Strawberry Nutella Mini Pies

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Ingredients:

  • Homemade (recipe here) or store-bought pie dough
  • 2 cups (300 grams) strawberries, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup Nutella
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract.

Roll the dough out into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. Use a 3 or 4-inch round cutter to cut dough into rounds. Spoon some chocolate hazelnut spread onto half of the circles. Top with some of the strawberry mixture. Brush edges with the egg wash. Top with the other half of the circles and press to seal. Use the back of a fork to press a decorative edge around the pies. Cut vents into the top of each pie.

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Brush tops of hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling through the vents. Let cool slightly and serve immediately. Hand pies are best the day they are baked, but will keep at room temperature for a few days.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

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Ingredients:

CUPCAKES

  • 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 egg whites*
  • 1/4 cup (62g) yogurt (I used vanilla Greek)
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

STRAWBERRY FILLING

  • 2 cups diced strawberries (about 10 medium strawberries finely diced)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (16g) cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons warm water to rid clumps

STRAWBERRY WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tablespoons (43g) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • reserved 1/2 cup of strawberry filling

Directions:

Make the strawberry filling first. Place the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 4 full minutes until the strawberry juices have been released. Add the sugar and cornstarch/water liquid and continue to stir for another 2 minutes. The mixture will be much thicker. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prepare the cupcakes.

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Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar – mixture will be gritty. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Split 1 vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape seeds from half of the vanilla bean into batter.

Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.

Divide batter among 12 cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.

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Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cupcake to create a little pocket about 1/2 inch deep. Place 1 teaspoon of strawberry filling inside and top with the piece of cupcake you removed to seal. See photos above. Repeat with all 12 cupcakes. You will have leftover filling to use in the whipped cream.

Make the strawberry whipped cream: In a large bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form, about 4-5 full minutes. Add the remaining strawberry filling and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Frost the cupcakes with the strawberry whipped cream. You may have some whipped cream leftover.

Cover and store cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Whipped cream and filling may be made 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Serve cupcakes chilled.

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Baked Apple Donuts

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Apple Donuts

Adapted from Shutter Bean.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 medium apples, peeled & shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray donut pans with cooking spray & set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples. Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pans until almost full. Baked until golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 15-20 minutes.

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Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Follow recipe here and add 1 tsp. cinnamon. Spread frosting on top of donuts.

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.

Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.

Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.

Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while whisking. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.

Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.

Drizzle on top of cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

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Vanilla Bean Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp milk
  • Sprinkles (optional but recommended)

In a  bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt then stir in 2 Tbsp of milk, adding additional milk 1 tsp at a time to reach desired consistency and whisk until smooth. Dip donuts in glaze or spread on top and add sprinkles.

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Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies but noticed I didn’t have any brown sugar in my pantry. Determined to satistfy my craving, I adapted a standard chocolate chip cookie to adjust for no brown sugar. The cookies turned out soft and a little chewy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and blend until combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips Photo Apr 26, 8 11 32 PM
  5. Form heaping tablespoons of dough on the baking sheet two inches apart.
  6. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until lightly golden.

Additions: I added 1/2 cup oats and 1/2 cup of coconut flakes to half of the batter to make Coconut Oat Chocolate Chip cookies (seen below). Feel free to add nuts or any other additions when you add the chocolate chips!

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Pistachio Layer Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Pistachio Cake

Adapated from Baked Explorations’ Aunt Sassy Cake

Ingredients for the cake:

1 cup shelled pistachios (plus 1/3 cup for decorating)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups ice-cold water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients for the Honey Vanilla Buttercream:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoon honey

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.

In the bowl of food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer about 2 tablespoons’ worth of the coarse pistachios to a large bowl. Continue to process the rest of the pistachios until they are almost powdery, but not a superfine dust. Stir the pistachio powder into the reserved coarse pistachios. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt, together over the large bowl containing the pistachios mix. Stir to combine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the whole egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixture to low.

In a measuring cup, make 1 1/2 cups ice water. Add the flour mixture to the mixer in three parts, alternating with the ice water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. For each addition, turn the mixer to low to add ingredients, then up to medium speed for a few seconds until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low-speed for a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (You can do this by hand. Don’t be intimidated, it should only take 2 to 3 minutes). Do not over beat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

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Make the honey vanilla buttercream:
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment. Beat on high until cool (this takes at least 7 to 9 minutes of mixing) then add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and honey and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bow over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for bout 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as the crumb coating and will help keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with crushed pistachios and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to it firm up before serving.

This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature for up to 3 days, if the weather is humidity free. Otherwise, put it in a cake saver and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Let the cake sit a room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Classic Pie Dough

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This basic pie dough recipe can be used for any of your favorite recipes that call for pie crust.

Yields 2 balls of dough, enough for two single-crust 9-inch pies or one double-crust pie.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ice water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together. In a measuring cup, stir 3/4 cup water with several ice cubes until it is very cold.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss them in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter pieces are the size of hazelnuts.

Pulsing in 4-second bursts, slowly drizzle the ice water into the food processor.

As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, stop adding water. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour. (The dough can stay refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months)

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An Apple Pie made using this Classic Pie Dough recipe.
An Apple Pie made using this Classic Pie Dough recipe.

Coffee Ice Cream with Oreo Cookies

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Makes one quart of ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of Oreo cookie pieces

Directions:

Put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the heavy cream, milk, sugar, salt, and instant espresso powder. Bring the mixture to a slow, consistent simmer (just this side of a boil) and remove from heat.

Whisk the egg yolks until just combined (don’t overmix), then slowly stream in half of the hot coffee cream mixture while whisking constantly. Tranfer the egg mixture back to the medium saucepan containing the other half of the coffee cream mixture. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the Kahlua, and let mixture cool to room temperatue.

Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Pour into ice cream machine and freeze, following the manufacturer’s instructions. In last five minutes, add Oreo cookie pieces. Transer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze until firm.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine, follow these instructions on how to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker: 

1. Prepare the custard base as directed in the recipe (including chill time in the refrigerator).

2. Remove custard from the refrigerator and stir with a rubber spatula. Transfer the mixture to a freezer-safe bowl or container (if not already in one). Cover tightly with plastic wrap or an airtight cover. Place in the freezer and allow to freeze for 2 hours.

3. Remove from the freezer and beat with a hand mixer to break up the ice crystals that are beginning to form. Cover and place back in freezer for 2 more hours.

4. Remove from the freezer and beat again with the hand mixer. The ice cream should be thick but too soft to scoop. If it is not thick enough, return it to the freezer for additional freezing time. Beat again. If the ice cream has thickened properly, stir in any add-ins at this point (chocolate chips, cookie chunks, etc.). Do not beat with the hand mixer after the add-ins have been mixed in.

5. Pour into a plastic airtight freezer container, leaving at least ½-inch space at the top. Cover and place the container in the freezer and allow the ice cream to freeze until firm.