Monday, November 28, 2011

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Bars



Oh, these are so good. Reminiscent of the caramel chocolate bars, these lovelies have a shortbread crust, caramel layer, chocolate layer, and then an added white chocolate decorative layer. You can get as fancy as you want with the top - I just did a simple swirl but you more creative types could make something more beautiful. But regardless of the fanciness factor of the topping, these are absolutely delicious and would be an impressive addition to any cookie tray.

The first step is to prep your pan. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, using a little more paper than the length of the pan to create "handles."



Then make the shortbread layer. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.



Beat in vanilla, salt and flour



until well combined. Press along bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the paper-lined pan.



Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, just until golden brown around the edges. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

Now, make the caramel layer (I guess I should say dulce de leche!). Combine the butter, brown sugar,



salt and sweetened condensed milk,



and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring constantly, unil thickened and a deep caramel color.



Pour over crust and spread evenly.



Refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. For the chocolate layer, melt the semisweet chocolate, and then let cool slightly. Dollop over the dulce de leche



then spread evenly over the filling with a spatula.



Return to the fridge (I know it's hard to wait!) and cool until set, about 1 hour.

For the topping, melt the white chocolate and divide into three parts. Tint one part green,



one part red and leave one part white. Dollop these three over semisweet layer (you'll see I only used two colors - slight red tint fail...)



and use a toothpick to gently swirl colors.



Refrigerate for another hour or so to set the topping. Remove the bars using the parchment handles and then cut into bars. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

One year ago: Oatmeal Spice Drop Cookies
Two years ago: Elena Blthe's Chili

For more great ideas, visit Mangia Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Menu Mondays, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday (#2), Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday (#3), A Little Birdie Told Me, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Recipes I can't wait to try, Crockpot Wednesday, What's on your plate?, These Chicks Cooked, What's Cooking Wednesday, Let's Do Brunch.

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Bars

Crust:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt

Filling:
7 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk
pinch salt
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Decoration:
6 oz. white chocolate, melted
red and green food coloring

Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides to form "handles."

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then flour and salt until combined well. Press along bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 12 to 18 minutes, just until golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, milk and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened and a deep caramel color, about 15 minutes. Pour over crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour.

Melt semisweet chocolate, and let cool slightly. Using a spatula, evenly spread over filling. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate and divide into three parts. Tint one part green, one part red and leave one part white. Dollop these three over semisweet layer and use a toothpick to gently swirl colors. Refrigerate again for about an hour to set. Remove the bars using the parchment handles and cut into bars. Makes 48 bars.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Crumb-topped Apple and Pumpkin Pie



If you can't decide between apple and pumpkin pie for your Thursday dessert, you're in luck! This delicious pie combines them both! I wasn't sure what I would think of this when I first made it, but I loved it! And it's probably a great way to convert some people who (for what reason I don't know) don't eat pumpkin pie.

This is a recipe repeat. For full step by step instructions, visit the original post.

Find more great ideas at This Week's Cravings, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Mouthwatering Mondays, Menu Monday, Mangia Monday.

Crumb-Topped Apple and Pumpkin Pie

1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry (such as Pillsbury), or homemade

Apple filling:
2 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pumpkin filling:
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sgugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. cold butter
3 Tbsp. chopped pecans or walnuts

Unroll pastry to a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/2 inch beyond the pie plate, and carefully transfer to a deep dish 9-inch pie plate; flute edges.

In a medium bowl, combine apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon; toss to coat all apples. Spoon into pie crust.

In another bowl, whisk the pumpkin filling ingredients. Pour over apple mixture. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

For topping, combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over pie. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the pumpkin layer comes out clean. (Tent pie crust with foil if necessary during the last 20 minutes of baking.)

Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 10.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies



When I saw that the two ingredients for this month's Improv Challenge were pumpkin and cream cheese, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I think I have had this recipe for well over 10 years but have never made these little beauties! You can bet I won't be waiting another 10 years to make them again. Maybe not even 10 days. A fluffy cream cheese filling is sandwiched between two cake-like pumpkin cookies -- whoopie pies are the technical name, but I just call them AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

I was lucky to have a little helper assisting with what she called the "whoopie cookies." To make the cookies, combine the brown sugar and oil



in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined. Add the pumpkin



and the eggs, and mix until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.



Mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper, and then drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the paper.



I was able to get anywhere from 15-20 cookies on a sheet. Do try to put about the same amount of dough down each time - this will help when matching up cookies for the sandwiches. Even though I used a scoop, I still got a lot of variations!



Bake for 10-11 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. For the filling, blend the cream cheese and butter until soft and creamy. Add the marshmallow creme



and mix until incorporated. Then add the powdered sugar



and blend until smooth. Using a table knife or flat spatula, spread the filling on one side of one cookie.



Now here's the trickiest part: try to find a second cookie that matches (as close as you can) the first one!



I found it easiest to just return the filled cookies to the wire rack to set up. Plus, I like seeing them all in a line!



Here's the best part: enjoying the fruits of your labor!



Pour a tall glass of milk, and enjoy!

One year ago: Spicy Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Two years ago: Zesty Cranberry Sauce

Find more recipe inspiration at It's a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Treats Thursday, Bake with Bizzy, Sweet Tooth Friday, Foodie Friday, Friday Potluck, Fusion Fridays, Food on Fridays, Friday Food, A Themed Baker's Sunday.

Find more great pumpkin and cream cheese combos in the links below.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. ginger
1/2 Tbsp. cloves

Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 - 7.5 oz. jar marshmallow creme
2 cups powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Mix in the pumpkin and eggs, beating well. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix well.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling, in a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add the marshmallow cream and mix until combined, then add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Spread the filling on one bottom side of one cookie, then top with a second cookie. Makes approximately 84 cookies, 42 whoopie pies.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Zesty Cranberry Sauce



Once I discovered how delicious homemade cranberry sauce was, my Thanksgiving was transformed. And this is THE EASIEST side dish on the menu, and it can be made ahead, saving you time (and stress!) on the big day. Since I first made this or brought it to various holiday gatherings, it has been a repeated request - and that makes me happy!

This is a recipe repeat. For full step by step instructions, visit the original post.

Find more inspiration at Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, A Little Birdie Told Me, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Recipes I can't wait to try, What's on your plate?, Made it on Monday, What's Cooking Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked.

Zesty Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop; about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve chilled or at room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Makes 2 1/2 cups, 8-10 servings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Bread



Today is another reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club! This month I was assigned to Mom's Crazy Cooking. Tina's blog is full of great recipes, and in addition, she is our gracious hostess in group B of the SRC! Thanks, Tina, for all the work you put into our group!

Once I found the recipe for this lemon blueberry bread I knew that it was my selection for this month's SRC. I've been thinking about making a bread like this for a while, so this was the perfect pick for me! It is a delicious quick bread that combines two great flavors - lemon and bluberry - and is topped with a scrumptious syrup glaze. It's hard to eat just one slice!

Start by combining 1/4 cup of the flour and the blueberries in a small bowl.



Stir together so that all the blueberries are coated with flour. This will help the blueberries not sink, and also prevent the rest of the bread from turning purple!

Now in a separate bowl, combine the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.



Add the vanilla and the lemon zest and mix until combined. Now slowly add the flour mixture, alternating it with the milk,



and mix until just combined. Now fold in the blueberries.



Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, then make the glaze. Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat. Pierce the bread all over with a skewer or a fork,



then pour the glaze over the top.



Cool the bread in the pan for 30 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and enjoy! Thanks, Tina, for a recipe that I'll be making again and again! For more Secret Recipe Club recipes, see the link up below.

One year ago: Bacon Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
Two years ago: Cornbread and Apple Stuffing

Get more great recipes at Mangia Mondays, Menu Monday, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Mouthwatering Mondays, Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Let's Do Brunch.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Lemon Glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


In a small bowl, combine blueberries and 1/4 cup flour. Stir together to coat all the blueberries. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and milk. Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

After you remove the bread from the oven, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan bring the sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or fork and then pour the glaze over the bread. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Cornbread and Apple Stuffing



This delicious stuffing became an annually requested dish after the first year I made it. Sausage, apples, cornbread and bread are all baked together for a wonderful compliment to turkey and potatoes. Although I'm not normally a "fan" of stuffing, I couldn't get enough of this version, and even made it outside of the Thanksgiving season!

