Monday, December 29, 2008

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake

As soon as I saw Patricia's post about sweetened condensed milk cake I knew I had to make it. I'm drawn to anything where sweetened condensed milk is a star ingredient.

I thought it would be yummy to chop up some bittersweet chocolate so I divided the batter and added chocolate to half and made them into mini muffins, then put the other half of the batter in an 8x4 loaf pan. Unfortunately the mini muffins did not turn out so well I think because I really overcooked them, but also because the thing that's great about this cake is not just that it's moist and dense but that you can actually taste the condensed milk. And if you add something that has a strong flavour like chocolate you lose that. I loved how the loaf turned out and I know I'll be making this cake again.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Tiramisu Cake
Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake
Caramel Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake
Adapted from a Brazilian cookbook found on Technicolor Kitchen

I made mine in an 8x4 loaf pan and made about 16 mini muffins. I would recommend using a loaf or round pan, and if you do want to make mini muffins, make sure you take them out of the oven a lot sooner because this cake is not good at all when it's cooked too long.

300 mL can sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs
120 g all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
50 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350F; generously butter a 9 inch round cake pan.

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until risen and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean (about 35 minutes).

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before unmolding.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I thought I would have a chance to update again before Christmas to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! But I was frantically trying to get through my Christmas baking (cookies to give as gifts, Christmas eve dessert and brioche for cinnamon rolls on Christams morning) and pack them all up then deliver them. I'm never making and delivering Christmas cookies on the 23rd and 24th again! From now on it will be done the week before. (And of course it doesn't help that I want the cookies to be as fresh as possible when I deliver them so I leave the baking to the last possible minute.) Despite the stressful times, I'm not sick of baking and want to go bake something right now but our freezer is full of things so I feel like I shouldn't. I could however go through my new and old baking books and pick out the next recipes to try! Anyway, I hope you all had a good Christmas with lots of yummy food and were able to relax and enjoy everything.

So onto the cookies! I made these a while ago and really liked them. They're soft and buttery with slightly crispy edges. And they are no ordinary oatmeal cookie - they have peanut butter, chocolate chips, cinnamon and nutmeg. The cinnamon really adds something different and delicious to the cookies, though could of course be easily omitted if that's not your thing. I would omit the nutmeg next time because it's not a personal favourite spice - maybe I'd add cloves instead? I also want to try adding coconut to these.

If these sound good, you might also like:
Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Britta's Peanut Butter Cookies

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours

I halved the recipe and it made 40 small cookies. The recipe below is for the full batch.

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips. If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours, or for up to 1 day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.)

If the dough is not chilled, drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This soup was really really awesome. I've recently started to make soup a lot more often again because the weather has been getting colder and it's a good easy way to eat a healthy meal full of lots of vegetables and stuff. As soon as I saw this soup in the October Shape magazine, I knew I had to make it. Red peppers, kale (or some other leafy green), sweet potato, beans, curry and coconut milk. Sounded like it would be the perfect soup and for me it was. And not only is it full of deliciously delicious things, it's super easy to make. This is my new favourite soup and one of my new favourite meals. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to make it again in the daylight to get a better photo though...

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Sweet Potato Badi
Beet, Barley and Black Bean Soup
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Choklay's Tibetan Lentil Soup

Curried Sweet Potato Soup
Adapted from October 2008 Shape Magazine

My soup ended up being quite thick so you might want to add extra vegetable broth if you want to thin it out.

1 large sweet potato
3/4 cup canned light coconut milk
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 packed cups coarsely chopped kale (or other leafy green like baby spinach)
1/4 tsp sea salt (you might want to add more salt, I always put less than recommended)

Microwave sweet potato on high for 4 to 6 minutes or until very tender. Split potato in half with a knife. Use a pot holder to hold each half and scoop pulp into a soup pot; discard skin.

Add coconut milk and mash with a potato masher or fork until mixture is fairly smooth. Stir in broth, bell pepper, and curry powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in beans and heat all the way through. Stir in leafy greens; keep stirring until just wilted. Stir in salt.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake

I saw this lemon cheesecake on Taste and Tell quite a while ago and knew I had to make it. Unfortunately as with many yummy things I discover on blogs, it took me a while to get around to making it. One can only resist an animal cracker crusted lemon cheesecake topped with lemon curd for so long!

