Category: Baked Goods

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

 

This recipe for triple-chocolate brownies has been in our family for generations. I believe this another of those recipes that got clipped from a weekly newspaper’s food column by one of my grandmothers. I’ve made adjustments to it over the years, using butter as opposed to margarine and adding chocolate chips and nuts.

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

The brownies are very moist and may be made a day in advance. Don’t cut them into squares until they are completely cool and hold their shape. Use an 8” x 8” x 2” square pan, lightly greased and you’ll end up with 16 two-inch square brownies.

The nuts are optional and if you have a group that is divided over nuts, sprinkle some on half the top and all will be happy.

Triple-Chocolate Brownies

These triple-chocolate brownies are quick and easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. Don’t hesitate to serve with a scoop of ice cream on the side!

Watch the Triple-Chocolate Brownies Video Here:


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Triple-Chocolate Brownies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Baked Good
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 16 two-inch brownies
 
Brownies are an all-time favorite and these triple- chocolate brownies bring three times the flavor! Quick and easy to prepare.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan.
  3. Place the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or microwave-safe bowl and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted, take off heat to stir the chocolate to help it melt. Don’t let the mixture get too hot or the chocolate will seize.
  4. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, which helps cool the chocolate.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat lightly. Beating too hard will incorporate air and create a less dense brownie.
  6. Stir in the flour mixing until all the flour has been incorporated.
  7. Stir in the chips and nuts, if using, until thoroughly blended.
  8. Spread mixture into the greased baking pan.
  9. Top the brownie batter with the walnuts, if desired.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes; the rownies are done when top looks cracked and the sides have pulled away slightly. A toothpick inserted in the middle should show a moist crumb.
  11. Cool and cut into squares.

 

How To Blind Bake a Pastry Crust

Blind baking

 

Some pie fillings don’ require baking, but the crust certainly does, and it’s a simple technique to blind bake a pastry crust!

Whenever I make pie, I think of Grandma Mary, my mother’s mother. Pies have always been a big thing in our family and I remember when Grandma taught me how to make my first pie dough. I was 16 and my parents had gone on vacation, a very rare occurrence, I can assure you.

We set up on the table in the breakfast nook, put all the ingredients together, gently brought the dough together and rolled it out. I think this is the only cooking experience I ever had with her, which I now regret considering the repertoire of recipes she had in her head! I didn’t realize until it was too late the importance of learning about food and recipes from family members, including my Mother-in-Law who passed away very early in our marriage. Her sisters and daughter didn’t know her secrets either.

Cherish your memories of cooking with family and remember to write down traditional recipes, even if you need to measure as you go along because they don’t!

See the How To Blind Bake a Pastry Crust Here

How To Blind Bake a Pastry Crust
  •  Line your pie or tart pan with the dough. Either crimp the edges or cut the crust even to the edge of the pan.
  • Poke holes in dough to allow steam to escape, which prevents buckling on the bottom of the pie crustBlind baking
  • Place plastic wrap or aluminum foil in the bottom of the pie pan and fill with pie weights or beans about three-quarters of the way up the sides
  • Refrigerate pie while preheating the oven to 375 degrees F
  • Bake 20 minutes
  • Remove pie weights and cool before storing
  • Return pie pan to oven for another 15 minutes or until golden brownBlind baking
  • Cool
  • Pour in prepared filling.

How to Freeze Pastry Dough

Can I freeze pastry dough

 

How to freeze pastry dough is a simple task. Making pastry dough is a little time consuming and a little messy. I always make several batches at one time and freeze it. Pastry dough freezes well and defrosts quickly. Freezing extras makes it easy to whip up a pie for dessert or a delicious savory quiche for lunch or dinner.

Can I freeze pastry dough

Next time you’re in the mood for pie, be sure to make extra. You can either freeze the round by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, then with foil and store in a zippered freezer bag. The pastry dough keeps for months in the freezer.

Can I freeze pastry dough

Alternatively, roll out the dough, lay it on foil, cover with wax paper or parchment paper, roll it up and seal tightly. This makes it even faster and easier to whip up that pie or quiche; just thaw and line your pie pan.

