Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar

This was the third item that Thea and I made for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution bake sale.  They, like the other two previous items, are addictive.

Salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars
 Makes 16 bars

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch square pan and line withe parchment paper allowing one inch to hang over sides. *

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbls melted and cooled unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup home made caramel sauce or 10 ounces caramel candy squares melted
3 tbls heavy cream **
Fleur de sel for sprinkling over caramel and top

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

Using a stand mixer cream the melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, egg yolk and the vanilla and mix until smooth.  Placing the mixer on low gradually add the dry ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

If you are using the caramel squares place in a bowl with the cream and microwave until melted and smooth.

Press half the cookie dough into the prepared pan making sure that it is even.  Pour the melted caramel sauce over the cookie dough and spread into an even layer.  Sprinkle the caramel with the sea salt.  Drop the remaining cookie dough over the caramel.  Do not worry if the caramel is not completely covered as it will spread when it bakes.  Sprinkle the cookie dough with additional sea salt.

Bake the cookie bars for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the bars are golden brown.

Baked Salted caramel chip cookie bars
Place the pan on a wire rack until cool and then place in the refigerator until the caramel is set.  Cut into squares and serve.

 *You will notice that I did not line my pan with parchment paper - that was a mistake.  It made the removal of the bars very difficult which is why I encorporated it into the recipe.
** If you are using homemade caramel sauce you will not need the additional 3 tbls of heavy cream.

Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homemade snickers bars

This is the second item that Thea and I made for the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution bake sale in Montreal.  These homemade snickers bars are outrageously sinful and delicious.  They are chewy, chocolaty (is that a word?) and decadent.  I am so glad that we packaged them up and got them out of the house quickly as I would have eaten the entire pan myself.  Talk about addictive.

This is a long process.  There are four steps.  But believe me when I tell you - this is definitely worth it.

Homemade snickers bars
  Makes 36 bars
Line a 9X13 inch plan with parchement paper and set aside.

For the bottom chocolate layer
1 1/4 cups either milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Make sure that the mixture is fully melted and runny.  Pour into the prepared pan, spread until even and place in the refrigerator until hardened.

Nougat layer
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/12 cups of marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and milk until fully dissolved and bring to a boil.  Let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth.  Turn off the heat and fold in peanuts.  Pour over the cooled bottom chocolate layer.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to harden.

Nougat layer

Caramel Layer
2 cups of homemade caramel sauce or a 14 ounce bag of caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.  Let melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.   Pour over nougat layer and let cool completely.

Caramel layer

Top Chocolate Layer
1 1/4 cups of milk or smei-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt ingredients in a saucepan or the microwave.  Pour over the caramel layer and spead until even.  Refrigerate for at least one hour until hardened and cut into squares.  You can leave them at room temperature but they tend to get gooey.

Snickers bars ready to eat

Monday, May 21, 2012

Almond joy bars made for Food Revolution bake sale

Almond joy bars

Thea and I baked for two days for the Bake Sale at Appetite for Books in Montreal.  We made four different baked items and they totaled over 100 bags of scrumptious treats!  They all sold out in very short order and we were able to contribute to a very worthy cause.
Smoores in the kitchen items for bake sale

We baked my Oatmeal, Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies - first blogged about in March 2010 - Oatmeal Cookie; Almond Joy Bars, Snicker Bars and Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  The  results were delicious - but all these recipes are time consuming.  So be sure that you are nice and relaxed and have adequate time on your hands for baking them!  The one thing that I can promise you is that they are worth it.

Almond Joy Bars
 makes 36 bars

10 tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
2 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk
28 oz. shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can use bittersweet chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 13X9 inch pan with aluminum foil (allowing the foil to extend beyond the pan for easy removal) and spray with Pam.  Set the pan aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the flour and salt and combine until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer to the prepared pan and pat down evenly. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly brown.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  While the pan is cooling prepare the coconut layer.   In a large bowl combine the condensed milk, coconut and vanilla. Spread over the cooled crust and bake for 20-26 minutes or until golden brown.

