Brunch in the Sukkah with the ladies of Hadassah!

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking to the wonderful Women of Hadassah in Southern California. This group of women’s entire focus is to connect and empower women to effect change. They are in fact #WomenWhoDo. They are on the frontlines for healthcare and cures for cancer and advocating for women’s rights.

These women are intelligent and engaging so I took a page from my friend, Robert Schueller’s, playbook. I talked about “sexy veggies” and aphrodisiac vegetables. I was surprised to learn, from Robert, that some vegetables have genders. Things like eggplant, avocado and bell peppers have a male and female fruit.  These are plants that you need to have both to flower and bloom in your garden. The best way to insure that is to ask at your local nursery.

We also talked about aphrodisiac vegetables. There is a lot of talk about this on the internet. I have a very simple philosophy about it. If a fruit or vegetable evokes a “feeling” in you because of the way it looks, smells or tastes, it is an aphrodisiac. If it evokes a memory in you that can cause an arousal, it is an aphrodisiac. Very simple!

Asparagus Legume Bell Pepper Salad
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You can easily add chicken or steak to make this more of a meal.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Asparagus Legume Bell Pepper Salad
Print Recipe
You can easily add chicken or steak to make this more of a meal.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. You can use the peppers, either raw or roasted. To roast: Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, leave an extended edge. Place whole peppers, in a single layer, on the foil and place baking sheet about 6" from broiler. Broil until lightly charred, using tongs to rotate peppers until all sides are charred. Draw foil around peppers and remove from oven. Close foil packet for 5 minutes or so. Once the peppers are cool enough to touch, peel peppers and discard seeds. Slice ninto 1/4" strips.
  2. Blanch asparagus until just tender (al dente). You can do this step before or after you cut into 1" pieces. Set aside.
  3. Make the dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, oregano, basil and salt& pepper. Whisk in olive oil, slowly. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Add greens to salad dressing bowl and toss, slightly. Add in garbanzo beans, pepper strips and olives, toss well. Add asparagus and toss gently. Sprinkle feta cheese on top and plate to serve.
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Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven

My daughter has been after me to buy an Air Fryer. I did look at a few of them, but when I started asking how they work, it sounded suspiciously like convection ovens. Turns our I was almost right.

Both ovens use fans to circulate hot air around the food. Both ovens cook faster than a conventional oven. The one main difference is that the air fryer keeps the food in a smaller space. SO I started to look around my kitchen to see if there was a way I could create that small space when my eye was drawn to my Cuisinart Toaster/Convection Oven. That’s a small space. That’s a convection oven. Hmm…?

There are these pita chips at my local Farmer’s Market. I love them. They are deep-fried and seasoned with a yummy lemon pepper seasoned salt. I wanted to re-create them.

When you use an air fryer it advises you set the fryer to 360°. So I set the oven to convection at 350° (there wasn’t a 360°). I let the oven preheat with my pan in there.

While the oven was preheating, I cut a whole pita into 8 wedges. I brushed each wedge, on both sides, lightly with olive oil. I also sprinkled each wedge with lemon pepper and salt.

I baked the wedges for 5 minutes and then turned them over and baked for another 5 minutes. Watch them closely. Temperatures vary by oven.

I love them!! they are crispy and that little brush of olive oil is all I needed to get that “fried” flavor. I finished the chips with another quick sprinkle of salt.

The verdict is, you can buy an air fryer, if you’d like. But if you don’t want to buy another small electronic or your counter space is almost full, this is a great option.

Have fun! enjoy!

 

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

As promised on Instagram here is the recipe for that delicious Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. I used store bought Caramel Sauce (Mrs. Richardsons). You can easily make your own. Here is a quick recipe:

1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup whole milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla

Stirring constantly bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. You can use right away or store in an airtight jar in refrigerator.

On another note can you do me a favor? I am trying to get a book deal and need to up my Instagram followers. If you aren’t already following me, will you please go to @diaryofalostchef on Instagram and give me a follow?  I really appreciate it. As soon as I have my book deal I will give away books to the first ten of you that follow me.

THANK YOU!!!!

 

 

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

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This is a light almost pudding like cake. It is so easy and yet impresses. It would work well with pears too.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Print Recipe

This is a light almost pudding like cake. It is so easy and yet impresses. It would work well with pears too.

