Southwestern-Style Garlic Shrimp Tapas

October 16, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Posted in events, savory things | 10 Comments

shrimp with garlic and chipotle

My friend Min from The Bad Girl’s Kitchen (we were Taste&Create partners awhile back) invited me to her virtual housewarming extravaganza.  I love a good party and checking out a new house, and I can’t say no to great food either (did I hear there will be southwestern tapas and homemade sangria??).

Of course I am a well-mannered guest and will bring along something yummy myself.  When I think of southwestern food, I immediately think of chiles…and when I think of tapas, I immediately think of gambas al ajillo.  I knew that punching up traditional Spanish gambas with some chiplotle in adobo and cilantro would make a great party appetizer (although you do have to make it last minute, so hope Min won’t mind if I use her oven!).  Below, I’ve just given a recipe for two servings, but I’m pretty sure it can be successfully multiplied to feed a few more.  Don’t forget a little bread on the side to dip in the garlic oil….it’s just as tasty as the shrimp!

shrimp with garlic and chipotle

I’m also bringing along guac with spicy toasted squash seeds and oven baked tortilla chips.  Truth be told, I could eat the whole bowl myself, but it’s more fun to share.  Congratulations, Min and family!  Now, where’s that sangria?


Southwestern-Style Garlic Shrimp Tapas– serves 2 as an appetizer

6-8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
chopped canned chipotle chile and adobo sauce to taste (I used 1/2 of a chile and 1 t sauce)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 t salt
1 bay leaf
1 T chopped cilantro

-Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 500°F.  In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the chopped chipotle and adobo sauce, about one third of the minced garlic, one tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Let shrimp marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature (this should be long enough for your oven to preheat).

 -Once the oven is hot, pour the remaining three tablespoons olive oil into a small, shallow casserole or baking dish (or a seasoned Spanish cazuela).  Add the remaining minced garlic and the bay leaf and bake until sizzling, about 3-5 minutes.

-Add the shrimp and marinade to the sizzling oil, and return the dish to the oven.  Bake (stirring once) for another 3-4 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through. Throw out the bay leaf, season with additional salt (if necessary) and sprinkle over the chopped cilantro.  Serve immediately, straight from your baking dish or cazuela (keeping in mind that it’s super-hot before you set it on your table!) .

Cookie Carnival: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

June 24, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, events, sweet things | 25 Comments

strawberry shortcake cookies

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in The Clean Plate Club’s Cookie Carnival.  I saw this month’s recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies in a recent issue of Martha Stewart Living, and they were too cute to resist!  I have been gorging myself silly on fresh strawberries since the end of May, so I had plenty on hand to whip these up a couple of weeks ago.

These cookies come together without much fuss, but I do have a couple of pointers.  They are pretty much just little biscuits, but the addition of fresh strawberries makes the dough quite wet.  To make it easier to handle (and to prevent too much color from bleeding into the dough), after tossing the diced strawberries with sugar and lemon, I left any accumulated juice behind before mixing the berries in.  I was a little scared of the large amount of heavy cream in the original recipe, so I replaced half of it with buttermilk, and it worked just fine.  Keep a close eye on the cookies near the end of baking time…any strawberry bits on the bottom will start to caramelize if they are taken too far.

They really do taste like little shortcakes!  Nice and soft, but a sprinkling of sanding sugar gives them a bit of crunch on top.  Do take the advice written in the recipe, though, and eat these soon after they’ve cooled.  I did save a few overnight in a container, and by the next day, I would have to say that they had gone from nice and soft to sad and soggy.

Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies– makes about 3 dozen
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2009 

Steph’s Note: You can replace half the amount of cream with buttermilk.

12 oz strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
sanding sugar, for sprinkling

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

-Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes (start checking at 20 minutes!). Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

-Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

cookie carnival

TWD Rewind: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

January 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, events, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 40 Comments

quintuple chocolate brownies

Quintuple–that’s five!  I’m sure you know that and I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, but I myself am still a bit shocked that five types of chocolate can fit into a single brownie.  Somehow, in one little square, there is room for cocoa powder and unsweetened, bittersweet, milk and white chocolates. 

