Friday, April 22, 2016

Simply Delicious Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I mentioned before how pleased we were with the Cuisinart Simple Chocolate ice cream recipe.  My kids absolutely love it and it is certainly the very best of all the many chocolate recipes I have tried.  But I found one I like even better:  Butter Pecan.  It is so simple, just their vanilla recipe with buttered pecans added in, but I found it absolutely divine.  You can find the recipes online through Cuisinart and the manuals, and while I mention that, I must say that I am extremely happy with the new ice cream maker we got from them.  I upgraded from our old one because Williams Sonoma had a special for the machine and two freezing bowls.  I used to have a compressor style gelato freezer, but the compressor died sooner than I liked and I was not going to invest that much money again for such small capacity and lack of durability.  So having two freezer bowls meant I could still make a least two flavors in a short period of time.  You can make a full batch of simple vanilla ice cream and a half batch of the buttered pecans and stir them into half of the finished vanilla after scooping it out, and you get two flavors for one churning!  The recipes only make 5 cups worth, so there will be a generous pint of each that way.

Buttered Pecan Ice Cream
makes about 5 cups
from Cuisinart

4 tbsp unsalted butter (or use a bit less salt if using salted butter)
1 cup pecans, broken into large chunks
1 tsp sea salt

1 cup whole milk
¾ cup cane sugar
pinch sea salt
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a skillet.  Add pecans and 1 tsp sea salt.  Cook and stir for about 6-8 minutes over medium low heat until pecans are toasted, golden and fragrant.  Remove from the heat and remove the pecans from the butter.  Cover and chill them in the refrigerator.  You may save the flavor infused butter for use in another recipe, like pecan waffles or pancakes.

(What follows with the remaining ingredients is also the recipe for Simple Vanilla ice cream.)

In a medium bowl or in a blender, mix with hand mixer/blender on low speed to combine the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Stir in the cream and vanilla.  Cover and chill for 1-2 hours until cold, or overnight.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Just before mixing is finished, add in the reserved pecans and mix in completely.  The ice cream will be soft and creamy.  To cure and have firm ice cream, store the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze for about 2 hours or overnight.  Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.

I have found that these simple ice creams stay fairly scoopable, even straight from the freezer.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

BBB Bakes Up Cinnamon-Free Swirl Rolls

No cinnamon rolls allowed for this challenge!  Cinnamon buns are a dime a dozen, so our challenge was to come up with something else to roll up in our pans.  It could be sweet or savory, whatever we could imagine.  No big surprise I went with sweet.  

Our secondary challenge was to figure out why (or even if) this recipe needs the three different forms of leavening for which it calls.  This particular recipe has appeared in numerous places around the internet, most notably in the Pioneer Woman's kitchen.  It calls for yeast, baking powder, and baking soda.  My take on the three leavens is this:  the yeast is your standard roll dough raiser and flavor enhancer, the baking powder is there for extra insurance and lift in the oven to make the rolls extra fluffy, (but only if you use double acting), and the baking soda is there to tenderize the crumb and perhaps aid browning.  There is no added acid in the dough so the soda does not really do much if anything to raise the rolls.  Too much and it could make the dough taste soapy.  There is enough sugar in this dough to ensure nice browning, so I would say it is not really necessary.  According to my test panel, they preferred the batches that were less fluffy anyway, (bready was the term used), so the extra leavens are probably not necessary.  It's personal preference though, because I really liked the fluffy batch!

So the flavors I ended up going with were, in no particular order: Maple Bacon Gingersnap Stuffed Rolls, Raspberry Cream Cheese Ricotta Twists, and Caramel Apple Fritter Rolls.  Believe me, I had many more flavor ideas, including savory, but the half batch of roll dough that we made divided nicely into three little pans of seven rolls.  So, three it was.  I really want to make a spanokopita filled roll, and one that uses the garlic filling, (mashed, to spread easily on the dough), of Dan's Garlic Bread!  So I can't wait to see the other Babes' takes on the rolls because I know there are quite a few savory options that will be presented.  This is a fun challenge, so if you want to bake along with us this month, take a picture or post on your blog.  Then send the results to our host kitchen at Bake My Day! before the 29th of this month to receive an honorary Buddy Badge and be included in the wacky roll round up!

