Love and Confections: April 2010

April 15, 2010

Pecan Bars

However you choose to pronounce it, it is still just as delicious and good!

Many people will automatically thing of Pecan Pie for National Pecan Day. Pecan Pie is okay in my book, but it is sometimes too much filling for the amount of crust. Depending on the recipe, it might also be too sweet - I know, me with the insatiable sweet tooth, but yes, it can happen. Anyway, I know I am a day late, but I was not able to blog this yesterday - even though I baked it two days ago - life got in the way.

For today's FHC, I chose one of my favorite pecan recipes from a class in culinary school. It not only is my favorite pecan recipe, it is also one of my favorite recipes of all time. Don't laugh - the ratio of pecans to "crust" is good, it is not too sweet, just buttery enough, and has such a great flavor. I bet any die-hard pecan pie fanatic will love this recipe just as much. Another plus, it is INCREDIBLY easy to make!

Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from culinary school recipe
Yields 48 bars from one 1/2 sheet pan

Crust Ingredients:
- 10 ounces Unsalted Butter
- 8 ounces Cream Cheese
- 3.5 ounces Granulated Sugar
- 14.5 ounces All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Crust Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit
2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the Butter and Cream Cheese together until smooth.
3. Add the Sugar, Flour, Salt and Baking Powder and stir until the dough is cohesive; it will be crumbly, but hold together when squeezed.
4. Press dough into and up the sides of a prepared - I use nonstick cooking spray, you can also use parchment on the bottom as well - sheet pan
5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

Filling Ingredients:
- 4 large Eggs
- 3/4 cup Corn Syrup
- 7 ounces Granulated Sugar
- 2 ounces Unsalted Butter, melted
- 2 ounces Heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoons Rum
- 4 drops Butter Rum Flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 8 ounces Pecans, chopped

Filling Directions:
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the filling ingredients together. I used my stand mixer. I also did not have Butter Rum flavor this time. I recommend getting it, but if you cannot, it is fine without
2. Pour the filling over the crust.
3. Bake the bars for 30 minutes, or until the filling looks puffy and deep golden brown. Mine took 20-25 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.

Look at that delicious pecan filling!

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

April 13, 2010

Peach Cobbler (FHC)

1 comment:
For my second FHC I am baking Peach Cobbler. I have never made peach cobbler, nor have I ever eaten peach cobbler either. I love peaches, but normally eat them as is. Honestly, warm peaches have never been appealing, until now. My Food Holiday Challenge is to not only to bake items I like, but also to take a chance and make something I either do not like, or have never made before.

Unfortunately, peaches aren't available here - Florida - because they aren't "in season". I had to make do and use canned peaches - I opted not to buy frozen peaches because they were a little outside my budget. For all the cobbler purists out there, the recipe I chose was the easiest for me to make at this point - or so I thought. Next year, I will probably make one with a dough to compare and see which I personally like better.

A little cobbler history:
- A cobbler is a type of deep-dish fruit dessert with a thick biscuit or pie dough crust that is prepared and then served warm to guests. It is very similar to a pie, except that the crust is thicker and it is traditionally placed only on top. However, over the years, ingredients and preparation methods have been created that bake the cobbler crust on the top for some recipes and on the bottom for others - like mine today.
- In the US, a cobbler is typically made with fruit or berries, but in the UK, it is typically a meat dish.
- Peach, apple, blueberry and cherry cobblers are among the most popular US varieties.
- The American Cobbler, which is different from a Crisp or Crumble - future blog posts - has nicknames like the Betty, Buckle, Sonker, Grunt, and Slump. New Englanders make Slumps and Grunts in a stove-top iron skillet, topping the fruit with dumplings. Buckles are made with yellow batter that is mixed with the filling. The Brown Betty is made with layers of fruit and bread or graham cracker crumbs, almost like a fruity bread pudding. Sonkers are deep-dish cobblers from North Carolina - my personal favorite nickname, not only because it sounds hilarious, but because my parents now call NC home, and it holds a special place in my heart.

