white chocolate | Parsley, Sage and Sweet

Last Minute Candy – 30 Minutes or Less, 3 Ingredients! White Chocolate Butter Pecan Crunch Clusters

December 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Candy, Dessert, Holiday | 38 Comments
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This morning I swore I wasn’t going to put this post up because the photos turned out awful.  These babies do not mesh well with artificial light.  But then I thought ‘This candy is so darn good, why would I hold back over photos?’

These are normal thoughts if you have a food blog.. and completely justified since photos are the most important aspect of a food blog. You eat with your eyes online.  This is why I groan so much about not having natural light.  One more time...everyone has natural light, whyyy not meeee? :/

White Chocolate Butter Pecan Crunch Clusters - 3 Ingredients - 30 minutes or less!

Remember the filling for my Butter Pecan Thumbprint cookies?  Well, of course you do, since it was my last post…from like 5 days ago.

Continue Reading Last Minute Candy – 30 Minutes or Less, 3 Ingredients! White Chocolate Butter Pecan Crunch Clusters…

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families

December 19, 2012 at 8:27 am | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Dessert, Holiday | 34 Comments
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I know…weird, huh?  Three posts in less than two weeks.  Someone needs to take my temperature.  I have a feeling it would probably register anywhere from 350F to 375F.  So the holiday baking bug bit and it keeps biting..leaving ‘welts’ of butter, flour, sugar and eggs all over me.  How cheesy can I get?  Oh, believe me, there’s more cheese where that came from.

Butter Pecan White Chocolate Crunch Thumbprint Cookies

Before I get to these cookies, I need and want to touch on the Sandy Hook shootings.  I’ve had such pain in my heart since learning of it, and I can’ watch anything about it without choking up.  Little children are precious, flawless gems, untainted by the harsh realities of what can be a cruel world at times.  They show us the goodness of human beings. Killing them is killing human goodness.

Continue Reading Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families…

White Chocolate Cranberry Salted Pistachio Drop Cookies and a Giveaway!

December 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday | 119 Comments
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Hello, yeah it’s been a while, not much, how ’bout you?

I love that song and it has been a while – almost three weeks to be exact.  Yeah, I know..I don’t post very often anyway (and that will eventually change), but for some inexplicable reason,  this time it feels like I haven’t posted for months.

Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Drop Cookies

There’s really no major reason behind it other than LIFE stuff and that mysterious ‘lack of motivation’ plague that has been festering inside of me for months.  You know, the one I always complain about in almost every.single.post.

Sorry about that.

Continue Reading White Chocolate Cranberry Salted Pistachio Drop Cookies and a Giveaway!…

Chocolate Marble Pumpkin Bark ‘Bars’ with Nutella Cookies and Salted Pepitas, for SRC

October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Holiday, SRC | 51 Comments
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I have never made any kind of chocolate bark.  No idea why..it’s one of simplest treats you can cobble together in no time, and the add-in possibilities are endless.  I’ve also never met or known a guy named Nigel who isn’t British, but that’s beside the point.  There have been a lot of  nevers in my life.  We all have a lot of nevers in our lives and some of them should stay nevers, but chocolate bark isn’t one of that should stay a never, for most.

Well..I just crossed the chocolate bark never off my list.  BUT, this did not come about until I made a no-bake cookie by my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment..Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic.  I love her blog..I loved all the goodies I could choose from..I loved her no-bake Nutella cookies, which I chose after mulling over many goodies.  There are these Caramel Coconut Bars and these luscious looking meatballs..not to mention her array of other no-bake treats, (I was feeling the no-bake this month) but the two former choices were guest posts, so even if she made their recipes, I figured I would stick with something that was 100% hers or something she adapted or decided on herself.

I also decided on this chocolate bark since it’s Fall..and Halloween is beckoning us with it’s witchy finger.  In other words..it’s candy time and time for me to get some pumpkin recipes up.  Her bark is a simple white and dark chocolate marble with pistachios, which sounds great..although the photos were gone, so I couldn’t see what it looked like.  However, I read something about her losing some photos via Google +, so I assume that’s why they were missing.

I took Kim’s bark recipe..doubled the white chocolate and added two more ounces of dark chocolate.  The best part was adding the pumpkin and spices to the white chocolate, along with salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds).  BUT, the bestest part was adding chunks of her no-bake Nutella cookies to it as well.  This came to me at the spur of the moment as I looked at the still melted bark with a sprinkling of pepitas.  It just begged for something else.  It needed some bling.

