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Espresso Gelato

April 3rd, 2009

Espresso Gelato.

I love coffee ice cream, but lately I wanted something with a stronger coffee flavor than you usually find in most store-bought ice creams. I’ve made ice cream with reduced espresso and espresso powder, but I really wanted to bring the coffee flavor to the next level—to eleven, naturally.

Espresso Gelato.There are a number of recipes that use coffee grounds, and the key to using coffee grounds is to use very coarsely ground coffee. A fine sieve or chinois is also very useful, but some tiny grounds can still pass through. Fortunately, each time you pour the gelato base from one container to another, fine coffee grounds are left behind. I also opted for a more gelato-like dairy base in this recipe by using twice as much milk as cream.

I also added some espresso powder to add more coffee flavor since too much coffee grounds can be overpowering. This gelato is definitely for the coffee lover, but you can also reduce or eliminate the coffee grounds and replace with 2 tablespoons of espresso powder to produce a milder flavor.

Ingredients for making Espresso Gelato.

Add 1/4 cup of very coarsely ground espresso coffee grounds to 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 cups of whole milk.

Add 1 tablespoon of espresso powder.

Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until simmering. Remove from heat.

Pour mixture through a chinois or sieve to filter out coffee grounds.

With mixer on low, slowly add 3/4 cup of sugar to 5 egg yolks. Increase speed and beat until color lightens and mixture is fluffy.

With mixer on low, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks and sugar.

Return custard base to saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture reaches about 165° F.

Pour mixture through chinois or sieve again to strain out any egg bits. Place in ice bath.

Once the gelato base is no longer hot, add 1 tablespoon of Kahlúa and stir to mix. Continue chilling until it reaches 45° F or colder.

Pour gelato base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Transfer gelato to dedicated, odor-free container and let ripen in the freezer for several hours before serving

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Espresso Gelato recipe page.

Apricot Bread

January 18th, 2009

Apricot Bread.

My grandmother has been making this delicious recipe for Christmas afternoon gatherings for as long as I remember. Already a huge fan of apricots, this is by far my favorite thing she would serve. This year she was unable to make them, and so I offered to make them since it would also be a great recipe for this blog. They were so good that I made the recipe twice in one week over the holidays—and again last week since I needed to retake some photos since I over chopped the apricots on the second batch.

Apricot Bread.One thing that surprises most people about this recipe is how little fat is in it. If you opt to skip the frosting (which is mostly cream cheese), it comes down to 1 egg and 4 tablespoons of butter per loaf of bread and that’s it for the fat content. Tasting the bread you would never be able to tell it was this healthy. The apricot bits go a long way to giving the bread some body and depth along with a nice tangy zing. I really don’t care about things being low fat, but I mention this since I know there are many who do. The frosting has a great orange flavor thanks to some orange zest and is a must in my opinion.

I made a batch for a New Year’s Eve party and some of the guests were so enamored with these that they insisted that I sell the bread to Starbucks. I brought the latest batch into work and people were genuinely surprised at how good they were. Some were expecting a dry fruitcake given the appearance of apricot bits and were pleasantly surprised to find how moist and delicious these are.

Although it may look like a bit of work from the abridged set of photos below, the use of a food processor goes a long way towards making these pretty easy to make.

Ingredients for making Apricot Bread.

Hydrate 11 ounces of dried apricots in 2 cups of water. Heat over medium heat until water is simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let soak.

Combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar in food processor and process until smooth.

Strain the apricots and reserve 1/2 cup of the water.

Pour 1 cup of orange juice to into food processor with 1/2 cup of the apricot water you strained.

Combine 4 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt and stir until blended.

Dump dry ingredients into food processor and pulse until just blended.

Add hydrated apricots and carefully pulse processor only just until pieces are chopped.

Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts and fold until blended.

Grease two bread pans and line botoms with greased wax paper. Non-stick spray with flour works great.

Spoon dough evenly into each greased bread pan and let rest for 20 minutes. You can preheat oven to 350° F while it rests.

Bake in 350° F oven for 55 – 60 minutes. Immediately remove from pans, remove wax paper and transfer loaves onto wire rack to cool.

Cream together 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of orange zest.

Beat frosting until smooth.

Once bread has cooled, slice and spread frosting on one side of two slices before pairing to make a sandwich. Serve slightly chilled.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Apricot Bread recipe page.

Cranberry Bread

December 2nd, 2008

Cranberry Bread.

