heat and let it completely cool before adding it to the cookie dough.
3. Cream the 2 sticks of butter with the gourmet vanilla sugar, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the mixer then add the cooled, browned butter and the two eggs and egg yolk one at a time, incorporating each one completely before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl. Mix in the vanilla and sea salt.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, bread flour, AP flour, and baking soda
5. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just incorporated (don’t over mix).
6. Fold or beat in the chopped chocolates, and then the frozen, grated butter until it’s completely incorporated and the chocolate is evenly dispersed throughout the dough. Lastly, lightly beat in the grated chocolate (don’t beat it too much or the chocolate will melt and you will not achieve the speckled chocolate look). Place the cookie dough into the refrigerator and chill for at least 12 hours, but preferably 24 hours (to really develop great flavor & texture). Scoop the dough into roughly ¼C balls (or I used a large ice cream scoop), and then using your fingers crimp the tops of the cookies to make them more jagged (this will make them look more homemade). Because the cookies are quite large, I only put 6 cookies per sheet tray, so that when they cook & spread, they will not touch each other.
7. Sprinkle the fleur de sel on top of the cookie dough balls, then bake the for 12 minutes (cook them for 6 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees, and cook for another 6 minutes), until it is slightly golden brown on the edges, but still soft (slightly undercooked) on the inside. Leave the cookies on the sheet tray for 10 minutes, so that the cookies will finish baking.
8. Once the cookies have rested on the sheet tray, move the finished cookies to a cooling rack, and let them completely cool completely before eating.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Holy Crap Brookie Bars

Before I really started cooking, I could only make two things... chicken parmesan and brookies. I made brookies all the time, especially for long road trips with my soccer friends. They were pretty much a layer of brownie batter, cookie dough, and caramel. I think that's it. And I thought I was just the best baker, hah. Well times have changed and now I could probably teach a dog to make my old brookie recipe. So, I decided the other week that I would bring the brookie back, but with a vengeance. I have dubbed these new brookies as "Holy Crap Brookie Bars" because there are so many different components and layers, I couldn't possibly think of a name that encapsulated all of its loveliness. When Mountain Man actually saw these bars, he said, "Holy Crap!". So, the Holy Crap Brookie Bars were born. Let me play this out for ya... there is a layer of brownie, followed by a layer of double stuff Oreos, that is then drizzled with homemade salted caramel sauce, and then topped with cookie dough. It is then baked to golden perfection and covered with a homemade Cookies & Cream White Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse (you heard me correctly) and slathered with a dark chocolate ganache. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is. These Holy Crap Brookie Bars are just flat-out-riduclous. Enjoy :)
Holy Crap Brookie Bars
Layers of Brownie, Oreo, Caramel, Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Mousse,  & Chocolate Ganache
For the Holy Crap Brookies:
1 16.5oz Package of Nestle Toll House Mini Brownie Bite Dough
Double Stuff Oreos (as many as you want or how many you can fit in your pan)
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce*
1 16.5oz Package of Nestle Toll House Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Prepared Cookies & Cream White Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse
Prepared Chocolate Ganache Topping

For the Cookies & Cream White Peanut Butter:
10 Whole Oreo Cookies
2C Creamy Peanut Butter
1C White Chocolate Chips
2T Creamy Peanut Butter

For the Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter Mousse:
1C Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter
1 8oz Block of Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
2t Vanilla
1C Powdered Sugar (or a little more to taste... if you like it sweeter or thicker)

