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EASTER: Speckled Egg Malted Milk Cake

Easter is early this year: just 10 days after St. Patrick’s Day, on March 27th. This year we’re passing on our beloved coconut-covered lamb cake in favor of this elegant caker. Who knows: Next year, maybe we’ll make one of each.

 
RECIPE: SPECKLED EGG MALTED MILK CAKE FOR EASTER

Wow guests with this impressive cake inspired by malted milk candy eggs. It was developed by Heather Baird for Betty Crocker.

Prep time is 40 minutes, baking, frosting and assembly time is 2 hours. You’ll also need a new, stiff-bristle paint brush to “fling” the chocolate speckles. (It’s fun!)
 
Ingredients For 10 Servings

For The Cake

  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  •  
    For The Frosting

  • 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • Liquid blue food color
  •  
    For The Speckling Chocolate

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •  
    For The Phyllo Nest

  • 1/3 cup kataifi* (kah-TAY-fie, shredded phyllo dough)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 speckled candy-coated malted milk egg candies
  •  

    speckled-egg-malted-milk-cake-2-230

    Athens Foods Kataifi

    Top: An Easter cake delight by Heather Baird for Betty Crocker (photo courtesy Betty Crocker). Bottom: Make the nest with kataifi, shredded phyllo dough (photo courtesy Athens Foods).

     
    ________________________
    *Shredded phyllo (fillo) dough, kataifi, looks like shredded wheat. In addition to Greek pastries, it is often used to make edible bird nests. Look for it in a Greek or Mediterranean market or wherever Athens Foods products are sold; or buy it online.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside.

    2. WHISK together in large bowl the cake mix and malted milk powder. Add the remaining cake ingredients; beat with electric mixer on low speed until well combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans.

    3. BAKE for 22 to 28 minutes or until the layers spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool the cakes in the pans on cooling racks for 5 minutes. Turn the layers out onto cooling racks and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Level the cakes using a large serrated knife or cake leveler, as needed.

    4. MAKE the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and beat 1 minute longer. Add the blue food color, 1 drop at a time, beating until a light blue color is achieved.

    5. FILL and and frost the cooled layers. Refrigerate the frosted cake 1 hour or until the frosting is dry to the touch.

    6. MIX the baking cocoa and vanilla in small condiment bowl. Load a new (unused) stiff-bristle paint brush with the cocoa mixture. Using your fingers, flick the loaded brush bristles toward cake, creating a splatter pattern. Re-load the brush and cover the entire cake with chocolate speckles. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

    7. MAKE the phyllo nest: Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter 1 muffin cup in regular-size muffin pan. Tear off 1/3 cup portion of kataifi and place it in the muffin cup in a circular nest shape. Gently brush the phyllo nest with melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown around the edges. Gently remove the nest with a fork; cool on a cooling rack.

    8. ATTACH the cooled nest to the cake with a dot of frosting. Place the 3 speckled egg candies inside nest. To serve, bring the cake to room temperature. Store the cake loosely covered with plastic wrap.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

    Green Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

    A St. Pat’s special: green mint chocolate chip cookies. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    A tip from McCormick: Use green food color to tint minty chocolate chip cookies for your favorite leprechauns. If you don’t like mint, you can substitute vanilla extract.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 10-12 minutes.

    RECIPE: GREEN MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    Ingredients For 3 Dozen Cookies

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons green food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

    2. BEAT the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, food color and peppermint extract; mix well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

    3. DROP by heaping tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.

    4. BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookie edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
     
    TIP FOR GROWN-UPS

    Add some Crème De Menthe or Irish Cream Liqueur to that chocolate milk!

     
      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Pi Day

    Pizza Pie

    Pi Day Pie

    Top: You could have a piece of pie for Pi Day. We’ll have a pizza pie

    instead! Photo courtesy Ribalta Pizza | NYC. Bottom: Want a dessert pie? Try pumpkin pie. It must be better for you, since it didn’t make the list of the 16 worst pies. Photo courtesy FromTheMixedUpFiles.com.

     

    Mathematically, March 4th is Pi Day: 3.14. As we learned in high school geometry, the Greek symbol is used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, a constant that begins with 3.14159.

    Food folks have co-opted Pi Day, turning it into Pi[e] Day and recommending that one celebrate it with a piece of pie.

    This might be the time to include one of the numerous “Top 10 Pies” lists; but this year, we have a twist: a list of the 16 worst pies in terms of calories, fat and sugar, as determined by EatThisNotThat.com. You can read the explanations for each pie here.

    The worst-for-you pie is #1, the best of the group is #16.

