a little of each

A family's cookbook

Prize-Winning Hamantaschen March 2, 2015

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 12:39 pm
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Alice’s First Place poppy seed hamantaschen!

 

Recipe adapted from the Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is a little bit Halloween (costumes and sweets are involved), a little bit Mardi Gras (imbibing and parties too!), but there are a few staples: retelling the story of Esther, Mordecai, and the dastardly Haman, usually as a fun play; a drink or two, and noshing on hamantaschen, triangle-shaped cookies with a variety of fillings.

This year we hosted our first (but not the last!) Hamantaschen Bake Off with great success.  Adults and children each submitted entries in either Traditional flavors (prune, poppy, apricot, or strawberry – a recent “traditional” addition, that last one) or Gourmet, which covered everything else and then some!

I’m so proud to say that my girls who already enjoy baking have been inspired by BBC/PBS’s Great British Bakeoff/Baking Show and were more than eager to enter the contest.  We started with the same basic dough recipe, and then Adeline turned hers into chocolate chip hamantaschen with a white chocolate drizzle, and peanut butter and chocolate hamantaschen. Alice went traditional with poppy seed and strawberry.

Alice’s poppy seed entry won first place in the Kids Traditional category, and her strawberry took third!  Adeline’s chocolate chip entry tied for third in a crowded field of Kids Gourmet!

Ingredients

Dough:

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
For the chocolate chip and peanut butter versions, you’ll need 3 oz of chocolate, chopped to less than 1/4″ pieces.

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Filling:

1. Chocolate chip hamantaschen: mini chocolate chips, and/or chopped chocolate
2. Poppy seed hamantaschen: prepared poppy seed filling
3. Strawberry hamantaschen: seedless strawberry jam
4. Peanut butter chocolate hamantaschen: two parts peanut butter to one part powdered sugar

Directions

In a large bowl mix together eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour and salt, and mix until dough comes together. If making the chocolate chip or peanut butter version, add the chopped chocolate to the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for one hour to firm up

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two or three large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats, or plan to bake in batches. Divide the dough in half. Take another two pieces of parchment and sprinkle flour on one, place the dough half on top, then sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough.

Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment until the dough is about ¼ inch thick. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on the dough. Use a 2-3 inch drinking glass or round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles.

Place up one teaspoon of filling in the center of the dough circle and then fold the three sides in towards the middle to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the three sides together very tightly. Repeat with the remaining dough and scraps, making sure to sprinkle a little flour under and over the dough before you roll.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned but the tops are still light. Slide the parchment paper onto wire racks to cool the cookies. If desired, drizzle melted chocolate across the cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days or freeze for up to three months.

 

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Almost-Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake February 25, 2015

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 1:37 pm
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Ingredients

12 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 3/4 cups sugar
Salt
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 15-oz can pure pumpkin
6 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 Tbl vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325.

Brush a 10-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter with the crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly and evenly. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, then wrap the outside of the springform pan with foil and place in a roasting pan.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the sour cream, then add the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt and the spices and beat until just combined. Pour into the cooled crust.

Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don’t pull the rack out) and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until the outside of the cheesecake sets but the center is still loose, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from the roasting pan and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Bring the cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Unlock and remove the springform ring. To finish, place a dollop of the whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.

 

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies November 7, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 12:46 pm
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Aunt Doris says these cookies are just the thing to bring some cheer and sunshine to a grey day.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup butter softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few gratings of fresh nutmeg or 1/4 tsp
3 cups quick oats
3/4 cup currants
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Mix flour and spices. Set aside.

Cream sugars and butter together until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour mix in two batches, mixing well. Stir in oats. Add the currants and nuts which are optional. The original recipe called for raisins. However, I think the tiny currants are sweeter.

This may seem like a lot of spice but it is a nice blend and not too strong for the little ones. The original recipe called for twice as much spice but this is the recipe I made today and trust me, the cookies are delicious.

The other important thing is to bake them at exactly 11 minutes at 375 degrees. They will look golden around the edges and sort of raw in the middle but that is okay. Let them sit on the baking pan about two minutes before moving them to a rack. I always use parchment paper to line the baking pans, and in this case it makes for very easy removal.

Drop about a tablespoon of batter for each cookie. They don’t spread out a lot. Yield is about 5 dozen.