Talk about a fudgy brownie…I think this one may actually be fudge!  If that white chocolate glaze looks I laid it on a little thick, well umm, that’s because I did.  I thought the original amount seemed a little thin so I added a bit more white chocolate and a bit more cream, and suddenly I had a thick slick of icing!

quintuple chocolate brownies

These brownies are so dangerously good, that I’d feel guilty (in many ways) keeping them to myself.  Jenny from All Things Edible has a beautiful new home, and I’m going to bring them to her housewarming party!

This was Brown Eyed Baker Michelle’s TWD pick shortly before I joined the group, about a year ago.  For the recipe, look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan  (she also has it here on NPR’s website) or read Michelle’s post.

Cookie Carnival: The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies

November 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, events, sweet things | 16 Comments

the ultimate chewy and soft chocolate chunk cookies

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve participated in Kate’s Cookie Carnival!  Things (like free time, for instance) really seem have gotten away from me since we’ve moved back to New York.  I realize that I haven’t to you what I’ve been up to.  A few days after getting back, I started a job at a little bakery in Brooklyn (some of you may even have their cookbook…hmmm).  I find the work to be a bit more repetitive than what I’m used to in restaurants, but so far, so good.  We’ve also been putting a lot of legwork into the apartment hunt.  There’s not much out there right now in the neighborhood we really want to live in, so we’ve taken on a short-term lease in the Financial District until after the holidays.  After a full day of standing at work and then running around looking at apartments, I just want to chillax with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and reruns of Seinfeld— and that’s where this month’s Cookie Carnival comes in!

Probably just like you, I’ve made a zillion chocolate chip cookie recipes in my time, but this particular one is from a favorite baking book of mine (and Kate’s, too, I’m happy to see), Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen.  It’s really a fantastic cookbook, and I’ve featured other recipes from it here before.  Daley calls these “the ultimate,” but I can’t say that I’m too finicky about chocolate chip cookies.  Is that bad??  I mean, I’ve read the article, and I know how obsessive people can be about them.  As long as they’re freshly baked, preferably a little warm, and have heaps of good chocolate, I’ll take ’em thin and crisp or fat and cakey…heck, even a little raw in the middle is a-okay.

These are of the fat and cakey (and uber-chocolatey) variety, and that’s just fine by me.  I like to keep my cookie dough wrapped in plastic in the fridge, and then just scoop out and bake off a few each night.  Fifteen minutes to warm cookies, and total relaxation!

The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies
adapted from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen

1 c unsalted butter, room temp
1 c light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
3 c plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
16 oz bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set aside. 

-In the bowl of an electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.

-Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.

-Using your hands (or an ice cream scoop), shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut and place them two inches apart on the baking sheets.  Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking.  Bake 12-15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14-17 minutes for larger ones or until the tops are a light golden brown.  If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft.

-Cool the cookies on the sheets for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool further.  They may be stored airtight at room temperature for up to one week.

cookie carnival

Cupcake Hero: Cocoa-Malt Cupcakes with Malted Marshmallow Frosting

September 29, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Posted in cupcakes, events, sweet things | 13 Comments

cocoa-malt cucpakes with malted marshmallow frosting

Happy anniversary, Cupcake Hero!  I haven’t participated in CH for the past few months, but how could I not jump back in the game to help Laurie celebrate its first year?  The theme for this month is actually to choose two themes from the past year and combine them into one double-good cupcake.  In honor of the festivities, I went with cocoa and marshmallow, (two of the past year’s best) to come up with these Cocoa-Malt Cupcakes with Malted Marshmallow Frosting.

Ever since I cracked open my jar of malt syrup earlier in the month, I’ve been dreaming of malt!  A bit of a one-track mind, I know.  I decided to incorporate the flavor into a simple Devil’s Food batter made with cocoa powder.  The frosting is a “loose interpretation” of marshmallow, in that no gelatin is involved.  Rather than mess with a sugar syrup, I made a fluffy Swiss meringue, also flavored, of course, with malt.

