Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coconut Lime Semifreddo

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For those of us sharing a tiny apartment space but who simultaneously would happily give up an arm and probably a leg for a heaping serving of just about any frozen dessert but still don't have, or have space for, an ice cream maker, it's time to celebrate! (And everybody else can, too, because you're still gonna love this.) Hooray for semifreddo! Not really sure how to pronounce that word still, but I sure know how to make it and I'm even better at eating it!

I must warn you, though, before you dive into a perfectly creamy, flavor-packed vat of this stuff, semifreddo is an Italian ice cream (and no, it's not the same as gelato). It's custard-based, which means it's heavenly and creamy but it won't feel quite as chilly on your tongue as what we're used to here in the good old USA.

So instead of using an ice cream freezer, you pour the custard mixture in a loaf pan and then pop the whole thing in the freezer for several hours. If you want traditional, be sure to line your pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap before pouring in the custard so you can remove it from the pan once frozen and make beautiful slices. Or you can just scoop it out with a spoon. Either way is equally effective and delicious.

But oh, my goodness. This stuff is addictive! It's the kind of thing I have to make when I have someplace to take it so I don't sit on my kitchen counter with my head stuck in the freezer for "just a little taste" until suddenly the whole batch has disappeared. I mean, really, who does that?

Oh! And thanks again to that little sister of mine for taking these awesome pics for me!

Coconut Lime Semifreddo [click to print]
Makes one loaf

For the custard
  • 8 egg yolks, large
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (OR seeds 1/2 vanilla bean OR extract)
  • 1/2 c. lime curd
For the cream
  • 1-1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut, sweetened
Line loaf pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper and set aside.

For the cream mixture, stir together cream and coconut in small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and cover; allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain cream mixture through a mesh sieve, returning about 1/4 c. coconut to mixture and discarding the rest. Allow to chill in refrigerator until cold while you prepare the custard. 

You're gonna need a double boiler, or makeshift version (my fave), to make the custard. Add an inch or so of water to a medium-size pot and bring to a simmer. In a medium heat-proof bowl (i.e. glass) or double boiler, whisk together yolks and sugar; place bowl over simmering water, making sure that the water level doesn't touch the bottom of your bowl. If it does, you will likely have nasty bits of cooked egg in your custard and that's gross, so just pour a little water out of the pot and continue.

Whisk the yolk mixture continuously until it thickens and the sugar has dissolved completely. If you dip a spoon in the mixture, it should coat the back with a nice, thick layer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and lime curd. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the custard and chill. 

Remove cream from fridge and whisk (by hand or by mixer) until soft peaks form. When the custard is cold, gently fold in the cream, about 1 c. at a time, until well incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan, pressing a piece of plastic wrap against the surface, and freeze until firm, about 5-6 hours. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Easiest Fluffy Chocolate Butter Cake

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It's like I fell off the face of the earth. But in reality, I didn't even fall off that ladder when I was perched at the tippy top clamping strings of lights to the roof of my parents new porch. That's talent. 

I got to go home for nearly a week and kick it with the entire fam! I know you're jealous because I had tons of fun, and probably because my family is so awesome. But we can't help it.

But in the meantime, I really have been baking like crazy and writing thousands of blog posts in my mind. Unfortunately, as far as I know, you dear blog readers are not also mind readers. So I'm getting back on track and have some great recipes for you!

I think I baked a version of this chocolate cake about 18 times over the last week. That may or may not be a slight exaggeration, but I have really had several requests for this recipe. I mean, who wouldn't want such a soft, fluffy, moist chocolate cake that is pretty much the easiest butter cake recipe of my life? And paired with a thick layer or Salted Caramel Buttercream (recipe coming soon, I promise!)...heavenly!

And for all of you who have nightmares about baking anything from scratch, trust me, this is probably the easiest recipe of your life, too.

Easiest Fluffy Chocolate Butter Cake [click to print]
Makes 12 cupcakes or 1-8" OR 9" cake layer
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. sour milk
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare muffin tin with liners or line cake pan with parchment paper and set aside. 

