Monday, January 15, 2018

Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla

Can you roast a fruit in the oven like you would a cut of meat? Apparently, you can. I was thumbing through One Knife, One Pot, One Dish: Simple French Feasts at Home by Stéphane Reynaud and came across an interesting dessert. It called for making a caramel (my nemesis), then pouring it over a fresh pineapple, baking it in the oven, and basting it as it baked. I couldn't get the idea out of my head!

I thought the flavors were delicious and not too sweet. The nuts add a nice texture and roast alongside the pineapple. You can't just slice entire slices across the pineapple, it must be the outside, leaving the core, so just plan accordingly. I served my shards with the High Road Bourbon Brown Sugar ice cream, and that was a great pairing as the caramel also has alcohol.

Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla

Serves 4

1 good-looking pineapple
1 vanilla bean
7 tbsp (80 g) sugar
6 tbsp (3/4 stick/80 g) butter
2/3 cup (150 ml) rum
Generous 1/3 cup (50 g) hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Peel the pineapple, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the sugar melts into caramel, about 10 minutes.* If necessary, brush down any crystals that form on the side of the pot with a damp pastry brush.

Add the butter, rum, and vanilla bean pod and seeds. Stir to melt the butter and combine.

Place the pineapple in the Dutch oven, cover with the rum-flavored caramel, and add the hazelnuts.

Bake for 40 minutes, basting the pineapple with the caramel frequently during cooking, until it is tender, and then serve immediately.

*I don't believe sugar just melts down into caramel, so my interpretation of this step was letting the sugar cook a while until it was a medium-dark brown. It tasted okay so I think this works. When I added the butter and alcohol, everything seized up but I just kept stirring..... 


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Butterscotch Pots de Creme

 I made this recipe from a cookbook for which I received a digital review copy. More info at the bottom of the post!

Butterscotch Pots de Creme

4 tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
8 large egg yolks
sour cream
Butterfinger, crushed (optional)

1. Dump butter and sugar into a midsized saucepan and stir together over medium heat. Cook until mixture starts to brown and smoke ever so slightly, or about 15-20 minutes.
2. Slowly add the cream, a cup at a time. Cook butterscotch until any seized sugar dissolves again. Then add the rest of the cream, vanilla, and salt.
3. Next, whisk those yolks - and do not stop! Add some of the hot butterscotch cream while continuing to whisk. Once the yolks are warm to the touch, dump the yolks back into the pot of hot butterscotch and gently whisk.
4. Strain the mixture, and then crank the oven to 325 F.
5. Divide custard into the ramekins. Then place the ramekins in a water bath (fyi, water should be hot!) and loosely tent with foil.
6. Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until the pudding pots jiggle like a bowl full of jelly.
7. Finally, remove the pan from oven and cool completely. Fridge it for at least an hour - unless you like room-temp pudding, ya weirdo.

Chocolate sauce

2 oz dark-chocolate chips
3 tbsp heavy cream
pinch of salt

1. In a small saucepan, stir all ingredients together over low heat.

To assemble

Plop a spoonful of sour cream into each pudding pot, drizzle-whizzle with chocolate sauce, and sprinkle with crushed Butterfinger, if desired.

The recipe above comes verbatim from Sweet Revenge: Passive-Aggressive Desserts for Your Exes & Enemies by Heather Kim.  I made a few changes - first of all I cut the recipe in half (4 cups of cream?!). I used 6 oz custard cups because that's what I have, but I suspect from the yield and pictures that she intends you to use smaller ones - this is never specified, however. But because I used 6 oz cups I had to bake it longer than upper time limit given here. I may have slightly overbaked but the custard was not scrambled eggs. I also didn't bother with sour cream, butterfinger, or chocolate sauce - just put whipped cream and sprinkles. The flavors are intense and deep, not overly sweet, but rich.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Peppermint Brownies

One of the recipes I wanted to make for Christmas was postponed to New Years Eve, because we had way too many sweet things already! I based this recipe on "Brownies My Way" in The Artful Baker by Cenk Sönmezsoy. He has several brownie recipes in the cookbook, and "Brownies My Way" were slightly less sweet and also included pistachios. I adapted it slightly for my ingredients on hand, and adding peppermint elements. Please see his cookbook for all his brownie variations!

Peppermint Brownies

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz semisweet chocolate
12 tbsp unsweetened butter
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional but no more than this!)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup peppermint bark pieces (I used Ghiradelli peppermint chunks but actual chocolate coated peppermint bark would be even better)

For glaze:
4 oz semisweet chocolate
Peppermint dust sprinkles or more peppermint bark, chopped up

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare an 8 or 9" square pan with buttered parchment paper.

In a pan set over barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth. Allow to cool completely. Mix in peppermint extract, if using.

In a mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until sugar has dissolved, mixture is light in color and slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes. Scrape in chocolate-butter mixture and mix at medium speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add to mixer at low speed and only mix until barely incorporated. Remove from mixer and stir in peppermint chunks.

Spread into pan, and bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with gooey (but not liquid) crumbs. Allow to cool.

Melt chocolate (I just used the microwave) until smooth. Cool slightly, then spread over cooled brownies. Top with desired topping. Chill at least one hour before serving (after this initial chill the brownies may remove at room temperature.)

Verdict: These were delicious. To go over the top we had brownies with Jeni's dark chocolate peppermint ice cream, at around 11:30 pm, so definitely the last dessert of the year!