Desserts

Bone Building Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberries are an excellent source of Boron; a micronutrient that protects bone density. By using frozen strawberries, this sorbet is ready to eat without freezing. It's at its peak flavor when it comes directly out of the food processor.

Bone Building Strawberry Sorbet
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Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Strawberry_sorbet


Ingredients:

1 pound frozen unsweetened Strawberries
19 ounces Silken Tofu
1/2 cup all-fruit Strawberry Jam
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Lemon extract
12 fresh Mint leaves, optional

Directions:

Place all ingredients in workbowl of food processor or blender.
Process until thick and creamy.
Taste and add more vanilla or lemon extract, if desired.
Transfer to serving bowls, top with 3-4 fresh mint leaves.
Serve immediately.


Writing Awards and New Recipes

As you may already know, I am a Content Producer for Yahoo Contributor Network. My current portfolio contains over 300 articles on a wide variety of topics, but until recently I had never posted any recipes. Last week I received an email from another AC writer, congratulating me on my reward. Funny thing is, I didn't know I had won an award.

I logged in to my account and lo and behold, what do I see but a shiny star with "Top 1000" printed on it. Rumor has it that YCN has around 100,000 content producers. If this is fact, that places me in the top one percent. Not bad for a girl who barely graduated from high school, eh?

YCN recently brought back one of my favorite features, known as Call for Content (C4). The staff requests articles on specific topics, which makes it much easier to know what type of material they want. This past week they had several requests for various types of recipes. You can bet I was all over that!

I submitted three of my favorite recipes:

Napa Valley Chicken Salad ~ A tender chicken salad perfect for people who don't like mayonnaise. Moistened with a poppyseed dressing, this chicken salad includes sweet red grapes and crunchy pecans for a sweet and savory flavor combination. It's excellent wrapped in lettuce leaves, stuffed inside a tomato or as a topper for crackers or gourmet breads. Once you try this recipe, you'll never want regular chicken salad again!

Vegetarian Boca Burger Salisbury Steak ~ This tastes so much like "real" meat that even the meat lovers in your family will have a hard time telling the difference. Boca Burgers are a soy based product and have the texture of hamburger. The flavors of the gravy, onions and pepper infuse into the Boca Burger, giving them an authentic salisbury steak flavor. This dish screams for mashed potatoes, green beans and dinner rolls.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Patties ~ My grandmother made these no-bake cookies for me when I was a young girl. She never baked and rarely cooked, so this was a big treat for me. I recently updated the recipe by using dark chocolate instead of unsweetened cocoa. You can whip up a batch of these cookies in less than 15 minutes. They are super rich and will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.

Yahoo Contributor Network provides you with the option to email these recipes to yourself or a friend. You can also print them directly from the screen.  If you'd like to be notified when I post new articles, click on the Subscribe button under my photo.

Bon Appetit!


Check out my published content!


French Toast Bread Pudding

Earlier today, I discovered French Toast Bread Pudding at Windy City Restaurant Hopper;a fabulous blog with amazing recipes! This blog has archives dating back to September 2006 and categories include appetizers, chicken, lobster, seafood, shrimp, wine pairings and more.

I think the thing I enjoy most about blogging is connecting with other passionate foodies who are eager and willing to share their secrets. I left a message at Windy City Restaurant Hopper and asked if I could post her French Toast Bread Pudding recipe. Robyn, the founder of the blog, contacted me within a few hours, granting me permission. Let's all give Robyn a round of applause and a great big THANK YOU! 

French Toast Bread Pudding

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Serves 6
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
*Requires overnight refrigeration before baking

French_toast_bread_pudding_4 Ingredients:
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large Eggs
2 cups Half-and-Half
1 cup Milk
2 tablespoons granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup, if desired

Directions:

  • Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs).
  • Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.
  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly.
  • Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.
  • Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.
Serve with maple syrup, if desired.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) Butter
1 cup packed light Brown Sugar
1 cup chopped Pecans
2 tablespoons light Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg


Unusual Crockpot Recipe: Caramel Apples

My friend, Jo, shared an interesting Crockpot recipe with me the other day. It's really quite ingenious and I wish I would have thought of it a few months ago. You see, it's a Crockpot recipe for Caramel apples! I made four dozen caramel apples for Halloween. This technique could have saved me a LOT of time.