For the Chocolate Ganache Topping:
1 ½C Semisweet Chocolate Chunks
½C Heavy Cream
1T Unsalted Butter, Softened 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12x8-baking dish with tin foil and spray with Pam, and then set it aside.
2. To Make the Cookies & Cream Peanut Butter Filling & Mousse: Crush the Oreos into small pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the 2C of peanut butter. Place the white chocolate chips and 2T peanut butter into a double boiled and stir until melted. Add to the bowl of Oreos and peanut butter. Stir just a little so you can see swirls throughout. Once you have made the peanut butter, take 1C of the prepared peanut butter and put it into a large mixing bowl (save the remaining peanut butter for eating or another baking project), along with the cream cheese and vanilla. Beat by hand until smooth and fluffy, and then add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, and then place the mousse into the refrigerator to chill at least an hour (or until thick, fluffy, and cold) before spreading onto the brownies.
3. To Make the Holy Crap Brookie Bars: Press the brownie dough into the prepared pan in an even layer. Top the brownie dough with an even layer of Oreos (as many as you can), and then drizzle with some of the salted caramel sauce (to your liking). Flatten the cookie dough and lay pieces on top of the caramel, so that the cookie dough is completely covering all of the other layers.
4. Bake the brookie bars for 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven, until the cookie dough is golden brown and cooked through. Let the brookies cool completely before spreading on the mousse and chocolate Ganache.
5. To Make the Chocolate Ganache Topping: Put the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan or in a microwave-safe measuring cup, heat the cream until starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chips and let stand for a minute. Stir well to melt chips; stir in the butter. Let the Ganache cool before spreading on top of the peanut butter mousse. Spread on the cooled Ganache onto the peanut butter mousse & cooled brownies and let it set until slightly hardened.
6. Cut the brookie bars into squares and serve immediately, and keep them refrigerated.



*You can use store-bought caramel sauce or make homemade caramel sauce. I had left over salted caramel sauce and decided to use that. I really liked how the salt added some depth to the bars. You can refer to this salted caramel sauce recipe that I have used many times. 


*Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blueberry-White Chocolate Scones

I came across a recipe for Blueberry-White Chocolate Scones that I had been wanting to make, and I ended up having all the ingredients to make it, so I decided why not?! I made a few changes, but besides that the scones were light & fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. We had them for breakfast and they were like delicious sweet biscuits. Enjoy :)


Blueberry-White Chocolate Scones
For the Scones:
10T Unsalted Butter, Grated & Frozen
1C Fresh Blueberries, Frozen
½C White Chocolate Chips
1C Buttermilk
2C AP Flour (plus extra for your work surface)
½C Granulated Sugar
1t Baking Powder
½t Baking Soda 
¼t Salt
3T Heavy Cream
Raw Sugar, For Sprinkling

Directions:
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Grate the butter (large holes of the box grater) and place the grated butter on a plate and into the freezer until frozen (or until you need it).
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-mixing bowl. Add the frozen, grated butter to the flour mixture and toss with a fork until thoroughly coated. Fold in the chilled buttermilk until just combined (do not over mix). Turn the dough and any floury pieces onto a well-floured work surface. Lightly flour your hands and the dough. Knead the dough gently 5-8 times until it just holds together into a ragged ball, adding additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll the dough into approximately 12inch Square. Then fold the dough into thirds (like a business letter). Lift the short ends of the dough and fold into thirds again to form approximately 4inch square. Transfer the dough to a dish lightly dusted with flour and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface once again and roll out to another 12inch square. Sprinkle the blueberries and white chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the dough, and press down so that they are slightly embedded in the dough. Roll up the dough into a tight log and press log into a 12x4inch rectangle. Roll up dough, pressing to form tight log, and pinch the seam closed. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles.
4. Transfer the scones to parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

source: blueberry white chocolate scones


*Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Sandwich with Sassy Jezebel Sauce

I've made a lot of recipes based on Jalapeno Poppers. They are one of my favorite appetizers, but that's because I have a soft spot in my heart for any pepper or anything spicy really. I've made Baked Jalapeno Poppers (wrapped in bacon), Jalapeno Popper Bombs, & Jalapeno Popper Mac n' Cheese. Yep, I like Jalapeno Poppers. So, we just had to turn it into a sandwich... duh, but of course! This sandwich is layered with fire-roasted jalapenos, creamy boursin cheese, cheddar cheese, thick-sliced crispy bacon, and my Sassy Jezebel Sauce. But what puts this sandwich on top you ask? It is breaded & fried in panko breadcrumbs (like a real jalapeno popper should be)! Yes my friends, I bring you a fried sandwich. Don't kill me... I know you're probably gaining weight by just reading about this recipe. I apologize. But it was just soooo good. Enjoy :)



