Vanilla Ice Cream

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I’m one of those people that think you can eat ice cream year round. I don’t wait for summer to enjoy this soft, smooth and creamy treat.   I guess you can call an ice cream parlor my “happy place”, well, one of them anyway.  But just like everything else, I am always on a mission to make it myself (and make it better).   So eight years ago when my children bought me the ice cream bowl and attachment for my Kitchen aid mixer, I was very excited to make homemade ice cream.  The first time I made ice cream I could not believe how incredibly delicious it was.  I’d like to say that I don’t buy store bought ice cream anymore, but that would a flat out lie!  I still buy ice cream at the store and I definitely still go ice cream parlors (are they still called parlors? oh well, they’ll always be parlors to me).

This ice cream recipe is easy to make, but it does take some time. The ice cream base takes about 5 minutes to make with only 5 ingredients that are readily available, but there’s some wait time.  I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Wait time? Who wants to wait?”  Trust me, it’s worth it!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream (divided)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup whole milk

 

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until mixture starts to bubble (about 4-5 minutes).
  2. Stir constantly so the eggs don’t scramble. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in remaining heavy cream, milk and vanilla bean paste. Stir until completely incorporated. Place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Put ice cream mixture into frozen bowl. Using the ice cream churning attachment, mix for 15-20 minutes until ice cream thickens. Place ice cream in a freezer until ready to eat. If you’re anything like me, it won’t be long😁!

Berry Cherry Pie

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I love anything pie…hand pies, meringue pies.  I am particularly fond of fruit pies.  Every year my sister Kathy makes her famous (yes, it’s famous) apple pie for Thanksgiving dessert.  I start thinking about her apple pie as soon as Fall approaches. You know, when everyone starts getting excited about pumpkin spice and lattes?  I won’t be having her amazing apple pie until Thanksgiving, but I had this delicious berry cherry pie tonight…a la mode! Yum!! You don’t need to wait for a special occasion or holiday for this pie, make it today and have it for dessert tonight!!

Ingredients:

Pastry Dough
2 ½ cups (320g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small ¼ cubes
1 tsp. (6g) salt
2 tbsp (30g) sugar
6-8 tbsp ice cold water

Filling
4-5 cups (600-700g) frozen cherry berry blend (you can use any blend you like or any fresh fruit)
2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice
Zest of a lemon
2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash
1 tsp. water
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. (10g) sugar to sprinkle on pie crust before baking

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl whisk flour with sugar and salt. Incorporate butter using a pastry blender (or a food processor), until pea sized crumbs are formed. Add 2 tablespoons of water at a time just until dough comes together.  Put dough on your work service and knead just until dough comes together (do not overwork the dough).

2. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form into two flat discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

3. Start preparing the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and lemon zest in small mixing bowl (set aside).

4. Place the berries in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar mixture and lemon juice. Toss with a large spoon to combine.

5. Preheat oven to 400F . Prepare an 8 or 9 inch pie pan.

6. Roll the first half of dough until it’s about 12 inches in diameter and place in your pie pan. Cut the excess dough (leaving enough for crimping the edges.)

7. Arrange the berry mixture over the crust and top with butter.  Refrigerate until your lattice strips are ready.

8. Roll the other half of your pie dough. Cut into 10-12 strips (about 1-1/2 inches wide).

9. To create the lattice on top, begin by laying out 5 or 6 parallel strips of the pie dough on top of the filling, leaving about a ½” space between them. Fold back every other strip. Add a long strip perpendicular to the parallel strips. Unfold and repeat with the other parallel strips until the lattice is ready. Seal and crimp the edges.

10. Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.

11. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Cover the edges of the crust and reduce oven temperature to 350F.  Bake for another 40-45 minutes.  I like to cover my crust edges with aluminum foil so they don’t burn.

12. Remove from the oven allow to cool  for at least 5 hours before cutting. I like my pie a la mode! Check out my vanilla ice cream recipe…Yum!!

 

Throwing It Way Back Thursday!

David's first birthday

I would like to talk a little bit about birthday cakes. Because I like to bake and decorate cakes (I will find any excuse to make a cake.  Hence the “chicken pox cake” I made for my son when he was six years old).  I have always enjoyed making cakes for my children.  Seeing the expression on their face when they would see the finished product was priceless!

