Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jeni's goat cheese ice cream with roasted red cherries

Soft, tangy goat cheese is the secret to this ice cream base. Pair it with sweet, roasted red cherries and you've got yourself a winning frozen treat! No wonder this flavor is a hit with Jeni's fanatics.

I would consider myself a fan of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, even though I have never set foot in one of her scoop shops nor bought any of her ice creams at the grocery store. I've been making my own versions through recipes I found on the internet and through her cookbooks.

A flavor that my college roommate recommended was Jeni's goat cheese ice cream with roasted red cherries.  Since I'm getting more comfortable making Jeni's ice cream base, I decided to experiment and try this new flavor combination. It sounded intriguing - a tangy ice cream base with a sweet cherry swirl. When I explained this flavor to my parents, they scoffed, but if they only knew what they were missing out on!

I was lucky that my biweekly CSA delivery included a small pint of cherries in the box. Rather than eat them, I sacrificed these pitted beauties for my ice cream. I didn't have enough cherries and wound up having to buy some frozen cherries, but that's a story for another day.

Addie was so excited to help me buy the goat cheese at the store. She kept saying "goat cheese" and asking where it came from. My little foodie-in-training even watched me make the ice cream, even though she got impatient during the process. She got to taste test the ice cream base and the roasted cherries, and she enthusiastically gave each ingredient a big thumbs up before we set the container in the freezer to harden.

The resulting ice cream was nothing short of fantastic. The ice cream base had a hint of the tang from the goat cheese and certainly was not overwhelming at all. The roasted cherries provided a nice, bright, fruity flavor plus a textural change from the smooth goat cheese base. In fact, this ice cream has turned Addie into a cherry fan and she's already started concocting my next baking projects...

Goat cheese ice cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
Roasted red cherries
  • 2 cups red cherries, washed, pitted and stemmed (if using frozen, do not thaw)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
Make the ice cream base: First, mix 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.

Place cream cheese, goat cheese and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar and syrup. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes and stir in slurry.

Return the mixture back to a boil and continue to stir and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once the mixture is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Roast the cherries: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the cherries, sugar and corn starch together until the cherries are fully coated and the mixture is uniform. Line a tall baking pan (I used a 9"x13" lined with aluminum foil) and transfer the cherries mixture onto the pan.

Roast for 30-35 minutes or until the cherries are soft. Immediately transfer the cherries and resulting juices to a small bowl and allow to cool completely. Do not leave the cherries on the pan in case the sugar starts hardening. Set aside until ready to assemble.

Assemble the ice cream: Transfer a layer of ice cream into a container. Then add on a layer of roasted cherries. Repeat, ending with a layer of cherries on the top. Set the container in the freezer until it has hardened (at least 4 hours).

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home


Friday, July 3, 2015

Skating Fridays

Skating Like a Kid

Usually, when you  hear someone say that you're acting like a kid, or doing anything like a kid (except being creative), it's an insult. Am I right?

In skating, it's actually a compliment: "Wow, you skate like a kid!"

Why is this? Well, kids are generally much smaller and lighter than adults. They have no fear. They can jump high, contort themselves in crazy positions and spin super fast.

Adult skaters, generally speaking, are not like that. We are scared to fall, afraid to jump too high, spin too fast and not as flexible as our younger skating companions. Things are harder for us to do. Our bodies aren't as pliable so elements are more difficult to execute. (Again, I'm speaking in general terms, as there are many talented adult skaters who do not fall into this generalization.)

Imagine the excitement when my coach said that my axel jump almost "looked like a kid's." Wow. This compliment is huge because:
  1. My coach doesn't usually give out compliments.
  2. I have worked extremely hard on improving my axel.
  3. To hear that it was close to looking like a kid's was NOT something I expected.
I know that there is still a lot to fix on my jump (like crossing my legs fully), but it has come a long way. My "stork" leg is slowly disappearing, and I am starting to land a few of these with my free leg in front.