I looked over at the sheet pan of thick and hunky nutella cookies and it almost seemed as if one winked at me – a shiny, glint of chocolate cooing, ‘Come on, baby..give me a chance”.

It was a match made in heaven..and this bark, as well as the cookies, are heavenly!  It looks and sounds like it would be overly sweet, doesn’t it?  Well..it isn’t.  The pumpkin, spices and salted pepitas tone down the sweetness of the white chocolate, and the semisweet chocolate is well, semi sweet, so no major surge in blood sugar outside of the bits of cookie.

The addition of the no-bake nutella cookie chunks made the chocolate bark more like a cross between a cookie bar and chocolate bark, rather than a chocolate bark by itself.  Not a bad thing.

Speaking of cookie..I made some small changes to her No-Bake Nutella Cookies.  I used butter instead of shortening..increased the amount of nutella and added a bit of orange zest to cut the richness.   I also eliminated the coconut extract..toasted the coconut, and added vanilla extract.  You see, she has some vanilla components in there that she makes herself..like vanilla salt and I think vanilla oats.  I do have vanilla sugar on hand, since I use loads of vanilla beans in all kinds of sweet and savory preparations, but I just used granulated sugar because I felt the vanilla extract was enough.

OK, I need to fit in a few more photos so I need to find something to talk about.  Did I ever tell you I love cleaning squid?  Pulling out the quill, which looks like a piece of plastic, never ceases to amaze me.  Have I mentioned that every few years I get on a Friends kick and DVR every late-night showing of it? I’m glad I just finished the entire series run the past two months, since I was running out of space.

Did I ever tell you about the reader who sent me a scathing email implying I worshiped the devil because of THESE donuts?

With that being said, yes..my life is kind of boring.  It doesn’t take much to excite me.  Last night the Yankees won Game 1 of the ALDS….and that excites me.  We ate this bark while watching it, so technically, this is good luck bark.

OH, one more thing I forgot to mention – the pumpkin white chocolate remains slightly softer than the plain chocolate, so in retrospect – you can call it slightly gooey chocolate marble pumpkin bark..with no-bake nutella cookies and salted pepitas.

Man, I’m all ovah da place!

OK, I’m really grasping at straws here, so I’ll just ask you to pop on over to Cravings of a Lunatic.  She’s funny, she’s a great cook, and I have a feeling you just might become addicted to her blog!  A good addiction, even if your jeans go up one size.

No Bake Nutella Cookies
Adapted from Cravings of a Lunatic
Makes about 10 1/4 cup size cookies.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick – 4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
1 cup flaked/shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened, toasted
3 cups quick cooking oats or gluten-free oats

1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar and cocoa.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat and let he mixture boil for 2 minutes..then reduce heat to medium low and stir until sugar is dissolved, about another minute or 2.

2. Stir in the softened butter, Nutella, salt, orange zest (if using) and vanilla extract.  Stir until butter is completely melted, then stir in the oats and toasted coconut, coating both completely.

3.  Line a 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat, then scoop your desired size of cookie onto the sheet..spacing them about 1 inch apart.  I made huge ones…about 1/4 cup a cookie which gave me 10 cookies, but of course you can make them much smaller for a larger yield.

4.  Let set, then enjoy!  Set aside one or two large cookies or several smaller cookies for bark.

Chocolate Marble Pumpkin Bark with Nutella Cookies and Salted Pepitas

12 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut for both chocolates)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate (semisweet or buttersweet), chopped
A handful of salted pepitas..more or less, the amount depending on your preference.
Several of the No-Bake Nutella Cookies, recipe above

1.  For both chocolates, place a medium size glass bowl over a small pot filled with about an inch of water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  You can make two double boilers and do both chocolates at once..checking and stirring each with separate wooden spoons or silicone spatulas.  I melted one chocolate at a time…easier and you need to wtach it diligently.  You can temper the dark chocolate, which I did, if you like.  The pumpkin added to tempered white chocolate might be a waste of temper.

2.  I started with the white chocolate so it would have time to cool a little before adding the pumpkin and spices.  Once the white chocolate has cooled down for about 10 minutes – whisk in the pumpkin and spices until smooth and uniform (pumpkin and spice white chocolate is SO GOOD)

3.  Now, depending on how thick you like your chocolate bark..either use an 13 x9, 11 x7 or 8 to 9-inch square pan to marble the chocolate.  For the 11 x7 or 13 x0 sheet pan..line with parchment paper.  For the 8 or 9-inch square baking pans..you also need to line them with parchment, but there is some cutting involved to make a smooth sheet on the bottom with handles on the side.  It should look something like THIS.