    1. Pecan Pie
    2. Key Lime Pie
    3. Vanilla Caramel Pie
    4. Turtle Pie
    5. Fruit-Topped Cream Cheese Pie
    6. Lemon Meringue Pie
    7. Mince Pie
    8. Banana Cream Pie
    9. Mixed Berry Pie
    10. Sweet Potato Pie
    11. Peach Pie
    12. Cherry Pie
    13. Apple Pie
    14. Pumpkin Pie
    15. Blueberry Pie
    16. Coconut Cream Pie
     
    Who would have thought that Coconut Cream Pie could be a “better for you” option?

    The choice is yours. Happy Pi Day.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Leprechaun Pie

    St. Patrick's Day Pie

    Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

    Top: Use a cookie cutter to make cut-outs or shape marzipan shamrocks on a pie crust (photo courtesy American Pie Council). Bottom: Our favorite: a Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). The recipe is below.

     

    Make a Leprechaun Pie for St. Patrick’s Day.

    What’s a Leprechaun Pie? It’s anything you want it to be, as long as it has a St. Pat’s theme: green color and/or shamrock decorations, Irish cream liqueur for adults.

    Just pick a “base” pie and decorations. Most of these recipes are so easy, you can enlist a willing tween or teen to do the prep work.

    LEPRECHAUN PIE OPTIONS

  • Your favorite two-crust pie with shamrock cut-outs or add-ons on the top crust (top photo).
  • Bailey’s pudding pie with green whipped cream (recipe).
  • Grasshopper pie (mint with chocolate accents, recipe).
  • Key lime pie (recipe—add a touch of green food color to tint the yellow filling green).
  • Mint ice cream pie (bottom photo, recipe below)
  • Pistachio pudding pie (very easy, no-bake recipe).
  •  
    Decorations

    If your pie has no top crust, you can decorate the surface with:

  • Green baking chips
  • Green sprinkles
  • Green-tinted marzipan
  • Green whipped cream
  • Lucky Charms cereal
  • Kiwi slices
  • Lime zest (especially nice atop the whipped cream)
  •  
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM GRASSHOPPER PIE

    You can make this pie (photo above) in 10 minutes plus freezing time, using store-bought mint chocolate chip ice cream and a chocolate cookie crust.

    If you don’t like mint, add 2 tablespoons of Irish cream liqueur to softened vanilla ice cream. You can also tint the vanilla green with food color.

     
    Ingredients

  • 2 pints mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
  • 1 chocolate crumb crust (8 inches—store-bought or made with the recipe below)
  • 5 Oreo cookies, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chocolate-covered peppermint candies (e.g. Junior Mints)
  • Chocolate hard-shell ice cream topping
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD the ice cream into the pie crust. Sprinkle with the cookies and candies.

    2. DRIZZLE with the ice cream topping and freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon chocolate wafer crumbs, divided (about 32 wafers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Pat the mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a buttered 8- or 9-inch pie plate.

    2. BAKE in the middle of a preheated 450°F oven for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Rainbow Bundt Cake

    There’s a surprise in this Bundt cake: a rainbow of colors. For St. Patrick’s Day, garnish the cake platter with gold foil chocolate coins—the ones in the pot at the end of the rainbow. (We filled the center of the Bundt with the coins.)

    In this recipe from McCormick, prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes. The cake yields 12 servings.

    RAINBOW BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • Food colors: blue, green, red and yellow
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    For The Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon Irish Cream liqueur*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

    2. PREPARE the cake mix per package directions, stirring in the orange extract. Divide the batter evenly among 4 bowls. Tint each bowl a different color. Stir 50 drops (about 1/2 teaspoon) of red, green or blue food color into each of 3 of the bowls. Stir 25 drops (about 1/4 teaspoon) of yellow food color into the last bowl.

    3. POUR the red batter, followed by the yellow, green and blue batters, into the Bundt pan. Pour each color batter gently into the pan so that each batter is layered over, instead of mixed into, the previous one.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack. Cool completely. Meanwhile…

    5. MIX the confectioners’ sugar, water and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Prior to serving…

    6. MAKE the whipped cream. Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.

     

    Rainbow Bundt Cake

    McCormick Food Color

    Chocolate Coins

    Rainbow Bundt and food color from McCormick. The chocolate coins from SweetGourmet.

     
    BUNDT CAKE HISTORY

    What does “Bundt” mean? Who invented the shape of the cake?

    Check out the history of the Bundt cake (scroll down below the recipe for the Apple Streusel Bundt).
     
     
    _________________________________
    *If using liqueur in the whipped cream, reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Whipped Cream

    While classic whipped cream is a festive topping on everything from shortcakes to ice cream sundaes, flavored whipped cream tends to be memorable. While Reddi-Wip makes chocolate whipped cream, usually the only way to experience flavored whipped cream is to make your own.

