Salted Caramel Budino

Salted Caramel Budino

I was leafing through some food magazines last week and came across a Bon Appetit recipe by Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo in Philadelphia for Budino, an Italian pudding, with two different layers of salty caramel.  The photo was calling me to replicate it and I did, with some short cuts and modifications that I think everyone will enjoy. Yes, it is three steps, but the crumbles take a minute and the dessert through the pudding layer can be made a day in advance.

Cookie Crumbles Ingredients:

Pudding Ingredient:

  • 3 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. rum
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Salted Caramel Topping Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Cookie Crumbles Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and salt. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the crumbles for later use. Press 2 tablespoons crumble mixture onto the bottom of eight 8-ounce mason jars or ramekins.

Pudding Ingredients:

  1. Whisk 1/2 cup milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer. Set aside.
  3. Gently stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook without stirring until an instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to the saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisk in butter, rum, and salt.
  6. Pour 1/2 cup pudding over crumbles in each jar. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, 4–5 hours.

Salted Caramel Topping Ingredients:

  1. Combine the cream and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and boil, occasionally swirling pan, until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes – do not stir the mixture or walk away as caramel can burn very quickly! Remove from heat and gradually add vanilla cream – be careful as the mixture will bubble vigorously. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and salt. Allow to cool slightly about 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each pudding.
  4. Top with whipped cream, if using, then sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbles over each.

Makes eight 8-ounce budino.

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

Croissant and Chocolate Bread Pudding

We all know what a comforting dish bread pudding is, and in this recipe, croissant and high-quality chocolate put a luxurious twist on the modest original. I urge you to splurge on good chocolate for this recipe – it is well worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 6  egg yolks
  • 1 1/2  cups  whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups  heavy cream
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 2 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2  tsp. sea salt
  • 8 day-old butter croissants, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 3.5 ounces  dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3.5 ounces  milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Before Baking

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Add the croissant pieces and the chocolates. Using a large spoon, ensure all the croissant pieces are coated with the cream mixture. Let absorb for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour the croissant and cream mixture in the coated baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.

Yields 8 servings (or 6 at my house).

60 Second Mixed Berry Cobbler

60 Second Mixed Berry Cobbler

Like many of you, I’m a huge fan of Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/foodwinechickie/).  I love getting home remodeling ideas, learning about new wines, looking at gorgeous travel photos and of course, checking out new recipes.

Last week, I found a recipe so ridiculous yet brilliant that, although I’m embarrassed to publish it, I couldn’t help but do so because it takes 60 seconds to prepare and it’s really pretty good.

Ingredients:

  • 2 16-ounce bags frozen mixed berries
  • 1 box white or vanilla cake mix
  • 1 12-ounce can lemon-lime soda (I used Sprite)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 13×9 pan with cooking spray.
  3. Place the frozen berries in the pan in an even layer.
  4. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the berries.
  5. Pour the soda over the cake mix WITHOUT stirring.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Notes:  You can switch the type of berries you use or try the cobbler with frozen peaches.

 

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Quadruple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

At the end of each month, the Operations team at my day jobs works extra-long hours to ensure all sold equipment is processed, packed and shipped.  Since I’m limited in what I can do to help, I typically bake something special that gives everyone an extra boost of energy.  This month’s treat is my quadruple chocolate brownie cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, place the butter, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips.  Cook until mostly melted, about 4 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Cool for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the eggs, the granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes, until fully combined.  Add the vanilla, the baking powder and the salt.  Mix for 1 minute.  Incorporate the flour in three additions.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Mix for 1 minute.  By hand, stir in the milk chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by the tablespoonful onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets (you should have about 12 cookies per cookie sheet).  Bake for 10 minutes – no more!  The cookies will still be a bit giggly in the middle.
  5. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets then place on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Notes: If you don’t have milk chocolate chips, simply replace with semi-sweet chocolate chips and call the recipe Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies!

 

National Chocolate Mousse Day – Celebrate with Tofu

National Chocolate Mousse Day – Celebrate with Tofu

National Chocolate Mousse Day is today and thought I’d share a delicious, yet healthy, way to celebrate.  While traditional mousse and pudding recipes often require large amounts of whipping cream and butter (delicious in many instances), using tofu provides a healthier alternative that’s still decadent in flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package 14 oz. House Foods Soft Tofu
  • ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup of milk (can substitute coconut milk)
  • ½ Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)

Directions:

  1. Open the tofu package and strain water.  Remove the tofu from package and pulse in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. With the stove on low, melt the chocolate chips and milk in a pot, stirring until smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tofu to the chocolate mixture and stir until completely incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom, if using.
  4. Quickly remove from heat and spoon in 4-6 individual cups.  Cool completely then refrigerate until it becomes thick like a mousse, about 2 hours.

Serves 4-6.

Notes:  Add your own personal twist to this recipe by considering some of the suggestions below:

  • Top the pudding with toasted slivered almonds or other nutscoconut shavings, or cocoa powder
  • Replace the 1 tsp. ground cardamom with ½ tsp. chili powder for a spicy Mexican Chocolate Mousse
  • Add a little agave nectar for an even sweeter pudding

 

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