 

Southern Tiramisu (aka Nanner Puddin’) August 25, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 8:31 pm
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Sometimes it takes me a while to realize things about myself. Like discovering at the age of 35 that I really don’t care for raw broccoli. Shocking, right? I hate that you chew and chew and chew and it never gets smaller or goes away. I feel this dings my reputation as a well-rounded and healthy eater, but there we are.

Along the same, albeit less-healthy, lines, I thought I loved banana pudding. I’m not going to claim something as sacreligious as not loving banana pudding, but something about it interfered with a full-fledged adoration. And then I figured it out. It wasn’t the soggy Nilla Wafers – those are heavenly. Nor was the pudding itself troublesome, whether it was banana flavored, vanilla, homemade or from a quick mix box. No. It was the dang bananas. They get brown. And mealy. And the mouthfeel is just terrible.

So how does one go about rekindling a love with Nanner Puddin’ when the issue is with the nanners? I’ll tell you! You mash those things to smithereens and blend them with the pudding. And look the heck out, because those mashed bananas are so much sweeter and more flavorful than weak, mealy banana slices.

This method was developed by one of my dearest, most Southern friends whose dedication to tracking down the best banana pudding through tireless experimentation (one recipe called for roasting the bananas first) and testing rivals any first-class research lab. Salute her hard work with a bowl of this layered Southern Tiramisu.

Ingredients
4 ripe bananas
1 box of vanilla wafers, mini ones are great
1 large box of vanilla pudding
2 cups of cold milk
1 tub of Cool Whip, softened

Directions

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Mash the four bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, make pudding according to package instructions.

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Fold the mashed bananas and half of the Cool Whip into the pudding.

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In a 9 x 13 dish, neatly place the vanilla wafers in one layer. Gently spoon half of the pudding and banana mixture over the cookies.

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Place another neat layer of cookies on top of the pudding; there should be a handful or two of cookies remaining. Follow with the rest of the pudding mixture. Spoon the other half of the cool whip on top.

Crush the remaining vanilla wafers and sprinkle them evenly over the dish.

Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably longer, until the dish is chilled through and set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berry Crumb Bars June 11, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 10:39 am
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Blueberries and raspberries are good friends in this crumb bar.

 

Raspberries taste like Connecticut to me.

More specifically, my grandparents’  backyard in a tiny town in Connecticut in June. It was the first time I remember eating raspberries – I was nine.  The berries were picked from the canes, sun-warmed, sweet, and just tart enough.  My siblings and I monitored the raspberry bushes that delineated the edge of the backyard and a woodsy area from which bunnies would emerge in the late afternoons, and we heard a rumor of a bear once.  Those few summertime visits – with their endless trips (no matter our age) down the Giant Hill in the 50-year-old Radio Flyer wagon that was my dad’s when he was little, an outing to UConn’s dairy farm and ice cream shop, helping (or I should say “helping”) my grandfather in his large vegetable garden with its oddly dirty dirt, not the sandy stuff I was used to – are encapsulated in those delicate, jewel-hued berries.

So when Publix has raspberries, normally such a extravagance it still seems, on sale for $2.50 a container, a few (or more) go in my basket, and I am transported.

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I adapted a smittenkitchen recipe for crumb bars that is so darn wonderful.  (What does that lady do that *isn’t* wonderful?  Nothing, that’s what!) The crust is like a shortbread – not too sweet, just a bit crumbly, and a lot buttery. While the original recipe calls for a combination of blueberries and lemon (both the zest and juice), I counted on the tartness of the raspberries and omitted the lemon with no regrets.  I also added some whole wheat flour for flavor and better health. (Although, c’mon, we’ve got two sticks of butter in this…)

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, and/or diced strawberries (I used blueberries and raspberries.)
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, both flours, and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce June 2, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:49 pm
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Nana made this every January for Peter’s birthday. Peter would then savor it by the spoonful or over ice cream for the next few months. From a February 1954 issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

 

Ingredients

8 squares unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

1 (14 ½ oz) can evaporated milk

2 Tbl strong black coffee

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions

Melt chocolate in top part of double boiler over boiling water; add sugar and mix well. Cover; cook over boiling water for 30 minutes. Add milk, coffee, salt, vanilla; beat until smooth and thick. Serve hot.

 

Aunt Kittie’s Pineapple Sauce

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:47 pm
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Mix together in a small pan ½ cup of crushed pineapple, ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water. Boil for 15 minutes and then chill.