RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Chocolate

Chocolate~Caramel Tart with Pistachios and Espresso Beans

 

 

Today is the day after, seems like I am always trying to catch up to the present time.  Yesterday was Father’s Day.  My Father has been gone now for twenty-three years, where does the time go.   I find myself at different times thinking of him and wondering what he would think on different things that have taken place over the years.  I too learned not to be my father, only he could possibly take that walk and we each are our own as it should be.

It makes me hope that I have been a better parent; I think we all want and hope to be and to do better than our own parents and hope the same for each new generation.  I am optimistic that my children will improve on their parents in one way or another.  That is something I can hope will come to pass and then through them to the future children.  That would be a wonderful blessing for our family now and through all the ages of time.

I made a tart today to celebrate all fathers, from ages past to future Dads (and Gramps.)  I was asked for something with caramel, chocolate, espresso and the simple graham crackers.  I knew immediately what I wanted to make.  It has been over a dozen years since I made a graham cracker crust.  I had to Google to find the directions.  eHow had the basic recipe; I had forgotten how simple it really was… I had the Graham crackers but had wanted chocolate so I added 1 and ½ teaspoon of Dutch Cocoa Powder.  This recipe originally called for shortbread pastry, but the chocolate-graham cracker crust was just as easy.  It called for hazelnuts of which I had none, but I love a Pistachio and chocolate mix and had some so that decision was made.  It called for Milk Chocolate and I used a mix of 1 oz milk chocolate with 3 ozs of Bitter Chocolate it was a perfect and healthier mix.

The original recipe was called Milk-Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso that I found in Bon Appétit sometime in the past, I was just waiting to use this recipe and it did not let me down even with all my changes.  I too made a change in the espresso powder, I had none and so used some Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans that I did have and they tasted perfect. It too called for a sprinkling of crunchy cacao nibs on top of finished tart (pieces of roasted cacao beans) of which I had none, so that is another reason I used the chocolate covered espresso beans.

It was delicious; it was on the rich side, real rich; a very small bite was all I could handle.  I was disappointed in one thing, the espresso beans when chopped left the dark chocolate looking a little sick, and were not that pretty on top of the tart, but they were delicious none the less, even for a person who does not like coffee of any kind (me!)  Next time I will probably leave them whole and put just a few, it would then have a ‘picture perfect’ look….

This recipe looks long and drawn out, but it is rather simple and took less time than I thought, will worth the little bit of time and effort….

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 6 tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 and ½ cups of crushed Graham Crackers (about 24 graham crackers)
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon of Dark Dutch Cocoa
  • ¼ cup Sugar

Place the graham cracker crumbs, Dutch cocoa and sugar in bowl, stir them to combine.  Add the melted butter and stir or with hands blend until well blended.  Press into the tart shell, I used a 13 ¾ by 4 ½ inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.  Once all is press in the tart shell put in a heated oven ~ 350˚ and bake for 8 ~ 10 minutes.  Leave on counter until you have your filling ready to use.

          Filling:

  • ¾ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 2/3 cup whole Pistachios (I used salted, love the salt with the chocolate and the caramel)

Stir sugar and ¼ cup water in heavy medium sauce pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is medium amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes.  Remove pan from heat.  Add cream (mixture will bubble up be careful.) Place saucepan over medium heat: stir until caramel bits dissolve.  Add butter, vinegar, and salt: stir until butter melts.  Stir in 2/3 cup of Pistachios’.   Now spoon the filling unto the graham cracker crust.  Chill until cold and set, around 30 minutes or so.

                Topping:

  • 1/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder ~ I used 1 ½ teaspoons of chopped Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean. (In using the beans you will see the actual crushed espresso beans floated in the chocolate topping, but they are delicious!)
  • 1 oz of high quality Milk Chocolate
  • 3 oz of high quality Bitter Chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao Nibs ~ I replace with a few of the chopped Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans (I only used a few because they were not that attractive, but good!)

