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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

RECIPE: Blueberry Cheesecake Bars For National Cheesecake Day

Whip up cheesecake bars for National Cheesecake Day, July 30th.

These were developed for the U.S. High bush Blueberry Council by Emily Hobbs of Ozark, Missouri. There are many more great blueberry recipes on the website.

A layer of crunchy crust, followed by fluffy whipped cheesecake topped with toasted almonds and blueberries? Say no more – I’m yours! These Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars are so good you’ll be licking your fingers for every last bit. Because you cut them into squares, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars are great to pack for a picnic, dinner at a friend’s, or a family road trip.

 
RECIPE: BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS

Ingredients For 24 Bars

  • ½ cup plus 6 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces cream cheese (1½ packages), softened
  • 2½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  •  

    Blueberry Cheesecake Bars Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    [1] A stack of cheesecake bars. [2] Fresh-picked blueberries (photox courtesy U.S Highbush Blueberry Council).

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13-by 9-inch baking pan.

    2. SOFTEN ½ cup of the butter and combine it with ½ cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until fluffy. Add 2 cups of flour, the baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Beat until crumbly.

    3. TRANSFER the crumbs to the baking pan and pat to make an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes until the surface is dry but not browned. Meanwhile, in the same mixer bowl…

    4. BEAT the cream cheese, the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar, lemon zest and juice, and almond extract until fluffy. Beat in the eggs until combined. When the crust has baked…

    5. SPREAD spread the cheesecake mixture evenly over the top and bake 20 minutes until the cheesecake has set.

    6. STIR together the brown sugar, remaining ¾ cup flour, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Cut the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter into ½-inch pieces and add to the brown sugar mixture. Work the butter into the mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until uniform crumbs have formed. Stir in the almonds.

    When the cheesecake layer has baked…

    7. SPRINKLE the blueberries and crumb mixture over it and bake 20 minutes until the crumbs have browned. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 2 hours until the cheesecake is firm, before cutting into 24 bars.
     
    THE TWO TYPES OF BLUEBERRIES

  • Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow on tall bushes; some cultivars reach a height of 6 to 8 feet. The berries are larger and more abundant than lowbush blueberries, although their flavor may be somewhat less intense and sweet.
  • Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium), also referred to as wild blueberries, grow in Maine and the colder regions of eastern North America. The shrubs grow no taller than two feet and may be smaller, depending on soil and climate, and produce small, exceptionally sweet bluish-black berries. If you want to plant a bush or two, these are hardy plants that do well in all soils, even poor, rocky types, providing the drainage is good.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Throw A National S’mores Day Party

    Classic S'mores

    Fancy S'mores

    S'mores Pie Recipe

    [1] Classic S’mores (photo courtesy Dandies vegan marshmallows [they’re great]. [2] Gourmet S’mores made with a Petit Écolier chocolate-topped biscuit and a chocolate chocolate chip marshmallow (photo courtesy Plush Puffs gourmet marshmallows). [3] No-Bake S’mores Pie (photo courtesy Brown Eyed Baker; here’s the recipe).

     

    National S’mores Day, August 10th. We all know the recipe for s’mores, but just in case:

    To make these sandwich cookies, you need one or two marshmallows, two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate bar to fit the grahams for each. The marshmallow is toasted and placed on top of the chocolate and the bottom graham, followed by the top graham. The heat of the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate into a gooey delight. Don’t forget the napkins.

    We’ve got lots of favorite s’mores recipes (the list is below), but this year we’re having a S’mores party with a twist.
     