Thursdays are going to be dedicated to some of my very first cakes. It’s really cool to watch the progression through the years.  Cake styles and techniques are always changing.  I feel like some styles or coming around again, such as butter cream and royal icing flowers.

I’m always looking for that perfect cake (or cupcake) recipe, and just when I think I’ve found it (you guessed it), another one shows up on Instagram or Pinterest.   I have always liked buying cookbooks, and that love still remains.  When I go to a bookstore I head straight to “cookbook” section.  It has become a dream of mine to one day have my very own cookbook gracing those isles.  I am working to make those dreams a reality some day.

This week’s cake is my son David’s first birthday cake. It was a clown cake inspired by a cake I saw in a Wilton cake book.  I also made ice cream cone cupcakes topped with Wilton clown toppers.  Because he was one he really didn’t have much of reaction to his cake, but I sure was happy with how it turned out!

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Chickenpox Cake

 

Homemade Burger Buns

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I can’t believe I have never made homemade burger buns before. First of all, they are super easy to make and the taste is so much better than the ones you buy at the store!  The overall time to make these bits of deliciousness is about 3 ½ hours, so you will want to time them appropriately, but the active time is ½ hour!!

I toasted the buns before filling them with a delicious hamburger, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a spicy burger sauce….YUM!! Next time I will skip the toasting step as it is NOT necessary!

I will never buy store bought buns again! There are no preservatives and the taste is 100 times better.

I plan on making these this weekend for my children and grandchildren. I think I’ll make some pulled pork.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

I hope you make these and enjoy them as much as my hubby and I did….What are you waiting for?!

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (7 grams or 1 packet) Instant yeast – I use Red Star
  • 1 cup very warm water (115 degrees F)
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 pound all-purpose flour, or as needed – divided
  • 1 large egg- room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar-divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Sesame seeds to sprinkle on top of buns

Directions

  • Place yeast into a large bowl of a stand mixer; whisk in warm water and ½ teaspoon sugar. Cover and let stand until mixture is foamy (5-10 minutes)
  • With paddle attachment, mix flour, egg, melted butter, remaining sugar and salt into yeast mixture (just until combined).
  • Put a dough hook onto stand mixer and knead the dough on low speed until soft and sticky, about 6-7 minutes.  If dough is too sticky, add a little more flour and knead for one more minute.
  • Transfer dough onto a floured work surface; dough will be slightly sticky. Form the dough lightly into a smooth, round shape, gently tucking loose ends underneath.
  • Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn over to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about two hours)
  • Press dough down to release air bubbles and put on a lightly floured work surface. Make a rectangle with the dough. Pat out to ½ “ thickness. Using a pastry cutter slice the dough into 8 equal pieces. If you want, you can use a scale for more accuracy. Form each piece into a round shape.
  • Gently stretch the dough rounds into round flat shapes (about ½” thick). Arrange the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Lightly dust the buns with flour and cover with a cotton kitchen hand towel. The buns will rise one more time for one hour (or until doubled in size).
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Gently brush buns with egg wash so it doesn’t deflate the risen dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional)

Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned on top, 15 to 17 minutes.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

chocolate chip peanut butter mousse cake

Birthday cakes are a big deal in my house. My children and grandchildren know that I like to start the cake planning process long before the birthday gets  here.  Whether it’s making a sculpted lizard or Elmo, or a fancy cake topper that’s been molded “just so” by watching hours of you tube videos,  the cake flavor is the real star of the show.  A cake not only has to look good, but it needs to taste good too!

I am a lover of ALL things chocolate and this chocolate cake recipe has been my go to chocolate recipe for a really long time. Sometimes I like to add a cup of chocolate chips to the recipe to give it that extra punch of chocolate…oh my!!  So when my son-in-love (not a typo! I don’t like the term “in-law”) asked for a chocolate chip cake for his birthday, this is the cake I made for him.

You have to trust me. This is THE best chocolate cake you will ever eat!  When my daughter’s friend asked me to make her wedding cake years ago, and then proceeded to tell me she wanted vanilla and chocolate layered cake, this is the recipe I used.  Boy, am I glad I did.  I was approached at the reception by the bride’s grandmother who was going on and on about the cake.  She said it was the best cake she ever ate and asked me if I would share my recipe with her.  What an honor!!  I did share my recipe with her and I am going to share it with you too!

