Monday, September 26, 2011

Toasted Coconut Handmade Marshmallows | Secret Recipe Club


How time flies! It seems like yesterday that I was participating in my first Secret Recipe Club post, yet now I am on my third month of participating. If you have not heard of the Secret Recipe Club, you must check it out. Amanda has even set up a fan page.  Our hostess for Group C is Angie from Big Bears Wife. 



This month I met Evelyne, virtually through her fun blog called Cheap Ethic Eatz. She began her love of food at the early age of eight and by age fourteen she was having her friends over for multi course meals. Now that is impressive. She resides in beautiful Montreal (on my bucket list of cities to visit) and appreciates the variety of cuisines her city offers. She even started a dinner group with blog’s namesake - certainly impressive.


While browsing through her extensive recipes on her blog, so many was eye catching, this made it hard to select. However, one jumped out at me. I have long wanted to make homemade marshmallows and she highlighted Thomas Keller’s version. She was inspired by another blogger, Aimee from Under the High Chair. Aimee did the basic recipe and one with toasted coconut. I adore toasted coconut, so I decided to add that flavor profile to a basic vanilla marshmallow.


While shopping in San Francisco a few months ago, we stopped it the world famous store – Gumps. While perusing through the gourmet section, the coconut marshmallows caught my eye. Of course, I had to buy them and after one bite, I was hooked. Now that I have accomplished my goal of making homemade marshmallows, I can venture to make more exciting flavors. Thank you Evelyne for the inspiration.




Toasted Coconut Handmade Marshmallows

4 cups finely shredded sweetened coconut
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F

Toast coconut on a baking sheet in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Break into smaller bits with your hands.

Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle bottom with 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer and let soften while you make syrup.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1/4 cup water, and slat in a 1- to 2- quart heavy saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Insert thermometer and boil, without stirring, until it registers 240 degrees. Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles are gone.

With mixer at low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down side of bowl. Increase speed to high and beat until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute more.

Spoon marshmallow mixture over toasted coconut in baking pan and press evenly with dampened fingertips to smooth top (it will be very sticky). Sprinkle top evenly with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours. I put into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to help it set and then took it out.

Cut into one inch squares and cover the sides with the remaining toasted coconut. Store in an airtight container.






Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lofthouse Style Frosted Sugar Cookies


 You have all seen these little frosted gems when you stroll through the bakery section at your local grocery store. You swear that you won’t buy them and then you do. You swear that after you buy them, you will eat just one. You swear that after you eat one, you won’t eat another. You swear that after two, you will stop. You swear that you will never buy these again. After all that “swearing” you probably have finished three or four. Sound familiar?

These cookies are addicting to say the least. They are soft, buttery, sweet and irresistible. Each festive season, the frosting color changes and you are even more apt to purchase to bring to the office, bunko night, book club or simply to eat at home. The folks at Lofthouse are geniuses and have millions of cookie addicts around the country coming back for more.


As stated on their fun website, the brand was born in 1994 in a makeshift bakery in the back of a garage. It was old family recipe passed down from generations that is a moist and delicious sugar cookie with sweet, fluffy frosting. This already iconic cookie had humble beginnings from being delivered from the back of a pickup truck and now commercially delivered to a grocery store near you.


After seeing this cookie featured on Pinterest from Sweet Pea Kitchen, I knew that I had to make it. She also adapted the recipe from, recipesecrets.net . I used the recipe from sweet pea kitchen with the addition of more vanilla.  Found that chilling the dough and working with small batches of the dough works best and using flour to prevent sticking.


I brought these cookies to a couple of my offices this week and they were an overwhelming success. One person, who shall remain nameless, admitted to eating five in one day. Love it! I call myself a self-proclaimed “food pusher”. (It's a good thing)  It brings me such joy to make things for other people and see the instant smile on their face.


I decided on the traditional pink frosting, but you can get as creative as you want. What color would your frosting be? Enjoy!!!


Lofthouse Style Frosted Sugar Cookies

Cookies:

6 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup. butter, at room temperature
2 Cups. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Sour cream

Frosting:

1 Cups butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Several drops food coloring
Multi-colored Sprinkles

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be a bit “sticky”. Divide dough into two sections. Flatten into rectangles about 1 1/2 inches thick, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least two hours until firm.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.

Use the plastic wrap that you chilled the dough in. Dust the top of the dough and then flip and flour the other side, keeping it on the plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, until pale golden. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Best to work in small batches while keeping the remainder of the dough chilled.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired spreading consistency is achieved. If desired, add food coloring and beat until combined.

Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container. Let cookies sit for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

Makes approximately: 5 to 6 dozen cookies (will vary on the thickness of the dough)

SPECIAL NOTES:  
  • These cookies are pretty darn close to the ones you buy in the store however, I am sure that original lofthouse recipe is under "lock and key" so we may never be able to completely duplicate it 100%. (Smile
  • I used the recipe that I found (as noted in the body of the post) and basically increased the amount of vanilla and working the dough in small batches, while keeping the rest chilled, works best. It is a VERY soft dough.
  • I thought they were quite tasty, but I know that they may not appeal to everyone, since they do taste a bit different than the ones in the store but are pretty close for a homemade version.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fig Muffins with Brown Sugar Crumb Topping



Saturday morning. It is one of my favorite days of the week. It is nestled perfectly in between the end of one week and the beginning of another. No rushing for me today - still in my pajama’s and sipping a cup of piping hot coffee.




What goes better with a fantastic cup of coffee than a fresh out of the oven handmade muffin? Quick frankly, I can’t think of anything right now. My obsession with figs continues with these beautiful Fig Muffins with Crumb Topping.



