Fudge Quick and Easy

December 27, 2008

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Got a bunch of children hanging around your home this holiday week? Set them to work making fudge. This microwave variety is so easy even a small child can proudly say, ‘I made this!’

1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 stick salted butter, melted (8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped raisins or candied fruit

In a microwave-safe dish, stir together the sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Beat with a pastry fork until smooth. Add vanilla and fruit. Pour into a lightly greased 8- x 8-inch pan. Chill until firm.
Makes sixty-four 1-inch squares.


Blond Brownies

April 17, 2008

No chocolate? That’s right. With these ‘blondies,’ you may never crave chocolate again! SAM

1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or English walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, mix the flour baking powder, and salt and add to the egg mixture. Add the pecans. Spread into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan before cutting into squares.
Makes 16 brownies.


How to make an ice bowl

February 27, 2008

Ice Bowl
Creative Commons photo by EuphoriaLand

At an ice hotel, everything is made of ice, including the furniture and even the dishes. While you might not be able to make your own frozen bedroom suite at home, how about trying your hand at making a beautiful ice bowl? – Almostgotit

You will need:

  • Two stainless steel (best) or plastic bowls. (Don’t use glass. One bowl should fit inside the other with a gap of at least ¾ inch between the two.)
  • Flowers or other decorations (optional)
  • Heavy duty packaging tape
  • Water
  • Aluminum foil

To make your bowl:

Center the smaller bowl inside the larger one. Put two strips of heavy duty tape across the top rims of the bowl to make a cross, to hold the smaller bowl in place. You can also put a few ice cubes in the bottom of the larger bowl first to support the smaller bowl.

Place flowers or other decorations in the space between the two bowls. A chopstick may help with positioning, as may the judicious use of crushed ice or ice cubes to hold the items in place.

Carefully fill the larger bowl with water to within a ½ inch of the rim of the larger bowl (water will expand some as it freezes, so leave room). Put a little water, a rock, or other weight in the smaller bowl if necessary to keep it from floating up. Place your mold into the freezer overnight.

The next morning, lay the whole thing out for ten minutes or so at room temperature. If the ice bowl doesn’t come out easily, you may gently help it along by filling the smaller bowl with warm water and wrapping a hot towel around the larger bowl for another minute or so. Wrap your newly created ice bowl in aluminum foil and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. Be sure to put your bowl on a beautiful platter when you use it, to catch the water as it slowly melts!

Lovely things to decorate an ice bowl: fresh or dried flowers or flower petals, fresh mint leaves or other herbs, sliced star fruit, (mini plastic fish?!)

Lovely things to serve in an ice bowl: sushi, sashimi, shrimp, strawberries, sorbet, granita, fresh fruit or vegetables, fruit punch

Ice Hotels (links):

The world’s first Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Hôtel de Glace Ice hotel in Quebec, Canada 
Lainio Snow Hotel in Ylläsjärvi, Finland
Kemi Snow Castle in Kemi, Finland 
Bjorli Ice Lodge in Norway
Alta Igloo Hotel in Norway
Hotel gheata at Bâlea Lake
Article: Designing an Ice Hotel


Creative Commons photo by Etolane


Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons With Raspberry Mascarpone Cream

February 22, 2008


The Viking Dinner Yurt in Park City, Utah

Yurts are portable, tent-like structures used for centuries by Mongolian nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Yurts are also a God-send for cross-country skiers in the mountainous American West, providing trail-side lodging (and some include full catering!) for hikers or — in winter– cross country skiers. In most cases, this means one only has to carry one’s clothing from yurt to yurt, and sometimes even this service can be provided. 

There is beautiful skiing this time of year in the Minnesota Boundary Waters, if Sam and Harry don’t mind doing some of the cooking.  Après ski, Sam would be fully justified in using as much butter as she’d like!  For a considerable step up in luxury, the Blue Moon Yurt in McCall, Idaho offers a 5-course gourmet dinner, while at the Viking Dinner Yurt in Utah (elevation: 8000 feet!), Sam and Harry could feast on an elegant, Scandanavian-style dinner.  The Viking’s award-winning menu often features a scrumptious soft-berry dessert, and the whole deal (including the chef) arrives via snowmobile! – Almostgotit

