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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

PRODUCT: Walkers’s Scottie Dog Shortbread & Mini Scottie Dogs

Recently Walkers Shortbread unveiled the newest addition to their beloved Scottie Dog collection: Mini Scottie Dog Shortbread cookies.

The pure-butter Mini Scottie “puppies” are made from 100% natural ingredients. They’re a treat for kids and adults.

The Mini Scottie Dogs are available for purchase online at USWalkersShortbread.com and at select specialty retailers nationwide.

For extra fun, serve an assortment of “moms” (the regular size shortbread Scotties) and “puppies.”

  • Enjoy them as a snack with coffee, tea or milk (still we love milk and cookies).
  • Serve as a garnish with a scoop of ice cream.
  • Insert into the tops of cupcakes.
  • Use a whole “litter” and “parents” to decorate cakes.
  •  
    How else would you have fun with them?

     

    scotties-reg-mini-kalviste-230

    Moms, Dad and “pups,” the new Walkers Shortbread minis. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Leprechaun Gingerbread Men

    irish-gingerbread-men-grandmasmolassesFB-230

    Leprechaun gingerbread men. Photo courtesy
    Grandma’s Molasses and Brown Eyed Baker.

     

    Alas, leprechauns don’t deliver treats on St. Patrick’s Day (they could take a tip from the Easter Bunny). You’ll have to bake your own leprechaun gingerbread men.

    Make your own gingerbread cookie recipe or use this one from Brown Eyed Baker for Grandma’s Molasses:

    RECIPE: GINGERBREAD MEN

    Ingredients For 30 Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 12
    pieces and softened slightly
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  •  
    PREPARATION

    1. USE a food processor fitted with steel blade. In the workbowl process flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda until combined, about 10 seconds.

    2. SCATTER butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds. (Alternatively, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt and baking soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal, about 1½ minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.)

    3. SCRAPE dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll ¼-inch thick between two large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

    4. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    5. REMOVE one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off top parchment sheet and lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into gingerbread people or round cookies, transferring shapes to parchment-line cookie sheets with a wide metal spatula, spacing them ¾-inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie sheets are full.

    6. BAKE cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11 minutes, rotating cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool to room temperature.

    7. GATHER scraps; repeat rolling, cutting and baking in steps 3 and 5. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

    6. DECORATE with royal icing once cookies are cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

     
    ROYAL ICING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • Optional: food color (for gingerbread, green and yellow)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIFT together sugar and cream of tartar.

    2. BEAT in 4 beaten egg whites with an electric mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

    3. TINT with food color as desired.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: A Caramel Popcorn Pie For National Pi Day

    caramel-corn-pie-kaminsky-230

    Caramel custard popcorn pie with a caramel
    corn topping. Who can resist? Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    March 14 is National Pi Day: 3.14 (get it?). And this is a very special National Pie Day: It’s 3.14. (actually, 3.14159265359, so next year will be the full-on Pi Day, 3.14.15). The next “double pi day” won’t be until March 14, 2114. So celebrate double pi day while you can.

    Food enthusiasts have co-opted the day as “pie” day—any excuse for a piece of pie! (And for this special year, two pieces of pie.)

    One of our favorite bakers, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, developed this terrific fusion: caramel corn atop caramel custard pie.

    “For all the love that popcorn wins as a standalone snack,” says Hannah, “it strikes me as a huge failure of creativity that there aren’t more attempts at popcorn cupcakes, popcorn cookies or popcorn pies.

    “Luckily, with a bit of custard and caramel, this is a problem we can fix. In this pie, notes of burnt sugar compliment a buttery undertone, accented with a good pinch of salt. If you’re craving popcorn, it might be a wise idea to think inside the crust.”

    A tip from Hannah: The caramel corn topping takes a bit longer to bake than the pie itself, so your best bet is to prepare it in advance. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a jellyroll pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat.

     
    Note that you will be making two four-cup batches of caramel corn: one for the custard pie filling and one for the topping (and extra snacking).
     
    RECIPE: HANNAH KAMINSKY’S CARAMEL CORN PIE

    Ingredients For 8 To 12 Servings

    For The Crunchy Caramel Corn Topping

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar (or 1-1/3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  •  
    For The Caramel Corn Pie Filling

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel corn (see popping tips below.) Then place the first four cups of popped corn in a large bowl near the stove.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, butter, agave and salt in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble while stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. It will foam and bubble angrily, but don’t just stand around and watch it: Make haste and pour the mixture all over the popcorn. Toss to coat each and every kernel, and spread the syrupy corn out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It will become perfectly crisp once cool, so despite the tempting aroma, resist the urge to take a bite until it reaches room temperature.

