Maple Sucre a la Crème

Maple Sucre a la Crème

This recipe is from my mom, Diane.  It adds a unique twist of maple syrup to a Québec favorite:  sucre à la crème, what I’ll translate to brown sugar squares.  This is a decadent treat that your loved ones are certain to enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 3 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional

Directions:

  1. Bring the syrup and butter to a simmer over medium heat in a heavy-bottom saucepan.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Carefully add the cream to the hot mixture (wearing an oven mitt to avoid possible splattering burns when adding the cream to the hot liquid is recommended).  Cook until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the nuts (if using).  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat mixture for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the beaten mixture in a buttered 8×8 pan and allow to cool completely before covering with foil and refrigerating.  Cut into 2” squares.

Makes 16 squares.

 

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Nutella, the delectable chocolate and hazelnut spread, is a favorite in my family.  My sister and I grew up on the chocolaty elixir and we’ve found many ways to use it throughout the years.  One of my favorite use for Nutella is in frosting that can be used on cakes or cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the Nutella to the butter and beat to fully incorporate (resist the urge to stick your finger in for a taste).
  3. On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, and beat to combine, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the milk, adding more if too stiff to use as frosting.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

 

World’s Best Meringue Recipe

World’s Best Meringue Recipe

I was searching for a fail-proof meringue recipe for my Baked Alaska and came across an easy-to-make and perfect version by King Arthur Flour.  No messy eggs whites, no egg yolk leftovers to worry about – just a beautifully glossy meringue.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water, boiling
  • 1/4 cup meringue powder

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the boiling water, stirring to incorporate.  Set aside until cooled.
  2. Add the cooled sugar/water simple syrup to the bowl of an electric mixer and add the meringue powder.  Whip the mixture for three to five minutes, depending on how stiff you want your meringue.

Makes about 3 cups of meringue.

 

 

Aunt Mary’s Caramels

Aunt Mary’s Caramels

Everyone at work knows I am a food and wine blogger.  At Christmas time, Judie, who I work with, brought me a tin of handmade caramels that she told me were a family heirloom.  Her Aunt Mary’s caramel recipe is loved by everyone in her family, but Judie is the only one to carry on the tradition of caramel-making.  Since the caramels were some of the best I have had, I implored her for the recipe, but alas, she would not part with it.

Come January, and my 40th birthday, Judie brought me a mini gift bag with, to my surprise and joy, a copy of Aunt Mary’s Caramel recipe in it.  It is with Judie’s approval that I share the recipe with all of you.

Ingredients:

  • 14-ounce can of condensed milk
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 sticks (½ pound) butter, divided
  • Fleur de sel or gray salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add the condensed milk, corn syrup, brown sugar, cider vinegar and one stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium-low and stir constantly for 12 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining stick of butter and bring back to a boil.  Continue cooking at a boil for 13 minutes, or at soft ball stage ~ 245 – 250 degrees F.
  3. Pour mixture into a buttered 8×8 or 7×10 metal pan and allow to cool overnight at room temperature.
  4. Once cooled completely, unmold the caramel onto a cutting board, cut into 1” squares, sprinkle with gray salt (optional) and wrap in wax paper.

Yields about 65 caramel squares.

Notes:  Do not double the recipe.  Make sure you wear a mitt when pouring the hot liquid into the pan to prevent burns from any splattering.

 

 

Easy and Elegant 4-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Easy and Elegant 4-Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Need some inspiration for a romantic meal this Valentine’s Day (or any old day)?  Here are four, simple-to-make dishes along with wine pairings that are sure to show your loved one(s) how much you care.

BONUS – breakfast:  Strawberry and Nutella-Stuffed Crepes

Whichever dish you decide to prepare for your loved one(s) this Valentine’s Day, I hope your meal is paired with love.

Cheers,

Veronique

 

Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Photo by Chris Absheer

It is thought the name “Hummingbird Cake” was penned as a result of people ‘humming’ after tasting the scrumptious dessert.  This delicious recipe is provided by St Louis guest blogger, Chris Absheer, who is on a quest to provide decadent desserts that are simple enough for the home baker.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self- rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Frosting Directions:

  • 1 pound confectioner sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 9 pecan halves

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour three 8” round cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl combine all the cake ingredients.  Stir by hand until smooth.
  4. Divide batter in the three pans.  Bake 26 to 28 minutes, or until cake surface springs back when touched.
  5. Cool cake pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and place on rack until cooled completely.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine confectioner sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk on medium speed until smooth.  If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time.
  2. Frost the cake and decorate with pecans.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

 

 

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Among my circle of friends, I’m typically the one cooking and baking (and loving it).  This weekend, my two girlfriends from Florida, Eileen and Gloriann, came to visit me to help celebrate my 40th birthday.  To their surprise and my amusement, I put them to work to make me a birthday pie.  The recipe below is inspired by a chocolate cream pie by Hershey and it’s delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate and 2 cups milk in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining cup of milk and the egg yolks.  Stir the egg mixture into the sugar mixture.   Gradually add the egg and sugar mixture to the saucepan with the warm chocolate.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils, about 2 minutes.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust.  Press a sheet of shrink wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Top the pie with whipped cream before serving.

8 to 10 servings.

 

 

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Tart

{photo by Andre Baranowski, via Saveur}

When Saveur showcased this dessert (from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons) on its cover, I thought I’d go mad.  Wow, what a beauty!  At a friend’s request, I made it for my New Year’s Eve dinner party and it was as delicious and it is gorgeous.

Originally published in Saveur magazine

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. crème fraîche

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Gray sea salt for garnish

Crust Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350˚.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer dough to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Caramel Directions:

  1. In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°.
  2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and crème fraîche (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

Ganache Directions:

  1. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours.
  4. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

Serves 8.

 

 

Keeping Family Traditions Alive

Keeping Family Traditions Alive

This is the first Christmas the family will spend without Grandma.  I’ve mentioned in past posts what an amazing cook and baker she was and that she had a huge part in my love of food.

One of the items that belonged to Grandma that I was fortunate enough to get was a small 3-section glass dish that she displayed her Christmas treats on.

I’ve made Grandma’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Treats over the weekend and plan on proudly displaying them on the dish to my guests.

It’s one of my small contributions to keeping traditions alive.

Cheers,

Veronique

Buche de Noel with Browned Butter Salted Caramel Frosting

Buche de Noel with Browned Butter Salted Caramel Frosting

Growing up, my Grandma made jelly roll cake all the time.  A favorite was the vanilla cake with raspberry jam tucked inside and confectioner’s sugar lightly dusted over.  Every Christmas, our family shares a Bûche de Noël, in recent years, it has been purchased because nobody has wanted to tackle making it from scratch.  This will be the first Christmas we spend without Grandma and I have decided to bite the bullet and make our family’s Yule log.  Here is a version I might use, unless I have a chocolate craving.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat an 11×17 jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper and coat the paper with additional cooking spray.
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar, Grand Marnier, zest, vanilla and salt and beat for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add flour in quarter cup additions, incorporating with a rubber spatula very gently. Do not over mix!
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Wait 3 minutes and remove the cake from the pan and onto a large kitchen towel dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Peel off the parchment paper.  Wait 2 minutes and roll the shorter side onto itself using the kitchen towel as a guide until a tight roll is created.  Chill rolled cake for 30 minutes then unroll the cake gently, removing the towel as you go.
  5. Spread 1 cup of frosting on the cake in an even layer then roll back into a tight log.  Cut a 2-inch piece at one end of the cake at an angle and place atop the cake to create a branch stump.  Frost the outside of the cake, including the stump, run a fork over the surface of the cake to create mock bark then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve 10.