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Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets via Relishing It

Rhubarb in January?!  No, I haven’t lost my mind, and I generally try to prepare and write about foods that are in season.  But every now and then I get tired of following the unwritten ‘rules’ of food blogging.  And since I had a few bags of rhubarb in my freezer just crying out to be made into more of these lovely tartlets, I figured why not?  So rhubarb in January it is.  Rhubarb freezes remarkably well, so there is no reason you shouldn’t be enjoying it’s unique, tart, splendor any time of the year.

Rhubarb

Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets via Relishing It

I’ve always loved rhubarb.  Especially the gorgeous, vibrant, red variety.  These tartlets are one of my favorite ways to enjoy this sometimes overlooked fruit.  Or vegetable.  Actually, it turns out rhubarb is a vegetable, but– and I’m not making this up– a court in New York ruled in 1947 that rhubarb is classified as a fruit in the U.S.  Anyway… the whole grains in the crust work impeccably well here.  One of the best ingredients in this recipe is the addition of the cornmeal.  It lends a nice toothsome bite that perfectly contrasts the soft rhubarb compote.

Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets via Relishing It

Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets via Relishing It

Aside from the flavors, I love the size of these tartlets.  They’re perfect little individual servings.  I’m not sure why, but I’m a sucker for most any miniaturized dessert.  There’s something so appealing about them.  I also love the rustic, ‘free-form’ look of the crust.  They have that homemade quality that just feels…genuine.  Like it was made just for you.  And since they’re ‘free-form’, there’s no wrong way to shape them.  Enjoy!

Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Rustic Rhubarb Tartlets

(Makes 10 individual Tartlets)

The Rhubarb Compote:

1 pound fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut into pieces

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

The Pastry Dough:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup fine cornmeal

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 egg yolks

1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water, mixed together for an egg wash

To make the rhubarb compote:  Place the rhubarb plus brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the rhubarb has softened and broken down a bit.  Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest.  Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the pastry dough:  In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks and cream together.  Set aside. Sift the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sugar, and kosher salt together and place into the bowl of a food processor (this recipe can easily be done by hand, too).  Next, add the butter and turn the mixer to low.  Increase to medium once the butter begins to get incorporated.  When the flour is coarse, like cornmeal, add the egg yolks/cream mixture and mix until just combined.  The dough will appear crumbly, but will hold it’s shape when squeezed together.

This dough is best when shaped right away, as it is really easy to work with.  If you need to refrigerate it for some reason, make sure to let it warm up before trying to roll it out.

Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.   Lightly flour your work surface and roll each dough ball out to about a 5-inch circle.  Use a bench scraper, if your dough begins to stick.  Divide the rhubarb compote evenly among the circles — about 1/4 cup each.  Turn the edges of the dough up and around the compote and pinch the sides together.  The dough may split or break, but just keep pinching it together to create a seal.  Place the tartlets onto your prepared baking sheet.  Use a pastry brush and brush the dough with the egg wash.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are a beautiful deep golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool.  These will keep well for days in a sealed container.  Enjoy with freshly whipped cream and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar!

Source:  Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

So glad you stopped by today ! xo

Laurie

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I guess I’m a liar.  I promised you greens and healthy fare this week, and instead I’m delivering cream and sugar.  I am the worst.  But it is nearly Summer after all, so why not get a little excited for homemade ice cream?  While strolling through a neighborhood garage sale a few weeks back I stumbled across a Krups ice cream maker.  For me, this was like striking gold.  Cool, creamy, delicoius gold.  You see, I’ve been wanting an ice cream maker for some time.  I had a chance to use a friend’s a few times and fell in love with the whole process.  So I gave the ice cream maker a home in my kitchen, and began to dream up flavor combinations.  The one criteria was that I wanted to make something that I couldn’t easily find in a grocery store.  I wanted something unique enough to be worth the effort.

Now to be honest, this peach cheesecake version wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  In fact, it wasn’t even on the list.  This was just going to be a test-run using what I had on hand.  I always have cream cheese, and I knew there were gingersnaps in the pantry.  And there on my counter, were three lonely peaches.  You know the type– they were too hard to eat the first day, we forgot about them on day two, and by day three they were…past their prime, shall we say.  Like I said, this was going to be a test-run.

