It seems that I have skipped Week 9 – will maybe get back to it sometime. And this week I am taking the recipe a bit further. The Outrageous Pretzel Bars are really that! They consist of a Brown Sugar Cake (Brownie-like) and are topped with a Chocolate Fudge made with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Chocolate Chips. More Chocolate Chips are put on top along with crushed Pretzels. And the recipe is huge – they were cut into 24 Bars but maybe should have been cut into 36. The bars are very chocolaty and filling and one cannot really eat much at a time. That being said, my Husband loved the Bars! He is an avid Chocolate Lover whereas I am not. But they were good, especially the next day after they had time to dry out a little.
I took one-third to my Mahjong Group, froze one-third for one of my sons and we tried to eat the other third. Since my husband is very reserved as to how much he eats and I am only an occasional chocolate consumer, we did have some left over. After a week, the leftovers were thoroughly dried out and of course impossible to eat, but being the improvisor that I am, I just couldn’t throw them away.
My Food Reinvention skills came about when my Sons were small and I got my first Blender. I started using leftovers to make other things. The first was gravy that I turned into soup and so on. I have a really yard time throwing food out so the Outrageous Pretzel Bars were the perfect thing to turn into something else.
I broke up the leftover bars and put them into my Food Processor and chopped them up into as fine a crumb as I could. Then I added about 1/3 cup of melted Butter and 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar. (One could just use a Graham Cracker Crust Recipe for this Chocolate Bar Crust) I did use it as a guide but the Butter called for was too much so I only used about 1/3 as stated above.
Next I pressed the Crumb Mixture into the bottom of my 9″ Springform Pan and baked it for about 5 minutes. You could actually make the pie without baking the crust but the oven was already on for something else, so I did bake it. The problem with baking is that it releases some of the butter and then you have to blot it off.
Next I made the Bavarian Creme. I started out by making a Vanilla Soft Custard which is the base for all Bavarian Cremes. Next I incorporated a cup of Whipped Creme into the Custard. Recipe will be found in the recipe section of this blog.
Once the Creme chilled sufficiently I poured it into the Crust and then chilled the whole thing. When it was ready to serve I took off the sides of the Springform and placed the whole thing, (bottom of pan included) on a serving plate and topped with Chocolate Curls. Next I cut it into moderate portions. The Bavarian Creme was actually much less filling than the original Pretzel Bars themselves.
This Week’s Baking Project was Gougeres – a cheesy version of Pate Choux. In this version the Pate Choux is made with Fat Free Milk instead of water and there is also the addition of Cheese. I used Gruyere but Parmesan or other types of semi-hard or hard cheeses can be used. This Project was fun and seemed to have been participated in by more members than any of the others. At least there certainly was a lot of feedback and posting of photos. Not only was this one fun but it was relatively simple and took very little time as compared to the first few projects that we did, especially the Lemon Chiffon Cake (which I loved). The recipe for the Gougeres is posted in the recipe section of this blog but it came from the book “Tartine” which was named after the Restaurant of the same name.
For anyone who has not made Pate Choux before or even for those of us who have, it is always fun to see the marvel of the Choux Dough Puff Up and form these marvelous pockets which can be filled with anything from an Appetizer, to a Main Course or Dessert. I used mine for Sunday Morning Breakfast with Herb and Tomato Scrambled Eggs along with a Fruit Salad dressed with Fresh Basil and Sweet Mint.
Below are the preparation photos:
The Recipe calls for 1 cup Skim (Fat Free) Milk – I had only 2% so used half milk and 1/2 water. I may have gotten better height in the Puffs if I had only used water.
The Milk or Water (whichever you use) is brought to a boil along with the Butter over medium heat. Then the Flour is added all at one time and vigorously beaten until the mixture all comes together. At this time, the mixture is then placed in a Standing Mixer Bowl and the Eggs are added one at a time. If you don’t have a mixer, this can be done by hand with a wooden spoon, but it will take some energy to do so because the Eggs need to be thoroughly beaten into the Dough.
You can also use a Food Processor, but I have found when making Pate Choux n the Food Processor that you usually end up using 1 less Egg than called for. This is because the speed of the Processor is so fast that the ingredients get incorporated more thoroughly and at a faster speed.
Once all the Eggs have been incorporated then you add the Cheese, Chopped Herbs and Pepper. Beat these items in by hand with a wooden spoon.
Next you can form the Gougeres on a lightly greased (I don’t usually grease the pan because there is plenty of butter in the dough but the recipe in mention does say to do so. You can also line the pan with baking parchment or use a Silicon Baking Sheet, which is my preference.
The Puffs are baked at 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes but if you want a darker and crisper puff 45 minutes is recommended. (The older recipes call for a 400 degree oven but they do seem to rise alright at 350 degrees.
If you make the small size they can be eaten warm as Appetizers or accompaniment to Soup or Salad. If you make the larger ones, the tops can be cut off and they can be filled with a creamed mixture or scrambled Eggs as I did. I made Soft Scrambled Eggs using the double boiler and added diced Tomatoes, Baby Spinach and Cilantro just before the Eggs were done. Serve with Bacon or Sausage and a fresh Fruit Salad.
Below are the Members Photos.
