Category:  Desserts, Creams & Sauces

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Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Holidays On December 14, 2020 0 Comments

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After I purchased sandwich cookie cake molds at a local Williams Sonoma® store, I was inspired to make this cake for our 2020 December holidays – (this is to memorialize a year of C19 lockdowns in March and in December).

Mirroring our current lives, the cake is simple, with no frills. But it’s delicious, too.

Enjoy this comforting dessert with your favorite coffee, tea or liqueur after your Chanukah, Christmas or New Year dinner!

Prep time: 20 minutes (cake); and 10 minutes (frosting
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves: 12 to 15

Ingredients for the Cake:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower) or unsalted butter (for greasing cake pans)
1/2 cup cocoa powder or more (for dusting cake pans)
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar (unbleached)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk (whole or low-fat)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (safflower or sunflower)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces melted, unsweetened chocolate (cooled)

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease two Williams Sonoma® Cookie Cake Pans or two 9-inch round cake pans.

3. Sprinkle cocoa powder over greased cake pans; shake off excess. Set pans aside.

4. Measure remaining ingredients in a large (12-cup) mixing bowl.

5. Beat 1 minute on low speed, constantly scraping bowl with a spatula.

6. Beat 3 minutes on high speed; scraping bowl occasionally.

7. Pour cake batter into pans until they reach 2/3 height. If there’s extra batter, grease and dust with cocoa a 2-cup baking dish (make a third cake to use for a separate purpose).

8. Place cake pans on a rack positioned in center of oven; bake for 25 to 30 minutes (bake small, extra cake for 15 minutes; check doneness).

9. Test doneness of cakes by inserting a pointed knife in center of each one. If knife comes out clean, the cakes are done.

10. Remove cakes from oven and set aside on a cooling rack or trivets on a counter for 15 minutes.

11. Invert the cakes onto a parchment paper-lined cutting board.

12. Meanwhile, prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients for the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 to 3 teaspoons milk (whole or low-fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. In a large (12-cup) mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla with handheld  mixer. Alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with a bowl.

2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed, until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, using a spatula, turn one cake over and set it on a serving platter (with print side facing down).

4. Spread the frosting evenly over cake on platter.

5. Place the second cake, printed side up, on top of frosting.

6. Serve immediately by cutting cake into slices or refrigerate cake (covered) up to 2 days ahead.

7. If making this cake ahead, remove from refrigerator 2 hours prior to serving.
Text ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Best Apple Pie

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Pies & Sweet Tarts On March 26, 2020 0 Comments

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Yesterday (during our COVID-19 confinement), I thought of making my best pastry, slicing apples and voila! I made a delicious apple pie. Thinking ahead in our current situation, I froze the pie for a future dinner. What the heck – all I have to do is defrost the pie and warm it in the oven. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream or gelato for “a la mode” style.

NOTE:  At this point in our home-confinement, kids will have fun with this recipe. Try it!

Pastry Ingredients for 9 to 10-inch pie pan:
2-2/3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup safflower or sunflower oil
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Prepare Pastry Dough:
1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl, measure flour and salt; add oil.

2. Mix with pastry cutter or a fork until particles are size of small peas.

3. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough amalgamates. If needed, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons water.

4. Gather dough into a ball; divide it into 2 balls. Cover in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the apples:

Ingredients for Apple Filling:
6 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix the Apple Filling:
1. Place the sliced apples in 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

3. Add the dry flour-spice mixture to the apples and stir well with a large spoon. Set aside.

Roll Out the Pastry Dough:
1. Lightly flour two waxed paper sheets, each measuring 16 inches long.

2. Flatten one dough ball into a circle until it is 3/4 inches thick. Place it between the floured waxed sheets.

3. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the pastry using short strokes going outward. You may have to lift and re-flour the sheets so the dough will not stick.

4. Peel off top waxed sheet and, placing one hand underneath bottom sheet with pastry dough, make a quick flip into pie pan. Peel off remaining waxed sheet.

5. Repeat rolling out instructions for remaining pastry dough. Peel off top waxed sheet and set aside.

Fill and Seal the Pie:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Using a fork or knife, make holes in pastry lining the pan.

3. Give the applies a mix and turn them into the pastry-lined pan. They should sit in a mound.

4. Using a pastry wheel, cut 1-inch wide strips from the remaining pastry dough.

5. Beginning with longest strip, place it in center over top of apples. Place remaining strips on each side of center strip – one inch apart.

6. On the diagonal, repeat laying out remaining strips over first layer of strips.

7. Trim edges of pastry to 1-inch overhang.

8. With fingers, grab & roll pastry edges under to edge of pie pan. Make a curvy design as you work around pie pan.

9. Cover edges of pastry with 1-inch wide strips of aluminum foil (this prevents burning).

10. Place pie pan on a rack positioned in center of oven & bake 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, remove foil strips and bake additional 5 minutes.

