Posts tagged ‘coconut’

July 12, 2011

“They’re Not Really Frogs, Are They?”

Happy Potter Week Tuesday!   It seems today is the perfect time to share Pumpercake’s 3rd HP-inspired recipe, as we’re only three days away from the big movie premier!

A recipe for Chocolate Frogs and Peppermint Toads was an easy and obvious choice to include in Pumpercake’s Potter Week festivities.  Whether it be on the Hogwarts Express or in the common room after a trip back from Honeydukes (a sweets and candy shop in Hogsmeade, the wizarding village), Harry and his friends can constantly be found snacking on the reptile-shaped confections or trading their Chocolate Frog Collector’s Cards.

The recipes I’ve included can be used for Frogs and Toads by use of appropriate candy-mold trays, but the recipes can also be applied to any other chocolate-coated shaped candy.  Unlike the Chocolate Frogs served on the Hogwar’s Express food trolly, my Chocolate Frogs are bursting with delicious fillings, like coconut-marshmallow cream and salted peanut butter filling.  Also unlike the Chocolate Frogs on the Hogwart’s Express food trolly, mine don’t magically leap out of their packages or “hop realistically in the stomach.”

Chocolate Frogs & Peppermint Toads

Inspired by: Honeydukes’
“Chocolate Frogs” &
“Peppermint Toads”
-Hogsmead Village

“What are these?” Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs.  “They’re not really frogs, are they?” He was starting to feel that nothing would surprise him.”
–  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Chocolate Frogs

12 ounces milk chocolate chips

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 batch salted peanut butter filling
(recipe below)

1 batch coconut-mallow filling
(recipe below)

chocolate frog candy molds

–recipe yield: about 24 chocolate frogs,
12 of both filling/chocolate combinations

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the milk chocolate chips.  Over low heat, melt the milk chocolate and remove it from the heat.  Spoon a small amount into each individual frog mold, adding just enough chocolate so that it covers the very bottom of each mold.  Using a small paintbrush, spread the chocolate up to thinly coat all sides of each frog, creating a little hollow bowl-like bed for the filling to fit in.  Place mold tray into the refrigerator to chill for 3-5 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

After chocolate has set, drop about ¾ teaspoon of peanut butter filling into the center of each frog.  Spread the filling slightly so that it is not level with the top surface of the mold tray, leaving room for the top layer of chocolate.  Spoon more melted chocolate into each frog mold, right on top of the filling.   Fill each frog until the chocolate is just level with the top surface of the tray.  Refrigerate or freeze 8-10 minutes, or until completely set and hardened, before removing frogs from the tray.

For coconut-filled chocolate frogs, follow the same directions as above, replacing the milk chocolate with dark and the peanut butter filling with coconut-mallow filling.

Peppermint Toads

12 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1-2 drops pure peppermint extract

1 batch white peppermint filling (recipe below)

chocolate toad candy molds

–recipe yield: about 24 peppermint toads (as my candy molds were very shallow)

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the white chocolate.  Over low heat, melt the chocolate and remove it from the heat.  Stir in 1-2 small drops of peppermint extract.  Spoon a very small amount into each individual toad mold, adding just enough chocolate so that it covers the very bottom of each toad.  Using a small paintbrush, spread the chocolate up to thinly coat all sides of each toad, creating a little hollow bowl-like bed for the filling to fit in.  Place mold tray into the refrigerator to chill for 3-5 minutes, or until chocolate has set.

After chocolate has set, spoon in about ¼-½ teaspoon of white peppermint filling into the center of each frog.  Spread the filling slightly, just so it is not level with the top surface of the mold tray, leaving room for the top layer of chocolate.  Spoon more melted chocolate into each toad mold, right on top of the filling.   Fill each toad until the chocolate is just level with the top surface of the tray.  Refrigerate or freeze 8-10 minutes, or until completely set and hardened, before removing toads from the tray.

Candy Fillings

Salted Peanut Butter Filling

½ cup smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon table salt

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

–makes enough for 12 candies, plus extra

In a medium bowl, cream together peanut butter and  butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and salt.  Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat.  When the sugar has been combined, drizzle in heavy cream and whip until fluffy, being careful not to over-whip.

Coconut-Mallow Filling

¾ cup marshmallow fluff (my fluff recipe can be found here)

1½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

¼ teaspoon coconut extract or coconut oil

–makes enough for 12 candies, plus extra

Gently combine all ingredients, folding until flaked coconut has been distributed throughout mixture.

White Peppermint Filling

¾ cup marshmallow fluff (my fluff recipe can be found here)

1-2 drops pure peppermint extract

–makes enough for 24 candies, plus extra

Add into the fluff one small drop of peppermint extract and fold to incorporate.  If desired, another drop or so can be added and combined into the filling.