Combine cream and espresso powder, (here I replaced with the chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans, in small saucepan.)  Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until espresso powder (the dark chocolate melted and lift floating pieces of chopped espresso beans) is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Add the chocolate and butter, stir until smooth.  Spread chocolate mixture over caramel in tart pan.  Sprinkle with cacao nibs (I sprinkled with a few chopped dark chocolate covered espresso beans,) Chill tart until topping is set about 1 hour.  This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, cover and keep chilled.  To serve remove tart pan sides, place tart on platter and cut crosswise into bars to serve.

I will add the shortbread recipe for those that would like to go that route:

Shortbread Crust:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Chilled Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) Ice Water

Blend flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor.  Add butter, using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add 1 tablespoon ice water; process just until dough begins to clump together, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry.  Transfer dough to 13 ¾ by 4 ½ inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom.  Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375˚F.  Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Cool crust completely in pan on rack.

Overall, it was an excellent recipe, I was not happy with the Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, only because of the way they looked after chopping them, if using again I would not chop them.  If I was not going using the whole chocolate covered espresso beans I would use the espresso powder and possibly some nibs next time I make this.  I also would use the shortbread crust to help cut through the richness of the tart.   But the merging of caramel (which tasted like a toffee caramel ~ very good,) chocolate, pistachio and espresso mix is a wonderful tart full of luscious delight we all agreed….

Comfrey also known as Quaker Comfrey and Russian Comfrey

Taken in one of my gardens by the light of the full moon….

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Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

With a Short ~ A Life Time Full of Senses

(Recipe follows my short)

It seems strange to me that something as simple as just the beginning notes of a song or the slight smell of something cooking how many memories can be nudged to the forefront of one’s mind.  Those things that happened in times past are brought to present time in a blink of an eye.   It does not take much to rattle ones thoughts through our senses.   The senses we each have (usually) of sight, touch, taste, smell, and what we hear are markers in memory from our everyday lives.   Senses are normal functions each a way of us processing information and each sense participates and operates in our perception and the storage of this information.

In addition to our traditionally recognized five senses we too have the ability to sense temperatures, too the sense in knowing where our limbs are oriented in space, we know when we have pain, our balance (inter ear,) and to know oneself and the emotions, that make knowing if we are happy, sad or even having a bad hair day.  We can perceive what time it is, how fast we are going, the direction in which we are going and so much more.  Each and all make up how we relate to everyone and everything in our lives.   What a wonder it would be if humans used all of their senses, I wonder how many we are not aware of?

It is amazing the wonder of smells and tastes of which both summons one for the other.  When you think about it our sense of taste is really about our sense of smell.  It would be hard with one and not the other and life would be rather dull without either, more so once I think about it.   When I am eating Shrimp Fettuccini in Alfredo Sauce one of my favorites the smell is delicious and too the taste is delicious, do they go hand in hand.  Does the smell dictate the taste or vice versa? Or do they work more independently?  If I like the smell will I like the taste or the possibility of me trying something new by smelling first, if it smells good will I at least take one bite just to see.  I do not think I have eaten something that smelled good and then tasted bad.   Although, that is not saying I would like the taste of perfume.

Then I have those times when I really need to “Come to my Senses!”   Each one of my senses is collecting information about everything that surrounds me from when I was just an infant to present-day and the data is stored and brought to the forefront each time I perceive or recognize a sense that uses anyone of my five plus senses.  They too collect and detect changes within my own body, how much of our knowledge comes from senses?

I remember as a very young girl taking my grandfather’s hand as we walked to the city park.  I remember how strong it felt, you could feel the muscles and the skin was taunt and thick and too he had callous on his hands from hard work.  His hand to me was very large. When he was in his nineties as I held his hand it was so much thinner, the muscles long gone the skin now relaxed and thinned and the callous were no more.  The size was not dramatic any more.  I had not forgotten his hand as I had felt it years ago and have not forgotten his hand of age years later.  Each was imprinted in my memory from touch.  Too, his smell that never changed of pipe tobacco and leather.  He has been long gone now for over thirty-five years and when I smell the same pipe tobacco as he smoked it makes me take the time to think of him.  It always will.