This Baby is Ready to be Cut



See that... That's the Crispy Panko Crust



Look at all those yummy jalapeno popper layers 



Jalapeno Popper Sandwich with Sassy Jezebel Sauce 
Sassy Jezebel Sauce:
18oz Apple Jelly
12oz Pineapple Preserves
18oz Peach Preserves
12oz Orange Marmalade
5oz Horseradish, Well Drained
1 0.8oz Jar of Ground Dry Mustard, Sifted
1T Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

For the Jalapeno Popper Panini:
4 Slices of French Bread (or Sourdough)
4T Prepared Sassy Jezebel Sauce
2 Slices of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4oz Creamy Boursin Cheese
8 Slices of Thick Sliced Bacon, Fried to Crispy
8 Large Jalapenos, Fire-Roasted & Skins Peeled
2C AP Flour
1T Paprika, Chili Powder, Cajun Seasoning, Salt
3 Eggs
½C Buttermilk
1T Hot Sauce
1 Box of Panko Breadcrumbs

Directions:
1. To Make the Sassy Jezebel Sauce: In a mixing bowl, beat apple jelly with an electric mixer; add in the pineapple preserves, peach preserves, and orange marmalade. Mix thoroughly. Whisk in the drained horseradish and dry mustard. Add in the pepper. Place in glass jars and cover; keep in cold in the refrigerator until ready to use (makes about 4 pints of sauce and keeps for about 2-3 weeks).
2. To Assemble the Sandwich: On all of the slices, slather on 1T of Sassy Jezebel Sauce. On the designated bottom slices start layering with the creamy Boursin cheese, fire-roasted jalapenos, crispy thick bacon, and then sharp cheddar cheese. Top with the other slice of bread and compact the sandwich together slightly.
3. To Bread the Sandwich: Set up a battering station by using 3 pie tins. For the first station, mix together the flour and seasonings. For the second station, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce. For the third station, pour the contents of the panko breadcrumbs. Now, dredge the sandwiches completely in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Next, dunk the sandwiches into the egg wash, and then finally cover the sandwiches in the panko breadcrumbs.
4. To Cook the Sandwich: Fry the sandwiches in a sauté pan with oil on high heat until crispy and golden brown. Finish the sandwiches in the oven (about 400 degrees) to make sure the sandwich is heated through completely.
5. Remove from the oven and then slice the sandwich in half. Serve and enjoy!


*Also, if you have not heard about Jezebel Sauce, it is a sauce made of preserves and horseradish that is very popular in the South. It is most popularly served over a block of cream cheese as an appetizer. I know it may sound bizarre, but it is actually really good. This recipe, which I found my mother's recipe box, makes a HUGE batch, but it is great to make and put into mason jars, and then you can have something on hand if a visitor decides to show up unannounced. You can always make a small batch of the sauce, using the same ingredients to your liking of course!!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Fruit Crostata Bars

I was watching Barefoot Contessa the other day and she made a Summer Fruit Crostata with peaches, plums, and blueberries. I couldn't help but want to make something with that fruit combination. So at the Farmer's Market yesterday, I bought all the fruit and then had to decide what I wanted to make. I didn't want to make a crostata, but something more hand-held. My final decision was to make Summer Fruit Crostata Bars. The bars have a crunchy crust, a smooth fruity filling, and a soft crumbly topping. They taste like southern cobbler, but you can walk around with one in your hand... what's not to love about that?! Well these were perfect as a summer treat and great for a grill out or cook out with friends. I love 'em! Enjoy :)


Summer Fruit Crostata Bars
For the Crust:
2C AP Flour
1t Baking Powder
½t Salt
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Softened
1C Granulated Sugar
¼t Cinnamon