12. Immediately transfer pie to cooling rack or wooden board set on a counter.

13. Serve apple pie warm with vanilla ice cream or gelato.

ALTERNATIVELY, FOR STORAGE:

  1. COVER PIE WITH PLASTIC WRAP AND REFRIGERATE UNTIL THE NEXT DAY; OR
  2. COVER PIE WITH PLASTIC WRAP. THEN, PLACE PIE IN A LARGE PLASTIC BAG (USE WHITE KITCHEN TRASH BAGS).
  3. REMOVE AIR AND MAKE A KNOT IN FIRST BAG.
  4. PLACE BAG WITH PIE IN 2ND BAG & SECURE WITH A KNOT; PLACE IN FREEZER. DOUBLE BAGS WILL KEEP OUT THE “FREEZER BURN”.
  5. ON DAY OF SERVING, BRING PIE TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.
  6. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350°F.
  7. COVER TOP OF PIE TO EDGES WITH ALUMINUM FOIL, PLACE IT ON A RACK POSITIONED IN CENTER OF OVEN & WARM IT FOR 30 MINUTES.
    Text & Photographs ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

 

Valentine Biscotti & Kickback Strawberry Sunshine with CBD

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Holidays On February 4, 2020 0 Comments

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I need to relax these days – don’t you? Here’s a great biscotti dessert with a “kick”! Enjoy this on Valentine’s Day with anyone you love!

Prep time: 15 minutes (mixing dough & shaping biscotti logs)
Makes: 36 to 40 biscotti

Ingredients:
3-3/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached, granulated sugar
69 drops red food color
1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Mixing the Dough:
1. Preheat double ovens to 350°F. You can also use one oven (baking directions will follow).

2. Line two 18X12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

3. In a 2-quart bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cloves & cinnamon; set aside.

4. In a 4-quart mixing bowl using a hand mixer (or in bowl of a stand mixer), blend together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract and sugar until uniform.

5. With mixer going, add the red food color drops.

6. With mixer set on low speed, stir in the chocolate chips.

7. Set mixer on medium and gradually (a little at a time), stir in the flour until a dough forms.

8. When dough is uniform, turn it onto a lightly-floured surface (NOT MARBLE, GRANITE or OTHER STONE – IT WILL HALT THE “RISING” ACTION OF DOUGH).

Shape Biscotti Logs & Bake:

1. Lightly knead dough until it is smooth – do not overwork it.

2. When dough is smooth, divide it into four balls.

3. Roll each dough ball into a 15 X 2-inch log; place two logs on each baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart.

4. Flatten logs slightly.

5. If using two ovens, place one sheet in each oven – racks must be centered in ovens; bake for 30 minutes.

6. Alternatively, if using one oven, place sheets on separate racks (top and bottom); bake for 15 minutes.

7. After 15 minutes, switch top and bottom sheets and bake for additional 15 minutes.

8. After 30 minutes baking time, transfer sheets with dough logs to a counter; cool for 6 minutes.

9. After 6 minutes, using a serrated knife, cut biscotti – 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide. DO NOT USE A “SAWING MOTION” AS BISCOTTI WILL CRUMBLE. INSTEAD, CUT “DOWN” INTO DOUGH.

10. Place each biscotto (Italian, singular) with cut side down on baking sheets.

11. Bake 5 minutes per side. Cool and serve.

TO STORE BISCOTTI: Place biscotti in double freezer bags and freeze up to two months. Place biscotti on a platter one hour prior to serving.
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

Cabernet Pear & Custard Desserts

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On May 6, 2019 0 Comments

These Cabernet Pear & Custard Desserts can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated. And yeah – two days before Mothers’ Day! You won’t have to cut and serve cake on individual plates  ’cause it’s all done ahead of time. Everyone will love it! Blessings to all my moms!

Active prep time: 30-40 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2 to 3 hours (for custard to set & chill in refrigerator)
Serves: 4

Ingredients for the Custard:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated white sugar (unbleached)
2 cups whole or low fat milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks

Directions:
1. In a 2 to 4-quart saucepot set on a cold stove burner, stir cornstarch and sugar until blended.

2. Gradually (a little at a time) and with a wooden spoon, stir in milk, salt and vanilla extract.

3. Transfer 1 cup milk mixture to a small bowl and whisk in the egg yolks until uniform,.

4. Pour the milk-egg yolk mixture into the saucepot and whisk until blended.

5. Set stove burner on medium-high heat.

6. Cook custard mixture, stirring constantly, until steam rises. To prevent scorching, lower heat to medium.

7.  When custard reaches a boil, set heat on low and stir for 1 minute until it thickens.

8. Set saucepot with custard on a trivet on counter – divide custard evenly among four small glass or porcelain bowls. Immediately cover each custard bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and set – about 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, poach pears in wine-

Ingredients for the Pears:
750 ml (1 bottle) Cabernet Sauvignon wine
2/3 cup granulated white sugar (unbleached)
2 pears (any variety)

Directions:
1. In an 8 to 10-quart saucepot, bring the wine to a boil.

