Rosemary and Maple Bacon Green Bean Bundles

I offered to bring a few things to Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year, including these rolls, a pie (still undecided on what I’m going to do) and a green bean dish.  I thought about doing these green bean salads, but my sister-in-law is bringing a green salad and I didn’t want to double up.  So I went in search of a green bean dish that wasn’t a rich heavy casserole, even though I love the stuff, but was still special.  These green bean bundles are the perfect compromise.

Rosemary and Maple Bacon Green Bean Bundles | Hottie Biscotti

I wanted something that wasn’t going to occupy too much stove or oven space and wouldn’t take too long.  You can blanch the beans in advance, and partially cook the bacon beforehand, which means a quick 15-20 minutes in the oven is all you need to finish these off.

The original recipe I found here on Williams-Sonoma’s site.  I changed a few things and was amazed at the results.  The bacon becomes almost candied in the butter and maple syrup sauce, so these are a bit decadent but since you’re eating vegetables you’re going to be fine.  It’s Thanksgiving after all.  Nothing wrong with candied bacon on Thanksgiving.

I think these are adorable in their little individual bundles.  It does require more work, but nothing too intense.  With all the other sides you really only need one bundle per person, but make some extra just in case.

Rosemary and Maple Bacon Green Bean Bundles | Hottie Biscotti

With Thanksgiving just a week away I wish you happy and stress free meal planning, traveling, prepping, baking and cooking.  But most of all I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you thoroughly enjoy the day with family and friends!

Rosemary and Maple Bacon Green Bean Bundles

Makes about 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans (6-8 green beans per bundle)
  • 8 strips of thick-cut bacon cut in half crosswise, 16 pieces total
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Trim and blanch the green beans: Trim the end off of the beans.  Boil a large pot of water and prepare a big bowl of ice water.  Cook the beans for 3-4 minutes until crisp-tender.  Drain, then plunge into the ice water.  Remove from the water and pat dry with towels.  Proceed with the recipe or store beans in the fridge for up to 1 day.
  2. Cook the bacon: Heat a skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon partially, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Do not let it get crispy or you won’t be able to wrap the bacon around the beans.  Proceed with the recipe or store the bacon in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
  3. Melt the butter and whisk in the syrup, salt and rosemary.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  5. Wrap 6-8 green beans in one piece of bacon and lay on the parchment seam side down.  Repeat with all the beans.
  6. Drizzle each bundle lightly with the butter mixture.  You may have some leftover, which you can either drizzle on the beans or toss depending on how much sauce you want.
  7. Bake the bundles for about 15 minutes, until bacon is crisp.  Move to a platter and serve.

Butterscotch Pie with Marshmallow Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust

I broke down and bought Joy the Baker’s newest cookbook.  I kept seeing it everywhere and couldn’t resist that pretzel cake on the cover.  That pretzel cake must have still been on my mind while I leafed through the pages because I stopped dead in my tracks at this pie with pretzel crust.  I needed to do some pie research for Thanksgiving, so I gave this a shot.  Strictly for research purposes…

Butterscotch Pie with Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust | Hottie Biscotti

The crust is pretty basic, but uses cold buttermilk instead of water.  I had to add a bit more buttermilk than called for in the recipe to get it to stick together easily, but that is the only issue I ran in to with the crust.  It rolls out nicely and bakes up well.  I love the way the pretzels look lining the crust.  It’s really too bad you can’t see it after filling and baking.

Pretzel Crust | Hottie Biscotti

Into the crust goes a butterscotch filling that is rich and creamy and amazing.  When the first step in any recipe is browning butter you can’t be on the wrong track.  After cooking it has to chill for 2 hours, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Butterscotch Filling | Hottie Biscotti

The meringue is surprisingly good.  I was hesitant to add in the thyme, but was very glad I did.  It’s just noticeable enough.  Not overpowering but you still know it’s there, a slight savory note to balance the sweetness.  And the marshmallow does make it very sweet, which I happen to like.  I think it would be especially good on a sweet potato pie.  As we all know, sweet potatoes and marshmallows are meant for each other.

