Monthly Archives: December 2009

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Yes, you read that right, bacon and peanut butter chocolate truffles.  Are you still with me?  Are you a little weirded out?  If so, let me help:

Peanut butter = delicious

Chocolate = delicious

Bacon = ridiculously delicious

That means that peanut butter + chocolate + bacon = one helluva awesome treat

Truffle center ingredients

Make these little gems for your New Year’s party and surprise your guests (or your hostess) with the unique taste.  They are salty, sweet, chocolatey, and yes, bacon-y.  They come together very quickly and easily and can be made ahead of time.

Chocolate and butter and bacon fat, oh my

The original recipe calls for salted peanuts as part of the truffle center.  We used salted peanuts and the finished truffle is tasty, but a little on the salty side.  Next time, I will use unsalted peanuts to see if that makes a difference.  If you make these and use unsalted peanuts, please let us know how they are.  Also, the original recipe calls for 4 tbls of butter to be melted with the chocolate.  We wanted to give the truffles an extra kick of bacon so we use 2 tbls butter and 2 tbls bacon fat.  The chocolate was a bit thin so we dipped the truffles twice.  If you want to tone down the bacon flavor (why??), then you can use all butter.  In that case, you may not have to dip them twice… though if you have as much chocolate left over as we did, you might as well!

Dipping the balls

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

Recipe adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

6 slices lean streaky bacon

4 oz salted peanuts (about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons bacon fat

six 1-oz squares semisweet chocolate

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, drain on paper towels, and let cool completely.  Reserve 2 tbls of the rendered bacon fat and let cool.

In a blender or food processor, combine the bacon, peanuts, and sugar and grind to a fine texture.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the peanut butter, and stir until well blended and smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 1 hour.

Roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter, place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap, and chill about 30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, reserved bacon fat, and chocolate in a small sauce pan and stir over very low heat till melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool until slightly warm.

Using a fork, coat the balls completely in the melted chocolate.  Set them back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes more).  If there is melted chocolate left over, give the balls a second coating.  Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve.  Or eat them all now.  It’s your choice….don’t think it’ll be an easy one.

To Serve:

Serve chilled.  Makes 18 to 20 truffles.

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Filed under Candy, Dessert, Recipes

Stir-Fry of Napa Cabbage and Carrots

Stir-Fry of Napa Cabbage and Carrots

Are you feeling a little burnt out on all of the rich, buttery, and sugar-laden holiday food?  I definitely am.  After a few weeks of heavy eating, my body is starting to crave roasted lean meats and light preparations of vegetables. 

Shredded veggies

This recipe is a light and easy way to fix more of your winter vegetables, namely carrots and cabbage.  Both vegetables are shredded, stir-fried with garlic and fresh ginger, and tossed with a simple sauce of soy, toasted sesame oil, and a little chili paste for heat.  The whole thing comes together in just a few minutes and is a nice side to a roast chicken.

Adding the carrots

Stir-Fry of Napa Cabbage and Carrots

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 tbls peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbls fresh ginger, peeled and minced

8 oz carrots, peeled and shredded

1 medium-large head Napa Cabbage (about 2 lbs), rinsed and thinly sliced

2 tbls soy sauce

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/2 tsp chili paste with garlic

2 tbls fresh cilantro, finely chopped

To Make:

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat.  Add the peanut oil, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for a few minutes, but do not allow the garlic to brown.

Add the carrot and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add the cabbage and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and chili paste and stir well to mix.

To Serve:

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Merry Christmas.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day.  Things here at chez Wicked Whisk were lots of fun.  Thing 1 oohed and ahhed her way through three hours of presents while Thing 2 stared somewhat slack-jawed at all of the colors and lights. 

Dough ball

Then after the orgy of present opening was over, we feasted on strata and the most delicious cinnamon rolls ever created.  While I realize that many have had their fill of rich food by now, this recipe is one you should try to squeeze in before the New Year’s resolutions. 

Rolling the dough

Serving cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning has long been a tradition in my family, one that I am proud to keep alive now that I have a family of my own.  Historically, we always had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls but last year, I went on a search for something better.  I found this recipe for cinnamon rolls from Alton Brown.  I generally like Alton Brown so I gave them a whirl.  Once I had one, I was completely hooked.  These really are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever eaten… just the right ratio of roll to cinnamon-flavored brown sugar and topped with a sweet and creamy icing.

Cutting the rolls

The best part about these rolls is that most of the work has to be done the night before.  That makes them perfect for a morning when you want something delicious but don’t want to have to work too hard (*cough* New Year’s day).  The dough is made, rolled, spread, and shaped the night before.  The next morning, the rolls are proofed with a bit of boiling water in the oven, then baked.  The icing takes minutes to make and spread once the rolls are baked.  So while these rolls are excellent on Christmas morning, don’t wait that long.  Make and serve them on New Year’s day as one last hurrah before we all go back to our healthy eating habits.

