Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meringue Coffee Cake, March Daring Baker's Challenge

The March 2011 Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
For the dough:
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 pkg. yeast (2 14/ tsp.)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the filling:
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

To make the dough:
In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen-Aid), combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast.
Combine the milk, water, and butter and heat just until the butter is mostly melted. (I used the microwave but you can also do this in a saucepan on the stove.)
With your mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup of the flour and beat for another 2 minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Switch your whisk attachment to your dough hook. (You can also hand knead the dough on a well-floured counter.) Knead the dough on low for 8-10 minutes adding as much of the 1 1/2 cups of flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. The dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

To prepare the filling:
Chop the nuts and set aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Measure your chocolate chips and set aside.

To prepare the meringue:
Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue.
In a clean plastic or metal bowl combine the egg whites and salt and beat on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until foamy and opaque (several minutes). Add the vanilla and the 1/2 cup of sugar--1 tablespoon at a time as you beat--until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

To assemble the coffee cakes:
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough covered in plastic wrap), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling evenly over the meringue (half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and filling.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with an egg wash:

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Serve by cutting into slices and sprinkling with powdered sugar and cocoa powder (optional).

This is best served the same day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Swedish Pancakes

I first had Swedish Pancakes at the Railroad Cafe. It was a glorious morning!
With four little kids we don't make it out of the house for breakfast often--or ever, actually! I enjoy recreating our favorite breakfasts that we have eaten out before. The kids ALWAYS request I make their favorite pancakes but when I am feeling really selfish I will make these for Ryan and I and the kids can just have cereal if they don't want the Swedes (ooooh, I am SO mean!).

I made the batter before I went to bed so they were a snap to make in the morning. This recipe makes about fourteen 10" pancakes, I can easily eat four myself.

These are typically served with Lingonberry sauce (you know, like you can get at Ikea). I don't really care for Lingonberries so I made my own sauce with raspberry jam and sour cream.

Swedish Pancakes

3 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Beat eggs with 1/2 cup of milk with a mixer until frothy (several minutes). Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder and add all at once to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth (batter will be heavy). Add remaining milk and butter and beat until smooth. Batter should be fairly thin. Add more milk if necessary.
Heat one or two (I get bored waiting between batches) 10" skillets over medium heat, or until water flicked onto the surface sizzles. Lightly grease the pan with cooking spray (only necessary before your first pancake, the butter in the batter will keep the pan greased).
Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the pan around so the batter spreads out to the edge and makes a large, thin pancake.
Cook for about a minute until the edges are beginning to brown then flip over to continue cooking on the other side. I use tongs to flip them over.
Fold the pancake in half and then in half again so it's a quarter of a circle and slide onto your plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
You can preheat the oven to 200 F to keep the cooked pancakes warm until you are ready to serve.

Simple Raspberry sauce:

Mix together equal parts raspberry jam and sour cream. You could also use plain Greek yogurt for a healthier alternative.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp. I love shrimp!
This is a fast way to prepare shrimp with lots of flavor. Plus it looks fancy. I can't wait to make this again!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, dill, and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Recipe from Ellie Krieger

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Moon Pies

What came first? The Moon Pie or a Smore's? Beats me!
All I know is these are a delicious and fun treat.
I had to make this recipe as soon as I saw it. I love me some Smore's and these seemed to be an inside out sort of Smore's.
I shall never tire of reinventing, reincarnating, recreating, or even genetically altering a Smore's. And now I present to you...

Moon Pies

For the Cookies:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt

For the Marshmallow Filling*:
2 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

For the Chocolate Coating:
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup vegetable oil

1. To Make the Cookies: With a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and the salt, and mix just until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in two, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 1½-inch diameter round cutter, cut out the rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about ½ an inch apart. Refrigerate the cookies (on the baking sheets) for 10 minutes.

3. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on the pans for a couple of minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

4. To Make the Marshmallow Filling: Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the salt until firm peaks form, gradually increasing from medium-low speed to medium-high speed as the egg whites gain volume. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the corn syrup over high heat without stirring until it registers 230 to 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer (thread ball stage). Slowly drizzle the hot corn syrup into the egg whites and beat at high speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, beat in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar.
*I found this made enough marshmallow filling for double the amount of cookies so I ended up tossing half of it, next time I will double the amount of cookies.

5. Using either a pastry bag or a spoon, mound about 1½ tablespoons of marshmallow filling into the center of a cookie. Top with another cookie and press lightly to spread the marshmallow to the edges. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.

6. To Make the Chocolate Coating: Using a double boiler or in the microwave on 50% power and in 30 second increments, melt the chocolate and vegetable oil together and stir until completely smooth. Place the assembled cookies on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax paper. Spoon the melted chocolate over each cookie so that it runs down the sides and covers most of the cookie. Allow to set at room temperature for about 2 hours (or refrigerate to speed up the process). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe found on, adapted from

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Drop Biscuits

I make no claims about the 'authenticity' of this dish; all you need to know is it's delicious.

This meal has earned a place in the meal rotation of late. It's relatively fast and simple and always satisfying. I need to remember to double it so I can have enough for lunch the next day.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 oz. (or more) chicken andouille (or other chicken sausage), chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 or 3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt-free Cajun seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-ounce) can red beans (kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup water
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cooked rice (I use brown)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and celery to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Partially mash beans with a fork. Add beans, 1/4 cup water, and tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in pepper. Serve over rice.

Drop Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
Blend in cold butter using a pastry blender (I like to use my hands). Mix in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add in the milk and stir just until moist.
Spoon the dough into the muffin cups.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Recipes from Cooking Light

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chewy Peanut Butter Butterscotch Squares

Whew! That is a long name for something so simple. I have seen some people refer to these as "Scotcheroos". That is certainly shorter but I am not committed to it yet....

I made these a couple weeks ago and instantly became addicted. I had to make another batch yesterday because I couldn't get them out of my head. This rarely happens to me.

I suggest you try them at once!

6 cups rice krispies
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter

12 oz. bag butterscotch chips
12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

Measure rice krispies into a big bowl. Set aside.
Add sugar and honey to a medium saucepan. Heat pan over medium heat until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until all incorporated. Pour mixture over the rice krispies, stirring until all coated.
Pour into greased 9X13 pan and smooth out the top with your hands (carefully, it may still be hot!).
Melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips together, stirring until totally combined. Quickly pour over the (slightly cooled) rice krispies layer and use a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate to all the edges and smooth it out.
Refrigerate for them to set up faster, but they will set up if left on the counter for a couple hours, as well.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Florentine's and Chocolate Panna Cotta

I participated in my first Daring Baker's Challenge this month.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Chocolate Panna Cotta
Recipe actually from Bon Appetit:
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (envelope) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into the chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
Transfer to ramekins or nice glasses for serving.
Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Nestle Florentine Cookies
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with foil.

MELT butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoons, about 3 inches apart, onto foil/parchment-lined baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula.

BAKE for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks. Peel cookies off foil or parchment paper.

After baking and cooling the cookies, I melted a cup of chocolate chips in the microwave and spread about a tablespoon of chocolate onto a cookie and sandwiched it with another cookie.