April 8, 2011

Marshmallows & Memories

While students at Michigan State (Go Green!), my roommates, Molly and Ashley, and I developed and embraced a love for everything marshmallow.  Late night marshmallow latte runs were a regular occurrence, bowls of homemade Rice Krispie Treats were shared during movie nights, and birthday cakes were almost always topped with marshmallow frosting.  Molly and I found a bag of marshmallows to be a perfectly suitable substitute for meals, partially because we were broke college students and partially because they are delicious. And it was not uncommon for Ashley and I to cuddle up to a jar of Marshmallow fluff and a couple spoons to start off a Saturday morning.  How the three of us survived four years together without so much as a cavity, I’ll never know.

Now, with Ashley headed to Arizona, Molly in Chicago and me here in DC, celebrations with all three of us sharing birthday cakes with marshmallow frosting will be harder and harder to come by.  Molly and Ashley’s birthdays are a month apart, and I wanted to send them both a little something that they’d love and that would help trigger a few of our fun memories together.  Homemade marshmallows were an obvious choice.  And despite Evan’s comments regarding their appearance, including a comparison to tofu, I think they turned out beautifully.

Homemade Vanilla & Coconut Marshmallows

Inspired by: Marshmallows

-adapted, just a touch, from Dinah Bucholz’s “Marshmallows,”  The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar                    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup cornstarch                                   1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract*

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin             -optional: toasted coconut**

1 cup ice cold water, divided

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

-special tools:  candy thermometer,  a good-quality electric mixer or stand mixer (preferred)***

Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment with cooking spray.  I used butter-flavored cooking spray, which seemed to really add to the melt-in-your-mouth flavor of the mallows.

In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch.  Sprinkle the mixture onto the lined, greased pan and shake around until bottom and all sides of pan are completely covered with the mixture.  This is important, as the marshmallow will be next to impossible to remove without a well-powdered pan.  Return the remaining cornstarch mixture to the bowl for later use.  If desired, sprinkle the toasted coconut in an even layer on the pan or on a portion of the pan (I did half with and half without).  Set prepared pans aside.

Empty the gelatin into a large mixing bowl along with ½ cup of the water.  Have the whisk attachment of the stand mixer or an electric mixer standing by.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium-high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.  For an accurate reading, the thermometer should be well-submerged in the liquid, but not touching the bottom of the saucepan. My mixture hit 240 after about 7 or 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping and let it incorporate.  

At that point, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.  Do your best to pour it evenly onto the pan.  I found that the more I tried to spread it or messed with it, the less smooth and whimsical it looked.  Using a flour sifter, dust the top with enough of the remaining cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallow to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallow out onto a cutting board and peel back and discard the parchment paper.  Using a pizza wheel dusted with the cornstarch mixture, cut the marshmallows into squares.  Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

*I’m not normally a stickler for the fanciest, most expensive ingredients, but I would suggest using a higher quality, pure vanilla extract for this recipe.  Upon researching candy-makers’ experiences with marshmallow, it seemed to be the trend that if poor quality or too little vanilla was used, the marshmallows had a funny gelatin taste.  For this reason, I bumped up the vanilla from the suggested tablespoon, to a tablespoon and a half and was happy with the result.
**To toast coconut, sprinkle desired amount of shredded or flaked sweetened coconut in a thin layer onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil.  Place in a 300 degree oven for about 13-15 minutes, tossing the coconut and checking on it every 4-5 minutes, as it browns fairly quickly.  When finished, it should be fragrant, lightly crisp and a pale, golden color.
***Another common trend that I found upon researching the horror stories of mallow-making was the misconception that an electric mixer that “has seen better days” would suffice for this project.  It seems that many an aspiring marshmallow-maker were left with a burnt-out electric mixer halfway through whipping and, sadly, never got to complete the process or enjoy the finished product. –Now, I must admit, I have an unjustified attitude problem when it comes to stand mixers (I have this crazy idea that using one takes away from all the fun).  So far, in my years of baking, I’ve refused to touch one.  I know that one day, probably not too far from now, I’ll cave and buy one and probably fall in love with it, but for now, I put my faith in my high-powered handheld mixer.  Long story short, make sure that your mixer is up for the task!  Luckily, mine ended up to be a “Little Mixer That Could.” -Special thanks to Kim Botsford, who supplied me with that electric mixer just over a year ago : )

April 5, 2011

Whoopie! for Carrot Cake Creme Pies

As a huge ‘Food Network’ fan, I often find myself daydreaming about what I’d do with the secret ingredient on Iron Chef: America or what kind of witty yet soul-crushing critique Geoffrey Zakarian might give me should I find myself competing on Chopped.  And I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d select as my favorite dish on Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Well, I found my answer a couple months ago when I first visited this cute little lounge a few blocks away from my apartment just outside Washington, DC.  I went for a late-morning Saturday brunch, and needless to say, have been back almost every Saturday since my first visit.  It’s getting embarrassing.  The waitress knows my name and I think my body is starting to become conditioned to crave brunch food from their menu come Saturday morning (or earlier in the week).  They make a rosemary waffle with silky poached egg and wild mushroom, crème’ fraiche topping, and it is the Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Having the ever-persistent sweet tooth that I do, it seems odd that my all-time favorite dish be a savory one.  Therefore, I’ve allowed myself a second favorite for those (much more frequent) days in which I find myself craving something sweet.  Luckily, this little lounge has created a stuffed French toast that is nothing short of a masterpiece.  Sweet and refreshing orange cream cheese filling oozes from thick cut, crispy brioche that is warmly spiced to perfection.

