Dick Taylor Craft Handmade Chocolate and French Silk Pie Review and Recipe #DickTaylorChocolate

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Every once in a while, you run into a product that is a game changer. Someone who ups the bar so high that you don’t know who or if it can ever be topped. I really try to reserve some labels for a truly superlative product. Dick Taylor’s Craft Chocolate hits every metric for me to call it “The Very Best”. Nothing I’ve ever had before can even come close. It’s in a league all it’s own. I’ll go over why below, and even add a recipe that, should you have the willpower to not devour the chocolate immediately, will be dynamite.

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Chocolate in the United States has been done a great disservice. What was once an American icon, Hershey’s, can be held partly accountable for the woeful state of chocolate confections in this country. Because if you’ve only had Hershey’s, you’ve not had chocolate. Craftsmen like Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick are looking to right a terrible wrong with their small-batch craft Dick Taylor chocolates. With a hands-on approach that takes up to a month or more, it starts with selecting only the finest fair-trade raw cacao, all the way up to the pouring of this molten magic into it’s molds. You’ve not lived until you’ve treated yourself to a piece of Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. The vintage machinery used belie the dedication and skill inherent to this labor of love, because one would think to make the best chocolate, you’d need the latest and greatest in automation and innovation. The craftspeople at Dick Taylor chocolates scoff at the notion, and impart a love and devotion to being the best that I could only strive for. Heart will take you far, it seems.

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The list of ingredients for the 72% Madagascar, Sambirano is so simple it’s almost as if they left out a step on purpose to keep anyone else from finding the secret to a truly superior chocolate. Ready?

Organic cacao and organic cane sugar.

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That’s it. No emulsifiers, no fillers, no chemicals, no artificial gunk, no waxes. The flavor envelopes your mouth immediately, with no harsh bitterness, no oily or overly creamy mouth feel, no grit. Impossibly smooth from first bite to final swallow, you almost never want the experience to end. There’s nothing else like it. It was almost transcendent. Our bars of Green & Blacks now sit in the pantry, lonely and wanting. The Guittard Dark baking chips that were my baking cabinet queens have been kicked to the curb. I’m fully and completely in love with Dick Taylor’s Craft lovelies. I mean, they even look exquisite. We were so fortunate that the weather was in our favor when the box arrived, as I’ve have been inconsolable to have had this chocolate adulterated by the heat. There’s 5 different types of “dark” chocolate with cacao percentages from 72% up to 76%, as well as 4 specialty flavors (Fleur de Sel?! You had me at “chocolate”, you devil!), drinking chocolate, and even a Father’s Day Gift Collection! Should I gift one to hubby despite not being a father? Hmm… At any rate, there’s truly something for everybody there!

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Located to our north in Eureka, CA, we have a standing invitation to tour their facility should we ever find ourselves in the neighborhood. I don’t know if I’d trust my self (or hubby) to not grab everything we could carry and run cackling like madmen out the doors at first opportunity, probably to the tune of “I’ve got a golden ticket”. There’s thankfully an authorized retailer just a short ways away, but I’m not sure if my diet thinks this is a good thing. We finished the first bar in 5 minutes after the first nibbles, and we just don’t do that in this house. Chances are, there’s someone to sell you a bar locally. And if not, they do sell direct from the website, shipped to your door.

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Not since the mythical Willy Wonka has there been something so magical available to eat. Nothing you’ve had comes close. Be forewarned, after you’ve had Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, nothing will ever come close again. You’ll be spoiled for all time, chasing a chocolate dragon until your end of days. Do it anyways. It’s sooooo worth it.

Connect with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates at:

 

 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate French Silk Pie:

With Summer here and the weather finally warming up for us, I wanted to bring back a classic but a goodie.  A good pudding always allows you taste the honest chocolate notes.  With Dick Taylor’s Madagascar, Sambirano 72%, I found it to be like the perfect espresso without the bitterness.  A good chocolate will not add oils or large amount of sugars, so neither shall I.  My Husband has always loved this pie but disliked what time has done to it.  It went from a way to showcase a fine chocolate bar and having a cold pie on a hot day, which hits you perfectly like a car ride (of course top down) with a chocolate shake in hand.  We now get ready-made puddings out of a box and the custard pudding below is good and rich enough to eat by the spoonful!  Say goodbye to eating desserts out of the box and treat you and yours with real pudding made like other, with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  If I could only find a way to transfer the design of their bars onto this pie…….life would be perfect.  I swear they should sell stamps of their bar’s imprint and of course paired with chocolate scented ink 🙂 Enjoy!