Grandma's Peach Cobbler
adapted from

- 1 stick Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup Flour
- 1+1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Milk
- 1-15 ounce can Sliced Peaches, with juice

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
- Slice butter into pats and place in 9x13 baking dish and put the dish in the preheating oven. The recipe above is a single batch. I doubled the recipe and used both an 11x13 dish and 8x8 dish. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same size, just make recipe accordingly.
- While the butter is melting, mix up the batter by combining the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, Sugar and Milk.
- When the butter is completely melted, remove the pan and pour the batter into the melted butter.
- Carefully spoon the peaches and juice evenly over the batter. Since I used canned peaches, I did not use all the juice, because the batter would be too watery. The extra juice will be saved for another day.
- return the dish to the oven and bake for X minutes. The original recipe says to bake for 30, but that was not even close to what it needed in my oven, which usually runs hot, so I left it in longer - an extra 40 minutes.
- As the cobbler cooks, the batter will rise up around the peaches.

The extra bake time totalled an hour and ten minutes! Now you know why this recipe might not have been the best choice today - thank goodness I didn't have any other pressing matters or time constraints.

I still might tweak it a bit. Ease of preparation - wonderful, bake time - doable, end product - DELICIOUS! It is especially good with homemade vanilla ice cream - but that will be another Blog day. I am now a fan of peach cobbler.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!

April 11, 2010

Conversions & Equivalents

No comments:
Measurements and conversions for everyone - Baking & Pastry or Culinary. Keep these handy!

Conversions & Equivalents from Smitten Kitchen

Temperature Conversions
275°F = 140°C = gas mark 1
300°F = 150°C = gas mark 2
325°F = 165°C = gas mark 3
350°F = 180°C = gas mark 4
375°F = 190°C = gas mark 5
400°F = 200°C = gas mark 6
425°F = 220°C = gas mark 7
450°F = 230°C = gas mark 9
475°F = 240°C = gas mark 10

Volume Equivalents
60 drops = 1 teaspoon
1 dash = 1/16 teaspoon
1 pinch = 1/8 teaspoon
1 teaspoon = 1/3 tablespoon = 1/6 ounce
2 teaspoons = 2/3 tablespoon = 1/3 ounce
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup = 1 ounce = 1 standard coffee scoop
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup = 2 ounces
5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup = 2 2/3 ounces
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 4 ounces = 1 gill
16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 ounces
2 cups =1 pint = 1/2 quart = 16 ounces
4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 ounces
16 cups = 8 pints = 4 quarts = 1 gallon

Ingredient-Specific Equivalents
1 stick = 4 ounces = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
4 sticks = 16 ounces = 32 tablespoons = 2 cups
1 ounce = 1/4 cup grated
6 ounces chips = 1 cup chips
1 pound cocoa = 4 cups cocoa
Half and half = 1/2 milk + 1/2 cream = 10.5 to 18 percent butterfat
Light cream = 18 percent butterfat
Light whipping cream = 30 to 26 percent butterfat
Heavy cream = whipping cream = 36 percent or more butterfat
Double cream = extra-thick double cream = clotted or Devonshire cream = 42 percent butterfat
1 large egg (approximately) = 1 tablespoon yolk + 2 tablespoons white
1 cup = 4 jumbo = 4 to 5 extra-large = 5 large = 5 to 6 medium = 7 small
1 pound = 4 cups all-purpose or bread flours = 4 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sifted cake flour = 7/8 cup sifted all-purpose
1+ cup self-rising flour = 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon = 1 to 3 tablespoons juice, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest
4 large lemons = 1 cup juice = 1/4 cup grated zest
1 pound = 2 1/2 cups sliced or chopped
1 pound white = 2 cups white = 454 grams
1 pound packed brown = 2 1/4 cups packed brown
1 cup packed brown = 1 cup white
1 pound superfine sugar = 1 cup white sugar = 190 grams
1 pound powdered sugar = 3 1/2 to 4 cups
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar = 1 cup white sugar
1 cup powdered sugar = 80 grams
100 grams white sugar = 1/2 cup
1 cake = 3/5 ounce = 1 packet dry = 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 teaspoons dry

Until next time,
Love & Confections

April 9, 2010

Dry Milk (FHC)

1 comment:

Over the Christmas holidays, I decided to make Semolina Bread, which used instant Nonfat Dry Milk (iNDM or NFDM). The only iNDM I could find came in a large, 32 ounce can. I only needed 1/4 cup per batch, but figured since I was given 30 pounds of Semolina - we'll leave that story for another time - I would end up using it, since I was going to be making a lot of Semolina Bread. As it turns out, I haven't made any more bread, and the giant can of dry milk has been sitting in my pantry. What better way to use some of the dry milk than in my first Food Holiday Challenge.

