Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

A few years ago, I got a free subscription to Martha Stewart's food magazine, Everyday Food. For whatever reason, I wasn't too impressed with the recipes that I read at the time. I did save this one, however, and I don't recall what issue it was from. Thankfully, I saw that the recipe was also included on Martha's website.

Once I saw this recipe in Martha's magazine, I immediately saved it and knew I had to make it for my husband. You see, he is a fan of rhubarb and said that he used to have stalks of rhubarb growing around his house in Iowa. His family would cut down the stalks and make all kinds of rhubarb desserts like pies. He's a rhubarb purist and prefers the plain rhubarb desserts over the rhubarb-strawberry combination ones.

The tartness of the rhubarb is nicely offset by the sweet and crunchy streusel topping.  Our daughter enjoyed making this with me one morning and helped stir the streusel and the cake. She was so excited when I finally pulled these out of the oven so she could see the finished product. I may even give her a bite later, but definitely not before bedtime. This little girl does not need any more sugar!

Hope you'll enjoy these sweet yet tart rhubarb crumb bars as much as we did!

Streusel ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cake ingredients

  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.

Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.

Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rice krispies treats with homemade marshmallows

I don't know what is wrong with me. After I made homemade marshmallows, I actually had some left over. Even after snacking on some here and there, I still had some floating around the house. That takes a lot of self restraint, people, even though I normally am not a fan of marshmallows. I mean, these things were good.

I also had some crispy rice cereal leftover (what's up with me and leftovers?!) from the chocolate chip cereal bars. I put on my thinking cap... marshmallows, crispy rice cereal.  Duh - rice krispies treats! Since I only had a few homemade marshmallows left, I knew I wouldn't be able to make a full batch that thousands of blogs feature. I had to set out and make my own mini version.

Because I was limited in the amount of marshmallows I had, I only needed 2 cups of the crispy rice cereal. They spread out pretty thin in my pan, but I'll just call that portion control. I do love thick rice krispies treats, but the thin ones tasted just as good.

If you ever find yourself with some leftover homemade marshmallows, you can certainly make this recipe. Otherwise, feel free to make it the old fashioned way with the store-bought kind. Both versions are good!

Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 10 homemade marshmallows (about 1-inch squares)
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
Directions
Butter (or add baking spray to) an 8x8 pan.

Over medium heat, melt the butter and marshmallows in a tall nonstick pot. Stir until the mixture is uniform and is thoroughly combined. Turn off the burner and add the crispy rice cereal. Stir until the marshmallow mixture is fully incorporated with the cereal.

Evenly spread the cereal mixture into the pan and press down with your spatula (may need to oil it to prevent it from sticking). 

Let the treats harden for at least 20 minutes. Cut into bars and serve.

Source: Adapted from The Gluten Free Lab

Friday, March 23, 2012

Warm apple buttermilk custard pie

I recently got the chance to participate in another secret recipe swap that Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking organized. This time, I was assigned Ammie's blog, Adventures in My Kitchen.  There were a few recipes that I considered on Ammie's blog before I decided on this one. My husband loves apple pie, and I thought that this would be a nice variation of one of his all-time favorite desserts.

Stupid me should have checked the fridge before I made the pie. I only had two eggs, so I made the custard with only half the amount of eggs called in the recipe. My final pie came out slightly jiggly and was much better than expected, but I know that it would have been yummier if I had used the 4 full eggs listed. (What was I thinking? How could I not have enough eggs?!?  Dumb rookie baking error. Grumble.)

Another mistake I made was using too many apples.  I used two large and one small apple, and although I loved the additional apples in this pie, they filled up the crust so much that I had too much custard left over and had to throw the remainder out. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time!), I will reduce the number of apples so there is a better apple to custard ratio.

Despite my moronic errors, the apple buttermilk pie was still divine. My parents happened to be over when I served the pie, and both thought it was too sweet for their tastes (they don't eat sweets very often, so take their opinion for what you will). My husband, my official taste-tester extraordinaire, thought it was fine just the way it was. He gladly ate 3 pieces in a 24 hour period. And counting.