This recipe will make two 9″ cakes.

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 Cups (226 grams) cake flour
  • 2/3 Cup (65 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ Sticks (170 grams) unsalted butter-room temperature
  • 1 ½ Cups (297 grams) packed brown sugar
  • ½ Cup (104 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs –room temperature
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ Cups (300 ml) buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to measuring cup and fill with whole milk until you have 1 ¼ cups-let it set for 5 minutes)

Mousse ingredients:

  • 8 oz. (227 grams) cream cheese-room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 grams) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup (125 grams) confectioners sugar-sifted
  • 1 cup (240 ml)chilled heavy cream
  • 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups (480 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups
  • (510 grams) semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract

*Five peanut butter cups for topping (optional)

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2- 9” cake pans with non stick spray and line with parchment paper.  This keeps the cakes from sticking to the pans.               

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or by using the double boiler method. Put aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together (*stir in cup of chocolate chips) and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars on a medium speed until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Mix in the eggs one at a time (mixing until each egg is blended into the batter).  Add the vanilla and beat for about a minute.  Mix in the melted (and cooled) chocolate.   Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk in two additions (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients)  until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.  DO NOT OVERMIX!!

Evenly divide the batter into your cake pans and bake for 35 minutes (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean). Allow cakes to cool in pans then release them onto a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

While the cake is baking make the peanut butter mousse. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and vanilla on a medium speed until blended and smooth.  On a low speed,  incorporate the confectioners sugar and set aside.  In a large clean bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture (adding 1/3 at a time) until the mixture is smooth.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

While the cakes are cooling let’s get started on the yummy ganache frosting!

Heat the heavy cream and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the cream is hot (tiny bubbles will begin to form). Just before mixture begins to boil, remove it from heat and pour over the chocolate chips.  Allow mixture to sit for about five minutes. This gives the chocolate a chance to melt.  After five minutes have passed, whisk the ganache until  all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.  At this point the smell of deliciousness may be overwhelming and you may want to dive right into the bowl but don’t…I know you can wait until this luscious bit of ganache is crowning the top of your masterpiece!!  You will thank me for waiting!

To assemble the cake I begin by torting (fancy word for cutting my two layers in half and making four layers). I just like throwing it around to impress my non baking friends.  Like street cred for bakers😆.

I only used three of the layers in my cake because I wanted more mousse between my layers.  You can freeze the extra layer for making cake pops in the future or you can nibble on it while you’re working in the kitchen (that’s what I like to do).  That was always one of my children’s favorite part of me baking…eating the cake scraps!

Start with your bottom layer of cake on a cake board that’s the same size as the cake. Put ½ of the mousse on the cake and spread, leaving about ½ around the edge of cake.  This is so the mousse doesn’t ooze out of cake.  Repeat with the next layer of cake and put third layer on top.  Frost the top of your cake first and then the sides with your ganache.  It should be at a nice spreadable consistency.   I chopped up five peanut butter cups and sprinkled them around the top.  *This is just an option, but trust me, it’s a very good option!!

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family does!

*Coating the chocolate chips with the dry ingredients keeps them from sinking to the bottom when baked.

Whipped Mock Bavarian Cream

I come from a large family. I am seventh in the line of eight children.  I have loved being in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.  My mom had a delicious home cooked meal on the table every night.  As I got older (around 12-13 years old) I remember hanging out more and more with my mom in the kitchen.  She never followed a recipe and it always turned out amazing!  There was always a LOT of food on the table.  If anyone stopped by before dinner they were always invited to pull up a chair and join us.  I think this is where my passion for entertaining began!

Fast forward to the early 1980’s. I began making birthday cakes for my family.  I would buy Wilton cake books and I would practice recreating different cakes for all occasions.  I also subscribed to a magazine called Mailbox News.  This was a magazine with recipes, tips, pictures of cakes and food.  Other than magazines (and recipes in the local Sunday newspaper), this was all a home baker or cook had.  I think we are now living in a wonderful time where all we have to do is type anything into our search engine on our electronic device and a plethora of things pop up!  It’s pretty amazing how far we have come.

