Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fancy Schmancy

Sometimes you just have to put away your coordinated flatware and enjoy some simple food on a paper plate...preferably post-consumer and eco friendly paper. And that is exactly what I did with crepes this morning. I made a filling of cream cheese, raspberry jam, farmers market meyer lemon and orange zest with a little bit of honey and sugar. All things I already had in my pantry! At the grocery store, the raspberries, despite their early arrival looked really pretty so I made a syrup out of raspberries and blueberries with more fresh OJ, and sugar. The crepes, I made last night with a simple recipe given to me by the Chef at work. Now, don't be afraid about making them yourself. I know they have crepes right next to the berries all ready made at the grocery store but all it takes is patience and a few burnt ones to get the hang of it, and the batter goes a long way. After everything was made, I just didn't want to have to do dishes after breakfast. Because the filling was made right in the cream cheese container and mixed with a spoon, the berry syrup was made in the same pan the crepes were made in so I thought, "No need to get fancy...lets use paper plates today!" We're just sitting at home on a Saturday morning, after a long week at work, eating an actual meal...although, I somehow couldn't help myself from plating decoratively I confess. *giggle*
To make the crepes, I threw flour, sugar, eggs, milk and melted butter in a blender. I let the batter sit for about and hour then cooked them on a non-stick pan. I've never made crepes without a non-stick pan so I cant tell you how they'd come out-but make sure you use non-stick spray if you do. Once they start to brown on the edges, flip them using a spatula or if you're feeling daring, flip them right in the pan, no spatula!
Whichever way you decide to flip, make them, eat them, love them and enjoy being not so fancy, fancy!

This crepe recipe works really well and is usually another go-to recipe of mine.

Alton Brown

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
Non Stick Cooking Spray

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add nonstick cooking spray. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

Berry Syrup
1/2 pint Raspberries
1/2 pint Blueberries
Juice of half an Orange
2 tsp. Sugar, or more to taste
1 heaping tsp. Raspberry Jam

Cook on low heat until the jam and sugar melts and the berries get warm and soft. Add orange juice and stir gently until the mixture is "very warm", being careful not to let the fruit break down too much.

Cream Cheese Filling
6-8 oz Cream Cheese
Raspberry Jam
Lemon Zest
Orange Zest

I wanted to use up an open container of cream cheese so to the 6 oz. that was left in the container, I added, with a regular teaspoon, 2 teaspoons full of Jam, 1 teaspoon full of Honey, The zest of 1/4 lemon and 1/4 orange and a little bit of orange juice to thin it out a little. I tasted it and thought it needed a little more sweetness, then added a little sugar to finish.
Spread about 1 big spoonfull of filling onto the crepes and top with warm berry syrup.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lemon and Mascarpone Cream Stars

Sometimes for no reason at all, I feel the need to bake more cookies. Today, I had a bit of time so I made Lemon Mascarpone Cookies-piped, little lemon cookies sandwiched with mascarpone cheese. I've used the recipe from for "Lemon Pistachio Bites" for a few different variations on this cookie, although never with pistachio! I've added chocolate ganache to the middle and drizzed them with chocolate and I've sandwiched them with raspberry jam and disted them with powdered sugar. The reason why I love this recipe is because I can do whatever I want with them and the basic cookie stays the same. It's like adding ingredients to something simple like whipped cream...add some espresso powder and you have espresso whipped cream!
I added lemon zest to the cookie base, piped them with my cloth piping bag and a large, star piping tip and topped them with large crystal sugar. Once they baked to a light golden brown, I sandwiched them with creamy mascarpone cheese flavored with lemon zest and vanilla bean. The cookies are made with powdered sugar so the texture is very soft and delicate. These cookies last for a few hours at room temperature and up to 24 in an air tight container, stored in the refrigerator. If you dont use them up right away, you can pipe them onto a cookie sheet, refrigerate them and then freeze them raw for up to one month to use whenever you want! Here is my "go-to" piped sugar cookie recipe.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
1 large egg yolk-reserve the egg white
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Large sugar sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Method to follow

Mascarpone Filling
4 oz. Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
1/4 ea. Vanilla Bean, scraped

1. Mix to combine and reserve.

1. Whisk the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
2. Beat butter, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
3. Add yolk, zest, juice and vanilla extract and mix until everything is incorporated and the mixture becomes fluffy. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
* A little bit of air in this recipe is needed to make it easier to pipe.
4. On low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Scrape the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix until fully combined and a soft dough forms. Place half of the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. For this recipe I use the Ateco #847 pastry tip.
5. On a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet, pipe out the dough to at least an inch in diameter. Dip your finger into the reserved egg white and gently pat the top of the dough and the sprinkle on the sugar crystals.
6. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown. Remove from sheet set on a cooling rack.
7. Pick like-sized cookies and fill them with mascarpone filling with a piping bag.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

The past few weeks have been really busy for me. Combined with some wet and cold weather, makes it the perfect time for cinnamon rolls. OriginalCinn-amon Rolls! I have taken different elements from a few recipes, added my own techniques, texture and flavor preferences and came up with this great recipe. I start with a dough that resembles brioche...eggy and buttery, add some brown sugar and a little extra salt to get a more moisture and flavor and let it rise. After that, I roll it out and spread cream cheese on the dough, then fold it like a letter, twice to create layers of the cream cheese which makes it super soft, incredibly moist and flavorful. Then I mix sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg and pat it into the dough. I can either add nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit, but I prefer just the cinnamon and sugar classic...I'll save the fancy stuff for later. Then roll, slice and at this point, you can go one of two ways (ooh, options!). Either you can arrange them in a pan and let them rise for about 2 hours then bake them, or you can let them proof in the refrigerator overnight and bake them in the morning. I made these last night and baked them up this morning. It is a great option for overnight guests, or breakfast in bed. Either way, you have already done the work, now bake them and decide whether you want a simple icing made from milk and powdered sugar, or, if you want a cannamon roll morning done right...make a cream cheese, buttercream frosting! Have fun with this recipe, I can already think of some other variations. Maybe you can try some chopped hazelnuts in the filling and top it with some nutella...oh my...

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8

1/4 oz Actice Dry Yeast
1/4 cup Warm Water, about 115 desgrees
1/2 tsp + 1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk, room temperature
2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
1 Yolk
3 cups Flour
3/4 tsp Kosher or Table Salt
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature

1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Honey
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
3 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature, softened
4 Tbsp Butter, melted

To make the dough:
1. In an electric mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook, combine the water, yeast and 1/2tsp of sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
2. Add milk, egg, yolk, remaining sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes or until completely combined.
3. Add flour and salt on low speed and mix until all ingredients come together. Continue mixing on high speed for 6-7 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides.
4. Add the butter on high speed a little at a time, waiting for the previous amount to be completely absorbed before adding the next. Continue mixing until a soft dough forms.
5. Remove from mixer, cover with plastic and let the dough rise for 1 1/2-2 hours or until doubled in size.
6. Make the filling by combining all ingredients except for the cream cheese and the butter. At this point you can add whatever else you'd like to the filling, making sure the pieces are small enough to fit in each roll. Such as mini chocolate chips as opposed to full sized chips.
7. Pour the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky. Roll the dough into a 10"x10" square.
8. Spread the softened cream cheese in a thin layer on the dough, leaving a 1/2" border around the edges. The, fold the dough into thirds like a letter, creating rectangle. Then fold the edges into the center and close the rectangle into a square.
9. Chill the dough for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Dont let it get too cold, because the butter and cream cheese will get hard and break in the dough once you roll it. All it needs at this point is a little rest.
10. Bring out the dough and gently roll to 11"x16" with the short sides parallel to you. Brush the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and leaving a one inch border at the top. Press the filling into the dough and tightly roll into a cyllinder ending with the seam on the bottom.
11. Slice into 8 equal rounds and fit into a buttered 8"x11.5" pan, cut side up.
12. Cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate overnight or let the rolls rise for another 2 hours or until doubled in size.
13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If refrigerated, let them sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes. Melt 2 oz. of butter and brush it gently over the top.
14. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the pan after 25 minutes.

Cream Cheese Buttercream
5 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Butter, soft
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. Beat all ingredients together for 10 minutes on high speed. Spread onto hot cinnamon rolls.