Almond Joy Bars after second baking

Melt the chocolate and spread evenly cooked coconut bars and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or until hardened.  Cut into 36 even squares.

Tomorrow I will post the recipe for the Snickers Bars and Wednesday I will post the recipe for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Finished Almond joy bars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Food Revolution Day in Montreal-Saturday, May 19th

Hungry children and unhealthy children have always tugged at my heart strings.  We have this amazing book store in Montreal that is dedicated to cook books.  This weekend they are having a bake sale - with contributions from both professional bakers and amateur bakers alike.  This is in support of Jamie Oliver's Foundations "Food Revolution Day".    Stay tuned for the fabulous new recipes that I am trying out and will be contributing to the sale.  We are hopeful that we can raise awareness for this wonderful cause!  Come by and try out the new offerings from Smoores.  Appetite for Books is located at 388 Victoria Avenue in Westmount, Montreal, Canada.

 See you Saturday!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oatmeal fudge bars

This is the second of the desserts that I made for my ladies luncheon.  This is a decadent, rich, fudgy bar with an oatmeal brownie/cookie base.  It is a bit time consuming but definitely worth it.  I would make this again but next time double the batch and freeze the bars individually wrapped so that I could have one whenever I wanted!

Oatmeal fudge bars
 Makes 12 bars

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
10 tbls. unsalted butter
2 tsps. instant expresso coffee or instant cofee
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8X8 with parchement paper allowing the paper to overhang the sides.  Set aside.


Combine the oats, 1 cup of the brown sugar, 3/4 cup of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and a pinch of sale in a bowl and stir to combine.  Melt 8 tbls. of butter and stir into the mixture until just combined.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan making sure that it is an even layer.   Bake fore 12 minutes or until the bars turns a pale brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for one hour or until completely cool.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, the expresso powder and 1/4 tsp. of salt in a bowl, stir to combine and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and remaining 2 tbls. of butter in the microwave.  Start at 30 seconds and stir.  Continue at 15 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted and combined with butter.  Let the mixture cool (stir it with a whisk and that will speed up the process).  Add the egg and whisk until combined.  Fold this intered the waiting flour mixture taking care not to overstir.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled crust.  Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup of the remaining flour mixture (that you set aside in the first step) over the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. (do not overbake.)

Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before cutting into bars.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Serve with Vanilla or Coffee Ice Cream and you will be in heaven!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread

A hostess gift from one of girlfriends!
Can you say fantabulous?
For my luncheon this afternoon I made two desserts and served fresh berries which is a departure from my usual trio of baked desserts.  This was a nod to the weather - bathing suit season is almost upon us. This is the first of the two baked desserts.

I tried out a recipe from a new cookbook that I purchased which is all about sugar - deadly to say the least.  I took the concept of the dessert and used my own recipes.  The finished product garnered oohs and aahs from the girls and they suggested that I submit this recipe for my next dessert contest!  Will do ladies.

The recipe is one that has quite a few steps, refrigerating the dough and two bakings so be prepared to take some time with this one.

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread 
 Serves 14-16 for dessert

Ingredients for Shortbread
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup white sugar 
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt

Ingredients for Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tbls. butter
Sea salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place coconut in pan and put in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until light brown.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl stir flour, sugar and salt.  Add softened butter and mix with your hands until it resembles corn meal.  Add 1 cup of the toasted coconut.  Pat into a 8X13 inch pan that has been lined with parchement paper. (make sure that there is an overhang on the ends - this will facilitate taking the shortbread out)  Place in the refrigerator of at least 30 minutes or until hardened.   Take a fork and dock the shortbread (this will prevent it from bubbling up).

Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 24-26 minutes or until the shortbread turns lightly brown around the edges.