If you've ever made caramel apples, you know they can be kind of a pain. You have to be somewhat careful while melting the caramel. It's easy to burn and it's easy to keep too cool, which in turns make it setup, then it's hard to get it to adhere to the apple. I usually break out the double-boiler, but even still it's hard to control the proper temperature to sustain the smooth consistency required for coating apples. That's where the Crockpot comes in! It keeps it at the same temperature for a long period of time.

The following caramel apple recipe is so simple, you're going to love it! And, clean-up is a snap too. As you probably already know, the Crockpot is one of the easiest things to clean. Baked on food just slides right off. I love it!

Anyhoo, I digress. Let's get down to business. Here is the Crockpot Caramel Apples recipe...

CROCKPOT CARAMEL APPLES

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Serves 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1/2 hours

INGREDIENTS:
   
2 (14-ounce) packages Caramels
1/4 cup Water
8 Granny Smith Apples   
8 Popsicle Sticks   
            
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Line a flat baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2. In Crockpot, combine caramels and water; cover.
  3. Turn heat on HIGH and cook caramel mixture for 1-1/2 hours. Stir frequently. When thoroughly melted, reduce heat to LOW.
  4. Insert popsicle stick into the stem end of each apple.
  5. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture and turn to coat entire surface.
  6. Hold apple above the Crockpot and allow excess caramel to drip into mixture.
  7. Quickly transfer coated apple to waxed paper and allow time to cool.

NOTE: Caramel apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, if you're like me, your caramel apples will never sit in the fridge that long!

 

 


Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips Recipe

There's nothing better than banana bread with chocolate chips on a cold winter morning. This easy-to-prepare recipe is the perfect choice for Christmas morning breakfast, holiday brunch or any holiday celebration.

This chocolate chip banana bread makes a fantastic gift for teachers, mail carriers, neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Simply wrap individual loaves in colored plastic wrap, tie with ribbon, stick on a festive bow and voila!, you'll have a gift everyone will enjoy!

To obtain more servings and offer guests "finger food", slice the banana bread in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 1-inch slices. Serve plain, top with ice cream or whipped cream, or slather on a layer of peanut butter and put two slices together to create a decadent chocolate chip peanut butter banana sandwich. Yum-O!

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
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Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 to 50 minutes

Choc_chip_banana_bread Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup ripe Bananas, mashed (about 3 small or 2 medium)
1/2 cup shortening or solid Coconut oil (Coconut oil will add a rich coconut flavor)
2 Eggs
1 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, chopped



Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease bottom only of two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2-inch loaf pans.
  • In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Blend ingredients well using a hand-held electric mixer set on medium speed.
  • Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Fudge Pound Cake Recipe

The following Fudge Pound Cake recipe is one of my all-time favorites. But, before I share the recipe I'd like to share a story with you. Last week I made numerous baked goods for the company my husband works for. They were exhibiting their product at a trade show and provided holiday treats for everyone who visited their booth. It was especially important for the baked goods to leave a lasting impression.

Since the fudge pound cake is so scrumptious, I decided to quadruple the recipe. For some reason, I ended up with considerably more batter than I needed. I made the mistake of adding a little extra to each loaf pan. To make matters worse, I also forgot to turn on the kitchen timer. When I opened the oven door, I was aghast to see this...

 

Fudge_pound_cake

At first glance I thought all was lost. After all, it's a little "crispy" on top and certainly isn't very appealing. The extra batter I added caused the pound cake to overflow, which turned out to be good for me. As I surveyed the damage, I noticed most of the outer edges could be trimmed off. First, I trimmed the edges while the pound cake was still in the pan.

Fudge_pound_cake2

Next, I flipped the cake out of the pan and trimmed up all the edges. It's looking much better, wouldn't you agree?