Lets Begin……

Filling (Custard Pudding)-

  • 1/3 cup of Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of Whole Milk (at room temperature)
  • 1/8 cup of Corn Starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 2 Egg Yolks (at room temperature)
  • 5 1/4 ounces of Dick Taylor’s Dark Chocolate of your choice
  • 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 of teaspoon of Cocoa Powder (reserved as you sprinkle it on the crust before adding the filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Butter (salted and used KerryGold)
  • 1 Pre-baked Pie Crust (search my recipes if you need one or you can use whatever recipe you desire)

You Start by pre-baking a pie crust.  The crust has to be fully cooked and cooled before you begin making the pudding for the pie.  Below is my crust, and I use a butter and shortening recipe.  I won’t judge if you even get a ready made pie crust, just as long as you make the pudding and you can just skip the crust and serve the pudding in cups with a graham cracker to dunk with!

Now, comes puddin’ time!  You first start by combining the dry ingredients.  This is the corn starch, sugar and salt.  I combine them in a bowl, whisk and then they go into the pot you wish to make your pudding in.  I use a non-stick for that added no stick insurance they have.  Next, combine the milk and the 2 egg yolks.  I use the same measuring cup I use for the milk and just whisk and set aside.  You then measure out your chocolate (break up bars **sniffle**), and you need 5 1/4 ounces.  If you go over, it produces a thicker product but trust me this is pudding that is as thick as it is and rich.  Add the 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder to the same bowl you have your chocolate in.  If you opted to make this a pie, add the 1/2 teaspoon and dust the bottom of your pie crust with it.

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Now comes the cooking process.  Combine the milk and egg mixture to the sugar, salt and corn starch mix.  Combine with a whisk and turn the stove’s burner on low.  Keep mixing, whisking (get those edges too!) and continue whisking.  You can set the burner to a low-medium setting if you are a heavy whisker at this point and the mixture will begin to show small air bubbles around the 3 minute mark.  You will feel some heat on you knuckles from the steam but keep at it.  After all, we’re burning calories here!  As you whisk, you will feel at the 5 minute mark (if not sooner), the mixture getting thicker and thicker and when it truly bubbles, just before it boils, off the heat it comes.  Turn off the burner and add the chocolate to your custard, along with the Vanilla.  You got pudding!

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Then add the tablespoon of butter.  Now, you have a glistening and rich pudding.  Heaven!

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Now, pour the pudding into the pie shell or if making pudding cups, you can pour into a container to cool (uncovered).  Once cooled, you can then add a cover to not have a choco-smelling fridge, but then that’s not a bad thing either.

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You allow the pie (or pudding bowl) to cool on the counter for an hour and then into the fridge it goes (uncovered).  I let it cool about 3 hours to avoid that condensation you can get if you covered it.  After the 3 hour mark, I then cover the pie (or pudding bowl).  I allow the pie to cool over night and yes, it tortures my loved ones.  I figure they can salivate while it’s cooling and you really get the pie to settle and this is why that 1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa is added.  Any wetness gets absorbed and there is no sliding around from the filling when cut.  Now, topping time!

I have made several topping from whipped cream with mascarpone cheese to salted caramel.  This time I made edible fun-fetti.  It’s a sugar cookie batter but why use white sugar when you can add color!

Fun-Fetti/Confetti Cookie Crumb Topping:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals
  • A Dash of salt
  • A Sprinkling of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals

Set Oven at 375 degrees and begin incorporating (cutting with fork or I use my hands) the butter and flour.  It’s cold and you want to create crumb with about pea sized crumbles.  Add a dash of salt (if wanted) and the 1 tablespoon of the sugar crystals.  Mix until incorporated and in it goes into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  When the 7 minute mark comes, add a sprinkle of the sugar if you want extra shimmer.  Then back it goes for the last 3 minutes of cooking.  You want the crumble set but not browned because it takes away from the appearance.

