Friday, November 19, 2010

Roasted Nuts With Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Sea Salt

Sweet. Salty. Crunchy.
Every craving satisfied with one bite.
The bonus?  It only takes minutes to put together. 
These nuts are both tasty and healthy,
Unless you've been munching all day,
And are now facing an empty bowl.

Let's get cookin', good lookin'

Preheat the oven to a very low 250 degrees. 

Place the nuts in a medium bowl.  Make sure the bowl is large enough because you're going to need some mixing room.
Place a little brown sugar in another bowl.
Add some water and stir.  Microwave for 1 minute until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns to liquid. This is a good way to 'stretch' the sugar as a sweetener without it being cloyingly sweet.  
Add cinnamon to the hot sugar syrup,  
Along with some vanilla.  Stop a moment. Take a whiff. There is nothing more appealing than a little cinnamon/vanilla aromatherapy. 

Pour the sugar syrup over the nuts and stir to coat evenly.
Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. 
Bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then separate any nuts that stick together.

Roasted Nuts With Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Sea Salt

2 1/2 cups mixed nuts of your choice
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, foil or silicone liner. 
  2. Place nuts in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place brown sugar and water in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on high power until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns to liquid. 
  4. Add cinnamon to the hot sugar syrup. Stir. Let cool 5 minutes.
  5. Add vanilla to sugar syrup. Stir.
  6. Pour sugar syrup over nuts. Toss to coat the nuts evenly.
  7. Spread nuts over a lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle evenly with coarse sea salt.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool. Separate any nuts that stick together. Serve or store in an airtight container.
Serves 10

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moravian Pumpkin Maple Tart

I like to call this recipe: The Lazy Gal's Guide to Homemade Pumpkin Pie. My inspiration is not having to roll out pie dough.

The crust has just three ingredients: cookies, butter and sugar.
Moravian cookies are super thin and crispy molasses cookies. Don't let their dainty appearance fool you, they pack a big punch of spice followed by a little heat.  If you can't find Moravian cookies, gingersnaps would be a good substitute.
I'm using a tart pan for this recipe. It looks fancier than a pie. It is a holiday after all. 
Combine the cookie crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and mix together with a fork until all the crumbs are coated in buttery goodness.
Press the crumbs evenly into the tart pan. 
Bake on a foil lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The foil will catch any escaping butter so clean up will be a breeze. 
Stir together the pumpkin puree, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and maple syrup in a sauce pan.

Cook over medium/low heat for 10 minutes.  The heat will intensify the pumpkin and maple flavors, along with the kitchen aroma.

It's beginning to smell a lot like Thanksgiving.  
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees while the pumpkin cools. Whisk together two eggs in a medium bowl.  Add cream and flour. The flour binds the filling together and helps prevent the eggs from overcooking.
Whisk the cooled pumpkin into the eggs, and pour into the tart crust. Bake for 40 minutes.
The tart will be firm around the edges but jiggly in the middle.  It will continue to set as it cools. Chill the tart for at least an hour. 

Serve with whipped cream and a smile....because you pulled off Thanksgiving dessert like a pro.

Moravian Pumpkin Maple Tart

For Crust:
  • 2 cups Moravian cookie crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 
To make crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter in a medium bowl.  Blend together with a fork until crumbs are moistened.
  3. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan, and bake on a foil lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.   
To make filling:
  1. Stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Simmer over medium/low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Add cream, and flour, and whisk until no lumps remain.
  4. Add egg mixture to cooled pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine.
  5. Pour filling into crust and bake for 40 minutes or until the filling is firm around the edges but slightly jiggly in the middle.
  6. Remove tart from oven.  It will continue to set up as it cools.
  7. Once tart has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  8. Serve with whipped cream. 
Serves 8-10

*Gingersnap crumbs or graham crackers can be substituted for the Moravian cookie crumbs. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Roll

Here is a simple dessert.
It will look like you put forth
A lot of effort. 

You can add to the illusion
By calling it something fancy and French,
Like chocolate peanut butter roulade.

This is a basic cake with flour and cocoa powder.
It comes together quickly, but be forewarned:  The batter is very thin,  
But in less than 15 minutes, it will transform into a fluffy cake.
Let the cake cool slightly while you make the peanut butter filling/frosting. 

If you take anything from this blog....for the love of God....let it be this frosting recipe.  It is wickedly good, and it comes together in 30 seconds.

That's right, less than a minute, which is a good thing if patience is not one of your virtues.

It has cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, confectioner sugar and a big dose of vanilla.  Toss it all into a food processor. 
Pulse.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Pulse a few more times until the frosting is smooth and creamy. 
Roll the cake into a log.  Use the parchment paper as a guide.
Pipe some rosettes on the top if you're so inclined.
Quarter a few peanut butter cups for garnish,
And prepare for a round of applause (sometimes with a standing ovation depending on the crowd), and perhaps a marriage proposal or two.

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Roll

    non-stick baking spray

    4 eggs, at room temperature
    3/4 cup cake flour
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup sugar
    6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray.
    2. In a large bowl whip the eggs with a mixer until double in volume (about 3-4 minutes).
    3. In the meantime, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    4. Slowly add sugar to the eggs. Whip until incorporated (about 2 minutes). Add oil and vanilla and mix until combined.
    5. Add dry ingredients to the eggs and mix until combined.
    6. Pour batter into jelly roll pan and bake 12-15 minutes or until the cake roll springs back to the touch. Remove cake roll from oven and cool 10 minutes. In the meantime prepare filling:
    Peanut Butter Frosting/Filling
    8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
    1 Tablespoon vanilla
    3 cups confectioner sugar

    1-2 peanut butter cups, quartered for garnish (optional)

    1. Place cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and confectioner sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 20 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a spoon. Process for 5 seconds more until smooth.
    2. Spread filling over slightly warm but not hot cake leaving a 1 inch border around the edges. Reserve some filling for garnish (approximately 1/2 cup).
    3. Using parchment paper as a guide, roll the cake lengthwise and place seam side down. Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap. Freeze for 20-30 minutes to firm up frosting and to make slicing cleaner.
    4. Place chilled cake roll on serving platter. Trim the ends.
    5. To garnish: pipe 4-6 dollops of filling on top of cake roll and top with peanut butter cups. Cut cake roll into 12 slices while cold. Serve at room temperature.
    © A Bucks County Kitchen

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