When one thinks of the past, it conjures up everything that makes up the full of what your life has been to date.  Your family, friends, your friends’ family, school, and people you knew, people who influenced your life in one way or another and too those that just passed through our lives each and all have contributed to the wholeness of whom we are at present.  Think of all the places you have visited and or lived and worked, and even those that you have dreamt about  (I can dream about a place from recall of a book or brochure and have a mind’s eye to what I ‘perceive’ the actual is until I see it in person, then  the realized is what clears the thoughts of what was perceived unless scents and such were used in description they would still be the same)  each and all contributes to your senses in memory that have made up your life to date. 

The loves in your life, your past loves and too those loved ones of today are each held in memory through one sense or another.  The loved one departed, some long ago others in the present, each and all loved and missed none the less.  The past also invokes so much through thoughts of the songs you sung or listened to or the song that you danced to and with whom. What you have physically and some mentally touched along the way you have hung on to, never to let go. 

I need not be standing by a rose-bush in full bloom to remember the silken feel of its petals, or to see the color of its faint veins nor does it need be in present form for me to remember its delicate scent.   Taking a rose scented bath makes me feel the rose-bush is right there with me.  Too, just in thought it can provoke the mind to remember the data left from my sense of sight and smell from long ago.

Since spring made her presence known this year the scents of her spring bulbs, flowering trees and shrubs have magnified what my mind has held on too for the length of my lifetime, each scent well-remembered, those new scents put to memory as soon as acknowledged through smell.  The scent of bread baking, chocolate tarts and the grill all recently lead me to ponder the thoughts of how incredible each of my senses are.  I have always been fascinated with ‘senses’ since I was just a child. 

Each sense defines to the immeasurable amount of how we perceive and the ways in which we live our lives.  What are likes and dislikes are and what lulls us into bliss.   I have lived in more than six states, each place I have had roses, I plant my flower gardens to bring the scents that I love and too those that mean much to me or for just plain desire and pleasure.  The same with what we eat, or those of us who love to cook, I like to make bread not only to enjoy but to have the comforting smells of home-baked breads filling my home.   Our senses help to determine so many decisions, what we eat, where we go, what we read, what we listen to, physical love and so much more. 

Tomorrow I think I will listen to a long sonata while letting the sun heat my skin as I leisurely lounge  in the chase and  indulge myself with a chocolate caramel tart that I enjoyed baking, knowing full well how much I will truly take pleasure in each one.  All of my senses I will indeed be using, I will see, smell, taste, touch, and hear and so much more….

Here is the recipe for my Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tarts, enjoy….

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tarts

Adapted from smittenkitchen ~ Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

These Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Tarts waken up yours sense of smell while they are cooking, they too wake up your taste buds while you are eating, they look more than just inviting, the texture while you are savoring this stimulating (yes!) tart that is overwhelming and gratifying, and you will indeed hear ahhhh of delight from those that are eating. The tarts use each and every one of our senses to the highest degree!

This tart is more like a brownie, I agree with Deb the tart is almost like a crackly brownie and the center being more like a truffle.  I too loath ginger, so Deb and I are off to a good start… This Chocolate tart is very extreme in chocolate taste, it definitely is very rich and I could only eat a very small slice (per sitting!)

One thing I did different besides the Macadamia Nuts was I drizzled caramel sauce  on top of the filling once it was in the shell before I baked.  The sauce is the same caramel sauce that is used in my Brioche Bread Pudding recipe.  Then I scattered the nuts on top.

I used my regular tart pastry and am glad I did.  It is always very flakey; it is not overly rich and is perfect for this tart that has all the intensity of the rich dark chocolate filling you could want.  The pastry is very simple and seems to be full-proof.

So I used no ginger crust and no ginger seasoning of any kind in the filling.  I drizzled some of the caramel sauce on top of the filling and I did use Macadamia Nuts mixed in and scattered on top and what a wonderful mix.  It is melt in your mouth good, but remember this is a very rich, indulgent dessert and a little goes a long way.  My six-inch tarts were cut into fourths and were the perfect size and everyone enjoyed each and every bite.  They agree, per sitting a quarter is plenty of this decadent dessert, this is not saying that it does not call your name for a return the next day….

