Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hermits



A few years ago, my husband pestered me into calling his sister for his mom's recipe for Hermits. Carol was happy to comply, but apparently she couldn't read her own writing....it was a disaster! I had wanted to surprise his mom with one of her favorite Holiday cookies, since she wasn't able to bake anymore and had misplaced her copy of the recipe.

Fast forward to last Saturday morning. Both Carol and my mother-in-law are no longer with us, and Pete and I (feeling a bit nostalgic, I suppose) were bemoaning the fact that I never got a copy of the recipe. Later that morning, something compelled me to go upstairs and into the bedroom that was my mother-in-law's. We pretty much use it as a big closet now...I rarely go in there....but there I was checking to see if I could find one of my sweaters. I didn't see my sweater, but I did notice an old wicker basket Pete's mom used to keep various odds and ends...half empty nail polishes and such. I opened the lid and, lo and behold, folded into a square, there it was. The Hermit recipe. Coincidence? Maybe. I prefer to think that she is still looking out for us.


Just a list of ingredients...but I knew what it was. It was nice to see her handwriting.

I researched these cookies (trying to find a comparable recipe) and found many variations. It's an older American cookie, found in cookbooks from the mid to late 1800's. On the East coast, Hermits are most often made into a bar. These cookies are a simple, not too sweet, drop cookie with spices, raisins, and chopped walnuts. They actually taste better a few days after they are made.

Hermits

Hermits

An American cookie found in cookbooks dating back to 1880, the Hermit comes in many variations. This version, a simple spicy drop cookie, tastes even better a few days after it is made.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Place the raisins in a small bowl. Boil one cup of water and pour over the raisins. Soak for one hour. Drain completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the brown sugar. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the milk and the vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until just mixed. Fold in the drained raisins and the walnuts.
  6. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to brown. Cool completely. Makes 36 cookies
Yield: 36 cookies
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 12 mins.
Total time: 22 mins.








Wrap 'em up and give them as a gift...or just eat them yourself.

What is your favorite Holiday cookie?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blackberry Buttermilk Popovers


I'm just back from my third (and final!) try for the big bucks at the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off...Holy Cow what an amazing event! No win this time for my Lemon-Poppy Seed Pull Apart Bread, but the whole experience was so over-the-top exciting that I still need to float back to reality.

One thing that I have learned from my experience with the Pillsbury Bake-Off is that most home cooks are looking for something that's not only delicious, but easy to make. Working convenience foods into a recipe and putting a homemade touch on it is a perfectly fine way to make this happen. Did you know, however, that you can make something easy and delicious and from scratch? I'm here to prove it to you with these beautiful popovers!


A few simple ingredients and ...voila!...a beautiful thing!

Blackberry Buttermilk Popovers

2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup fresh blackberries
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a non-stick, 6 cavity popover pan (or muffin tin) with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the buttermilk, granulated sugar, and salt. Slowly whisk in the flour, stirring until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest.

Divide the batter into the popover pan. Add 3-4 blackberries into each well. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden. Cut a small slit into each popover for steam to escape. Dust well with powdered sugar and serve warm with butter and honey, if desired.


Don't have a popover pan? Use a muffin pan.


 Go ahead and sub raspberries or blueberries for the blackberries...

Now the only question is Breakfast or Dessert?


Monday, October 13, 2014

Cream-Filled Cupcake Cake


So today was my husband's birthday. What to make? Well, he loves layer cake. And he loves my cream-filled cupcakes. I think it calls for a mash-up, don't you?


I have a confession to make: I'm kind of terrible at cake decorating. When my husband tells me he wants a layer cake, I cringe. So, I had to think of something easy. Easy and chocolate-y, of course. Since I had some buttercream in the freezer, left from making cupcakes last week, it was a no-brainer to thaw it out. Then I took my favorite chocolate cake recipe, baked it into three layers, spread the buttercream in between the layers, and topped it off with some chocolate ganache. So easy it's ridiculous.


It's crazy, but the easy thing about this is the frosting. It's a chocolate ganache, made with dark chocolate chips and heavy cream and when it's first mixed together it's pourable. Seriously. Pourable. You can just let it drip down the sides.


Let's start with the cake, though. The beautiful cake. Dare I say the best cake ever? Okay...the best cake ever. Made with dark cocoa, buttermilk, and a hint of coffee to bring out even more chocolate-y flavor. 

Cream-Filled Cupcake Cake

Cake:

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; grease and flour 3 (8 or 9-inch) cake pans.

Combine egg, oil and buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Combine the egg mixture and the flour mixture, mixing well. Slowly mix in hot coffee. Divide the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. 

Buttercream:

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In small saucepan, whisk the flour and the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook until thick and bubbly, whisking the entire time. Place thickened mixture in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cool completely. 

Combine the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat for several minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the cooled flour mixture and beat for an additional 5 minutes, or until the frosting is smooth with no gritty sugar. Stir in the vanilla.

Ganache:

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to stir the chocolate and the cream until smooth and shiny.



Assemble:

First, set aside about 1/4 cup of the buttercream for the squiggle on the top of the cake. Place one cooled cake layer, top-side down, on cake plate. Spread with half of the remaining buttercream. Add the next layer, again top-side down, and spread with the remaining buttercream. Add the final layer top-side up. Spoon the ganache over the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate over the cake, allowing it to spill down the sides. Chill the cake for a few minutes to set the chocolate. In the meantime, spoon the reserved buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a squiggle over the top of the cake. Keep the cake refrigerated until ready to serve.


It's not a cream-filled cupcake without the squiggle.....



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lemon Poppy-Seed Pull-Apart Bread #Pillsbury #BakeOff


So, here's the thing. This is a fabulous recipe. Seriously. Flaky biscuits are dipped in butter, rolled in lemon-sugar and poppy seed, baked until the lemon-sugar is wonderfully caramelized, and topped with an incredible lemony cream cheese glaze. Not only that---it's easy! We are talking seven ingredient- only 20 minutes prep time-easy.


The most amazing thing about this recipe? It's a contender for the $1 Million grand prize in the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off that will take place in Nashville, TN on November 3, 2014. If you've read my blog before, you know that this will be my third and final try at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Shock and awe, right? More than that, I am humbled by the recipes this one will be competing with. That said, this is my favorite entry to date. See for yourself.


I was excited to see Watkins™ Poppy Seed on the list of  eligible ingredients...it adds such a nice little nutty crunch to things.


I used the buttermilk Grands! biscuits...but the original works, too. It's the flaky layers that make a great pull-apart....

The seven ingredients begin with a can of Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)....there isn't a complicated yeasty dough to made, raised, and measured.  The biscuits are separated to make 16 smaller biscuits. Each biscuit is then brushed with melted butter, dredged in a mixture of lemon zest, sugar, and poppy seed and carefully placed in a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper.


Parchment paper makes it easy to lift the loaf out of the pan.

The baked loaf is allowed to cool for just a few minutes before it is glazed with a mixture of butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice. It's best served warm, but on the off chance there are leftovers, it is fine served at room temperature too. In fact, in order to prevent myself from eating a whole loaf in one sitting, I found that it also freezes well and the slices warm up quickly in the microwave or in a toaster oven.


This bread has it all...sweet, salty, tart, creamy, nutty, sticky...it is truly addicting!


Is it worth $1 Million? My fingers are crossed that it is!

Are you ready for the recipe? You can find it right here on Pillsbury's website. If you try it, let me know how you like it. In the meantime, I'll be preparing to have the time of my life at the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off!