Ingredients


Servings:

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320°

    Melt the 2 Tbsp. butter in caramel sauce and remove from heat.

    Pour caramel sauce into a 9" non-stick cake pan.

    Arrange apples on top of caramel in circles and in center.

  2. In a large, bowl beat the 1/2 cup butter with both sugars, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla and continue beating until just smooth.

  3. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

    Alternating with buttermilk, add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Start and end with dry ingredients.

  4. Pour cake batter over apples in cake pan and smooth out.

    Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until tester is almost clean.

    Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto plate.

    This would be great served warm with vanilla ice cream or room temperature with whipped cream.

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Restaurant Recipe Redux- My Favorite Thing!

People are always asking me, “What is your specialty?”. Recently, I’ve been saying baking. As I was reminded, I did write a cookbook about cakes (coming soon). However, one of my most favorite things to do is to have a fabulous meal out and then go home and recreate it. I especially love great finds when I’m traveling and can meet with the chef and get their recipe or tips for re-creating it at home.

I just got back from a fantastic trip to New York City, with girlfriends, and I brought home some great ideas and a couple of tips. One of my friend’s son is the Head Sommelier at the Standard Grill, Rocco Di Spirito’s newest endeavor, at The Standard Hotel, in the Meat Packing District. We had an amazing meal and lots of wine! There were the things we ordered and the things that were sent to the table, by our favorite sommelier. Let me just whet your whistle a little. We had an amuse bouche of Hamachi (yellow tail) and caviar. We had Beet Tartare, Jamon Iberico, and Asparagus with a Creamy Cashew sauce. We had Rocco’s Risotto that is so special only he can make it!

I am working on cracking the code for that risotto but I think I have come close to his Beet Tartare. It is so delicious and fresh. I recommend serving it with a hearty cracker. I made it for friends the other night and one of the guys who “doesn’t like beets” ate almost the whole bowl! Think outside the box, try it.

This dip is sweet and savory and so easy to eat. You definitely get a hit of horseradish but the rest of the ingredients play a magnificent game of hide and seek. It wasn’t at all salty but there was salt. The heat was too subtle to be pepper. Was the tart flavor lemon or vinegar? My investigation began.

On our last day there, we were enjoying Chelsea Market. It’s one of my favorite places in NYC. There is lots of cute places to shop and it feel a little like a foodie paradise with the kitchen shops and artisan food places. Plus the New York Food Network Studios are at Chelsea Market so I feel close to my people when I’m there.

We stumbled in Miznon the Chelsea market outlet of Israeli Chef, Eyal Shani. You may not know the name but you can pretty much give him credit for the cauliflower craze. His famed roasted cauliflower boasts only four ingredients but it is special. When I first looked at the menu and saw “Lavan”, a pita sandwich with cauliflower as the star , I couldn’t have imagined the specialness that awaited me.

The cauliflower had lost all the sulphur aroma and was simply sweet. It was creamy and buttery. There was a small kick of heat but just on the tip of the tongue, nothing overwhelming. The tahini was perfect! Not too much garlic, not too much lemon. Once I figured this recipe out, I knew it would be in regular rotation! I’ve also included a recipe for Schwarma “style Chicken. It makes a great meal with the cauliflower. Have the beet tartare as you’re appetizer.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do. Next up I am going to recreate The Lamb’s Club Pastrami. This may take some time but man was it good. If there is a restaurant recipe you want me to try and recreate message me. I always love to hear from you!