To make the caramel sauce:  put the sugar in a heavy non-reactive saucier pan and put the heat on medium high.  Do not stir the sugar at all.  It will start to melt around the edges.  When it starts to melt you can use a wire wisk and stir vigorously until all the sugar is melted.  Cook the sugar until it has turn a golden brown.   When it has gotten to that stage add the heavy cream all at once.  Be careful as it will bubble up.  The mixture will now appear clumpy.   Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to melt again.  Allow it to boil for 3-5 minutes making sure that it does not burn.. Turn off the heat and add the butter, salt and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Add the coconut and make sure that it is thoroughly mixed with caramel.

Place the caramel mixture on top of the cooked shortbread and return to the oven for 30 minutes or until the caramel is bubbling uniformley.

Remove from the oven and allow the caramel to set.  I allowed it to set overnight and it was perfect.

Lift the shortbread out of the pan using the over hanging parchement paper.

Cut into 16-20 pieces.

Coconut and Caramel Shortbread
on my grandmother's cake stand

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A lunch in honor of my mother and Barbara

Table set for Lunch

Tomorrow would have been my mother's 86th birthday.  She joined my Dad in heaven a year ago this coming July.  My dear friend Barbara is in town from Italy and I always love having a lunch for her when she gets here.  She is one of those friends that you just love to be around - she is kind, warm and you always leave her presence feeling better.   So I am combining the two occasions and having a ladies lunch!

My mother could have written a book on entertaining.  She was an amazing hostess and she was Martha before Martha.  Not in the crafty do it yourself way but in the way that her generation appreciated.  My parents had a very busy life, they traveled all over the world and my Dad had his hand in politics on both sides of the aisle.  He was an indiscriminate critic.  As such they entertained a great deal.  My mother threw two major dinner parties each year - for 100 people sit down dinner in our apt - as well as smaller dinners throughout the year.  She planned each and every one with immaculate attention to detail.  She planned the tables months in advance and the tables were always set two days before the dinner.  Her philosophy was that you should always be a guest at your own party.

My parents lifestyle was the result of the American dream.  Both children of immigrants and the depression they literally pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.  When they got married they used orange crates for furniture - they were poor and proud and wanted to better themselves.  As a result of their hard work they were able to achieve their goal of a better life.  During their lives they accumulated a lot of "things" - which while not necessary for happiness now represent to my brother and me and our children the life that they lived.

As I set the table yesterday my parents were both there.  The bird plates are plates that they bought at an auction, the tablecloth and napkins were from our dinner table, the pink glasses and glass plates were my grandmothers.  I am lucky to have these memories!

Placesetting with family treasures
Mom always believed in flower arrangements that were simple, enhanced the beauty of the table and did not interrupt your line of sight to the guest across the table.  One of her favorite flowers was the tulip and I think that she would have loved these.  I bought them at Costco yesterday (they have the best flowers and the least expensive- $9.99 a bunch and they last!).  You always buy flowers two days before you need them so that they can open up.  These tulips are a kind I have never seen before - they dip the way you see them on purpose.

Pink and White tulips

As I walk by the set table I smile thinking how much my mother would have liked this table.  I am sure that she is looking down and nodding with approval.

I am off to the kitchen to make desserts (I always serve three) and to start prepping the luncheon menu.  Stayed tuned for more recipes and entertaining tips!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A special dessert for Passover

I was so excited to be invited over to my friends Harry and Nancy's for the first night of Passover on Friday that I scoured the books for an appropriate Seder dessert.    I knew that there were certain foods that were not appropriate for a Passover celebration and I first had to learn what those were.  I settled on a dessert that filled all the requirements for dinner that evening - a matzah with caramel, dark chocolate and toasted slivered almonds.  All I can say is that this is not a dessert that should be served for Passover alone - it was amazing and easy.  Everyone at the Seder table was delighted with this dessert and it has become part of the Passover celebration for years to come.  

Passover Dessert
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 11x17 inch pan with aluminum foil and then with parchment paper cut to fit the pan.  Place matzah's in pan so that the entire pan is full.

Melt the butter and sugar in a sauce pan.  While the butter and sugar are melting toast the slivered almonds in the oven until they just start to brown.  When the sugar/butter mixture gets to a boil stir constantly and then lower the flame and cook for around 5 minutes until it starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and sea salt.  Pour over prepared matzah's and spread thoroughly.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Caramel mixture will bubble up and turn darker.  Make sure that it does not burn.