    It’s not a new idea! By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution had enabled centrifuge-separated, high-fat cream. Cooks could buy the cream and whip it directly, without tedious hours spent skimming it from the top of milk.

    Pastry chefs went to town making a myriad of whipped cream desserts, shaped in molds, flavored with chocolate, coffee, fruits and liqueurs. Here’s the history of whipped cream.

    Today, it’s not surprising that you can buy Baileys Irish Cream Whipped Cream in Ireland. But you can make your own as quickly as making a trip to the store.
     
    RECIPE: WHIPPED CREAM WITH IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR

    How about some whipped cream for St. Patrick’s Day that’s flavored with Irish Cream liqueur? Use it on brownies, pound cake, in your coffee or hot chocolate, and anywhere you can: It’s delicious!

    If you’d like a mint-flavored whipped cream (delicious with anything chocolate), substitute green Creme de Menthe liqueur. A deep green color, it will tint the whipped cream green.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream chilled
  • 1/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the heavy cream thoroughly so it will whip better. Put the cream and the liqueur in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping.

    2. ADD the ingredients to a stand mixer or a large bowl (if using a hand mixer). Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. It’s ready to serve!
     
    Tips

  • If you want to make the whipped cream an hour in advance, under-whip it; then give it a final whip by hand to right before serving.
  • If you want your whipped cream to keep its shape and not deflate, stabilized whipped cream, which has added gelatin, will keep the whipped cream stiff for days. Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    MORE FLAVORED WHIPPED CREAM RECIPES

  • Bourbon, Five Spice, Holiday Spice, Lavender, Rum & Salty Caramel Whipped Cream
  • Candy Cane Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Whipped Cream
  • Frangelico Whipped Cream (substitute any liqueur)
  • Savory Whipped Cream Infused With Herbs Or Spices
  •  
    What do you do with savory whipped cream?

    First, you ditch the sugar and vanilla extract in favor of savory flavors. Then, you garnish a bowl of soup, top a baked potato, garnish a plate of asparagus.

    Add lemon zest to whipped cream for fish and seafood (including smoked salmon); bourbon for grilled meats; grated Parmesan cheese for soup, meats and fish; horseradish for beef; herbs or spices with vegetables.

    You’ll love how flavored whipped cream adds new life to recipes.

     

    Brownie With Whipped Cream

    Making Whipped Cream

    Pouring Baileys Irish Cream

    Pudding Parfaits

    Top photo: A brownie with a side of Irish Cream whipped cream (Piyato | Dreamstime). Second: Whipping the cream (Kuhn-Rikon photo). Third: For St. Patrick’s Day, make your flavor Irish Cream Liqueur (photo Diageo). Bottom: Whipped Cream tinted green in this cookie parfait recipe from Yummly.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Three Crusts In One

    3 in 1 Pie Crust

    Why not make your pie or cheesecake with three crusts, with this idea from Reynolds Kitchns?

     

    Can’t decide which type of crust you want on your pie or cheesecake?

    Use two or three different crusts!

    This idea is from Reynolds Kitchens, which used gingersnap, chocolate wafer and vanilla wafer crumbs in one crust: something for everyone.

    Whenever you have a recipe with a cookie crust, try it with your own two or three favorite cookie types.

    We did, and decided we like chocolate cookie crust with a plain cheesecake (and even with a fruit topping), and gingersnap crust with a pumpkin cheesecake.

    That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

    Don’t you just love food fun?

     

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Crowd The Pan…& Use The Right Pan


    Top Chef Sylvain Harribey of the Sofitel New York shares this tip:

    When you cook, don’t overcrowd the pan with the ingredients. In a packed pan, foods end up steaming rather than caramelizing. This adds cooking time and subtracts taste.

    All ingredients should fit comfortably in one layer. Either use a pan that’s big enough for the job, or cook in batches as necessary.

    Need more tips? Head to YouTube and search for basic cooking lessons or specific techniques.
     
    SECOND TIP: USE THE RIGHT PAN

  • Skillet vs. Sauté Pan (Frying Pan): A skillet has low, sloped sides that help with evaporation and steam dissipation. It is used for browning and/or caramelizing, and for reducing sauces. The sloped sides make it easy to flip food and slide it out of the pan. A sauté pan has straight sides and can come with a lid. It is used for braising and pan frying; the high sides reduce splatters and keep in the moist heat.
  • Saucepan vs. Saucier: A saucepan has straight sides and is used for basic heating and boiling. A saucier is rounded and bowl-shaped, ideal for the preparation of sauces, custards, risotto and creamy foods. Unlike the saucepan, the saucier has no angle on the bottom where food can hide and burn; and the wider mouth is better for whisking.
  •  

    Roast Chicken

    Cook potatoes and other vegetables in one layer. The roast chicken was added after the potatoes were cooked. Photo of All-Clad skillet from Williams-Sonoma.