Well it turns out that my little cobbled-together recipe is dreamy.  The ice cream has a lovely, subtle, peach flavor.  If you want a more powerful fruit flavor, you’ll need to add another peach.  I wasn’t sure the cream cheese was going to work, since it wasn’t going to be perfectly smooth, but it ended up being my favorite addition.  There are wonderful little tidbits of cream cheese speckled throughout the peach and vanilla custard that give this a real cheesecake flavor.  The gingersnaps bring their little crunch for additional texture, and the flavor really marries well with the peach.  As with pretty much all of my recipes, I used the best organic ingredients I could find.  Hope you enjoy the ice cream– and eat a few vegetables before you indulge.

The Recipe:  Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream

(Makes a bit more than 1 quart)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup 2% milk

5 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

3 peaches, puréed to yield 2/3 cup

squeeze of lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, not overly packed

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, and softened/mashed with a fork

1/2 cup chopped ginger snaps

kosher salt, to taste

To make the custard:  Add 1 cup of the cream, milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, a healthy pinch of kosher salt, and the vanilla bean to a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  Make sure to split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife.  Add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan.  Stir frequently to help dissolve the sugars.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until tiny bubbles form around the pan.  Turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse for 1 hour.

In the meantime, peel and quarter the peaches.  Place them in a steamer basket in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Let them steam until they are soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Place them in a small mini-processor with a squeeze of lemon.  Blend until smooth.  Let cool.

When the hour is nearly over, prepare an ice bath by placing a large bowl with ice and water in it, then place a medium -sized bowl into that one.  Pour the remaining cup of cream into the bowl so it becomes very cold.  This will help the custard cool more quickly.

Re-warm the cream mixture until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge.  Remove from heat.  In a steady stream, pour half of the warm mixture into a bowl containing the egg yolks to temper them, whisking them the entire time.  Then pour that mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat.  Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.  Cook until the mixture thickens slightly , coats the back of a utensil, and can hold a line drawn through it with a finger, about 4-8 minutes.  A thermometer will read 175°-180°F.  Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle.

With a mesh strainer positioned over the bowl of cream in the ice bath, pour the hot mixture into it.  Stir the mixture until it cools to  70°F.  Add the peach purée and the softened cream cheese to the bowl. Use a whisk to mostly incorporate the cream cheese.  Some small bits that remain are perfect.  Then put the mixture into the refrigerator for 4 hours to cool.  Now it’s ready for your ice cream maker.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Mix the crushed gingersnaps into the churned ice cream.  Put into the freezer to fully set.  This ice cream is best if let to warm a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Mine was fantastic, despite– or perhaps because of– the rain here in Minnesota.  I love rainy days, and we certainly needed it here in the Midwest.  Everything is finally greening up after our nearly snow-less winter.  With an eye towards the forecast, I got the family up early to head to the farmers’ market before the downpour.  It was magnificent.  I’ll try to take photographs next time to share with you.  There were pops of color everywhere!  I was able to track down our usual early spring stores– spinach, scallions, pea shoots, asparagus, eggs, radishes, and more rhubarb.

Yes, I know I wrote about rhubarb last week in this coffee cake recipe, but if you’re ready for another go, this week I’m offering up a phenomenal tart with rhubarb and cardamom.  I ate almost the entire thing the day I made it.  It’s that good.  I spotted this tart years ago on Helene’s beautiful blog, Tartlette.  Rhubarb with cardamom is one of those brilliant combinations that you really must try.  The cardamom is very subtle– a little goes a long way– but it really seems to enhance the tart flavors of the rhubarb.

I wanted to make a relatively fuss-free crust for this tart– one that doesn’t have to be rolled out, but rather just gently patted into a pan.  This one turned out perfectly.  I blind baked the crust to ensure that it was nice and firm, since there’s nothing worse than having a fabulous filling ruined by a soggy crust.  As for that filling, this one is a divine creamy custard.  It’s just a few simple ingredients, but the creme fraiche makes it spectacular.  (Honestly, I think creme fraiche makes everything spectactular).  Like a little kid, I couldn’t stop licking the spatula!  With this recipe, you will probably have leftover custard, so pour it into baking cups and bake it along-side the tart.  They’ll be little bonus desserts.  Enjoy!