4.  Pour the pumpkin white chocolate onto or into the pan.. depending on whether it’s a sheet pan or square baking pan.  Pour dollops of the dark chocolate on top..then marble both together.  Alternatively, you can alternate the pouring of each chocolate, then marble them together.

5.  Sprinkle the pepitas all over the top..pressing some in, then stick cut up pieces of the cookies all around it..being careful to let some of the marbling show through.  Cover and chill in the fridge for about an hour.  When set..Break up bark on sheet pan, or lift out bark from square pan and then break it or cut it up.  It will keep well for about 2 week in the fridge…1 week at room temperature..but I doubt it will last that long!

If you have a moment, pease click on the blue frog below to see what my fellow Group A blogger’s chose to make from their blog assignments.  Warning – it will make you verrrrry hungry!

I’m submitting these to Roxana’s, from Roxana’s Home Baking, #chocolateparty theme for October- chocolate and pumpkin!

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Parlez-Vous Croissant?

September 27, 2011 at 10:41 am | Posted in Breads, Breakfast, Daring Bakers, Lunch, Pastry, Pork, Yeastspotting | 62 Comments
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The croissant has evolved…into a crescent roll.  Let me explain.  From the time I was in college until about 10 years ago, croissants were flaky, layered, buttery rolls of heaven.  No matter where I bought them, they were all of the above, even the supermarket bakeries.  I remember stopping at some a few mornings a week before work, and opening the plexiglass case, crumpled tissue in hand like a baseball mitt, ready to grab the freshest ones before anyone else could.  Even the BK ‘croissandwich’ was flaky, with buttery layers!

Then something happened..and I don’t know if some of these places got tired of making them the right way, and/or they decided to skimp on the butter, (cutting costs was obvious) because outside of the fancy patisseries, the croissants I was buying were slowly morphing into crescent rolls.  Limp crusts, no flake, and ‘gasp’ soft white bread like innards with maybe two layers, if you were lucky.  These were not the croissants that used to flake all over my lap with each bite.  These were not the croissants I could eat layer by layer, slowly unrolling, unraveling, deconstructing – holding thin, buttery, window panes  of baked dough up to the light, trying to make it last as long as possible.

I finally bid a sad adieu to any croissants made outside french patisseries.  I wasn’t being a food snob, I just didn’t feel like paying 2 bucks for a crescent roll when I could easily whip up a batch of those with lots of butter, right?

Then this day came..

The Daring Bakers go retro this month!  Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I was jubilant and a tad nervous at the same time.  I had always wanted to recreate those awesome croissants of yore at home, but kept putting it off.  Now I had a reason to.  However, what if I turned out doughy, crescent rolls?  I do very well with puff pastry, so how hard could it be?  Same method as puff pastry, but using a yeasted dough.  Piece of cake! Ha ha..NOT.

Stretching the triangle of dough to about 8-10 inches, then placing a ball of scrap dough in the middle of the wide end before rolling, gives you a fatter, multi-layered, higher croissant.

I decided to use the recipe from the challenge to make plain, rolled croissants, and a recipe by Esther McManus from my copy of Baking with Julia (one of my favorite baking books ever) I’d been planning on trying for some time, for some pain au chocolat (chocolate filled croissants) and other filled croissants.  I even have this episode of Baking with Julia saved on my DVR, and I think I’ve watched it about 2 dozen times since this challenge was announced, not counting the two dozen times I’d watched it before.

This is why I couldn’t stop talking like her as I made the dough –  ‘You make zee butter sit here and start beating from zee middle, kindly, but firmly.’  I  wasn’t kind, and this is probably why I ended up with gaping holes of butter in my dough during my turns.  Sheeet, what to do?

Let’s backtrack a bit.  Esther Mcmanus’ dough contains a lot of butter.  OK, that’s an understatement – try 1 lb 2 ounces of butter.  Ummmmmm..alright, maybe I shouldn’t have pounded it so hard to flatten the mountain of ice-cold butter.  No neat square in this recipe, just a big lump that you pound into the dough.  Then again, since I was already taking my aggressions out on this dough, I forced it to roll further than it was ready to go.  Esther says in the episode..

I’m not going to go any further than dees, cuz I feel it doesn’t want me to’ after the first vertical roll of the butter into the dough.

I’m the boss, and I want to get the first turn out of the way, so I don’t care what it wants or doesn’t want.  I don’t want to wait 2 hours for a first turn.  I knew I was screwing up, but my dough was so strong, I thought the gluten could take a little beating.  I let it sit for 15 minutes, then started to roll.  All went beautifully.  I folded it (like a letter, of course), wrapped it, stuck it in the fridge and went about my day, deciding to let the dough rest overnight to recuperate.

