Week 7: Love Inspired – Hungarian Love Letters

When I saw these pastries over at Wonderland Kitchen, I knew I had to try and make them. They’re such perfect looking packages of yumminess! They were a little time consuming to make, only because of the three layers of dough (chilling and rolling time,) but I think they are worth it. And they make the house smell amazing!

For the dough:

  • 2 2/3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, cubed
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cold milk

Put flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until corse crumbs are formed. Mix together the egg, yolk and milk, and add to the dough while the food processor is still running. Once combined, turn dough out onto a flour coated surface and knead dough until texture is smooth and uniform. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, flatten, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. You can refrigerate overnight as well.

For the filling:

  • 3.5 oz walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 lbs green apples, shredded
  • One egg, for wash

In a bowl, combined nuts, sugar, graham crumbs & cinnamon. You can peel and shred your apples now too. Be sure to squeeze out the excess juice from the shredded apple or the finished product well get soggy. Roll out your first layer of dough and place it in your baking pan. I used a jelly roll pan, that was approximately 10.5″ x 14″. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the nut mixture evenly over the bottom layer of dough, add raisins to this layer as well.

Roll out your second layer and place it over this one. Spread the shredded apples evenly over the second layer, then sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the apples.

Roll out the third layer, and cover the apples.

You can score the dough now, if you’d like, to make cutting easier later, but this is not necessary. Brush egg wash over the entire top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

 

 

Honestly, they didn’t come out as pretty as I expected, but they tasted fantastic! I think I may have overworked the dough, or simply rolled it out too thin. I will be trying these again!

Week 6: Elegant – Mini Blackberry Tarts

Tiny deserts alway look more elegant. Especially pastries, or tarts. I thought these were so pretty when I saw them over at Pham Fatale. And they were surprisingly easier to make then they appeared.

I love tarts, but I love mini tarts more! They are so dainty and cute. And you don’t have to bust your whole diet with dessert. When I walked into Williams-Sonoma last Tuesday afternoon, I knew I’d be making these for dinner that night.

Because that is when I found this

How awesome is this?? I was in love, and for under $30!

So on to the tarts! The shell is made from a sweet polenta dough, then filled with blackberry preserves, and baked, then immediately topped with a blackberry (or two!) Finally, painted with a lime ginger glaze and a sprinkle of lime zest.

To get started, whisk the egg and 2 Tablespoons of sugar with a mixer until they turn pale, and foamy. Add vanilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then paint the inside of your food processor with some oil using a pastry brush. Add flour, sugar, polenta, baking powder and salt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add cold butter chunks

Pulse mixture until it forms course crumbs, add the egg mixture and pulse a few more times until the dough forms, but do not over mix.

Now knead the dough a bit and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick and fill tart pan. If you are making a large sized tart, I would suggest rolling the dough out a little bit thicker. No more than a 1/2 inch thick. Press dough into greased tart pans.

Now fill shells with preserves. I used about 1 tablespoon per shell.  You can use any flavor combination that you like. This would work well with raspberries or strawberries as well.

Place in oven for about 15 minutes, or until dough starts to turn golden on the edges.

Once the tarts are out of the oven, immediately place berries on top of each tart. Then paint with glaze using a pastry brush. Allow to cool completely before serving, to give the jelly time to set. For the glaze I used a quarter cup of lime marmalade, and grated about 1/4 teaspoon of ginger. Cook in a saucepan until the marmalade liquifies, then gaze the tarts. Grate some lime zest over the top of each tart. Allow to cool.

These came out so delicious, I will DEFINITELY be making them again!

 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, + 2 tablespoons for the filling
  • 3/4 cup coarse polenta
  • 1 drizzle canola oil, for greasing the food processor
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups sugar, + 2 tablespoons for the egg
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), diced
  • 1-1/4 cups blackberry preserves
  • 1 pkg fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup lime marmalad
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • zest from one lime

Week 5: Breakfast – Savory Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast, they say it’s the most important meal of the day! But I am not a morning person. So I would rather sleep till the very last minute, instead of getting up earlier and preparing something. These muffins are great because they can be frozen! Then just grab one on the way out and heat it up when you get to the office! I found this recipe over at The Comfort of Cooking through Food Gawker (my favorite site ever!!)

I would recommend making these more than once. Maybe halve the batch initially, as a test batch and then customize the spices to suit your tastes. I found that these could benefit from the addition of more chili powder, or possibly a a flowered or spicy sausage. Also, I would like to experiment with sautéing the onions in butter beforehand, to add another layer of flavor (read: fat).

Here’s the directions:

All the stuff you need!

Dice up the onion, and both peppers

Then brown the sausage in a pan with the chili powder, salt and pepper. Then drain grease on a paper towel.

Mix together bisquick, cornmeal, eggs, garlic powder and milk.

Then add the sausage, onion, peppers & cheese. Stir until combined. Add thyme, and stir again. Pour into muffin pan.