    4. REMOVE the popcorn from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 325°F.

    5. MAKE the custard filling by combining the second measure of popped corn with the milk in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour for the corn to soften and infuse into the liquid.

     

    popcorn-kernels-trio-230

    Sure, you could use pre-popped caramel corn. But for the freshest flavor, pop your own. Photo of heirloom popcorn kernels by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

     
    6. TRANSFER the popcorn milk to a blender or food processor and thoroughly purée. Process at least 5 full minutes at high speed to break down the kernels as much as possible, longer if necessary. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to get all the liquid out. Discard the solids.

    7. POUR the popcorn milk back into the medium saucepan and vigorously whisk in all the remaining ingredients for the filling. When perfectly smooth, turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring continuously, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent the mixture from burning. Once the mixture has thickened to the point that the bottom of the pan remains visible when you stir—without the filling immediately flowing back over the surface—turn off the heat and quickly transfer the filling to the unbaked pie shell.

    8. BAKE until the custard is set and browned on top, about 45-50 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly when tapped, much like a cheesecake. Let cool completely and top with a generous mound of the crunchy caramel corn topping before serving at room temperature.
     
    CORN POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. PLACE the popcorn kernels in a medium-size brown paper bag. If you’re not sure if the bag is big enough, err on the side of caution and pop the corn in two separate batches. Use cellophane or masking tape to seal the bag shut, and put it in the microwave.

    2. SELECT the “popcorn” setting if available, or set the timer for 3½ minutes at full power.

    3. LISTEN carefully: When the popping slows to about once every 3 seconds, remove the bag. Open it very carefully, making sure your hands and face are out of the way—the steam can be quite hot. Sift out any unpopped kernels.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake


    Bit-of-Irish Cheesecake with Irish cream
    whiskey. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    We love cheesecake, we love cream liqueur. So how could we pass up this “Bit Of Irish” cheesecake, with Irish cream whiskey and a pecan crust to boot!

    It serves 16 in “sensible” slices.

    RECIPE: Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese,
    softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 eggs
  •  
    Optional St. Patrick’s Day Garnish

  • Green sanding sugar, scattered or sprinkled over a shamrock-shaped template to create a shamrock design (see the photo above)
  • Shamrock cookie (made or bought)
  • Shamrock cut from green-colored marzipan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 325°F.

    2. MIX nuts, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the butter. Ppress onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 minutes.

    3. BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and the flour in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add sour cream and liqueur; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

    4. BAKE 1 hour 5 minutes, or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

    5. ADD optional garnish just before serving.

     

    CREAM LIQUEUR VS. CREME LIQUEUR

    They’re not the same.

    Crème Liqueur

    A crème liqueur (pronounced CREHM) is a liqueur with a large amount of added sugar, which gives the liqueur a near-syrup (thicker) consistency—and a much sweeter flavor. Crème liqueurs contain no cream or other dairy; “crème” refers to the consistency.

    Examples include crème de cacao (chocolate), crème de cassis (black currant), crème de menthe (mint) and crème de mûre (blackberry), among others.

    Cream Liqueur

    A cream liqueur is a liqueur that includes dairy cream among its ingredients. The most popular is Baileys Irish Cream, which uses Irish whiskey and chocolate flavors. There are dozens of brands, including Carolan’s, Duggan’s and St. Brendan’s.

    Other types of cream liqueurs include:

     

    baileys-irish-cream-230

    The original Baileys Cream Liqueur—delicious sipping anytime! Photo courtesy Diageo.

  • Amarula from South African, based on marula fruits which provide notes of banana, caramel, chocolate cinnamon
  • Creme de la Creme Maple Cream from Canada, which adds maple syrup
  • Cruzan Rum Cream from Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, with a base of rum
  • Dooley’s Cream Liqueur from The Netherlands, which uses Belgian toffee and vodka.
  • Heather Cream from Scotland, with a base of Scotch whisky
  • Voodoo Classique Cream Liqueur from India (although the marketing harkens to Tuscany, Italy), which includes whiskey and “exotic ingredients”
  • Voyant Chai Cream from the U.S., which incorporates rum, black tea and spices (here’s our review)
     
    Here are even more cream liqueurs.
     

    DOES THE CREAM SPOIL?