Thank you, Ammie, for an awesome variation of the traditional apple pie! I can't wait to try this pie again and make it correctly the next time!

Ingredients
1 pie crust (I bought a premade frozen pie crust to save time, but homemade would be just as tasty)

For Apple Filling:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 green and 1 red apple, peeled, cored and sliced (I used 2 Braeburns and 1 Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
For Custard:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs (I only had 2 eggs in the fridge so my custard turned out slightly jiggly)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
For Crumb Topping:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

To make Apple Filling: In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter.  Add apples, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Cook 3 to 5 minutes, until tender.  Set aside.

To make Custard: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/4 cup softened butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar, and beat until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until they are no longer yellow.  Add vanilla and 2 Tbsp flour, and combine well.  Pour in buttermilk and beat until smooth.  Set aside.

To make Crumb Topping: Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in 3 Tbsp butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly.

Spoon Apple Filling into pie crust.  Pour Custard over Apple Filling.  Top Custard with Crumb Topping. (I baked my pie for 50 minutes, added the crumb topping and then baked for an additional 30 minutes. As a result, part of the sugar in the crumb topping didn't melt completely. Next time, I will add the crumb topping at the beginning and bake the full 80 minutes. Ammie went this route and didn't have a problem with a burnt top.)

Place in preheated oven and bake for 70 to 80 minutes (I baked mine for 80 minutes), until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 1 hour before serving.  Serves 8. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dorayaki (Japanese red bean pancakes)

After successfully making my mom's Chinese red bean pastry roll, I had half a can of red bean paste left over. I didn't have to think too long or hard about what to make next because I am a huge fan of red bean paste. I've been known to eat it straight out of a can, but I digress...

The Japanese have several red bean desserts, and one of them is the dorayaki.  Essentially, it's a red bean pancake sandwich. You make the pancake batter and cook it on a griddle. Then you add the delicious red bean paste in the middle for some added sweetness and texture. Voila - dorayaki!

I found this recipe online and was stoked to finally try it. I knew this is how I wanted to use up the remainder of the red bean paste. While my husband was swimming, I whipped these up and even got some help from our daughter. She was ecstatic to mix the pancake batter and be my first taste tester. The dorayaki got the husband and daughter's seal of approval, so I am sure I will be making it again.

Another thing that made me super happy was that when my parents were over to visit this weekend, I happened to have several dorayaki in the fridge. They both tried one and loved it - so much that Mom even asked for the recipe! Here you go, Mom!

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 140g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 160g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 can Ogura-An (sweetened red bean paste; I used half a can of this brand that was left over from the Chinese red bean pastry roll
Directions
In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and honey and whisk well until the mixture gets fluffy.  

Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix. Keep in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes. 

Stir in ½ Tbsp of water at a time to get the right consistency. It should be a little bit thicker than pancake batter. If the batter is too thin, Dorayaki buns will be too flat and not fluffy.  

Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium-low to medium heat (I used my pancake griddle and did not oil it). Dip the paper towel in oil and coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. The pan should be slightly oiled but shouldn’t be visible. That’s the secret to get nice texture on the surface of dorayaki. With a ladle (I used a medium sized cookie scoop and filled the batter to the top and dropped it from about 6-8 inches above the griddle), drop the batter from 1 foot above the pan to create 3 inch diameter “pancake”. When the surface of batter starts to bubble, flip over and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and cover up with damp towel to prevent from drying. Continue making pancakes. 

Make sandwiches with the red bean paste as the filling. Put more red bean paste in the center so the shape of the dorayaki will be curved (the middle part should be higher). Quickly wrap them with saran wrap until you ready to serve. You can store these in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for about a week. To reheat, microwave for about 20 seconds and enjoy.