The Recipe: Rhubarb and Cardamom Tart

(Makes one 9-or-10-inch round tart or a 14-x-5-inch rectangle tart)

For poaching the Rhubarb:

5 stalks rhubarb, chopped (1 1/2 cups)

squeeze of lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon honey

For the Custard Filling:

3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup creme fraiche (full-fat sour cream would work, too)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

sprinkle of salt

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

sprinkle of salt

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 6-8 pieces

1 egg, beaten

To poach the rhubarb: In a small saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup of water, honey, and squeeze of lemon to a boil.  Place the chopped rhubarb in the water and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove rhubarb from water and set aside.  This can be done a day in advance — just place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.  The water from the rhubarb is full of flavor — save it if you like and be creative with it!  Cook it down to form a syrup or mix it with a cocktail.

Meanwhile, prepare the tart crust.  Preheat an oven to 350°F.  In a large glass bowl, add the flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt.  Whisk them together to combine.  Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in the  butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Do not let the mixture become pasty.  Stir the beaten egg into the flour mixture.  The dough should look dry and crumbly.

Press the dough evenly and gently into a buttered tart pan, using floured fingertips.  Place a piece of lightly butter parchment paper over the tart and fill with baking weights or dried beans (I use the same beans over and over).  Blind bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the tart is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the custard filling:  In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the eggs, sugar, cardamom, and sprinkle of salt.  Mix for  a couple of minutes until it is pale and airy.  Add the creme fraiche and mix until well combined.

To assemble the tart:  Distribute the poached rhubarb into the prepared tart crust.  Pour the custard filling over the rhubarb — being careful to not overfill it.  You will have leftover custard filling.  If you like, butter about 4 small ramekins and fill them with the custard.  Bake along side the tart for a bonus treat.  Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until it is a beautiful golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  Enjoy!

Source:  Custard filling adapted from Tartlette.  Crust adapted from How to Bake

Thanks for stopping in today!
Laurie

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And another seasonal food makes it’s first appearance!  This time it’s rhubarb’s turn in the spotlight.  You’ll probably see a similar line here next week with another ingredient–maybe even every week throughout Spring and Summer as I blog.  I can’t help it!  I just get so excited for all of this seasonal gorgeous, vibrant produce.

Rhubarb has been cropping up everwhere around here in the last week.  The first Twin Cities farmers’ markets of the season opened this weekend, so I hauled the family to our favorite one in St. Paul.  It was fun getting a chance to chat with the vendors again after the Winter break.  I’ve found that the first few weeks are a good time to connect with them– to see what they’ll be offering and how the season is shaping up– since they aren’t quite as busy as they’ll be by Summer.  I bought many things, including a bunch of rhubarb.  Even better, a friend was also kind enough to give me a huge bundle.  Perfect.

So what to do with all this rhubarb?  Well, this cake and this crumble are two of my favorite things to make with it.  But I’ve also found the coffee cake that you see in this post.  I love coffee cakes.  They’re perfect for…well…coffee in the afternoon, of course.  They’re also easy to make and stay moist for days.

The rhubarb is obviously the main attraction here.  It adds a notable, though restrained tartness.  The cake is perfectly sweetened.  I used my homemade 1 % yogurt, which was a nice substitute for sour cream.  It kept the cake wonderfully moist, and as a bonus, it has less calories.  The next time I make this one, I’m going to try it with white whole wheat flour to get the benefits of using a whole grain.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  And if you try it that way first, let me know about it.  Enjoy!

The Recipe:  Rhubarb Crunch Coffee Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup yogurt or sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1 /2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Rhubarb and Crunch Topping:

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 /4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon butter, softened

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.   Butter an 8-inch square cake pan.

To prepare the Rhubarb and the Crunch Topping: Combine 2 cups of rhubarb with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.  Using a fork, combine 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl until crumbly.  Stir in the walnuts; set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift or whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt; set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a paddle attachment, cream together 1 stick of butter and granulated sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one.  Cream for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until combined.  The mixture may look curdled at this point.  That is ok.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined, being careful not to over mix.