INGREDIENTS

Chocolate Layers:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Raspberry Mascarpone Cream:
1 – 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese* or 8 ounce package cream cheese (room temp)
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur)
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Red Raspberry Puree:
2 cups whole frozen raspberries (about 8 ounces) thawed
2 Tablespoons Framboise (or other raspberry liqueur), may add more to taste
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

For Chocolate Layers: 
Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with foil, tucking ends under, making sure foil is tight.  Mark 15 x 9-inch rectangle on foil.  In top of double boiler set over barely simmering water, melt chocolate (do not allow bottom of pan to touch water) stirring until smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Pour onto foil and spread quickly and evenly to the same thickness to cover rectangle; a pastry chef’s knife works best.  Chill in refrigerator until set but not hard, about 7 minutes.  With a sharp knife, cut chocolate rectangle lengthwise into three equal strips, each about three inches wide.  Cut each strip into six equal pieces, each about two and one-half inches wide.  Chill one hour.  (Can be made one week ahead.  Cover; keep refrigerated).

For Raspberry Mascarpone Cream: 
Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar and Framboise together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer.  Add half the cream and beat until soft peaks form.  Add the rest of the cream and beat until thick and stiff.  Cover and chill for one hour.

For Raspberry Puree: 
Place thawed raspberries in food processor or blender.  Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds and place in small saucepan.  Stir sugar and cornstarch together and add to puree, along with the Framboise.  Heat, stirring until thickened and glossy.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (Note: if puree is too cold it may be too thick to create decorative hearts—microwave for 30-40 seconds before use).

To Assemble Napoleons: 
Place one chocolate square on each of the six plates.  Spread with three tablespoons of the raspberry mascarpone cream mixture. Use a toothpick to dot edges of mascarpone cream with the raspberry puree.  Draw the toothpick through the center of each dot to slightly below center, to create a heart shape.  Top with another chocolate piece, spread mascarpone over, repeat with raspberry puree dots/hearts.  Top with last chocolate piece and finish with a dollop of mascarpone cream and garnish with fresh raspberries and/or puree and shaved chocolate.

May be plated with a pool of additional raspberry puree.  Approximate preparation time: 40 minutes plus chilling time .  SERVES 6

Italian mascarpone cheese is available at Italian markets and many supermarkets.

Recipe provided by the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission


Plum Crisp

November 24, 2007

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One of the easiest desserts in the repertoire … As long as you have fruit on hand, and flour, oats, butter, and spices, you can throw this together at the last minute—or last half hour—and have a scrumptious dessert hot out of the oven. SAM

PS Add 1/4 cup brown sugar if you like a sweeter dessert, but the dates make it very sweet. 

2 1/2 pounds ripe plums, thinly sliced
7 ounces dates, pitted and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of salt
4 tablespoons butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch deep-casserole dish. In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, heat the plums, dates, and lemon juice until bubbly. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. With a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Do not overwork. Pour the plum mixture into the casserole dish and top with the flour mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Makes 6 servings.


Chocolate-Molasses Bars

October 27, 2007

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I modified these chewy bar cookies slightly because some ROL readers don’t like the combination of orange and chocolate. If that’s you, substitute chopped raisins or dates for the orange zest. And by all means use your favorite nuts. However you make these cookies, they’ll be fabulous. If you’re feeding kids, they’ll make a great lunch box snack. SAM

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
2 1/2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, hazelnuts, or walnuts
1/4 cup coarsely grated orange zest or chopped raisins or dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, soda, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and set aside. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the flour mixture alternately with the molasses, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in the chocolate, nuts, and orange zest, raisins, or dates by hand. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut into bars.
Makes 3 dozen bars.


Date-Nut Hermit Cookies

October 26, 2007

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These are called ‘hermits’ because the date-nut filling hides in a little cave of cookie dough like a hermit in the rocks. Emily’s family has been making them since time immemorial. Taste one, and you’ll see why. SAM

1/2 cup shortening
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Date-Nut Filling
1 pound pitted dates
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cognac
1/2 cup chopped pecans

With an electric mixer, thoroughly cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and add to the shortening mixture alternately with enough ice water to form a medium stiff dough. Form the dough into a cylinder 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours.

While the dough is chilling, make the Date-Nut Filling. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the dates, sugar, water, and cognac. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and add the pecans. Cool.

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch rounds and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling on each slice and top with a second slice of dough. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 5 dozen cookies.