Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake (Dairy Free)

With all this weather we’ve been having, I can understand if it’s hard for you to imagine eating an ice cream cake. I’ve spent most of my life in some Midwestern state and I’ve seen my fair share of cold snaps and blustery streaks, but this is too much. That and Seattle spoiled me rotten with it's perpetually 45 degree winter days. While I'm naturally inclined to exaggerate, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to claim that it didn’t get above 10 degrees for a month straight. Or when it got right up to 10 degrees, it felt like a heat wave and I was itching to get off the treadmill and into the slush.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take! Yet oddly enough, an ice cream cake in the middle of the worst of it was just the thing I needed. And exactly what one Marybeth Falish wanted.

The girl I mention above? It’s my pleasure to call her both a good friend and co-worker. When the personal life gets messy or the work gets tough, she’s there for me on both fronts. Days where I think I just can’t make it through another excel document, she’s there to help me and then engage in a little bit of girl talk. Moral of the story: I am so incredibly grateful to work with such a wonderful woman and call her my friend.

Naturally, I made a cake for her birthday. In early January. When the temperatures refused to crack zero degrees. And what did she request? An ice cream cake. An unexpected bonus to making an ice cream cake in January is that my little ice cream machine performed much better in a chilly kitchen than its usual setting - a torturous 95 degree day. 

Armed only with the direction to include ice cream and those “little black flecks” (vanilla beans), I went to work crafting a cake for MBF’s 24th birthday bash. Goat butter is still in nonexistent supply, so I knew I had to go vegan for my cake base (plus eggs). Earth Balance buttercream is not too pleasant, leading me to try making coconut whipped cream for the first time. Topping the experiment off, I had never made an ice cream cake before!

With the photos as evidence, the cake turned out surprisingly well and was the delicious hit of the night! 

Vanilla Bean Cake
Adapted from: More from Magnolia

  • 2 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 vanilla beans, cut in half and seeds scraped out

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour cake tins.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream (preferably with an electric mixer) the Earth Balance until smooth and light yellow in color.  Gradually beat in the sugar until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  This is key: after each addition, make sure to beat enough to incorporate the ingredients, but do not overbeat.  (This will create gluten and you will have a rough and dry cake)
  5. Fill the prepared cake tins.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a cake tester is inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean.

Vanilla Bean Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

  • 2 (14 oz) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unrefined granulated sugar, such as evaporated cane juice
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 20 all-natural cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Newman’s Own)

  1. Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk for 1 hour (no longer). Chilling the coconut milk will cause the coconut cream to rise to the top of the can and slightly solidify. Carefully scrape out the coconut cream and milk from both cans into a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and vanilla bean paste. Hand-whisk lightly to break up the solidified cream, and then whip with an electric mixer for about 10-20 seconds, or until smooth and thick - don’t whip for any longer than a minute.
  2. Pour mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, gradually adding in the chopped/crushed cookies during the last 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to a freezer-safe air-tight container and freeze until desired consistency is reached (at least a few hours).

Coconut Whipped Cream
  1. Buy a can of full fat coconut milk. Thai coconut milk is fattier and works the best.
  2. Place it in the fridge overnight.
  3. Open the can without shaking it or turning upside down.
  4. Carefully spoon out the top layer of opaque white stuff that has gathered at the top of the can. Spoon into a mixing bowl. You will be left with about 1/2 cup of white syrup-y looking translucent liquid. Leave this in the can.
  5. Add 2-3 Tbsp of powdered confectioners sugar to the coconut cream.
  6. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut milk froth until creamy. Start on low and move to a higher speed, move the beater in an up and down motion to infuse the mixture with as much air as possible.
  7. Use to frost the cake!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oven Puffed Pear Pancake (Pannekoeken)

Today I woke up and experienced a full-blown Saturday conundrum. Starving and craving a luxurious brunch, but rolling over seeing the clock strike 11:20am. Fridge supplies running a bit low, but the essentials still intact, rendering a grocery store trip superfluous. Never the one to backdown in the face of a food challenge, “A” exclaimed “PANNEKOEKEN!”

For strangers to the Dutch language or non-native Minnesotans, such an exclamation roughly translates to “YES! OVEN PUFFED PANCAKES!” 

This is an incredibly easy recipe to adapt to whatever you do or don’t have in your kitchen. We’ve been making different variations for years based on what’s in season, where we’re living or what’s in our kitchen. While living in Seattle and at the height of berry season, I loaded up our pancake with the best fruits the Pacific Northwest had to offer:

Today we had a renegade pear, leftover ginger from brewing kombucha and an orange “A” brought home from work. And you know what? Those seemingly random bits came together to create one of the best oven puffed pancakes yet! Don’t discredit the scraps at the back of your crisper drawer; let them make friends with the other rejects. It’s a culinary creation just waiting to happen! 

As long as you have the basics of eggs, butter, flour and (almond) milk, brunch is obtainable. 