Place half of the cake batter into the pan and smooth out.  Sprinkle half of the crunch topping over the batter in the pan.  Dollop the remaining cake batter on top of the crunch topping and smooth out with an offset spatula.  Combine the remaining crunch topping with the rhubarb and pour that mixture evenly on the top of the cake.  Place in the oven and bake for about 55-60 minutes.  Check the center for doneness with a toothpick.  This cake will taste great right away and will be even more moist the following day.  Store covered at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Kitchen Simplicity

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Yesterday was my first anniversary here at Relishing It.  For me, it’s a bit mind-boggling.  I remember the day I told Radd that I wanted to write a food blog.  I recall mulling over what I wanted the blog to be about, and being both excited and nervous when I finally took the plunge with that first post.  As much as I love having a visual place to keep my most-loved recipes, I really wanted share them with people.  And, of course, I wondered if anyone would read them?  Thankfully, all of you have been stopping by to share in this with me.  You’ve helped make blogging a wonderful experience.  ‘Life-changing’ may sound a bit dramatic, but for me it’s close to the truth.

I was a bit fearful that I’d be doing this solo– sequestered in my kitchen cooking/baking away then writing to no one about it.  Instead, blogging has opened up a whole new social world.  I had no idea there were so many MN food bloggers.  And I was surprised to see how close-knit, and accepting they all were.  In the last year, I’ve made friendships through blogging that mean the world to me.  I’ve also been lucky enough to “meet” so many wonderful people through Twitter.  People who are as excited about food, health, and the environment as I am.  I’ve had the opportunity to chat with chefs and writers that I admire in the culinary world– people who have taken the time to help with advice and support.  The internet can really close those vast spaces between people, and I’m thankful that through Relishing It, my world has expanded beyond our little neighborhood in St. Paul, MN.

I will say, there are definite ups and downs to food blogging.  It’s a huge commitment.  Testing the recipes, taking the photographs, and then writing about the experience often takes a colossal amount of time.  And it’s not exactly convenient.  As I write this, I chuckle when I think about how many times I’ve cursed at having to open the kitchen door in mid-January to try to squeeze the last bit of sunlight into the room for a decent photo.  And trying to keep two small children entertained while frosting a multi-layer cake always makes things ‘interesting’.  Even so, it’s been such a wonderful experience for me.

As a thank you to you readers who stop by my little corner of the internet to see what I have to say; and to my wonderful friends and family who are always so encouraging, I’m giving away a prize to mark my first anniversary!  By now you all know that I love cookbooks.  One lucky reader will get to choose one of these lovely cookbooks that I often turn to for inspiration:  “In the Kitchen With a Good Appetite”  by Melissa Clark,Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi, and “Super Natural Every Day”, by Heidi Swanson.  A crisp new one, of course (I wouldn’t dream of parting with mine.)  To enter the contest just leave a comment– say whatever you want– at the end of this post.  If you follow me on  twitter , and tweet about my giveaway, you’ll get a second entry.  You must come back to the comment section here and tell me you did so in a separate comment.  Here’s a sample tweet.  “Enter to win a cookbook from @LaurieJKul to celebrate “Relishing It’s”  first blogiversary!  Enter here: https://relishingit.com/2012/03/16/tres-leche-cake-one-year-of-blogging-and-a-giveaway/ #giveaway”.  You can even enter a third time if you subscribe to Relishing It– again, just tell me in a separate comment on this blog post.  The contest ends on March 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.  It’s is only open to US residents (sorry).  Please be sure to leave your email in the appropriate spot in the comment section, so that I may contact the winner.  Allow roughly 4 weeks to receive your cookbook.  (I’m just being realistic folks — why is it so hard to get to the post office?)  Good Luck!

UPDATE:  The winner of the cookbook giveaway is Tammy Kimbler!  Congratulations Tammy!  The winner was chosen using Random.org.  Thank you All for the very kind and wonderful comments.  I enjoyed reading through all of them.

And since we’re celebrating, I thought it fitting to share my family’s go-to celebration cake.  This is the King of the Cakes in our house– all four of use would pick this beauty over anything else.  The is cake layered in three different types of milk…well, actually four.  It’s a simple whipped cream “frosting” with a bit of creme fraiche mixed in to help it hold its shape.  If you can’t find creme fraiche, just make it without it.  The extra fat content in creme fraiche helps the whipped cream keep it’s shape longer, but will certainly be delicious without it.  This cake can last for about 2 days in the refrigerator if covered, but for optimum results should be eaten right away.   The best part?  It’s quite easy to make.  I hope you give it a try!