Yield: I got about 11 dorayaki pancakes by using a medium cookie scoop for the pancake batter. The original recipe states you should get about 8 dorayaki.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate chip cereal bars

Granola/cereal bars are one of my favorite snacks. I used to buy boxes of these at the grocery store and eat these throughout the day. Never in a million years would I imagine myself making some at home!

I saw Brown Eyed Baker make these in a recent post and thought that I would follow suit. She said that the whole process took about 10 minutes, so what did I have to lose? Thankfully, I already had all the ingredients on hand, so that made this recipe another winner in my book.

And by golly, are these cereal bars easy to put together! I love the fact that I know all the ingredients that go into these bars and that there are no crazy preservatives or things that I can hardly pronounce. I like to wrap these up in waxed paper and bring them to work as a snack. My husband said that these were delicious, and I've noticed that he's stopped eating the store-bought versions. Coincidence? I think not!

Give these a try. It only takes about 10 minutes of your time, and the recipe makes enough for about 10 bars. If you'd like, you can include other add-ins like flax seeds, raisins, nuts and other yummy stuff. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
Directions
Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the oats and rice cereal together; set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, honey, and butter together over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and press down to ensure that the ingredients are tightly compacted in the pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the miniature chocolate chips and press down on the top lightly with the back of a spoon or a spatula.

Cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in plastic wrap (I used waxed paper) or keep in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Yield: Recipe makes enough for about 10 individual cereal bars

Source: Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Lauren's Latest

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chinese red bean pastry roll (豆沙餅)

For some odd reason, I have been craving red bean (azuki) paste. In my lifetime, I've had countless Asian desserts with this sweet bean mixture and just wanted something quick and easy to fulfill my tastebuds. My mom makes a great red bean pastry roll (豆沙餅) and I went to look for the recipe online. My Google searches came up empty, so I decided to just do what I should have done originally - ask Mom.

This Chinese pastry uses cream cheese in its base, which may sound odd to most of you reading this. Believe me, it's weird but it works. The texture of the pastry interior is slightly chewy yet provides a nice balance to the red bean paste.  The outside will bake up nice and crispy, and it's not uncommon for a few flakes or chunks of pastry fall off (see picture for evidence!). Eat a slice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Or maybe all three!

This dessert may inspire me to document and try all of Mom's recipes so they don't get lost, and so I can pass it (and many other of her treasured recipes) along to my daughter one day.

Enjoy--and thanks, Mom!

Ingredients
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 can sweetened red bean paste (you can find this at your Asian grocery store; some higher end grocery stores may also sell it in their International aisle. I buy this brand.)
  • 8 oz butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix cream cheese, butter and flour (can do this by hand but I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment). Roll it out to a rectangle on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick - don't make this too thin or the crust will tear. Spread the red bean paste on top and leave at least a 1-inch border all around.  

Starting on the short ends, roll the rectangle, jelly-roll style, and then pinch and roll up the ends to avoid any red bean paste spillage. Place seam side down on a large baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pastry with the egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Cut into slices and serve.

Source: my mom (original source unknown)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Angel food cake

Well, it happened again.  I made some ice cream, but this time I was left with 6 egg whites instead of the normal five. I took a look at David Lebovitz's blog to see if I could make any of his recommended recipes for leftover egg whites. I didn't want to make macarons again and decided against the pavlova this time. Angel food cake sounded tempting, but his recipe called for 12 egg whites.  Hmm.

Off to Google I went. At last, I found a recipe for an angel food cake on Cookie Baker Lynn. Her recipe looked promising since it only called for 6 egg whites and was a smaller version of an angel food cake. Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

This cake could not have been easier to make. It's almost a one-bowl cake, which makes clean-up super easy. And the resulting cake is just what I had wanted - a light, fluffy and airy cake with just a touch of sweetness.  I know this would taste even better with a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top, but I ran out of whipped cream. Regardless, this is a winner in my book, and since it's baked in a 9x9 square pan, I won't have too many leftovers!

