filledbuns17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

As I’ve teased in previous posts, I’m a new member of Daring Bakers. Each month a member creates a challenge for everyone else, and we all make the same thing – more or less! My first challenge was for filled buns. Challenge accepted.

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.  For the recipe visit the Daring Bakers website.

Here’s my step by step – I made a few changes to the process based on my experience, but not the ingredients.

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I stirred in two cups of the flour, let it hydrate for a few minutes, then stirred in the other two cups.

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This gave me a soft dough that seemed quite manageable.

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While the dough was rising I made the fillings – a satay style, a Korean BBQ and one surprise you’ll see at the end! But first I browned a pound of ground turkey.

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I set half of it aside. To the half still in the pan I added 1/2 c. diced onion, 1/2 c. diced carrots, 1 T. garlic and 1 T. ground ginger.

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I let it cook together until the carrots were just tender. Then I added 1/3 c. peanut butter (natural, creamy), 3 T. fish sauce, and 2 T. soy sauce.

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Simmer for another five minutes.

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While the satay cooked I stirred 1/2 c. Korean BBQ sauce into the turkey I set aside.

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Since I’ve covered bun-making thoroughly in the past few weeks I’ll skip the details from here.

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At this point I preheated the oven, when the buns were nearly double.

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I brushed them with an egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 T. water).

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I baked them for about 20 minutes, they came out a pretty golden brown.

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The egg wash made the tops nicely crunchy, and pretty.

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Voila – my first challenge completed!

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Then, because my kids were starving and I know you can get such an item at a Chinese bakery – I used the rest of the dough to wrap turkey hot dogs.

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Two years ago: Baked Custard
One year ago: Chocolate Strawberry Birthday Cake

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by Heather Harris Brady

Fancy party cakes are some of the most fun you can have as a baker. This box cake is very versatile for lots of occasions – you could fill it with baby shoes, flowers, candies, more cookies, golf balls, whatever. However, if it’s a cake for a fashion-loving tween whose birthday happens to be on the day of the Oscars, well then you get gold-chocolate high heels.

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Now I know I could have used fondant, but I used to do wedding cakes and I learned something about myself, namely: I hate watching people skin their slices of cake before they eat it. Plus, it’s kind of expensive. If I’m doling out $15 for a pound of something that something had better be chocolate. So this cake is entirely edible and entirely delicious, except for the optional ribbon and the waxed paper.

If you’re interested in making the high heels, you need a chocolate mold like this one. It was a super-busy weekend and I made this cake in just over two hours. If I had more time I would have made a nice cakeboard, but sometimes you have to go with what you’ve got and make the best of it. Just pretend the cookie sheet in the pictures below is actually a white cakeboard.

Shoebox Celebration Cake, About 16 servings

  • One 13 x 9 cake layer of your choice
  • Two batches of chocolate ganache
  • Two packages of sugar wafer cookies (there should be 30+ cookies in each package)
  • Cake board (white foamcore or sturdy cardboard)
  • Something to fill the box,  your choice
  • Optional: White royal icing for details

Cut the cake layer in half so you have two 6.5″ x 9″ sections. Place one in the middle of your cakeboard, then lay out your box, reserving extra cookies in case of breakage. The sides should take 27 cookies, with another 20 for the box top – as you will see below. Set all the cookies aside.

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Stack and ice the layers with about 2/3 of the ganache, then add a ring of cookies around the bottom. Press them in so they will harden to the ganache but keep them square.

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Build your box on top of the bottom ring, pressing the cookies in as you go. I noticed too late that the cookies have different patterns on each side, so you can alternate cookie sides too if you want.

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Now add a second ring of cookies to the bottom for the box top.

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Put the rest of the ganache in a pastry bag and cover the box top.

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Now the fun part! Fill the box. I added some torn sheets of wax paper for the tissue and put the chocolate shoes in.

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Then I painted the shoes with gold luster dust and added some royal icing trim to the box top, as well as the top edge of the box.

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I cut the corners off a graham cracker to make a Happy Birthday price tag with the rest of the royal icing. I added a grosgrain ribbon bow around the box for decoration, but the ganache hardens quickly and the box easily stood by itself. However, if it’s warm or you’re transporting the cake, the ribbon is extra insurance.