Oven Puffed Pear Pancake
Adapted from Two Tarts

  • 1 tbsp goat butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 in piece of ginger, finely grated (microplane works best)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the goat butter in a 8-in cast iron skillet, and place it in the oven.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, orange zest and ginger in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk milk, and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined and smooth.
  3. Wearing an oven mitt, remove the hot skillet from the oven (the butter should be bubbling), and pour in the batter all at once. Quickly arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern 1 ½ inches away from the edge of the pan, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is nicely browned and puffed around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pancake from the oven (don't forget that oven mitt!). Cut into wedges and serve with a bit of maple syrup or powdered sugar.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

For the first time in my short 25 years, I did not put up Christmas lights. Our little Norfolk pine is as naked as the day it first sprouted. There are no garland-laced IKEA bookshelves nor a scrap of lurking mistletoe. Scandinavian Christmas items at least accent our kitchen table as “A’s” mother helped boost sagging spirits. Very few Christmas-themed blog posts start out on a dour note, but this is my blog and it’s within my rights to ramble about my feelings, dammit! If we’re going to really get to talking about feelings, I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas this year. Yes, I’m excited, but not for the actual act of Christmas. I’m excited to see my family for one full, rare week. Presents? Eh. Giving them is what gets me going but all I “want” to receive are a few nice necessities that I can’t afford to buy all at once. 

But feeling this way about Christmas fills me with guilt. I’m usually forcing Christmas music and movies down “A’s” throat; but this year even I have to find a small stash of motivation just to press play. To put the nonexistent star atop the pine-like tree, there is apparently a national goat butter shortage. Not only have I stalked every grocery store in Madison, I've called every local goat farm to see if butter is something they do (obviously, it's not). I’ve had time to deal with the tragedy over the past month, but as butter is the main ingredient in cookies 99.9% of the time, I cant even make my usual mountain of treats! Maybe that’s at the root of my bah humbug?

Who knows. But I do know I need to get into the Christmas spirt, and about five minutes ago. To find the spirit of Christmas past, I had to go basic. Feelings of warmth, love and chocolate. With a seasonal flavor thrown in for good measure.

Santa Claus wrote me a prescription and it’s for homemade peppermint marshmallows, folks! I can feel the Christmas creeping back in to my grinch sized heart and dreams of marshmallow faeries filling my head. Doggonit! This did the trick - I’m CURED! Watch out though, to keep my spirits high, I may have the plow through some of these darlings daily from now until next Wednesday!  

Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from Arts and Tarts

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ to 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Oil (grapeseed or canola preferred) 
  • Food coloring

  1. Pour ½ cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and sprinkle gelatin over the surface; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Over medium high heat and with a candy thermometer attached to the side of the pan, cook the mixture until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove the pan from the heat once temperature is reached.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the peppermint extract during the last minute of whipping, starting with the smaller amount and increasing according to taste and desired strength.
  4. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans:
  5. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Using a paper towel, spread the oil on the pans until it is well coated. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use (I had to mix up a bit more as my marshmallows were on the stickier side).
  6. Pour the lukewarm mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Drop about 6 drops of food coloring around the surface of the marshmallows and use a toothpick or knife to swirl the red into the marshmallows. Dust the top with remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for about 24 hours. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and use oiled scissors to cut into desired shapes. Once cut, dredge the marshmallows with the remaining powdered sugar/corn starch mixture. Shake the marshmallows in a fine mesh sieve to remove excess clumps.
  7. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Gratin

I’ve mentioned before that "A" and I signed up for a summer CSA with Equinox Community Farms… but I haven’t mentioned that we signed up for an additional three winter share boxes. While I loved all the summer splendor of the fresh fruits and veggies, I might like the feeling of being inundated with potatoes, onions and carrots a bit more. Not familiar with the feeling? Imagine once every three weeks picking up two boxes that have no less than 10 pounds of potatoes, 10 pounds of sweet potatoes and enough carrots and onions to bring the total weight up to a metric ton.

It might be redundant to say, but that’s a lot of storage vegetables. Unfortunately we live in a “studio plus” (or “one bedroom minus”) apartment that, while lovely and fits our needs perfectly, isn’t known for having a lot of extra storage. So where do all these vegetables settle away for their long winter nap? Our average-sized, run-of-the-mill fridge. With every new box, there is a slight panic to eat everything in sight. Not because of my intense love of potatoes and carbs, which is very real, but because food gets very lost, only resurfacing after a grueling excavation mission.

So “A” and I creatively think of new ways to eat potatoes. Our lives have been enriched by many stews, soups, gnocchi’s, hash browns and breakfast dishes. The breakfast dish of this post was discovered on Spoon Fork Bacon - one of my favorite food blogs in my queue. Not only are their photos stunning, but I feel like almost all of their recipes are realistic. Yes, some of their meat dishes I don’t even make or eat but if I WANTED to, I could! 

This was an easy dish to throw together of a very lazy weekday morning and the leftovers kept in the fridge for well over a week.