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Take out cooled Pie.

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Add whipped topping and Fun-fetti/Confetti topping and done………..well, you can do more and this is why I never decorate the entire pie!  You can also add red, white and blue sugar crystals for a 4th of July theme to the confetti crumble.

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You can opt for a Fleur de Sel Caramel topping with crushed Pistachios…….

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Or, you want it all!

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And, if you’re feeling nifty and want Fleur de Sel Topping with Maldon Salt Crystals (of course, Hubby fought me on not leaving the Fun-fetti out)……the possibilities are endless!

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Enjoy!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

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HouseParty: TLC Love, Lust or Run Premiere Party #LoveLustRunParty

 

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The new year means new shows and on January 23rd, we started off with the Premiere Party for TLC’s new show, Love, Lust or Run. The show is hosted by Stacy London and as always, she is helping someone from a fashion disaster, or better described like someone who is a repeat offender and commits a fashion felony on an everyday basis! Stacy London revamps a person in each episode, and this is not just to pick a better cut of jeans, this is a top to bottom re-do. Make-up, hair, shoes, you name it…..Stacy fixes it.

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TLC provided all the fixin’s to get us started and celebrating Love, Lust or Run, because you can’t talk about others when you are not shining yourself. The party kit included:

  • Love, Lust or Run paddles
  • Love, Lust or Run large handheld mirror
  • Love, Lust or Run Nail Polishes in a gorgeous silver color
  • Love, Lust or Run Nail files and buffers
  • Love, Lust or Run Hair Make-up remover
  • Love, Lust or Run Hair bands

Of course gamming it up takes energy and time, so I made little finger cookies with the “TLC” logo. I figured we’d party with homemade alfajores, which I cut into heart shapes, filled with dulce de leche and dusted with unsweetened coconut. Hey, we are still dieting over here! Alfajores are cookies that are traditional to Spain and resemble a shortbread in both taste and texture.

TLC’s Love, Lust or Run party was very fun to watch and keeps us in line. Even though none of us suffer as badly as some of the guests on the show, it sure opened the door to point out certain fashion faux pas! Tune in on Fridays at 9:00 PM (CST) and have a few laughs, plus with Stacy London, you always learn a thing or two with every episode!

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Connect with TLC’s Love, Lust or Run at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from HouseParty and TLC .  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Jiva Organics: Organic Mishri/Misri, Rock Sugar #JivaOrganics

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With the Fall weather in full motion and soon Winter will be upon us, I wanted to try different teas this season to try to change things up a bit. I feel new warm drinks doesn’t make every holiday feel the same, so I do try to always incorporate new products into the rotation. I figured if I was trying new warm drinks, I might as well try new sugars!

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I began reading and one of the types of sugars I came across is commonly used in India, is Misri. The sugar crystals resemble the shape of rock sugar/candy. As I read further like with salt, sugar has it’s differences too and it goes beyond the grades of brown and dark sugars. Misri, is not like refined sugars so you do get minerals, which help keep a more natural taste profile to whatever dish you add it to. Since the size of the crystals are larger in size, the dissolving occurs at a slower rate, so you can get that “sugar fix” with very little product. I like making sugar sticks and slowly dissolving them into teas and coffees. You can combine Misri with flavored syrups, extracts, and/or even natural food coloring to enhance your tea drinking experience. I use bamboo sticks and make little lolly pops that are not only beautiful to look at but can be used. Great for holiday gift giving along with baked goods and a bag of coffee or tea assortment. The lolly pops are also great if you have a sore throat and you don’t desire a candy full of unnatural ingredients, so you get many uses out of a simple but better for you product.

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Nutritional Facts: 5 grams is about 12 calories

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I obtained my Misri sugar from Jiva Organics and they are available on Amazon. The product carries the USDA Organic label and comes in a resealable pouch. No artificial colors, preservatives, additives, or flavors. You get clean products that never met a chemical or pesticide.