I was telling a coworker about my candymaking and baking a couple weeks ago and she mentioned that she had a great recipe for cranberry bread that was a Thanksgiving staple in her family for many years. My grandmother makes truly wonderful apricot bread during the holidays (Yes, I’m getting the recipe), so I was really interested in this cranberry bread. She emailed it to me and off I went to get some fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Bread.When it came time to make the recipe, I noticed an unusual amount of orange juice in the recipe (it was called twice), so I went online to look for the recipe, since she said it was from an old cookbook entitled, Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin. This book appears to be out of print, but you can still find it online at a premium. A quick search on the web quickly revealed that this is a popular recipe, and I quickly found the error in the recipe and proceeded to make it with confidence.

I was pleased to be able to use my standard-sized food processor, which otherwise gets used maybe once every couple years. The recipe is super easy to make, and I was pleased I could reuse the unwashed food processor bowl for chopping the cranberries. The smell of this bread baking is wonderful and perfect for the holidays. The finished bread is delicious with a slightly dense texture—like banana bread—and nearly as moist. If you really love cranberries you can omit the golden raisins and double the cranberries, but I decided to play it safe my first time around with this recipe.

Ingredients for making Cranberry Bread.

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and mix until blended.

Add 1/4 cup of chilled butter to flour mixture and pulse in food processor until butter bits are pea sized.

Use a microplane zester to remove 1 teaspoon of zest from an orange.

Add the zest, 1 beaten egg and 3/4 cup of orange juice to flour mixture, folding in liquid until evenly moist.

Add 1 1/2 cups of golden raisins.

Add 1 1/2 cups of chopped, fresh cranberries.

Spoon mixture into greased bread pan.

Bake in 350° F oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Cranberry Bread recipe page.

Kiwi Lime Sorbet

October 19th, 2008

Kiwi Lime Sorbet.

I’ve always wanted to make a sorbet with a delicate fruit like kiwifruit. Fruits with subtle flavors usually aren’t appropriate for soloing in sorbets, so I thought pairing kiwis with limes might be a nice idea (apparently others do, too). Lime by itself would probably be too tart, so this seemed like a good way to make a lime flavored sorbet.

I opted to combine flavor extracted from lime rind with some of the fresh juice so I could get plenty of lime flavor and a little fresh zing from the juice. Finally, a little limoncello added to the mix and the resulting texture was wonderful without any hint of iciness.

At first I thought the lime flavor was a little strong, but it mellowed out after a few days. The kiwi flavor is subtle, and the lime does a good job at keeping things interesting. This sorbet recipe is fresh, unique, and goes well with spicy foods.

Ingredients for making Kiwi Lime Sorbet.

Grate the rind from about 4 limes to yield about a tablespoon of zest.

Gently boil 3/4 cups of sugar in 1/2 cup of water with the lime zest for about 10 minutes.

Peel about 10 to 12 kiwis, removing white core if desired.

Juice 2 of the limes. A little juice goes a long way with the mild kiwis.

Pour the juice into blender with peeled kiwis and reduced sugar/zest water.

Purée mixture just until smooth. The delicate kiwi seeds will start to break down if you over blend.

Use a chinois or sieve to remove the seeds from the kiwi purée.

Add 1/4 cup of Limoncello to the sorbet base and stir until blended.

Chill sorbet base in an ice bath until less than 45° F.

Pour chilled base into ice cream maker and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Transfer finished sorbet to an odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Kiwi Lime Sorbet recipe page.

Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream

September 1st, 2008

Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.

One of the challenges of having a food blog—or any blog—is coming up with new content relevant to the blog’s focus. With the site being nearly 2 years old, I’ve kind of used up most of the recipes that I have been making for a decade or longer (I’ve still got a couple left for a rainy day). On the plus side, this is real incentive to try new things. I experimented with a couple nut caramel recipes last month that I hope to have ready for this year’s holiday candymaking run. I didn’t even bother taking pictures since I was just experimenting. Getting the camera involved—playing with white balance, exposure and other camera settings—really slows down the process, so it’s nice when I do bother to take photos and it pays off.

Looking for inspiration
Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.I was watching Everyday Italian on the food network about a week ago when I noticed a rarely seen, cleavage-free Giada using mascarpone cheese in a dessert. I have never tasted mascarpone outside of tiramisu, so I was eager to try this ingredient in a dessert. I thought it would make a great addition to an ice cream, and my wife agreed that a raspberry ice cream would be yummy.

I poked around to see if there were any existing mascarpone ice cream recipes and found the same strawberry mascarpone ice cream on numerous sites, but it was really just a vanilla mascarpone ice cream with sliced strawberries folded in. I noted the amount of mascarpone used and then went to study my strawberry ice cream and raspberry sorbet recipes for guidance. The resulting recipe turned out great.

