Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
12 servings

                  Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2                large egg whites (1/4 cup)

1/3             cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1-1/2          cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1-1/4          cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2                cups cake flour

1/2             teaspoon salt

1/4             teaspoon baking powder

1/4             teaspoon baking soda

1                cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3                large eggs

3/4             cup sour cream

3/4             cup powdered sugar

2                tablespoons sour cream

CAKE: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom, then spray with nonstick spray. Mix egg whites, brown sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Mix in walnuts and 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with sour cream in 3 additions. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Spoon walnut mixture evenly over. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 8 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Using oven mitt, grasp center tube and lift from sides of pan. Cool cake completely on rack. Cut cake free from pan bottom. Placing hand gently atop cake for support, tilt cake just far enough over to release from center tube; remove tube. Place cake, streusel side up, on platter (walnuts should be on top).

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic.

TOPPING: Mix sugar and sour cream in bowl; drizzle over cake.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Movie in Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Over the weekend, I was able to meet up with one of my best friends. We went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service. I had never heard of this movie! I hardly ever make it to the movies, because let's be honest $11+ dollars for A single movie is a bit ridiculous. I grew up paying $2.50 and that was expensive. Ha ha.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Anyway, I recommend this movie for the following reasons:

1. It has Colin Firth! I love Coin Firth. I find him quite attractive for a 54 year old man.

2. It has Mark Strong! I like Mark Strong. I also find him attractive. I guess I like older men.

3. There were funny bits.

4. There was action!

5. Colin Firth did action!

6. The men were dressed as gentlemen throughout the film. So nice to see a man in a good suit.

7. There were some surprises.

8. Taron Egerton is a nice new and fresh face to see.

9. I really liked this quote: "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." -Ernest Hemingway

I could have done without a few parts, like one extreme killing scene and the last scene with the princess, but overall a good flick!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar

This is a delightfully easy cake to make. Please, make sure you can find the correct cherries! Unless this cook book asks for items that I already know where to locate whilst in the store, I have a very hard time finding the item... and I am not a very good 'ask for help' type of person. I suffer because of this. Sometimes needlessly.

I purchased cherry pie filling, because I could not locate the correct cherries, and then rinsed the filling bit off and kept the cherries. BTW, a 20 oz. can of cherry pie filling, only contains 1/2 a cup of actual cherries! Rip off. I say make your own pie filling. It will taste better anyway and will be packed with cherries!

** Note to self: Put Vanilla sugar on everything!** So good!

On to the recipe!

Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar
10 Servings

1-1/2          cups unbleached all purpose flour

1                teaspoon baking powder

1/2             teaspoon baking soda

1/4             teaspoon salt

1/8             teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1                cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar

2                large eggs, room temperature

2                teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3             cup sour cream

1                teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1                cup canned pitted sweet cherries, halved, drained

1/2             vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2                Tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter and flour 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2-3/4-inch-high sides. Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla extract. Transfer 2 tablespoons dry ingredients to small bowl. At low speed, beat half of remaining dry ingredients into butter mixture, then mix in sour cream and lemon peel. Beat in remaining half of dry ingredients. Mix cherries into reserved 2 tablespoons dry ingredients; fold cherrie into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan smooth top. Bake  until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (Mine took 40, so just keep an eye out.) Transfer cake to rack and cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into small bowl. Mix in remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, rubbing with fingertips to distribute seeds. Add powdered sugar and rub again.

Sift vanilla sugar over hot cake and cool. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Czech Pernicky

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I lived in the Czech Republic for a short time and have since gone back twice. I love that country. It is beautiful, filled with History and amazing people.

My school will be hosting 'Cultural Days', for two days this week. While the sophomores are doing state testing, all other grades will be getting to experience different cultures. The students will visit a total of six countries, in two days. I will be sharing my love for the Czech Republic with them. I am going to give a 'background' presentation, so they can see what the country is all about. We will have an egg decorating craft. However, they will not be decorating real eggs. These ones are paper. There will be a language lesson, a game, and hopefully a dance... if I can remember the steps in time.