ROUND, errr..Turn Two.  This is when all hell, butter broke loose.  This was supposed to be a single and double turn at once, and then after another overnight rest, it would be ready for croissants!  As I rolled away to get it to the proper length and width for the second turn, I started to run into little bits of butter oozing here and there.  I’d patch these minor caveats up with flour and continue rolling.

As I kept lifting the dough after several rolls, adding flour beneath to keep it from sticking, I noticed butter on the marble slab.  Those tiny, little nuisances were now turning into gaping holes of Paula Deen.  With every crater of butter in my dough, I heard a ‘Hi Y’all!’.  I was up the creek without a paddle, I had completely ruined this dough.  Again, Esther’s voice echoed through my head…

If you tear eet, eeet’s no good - or something to that effect.  Little holes were fine, according to Esther, but torn, gaping holes, were death.  OH.NO.  There was no way I was wasting 1 lb 2 ounces of Plugra.  I had to think quick.  I folded up my half turned mess of dough, wrapped it tight in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, which was going to become it’s new home for a few days, because that’s how long it took me to come up with a solution.

Julia to the rescue!  I decided to make Julia’s dough from the challenge recipe, no longer for plain croissants, but to save my bruised, battered and buttered dough.  I was basically starting over.., my block of butter (beurrage) now a block of butter in dough, which in turn was wrapped in another dough, then all the turns all over again.  To my delight, it worked.  I had a beautiful, silky dough with not one peep from Paula.  One small problem, though.  The original butter battered dough had now sat for a little over a week in the fridge.  The yeast had certainly weakened considerably, and the amount of yeast in Julia’s dough would not be enough to carry the load.

I formed the croissants, egg-washed them, and sprinkled them with some sea salt (I read it makes a really pretty bubbly effect on the flaky crust).  I knew deep down I wasn’t going to get much oven spring, and I didn’t..but they were cute and tasty, albeit too dense.  How can anything with all that butter not taste good, regardless of the texture?  These are them below. ‘Feh’ comes to mind every time I look at this photo.

I wasn’t satisfied, I wanted those big, flaky croissants I loved so much.  I made another batch of Esther’s dough, this time using only 3 sticks of butter.  As you can see, success.  Beautiful, big, flaky seven rolled croissants, (See photo collage of croissant rolling, above - I numbered a rolled croissant to show you what I mean).  Tight rolls of each 8-10 inch pulled and stretched triangle gets you 7 ‘sections’ which equals more layers and prettier croissants.

WAIT, this has all got to sound so confusing, and my collages certainly aren’t clear and easy to understand.  You can see the full episode of Esther’s croissant making, with the lovely and wonderful Julia, HERE (part one) and HERE (part two).  You can also see a full episode of vintage Julia making croissants, HERE.

So, here’s what I made;

  • Accidental mini sea salt croissants
  • Plain, rolled, croissants, although I didn’t pull the ends long enough to curve them into a classic croissant shape.
  • Plain pain au chocolat
  • White and dark pain au chocolat
  • White chocolate – pistachio and Dark chocolate pistachio croissants (I used the almond filling recipe provided by Esther in Baking with Julia, substituting pistachios for the almonds)
  • Candied bacon - Pepper Jack cheese croissants.

Candied bacon – pepper jack??  Yes, and they were amazing.  Remember a while back when I told you about being a member of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s program?  They sent me and others a $25.00 gift card to purchase a variety of Sargento cheeses, American processed cheese singles, and any other fruits, crackers and whatnot to host a ‘tasting’, comparing Sargento cheeses, such as Havarti, Provolone, and the aforementioned Pepper Jack etc..to processed American cheese singles.

Umm..are you kidding?  It’s a no brainer – of course Sargento won out.  I keep American cheese singles on hand for one purpose only – childhood comfort grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.  I paired several of Sargento’s cheeses (they come in sticks…perfect for croissants, like the chocolate batons shown above) with candied bacon, deciding pepper jack was a phenomenal match.  And there you have it..candied bacon – pepper jack croissants!

Loved this challenge, loved how my croissants turned out (especially the second batch), but I think it’s going to be a while before I make croissants again.  I’m still wiping the flour off my face, the frustration off my frontal lobes, and the butter from my arteries.

To get Julia’s recipe for croissants, and see the challenge, click HERE.  To see the gorgeous croissants made by my fellow Daring Bakers, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.

I’m submitting these croissants to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of all things bread baking, hosted by the extremely talented, Susan, of Wild Yeast.

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