  • Griddle vs. Grill: A griddle is a heavy, flat cooking utensil. A grill is an open web on which foods are placed to directly expose them to fire.
  •  

      

    Comments

    ACADEMY AWARDS RECIPE: Popcorn Cupcakes

    Popcorn and a movie?

    How about popcorn cupcakes and a movie awards show?

    Jessica of PNP Flowers Inc. created these fun cupcakes with popcorn. The popcorn is both in the batter and a garnish on top of the icing.

    Why not whip up a batch for your Oscar nibbles?

    Here’s Jessica’s recipe; the original recipe is from the Food Network.

    More fun:

    Can you guess which country has the most motion picture award organizations, after the U.S.? The answer is in the footnote below.

    Here’s a list of film awards worldwide.

    For yet more fun, pull down the Holidays & Occasions menu at the right and select Academy Awards.

     

    popcorn-cupcake-pnpflowersincFB-230sq

    Cupcakes for the movies, with popcorn both inside and on top. Photo courtesy PNP Flowers Inc.

     
    *The country that bestows the second largest number of film awards is India.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Savory Galette

    Beet Galette

    Beet and Sweet Potato Galette from Vermont
    Creamery.

     

    Shoo the winter blues away with a colorful galette.

    In the pastry world, a galette is a rustic, open-face pie, made without a pie pan. It is flat, with a turned-up crust that wraps around the filling to create a “dough pan.” It can be round, square or oblong.

    Galette (gah-LET)—called crostata in Italian and rustic pie or rustic tart in English—hails from the days before people had pie plates, and the days after that when only the kitchens of the wealthy had them.

    Way before then, the precursor of the galette probably dates from the Neolithic Age, a.k.a. the New Stone Age, which lasted from about 10,200 B.C.E.and ending between 4,500 and 2,000 B.C.E. Thick cereal pastes—barley, oats, rye, wheat—were sweetened with honey and spread on hot stones to cook.

    The recipe below, from Vermont Creamery, uses their Spreadable Goat Cheese and Unsalted Cultured Butter.

    It can be served as a light lunch or brunch with salad and soup, or as a first course at dinner.

     
    The Most Exquisite Butter

    Palates, take note: Vermont Creamery’s cultured butter is churned to 86% butterfat. This is higher than most other butters available and creates an especially flaky and delicious pie crust.

    Supermarket butter is 80% butterfat, and most European-style butters are 82%-84%. We’ve only seen the 86% varieties from Vermont Creamery and California’s Straus Family Creamery. If you want the best butter, this is it.

    And, we must note: Our favorite butter for bread is Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Salted Butter. It’s amazing: We never use salted butter unless it’s this one, with the lightest touch of sea salt. It’s irresistible.

    See the different types of butter in our Butter Glossary.

     

    RECIPE: BEET & SWEET POTATO GALETTE

    Ingredients
     
    For The Crust

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1–2 tablespoons ice water
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 8 ounces spreadable goat cheese
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large red beet
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. PEEL the sweet potato and beet, then slice them into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Set them aside on separate plates, to keep the beets from bleeding onto the sweet potato slices.

     

    Squash Galette

    For summer, make the galette from zucchini and yellow squash. This example, from Good Eggs, shows an individual-size galette.

     
    3. PLACE the flour in large bowl and add the salt; stir to combine. Add the butter. Using two fork, knives or a hand-held dough blender, cut the butter into the flour, gently mixing to ensure that every crumb of butter is pea size and coated in flour. Once the butter is combined…

    4. ADD the ice water one tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough begins to take shape. Gently knead with your fingers to help bring the dough together. If needed, add additional water a little at a time. Once the dough is formed…

    5. SHAPE it into a disk and roll it into a rough circle on a piece of parchment, to a uniform thickness of ¼ inch. If you have trouble creating a uniform thickness, consider a pie crust mold for “perfect crusts every time.”

    6. SPREAD the goat cheese onto the dough, leaving an inch border around the edge. Layer rounds of the cut sweet potato and beets on top of goat cheese. Gently fold the bare edge of dough inwards on top of the layered vegetables, working around the entire circle.

    7. SPRINKLE the top of the galette with fresh thyme, salt and pepper and bake for 40–50 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and the crust is golden. Serve it hot from the oven, at room temperature or in-between.

      

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