2. When wine boils, stir in the sugar. Immediately lower heat to medium or medium high so that the wine simmers.

3. Simmer-boil wine until it reduces by half – about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. When wine has reduced, peel pears and cut them in half (lengthwise).

5. Core the pear halves and gently add them (hollow-side down) to the simmering wine.

6. Cook pears for 3 to 4 minutes. After 3 to 4 minutes, using 2 forks, gently turn them over.

7. Cook pears for an additional 1 to 3 minutes. After 1 minute, check doneness by inserting pointed knife in center of one pear – it should feel tender but not overcooked. If needed, cook pears 1 to 2 more minutes.

8. When pears are done, using a flat, slotted spoon, gently transfer them to a dinner plate; set aside to cool completely. Pears can be made one day ahead, covered in plastic wrap and chilled in refrigerator overnight.  For Chantilly Cream-

NOTE: IF BUYING PRE-MADE WHIPPING CREAM IN A CAN, OMIT THE FOLLOWING RECIPE

Ingredients for Chantilly Cream
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 to 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
pastry bag fitted with a star tip

Directions:
1. Pour whipping cream into a 4-cup mixing bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour cream in mixer bowl.

2. Using a handheld mixer or in stand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

3. With mixer running, add the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until lumps dissolve. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, according to taste. Set the Chantilly Cream aside in a small bowl, covered, in refrigerator until ready to garnish the dessert.

Assemble the Pear & Custard Desserts:

1. Transfer the custard bowls to a counter or work surface.

2. Gently dry each pear half with paper towels (on both sides).

3. Place one pear half, hollow side down, in center top of each custard dessert. Set aside.

4. If using store-bought whipped cream, decorate the pear-custard bowls around the edges of custard.

5. For homemade Chantilly Cream garnish, transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

6. Make single rosettes with cream, side by side,  around edges of custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the desserts.
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

 

 

No-Bake Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Creams & Sauces On February 1, 2019 0 Comments

Create the best Valentine’s Day dessert ever! All you bake is a 10-minute crust!

Serve this chilled dessert with Kickback CBD Ground Coffee –  you’ll chill, too! Get the brew here- CALI RISE – MEDIUM ROAST  |  CALI DAZE – DARK ROAST

Prep time: 25-30 minutes (crust & filling)
Cake cool/set time: 6 hours or overnight
Makes: One 9-inch cheesecake

First, make the crust:

Crust Ingredients:
One 9-inch springform baking pan
One 9-inch parchment paper circle (place paper on inverted pan and trace a circle; then, cut it)
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs (use 1 to 1-1/3 packages inside box; ground in food processor)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter the springform pan (bottom only); place parchment circle inside pan bottom and gently press so that it sticks. Set aside.

3. In a 2-cup mixing bowl, using a fork, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until uniform.

4. Transfer the graham cracker crumb mixture to springform pan.

5. With the fork, smooth out the crust ingredients up to the pan edges. With your fingers, press the crust evenly.

6. Bake the crust on a rack set in center of oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, transfer the pan with crust to a counter or trivet to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the raspberry cheesecake filling:

Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
2 cups boiling water
One 6-ounce package raspberry-flavored Jell-O®
Two 8-ounce packages Philadelphia® cream cheese (regular, not “light”), at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Decoration – raspberries, mint leaf sprigs, cherry gummy candies, chocolate hearts covered in red foil, white chocolate pieces

Directions:
1. In a 2 or 3-quart glass or porcelain bowl, slowly add the boiling water to the Jell-O® mix until it is all dissolved. Keep stirring the mix with a spoon until you no longer see the pink powder.

2. Transfer the bowl with liquid Jell-O® to refrigerator, uncovered, for about 10 to 15 minutes. It should be cool, NOT SET.

3. In the meantime, in a stand mixer bowl (or a bowl using a handheld electric cake mixer), beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract.

4. Beat at high speed until mixture is uniform. Set bowl with cream cheese mixture aside.

5. If using a stand mixer, transfer the cream cheese mixture to another large bowl – you will now use the stand mixer bowl to beat the whipping cream.

6. In a clean 4-quart bowl and using a handheld mixer (or the stand mixer bowl), beat the whipping cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.

7. Using a spatula, gently and gradually (a little at a time) stir the raspberry Jell-O® liquid into the whipped cream.

8. Mix it slowly until the mixture is evenly-colored (reddish-pink).

9. Then, with a handheld wire whisk or spatula, gently and slowly add the whipped cream mixture to the cream cheese filling in bowl. Mix until it is all evenly-colored.

10. Pour the raspberry cream cheese filling into the prepared springform pan.

11. Transfer the cheesecake to refrigerator – uncovered – for 6 hours or overnight.

To Serve Cheesecake:
1. Take a knife and run it between pan sides and cheesecake.

2. Carefully/slowly release sides of springform pan.

3. Place cheesecake (with bottom of pan) on a serving platter and decorate it. Serve.
Note: Cheesecake keeps (refrigerated) up to 5 days.
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real