Proofed and ready to bake

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from Alton Brown

Dough Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

1 large whole egg, room temperature

2 ounces sugar (approximately 1/4 cup)

3 ounces unsalted butter, melted (approximately 6 tbls)

6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature

20 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 4 cups), plus extra for dusting

1 package instant dry yeast (approximately 2 1/4 tsp)

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling Ingredients:

8 ounces light brown sugar (approximately 1 cup)

1 tbls ground cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

3/4 ounce unsalted butter (approximately 1 1/2 tbls)

Icing Ingredients:

2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (approximately 1/4 cup)

3 tbls milk

5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar (approximately 1 1/2 cups)

To Make:

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

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Filed under Baked goods, Breakfast, Recipes

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Creme

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Creme

I went on a crazy baking spree early in December.  I churned out batches of cookies, candies, fudge, bars, and other delicious goodies.  I took things to parties, gave some away, and we ate some (okay, a lot).  When I woke up from my sugar-induced holiday stupor the other day, I realized,with some amount of panic, that we were almost out of Christmas goodies… and with Christmas less than a week away.

Molasses goodness

Clearly that would not do.  I refuse to have my first Christmas with Thing 1 old enough to know what is going on be without delicious treats.  I knew I had to do something and before you can say advent calendar, I was back in the kitchen whipping up my third batch of these cookies.  The first two batches were whisked away to parties, despite the longing glances from Marc and Thing 1.  They were such a hit that it was only fair for me to make a batch for us to enjoy.

Making the cookies

And enjoy we have.  I think the gingerbread is just right… not too sweet, not too spicy, crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.  The lemon creme is a perfect complement.  Make them small for bite-sized treats, a little bigger if you want a heartier cookie.  It is helpful if you let them chill in the fridge a little before eating so the creme can firm up.  Of course, if you are anything like us, devouring them as soon as they are put together tastes pretty awesome too.

Little balls of gingerbread heaven

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Creme

The folks at McCormick have really outdone themselves with this recipe.  I adapted it slightly

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses (I like robust or blackstrap)

1 egg

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp lemon extract

zest of 1 lemon

To Make:

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl.  With a mixer set on medium speed, beat 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and egg and beat well.  Gradually beat the flour mixture until well mixed.  Press the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).  The firmer it is, the easier it is to handle so don’t skimp on this step.

After chilling, pull off pieces of dough and roll into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.  I used a melon baller to make my dough balls uniform in size (I also made them a little smaller than 1 inch).  Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.  If you oven is anything like mine, turn the cookies half way to ensure even browning.  Remove to wire racks to let cool completely.

To make the cream, mix the remaining butter, cream cheese, marshmallow cream, extract, and lemon zest until well blended.  Spoon 1/2-1 tbls of cream on the flat side of a cookie and top it with another cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling.  Place on a tray and refrigerate 30-60 minutes to firm up the cream.

To Serve:

Makes 30-40 whoopie pies, depending on size.  McCormick suggests rolling the finished cookies in chopped peppermint candies.  While I think this looks pretty, peppermint, lemon, and gingerbread really don’t work for me.  If you think this sounds like a good combination, then go for it.

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Filed under Baked goods, Cookies, Dessert, Recipes

Cognac Butter

Cognac Butter

Want to know a secret?  Cognac butter is my latest obsession.  What the heck is cognac butter you ask?  Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know either.  Then I got my hands on this brandy butter from Thursday Cottage. 

Mmm, cognac

At my office, our vendors send us gift baskets around the holidays.  Since we work with some folks from Great Britain, we often get unique foods from across the pond.  When I saw the brandy butter in the gift basket, I snapped it up.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be totally delicious…  sweet and buttery with just the right amount of cognac taste.  Marc and I ate the whole jar in two days.

Sifting the sugar

Sifting the sugar

After that, I decided I best try my hand at making my own cognac butter (how else can I feed the obsession).  Using the proportions of butter, sugar, and alcohol listed on the back of the Thursday Cottage jar, I used my stand mixer to create a fantastic version.  This comes together very quickly and easily.  A couple of tips to keep in mind: make sure your butter is at room temperature, sift the powdered sugar so it is lump free, and add the cognac very slowly to make sure that it gets thoroughly incorporated.   If you want, jazz it up with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other spices that suit your fancy.

Beating the butter and sugar

What to do with your finished butter… the possibilities are limitless.  Spread it on toast, english muffins, biscuits, or any other baked good you can think of.  Use it to “frost” shortbread or sugar cookies.  Smear it on pancakes or waffles.  Lick it off the knife (oops, did I say that out loud).

Almost ready, can you taste it?

Cognac Butter

For this recipe, I have given all amounts by weight.  What is important here is the proportions: 35% butter, 8% cognac, 57% sugar.  You can scale the exact amounts up or down to get the quantity you want. 