I was a little nervous wondering whether or not the addition of malt syrup to the batter would affect the baking.  They took a full 25 minutes in my oven, and after removing them from the cupcake tin, they still felt a little soft.  I put them on a sheet tray (out of the tin) and stuck them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  When we had them later that night, the cakes were soft and moist and perfectly baked.  And the marshmallow frosting was sweet and sticky, just like it should be.

Check out the new Cupcake Hero page for a run-down of all this month’s entries!

cocoa-malt cucpakes with malted marshmallow frosting 

Cocoa-Malt Cupcakes with Malted Marshmallow Frosting makes 6 regular-size cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

Note:  For a more traditional Devil’s Food cupcake, replace the malt syrup with a dash of vanilla extract or a sprinkle of instant espresso powder.

1/6 c cocoa powder
1/4 c boiling water
1/4 c sour cream
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/8 c vegetable oil
2 t barley malt syrup
1/2 c AP flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake tin with 6 paper liners.

-Put the cocoa in a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over it and whisk to combine.  Let sit for a few minutes to cool slightly.  Add the sour cream, egg, oil and malt syrup and whisk to thouroughly combine.

-In a separate bowl, sift or whisk the dry ingredients (including sugars) to combine.

-Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk just until blended.  

-Divide the batter among the cupcake cups.  The batter will be loose, so transferring it to a measuring cup and pouring it into the cups is probably easiest.

-Bake for about 25 minutes, until puffed and springy to the touch.

-Cool for 5 minutes and remove from the pans.  If the cupcakes feel soft on the bottom, set them on a baking sheet (not in cupcake tin) and pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes to firm up.  Allow to cool completely on a rack before frosting.

For the frosting:

Note:  Because this is meringue, it’s best to make the frosting just before topping your cupcakes (in other words, don’t make the frosting until you are ready to use it).  You can store the frosted cupcakes in the fridge overnight, if you have leftovers.  The meringue will be a little softer the next day, but still good!

1/4 c egg whites (about 2 whites)
1/2 c sugar
1 T barley malt syrup

-Combine sugar and egg whites in large metal bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot to the touch and all the sugar has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Using the stand mixer fitted with the whip or a handheld electric mixer, beat meringue at high speed until very thick and billowy and room temperature, about 3-5 minutes.

-Add the malt syrup and whip on low speed for 1 minute.

-Spread or pipe the frosting on the cooled cupcakes.

SHF#47: Vanilla Date Cupcakes with Buttermilk Fudge Frosting

September 26, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Posted in cupcakes, events, sweet things | 7 Comments

vanilla date cupcakes with buttermilk fudge frosting

Not sure why, but I haven’t participated in Sugar High Friday in awhile. This month, though, I found myself seduced by a cupcake-loving pink flamingo into sending super-sweet Fanny a super-sweet cupcake for her round-up.

I’ve been on a tear lately trying to use up things in my pantry.  One of those things was a bag of dates that had been lingering around for longer than I would like to admit.  It was time for them to move out, and I found them a new home thanks to one of my favorite baking books, Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen.  She has a recipe for moist date cupcakes, flecked with vanilla bean and frosted with buttermilk fudge.  It sounded so interesting, I had to give it a go!

vanilla date cupcakes with buttermilk fudge frosting

With the combination of dates, brown sugar and buttermilk, the cakes are golden-hued, really moist and delicious, and keep nicely for a few days.  There isn’t a picture in the book, but the author’s instructions led me to believe that the frosting would be quite stiff.  Mine actually had a consistency in between a glaze and a normal icing.  I could definitely spread it on, but I couldn’t heap it on.  It is definitely sweet, though, and a little goes a long way, so maybe that was a good thing.  I thought about chilling the icing, then whipping it further, but I liked the smooth tops and gentle drips that formed as it set.

vanilla date cupcakes with buttermilk fudge frosting


Vanilla Date Cupcakes with Buttermilk Fudge Frosting makes 8 regular-size cupcakes
adapted from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen

Note: If some of these measurements seem a little screwy, that’s because I downsized it from the original, which was much larger and meant to produce jumbo cupcakes.