    The manufacturer of Baileys Irish Cream says that its product has a shelf life of 30 months. It guarantees the flavor and consistency for two years from the day it was made, whether the bottle is opened or unopened, stored in a refrigerator or not.

    The only requirement is that the bottle be stored away from direct sunlight, and between 32°F and 77°F.

    The properties of other cream liqueurs may vary.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Marzipan Cupcake Decorations

    Just in time for St. Pat’s. Photo © Sprinkles
    Cupcakes.

     

    Marzipan as a cake decoration goes back hundreds of years. It was so popular as a confection, it was used for centuries in Europe to cover wedding cakes, or to create the decorations that topped conventional frostings.

    But times change, and there’s less marzipan decor these days. It’s time to go old school and decorate with marzipan.

    Marzipan, or almond paste, is a confection made from almond meal (ground almonds) plus a sweetener: sugar or honey. It is sold plain, enrobed in chocolate, and fashioned into fanciful animals, fruits, mushrooms and other delights.

    Some historians believe that the confection originated in China; others in Arabia. These are not contradictory: Arab traders brought many items back from China around the 8th century C.E., including pasta!

    With St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon, consider using marzipan to decorate your cakes and cupcakes.

     

    Marzipan can be tinted any color and cut or molded into any shape. In fact, if your crew enjoys the culinary arts, have a marzipan decorating party for Easter instead of decorating Easter eggs; or host a decorate-your-own Mother’s Day cupcake party. Cut out red, white and blue stars for Independence Day.

    Here’s a video from Martha Stewart on how to decorate with marzipan.

    Get out the mini cookie cutters and other tools. Make palm trees for summer, create your dog in marzipan, even try a bust of mom or dad. It’s fun and very delicious.

    And maybe it’ll keep the kids entertained for an hour or two.

     

    For Mom. Photo © Sprinkles Cupcakes.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Upside Down Irish Whiskey Cake

    Irish whiskey cake: an upside down apple
    cake with a mascarpone filling. Photo
    courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    This cake was originally pitched to us as a holiday fruitcake—an upside-down apple cake with whiskey-soaked fruit. But we liked the idea of it for St. Patrick’s Day as well.

    The recipe, from Betty Crocker, was developed with Betty Crocker SuperMoist Yellow Cake Mix. But if you prefer your own homemade cake mix with butter instead of vegetable oil, you can make the cake from scratch.

  • Prepare it in advance. You can prepare the dried fruit the night before, bake the cake layers, and/or whip up (and refrigerate) the topping the day before. Assemble the cake on the day you serve it.
  • Single layer option. Instead of a layer cake, you can make two single layer cakes. Place a single cake layer, apple side up, on a cake stand. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone topping and garnish as desired.
  • Substitute whiskey. You can use Bourbon or other whiskey instead of the Irish whiskey.
  •  
    RECIPE: UPSIDE DOWN IRISH WHISKEY CAKE

    Ingredients

    For The Fruit Cake

  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 3 red apples, unpeeled, quartered, cored, very thinly (1/4 inch) sliced
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, finely ground*
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  •  

    Filling & Topping

  • 1/4 cup apple jelly
  • 2 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Optional garnishes: fresh raspberries† or
    cranberries, thin orange slices
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MIX dried cranberries, apricots, orange peel and bourbon in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or overnight.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F (325°F for a dark or nonstick pan). Generously grease bottom and sides of two 8-inch round cake pans with shortening.

    3. LINE bottom of each pan with cooking parchment paper. Grease parchment paper with shortening. Line bottom and side of each pan with overlapping apple slices, cutting slices as necessary to line side of each pan.

     

    Mascarpone-230

    In the U.S., mascarpone is sold in eight-ounce tubs. Super-rich and thick, in Italy it is served with berries instead of the American favorite, whipped cream. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

     

    4. BEAT cake mix, water, ground almonds, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in soaked dried fruit and ginger. Gently pour into pans over apple slices.

    5. BAKE 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately turn pans upside down to release cakes onto cooling racks.

    6. MAKE glaze: In small microwavable bowl, microwave apple jelly uncovered on High 15 to 30 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until hot. Brush over apples on top and side of each cake to make shiny. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in medium bowl…

    7. MAKE filling: Beat mascarpone cheese, whipping cream and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.

    8. ASSEMBLE on a serving plate: Place one cake, apple side up. Top with whipped cream mixture. Gently place remaining cake layer on top of cream, apple side up. Garnish with fresh cranberries/arils and orange slices and toasted sliced almonds. Cut into slices with serrated knife. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cake.