For the Summer Fruit Filling:
2C Fresh Peaches, Diced
2C Ripe Black Plums, Diced
1 ½C Fresh Blueberries
2T Orange Juice
½t Grated Orange Zest
½C AP Flour
1C Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt
½t Cinnamon
¼t Nutmeg

For the Crostata Topping:
1 ½C AP Flour
½C Sugar
½t Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt & Cinnamon
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Cold
1 Egg, Lightly Beaten  

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 13x9-baking pan with foil and spray the bottom and the sides, and then set aside.
2. To Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. And then, reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined and crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the summer fruit filling.
3. Increase the heat of the oven to 375 degrees.
4. To Make the Crostata Topping: Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and butter in a bowl and using a pastry blended, cut in the butter. Blend until the dough is crumbly. Set this in the refrigerator until ready to top the bars.
5. To Make the Summer Fruit Filling: Place the diced peaches, plums, and blueberries into a bowl. Toss them with the orange juice and zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour this mixture over the summer fruit and mix gently until all of the fruit is lightly covered in the flour mixture. Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the slightly baked crust. Top the fruit with the refrigerated Crostata topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and the fruit filling is cooked through (depending on your oven).
6. Let the bars cool completely before cutting into the squares (if you can wait that long!)


Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Filling & Pecan Praline Maple Butter

Well here's another recipe of "dessert for breakfast". I really need to stop. But, we had all the ingredients, so why not? Well these pancakes are really like carrot cake. They are thick & dense, yet still light and fluffy. And they are studded with grated carrots and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger (all the carrot cake essentials). The pancakes are then layered with a toasted coconut cream cheese filling and then covered in a pecan praline maple butter. I really need to break this habit of making such a decadent breakfasts because then I have to work out for the rest of the day to get back to even, haha. Oh well, they were delicious and totally worth it, I promise! Enjoy :)



Carrot Cake Pancakes with Toasted Coconut Cream Cheese Filling 



Here Comes the Pecan Praline Maple Butter Waterfall :)



Carrot Cake Pancakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Filling & Pecan Praline Maple Butter
For the Carrot Cake Pancakes:
1C AP Flour
1C Whole Wheat Flour
2t Baking Powder
2t Cinnamon
¼t Nutmeg
½t Ground Ginger
¼t Salt
2T Sugar
¼C Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs, Separated
2C Buttermilk
2t Vanilla
4T Butter, Melted (plus more for cooking)
2C Grated Carrots

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
1 8oz Block of Cream Cheese, Softened
¼C Butter, Softened
½C Powdered Sugar
½t Vanilla 
½C Toasted Coconut

Pecan Praline Sauce:
½C Maple Syrup
4T Butter
¼C Chopped Pecans
 
Directions:
1. To Make the Pecan Praline Sauce: Heat the maple syrup in a small pot over medium-high heat, bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add 1T of butter at a time, whisking constantly, making sure each tablespoon is thoroughly mixed through before adding the next. Keep warm while you make your pancakes. Add in the pecans before serving and just heat them through.
2. To Make the Cream Cheese Filling: In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, syrup, and nuts and beat until fluffy. Set this aside until ready to spread in between the pancakes.
3. To Make the Pancakes: Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter, and whisk to combine. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into the center of the well, and lightly whisk with a fork to combine (there will sill be some lumps). Next, fold in the shredded carrot. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then lightly fold these into the batter. The batter should have small to medium lumps. Using a ½C measure, pour the patter in to pools on the heated griddle. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2-3 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minutes. While you finish cooking the other pancakes, keep the finished pancakes warm in the oven (around 250 degrees) until serving.
4. To Assemble the Pancakes: Stack one warm carrot cake pancake on the plate and spread a heaping dollop of toasted coconut cream cheese filling on to the pancake and smooth out evenly, and repeat this process with as many pancakes as you want. Serve with the Pecan Praline Maple Butter. 


Check out Sweets for a Saturday for this recipe, as well as many others!!