Now for the info - gathered from various sources:
Instant Nonfat Dry Milk is regular cow's milk that has had the water and fat removed. It still has all the calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals of fresh milk and is low in cholesterol, too.

You can purchase powdered milk that isn't nonfat, but it tends to be more difficult to reconstitute because of the fat content. NFDM is usually the easiest to mix, but some people have difficulty getting the milk solids to blend with the water.

Nonfat Dry Milk will not taste the same as fresh milk, especially if you're used to milk from the carton, but the taste is negligible when it is used as an additive in baked goods or smoothies. One of many advantages of NFDM is the long storage time. If stored in a cool, dry place, it will usually last 18 months.

Dry Milk

Dry Milk Biscuits
from Mountain Maid recipe website

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
1/2 cup Shortening
3/4 cups Water

Mix the Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and iNDM.

Mash in the shortening with a fork, until the mixture is crumbly.

Stir in the water, a little at a time, to make a dough that is soft, but not sticky.

Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured board or counter-top.

Roll or pat the dough to 1/2 or 3/4 inch thickness; cut it with a knife, or a small glass or cutter that has been dipped in flour.

Place the biscuits about 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Dough before kneading

Despite the fact that my oven cooks unevenly, the biscuits turned out good. I love watching butter melt away on a warm, right-out-of-the-oven biscuit. Pair melted butter on a warm biscuit with strawberry jam and I am in Heaven - it's my Kryptonite! Unfortunately, I am out of strawberry jam, so raspberry preserves it is.

Butter melting... yum!

OTHER DRY MILK RECIPES: 1 Quart of Fluid Milk
- put 3+3/4 cups cold water in a container
- add 1+1/3 cups iNDM
- mix thoroughly
- cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving
- store in refrigerator and use within 3 to 5 days

1 Cup of Fluid Milk
- 1 cup water
- add 1/3 cup iNDM to water
- mix thoroughly
- cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving

Evaporated Milk
- whisk together 1/2 cup water and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons iNDM

I found a good amount of recipes for iNDM and will use them in some of my future Food Holiday Challenges. I am now more open-minded about using dry milk in recipes.

Until next time,
Love & Confections

April 3, 2010

Buona Pasqua 2010


Happy Easter... or Buona Pasqua in Italian!

I'm doing the family Easter traditions on my own this year, because we can't all be together.

I still love dying Easter eggs. The $2 kit is a bargain for the joy of pulling out a dozen or more brightly colored eggs. When we were little, we only used vinegar with the color tablets. Now they now have choices for coloring methods...

For pastel colored eggs use only water with the colored tablet.
For traditional colored eggs use lemon juice and water with the colored tablet.
For ultra-vibrant colored eggs use vinegar and water with the colored tablet.

This year I decided to go with my family's "traditional" method and used vinegar. The little matching cups make dying eggs so easy, unless you can't figure out which tablet is which. I had to guess the colors 3 out of the 5 tablets and hoped I put them in the correct corresponding colored cup - which I did. Yellow, orange and green - yes, green! - look way too similar.

Another family tradition is baking and decorating sugar cookies. My mom, along with other family members, decorated cookies and dyed eggs today. I love picture text messages! My mom text messaged some pictures of her Easter cookies this year and of the table decorated for her Easter Brunch.

Another Tradition is Easter Bread. My grandmother, Grace, made it every year. She taught my mom how to make and and they both taught me when I was younger. I remember the first time I was taught how to make Easter Bread, in my mom's kitchen. I watched them make the dough and waited patiently for it to rise. I loved when the dough had to double in size, because I was the one to either put it on a table in the garage - when it was warm enough, or on top of the running clothes dryer - which always made me laugh inside. The smell of Easter Bread baking is one of my favorite smells in the whole world. I don't use anise seeds because I don't like the taste. Instead, I make the recipe without and put colored sprinkles on top.

After my grandmother passed away, making Easter Bread became more meaningful. Easter Bread is not only a way to remember her, but also to keep a tradition alive that has been passed down through our family.

Until next time,
Love & Confections!