Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blueberry Lime Pound Cake

 I have a confession to make. I have a slight problem with hoarding. Well that's a bit of an exaggeration, I only hoard one thing, old cooking magazines. I keep a few Bon Appetit's and a Martha Stewart Living, here and there, but mostly it's limited to Fine Cooking magazines. For some reason, I can't stand to throw them away. I love every issue. They only publish a new magazine every other month, which is probably a good thing because with only six issues a year, it would take a long time for me to make it on to "Hoarders: Buried Alive!"
Actually, recently in a fit of spring cleaning, I did part with quite a few issues. I kept only the ones that with lots of recipes I want to make, or had really pretty pictures... Yes I know I can look up old recipes online, but it's way more fun to grab a cold drink and flip through a stack of magazines. Thank goodness I still had my Jun/July 2008 issue, because it was chock full of great blueberry recipes.  I remembered there were several recipes in that issue that I wanted to make. I had dogeared the page to this recipe a long time ago and I decided now was the time to put that hoarded issue to good use! 

Blueberry Lime Pound Cake
Source: Fine Cooking: (adapted)
Printable Recipe
For the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking power
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
*6 oz. mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 pint blueberries, room temperature, not cold from the refrigerator 
For the glaze:
4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice; more as needed
1/2 tsp. lime zest

*Note: I used mascarpone because I had it and didn't have any cream cheese on hand. It was delicious in this cake!

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Make the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Stir the lime zest into the sifted flour mixture.
With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the butter and mascarpone or cream cheese in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar mixture and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and stopping the mixer to scrape the bowl twice. Beat in the egg yolk. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Stop the mixer one last time to scrape the bowl and then beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth and light, about 20 seconds. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
Pour the batter into the bundt pan, spreading it evenly with the spatula. Lightly tap the pan against the counter to eliminate any air pockets. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto the rack, remove the pan, and let cool completely.

Glaze the cake: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lime zest, and lime juice together until smooth. The glaze should be thin enough to pour. If not, add more lime juice, 1 tsp. at a time. Put a baking sheet under the rack to catch drips and drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Let the glaze set before transferring to a cake plate.
Or you can add the glaze right on the cake plate, like I did!

Other blueberry recipes you might like:
Low Fat Blueberry Oat Loaf Cake
Fresh Blueberry Pie
Orange Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Ice Cream
Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brownie Cookie Sundae Bowls

Hubs was out of town over the past week-end so I had a few girlfriends over for a girls night. Since the food is as important as the gossip, I wanted to make something fun for dessert. I came across Michael Ruhlman's chocolate chip cookie sundae bowls and thought they were perfect. How fun, we could all make our own sundaes and eat the bowl too! I made some caramel and chocolate sauce, toasted some coconut, and got out the sprinkles. What's more girlie than a than a bowl of sprinkles?

The cookie sundae bowls were a hit. We were so busy eating them, I never got a picture of the chocolate chip cookie bowls. While we were devouring our cookie sundaes, one of my friends asked if brownies could be used instead of cookies. Well of course I had to try it out to see if it would work.

Okay don't judge, but I had a brownie mix in the pantry that I thought would be perfect for this experiment. I used the brownie cookie recipe on the back of the box. It just cut back on the oil and liquid for a denser batter. I thought cookie dough would work better than the thinner brownie batter. I used the same process as I did when making the chocolate cookie bowl.

How to make brownie cookie sundae bowls:  
1 recipe of brownie cookie ( I used Hershey's brownies and followed the brownie cookie recipe)

 Oven proof bowls that nest inside one another. (one needs to be a little smaller than the other.)
Spray the inside of the larger bowl and the out side of the smaller bowl with cooking spray.
Lightly press 3-4 tablespoons of the brownie cookie dough into the bottom of the larger bowl. Press the smaller bowl into the dough so that it starts to come up around the sides. As it cooks the dough will expand to the top of the bowl. (If you put too much dough into the bottom of the large bowl it will cook over.)

Bake in a 350 degree  oven for 20 minutes. Remove the bowl(s) from the oven and carefully twist the small bowl to free them from the dough then remove it.  Return to the oven and continue to bake the cookie bowls for 5 minutes of so until the inner bottom of the cookie bowl finishes cooking.
When the bowls are cool enough to handle, cut off any dough that’s over flowed the edge and, very carefully, run a pairing knife along the sides, gently lifting up to free the bottom of the cookie bowl. Cool completely.
Fill the bowls with ice cream and the toppings of your choice!

I think almost any cookie would work as a cookie bowl. I can't wait to try all different kinds of cookie bowls. If you make cookie bowls, leave me a link to your post in the comments section. I'd love to see your bowls!

