Archive for the ‘cake’ Category

Something Sweet: Cookbook Review

September 5, 2015

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Disclosure: Artscroll provided me with a review copy of Something Sweet. Opinions expressed are my own.

Four years ago, Miriam Pascal started her kosher blog Overtime Cook as a creative outlet. What started out as a lark ended up changing Pacal’s life, leading her to a burgeoning career as food writer and photographer. Something Sweet is her first cookbook.

Flipping through this beautiful cookbook, it is easy to see how Pascal has won the loyalty of her many readers, both at Overtime Cook and through her column for Whisk (Ami Magazine). She understands that home bakers want recipes that are simple to prepare, but with a bit of “wow” factor.

Almost all the recipes in the book look easy to make. Some are classic recipes–like chocolate chip cookies–that Pascal has adapted to work with oil instead of margarine or butter. Many others put a modern spin on old favorites, such as the Blueberry Muffin Cookies or the Pumpkin Crumb Cake. Quite a few have a playfulness that should particularly appeal to kids, like the Fruity Pebbles Cookies, the Confetti Cheesecake Cupcakes, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake or the Cookies ‘n Cream Stuffed Waffles.

This mix of basic and more creative recipes makes the cookbook useful for novices and seasoned bakers alike. Even if you have many dessert cookbooks, Something Sweet will give you something new to make. On the other hand, if you are just starting out in the kitchen, you will appreciate that Pascal has included all the dessert staples: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, three recipes for chocolate cake (one for cupcakes, one for layer cake and one for bundt cake), an all-purpose vanilla cake, a few different flavors of mousse, two sorbets, chocolate truffles and barks, pie dough, tart dough, roll-out vanilla sugar cookies, cookie icing, several recipes for cake frosting and glazes and even three sauces for plating desserts.

With this cookbook in hand, you should be prepared to face almost any dessert challenge, whether it is a simple cake for Shabbos, a plated dessert for sheva brachos or even a dessert table for a simcha. The book helpfully lists which recipes are appropriate for various occasions and gives detailed advice about freezing desserts, plating individual servings and setting up a dessert table.

Pascal includes a few whole-grain/low-sugar desserts, and she replaces margarine wherever possible with oil, but this not the sort of whole-foods cookbook that replaces dairy ingredients with cashew cream, silken tofu or coconut milk. There are quite a few recipes that require (to be pareve) margarine, pareve whip, soy sour cream or soy cream cheese.

In general, Pascal is not afraid to use convenience foods to make recipes easier. For example, the lemon and strawberry mousses get their fruity flavor from store-bought pie filling that is folded into a mix of whipped cream and cream cheese. There is also a Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie that is basically pareve ice cream mixed with pumpkin puree and some flavorings, spread in a store-bought graham cracker crust.

The Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie is only one of several recipes in the book that are perfect for this time of year. Here are others: Healthy Apple Spice Muffins, Chocolate Chunk Honey Cookies, Honey Sour Cream Bundt Cake, Pomegranate Cupcakes, Pumpkin Crumb Cake, Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies, Gingerbread Biscotti, Caramel Apple Bundt Cake and Braided Apple Pie.

I made the Pumpkin Crumb Cake and can highly recommend it. The subtle flavor of pumpkin melds perfectly with the cinnamon-ey, crumb-topped, velvet-textured goodness of classic crumb cake. And both the cake and crumb topping are made with oil instead of margarine. I wanted to make individual portions, so I divided the batter between 13 tulip muffin cups.¬† These muffin cups are extra deep, so there is more room for batter and crumb topping. Even so, I was afraid that the very generous amount of crumb topping would spill over as the batter rose in the oven, so I only used half of the crumb mixture. It turns out, I could have used more, but the mini crumb cakes were still delicious with the lesser amount of crumbs. (more…)

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S’mores Chocolate Cake

June 8, 2015

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Chocolate cake, glazed with chocolate, topped with a mixture of marshmallows, graham cracker bits, cake cubes and a drizzle of more chocolate glaze. Easy to make and keeps well.

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Purim Bananagrams

March 3, 2015

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I decided to turn my recent obsession with banana cake into a mishloach manot theme. I was playing Bananagrams with my kids when the idea hit me: Purim Bananagrams!

Components of Bananagrams mishloach manot: alphabet cookie squares (these cookies look like Bananagrams tiles), banana cake, a banana, a banana-strawberry juice box, and candy made from Rice Crispies, chocolate and banana chips. The note with the mishloach manot has a drawing of Bananagrams tiles spelling out a Purim message. I have recreated that message in tiles in the picture above. I have also used Hebrew tiles to spell out Purim words and a message.

One more thing: I made a cake for the seuda (a chocolate cake with chocolate glaze) and I used the alphabet cookie squares to write Happy Purim on it. (I have to say, alphabet cookie squares are a really handy way of writing a message on a cake. This is a good thing to keep in mind next time you have to write happy birthday on a cake and don’t feel like using a piping bag.)

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

February 17, 2015

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This banana bread is especially good. It is moist, with an intense banana flavor and with a more subtle undercurrent of caramel from the dark brown sugar. Add big chunks of chocolate to make this loaf cake absolutely irresistible.