Retail Price Point: $3.59 for a generous 7 ounce bag

Jiva Organics carries a multitude of products that range from spices like turmeric. Fengugreek seeds, to black seasame seeds. They also carry blends like chili powders and Garam Masala.

Connect with Jiva Organics at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Jiva Organics.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

Fior di Frutta by Rigoni di Asiago: Apricot Fruit Spread with Honey Goat Cheese Rustic Bread #Recipe

 

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I don’t usually start blogging about a sample sized item I receive but the people at Rigoni di Asiago were kind enough to not only send me bottles of their delicious Nocciolata spread, an apron and the cutest shopping bag that folds into a hazelnut, but among the goodies were these samples of their fruit spreads. After being so joyous about finding my Hazelnut & Cocoa spread, a few days later I opened one of the two flavors they sent. I got a few Apricot ones and one Blueberry, so I went to open the one I had most of. The spread packet states their spreads are sweetened with just apple juice. I taste it and it’s like someone just plucked an apricot in it’s prime, smashed it a little and there you go. I would think someone giving me smashed fruit would make me unhappy but not this kind. I enjoyed it so much that I had to bake with it. I had just come from the store with fresh goat cheeses (sale got me!) and the honey version just started speaking to me, so here goes a recipe because I was so impressed with the Fior di Frutta sample in Apricot!

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Let’s Begin…..

  • Take 5 1/2 ounces of the “Almost Whole Wheat Rustic Bread” (Recipe here- http://wp.me/p2B5Rd-Sr)
  • 2 Tablespoons of the Fior di Frutta fruit spread in Apricot
  • 1/2 an ounce of Honey Goat Cheese (fresh and soft kind) and I went by weight, not volume.
  • Warm water mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing

Make the dough as instructed and when completed, take the dough and spread it out flat so it can be filled.

Then spread the Apricot Fruit Spread

Crumble the fresh Honey Goat Cheese

Roll and tuck the ends

Let rest for 20 minutes

While resting, put a dish with water in the oven and turn it on to 450 degrees. I baked mine with the convection going. I also use a glass pie dish because I am starting the oven with the water already in, versus using the pouring when hot method.

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Mix warm water with a touch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and brush loaf. I got creative and did a hash design when it came to slashing the dough. I figure try something different. I just cut an angle one-way and then the other to create a “diamond” like pattern.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until done in a 450 degree oven.

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Allow bread to cool before slicing, since losing cheese is no fun. I had mine about 8 hours later and this goes great with a fruit and cheese tray, with wine, with a salad or just as is. Enjoy!

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Some wonderful facts about the Apricot Fruit Spread:

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Get your Fruit Spread!  The Fior di Frutta line has one or like for me, I like them all:

  • On-line– http://rigonidiasiago-usa.com/our-products/fiordifrutta/organic-fruit-spread-apricot/
  • Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/RigonidiAsiagoUSA
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/NocciolataUSA
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/nocciolata/
  • Instagram– http://instagram.com/nocciolatausa
  • Also available for sale on Amazon

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Rigoni di Asiago.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Told you the bag was super adorable!

Green Mountain Creamery: Yo Yummy Yogurt Pouches #Review and Cake #Recipe

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It should be no secret by now I’m a fan of yogurt. Big time. Going with my yogurt obsession, I recently received a wonderful parcel from Green Mountain Creamery. It was boxes filled with their Yo Yummy pouches, a product geared primarily towards kids. That does not mean an adult can’t indulge. We don’t have kids, and I have tried to like yogurt that comes in squeeze containers but most brands are watery, almost slimy in texture and then loaded with sugar. The last thing you taste is the fruit and I can see why some kids prefer these types of products in a frozen state. You at least can try to get past the texture problem but then again are left with a cube of frozen sugar and colors. Not Yo Yummy!

Yo Yummy, is finally a yogurt “pouch” product that can be squeezed out and still resembles what is suppose to be: delicious, creamy yogurt. Not filled with sugars and dyes, just flavorful yogurt.