Can I freeze pastry dough

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter while you get your ingredients prepared. If the dough thaws before you’re ready to use it, put it in the refrigerator to keep it firm. It can stay in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for several days.

You can also pre-bake a crust and freeze it, but it takes up more room in the freezer and it’s awkward to wrap.

Be sure to stock up and enjoy the luxury of having pie more often!

Watch the How To Freeze Pastry Dough Video Here:

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Scones

 

What a perfect day to make scones. I have a couple of blood oranges on hand and always have some dried cranberries in the pantry. Cranberry-Orange Scones coming up!

Scones

We are in the midst of our first big snow storm for 2017. We’re expecting somewhere between 6- to 12-inches. The plow guys are here now for the first plowing and it looks like we’ve easily hit the 6-inch mark. They’ll be back later in the day, after the snow ends to clean up the rest of the downfall. It’s windy, that howling wind that tells you it’s bitter cold outside – BRRRR. My weather app says the temp is 26, but “real feel” is 4 degrees. Glad I’m inside.

Once these delicious scones come out of the oven, I’ll be sitting by the fireplace with a cup of tea and a warm, aromatic, delicious cranberry-orange scone.

Scones

Stay warm and cozy friends!

Watch the Cranberry-Orange Scone Video Here:

 

 

Cranberry-Orange Scones
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Good
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 8 scones
 
A delicious start to any morning or with a spot of tea in the afternoon, Cranberry-Orange Scones are always a welcome treat!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 450º F (232º C).
  2. Mix flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Slice in butter into 12 pieces and cut into flour until butter is size of peas.
  4. Mix in dried cranberries and orange zest.
  5. Push flour mixture to sides of bowl, making a well in center of bowl. Pour cream into well, and cover with flour mixture. Mix gently, a minimal amount of mixing and kneading produces a light, delicate scone, until all ingredients are wet.
  6. Lightly dust work surface with flour and gently knead dough 10 times. Form dough into a round.
  7. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness and slice into 8 wedges.
  8. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Remove to a cooling rack.

Deep Dish Apple Pie

Apple Pie

 

Apple pie is a family favorite. Apple orchards are plentiful in Rochester, NY, my hometown and we always had a nice assortment of varieties on hand and drank lots of fresh-pressed apple cider. Deep Dish Apple Pie is just an excuse to use more apples!

Watch the video:

 

I think most people are familiar with apple pie ala mode, but in our family, the pie was always served with sliced extra-sharp Cheddar cheese on the side. The cider mills we bought our apples and cider at also sold cheese. After all, cheese and apples are a natural pairing!

Apple Pie

For a more interesting and complex pie, use at least three types of apples, such as Granny Smith, McIntosh and Rome. The sweet, tart and soft, firm textures blend nicely. Nuts, raisins and/or dried cranberries are a nice way to mix it up a little, the nuts provide texture and the dried fruit soaks up the apple juices.

Don’t forget to pierce the top of the pie dough several times. This allows the steam to escape and keeps your crust intact. The egg wash creates a shiny, golden brown crust – don’t skip it.

Apple Pie

I’ve never seen a pie recipe that suggests buttering the pie pan. I think the high fat content of the pie dough makes everyone think it won’t stick, but it does. Those juices leak out and the crimped crust breaks off and the bottom crust doesn’t easily release. So save those butter wrappers from the pastry dough and use them to butter the pie pan. You can thank me later!

Apple Pie

This recipe calls for a double crust, add 2 tablespoons sugar to the recipe for a sweet crust.

The pie can be frozen uncooked and baked from the frozen state. Wrap tightly and store for only a month. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake another hour or until the apples tender when pierced with a knife.

