Saturday, July 23, 2011

Espresso Ice Cream Pie

I promised to make dinner for my sister yesterday, but battling the heat proved too much to bake one of her favorite desserts-cupcakes. I asked her for an alternate request and she replied anything that consisted of "coffee." This is what I created for her, it was such a refreshing treat in the 100 F weather!

1 Oreo cookie pie shell (store bought or home-made)

2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Store bought coffee ice cream would work well too

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set aside the Oreo cookie pie crust.

Start making ice cream by beating the sugar and eggs until thickened and pale yellow. Beat in the flour and salt. Set aside.

Bring the milk and espresso to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. If needed, strain any espresso that did not incorporate into the milk.

Slowly beat the hot milk and espresso into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not the let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl. Allow the custard to cool slightly, then stir in the cream and vanilla. Cover and refridgerate until cold or overnight.

Stir the chilled custard then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. When finished, transfer to the Oreo cookie pie crust. Smooth top. Cover with plastic wrap and place immediately in the freezer.
Note: Ice cream will need at least 2 hours to firm.

Meanwhile, start making the chocolate whipped cream by combining the cream and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixture until soft peaks form (when you lift the beaters, the cream will form points that curl over at the tips). Add cocoa and sugar gradually while continuing to beat until stiff.
Note: If you have the time, chill the mixing bowl and beaters, as cream whips faster in a chilled bowl.

Assemble the last part of the pie by spreading the chocolate whipped cream over the firm espresso ice cream. Pie can be eaten immediately or placed in the freezer for an hour.

To garnish, top with chocolate curls, chocolate covered espresso beans, sifted cocoa powder, warm chocolate ganache or oreo cookies. The possibilities are endless.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes: Version 2

These cupcakes are super moist (secret: boiling water!) and are topped with yummy, sugary vanilla buttercream frosting. A favorite of my sister's, decide for yourself which version of the chocolate cupcake you like best!

Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for cupcakes
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whole milk

Ingredients for frosting
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions for cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder into a large bowl.

In another medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrap edges and continue to mix for another 2 minutes.

Add boiling water to the batter, stir until incorporated. Take care not to over mix. Let the batter sit for five minutes before dividing evenly into prepared tins.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway.

Cool cupcakes on the rack completely.

Directions for frosting
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Frost the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes

Nothing says comfort like chocolate cupcakes. Here is Ina Garten's famous Chocolate Ganache Cupcake recipe with a twist. Adding instant espresso to the batter and frosting adds depth to the chocolate, giving these treats the wow factor!

Ingredients for cake
1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup (recommended: Hershey's)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon instant espresso granules (add as much or little as you like!)

Ingredients for ganache topping
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

Line muffin pans with 12 paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and espresso granules and mix until just combined. (Don't overbeat!!!)

Scoop the batter 3/4 full (these cupcakes don't rise much!) into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes (not a second longer!) Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly in the pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant espresso in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache. Let set. Eat with a tall glass of cold milk!

Do not refrigerate.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From Our Table: A Sweet Taste of Fall

Fall is here and so are soul satisfying foods. Nothing says comfort food like a pumpkin dessert! Here is a delicious recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie pies. Even better, the cakes are held together with maple cream cheese frosting. Yummm!

Ingredients for Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups CHILLED pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugars and oil until creamy. Whisk in the chilled pumpkin until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Flavor with vanilla.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter, making sure everything is well combined. But do not overmix!

Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Ingredients for maple cream cheese filling
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Make the filling: Beat the butter until smooth.Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

This recipe makes about 16 whoopie pies. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Delicious Patriotism

Delicious any day of the year, these cupcakes are the perfect dessert to serve at your fourth of July cookout.

3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon peel, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl.

Whisk melted butter and oil in medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract, and peel; whisk to blend.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Whisk just to blend. Divide batter among liners.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks, cool before frosting.

Frosting is so simple! In a mixer, combine 16 ounces of mascarpone cheese with ½ cup powdered sugar. Blend until creamy.

To turn these everyday cupcakes into a patriotic treat, garnish with blueberries and strawberries.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boston's Top Outdoor Eateries

I love cooking but every once in a while, on a steamy summer night, all I want is for someone else to work over the hot stove. During the summer months there are lots of restaurants that accommodate outdoor dining, which is my favorite way to feast. Here are Boston's top restaurants with water views, side walk patios, green gardens, and roof top terraces. Don’t forget to check which restaurants have heat lamps and fire pits for those chilly New England nights.

Roof Top Dining
Blu Restaurant
Perched on the fourth floor at the Ritz Carlton in Downtown Crossing, the modern, metropolitan roof top patio is great for enjoying urban outdoor dining.

Thanks to the high wooden fence, comfy patio furniture and plenty of greenery, the rooftop dining area at dbar has a cozy backyard feel.

Poe’s Kitchen
The roof deck, outdoor bar and full menu makes the Rattlesnake at Poe’s kitchen one of the most popular summer dining spots in Boston.