Maybe one day this jump will actually look like a kid's jump. But for now, I'll take the compliment and run with it. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nana's glazed brownies

These glazed brownies are so perfect that you'll want to make a double batch! The brownies are thick and chewy, and the shiny and bittersweet glaze makes it the best chocolate-y combination!

One of my friends hosts an annual crawfish boil each June. He and three other couples fly in 300+ pounds of crawfish from Louisiana, and the location rotates every year. This year my friend was hosting the party at his house.

Along with homemade beer, my friend serves up the crawfish and a host of other goodies in the boil. In years past, they've added red potatoes and corn on the cob. This year, they added button mushrooms and sausage. As usual, it was a wonderful time, and even Addie enjoyed the corn and potatoes.

And every year I have the same dilemma - what to bring to the crawfish boil. Of course, I usually bring a dessert, but I don't like to bring the same thing twice. My one requirement is that it has to be able to withstand the heat since the weather is usually blazing hot on party day. This year was no different.

My husband found this brownie recipe from the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I made a few slight alterations to the original recipe: I omitted the nuts from the brownie and the alcohol and nuts from the glaze. I took a chance by making these since I knew that the glaze would be prone to some severe melting in the hot sun. When I brought these over, I instructed the hostess to keep these in the fridge until she was ready to serve them to her guests.

Although we didn't stick around long enough to get guests' reactions on the brownies, I was smart enough to save a few for my family to try. My husband liked the brownies a lot, and Addie was an instant fan. She tried so hard to eat smaller and smaller bites so she could make the brownies last longer, and as a result, she got the melted glaze all over her face. She was such a wriggly wart that she somehow got parts of the glaze on her neck and upper arm areas.

The brownies were thick, chewy and fudgy. The glaze was a bit on the bittersweet side since the flavor comes directly from the melted chocolate. The original recipe called for a Tablespoon of rum, which I omitted. Had I included the rum, the glaze would have had the perfect amount of sweetness. However, I loved the slight bitterness in the glaze so the overall brownies weren't too sweet. These are a solid brownie recipe and one that I would certainly make again.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers and father figures!

Nana's glazed brownies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72% cacao), chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72% cacao), chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line an 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter on high for about 45 seconds. Mix well. Add in the sugar and microwave again for another 45 seconds. Stir until most of the sugar crystals have melted and the batter looks smooth and free of lumps (alternatively, you can melt everything over a double boiler, but I am just too impatient for that).

Stir in the eggs, one by one, until each is fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla and stir. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined. Do not over mix.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

While the brownies are baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt together. If desired, add 1 Tablespoon of dark rum as well. Stir constantly until the glaze is shiny and smooth.

Once the brownies have cooled, pour the glaze on top and smooth it out. Chill the brownies in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until the glaze has set.

Cut into squares and serve. Leftover brownies should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2015 issue, page 70


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chocolate Greek yogurt Bundt cake with chocolate ganache

Ooh la la! This irresistible protein-packed chocolate cake is dense, moist and perfect for any chocolate lover. Containing Greek yogurt, this chocolate-drizzled Bundt cake is sure to please!

I was having a hard time figuring out what to bake one weekend. Cookies? Nah. Bar desserts? Nope. Cupcakes? Too much work. I drew some inspiration from my refrigerator and saw that I had half a container of Greek yogurt and some heavy cream in there. Cake? Yes! Cake with Greek yogurt? Even better. Chocolate Greek yogurt cake? Folks, I think we have a winner.

When I ran this cake idea by my husband, he wisely exclaimed that any chocolate cake would always go over well in our house. He is right, of course, as the two of us love chocolate, and we have a little chocoholic-in-training.

This chocolate Bundt cake was fantastic. It was soft and light, and definitely not too sweet. Addie kept talking about how amazing the frosting was. The cake produced a soft and tender crumb, so it's not one of those dense pound cakes. You couldn't taste any of the Greek yogurt, but it provided the cake with a lot of moisture. Dry chocolate cakes do not belong in my house, so this cake was welcome in our home.