When you remove the pan from the oven allow it to set for a minute.  Put chocolate on the top of the matzah and allow to melt.  Spread with an offset spatula, sprinkle some more sea salt on the top and then the slivered almonds.

Put into the refrigerator and allow to set.

Break into pieces and serve.

The matzah's will last for one week in an air tight container - if they last that long!

Dark chocolate covered matzah's

You can almost taste the caramel!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Health(ier) brownie bites

The ides of March are approaching and following close on its heels is - SUMMER - egads.   And that means - bathing suits.  The last week or so I have been researching lighter, healthier and less calorie intense recipes and this is the first recipe in that attempt.   These brownie bites, unofficially, are 2 points on the weight watchers point system (calculated according to the recipe builder).  You can indulge in chocolaty heaven without the guilt!

Health(ier) brownie bites
 Makes 22 mini brownies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare mini-cupcake or muffin pans.  I use silicon pans so there is no additonal fat and they pop out easily.

3/4 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar (or you can use splenda)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup greek no fat yogurt
1 tsp honey
5 tblsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

Sift dry ingredients into mixing bowl making sure that there aren't any lumps.  Add the coffee and mix thoroughly.  Add the vegetable oil, the yogurt, honey, vanilla and chopped chocolate.  Make sure that all ingredients are completely mixed.

Brownie mixture will be quite thick so do not be surprised.  Spoon into waiting pans.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until set.

Plate and serve with confectioners sugar, cold milk or vanilla ice cream.  Can you say heaven?

Brownie Bites

Monday, February 27, 2012

Caramel peanut popcorn

Well the Oscars and have come and gone -  but I still have caramel peanut popcorn in the house.  I had an oscar party last night and in addition to candy and twizzlers I had to make my own caramel peanut popcorn - or as we also refer to it as - Cracker Jacks.  The only thing missing from the popcorn was the plastic toy!  I must confess - it was outrageously delicious.

Caramel Peanut Popcorn
 Makes 8 large servings

1 cup popcorn kernels
8 ounces of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups unsalted peanuts

Line two sheet pans with either silpats or parchment paper lightly sprayed with pam.  Set aside.  Have a large mixing bowl ready.

Pop the popcorn according to your preferred method.  I used an air popper as it cuts down on the amount of fat and oil.

Put butter and sugar in a sauce pan.  Cook until golden brown - about 6 minutes and then add peanuts and cook for an additional two minutes.  Do not burn caramel.

Place popped popcorn into the waiting mixing bowl and pour caramel mixture on top.  Mix with spatula coating all the kernels with the caramel and peanuts. Divide coated popcorn onto the two sheet pans. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Caramel peanut popcorn

Allow popcorn mixture to dry for at least one hour before serving.

Break mixture into pieces and fill popcorn bags for your guests.  

Movie style caramel peanut popcorn

Dim the lights and start the show!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Potato chip shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate

I know - this sounds absolutely crazy.  Potato chips in tender shortbread cookies?  I have been dying to try them and I did today as I was waiting for the installation of my new satellite dish (all the better to watch the Food Channel with!).

Ingredients for cookies

The recipe is quite simple and easy to make.

Potato chip shortbread cookies dipped in dark chocolate
  Makes 40-50 cookies

1 lb. of butter
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 oz bag of sea salt potato chips crushed into bits.
2 cups dark chocolate

Place butter in bowl of mixer and beat until fluffy scrapping down the sides once or twice for a total of 4 minutes.  Add confectioner's sugar and beat on medium speed until pale in color and fluffy.  Add vanilla and incorporate.  Add flour all at once and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down sides.  Add potato chips and beat until well mixed.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper (or two quarter sheet pans) and put dough onto sheet pan.  Roll dough on sheet pan into uniform thickness.    Place sheet pan in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake shortbread for 13-15 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges.