I created passports for all of the students. Inside, students will find an explanation of 'Cultural Days', a world map, 6 pages to document their experience, a top 10 places to travel list for them to create, and a spot for them to get their passports stamped. I am pretty excited about it. I hope that the students will be as well.

To top my lesson off, I will be offering each student Pernicky (per-nit-ski). It is kind of like gingerbread, minus the ginger (you can totally throw ginger in too! I did, when I ran out of star anise). You will find star anise, aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, and allspice in mine.

The next time I make this recipe, I want to try it with rye flour. I have some on hand, but I'll need to experiment with quantity, as it is different than all purpose flour. I believe that true and authentic Pernicky uses rye flour. I hope that you will give these a try. They are not exactly like the ones that I ate in Prague at Christmas time, but they are a close second!

Get creative with your designs! I could not think of anything fun... I have to work on my decorating game!

I converted and changed up the recipe. The original can be found here: 


2-3/4          cups all purpose flour

1                cup confectioners sugar

3                Tablespoons honey ( plus more if dough is a bit dry)

2                Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1                teaspoon baking soda

2                eggs

1/2             teaspoon ground star anise

1/2             teaspoon nutmeg

1/2             teaspoon allspice

1/2             teaspoon ground fennel seed

1/2             teaspoon ground cloves

1/2             teaspoon ground anise seed


2                egg whites

2                cups confectioners sugar

1. In your electric mixer bowl, combine four, baking soda, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ground fennel seed. In another bowl, cream together butter eggs, sugar, honey, and ground anise seed.

2. While mixing, slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients until a firm dough forms. (This is where I added a bit more honey, if my dough was still a bit crumbly and not sticking to itself.) Form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I let mine chill for a few hours.)

3. Once chilled, divide the dough into two and roll each half out on a floured surface (into about a sugar dough thickness (1/4-inch), the cookies will puff up while baking), and cut your shapes out. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

4. Place your cut out shapes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake about 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely before icing.

5. To make your icing, whisk 2 egg whites until stiff white peaks form, then slowly begin to add sugar. Spoon that mixture into your piping bags and decorate your cookies. This icing is great as it dries hard, just make sure you give it enough time to dry.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Raisin Streusel Cake

I was kind of put off on this recipe from the beginning, for the following two reasons.

1. It calls for margarine, instead of butter and I come from a butter family. We never use margarine for baking. Ever. Why use margarine, when you can use butter?

2. It calls for non dairy creamer. Why use that, when you can use real cream?

Any way, don't let my hang ups keep you from making this recipe. It is fairly easy to pull together and if you made the vanilla chiffon cake I posted, then you already have potato starch and matzo meal on hand. Woo!

The redeeming quality of this cake, is that it tastes really, extremely good!

Raisin Streusel Cake
12 servings

1/4       cup (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine, room temperature

2/3       cup sugar

4-1/4    teaspoons ground cardamom

2-1/4    teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2       cup matzo cake meal

1/2       cup matzo cake meal

1/2       cup potato starch

1/2       teaspoon salt

1/2       teaspoon ground ginger

5          large egg whites, room temperature

1-1/3    cups sugar, divided

5          large egg yolks

1/3       cup liquid nondairy creamer

1/4       cup (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine, melted, cooled

2          Tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

1-1/2    Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2/3        cup raisins

STREUSEL: Position rack in center of over and preheat to 350ºF. Coat 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan generously with margarine. Mix margarine, sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Gradually add matzo cake meal and mix until crumbly. Spread half of streusel on baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool and break into bits.

CAKE: Combine matzo cake meal, potato starch, salt, and ginger in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Using same beaters, beat egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in another large bowl until mixture is thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Beat in nondairy creamer, then margarine, lemon peel, and lemon juice at low speed. Add dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Fold in egg white mixture in 2 additions.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle baked streusel over. Sprinkle with half of raisins. Spread remaining batter over. Sprinkle with unbaked streusel and remaining raisins. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out dry, about 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on rack. Cover with foil and let stand fro 1 hour to soften topping.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep covered and store at room temperature.

Cut into squares and serve.