Tag Archives: vanilla

Reaching for the ‘clouds’ for the New Year!

Well hello to everyone… yes I realize it has been quite a while since my last posting, but there were many obstacles that prevented me from having the time to focus. Hopefully this will be a new blogging beginning for the New Year!
With 2015 finally upon us and an annual Holiday get-together with our friends approaching tonight, I felt this would be the best time to kickstart everything into motion.
Starting with ‘what can I bring’ to our amazing hostess, the words ‘how about dessert’ was music to my ears! After thinking about something out of the norm, I settled on a triple layered hazelnut mocha pavlova, with a hazelnut liquor cream filling…
It all started yesterday by roasting hazelnuts [the amount is your choice, but I went with six ounces] in the oven and also melting milk and dark chocolates [another six ounces] over simmering water. Both were set aside to cool…
While the nuts and melted chocolates cooled, six egg whites were whipped with a pinch of kosher salt until soft peaks formed, from there the sugar began to slowly get added until the whites became glossy and stiff. Once stiff peaks were evident, vanilla and almond extracts were added and the mixer then turned off. The chopped hazelnuts and a cup of chocolate chips were gently folded into the shiny pillowy mixture, as well as the cooled, melted chocolate to create a lovely marbled wonder.
Poured onto three parchment drawn discs and spread out, it was then into the 225*F oven for two and a half hours. Once cooked, the door was opened and the pavlova’s left to cool completely.
For the whipped filling, I beat cream and some hazelnut liquor until firm. This boozy filling was spread on each layer and stacked. The pavlova tier was popped into the refrigerator to ‘set-up’ overnight and then this edible beauty was dressed with some shaved dark chocolate on top before packing up and heading to the party!
The end result… crisp exterior with a slightly chewy center and a creamy delight to hold everything together… a total favorite!
What will I bake next???






















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blond[ies] have more fun!

So I had a blond[ie] moment today… that sweet craving that can’t be satisfied by just any old treat!
After chopping up some semisweet and milk chocolates, they were gently mixed into a creamy, buttery mixture made up of white and brown sugars, butter, flour, baking soda, homemade vanilla, eggs and salt.
Once spread into a greased and floured baking dish, it was off for a nice half hour bake. After cooked through, the blondies were set aside to cool entirely and then cut into sizeable cake-like treats!
Served with an ice cold glass of almond milk, these heavenly [yet sinful] delights didn’t stand a chance!

at a low simmer…


















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Guilt-free goodness…

With a craving for something healthy, yet decadent and delicious, I turned to a recipe from a dear friend whose website is chock-full-of informative ideas on leading a healthy lifestyle…
So the apple cinnamon protein muffins were the perfect way to go! Full of healthy ingredients: oat flour, pumpkin purée [not the sweetened kind], good vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, kosher salt, egg whites, stevia [I ran out and used Splenda for baking], whey powder, coconut oil and crisp granny smith’s!
The process of combining everything is pretty simple and only requires some pulsating in a food processor… Apples get the first few pulses until mostly puréed, but still slightly chunky. Then everything else is added in and given a whirl until brought together!
Spread out into a non-stick sprayed muffin pan, shot into a 350* oven and roughly twenty-five minutes later little devilishly good treats emerged… minus any potential guilt! So I ate one, and then another… who knows I may be making another batch before the day ends.
***Please note if you’re seeking cake like muffins you will need to incorporate baking powder/soda***

Please check out my friend’s website for the full recipe and also to give her your support… http://dariamcdermott.com

at a low simmer…








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Looney for leftovers!

After a long day, I enjoyed a healthy, heaping scoop of some leftover rhubarb grunt! Warmed up in the microwave and served with some vanilla bean custard on top, this was the perfect ending to the evening! I see preparing other fruity ‘grunts’ will be a staple in this household…

at a low simmer…

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birthday bonanza!

What better way to end a week than with a birthday celebration! This wasn’t just any birthday, but rather one for our little, well I guess not so little nine-year old pup…
No birthday would be complete without a vanilla cake baked from scratch and filled with a glorious vanilla custard between the layers… Topping off this towering delight, a light buttercream frosting [this was for the adults though, plain for the pups]!
After a little singing, blowing out candles, photo-ops including birthday hats and the opening of presents, it was then time to cut into the cake. The birthday boy and his brother both got to enjoy some cake, while we did as well, but also had cleanup duties…

at a low simmer…

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that’s how the ____ crumbles!!

After enduring a rainy day, I decided to lift my spirits and make a refreshing crumble for dessert tonight. On a trip to the market, vibrant rhubarb peeked out of the wicker baskets and with their long stalks practically reached out for me!
Once home a nice cleaning, a quick chop and then a toss into a pan with sugar, vanilla and butter. As soon as everything was coated, it was cooked until the rhubarb became almost a glossy pink. Into miniature pie dishes went the filling, while to tuck these beauties in, a tasty crumble made up of flour, butter, brown sugar, salt and vanilla sugar. The crumble mixture was combined by hand until it achieved an almost oatmeal-ish texture, but where the butter still was somewhat together…
The crumbles went into the oven for roughly thirty-five minutes until the topping was golden and the insides were slightly bubbling… the rhubarb bubbling out and cascading down the sides made the excitement for digging in even more appealing!
The crumble was crispy and buttery, while the rhubarb filling had a lovey balance of sweet, but let the minute tartness steal the show…

at a low simmer…









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what are you bananas!!