Fudge_pound_cake3

After trimming the pound cake, I then sliced it in half

Fudge_pound_cake4

Then, I sliced each half into 1-inch thick slices, which make for perfect finger food!

Fudge_pound_cake5

When making pound cake or other baked goods, keep in mind that just because the top is burnt doesn't mean the entire cake is a loss. Once the burnt pieces were trimmed away, this fudge pound cake was baked to perfection. Slicing it into smaller pieces is a great way to serve at any function or holiday gathering.

Below is the recipe for this decadent Fudge Pound Cake. I recommend making one batch at a time to avoid the problems I encountered ;-)


FUDGE POUND CAKE

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Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted Butter, softened
1-3/4 cups granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 Eggs
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
2/3 cup Cocoa powder
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Sour Cream (substitute with Light or Low-fat, if desired)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Blend one-third of flour mixture into butter mixture; then 1/3 cup Sour Cream. Alternate until ingredients are incorporated.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
  • Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

It's that time of year where holiday desserts are offered at office parties, home parties, school parties and family gatherings. The next few weeks, The Cheap Gourmet will focus on providing a variety of recipes that you can serve or take to holiday gatherings. No worries, I'll also be including low-fat, low-calorie desserts along with appetizers and a variety of healthy party foods!

Today, I'd like to share one of my favorite holiday dessert recipes with you - the Banana Split Brownie Pizza. This recipe is super easy to make and perfect for any party. You can take it to the office, serve it at parties or give it as a gift. It tastes so yummy that you might want to make an extra just for YOU!

This recipe requires the use of Parchment paper and a baking stone. If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a regular pizza pan. However, do not attempt to make this without the use of parchment paper or you'll end up with a big mess in your oven. You can purchase parchment paper in most grocery stores at a cost of around $3.50. Once you use parchment paper in your baking endeavors, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it! It makes things slide right off and eliminates sticking so you'll always have perfect desserts!

Banana Split Brownie Pizza
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Serves: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (21-ounce) package Brownie Mix
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Water
1 Egg
1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened (use Light Cream Cheese, if desired)
1/2 cup Confectioner's Sugar
2 medium Bananas, sliced 1/2-inch thick and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
1 cup fresh Strawberries, sliced
1 (8-ounce) can crushed Pineapples, drained
2 Tablespoons Walnuts, chopped
4 Tablespoons semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, applesauce, water and egg. Mix by hand as per package directions.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a 15-inch Baking Stone or pizza pan.
  4. Pour brownie mixture on top of paper and spread into a 14-inch circle.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. In a small bowl, combine softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Mix by hand or using an electric mixer until smooth.
  8. Using an icing spreader or butter knife, spread cream cheese mixture over top of brownie crust.
  9. Slice bananas and dip in small amount of lemon juice to prevent browning. Drain excess lemon juice and place banana slices on top of cream cheese mixture.
  10. Slice strawberries length-wise and place on top of of brownie pizza.
  11. Add crushed pineapple to pizza.
  12. Sprinkle walnuts and chocolate chips on top of fruit.
  13. Chill for at least one hour; longer if possible.
  14. Cut into 16 wedges and serve.

For those watching their calorie intake one slice of Banana Split Brownie Pizza contains approximately 250 calories and 7 grams of fat.


Announcing: The Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection

It's official. The holidays are rapidly approaching and it's time to start thinking about what we'll be serving for holiday meals, social gatherings and office parties. Since many of us are attempting to eat healthier foods, I wanted to share my collection of healthy holiday recipes. Best of all, it's free! ;-)

The Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection is a 25-page report that includes a Holiday Menu Planner that is super easy to use. Simply select one recipe from each category, along with two side dishes and you'll be well on your way to creating a delectable, tasty holiday meal everyone will be talking about!