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This is how it looks from the top.

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A close-up of the shoes, dark chocolate brushed with gold dust.

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To serve you can use the wafers as a cutting guideline. I cut down the middle the long way first, and I cut each half into slices.

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Two years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits
One year ago: Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan, lactose free)

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by Heather Harris Brady

We’re heading into a birthday weekend here at the little house, so as we’re staging our own version of Frozen, it’s time to talk cake. These cupcakes couldn’t be simpler but that is, in fact, their charm. The tang of the buttermilk comes gently through and marries with orange, almond and vanilla – in fact, these are actually better the day after they’re baked. While you can certainly go ahead and make a fluffier frosting I opted for a lighter glaze-type frosting because in my view, these are Mary Ann not Ginger. But sometimes, when the chips are down it’s Mary Ann you want.

Buttermilk Cupcakes, Makes a baker’s dozen

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to the consistency of mayonnaise
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1-3/4 c. flour
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well.

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Then beat in the eggs.

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Add the flour and baking powder, and start to mix it in.

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While there are still a few streaks of flour left, pour in half the buttermilk.

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Mix for about 20 seconds, then add the rest of the buttermilk and the vanilla.

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You should have a thick, creamy batter. Divide it up.

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Fill the cups about 2/3 of the way up and bake for about 15 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking make the frosting.

Frosting:

  • 3 T. butter, softened to the consistency of mayonnaise
  • 2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. orange bakery emulsion or 2 T. fresh orange zest
  • 3 T. heavy cream

Beat the butter and sugar together. Keep the beater running drizzle in the cream until you reach a stage just slightly thicker than you want.

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Add the flavorings and beat well for two-three minutes at the highest speed.

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Set aside and take your cupcakes out of the oven.

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Turn them out onto a rack to cool completely, then frost.

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Taste one so you can compare the first day to the second day. It’s for science, we’re doing important work here people.

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Stay warm! There will be a bonus post Feb. 27 with my first Daring Baker’s challenge, filled buns. Good luck on Sunday to my favorite filmmaker, Wes Anderson. I WILL be making my own version of the Mendel’s dessert – soon.


Two years ago: Champagne Sabayon
One year ago: Homemade Ramen

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by Heather Harris Brady

These are a popular part of dim sum, so I wanted to post them in celebration of Chinese New Year. They are easy to make if you have a bamboo steamer and they are most delicious warm right out of the pan. However, you can warm them for a few seconds in the microwave if you’re making them ahead of time. Typically I avoid using any prepackaged mixes, however, I made an exception in this case because this is my first time working on this recipe.

Steamed Custard Buns, Makes about 18

Filling:

  • 1/2 c. Dr. Oetker’s Creme Brulee Mix
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, broken into a bowl and stirred together

Dough:

  • 3 T. granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise active dry yeast
  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole milk, warm
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. baking powder mixed with 1 T. water

Make the filling at least 30 minutes ahead so it can cool and set up firmly.

Warm the milk with the butter over medium heat.

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Combine the creme brulee mix, powdered sugar, and cornstarch. When the butter is melted whisk it into the milk.

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Continue to whisk. The filling will thicken up – a  lot!

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Whisk half the mixture into the egg yolks and then return it to the pan. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly.

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Put the custard in a dish and cool it thoroughly in the fridge while you make the dough for buns.

Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Stir.

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Put the flour in a bowl, add the vegetable oil and pour the bubbling yeast mixture over the top.

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Stir well and set aside.

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When the dough has doubled in bulk, knead it smooth (about five minutes) and turn it out onto a worksurface

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Break off pieces of dough, flatten them and add a tablespoon of filling.

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How big you make them is up to you. I tried to keep my finished filled buns about the size of a ping pong ball.

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Put them in cupcake papers to rise until nearly doubled.

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Get your bamboo steamer going at full steam and set the buns in.

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Check them in about 15 minutes. When they are done they will be firm, with a pretty sheen.

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This is how they look warm, right out of the pan.

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Once they’ve cooled the filling will set back up.

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Happy Chinese New Year! In my next post I’ll unveil my first project as a new member of the Daring Bakers!