Remove pan from the oven and place on cooking rack.  Immediately cut into long pieces.  I used a large pastry bench scraper to cut the cookies.  It works better than a knife because it doesn't tear the shortbread.  Let cookies completely cool before dipping into melted chocolate.

Baked cookies cut into pieces with bench scraper

Melt the chocolate in the microwave starting with 2 minutes and then checking at 15 second intervals.  When the chocolate is melted dip one end of the cookie in the chocolate and place on a wire cookie rack with parchment paper underneath.  Place the rack in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.

Finished cookies dipped in chocolate

Results:  The cookie is very tender and with the addition of the potato chip there is a nice bit of crunch.  The dark chocolate offsets the saltiness of the chips.  The next time that I make the cookies I will smash the chips a bit more as there were large bits of chips in some of the cookies.   But it is definitely a keeper.

If you try this recipe please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winner of the Recipe Lion dessert contest

I am so excited that I won the dessert contest on the blog Recipe Lion.

You can read about it at:  Winner of dessert contest

This is my first contest and my first win and I am very excited that so many people voted for me!

Thank you to all those who helped and voted and voted.

I am off to the kitchen to bake so stay tuned to more delicious recipes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Triple brownie recipe has been entered in a dessert contest

My recent post - Triple chocolate brownies with three different fillings - has been entered in a dessert contest.

Triple chocolate brownies with three fillings

If you would please go to the blog page for Recipe Lion , scroll down to the page to entry number 37 and click on the "Like" button you will be able to vote for me.

I thank you all in advance


Triple chocolate brownies with three different fillings

Super Bowl parties are as much about the food as they are about the game.   When I was invited to a party to watch this year's game I offered to bring dessert and my girlfriend jumped at the offer.

I wanted to try something different - and as I have said my friends are my test kitchen so I tested away.  I made what I am calling - Browniewitchlettes - layered round 4 bite brownies with flavored buttercream filling.  I made three flavors:  meyer lemon buttercream, lime buttercream and caramel buttercream filling.

To begin I made a 1/2 sheet pan of my Triple chocolate brownie recipe (I doubled the recipe).  A 1/2 sheet pan measures 21.5"X15".  There is no need to adjust the baking time as these brownies are thinner than the ones that are made in an 8x8 pan.   If you do not have a 1/2 sheet pan you can use two cookie sheets.  Line the sheet pans with parchement paper with an inch hanging over the sides for easy removal.  Allow the browies to cool completely before cutting and filling.

I used a basic buttercream recipe.

Buttercream Recipe
makes 6 cups 

1 1/2 pounds of unsalted butter
9 cups of sifted powdered sugar. (sift after measuring)

Place butter into a stand mixture with 3 cups of powdered sugar.  Start mixer on low speed until all the sugar is incorporated.  Raise speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes until fluffy.  Slowly add one cup of sugar at a time until all sugar is incorporated.  Beat for an additonal 3 minutes until pale and fluffy.

Divide buttercream into 3 bowls.  For each flavor add 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice,  1 1/2 lime juice and 1 1/2 cooled caramel sauce.

Cut cooled brownies into circles using a 2 inch round cutter.  Pipe or spread buttercream on brownies.  Pipe additonal butterncream on the top of the brownies along with some lemon or lime zest or some caramel sauce.  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Brownies on platters for dessert

Caramel buttercream filled brownies

Lemon buttercream filled brownies

Lime buttercream filled brownies

When I arrived for the party right before kick-off with the platter we immediately placed it on the buffet table.  By half-time there were only crumbs left!  Needless to say they were a huge hit.  You can use any flavor that you want - in addition to the flavors that I used you can use peppermint, rose water, spearmint - experiment.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's sugar and gingerbread cookies

I thought that I would post more photos of the cookies that came out of the kitchen.  These were done for a dinner party that I had in honor of the Grammy's last night.

For all the recipes see the previous post on Valentine's cookies.

Can you taste the love?

Gingerbread cookie with glace icing and sprinkles

Sugar cookie with glace icing

Platter of Valentine's cookies for Grammy dinner party

I served the cookies with my decadent Mexican chocolate pudding and champagne.  Perfect combination. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012 - can you feel the love?

