Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Ever since they closed the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on the west side of town, we tend to crave donuts a little more than usual simply because they aren’t as easily available as they used to be.
Paula made quick and easy donuts with plain old buttermilk biscuit dough. You know, the kind you find in a can at the supermarket. We used Pillsbury Grand’s Buttermilk Biscuit Dough. I have to admit that while they don’t quite taste like Dunkin’s, they make a great substitute.
While I was preparing the Carnitas Dinner, Lily and Brian made the donuts. (“It’s time to make the donuts.” Remember that commercial?)
I was impressed. They prepared everything before hand. They melted some strawberry frosting I had in the pantry by micro waving it for a few seconds and made the chocolate glaze.
They heated the peanut oil in our fry daddy and went to work. Once the donuts had drained a bit over paper towels, they dipped them in the two glazes and as you can see even got creative with some drizzle effects. Not bad for a couple of college students. They fried up the donut holes as well and started munching on them while I finished dinner.
Try the recipe and see if you think they measure up to old Dunkin.
Canned Biscuit Dough Donuts and Holes
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Peanut oil, for frying
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
5 tablespoons milk, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cans large buttermilk biscuits
Heat 2 inches peanut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350 degrees F. (We used a fryer.)
In a shallow bowl, stir together the ground cinnamon and sugar and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, set aside. This is the vanilla icing. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of milk (the kids added some cinnamon and a teaspoon of almond flavoring) and set aside. This is the (Mexican)chocolate icing.
Lay out the biscuits on a cutting board and with a 1 1/2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out a hole from the middle of each biscuit. Fry them in the oil until golden and then flip with tongs to fry the other side. You can even fry the donut holes. Drain on paper towels and then toss in the cinnamon-sugar or ice and decorate with sprinkles, as desired
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Encouraging Sustainable and Responsible Cocoa Growing.
WCF The World Cocoa Foundation
“The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) was formed in 2000 to address these issues. Today, it plays a leading role in helping cocoa farming families by developing and managing effective, on-the-ground programs, raising funds and acting as a forum for broad discussion of the cocoa farming sector’s needs.”
Before you pop a piece of mouthwatering chocolate into your mouth, take a minute to be responsible. The WCF helped to develop the Harkin-Engel Protocol in response to the reports of child labor and forced adult labor conditions in West African Farms.
What emerged from the Protocol were the following guidelines:
Goal : Improve the lives of children and adults on cocoa farms – with a focus on cocoa farming labor practices
Approach: Collect information from cocoa farms on labor practices, related issues
Use this information to direct resources, guide programs – to address problem issues
Output: Individual West African governments issue a certification report which provides a detailed review of labor issues in their cocoa farming sectors, and identifies required actions to address specific issues
Credibility: Employ independent verification to ensure transparency, credibility
Outcome: Continued progress in ensuring that cocoa is grown responsibly, without the worst forms of child labor or forced adult labor; a continued reduction in unacceptable labor practices
Here are some cocoa farming facts:
Number of cocoa farmers, worldwide: 5-6 million
Number of people who depend upon cocoa for their livelihood, worldwide: 40-50 million
Annual cocoa production, worldwide: 3 million tons
Annual increase in demand for cocoa: 3 percent per year, for the past 100 years
Current global market value of annual cocoa crop: $5.1 billion
Cocoa growing regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, South America (all within 20 degrees of the equator)
Percentage of cocoa that comes from West Africa: 70 percent
Length of time required for a cocoa tree to produce its first beans (pods): five years
Duration of “peak growing period” for the average cocoa tree: 10 years
How You Can Help
"Each day, several million hardworking farmers take to the cocoa fields to carefully tend to their cocoa trees and harvest the crop. Millions more depend upon their success.
These farmers are dedicated, hardworking and passionate about growing the cocoa that makes the chocolate loved by so many worldwide. But they face tremendous challenges. They need help.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) works to help cocoa farmers, their families and their communities. WCF programs are helping cocoa farmers earn more for their crop, improving the quality of education for their children, and ensuring that cocoa is grown in a safe, responsible manner.
And, with your support, the WCF can do more.
Whether it’s raising awareness or providing support for a WCF program, you can make a difference in the lives of hard-working farming families who depend upon cocoa for their livelihood."
As Southeast Asia has entered into cocoa production, the WCF has put in place the following programs:
World Cocoa Foundation Programs in Southeast Asia:
Help farmers earn more for their cocoa crop through improved productivity, reduced crop loss and innovative farming practices
Organize farmers to help them sell their product in bulk and negotiate a better price paid for cocoa.”
Why am I patial to Hershey’s Chocolate?