Yo Yummy actually has 10% less sugar than the national leading brands and many benefits that separate this brand from others:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D
  • No Artificial Colors/dyes
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Preservatives
  • Good Source of Calcium
  • Kosher
  • Milk derived from Non-RBST treated cows
  • Made in Vermont, U.S.A.
  • and packed in a BPA free pouch

It’s R-E-A-L yogurt for everyone!

I looked into Green Mountain Creamery when I saw their yogurt cups at Sprout’s Market. The flavors were tempting and after I had just one cup of their Maple flavor….I was hooked!

Yo Yummy comes in 4 flavors for you to fall in love with and all are only 90 calories:

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Mixed Berry– A blend of actual real berries and not just a touch of it. You taste the full berry explosion of raspberry, blueberry, and Ssrawberry. The ingredients list these as purees and you really get that when you eat Yo Yummy. It’s a texture of yogurt where you still see the fruit, so each bite (or squeeze in this case) can taste different. We enjoyed this one greatly and I liked that I was left satisfied with just one pouch!

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Strawberry Banana– My Husband is not a banana eater (I know, how sad) but I squeezed this flavor until I ran out of pouches! I enjoyed it every morning over granola and when I found strawberries on sale, added banana slices to my granola…..oh my! I was in a Straw-nana heaven with this yogurt. This Yo Yummy blend is just like the others where they use real fruit purees and you taste it until you are squeezing every last drop out. I got good with my technique by day 3, in not letting one squeeze go to waste 🙂

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Strawberry– All I can say it tastes like you took fresh strawberries and just pureed them. That is the other thing, the freshness in their flavors have no match to what is on the market today. Yo Yummy uses premium products and fruit at their peak of freshness and taste because it transfers so well to your taste buds. Just like if you bit into a strawberry and yogurt parfait! Yes, you must make this one into a parfait. My Husband and I voted this flavor #1 and I admit I did not dive heavily into it because I wanted to leave it for him to enjoy. He enjoyed a pouch every morning until it was gone.

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Cotton Candy– I was skeptical because I like (not love) cotton candy but never had the flavor in yogurt form. Being that Green Mountain Creamery is wholesome and fills their yogurt cups and pouches with real fruit…..I wondered if there was a cotton candy bush I had no idea existed. I did not question the cotton candy’s bush existence after I had one taste of this pouch. Think of a sweet cream and almost a touch of strawberry when eating this flavor. There is a hint of sweetness but it does not overwhelm your palette so I decided to take this flavor a notch up by making a cake!  Yo Yummy will also be coming out soon with grape and sour cherry flavors. I can’t wait!

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Yup, let’s have fun and with this Spring weather, a happy cake can be made with the cotton candy flavor or any of the Yo Yummy pouches. Just 25-30 minutes in the oven and each pouch fills one ramekin. Only three ingredients needed, so let’s get started-

Yo Yummy Cotton Candy Speckled Cake (think confetti)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Get one small (individual size) ramekin (greased- you can use cooking spray or even Coconut Oil)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Yo Yummy Cotton Candy pouch
  • 1/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour (you can use Rice Flour if you wish)
  • 1 teaspoon of confetti sprinkles
  • 1 strawberry (if desired) and a dash of powder sugar for decor purposes 🙂

Take the Yo Yummy pouch and empty it into a bowl

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Add the flour and if you wish a fluffier cake, add a dash of baking soda (1/4 teaspoon)

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Mix

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Once incorporated, add the confetti sprinkles and mix quickly and then fill the greased ramekin.

Put ramekin in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check cake if done with toothpick and it will be dense like a pudding cake but a toothpick should come out clean when checking.

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Allow cake to cool (if you have patience) and you can personalize these as you wish. You can eat it as is or add a scoop of ice cream. I found fresh strawberries on sale an added one on top with a dusting of powder sugar. It’s a happy cake and each person can make their own to suit their taste buds. Try it with the other Yo Yummy flavors and even your own mix-ins. Enjoy!

