Monday, February 1, 2016

Mexican Icebox Cake

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 I bought a little 6 pack of these Patron Cafe XO, and they are delicious! 

Easily 10 servings in an 8" springform.  Very rich!
 Our neighborhood supper club meets monthly except for the summer.  The menu is put together by a member of the steering committee and this month, they wanted to do a test dinner.  Sounds delicious to me!  I was in charge of making the dessert.  The original recipe can be found on Epicurious, here.  Of course, in true SweetiePetitti fashion I just couldn't leave well enough alone.  If you read the reviews, you will see I was simply following a lot of advice!  I am giving you the recipe as I made it.

A note on vanilla.  I always use the Neilsen-Massey, and you will find most professionals prefer it.  I have given out many recipes and heard complaints how it just doesn't taste like mine.  It is always the vanilla.  Anyone who says there is no difference has never done a taste test.  I have, no comparison.  The vanilla paste is a thicker vanilla with flecks of real vanilla beans.  It is great in whipped cream, ice cream or even vanilla buttercream.  Anywhere you can see those tell tale flecks, it is a great choice!
Accept nothing less than the very best!

Mexican Icebox Cake

2, 7 ounce packages of Italian Ladyfingers also called Savoiardi (like a hard cookie)
2 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 block cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 miniature Hershey's milk chocolate bars, grated

Measure and cut the ladyfingers so they stand on the flat end around the perimeter of the springform pan with the rounded side facing out.  Brush the inside of each generously with Patron XO Cafe tequila or Tia Maria or even just cold coffee.  Using your small ends and whole cookies, fill the bottom of the springform pan with a layer of ladyfingers, and again, generously brush with your liqueur or coffee.  I believe the next time I make this I will grind cookies and add melted butter to make a true bottom crust.

This does require a little patience!

Stir 3/4 cup whipping cream, unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir until the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and cool to room temp.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the powdered sugar, cream cheese and 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste until smooth and blended.  Beat in cooled chocolate mixture and set aside.

In a clean bowl, Beat the remaining 2 cups whipping cream, 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar cinnamon and last teaspoon vanilla paste. Beat until the cream forms stiff peaks.  I folded both mixtures into one another.

You can faintly see the vanilla bean specks.

Spread half of the mixture onto the bottom crust.  Place a layer of ladyfingers, and brush generously with the liqueur or coffee.  Then top with remaining filling.  Using a peeler, shave curls off the chocolate bars and top the cake with them.

you should eat those chunky pieces...
leftovers from s'mores!

Cover loosely (I use a shower cap!) and chill at least 4 hours, but overnight is fine too.  To serve, pop off the sides of the springform, and slice at about 2 ladyfingers width.  It's very rich!  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chocolate Cookies with Spelt and Walnuts

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Won't your Valentine love these?

These cookies morph themselves many times.  Chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint, M&Ms, there is no wrong way to make them! They call for just one cup of flour, so I decided to use spelt this time around.  Shhhh, Mr. Preppy will be none the wiser.  I mean honestly, there is 5 oz of unsweetened chocolate, 2 cups of chips and a cup of walnuts.  No way he can tell there is spelt instead of wheat flour.  No way.  But just in case, I made them when he wasn't around.  When he tasted them he was suspicious, and asked if there was oatmeal?  Ha!  No, no oatmeal.

They are scrummy with ice cream!

These cookies are decadent, no way around it.  But they whip up in a food processor, lickety split, and make just about 2 dozen, so they are perfect for an almost empty house.  Lastly, I freeze the finished cookie, this way I don't nibble on them all day, because they are that good.  We were at supper club this weekend, and dessert was a simple cookie and ice cream.  I realized how much I enjoy this, and decided that's how I would photograph (and eat) these cookies.  I wasn't disappointed.