Marshmallow Thyme Meringue | Hottie Biscotti Butterscotch Pie with Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust | Hottie Biscotti

After filling and topping, the meringue gets a nice toast in the oven.  I think I under-baked mine just a bit.  I only let it go for about 4 minutes.  It could’ve used just a couple more for color and for the meringue to get a little sturdier.  When sliced the meringue got a little oozy, which makes no difference in taste but makes for a messy presentation.

Butterscotch Pie with Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust | Hottie Biscotti

You can serve this immediately after cooking the meringue, or chill it in the fridge.  I had better luck slicing and serving after the pie had time to chill, and my meringue was more cooperative.

Butterscotch Pie with Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust | Hottie Biscotti

The pretzels get a little soggy but still have enough crunch to add some nice texture to the pie.  I love the idea and the look of the pretzels, but this would still be a delicious pie without them.

I am really looking forward to trying more recipes from this cookbook!  Go grab a copy, it’s so much fun to look through and drool over.

Butterscotch Pie with Thyme Meringue and Pretzel Crust

From Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson

Pretzel Crust

Makes 2 crusts

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk
  • small twisted pretzels (20-34 depending on size)

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add in butter and work in using either clean hands or a pastry blender.  When butter is broken down into pieces roughly the size of oat flakes with some large pieces make a well in the center and add in the buttermilk.  Mix together using a wooden spoon until dough kind of holds together, but is still loose.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, knead into a disc, cut the disc in half and form each into a round.  Wrap each in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.  (You only use one of these rounds for this pie, so use or freeze the other.)
  4. Flour a work surface and roll one of the rounds into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Move to a 9-inch pie plate, press gently into the plate and trim the edges and fold or crimp the edges.
  5. Arrange the pretzels on the bottom and up the sides of the pie crust, pressing them slightly into the dough.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and press gently into the pie plate.  Fill the foil with beans, rice or pie weights.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Bake crust for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until it begins to brown.  Cool completely before filling.

Butterscotch Filling

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 egg yolks (whites reserved for meringue)
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1. Brown the butter in a small saucepan by heating it over medium heat.  Cook, watching it carefully and swirling the pan frequently until butter begins to brown and smell nutty. Remove from the heat immediately so it doesn’t burn.  Let cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine egg yolks, molasses, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt and whisk.  Heat over medium and whisk in the milk.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking constantly until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the custard and chill for at least 2 hours.

Thyme Meringue

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 jar marshmallow cream (7 ounces)
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar and thyme in a small bowl and use your fingers to rub the thyme into the sugar.
  2. Scrape marshmallow into a large bowl and whisk (at least try to, this stuff is sticky!)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment whisk egg whites on medium speed until they begin to froth.  Add the salt, then add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time while increasing the speed of the mixer gradually to medium high.  Beat until stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy.
  4. Fold half of the egg whites into the marshmallow to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the egg whites in 3 batches.

Assemble and Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and move oven rack to the middle or top third depending on your oven size.  You want the pie near the top to brown the meringue.
  2. Spoon custard into pie crust and smooth the top.
  3. Top with the meringue and spread just to the edges without covering the crust.
  4. Bake for 4-7 minutes, until meringue has browned to your liking.
  5. Serve immediately or chill for an hour.

Haricots Vert Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries

There is a special place in my heart for creamy green bean casserole.  The kind with the canned crunchy fried onions, and the canned cream of mushroom soup.  You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t you should try it at least once.  But sometimes that Thanksgiving meal can be a little heavy on the creamy casseroles and you want (and likely need) something light and refreshing in the mix to balance things out.  This salad is a delicious way to provide some balance in your meal while still keeping is special.

Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries | Hottie Biscotti

Something about the combination of warm toasted pecans, tangy sweet cranberries and robust blue cheese just sings of the season we’re entering.  The weather is cooler and richer flavors are in order.  Although, I’d eat this salad in the summertime with no problem.

Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries | Hottie Biscotti

You can serve these as lovely first course salads on individual salad plates, or arrange them on a large platter and allow guests to serve themselves.  The bibb lettuce leaves hold up well, so there’s little need to worry about them tearing, unless they’ve been sitting too long so don’t prepare them all the way too far in advance.  If you’re really needing this to be a quick and painless salad you can tear up a bunch of bibb lettuce, toss in the dressed beans, cranberries, blue cheese and pecans and serve this as a large serve-yourself salad.  You might want to double the dressing if you plan to serve it that way, though.

Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries | Hottie Biscotti

You can cook the beans up to 2 days ahead and keep them in the fridge.  The beans also hold up well in the fridge after being dressed, so you can prepare them up to that point hours ahead of time, but not longer than a day.  Mix in the cranberries, but not the blue cheese or pecans, they’ll get soggy if they sit too long.  Sprinkle on the blue cheese and pecans right before serving.

I tend to under-dress salads when serving them to a group.  I hesitated to add all the dressing to the beans, but it was the perfect amount.  There’s just enough that drips off onto the lettuce.

Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries | Hottie Biscotti

Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries

From Fine Cooking

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound haricots verts (french green beans) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 6 large bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Directions

  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.  Drain the beans, then plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain again, pat dry and move to a bowl.  If making ahead, place beans in an airtight container and put them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  2. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard and olive oil.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Toss beans and cranberries in the dressing to coat evenly.  You can refrigerate the beans at this point for up to 1 day.
  4. To serve: divide beans evenly among the lettuce leaves and sprinkle each with pecans and blue cheese.

Carrots in Pistachio Herb Butter

I whipped this butter up a month ago and after making a batch of these carrots I stashed it in the freezer.  Today I made another batch to serve 2 people, and next week I could use what remains of the butter to serve at least 8.  After making the butter all you have to do it cook the carrots, in small or large batches.  This is a terrific semi-make-ahead side dish.

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The herb butter can be made well in advance which, if you’re a good planner, makes this a super simple side dish to serve at a holiday meal or on a busy weeknight.  I stored mine in the freezer for over a month and it was still great.

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In addition to making the butter ahead you can prep the carrots up to two days in advance and store them in the fridge.  That makes finishing these a breeze, taking no more than 15 minutes.

I personally loved the flavors, but my husband wasn’t crazy about the combination of herbs and pistachio.  I’m still going to recommend this dish, though.  I found the flavors to be a nice change from the typical flavors in cooked carrots.  There is a slight bit of heat thanks to the hot sauce.  The crunch of the chopped pistachios on top is really nice and adds great texture contrast.  The herbs brighten things up, instead of weighing them down like brown sugar and butter do.

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After cooking the carrots you drain the water, reserving some of it, and return the carrots to the pot.  Then you add in your desired amount of butter and some of the water to make a sauce.  The original recipe uses all of the butter for 3 pounds of carrots, but I used less and it was fine.  Add less than you think you need, stir with a little water (less is more here as well) taste and add more butter if you desire.  You may also want to season with salt.  Once in their serving dish sprinkle with the reserved pistachios.

Carrots in Pistachio Herb Butter

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted, shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 4 to 6 drops Sriracha
  • Kosher salt
  • Carrots, peeled and cut into pieces about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide (1 pound serves 2-4. 3 pounds serves 6-10)

Directions

Make the Butter

  1. Coarsely chop the pistachios in a food processor. Set aside half of the nuts. Pulse the remaining nuts until they are very fine but not pasty.
  2. Add the parsley and mint, and pulse again until the herbs are finely chopped.
  3. Add the butter, cheese, zest, hot sauce, and 1 tsp. salt; pulse until well blended.
  4. If working ahead, scrape the butter onto plastic wrap, shape into a log, wrap, wrap in foil or parchment and freeze.  Seal the reserved pistachios in a small zip-top freezer bag or other airtight container and freeze.

Make the Carrots

  1. Put the carrots in a pot, add enough water to just cover them, and add a pinch of salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes until desired tenderness.
  3. Drain carrots, reserving 1/4 cup of the water.  Return to the pot and add butter (a chunk at a time adding a little water as you stir) until carrots are coated to your liking. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with reserved pistachios.