Caramel Sauce
Source: Simply Recipes (slightly adapted)
1 cup of sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of sea salt
1 Tbs bourbon (optional)
Have all your ingredients measured out and ready to go. The process goes very fast once the sugar starts melting. You have to work fast as the sugar burns quickly so all your ingredients must be ready to go.
Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart pan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. Just swirl the pan a few times. As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Be very careful with this step. When you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up and sputter quite a bit. Add the sea salt and the bourbon. Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar or a small bowl. Let sit to cool to room temperature.  The caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm before serving.

Four years ago this week, I started this little blog. I totally started it on a whim, and for this reason I named my blog Half Baked. I didn't know what I was doing, whether or not I'd enjoy blogging, or if I'd even keep it up. The whole thing started with a half-baked idea and here I am at my four year blogiversary! My own birthday is just about a week away so lot of reasons to celebrate around here.
Thanks to all of you that have been with on this blog adventure over the last four years. An unexpected, but wonderful gift that has come with doing this blog is getting to "meet" so many wonderful people from all over the world. Hope to see you here again soon!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mint Infused Watermelon Sorbet

It's July, in lower Alabama, so long hot days are pretty much a given. However this summer has been a particularly hot one, even for those us that find temps in the mid-60's somewhat nippy.
 On days like these, a tall glass of sweet tea packed with so much ice that the tea just fills the spaces is almost all that I want. Ice cold, super sweet, running down your arms juicy slices of watermelon, is about the only other thing I can work up the motivation to eat. I got a really large watermelon from the framers market last week-end. Later that same day, a neighbor dropped by and gave me another watermelon. What to do with so much melon? Sure we could just slice it, pop it in the fridge, and stuff ourselves with watermelon till our bellies sloshed around from all the liquid. As fun as that sounds, I opted to use some of the watermelon to make a sorbet. I decided to infuse the watermelon with some fresh mint. What could be more refreshing on hot day than a big bowl of mint infused watermelon sorbet? Let me just tell you, this stuff is seriously addictive!

Mint Infused Watermelon Sorbet
(printable recipe)
5 cups seeded or seedless watermelon cut into chunks
3 limes, juiced (about 6 tablespoons)
4 sprigs of mint
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. salt
1-2 Tablespoons vodka (*optional)

In a food processor or blender, combine melon with half the citrus juice; process or blend until smooth. (You should end up with about 5 cups of liquid.)
Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan combine fresh herbs, sugar, 1 cup of the watermelon puree, remaining citrus juice, honey, and salt. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain herb mixture into melon puree. Stir in the vodka if using. *(The vodka is just added to keep the sorbet from freezing too hard. A trick I learned when making David Lebovitz's strawberry frozen yogurt.) Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or in the freezer for about an hour.

Transfer chilled mixture to 1- to 2-quart ice cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Remove sorbet from ice cream maker and place in a freezer safe container. Freeze the sorbet for about 2 hours.
Don't you want to dive in head first?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh Fig!

I've been faithfully checking the huge fig tree on my parents farm for several weeks now. I know the figs are never ready to pick before July but I can't help looking, just in case...

Well the wait is finally over! The first of the ripe figs were ready for picking this week. I plan on making some of them into the chutney I made last year but I wanted to make a few jars of just plain fig preserves with some of these figs. Yes, these preserves taste great slathered on toast or a biscuit but they can be used is so many ways that I'm thinking I'm going to make another batch before fig season ends. Figs and cheese are a natural pair, imagine topping a round of brie with the preserves and baking it until the brie is warm and melty...drool! Spread the preserves in a pre-baked tart shell to make the base of a great fresh fig tart. Add some to some balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make a killer fig vinaigrette. Use the preserves to fill thumb print cookies or homemade fig newtons. I could go on and on. This recipe is so easy that making several batches of preserves will be almost as easy as making them disappear!

Fig Preserves 
Source: The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Preserves; Linda Ziedrich (slightly adapted)
(Printable Recipe)

2 pounds figs, quartered
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
In a large pot, layer the figs with the sugar and the lemon zest. Pour the lemon juice over the figs and sugar. Let the pot stand for 8-12 hours at room temperature, until most of the sugar is dissolved.
Next place the pot over medium-low heat. Cook the figs, stirring gently only a few times. Cook the preserves until the figs are partially translucent and the syrup has begun to thicken. About 30-40 minutes.
Ladle the preserves into sterilized pint or half pint mason jars. Add lids and rings and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Go here for a guide for home processing fruit.
*The recipe says it yields 2 1/2 pints. I got 3 half pints of preserves.