Categories include:

  • Appetizers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Entrees
  • Side Dishes
  • Beverages
  • Desserts

Recipes Include:

  • Artichoke and White Bean Dip
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • The Great Pumpkin Soup
  • Quinoa Soup with Greens and Potatoes
  • Quinoa Apple Salad
  • Persimmon Mesculin Salad
  • Roasted Turkey
  • Baked Honey Ham
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Quinoa Stuffing
  • Asparagus with Lemon Butter
  • Pumpkin Dumplings
  • Pumpkin Pie Smoothie with Homemade Whipped Cream
  • Orange Coconut Frost
  • Creamy Pumpkin Pudding
  • Rice Pudding with Cranberries

Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection is a PDF file and requires Adobe Reader to view. If you do not have Adobe Reader installed on your computer, you can download it for free at www.Adobe.com.

Click the underlined link below to download your free copy of
Download Healthy Holiday Recipe Collection


Banana Spice Loaf Cake

Personally, I love banana spice loaf cake more than just about any type of dessert. They are easy to prepare and can be served with nearly any meal. Loaf cakes make a terrific snack or stand-alone dessert. They can be topped with ice cream, whipped cream, berries or fruit toppings. You can add fruits, veggies, nuts, flavored syrups and liqueurs. In essence, loaf cakes are probably the most versatile dessert on the planet.

The following Banana Spice Loaf Cake was developed by me when I worked at a private Country Club. We would cut it into thin slices, slather one slice with a delicious cream cheese spread and place another slice on top. Then, we would cut the loaf cake "sandwich" diagonally to create four triangles. This technique makes the perfect appetizer or bite-size snack.

Banana Spice Loaf Cake

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Yields: 3 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Banana_spice_loaf_cake Ingredients:

6 very ripe Bananas
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1-1/2 cups Golden Raisins, Raisins or Currants
1-1/2 cups Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds or Hazelnuts, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lightly grease 3 loaf pans with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mash bananas with a fork, then add olive oil and applesauce. There is no need to mix ingredients. Set aside while making cake batter.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar using electric mixer set on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Stir in banana mixture and mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to banana mixture.
  • Stir in raisins and nuts and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into loaf pans and place in oven.
  • Loaf cake is finished when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool on baking rack for 15-20 minutes.

You can leave the loaves in the pans, or remove them and transfer them to a serving plate. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen cake. To freeze, double wrap cakes in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil. Cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. To retain freshness, always cover cake in plastic wrap, waxed paper or store in airtight container.

Banana Spice Loaf Cake makes a great holiday gift. Wrap in colored plastic wrap and tie with festive colored ribbons. Write the recipe on an index card and insert inside the recipient's holiday card. They'll love you for it!

Sweet Cream Cheese Spread

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoons Confectioner's Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Directions:

  • In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat ingredients until well-incorporated and creamy.
  • Cover and store in refrigerator until needed.

If you're using this spread on loaf cakes, let it warm up a bit before trying to spread it. Otherwise, the bread slices will crumble. Leftover cream filled loaf bread sandwiches need to be refrigerated.






Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds
Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Pumpkin_cranberry_bread

Ingredients:

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour (or all-purpose white)
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp Ginger, ground
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 cup Pumpkin, canned, solid pack
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup dried sweetened Cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped unsalted Almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Butter 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Line bottom and long sides with waxed or parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until blended. Set aside.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy.
  5. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until blended.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add pumpkin and vanilla; beat on medium-low speed until ingredients are well incorporated.
  8. Slowly add one-third of of dry ingredients and one-third of buttermilk into pumpkin mix. Repeat two more times.
  9. Fold in cranberries and almonds.
  10. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  11. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar, if desired. 
  12. Place loaf pan in oven and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean; about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  13. Cool bread in pan on baking rack for 15 minutes.
  14. Cut bread at short ends of pan to loosen. Turn bread out onto rack; peel off waxed paper.
  15. Cool completely before serving.

*Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries and Almonds can be made up to two days in advance. Securely wrap loaf in plastic wrap and store in cool, dry area. Bread can be frozen up to 3 months if wrapped in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil. Let thaw at room temperature.