Chocolate Cookies with Spelt and Walnuts

4 Oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
1 Oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
1 1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temp
2 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Cup Spelt Flour
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup Toasted Walnuts
1 Bag Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (roughly 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

In a food processor, process the chocolate and sugar until they are fine crumbs.  Add the butter, eggs and vanilla and pulse in until incorporated.  Scrape down sides if necessary.  Add flour and salt and pulse in until there is no dry ingredients showing.  Add walnuts and chocolate chips and process until incorporated.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on a parchment covered baking sheet (or Silpat covered).  Dough will be very sticky.  Bake for about 8 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through the time.  Cookies should look dry on top although they will be fairly soft.  They firm as they cool, so do not overbake!  Cool on pan, and then transfer to rack.  Will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container, or 2 months frozen.  If frozen, they thaw enough in the time to make a cup of tea!  Call me, I'll have one with you!  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and bake!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside Iowa Steak Soup

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This soup is rich and satisfying. 

When I declare it cold in the South, believe me.  The high today is barely 30, and the sky is as clear and blue as a July day.  That of course means no snow, and a freezing cold night on tap! So I knew soup was on the menu today, and I came across an old recipe from Midwest Living when I was purging my recipe file.  I remember quite clearly when I made it, a cold snowy day in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The recipe is dated February 1988, so obviously it needs a little updating.

First of all it tells you to bring your carrot, onion and celery AND 1 cup of water to a boil.  We all know that flavor is much better when veggies are sauteed and get a little color.  It also calls for beef granules, and I have never really been a fan of bouillon cubes, broth granules etc.  There are some great stocks and broths on the market, so I am going that route and doctoring it up a tad.

I love these purple carrots!  Such vibrant color!

Parsley Root, it is delicious browned with the onions and carrots!

The thickening agent in the original soup is 12 T of butter and a cup of flour made into a roux.  Yikes.  I am a big fan of butter, and not afraid of flour, but that is a lot of both! For soup! And lastly, it calls for frozen vegetables.  I have no issue with this.  I love a bag of mixed veg dumped into any soup, so that stays.  It also calls for Kitchen Bouquet.  Which has been around since 1873, and is made by the Clorox Company.  So although its longevity is impressive, I don't associate the parent company with good food, although their bleach is great.  I opted for some beef demi glace.  Richness without funky aftertaste. Although I am going up the ante on the few fresh items, and toss in an extra as well, here is my Iowa Soup that bears little to zero resemblance to its second cousin twice removed!  I also like it with pumpernickel croutons.  Basically, grill some buttered pumpernickel and enjoy!

Iowa Winter Beef and Vegetable Soup

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Yellow onion, diced
6 medium carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 bunch parsley root, diced
1 1/2 pounds beef (stew meat basically)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon flour
salt and pepper
32 ounces beef broth
1 12 ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 can diced, roasted tomatoes
2 Tablespoons demi glace
1/3 cup flour
6 T butter
2 cups broth (I only had chicken at this point)
Pumpernickel Croutons

This is a great tool, makes chopping a breeze, and it's all uniform!
In a large dutch oven, saute the onion, celery, carrot and parsley root in olive oil until soft.  Remove from pan and add the other 2 Tablespoons olive oil and cook the beef with salt and pepper and garlic.  When the meat is browned, I shook about 1 T flour over the meat and stirred, thickening the oil and fond on the bottom.  Remove the meat, and in the hot pan, deglaze with the beef broth scraping up the bits that cooked to the bottom and add everything back in, as well as the tomatoes and the frozen vegetables and demi glace. At this point, it's a nice soup.

I reduced mine since it simmered all was lunch and dinner!

But I had to admit.  I missed that creamy texture from the roux.  So I made a roux using half the amounts in the original recipe. In a small saucepan melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Slowly add 2 cups broth and whisk until smooth.  Add to the soup, and voila.  Richness and a little better mouth feel.  I like the croutons alongside, crumble them in, whatever you like.  But that dark bread matches perfectly!  So, what are you waiting for?  Spring won't get here until, next week!  Get in there and cook!

Don't forget the pumpernickel bread!