Deb made a large tart, I decided to make six 6 inch size tarts and the amount of filling was perfect.  You can go by smittenkitchen if you would like to do the ginger crust for this tart.

For my pastry recipe please click.   Follow recipe all the way through the pre-baking and sitting aside for when needed.  You will have more than enough pastry for a large tart or small tarts with some left over.  You can refrigerate for a few days or put in the freezer any leftover dough.

Chocolate Tart Filling:

                Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I recommend using!)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts, several tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts to scatter on top of each tart

Soft whipped cream, for serving.

Caramel Sauce dizzled on if it calls to you, like it did me!

Pastry for tarts.

To make Chocolate Tart Filling:

Combine the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk on low heat until chocolate is melted, mixed and smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, ground black pepper, salt and cinnamon in bowl just until blended.

Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until smooth and well blended. Mix in the chopped macadamia nuts.  Now pour the chocolate filling into the pre-cooked tart shell(s.) I fill to just below the rim so they do not run over while baking.  Scatter a few chopped Macadamia nuts over the top of each tart.

Bake the tarts (or large tart if that is what you are making) until the filling is slightly puffed from center to edge of tart(s), a soft center set, about 30 minutes.  Once the tart(s) are done transfer to rack and cool tart(s) in pan(s) for twenty minutes.   Gently remove the tart(s) from pan(s) and cool tart(s) completely.  It is about this time after smelling it cook that I want to go ahead and take a bite or two, no one would miss one of the tarts.  Better not!  Wait until you smell the deep chocolate scent filling your home as it bakes, it makes you so hungry…

Cut the tart(s) into thin wedges and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream for those pleasure-seeking souls, the mix is heavenly….

As Deb said you can make the chocolate tart(s) ahead of time, 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.  Thanks for the wonderful recipe Deb!  It sure was a hit….

Easy Orange ~ Lemon Truffles

Last Easter I made these truffles and they were a hit.  This year I am in the process of making petit fours.  Notice I said in the process of…I am now to the point of using pastry bag and tip and putting a flower on each.  I was going to buy already made sugar flowers but decided to just face the pastry bag once again.   But, in the meantime I will post these truffles I made a year ago and hopefully I will be able to post my petit fours by Easter.  I will be taking classes in cake decorating this fall but for now I will keep trying….

 

Easy Orange ~ Lemon Truffles

   Ingredients:

  •          1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •          2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  •          1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  •          1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  •          1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  •          1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur  
  •          couple of tablespoons of crushed dark chocolate orange
  •               malt balls
  •          2 squares (1 ounce each)semi -sweet chocolate, grated or
  •               cocoa powder

 

First, melt chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate in heavy saucepan over very low heat; be sure to stir constantly, once melted and smooth set aside until needed.

Combine the powdered sugar, butter, orange peel, liqueur, and crushed orange malt balls in a small bowl.  Beat this in mixer until just combined.  Beat in cooled chocolate.  Once all is blended pour into shallow dish and refrigerate this for about thirty minutes or until the mixture is fudgy in consistency and can be shaped into balls. 

I use one level tablespoon scoop of mixture to form into scant 1 inch balls.  Repeat until you have used up all the mixture.  I roll each ball in my hands until they are all uniform, round, smooth shapes, place on parchment paper as you make each one.

Once you have the entire mixture made into truffle balls put them in refrigerator or the freezer.   If you are going to coat now, you do not need to refrigerate until you are through coating them. 

When you are ready to put the outside coating on your truffles: roll each in grated chocolate, cocoa, nuts, cookie crumbs, powder sugar or sugar mixed with whatever seasoning you can come up with.   If you are having a hard time getting the coating to stick, roll in hands to warm just a bit and the try rolling in the covering mixture.

I put the grated chocolate (or whatever you are rolling them in) into a shallow bowl and rolled each ball in this mixture until coated and place in mini cupcake papers.  Store the truffles in an airtight container in refrigerator no longer than 3 days or up to several weeks in freezer.