Chinese-New-Year-2015-The-Goat-Vintage-Design

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by Heather Harris Brady

Sushi originated sometime before the second century A.D., when people in parts of China started wrapping fish in rice to preserve it via fermentation for later meals. At first the rice was discarded, until some thrifty soul ate the whole thing.  This technique spread to Japan, and in the 1600s people started adding rice vinegar to the rice and serving it as-is. Heaven knows I did not grow up in a sushi-eating household, although we did eat a lot of other interesting pickled things both animal and vegetable.

Sushi is a fun project and it’s easy! The first thing you need is the proper wrapping:

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One package will make a LOT of sushi. The sheets are beautiful, with the fresh smell of the sea:

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The second thing you need is rice, and it needs to be sushi rice. If you’re a country dweller like I am you can often find this in the bulk section of food co-ops, or in the Asian aisle of your grocery.

California Rolls, Makes three rolls – about 24 pieces of sushi

  • 3/4 lb. cooked king crab legs, cleaned
  • Half of one avocado
  • Half of one cucumber
  • 1-1/2 c. sushi rice
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger

Wash the rice gently in a strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine it in a pan with 2 c. water and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. (You can also use a rice cooker for this part.)

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Turn on the heat and bring the rice to a gentle boil. Cover the pan and cook for about 12 minutes. The rice should be just tender and the water will be absorbed. Spread the rice out in a bowl.

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Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave it for about 30 seconds and stir to dissolve the sugar.

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Pour the vinegar over the rice and mix it through gently with your fingers. Set it aside.

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Clean your vegetables. Cut the avocado into thin strips and the cucumber into thin matchsticks. I did some zucchini too, because when it’s your sushi you make the rules!

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A bamboo rolling mat is nice. You don’t have to spring for a “real” one. You can use a bamboo placemat, part of a windowshade, whatever as long as it’s impeccably clean. Or, you could use a dry piece of parchment paper.

Lay out one sheet of the seaweed.

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Spoon out one-third of the rice and pat it into a thinnish layer. Put some of the crab int the center. Make sure you’ve pulled out all the pesky bits of cartilage.

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Lay the vegetables next to the crab.

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Pick up the edge of the mat and fold out the outside (long) edge over the filling. Tuck the ends under with your fingers then roll the mat up. Press down lightly as you go to seal the edges.

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When you roll the mat back you will have a lovely California roll.

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I made these in the afternoon, about two hours before dinner, so I wrapped them in waxed paper and put them in the fridge. I like my sushi really cold.

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When you’re ready to serve unwrap the rolls and cut them into eight slices. I cut them in half first, and then cut each half in half until I have eight even pieces.

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Arrange them on a plate so everyone can admire your handiwork.

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Serve the sushi with the pickled ginger on the side and little cups so people can mix the soy sauce and wasabi to their liking.

Have a great Valentine’s weekend everyone – thank you for following this blog!
Two years ago: Gougeres
One year ago: Chard Quiche

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by Heather Harris Brady

We have a new Asian market in town and I went a bit crazy, so in order to use up all the ingredients you’ll be seeing quite a few Asian-theme posts leading up to Chinese New Year next week! This soup is sunshine in a bowl, and if you like Thai curries you’ll like this one. You can adjust the amount of heat to your liking by changing the amount of chili paste. Either way there’s lots of layers of flavors with lemon, lime, coconut milk and chicken.

This recipe is a compilation of several I found online. The only special-special ingredient is the fresh tumeric, which I found at my local mega-grocery. And if I can find it here in the wilds of the northern Michigan woods I bet you have it somewhere nearby too! It’s a strange looking ingredient:

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When you peel it you see the bright orange inside, which makes the bright yellow.

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Tumeric is rumored to be very good for you, but if you have a sensitivity to it then of course you’ll want to leave it out.

Burmese Chicken Soup, Makes about six generous servings

  • One pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 t. ground tumeric
  • 2 T. garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 2 t. garlic, minced
  • 1 t. chili paste, or to taste
  • One can of coconut milk
  • 2-1/2 c. chicken stock
  • One stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • One fresh tumeric root, grated
  • 2 t. fresh ground gingerroot
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 2 T. cornstarch or chickpea flour
  • One package of udon noodles

Garnishes, optional:

  • Deep-fried onion
  • Boiled egg
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Wedges of fresh lime
  • Chili paste
  • Strips of roasted red pepper

The day before you want to make the soup marinate the chicken. Combine the first three ingredients in a plastic bag, knead them together well and refrigerate overnight.