For the cupcakes:

2 1/2 oz plump, pitted dates, coarsely chopped
5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
seeds of 1/3 vanilla bean
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 t pure vanilla extract (or dark rum)
1 c cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1/3 t baking powder
1/3 t baking soda
1/8 t kosher salt
pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 c + 1 T buttermilk

-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with 8 paper liners.

-Put the chopped dates in a small bowl and pour 3 T boiling water over them.  Let sit for a few minutes, and mash with a fork to a rough paste.  Set aside while you prepare the batter.

-By hand, or using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter, two sugars and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add the egg, then add the vanilla extract (or rum) and mix well.

-In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

-Add the buttermilk and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended.  Fold the date paste into the batter with a rubber spatula.

-Divide the batter among the cupcake cups, filling each one 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

-Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely on a rack before frosting.

For the frosting:

1/2 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 t light corn syrup
1 1/3 T unsalted butter, in small pieces
1/3 c buttermilk, plus an additional 1 T, for thinning the cooked frosting
1/3 t baking soda, sifted
1/4 t pure vanilla extract or paste

-Combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, buttermilk and baking soda in a heavy-bottomed pot (use a larger pot than you think you will need…this mixture bubbles up to about four times its original volume as it comes to the boil!).  Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat slightly and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir one last time as it comes to the boil, then don’t stir again.

-Boil the syrup until it reaches 236°F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage).  You will see that the frosting caramelizes as it cooks.  Immediately pour it into a mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip).  Let it cool for about five minutes.

-Stir in the vanilla extract or paste, then beat on medium speed until thick enough to spread, about five minutes.  If the frosting is too thick, add the additional buttermilk, one teaspoon at a time.

-Slather the tops of the cupcakes with the frosting and cool before serving.  You can place the cupcakes in the refrigerator to set the icing if it seems loose, or add additional teaspoons of buttermilk if it seems too thick.  (If it is too loose to work with, you can try chilling it for 10 minutes or so, then re-whipping.)

-Iced cupcakes can be stores for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving).  If you have more frosting than you need, transfer extras to a small, flat container…it will set up as fudge in the refrigerator.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

September 9, 2008 at 5:20 am | Posted in cookies & bars, events, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 63 Comments

chocolate malted whopper drops

We had a great week in New Zealand…the South Island is so beautiful, with so many different landscapes, it almost doesn’t look real in some places.  And the baby sheep (otherwise known as lambs, I guess)–heart-meltingly cute!  Lots of good food and vino, too (so much that, even though we brought back several bottles of wine, I am on the wagon for the next couple weeks). Should you ever go to Christchurch, do yourself a favor and check out Restaurant Schwass.  Same goes for Gibb’s Vineyard Restaurant in Blenheim in the Marlborough wine region.

Enough rambling–on to the cookies!  Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops are the TWD choice of Rachel from Confessions of a Tangerine Tart.  These cookies are really Maltesers drops, the brand of malt ball sold here. A lot of people say they are better than Whoppers, but I haven’t had a Whopper in a very long time, so I can neither confirm nor deny this. (If you live in Brooklyn, though, the dark chocolate espresso malt balls sold at Two For the Pot on Clinton Street are most definitely the best ever!) I was pleased to notice a dark version of Maltesers, and that’s what I used here.

chocolate malted whopper drops

I, of course, only made half a batch of cookies, and they were a bit of a test-kitchen experiment for me.  I don’t have any malted milk powder, and I wasn’t about to buy a big canister of Milo or Ovaltine just to make cookies.  I do, though, have barley malt syrup and powdered milk, so for my half-batch I used 1/2 cup of powdered milk and 2 teaspoons of malt syrup in place of the malt powder.  Luckily, they were not a total mess!  Malt syrup is strong stuff, and the flavor here is definitely noticeable.  I did do something that some may consider a sin–I cut back the amount of chopped malt balls and chocolate chunks (for which I used white instead of dark) by about 25%.  It was still plenty, trust me, but I guess that’s why I don’t see as many chunky bits on the surface of mine as in Dorie’s book picture.

