Tag Archives: Sugar

Rosewater frosting

20 Jun

May came and went. But, it was not for lack of things to do, people to celebrate, or events to remember.

The fifth month of the year immediately follows my mother-in-law’s birthday (and mine), and then it actually consists of our wedding anniversary (sometimes coinciding with Mother’s day), Christopher’s birthday, Mother’s day (often coinciding with my brother-in-law’s birthday that also happens to fall on our anniversary), and my own brother’s birthday, which also happens to land on the same day as my sweet little niece’s birthday.  Whew. Is your head spinning? Because mine does ever since I’ve been married. And the spinning increases with the years.

So, of all these celebrations, efforts and hearts seems to naturally focus on one special little girl’s day. It was, after all, her very first birthday.  Sweet Juliet turned one on May 23rd, and I was fortunate enough to have a very willing mommy ready and (dare I write?) eager to listen to my silly, elaborate crafty ideas.

Perhaps my favorite thing of all was the cake. Melissa, the proud mommy, baked three layers of perfect chocolate cake, and I piped on the pink frosting with a 1M tip. SO easy! And, the result was truly a happy one.

Rosewater Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

½ C butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes but still cool)
6 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
4 C powdered sugar, organic
2-4 T rosewater
1 drop natural food coloring (I get mine at Whole Foods)

Directions:

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly.
Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Slowly add the rosewater, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. Don’t add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped onto cake.
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)

Happy frosting!

Pear and Blackberry Clafoutis

8 Jun

I find the human mind fascinating. The way a smell can trigger a memory has always seemed incredible. It’s really one of the reasons I like to cook and bake so much. Most of us know the comfort brought on by the aromas of our mothers’ chicken soup, tamales, or whatever favorite dishes might have graced our childhood home.

Music is another one of those triggers. Do you know The Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace tune?

Chantilly lace and a pretty face
And a pony tail hangin’ down
A wiggle in the walk and a giggle in the talk
Make the world go ’round.

While this song and especially the pronunciation of Chantilly have almost nothing to do with the small city town itself, it will forever remind me of the first time my lips touched the simple yet beautifully presented dessert known as clafoutis. my mother-in-law sang the silly song to Atticus the entire way to the Château de Chantilly and back to our Marriot rental in northern France.

At the end of our visit to the Chateau de Chantilly in 2010 (Chris, Atticus, Granddad, and Grammy)

I can also never forget the amazing creme Chantilly with which the subtly sweet clafoutis was served.

Creme Chantilly with strawberries. Yes, you really can eat this by the spoonful– it’s that delicious!

I’m convinced that the richness and heavenliness (I don’t even care if that’s not a real word) of the creme is directly related to the milk cows’ diet, and that I will never, ever be able to replicate it unless our little family moves to France. Sigh.

So, when I asked my co-worker Chrissy what she would like me to make for her birthday, she opted for something simple like a German pancake or a Dutch baby. I’ve like both, but I thought the clafoutis would fare better at room temperature for an in-office type of meal, plus the presentation would be a good one. And, actually it’s really easy. The most difficult, labor-intensive part is peeling and slicing the pears. Big deal!

Pear and Blackberry Clafoutis

Ingredients:

1 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 C plus 1 T organic raw, granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 T all-purpose unbleached flour, organic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 to 3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
12-15 blackberries, or enough to place sparingly over the dish
1 T powdered sugar, for dusting
creme Chantilly, whipped cream, or creme fraiche (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter a 10 X 3 X 1 1⁄2-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the raw, granulated sugar.
Beat the eggs and the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, extracts, zest, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish.
Pour the batter over the pears.
Then, gingerly place the blackberries throughout the top of the dish.
Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and topped with whipped cream.*

* I strongly encourage anyone with a tested creme Chantilly recipe to fill me in on the secret!

Happy eating!

My Favorite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

4 Jun

Christopher and I try to be healthy. We really do. In fact our latest health craze has gotten us into a big intake of fruits and leafy greens. Our own jumping onto a green smoothie revolution wagon– and we’re taking as many people as we can on that journey.

I eat this way, so that I can feel light and energetic and happy. I also eat this way because I want to be able to indulge in new and old favorites without the guilt.