I'm glad I gave most of the cake away; otherwise, I'd probably eat it all on my own.

Chocolate Greek yogurt Bundt cake with chocolate ganache
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease a tube or Bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa powder, salt and water together over medium heat. Mix until everything is smooth and the cocoa powder has fully dissolved. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda. Add in half of the butter mixture and mix until everything is well incorporated. The batter will be super thick and clumpy. Add in the remaining butter mixture and whisk until you achieve a smooth batter.

Add in the eggs one at a time until each one is fully incorporated. Add in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and mix until everything is well combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache. Melt the chocolate, butter and milk/cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency. It may help to take the saucepan off the stove and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes, as it will thicken in that time.

Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake and serve.

Yield: One Bundt cake; about 10-12 servings

Source: Gimme Some Oven


Friday, June 26, 2015

Skating Fridays

Trying Out New Spins

For the past few weeks, I've been working on some new spins.  Of course, these still need a lot of work, but it's a decent start. I'll have to see which ones feel comfortable and are worthy enough to refine further to include in my Freestyle program. I'm going to keep my Level 3 sit spin and then hope to add two additional leveled spins this season. I just don't know which ones...yet.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eggless double chocolate fudge Greek yogurt brownies

These super fudgy double chocolate brownies contain no eggs or butter! It's replaced by Greek yogurt,which adds a ton of moisture and protein to these decadent bars. It's one of my favorite brownie recipes to date!

Hi - Captain Obvious here, but I have a sweet tooth. I'm pretty sure that I got that from my dad. He used to tell me this hilarious story about when he was little. Growing up in Taiwan, my dad's family was poor. He was the oldest of 5 kids and did what he could to keep he and his sisters happy. Sometimes, though, a kid has to go to extreme measures to satisfy his sweet tooth.

Since money was scarce, food vendors would often bargain for other items in exchange for their goods. One such valuable resource was the tub of an empty toothpaste container. I don't know the significance behind this, but perhaps the vendors were able to sell the toothpaste containers to a manufacturer for a small profit (early recycling, perhaps?).

On one sunny day, the candy vendor came around town. My dad's ears perked up when he heard the man pushing his cart down the street. Desperate for a sugar fix, my dad looked around to see if there was any spare change available. Seeing none, he did the next most logical thing. He went into the bathroom, squeezed out all the toothpaste into the sink, and traded the empty tube for some candy.

When my grandmother found out what my dad had done, she gave him a punishment that he can still remember very clearly. While my dad loves his sweets, he has significantly cut back on ones containing eggs. He has been extremely vigilant about his cholesterol intake since he experienced a minor heart attack a year and a half ago. Since then, I've tried to look for eggless recipes that he can enjoy while still satisfying his sweet tooth.

Don't get me wrong - this is not a healthy recipe, but it does not contain eggs or butter. It still includes sugar and chocolate. You can make these slightly healthier by swapping out the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour (but you may need to increase the liquids by adding a bit more Greek yogurt).

These double chocolate fudge brownies are rich, chewy and a chocolate lover's dream. You would never guess that they don't contain butter or eggs and are made with mostly Greek yogurt. I'll have to make a batch of these for my dad when I see him next. Hopefully this time, he won't get in trouble (with my mom) for eating this chocolate-y treat!

Eggless double chocolate fudge Greek yogurt brownies
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips, divided (I used a mixture of dark chocolate chunks and semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" pan (with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil) and set aside.

In a small bowl, microwave ½ cup of the chocolate chips in 15 second increments until melted. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, vanilla and Greek yogurt until well combined. Add in the melted chocolate until mixture is uniform. Add in the dry ingredients until a few streaks remain. Fold in ½ cup of the chocolate chips until no streaks remain (do not over mix the batter).