The first night, we ate them straight up, and they were so soft and chewy that R commented that they would be the perfect ice cream sandwich cookie.  Well, I can’t ignore a comment like that, so the next day I made a batch of vanilla malted ice cream.  He was right–they were great, albeit a little drippy.

chocolate malted whopper drops

Look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Confessions of a Tangerine Tart to find the recipe.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what over 250 other people had to say!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

September 2, 2008 at 4:09 am | Posted in cookies & bars, events, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 43 Comments

chunky PB & oatmeal chocolate chipsters

This week for TWD, Stefany of Proceed with Caution chose these Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters.  They combine the best bits of all my favorite cookies, and even have a little spice in there, too!

chunky PB & oatmeal chocolate chipsters

Since more cookies are on the baking horizon, I made just a quarter recipe.  I have a lot of half-used bits of chocolate floating around, so I put milk chocolate chunks instead of bittersweet in these, purely for the satisfaction of finishing off a bar.

They came out great, thankfully.  Anytime I have to bake with my precious stash of Jif (which I bring back on trips the States), I sweat a little that the recipe will be a bomb.  The PB is subtle in flavor, but the cookies really smell peanuty, and the little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg gives them a warm flavor.  I baked mine on the low end of the recommended time, so they’d stay a little soft, which is how I prefer a chocolate chip cookie to be.  Dorie notes that these are great cookies to make ice cream sandwiches with.  I totally bet she’s right, but I didn’t have the stomach (or maybe too much of the stomach is really my problem) to try that out! 

chunky PB & oatmeal chocolate chipsters 

I’m actually in New Zealand for most of the week and may not be able to go through the TWD Blogroll myself, but you should definitely check it out!  And look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Proceed with Caution to find the recipe for these cookies.

Cookie Carnival: Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti

August 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, events, sweet things | 15 Comments

chocolate-hazelnut biscotti

Kate over at The Clean Plate Club has come up with a great monthly event–one that combines my love for cookies with my equally passionate love for carnie rides!  The price of admission to this month’s Cookie Carnival is a batch of chocolate-hazelnut biscotti.  There’s been a lot of chocolate and hazelnut here this month, hasn’t there?  Well, that’s OK–it’s one of my favorite combos, so keep it coming! 

A café cookie jar staple, we all know biscotti as the crunchy biscuits we dip in our lattes.  They are “twice baked” to get that hard crunch…first a large log to set the dough, and then again when that dough is sliced into individual cookies.

Besides the fact that I made just one-quarter of the full recipe, I did substitute white chocolate chunks for the semisweet chips.  I figured that since the biscotti have a dark cocoa base, the white chocolate would go nicely.  And, as a result of some shopping confusion, I have a giant bag of white chocolate pistoles that I’m itching to use up.  A couple of months ago I bought a one kilo bag of the stuff for the DB opera cake.  It should have been fairly obvious that there was no way I’d need that much, but for some reason my brain sometimes chooses to sit out the decision-making process..

These biscotti were good.  I wasn’t crazy about them when they were fresh put of the oven, but they were much improved after sitting around for a few hours, I thought, and quite perfect when dunked into coffee the next morning.  That being said, while I am glad I made them, I probably won’t make them again…but only because there are just too many other cookies out there to try!

chocolate-hazelnut biscotti

Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti- makes about 4 dozen
from The Bakehouse in Bloomington, IN (recipe from Bon Appétit)

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, husked
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet or white chocolate chips or chunks

-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.

-Grind 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in processor. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

-Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.

-Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes.

-Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

-Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

-Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

cookie carnival

Hazelnut Praline Cake

August 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, events, layer cakes, sweet things | 18 Comments

hazelnut praline cake

If you asked me “cake or pie?” I’d yell “cake” every time!   That’s why event-mistress-extraordinaire Laurie’s newest play-along, Layers of Cake, sounded right up my alley.  In a happy coincidence this month, I knew I would be making a cake for R’s birthday anyway.  R picks his own cake every year, and then I whip up his request.  A couple weeks ago, when he chose a Hazelnut Praline Cake from a gorgeous book called Crave: A Passion for Chocolate by Australian Maureen McKeon, I momentarily thought I’d landed in Bizarro World– hadn’t I made something sort of like this but a little different last month?  No matter, it was his choice after all, and I knew it would be good. 