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The next day, remove the chicken from the marinade and lay it in a greased baking dish. Bake the chicken at 325 for about 35 minutes, or until firm and no longer pink in the center. Chop the cooked chicken and set aside.

To make the soup, add two teaspoons of peanut oil (if you have it, if not use any lightly flavored oil) in a large saucepan. Saute the onion, chili paste, ginger and garlic until fragrant.

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Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, tumeric and the chopped chicken. Simmer 10 minutes.

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Add the chicken stock. Stir the cornstarch into the fish sauce and whisk it into the soup.

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I used ready-to-eat udon noodles, like so. Add them to the pan and taste the soup.

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I decided to pump up the chicken flavor a little bit so I stirred in a tablespoon of this chicken stock base.

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Simmer for another five minutes and serve.

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Refrigerate any leftovers.

Two years ago: Ono Butter Mochi
One year ago: Chocolate Souffle

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by Heather Harris Brady

I think of poached pears as the little black dress of desserts, appropriate at the end of nearly every meal. If you want to be healthy, virtuous and all you can top them with fresh berries or you can be me – with ice cream and chocolate sauce. (Use my raspberry ribbon ice cream for a melba!) Once you’ve made them they’ll wait patiently in the refrigerator, giving you the means to throw together an amazing dessert in a few minutes. I think they would probably be nice in a composed salad with blue cheese – I need to try that!

I like to poach them in wine, but you can use a simple syrup if you prefer. Here I used a wine we found too sweet to drink, but it was perfect for the pears. After reducing the poaching liquid you could throw in dash of brandy or pear eau de vie to be extra-fancy.

As for the pears I am unapologetically pro-Barlett myself, but you can use any pear you like. Note: I halved this recipe, so the pictures only show two servings in progress.

Poached Pears, Four generous servings

  • Four well-shaped pears, nearly ripe but still firm
  • 3 c. white wine or simple syrup
  • Fresh lemon peel, three-four large pieces
  • Toppings of your choice: berries, ice cream, nice chocolate sauce

Put your wine or simple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the lemon peel. Let it come to a low boil while you work on the fruit.

Slice off the bottoms and peel the pears, retaining the shape as best you can. You can also leave on the stem if you like.

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Remove the core, using a melon baller or rounded measuring spoon. I’ve found that rounded aluminum teaspoons work great.

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Add the pears to the pan. Simmer them gently for about 30 minutes until they are just tender.

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If you have a small deep pan, great. I don’t so I made do, turning the pears halfway through. Remove the pears from the pan and quickly reduce the syrup down by half.

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Put the pears in a container and cover them with the reduced syrup. Store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them, preferably overnight.

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When you’re ready to serve, plate them up. I like to fill the hollows with ice cream and drizzle a nice chocolate sauce over the top. Sometimes I add a few spoons of syrup to the bowl too. You can leave them whole:

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Or halve them:

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They’re delicious either way. And, I might add, another great dessert for Valentine’s Day.

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Plus, the leftover syrup makes an awesome soaking syrup for cake layers!
Two years ago: Hummus, Basic Recipe
One year ago: Brown Butter & Sea Salt Rice Krispie Treats

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by Heather Harris Brady

I made these for our Super Bowl party last weekend. They are quite similar to the crispy brownie chips that are starting to show up in bags at the grocery store. If you want them crispy all the way through you have to be careful to spread the batter as thin as you can. Some of my parts were thicker than others, so some of the pieces were thicker and chewier while some were crispy. But, that could be a win-win if you have alternate brownie factions in your house!

I used Ghiradelli 72% for these, but you can use any chocolate over 65%. This recipe is based one I found at Baker’s Royale.

Skinny Brownies, Makes about 40-60, depending on how thin you make them

3.5 oz. bar of dark chocolate
8 T. butter
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 t. espresso powder
2 t. vanilla
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 T. dark cocoa powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
4 egg whites

Chips, nuts or other goodies to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a half sheet pan or two jelly-roll pans. Melt the chocolate and butter together with the cocoa powder, then whisk in the sugar, espresso and vanilla.