In large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cooca, soda and salt. Add butter, milk, water, extract and egg. Mix just until no butter chunks remain and mixture looks even. Scoop batter into cupcake liners or spread into cake pan. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or cake layer for 32-38 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Frosty No-Bake Banana Maple Bars

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Well, the sun is blazing and my bananas went from neon green to brown and spotty practically overnight. And while I'm absolutely in love with Cinnamon Banana Bread, Banana Honey Bread and Banana Bread French Toast ( tastebuds are purring over here!), I opted to rescue my bananas in a more summer-friendly sort of way.

These bars are like frozen loaded granola bars and are absolutely perfect on a hot day. You can eat them slightly chilled, but I like to keep mine in the freezer so whenever I need a quick chilly bite, they're ready to go!

Frosty No-Bake Banana Maple Bars [click to print]
Makes about 24 squares
  • 2 large super ripe bananas (about 2/3 c. mushed)
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1 c. crunchy cereal (Fiber One or Rice Crispies are great options)
  • 2 T. dried cranberries, chopped
Mash bananas in large mixing bowl. Stir in syrup, peanut butter, flaxseed and cocoa. Add oats, cereal and cranberries. Mix well and press into mini muffin liners or silicone mold. Freeze at least 1 hour before serving. 

I love these as a chilly, frozen treat, but you can eat them when they're a little softer, too. 

Source: Adapted from Food Doodles

Thursday, June 7, 2012

German Chocolate Lara Bites (GF, no sugar added)

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Happy National Running Day! A day late...sorry. But I made you this great and fast and easy and chewy and moist treat that's also great for you and great to refuel on a long run! You're welcome. 

The first time I ever ate a Lara Bar was last fall when I ran my first race ever---The Baltimore Half Marathon. Woot! I saw these bars in the store before and thought they looked kind of suspicious and overly healthy, but when they're giving them away for free, I might as well at least taste them. So I did. And it turns out they're so good it's worth

Turns out they really do taste like cookies! And trust me, as the girl who can practically inhale a jar full of charming Chocolate Chip Cookie Butter in fewer days than I care to admit, I don't throw that compliment around lightly. Plus, I love the fact that the sweetness in these little bites comes from the dates, no added sugar, so it doesn't cramp up your stomach when you're running. But running or not, these are pretty great. My favorite is straight out of the freezer. Yum!

German Chocolate Lara Bites (Gluten Free!) [click to print]
Makes 10-12 bites
  • 3/4 c. pitted dates
  • 1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 2 T. shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/16 tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until well combined. Firmly press heaping tablespoons of mixture into bite-size silicone mold (I used a brownie bites mold, which I thought was silly until I got one, so don't judge) or roll into balls. 

Source: Slightly adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chocolate Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream Glaze

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Wow, that's a long title, but at least you know what to expect with this cake! It is certainly not for the faint of heart. I was originally going to make it into a layer cake and frost the entire thing, but I decided it might kill me. And probably several of my friends. For real. And that's not really what I'm going for here, so instead, I went with a single layer, glazed version.

Because of the high butter content (don't let that scare you away!) of pound cake, it can dry out pretty fast. So don't store it in your refrigerator and try to enjoy it the day you make it! Even better, while it's still warm.

Sorry for such a short post today and a general lack of wit, I'm just mostly exhausted but I promise to do better next time!

Chocolate Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream Glaze [click to print]
Makes two 8" round layers

For the cake: 
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
For the buttercream
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. dulce de leche (try the easiest homemade Dulce de Leche of your life!)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3-6 T. milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line pans with parchment paper or coat with nonstick cooking spray. 

Whisk together flour, cocoa, soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs, one at a time, incorporating well between each addition. Add vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream in 3 separate additions, beginning and ending with flour. Add chocolate chips and continue mixing until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 32-38 minutes or until done. Allow cakes to cool in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

In mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, dulce de leche and salt. Gradually beat in milk, one tablespoon at a time, until reaching desired consistency. Pour over slightly warm cake layers. 
Source: Adapted from The Curvy Carrot
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