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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

RECIPE: Chocolate Dougnut Holes

chocolate-donut-holes-1-kaminsky-230

Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet
Blog.

 

How about whipping up this wonderful chocolate treat for Father’s Day breakfast or brunch? It‘s sure to be a hit.

“You can do so much better by turning to your own kitchen rather the drive through for doughnut satisfaction” says cookbook author Hannah Kaminsky.

“A fear of frying puts many cooks off, but with a simple recipe and a healthy dose of caution, you’ll be rolling in hot, crispy doughnuts, fresher and tastier than anything you can buy. Cake-based doughnut holes fit the criteria beautifully: There’s no yeast that needs to awaken or dough to rise, no fussy shaping or cutting to speak of. You can just mix and fry at a moment’s notice.”

Hannah also enjoys the freedom to flavor your homemade treats in special ways. She hid mini marshmallows in the center of these chocolate doughnut holes, inspired by mugs of hot cocoa topped with a crown of mini mallows melting on top.

“The crisp, sugar-coated exterior gives way to the most moist chocolate cake you could hope to taste, the marshmallow in the center adding equal parts indulgence and nostalgia,” says Hannah.

 

She suggests cinnamon sugar or a spicy, cayenne-flecked sugar for an optional finishing touch. (Plain sugar will do nicely.)

 

RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUT HOLES

Ingredients For 20-30 Doughnut Holes

  • 20-30 mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 quart neutral oil, for drying
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon sugar or cayenne sugar
  •  

    chocolate-donut-holes-2-kaminsky-230

    Surprise: There’s a marshmallow inside! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the marshmallows in a single layer on a plate or small sheet pan and stash them in the freezer. They must be frozen solidly before going into the hot oil or they’ll melt away completely! Allow to freeze at least 30 minutes before using your icy mallows.

    2. MIX the batter. The batter comes together very quickly, so begin by pouring the oil into a medium pot with high sides and set over medium heat on the stove.

    3. WHISK together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Separately mix the milk, vinegar and olive oil; then blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir just until the batter comes together with no remaining pockets of dry goods. The mixture should be somewhat on the wet side and definitely sticky, but manageable.

    4. SCOOP out heaping tablespoons of the batter and stuff a single frozen marshmallow into the center of each. Use lightly moistened hands to shape the dough around the mallow, rounding the raw doughnut out into a rough ball and making sure that the marshmallow is fully sealed inside. Handle them gently, since the dough is very soft.

    5. HEAT the oil to 360°-370°F, then carefully lower 3-5 doughnut holes at a time into the pot. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning the doughnuts as needed to ensure even frying all over. The best way to tell if they’re done is to watch and listen to the oil. At first it will fizzle up madly and seem to almost hiss; but by the time the donuts are finished, the surface of the oil should be much calmer, and you will hear more of a pinging sound.

    6. USE a spider strainer (a.k.a. Asian strainer or wok strainer) or a slotted spoon to lift the doughnut holes from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Let them cool for at least 15 minutes before rolling in the additional granulated sugar, and serve as soon as possible.

    Reminds Hannah: “Donuts don’t get better with age, and I wouldn’t recommend keeping them beyond a day. Luckily, with doughnut holes this good, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with leftovers!”

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Stout Doughnut Holes With Bacon Jam

    doughnut-holes-bacon-jam-2-southwaterkitchen-chicago-230

    Doughnut holes filled with bacon jam. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    June 6th is National Donut Day, commemorating the “donut lassies,” female Salvation Army volunteers who provided doughnuts—and also writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals—for soldiers on the front lines.

    Approximately 250 Salvation Army volunteers provided assistance to American soldiers in France during World War I, starting in 1917.*

    The Salvation Army’s Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance cleverly thought of frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. With limited resources, these treats were fried, only seven at a time.

     
    *In 2013, 30 million Americans received assistance from The Salvation Army’s 3,600 officers, 60,000 employees and 3.4 million volunteers.

     
    Here’s a treat for today, and for your consideration for Father’s Day breakfast or brunch: stout-accented doughnut holes stuffed with bacon jam. It’s gourmet “man food.”