Read this: http://www.thehersheycompany.com/social-responsibility/environmental-stewardship/cocoa.asp
Just take a moment to do a little research. Just as we support our American farmers and our natural, locally grown foods, we should be aware of the complexities of farmers around the globe and what industries are supportive and what industries are not. What major food producers follow the humanitarian path in assisting global farmers evolve with help and dignity and what food producers resist the Protocol and continue to support child labor atrocities.
Here is a list of the WCF Member Companies;
“Chocolate companies world wide have given enthusiastic support to the WCF to encourage the safeguarding the welfare of cocoa farmers in producing companies.”
Thank you for reading this rant of mine. As a Chocolatier, I find the cocoa industry immensely fascinating and sometimes filled with information that allows us to make a choice to support certain products and not support others. Hugs.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I'm certain that Kahlua Mocha is not new to some of you, but it is for me. I just got my first bottle last weekend. After savoring the aroma and taste testing (a lot of taste testing!), I sat down with pen and paper in my hand to decide what I wanted to bake with this delicious new liqueur.
Chocolate Cherry Baby Cakes
These delicious bits of Kahlua Mocha (K-M) infused chocolate baby cakes also have a hidden surprise inside of them. Dark cherry pie filling. But that's not all. Before putting in a spoonful of the pie filling into the baby cakes, the filling was prepared with 2 tablespoons of the K-M and chopped dark chocolate. AND THEN, the cream cheese frosting was also flavored with some of the liqueur.
The taste was incredible. Well, I didn't stop there. I wanted to be able to "wash" down the baby cakes with something that would enhance the delightful flavors floating around in my mouth so I decided on a Chocolate Cherry Milkshake. You guessed it, I flavored it with some more K-M. I'm sure by now you're thinking that I'm falling down on my behind with all the K-M I'm enjoying, but remember that these desserts are only "flavored" with the Kahlua-Mocha, they're not drowning in it. Here's a picture of the milkshake.
It hit the spot. I figure, on a hot summer afternoon, why not indulge in a little lift to the spirit. (spirit - get it?) Of course in looking up Kahlua Dot Com, it inspired me to come up with yet another drink. The Mexican Russian. Why not? They've got the Black Russian and the White Russian so why not add one more? It's fun to experiment so long as you keep moderation in mind. Recipes? Oh yeah. Sorry, I was enjoying one of my baby cakes while writing this post. Here they are. Enjoy!
Chocolate Cherry Baby Cakes
1 Can Cherry Pie filling
2 tablespoons Kahlua-Mocha Liqueur
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 Kahlua Mocha
1/3 cup vegetable oil
In a small bowl, stir in 1/3 cup fruit filling, liqueur and chocolate, chill. In large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, Kahlua, oil and eggs. Blend at low speed for 30 seconds until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Top each with 1 tablespoon of prepared cherry pie mixture.
Bake at 350°F. for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completed while preparing Cream Cheese Frosting. Makes about 2 dozen baby cakes.
8oz package of cream cheese, room temp.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons Kahlua – Mocha Liqueur
1 box powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
a little milk if mixture is too stiff
With electric mixer, beat cream cheese with butter and vanilla until creamy Add the powdered sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and Kahlua, and mix well. If mixture is too stiff, add a little milk. If its' too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.
Frost your Chocolate Cherry Baby Cakes and top with left over prepared cherry pie filling.
Chocolate Cherry Milkshake
2 cups slightly softened vanilla ice cream
½ cup milk
¼ cup Kahlua-Mocha Liqueur
1 cup frozen cherries
Blend all ingredients in blender and serve. Makes about 2 –3 servings depending on the size of the glass. Top with additional frozen cherries if desired.
2 parts Kahlua Mocha
1 part Tequila
milk or cream
Give all ingredients a whirl and pour, over ice or not. Sip…don’t gulp.
For additiona Kahlua reipes, check out the official Kahlua site. You'll be mesmerized!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The first project she worked on was a "Bouquet" that she thought Bob would enjoy. She talked about the act of giving flowers and how it was mostly females that were the recipients of these lovely gifts. Then she talked about her Dad. She said the only bouquet he would truly appreciate was one he could eat, so she made one.
This simple act of love was made with brownie bites covered in white candy melts, dipped in colored sugars and attached to lollipop sticks. She added some tissue paper flowers to the back and stuck the sticks into a styrofoam ball that had been placed in a small wooden bucket. She also added some Tootsie Pop flowers, a few silk plant leaves and a bow to complete the look. Simple, yet loving.
Next she decided to make him a Father's Day cake. She settled on a Smiley Face. Remember how I told you we like to use M & M's to decorate, well, that's what she did. Check this out.