    SUBTITUTES FOR THE CHOCOLATE BARS

  • Chocolate mints (e.g. Andes Mints)
  • Flavored chocolate bars (e.g. Lindt’s Crunchy Caramel with Sea Salt Bar; chile, coconut, orange, raspberry, toffee, etc.)
  • M&M’s
  • Nutella
  • Peanut butter cups
  • White chocolate
  •  
    SUBTITUTES FOR THE GRAHAM CRACKERS

  • Brownies or blondies (slice the squares in half)
  • Chocolate chocolate chip cookies With White Chips (or butterscotch chips, PB chips, etc.)
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Chocolate chocolate chunk cookies
  • Gourmet graham crackers (or homemade)
  • Pavlovas (meringue cups)
  • Peanut butter cookies or other favorite
  •  
    SUBTITUTES FOR THE MARSHMALLOWS

  • Gourmet marshmallows
  • Marshmallow cream (e.g. Fluff)
  •  
    ADD-ONS

  • Bananas, blackberries, blood oranges, strawberries, raspberries or other fresh fruit
  • Bacon
  • Cherry cheesecake spread (mix cream cheese with cherry preserves)
  • Dulce de leche
  • Nuts
  • Toasted coconut
  •  
     
    THERE ARE RECIPES BELOW, BUT FIRST…

     
    THE HISTORY OF GRAHAM CRACKERS, MARSHMALLOWS & CHOCOLATE BARS

    We don’t know who invented S’mores, but the Girl Scouts certainly popularized them: The first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook.

    S’mores around the campfire has been a happy tradition: a stick, a fire, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich. The combined flavors of toasted marshmallow, melty chocolate and crunchy grahams is oh-so-much tastier than the individual ingredients (or, to quote Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

    The name of the sandwich cookie comes from its addictive quality: You have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with S’mores, as you’ll see below. Don’t have a heat source to melt marshmallows? Use Fluff or other marshmallow cream.

  • Graham Cracker History
  • Marshmallow History
  •  

    MORE S’MORES RECIPES

  • S’mores Baked Alaska
  • Cinnamon S’mores and a cappuccino cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Fancy S’mores (banana split, peach, peanut brittle etc.)
  • Grilled Banana S’mores
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • S’mores With Other Types Of Cookies
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores In A Cup Or Mason Jar
  • S’mores Cookie Bars
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake
  • S’mores On A Stick
  • Smores On The Grill
  • Triscuit S’mores
  •  
    NOT ENOUGH?

    Check out these 25 different S’mores combinations.

     

    S'mores With Homemade Graham Crackers

    Ice Cream S'mores

    [1] S’mores with artisan graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate (photo courtesy Burdick Chocolate). [2] Ice cream sandwich S’mores with S’mores ice cream—chocolate ice cream with pieces of marshmallows and graham crackers (photo courtesy Babble.com).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Summer Crisp Or Cobbler

    Peach Crisp

    Blueberry Crisp

    Mixed Fruit Cobbler

    [1] A yummy peach crisp (photo courtesy GoDairyFree.org). [2] Individual blueberry crisps (photo courtesy Dole). [3] An apricot-blackberry cobbler (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    While some people love pie crusts, were’re on there opposite end of the spectrum. We’re there for the filling.

    We’d rather have a bowl of custard or chocolate pudding than a custard or chocolate pudding pie. We’d rather have an apple crisp than an apple pie.

    We prefer the crisp, crumbly topping (the crisp is called a crumble in the U.K.) to the soggy bottom crust and dry top crust of the traditional shortcrust pie.

    And we prefer the ease of sprinkling on the topping rather than rolling crusts.

    Another easy option is a cobbler (third photo, recipe below): It’s the same baked fruit as a crisp but with a topping of crisp biscuits, the “cobblestones” which gave the cobbler its name. They don’t absorb moisture like pie crusts, and refrigerated biscuit dough makes the topping easy.
     
    RECIPE: SUMMER FRUIT CRISP

    Use the abundance of berries and stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots (olives are also a stone fruit).

    You can use a single berry and stone fruit, or mix them up. We subscribe to the mix-up option; for example, peaches and plums, blueberries and raspberries. It’s more interesting.

    Use sugar sparingly in order to enjoy the natural fruit sweetness.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound of stone fruits, pitted and quartered (you can leave pitted cherries whole)
  • 1 pint of berries, rinsed well and patted dry
  • Cane sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup flour 1 teaspoon
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar (or less depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • Optional Garnish

  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven heat to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins and set aside.

    2. MAKE the topping. Add the ingredients to a large bowl and use your fingers to combine, pinching the butter into the dry mix until it forms balls the size of a pea.

    3. COMBINE the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss well to combine and transfer to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Top with the crumb topping.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    FOR A COBBLER

    Instead of the topping, use a tube of refrigerator biscuits. Gauge how many you need for your baking dish, and slice them in half horizontally if you prefer a thinner “cobblestone.”

    1. COOK the fruit per above. Then, raise the heat to 400°F and add the biscuits.

    2. BAKE at 400°F 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbly.

    3. RESERVE any leftover biscuits for individual berry shortcakes: fresh berries and whipped cream on a split biscuit.
     
    MORE RECIPES

  • Apple Crisp Recipe
  • Peach Cobbler Recipe
  • Betty, Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt & More: The Differences
  • The Difference Between Pies & Tarts
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Cupcakes For Patriotic Occasions

    HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

    These red, white and blue cupcakes are an eye- and palate-pleaser for any patriotic occasion.

    And they’re easy to make, with just the added step of dividing cake mix into three bowls and coloring two of them. We chose a frosting of stabilized whipped cream, stiffened with gelatin (it won’t collapse) and topped the cupcakes with red, white and blue decorations.

    RECIPE: PATRIOTIC CUPCAKES

    Ingredients For The Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix (or your own white cake recipe)
  • Red and blue gel food coloring (see notes in the last section)
  • Icing
  • Decorative sprinkles or stars
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Cups Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  •  
    Plus

  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a cupcake pan with paper liners. Place the cream in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping (it will whip better).

    2. PREPARE the cake batter and divide it into three bowls. Use blue and red gel food coloring in two of the bowls (see notes about gel-paste below.)

    3. ADD one tablespoon blue batter to the each cupcake liner and spread evenly (we used a plastic teaspoon). Follow with a tablespoon of white batter, and a red layer on top of that, taking care not to mix the colors as you spread them.

    4. BAKE per cake recipe instructions and cool. While the cupcakes cool…

    5. MAKE the stabilized whipped cream frosting. Place the cold water in a small pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it thicken; then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow it to set.

    6. WHIP the cream with the powdered sugar, until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.

    7. DECORATE and serve.

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    July 4th Cupcakes

    American Flag Cupcakes

    [1] Red, white and blue layered cupcake (photo Elegant Affairs Caterers | Facebook). [2] Even easier options: red fruit atop white frosting (photo GoBoldWithButter.com) and [3] cupcake “flag” (photo Sprinkles Cupcakes).

     
    WANT A RED, WHITE & BLUE LAYER CAKE INSTEAD OF CUPCAKES?

  • White layer cake, filled with raspberry and blueberry preserves.
  • White-frosted stack cake with red and blue berry topping.
  • Lemon loaf layer cake with white filling and red and blueberry topping.
  •  
    WHY USE SOFT GEL INSTEAD OF LIQUID FOOD COLOR

    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid food color) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than soft gel. It should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  •  
    You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets. Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.
     
    TIPS FOR COLORING ICING

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue.
  • Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.
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    JULY 4th RECIPE: American Flag Ice Cream Cake

    This easy flag cake from McCormick is made from reddened brownie layers with vanilla ice cream and a blue-tinted whipped topping. You can cut 12 servings from the loaf.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG ICE CREAM CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bottle (1 ounce) red food color
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • McCormick Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye in blue and purple
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Optional: 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  •  

    brownie-ice-cream-cake-mccormick-230

    The “red” in this American Flag ice cream cake is food coloring added to the brownie. If you want more redness, add a layer of sliced strawberries over the top of the ice cream (photo courtesy McCormick).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Empty the brownie mix into a large bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs and red food color; mix well.

    2. SPOON the batter into a greased, foil-lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

    3. MAKE the frosting: Stir the whipped topping, lemon extract, 1 teaspoon Neon Blue and 5 drops Neon Purple food colors with a spatula until evenly tinted. Stir in 3/4 cup of the marshmallows. Set aside.