Transfer the brownie batter to your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. The brownies will appear underdone when you take them out from the oven. DO NOT over bake these! Allow the brownies to cool completely and store them in the refrigerator. If you can wait, these brownies taste best the next day.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 brownies

Source: Barely adapted from Little Dairy on the Prairie


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Malted milk chocolate cake

Turn back time with a cake featuring malted milk powder! This chocolate cake will remind you of those wonderful malted milk balls from your childhood (or adulthood). It's topped with an irresistible, smooth and silky chocolate malt glaze.

This malted milk cake is the cake that my husband originally requested for his birthday that I wasn't able to make (so I made this vanilla malt one instead). Here's the full story.

My husband found this recipe in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine and wanted me to bake it for his birthday. I thought I had all the ingredients on hand but realized that I didn't have any coffee (thus me baking the vanilla malt cake as a temporary substitute). Being the non-coffee drinker I am, I had no idea how to brew my own even though I own a basic coffee machine and coffee granules. So I did the next best thing - I went out to buy myself a small cup of coffee.

Seemed like a simple task, right? Well, we were out and about running errands one day when we decided to stop by a fast food place on the way home to buy the $1 cup of joe. My husband decided to go through the drive-through so Addie could experience it, and it also seemed like a fun activity at the time.

Well, this turned out to be quite the experience because the workers at this particular restaurant were incompetent. The person taking our order mistakenly thought my husband had ordered chicken instead of coffee (does "coffee" sound like "chicken"? Maybe. Please educate/amuse me.). We paid our $1.05 (including tax) and drove forward to the next window. The person there asked if we ordered coffee. My husband said yes, and the person told us to pull up to the "waiting spot" a few feet forward. Someone would bring out our coffee once it was ready. It had already been a 5 minute ordeal at this point.

Another 5 minutes tick by and car after car leave the drive-through window with their orders. I'm baffled at this point because I just wanted a simple cup of coffee for this cake. I got impatient and walked into the restaurant to find out what was going on. The workers were just standing around, with no customers in sight, and I saw 2 full pots of coffee just sitting there. I talked to the cashier and said that I had been waiting 10 minutes for my order. He apologized and poured a cup of coffee immediately. Then a manager came by to ask if she could help me, and I told her that it was ridiculous for me to wait 10 minutes for my coffee order. I promptly left and went on my way.

This was the most frustrating experience for a simple $1.05 cup of coffee. Regardless, I am glad I finally got my order and was able to make this cake for my husband.

He did enjoy his birthday cake and liked that the coffee flavor wasn't too strong (I only used ½ cup of coffee and subbed milk for the remaining ¼ cup). The glaze was smooth, silky and full of deep, dark chocolate flavor. The malt flavor in the cake and frosting were a bit more subtle than I wanted, so I'd increase the amount of malt powder next time (and add more liquid to make up for the increase in dry ingredients). He was a happy birthday boy, which was the most important thing. And I learned my lesson - never use the drive-through at that restaurant again.

Malted milk chocolate cake
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup coffee, cooled, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate owl, mix together the eggs, egg yolk, and cups of granulated sugar. Add the buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and ½ cup coffee, until just incorporated. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the large bowl with the dry ingredients, until just combined. The batter will be lumpy, which is what you want. Do not over mix the batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the syrup: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, the remaining ¼ cup coffee, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of  granulated sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the syrup on top of the cake after it has come out of the oven. Make sure you use all of the syrup. Allow the syrup to completely soak in before transferring the entire cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze: Put the chocolate and the vanilla in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the cream, malt powder and salt until it has come to a simmer. Do not allow the liquid to boil.

Turn off the stove and pour the cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (do not stir until after the 5 minutes). Stir until everything is mixed completely. Allow the glaze to sit for another 5 minutes to thicken up. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and decorate with candy pearls, chopped malted milk balls or other decorations if desired.

Cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Bon Appetit magazine, May 2015 issue



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