Ocean Views
606 Congress
Head down to the Renaissance Boston Hotel in the Seaport District to dine on contemporary American cuisine while cooling off with the crisp sea breeze.

Rowes Wharf Sea Grille
Situated in the Boston Harbor Hotel, Rowes Wharf Sea Grille is the perfect spot to enjoy seaside dining in the heart of the city. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The sophisticated but casual stone terrace at Sensing’s is the ideal setting to enjoy seasonal and lighter fare by the harbor.

Rain or Shine
Bistro 44
Located at the Doubletree Bedford Glen Hotel, Bistro 44 boasts a beautifully landscaped stone patio, with giant umbrellas to provide shelter from the afternoon sun and a fire pit for New England’s cooler nights.

The South End’s premiere outdoor eatery showcases a plant-lined, bricked patio. At brunch catch some sun or cool off in the shade under big umbrellas. During dinner hours, ask the waiter to fire up the heat lamps to chase away the chill.

The patio at Harvest is as close to an urban garden in the center of Harvard Square as you’ll get. Lush green trees and oversized umbrellas offer plenty of shade during lunch hours, and powerful heat lamps are on hand for the unexpected cool summer evening.

Green Gardens
For an authentic Provencal experience, the patio at Miel’s is surrounded by fragrant greens like basil, rosemary, thyme and lavender. Enjoy a meal overlooking the promenade, the Intercontinental gardens, and Fort Point Channel.

Aka Bistro
Secure one of the 28 seats in the outdoor dining area, at one of the wrought-iron, umbrella-topped tables, and enjoy your meal overlooking the manicured lawns along Lincoln Road.

Located in the heart of the Financial District, seats on the terrace overlook the Norman Leventhal Park. Seats are available Thursday through Saturday on a first come, first served basis, weather permitting.

People watch on the patio
Kingfish Hall
Faneuil Hall is full of tourists in the summer months, but locals know the best place to eat is at Kingfish Hall. Enjoy Todd English's praised menu on an umbrella covered, mosaic topped patio table.

Om Restaurant |Lounge
Located in the middle of Harvard Square, this tranquil outdoor dining area is adorned with
sandstone wall figures from Northern Thailand, and Nepali hand-carved woodwork.

Stephanie’s on Newbury
If you love to people watch, Stephanie’s in Boston’s Back Bay claims the best sidewalk seating on swanky Newbury Street. Exhausted shoppers can take in the high-energy scene while refueling with Stephanie’s tasty comfort food.

Find some quiet in the city
Henrietta’s Table
Overlooking the plaza at the Charles Hotel, this Harvard Square eatery is removed enough to be a relaxing, quiet spot to enjoy farm fresh eats.

Olean’s lush, flower-filled patio is one of Cambridge’s favorite outdoor dining spaces. Enjoy award-winning chef Ana Sortun’s al fresco fare while escaping from the bustle of the city.

Stanhope Grille
Located at the Back Bay Hotel, Stanhope Grille’s expansive, stone terrace is located just below street level, offering patrons a cool and removed spot to enjoy their dinner.

Special Occasions
La Voile
La Voile channels its homeland with its authentic menu and informally elegant outdoor dining area. Guests will think they are dining on the French Riveria and not on Newbury Street.

Located in the South End, Masa’s intimate sidewalk patio offers patrons southwestern-inspired fare among a handful of candlelit two tops.

City goers looking for after dinner entertainment should head to Pigalle’s outdoor patio, which is in walking distance of the bright lights of the Theater District.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From our Table: One Pot Wonder

I love seafood, especially in the summer. Last night for a gathering we made Cioppino and it was a definite crowd pleaser. It's a one pot meal and can feed a large crowd; so invite all your friends over and serve this for dinner tonight.

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco and derived from the various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, so there’s no right or wrong combination of fish to make this dish.

My one suggestion is to buy seafood that’s not overly delicate. Firm fish like haddock, red snapper, salmon and wild striped bass usually work well. Clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, squid and scallops are fantastic additions to this recipe too.

Although not completely traditional (I add meat to mine!), here is my favorite version of Cioppino.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups shrimp stock or vegetable stock
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon honey
Few dashes hot sauce
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds haddock, cut into 2-inch squares
32 scallops
32 Mussels
32 littleneck clams
2 links of spicy Chorizo sausage, sliced
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Lightly oil the bottom of a Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Saute the haddock, scallops and chorizo until golden brown on each side. Do Not Cook All The Way Through. Remove from pan and set aside.

To the Dutch oven, add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine.

Once the pan is deglazed, add the remainder of the wine and cook until reduced by 3/4. Add the stock, tomatoes, honey, hot sauce, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a simmer. Add the clams and mussels, cover the pot, and continue cooking until the shellfish have opened, discarding any that have not opened.

Remove the shellfish with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place all the seafood back into the broth just to warm. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

The best way sop up the broth is with sourdough croutons. If you have a bread maker it's worth making your own bread for this, if not, a store-bought sourdough will do just fine.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 loaf sourdough, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the bread cubes and thyme, toss to coat, and then transfer to a baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.