    4. LINE a loaf pan with foil, with the ends of the foil extending over the sides of pan. Cut the brownie loaf horizontally into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer in the loaf pan and gently spread with the ice cream and the optional strawberries.

    5. PLACE the top brownie layer over the ice cream and spread the whipped topping mixture over the top. Press the remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallows into the whipped topping. Cover carefully with foil.

    6. FREEZE at least 2 hours or until firm. Use foil handles to remove dessert from pan. Place on cutting board; let stand 10 minutes to soften. Cut into slices to serve.

      

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    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies

    July 4th Whoopie Pies RecipeHTTP://www.blueberrycouncil.org

    Patriotic whoopee pies from the Blueberry Council.

     

    The Blueberry Council wants to make it easy for you to create red, white and blue food for July 4th.

    The recipe is simple: a box of red velvet cake mix, a jar of Marshmallow Fluff (or other marshmallow creme, or homemade) and fresh blueberries.

    For a more substantial dessert, serve the whoopies with a dish of three scoops of ice cream:

  • Small scoops of red (strawberry), white (vanilla) and blue (blueberry or boysenberry).
  • Alternative: Soften vanilla ice cream on the counter and stir in red and blue berries. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.
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    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE WHOOPIE PIES

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (18.25 ounces)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups marshmallow crème from a jar
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the cake mix, flour, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer at medium speed, 2-3 minutes.

    3. SCOOP the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed, 8-10 minutes.

    4. LET cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets. Then, use a spatula to remove the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.

    5. SPREAD 1½ teaspoons of the marshmallow creme onto the flat side of each cookie, using a small spatula or knife. Divide the blueberries onto the perimeter of the marshmallow on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies to make 24 cookie sandwiches.

    6. SERVE immediately or store chilled in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper or parchment.
     
    MORE FOOD FUN

  • The history of whoopie pies.
  • The history of Marshmallow Fluff and a recipe for homemade marshmallow creme.
  •  
      

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    JULY 4TH RECIPE: All-American Cheesecake In Red, White & Blue

    Slice of fruit pie

    Cream Cheese

    [1] Bake this patriotic cheesecake from scratch, or decorate a purchased cake with fruit (photo courtesy Melissas.com). [2] Good news for lactose intolerant cheesecake lovers: Green Valley Organics makes delicious lactose-free cream cheese, as well as lactose-free sour cream and yogurt (photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com.

     

    This All American Strawberry, Banana and Blueberry Cheesecake recipe was developed by Tom Fraker, Corporate Chef at Melissas.com.

    You can use the decorating theme on a custard pie, cream pie, or cake.

    Don’t want to turn on the oven? Purchase a plain cheesecake and add the fresh fruit.

    Before you start, check out the history of cheesecake.

     
    RECIPE: JULY 4TH CHEESECAKE IN RED, WHITE & BLUE

    This recipe makes a tart-size cheesecake, meaning that it’s not as tall as a conventional New York-style cheesecake. The benefit: fewer calories per slice!

    Ingredients For 12-14 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh blueberries
  • 9-10 strawberries, stems removed, halved
  • 1-½ ripe bananas (see note in Step 6)
  • 1 large orange
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325ºF.

    2. COMBINE the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar and the melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into a tart pan or springform pan.

    3. ADD the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl of a standing mixer. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp into the bowl. Whisk until well combined.

    4. ADD the eggs one at a time, allowing them to completely incorporate before adding the next egg. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes, or until completely set.

    5. REMOVE the cheesecake from the oven, let cool and then chill for at least 4 hours.

    6. DECORATE the top: Run a row of the blueberries around the outside edge and then fill the center with alternating rows of strawberries and bananas. Before you slice the bananas, keep them from turning brown by squeezing the juice of an orange or other citrus fruit into a bowl. Slice the bananas into the juice. Toss gently with your fingers to coat all sides, and drain away the juice before topping the cake.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Off-Season Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Recipe

    Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Inside

    Top: Chocolate-dipped macaroons (photo courtesy McCormick). Center: Plain coconut macaroons (photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections). Bottom: Up close (photo by Georgie Grd | Wikipedia).

