Friday, March 25, 2011

Cheese Danishes

I woke up sometime last week and all of a sudden my brain was screaming "make cheese danishes." I seriously couldn't stop thinking about it all week so I decided that I would do it Saturday. I was really expecting it to be some big project but in truth it wasn't nearly has hard as I thought it would be. It was also a great way to get rid of the cream cheese that was in our fridge.

As soon as I pulled them out of the oven I couldn't wait to sit down with one, a cup of coffee, and a book. When I finally got to it was as rewarding as I thought it would be. The shortening folded between the layers makes the dough rich but tender and the filling is flavorful. It's sweet with out losing the edge from the cream cheese. These would be great for Sunday breakfast.

Cheese Danishes
1 package instant dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
3/4 cup shortening, divided
1 cup warm milk
3 eggs
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

in a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. add the milk, 1/4 cup shortening, sugar, 2 eggs, salt, lemon peel, vanilla and 2 cups flour. beat until smooth. stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.

turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth an elastic. place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat. cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).

punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. roll into a 24×16 inch rectangle. dot half of the dough with 1/4 cup shortening; fold dough in half lengthwise. dot with shortening and fold lengthwise into thirds. dot with remaining shortening and fold widthwise into thirds.

roll dough into a 16×15 inch rectangle. cut into 8×3/4 inch strips, coil into spiral shapes, tucking end underneath the coil to form a bottom. place on a greased baking sheet and cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour).

in a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. beat remaining egg, make a depression in the center of each roll and brush with egg. fill each with the cheese filling.

bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. remove from pans to wire racks to cool. while baking, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla to form the glaze. drizzle over the danishes while they are still warm.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flour-less Almond Cake

I've been thinking lately about changing the name of my blog. I sort of jumped on my current name because I just wanted to get the ball rolling and now I'm wishing I had given it more thought.
In other news I've been on spring break this week and I've spent most of it in the kitchen. The first day that I got here mom hinted that we needed to clean out the pantry, a few hours and two filled trash bags latter our pantry was still a lot more cluttered than I wanted it to be, so I decided that my cooking for the week would focus on ingredients from the pantry.
This almond cake was one of those recipes. We had three half empty bags of almonds. This recipe quickly took care of that problem because it uses ground almonds instead of flour. This cake has great almond flavor and a nice light texture thanks to the whipped egg whites.
That's one of the other great things about this recipe it helped me break my bad egg white streak. I have had the worst luck making meringue. I could never get the nice stiff peaks that I was supposed to. Sadly I have decided that my problem was my kitchen aid. Four egg whites doesn't take up very much space in a big old kitchen aid work bowl, so only the tip of the whisk is really in the whites. Instead of using my Kitchenaid this time I used a hand mixer and a 2 quart glass bowl and it worked PERFECTLY. I couldn't have hoped for better. I'm glad that streak is over. So any way here's the cake recipe.

Flour-less Almond Cake

3 cups Almonds (I used slivered but you can use whatever kind you like)
1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
4 whole Large Egg Yolks
4 teaspoons Grated Lemon Zest
¼ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
4 whole Large Egg Whites

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9in. spring form pan.
place the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until it has the consistency of fine cornmeal. Add the butter and pulse until it begins to come together in a ball. Set aside.
In a stand mixer beat 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and the yolks on medium-high until very light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon and mix until incorporated. Add in the almond mixture and almond extract.
in a very clean bowl, I suggest washing it just before you use it, whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy then slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until the whites form soft peaks. Stir a spatula-ful into the almond mixture to lighten. Carefully fold in the remainder of the whites until completely incorporated. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
Bake until the cake is golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes before releasing the cake from the pan.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gram's Chocolate Pie

It has been one week since my gram died. I still can't really believe she's gone. I came home a day early for her funeral and when I walked through my front door both of my parents were busting about the kitchen preparing foods that my gram was known for: chopped liver, and fudge. I decided to contribute my favorite dish that my gram made, her chocolate pie. It was one of my favorite dishes at thanksgiving and I will always associate it with her. I asked for the recipe a few years ago and expected her to head for the kitchen and shuffle around in her recipe box for the card. Instead she instructed me to get a pen and paper and proceeded to dictate the recipe to me from memory. She was the smartest person I'll ever know and she loved her family more than anything. I hope my pie made her proud.

Gram's chocolate pie

2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
1/2 stick butter
a pre baked pie shell

Mix cornstarch, cocoa, and sugar. Scald milk and add dry ingredients. Cook on medium heat until it forms bubbles and the bubbles are popping. Add the vanilla, salt, and butter. Pour into the prepared crust and cool. It's really important that the crust be completely cooled before you add the filling.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm really sorry I haven't been updating lately. I promise you I haven't given up blogging. I've just been spending my weekends here at college instead of going home so I've sadly been with out a kitchen for a few weeks. I do however promise that there will be an update this weekend. Thank you all for hanging in there.