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Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Then beat in the melted chocolate mixture until just combined.

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat until just combined.

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Spread it over your pan as thinly as you can.

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It might not be even but hey, they’ll still be delicious. If anyone brings it to your attention then you should make a mental note that they obviously aren’t worthy of home-baked brownies. Sprinkle the top with chips or nuts.

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Bake for about 25 minutes. The batter may puff slightly and then fall.

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While the brownies are still warm, cut them into pieces then let them cool in the pan.

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When completely cool, store the brownies in an airtight bag or container at room temperature. These are amazing just as they are, but you can also do crazy things like crumbling them over ice cream.

Two years ago: Mushroom & Spinach Quiche with Brie Fondue
One year ago: Soft Buttered Pretzel Bites

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by Heather Harris Brady

Salted caramel is one of my favorite flavor combinations and sadly most of the time I’m disappointed because it’s hard to transfer to desserts while keeping the strength. So, 2015 is shaping up to be my quest for the ultimate salted caramel dessert recipe.

This pots de creme is a lovely gentle variation on the theme. I had hopes, because it originated from Curtis Stone, but to me the flavor turned out to be more butterscotch than caramel. It’s still really good though, and it would make a gorgeous make-ahead Valentine’s Day dessert (get out those heart-shaped ramekins!) – especially served with a thin ginger cookie or bit of chopped candied ginger on top.

Salted Butterscotch Pots de Creme, Makes four servings

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Flake sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325. Find a baking dish large enough to fit four ramekins, add about 1/2″ of water and put it in the oven to heat the water.

Combine the butter, salt and brown sugar in a saucepan. Stir over medium for about seven minutes, until it darkens slightly and starts to smell like caramel.

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Stir in the heavy cream all at once. The sugar will seize (turn into lumps), so keep the heat on medium low and keep stirring. Eventually the lumps will melt back into the cream.

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Stir the egg yolks into the milk, then add about half of the caramel.

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Stir it well and whisk it back into the pan.

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Divide it among four ramekins. Pull your baking dish of hot water out of the oven and put the ramekins in. Add more water if you need to, but bring it about halfway up the sides of the dishes.

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Add a little foil tent over the pan, leaving one small opening to vent. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the centers are still a bit jiggly but the edges are set.

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Chill thoroughly. When they’re cool cover them with plastic wrap if you’re making them more than a few hours ahead. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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To serve add a little sprinkle of sea salt to the center of each dish.

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As the dishes cool the creme will set up into a velvety custard.

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Two years ago: Coconut Cream Pie
One year ago: Easy Almond Coffeecake

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by Heather Harris Brady

There are lots of creamy tomato pasta sauces on menus out there, but it’s super-easy to make your own, requiring little more than a can of well-balanced tomatoes. I’m using San Marzano tomatoes here, but if you are loyal to another brand or type that’s between you and your saucepan. There’s also room for changing up the meat, adding other veggies, cheeses – it’s all good.

Creamy Tomato Sauce, Makes about four generous servings

  • One 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. butter
  • 8 oz. uncooked fettuccine (fresh or dried)
  • Olive oil

Add-ins:

I included two fresh spinach and feta chicken sausages, diced and 2 cups of fresh Italian baby greens.

To make the sauce:

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion.

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Stir until fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes. Fill the can half up with water and add that to the pan too.

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Simmer on medium, give it a stir every now and then, and break the tomatoes up with a spoon as you go. Let it bubble away until it’s reduced by half.

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Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cream.

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Simmer for another 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning to taste.

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At this point you can refrigerate the sauce if you’re making it ahead. To proceed, cook your pasta according to package directions.

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Drain and toss it with the butter and cheese.

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Heat up another tablespoon of olive oil and brown the sausage if you’re using it, then add the greens to wilt alongside.

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Add the tomato sauce back to the pan.

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Heat through and pour the sauce over the pasta. The cheese will melt and mix with the sauce. Serve with lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

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Two years ago: Cake Cookies
One year ago: Grandma’s Chocolate Cookies

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