May 28, 2012

Parmesan, Cayenne and Poppy Seed Cheese Straws

These cheese straws are a super quick, easy and delicious appetizer to serve at your next cocktail or dinner party.  It just takes a few ingredients: puff pastry (homemade or store-bought), parmesan cheese, poppy seeds and a dash of cayenne pepper.  Cut in to long strips, twist and then bake in a hot oven.   Buttery, savory and with just a kick of spice, they are perfect accompanied with a glass of bubbly!

May 20, 2012

Brown Butter, Pistachio and Poppy Seed Financiers

Blogger La Tartine Gourmande, aka Béa Peltre, recently appeared on The Martha Stewart Show to make these financiers.  If you haven't seen her blog yet I highly recommend it; the pictures alone are  absolutely divine.

Lately I'm finding myself more and more drawn to simple, easy and delicious recipes and this one fits the bill.   No stand-mixer required; essentially just a mixing bowl and whisk.   Since pistachios are one of my favorite nuts these little cakes were definitely calling my name.  Add to it poppy seeds and brown butter and it's a done deal.  

I tweaked Béa's recipe just slightly and the financiers turned out delicious.  I skipped the cardamom pods (just didn't have any) and since my pistachios were more brown than green, a teeny tiny drop of food color.  My financiers were baked in this mini bundt pan, a great purchase I found at Home Goods, because I thought the shape would be perfect for these little cakes.

May 15, 2012

TWD Pecan Sticky Buns

Caveat comedentis: this week's TWD recipe, Pecan Sticky Buns, should probably be saved for special occasions.  Regular consumption of this much butter and sugar will have your doctor prescribing Lipitor and insulin to you in a heart beat, trust me. 

The sticky buns start with a rich, egg-y brioche dough that is laminated with butter.  (Laminate - just a fancy schmancy pastry term for creating layers in the dough with butter.) The dough was a dream to work with and super easy to roll out.  But with its 15 minutes of non-stop kneading I have to tell you it really did test the strength of my Kitchen-Aid professional stand mixer.  I'm happy to report that in the battle of dough versus machine, the machine prevailed.  A true workhorse, I tell you!

Rather than baking the buns on the same day I ended up freezing the cinnamon and nut filled brioche logs to finish at a later time.  Unfortunately I found that postponing the baking inhibited the dough's ability to proof and rise in a timely manner.   It took over 24 hours for the buns to expand enough to fill the entire 9-inch cake pan.

Once baked all was right with the world - the buns puffed and browned beautifully.  Sadly, I found the topping disappointing.  The butter and brown sugar separated and didn't meld in to the thick and gooey caramel that I was expecting.  Next time I think I'll reduce the butter used from 8 tablespoons to 6 tablespoons (per cake pan), substitute dark brown sugar for light and pre-cook it before pouring in the the cake pan.  This recipe wasn't necessarily a home run for me, more like a work in progress.

Head on over to Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Cookies on Friday if you'd like to try the recipe for yourself.

May 13, 2012

Raspberry-White Chocolate Bombe

I've been wanting to make this Raspbery-White Chocolate Bombe for a while now but was waiting for the right occasion.  Mother's Day fit the bill perfectly.  I can't think of any mother - or grandmother, aunt, sister or daughter for that matter - who wouldn't love to receive a beautiful cake like this. 

"Pretty in pink" is the first thing that comes to mind when I see this cake.  The pink and white colors just make me smile.  This showstopper is yearning to be the center of attention at your next  celebration, e.g., bridal shower, baby shower, christening or birthday to name a few. 

Underneath a blanket of white chocolate curls lies fruit-studded raspberry mousse and moist, tender white cake.   Now I admit that I'm not much of a fan of white chocolate; it's just too sweet for my taste.  If you feel the same follow my lead and eat around it; the cake and filling are delicious!


FYI: The cake stand is a 2012 limited edition from Martha Stewart Collection that I bought at Macys.  I added the ribbon embellishment.  The chocolate curls were purchased at my local cake decorating store,  Sugar 'N Spice.

May 10, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

In honor of my Dad's birthday I made his favorite cake - pineapple upside-down - an oldie but definitely a goodie.  Personally I love anything pineapple; it's my all-time favorite fruit.  Fresh, frozen, canned, in rings, crushed or sliced, I'll eat it in any and all forms. 

The cake recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated and was super easy to pull together.  I liked the fact that the fresh pineapple is cooked with the brown sugar so that the caramel topping is infused with more fruit flavor.   

The cake part was a little dense for my taste so next time I might use cake flour instead of all-purpose and whip the egg white to lighten the batter.   I think Dad will give his approval for the cake regardless of the technique used.


May 6, 2012

Pistachio Pound Cake

Pistachio has to be one of my all-time favorite flavors so when I saw this version of Tish Boyle's marble pound cake on Kokken69's blog I instantly wanted to replicate it, with just a few tweaks.  I recently bought a bavarian bundt pan but had yet to use it and thought this cake would be the perfect inauguration.  Furthermore I wanted to take another crack at making a cake with a zebra stripe pattern.

Kokken69's adaption calls for using pistachio paste instead of a cocoa mixture to achieve the marble effect.   After finishing a massive macaron order for my brother my supply of pistachio paste was completely exhausted.   Necessity is the mother of invention so I found the next best thing I could, Jell-O instant pistachio pudding mix.  I sifted out the pistachio nut bits before mixing the powder with 3 cups of the vanilla cake batter.

Unfortunately the zebra pattern I was after wasn't happening.  Rather than creating stripes, the two colors of batter blended together.   But, the cake itself was really delicious with a moist, tender crumb.   The pudding mix didn't provide nearly enough pistachio flavor so next time I'm going to use paste and also stick with the marble design!

May 1, 2012

TWD Hungarian Shortbread

Any time a recipe is a bit unorthodox, whether it be ingredients or technique, I'm instantly intrigued and perhaps a little skeptical.  Such was the case with this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Hungarian Shortbread. It didn't make sense - a shortbread that was: a) Hungarian [apparently because of the jam filling] , b) contained eggs and c) grated in to the pan?  Say what?

I'd heard of recipes where cold pastry dough was grated in to a pie pan and pressed in to place, thereby eliminating the need for a rolling pin, but this was different.  The recipe specifically said NOT to press the grated dough in to the pan..just spread it evenly.   Ok, I played along, but I definitely had my reservations.

True to its word, once in the oven the dough settled in to the pan like it was supposed to.  Although the shortbread was tasty I wish it had been crispier, like the traditional cookie.  Perhaps it was the inclusion of eggs that was the culprit since shortbread is normally just made with butter, sugar and flour?  Maybe next time I'll leave it out. 

You can find the actual recipe at 1smallkitchen and the not so exciting adventures of a dabbler.

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