Her patience in placing all the M & M's on the cake gave me a new respect for my daughter. She's growing up. Seems like priorities are now slowly beginning to change. Slowing down that hectic pace she's kept up for so long (and that got her ill) is finally beginning to subside.
The cake is a simple vanilla cake with some chocolate chips added in for good measure. The frosting is a vanilla buttercream. The side (small) smiley faces are Oreos dipped in white candy melts with a smiley face imprinted on the top with mini M & M's. It took her all day to complete her gifts for her Dad, but it was worth it. She was quite proud of herself, as were Bob and I. Happy Father's Day!
In honor of Father's Day, this is Bob's favorite joke.
Why don't cannibals eat clowns???
Because they taste funny!!!
Friday, June 19, 2009
The FDA says:
"The recall includes refrigerated cookie bar dough, cookie dough tub, cookie
dough tubes, limited edition cookie dough items, seasonal cookie dough and
Ultimates cookie bar dough. It extends to chocolate chip dough and other
varieties, including gingerbread, sugar and peanut butter cookie dough. It does
not affect any other Toll House products, including ice cream that contains Toll
House raw cookie dough.The FDA also said consumers should not try to cook the
dough, even though eating cooked dough would be safe, because consumers might
get bacteria on their hands and on counters and other cooking surfaces.E. coli
is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration
and, in the most severe cases, kidney failure."
The Nestle Press Release:
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
But enough about me. Let’s talk FUDGE. I’ve grown fond of watching Alton Brown on “Good Eats” on the Food Network show. Recently he had on a segment regarding fudge. I watched, I laughed, I listened to his comprehensive and scientific teachings on his cocoa and fudge research. He’s not only fun to watch but also has a way of teaching you a thing or two about cooking. OK, I was talking about the fudge. I wrote down his recipe for what he considers the best fudge in the whole world. I followed it to the letter using my candy thermometer and the proper size pans and ingredients. Long story short…I’m still waiting for the fudge to set. I’m pretty sure at this point that either I screwed up on one of his instructions, or….?
My plate is lonely. WHERE is the FUDGE???
Being flustered, I prepared a pan of Mexican Chocolate Fudge. I melted, I stirred, I cooled and I waited for the fudge to set, I cut into squares and took a picture (or two) and Alton’s recipe is still not set. If it ever does set, I’ll take a photograph and show it to you.
Meanwhile, please enjoy this recipe of Mexican Chocolate Fudge to commemorate Fudge Day (which was yesterday, while I was at the movies with my honey).
YAY! My plate is not lonely any more. It's got CHOCOLATE Fudge...Mexican Chocolate Fudge!
Mexican Chocolate Fudge
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 disc (3.1 ounces) Mexican chocolate, finely chopped
1. Prepare an 8x8” baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine the marshmallows and chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Place the butter, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to let the candy boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes.
5. Remove from the heat. Stir in the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and vanilla, mixing until well-combined.
6. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.7. While fudge is still wet, sprinkle the chopped Mexican chocolate on top. Place in the refrigerator to set the fudge. Once set, cut into 1-inch squares to serve.
Look at how creamy and smooth it turned out. Sorry, Alton. But since your recipe STILL has not set completely, I guess I'm King (Queen) of the the (Fudge) Kitchen! :)
For a great bit of reading on the histoy and origin of fudge, go to the Nibble by following this link. It's very interesting.
Check out a delicious recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork (Crockpot Style). Go to the Mexican American Border Cooking blog for the tasty recipe.
The Hershey bar was the first candy bar on the market in 1900. By the 1920’s, there were about 40,000 candy bars on the market.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
(by Sandra Lee)
Chocolate "Caliente" Soufflés
(by Teresa, the changes I made are in red)
4 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces semisweet chocolate baking bar, cut up, Baker’s
I used Abuelitas Mexican chocolate, 1 ½ disks and only 1 tablespoon of sugar in the chocolate mixture. I also used 1-teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract and a pinch of cayenne powder.
2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
Unsweetened cocoa powder, optional I used the cocoa powder but I also incorporated ¼ teaspoon cinnamon into the powder before dusting.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease six 4-ounce ramekins and use 2 tablespoons of sugar to coat the inside of ramekins. I used four 6-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
On top of a double boiler, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the chocolate and whipping cream. Place over boiling water in bottom of double boiler making sure bottom of top pan does not touch the water. Cook and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat allow to cool for a minute or two and stir in egg yolks; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Spoon into ramekins, filling each three-fourths full. Bake in preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes or just until set. Serve immediately. If desired, dust with cocoa powder.