No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie

'Tis the season for pumpkin recipes and I have an abundance of recipes for you! This week, I'll be sharing some of my favorite pumpkin recipes including pumpkin dip, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and an oh-so-delicious baked stuffed pumpkin.

On Friday, you'll have access to "The Pumpkin Patch Recipe Collection" - a collection of pumpkin recipes you can serve for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and party fare. If you haven't already done so, be certain to subscribe to "The Cheap Gourmet Newsletter" to be automatically reminded when the report is ready. Additionally, you'll receive all kinds of useful cooking tidbits, product reviews and a chance to win gourmet cooking gifts!

Let's kick off the week with one of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes. This no-bake pie can be prepared in 15 minutes (or less), but needs to be refrigerated overnight or for at least 6 hours. Top it off with a dollop of vanilla whipped cream for a bewitching tastebud sensation!

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie
Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 6 hours minimum, overnight preferred

Cream_pumpkin_pie Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Butter, softened
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1 (16-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, add sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and spices. Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients on medium-high setting for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is fluffy.
  2. Add pumpkin and using a wooden spoon, stir by hand until blended.
  3. Spoon mixture into pie crust.
  4. Place in refrigerator and chill 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

*Individual spices can be replaced with 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Vanilla Whipped Cream
Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 3-5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients to a chilled, medium mixing bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat ingredients until soft peaks form.

New to Making Homemade Whipped Cream? Click here for step-by-step directions and whip cream tips.


Pairing Wine with Chocolate - Part II

When I was introduced to pairing wine with chocolate, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not only do you get the dopamine "feel-good" rush from the chocolate, but also the soothing affect from the wine. Talk about a nice mellow buzz ;-)

When it comes to pairing wine with chocolate, there are no absolutes. However, you might want to start experimenting by seeking out wines that have the same flavor notes as the chocolate. For the adventurous soul, seek out wines that have contrasting flavor notes.

Below are some suggestions to help you get started pairing wine with chocolate.

Bittersweet Chocolate ~ Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel
Milk Chocolate ~ Muscat, Tawny Port
Semisweet Chocolate ~ Bordeaux, Merlot, Tawny Port, Ruby Port
White Chocolate ~ Champagne, Muscat, Riesling
Chocolate with Fruit-creme centers ~ Marsala, Pinot Noir, Rose Champagne
Fruit-Flavored Chocolates (Chocolate Covered Cherries, Strawberries or Truffles with fruit centers) ~ Merlot, Ruby Port
Chocolate with Mint centers ~ Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel
Chocolate with Nuts ~ Cabernet Sauvignon, Sherry, Tawny Port

Chocolate and wine pairing parties are becoming quite popular and are a great way to experiment with new flavors. There are two ways to host a wine pairing with chocolate party. Either you can provide the wine and chocolate OR invited guests can bring a bottle of wine and their favorite chocolate. I don't know about you, but as The Cheap Gourmet, I like the second option.

Wine and chocolate pairing parties can be a lot of fun. However, please, please, please do not let guests drink and drive. One solution to this concern is to hire a limo service for the evening. Imagine having guests delivered to your door in a stretch limo. That will get your neighbors talking!

While you might be thinking limo service is too expensive, if everyone pitches in, it can be more cost effective than a round-trip taxicab. If you host your party during the week, limo rates are typically lower.

Another option is to have a sleepover. Seriously, when was the last time you had one? Invite guests to bring their sleeping bag and jammies along with their favorite bottle of wine and box of chocolates.

Whether you host a party for 2 or 102, have fun experimenting with the various wines and chocolates. Don't be afraid to venture into unknown territory. Once you discover your favorite pairing, feel free to share it with us by posting in the Comments section.

Wine of the month club - Free shipping Monthly Chocolate Club


Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake Recipe

Below is my all-time favorite Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake Recipe. This recipe was developed by me when I worked as a prep chef at a health food store. Trust me when I say this is a really yummy coffee cake and healthy as well!