This French toast was my inspiration behind today’s recipe.  I did my best to recreate the orange filling and then sweetened it up a touch to resemble the marshmallow-y frosting found in the middle of whoopie pies.  I used a cookie recipe as a base and altered it to make it a little more cake-like, yet still dense enough to hold its shape and the filling.  I chose to go with a carrot cake theme, as I knew the sweet carrots could stand up to the many different spices I imagined the brioche being dredged in to make the French toast.  Also, I found myself with an abundance of carrots that I needed to do something with.  But let’s go with the first reason.

And here is the result!  It’s the oatmeal creme pie your mom used to pack in your lunch box meets carrot cake meets my favorite brunch-time treat:

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Inspired by: “Stuffed French Toast”

–Eleventh Street Lounge (Arlington, VA)



Carrot Cake Cookies

-adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Carrot Cookies”

½ pound (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour*

½ cup whole wheat flour*

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 ½ cup finely grated carrot (about 5 medium or 3 large carrots)

1 ¼ cup golden raisins (red raisins work fine, too!)

Peel and grate the carrots using the finest side of a box grater, and then set aside.

Spread your raisins out on a large cutting board and give them a rough chop.**  This can turn into quite the sticky situation.  After the raisins are roughly chopped, I like to throw them in a medium bowl, and then spin them through the measured dry oats, coating the raisins completely.  I do this for two reasons: 1) As the oats are covering the raisins, they naturally break apart any sticky raisin-clumps that may have formed, and 2) this dry coating really helps keep the dense raisins suspended in the cookie as they bake, as opposed to sinking to the bottom of the cookie and burning.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixture until fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, vanilla, and carrots, beating on medium speed until combined.  Set aside.

Sift together flours, salt, baking powder and soda, and spices.  Stir to combine.  Gradually add flour mixture to carrot mixture on lowest speed until just blended.  Stir in raisins and oats.

At this point, it’s important to cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour in order to let the dough firm up.  This will ensure that the cookies will hold their shape in the oven.  Room temperature dough will cause the cookies to spread out too much and you’ll end up with flimsy whoopie pies. Which will still taste delicious, of course, but will make a giant mess when attempting to eat or handle.

Using a medium sized ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough spaced a couple inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake cookies for about 12-15 minutes at 350′, rotating sheets halfway through baking in order to ensure even color.  Transfer baked cookies to wire racks and allow to cool before handling or assembly.

Orange Cream Cheese Filling

The tangy sweetness of this frosting can work harmoniously with many different kinds of cakes or cookies.  It also makes a delicious dip for fruit!

5 ounces of cream cheese, softened

¼ pound of unsalted butter (1 stick), softened

2 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ tablespoons of orange zest

about ¼-½ inch of fresh ginger root, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

a pinch of ground nutmeg

-optional: chopped pecans, flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Using an electric mixer, cream together cheese and butter in a large bowl until the mixture is homogeneous.  Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl throughout mixing.  Continue to cream together the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add orange and vanilla extract, zest, ginger and spices and continue to beat until well incorporated.

Transfer filling to pastry or zip-lock bag, if desired.  Refrigerate filling before pie assembly to allow it to set up and maintain stiffness.

Assembly:

Once cake-cookies have cooled completely and filling as set up in the fridge, it is time for assembly.  If you’re a control-freak perfectionist about your confectionaries, like me, the first step will be to pair up each like-sized cookie with its mate in order for the prettiest finished product.  If you’re using a pastry bag, squeeze out a small ring of filling right in the center of the bottom of half of the cookies, being careful not to get filling too close to the outer edge of the cookie.  If you’re not using a pastry bag, you can just as easily use a small cookie-dough scoop or melon-ball scoop to drop a couple tablespoons of filling in the center of half of the cookies.  Press remaining cookies on top of frosted cookies, pressing down so that the filling reaches the outer edge of cookie-sandwich and is visible.

If desired, roll the assembled pies through chopped pecans or flaked coconut so that the exposed filling picks up the topping.  With your fingers, press pecans or coconut lightly into the filling.

Whoopie pies should be stacked in between layers of parchment paper and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator up until ready to serve.  Also freezes well.

*If you’re choosing to make a batch of carrot cake cookies by themselves, as opposed to the whoopie pies, go ahead and cut back to only 2 cups of flour total (instead of 2 ¼ cups total).  This can mean using only whole wheat or only all purpose flour, or your choice of a mixture of both.  I like the depth of flavor and texture that this mixture gives, and the whole wheat flour can definitely stand up to all the spice!
**This is another step you can skip if you’re going the “cookie-only” route.  Although, in this case, re-hydrating the raisins is a great idea.  To do this, soak the whole raisins in some hot water for about 5-8 minutes or until they’ve plumped up, then drain them and pat dry with a towel, breaking up with your fingers any raisins stuck together.  Better yet, add a tiny splash of rum or rum extract to the water to give the raisins a little kick!