Swirled Rolls
18-21 rolls

480 ml (2 cups) milk
120 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil or melted butter (I only used ¼ cup melted butter)
95 gr (½ cup) sugar (depending on the rolls you make, I only used ¼ cup even for my sweet rolls)
2 to 2½ tsp yeast (2 is more than sufficient for the instant yeast I use)
520 gr (4 cups) all purpose flour
65 gr (½ cup) all purpose flour (extra, reserve to add later)
½ tsp heaping baking powder
½ tsp scant baking soda (I would use ¼ tsp or omit)
½ tbsp (9 gr) salt
melted butter

In a saucepan, heat milk, butter/oil, and sugar until the butter is melted.  Cool to lukewarm.  If you want to use active dry yeast that needs to activate in liquid, wait until cooled before adding yeast.  Otherwise add instant yeast to flour.

Combine milk mixture and the 4 cups of flour and yeast in a large bowl.  Stir until combined, cover and let rise on the counter for an hour.

Add baking powder, soda, salt, and the remaining ½ cup flour.  Stir very well to combine.  Chill for at least an hour or up to three days.

Divide dough into two or three equal parts if you want more than one flavor.  Or just to make it easier to work with.  Roll the dough out fairly thin, into a rough rectangle on an oiled counter or floured pastry cloth.  For standard style rolls, divide into two parts and roll to preferred thickness.

Drizzle and spread with melted butter and/or whatever filling you choose to use.

Roll up lengthwise and pinch seam closed.  Slice evenly into desired number of rolls and set, cut side down, in baking dish.  Cover and let rise for 20-45 minutes before baking.

While the rolls are resting, preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown and done in the middle.  Cool on a wire rack.  Rolls are best eaten slightly warmed.

Here are the fillings I came up with:

Caramel Apple Fritter
3 apples (use a firm, sweet-tart apple that will not turn to mush when cooked)
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ c brown sugar (muscovado)
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp cinnamon (it wasn't the main filling so I allowed it)
½ tbsp starch (I used tapioca starch, but corn is okay if you don't have an allergy)

Cook mixture until apples are somewhat tender and filling is thickened.  Pour into a bowl and set aside, covered, to cool.  (Makes enough for one pan of seven to nine rolls, double for more rolls.)

Spread filling over dough (melted butter from original recipe optional) and roll up and slice as directed before baking.

     Caramel Glaze
     ½ cup butter
     1 cup brown sugar (muscovado)
     ½ tsp salt
     2/3 cup half and half
     ½ tsp vanilla
     2 cups powdered sugar

Bring butter, brown sugar, salt, and half and half to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and cook for a minute until the mixture is completely homogeneous.  Remove from heat.
Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.  Cool slightly and drizzle over warm rolls.
(This glaze makes more than you will need for a pan of seven rolls, may be halved.)

Raspberry Ricotta Danish Style Twists
2-4 oz. raspberries (frozen is fine)
2 tbsp cane sugar (recommend 4 tbsp for 4 oz raspberries)
2 tbsp brown sugar (muscovado)
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  (Makes more than needed for seven rolls.)

Cream Cheese Ricotta
½ cup whole milk ricotta, drained
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon curd (store bought is okay)

Mix together the cheeses until creamy and no lumps remain.  Stir in the honey and lemon curd.  Cover and chill.

Spread a layer of the cheese mixture over dough.  (Omit the melted butter from the original recipe)  Pipe and/or spread a thin layer of the raspberry sauce over that.  Roll up or cut into twists.

(Don't use too much raspberry sauce or it will get very messy!  This method was adapted from the lazy daisy coffee cake twist that just uses apricot preserves)

I spread my cheese first with an offset spatula, then piped on the filling from a sandwich bag with the tip cut off.  I ended up with way too much raspberry because you flip the pieces over on each other and twist them together and curl up for the daisies.  I wonder whether it might be better to cut the lines out from the glass 
first and then pipe the fillings on every other petal to avoid overfilling.  At any rate, I scraped up the extra filling that oozed out and taste tested it.  I would also recommend shaping this one on parchment so you don't have to move it.  Very messy!

     1½ cups powdered sugar
     2 tbsp butter, melted
     ½ tsp vanilla
     1-2 tbsp milk

Stir ingredients together until smooth and creamy and of drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over cooled rolls.