Since Cherry Season is in full swing in Southern California it was decided that a second week of baking products with Cherries was in order. So this weeks project was Cherry/Cornmeal Upside Down Cake. The title implies that there is a lot of Cornmeal in the batter, but there was not. However, the Cornmeal was prominent in feel and in taste. Many of the participants like or loved the Cornmeal but I did not. Maybe I was the only one who didn’t like – no one else said anything negative about it. Of course, I am not a Cornbread Lover, so it figures that I would not be too found of the Cornmeal in this recipe. All that being said, it does give a little different feel and taste to the texture of the cake.
One thing that I did like about this recipe was the addition of Balsamic Vinegar. i do love the taste of Balsamic and I for one think that even a little more than the recipe called for could have been used. I do use Balsamic a lot with fruit, especially summer fruits such as berries and melon.
By the way, just because I am not fond of the Cornmeal in the recipe does not mean that I didn’t like it – I did like it – in fact I loved it, probably because of the Cherries which I can’t stop eating when they are in season. They are my ‘All-Time Favorite Fruit’ and there are many fruits which I absolutely love, especially Summer Fruit. My Husband loved the Cake – in fact we ate it for Breakfast at least two times. This cake is a 10″ cake and offers up quite a few pieces. One of my Sons had it for Dessert one night and one of my Stepdaughters also had it for Dessert one night – both on a different night. The Cake keeps well and needles to say everyone who ate it loved it!
With all that Hyperbole out of the way let’s get to the recipe and finished product itself.
The recipe can be found at the web site of Epicurious
The Ingredients that you may not have on hand are 3 cups of Cherries (most of us used Bing), Balsamic Vinegar and Cornmeal. Everything else in the recipe is pretty common in most kitchens. The recipe does say to use an ‘oven-proof skillet’ but if you don’t have one that can be used as a baking pan, just use a 10″ layer pan or other similar container which is what I did.
You will need to wash and pit your Cherries before starting the recipe but everything else in the recipe is pretty straight forward. Below are some photos of the different steps in the process:
Measure and Wash your Cherries, then remove the pits with either a Hand Cherry Pitter or a Multiple Pitter. (See last Weeks’ Post – Cherry Clafoutis)
Pitters can be found at your local Culinary Store or at Amazon.com.
Or you can do as one of our members did and use chopsticks. You can also do it the very ‘old-fashioned’ way and use a darning needle to push out the pits.
The next thing to do is to melt the Butter with the Brown Sugar and then add the Cherries and bring them to a boil. Shut off the heat after about a minute or so – just to give the Brown Sugar a chance to melt.
Now make your Batter – it is easiest to do this in a Food Processor but if you don’t have one then use whatever would be easiest for you. Then whip the Whites in a Standing Mixer or with a portable mixer. DO NOT TRY TO WHIP THE WHITES IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR – They will just get overheated and not whip properly.
Next gently fold the Whites into the Batter. You can do this in the Food Processor but only use the Pulse Button so that you do not over-mix.
After the Whites are folded into the Batter it is time to pour the Batter over the Cherries and finally to bake the cake.
The Cake is baked when a toothpick or cake tester is inserted into the cake and comes out clean.
Allow the Baked Cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before inverting onto a large plate. In the Photo above right, you can see that the Cherries gravitated towards the edges, but it still tasted good and when sliced and served with Ice Crema or Whipped Cream one cannot see that the Cherries are not completely covering the cake.
Serve warm with Ice Cream or Whipped Cream. The Cake also tastes good cold or at room temperature.
MEMBERS PHOTOS – Featured Photo this week belongs to Kristy Gobright
Cherries are a relatively expensive fruit but when you consider that their season is so short you may be a little more inclined to spend the money on them if you can. I can remember when the price was way lower than they are now but things have changed and Farm Workers are now making more of a ‘living wage’ when they were decades ago. And if you think you are paying a lot of money for Cherries just look at what Christine Rola Biskaduros had to pay for them. (Photo above right) Christine lives in Shanghai and I guess the Cherries were imported although I did think that Cherries do grow in China but I may be wrong.
Elizabeth Bernhardt Mockapetris
We love Pancakes as I assume most people do. When I was cooking for 7 or 6 or 5 and so on – there were not usually any leftovers when I made Pancakes or Waffles. Now that we are only 2, making a small batch of Pancake or Waffle Batter is almost impossible and rather useless. You can always use the leftover Waffle Batter to make Pancakes or more Waffles the following day or two and you can always use the leftover Pancake Batter for more Pancakes. Unless you make your Pancake Batter somewhat thick, you’d better not use it for Waffles the next day. I like my Pancakes on the thin and light side, so the leftover batter does not do well in the waffle iron. So this morning for Breakfast, I took yesterday’s leftover Pancake Batter and made Pancakes and Eggs with it. A very simple thing to do.
I used my Omelet Pan and made two Pancakes, one for my Husband and one for myself. Next I made Easy-Over Eggs and put one on top of each Pancake. Add a couple of strips of Bacon, a glass of Juice and a cup of Coffee or a glass of Milk and Voila, you have Breakfast. Easy, Simple and Fast and no wasted Pancake Batter. The Pancakes take the place of Bread. Very simple, like 1 – 2 – 3 and you are done!