     
    *Grind the slivered almonds in small food processor, or very finely chop with knife.

    †You can roll the raspberries in sugar—ideally superfine sugar—for a special effect.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Mondrian Cake

    mondrian-cake_modern_art_desserts-230

    Modern Art Desserts is a call to art lovers
    who like to make dessert. Photo courtesy Ten
    Speed Press

     

    Happy birthday to Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter whose “grid” paintings have delighted millions.

    Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondriaan was born on March 7, 1872, grew up to become a primary education teacher and then entered the Academy for Fine Art in Amsterdam.

    His early work, consisting largely of landscapes, depict the fields, rivers and windmills of his country in the Dutch Impressionist manner. He subsequently moved to Paris and became influenced by the Cubist style of Picasso and Georges Braque (and dropped the extra “a” in his surname).

    Mondrian began producing grid-based paintings in late 1919, and in 1920, the style for which he came to be renowned began to appear.

    In 1940, Mondrian moved across the Atlantic to Manhattan. He continued to be prolific and died in 1944, at age 72. (He is buried in Brooklyn).

     

    AND NOW FOR THE CAKE

    The Mondrian Cake was created by Caitlin Freeman, pastry chef of San Francisco’s Blue Bottle Coffee and author of Modern Art Desserts, published by Ten Speed Press, April 2013 (the book, of course, includes the recipe).

    Here’s a video showing how the cake is made.

    It takes time; but when you’re done, the bragging rights are worth it.

    MORE ABOUT MODERN ART DESSERTS

    Pastry chef Caitlin Freeman took inspiration from the art world to create a book of 27 desserts inspired by the modern greats. Cakes, cookies, drinks, gelées, ice cream, ice pops, and parfaits pay homage to Richard Avedon, Frida Kahlo, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Cindy Sherman, Wayne Thiebaud and Andy Warhol, among others.

     

    mondrian-cake-plated-tenspeedpress-230

    A slice of Mondrian Cake. Photo courtesy Tenspeed Press.

     

    Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions enable home cooks to create their own edible masterpieces. (Note that “easy to follow” does not mean “easy to make.”)

    Each recipe and dessert photo is paired with a photo of the original artwork, along with a museum curator’s perspective on the original piece.

    For just $16.18 at Amazon.com, it’s a nice gift for dessert lovers who are also art lovers.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICKS DAY: Cheesecake Fun

    Although cheesecake isn’t a traditional Irish food, none of the traditional Irish desserts pop out at us. So we like to celebrate St. Pat’s with these Green With Envy Cheesecake Bars or this Irish Coffee Cheesecake with Irish whiskey.

    But if you’re more inclined to click than bake, consider these cheesecakes from Harry & David.

    A cream cheese-based New York style cheesecake recipe, these cheesecakes have a chocolate cookie crust and are covered with dark chocolate mint ganache and festive green swirls with a shamrock adorning the center of the cake.

    Send them to friends, and they will indeed feel the luck of the Irish.

    Each cheesecake is 5.5 inches in diameter—enough for sensibly small pieces for four people, a large piece for two, or a very big piece for a superfan. Get yours at HarryandDavid.com. The pair of cheesecakes is $29.95.

     

    st-patricks-cheesecakes-harrydavid-230

    Celebrate St. Pat’s with fun and luscious cheesecakes. Photo courtesy Harry & David.

     
    MORE CAKE FUN

    You can add a St. Patrick’s Day theme to any frosted cake.

  • Mix up some basic frosting, homemade or store-bought, and tint it with green food color. Place it in a piping bag or in a plastic storage bag with a corner tip cut off.
  • You don’t have to have the steady hand required to create shamrocks. Squiggles, dots and Jackson Pollack-style drips are just fine.
  • Here’s a recipe for Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake—so yummy!
     
    By the way, March 6 is White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, which you could make for St. Pat’s with green kiwi sauce instead of the raspberry sauce in the recipe.

    Here are more of our favorite cheesecake recipes.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Beignets For Mardi Gras

    Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century. So evoke Mardi Gras and New Orleans with a batch of homemade beignets.

    WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

    The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th) and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

    Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

    Why “Carnival?” Centuries of years ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

     

    pineapple-beignets-orsay-230

    Beignets should be enjoyed warm, with a cup of strong coffee. Photo courtesy Orsay | New York City.

     
    WHAT’S A BEIGNET?

    A beignet (pronounced bayn-YAY, the french word for bump) is deep-fried choux pastry dough.

