Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Petit Fours-August '10 Daring Bakers Challenge

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”

Browned Butter, (Hello my little friend) also known as Beurre noisette, which  in French  literally translates to, "hazelnut butter." This unbelievable nutty phenomenon has been used since medieval times in French cuisine.  The French knew exactly what they were doing when they allowed the clarified butter to brown. In essence, the water begins to evaporate, leaving only milk solids and butterfat. The milk solids sink to the bottom and  become small brown flecks among the mixture. So, do not fear if you see these in the browning process. You have not ruined the butter. But, do keep in mind. We are making browned butter, not burnt butter. As I’ve said before, there are mere minutes in cooking time between the two, but a universe of difference  between their tastes. You will know if you’ve burned it. It will smell burned and repulsive, rather than nutty and wonderful.
Let’s take a little walk through its cooking process. Its started bubbling up and breaking down a bit:

Now here, wow, its really starting to foam up. For a moment, you may think its going to overtake your kitchen like one of those weird science experiments.But, it won’t…

Now finally, we are starting to see some beautiful color creep into our butter. Lovely, swirly colors. But, look closely..its a beautiful coppery brown, not black. (Yes, that is important)

This, beautiful, nutty, rich chocolate brown (ok, I’ll stop now) butter is what you’re looking for. Remember, don’t worry about those brown bits at the bottom of your pan. They are part of this browned butter too!

Now, I just want to get up on my Sinful Southern Sweets soapbox for a minute. ***If you have never tried browned butter in a recipe, you must do this!!! Soon! Browned butter is one of those little surprises in life that will make you want to be mad at your Mama because she never told you at an early age how unbelievable it tastes. You’ll be very ticked that you’ve wasted all your life not enjoying it!! Seriously, people, this is not an option, you must try it. If you would like to try it in something a little simpler, check out these Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats ***Ok, I’m down off that soapbox now. Don’t make me go back up there….

So, moving on…When I first started thinking of this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge, I was a bit torn. We had two options. We could make Baked Alaska. Which, I can not begin to tell you how appealing this option was just for the mere fact that I was going to get to use a little blow torch to brown the whole thing. OK, well, that was the main reason I was attracted to the Baked Alaska. But, then I saw we could make petit fours, well, I’m a sucker for itty bitty cakes. And Mr. Sweets said he’d rather have the petit fours because he didn’t really like meringue. So it was settled. Then I began thinking of the ice cream for the filling. We could use any homemade ice cream recipe we wanted.  I don’t really do well when given so much free reign. I tend to become compulsive and search for hours through recipes trying to make a decision. I knew the ice cream needed to have a bit of mature complexity. No kiddy flavors like grape or cookie dough. Well, I like grape and cookie dough ice cream as much as the next person, but it just didn’t seem like it paired correctly. Imagine displaying your petit fours and offering to a guest “Please try my delicious browned butter and grapico ice cream petit fours.”  Its just not right….Yet, I just couldn't stomach the thoughts of doing a "too mature" ice cream like caviar, feta and pear ice cream or some oddity that my palate has just not developed enough to accept (When did ice cream get that mature anyways!?!). Let's face it, part of me still wants the kiddy flavors. So here's what I came up with.... Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream (with a fudge swirl!).

The ice cream is my new favorite. (Well, 2nd favorite. Mama's Peach Ice Cream will always be my number one favorite!) Mmmm….I’m not sure I can even continue….No, I’m going to just go  lust over these little frozen beauties. You go make these. You will not regret it.  Try to share them. Even if they’re a pain to assemble. You will make new friends or you could patch up old relationships. You need these in your life…….Enjoy!

Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Truffles with Browned Butter Pound Cake

Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

 Pecan Toffee Crunch Ice Cream
  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped Emerald Glazed Pecans, Pecan Pie flavored  
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped Heath Bars (about 1½ 1.4-ounce bars)
  • 1 jar Hershey's Hot Fudge Ice cream syrup
  1. To make the ice cream: In a medium-size bowl, with an eggbeater or a whisk, beat the egg yolks until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Set aside. In a double boiler, over simmering water, scald the half-and-half. Add ½ cup of the half-and-half to the egg mixture, stirring to warm the egg yolks. Return the entire mixture to the double boiler and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place the pot in a bowl of cold water. Cool the custard to room temperature (about 45 minutes), stirring once about halfway through to prevent a skin from forming on the top. When the custard has cooled to room temperature, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight. Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze until partially set, about 20 minutes. Stir in the almonds and Heath Bars, and continue freezing until firm, about 5 more minutes, following the manufacturer's instructions. Turn off the ice cream machine, and using a small offset spatula or knife, swirl in the hot fudge syrup.
Glazing the Petit Fours:
You can glaze petit fours with a number of different coatings. I used a peanut butter confectioners coating. It is great if you are in a hurry. If you have the time, and would prefer a chocolate glaze you can try this recipe:
Chocolate Glaze
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Bars