Apple Pie

Deep Dish Apple Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Makes: 1 9-inch pie
 
For a more interesting and complex pie, use at least three types of apples, such as Granny Smith, McIntosh and Rome. The sweet, tart and soft, firm textures blend nicely. Nuts, raisins and/or dried cranberries are a nice way to mix it up a little, the nuts provide texture and the dried fruit soaks up the apple juices. Serve with extra-sharp Cheddar cheese on the side. The pie can be frozen uncooked and baked from the frozen state. Wrap tightly and store for only a month. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake another hour or until the apples tender when pierced with a knife.
Ingredients
  • One double-crust pie recipe with sugar
  • 9 apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (~ 2.5 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • juice of one lemon
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional
  • ¼ cup raisins, optional
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
Method
  1. Combine the apple slices, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped walnuts, raisins, sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pour mixture into a prepared bottom crust in a 10-inch deep dish pie pan and tuck in the fruit to fit tightly.
  3. Cover with the top crust, crimp, and cut steam wholes.
  4. Brush crust with the egg wash.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for one hour, or until apples are soft when pierced with a knife.
  6. Remove to a baker’s rack and cool.

How to Roll Out Pastry Dough

pastry dough/pie crust

 

Following up on our last post – Basic Pie Dough – here’s how to roll out pastry dough.  LLINK

Watch the video here:

 
Rolling out the Dough

Lightly flour a flat surface to prevent sticking, place the dough in middle and lightly flour the top of the dough and the rolling pin.

The dough is cold and stiff, so start by tapping on the dough with the rolling pin in different directions, flip, flour and tap again.

pastry dough/pie crust

The dough has flattened a bit and warmed up, now place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and push out away from you. Place the dough in the center and pull towards you. Turn the dough, add a sprinkle of flour, and turn the 90 degrees and repeat. Keep rolling and turning until the dough is a 14-inch round and about ¼-inch thick.

pastry dough/pie crust

Fold the dough in half and in half again. Place the center point in the middle of the pan and reopen. Tuck the pie dough into the pan making sure to leave no gaps at the edges. Trim to 1-inch from the rim of the pan.

pastry dough/pie crust

Don’t discard those scraps – make these pastry treats.

For a single pie crust, tuck edges of the dough under and then crimp with your fingers or with a fork to make a decorative edge.

For a double pie crust, add filling, trim dough and tuck both top and bottom crusts under and crimp.

Basic Pie Dough

How to make pie dough

 

Whenever I make a pie dough, I think of Grandma Mary, my mother’s mother. Pies have always been a big thing in our family and I remember when my Grandma taught me how to make my very first pie dough. I was 16 and my parents had gone on vacation, a very rare occurrence, I can assure you.

I asked her to teach me and we set up on the table in the breakfast nook, put all the ingredients together, gently brought the pie dough together and rolled it out. I think this is the only cooking experience I ever had with her, which is a real shame considering the repertoire of recipes she had in her head! I didn’t realize until it was too late the importance of learning about food and recipes from family members, including my Mother-in-Law who passed away very early on in our marriage. Her sisters and daughter didn’t know her secrets either.

Cherish your memories of cooking with family and remember to write down traditional recipes, even if you need to measure ingredients as you go along because they don’t!

Watch the video here:

 

Ratios

For a basic, savory pie dough use a 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to water, plus a little salt (1/2 teaspoon per 1 ½ cups flour). For a sweet pie dough add 1 tablespoon sugar per 1 ½ cups flour.

Flavored Crusts

Add more sugar for a sweeter crust, add herbs for a savory quiche or shredded cheese for a savory crust or a sweet and cheesy crust for apple pie!

Smear the Butter

You don’t need special equipment to make the dough. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the four and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with the appliances.

Smearing the butter coats the flour with fat and is one step in preventing an over-developed gluten. The other important factor is as little agitation as possible: minimal mixing, no kneading.How to make pie dough

Want a flakier crust? Leave the butter pieces a little larger pieces.

Flaky Crust

Butter contains about 15-20% water and milk solids, the rest is fat. Because of the water content, a butter crust is crispier than a crust made with lard or shortening, both of which are 100% fat.

The water in the butter turns to steam, puffs up the layers and creates the flaky, crispy crust.