    The sweet and savory doughnut creation comes from chef Roger Waysok of the South Water Kitchen in Chicago, which specializes in pairing craft beers with its cuisine. Not surprisingly, there’s beer in the recipe.

     
    RECIPE: STOUT DOUGHNUT HOLES WITH BACON JAM & SALTED CARAMEL GLAZE

    Ingredients For 13-16 Doughnut Holes

  • .5 ounce fresh yeast
  • 1 cup stout
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  •  

    Preparation

    1. DISSOLVE yeast in warm beer (make sure beer is 100°-120°F).

    2. ADD flour and sugar; mix in a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.

    3. ADD vanilla and egg yolks one at a time, allowing eggs to incorporate into dough.

    4. ADD cream and butter, mixing well, slowly increasing speed to high. When dough pulls away from the side it is ready.

    5. COVER dough in a bowl and keep in at room temperature; allow to rise and double in size.

    6. PORTION dough and roll into small balls about an ounce in weight. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cover.

    7. REFRIGERATE for one hour, then deep fry at 350°F until golden brown. Set on paper towels to drain. Fill with bacon jam (recipe below).

     

    doughnut-holes-bacon-jam-southwaterkitchen-chicago-230

    Another view of doughnut holes with bacon jam. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    RECIPE: BACON JAM

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup stout
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK bacon and onions together in a pot until slightly brown. Add beer, balsamic and sugar. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until slightly thick, about 30 minutes.

    2. BLEND mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth and thick. Cool and mixture will thicken as it cools. Once cooled, fill doughnut holes with bacon jam using a piping bag.

     
    WHY STOUT?

    The darkest and heartiest of beers, stout is differentiated from other ale by its brown-black color, chocolate-coffee flavors and fuller body. This is achieved by brewing with barley that has been dark-roasted to the point of charring (think of espresso beans, compared to a medium-roast coffee).

    Stout is thus both darker and maltier than porter, has a more pronounced hop aroma, and may reach an alcoholic content of 6% to 7%. Stout originated in Ireland, where most traditional stouts are very rich, yet sharp and slightly bitter.

     
    DOUGHNUT VS. DONUT

    An old word for ball was nut; a doughnut is literally a nut (ball) of dough. The name was first used in print in 1809 by American author Washington Irving (using the pen name Diedrich Knickerbocker). The pastry he described resembled what we call doughnut holes today, rather than the styles of fried dough that evolved into rings or filled pastries.

    The spelling “donut” appeared some 100 years later but did not immediately catch on. That impetus goes to Dunkin’ Donuts, founded in 1950.

    Donut is a easier to write, but we prefer the old-fashioned elegance of doughnut. Take your choice.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Hummingbird Coffee Cake

    The recipe for Hummingbird Cake, a southern tradition like Red Velvet Cake, was first submitted by a reader to Southern Living magazine and published in the February 1978 issue.

    There was no explanation of the name, but Food Timeline cites a 1985 article in the Arkansas Gazette that says the cake also was called Cake That Doesn’t Last, Cake That Won’t Last, Granny’s Best Cake and Never Ending Cake. (We’re down with Hummingbird Cake.)

    Originally made as a layer cake (but also made into cupcakes), the batter includes bananas, crushed pineapple and pecans or walnuts, and the cake is filled and frosted with cream cheese frosting and typically topped with more chopped nuts. Think banana nut cake with pineapple and cinnamon.

    It’s popular for Mother’s Day, but why not make one for Dad?

    This recipe is by Annie for GoBoldWithButter.com. She adapted the layer cake into a brunch coffee cake.

     

    hummingbird-coffee-cake-goboldwithbutter-230

    Hummingbird Cake, a traditional southern layer cake, reinterpreted as a coffee cake. Photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter.

     

    Annie writes: “This year I decided to put a brunch-worthy spin on this classic Mother’s Day cake. The banana, pineapple and yogurt all ensure that this cake stays moist and tender. This cake is very simple to put together and is a lovely contribution for any brunch, Mother’s Day or otherwise.”