 

Fleur de Sel Caramel and Cream Cheese Apple Galette

We are well into November, which means it’s time to start thinking about your Thanksgiving meal.  Not Christmas yet though, despite the fact that almost every retail store I’ve been to has their trees up already.  Straight from Halloween to Christmas!  It’s crazy.  But Thanksgiving is just a little over 2 weeks away so let’s talk food.  I’ll share a few recipes over the next couple of weeks.

FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL AND CREAM CHEESE APPLE GALETTE | Hottie Biscotti

The more I cook the more recipes I have stored up either here on the blog or in a ridiculous collection of books and binders that I can turn to.  I come from a family of 4 girls, all of whom enjoy cooking.  So when it comes to holiday meals we all start searching for things we’d like to make.  We almost never make the same thing twice, except for my Grandma June’s dressing which is always on the table, as is her apple pie.  But we like to branch out and try other ways to prepare vegetables, desserts and sides.

This simple apple galette would be a lovely Thanksgiving dessert, but could easily make its way to your table on a weeknight.  It’s simple to prepare and doesn’t require many ingredients or much time.  You can use a scratch pie crust or a store bought one to make it even simpler.

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This caramel sauce takes this simple dessert to a special place and I am so thankful to my good friend who introduced me to it!  Go grab yourself a few jars.  It’s also terrific as a dip for raw apples slices, so whatever you have leftover from this galette you can use as an afternoon snack.  You’re welcome.

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This is different enough from a pie that you could get away with having a traditional apple pie and this galette on the same dessert table.  The thin-ness of this galette makes me feel a little better about eating dessert, even though it’s probably not too much better for me.  The cream cheese is subtle and pairs well with the apples and caramel, but you could easily leave it out if you don’t have any around or if you just don’t care for it.

FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL AND CREAM CHEESE APPLE GALETTE | Hottie Biscotti FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL AND CREAM CHEESE APPLE GALETTE | Hottie Biscotti FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL AND CREAM CHEESE APPLE GALETTE | Hottie Biscotti FLEUR DE SEL CARAMEL AND CREAM CHEESE APPLE GALETTE | Hottie Biscotti

I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving.  I really enjoy this holiday and this year we get to spend it at the lake with my husband’s family, which will be lovely as always.  What are you planning to make for Thanksgiving?  Do you have any recipes you make every year?

Fleur de Sel Caramel and Cream Cheese Apple Galette

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 round pie dough
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3-4 tablespoons Fleur de sel Caramel Sauce
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel and core apples, then slice thinly.
  3. Mix apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.
  4. Beat cream cheese with 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar until smooth.  Set aside.
  5. Roll dough out on a large piece of parchment paper into a 12 inch circle.
  6. Spread cream cheese onto dough leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.
  7. Arrange apples in 2 concentric circles, overlapping as needed, on top of the cream cheese.
  8. Warm up 4 tablespoons of the caramel sauce in a small bowl in the microwave.  Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce evenly over the apples.
  9. Fold the dough over the edges of the apples.
  10. Whisk egg in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of water, then brush onto the dough.
  11. Transfer parchment to a large baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes, until crust is golden and apples are tender.
  12. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the rest of the caramel sauce.
  13. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream and more caramel sauce.

 

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Last week I had lunch with a good friend at a place called Local Foods in Houston.  They have 2 locations now and we visited the newer one on Kirby for the first time.  This location has more seating and boasts a lovely outdoor space.  The weather cooperated perfectly making for a lunch I’d gladly repeat every day if I could.  We split a pork sandwich and their fall harvest salad.  The salad was so delicious that I knew I’d be trying to recreate it at home.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

While I am sure there was more in this salad that I couldn’t quite pinpoint or remember when I made a grocery list, I knew that is had broccoli, cauliflower, roasted brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese.  We chose to add chicken to ours at the restaurant, but it would’ve been just as incredible without it.  You could leave out the chicken for a vegetarian salad or if you’re serving this as a side salad, or add it if you’re serving as a main course.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

One of my favorite parts about this salad was the dressing.  Again, I know mine isn’t the same as Local Foods, but the dill in the dressing stood out to me and really brought out all the delicious flavors of the salad.  So I made a dill vinaigrette to dress this salad.  And it’s pretty special.  I’ll be making it again.