The Recipe:  Tres Leche Cake

For the Cake:

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup (5 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup,  canola oil

1 cup all-purpose flour (4 1/2 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (or microwaved a few seconds)

For the Soaking Liquid:

1/2 can (7 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup half and half

For the Topping:

1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

4 cups heavy cream, cold

1/3 cup creme fraiche, cold

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare a 8-inch round cake pan by buttering it, lining with parchment paper, buttering the parchment, and lightly coating it with flour.  Tap out any excess.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix on medium for about 2-3 minutes, or until there is a bit of volume and the mixture is a light pale color.  Add the oil, and mix for a minute longer, until it is thoroughly combined.  Scrape down the sides, as needed.  Sprinkle dry ingredients over the wet and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined — do not over mix.  Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out with almost no crumbs.  Cool completely in the pan.

When the cake has cooled, begin making the soaking liquid.  Mix the sweetened condensed milk, half and half, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside.

Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.  Invert cake onto a flat surface, such as a plate.  Using a serrated knife, horizontally cut the cake into two equal halves.  Place each half, cut side up, into it’s own rimmed baking sheet, or anything flat that it will fit into.  Slowly pour the liquid equally over each of the cake halves.   Let it soak in while you prepare the whipped topping.

In a cold bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the cold whisk attachment, add the heavy cream.  Start on low and slowly increase the speed to medium-high.  After about a minute, add the creme fraiche.  Continue beating and when it’s about half-way whipped  slowly sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar into the cream.  Continue beating on medium-high until it is fully whipped, is smooth and has shape.  Be careful not to over-whip or it will look curdled.

On a cake stand place the bottom layer of cake, cut side up.  At this point, it’s a good idea to tuck waxed paper under the edges of the cake.  It will catch any topping and make clean-up a cinch.   Mound 1/3 of the topping onto it and smooth it out with an offset spatula.  Place the other layer of cake, cut side down on top of that.  Place 1/3 of the topping on the sides, and 1/3 on the top.  Smooth out with an offset spatula. Garnish with raspberries.  Best if eaten right away, but will keep fairly well covered in the refrigerator for 2 days.  3 days is pushing it, but I’ve certainly devoured a piece at that point.

Source:  Adapted from this recipe originally from Cafe Latté in St. Paul, MN

A special thank you to my husband, Radd, for all of his help on this blog this past year — I truly appreciate it.  To Radd and our kids — thank you all for being so patient as I snap picture of our dinner before we devour it.  And thanks for always being excited (or pretending to be ) to try new things.  Thanks to my readers, once again for always stopping by to say hello!  I can’t wait to see where this next year will take us!

Laurie

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The St. Patrick’s Day preparations are in full-swing at our house!  My parents will be coming for a visit this weekend to help us celebrate, and my kids are about to burst with excitement!  The brisket is already in it’s brine for homemade corned beef.  I made and toasted my own mixture for pickling spice this year.  The fragrance was fantastic.  So exciting!  The fun party hats and favors have been purchased, and I found a fabulous “green” dessert to help mark the day.

I’ve actually been wanting to make these bars for quite some time, but that beautiful green hue made be hold off until St. Patrick’s Day.  Last year I made this indulgent stout cake that still ranks as one of my favorite cakes of all time.  Apparently, a bit of alcohol in the token St. Patty’s Day dessert is how we roll in the Kulseth house.

My kids are big fans of mint.  In these bars, when combined with the chocolate, it’s brilliant.  These little numbers do not disappoint.  The brownie layer is perfectly fudge-y.  It’s worth noting that under-baking the brownie layer by a minute or so will lead to a perfect bar in the end.  The mint buttercream in the center is ideal– perfectly minty, but not overpowering.  And the top layer is a rich chocolate shell that holds it all together.  These bars keep very well, they’ll last at least 4 days in the refrigerator.

The Recipe: Grasshopper Bars

For the Brownie:

3/4 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-72%) coarsely chopped (I used Sharffen Berger)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

For the Buttercream:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into small chunks

3 tablespoons crème de menthe

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:

6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%) coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or metal 9-by-13-inch pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.  Set aside.

To make the Brownie:  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan over medium/low heat,  add the chocolate and the butter.  Stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until everything is completely melted.  Be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Alternately, this can be done over a hot water bath.  Remove from heat and whisk in the sugars until they are completely combined.  Pour into a large bowl, and let sit until it cools to room temperature.