It was just as delicious, if not more, as I hoped it would be. I was excited that the crust was made with animal crackers, but it wasn't a noticeable flavour so I wouldn't worry about using this kind of cookie/cracker for the crust. The lemon curd by itself I found a bit metallic and sour (as I seem to with all lemon curds so there's nothing wrong with this one) but when combined with the cheesecake it was just dreamy. (I think that's the first time I've ever described a food as dreamy..) And the cheesecake part itself was so luscious and creamy. Now it's got me thinking what other curds or custards can I put on top of cheesecakes. Mmm.

One thing I learned from this whole experience was to remove the foil from around the springform pan immediately after taking the cheesecake out of the oven (and water bath), otherwise the water has a way of seeping in and making a mushy crust (that results in a cheesecake that can only really be eaten directly off the pan unless you want to lose all of the crust). How does the water get in there anyway? I thought the foil was supposed to keep it out. Making this cheesecake also reminded me of how easy cheesecakes are to make! I really must make them more often, though unless I can get to Costco cream cheese is so expensive. I made a yummy chocolate cheesecake shortly after this one so I'll be posting about that soon. Next cheesecake I'll make may be this apple cheesecake that has a bruleed top mmm.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cheesecake Pops
Eggnog Bars
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Key Lime Pie

Lemon Cheesecake
Adapted from The New Best Recipe found on Taste and Tell

Makes a 9-inch cheesecake. I halved the recipe and made three 4.5 inch cheesecakes (cooked them for the same amount of time).

5 ounces Nabisco's Barnum's Animal Crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz.) sugar
1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 1-2 lemons
1 1/2 pounds (3 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Lemon Curd
1/3 cup juice (from about 2 lemons)
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the crust:
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 325F. In a food processor, process the animal crackers until you have fine crumbs. You should have about 1 cup. Add in the sugar and pulse. In a steady stream, add the butter while pulsing, about 10 1-second pulses. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until fragrant and golden brown. The instructions say 15 to 18 minutes, but mine was done at about 12 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. When cool, wrap the pan with aluminum foil. Set the pan in a roasting pan.

For the filling:
Process 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon zest in a food processor until the zest is broken down and the sugar turns yellow. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the rest of the sugar.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese to break it up and soften it slightly, about 5 seconds. With the machine is running, add the sugar mixture in a slow stream; increase the speed to medium and beat until combined, creamy and smooth - about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, 2 at a time. Beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl before each addition. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Add the cream and mix until incorporated, about another 5 seconds. Give the bowl a final scrape and pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to make it about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake until the center jiggles slightly, the sides start to puff, and the surface is no longer shiny, about 55 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven. Take the cheesecake out of the roasting pan and remove the foil. Place the cheesecake in the springform pan back in the oven, and prop the door of the oven open with a potholder or wooden spoon. Allow to cool in the oven for about an hour. Transfer the springform pan to a wire rack and run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Let it sit to room temperature for 2 hours.

For the curd:
While the cheesecake is baking, heat the lemon juice in a small non-reactive pan on medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg/sugar mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan and continue to heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 F and is thick enough to cling to the spoon, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add in the cold butter and mix until incorporated. Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt, then pour through a strainer into a small nonreactive bowl. Cover the surface of the curd and refrigerate.

To assemble:
When the cheesecake is cooked, top it with the lemon curd while still in the springform pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, but 24 hours is better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cheddar Ale Dip

I know this isn't the best photo but it was night time and can you really expect me to resist this dip until the next day when there's natural light?? I didn't think so. And yea you can see how far behind I am on posting about things I've made (from the Halloween bowl). ;)

One of my favourite things to eat is dip. I really love dipping. I try not to eat dip too often if it's the kind that's made with lots of cream or cheese though of course those are my favourites (except tzatziki and hummus - healthy and yummy!) This is one of those delicious not healthy dips. The original recipe has you eat it cold, but my boyfriend suggested heating it up and it was much better that way (though it's good cold too). The next day he added some leftover sauteed onions and broccoli to it. That was also delicious. Overall this dip was just delicious (which I'm sure you're getting by now). I loved the combination of cheddar cheese, cream cheese, Dijon and ale. I wasn't sure how much the ale flavour would come through but I was able to taste it. Maybe I'll add a bit more next time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pan Fried Onion Dip
Grape Tomato Salsa