You can see the airiness and lightness of the soufflé in every spoonfull. My only concern with this dish is that it really must be prepared right before serving, otherwise it deflates quickly. If anyone can tell me how to keep a soufflé from falling after taking it out of the oven, I sure would appreciate the tip.
Among life's mysteries is how a two-pound box of chocolate can make a person gain five pounds!? :)
Go to the Mexican American Border Cooking blog for a delicious recipe on Piri Piri BBQ Chicken.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
My beautiful daughter weighs a mere 90 pounds. While I thought, OMG if we make those cupcakes I'm going to gain another 10 pounds, I didn't mind her doing that. In my attempt to help her gain more experience in the kitchen, I told her if she wanted to make them to go right ahead. I would be standing close by in case she had any questions, or needed someone to taste test :).
The results were amazing. While she was a nervous wreck (she does this when making something from scratch), I was standing there grinning ear to ear...so proud of her.
We made a couple of small insignificant changes to Martha's recipe, but otherwise kept it pretty much as she wrote it. I mean come on now, I love vanilla bean, but I was not going to spend $16.00 for one pod. We used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla instead.
We also did not have Marsala on hand, so we used Kahlua. If you get the opportunity to puchase this new Martha book, do so. Some of the varieties of cupcakes will make you dance with delight.
1-¼ cups cake flour, sifted
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon course salt
¼ cup milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
4 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
Coffee Marsala Syrup
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard size muffin pans with paper linters. Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Heat milk and vanilla bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted. Let stand for 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a sieve into a bowl and discard vanilla bean pod.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk by hand until, sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, mix until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.
Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir ½ cup of batter into the milk mixture to thicken then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.
Divide batter among lined cups, filling each three-quarter full. Bake until centers are completely set and edges are a light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
Brush tops of cupcakes with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid for 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee or espresso
¼ cup sugar
Stir all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and powdered sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.
This cupcake is so lush and tasty you really need to eat it with a spoon so that you don't miss any coffee-syrup soaked crumbs. AND the mascarpone frosting...OMG delicious. Way to go my darling girl.
Tip of the Day:
Chocolate stain removal: Rinse stain with cold water. Rub in liquid detergent and let sit for 5 minutes. Soak for 10 minutes in cold water, rubbing every 3 to 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. All gone!
Friday, June 5, 2009
I wanted to play around with some cupcake recipes I’ve been saving and started looking around for some new sprinkles I had recently purchased online. I’ll be darned if I could find them. Boy this was frustrating. I can understand if I can’t find the Halloween sprinkles I purchased last year, but these “piggy” sprinkles I just purchased online to make some piggy cupcakes for Lily?
BOLT OF LIGHTNING!! I didn’t have my cake, cupcake and cookie decorations in order. Of course I couldn’t find them, but it was my fault. So instead of making cupcakes, I set out to do some Search and Rescue of any and all sprinkles I had in the house.
When I got tired of going through the pantry, the cabinets, and the cupboards, my dining table was full of little bottles, big bottles, bags, baggies and an assortment of containers to hold my precious decorations.
Time to go back to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I needed more bottles and something to put them in.
I may not have as many as Bakerella does, but I must admit I have my fair share. I found all (? I think all) of my colored sugars.
I found some of my fancy sprinkles.
AND I even found some “rock-shaped” chocolate decorations I had purchased in Mystic, CT. when I went to visit my brother. Oh joy!
You can see I even keep mini-M & M’s for decorating sugar cookies. Lily and I buy the little tubes and then take time to separate them into the different colors. Just looking at these little gems made my heart do some flip-flops and cartwheels. The colors are so pretty. You know, just looking at all the decorations you keep on hand at a glance, really spurs the imagination.
Anyway, now that I found my piggy sprinkles, I can make my daughter her little piggy cupcakes. It doesn’t take much to put a smile on her face. I’m very fortunate that way. With my son Mikey, all it takes is giving him a new X-Men comic book.
Don’t have enough sprinkles and decorations you say? Go to the Cake Art Party Store online. I found this site while visiting Bakerella's blog. You know I absolutely love checking out her wonderful creations. Well, a while back she posted about where she buys most of her sprinkles (and other necessary baking items). It’s called the Cake Art Party Store. It’s located in Tucker, GA. Someday I will go there and pretend I’m at Disneyland and have the time of my life. You bakers out there know what I’m talking about.
But before you run out to the store for some new decorations to decorate a cake or cupcake or cookies you need to bake at a moments notice, or because that’s really what you want to do for yourself or for someone you love, check and see what you have on hand. Keeping it organized makes being a foodie a whole lot of fun. Enjoy the weekend everyone.
I wonder if I'll ever find my Halloween sprinkles???
To put a smile on your face:
Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out. :p