    She incorporated better-for-you ingredients, including whole wheat flour and lowfat yogurt. (It’s not a healthy recipe, but every little bit helps!)

    RECIPE: HUMMINGBIRD COFFEE CAKE

    Ingredients For 1 Cake/16 Servings

    For The Cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for preparing the pan
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 mashed bananas (about a scant 1 cup)
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pineapple
  •  

    hummingbird-cake-wholesomesweeteners-230

    The classic Hummingbird Cake was a layer
    cake. Photo courtesy Wholesome
    Sweeteners.

     

    For The Glaze

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
  •  
    Garnish

  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, macadamia nuts, or pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Thoroughly butter a bundt pan. Coat the inside with flour, tapping out the excess.

    2. COMBINE 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Whisk to blend; set aside.

     

    3. COMBINE butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Beat in the yogurt until well incorporated.

    4. TURN the mixer to low speed and beat in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas and then the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing just until incorporated. With a silicone spatula, gently fold in the coconut and chopped pineapple.

    5. TRANSFER the batter to the prepared bundt pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Let cool 20-30 minutes in the pan placed on a wire rack. Gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a knife, and carefully turn out onto the cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.

    6. MAKE the glaze: Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more confectioners’ sugar. If the glaze is too thick, whisk in additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and chopped nuts for garnish. Let glaze set before slicing and serving.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Easy Cheesecake Topping

    NY_Blueberry_Cheesecake_cheesecake.com-230r

    Make a blueberry topping for your
    cheesecake with fresh or frozen blueberries.
    Photo courtesy Cheesecake.com.

     

    May 26th is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. It may be hard to find a piece of blueberry cheesecake—cherry and strawberry are the popular berries toppings.

    But you can easily make your own, from fresh or frozen berries. A homemade sauce is much tastier than the gelled goop into which berries are set on many commercial cheesecakes.

    Then, just pick up a slice of cheesecake, top and celebrate. You can also use the berry topping on ice cream, pancakes, puddings and waffles.

    And you can bake your own cheesecake, too; and create a blueberry swirl cheesecake by swirling the topping into the batter. Here are some of our favorite cheesecake recipes.

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE TOPPING

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries or other berries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar (see Recipe Notes, below)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2
    tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon or orange zest (about 1
    tablespoon)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MIX the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl.

    2. COMBINE the blueberries, 1/2 cup of water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mix comes to a low boil.

    3. GENTLY STIR the cornstarch into the blueberries, taking care not to crush the fruit. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (about 5 minutes).

    4. REMOVE from heat; gently stir in the vanilla and zest. Cool; refrigerate until ready to use. Warm very slightly in the microwave for easy pouring.

     

    Blueberry_Swirl_Cheesecake_cheesecake.com-230sq

    You can also swirl the blueberry topping into the cheesecake batter. Photo courtesy Cheesecake.com.

     
    RECIPE NOTES

  • Adjust the amount of sugar to the sweetness of the berries. We don’t oversweeten, to allow the flavor of the blueberries to come through.
  • For a thinner sauce, slowly add water by the tablespoon until you reach your preferred consistency.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fondant Cake Topper

    Here’s an idea to turn a plain cake into a stunner for Mother’s Day. All you need is the cake, fondant and a cookie cutter.

    But there’s a bonus below: an absolutely delicious, old-fashioned ginger-sultana cake, courtesy of the England’s high-end food store chain, Waitrose.

    Whether you buy or bake the cake, people will ooh and ahh over the beautiful rosette topping.

    WHAT IS FONDANT

    Fondant (sometimes called fondant icing) is a coating for cakes that is made from sugar and water, cooked to the soft-ball stage and then stirred or beaten to a creamy mass. It dries to a smooth, opaque matte finish and can be colored and/or flavored or left white.

    Fondant is formed into a dough, rolled out and laid over cakes (typically wedding cakes) or petit fours. It not only gives the cakes a smooth and elegant appearance, but acts as a preservative and protection: The dense fondant keeps the cake underneath moist for the extra day it may take to assemble and transport. Also, fondant does not mar easily like buttercream.