In a small bowl, gently mix the 3 eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Add the egg mixture to the bowl of chocolate.   Whisk until just combined.  Be careful to not over -mix the batter, as it will lead to a cakey brownie.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold the dry ingredients into the wet using a rubber spatula until just a trace amount of flour/cocoa mixture is visible.  Again, do not over-mix.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out with an offset spatula.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway.  These brownies will benefit from being slightly under-baked.  A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the Buttercream:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together.  Add the milk and cream and cook and cook over medium heat, whisking often until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 5-7 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on high speed until cool.  Reduce speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.  Add the crème de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined.  If the buttercream is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the right consistency.  If the buttercream is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to the right consistency.  Spread the filling evenly across the top of the cooled brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator for a minimum of 45 minutes.

To make the Chocolate Glaze:  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.  Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release some of the heat.  Pour the mixture over the chilled mint buttercream layer.  Use an offset spatula to smooth it out into an even layer.  Place the pan back in the refrigerator until it hardens, about 1 hour.

It is best to cut into the bars using a knife warmed underneath warm water, wiped clean each time.  Store the bars covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Baked Explorations

Be sure to check back later this week  — Relishing It will be having it’s first giveaway and I’m so excited!

Laurie

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I know, I know, could I possible have a more lengthy title for a recipe?  I could.  I didn’t mention the whole wheat flour.  You get the idea.  This is a cookie recipe I’ve been playing around with for the last few weeks.  You already know that I’m a cookie fiend, so this one is for me (and hopefully you).  It has all of my favorite  flavors that make-up a perfect cookie.

Let’s break this down.  First, I wanted to create a cookie that contains coconut oil.  You can read a bit about it here on my friend Amy’s blog.  Not only do I love the health factor, but the flavor is phenomenal.  Use virgin coconut oil as opposed to regular, as it has a more noticeable coconut flavor.   Then there’s the browned butter.  Is there anything that brown butter does not make better?  Of course not.  It adds a deep caramel-like flavor that is unforgettable.  The toasted walnuts add a brilliant crunch.  Now cookies are obviously not going to be terribly healthy, but I slipped in whole wheat flour and rolled oats for fiber.   Finally, we get to the chocolate chips.  Use good quality chocolate, or even go the chunk route and chop your own.

All of these elements come together to make this delicious cookie.  It’s loaded with great ingredients and has wonderful texture– crisp on the very edges and soft in the middle.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.  My husband declared this the best cookie he’s ever eaten.  So, that’s something, right?!  I hope you enjoy these little morsels as much as I have!

The Recipe:  Chocolate Chip, Walnut, and Oatmeal Cookies with Browned Butter and Coconut Oil

(Makes 24-26 cookies)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, browned

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60 % cacao chips are my favorite)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat add the butter.  Stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, cook the butter until it becomes a beautiful medium colored brown, just a few minutes.   Too little will not have enough flavor, and too much will taste burnt.  It will smell fragrant and somewhat caramel-like.  Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool for at least 10 minutes.

In a small sauté  pan over medium heat add the walnuts.  Stirring frequently, toast them until they become fragrant, just a few minutes.  Keep a watchful eye, as they can burn quickly.  Remove from heat and pour onto a plate to cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a hand mixer or bowl and wooden spoon can also be used), add the coconut oil, browned butter (brown bits, too), and brown sugar.  Cream the mixture on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Mix the beaten egg and vanilla together and pour that into the bowl.  Continue to cream for about 3-4 more minutes, or until the mixture has gained a little volume and has become pale in color (Note: it won’t have as much volume as cookies with room temperature butter). Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Turn the machine off and stir in the oats, chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.

Roll into balls by hand or use a small scoop.  Use a bit of pressure to make the mixture form a solid ball.  Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, the edges should just be starting to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for a couple of minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack.  The cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  Be sure to check back next week — something exciting will be happening on Relishing It!

Laurie

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Where to begin?  My goodness, I love these babies!  I had been craving a proper chocolate cupcake with a salted caramel frosting for a long time.  I knew where I could probably buy one, but sometimes I get a little ticked at the steep price tag for just a “bite” of cake– especially when my kids beg for (and usually get) them every week.  I got to thinking, and decided to try to make them myself.  I combined several recipes, and came up with cupcakes that are even better than I imagined.

I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, but made it with coconut oil.  The cake is moist and dense.  I’ve become addicted to coconut oil lately (I’ve even made a coconut oil body butter–but more on that another time).  These cupcakes have a nice, subtle coconut flavor that blends perfectly with the chocolate and caramel.  Now my goal was to use a healthier fat– which worked– though I’m not sure the ‘healthiness’ mattered, since I piled a mound of buttercream on top.  Oh well, they are cupcakes, after all.