Maple Bacon Gingersnap
6 slices of bacon, reserve 3 tbsp of the rendered bacon fat (I loved it, but some of my testers did not prefer the hickory smoke flavor of my bacon)
1¼ cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
6 tbsp brown sugar (muscovado)
6 tbsp cane sugar
2 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp + 2 tsp molasses

Melted butter
Brown sugar

Cook the bacon and reserve 3 tbsp of the rendered fat.  Finely chop four slices of the bacon, and chop the remaining two in a larger dice for garnish.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, bacon fat, and sugars until creamy.  Mix in the cream cheese fully.  Then add the molasses and mix.  Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add to the creamed sugar mixture.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until fairly firm.

Brush the dough with the melted butter from the original recipe.  A generous sprinkle of brown sugar over the butter is recommended if you don't want the rolls to be too salty savory.  Pinch off pieces of chilled gingersnap dough and spread evenly over the roll dough.  Sprinkle the finely chopped pieces of bacon over the dough.  Press in lightly.  Roll up the dough and slice as directed.  Reserve the large bacon pieces for garnish after baking.

     Maple Glaze
     2 tbsp butter
     ¼ cup maple syrup
     1¼ cups powdered sugar
     Reserved bacon pieces for garnish

Melt butter and maple syrup together over medium heat until combined.  Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar.  Drizzle over warm rolls and quickly sprinkle with reserved bacon pieces while still wet.

My notes and tester reactions:

I found that the first batch of buns, rolled straight out of the fridge, had the best appeal from a dough perspective for my tasters.  Those were the apple fritters and the overall winner for taste and texture.  Next was the raspberry, which really was more like a Danish with the amount of filling and the way I shaped them.  The filling was nice and tart-sweet, but a tad more sweetness would not go amiss for this application.  It was more like pie filling tart, which I like.  If using the larger amount of raspberries, I would recommend an extra 2 tbsp sugar.
My dough for the maple bacon sat out the longest before rolling out and they seemed fluffier to me.  I really liked them, but then I absolutely adore maple bacon bars from the donut shop.  It's a flavor combo you either love or hate I think.  My family thought they were good to okay, but they weren't the favorite of my other testers.  I think more sweetness in the filling might have been better for the masses.

Next time I would probably only divide the dough in half for two flavors, to give a thicker, more standard cinnamon roll type texture.

Verdict on the three leavening items:  Yeast is necessary, baking powder is okay if you want an extra lift, baking soda is unnecessary.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Creamy Strawberry Sherbet

We've just had some of our first multi day runs of warm weather for spring and it has been wonderful!  The girls requested some ice creams and we had already found that Cuisinart's chocolate ice cream recipe is fabulous!  The best chocolate recipe I have tried.  But I also had a request from eldest for sherbet since almost all store bought has corn syrup in it and we have to avoid that.  First, we tried a lemon sherbet because that is easy with ingredients on hand.  It was nice, maybe not as tart and sweet as I would have liked, but still good.  Strawberry seemed to me to be the next easy choice.  I looked at a bunch of old recipes in a book I grew up with, and then cobbled together my own.  I love how it turned out!  Good strong flavor, nice and creamy and assertively tart-sweet, as sherbet should be.  Youngest loved it, hubby declared it perfect.  Now usually youngest isn't too big on lots of sweets, but this morning, I found that she had gotten into one of the pints in the freezer and eaten half of it!  While I wasn't happy about that, I'm glad it is such a hit.  It's a bit richer than standard sherbet, but not nearly as rich as ice cream.  A good compromise and great flavor.  

You can use fresh or frozen strawberries.  The nice thing about using frozen is that they should be perfectly ripe and sweet, being picked and frozen when in season.  There is also the added benefit of the mix being instantly ready to go in the ice cream freezer without refrigerating first to chill!  If your strawberries are particularly sweet, you might be able to cut back on the sugar by 2-4 tablespoons, but remember that your mix will not taste as sweet once fully frozen and cured.  Cold reduces perception of sweetness.

Creamy Strawberry Sherbet
Makes about 2 quarts

1 cup milk
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup (an 8oz. carton) sour cream
1 qt. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (frozen works as well)

Combine sugar and gelatin in a bowl.  In a medium saucepan, heat and stir milk and sugar/gelatin mixture over medium/low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in lemon juice.  Pour mixture into a blender.  Add strawberries, half at a time if frozen, and blend until smooth.  Blend in sour cream.  Chill in refrigerator until cold if using fresh strawberries.  Pour into ice cream canister and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until the mixture has a soft and creamy texture.  When sherbet is done freezing, remove to an airtight container and freeze for about 2 hours or until firm.  Remove 5-10 minutes before scooping.