The mascarpone and raspberry really balance each other out nicely. The zing of the raspberry and the cheese flavors of the mascarpone battle each other to produce a delightfully smooth, creamy tasting ice cream. What’s really surprising is how the mascarpone almost makes the raspberries (which there are 3 pints of) taste a little like strawberry. It’s nice when you take a chance and it works out; we’re really enjoying this ice cream.

Ingredients for making Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream.

Heat 1 cup of whole milk over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.

Beat 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy.

With mixer running, slowly pour the simmering milk into the beaten egg and sugar mixture.

Return this mixture to the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches about 165° F. Place in ice bath to cool.

Once the custard base is room temperature, stir in 8 ounces of mascarpone cheese. Use electric mixer or whisk to ensure it is completely blended. Return to ice bath.

Rinse 3 pints of raspberries and purée with 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth.

Use a chinois or sieve to remove the seeds from the raspberry purée. Blend strained raspberries into custard base.

Add 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier to the ice cream base and stir until blended.

Beat 1 cup of heavy cream until just slightly thickened and stir into ice cream base.

Continue to chill in the ice bath until about 45° F.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions and transfer to odor-free container to ripen in the freezer for several hours.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and photo gallery can be found on the Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream recipe page.

Chocolate Whirligigs

August 9th, 2008

Chocolate Whirligigs.

I first made this recipe while in college and brought a few samples to class to share with some classmates. It was the beginning of the quarter and I didn’t know my new classmates well yet, so when I offered them some cookies and said that I had made them, they didn’t believe me. Apparently, not too many guys make cookies in college, so I had to describe in detail both the ingredients and how I made them before they reluctantly acknowledged that maybe I really had made them.

I don’t make a lot of refrigerator roll cookies since they are definitely a bit more effort than drop-style cookies. This is clearly evidenced by the 27 pictures in the complete recipe gallery. Nevertheless, the break that chilling dough in the refrigerator affords can sometimes be welcome. I took advantage of this and made these cookies over three days.

Chocolate Whirligigs.This was also the first recipe I had to try out my new rolling pin rings. I was thinking about making some myself when I saw these in a specialty shop in Santa Cruz. These little rings come in several thicknesses and go on your rolling pin, making it nearly impossible to roll dough of uneven thickness. A big pastry board or surface definitely helps, and your rolling pin can’t be curved. Getting each layer to be a nice rectangle is enough trouble, so I appreciated not having to worry about the thickness.

These cookies were pretty forgiving when it came to browning. I was a little worried once I realized after rolling that I was going to have chocolate edges on the cookies, which makes for more difficult diagnosis of doneness since the edges are already brown. I used the vanilla portions of the cookies as a guide and aimed for very light browning, which yielded a very delicate cookie, but you can also go for more pronounced browning if you want a crisper cookie.

The original recipe called for unsweetened chocolate, and although there are now excellent brands of unsweetened chocolate like Scharffen Berger, I opted to toss in the 87% Dagoba bar I had sitting around since it was also exactly 2 ounces. As much as I love dark chocolate, even I have limits, and 87% is just too dark for nibbling on. If you are curious, my preference is 72% – 76%. Even though 2 ounces didn’t seem like much, the chocolate flavor in the cookies is wonderful.

Take your time, roll out the dough carefully, and you just might have to convince people you made these yourself, too.

Ingredients for making Chocolate Whirligigs.

Mix 1 cup of room temperature butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg yolks and 2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy.

Slowly mix in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk. Beat thoroughly until smooth.

Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 3 cups of flour and gently mix with whisk until blended.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even mixing.

Roll the dough into a ball and split into equal halves.

Slowly melt 2 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave using short, 10 second bursts, stirring between heatings. Mix the melted chocolate into one half of the dough.

Wrap each half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Roll each dough half on lightly floured wax paper into a 9 x 13 inch rectangle. Trim edges as needed to get a nice rectangle, dusting rolling pin with flour as needed.

Make sure each half is the same size rectangle as any discrepancies in size will need to be trimmed and sacrificed to the dough tasters.

Carefully invert one layer over the other and remove the top sheet of wax paper. Tightly roll the dough from the short side into a roll, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator and gently press and roll it to get it back into round as best you can. Slice the dough into 3/8 inch slices. Slice all the dough at once or return to fridge between sheets, as slicing is difficult when dough warms.

Place cookie slices on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake in 375° F oven for 8 – 11 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Immediately remove cookies from baking sheets and transfer to cooling racks.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and exhaustive photo gallery can be found on the Chocolate Whirligigs recipe page.