Make sure to use fresh dill and parsley in the dressing and chop them very fine.  As with all homemade salad dressings, you can adjust the flavors to your liking.  Add more or less honey (I found this to be on the sweet side) add more salt, some cracked pepper, or more garlic if you’d like.  Shaking dressing up in a small mason jar is an easy way to make and store the dressing.

Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

The amounts below are enough for 2 to 4 salads, depending on how big you make them and who’s eating.  After prepping all the vegetables they can be refrigerated for use later on, so you can easily enjoy this salad for lunches during the week by simply tossing the ingredients together when you’re ready.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Salads at our house are almost always greens, carrots, celery, tomatoes, dried cranberries and nuts if I have them around.  I love that this salad has so much stuff in it that I’ve never thought of putting in to a salad!  It’s delicious.  You can make it for one or for a large group.  And it’s a great fall salad with the roasted brussels and sweet pops from the pomegranate seeds.  And of course there is goat cheese.  Thank God for goat cheese!  I hope you try this salad.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Inspired by Fall Harvest Salad from Local Foods

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • Spring mix
  • 3/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower florets
  • 8-10 brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed and cut into quarters
  • pomegranate seeds
  • roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 2 ounces plain goat cheese
  • cooked chicken (optional)

For the Dill Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions

For dressing

  1. Shake all ingredients together in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.  Set aside or store in the fridge.

For Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Toss brussels in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast, shaking the pan once or twice, for 20 minutes until brussels sprouts are tender and browned.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Boil broccoli and cauliflower for 2 minutes, then drain and put vegetables in the ice water, swish around a few times, then remove from the water to drain.
  3. Prepare the salad by either tossing salad greens, broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts in a large bowl with your desired amount of dressing, then plating and topping with pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese OR plate everything together and drizzle on the dressing.

Daring Bakers: Sachertorte Fail

The making of this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a comedy of errors.  I can truthfully say that I laughed more than I cried through this process and I couldn’t wait to share my Sachertorte tale.  So here’s how it all went down.

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

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It sure is nice that to kids cake is cake no matter how it looks!  Mine enjoyed having some chocolate cake in the middle of the afternoon for no reason.

I’ve never wanted to make or eat Sachertorte.  Sorry.  But I typically don’t like fruit with my chocolate.  I do like raspberry, maybe strawberry, but other fruit and chocolate pairings are not hard for me to turn down.  A Sachertorte is chocolate cake glazed with apricot and then dark chocolate.  I wasn’t thrilled at this month’s challenge, but I’m only 3 challenges away from completing a full year of The Daring Bakers, so I couldn’t turn it down.  Also, this was an opportunity to broaden my baking horizons, and that’s always a good thing.

I had everything I needed and planned to whip this up on a Friday.  Since the cake can be made ahead I had what I thought was a good plan of getting that done in the morning, letting it cool, and then tackling both the apricot and chocolate glazes and the assembly during afternoon naps.  My kids typically have about an hour of nap time that overlaps.  And it’s not like I’m not used to juggling kitchen and kid duties.  I thought I had this thing under control.  That’s when you know you don’t.

My youngest had a couple of vaccines given at his 4 month well check the day before and while I’m not confident that his fussiness was due to the shots I am confident that something was not right with him.  He is a happy baby who can deal with being put in the bouncer in the kitchen and being content while I cook.  Typically.  Today was not typical.  He hardly napped all day.  I’d just get him to sleep, get back downstairs to try to bake and he’d start crying again.  Did I mention we also had a Halloween event that night?  I needed to get the kids fed early and in their costumes by the time my husband got home.  I felt like a crazy person going from the kitchen to the crying baby upstairs, to the kids, to the kitchen, to the crying baby in the bouncer, to the sink full of dirty dishes, to the pirate costumes, to the crying baby on his exercise mat to the Sachertorte.

