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Archive for March 24, 2016

RECIPE: Chocolate Covered Raisins

March 24th is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, honoring a confection that dates well before the introduction of Raisinets in 1927.

You need only three ingredients to make chocolate-covered raisins: raisins, chocolate and coconut oil. The oil thins the chocolate so it adheres better.

We loved this suggestion from TheRoadNotProcessed.com: Add a bit of spice to elevate the recipe.

You can coat the raisins in dark, milk or white chocolate using chocolate chips. But the better the chocolate quality, the tastier the results. We chop up a Lindt bar.

Look for jumbo raisins you can find. You can substitute jumbo sultanas (golden raisins) as well.

 
RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISINS

Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
  • 1/2 tbsp virgin* coconut oil (substitute vegetable shortening)
  • Optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or cloves (if you like heat, add chipotle)
  • 1 cup jumbo raisins
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    *Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, like vegetable oil. Virgin coconut oil is fresh-pressed, unrefined coconut oil—superior to refined coconut oil. Here’s more about coconut oil.

     

    National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

    Jumbo Sultanas

    Top: Homemade Raisinets. Photo courtesy TheRoadNotProcessed.com. Bottom: Jumbo sultanas, golden raisins. Photo courtesy CandyMax

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or microwave for 30-seconds, then at 10-second intervals as needed, taking care not to scorch it. Stir well with a whisk, adding the optional spice(s).

    2. ADD half the raisins and mix well to coat them all; then add the rest of the raisins and do the same. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Harden in the refrigerator and break up the hardened pieces. For faster hardening, use the freezer (they’ll be ready in 5-10 minutes).

    6. BREAK up the hardened pieces into individual pieces or raisin clusters. Refrigerate any leftovers.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RAISINETS

    Raisinets, raisins in chocolate shell, is a movie theater staple and the third-largest selling candy in U.S. history.

    To make the candy, raisins are coated with oil and spun in a hot drum with milk chocolate or dark chocolate. They’re then polished to a shine.

    Raisinets are the earliest brand of chocolate-covered raisins on record, introduced by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company of Philadelphia in 1927 (the brand was acquired by Nestlé in 1984).

    The Blumenthals did not originate the concept. Hard chocolate was invented in 1847, enabling confectioners to develop all types of chocolate candies (the history of chocolate), including chocolate-dipped fresh and dried fruits.

      

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    RECIPE: Double Coconut Easter Layer Cake

    Coconut Easter Layer Cake

    Easter Layer Cake

    Top: A classic Easter cake with coconut “grass” and Easter eggs. Bottom: You can tint the batter different colors for a surprise. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

     

    Coconut cake has become an Easter tradition. Adults and children alike are tickled pink by the green coconut “grass” and Easter egg candies.

    This recipe from Reynolds Kitchens is “double coconut,” made with coconut layers as well a coconut frosting.

    RECIPE: DOUBLE COCONUT EASTER LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients
     
    For the Cake

  • 3-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1-/34 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cups of canned coconut milk
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut
  • Optional: food color
  •  
    For the Frosting

  • 12 ounces of softened creamed cheese
  • 1 pound of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of coconut extract
  • 1 pound of sifted powdered sugar
  • 4 cups of sweetened shredded coconut
  • Green food coloring
  • Garnishes: small Easter egg candies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

    2. WHISK together the egg whites and shredded coconut in a separate bowl. Add in the coconut extract and then the egg whites and shredded coconut mixture in 3 batches into the butter-sugar mixture.

    3a. MIX the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and add into the creamed butter-sugar mixture, while alternating with the coconut milk but beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Be sure to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl often.

    3b. If you want to tint the layers, divide the batter into thirds and tint two of the three with a different pastel color.

    4. DISTRIBUTE the cake batter evenly into 3 cake pans. Bake the cake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm in the center. Cool the cake pans on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

    5. WHIP the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Mix in the coconut extract and powdered sugar until completely blended.

    6. TOSS together in a slider storage bag 1-1/2 cups of the shredded coconut and 4 to 6 drops of green food coloring, until the coconut becomes green. Frost the cooled coconut cake in layers with a small amount of frosting. After each layer has been frosted, sprinkle on ½ cup of shredded coconut and press into the frosting before adding on the next layer of cake.

    7. FROST the entire outside and top of the cake and use the remaining shredded white coconut to coat the outside of the cake.

    8. FINISH the top of the layered coconut cake by sprinkling on the green coconut shreds, but take care to not get any of the shreds around the outside. Garnish the top of the cake with assorted Easter egg candy and chocolate.

