Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday with Dorie, Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie Elizabeth from Engineer Baker chose Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake which is something that I would not have picked on my own. Finding figs for this was kind of funny, I ended up at the Natural food store, for some reason the other supermarkets that I went to no longer sell figs. I could not find Kadota figs so I went with Mission. I halved the recipe which was a little interesting, 3/4 cup halved is 6 tablespoons. I did end up cooking it for 15 minutes longer.

Taste: Very sweet, cornmeal taste but not the crumbliness of cornmeal, nice fig taste with the crunches from the seeds. I had one piece and then kept sneaking little slivers.

This will most likely be the only time that I will make this. I just do not use ricotta. I got the smallest size and still have allot left over. The cake that I making latter this week, I think that I will use the ricotta instead of the butter. I think that I may try this again with sour cream and see what happens.

I cut up what was left and froze it for snacks later this week.

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.

Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.

Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the Pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daring Bakers April

This month on Daring Bakers Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms chose Cheesecake Pops. This is a really good cheesecake recipe. I love it, I used the lemon extract instead of vanilla. It did take longer to cook, like 30 minutes longer. I do think that making it into a pop was not easy, it did not want to mold. The chocolate was something that some people liked and some people did not like. I did have to cut up the pops to eat. They were bigger than a mouthful.

Cheesecake Pops

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)

Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie, Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week on Tuesday with Dorie Amanda from of slow like honey chose Bill's Big Carrot Cake. This is a very good carrot cake recipe. It is now my to go for carrot cake recipe. The funny thing is as I was putting the cake together I noticed that there was no butter. The last few recipes all have had lots of butter. I substituted some of the oil with carrot juice, it worked well. For the filling I used Nuttela, which was really good. I need to practice cake decorating. It did not look good so that is where the coconut came in handy. Finding 3 pans was a little funny, I used a large deep dish pie pan I have as the third pan. It work OK, not great. The next time I make this I think that I will just make what is left over into cupcakes.

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings


For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.


This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.


The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weather in Colorado

Weather in Colorado is fun. Last week we had a 70 degree day followed by snow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Robot Army

I fix medical equipment at a hospital. I check in new equipment. So here is the robot army I checked in a few weeks ago.

Tuesday with Dorie: Mashmallows

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie Judy's Gross Eats picked Mashmallows.

Umm This is one of the recipes that I just did not care for. They were not hard to make but I just did not care for the taste and texture. The only thing that I use marshmallows for is hot cocoa so I made these more for the experience than the eating. I am going to make them into frosting for some cranberry rolls I am making latter this week.

That said they were not hard to make. I did do a playing around version and added some cranberry puree. It just gave it a faint taste. What the syrup did on the sides of the bowl was cool, made me think of cotten candy.

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch.Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites.
In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't over beat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups). Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.
STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.
Playing Around
RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.
LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sock It To Me Sock Twice Swap

I got my Socks Yaaa!!!! They fit perfectly and are warm, it has been a little cold here lately. I am wearing them right now.
They came with some very cool yarn, Lavender soap, lotion, lavender scents and black licorice.

Thank You Cindy!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie, The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Starting from scratch. She choose The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart. Well this one of those two step recipes, part one the tart crust and then the lemon cream.

Well to start with I needed to find a tart pan. Luckily Chef's Catalog was having a warehouse sale and I got a apple shaped pan for $3. The dough recipe came out ok, I think that it may have needed just a little more flavor, next time I think that I will use vanilla sugar. I did end up cooking the edges a little to much, when she says to cover the tart make sure that the foil is on tight. There was a little dough left over so I made a small one in a cupcake cup. It tasted so good.

On the lemon cream I ended up using less butter, after I started to get everything together I noticed that I was short 5 tablespoons of butter. It came together very well. It did not come out as yellow as I thought it would. It did take a while to get the eggs up to temp. This is a recipe that I will not make in the summer. I got hot whisking the eggs, it took over 15 minutes to get to temp. I could not stop licking the bowl, spoon, food processor parts and spatula.

This tasted so good. I used the left over lemon cream on toast. It was so hard not to just eat the rest with a spoon.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
¾ cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 ½ ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough (p.444), Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (p.444) or Spiced Tart Dough (p.447), fully baked and cooled

Getting Ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. as you whisk – you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling – you’ll see that the cream will start out light an foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point – the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Sweet Tart Dough
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon ( 9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolkPut the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients an pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses – about 10 seconds each – until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To Fully Bake the Crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the over just a little longer, if you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust’s progress – it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To Patch a Partially or Fully Baked Crust, If Necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the bake crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just the take the rawness off the patch.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hugo books and worldcon

I joined Worldcon this year because it was in Denver, just over 60 miles away. With this I will be able to read most of the books nominated to free. Ya!!!! Very unexpected. I can also get most of the Short Stories, Novellas and Noveletts for free as well.

This is very cool.