Sunday, November 30, 2008

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is from Vibi of La Casserole Carrée She chose for us to bake the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe can be found here. The Thanksgiving Twofer has a layer of pumpkin pie topped with a layer of pecan pie. I followed the recipe exactly, and it was fairly easy to make. The only thing I would do differently next time would make the crust hang over the edge a bit more next time. It really shrunk up during the initial baking time.

This was a big hit at Thanksgiving dinner. My dad, who doesn't like pumpkin pie, liked this one, and my mom said it was the best pie crust she had ever had. I would definitely make this again. Be sure to check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see what other bloggers did with their pies.

Daring Bakers Challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen by Dolores from Culinary Curiosity. Dolores, along with Jenny of Foray into Food and Alex of Blondie and Brownie chose for us to bake Shuna's Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. The original recipe can be found on her blog, Bay Area Bites. I chose to make cupcakes out of the recipe, it made about 18 total. The cupcakes took about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake came out clean. There is also a recipe for Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels included in this post. I didn't get to make them, but I definitely would like to try them in the future.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. One Daring Baker suggested putting a piece of foil that has a hole in the middle of it over the pot and pouring the water through it, in order to prevent getting burned.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -

1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer


Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

White Bean and Chorizo Soup

It is starting to get cold outside, so I thought this weekend would be a good time to make a hearty, comforting soup. I found this recipe for a White Bean and Chorizo soup, and I decided to try it. I made a few changes from the original recipe. I like my bean soup thick, and the original recipe calls for a lot of liquid. I also used Spanish chorizo which is similar to andouille or smoked sausage rather than the fresh chorizo that is used in the original recipe. It is less greasy, and the smoky flavor goes well with the beans.

White Bean and Chorizo Soup

serves 6-8
  • 1 1/4 pound dried cannellini or Great Northern beans (generous 2 1/2 cups)
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves; 1 smashed, 2 chopped
  • 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped onions (about 1/2 a large onion)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo link sausages (fully cooked), casings removed
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or whipping cream
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Place beans in heavy large saucepan. Add enough water to pan to cover beans by 4 inches. Let beans soak overnight at room temperature.

Drain and rinse beans; return to same saucepan. Add 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil, smashed garlic clove, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until beans are just tender, about one hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.)

Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Discard rosemary sprig and bay leaf. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme; sauté 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups reserved bean cooking liquid, the chicken broth, and beans. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Cool soup 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté chorizo in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until browned and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels to drain.

Using slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean mixture from soup; reserve. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, or working in batches, purée remaining soup in blender until smooth. Return puree to pot. Stir in reserved whole-bean mixture, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, chorizo, and the milk or cream. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled.) Rewarm soup over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and serve. This soup goes great with some crusty bread for dipping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Chocolate and Vanilla Arborio Rice Pudding

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is from Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa. She chose for us to cook the Arborio Rice Pudding from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I love rice pudding, so I was excited when I heard we were going to make this. This recipe is very simple. You simply parboil the rice, then simmer it with whole milk and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy. Dorie had an option of making half the rice pudding chocolate and half of the rice pudding vanilla, which is what I did. You simply divide the mixture once it is cooked and add vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste) to one half, and chopped bittersweet chocolate to the other half. I topped my vanilla pudding with whipped cream and cinnamon, and my chocolate pudding with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. This pudding tasted good. It was a bit too sweet (especially the chocolate half), so I would probably cut back on the sugar a bit, but it was still tasty. The recipe in the book states that you should let the rice and milk simmer for 35 minutes, but Dorie herself posted over at Tuesdays with Dorie, and said that there was a typo, and the actual cooking time is 55 minutes. Fortunately, I caught that message in time, unfortunately, my pudding was still a bit runny. I let mine cook for a bit over an hour, and it still never thickened up the way it was supposed to. However, that didn't stop me from eating it. I think next time, I would probably cut back on the parboiling time, so that the rice releases more starch into the milk mixture to help it thicken better, similar to risotto.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TWD: Rugelach (Pictures coming soon)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is from Grace of Piggy's Cooking Journal. She chose for us to bake Rugelach from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Rugelach is a cream cheese dough-based crescent roll filled with jam, dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate. Dorie's recipe offers a lot of combinations of fruit and nuts to be used in the filling. I made a few changes that really made for a delicious Rugelach.

  • I used apricot jam to spread on the dough.
  • I used chopped almonds for the nuts in the filling.
  • I used dried cranberries instead of dried currants in the filling.
  • I added one tablespoon of orange zest to the filling.
  • I used white chocolate instead of bittersweet chocolate in the filling.

I really liked this Rugelach, and I will definitely make it again. The reason I don't have any pictures for this recipe is that I made the Rugelach a few weeks back, and the pictures are currently on my old computer, which is broken. Just a tip for everyone, make sure not trip on your powercord and break it off in the computer because Apple will want $400 to fix it. My computer was kind of old anyways, so instead of fixing it, I decided to buy a new MacBook, which I am loving. So until I am able to transfer all of my stuff off the old computer, I won't be able to post pictures. I will as soon as I can though! Either that, or I will just have to make them again. Be sure to check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see what all the other blogger's Rugelach recipes.