Now, let’s talk about the salted caramel.  Salt and caramel are such a heavenly combination.  So perfect.  You will not use all of the caramel, which is a good thing.  Just keep it in your refrigerator, and use later poured over ice cream.  Or drizzle it over a brownie.  Or just enjoy it by the spoonful (or maybe that’s just me).

And you know that deliciously thick and rich frosting that makes those specialty shop cupcakes so good?  Yeah, that’s this stuff.  It not just a buttercream, it’s meringue buttercream.   Big difference.  This one uses egg whites, but don’t worry, they’re perfectly safe because they’ve been carefully cooked.  They whip up beautifully and become a silky treasure when mixed with the butter.  Add that liquid gold salted caramel, and you’ve just made one of the most delicious frostings possible.

The Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Meringue Buttercream

(Makes 16-18 frosted cupcakes)

Salted Caramel:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 teaspoon fleur de del (regular sea salt or even kosher will also work)

1/4 cup sour cream

To make the caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup along with 1/4 cup water.   Gently stir them together, being careful not to splash the sides of the pan.  Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350°F, or until the mixture is a dark amber in color, about 6-8 minutes.  Keep a watchful eye on it, as it can turn from a golden amber color to burnt very quickly.  Remove from heat and slowly add the cream (be careful, it will bubble), and then add the fleur de sel.  Whisk in the sour cream.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.  Or refrigerate if making ahead of time, then bring to room temperature before mixing into the buttercream.

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ounces high-quality semi-sweet chocolate (60% cacao works great), chopped

1/2 cup strong, very hot coffee

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup unbleached cake flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 For the CupcakesPreheat oven to 350°F.  Line 16-18 standard (1/3 cup) muffin cups with paper liners.  Combine cocoa powder and chocolate in medium bowl.  Pour 1/2 cup hot coffee over; whisk until smooth.  Whisk in sour cream.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl to blend.  Using a stand mixer, beat brown sugar, coconut oil, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in flour mixture, alternating with chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Careful not to over-mix.  Divide batter among paper liners.

Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 16-18 minutes.  Cool in pans for about 10 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to cooling racks and cool completely.

Salted Caramel Meringue Buttercream:

4 large (1/2 cup) egg whites

1 cup sugar

pinch of kosher salt

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/3 cup salted caramel

To make the meringue buttercream:  Put the egg whites, sugar and salt into a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk gently and continuously until the egg whites reach 140°F.  The eggs whites will be hot and the sugar will be dissolved, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl of a very clean stand mixer.   Using the whip attachment, whip mixture on high until thick and cooled, about 5 minutes.  (Make sure the meringue is cooled to room temperature before adding the butter, or  the butter will melt and will not make a proper frosting).  With the mixer running, slowly add the butter to the meringue, one chunk at a time.  Beat until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as needed.  With the machine still running, slowly add the salted caramel and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Troubleshooting:  If for some reason your buttercream is too soft (perhaps your meringue wasn’t cooled enough), stir the buttercream over ice water; then beat with a machine until smooth and spreadable.  Sometimes buttercream separates – it will look like scrambled eggs.  If this happens, briefly immerse the bottom of the mixing bowl into some hot tap water, then beat again until the buttercream is smooth and spreadable.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:

After the caramel and cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, using a small knife carefully cut out a 1/2-inch circle midway down in the center of the cupcakes.  Fill the hole with the salted caramel just to the surface.  Place the salted caramel meringue buttercream into a large pastry bag and top each cupcake with a swirl of it — be generous!   Frosted cupcakes should be eaten as soon as possible, but will hold their shape for a couple hours.  Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.  Leftover caramel should be treated as gold, because it is that delicious.  Store in jar and refrigerate — it makes a wonderful topping for ice cream.  Enjoy!

Sources:  Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from this recipe.  Salted Caramel adapted from Baked Explorations.  Meringue Buttercream adapted from How to Bake.

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today — hope you enjoy these cupcakes!

Laurie

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My kids love to help me make holiday cookies.  We smear them with frosting (which must be tasted, over and over as we work), and decorate them with a hodgepodge of sprinkles.  And yes, the kids get to help with everything.  It’s worth it, even if the process takes a bit longer.  The kitchen counter ends up covered with frosting, and the floor is dusted with sprinkles that hide and reappear for days.