This recipe was in the October 1986 edition of Mailbox News. I have tweaked the recipe slightly, but I can tell you the overall result is amazing!!  It is so versatile.  It can also be used as a filling for doughnuts, éclairs, cakes, cupcakes…the possibilities are endless!!  I like to use this as frosting for chocolate cakes and cupcakes.  It’s such an easy recipe!  This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and when you make this I am sure it will be one of yours too.  It uses basic ingredients that we always have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (238 ml)
  • 4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour (32 grams)
  • 1 cup Softened Butter (226 grams)
  • 1 cup *Granulated Sugar (200 grams)
  • 1 tsp. *Vanilla

Instruction

 Cook the milk and flour together in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture thickens and starts to boil (approx. 2-3 minutes). Stir constantly.  Mixture will be the consistency of pudding.  Remove pan from heat and cover with lid. Allow to cool at room temperature.  

Using a wire whisk attachment, cream the remaining ingredients until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Add the flour mixture and continue and continue mixing on high for another 6-7 minutes.

This icing/filling needs to be refrigerated. Bring it back to room temperature before enjoying.

Notes

*You can also use caster sugar which is an extra fine sugar. It can be found in some grocery stores, but if you can’t find it or don’t have any on hand just pulse granulated sugar in a food processor until fine (about 7 or 8 times).

*Use Pure Vanilla. It really does make a difference in the taste of your product!

Chocolate cupcakes topped with swirls of whipped mock Bavarian cream!

S’more Brownies

When my son was little he loved the 1993 movie “The Sandlot”. Who doesn’t remember the iconic s’more scene between Ham Porter and Scotty Smalls?  Ha-ha!!  Classic stuff!!  Is it just me?  I’m so easily humored!

Ham: “Hey, you want a s’more?

Scotty: “Some more what?”

Ham: “No, no!  You want a s’more?”

Scotty: “I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have more of nothing?”

Ham: “You’re killing me Smalls!”

Well, needless to say, I love all things “s’more”…. s’more cake, s’more brownies (trust me, you are going to love these!), s’more cookies, s’more cupcakes, s’more doughnuts. I think you get the picture.

I am very excited that s’mores have their very own day!! Yep, that’s right! August 10th is (drum roll please) National S’mores Day!!

I thought I would take this time to share my delicious recipe with you. These brownies, along with their delicious graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallow topping, will take you back to the very first time you had a s’more.  You remember it, right?!  Sitting around the campfire at your campsite?  Talking about your day and telling funny stories?  Laughing so hard you have tears rolling down your face?  Going to bed with the smell of the campfire in your hair?  Ahhh… those were the days! Okay, okay, these are my memories, but when you take your first bite of these yummy confections, think about when you tasted your first s’more.  I hope it makes you smile too!  

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (9 full sheets)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (16 grams)
  • 6 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon golden syrup (honey can be used if you can’t get your hands on golden syrup)

Brownie

  • 1 cup butter – melted (226 grams)
  • ½ cup chopped semisweet chocolate (60 grams)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (50 grams)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (240 grams)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup evaporated milk (237 ml)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (104 grams)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (198 grams)

Topping

  • 6 large marshmallows (cut into quarters)
  • Chopped semisweet chocolate (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Line 8”x8” pan with parchment and spray lightly with baking spray.

Put the graham crackers in zipper bag and smash with a rolling pin. Go ahead, let them have it. Crush them to smithereens.  Doesn’t that feel better?  Add the sugar, butter and golden syrup (or honey).  Stir until mixture comes together.  Press into bottom of the pan and bake for 10-12 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl stir together cocoa powder, flour and salt. Set aside

In a medium saucepan (over a medium heat) melt the butter and semisweet chocolate together. Remove from heat. Wisk in sugars, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Stir into dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Pour mixture over the graham cracker crust and bake for 35 minutes. Cake tester should come out clean.  Scatter marshmallows (and chocolate-optional) over the brownie.  Roast under broiler for 2-3 minutes until toasted, or use my favorite tool, a kitchen torch! Cool brownies completely and cut with “hot knife” (Dip knife in very hot water and wiped in between cuts.  This helps make a cleaner cut.)  Store the brownies in an airtight container….if there’s any left!