Summer seems to be quickly dwindling away. Well, according to the calendar. The heat index still indicates there's several months of warm weather left for our area. I have several summer sweets I've had tucked away to blog about, but I better hurry or I'll have to wait for next summer!
Lemons are such a summery fruit to me. So bright and sunshiney in yellow. And, Lemon Bars are certainly one of those traditional summer time desserts that everyone I know simply adores. Its hard not to love them... with their sweet/tart coolness just waiting to be devoured..
A while back, I had a lady request that I make her a lemon bar, but with white chocolate chips included in the mix. I thought this request was a bit unusual, but it turns out, it was an excellent idea! The white chocolate is not too sweet (I know....what's too sweet?!?) and it perfectly balances out the slight bitterness of the lemon. Plus, it hardly takes any time to throw these great lemon bars together. They'd be great for a Labor Day cookout! Enjoy!

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Bars
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour - divided use
1 cup granulated sugar - divided use
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
Powdered sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (175°). Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan; set aside.
  2. Combine 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; sprinkle white chocolate chips over top.
  5. Stir together eggs, lemon juice, lemon peel, remaining 1/4 cup flour and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in medium bowl; carefully pour over chips and crust.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until set. Cool slightly in pan on wire rack; sift powdered sugar over top. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

Today, I have another no bake recipe for you. This one is called Nanaimo Bars. I had never heard of Nanaimo Bars until recently. They are named after the region (Nanaimo, British Columbia) in Canada where they are most noted to have originated from.  These sweet treats have become quite popular across the US and you may even find a Nanaimo Bar pop up in a Starbucks from time to time. 
Of course, they have become popular for good reason. These bars are layered with all sorts of fabulous ingredients. They start out with a base made primarily of toasted coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and cocoa. Honestly, we could have just stopped right there and been perfectly content. (Oh, but I will go on just to humor you.) Then, you layer on what is referred to as the “custard.” But let me tell you it is not like any custard I have ever tried. It is more like the most wonderful white icing….Ever. You get my drift.  So then, moving on, there is the topping. The topping is simply chocolate melted with butter. Two of  my very favorite baking ingredients:) Very simple ingredients. Layered into a delectable dessert. Oh, and I just happened to read at Nanaimo Info.com this quote “Everyone knows that these bars have zero calories during Bathtub Week and at Christmas Time!”
Hmmm, very interesting. I’m not sure when Bathtub Week is exactly, but I vote that we just proclaim this week Bathtub Week. Just to be safe…..
So, as you can see, these indulgent, triple layered confections are in need of being made. Today if at all possible:) Plus, you can make them without creating extra heat from baking.  You know, since they’re "no bake bars" and all. Always a plus when the heat index is still hovering around 100.

Nanaimo Bars
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup toasted coconut

1/4 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder or instant vanilla pudding
3 tablespoons milk
4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter


  1. Mix 1/2 cup butter or margarine, white sugar, cocoa, egg and vanilla in a heavy sauce pan or double boiler. Stir over low heat until mixture is slightly thickened.
  2. Combine graham crackers, coconut  and add to the melted mixture. Mix well and press into buttered 9 inch square cake pan.
  3. Cream 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla custard powder and milk. Beat until creamy and spread over base.
  4. Refrigerate till hardened.
  5. Melt semi-sweet chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter and smooth over custard icing.  Refrigerate. When firm, cut into square bars.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back to School Cupcakes

Today, I wish I were  just an average, normal mother. A mother that looks forward to her children going to school. A mother that enjoys having a few moments to herself. But….I am not that mother.