     

    LAKER CAKE BAKING TIPS

    These tips for creating the perfect layer cake are from Reynolds Kitchens:

  • Start by carefully reading the recipe. Baking is scientific, and requires ingredient precision to achieve the best results. For example, if you combine all your ingredients and later realize your eggs needed to be beaten separately, your cake could come out mealy.
  • Cool the layers upside-down. When the layers are done baking (a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly), flip them upside down onto a cooling rack so the cake tops are flat. Otherwise, your cakes may cool with a rounded top, which must be leveled with a long serrated knife.
  • Use applesauce to lighten the calories. Substitute plain applesauce evenly for vegetable oil in the recipe. The applesauce will maintain the cake’s moisture and flavor but will decrease the unwanted fat and calories.
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    FROSTING TIPS

     

    Cake Icing

    Icing a cake is easier on a pedestal. Photo courtesy SugarSweetBakery.

  • Allow the cake to cool entirely prior to frosting. A warm cake will cause the frosting to melt into a messy, thin layer on top and virtually no frosting on the sides.
  • Use a generous amount of frosting between layers and ensure that it is evenly distributed. If you are filling with custard, fruit purée or jam, first create a barrier of frosting around the top rim of the layer, to keep the filling from spilling out of the cake.
  • Place the cake on its pedestal prior to frosting. First use 4 to 5 pieces of wax paper to completely covering the pedestal, allowing some to hang over the pedestal sides. Frost the cake and remove the wax paper.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Hot Cross Buns

    Hot Cross Buns

    Hot Cross Buns

    Top: What a treat: Warm hot cross buns (photo King Arthur Flour). Bottom: You can substitute dried cherries or cranberries for the raisins (photo Ocean Spray).

     

    Tomorrow is Good Friday, a traditional time for Hot Cross Buns. You can mix up the dough today, divide it into muffin pans, mix up the frosting…and have everything ready when you wake up tomorrow. In just 20 minutes, Hot Cross Buns will emerge from the oven: fragrant with spices, sweet with dried fruit.

    from King Arthur Flour

    And you don’t need to save these delicious breakfast buns for Easter. Although that’s why they have an icing cross, you can…

    RECIPE: HOT CROSS BUNS

    Prep time is 25-35 minutes, rise time is 1 hour, bake time is 20 minutes. You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it overnight. See footnote*.

    Ingredients For 12 To 14 Buns

    For The Buns

  • 1/4 cup apple juice or rum
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1-1/4 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • For The Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  •  
    For The Icing

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing
  •  
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    *You can refrigerate the completed dough for the first rise (first proof), from a few hours to a few days. For loaves of bread, refrigerate unshaped dough; then shape it after removing it from the fridge. Refrigerate the dough immediately after mixing, not after a rise. After removing from the fridge, let it rise a second time on the counter. This can take one hour or several, depending on the yeast. Refrigeration actually yields tastier results because the yeast has more time to do its work. Allow the dough to warm up a little before baking.

    You can shape loaves before refrigeration, but it may produce an uneven rise because the center of a large loaf will warm much more slowly after removal from the fridge. However, buns are small enough to avoid this problem, so feel free to shape before you refrigerate. [Source]

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY GREASE a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

    2. MIX the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just until the fruit and liquid are very warm and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When the fruit is cool…

    3. MIX together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit. Knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, until the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

    4. DIVIDE the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces. That’s about 3-3/4 ounces each—about 1/3 cup, a heaped muffin scoop. Use greased hands to round the dough into balls and place them in the prepared pan.

     

    Good Friday Buns

    Originally, the cross atop Hot Cross Buns was a simple knife cut. The icing came later. Photo courtesy BBCGoodFood.com. Photo courtesy BBCGoodFood.com.

     
    5. COVER the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

    6. WHISK together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

    7. MIX together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe a cross shape atop each bun.
     

    THE HISTORY OF HOT CROSS BUNS

    The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733. A sweet yeast bun filled with raisins or currants, the cross on top was originally made with knife cuts. Over time, icing was piped over the cuts.

    The cross symbolizes the crucifixion, and the buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.

    They are believed to predate Christianity: Similar buns were eaten by Saxons to honor Eostre, the goddess of spring. In their ancient pagan culture, the cross is believed to have symbolized the four quarters of the moon.

    “Eostre” is believed to be the origin of Easter. Many pagan holidays were ported into Christianity in its early days, to encourage pagans to convert to the new faith.

    You don’t have to wait for Good Friday to enjoy hot cross buns. They’re too delicious to save for one day of the year. You can variety the recipe with dried cherries or cranberries instead of raisins.

      

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