Sunday, June 30, 2013

Patriot Pavlovas

Patriot Pavlovas
This sophisticated dessert is light, and perfect for a Fourth of July party. They are fun and easy to make, and almost as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.  

Makes 4 pavlovas
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
  • 7 drops blue food coloring (optional)*
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • lemon-raspberry balsamic reduction
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

For Lemon-Raspberry Balsamic Reduction:
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • scant 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam
  • The zest and juice of one large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 5-7 drops of red food coloring (optional)*

*When it is not Fourth of July, food coloring is obviously not needed.  (We did not add enough of the blue food coloring when we made it, so we adjusted the recipe so you get a nice red-white-and-blue dessert.)

Prep Work:
    1. Preheat oven to 300o.  Line one cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
    2. Use the top of a martini glass to trace four circles on the parchment paper to use as guides for the pavlova.  Flip the paper over, so that no graphite gets into the meringue

For reduction:
1.      Combine the vinegar, sugar, jam, zest, juice, and red food coloring in a saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally.  At this stage, it will smell bad and very vinegary.  Don't worry, it tastes good!

2.      When the meringue shells come out of the oven remove from the heat, and stir in the corn syrup.

For Pavlova:
1.      Combine the egg whites, castor sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and blue food coloring in a mixer, and beat on the highest setting until stiff peaks form.

2.      Transfer meringue to a pastry bag and construct the shells. This is where those nifty circles come in. Starting with the outside edge, use concentric circles to form a base. Then, place two layers of circles around the edge of the top of the base to form the walls. Use any extra meringue to make small cookies (they should be about the size of bon-bons. Make them really in any shape you like, just so long as they aren't too thin, and they are about one inch in diameter.)

3.      Place the cookie sheet with the shells in the oven and bake for about 25-30 min.  (If you made cookies, put them in the oven for the last 10 min).  After this time has elapsed, turn off the oven, leaving the meringues inside for another 20 min or so.

4.      Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5.      For whipped cream, combine the cream and powdered sugar in a mixer, and beat on a high setting, until soft peaks form. Set aside.

6.      Slice the strawberries and combine in a medium sized bowl with the blueberries.

7.      Pour the raspberry-lemon balsamic reduction over the berries. Toss to coat every berry.

8.      Remove the shells from the cookie sheet, and transfer to plates. Fill each shell with the whipped cream, and top with the berries. Serve immediately.

9.      Devour hungrily like the ravenous beast you are.

10. Repeat

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Salted-Caramel Almond Cookies

Salted-Caramel Almond Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 stick of butter (softened)
  • ½ cup of castor sugar
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1½ heaping tsp of good quality vanilla (don’t skimp)
  • Ben’s Special Salted-Caramel
  • Slivered almonds as desired (I like to use a lot, as it adds extra crunch to the cookie)

For Ben’s Special Salted-Caramel:
  • 1 heaping packed-cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of milk (whole, 2%, even lactose-free milk can be used, it doesn't really matter so long as it came from a cow)
  • ½ stick of butter
  • ½ Tbsp of salt
  • 1¼  heaping Tbsp of good quality vanilla (don’t skimp)
  • 1½ tsp unsweetened coco powder

Prep Work:
    1. Preheat oven to 375o.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Spray said parchment paper with non-stick baking spray, such as Pam, as these cookies will stick to even parchment paper.
    2. Pour yourself a nice refreshing beverage to keep on-hand, as things are about to get HOT.  This step is optional but highly recommended.

For Caramel:
1.      Combine the brown sugar, milk/cream/half-and-half, butter, coco powder, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
2.      Allow ingredients to melt together and bubble away, while stirring gently with a wooden spoon for about six and a half minutes or so.
3.      Add the vanilla.  Continue stirring for an additional minute.  (The caramel will hiss and bubble up violently when vanilla is added)
4.      Remove from heat and allow to sit.  Resist all temptations to eat said caramel.

For Cookie:
1.      Whisk together flour and baking soda
2.      In a mixer, beat butter, castor sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
3.      Beat in the egg, salt, and vanilla.
4.      On a low speed, carefully beat in the caramel.  If it has become too firm, heat until it starts to melt again.  Don’t worry.  If you can’t get all the caramel in before it gets too firm again, just let the firmer caramel plop into the dough, and mix on a higher as it add a ribbon-effect.
5.      Fold in the almonds.
6.      At this stage the cookie dough should be about halfway between cookie dough and brownie batter in terms of consistency.  Transfer dough to cookie sheet.  Make any size desired, keeping in mind that they will spread.  A lot.  For cookies approx one inch in diameter (will spread to about three) bake for about 17 min.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool.

7.      Devour hungrily like the ravenous beast you are.
8.      Repeat

NOTE: When this recipe was first posted, there was a major typo.  It originally said that you needed 1/2 cup of baking soda.  As you could probably tell, that's WAY too much.  We're sorry if you made this and ended up with a terrible batch of cookies.