You don’t need me to tell you that the opportunities for disaster were countless.  While whipping egg whites with my hand mixer (something that seemed to take forever) my two boys were crying because they didn’t like the noise.  Take a moment now and try to imagine a 4 year old crying and tugging at you, a 4 month old screaming, and the metal beaters hitting the sides of your glass bowl as the little motor on your mixer whirs.  I should’ve given up right then.  But I soldiered on.  And amazingly the cake itself was fine.

Cake got baked, cooled and sliced ready for glaze.

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Glaze got made and right when I got ready to use it my sweet baby woke up from his 30 minute nap and I had to feed him.  But the apricot glazing went well.  (Note: put parchment or wax paper under your rack when glazing.)  Right about then my older son woke up.

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The baby seemed ok after eating and I really needed to get this cake done.  I’d read the directions for the glaze, knowing it to be both temperature and time sensitive.  I decided I’d go for it.  Curious George Halloween special on the TV and kids on the couch with snacks and drinks.  Baby on the mat playing with toys.  This would be fine…

Once you start the glaze you have to finish.  No stopping points.  You have to cook the sugar to 234°F, mix in the chocolate, pour it on the cake and smooth it all without taking a second to neglect your duties.  My sugar was at about 215°F when sweet baby boy started to scream.  I tried putting him in the bouncer in the kitchen and making silly faces and noises at him while I tended to the boiling sugar.  He wasn’t fooled.  He knew he wasn’t number 1 in my book at that moment.  But I had to keep going.  He screamed for about 5 minutes, then discovered one of the toys in front of him and settled down.  I whisked in the chocolate and my glaze was thick and clumpy.  The recipe says that you can return the pan to the heat and add “a few drops” of water to get it to a pour-able consistency.  I did that and then proceeded to glaze the cake.  I went on nice at first.  I had my offset spatula at the ready and was spreading as I poured.  I got to the other side of the cake and it basically hardened up and became not only not spreadable but clumpy and when I tried to fix it it started pulling up cake with it.  So this is what I had on my hands.

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I was watching the temp of the sugar carefully and turned it off right at 234°F, but I guess that could’ve been the problem.  Or maybe I didn’t add enough water, although it did seem pourable enough.  Regardless of what went wrong, this chocolate glaze was a bust.

My baby had started to cry again and my oldest son was now in the kitchen asking for more snacks and milk because he’d spilled his on the rug.  At this point everything just had to be funny.  No point in getting upset about it.  Thankfully I wasn’t planning to serve this at a dinner party.  I had told a friend I’d bring dessert to a casual lunch on Saturday, but thankfully she’s the kind of friend who doesn’t love you any less for bringing ugly cake!

I completed the cake with the required “Sacher” but didn’t spend too much time worrying about how well that turned out.  Obviously.  I’m pretty sure I was snickering about this whole debacle when I took this picture.

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Now, the cake itself wasn’t bad.  I liked it, actually.  The chocolate glaze also tasted fine, but I will never make it again.  I’ll look for a different chocolate glaze or ganache recipe the next time I want to try to glaze a cake.  Now the apricot.  I just can’t get on board with the apricot and chocolate together.  If I am ever in Austria I will definitely order myself a slice of Sachertorte, but I won’t be making it again.  I might try the cake with a caramel glaze and chocolate ganache.  Or maybe just keep it all chocolate.  But there will be no traditional Sachertortes coming out of this kitchen.  The end.