Now, you can use cupcake liners, and this may be neater for transport, but I just sprayed butter flavored PAM into my muffin tin. I also used a large sized muffin pan, instead of the standard cupcake/muffin size. So I needed to add an additional 5-6 minutes to the baking time. I also reduced the heat to 350 from 375 after the first 15 minutes.

Don’t skip breakfast!

  • 12-14 oz. raw breakfast sausage
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper, to taste

Week 4: Frosting – Strawberry Frosting

Pink frosting is so pretty! But normally, store bought “strawberry” frosting tastes more like chemicals than like fresh strawberries. This recipe tastes delicious and is easy to make too! And it comes out such a sweet, light pink hue.

Puree your thawed strawberries

Beat together butter and salt until fluffy

Reduce mixer speed and slowly add sugar

Add vanilla and pureed strawberries

Mix until blended (this picture is a bit over exposed and doesn’t show the lovely pink color very well, sorry!)

Use to frost cupcakes or layer cakes. Or just eat by the spoonful.

So yummy!

  • 1/2 Frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 c confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Recipe from Sprinkles

Week 3: White Chocolate – White Chocolate Macadamia Bars

I alway find white chocolate really difficult to work with. It’s too hard to melt because it burns so quickly. Never mind that it’s not really chocolate…

I guess this 52 weeks thing is really making me use ingredients that I would not have, otherwise.

So I searched for “white chocolate recipes” and came upon one for a variation of one of my favorite holiday treats! Magic 7 layer bars! Sub regular chocolate chips and butterscotch chips for twice as much white chips! I also used Macadamia nuts instead of almonds or pecans which is what I normally use.

Fist take one stick of butter, place it in a 13″x9″ baking pan and place it in the oven while it preheats to 350 degrees (325 if you’re using a glass dish)

**I forgot to take a picture of this step**

When the butter is melted, take the pan out and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the entire bottom of the dish. Then press to smooth out. I used the bottom of my 1/2 cup measuring cup to even it out.

Then pour the entire can of sweetened condensed milk of the top.

Then sprinkle about 75% the chips and the nuts evenly across the top.

Next, sprinkle the coconut all over.

Then sprinkle the remaining nuts and chips over the coconut.

Place pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

   

Yummy!

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts – macadamia, slivered almonds or walnuts work best

Recipe found at Love From The Oven

Week 2: Miniature – Baklava

Week 2’s challenge is miniature. I’ll be honest, I’m not really a fan of this. If we’re talking about baking and desserts, who wants “tiny”? I decided to make Baklava, and just make the pieces really small. Then eat 5 of them. Repeat, until pan is empty.

The recipe calls for 1 pound of nuts. It does not specify what kind, I say choose what you like best. I used 3/4 almonds, 1/4 walnuts. My sister said she would’ve used pistachios. That sounds yummy too!

So let’s preheat the oven to 350.

Get a 9×13 pan and grab some phyllo dough. I see a lot of people say to cover the dough with a damp towel while working so it doesn’t dry out. I find that that makes the dough too wet and gummy, and very difficult to work with. Just unroll the dough and work FAST.

Melt 2 sticks of butter and get out a pastry brush. Chop the nuts up and add cinnamon & cloves.

Paint the bottom of the pan with a thin coat of butter. Begin by laying the first sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the pan, then pain the sheet with butter. Continue adding sheets one by one and coating with butter until you have about 8 buttery sheets down.

Sprinkle 2-3 spoonfuls of nut mixture over the phyllo. Then add 2 more sheets (butter between each), and sprinkle with more nuts. Continue layering in this manner until all the nuts are used. Then cover with 6-8 more buttery layers of phyllo.

Butter the top layer and then slice into squares, diamonds or triangles.

Then pop into the oven for 50 minutes, until golden brown on top. The smell of this baking is unbelievable.

While that’s in the oven, prepare the honey syrup. In a saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil until sugar has dissolved.

Lower heat, add honey and vanilla, and simmer for 20 minutes.

When the baklava is done baking, you want to pour the syrup over it right away. But you need to pour it slowly, don’t just dump in over the top!

Let the squares cool completely. Serve in mini cupcake wrappers, or just eat directly out of the pan!

If you have the time, make the syrup ahead of time, and allow it to cool completely. Make the Baklava and pour the cold syrup over the hot squares. It comes out delicious if you do not have time for this step, but try it and see which you like better! Make extra and freeze it!

  • 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped nuts
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey

Baking Week 1: Brownies

Who does’t love a good brownie?? I found this recipe over at www.browneyedbaker.com a few weeks ago when I misplaced my regular “go-to” brownie recipe. First, this recipe is great. Second, I cannot say enough times how amazing the cupcake recipes on her site are. Especially the margarita ones.

Anyway back to brownies. These are yummy, fudge-y, deliciousness.

To get the brownies picture perfect, I baked them in a “perfect brownies” pan. You can get one here, and it’s totally worth it!

Triple Chocolate Brownies

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (overhang will help in removal of baked brownies). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, melt the chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spread into the corners, and level the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares.

Yield: 16 Brownies

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