Ingredients:

57 grams (4 tbls) unsalted butter

92 grams confectioners sugar

16 grams (20 ml) good quality cognac

1/8 tsp cinnamon (optional)

To Make:

Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, beat the butter over medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl.  Add the sugar to the butter in small batches, beating well to incorporate after each addition.  It will look crumbly at first but will get smooth again as you continue to beat.  After all the sugar is incorporated, slowly drizzle in the cognac while the mixer is running.  Allow the butter to continue mixing until the cognac is fully incorporated.  Add the cinnamon (if using) and beat until thoroughly mixed.

To Serve:

Makes enough butter to fill a 1/2 pint jar.  Store in the refrigerator and let warm up a bit before using.  Feel free to get creative with the type of alcohol and spices you use.  I am sure this would be delicious with rum, Amaretto, or Cointreau.

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Filed under Add-ons, Dessert, Recipes

Slow Roasted Leeks

Slow Roasted Leeks

Leeks are beloved in our house.  We get very excited whenever leeks arrive in our CSA boxes or show up at the farmer’s market.  If you have never had leeks they have a mild onion-y and garlicky flavor that is really delicious.  You can finely chop, saute, and add them to soups, quiches, or strata.  Or, you can do what we do… slow roast them with a little butter until they are melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious.

Fresh CSA Leeks

This is how we make leeks 90% of the time.  It is one of those recipes that is exceptionally simple and uses only a few ingredients but elevates the leeks from a supporting player to a stand-alone side dish.  I know there are other culinary options out there but this is so darn good that we keep coming back to it.  Why mess with perfection?

Washing the grit away

A note on prepping leeks: they tend to be very dirty and gritty because of the way their concentric rings push up through the soil when they are growing.  To help combat this, cut them in half lengthwise and soak them, cut side down, in a deep bowl of cold water.  Don’t be afraid to let them soak for at least 20-30 minutes.  Then remove the halves and rinse under cold running water (I like to separate the leaves at the ends just a little bit to make sure all the grit is rinsed out).  Pat dry before cooking.

Boiled and buttered

Slow Roasted Leeks

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

12 slender leeks, white and light green parts only halved lengthwise, well cleaned (it is helpful to leave the barest sliver of the base intact to help the leaves hold together)

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

4 tbls unsalted butter

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the leeks in a single layer, cut sides down, cover and bring the stock back to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.

Carefully remove the leeks, draining out the excess stock (reserve the stock for another use such as soup or to make mashed potatoes to serve alongside your leeks).  Pour about 1 tbls of the butter into a large baking dish and spread around.  Place the leeks in the baking dish, cut sides up, and drizzle with the remaining butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the baking dish in the oven and roast, uncovered, until the leeks are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 40-60 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve immediately drizzled with any pan juices that remain.  Serves 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Marsala Roasted Root Vegetables

Marsala Roasted Root Vegetables

We are up to our eyeballs in root vegetables.  We picked up the third and final installment of our Shared Harvest CSA yesterday and our fridges are full of parsnips, carrots, turnips, and celeriac while our basement closet is stocked with white and sweet potatoes.  Admittedly, we tend to get a little complacent about preparing our roots.  Our standard approach is to wash/peel/chop whichever vegetables we have handy, toss them with olive oil and salt, and roast them on a cookie sheet until they are tender enough to eat.  While this is certainly a tasty and easy approach, it can get monotonous when you use the same preparation technique over and over.

Locally grown root vegetables

However, there is a real appeal to cooking these vegetables this way.  The high heat of the oven caramelizes the sugars that most root vegetables are full of and softens the bite of strong vegetables like parsnips.  Plus, it is easy to clean and chop the vegetables while the kids are napping, then simply toss them into the oven about an hour before dinner.  Vegetables are on the table and there was no complicated or labor intensive prep.

Marsala wine

In the name of maintaining the delicious simplicity of roasting, we decided to try this recipe for Marsala wine roasted root vegetables.  The addition of butter, thyme, sage, and Marsala wine adds a welcome complexity to the flavor of the roots.  The mix of sweet carrots and potatoes, sharp parsnips, and earthy turnips creates a nice balance to the dish.  Serve it alongside roasted pork or chicken for a lovely winter meal.

Herbed vegetables ready to roast

Marsala Roasted Root Vegetables

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Favorites

Ingredients:

1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1/2 lb turnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1/2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

1 tbls butter

1 tlbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried sage

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Marsala wine

2 tbls chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

To Make:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil.  Add the carrots, parsnips, and turnips and simmer until the vegetables give slightly when pierced with a fork, about 4 minutes.  Drain well.

Place all the vegetables in a large roasting pan that has been lined with aluminum foil (for the sake of easy clean up).  In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Add the olive oil, thyme, sage, and nutmeg and stir to mix well.  Drizzle butter mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat evenly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the Marsala wine into the bottom of the pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Roast for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, toss the vegetables, and continue to roast, uncovered, until the Marsala evaporates and the vegetables can be easily pierced with a knife, 10-20 minutes more.  Remove vegetables to a platter and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian