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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Cream Cheese Brownie Day

Why add cream cheese to brownie batter? You might logically say, for more richness. Cream cheese makes a denser, fudgier brownie, and the tangy quality of the cream cheese is a nice counterpoint to both the deep chocolate flavor and the sweetness of the sugar. Some cream cheese brownies simply incorporate the softened cream cheese into the batter; others create a marbled swirl in the batter, still others add a cream cheese layer on the top of the brownie, as shown in the photo at the right. (Then, there’s the full cheesecake topping that makes a half cheesecake, half brownie delight called the “zebra.” But that’s another holiday). Here’s the cheesecake brownie recipe from the photo:
Ingredients

Brownie Mixture:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

  BrownieWhip up a batch of cream cheese brownies. Photo and recipe courtesy of Diana’s Desserts.
Cream Cheese Mixture:
3/4 cup (180g) cream cheese at room temperature
1 egg
1/3 cup superfine baker’s sugar
1/4 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Instructions

1. Butter and lightly flour an 8 x 8-inch square cake pan. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

2. Combine the flour and salt. Set aside. Melt the butter in a small, heavy-based saucepan, then stir in the cocoa until blended and set aside. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and stir in the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour/salt mixture over the top and fold it into the mixture. Add vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips.

3. Make cream cheese mixture. Whisk together cream cheese, egg and sugar (or use an electric mixer). Sift 1/4 cup self-rising flour over this mixture and fold in. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

4. Pour three-quarters of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread the cream cheese mixture over it. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie mixture on top, making swirls with a knife. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is springy to the touch, being careful not to over-bake. Cool brownies in the pan, then cut into squares.

Makes 16 brownies.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cake

Heart Shaped CakeMake these individual Valentine cakes with a 3-inch heart cookie cutter.   Bake your sweetie a devil’s food chocolate cake with our Valentine cake recipe from Michael Recchiuti. It uses a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut mini-heart cakes from a sheet cake. For one large cake, heart-shaped cake pans are available at any kitchen supply store. Write a customized message on the top of your Valentine cake and decorate with seasonal candies (cinnamon red-hots, Hershey’s kisses). If you’d rather buy than bake, check our favorite heart-shaped cookies and cakes in the Gift Finder section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. Try them with some of our favorite, romantic Valentine’s Day wines and liqueurs.
 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Valentine’s Day Gifts

Recchiuti Chocolate Valentine

Our Valentine’s Day gift lists have something
for everyone—including wonderful calorie-free
gifts. (But the Recchiuti chocolates, above, aren’t
on that particular list.)
  If you’re not all set for Valentine’s Day, take a look at our lovingly-selected picks (in alphabetical order, by category):- Chocolate For ConnoisseursDiet Valentine Gifts (no carb, no cal, no sugar)- Heart Cookies, Cakes & Brownies

Gifts For Cooks

Gifts For Kids

Kosher Valentine Gifts

Savory Valentine Gifts, for people who don’t like sweets

Find more gift ideas in the Gift Finder section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

 

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RECIPE: Make Fortune Cookies For The Chinese New Year

Fortune Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Fortune Cookie

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with homemade fortune cookies—much more delicious than what you get at restaurants. If you want, decorate them. Top photo courtesy National Honey Board, bottom photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

 

The Chinese New Year begins on February 7 this year. You can ring in the Year of the Rat with homemade honey fortune cookies—delicious and easy to make with this recipe from the National Honey Board. The substitution of honey for white sugar gives the cookies a big boost in flavor.

Personalize the cookies with creative fortunes for your family and friends (start with “You will discover amazing foods on TheNibble.com”).

You can also decorate them by dipping in chocolate, drizzling with icing, or both.

If you want to give them as a gift, red is a good luck color in China, hence the red cartons in the photo.

RECIPE: CHINESE FORTUNE COOKIES

Ingredients For 16 Cookies

  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup orange blossom honey (or other mild flavored honey)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure orange oil (or 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract)
  • 16 proverbs or fortunes written on 4-inch long x 1/2-inch wide strips of white paper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the flour, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, honey and orange oil until slightly frothy. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

     

    3. LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Using a measuring spoon, place 4 one-tablespoon portions of the mixture on baking sheet, evenly spaced. Using a small spatula or the back of a spoon, shape each portion into a 3-1/2 to 4-inch round.

    4. BAKE for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and remove from oven. Working quickly, use a small spatula to loosen the cookies from the parchment. Place a proverb or fortune on one side of each cookie, fold in half and then fold the points toward each other.

    5. PLACE the cookies in a muffin pan or other device to hold the shapes until they have cooled. Repeat with the remaining batter. Store in an airtight container up to one week.

    6. SERVE with jasmine tea and/or vanilla, chocolate or ginger ice cream.
     
    HERE’S THE HISTORY OF FORTUNE COOKIES. They were, to quote Bruce Springsteen, born in the U.S.A.

     
      

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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Chocolate Cake Day

    Chocolate Cake
    Satisfy your chocolate yearnings with this cake, made from the Triple Chocolate Cake Mix and Milk Chocolate Frosting from The King’s Cupboard.
      Today is Chocolate Cake Day. There are many who opine that every day should be Chocolate Cake Day. Some days, we’re with them. Then we remember that there is too much of a good thing. And if every day were Chocolate Cake Day, when would we have lemon tart, pumpkin pie, apple crumble, etc.? So, you’ve got to watch what you wish for.

    If you have a refined palate, you may have noticed that it’s not easy to go out and buy a great chocolate cake. We experience quite a bit of frustration when we bring home something that looks good—for which we have paid quite a handsome price—and the taste just isn’t there. It isn’t as if the bakery used (zut alors!) margarine instead of butter. The two biggest shortcomings are anemia in the chocolate department, and/or overly sweet, in both cake and frosting. You should never be able to taste the sugar in a recipe, any more than you should taste the salt.
    So, aside from baking your own favorite recipes from scratch, what’s a time-pressed person to do to celebrate Chocolate Cake Day?

    – Keep a few boxes of the most excellent chocolate cake mixes from King’s Cupboard on the shelf.

    – Bake up some of the King’s Cupboard Molten Chocolate Cakes & Gourmet Chocolate Cake Mixes (lava cakes). The Molten Chocolate Cakes are the “volcano cakes” or “lava cakes” you always order at restaurants…and you can make them at home in nine minutes. The gourmet cake mixes include Triple Chocolate Cake Mix and White Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Mix, with Triple Chocolate Frosting and Milk Chocolate Frosting to match.

    – Splurge on our favorite Empire Torte, a dense, flourless chocolate cake that we admit an addiction to.

    – Make this Chocolate Macaroon Bundt Cake. If you love Mounds bars, this is your slice of heaven.

    If you want to bake from scratch, try this Chocolate Cabernet Flavors Di ‘Vine’ Cake, the 2007 winner of Bundts Across America. You can try it with a fruitier Cabernet Sauvignon; but you might want to take a look at our Wine & Dessert Pairings chart. Our Wine Editor prefers Late Harvest Zinfandel, Lustau Muscat Sherry “Emlin,” Recioto Amarone or Vintage Port with his chocolate cake.

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