Imagine getting this basket on Valentine's Day from the one that you love!  Alfee Kaufman and I spent three days baking cookies, dipping in chocolate, drying, wrapping and plotting resulted in this masterpiece.  How many ways can you say I love you?  Geoff - can you feel the love?

Geoff's Valentine's basket

Alfee and I made both sugar and gingerbread cookies in many different heart shapes.  We iced them and then wrote little messages on them.

We made heart shaped red velvet whoppie pies with cream cheese frosting.

We made chocolate covered pretzels for a Valentine's theme.  We used white, red and milk chocolate to achieve this look.

We made my triple chocolate mexican brownie in a 9x14 inch pan so that it was thinner than a normal brownie, cut the pan into one inch squares, wrote Geoff a message and then when we boxed it mixed up the letters so that it became a puzzle.  He managed to figure it out!

We made pink marshmallows, homemade graham crackers in the shapes of "X"'s and "O"'s and little hearts,  dipped them in 70% dark chocolate and then assembled our s'moores.

After making all these things we assembled the basket - here are a few photos of the progression:

You can find the recipe for my Sugar cookie recipe on the blog as well as the recipe for the egg white icing on my blog.  The marshmallow recipe is from Martha Stewart and the graham cracker recipe is from Chef Mom.  The pretzel mold was bought at the local bakery supply store and we used tempured chocolate for them.   I used one of my recipes for the heart shaped whoppie pies.

Have fun reading about this basket.!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meyer lemon biscotti with white chocolate - for the Super Bowl Party

In 1999 I took a three day biscotti course with Nick Malgieri, the Head of the Pastry Department at the International of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City.  We must have baked 40 different kinds of biscotti.  It was a wonderful experience.

I am going to a Super Bowl on Sunday and of course I am bringing the desserts.  One of the desserts that I am bringing is a variation on one of the recipes that we did during the course.

Meyer lemon biscotti with white chocolate
 adapted from Nick Malgieri
Makes 36 Biscotti

2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup of Meyer lemon juice
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 tsp pure lemon extract (do not use artificial)
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds

White chocolate glaze
8 ozs. melted white chocolate
1 tsp. clear corn syrup

Ingredients for Biscotti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchement paper or aluminum foil. (if you use aluminum foil reduce cooking time by 3 minutes)

Whisk the eggs, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon zest and salt until well incorporated.   Whisk the sugar in.

Whisk in the butter.

Take 2 tbls. of flour and toss the chopped almonds in the flour. (this prevents the almonds from sinking to the bottom)

Combine the flour with the baking powder and stir in the liquid mixture.  Add the chopped nuts.  The dough will be very soft.

Spoon the dough onto the prepared pan in two lods, each about 2 inches wide and the length of the pan.Smooth the sides if necesaary.

Ready for the first baking

Bake the logs of dough for 30 minutes, or until well risen and firm when to the touch.  Cool on the pan to room temperature.

Slice the baked logs diagonally into 1/2 inch slices, using a sharp serrated knife.   Lay on sides (cut side down) and bake up to 15-20 minutes longer.  Biscotti should be a deep golden color.  Remove from the oven and place on a cookie rack for cooling.

Sliced and rebaked biscotti

Melt the chocolate in either a double boiler making sure that the bowl does not come in contact with the water or in the microwave using 15 second intervals.

Dip one end of the biscotti in the melted chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over the biscotti.  Place on a wire cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath it until the chocolate sets.

Place on a platter and serve with either brownies,  chocolate cookies or shortbread cookies.  Store any leftovers in an air tight container.

Platter of biscotti

As I am writing this blog I want to take a moment to thank my son, Justin.  If it were not for the Mac, the Canon digital camera and the Apple TV that he has bought me over the years I wouldn't be writing this blog.  I have the tools to do so and as I write my blog, even at 2 am, I appreciate the thoughtful gifts.  Here's to all the kids in the world that enhance our lives as parents!