This is not what I would think of as an “American-style” layer cake.  It’s a flourless chocolate cake, with ground hazelnuts providing the structure and whipped eggs providing the lift.  It has the dense but creamy texture I was expecting and hoping for.  The frosting is a milk chocolate whipped ganache (oh my gosh, is it ever good!), and it’s sprinkled with as much homemade hazelnut praline as your heart desires.  It’s really rich, but fantastic– definitley fit for a special occasion, and not bad with a nice (giant, as you can see above!) glass of Cookoothama Botrytis Semillon, either.

hazelnut praline cake

Hazelnut Praline Cake makes 10-12 servings
adapted from Maureen McKeon’s Crave: A Passion for Chocolate

Note: I halved this recipe and baked it in two 6-inch rounds.  Rather than cutting each round into layers, as the author suggests, I left mine as a two-layer cake.

-Make the hazelnut nut praline (recipe follows) and allow to cool.  Then break some into shards to decorate and crush the rest.

-Bake the cake (recipe follows) and allow to cool completely.

-While the cake is baking, make the milk chocolate cream (recipe follows) and chill.

-Slice both of the 9-inch cakes horizontally into two layers, or the 10-inch cake into three layers.  (If you halve the recipe, or if your baked cakes are simply thin, use your judgement here to decide if you want to slice them or not.)  Put one layer on a cake board and spread with some of the whipped chocolate cream.  You may need to dip the your icing spatula into hot water to aid in spreading.  Sprinkle with some of the crushed praline, and top with the next cake layer.  Repeat until all layers are used.

-Spread the remaining cream on the outside of the cake.  Sprinkle with as much crushed praline as you’d like and decorate with the shards.

-Cover lightly and refrigerate until service. 

Hazelnut Praline

Note: This may make more than you want to use on the cake. You can adjust the quantities accordingly, but extras save nicely for a couple weeks and can be used crushed over ice cream, etc.

235 g granulated sugar
pinch of salt
250 g skinned hazelnuts, warmed

-Line a baking tray (with sides) with a Silpat or parchment.

-Put the sugar, pinch of salt and 50 ml water into a heavy pot. Stir to combine and clean down and sugar crystals on the sides of the pot with a little water. Bring the sugar to a boil and cook until a light caramel color (do not stir).

-Add the nuts and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon. You will notice the sugar go chalky white, and as you stir it will slowly begin to re-caramelize. Increase the heat at this point and continue to cook until the mixture turns a deep honey color.

-Turn the caramel and nut mixture out onto the lined tray.  Pat into a single layer with the back of your wooden spoon. Allow to cool completely, and it will harden.

-Once hard, break into shards or put in plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

-Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.


6 large eggs, separated
115 g plus 1 T granulated sugar
pinch of salt
185 g chopped dark chocolate, melted and cooled to tepid
185 g ground hazelnuts

-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch or one 10-inch round cake pans and line with parchment.

-Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 115 g sugar on medium-high speed until thick and pale.

-Using clean beaters and bowl, beat the whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks.  Add the 1 T sugar and beat until glossy.

-Mix the tepid chocolate with 3 T hot water and add to the egg yolk mixture.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the ground hazelnuts.  Then gently fold in the meringue in two stages.

-Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes (maybe less if you halve the recipe), or until the top is firm to the touch.

-Allow to cool completely in the cake pans before turning out.

Milk Chocolate Cream

375 ml cream (35% fat)
pinch of salt
300 g chopped milk chocolate
60 g unsalted butter

-Bring the cream and pinch of salt to a boil in the saucepan and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate to the hot cream and allow it to stand for a minute or two. Stir until smooth; then stir in the butter. Cover and chill for two hours.

-Use a wooden spoon to beat the chilled ganache mixture until thickened and spreadable.

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