Visit Green Mountain Creamery and Yo Yummy at:

  • Green Mountain Creamery- http://greenmountaincreamery.com/
  • Yo Yummy- http://yoyummykids.com/
  • On FaceBook- https://www.facebook.com/GreenMountainCreamery
  • On Twitter- https://twitter.com/grnmtncreamery
  • Via Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/gmcyoyummy/

Also, save with these generous coupons:

  • Easy to print savings- http://yoyummykids.com/coupons-and-offers

 

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I received the above product free of charge from Green Mountain Creamery.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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Swaggable: Sheila G’s The ORIGINAL Brownie Brittle Company Review

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I’ve seen this product for the last year or so at Costco and once during the holidays, I picked up the bag but my uncertainty made me put it down on my “maybe next time” list. It’s a big bag at Costco and because I could not see the product, I was worried about getting a lot of dust versus pieces of actual brittle. Then Swaggable offered me the opportunity to try the product out so it’s like I was caught on camera carrying the bag to then changing my mind……spooky!

I get a parcel on Monday so that made my week brighter. Being that the product is chocolate related, this item was opened immediately because chocolate things to test in this house get priority status! Just in case you wonder why maybe a beauty product is not been reviewed today :). The day a beauty item comes with a chocolate bar, I may just lose it!

First Impressions:
Upon opening the first bag, you get an intense chocolate smell. It just starts to hypnotize you and worse, those that may be standing near you too. So, when you purchase a bag, I warn you to open it in an empty room if you are not the sharing type. I looked inside and was amazed to see the brittle shaped into squares. This brittle tends to not break into shards and the usual uneven pieces that turn into powder or even poke bags open. These squares are a perfect snack size and most were in perfect shape. They almost resemble thin cookies…..the wafer kind. I notice there is a healthy amount of chocolate chips, so I have not been cheated, in case you were worried. I notice you get little crumbles so very much like you would imagine a very thin chocolate chip cookie to be like. Smells like brownies, so I take a bite. The product is just like the company advertises, it tastes like the edge of a brownie square….you know, what comes it contact with the pan and crisps up from the butters and oils released by the chocolate and cocoa. Just think of someone baking brownies and shaving off the crispy edges but being kind enough to keep it looking (square) pretty. You get that airiness and it is a light crisp with an intense chocolate flavor. I liked it and finished off my square and went throughout my day.

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The Taste Test:
The next morning I wake up and I am making my breakfast bowl of pumpkin granola clusters, almonds, accompanied by Almond milk and I spot the taped up bag of the brownie brittle. I open it and take 2 squares out and crumble them on top and I start to move on over to my lap top while taking a bite. Oh my…..it made my breakfast sinfully delicious. I started to think of brownie brittle over yogurt and then brownie brittle with ice cream and even baking a cheesecake with a brownie brittle bottom……let’s say I got carried away. It seems my appreciation of the brownie brittle square alone was under valued on Monday until I paired it up with other stuff and it seriously shined!!! I saw the literature they enclosed and they have other flavors like:

  • Toffee Crunch (so curious as I LOVE toffee)
  • Salted Caramel (must try!)
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • and of course, The Chocolate chip one I tried

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle is 120 calories for one ounce and it will satisfy a chocolate craving in less than that. Things to note is that the product does contain corn syrup solids and I understand it is sometimes needed to achieve the desired texture. You do see sugar and cocoa and my only dislike in the list of ingredients was the caramel coloring. I am not a fan of dyes and prefer a less fantastic color if the taste and texture are there but other than that, this brittle has less going on than your common candy bar and more chocolate satisfaction!

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Check them out on-line at:

I received the above product from Swaggable and Sheila G’s, free of charge. I am not obligated in providing positive/favorable feedback, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the brand and/or it’s products, which may differ from yours.

Triple Berry Sweet Rolls with a Cream Cheese Crumble top, plus Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

You read right, this recipe yields two different types of sweet rolls to enjoy!

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As the days get warmer, the berries have been hitting the sale’s block. I am finding great deals so it has been a very berry-full Summer so far. Today’s recipe uses fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries and blackberries. You can go all frozen or all fresh and change the fruit to your liking too.