     

    fondant-petals-waitrose-recipe-230

    A rosette cake topper, made from petals of fondant. Photo courtesy Waitrose.

     

    We enjoy the taste and texture of fondant, although some people don’t care for the thickness or flavor. It should be noted that commercial fondant, bought already prepared, does not achieve the glory of made-from-scratch fondant. Homemade fondant can be addictively delicious, especially to people who like marshmallows.
     
    Other Types Of Fondant

  • Poured fondant is very smooth and shiny and typically used for decorating and filling cakes.
  • Sculpting fondant can be formed, like marzipan, into shapes and embellishments.
  • In the world of confection (as opposed to cake and pastry), fondant has a different meaning altogether. Among other things, it’s the creamy, white crystalline filling for maraschino cherry and other bonbons. Here’s more in our Chocolate Glossary.
  •  

    fondant-white-fondarific-230

    It’s easy to make a beautiful petal topping
    with fondant: scoop, roll, cut, place. Photo
    courtesy Fondarific.

     

    RECIPE: ROSETTE GINGER CAKE

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 35–40 minutes. The cake serves 8–10.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1½ cups golden syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3 pieces stem ginger*, finely chopped, plus 2
    tablespoons syrup from the jar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour†
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups white fondant
  •  

    *You can buy or make stem ginger: Blanch peeled, diced fresh ginger in boiling water for about 10 seconds; drain water and repeat process two more times. In a different saucepan, make a sugar syrup and then add the ginger, simmering for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

    †Self-rising flour is flour with baking powder and salt already added. It is traditionally milled from softer, lower protein wheat; and it produces softer, more tender baked goods than all-purpose or higher-protein flours. If you don’t want to buy a bag, you can make a home version: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 356°F. Grease and line the base of an eight-inch-round cake pan with nonstick baking parchment.

    2. PLACE the butter, sugar, 1 cup of golden syrup and the chopped ginger and syrup together in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter has melted.

    3. PLACE the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and sultanas in a large bowl.

    4. WHISK together the eggs and milk in a pitcher. Pour the melted syrup mixture and the egg mixture into the bowl of flour and beat well with a wooden spoon until blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

    5. LEAVE the cake to cool in the pan, then invert the cooled cake onto a serving plate so that the flat bottom is on top. Brush with the remaining golden syrup.

    6. ROLL out the fondant on a sugar-dusted surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 1- to 1-1/2 inch diameter cookie cutter, stamp out as many discs as possible (you should get 55–60 pieces). Arrange an overlapping ring of fondant discs around the edge of the cake. Continue to arrange the overlapping discs towards the center of the cake, alternating the direction in which the circles overlap each other so that each ring forms a rosette pattern. Allow the icing to set for a couple of hours before slicing and serving.
     
    There are more than 5,000 recipes can on the Waitrose website. Dig in!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Scripture Cake For Easter

    gluttony-230-ps

    Fun for foodies: Gluttony focuses on the
    great feasts of history. Photo courtesy Ten
    Speed Press.

     

    In her new book, GLUTTONY: More IS More” (Red Rock Press), Nan Lyons, known for the wonderful novel and movie, Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, describes some of the most lavish feasts and singular dishes through culinary history.

    From the ancient Greeks and Romans to the founding chefs of classic cuisine—Carême, Escoffier and Brillat-Savarin—to the breathtaking appetites of history’s prize eaters (King Henry VIII and Diamond Jim Brady, for example), Ms. Lyons plumbs the path of gluttony with wit and style.

    Travel the paths of the the rich and famous who enjoy history’s greatest banquets and richest dishes. The book is illustrated with classical art works of people enjoying their food.

    The icing on the cake: You and your guests can eat like these lucky gourmands. A portfolio of recipes, created by food editors and writers E. Clarke Reilly and Sylvia Carter, adapts some of the book’s luxurious dishes for contemporary cooks.

    The book is available in hardcover and Kindle editions.

     

    This recipe, from the recipe portfolio, is simple and Easter-appropriate: Scripture Cake, made with ingredients from the Bible.