Blueberry-buttermilk-coffee-cake-the-cheap-gourmetBlueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake Recipe
Serves 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 egg plus 3 egg whites
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup pureed pitted prunes
3/4 cup buttermilk or soy milk
1/2 cup mashed banana
2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar (or use brown sugar)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 13x9-inch baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold in the blueberries.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the honey or maple syrup, egg and egg whites, oil, prunes, buttermilk or soy milk, and banana.
  • Combine the contents of both bowls, mixing briefly, than pour the batter into the baking dish. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula. Sprinkle with walnuts and brown sugar.
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the coffeecake comes out clean.
  • Let cool and serve.

 

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How to Make Chocolate Covered Cherries

Chocolate-covered-cherries-the-cheap-gourmetOne of my most vivid childhood memories is the year my grandmother gave me my very own box of chocolate covered cherries.

They were packaged with two trays of candy and each delectable morsel was precisely positioned in its very own hole. I was a mere eight years old and I'm pretty certain that was the day I officially became a chocoholic.

Up until I was in my mid-30s, I didn't even know more than one kind of chocolate covered cherry existed. Believe it or not, I was so naïve that I thought only one company manufactured them and that they only came with liquid centers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that chocolate covered cherries came in a multitude of varieties and flavors.

It happened about 20 years ago, when I met a woman who made all kinds of homemade candy. Her house was always filled with the scent of chocolate and other candy flavorings.

She was like a mad-scientist, trying to see how far she could go with her candy designs. If you've ever seen "Ace of Cakes" on the Food Network, you have an idea of the type of work she performed. Her creativity was amazing.

I was fortunate enough to learn some of her chocolate-making tricks, but the one I was most excited about was learning how to make chocolate covered cherries. Since that time, I have experimented with various recipes. I've made molded and fondant wrapped cherries, cherries with liqueur centers, and dried cherries dipped in chocolate.

I've soaked cherries in bourbon, rum and whiskey. I've added red chili pepper seasoning to the fondant and the chocolate. I've rolled chocolate covered cherries in chocolate covered coffee beans.

I even attempted to create the world's first margarita-flavored chocolate covered cherries, but so far that recipe hasn't worked out too well. There's nothing I won't try when it comes to chocolate cherries, but many things I wish I hadn't.

Of all the recipes I've tried, my all-time favorites are the molded chocolate covered cherries with a liquid fondant center, and the fondant wrapped cherries dipped in chocolate with the stem attached. Both of these recipes are relatively easy to make and can easily be adapted to suit your tastes.

Molded cherries make for a more elegant presentation. It's best to make these when the candy will be given as a gift or presented on trays at a party or meeting. Molded chocolate covered cherries do require the purchase of a candy mold and medium artist paintbrush.

Fondant wrapped chocolate covered cherries are better suited for those that prefer a "homemade" look. Hand-dipped chocolate covered cherries with stems are the kind that say, "I made these! Aren't you impressed by my skills?"

Regardless of the recipe you choose, it's best to purchase candy making ingredients from a cake or candy supply store. Wilton is one of the most reputable cake and candy making supply distributors in the world. You can easily find everything you need to make chocolate covered cherries at their website. Additionally, Wilton products can be found in most cake and candy supply stores, and many craft and hobby stores.

When making homemade chocolate covered cherries, you want to use candy wafers. Candy wafers are small discs of chocolate, which melt easily. They have a rich taste and a smooth texture, and are available in a variety of colors and flavors.

It's best to use a double-boiler to melt candy wafers. Double-boilers consist of two pots that fit together. Water is placed in the lower pot and the steam provides heat to the pot on top. Double-boilers help prevent accidental overheating of delicate foods such as chocolate or butter.

Fondant is a key ingredient in most chocolate covered cherries recipes. Fondant is made from sugar, water and corn syrup. You can make it at home, or buy ready-made fondant or powdered fondant mix in stores that specialize in cake decorating. If you make your own fondant, it will need to sit for 24 to 48 hours before using, so plan accordingly.

Now that you know where to purchase your candy making ingredients, let's take a look at how to make two of the most popular types of chocolate covered cherries -- molded with a liquid center, and fondant-wrapped and dipped.