We start with the Yeast Dough:
2/3 cup of Sugar
1 cup of Milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of Active Dry Yeast
1 stick of Unsalted Butter (softened)
2 Large Eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
4 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of Dry/Powdered Milk

I use a microwave or you may also use the stove-top to warm the milk to 105 degrees. You then pour the warmed milk into a mixer’s bowl, along with the 2/3 cup of sugar and the yeast. You whisk the ingredients enough to combine and then set aside to allow the yeast to bloom (get foamy). This may take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on weather and temperatures.

Once the yeast is foamy, you add the softened butter, eggs and salt. I mix just enough until everything is incorporated and then add the powdered milk.

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I replace the mixer with a dough hook and start adding the flour by the 1/2 cup fulls. Once all the flour is in, I use a spatula to scrape down the sides and allow the dough to mix for 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed. I then change the speed to medium-high and allow the dough to knead for 10 to 12 minutes. You want a soft and supple dough so sometimes it takes 9 minutes and other times it takes 12. You don’t want to “toughen” the product so if unsure, just make sure you get 10 minutes in and you should be fine 🙂

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I flour the surface and plop my dough and begin to knead to form a nice ball that I can divide easily. Once that is done (takes maybe 30 seconds), I cut the dough in half and you may use a kitchen scale or “eyeball” it like I do. You take each half and form each into a nice ball. You then add each half to bowls that have been lightly buttered. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and let the dough rise. The dough should double in size and this takes 1 to 2 hours at most.

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While the dough rises, you can begin with making the two different fillings.

Berry Filling:
5 1/2 ounces of fresh Strawberries
4 ounces of Blackberries (frozen)
3 ounces of Blue Berries

You may use what ever combination of fruit you desire and just keep in mind you want between 12 to 13 ounces.

1/4 cup of Sugar
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon of All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon of Corn Starch

Cut the large fruit you use, like in my place it would be the strawberries into wedges or bite size.

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I like to leave my other berries whole so they can be found within the rolls and change the taste with every bite.

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Take a bowl and just mix everything together. Once everything is mixed, you may place the berry filling in the fridge covered.

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That easy!

Cinnamon Roll Filling:
1/2 cup of Sugar
2 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon
5 to 7 “grates” of Fresh Nutmeg (or to taste and can also omit if not wanted)
1/4 cup of Unsalted Butter (softened)

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Take the dry ingredients and mix them in a bowl. You then add the butter to create a “paste-like” filling and you are done. I cover and keep it on the counter so the butter remains soft and easy to spread when needed.

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Get two 9 x 13 baking pans and lightly spray with cooking spray. I use Pam with flour.

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Once the dough has risen and doubled, you take one of them and scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

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I then roll it out in to about a 10 x 14 rec-triangle.

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I add one of the above fillings above, in this case I started with the berry filling and then roll it.

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You should be left with a log that is about 24 inches long.

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I trim the edges and then cut the log in half and each half into 4.

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You should have about 8 rolls.

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Cover pan with plastic and allow the dough to rise.

Rinse and repeat 🙂 with the Cinnamon filling. I decided I wanted smaller (mini) Cinnamon rolls so I cut them thinner. You can play with the sizes too!

Cinnamon filling spread onto dough-

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Cinnamon rolls cut smaller than berry-

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Cinnamon rolls placed in glass pan and covered with plastic-

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Dough Rise Note: This usually takes an hour for the cinnamon but the fruit take longer if you are using frozen or cold from the fridge. My berry ones took an hour and a half but it can take up to 2.

While the rolls rise, you can make the crumble topping for the berry rolls and the icing for the cinnamon rolls.

Berry Crumble top:
1/2 cup of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Sugar
1/8 teaspoon of Ground Ginger
2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
1 1/2 ounces of Cream Cheese Cold

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You just mix the dry ingredients and then incorporate the butter and cream cheese to make “crumbles”. If you over mix and create a dough, don’t worry as you can just drop chunks on top the rolls to resemble a crumble. Store your crumble in the fridge until needed

Cream Cheese Icing for mini Cinnamon Rolls:
8 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
Powder Sugar to sweetness you desire

I usually start with adding a 1/4 cup of powder sugar to the cream cheese in a mixer or just whisk by hand in a bowl. I taste and then determine if I want sweeter or not so you can control the sweetness!

Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cinnamon Rolls rise-

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Berry Rolls rise-

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Add the crumble to your berry version!

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Once the oven reaches temperature, you can bake each pan alone or side by side, you decide. It takes between 17 to 25 minutes to bake and if you notice over browning, just cover with foil until done. Best way to check for “done-ness” is seeing if the center of the rolls bounce back when slightly touched.

Berry Rolls baked-

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Cinnamon Rolls baked-

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When the rolls have baked, you allow them to cool a bit in the pan for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can then add the cream cheese icing to all and serve.

Note- I never add icing to all at first because I want them to be dry on top when stored in the fridge. I wrap them individually in plastic wrap once they have cooled. To serve later, unwrap and place roll on a plate and warm in microwave (10 to 20 seconds), then add the icing. The warmth will aid in helping the icing spread since you store it in the fridge until needed again. I do this to preserve the texture of the dough. When they are wrapped in plastic, if they had icing, everything sticks to the plastic and creates a mess anyways so this way it does not 🙂

Enjoy!

Triple Berry Rolls Pics-

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Cinnamon Rolls Pics-

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Welcome the First Day of Spring with Key Lemon Cream Bars

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With Spring right around the corner, I wanted something that would welcome the flavors. My creation, Key Lemon Cream Bars! You have a shortbread crust and a Key Lime, lemon, and cream cheese filling to wake up your taste buds! Very easy to make and I hope you enjoy them too.  These would also be great for St. Patrick’s day because they are quick to make.

Crust:
1 Salted stick of butter and 1 Unsalted stick of butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 drops of Almond extract
300 grams of all-purpose Flour

I used a mixer and blended the butters, powder sugar, and extracts until smooth and creamy. I then incorporate the flour until just blended. I used a lasagna dish, sprayed with cooking spray (I use Pam with flour) and pressed the shortbread to create a crust. I then used a fork to dock before baking at 350 degrees.

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I pre-baked the crust for 20 minutes and then took the crust out. With a spoon, I then pressed down on the crust so it could retain it’s shape and baked an additional 10 minutes.

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I took the crust out and just to make sure things stayed flat as much as I wanted, I again smashed softly with a spoon. Just in case the crust tries to misbehave! While my crust slightly cooled, I started with the filling.

Cream Filling:
One 8 ounce bar of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 ounce of Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice
1 ounce of Condensed Milk
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
5 teaspoons of Powdered Sugar
2 ounces of all-purpose Flour

Lemon Top: 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd

I softened the cream cheese in the microwave on the defrost setting because this girl is short on time. I then blend in the Key lime juice. If you don’t have key lime juice, a good substitute is lemon juice and you can try anything from lime to even juice from a fresh Key Lime. You can even add zest from a citrus fruit, so do what you want to make it your own.

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1 ounce of Condensed Milk.

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I then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

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5 teaspoons of powdered sugar and I moved up to a small whisk because I want to keep the batter smooth.  I blended a teaspoon at a time to make sure everything would incorporate easier.

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Next comes the 2 ounces of flour and I whisked until smooth.

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I put that aside and then in a small separate bowl, you add 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd.

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Assembly is a cinch!

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I spread out the cream filling first as evenly as time can allow.  I was getting close to dinner time and knew these needed to be done and cooled within a couple hours.

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Next the 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd and I tried to be cute and make swirls!

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I then just finish baking at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Mine were ready in 27 minutes and I did add foil on top for the last 10 minutes because I had to step outside and needed I prefer to be safe than sorry.

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I cooled for an hour outside the fridge and then for 45 minutes in the fridge.  I then set the pan outside for 10 minutes before cutting.  I did this because the butter in the shortbread is easier to cut when it comes down in temperature.  This avoids cracks and I can make nicer looking squares.

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The final product I dusted lightly with powdered sugar for presentation.  These taste great and what I like best, the Lemon and Key Lime is present but does not force you to engage your pucker power abilities.  I love lemon but my Hubby not as much so this satisfied both of us!

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