     

    SCRIPTURE CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1½ cups chopped dried figs (Nahum 3:12)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2¼ cups water (Judges 4:19)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (Revelation 18:13)
  • 1 cup softened butter (Psalms 55:21)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (I KINGS 10:2)
  • 2 cups sugar (Jeremiah 6:20)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons honey (Exodus 3:8)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 eggs (Isaiah 10:14)
  • 1 cup milk (Genesis 18:8)
  • 3¾ cups flour (Leviticus 24:5)
  • 1¾ cups chopped almonds (Numbers 17:8)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (II Kings 2:20)
  • 1½ cups raisins (I Samuel 30:12)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (Amos 4:5)
  •  

    scripture-cake-gluttony-redrockpress-230r

    The Scripture Cake from Gluttony. Photo courtesy Sylvia Carter.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 300°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

    2. SIMMER figs and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until figs are very soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

    3. CREAM together butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, until light and fluffy. Add honey. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix until well blended.

    4. PURÉE cooled figs and water until smooth. Strain purée through triple cheese-cloth to yield about a cup of fig essence.

    5. SIFT together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices in a clean bowl. Combine fig essence with milk and alternately mix fig milk and dry ingredients with egg mixture, ending with the dry mixture. Fold in chopped almonds and raisins.

    6. POUR batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour and 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs on it.

    7. COOL for 20 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely on cake rack. Makes 16 servings.
     
    We added a side of bourbon whipped cream as a garnish.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Matzoh Crunch (Bark) For Passover

    Passover begins on the evening of Monday, April 14th and ends on the evening of Tuesday, April 22nd. During that week, observant Jews refrain from bread and other food made with leavened grain.

    Matzoh replaces conventional bread.

    Passover is the story of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Bible relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the result, when baked, was matzoh (Exodus 12:39).

    We can argue over how to spell matzoh: matza, matzah and matzo are common variations (not to mention the plural forms, beginning with matzoth). But we won’t argue about how good chocolate-covered matzoh is, turning the humble unleaved bread into a crunchy chocolate confection.

    You can buy chocolate-covered matzoh, or you can make your own. Here’s a recipe from Golden Blossom, which makes honey that is kosher for Passover.

    You can make the recipe with dark, milk or white chocolate, and with different nuts (we like pistachios).

     

    matzoh-crunch-goldenblossomhoney-230sq

    Matzoh crunch, chocolate “bark” made with crunchy matzoh. Photo courtesy Golden Blossom Honey.

     

    The recipe has a variety of names; among others, chocolate matzoh, matzoh bark, matzoh buttercrunch, matzoh cookie, matzoh crunch, matzoh toffee, and even the questionable matzoh crack.

    Here’s a second “recipe from Marcy Goldman, who calls it “matzo toffee.”

     

    chocolate-matzoh-burdick-230

    Burdick Chocolate and others dip whole
    boards of matzoh in chocolate, and scatter
    nuts, dried fruits or other ingredients on top.
    It is available from BurdickChocolate.com from
    April 7th through April 22nd, and is not
    kosher for Passover.

     

    RECIPE: HONEY ALMOND MATZOH CRUNCH
    (A.K.A. MATZO BARK)

    Active preparation time is 20 minutes; total time is 2 hours. Note that the recipe below produces “just” two boards of matzoh. The 16 pieces won’t last very long!

    Ingredients For About 16 Pieces

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 matzohs, coarsely crumbled (about 1 cup
    crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Large flake sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling
  • Optional: dried cherries or cranberries, dessicated or flaked coconut
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If using foil, generously butter the foil (parchment paper is naturally nonstick). Set aside.

    2. COMBINE honey and butter in a 2-3 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to boil. Insert a candy thermometer into the bubbling mixture and continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally to prevent scorching, until it is deep amber in color and measures 275°-285ºF, about 8 minutes.

    3. REMOVE from heat and add vanilla extract (be careful as it will spatter). Stir in crumbled matzo pieces, slivered almonds and optional dried cherries until evenly coated. Pour into prepared baking pan and spread into an even layer.