     

    If you like coconut, don’t wait until Passover* to make coconut macaroons. They’re a great treat year-round, and gluten-free. Bring them as house gifts: They travel well without breaking.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Serena Rain of VanillaQueen.com, purveyor of top-quality vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, powders, sugars and salts.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT MACAROONS

    You don’t need to add chocolate to macaroons; but if you want to, there are two options:

  • Dip the macaroons in a chocolate glaze.
  • Mix chocolate chips into the dough. This is an especially good option for warm-weather months.
  •  
    Ingredients For About 24 Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond meal†
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (for the dough)
  • Optional: 4 ounces quality chocolate bar (for a glaze)
  • Option: 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    You can incorporate the orange peel into the dough or the glaze. We like the “lift” it gives to the recipe.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated. Use a spoon to scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of the coconut “dough.” Shape into round balls and place on the parchment paper. Alternative: You can drop the dough as unshaped mounds. See the difference between the top photo (dropped) and the bottom photo (shaped).

    3. BAKE for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (aim for the color in the center photo). Let cool.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Place the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and if necessary, heat for 30 more seconds until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate. Alternatively, place the cookies on a tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle the tops with chocolate; let cool until set. Some people prefer the glaze on top: a chocolate dome. Take your pick.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    Macaroons appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century in Italy. The historical record isn’t clear, but they are believed to have been created by monks. There were thousands of monasteries in medieval Europe, and monks created different types of beers, brandies and liqueurs, cheeses, pretzels, sweets, wines and spirits.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening‡, so could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in some recipes, replaced them. Today in the U.S., coconut macaroons are the norm.

    Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of France’s King Henri II. In France they evolved into delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with ganache or jam.

    Here’s more about the different types of macaroons.
     
    _____________________
    *During the week of Passover, in April, celebrants eat no leavened grains. Macaroons (all varieties) are grain free.

    †Almond meal, or almond flour, is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious.

    ‡Leavening is the agent that raises and lightens a baked good. Examples include yeast, baking powder and baking soda. Instead of these, macaroons (all types) are leavened with egg whites.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Doughnuts For Father’s Day

    National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June, but there’s an even better reason to make doughnuts on the third Sunday: Father’s Day.

    If Dad loves doughnuts, get up an hour earlier and bake a batch for his breakfast.

    Yes, bake them—no frying required with these cake-like doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    To bake doughnuts you’ll need a doughnut pan to hold their shape. If you don’t want to invest in one (they’re $16.95 at King Arthur Flour), see if you can borrow one.

    You can serve them plain, with a sugar coating or with a chocolate glaze.

    What could be better? We added crisp, chopped bacon to top the doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    RECIPE: BAKED DOUGHNUTS, CAKE-STYLE

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 15 minutes; icing time is 5 minutes, then a few minutes to let the icing set.

    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (substitute instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter (substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
  •  
    For The Optional Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  •  
    For The Optional Chocolate Icing

  • 1 cup good chocolate bar*, chopped (substitute chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
  •    

    Chocolate Fudge Doughnut

    Bacon Doughnuts

    Apple Cider Donuts

    Top: It’s easy to bake doughnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). Center: We added chopped bacon as a garnish (photo courtesy d’Artagnan | Facebook). Bottom: Don’t want chocolate? These apple cider doughnuts pre-date chocolate in history (photo Karo Syrup).

  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon, chopped nuts, dragées, pretzel pieces, sprinkles, etc.
  •  
    Plus

  • Doughnut pans
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    *If your palate knows great chocolate, a good bar (Chocolate, Dove, Green & Black’s, Godiva, Guittard, Lindt, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, etc.) is better than chips—unless you use Guittard chocolate chips, our favorite.

     

    Lemon Glazed Donut

    Pretzel Donuts

    Top: For a lemon glaze, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and grated peel to the icing (photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com). Bottom: Another sweet-and-salty doughnut, topped with pretzels (photo courtesy ACozyKitchen.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, just bake the batter in two batches.