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Gratin 
Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

  • 2 sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/8” rounds
  • 1 cup goat milk, mixed with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnish:
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a round 8” cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together goat milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes and until milk has started to curdle.
  3. Place sweet potatoes, goat milk mixture and 1 clove of minced garlic into a large mixing bowl and toss together. Allow mixture to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Line the bottom of the cake pan with a single layer of potato rounds. Some overlapping is okay.
  5. Sprinkle the top with some garlic, rosemary and Pecorino Romano. Season with salt and pepper and continue layering gratin until all ingredients have been used.
  6. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork tender. Remove foil and invert onto an oven safe dish. Sprinkle top with Pecorino Romano.
  7. Turn oven onto broil and return gratin back to oven. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and top has crisped up.
  8. Allow gratin to cool for at least 8 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

While we are solidly in the Christmas creep season, I might as well throw in a Halloween treat to balance things out. I will never be one of those food bloggers who post their themed food in a timely fashion. Laziness takes over and I make every excuse to not edit photos or write a post. Motivation seems to hit me a few weeks down the road and way outside of the timeframe of the holiday at hand. 

As I am officially on the office Fun Committee, I decided to turn our work Halloween party up to eleven with some homemade cake. While most people won’t consider bundts to be “fun,” I do live in the Midwest kids. Things are different here and I embrace it. The cake was attacked with gusto and I barely managed to save a sliver to take home to “A.” There were few leftovers to speak of, but this cake is so moist, you wouldn’t have any issue letting it sit around for a few days. 

So here I have a Halloween cake for you. Complete with chocolate spiderwebs and spooky stars. Maybe store it away for next year or forgo the black & orange coloring and call it a Thanksgiving cake. Keep this blog post a secret and no one will know the difference. 

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Adapted from Whipped The Blog

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) EarthBalance “Butter”, softened, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (or 1 15 oz can) solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. “Butter” and flour bundt pan.
  2. Make your “buttermilk”: combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, pumpkin spice and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, “buttermilk” and vanilla in another bowl.
  4. Beat EarthBalance, oil and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
  5. Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and invert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts and Muffins

Unless you've been avoiding Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, walking down the sidewalk and talking to other people, you know that "Pumpkin Spice Season" is upon us. You can't turn the corner without seeing a PSL (or a pumpkin spice latte, if you want to be formal) in a death-grip or browse Facebook without seeing a love poem to some pumpkin spice. While I pretend to mock them, let's be real, I am one of them.

Smelling cinnamon coated apples basking in the warmth of my oven makes me giddy and apt to spread some baking joy. Hoarding canned pumpkin is a seasonal tradition and unearthing it again in July is always a shock. So yes, I roll my eyes at all the "#PSL" hype… but I partake is a more homemade fashion.

To any co-workers who are reading this post, yes, these are the baked goods I brought into the office! 

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts & Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée – not pie filling
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt (see note above)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (see note above)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
  • 8 oz (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Grease the muffin tins and doughnut pan with a little bit of butter and flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, salt, and baking powder on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Lower the speed of the mixer and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, as well as the flour until they are completely incorporated. Do NOT over mix - this can lead to a tough texture.
  4. If you're making doughnuts, fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full, using a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well (a small cookie scoop works well here). 
  5. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
  7. While the doughnuts/muffins bake, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl until well mixed; set aside.
  8. Dip the warm doughnuts and muffins in the cinnamon-sugar topping. The muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days and may need a cinnamon-sugar refresher before serving. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Key Lime Bundt Cake

Every person I've talked to has bemoaned that this has been the most hectic summer in recent memory. Work, family, friends, life - it was all wanting equal parts of you without enough downtime to spare. "A" and I can group ourselves into that camp and complain. Yet what's the point? Now that we live in the Midwest, even though it takes some gas and time, we are able to drive to see both our families with a days notice and a weekend's time. While one family is a 4 hour drive to the west and another a 7 hour drive to the east, the fact that we can both see family more than one or two times a year is priceless.

Giving up the American tradition of barbecuing and relaxing with a day free of labor, "A" and I drove to Michigan for a Labor Day weekend filled with good food in Ann Arbor and an (age need not be mentioned) birthday for my beautiful Grandma, Betty! 

It's pretty much an unspoken rule that if I'm in attendance at a birthday party (family or not), I'll supply the cake. Even though I have a pretty good roster, my mother demanded that I make her mother a Key Lime cake. Not that new fancy chocolate cake recipe I've been waiting to try out. Not that caramel cake that most people would line up to try. Nope - a cake filled with Key Limes and not in pie form.

As I mentioned earlier, the weeks of summer have been filled to the brim and the temperature steadily rising, the thought of turning on an oven for even five minutes seemed to daunting. So instead I adapted a Key Lime cake recipe I have previously developed, threw it in a bundt pan and made it in my parents kitchen after my morning run. Oh yeah, did I mention I've been training for a running race? That's another story for another time.

Needless to say, the birthday girl was happy and I have yet another successful birthday cake in my storybook. 

Key Lime Bundt Cake

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or bottled key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup goat yougurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bundt pan with oil or melted butter and flour.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into mixing bowl. 
  3. Add eggs, oil and lime juice mix on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. 
  4. Add goat yougurt and zest; mix until smooth. Pour cake batter into bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until tester is inserted and comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then turn the cake out onto cooling racks. Cool for 1 hour.
  6. To decorate, make a glaze with key lime juice and powdered sugar and top with toasted unsweetened coconut.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin