Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Truth be told, I was youtubing those asians :) when I rewatched an old Happy Slip video which made me need emergency chocolate. I've been craving to make (and eat) these chocolate covered strawberries and the grocery store had some good ones on sale. Of course making and eating is fun but sharing is worth much more.

16 oz. white chocolate chips
16 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons shortening (halved for each)
75 strawberries

So these are easy if you know a couple of things...

You can use the microwave but I think a double broiler (using a pan with simmering water) to melt the chocolate and shortening on low-medium heat is better because you want to temper the chocolate - melt it at a slow pace so that it can harden again when it cools.

Don't constantly mix the chocolate. In fact, spread out the chips so they all touch the sides or bottom of the bowl and leave it alone. Don't mix it until you see that each chip looks softened. Otherwise, you'll have lumps that take much longer to melt after you have mixed.

After the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat, but keep the pan over the stove. Ladle a spoon of chocolate into a flattened bowl and put the bowl on top of the hot pan. I find this alot easier to coat strawberries evenly without using too much chocolate. Ladle in more chocolate, a spoon at a time, when needed.

Lastly, pour some chocolate into a plastic bag, cut off the corner, and use to pipe.

Next time: coconut and chopped nuts!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast

Not quite baking, but just as sweet. The title says it all. Indescribably, the best breakfast ever and homemade. I don't cook a lot of my mom's dishes because it just wouldn't be the same if she didn't make it. This is the exception. I love my mom's cinnamon french toast so much I try my best to perfect it so I don't have to bother her. Today I tried to recreate IHOP's stuffed french toast by making a sweetened cream cheese filling - I think I nailed it. I also topped it with caramelized bananas, which are intensely fruity and gooey.

Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast with Caramelized Bananas
Yield: serves 5

French Toast
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, more to taste
2.5 tablespoons butter
10 slices of Texas-size white bread (not toasted, not stale)

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Caramelized Bananas

3 bananas
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat your pan on the stove to medium heat. Whisk the first four ingredients into a 8x8 dish. Cut 1/4 tablespoon butter and place into one corner of your pan. If it melts and sizzles slightly, without smoking or burning it is at the right temperature. Coat one corner of your pan with the butter. Dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture and flip to coat both sides. Place on top of the melted butter inside the pan. Repeat with all slices. Cook for about 6-8 minutes on the first side and about 3-4 minutes on the second side, until they look golden brown. After every two slices I dip, I sprinkle more cinnamon into the egg mixture, to be sure each slice gets a good amount of cinnamon.

While you are waiting for your french toast to cook, combine all ingredients for the cream cheese filling and use an electric mixer or whisk by hand to beat until fluffy. You can soften your cream cheese by slicing into tablespoon-size pieces and microwaving at 25% power for 2-3 minutes.
Also while waiting for french toast to cook, chop the bananas into 1/4 inch slices and lie flat onto a plate. Evenly sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

After you are done cooking all the french toast, lightly wipe the pan with a paper towel from any leftover burnt butter. Return the pan to medium heat, melt the butter to coat the pan, and then place the banana slices sugar side down. Evenly sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar on top of each slice. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side and 4-5 minutes on the other.

Assembly: Sandwich 3 tablespoons cream cheese filling between two slices of french toast. Top with caramelized bananas and a light drizzle of syrup. Optional garnish: with a light dusting of powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Knock You Naked Caramel Brownies

For me, this is the best use of German chocolate cake because I'm actually not that fond of German chocolate cake. My taste buds tend to find it a bit dry. However, using it from a convenient boxed cake mix makes these brownies contrastingly perfect because they are slightly crispy on top, chewy on the bottom, and filled with gooey caramel in the middle. I imagine if I used a devil's food cake box that it would be more fudgy but I like the varying texture. It's perfect.

Thank you Pioneer Woman for recreating these Killer Brownies! Her step by step photography is beautiful, not to mention the end result. How Ree Drummond manages her multifaceted blogs, websites, cooking, photography, and family has always been amazing. Now add a show on the Food Network! Where does she even find the time? I've watched too much reality TV and behind the scenes from Food Network that now I cannot stand the fake TV personalities that newbies work hard to grow out of. But, Ree is a natural. She seems completely comfortable and genuine which makes her show inviting to me and relaxing.

The only adaptations I made: decided not to bake it twice. From past experiences, I was afraid the bottom layer would come out dry. Also, decided not to add the powdered sugar on top since I didn't have a package that was freshly opened - which is when it tastes best. The creative ideas always come in retrospect - I think it would have been awesome if I added some salt to the caramel. Salted caramel and chocolate are soul mates.

Knock You Naked Caramel Brownies

1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix (I Used Duncan Hines)
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/3 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (additional)
1/2 cup Butter, Melted
60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.

Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.

Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.
Blog Installation and Coding by Designs by Linds 2011