Add the Water

Water is always given in an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter getting too soft. Add about half the water and firs and just toss the flour and water together. Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.

How to make pie dough

Divide the dough in half, it’s loose and crumbly because you haven’t forced it together yet, and scoop each half onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form a mound and wrap the dough.

Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

 

How to make pie dough

For a double crust recipe: divide the ingredients in half and follow the instructions above.

Basic Pie Dough
Author: 
Recipe type: Baking
Makes: 2 crusts
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and kept cold
  • ¾ cup cold water, approximate
Method
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, add the butter, which has been cut into small pieces and work the flour and butter together by smearing together with your thumb and index finger until the butter is the size of peas.
  2. Alternatively, use a pastry blender, electric mixer or food processor, but be very cautious of over developing the dough when you add water with the appliances.
  3. Water is always given as an approximation; it depends on how much moisture is in the flour. Use only cold water to keep the butter from getting too soft. Add about half the water at first and just toss the flour and water together. Pick up a small handful of the dough and press together. If it falls apart, add more water, toss and check. Keep this up until the dough holds together with no crumbling.
  4. Divide the dough in half, it's loose and crumbly because you haven't forced it together yet, and scoop each half onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form a mound and wrap the dough.
  5. Push the mound down with the palm of your hand and form a disc. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight to hydrate the flour.

 

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

 

This Rhubarb Coffee Cake brings back a great memory. A few years ago my niece Rebecca and her family and my brother were visiting from Germany. As I was gathering my ingredients for the cake, Rebecca asked if she could help. It was our first cooking experience together, which made it special.

That visit was a few years ago and Emma, my great-niece, was only 18 months old. She’ll celebrate her 6th birthday next month and has a younger sister, Marla, who’ll celebrate her 4th birthday in January.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Unfortunately, we don’t see them very often and with two small children, they don’t come to the US – we go there. We try to visit once a year just to keep up with the girls. That year between visits is long time at this young age and the changes in the girls are mind blowing.

Watch Video Here:

 

Rhubarb season here in the northeast is spring. But in the south rhubarb is in season now and occasionally, we see it in stores around our area. This cake is sweet-tart and served warm with a cup of tea or coffee is a nice way to start the day.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I know you don’t want to bake a cake on Thanksgiving morning, but the cake can be made in advance, frozen, thawed overnight and gently warmed in the microwave. So, start your Thanksgiving morning off with a warm slice of Rhubarb Coffee Cake before you dive into all your turkey preparations.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Good
 
This Rhubarb Coffee Cake is moist, aromatic and delicious. Serve warm or room temperature. Make a batch of strawberry ice cream (see my book Endless Summer) to serve on the side. If using the powdered sugar, sprinkle over the cake just before serving; it dissolves quickly.
Ingredients
  • Streusel Topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ginger
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Cake Batter
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, preferably room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
  • powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Use the butter wrappers to generously grease a 9-inch angel food or spring-form pan with butter.
  3. Place the butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth, scrapping the sides as needed.
  4. Add the sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, scrapping the sides as needed.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium high until incorporated, scrape the sides a couple of times to get everything combined. Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled it will smooth out.
  6. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, mixing on low until the dry ingredients are moist.
  7. Scrape the sides and paddle attachment and beat in the sour cream. Scrape sides and paddle as needed until thoroughly blended and the batter is smooth. Toss in the rhubarb and mix until well incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the cake and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes. Loosen sides before removing the cake to a cooling rack.

 

 

Pastry Treats

Pastry Treats

 

Have you ever wondered what to do with the few little pieces of pastry left over after trimming the pastry off your pie or tart? Don’t waste those pastry scraps, they make delightful pastry treats with almost no effort!

Cut them into a pieces that can be devoured in a couple of bites. Place these on a parchment lined baking sheet and plop a dollop of your favorite jelly in the middle, or a shake a little cinnamon and sugar over them.

Pastry scraps

 

Bake these in the oven (350 degrees F) with your pie for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove, cool, make a cup of tea and reward yourself with these crispy, sweet delights!