What I did with my truffles was to dip them into melted chocolate and then drizzled color tinted chocolate over the tops. 

I too made a second batch using a little lemon favoring, grated lemon peel and lemon flavored chocolate chips (I got them at http://www.nutsonline.com); the lemon truffles were just as good as the orange truffles. 

I am not sure where the recipe came from, it was in my recipe box, if anyone knows who to give credit please let me know….

Orange Marmalade

 

  

Orange Marmalade

I love Orange Marmalade.  I have been craving some good homemade marmalade for some time now.   I have good memories from childhood of eating the marmalade on just plain old white bread with homemade butter to memories of eating it every morning while in France on a Croissants or Baguette.  “Good morning.  Bonjour.  S’il vous plaît, je vais prendre une tasse de chocolat chaud et un crossiant avec marmelade d’orange, je vous remercie beaucoup.’’  (‘’Good morning.  Bonjour.  Please, I will have a cup of hot chocolate and a croissant with orange marmalade, thank you very much.)  For about two weeks, I did not tire of this as the beginning of my day.  It had gotten to the point that the waitress would ask croissant or baguette as she approached to my table. ‘’Souhaitez-vous une crossiant ou de la baguette de ce matin?’’

Such memories, and who (in their right mind) could turn down a mix of Chocolate and orange?  I must admit, I could not and would not turn down this combination at any time.  I love to break off a single bite of bread and put a little butter and a dollop of the sweet tart mix of marmalade, it is incredible.   Nothing can you compare it to.

Kevin, at Closet Cooking and I were on the same wave lengths here recently.  I was catching up on emails and a he had posted the marmalade recipe and gave me the little push I needed to make my first ever orange marmalade.  I too found he had done candied orange peels too, so I decided no better time to learn than when I make my first marmalade.

I love the tartness of marmalade, the subtle difference of the sweet and tart mix.   I need a change once in a while from the sweet of normal jams and preserves, they are delicious, but every once in a while I love to wake up my taste buds and marmalade does just that.   I noticed that Kevin had added a lemon to his mix, so I decided to add one lemon and two small Meyer Lemons to my batch.  I too did not use the Seville Oranges that he did but instead use Minneola Organic Oranges (Kevin used Seville Oranges, which have seeds, so, will cook differently.)  The skin of the Minneola Orange is a very bright deep color with the juice being of the same color; I could just see it in the jars.  I had to add a box of pectin to my marmalade; my oranges came all but seedless.  I still had plenty of pulp and extra bits and I tied them up in the cheesecloth.  I waited to the last to make sure I needed the pectin and one box did just the trick. 

I agree with Kevin, that the marmalade is really very simple with only a couple of simple ingredients: the oranges, added lemons, sugar and in my case one box of pectin and it was a lot easier to make than I had imagined.  I defiantly will be making more.  Next time I am already thinking about adding pineapple and maybe some other interesting combos?  We’ll see, but I do adore good old plain marmalade.  However after thinking about it there really is nothing plain about marmalade. 

I too decided that I wanted some sweet bread to eat my marmalade on and made a batch of Brioche for just that purpose.  There is enough Brioche now to make a good bread pudding here soon too. 

Once I got the oranges and lemons washed I went to work juicing, scraping, and slicing, my homemade marmalade was one step closer, I could already taste it on my fresh Brioche.    I did a couple of extra oranges and lemons for candied rinds.  I was glad I had decided to do it all at one time.  It went by pretty quickly. 

I also prepared my jars and tops.  I washed them thoroughly and then boiled them in water for ten minutes.  I even went through my old scraps of material for quilting and found some cloth that had oranges on it, with a lime background, it was perfect.  I was now ready for the end results. 