Ingredients
  • 6 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted cake flour (I used 1/2 cup all purpose flour and replaced 1 TBSP of it with 1 TBSP of corn starch)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut (I did not use)
Directions
Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Position rack in the center of the oven.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

Sprinkle flour over egg white mixture; fold in carefully. Gently fold in flavoring.

Pour batter into an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle coconut over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 40 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Raspberry white chocolate ice cream

I love ice cream. But you probably already knew that since I've featured a bunch of ice cream recipes on the blog. I used to not be a fan of raspberries, but I've come around in the past few years. When I saw this on Tracey's Culinary Adventures, I bookmarked it immediately. After all, it was a recipe from David Lebovitz, whom I trust in the ice cream making department. When my husband noted that our homemade ice cream supply was dwindling, I set out to make this ice cream pronto.

I made a slight revision and used slightly less raspberries and eliminated the vodka. I only bought a little container of raspberries and didn't want to double it and overpower the ice cream. The resulting ice cream is delicious (Hello, white chocolate!), but I did notice a few areas with ice crystals. I don't know if that is the liquid from the raspberry mixture or something else, but it wasn't as rich and thick as the standard vanilla ice cream that I'm used to making and eating. Either way, this recipe is a keeper, and it will be a nice welcome to the rotation, especially during the spring and summer months.

Raspberry Swirl
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used a small package of raspberries that I got at the grocery store)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I cut this down to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (I eliminated this)
Ice Cream
  • 8 oz white chocolate, finely chopped (I used half a bag of white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
Directions
To make the raspberry swirl: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl (if you're using frozen berries, let them thaw slightly first) and mash together with a fork until juicy but still with chunks of raspberries. Chill in your refrigerator while you make the ice cream.

To make the ice cream: Add the chocolate to a large heatproof bowl, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Set aside.

Combine the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and heat just until warm.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour back into the saucepan and set over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 170-175 F on an instant read thermometer). Pour through the strainer into the bowl with the white chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Mix in the heavy cream.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is good). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, layer it with spoonfuls of the chilled raspberry mixture. Store in your freezer.

Source: Slightly adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures; originally from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups

I was browsing the internet one day and came across this dark chocolate peanut butter cup recipe. Now, you all know that I am not a fan of peanut butter (or any other nuts or nut-related products, except Nutella), but I thought my husband might really like these.

You see, he is a huge fan of peanut butter. Huge. If you asked him what his favorite food was, peanuts and peanut butter would be way up there next to steak. We always have jars of peanut butter in the house, and much to his delight, it's something that he always gets to eat by himself.

Although I didn't get to taste these, he said that these were "excellent" and even better than the store-bought kind. He's been snacking on these throughout the week, and I have a feeling that I'll be making these again for him again very soon.

Ingredients
  • 6 oz good quality dark chocolate (I used part of the 1 LB bar from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Directions
In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter and confectioners sugar until well combined.  Set aside.

Break up the chocolate and put into a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until fully melted, stopping every 30 seconds to stir and check and see if it is melted.  Be careful not to burn chocolate.

Once chocolate is melted, drizzle a little into the bottom of each paper mini muffin liner and use a small basting brush, knife or spoon to coat the sides of each cup with the chocolate.  Place chocolate-coated liners into a mini-muffin pan (to help hold their shape) and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.

Once hard, remove the chocolate-coated paper liners.  Place a small ball (about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon worth) of the peanut butter mixture into the center of each chocolate-coated cup.  Then drizzle more melted chocolate over until the peanut butter is covered.  Repeat for all of the remaining peanut butter cups.  Use a small offset spatula or knife to smooth out the tops.

If desired, sprinkle a tiny pinch of sea salt or some colored sprinkles on top.  

Place chocolate peanut butter cups back into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden, then transfer into the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Yield: I got 10 peanut butter cups using the small to medium candy liners

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