    It’s a fritter similar to the German Spritzkuchen, the Italian zeppole and the Spanish churro. It can take on different shapes and flavorings depending on local preferences.

  • In New Orleans, beignets are like doughnut holes, typically sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. They’ve caught on at stylish restaurants nationwide, which serve them as dessert with a dipping sauce.
  • In France, the term refers to a variety of fried-dough pastry shapes with fruit fillings.
  • Beignets made with yeast pastry are called Berliners Pfannkuchen in Germany (the equivalent of an American jelly doughnut) and boules de Berlin in French.
  •  
    Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians, immigrants from Canada,* whose fritters were sometimes filled with fruit. Today’s beignets are a square or round piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. The fruit (in the form of jam) is now served, optionally, on the side.

    The beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans are worth going out of your way for (they taste best at the main location). After buying their mix and making them at home, we were unable to match the glory of the original, although we admit, we did not use cottonseed oil as they do.

    In New Orleans, the beignet is also known as the French Market doughnut, and it is the Louisiana State doughnut. (How many states have an official state doughnut?)

    At Café du Monde, beignets are served in orders of three. The cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.
     
    HOW TO EAT A BEIGNET

    In New Orleans, beignets are served with the local favorite, chicory-laced coffee.

    You can enjoy them plain, with fruit curd or jam or with chocolate sauce.
     
    *The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia. That colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—as well as part of Quebec and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. Acadia was a distinctly separate colony of New France (which became Canada); the Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures. (Source: Wikipedia)

     

    beignets-duplexonthird-230

    Without the confectioners’ sugar. Photo
    courtesy Duplex On Third | Los Angeles.

     

    The recipe below is from Nielsen-Massey, manufacturer of some of the finest extracts in the world, including the vanilla extract used in the recipe.

    RECIPE: VANILLA BEIGNET BITES

    Ingredients For 6 Dozen Beignets

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar n a small bowl; set aside to activate yeast. In a medium bowl, add butter, half-and-half and vanilla extract; stir and set aside. In a small bowl whisk eggs; set aside.

    2. COMBINE flour, sugar, salt and cardamom in a bowl of a free standing electric mixer. Place bowl on mixer stand which has been fitted with a dough hook. Turn mixer on low speed and combine dry ingredients. Turn mixer to medium speed then add activated yeast mixture. Add half-and-half mixture, then add the whisked eggs. Mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. Dough will be slightly sticky.

    3. PLACE dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; add additional flour if needed. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. After dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut dough into small rectangles, about 1 x ½-inch pieces.

    4. HEAT oil to 375°F. Carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so that both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar (recipe below) while bites are still warm. Serve with plain, with chocolate sauce, lemon curd or raspberry jam.
     
    VANILLA POWDERED SUGAR

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a small bowl.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fast Decorating With Chips

    Need a quick dessert, but want a touch of both fancy and homemade?

    Grab store-bought cupcakes or cake and a bag of baking chips, regular or mini.

    They’re available in a rainbow of flavors/colors: butterscotch, cappuccino, caramel, cherry, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mint, peanut butter, peppermint (white chips with bits of candy cane) and vanilla (white chocolate). We found them all on Amazon.

    Nestle’s makes a Winter Blend of dark chocolate and mint chips that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

    In the photo, peanut butter mini chips garnish a Crumbs chocolate cupcake filled with peanut butter frosting, topped with peanut butter and chocolate frosting.

     

    peanut-butter-mini-chips-crumbs-230sq

    Peanut butter-chocolate cupcake with a rim of peanut butter chips. Photo courtesy Crumbs.

     

    green-mint-guittard-amz-230

    Green mint baking chips from Guittard.
    Photo courtesy Guittard.

     

    Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day with mint green baking chips from Guittard.

     
    MORE TO DO WITH BAKING CHIPS (CHOCOLATE CHIPS OR ANY FLAVOR)

  • Top ice cream, pudding and other desserts.
  • Garnish the whipped cream atop desserts or beverages.
  • Add to trail mix and granola.
  • Toss a few onto cereal or yogurt.
  • Melt as a dip for potato chips, pretzels and fruit.
  • Add to crêpes, pancakes and waffles.
  • Toss into brownie, cake, cookie and muffin batter.
  • Add to a trifle with pound cake or ladyfingers, custard or whipped cream and fresh fruit.
  • Enjoy as a candy fix instead of something more caloric (1 tablespoon of Nestlé chocolate chips is 70 calories).
  •  

      

    Comments

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