Orange Marmalade

     Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of Minneola Oranges, about 4-5
  • 1 Lemon – Yellow
  • 2 Small Meyer Lemons
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 box of Pectin
  1. Cut the oranges and lemons in half cross wise.
  2. Squeeze the juice and pits out through a mesh sieve collecting the juice in a large sauce pan.
  3. Scrape all of the membranes and remaining pulp from inside of the oranges.  This is not a hard as it sounds; at least I had no problems cleaning out everything to the rind.
  4. Collect the pit, membranes and any pulp that came out and place it in a double layer of 8 inch square cheese cloth and tie off.    
  5. Slice the oranges and lemon peels into small thin pieces about 1/8 inch wide. 
  6. Bring the juice, water, peels and cheesecloth to a simmer over medium heat and cook, covered, until the peel gets tender, about 2 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes, squeezing the juices from the cheesecloth when you do. 
  7. Remove the cheese cloth and squeeze out any liquid into the pot.
  8. At this point you should have about 4 cups of liquid.  Add more water if you have less and simmer to reduce if you have more.
  9. Bring the liquid and sugar to a rolling boil, this is where I added my pectin and followed the box instructions. (If your marmalade is thickening on its own, then proceed like Kevin did – at rolling boil – until it thickens, about 10-15 minutes.  To test, place a small spoonful on a plate that was in the freezer and run your finger through.  If the path where your finger went through stays then it has set.
  10. Pour into your jars leaving ½ inch of space at the top.  I took a damp clean cloth and went around all the rims to make sure they were clean so I would know they would seal.  (This made me feel so grown up.  I remember as a child watching my mother can everything that could be canned.  She would always take a damp clean cloth and run the rims.  We always had to stay at a distance when she was canning.)  I then put the lids on and placed in a large pot and covered with boiling water.  Once all of it got boiling again I boiled for twenty minutes with pot lid on and then put the half pints of marmalade on a large cutting board to cool.  Be very careful, you could burn yourself very easily.  They were all sealed.  I was so proud of myself. (Kevin at the point of putting into the jars placed the tops on and refrigerated when cool.)
  11. So if you want to keep your in the refrig versus sealing for some length of time in your pantry, that is up to you.  What I have will not last long enough to warrant the boiling water bath and such, but since I was sending part of the batch out, not knowing when they would use theirs, I decided it was best to just can to seal for later use.   

I knew that a few of mine were going in the post to family.  My mother, she will be so pleased to see that I took the time to finally make my own marmalade, and she loves marmalade as much as I do.  I will be sending to family in Texas, Peggy who never forgets to send jams and such which she has made, and to my dear friend Sue.  I hope they love them as much as I do.

It was hard to let the marmalade set until the next morning.  But what did I have for breakfast, Brioche and Marmalade.  I closed my eyes and took a trip to France.  What nice memories from childhood, to France and back again and now I have joined the legends of those that have made their very own marmalade.  It tastes just as good as that from my childhood to that which I had in France.  How can something so simple be so good? ….  

The Blues and Coffee Cupcakes

 Deferred Posting From: © July, 2010

I am so bad here in the past months about keeping up with anything that has to do with my life.  I have been in the process of coming, going, and being in several states in several months, looking for a second home for winter months.   Soon my life will settle down enough for me to be caught up and have everyone up-to-date.  I also need to work at remembering to take pictures, I am trying to think of something that would evoke my artistic abilities (or those that I am working on) and call to mind anything that will make me remember to take pictures before food is gone.

Here is my tardy (I will call deferred-that covers all bases, I think!) by date blog on July 4th and Cupcakes:

A couple of days ago the news was playing in the background as I was working on one of my watercolors.  I had to stop and think about what I had just heard.  The meteorologist was saying that we had hit 75 degrees today and it had been 270 days since we last saw that temperature.  I knew that it had been awhile, more like a couple of lifetimes since I had felt warm here in Washington state.  The rain, fog, and a light drizzle to mist has gone on for what seemed time unending making its presence known most hours of most days, for weeks, and months too on end this past autumn, winter and spring.  This is not the ideal place to live if the cold, wet, grey dreary days influence your health.  I then took the time to watch the rest of the forecast, it seemed we would be getting a good day every other day for the near future.  When we have a “sun” day here, everyone stops everything and takes in as much of the bright light as they can get.  We are very appreciative of the sun’s brilliance and the warmth that one can only get sitting and soaking in the direct sunrays. 

