food blog

post24 // a valentine tradition in the making: dark chocolate raspberry pie bars

ImageIf you are not a baker, keep reading. While other recipes that I’ve posted on my blog have proved difficult but reaped delectably rewarding results, this recipe cuts to the chase, blending a perfect ratio of raspberry pie with dark chocolate crumbly excellence. The triple-layered bars feature a pie crust bottom, a thick layer of dark chocolate, and a sprinkled pie crust crumble topped with halved fresh raspberries and mini chocolate chips. The ingredients, with the exception of the raspberries, are all common pantry holders so you’ll have no excuse for leaving this recipe in your to-do list. The prep time churns unbelievably quickly and the oven time leaves you with enough time for a fast nap, if you can wake up!

Kate and I wanted to make a Valentine themed baked good around the holiday to give away to both our single friends and some admirers. We naturally turned to the lovely Pinterest and found a slew of dessert recipes that ranged from drunken chocolate cherry cake to gooey red velvet s’mores bars. Though overwhelming, our choice was made on dark chocolate raspberry pie bars from the dessert blog, Deliciously Sprinkled. We figured a straight-forward recipe would be easy to duplicate for the growing audience of #Bakedby2Kates!

With the help of our friend Natalia, Kate and I successfully baked almost fifty of these sugary delights, each batch calling for a full can of sweetened condensed sugarmy Peruvian favorite! I will not advertise the bars as a “healthier dessert option,” but it was for Valentine’s Day, a sublime twenty-four hours of sugar. In any case, my most lasting image of baking this recipe was the environment outside. I trekked over to Kate’s apartment as half a foot of snow was blasting down on Davidson, North Carolina. For those who fail to venture far south of the Mason-Dixon line, six inches is unheard of in these parts. Seriously, if I had told you it would snow six inches when it was 60 degrees two days before, you would not have heard me. We baked in the middle of an uncharacteristically wintry scene, indulging in the warm pie bars as the sun went down. In my most melodramatic of words, that frosty afternoon will be one of my best memories at Davidson.

Some of you may now be adding events together and realizing that what! Valentine’s Day was on a Friday this year! Where did all the baked goods go? Who saved them for the special day? Well, in an attempt to make a Valentine’s Day treat, our pie bars were inhaled by every friend possible, two full days before the holiday. The last-standing individual was the boyfriend of Natalia, who, due to snow, received his bars in the mail the Monday after Valentine’s Day. Despite time and space, the air-tight seal of Tupperware and love had him send a dazzling report back.

ImageImage

From Jenn Kurkiewicz with Deliciously Sprinkled Blog:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie Bars

Prep time: 20 mins; Cook time: 45 mins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup fresh raspberries, semi crushed and sweetened with a little sugar.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Generously spray 9×13 inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, mix butter until creamy. Mix in brown sugar, flour and salt continue mixing until crumbly. Press 1¾ cups of crumb mixture into prepared baking pan. Set remaining crumbs aside.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven.
  4. While crust is baking, pour sweetened condensed milk in small sauce pan and add one cup of dark chocolate chips. Stir over low heat until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
  5. Pour over warm crust.
  6. Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over chocolate layer. Spoon raspberries over crumb mixture and top with mini chocolate chips.
  7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into bars.

post21 // a recipe for bean fiends: cappuccino swirl snickerdoodles

Image

In our second week of Bakedby2Kates, we decided on a recipe that would be easy to multiply and deliver yummy results. Unlike the rich marshmallow-oozing brownies of the week prior that left my stomach in need of deflating rehabilitation, these snickerdoodles were the perfect dessert to enjoy without over-indulgence (OK, I did have two…

…or three).

Before I begin delving into the recipe details, let me make an announcement. If you consider yourself a baker or are aspiring to that position of self-identity and enjoy the art of transforming bland grocery store products into the Mona Lisa’s of your everyday sweets: this recipe is for you. If you’re looking for a quick cookie recipe and have not ever heard of Cream of Tartar, I would just steer clear. While the recipe is clean and easy to follow, I am the first to say it is not the quickest cookie baking experience. Yet, the final product of these coffee-infused delights is unforgettable: a sweet and energizing three-bite cookie that takes snickerdoodles to a cinnamon-sugar covered next level.

Although Kate and I didn’t have baking paper to line the cookie sheets and we failed to purchase cornstarch (you can tell our brains were awake at the grocery store), the cookies turned out great! The original recipe yields 30-40 cookies but given our love for sharing alongside the fact that we like big cookies, we doubled the prescription and made 60 cookies. Kate and I looked to the internet to help save us from the cornstarch absence. This website has a great write-up on how you can replace flour at a 3:1 ratio for every tablespoon of cornstarch you’re missing, http://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions/constarch-substitutes-00420000013001/. In terms of time, eight minutes seemed to do the trick for each batch. Like the last recipe I followed and posted on here, I cannot be more adamant about the need to follow the recipe! When it calls for both instant and ground coffee, that means they are not interchangeable. Buy both.

