Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Christmas is a fantastic time for baking, but anytime is a good time for shortbread. This version is so simple and easy, young children can do the whole process, and it's a great way to include them in the kitchen. Shortbread takes on a rich flavor by aging a few days, so make a double batch to set some aside - at our house it's a miracle if there is any left the next day.  If you need a quick hostess gift, whip up a batch and place some bars (or use cookie cutters for shapes, omitting the chocolate chips) in a tin or baker's box lined with parchment paper. Tie a ribbon on it and give with confidence.

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup premium dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Madagascar vanilla

Whisk the sugar into the butter until it is creamy. Add half the flour gently using a wooden spoon until combined. Pour the vanilla over the chocolate chips and stir, then add to the batter and fold in. Add the remaining flour and blend.

Bake in a well-buttered 9x12 pan at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. It's done when the top is starting to firm and the edges are golden, pulling away a bit from the sides of the pan. Remove and scoreline bars, then let cool before removing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

French Onion Soup

There's nothing quite as satisfying as a bowl of French Onion soup on a grey autumnal afternoon. Light a fire in the fireplace while it simmers. It's simple and will warm you through, and onions are reported to boost the immune system, a perfect foil to the season's colds.

One each red, yellow and white onion
Plenty of butter, about a stick or so
1 tablespoon flour
Dash sugar
Tone's beef base
4 cups water

Chop onions and place in a heavy pot. Simmer with butter and beef base until caramelized, stirring often. Once the onions are soft and ready, stir in the flour and sugar and simmer for three minutes or so, to thicken. Add the water and simmer for thirty minutes or more.

Spoon it into a bowl and cover with a slice of French bread and gruyere, then toast in the oven to melt the cheese.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


2 cups (475 ml) of Graham cracker crumbs (from a little less than 2 packages Graham crackers)
2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
5 Tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted
2 pounds cream cheese (900 g), room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar (270 g)
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream (160 ml)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (160 ml)
2 cups sour cream (475 ml)
1/3 cup powdered sugar (35 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces (340 g) fresh raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 g)
1/2 cup water (120 ml)
Special equipment needed
9-inch, 2 3/4-inch high springform pan
Heavy-duty, 18-inch wide aluminum foil
A large, high-sided roasting pan

Prepare the crust
place springform pan on foil wrap first layer of foil around pan
wrap second layer of foil around pan finish wrapping foil
1 Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking. Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don't create any holes in the foil. If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan. To be triply safe, repeat with a third layer of heavy duty foil. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan.
2 Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lower third of oven. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Use your (clean) hands to stir in the melted butter.
use your hands to press down graham cracker crumbs form even layer of graham cracker crumbs
3 Put all but 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the springform pan. (Save the remaining 1/4 cup for if you happen to have any holes that need to be filled in, either while you are making the crust, or after the cake has cooked and you've unmolded it.) Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan. Be careful as you do this, as not to tear the aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the filling
place cream cheese in mixer beat until smooth
4 Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more. Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate.
Cook the cheesecake
place pan in high sided roasting pan pour cheesecake filling into pan
place pan on roasting rack in oven pour hot water into roasting pan to create a water bath for the cheesecake
5 Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.) Cook at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours.
6 Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the oven door 1-inch, and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking.
7 Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn't actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
Prepare sour cream topping
8 Place sour cream in a medium sized bowl, stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla, until smooth. Chill until you are ready to serve the cake.
Note that this recipe produces enough sour cream topping for a thick topping and some extra to spoon over individual pieces of cheesecake, if desired. If you would like a thinner layer of topping and no extra, reduce the sour cream topping ingredients in half.
Prepare the raspberry sauce
crush raspberries and sugar in small saucepan heat and whisk raspberries
9 Place raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Use a potato masher to mash the raspberries. Heat on medium, whisking, about 5 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Let cool.
Prepare the cake to serve
run blunt knife around edge of pan to separate cheesecake from pan remove springform pan from cheesecake
spread top of cheesecake with sour cream cheesecake is ready to serve
10 Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Remove the foil from the sides of the pan, and place the cake on your cake serving dish. Run the side of a blunt knife between the edge of the cake and the pan. Dorie recommends, and we've done with success, that you use a hair dryer to heat the sides of the pan to make it easier to remove. Open the springform latch and gently open the pan and lift up the sides. Spread the top with the sour cream mixture. Serve plain or drizzled with raspberry sauce.
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Recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Used with permission from author.

Read more: Baking: From My Home to Yours

Simple Ice Cream Cake

How to Make the World's Easiest Ice Cream Cake

Memorial Day marks the official kickoff of summer entertaining season—which means there's never been a better time to add a few winners to your warm weather dessert repertoire. Like this one: an insanely easy (and unbelievably delicious) ice cream cake that's infinitely customizable and—thanks to a few store-bought shortcuts—requires only a few minutes of your time and inches of freezer space.

You will need: Whipped cream, 10 ice cream sandwiches, and 2 pints of ice cream in the flavor(s) of your choice. These are going to be your cake's layers, so you can go any direction you want—Sour cherry! Salted caramel! Pistachio honey! Peanut butter! Or maybe you're a bit more traditional. Grab one pint of chocolate and one pint of strawberry to do a riff on the classic Neapolitan. Or try espresso ice cream (as we did in this photo) and aim for a decidedly adult, mocha version.

Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a couple of inches hanging over each of the long sides. These pieces will act like handles, making it easier to remove the cake from the pan once frozen.

(You want the ice cream to be spreadable but not liquid.) In the bottom of the loaf pan, place 5 ice cream sandwiches in a single flat layer, chocolate "cookie" side down, trimming them to fit as needed. Cover the sandwiches with 1½ cups of ice cream (this will be about ¾ of a pint), smoothing it out to form an even layer about ¾- to 1-inch thick. Cover that with another layer of sandwiches, and then another layer of ice cream, spreading it so that it is even. Make sure the ice cream is smooth and packed tightly, then cover the entire loaf pan neatly with plastic wrap.

When ready to serve, lift it out of the pan using the parchment paper handles and transfer it to a large plate.

To serve, slice cake into thick, striped pieces.

(It should yield about 8 servings.) Top each slice with whipped cream and the garnish of your choice. Brandied cherries? Espresso powder? Toasted nuts? Rainbow sprinkles? Cocoa nibs? Good news: You've got all summer to perfect your recipe.

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