It seems that most summers do not start here in the great Northwest weather “wise” until after the 4th of July.   That is but seven days, a week from today, until we can hopefully put up our sweaters, sweatshirts and flannels.   Our short sleeves and thongs are ready to wear and I am more than ready for the summer to begin.   I heard a joke the first year I lived here that I have never forgotten, Washingtonians do not tan they rust.   I found out that first season just what they meant.  The like new umbrella (s) that I had been using for years had completely worn out after the first year that I lived here.  Having been here now for a couple of decades (+), I have learned that I do not need an umbrella.  We still have picnics; where in other parts of the world where I had lived, rain could have meant cancellation.  

I have noticed another mystery besides the missing socks on laundry day it is the missing sunglasses.   I am still trying to remember when was the last time I used them and where did I leave them.  When I figure that out, I will maybe find them or maybe another pair, of sunglasses only to wonder how long they had been missing and when did I buy this pair?   

The weatherman has said he has a special line we can call when the weather gets to us.  He called it the, “Whine Line.”  How apropos for the conditions we have been living with.  

When summer finally starts, I do not want to eat hot soup until this coming fall.   We have had more than our fill of every kind of soup one can imagine.  I have one week to get my act together.   I have a picnic to plan, decisions to make for the menu and then finding the right recipes.  Then I have the shopping and prepping to do to get ready for our big day, it is going to be a really good week.  This week is going to fly by.   In seven days, we will be celebrating our countries independence and the beginning of lots of fun in the sun.   

Seven days came and went, July 4th was very similar to what we have been living, not much sun, but we had a very special day indeed.  We did not have the picnic and barbecue that we had hoped but spent some time with friends.  There was lots of good food and fun to be had, and we each enjoyed ourselves immensely.  I was asked to bring something simple for desert.   I decided on cupcakes, I had not made cupcakes in years and I knew just the recipe that I wanted to use.  Everyone in our group but one, me, loves coffee, and the cupcakes were a hit.  I forgot my camera to take pictures of the little delights, by the time I remembered there was not even a crumb left on the plate.  They were a hit and everyone wants me to make them for our next barbecue.  It feels so good when something as simple as a little cupcake can make a grey day bright and enjoyable for all. I will be happy to repeat the coffee cupcakes for our next outing. 

I wanted a cupcake that everyone at the picnic would love, and they all love coffee.  I immediately started looking for the perfect coffee cupcake.  I found Melissa ~ The Boastful Baker had a very interesting recipe and it was from Martha Stewart’s cookbook, ‘Cupcakes.’  I had been looking at this cookbook for some time, it was a gift, and I knew someday I would need the perfect cupcake.  Here it is for all those coffee lovers and even for those that do not drink, I had a small sampling when I was finished with the frosting and it was very good for something with coffee. …

The one change I made was to chop up about ¼ cup of coffee toffee candy and stirred it into the batter.  The little nuggets were a special treat inside each mini cupcake.

ONE~ BOWL CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Makes 18 to 24 (50+ mini cupcakes)

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ chopped coffee toffee candy (me addition)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.  Mix in the ¼ cup of chopped coffee toffee candy into cupcake batter.

 

  1. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

 

 Swiss Meringue Buttercream 

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcake ~ I found the recipe:  

                   The Boastful   Baker ~ Melissa Blog                                                                                    

Makes about 5 cups

(For the mini One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, I made half of this recipe of Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it was more than enough frosting.)

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
  3. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
  4. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  5. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla.
  7. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low-speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
  8. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month.
  9. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low-speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Coffee Variation: Mix 2 tablespoons good quality instant espresso powder (do not use instant coffee) with the vanilla extract. Stir until espresso powder is mostly dissolved and add to frosting in step 6.

Directions: I followed The Boastful Baker and Martha Stewart with my addition of chopped coffee toffee added to the cupcakes. I sprinkled each frosted cupcake with a little freshly ground nutmeg.

 

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