If you have children, you know how important it is to have a go-to sugar cookie recipe for the kids to cut out and decorate.  Heck, as far as I’m concerned, even if you don’t have kids you should have a great sugar cookie recipe.  I’ve tried so many different versions, and after years of testing have decided that this one is my favorite.  It’s quick, reliable, and most importantly it’s very, very good.

These sugar cookies are just what I like– crisp around the edges and soft in the middle.  They have a rich buttery flavor, and the frosting is soft and perfect.  Even better, these cookies are simple to make.  So there is no reason to settle for that pre-made cookie dough with the funky aftertaste from the supermarket.  Make these.  You’ll be happy you did.

The Recipe: Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

(Makes about 2 dozen cookies, though it depends on the size of your cookie cutter)

1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups (420 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Frosting

About 3 1/4 cups (1 pound/ 454 grams) confectioners’ sugar

About 3 tablespoons milk, more if necessary

4 ounces softened cream cheese

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, once again.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well mixed.  On low speed, slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture.  Mix until evenly incorporated.

Place the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disk shape, about 8-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick.  Wrap completely in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until it is firm enough to roll out.  Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in a freezer for up to 1 month.  If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Position rack in the center of an oven, and heat to 350°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly flour a work surface, place the dough on the surface and lightly flour the dough, as well as the rolling pin. Roll out dough to be about 1/4-inch thick.  Make sure to keep the work surface well-floured to prevent sticking.  Use a cookie cutter and cut out as many cookies as possible.  Place them on the lined cookie sheet with a normal amount of space between them.  Gather scraps and reroll; continue until all of the dough is gone.

Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges and pale to light brown in the centers.  The baking time may be shorter or longer depending upon the size of your cookies.  Keep a watchful eye.  Let them cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for a couple of minutes until soft and smooth.  Add the confectioners sugar and milk.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add a bit more milk, if necessary.  You will want the frosting to be somewhat thick, or else it will slide off of the cookies.  Mistakes can easily corrected by adding more confectioners’ sugar or milk.  Frost the cookies and sprinkle with decorations.  Let set for a few minutes before serving.  The cookies keep well in an airtight container for about 4 days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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Orange and Olive Oil Cake

Pretty much every time I walked into my Grandma Jesch’s home as a child, there was a newly-baked cake waiting for me.  And I stopped by to visit at least every other day.  I guess that’s likely the source of my infatuation with cake.  I love them.  I love every kind of cake.  I love big decadent cakes with billowing frosting.  And tarts loaded with pastry cream and topped with ripe summer berries, make me swoon.  But sometimes…sometimes I want a simple cake.  A snacking cake.  Like the ones my Grandma Jesch made.

This orange and olive oil cake is the perfect snacking cake.  It’s interesting and delicious, without being too glamorous.  The olive oil lets you know it’s in there, though it’s subtle.  It adds a slightly floral flavor that works wonderfully with the brightness of the orange zest.  The cake stays moist with the help of the olive oil and the yogurt; and in my experience, it’s better after sitting for a few hours or even overnight.  Be warned though, the modesty of this cake may deceive you.  Since it doesn’t have the pomp of a fancy chocolate layer cake, you won’t think of it as dessert.  Your guard will be down.  You’ll wander into the kitchen several times over the course of the afternoon, and suddenly, half of the cake will be gone.  Not that that happened to me.  And I certainly wouldn’t tell you if it did…

The Recipe:  Orange and Olive Oil Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

3/4 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil  (preferably something fruity, if possible)

zest of 3 oranges

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place rack in the center of oven.  Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with a nonstick cooking spray; or butter it well, flour it, and tap out any excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and light; slowly pour in the sugar until it is completely incorporated.  Add the yogurt and olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the orange zest and vanilla, mix until just incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, beating after each addition until just combined (it should only take 10 seconds).  Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 5 seconds.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Scoop 1 cup of the egg whites into the batter.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in.  After about 30 seconds of folding, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until they are almost completely combined.  Do not rush this process.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minute, rotating the pan half way through the baking time, or bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes.  Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan (an offset spatula works well) and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar right before serving.  This cake stores well at room temperature for about 3 days in a tightly covered container.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Baked Explorations

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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