Jan 3, 2015

Pillsbury Grands! Monkey Bread

Semi homemade. Yes, guilty.
Delicious - check.
Easy - check.
Why not?
I love making everything from scratch. Sometimes, however, you come across these recipes that you simply must try. Recipes like this one, Pillsbury Grands! Monkey Bread. It's great to make for kids, or big kids. Family and guest will all enjoy. Awesome for that special sweet breakfast too! Quick, easy, yet it will taste very homemade.
I have omitted walnuts and raisins because of kids, otherwise would have loved to try with them too.
Pillsury Grands! Monkey Bread
1/2  cup granulated sugar                        
1  teaspoon cinnamon                        
2  cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits        
1/2  cup chopped walnuts, if desired                        
1/2  cup raisins, if desired                        
1  cup firmly packed brown sugar                    
3/4  cup butter or margarine, melted               
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray.
In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.                               
Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
 Recipe credit Pillsbury.com

Fork absolutely not necessary! :)

Dec 30, 2014

Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule Log

One of the most traditional Christmas desserts is the Bûche de Noël cake or Yule Log. It looks intimidating and hard to make, but it couldn't be any simpler. Essentially, it's just making a roll, just like a jelly roll, filling it with butter based cream, and decorating it with the same. The look of the "wood" is so simply achieved just with a fork, and the roll itself.
You can play with the recipe, make it chocolate or not, fill it with any cream you prefer, as long as it still looks like a log. Meringue mushrooms, powdered sugar, and some pine tree branches added to the overall look of a log in winter, and it's all so easy to do.
My Yule Log turned out so delicious, I just gotta share how I created it.
Bûche de Noël or Christmas Yule Log
Chocolate Genoise Sheet (recipe from Food Network):
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa
  • Special equipment: 10 by 15-inch jelly-roll pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment
    Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
    Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
    Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees (test with your finger). Attach the bowl to the mixer and with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume.
    While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa.
    Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until well risen, deep and firm to the touch. (Make sure the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry, or it will be hard to roll.)
    Use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool.
    Storage: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several days, or double-wrap and freeze for up to a month.

    My note: I have skipped whisking over simmering water. Just make sure you eggs and all the ingredients are room temperature.  My sheet turned out perfect.
    My Tip: I sprinkle fresh squeezed orange juice of one whole orange all over the cake sheet. It really wakes up the cake, and gives it the special flavor, you will love!

    Vanilla cream:
    700 ml milk
    2 eggs
    1 package vanilla pudding ( the cooking kind)
    2 tbs flour
    2 tsp vanilla sugar
    1 cup sugar (or more if you like the cream to be sweeter)
    1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature. Can add more butter for a bit creamier feel and taste, but for me 1 stick is enough.
    1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

    Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar, pudding, and flour with a little bit of milk (about 100 ml taken from the 700 ml). Mix it really well with a hand held mixer. Put rest of the milk in medium saucepan and let it boil. When it reaches boiling point reduce heat to medium and gradually, but not too slow add the pudding/egg mixture in. Mix constantly, and cook for a minute, until it's thick, and transfer into a glass bowl. Cover with saran wrap and let cool down to room temperature. It will get really thick, but no worries. Mix in room temperature butter, and mix it well.

    Tip: While the cream cools it might develop "skin" on top, remove that by scraping it off with a teaspoon, otherwise you'll have lumps in your finished cream.

    To assemble:

    Spread the cream over the cake sheet, but reserve about 1/4-1/3 of the cream for the outside of the log. Add 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (melted in a microwave) to the reserved cream, and that's your cream for outside of the cake.

    Cut the finished log diagonally, twice, and put those pieces on the sides of the long piece to get that piece of wood with branches look. Spread chocolate cream over the log generously, leaving the cuts exposed, because that's the ridges in the wood.

    Using a fork, create lines, and not to even, also creating round ridges in few spots, for a more authentic wood look. Just look at my photo.

    Finish the look with meringue mushrooms just before serving because if you put them on the sides of the cake a night before, or any long time, they will soak in the moisture and sag. Add a tiny pine tree branch, but remember to wrap the edge with foil, if you use the real pine tree branch, because it is sticky and with strong pine scent, you don't want that touching the cake. So, some foil over the cut will do. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving, and watch your guest be amazed.

    Meringue mushrooms are super easy to make. I have used this recipe, from Joy of Baking.

    Cake was absolutely delicious, and beautiful on my Holiday table!

    Nov 20, 2014

    Eclair Cake

    Eclair Cake

          For the upcoming Holidays don't forget about this simple, crowd pleasing cake.
          So easy to make, and so delicious!
          I love baking from scratch, but this cake really is a great choice when you
          don't have enough time, but still want to serve something everyone will love.

              Éclair Cake

            2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
            1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
            3 cups milk
            1 (16 ounce) package graham cracker squares

            1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting 

           *Instead of chocolate frosting I have used 100g milk chocolate with 2 tbs oil,
             melted slowly on low heat. 
           *If using chocolate instead of chocolate frosting, remember to let the cake sit 15-20 min 
            before serving and cut with a sharp knife which you heat by putting it under running hot water. 

    In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the pudding mix, whipped topping, and milk.
    Arrange a single layer of graham cracker squares in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking pan. Evenly spread half of the pudding mixture over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding mixture. Top with a final layer of graham crackers.
    Spread the frosting over the whole cake up to the edges of the pan. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

    Recipe from Allrecipes.com

    Eclair Cake

    Nov 9, 2014

    Denmar Danish White Cheese & Zucchini Phyllo Pita

    Cheese and Zucchini Phyllo

    Denmar Danish White Cheese & Zucchini Phyllo Pita

    1 lb Denmar Danish White Cheese
    2 eggs
    2 small/medium zucchinis grated and drained
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup oil mixed with 5tbsp hot (not too hot) water

    Also need:
    egg wash (1 egg 2 tbsp water)

    Preheat oven to 450 F. Crumble two Danish White Cheese blocks with a fork until resembles crumbled feta. Scramble two eggs and mix in with the cheese. Add salt and zucchini.

    Mix water and oil in a small bowl, this will be phyllo wash. Oil bottom of the pan, place one sheet of phyllo with excess edges going over. Sprinkle generously but don't over soak with oil/water mixture, then place another phyllo sheet over, sprinkle again, and spread a layer of the filling. Repeat until you have 3 layers of cheese zucchini filling, and then top it with another two layers of phyllo sheets. Cut away the excess edges, and tuck the edges in nicely.

    Ideally this would be better with homemade phyllo, but sometimes you just don't have the time :)
    Oil the top lightly but evenly, especially the edges. With a sharp knife cut into squares and bake until golden brown. It will rise a little. At the very end brush with egg wash and bake another 3-5 minutes. Take out of the oven, cover lightly and let it set for 5-10 minutes before serving.

    Cheese and Zucchini Phyllo