Instead of making it in a large loaf pan, you can make it in little loaf pans (6″x4″). If you have five extra-ripe bananas lying around, you can make a big batch of batter and get 9 mini loaves. If you can find the 4.25″ square foil cups, you can make¬† 12-13 mini square cakes.

These freeze well and make nice gifts.

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Parshat Balak: Ma Tovu Ohalecha, Yaakov

July 4, 2014

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“Mah tovu ohalecha, Yaakov, mishkenotecha, Yisrael!” (How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Israel!)

The bright spot these past few weeks has been the display of achdut (unity). In this week’s parsha, there appears Bilaam’s famous words about the tents of Yaacov, the dwelling places of Israel.

Why was it that Bilaam was forced to praise the Jewish people in this manner instead of cursing them as he intended? Rashi says that it was because he saw that the openings of the tents did not face each other. This indicated that Bnei Yisroel did wish to look into each others tents. This in turn reflected a sense of unity without jealousy and with respect for individuality and privacy.

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Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

June 6, 2014

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My mother called to tell me she made an amazing banana cake–the best ever!–she wanted to thank me for helping her convert the recipe from a margarine/butter-based recipe to an oil-based recipe. Instead of replacing the butter with oil in a one to one ratio, I told her to add slightly less oil than butter and make up the difference in volume with a little water.

Why? Because most butter is only about 81 percent butterfat (somewhere between 80 and 86 percent). The rest is water and milkfat solids. So 3/4 cup margarine is approximately equal to 10 Tbl. oil and 2 Tbl. water.

She also made a few of her own tweaks to the recipe–a little less sugar, a pinch more flour–and the result was a moist, but not greasy or heavy cake. My mom was thrilled: “Usually my banana cakes fall in the center or are heavy, but this cake was perfect!”

I was inspired to make the cake, too. My blender was on the counter, so I used that to mix up the batter. I decided to gild the lily by making a chocolate glaze with melted chocolate chips and coconut oil. The glaze tastes a bit like Magic Shell or the coating on ice cream bars. The flavor combination of cake and glaze is reminiscent of chocolate covered frozen bananas.

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Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

April 11, 2014

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Chocolate cupcakes made with quinoa? Yes. They are really good: moist, fluffy and intensely chocolate.

This is an adaption of a recipe from a 2009 cookbook called Quinoa 365, by Patrica Green and Carolyn Hemming. It also appears on the authors’ website, Patricia & Carolyn. This recipe has been making the rounds on the internet, appearing on quite a number of food blogs, all with rave reviews.

Cake on the Brain had the idea of making the batter into cupcakes to make the cake more sturdy and less squidgy. I thought this was an excellent idea and copied it. I don’t have the jumbo muffin pan that Cake on the Brain apparently possesses, so instead of getting 12 large cupcakes, I got 15 normal cupcakes.

I made very few changes to the original recipe. To make the recipe pareve, I replaced the butter with oil and the milk with coffee.

The recipe calls for either 2 cups of cooked quinoa or 2/3 cup dry quinoa cooked with 1 1/3 cups water. If you are making quinoa pilaf or salad, just make extra quinoa. I made a whole 12 ounce bag of quinoa (2 cups dried), which, when cooked, was enough for a quinoa salad plus this recipe.

Bonus: Patricia & Carolyn also have a recipe for Quinoa Lasagna that looks fantastic and would be great for Pesach.

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Prune Danish Braid (use up your leftover lekvar)

March 26, 2014

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I had leftover lekvar and I mulled over all these creative options for using it up in a dessert. When I presented these options to my husband, along with the option of a simple prune danish, my husband voted for the danish.

The filling for this danish can be straight-up lekvar spooned out from the jar, but I decided to make it a little more interesting. Walnuts, mini mocha chips and an orange-vanilla glaze add extra texture and flavor.

As far as the dough is concerned, I use a few tricks to make and bake the dough extra quickly: (1) putting the dough in a warm oven to push it to rise faster; (2) folding the dough at intervals to strengthen it instead of kneading; and (3) putting the shaped dough in the oven after a very short (15 minute) rising period. With these tricks, the recipe will take about 1 3/4 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the danish out of the oven. If you take things a little slower or allow for a slightly longer rising time, it will take closer to 2 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the finished danish from the oven.

If you double the dough, you can make two small challahs plus the danish.

 

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Molten Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen

March 16, 2014

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Ok, I guess this is a bit late in the day to post. But, better late than never!

Chocolate chip cookie dough filled with ganache, served warm so that the chocolate filling is all melted and runny. The hamantaschen will spread if they are not contained, so it is best to enclose the shaped cookies with foil to keep them from spreading.

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Mabul Bars

October 4, 2013

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This is Leora’s parshat Noach pun: marble cake (or whatever) for mabul or flood. The bars are Mrs. S’s recipe. I used part brown sugar instead of all white and added a little vanilla extract.

Prior Parshat Noach desserts:

Mabul Cupcakes

Rainbow Cookies