See, today, my little Princess Runwild starts 5- year -old kindergarten. I have stayed home with her from the moment she was born. We have been the best of buddies. Just ask her, we’re best friends:) And, I do not enjoy spending time away from my little Runwild princesses. It always seems if I leave them to go “spend time on myself” I am always in a rush to get back to them. What can I say…I love my Princesses.
 I know….I’m weird. That’s ok…my mother’s weird too.
I tried to prepare myself for this moment (the first day of 5K) last year by sending Runwild to preschool for 3 days a week (but only for a few hours each day).  But, I’m thinking now maybe we should just ditch this whole school thing. I mean…I don’t even think kindergarten is mandatory. Right?!?
Alright, ok…I know…the apron strings must be loosened.  It will be ok…. The principal said at orientation that parents could come eat lunch anytime we wanted with our children.  Now, Mr. Sweets said I couldn’t go everyday to eat lunch, but I live very close to the school :)
So, what shall I do today to smoother my motherly woos (atleast until lunchtime)…
I have an idea…Lets make cupcakes!! Yes, yes, cake cures all problems! Right?!?

So here are some Back to School Cupcakes for all your little back to schoolers (and their tearful moms:)
They will be perfect for my little “5T” school girl! Enjoy!

Back to School Cupcakes
original recipe found here:
  • Yellow, green, and white frosting
  • Cupcakes
  • Red Skittles or M&M's
  • Small plastic bag
  • Rubber band or twist tie
  • Chocolate-covered graham crackers
  • White Good & Plenty candies

  1. Cover the cupcakes with yellow frosting and allow them to sit for an hour before decorating. Dab each red Skittle or M&M with a bit of green frosting for the apple's leaf, then set them aside.
  2. Put a tablespoon or two of white frosting into a small plastic bag for piping. Cut a very small hole in a corner of the bag, twist the top of the bag closed, and secure it with a rubber band or twist tie. Piping the frosting gently out of the hole, write messages on the chocolate-covered graham crackers. Leave space at the bottom of the cookie, where it'll be stuck into the cupcake.
  3. Cut a groove in the cupcake's frosting with a knife, then fit a blackboard into the groove. Add one Skittle or M&M apple and a piece of Good & Plenty chalk, as shown.

Oh, and if your really having a bad day, you can make your own little pleading signs :) Just for you Moms missing their babies today:

Monday, August 2, 2010

No Bake S'mores Bars

As I said in my last post, it has been unbearably hot in the South lately. Its always hot and humid in the summer, but this summer the heat index has loomed around 115. I don't know who's got control of the Southern thermostat up there, but they must have forgotten that us southern bells don't like to "puhspiyah" (aka perspire.) Lord knows we just might melt! Well, perhaps we would melt if all that that sugar we're made from wasn't mixed with a bit of fire :) Oh, well...
Since its been so hot, I decided I'd share a little creation I made not long ago. You will not like me after I share this recipe. Its just too easy....it should not be this easy to obtain something this good. Seriously!
You'll make them. You'll start trying them before they've ever set up. When you finally decide that its ridiculous that you can't leave them alone for half an hour to allow them to set, you will finally step away from the Smores Bars (after consuming 1/3 of the pan). You will eventually stick them in the refrigerator to help speed the process because you really don't want to consider the thoughts that you're losing all self control over a pan of cookies. Finally, they will set and you will start indulging. And indulging. And finally, you will wrap the rest up and try to give them away because you ate almost all of them by yourself while your kids were taking a nap.....
I'm telling you, they are good. What?!? Absolutely not! No, that little scenario was absolutely not about me! That was just a hypothetical situation. You believe me...right? Right....ok, so I'm going to go to the gym now (not because that's what I do when I've consumed lots of baked/or unbaked goods). I like to spend countless hours of my mornings( in regret) on the elliptical. You believe that too I bet :) Oh, well, it was worth it!! Enjoy!!

No Bake S'mores Bars

1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
4 planks of graham crackers, broken into small squares, but not crushed
2c Rice Krispies
1 1/2 c Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1/3 c. white chocolate chips
2 c. mini marshmallows

Melt the chocolate chips in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Add in the graham crackers, Rice Krispies and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Stir until all is well coated. Add in the white chocolate chips and marshmallows. Mix again to incorporate. In a lightly greased 9x13 pan, spread the mixture. Allow to completely set before slicing into bars. May be refrigerated to help speed the process of setting. Enjoy!