    4. SPRINKLE chocolate chips evenly over top of hot candy. Let sit for 5 minutes, then spread into an even layer using an offset spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours or until set, then cut or break into bite size pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Bird’s Nest Cheesecake

    This cheesecake gift from Harry & David is inspired by the chirping birds of spring, who decorate the top with a “nest” of premium chocolate shavings that holds a few bright blue candy almond robin’s eggs.

    The creamy cheesecakes also feature a chocolate cookie crust and a chocolate ganache layer on top.

    The two New York style cheesecake cheesecakes are 5.5 inches in diameter, enough for four people or a big piece for two.

    A delicious gift for a cheesecake lover or a special occasion dessert, the Bird’s Nest Cheesecakes duo is $29.95 at HarryAndDavid.com.
     
    BAKE YOUR OWN

    Here are some of our favorite cheesecake recipes.

     

    birds-nest-cheesecake-harrydavid-230w

    Cheesecakes for springtime. Photo courtesy Harry & David.

     

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Danny Macaroons

    Passover is around the corner, and macaroons are on the menu. The soft, coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets. (They’re gluten-free, too.)

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is one of the country’s—and probably the world’s—great macaroon makers. Beyond his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age.

    The cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not kosher for Passover. Still, those who observe the spirit of the law if not the letter of it, will enjoy every bite.

    DANNY MACAROON FLAVORS

    Just take a look at these choices:

     

    the-macaroon-bible-230

    Get the book and bake your own! Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
  • Baileys McRoons
  • Bourbon
  • Black Chocolate Stout
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Chocolate Banana Nut
  • Chocolate Caramel
  • Chocolate Dipped
  • Chocolate Malted
  • Guava
  • Jamstand Surprise with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam
  • Maple Pecan Pie
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Plain Coconut
  • Red Velvet
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spiced Pumpkin
  • Stoopid, coconut macaroons are filled with potato chips, pretzels and pieces of Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate (how this relates to stupid, we can’t say)
  •  
    Get yours at DannyMacaroons.com.

     

    box-danny-macaroons-southportgrocery-230

    How many flavors do we want? All of them!
    Photo courtesy Southport Grocery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    “Macaroon” means different things to different people. To some, it’s a big ball of coconut, to others, a delicate, airy meringue. Both are delicious and neither is made with flour, making them options for gluten-free observers and for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

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

    Macaroons traveled to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening, the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, such as baking powder and baking soda (instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites).

     

    The recipe was introduced to other European Jews and became popular for Passover as well as a year-round sweet.Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds in Jewish macaroons, and, in certain recipes, completely replaced them.

    Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues that became the norm in France.

    Here’s more macaroon history.

      

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    PASSOVER: Flourless Persian Pistachio Cake

    This recipe comes via Chef Jennifer Abadi and Zabar’s. The aromatic, citrus notes of cardamom add flair to a simple cake.

    Preparation time is one hour; the cake yields eight to ten servings.

    RECIPE: FLOURLESS PERSIAN PISTACHIO CAKE
    WITH CARDAMOM SYRUP

    Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  •  
    Wet Ingredients

  • 3 extra large eggs (or 4 large eggs), lightly beaten
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
  •  

    flourlesss-persian-pistachio-cake-jenniferAbadi-zabars-230

    Ground nuts replace flour in cakes for Passover. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     
    For Decoration

  • 3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, as decoration
  •  

    cardamom-pods-farmgirlgourmet-230

    Cardamom pods. Photo courtesy Heather
    Scholten | Farmgirl Gourmet.

      For Cardamom-Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Few pinches black pepper
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 crushed cardamom pods
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. POUR pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they become a fine meal-like consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the matzoh meal and pulse together an additional minute.

    3. POUR ground pistachio mixture into a medium size bowl and combine with remaining dry ingredients.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

     

    5. POUR the batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with whole pistachios. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and center of cake is soft but not wet (cake should still be fairly moist). Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.

    6. COMBINE the sugar, salt, pepper, and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a bubbling simmer over medium heat. Add the ground cardamom and cardamom pods, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the liquid will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.

    7. REMOVE cake from oven and cool 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature sprinkled with the cardamom-sugar syrup.

      

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