This is a recipe repeat. For the full step by step instructions (and make ahead tips), go to the original post.



One year ago: Bacon Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
Two years ago: Cheesy Vegetable Soup

There are more great recipes at Turning the Table Thursday, It's a Keeper, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays, Friday Food, Fusion Fridays, the Gallery of Favorites.

Corn Bread and Apple Stuffing

1/2 loaf (8 oz.) white bread, sliced and cut into 1/4" cubes
5 cups cubed corn bread (from prepared Jiffy mix)
5 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 apples, cored, peeled and diced
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
12 ounces bulk breakfast sausage
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, or 2 tsp. rubbed sage
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth

Heat oven to 350. Place bread cubes on a large jelly roll pan and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook about 5 minutes, then add apples and cook 4-5 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to bowl with bread.

In same skillet, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to give up their juices, about 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms to the bread bowl. Cook sausage in skillet, breaking up with a spoon until thoroughly cooked, 5-6 minutes. Drain and add to bread mixture.

Stir in sage, thyme, egg and enough chicken broth so that stuffing just holds together when lightly pressed between your hands. Add additional broth if stuffing seems dry.

Spoon stuffing into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake until the top has formed a crust and stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Makes 8-10 servings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Pumpkin Cake Roll



So far, we've highlighted a wonderful Thanksgiving starter, and a great side dish. I have more side dishes to come, but wanted to focus on a dessert today - and this is one of my favorites. If you want to do a great pumpkin dessert that's not pie (it's hard for me to believe anyone does not like pumpkin pie, but I know it's true!), this is the cake for you.

Don't be intimidated by the flipping and rolling and unrolling. Just be decisive and gentle (sounds contradictory but it's true!) and this cake will turn out beautifully. Best of all, it's SO delicious. It will be hard to eat just one slice.

This is a recipe repeat. If you've never made a cake roll before, I highly suggest visiting the original post for a complete step by step. (And a look at my first try - epic failure!)

One year ago: Pumpkin Custard Pie
Two years ago: Apple Bundt Cake

Find more inspiration at Mouthwatering Mondays, Mangia Mondays, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, Menu Mondays, This Week's Cravings, These Chicks Cooked, What's Cooking Wednesday, Made it on Monday, What's on your plate?, Recipes I Can't Wait to Try, Let's Do Brunch.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice and beat until combined.

In another bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; fold into the pumpkin mixture.

Grease a 15x10x1 inch jelly roll pan; line with waxed or parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan; sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy.

Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional powdered sugar, if desired. Serves 10.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Series: Carrot Potato Gratin



Our Thanksgiving series continues with this interesting take on the traditional potato dish. Most people will not be able to live without mashed potatoes and gravy on Thanksgiving (including me!) but if you have enough guests to have TWO potato dishes, I recommend this one. This also makes a wonderful side dish for a non-Thanksgiving meal!

There's a delicious, creamy sauce that holds it all together and the orange carrots lend wonderful color. The cheese on top is like the icing on the cake, so to speak.

This is a recipe repeat. For a full step by step, visit the original post.

One year ago: Caramel Pear Pie
Two years ago: Wisconsin Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Find more great ideas at It's a Keeper, Turning the Table Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Foodie Friday, Friday Potluck, Fusion Fridays, Friday Food, Food on Fridays.

Carrot and Potato Gratin

2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. flour
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
4 large carrots (about 3/4 pound), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook and stir until bubbly. Add the chicken broth and cook until lightly boiling, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk, stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened.

In a greased 2 quart baking dish, arrange 1/3 of potato slices, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. thyme and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat with carrot slices and another 1/3 cup cheese. Layer potatoes, 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1/3 cup cheese, then carrots and potatoes again, topping with the last 1/4 tsp. thyme.

Stir sauce and pour evenly over gratin. Cover with foil; bake at 350 until bubbling and vegetables just start to soften, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 30 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
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