Saturday, November 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Cannoli

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Except this month we're the Daring Fryers! I missed the challenge deadline by a day, but better late than never, right? Who sets a deadline for the day after Thanksgiving anyway? I was still recovering from cooking, eating, and baking two of these!

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So this was my rush job. I rarely deep-fry, but you might not believe me if you saw the applesauce doughnuts I made earlier this month. Making the cannoli was easy except for the rolling -- the dough has a knack for springing back so the square never seemed to get bigger. But the shells came out crispy and delicious, and I flavored the ricotta filling with vanilla bean and some maple syrup, for that touch of autumn.  A lot of people aren't familiar with cannoli, which used to stun me. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood where they were readily available, but when I moved to other states people would ask, "Is that like ravioli?" If you're one of these people, don't get put off by the strange concept of filling deep-fried pastry with cheese. It whips up light and is so good when sweetened.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Applesauce Doughnuts

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I've been bad.  I buy doughnuts maybe once a year, and have never made them at home.  I wasn't interested.  Why add more deep-fried fatty goodness to my diet?  But then King Arthur Flour sent me a trial issue of The Baking Sheet.  I shrugged at all the recipes until I got to the back cover, and the photo of the Applesauce Doughnuts was irresistible.  They looked real easy to make, and I love the fun look of the doughnut hole as opposed to the doughnut with the hole in it.  The insides are moist with a slight apple flavor and the outsides crisp.  Go ahead and make it . . . I'll feel less guilty if I have company!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes

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These cupcakes are just too cute.  They have a mild sweet potato flavor and are topped with toasted marshmallows.  They're a nice change of pace from frosting and faster to make.  If you're too busy during the holidays to make sweet potato pie, consider this quick treat.  Recipe after the jump.

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The potatoes were a cinch to prepare.  I tossed them in my toaster oven for an hour the night before, and refrigerated them.

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I don't recommend using the food processor to puree them, since you need a liquid to help the process along.  I ended up scraping them into a bowl, using a potato masher, and then back into the food processor for good measure, since I already dirtied the work bowl and blade.

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Whipping up a creamy batter.

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It looks curdly after adding the sweet potatoes, but it'll work itself out.

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You can see flecks of sweet potato in the cups.  I used a cupcake pan instead of the muffin pan the recipe calls for, and ended up with 29 instead of 24 cupcakes.  The baking time and temperature remain the same.

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Toasted marshmallow how-to: Group mounds of marshmallows, about 7 or 8 of them to a mound, on a silicone mat.

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Stick them for a minute or two under the broiler, and watch carefully!  The marshmallows will swell and start to meld together.  Remove them when you get the desired coloring, and place atop cupcakes immediately. Recipe after the jump.

Rose's Banana Refrigerator Cake

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A quickie post on Rose Levy Beranbaum's Banana Refrigerator Cake, since I'm playing catch-up.  This one is a lot like banana bread, but less dense and with a tender crumb, and topped with Rose's Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting (silly name).  I normally dislike white chocolate, but the thin layer was a nice and not-too-sweet accompaniment.

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Rose writes that the cake stays soft even in the refrigerator because oil is used instead of butter, hence the name.  The cake is simple enough to make, although you may not have the white chocolate and turbinado sugar on hand, but it's nice for an occasional Sunday.  Think of it as a fancier banana bread.  If you want the recipe, shoot me a message or leave a comment!

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