While I am not the biggest coffee fiend (unlike Miss Kate Sanford), these cookies were delicious! In general, we feed college students who in general, drink a lot of coffee. These were a huge hit across campus so please scroll your eyes down to the delicious recipe. It could be your next project!

Adapted from the TopWithCinnamon Blog:

Cappuccino Swirl Snickerdoodles
makes 30-40 cookies

10 tbsp (5 oz / 140g) butter
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (7 oz / 195g) sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup / golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ricotta
3 tbsp cornstarch *see link for substitutions if necessary
1 3/4 cups (8 oz / 225g) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp very hot water
3/4 tsp ground coffee

1/2 cup (2 oz / 55g) sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon

Melt the butter in a medium-large sauce pan over a medium heat. Keep cooking the butter, swirling the pan often, until the butter foams up, smells nutty and you can see beige solids in the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat straight away and stir in the sugar.
Next, stir in the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Leave this mixture to cool whilst you preheat your oven to 340 degrees F (175 degrees F) and line a cookie tray with baking paper.

To the cooled butter mixture, add the egg and egg yolk. Beat them in well, then beat in the ricotta and cornstarch. Add the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, then stir together until it just forms a dough. Remove half the dough to a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in the very hot water. Add this and the ground coffee to the cookie dough in the bowl, and stir it in until the majority of the dough has turned a beige colour.

In a shallow bowl, combine the 1/4 cup (2 oz / 55g) of sugar and the cinnamon.

Take a slightly heaped teaspoon of the vanilla dough, and a slightly heaped teaspoon of the coffee dough, stick them together and roll into a ball. Roll this in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then place on the lined cookie tray. Repeat, placing cookie dough balls about 1 1/2” away from each other on the tray, until the tray is full. Flatten the cookie dough so it’s about 1/2″ thick, and bake for 7-9 minutes, when the cookies should be set on top, but still a a little soft in the centre. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Repeat this whole step until all the dough has been used up.

post19 // ooey gooey dulce de leche and marshmallow swirl brownies

Image

Wow. I still get hungry just looking at that picture. And I just ate ten minutes ago.

To begin, let me tell you a little about my friend Kate. She shares my name Catherine but spells it with the ugly, gnarled, and crooked letter known as K…ew. While I’ve never had an affinity for Katherine’s (that is with a K), I cannot ignore the same-wavelength nature of my friendship with Kate. We spent an entire semester together exploring Peru and South America, but more importantly, she like me, loves to bake and eat desserts that contain the amount of sugar you should probably eat in a month. But hell, why not do it in one day! Anyways, this Houston broad and her willing roommates, have decided to let me into their apartment each Friday afternoon for Baked by 2 Kates. To learn more about our Friday baking bonanza, follow this link https://cathmodonnell.wordpress.com/baked-by-2-kates/

Now back to that pecan-topped ooey gooey delight that is draped across your screen making your eyes glaze. The base of the dessert is a homemade chocolate brownie made with a combination of unsweetened baking chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and two cups of sugar. The brownie comes out pretty cakey so if you don’t want it as cake-like, add 1/3 cup more of all-purpose flour. Unable to find canned dulce de leche in these parts of the world was surprising to two girls who just returned from Peru. Instead, we found out that by heating a can of sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan of low-medium heat, there it was, homemade dulce de leche! Make sure you heat the milk until it really starts to thicken into the consistency of maple syrup.

In alternating spoonfuls, load the cooled brownie sheet with marshmallow creme and dulce de leche. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and wait thirty minutes for setting and cutting.

Sometimes a great picture doesn’t translate into a great recipe. This did. Outrageously rich and heavily sweetened, this recipe was a huge hit with everyone we shared it with. My favorite part? The brownie. The foundation of a delicious cakey brownie made this dessert. Oh yeah, the dulce de leche and marshmallow helped too.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens:

Dulce de Leche Fluff Brownies

Ingredients

6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of butter
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour *add 1/3 cup more for less cakey brownies
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 ounce of dulce de leche *or one can of sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce of marshmallow creme
1/2 cup of chopped pecans, toasted *or walnuts

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan cook and stir unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over edges of pan. Grease foil; set pan aside.
  2. Stir sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined. Stir in vanilla. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in semisweet chocolate pieces. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are set and center is almost set.
  3. Meanwhile, transfer dulce de leche to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 1 minute or until softened, stirring once.
  4. Remove brownies from oven and set pan on a wire rack. Immediately spoon marshmallow creme in mounds on top of hot brownies. Drop spoonfuls of dulce de leche between mounds of marshmallow creme. Let stand for a few minutes to soften. Using a table knife or narrow metal spatula, gently swirl marshmallow creme and dulce de leche together to marble. Sprinkle with pecans. Cool in pan on rack.
  5. Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut brownies out of pan. Cut into brownies, wiping knife as needed between cuts. Serve brownies the same day they are prepared.

post18 // giada’s eggplant timbale: where meat, cheese, pasta, and eggplant reach an apex

Image

Stepping away from my traditional posts on Latin cuisine, I couldn’t resist writing about one of my favorite dishes of all time. As a big fan of many Giada recipes, this delicious Italian meal will leave you washing plates that have already been licked clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Giada de Laurentiis, I’m sorry. Then again, I’m not the sorry because you’re reading this post, which means you at least now know who she is.

