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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake...

my neighborhood block party was held this past saturday night. one of my neighbors brought this cake as a dessert to share. it is SO good and easy as pie! i made it last night to bring to work today.


1 (18 1/2 oz.) pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 jar caramel sauce
12 oz. carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 Heath bars, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9x13x2 inch pan. Prepare cake mix as directed on package; pour into prepared pan. After 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Continue baking until cake is done.
While cake is still hot, poke holes in it with handle of wooden spoon. Pour sweetened condensed milk over cake; let cool. Top with caramel sauce, then whipped topping. Sprinkle with candy bars. 12 to 16 servings.

Chinese Chicken Salad

For this recipe I added chopped up romaine lettuce because I am not a big fan of bell peppers of any color.

Adapted from Ina Garten, “Barefoot Contessa Parties!” cookbook.

Serves 12

8 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, ends removed, cut into thirds diagonally
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

For the Dressing
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large, bite-sized pieces.

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers into strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the shredded chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ginger Apple Galette

1/2 of a 17-1/2-ounce package (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry
1 slightly beaten egg white
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter
3 large apples, halved, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
Whipped cream (optional)
(ed note: i used honey sweetened mascarpone instead of whipped cream.)
Crystallized ginger (optional)

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 14x11-inch rectangle. Trim to a 12x10-inch rectangle. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick pastry with a fork. Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of pastry on edges. Brush edges with egg white. Crimp or decorate edges with cutouts from pastry trimmings. Brush again with egg white.
2. In a small mixing bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ginger, and lemon peel. Cut in margarine or butter until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle half of the ginger mixture over pastry. Arrange apple slices on top, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining ginger mixture.
3. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until pastry is golden and apples are tender. Serve warm. If desired, top each serving with whipped cream and additional crystallized ginger. Makes 8 servings.

Kahlua Cheesecake...

1 1/2 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/3 c. butter melted
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp. Kahlua
1/2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Blend together crust ingredients in a mixer or food processor. Press into an 8- 9 inch springform pan. (ed note: I don't have a spring form pan so I used a foil pie tin and it worked just fine.)
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Add sugar and vanilla. Break cream cheese into small pieces and add to mixture one piece at a time. Blend well. Add Kahlua. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Blend together topping ingredients. Spread on top of cake while still warm. Bake 3-5 minutes at 450 degrees. Cool and chill overnight or all day before serving.

Caramelized Matzoh Crunch with Chocolate

4 to 6 sheets of matzoh
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted or salted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (firmly-packed) light brown sugar
optional: fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Line a 11" x 17" baking sheet completely with foil (making sure it goes up the sides) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of the sheet completely with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.

In a medium-sized heavy duty saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until the butter begins to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof utensil.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the syrup darkens and gets thick. (While it's baking, make sure it's not burning. If so, reduce the heat to 325 degrees.)

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips or chunks. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread smooth with an offset spatula.

Sprinkle with a flurry of fleur de sel or coarse salt, then scatter the toasted almonds over the top and press them into the chocolate.

Let cool completely, break into pieces, then store in an airtight container until ready to hand out to anyone you feel worthy.

The Espresso Martini...

1 oz cold espresso
1 1/2 oz Absolut® vodka
1 1/2 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1 oz white creme de cacao

Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass. It should be somewhat frothy. You can garnish this in a number of ways. I use a mixture of sugar and cocoa powder on the rim and sometimes a froth of steamed milk foam.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli

16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut spread)
Vegetable oil, for frying
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal. Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. (The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray. Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Frosty Latte Dessert

2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
¼ cup coffee liqueur
½ cup chocolate-flavor syrup
½ cup butter or margarine (firm)
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
½ cup finely chopped nuts

1 . Place whipping cream, liqueur and syrup in large bowl; refrigerate.
2 . Heat oven to 350ºF. Cut butter into flour in medium bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until evenly mixed. Stir in nuts. Press evenly in bottom of ungreased square pan, 9x9x2 inches. Bake about 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3 . Beat whipping cream mixture with electric mixer on high speed until stiff; spread over crust. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours until firm. For serving pieces, cut into 3 rows by 3 rows; garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint, serve immediately. Store covered in freezer.

Chocolate Dipped Madelines

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. clarified butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
Confectioners' sugar
Stir eggs and sugar into top of double boiler until creamy and lukewarm. Remove from heat and beat until cool; add flour gradually, mixing well. Fold in butter and vanilla.

Use special shell-shaped Madeline molds that have been buttered and floured (or small 1 1/2 inch muffin pans). Fill molds 2/3 full; fill muffin tins less than 1/2 full. Bake in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes or until lightly browned. Dust cooled tea cakes with powdered sugar. Yield: 5 dozen.

I dipped these in chocolate instead of dusting them with powered sugar.

Herbed Tomato Crostini

2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 baguette
Combine first 6 ingredients and set aside. Slice baguette into half-inch slices and toast at 400 degrees for 6 minutes, turning once. Spoon tomato mixture onto slices. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately

Peach Bellini's

2 ripe peaches, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bottle chilled prosecco sparkling wine
Place the peaches, lemon juice, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Press the mixture through a sieve and discard the peach solids in the sieve. Place 2 tablespoons of the peach puree into each Champagne glass and fill with cold prosecco. Serve immediately.