Cheddar Ale Dip
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker's adaptation from from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

8 oz cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup beer (pretty much anything but a light beer)
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream, and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley until just dispersed.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refrigerate.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Banana Crunch Muffins

I finished my last final yesterday!! What relief. That was not a fun week and wow did I eat way too much bad stuff to keep myself awake or try to make myself happier about spending hours and hours studying. I was planning to bake after my last final but now all I want to do is eat healthy stuff.

I made these banana crunch muffins a while ago and had been wanting to make them for even longer. I originally found them on Deborah's site. They sounded so good - coconut, granola, diced and mashed banana, walnuts. Unfortunately they didn't live up to my expectations. They were good muffins for sure, but I think I was most disappointed by the fact that they had no crunch! Deceptive banana "crunch" muffins. Take into consideration my view on banana baked goods too though (not a huge fan).

If this sounds good, you might also like these muffins:
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins
Mom's Banana Apple Bread
Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
Orange Berry Muffins

Banana Crunch Muffins
Adapted from Ina Garten found on Taste and Tell

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus more for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well, being careful not to overmix.

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling to the top. Top each muffin with a bit of coconut. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then unmold and move to cooling rack.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies

I finally picked up some chocolate Ovaltine (you can use regular Ovaltine, chocolate, or just malted milk powder) so I could make these. I was walking around the grocery store thinking I'd get some Whoppers (chocolate covered malt balls) to add to the cookies, as per the recipe, and then thought why? I don't even like Whoppers. Besides, I had some strawberry milkshake Whoppers at home that I wanted to put in cookies. (Yes I know I just said I dont like Whoppers but who can resist the call of a little container of strawberry milkshake Whoppers? They're really sweet by the way. A nice thing to try but won't get them again.) So my plan was to make half the batch with these strawberry Whoppers and chocolate chunks, and the other half with just chocolate chunks. Well the strawberry Whoppers made a bit of a mess, and were just so insanely sweet. The cookies with just the chocolate chunks on the other hand, oh wow. Perfect. Just so very very perfect.

They're really soft kind of poofy cookies, which I don't usually like (like cakey banana or pumpkin cookies) but they tasted so good! And the next day, the seemed to be even moister and more perfectly delicious. They're like a soft, moist, cakey brownie in cookie form. And I wasn't sure if I'd like the batter (as I don't always like chocolate dough cookies) but oh yes these were good. The only disappointment? The cookies don't taste like malt at all. But you will be quickly consoled by how super chocolatey and yummy they are. I think it's really important that you use a bittersweet/very dark chocolate for the chocolate chunks, otherwise the cookies would be too sweet. I imagine there could be many delicious variations on this recipe - the first that come to mind for me are adding some coconut or macadamia nuts. Or some black tea! Mmm. Actually I've never made anything that combined chocolate with black tea, but it sounds good.

I already plan to make these again and again and again. And again. To make these more Christmas-y you could add chopped up Andes mints mmm I think I must do that. These cookies freeze well so they'd be perfect to have on hand when people drop by unexpectedly. I'm submitting these cookies to Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies Season 2 event. To see all the other cookies that people have been making, go here.

If these sound good you might also like:
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Intense Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Chocolate Marble Chunk Cookies
Chocolate Fudge Souffle Bars

Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours

The original recipe is called "Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops" and calls for 2 cups of chocolate covered malted milk balls, coarsely chopped + 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped. I think it's a lot better with only bittersweet chocolate chunks so I'm putting up that version. And for the malted milk powder, I used chocolate-flavoured Ovaltine.

Makes 25-30 cookies.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder (or Ovaltine, regular or chocolate-flavoured)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 3 tbsp (11 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled - it will even out when the dry ingredients are added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will look more like fudge frosting than cookie dough - and that's fine. With the mixer on low, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the chopped chocolate.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between spoonfuls. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes. When done, the cookies will be puffed and set but slightly soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before using a wide metal spatula to transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.