I am getting nervous that the fig season is almost over and yet I have so many more wonderful things I want to make with these fruit jewels. My signature jam is the balsamic fig jam and I have had multiple requests from good friends to learn to make this. Note to self – set up jam making day. Next I want to make Fig, Proscuitto and Gorgonzola Pizza. Another note to self – make this tonight for hubby along with a special bottle of wine.

Any ideas on what other goodies I should make with figs? Love to hear them. I hope that all of you have a fantastic weekend.



Fig Muffins with Brown Sugar Crumb Topping

Makes 10 muffins

1 ¼ C. Flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 C. Mission Figs, Fresh and chopped
½ C. butter, melted
2/3 C. sugar
1 large egg
2 t. vanilla
2 t. Dried orange peel

Brown Sugar Crumb Topping

½ C. Brown Sugar
½ C. Flour
3 T. Butter, cut into small cubes
¼ t. Salt

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. With your fingers, break up the butter and work together until all ingredients incorporate together.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, orange peel and salt in a bowl. Whisk together figs, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

I used an ice cream scooper to divide batter among lined muffin cups. Use about a tablespoon of the crumb topping on each muffin. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Warm Figs with Gorgonzola and Honey



As many of you know, the simplest things in life are often the best things in life. Many times, preparing wonderful simple ingredients all together will make a sublime dish. I think of potatoes au gratin, a grilled cheese sandwich, a BLT or a bowl of popcorn with melted butter and sea salt that was just popped in a cast iron pot. The list could go on for days, but you get the concept.

Today is actually our 13th wedding anniversary. It is hard to imagine how fast time goes by until you celebrate a milestone such as a birthday or anniversary. I think that we just get busy with our day to day lives and time drifts by. My hubby actually had a meeting to attend tonight which he is this volunteer organization’s leader and needed to attend. We did celebrate on Saturday night by dining out on the town and had an amazing time.


I am planning on opening a bottle of wonderful champagne to celebrate with my honey when he arrives home. We typically buy little presents for each other and half the fun is seeing the expression on my hubby’s eyes when he opens it. I think he will enjoy the gifts I bought for him. I found a very nice bottle of scotch since that is his favorite. Shhhhhh – don’t tell so the surprise is ruined – wink- wink.

Since dinner was included as part of the meeting, I thought a simple dessert along with the champagne would be a nice touch. With figs are in season, why not make a simple dessert with gorgonzola cheese and honey. The combination is sweet, salty and savory all at the same time. With a sip of champagne, it doesn’t get much better.

Warm Figs with Gorgonzola and Honey

Fresh Black Mission Figs – Cut into quarters
Gorgonzola Cheese
Honey

Cut as many figs as desired into quarters. Place onto a baking sheet and place a few crumbles of gorgonzola cheese on top of each quarter. Place under the broiler for about 2 to 3 minutes until cheese begins to melt. Remove and drizzle with honey and serve.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Banana, Coconut and Pecan Muffins


The long holiday weekend is coming to a close. Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. Our labor day was a mix of being on the go and simply relaxing at home. I took Thursday and Friday off from work to enjoy an extra long weekend. The R&R was much needed.



This morning, Hubby and I enjoyed watching Good Morning America with a freshly brewed cup of coffee along with these delicious Banana, Coconut and Pecan Muffins. Typcially I am not much of a muffin fan, not that I do not like them, it is just that they are not as high on the list of breakfast goodies. Lately I have been craving coconut as you probably noticed from my prior post – Coconut & Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies.



These are such a simple breakfast treat to make and pack a lot of flavor in just a few luscious bites. My house still has the scent of freshly baked muffins lofting through and it just brings a smile to my face. My hubby brought over half a dozen to our neighbors next door to enjoy while they were right out of the oven.



By the way, please feel free to check out and “like” my new Facebook Fan Page. I hope that each and everyone of you enjoyed the long holiday weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead.



Banana, Coconut and Pecan Muffins

1 ¼ C. Flour
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
½ C. butter, melted
2/3 C. sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
½ t. Dried orange peel
3/4 C. sweetened flaked coconut
½ C. Pecans, chopped and toasted + 2 T. for tops of muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, orange peel, pecans, ½ cup coconut and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

I used a ice cream scooper to divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut plus the 2 tablespoons of pecans evenly on top of each muffin. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies


Today was the start to my mini vacation. I wanted to take advantage of the upcoming holiday weekend and tack on two more days. It was an extremely relaxing day. My hubby took the same amount of time off work, so we could enjoy it together.

I know it may sound funny, but cleaning, organizing and disposing of unwanted items is very relaxing to me. I believe that you either: keep it, throw it out or donate it. Today’s task was to clean out the pantry. It seems I just reorganized it several months ago, but with the large amount of canning I have been doing recently, it had become a bit over run with canned goodies.



Several hours later, the pantry is now neat and organized. I just love it. Along with cleaning, the baking bug was biting. I had seen Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies on Pinterest a few weeks ago – of course I pinned it. With the urge to bake, this was the first thing to come to mind.

I wanted to make them my own, so I added more vanilla, a pinch of salt and coconut. The texture and flavor is amazing. The only problem is that it will be hard to eat just one. I hope that you enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend!



Coconut - Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Makes 56 cookies

8 ounces butter, at room temperature
2/3 C. confectioners’ sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 C. flour
¼ t. Salt
½ C. Shredded coconut
4 oz. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla, and then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Add the coconut and mix quickly. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

Use a 9 x 10 inch one half inch rectangle pan. Line with plastic wrap and transfer the dough on top of the plastic wrap. With your hands press the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick and covers the pan. Chill for two hours.

Turn the firm dough onto a lightly floured board. Use a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 inch squares. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line the sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Rotate the sheets about 9 minutes into the baking process. The cookies will be pale. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

* Adapted from Smitten Kitchen



 
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