Monthly Archives: June 2010

Daring Bakers make Pavlova

You can’t make this stuff up.


I made this Pavlova on June 2nd. That’s right… pretty much immediately after reading the challenge. I was turning over a new leaf. I was whipping it into shape! No more procrastinating!! Now please note today’s date. Yep. One day after the due date… again. Sometimes, there just aren’t words to describe how much I annoy myself. I don’t even have any kind of good excuse.


In any case, this pavlova was awesome. I made four individual-sized pavlovas and one medium-sized for sharing. Unfortunately, I didn’t heed the warning that certain parts of these really should be made and eaten same-day. Refrigerating the mousse left it rock solid and it just never really came back to its original form. (You can see it’s a little lumpy.) So, if you choose to make these, make the meringue and creme anglaise ahead, but make the mousse just before you’re ready to serve.


Now, the fine print. The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. Big thanks to Dawn for providing us with such a wonderful – and tasty – challenge!


Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
Chocolate Meringue

(for the chocolate Pavlova)

3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)

Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
(for the top of the Pavlova base)

1 ½ cups heavy cream
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 cups mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Mascarpone Cream
(for drizzling)

1 recipe crème anglaise
½ cup mascarpone
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
½ cup heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Crème Anglaise
(a component of the Mascarpone Cream above)

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.

Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

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Banana PB Chocolate Chip Shake


Clearly I’m becoming a little obsessed with frozen things this summer. This one’s the easiest yet and is packed full of good stuff! Head over to FGG and check out this Banana Chocolate Chip Shake!

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Chai Spice Cookies

Short and sweet today… forget that it’s 96 degrees outside, these are worth cranking up the oven for. Seriously.


They’re like a Snickerdoodle all dressed up and oh, how I love them.


Can’t find McCormick’s Chai Spice Blend in your baking aisle? The McCormick site listed below gives you an easy alternative to making your own spice blend. No excuses not to make these beauties!


Chai Spice Cookies
(recipe courtesy of Teenie Cakes and McCormick)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Chai Spice Blend
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional sugar for rolling

Mix flour, Chai Spice Blend, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl of your electric mixer and set on medium speed, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and add vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture on low speed until mixed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. You want the dough to be firm and easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart (they spread considerably).

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute and remove to wire racks. Cool completely before storing.

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Monster Blueberry Scones


We’re making blueberry scones over at FGG. Join us for afternoon tea!

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“Lighter” Cake Batter Ice Cream

I might have a problem.  I might be a tiny bit fixated on cake batter ice cream. The problem? My original recipe is far too rich to enjoy regularly… at least until I start running eight miles a day and, trust me on this one, that’s not going to be any time soon.


Motivated by the need for another cake batter fix (and the open box of cake mix in the pantry), I set out to find a lower cal option. I stumbled onto a recipe over at The Caramel Cookie that looked just crazy enough to try. (Okay, maybe not so crazy considering I’ve been known to eat frozen Cool Whip right out of the freezer. Don’t judge me.)


We really enjoyed this take on cake batter ice cream. Though not quite as creamy and rich as the full-fat version, this was a perfectly fine stand-in with a “lighter” feel. It does freeze quite solidly once you put it in the freezer, but just a few seconds in the microwave and you’ll be scooping away!


Light Cake Batter Ice Cream
(adapted from The Caramel Cookie)
1 cup Cool Whip Lite, thawed
2 cups skim milk
1 cup cake mix (I used Duncan Hines yellow cake mix)

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until it reaches soft-serve consistency. This ice cream will become fairly solid once frozen, so to defrost heat on high in mircowave for 30 seconds.

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Kung Pao Chicken

The area I live in, though lovely, is lacking a few things… Trader Joe’s… World Market… Bojangles… and decent Chinese food, to name a few. I admit, we were spoiled… we had easy access to some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had while living in North Carolina — in fact, we ordered it so often, the owners sent us a Christmas card every year.


The folks here in Northwest Arkansas are big on the Chinese buffet — a rather ordinary experience punctuated with disappointing things such as mini corndogs (and they’re not for the kids, trust me). To make it worse… only one delivers. We’ve tried five or six different Chinese restaurants over the past couple of years, only one ever meriting a return visit and, sadly, that’s the one that’s overpriced (though it does also happen to the be the one that delivers).


So, we’ve taken to making our own, and this is our take on Kung Pao Chicken. Is it as good as our old favorite in North Carolina? Not quite, but it’s every bit as good – if not better – than most of our local choices, it’s got plenty of yummy cashews, and it makes for some pretty great leftovers. And until we find ourselves in a new place with new Chinese food options, I think that’s good enough for me.


Kung Pao Chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2.5 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive oil)
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces sliced water chestnuts
1 cup cashews, roasted and unsalted
2 stalks green onions, diced

for the sauce:
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

for the chicken:
Mix the chicken with cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegars, and sesame oil Let sit for 30 minutes. Heat cooking oil in a wok, sauté pan, or large frying pan on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and stir-fry until  mostly cooked. Add in the ginger, garlic, and red peppers, and cook until the peppers are just beginning to soften. Add the water chestnuts and cashews and stir for a few turns. Pour in the sauce and continue to stir-fry until the chicken is coated and cooked. Add the green onions, stir, and serve hot over prepared rice.

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Strawberry-Raspberry Fro-Yo


Running late this weekend! Come on over and check out this wonderfully easy Strawberry-Raspberry Frozen Yogurt recipe at FGG… the perfect way to combat the summer heat that’s creeping into many of our neighborhoods!

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Cake Batter Ice Cream

Now that we’ve officially kicked off the summer season, I think it’s time we talk about one of my most favorite things… ice cream. I’m happy to eat ice cream pretty much any time of year, but there’s just something really gratifying about a scoop (or two) of ice cream while you’re watching the mercury rising outside.


My love for frozen treats has been well-documented over the past 2.5 years… from mint-chocolate chip (and the subesquent ice cream-filled grasshopper crepe) to chocolate-hazelnut gelato to ice cream sandwiches to the beautiful ice cream cake… but I just can’t stop. There’s always another variation I’m dying to try.

One of the recipes that’s been hanging out on my “must try” list incorporates dry cake batter into the mix. Everyone swears it tastes a lot like the cake batter ice cream you find at places like Coldstone Creamery (Hi, Coldstone! I <3 you!) – but, of course, for a fraction of the price and – probably even better than that – without having to leave the house. You know I had to give it a try.


Oh, friends, this recipe is a treasure. It really does taste a lot like the cake batter ice creams of the chain variety. It’s smooth, creamy and rich just like a good ice cream should be — good luck staying out of it so that the flavors can meld for a few hours! I made mine with butter cake mix because it’s one of my favorites, but I can’t wait to try it with other flavors soon (devils food, funfetti… and I’m thinking brownie mix, too!). What a perfect way to cool off on these hot summer days!


Cake Batter Ice Cream
(recipe courtesy of Ekho)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup cake mix, sifted (I used butter cake)

Whisk together milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, cream, and cake mix in a saucepan until well blended. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees F, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator or freezer until liquid is cold.

Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until it reaches soft-serve consistency. Transfer ice cream to a lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.


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