Chocolate-covered-cherries-liquid-center-the-cheap-gourmetMolded Chocolate Covered Cherries with Liquid Center
Yield: 48 candy pieces

INGREDIENTS:

1 - 14-ounce bag of chocolate candy wafers - you can use milk or dark chocolate
2 - 12-ounce jars Maraschino cherries, drained, stem removed
1 cup basic fondant


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Maraschino cherry juice to basic fondant and stir well. Fondant should be a medium consistency and slowly drip off the spoon. If it's too thick, continue to add cherry juice until it becomes the consistency you prefer.
  2. Pour chocolate candy wafers into the upper portion of the double-boiler pan; melt over medium-low heat; and gently stir until wafers are melted.
  3. Using a teaspoon, fill each candy mold half-way with melted chocolate. Using a medium artist brush, paint the sides of each mold with the chocolate; making certain the inside of each candy mold is coated all the way to the top.
  4. Place one Maraschino cherry in each mold. Add approximately 1/4-teaspoon of fondant to each cherry.
    Pour approximately 1/4-teaspoon melted chocolate over the top of each cherry and using the bottom of the spoon, gently spread chocolate over the top to ensure that there is a seal over each candy mold.
  5. Place cherries in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Remove cherries from the freezer and flip molds upside down on top of the wax paper. If the candy does not easily release from the molds, flex the molds a bit until the candy pops out.
  7. Place each chocolate covered cherry into a paper candy cup or wrap individually in foil, and place into a gift box or airtight container.

Chocolate covered cherries should be stored at room temperature to retain the liquid center. If you refrigerate or freeze them, allow them to return to room temperature before eating them. Otherwise, the center will be more of a nougat consistency, which depending on your taste could be a good thing!

Chocolate-covered-cherries-fondant-wrapped-the-cheap-gourmetFondant Wrapped Chocolate Covered Cherries
Yield: 48 candy pieces

INGREDIENTS:

1 - 14-ounce bag of chocolate candy wafers - you can use milk or dark chocolate
2 - 12-ounce jars Maraschino cherries, drained, with stems
1 cup basic fondant, rolled
You need to work fast when working with fondant, so it's best to make this recipe in two or three batches.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Drain Maraschino cherries and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Arrange cherries on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. If you are not able to locate cherries with stems, you can use toothpicks or plastic olive picks to dip the cherries in chocolate.
  2. Pour chocolate candy wafers into the upper portion of the double-boiler pan; melt over medium-low heat; and gently stir until wafers are melted.
  3. Roll one-half of the fondant onto a cutting board or marble slab. Knead the fondant and press it out until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Pull off a small piece of fondant and wrap it around the entire cherry, except for the stem. Try to maintain a consistency in the thickness of the fondant as you wrap it around the cherry.
  4. Holding the cherry by the stem, dip into the melted chocolate. Gently roll it around until the entire cherry is covered. Work quickly; otherwise the heat from the chocolate will melt the fondant.
  5. Place the dipped cherry onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Once you have covered all the cherries, place the tray in the freezer and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. While your first batch of cherries is setting up, begin working on the second batch by repeating the steps above.

 

Basic Fondant Recipe
Yield: 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups granulated Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1-1/2 cups boiling water

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Butter the sides of a 1-1/2 quart saucepan.
  2. Combine all ingredients and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Allow mixture to cook, without stirring, to a soft ball stage of 238 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll need a candy thermometer in order to gauge the temperature of the candy.
  4. Pour the fondant onto a cookie sheet with sides. Do not scrape remaining fondant from sides of pan, as this could result in crystals forming in the fondant. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the fondant mixture from the edge of the cookie sheet toward the center. Spread the fondant evenly and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. When the fondant becomes stiff and turns white; pull it off the cookie sheet and knead it like bread dough, until it is free of lumps. Wrap the fondant in plastic wrap and place in a covered container for 24 to 48 hours.

 

Candy Making Supplies from eTundra.com

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