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 Sachertorte

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4 1/2 ounces) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch fine grain salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flower the sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of barely simmering water or you can melt it in the microwave, heating in 30 second increments, stirring in between each, until just melted. Set aside to cool completely, stirring often.
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or electric mixer on medium speed until very light and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  6. In a clean bowl using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with about one tablespoon of the granulated sugar on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating the whites until they form soft, shiny peaks – they should hold their shape but flop over on themselves.
  7. Vigorously stir about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a spatula until just a few wisps of egg white remain. Do this carefully so as not to deflate the egg whites.
  8. Stir together the flour and salt and sift half of it over the chocolate mixture. Fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift over the remaining flour and fold to combine completely.
  9. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared springform pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will crack and dome in the middle as it bakes but will flatten out as it cools.
  10. Cool completely, then slice in half.  Glaze middle, top and sides with warm apricot glaze (recipe below).  Let glaze set, then finish with your favorite chocolate ganache.

Apricot Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups apricot jam or preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Boil the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. You should have about 1 cup of glaze. Use warm.

Here are some recipes for chocolate ganache that you could use.

Pourable Ganache

Sachertorte Chocolate Glaze

 

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower.  It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes.  This tart is one of those recipes.  This curry is another.  I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately.  I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule.  My husband didn’t miss the meat at all.  This one is a keeper.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.  Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily.  You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time.  Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing.  The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing.  But it is worth it!

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two.  This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days.  I love leftover night.

The spices are warm and subtle.  The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy.  I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful.  The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess.  I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all.  If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion.  The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch.  We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce.  Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit).  I hope you try this dish!  My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning.  So you know it’s good.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
  • 1 onion, cut into large dice
  • 2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
  • plain yogurt
  • chopped cashews
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • naan or rice for serving

Directions

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
  2. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add in the cauliflower and mix together.  Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick.  Season with salt and lemon juice.  Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

It was bound to happen.  I jumped aboard the pumpkin train!  I did manage to hold out until mid October.  Things get a little crazy this time of year on food blogs with an abundance of recipes containing pumpkin and pumpkin spices.  But I truly do love this time of year, and the smells and tastes associated with it.  And these pumpkin cheesecakes are truly delicious.  So here’s my obligatory fall pumpkin submission.  Enjoy!

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

One of the great things about these mini cheesecakes is that they are significantly easier than making a big cheesecake.  They are also easier to serve.  No water bath, no wrapping your spring-form in foil so it doesn’t leak or let water in, no worried anticipation when you take the spring-form off wondering if it’s going to remain beautiful, no cracked top or slicing pieces for guests.  Just mix, fill, bake, chill and enjoy.  Guests serve themselves little cheesecake cupcakes, there’s less clean up and everyone is happy.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

I really like the chocolate Oreo crust, but you could stick with graham crackers or use gingersnaps for some extra fall spice.  Another variation would be to make these all pumpkin and add about 3/4 to 1 cup of pumpkin to the filling.  Keep the spices the same.

This filling is going to make more than enough for a dozen cheesecakes by about 2 or 3, with more pumpkin than plain filling.  I suggest either adding a couple extra Oreos and a tad more butter initially and baking up a few more cheesecakes OR put an entire whole Oreo in the extra baking cups and fill those with the remaining filling.  Bake these after you bake the full tin and keep an eye on them, they will probably bake up a little quicker.  Or you could do as this lazy woman does and just toss the extra.  I’m sorry if wasting food appalls you.  I typically don’t do it.  But I had a crying baby on my hands and needed to finish as soon as possible!

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti pumpkin9 pumpkin18 pumpkin19 pumpkin8

These would make a great addition to a fall dessert table, the orange and black qualify them for Halloween and they would also be perfect for Thanksgiving.  Since they have to be chilled you can make them ahead of time, up to but not more than 48 hours.  After the initial chilling make sure to cover them if they will be kept more than a day in the fridge.

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust | Hottie Biscotti

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust

Adapted from Bru Crew and Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 16 whole Oreo  cookies
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

  • 2 packages cream cheese, room temperature (full or low fat)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tin and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Crush Oreos (either in a food processor or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin and some muscle) to fine crumbs.
  4. Combine Oreo crumbs with butter and mix to combine evenly.
  5. Divide crumb mixture equally between muffin cups (about 2 rounded teaspoons per cup).
  6. Press down firmly and bake for about 6 minutes.  Make filling while these bake.