    2. WHISK together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    3. WHISK together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl. You may notice some curdling of the milk, which is normal.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There’s no need to beat the batter; just make sure everything is well-combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.

    5. BAKE the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the doughnuts from the oven; after 30 seconds, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

    5a. For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.

    6. COOL the doughnuts completely before icing. Combine the chocolate chips and milk or half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat until the half-and-alf is steaming and starting to bubble. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the icing is smooth.

    7. DIP the top of each doughnut in the icing; or spread icing over the top. Garnish as desired.
     
    A BIT OF DOUGHNUT HISTORY

    Although dough was fried in oil as far back as ancient Rome, food historians generally credit the invention of deep-fried yeast doughnuts to Northern Europeans in Medieval times. The word “doughnut” refers to the small, round, nutlike shape of the original doughnuts—the hole came later. “Donut” is an American phonetic rendering from the 20th century.

     

    Doughnuts were introduced to America in the 17th century by Dutch immigrants, who called them oliekoecken, oil cakes (i.e., fried cakes). In the New World, the doughnut makers replaced their frying oil with lard, which was plentiful and produced a tender and greaseless crust.

    Other immigrants brought their own doughnut variations: The Pennsylvania Dutch and the Moravians brought fastnachts to Lancaster, Pennsylavnia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively; the French brought beignets to New Orleans.

    The word “dough-nut” first appeared in English in the 17th century. The word evolved from dough-nut to doughnut to donut. The airy, yeast-leavened dough-nuts (like Krispy today’s Kremes), were joined by cake doughnuts, leavened with baking powder or baking soda (like Dunkin Donuts).

    By 1845, recipes for “dough-nuts” appeared in American cookbooks. Chemical leavening (baking powder) was substituted for yeast to produce a more cakelike, less breadlike texture; and inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes came onto the market.

    Why a hole? For efficiency, the cooked doughnuts were staked on wooden rods.
     
    The Dawn Of National Doughnut Day

    Spell it doughnut or donut, the holiday was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army, to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen in World War I (at that time, it was called the Great War).

      

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    RECIPE: Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

    Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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    Audra’s magnificent naked cake: chocolate and peanut butter. We’re about to eat the computer screen. Photo courtesy TheBakerChick.com.

     

    Oh, how we love you Audra, The Baker Chick. Your emails with such beautiful photos of your recipes make the day better. Even if we don’t have time to make them, just looking at them is sheer satisfaction.

    In time for Father’s Day, Audra created one of our favorite cakes*: a rich chocolate naked layer cake with peanut butter filling and a brush of frosting. Thank you, thank you!

    A naked cake is related to a stack cake. Both are layer cakes, and are so newly trendy that the terms are used interchangeably. A stack cake has zero outside frosting; a naked cake can have a light swath of frosting on the outside with some naked cake showing through, like this one.

    And now…to the kitchen!

    RECIPE: NAKED CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings
     
    For The Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4½ tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
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    For The Frosting

  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
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    For The Ganache

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: mini peanut butter cups, halved
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two cake pans, lining with a circle of parchment paper. You can use 6-, 8- or 9- inch pans; of using 6-inch pans, make at least 3 layers.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs, continue to stir until batter is smooth.

    3. DIVIDE the batter among the pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

    4. MAKE the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer on the stove top and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before using (you can pop it into the fridge or freezer).

    5. MAKE the frosting: Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Fold in the whipped cream until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Using a serrated knife, level each cake layer, slicing off the “dome” to make the layers even. Place the bottom later on a piece of parchment paper, on a cake turntable (you can use a pedestal cake stand, but invest in an inexpensive turntable). Spread a layer of ganache over the first layer of cake, sticking it into the fridge or freezer as needed between each frosting layer, to firm it up.

    7. CONTINUE with a layer of frosting, then another layer of cake, more ganache, more frosting etc. Add some frosting to the outside of the cake, smoothing with a spatula. Top with chopped peanut butter cups.

     
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    *She adapted the base cake recipe from a Martha Stewart cake.

      

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