So, the other evening, I revisited a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe I had spotted several months back on the Apple a Day blog, and I gave the cookie my own little organic, slightly experimental twist.

I try to use as little refined sugar as possible in my desserts, and lately the only sweeteners I have had stashed in my cabinet of baking goods have been maple syrup, raw honey, and organic, raw sugar. The last two especially bring back memories of my childhood with my paternal grandmother– the smells, sounds, and tastes of early mornings and peaceful, star-filled nights at my Nina’s ranch in Baja, California. “Mi Nina” was a beekeeper, one of her many trades, and she readily used honey in the kitchen and to treat scrapes and cuts.

But, every evening, she would sit at her kitchen table, pour herself some coffee, and ask me to pass the sugar. Grainy, brown-ish sugar. When I became an adult, I started seeing the stuff advertised as Turbinado or raw sugar, but I had always thought of it as “Mi Nina’s sugar.” You know, the unrefined Mexican stuff that most of us gringos wouldn’t dare touch with a ten-foot pole.

A few years ago, I started using it as a substitute for white sugar, and for this recipe I’ve used it exclusively– even instead of brown sugar.  The crunch added to this chewy cookie makes me feel so giddy. I hope you enjoy it as much as Atticus, Christopher, and I do.

My Favorite Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients: 
3/4 C unsalted organic butter, softened
1 C organic, raw sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 C organic unbleached flour, sifted
1/3 C organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C organic semolina flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 C bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Sugar crystals will still be visible. Add egg and extracts and blend.
Mix in flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
With a  tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared, parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 7-8 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT bake longer than 9 minutes.)
Allow to cool 15-20 minutes on the baking sheet, then gently transport to cooling racks. Cookies will seem underdone, but they will be just perfect (at least for me) when completely cooled.
I would love to read about your favorite cookie recipes.
As always, happy eating!

Brown Sugar Hot Fudge

26 Feb

Another winner from Christopher’s lovely mom.

“I got this recipe from Auntie Joan years and years ago. I had always used white sugar, but then I found out that Darlane used brown sugar in hers, so I switched.”

~Sharon Rager (neé Svendsen)

Thank goodness for Darlane, my mother-in-law’s best friend, and her brown sugar wisdom.

I’d choose brown sugar over the white, bleached stuff any day (just don’t tell my mother-in-law). I bake it into shortbread; I throw it into cake recipes for a super moist effect; and, now I will forever use brown sugar for this addicting hot fudge.  Only chocolate haters will shy away from this one.

I promised this recipe earlier, when I posted the Buttermilk Pound Cake recipe on Valentine’s Day; and, when I heard that I might have some University of La Verne visitors this weekend, I knew I had the perfect excuse to indulge.

Lucie, Phuong, and Walter are three of the most outstanding students I met while working at the University of La Verne. I was an international student advisor for just over a year at my alma mater, but I suppose the fact that these three wonderful people drove over bearing gifts of fizzies and food (Belgian beer and international food!) is telling of the some of the friendships forged.

These Vietnamese spring rolls came with a citrus-lemon grass sauce and a peanut sauce.

Lucie and Walter contributed Colombian empanadas from Sabor Latino Grill in Montclair, CA.

This could have been a perfect Academy Awards party– too bad our television doesn’t tune into ABC– yes, this is a true story, and, yes, this is as pathetic as it gets. But, at the very least, we were able to enjoy a satisfying lunch before my friends left to find a decent TV set.

Earlier, though, my little boy had been excited to help with the beloved hot fudge recipe from Grammy. So, while Chris grocery shopped, Atticus and I “slaved” over the stove.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter over low heat.

Pour in the brown sugar-milk mixture. Keep on low heat.

Easy: Get a three-year old with a serious sweet tooth to help you stir, stir, stir. (The fudge is only warm at this point.)

Brown Sugar Hot Fudge

Ingredients:

2 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
1/4 c Organic unsalted butter
1/2 c Evaporated milk
2 c Organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp Pure vanilla extract
pinch salt

In a mixing bowl, stir together sugar, milk, and salt. Set aside.

In medium a saucepan, over low heat, melt together chocolate squares and butter.

Slowly pour sugar mixture into saucepan. Simmer and stir constantly until fudge is no longer grainy.

Add vanilla.

Enjoy over your favorite ice cream.

Happy eating!