Filling

  1. Beat cream cheese, sugar and sour cream together until fully combined.  Add in eggs, vanilla and salt,  then beat well.  Scrape the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds or so.
  2. Remove a little less than half (about 1 1/4 cups) of this mixture to another bowl.  Add in the pumpkin and spices and mix well.
  3. On top of each cooked crust spoon one spoonful of plain and one spoonful of pumpkin filling.  Repeat with another spoonful of each, pumpkin on top of plain and plain on top of pumpkin, then swirl them together without mixing too much.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the cups. Each cup should be almost full, but you will probably have a little more filling left over.  See above for how to deal with the excess.
  5. Reduce oven to 325°F and bake for 20 minutes, then increase oven to 350°F and bake 5 minutes more. When the centers of the cheesecakes jiggle just a bit when you shake the pan they’re done.  If they seem really jiggly, bake a few minutes more.  Remove from the oven, let cool for 30 minutes, then transfer entire pan to the fridge for a few hours.  Serve up!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Crescent Rolls

If your childhood was anything like mine you have fond memories of eating Pillsbury crescent rolls.  You’ve likely watched someone experience, or you’ve experienced for yourself, the frustration of getting the tube open after not peeling the paper enough and then banging it on the counter to get it to pop open.  Maybe your mom let you help roll them up and put them on the baking sheet.  And then you got to enjoy their warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness with dinner.  Pillsbury will always have a special place in my heart, but these homemade crescent rolls might be what my kids remember enjoying.

Crescent Rolls | Hottie Biscotti

This recipe comes from my America’s Best Lost Recipes cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen.

These were surprisingly simple to put together and bake.  You do have to let them rise twice, once after making the dough and once after forming the rolls.

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So you’re looking at a minimum of 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  If you want to serve them to your kids for dinner start them with enough time.  I didn’t, so my kids ate them for dessert!

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Be sure not to over bake these.  They get a tad dry when cooked too long.  Nothing that a little extra butter can’t cure, though!  If you’re planning to make these and then reheat them for later (think make-ahead Thanksgiving bread) bake them until just slightly golden so you can reheat them without fear of them drying out.

You will probably need to make three sheets of rolls, 8 per sheet, unless you have large cookie sheets and a large oven.  It’s perfectly fine to bake the first two sheets and bake the other right after the first ons come out.  Just be sure to keep them covered.

These do rise during baking, so don’t place them too close together.  Also, try to cook similar sized rolls on the same baking sheet.  Unless you can roll a perfect circle of dough, some wedges will be bigger than others.  They’ll take longer to bake, and the smaller ones will take less time.  If you have different sized rolls on the same sheet some will be over baked while others will be under baked.  I emphasize this point only because I had one sheet that had some quite small and some quite large rolls and I had this problem.  Aren’t you glad you have someone to make mistakes for you?!

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The only thing I might do differently would be to brush these with more melted butter right after baking.  Because there isn’t much better than that.

Crescent Rolls

From America’s Best Lost Recipe

Makes 24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Melt 1 stick of butter and let cool slightly.  Mix with warm milk, sugar and eggs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or a large bowl) mix 4 1/2 cups flour, salt and yeast.
  3. Add in the milk mixture and mix on low until dough comes together, then increase the speed to medium and mix for about 5 minutes.  If dough seems sticky add in a couple tablespoons of flour.
  4. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead a bit and shape into a ball.  Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Melt the 1/2 stick of butter and set aside.
  6. Prepare baking sheets (you’ll need 2 large or 3 regular) by lining them with parchment.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal sized pieces.  Working with one piece, roll into a 10-inch circle.  Brush with butter, then use a pizza cutter to slice dough into 8 wedges.
  8. Take a sliced piece and roll, starting from the wide end, up to the pointed end and place pointed side down on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  9. Cover rolls with clean towels or plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for 45 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  11. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until rolls are golden.  Do not let them get too dark.
  12. Bake third sheet of rolls if necessary.
  13. Serve warm or let cool completely before packing up to serve later or freeze.