With a few bananas remaining from the cake I made this past weekend, I decided rather than tossing then out they’d do better mashed up into a wonderful banana bread! This wasn’t just any banana bread, but rather a boozy banana bread…
I soaked sweet little golden raisins in some delicious bourbon. Once plumped up and juicy, they went into my batter that was full of the mashed bananas, chopped pecans, vanilla, two eggs, one cup of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, a half teaspoon of baking soda and salt, one stick of melted butter and sugar.
Once everything was combined, it was into a loaf pan and then off for a nap for fifty minutes on 325. After a quick test for complete doneness, I had to taste! There was very little willpower, but tasting this freshly baked beauty was a necessity. Served up with some vanilla-infused mascarpone made this luxurious delight even more spectacular!
The boozy raisins offered a wonderful addition to the sweetness of the bananas. This definitely will be on my breakfast menu tomorrow!

at a low simmer…


























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my inner cookie monster…

After a sweets craving, I decided to churn out a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies, but to elevate these cookies, I added in some chopped hazelnuts.
I started by creaming two sticks of butter, along with some regular sugar and brown sugar. To the mix, in went two eggs and vanilla.
While everything was mixing, in a separate bowl I added flour, baking powder, salt and some cinnamon. The dry mixture was slowly added into the mixing bowl until combined. Lastly, into the batter went the chopped hazelnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Scoopfuls of the scented batter went onto baking sheets and into the preheated oven. The fragrance of fresh baked cookies wafted throughout the entire house! After eighteen minutes, it was time to take the cookies out. Once out of the oven, a sprinkling of fleur de sel finished these gorgeous beauties…
Almost cake-like, these chocolatey and nutty cookies were the perfect end to the evening with a large glass of ice cold milk!

at a low simmer…















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latke love…

So to join in on the holiday festivities of some friends, I decided to create a light meal of latkes and homemade applesauce.
The latkes were a combination of potatoes [grated in the food processor], salt, freshly ground pepper, eggs and flour. These needed to be seasoned appropriately to make sure they didn’t taste like cardboard. Everything was combined by hand and then spooned into a hot, non-stick pan with butter. Each latke was cooked until browned and then flipped until the other side was also browned. Total cooking time was roughly five minutes per side… Once browned, the latkes were placed into the oven on a low temp to keep warm.
For the applesauce, I used four Honeycrisp apples that I peeled and cored. Into a cast iron pot they went, along with four tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, some freshly squeezed lemon juice and orange juice, a secret spice [sorry can’t tell you that, but you can add some cinnamon] and a teaspoon of vanilla… The pot went into the oven covered for about an hour and a half until the apples were softened and could be easily mashed…
After everything was said and done, it was time to sit down and enjoy! This special meal was well received…

at a low simmer…








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sticky and sweet!!

With the holidays in full effect, it’s time to celebrate all things sweet!
Tonight we are heading off to a holiday party and I’ll be the bearer of good gifts, sticky toffee pudding.
This recipe takes a little time to make, about an hour and a half + tons of butter and plenty of boozy goodness [to add to the holiday cheer], but believe me its worth the calories [and heck it’s the holidays]!
I’m including the full recipe since baking is a science and you should stick to the steps to get it right. I highly recommend trying this dessert, it’s sticky, dense, buttery and sweet! It’s guaranteed to leave the partygoers cheering for more!

For the ‘pudding’:
2 cups medjool dates [pits removed]
3/4 cup spiced rum
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3.5 cups flour
1 tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
2 cups light brown sugar [lightly packed]
1 stick butter [at room temp]
3 extra large eggs

For toffee sauce:
3 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup cognac
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350*.
Butter a 9×13 baking dish.
To make the ‘pudding’:
Combine dates, rum and 3/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for five to seven minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Let liquid cool, and then purée in a food processor. Set aside
While the purée is cooling, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Combine the brown sugar and butter in a standing mixer on medium-high. Beat until combined. Next, beat eggs in one at a time. Then carefully mix in the flour mixture in thirds on low speed. Lastly, stir in the cooled purée.
Pour batter into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes [cake tester should be clean].
For the toffee sauce:
Make this while the ‘pudding’ is baking. Combine the butter, sugar, cognac and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking consistently. Cook until it thickens to a slightly saucy consistency, roughly 15 minutes.
For the finale, Remove the pudding and let cool for ten minutes. Using a skewer poke holes in the pudding about every inch or so [go crazy].
Pour half of the sauce over the cake and let it soak in for at least 20 minutes.
When serving [should be warm], drizzle some more sauce and finish with a nice dollop of freshly made whipped cream!

at a low simmer…


















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