Image

Look, there she is! Fitting that she’s holding an eggplant (wow, what a perfect transition into talking about the eggplant timbale!). Anyways, she’s got some great recipes, this one in particular coming from her book Giada’s Kitchen. For the past four years, my Dad Tom—who first inspired me to start cooking alongside baking— and I have cooked an eggplant timbale, fixing our previous errors each time and stuffing our faces together. I love cooking with my Dad and some of our recipe nights have been my greatest memories with him. But as any familial relationship goes, there are ups as tall as Kimye’s soon-to-be wedding cake and lows as low as the burnt bottom of a cookie pan that you just can’t quite scrape clean. While we struggled to agree on the pasta quantity that fills the eggplant covered pan, which then led to a time out for the two of us, I eventually won the portion squabble using my baking background as ammo for how to fill a spring-form pan. If this is the worst thing we’re fighting about, I think we’ve got it pretty good.

In terms of what this eggplant timbale actually is, let me explain. Tucked between the eggplant layering and the sprinkled pecorino cheese seen in the above photo is an outrageously delicious meat pasta made with Italian sausage, ground beef, onions, green peas, and mozzarella cheese. Despite two brothers who are not enamored with eggplant (unlike my Dad and I, self-trumpeted eggplant worshipers), the pasta makes up for what they perceive as a veggie distraction. I on the other hand, can’t help but enjoy every bite of my timbale helping, a tasteful blend of vegetables and cheesy meaty goodness.

Image

If you’re going to undertake this recipe, and it is an undertaking, please make sure to give yourself three hours from start to finish. Do not plan to do anything after you eat the meal because all you will want is your bed. Stick to the instructions! I cannot repeat these guidelines more to people I’ve shared this recipe with. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with a poor ratio between the different ingredients. With any extra pasta that doesn’t fit in the timbale, you can store it in a tupperware container for up to five days. That time period is the same for storing the eggplant timbale.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick *I suggest buying the largest eggplants you can find
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan *You can use an 8-inch too, just be aware that you might not need as much eggplant

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/eggplant-timbale-recipe.html

post17 // those halloween pumpkins can turn into what? a look at the sopaipilla, chile’s fried pumpkin pastry

Image

Sopaipilla

Yup, you heard it right, pumpkins do have more uses than just your Halloween decorations and puree for your Thanksgiving pies. After three months of living with a family that threw sliced pumpkin into every stew imaginable, I grew to love the way it tasted in the warm broth, the consistency of a sweet potato but just a touch sweeter. My elevating appreciation for the squash species hit a high note in Chile.

Given my empty stew-bowl liking of the pumpkin I’d eaten in my home stay, it wasn’t shocking that a fried version of my new favorite fruit, the sopaipilla, was devoured in a matter of seconds.

On a quick visit to Santiago, Chile, four of my friends and I decided that the free walking tour, Tours4Tips— I would highly suggest taking this tour if you ever find yourself traveling through Santiago, it was phenomenal— would be the best idea for our rapidly depleting end-of-study-abroad bank accounts. The tour titled “Santiago Offbeat” featured the humble and everyday parts of Santiago, notably the large open-air markets and General Cemetery. Before heading into Santiago’s own subway system, we stopped at an outdoor vendor and their cart alongside a fresh produce market. I only wish I had taken a picture of this vendor’s cart that was filled to the brim with fried pumpkin pastry ovals and an endless row of sauces to top displayed in little plastic cups. Courtesy of Tours4Tips (free food!), the whole tour was given a complimentary sopaipilla and access to the various toppings.

Though sopaipillas vary from place to place, as do their toppings, ours was of the Chilean variety meaning the pastry was made from pumpkin and the garnishes were either sweet with a chancaca sauce or spicy with a pebre sauce. As a lover of spicy foods, I immediately doused my sopaipilla in the pebre sauce made out of onions, tomato paste, herbs, garlic, and ground aji peppers. Giving the fried dough just a little kick with the aji, the pebre was an unforgettable topping. Since being back in America, I’ve actually whipped up a sauce using just those ingredients to add on sandwiches and eat chips with, replacing the aji for hot sauce to match the level of spice.

Deliciously crunchy and tasty, the sopaipilla was a great introduction to Chile and a good look at the diverse and flavorful gastronomy available all throughout South America. Again, if you ever find yourself in Chile, it is a must-eat.

End note: After a month-long holiday hiatus, I’ve come back to The Good Stuff. There’s still a couple entries I have from South America that I never wound up posting so the next few will be of Latin cuisine. Moving on to the future, I will be posting more food recipes of all varieties that I will be making week in and week out while at Davidson and back home in Washington. If you go to Davidson and have a kitchen with some bakeware/cooking ware, please e-mail me as I’m looking for a place to whip up some good stuff. Hope you guys enjoy this post on the Chilean Sopaipilla! Eat and be happy!