Vegan Beet Tartare
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Vegan Beet Tartare
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Into a large bowl, grate beets on the large hole side of grater box. I don't like the food processor for this.
  2. Stir in all ingredients, except parsley. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust flavoring. I added a little more Dijon, but it is personal preference.
  3. Right before serving stir in chopped parsley. It adds such a great fresh flavor. Serve with a hearty cracker. Store any leftovers, (doubtful) in refrigerator in a covered dish.
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Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Tomato Salsa, and Chives
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Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini, Tomato Salsa, and Chives
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Wash cauliflower and remove large, tough leaves. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Place cauliflower in pot, cover and boil until just tender. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Remove cauliflower from water and let cool slightly, Just until you can handle it. Put cauliflower in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour olive oil into a shallow bowl and dip hands in. Let excess oil run off and start massaging oil into cauliflower. Work it into all the nooks and crannies. Drizzle any remaining over the top and season with salt and pepper. Place cauliflower in preheated oven and bake until top just starts to brown. About 20 minutes.
  3. While cauliflower is baking, make tahini sauce. Using a mortar and pestle or, carefully, an edge of a knife mash the garlic into a paste with 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir tahini well, to get solids off bottom of can, and pour into a medium bowl. Add in garlic paste and start whisking in lemon juice. Start with a little and add more as it "catches". The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits. If you need to thin it out you can whisk in a little water or more lemon juice. Adjust seasoning.
  4. You can cut the cauliflower into florets and toss with the tahini sauce, then serve with salsa and chives. I poured the sauce on a platter, ladled the salsa over the sauce and sprinkled chives over that. Then I place the cauliflower over that. The cauliflower is so tender that It can be cut with a spoon and scoop up sauce as you serve.
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Schwarma "style" Chicken
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Servings Prep Time
6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Schwarma "style" Chicken
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. In a large ziplock bag pour the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, allspice, cinnamon and turmeric and stir together to make a paste. Add the chicken and toss and massage to coat evenly. Let marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. Arrange chicken, in a single layer, on baking sheet and roast until browned and cook through, about 30 minutes. I turn it half way through. Let chicken stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  3. I serve this chicken on a platter with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. I have pita on the table.
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Waste Not Want Not

There is a movement happening in the food world and beyond. We are all looking at waste and how to prevent it. James Beard House has put out a book called, Waste Not. Websites such as The Feed Feed and Food 52 have posted articles and recipes and magazines like Cooking Light and Food & Wine have also featured articles on food waste prevention. Kitchens for Good is even hosting an event directed at using “waste and scraps”.

Many years ago my sister was at my house and I mentioned that I had nothing in the house to eat. She replied that she could live in my house a month with what I had in my house! A self-challenge was born. At least once a week I try to do a “clean out” of my refrigerator and pantry. I like to challenge myself to make meals using just those ingredients. A few weeks ago I made a great “Pantry Pasta”. I had two half full boxes of pasta and a half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, in oil, and some hard salami, my husband got in a gift basket. I always have fresh vegetables (and frozen) and I have fresh herbs in my garden. I keep good butter, olive oil and parmesan cheese in the house too. Voila, great pasta! I am fortunate that I have a great garden and have a bounty of lettuce and cucumbers so a salad is an easy addition.

This past week was July 4th and so I had a lot of leftovers in the house. The challenge was easier in the respect that I had a lot to work with; but harder because I wanted to use specific recipes, with said leftovers. Our meal was eclectic but delicious. My husband had picked up the Street Taco package at Costco. It was great and the chicken had a little smoky flavor, like it was fresh from the street grill. I recommend trying it the next time you are there. It’s also great to buy and keep in the house for unexpected guest or a last minute appetizer or dinner.

In addition to the tacos, I had been to the farmers market and kept my carrot tops on, so I made a delicious carrot top pesto, based on a recipe from Chalkboard Magazine, served over more half boxes of pasta. I am testing a salad recipe, which I can’t share yet, so we had that. We had a ton of fruit so I made a version of a Deb Perelman’s Strawberry Summer Sheet Cake.

What I love about all these recipes is that you can really change them up to fit what you have in your home.  Add more fruit, use different fruit. If you don’t have carrot tops use whatever herbs you have or even a green like arugula. If you don’t have pasta serve the pesto over chicken or steak. You can even make it thick and serve on crostini. Get creative with what you have in your home already.

You know I love to hear from you. Let me know what you are “not wasting”!

Carrot Top Pesto
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Carrot Top Pesto
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients down to olive oil, in a food processor or Vitaminmix™. Turn on processor and blend until chopped fine and coming together as a paste. Use a spatula to scrape down sides, occasionally.
  2. Once you have desired consistency, from chunky to smooth, turn processor back on and slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have thickness you desire. More liquid for a sauce, more paste if for crostini. Add salt & pepper to taste. Blend slightly. Adjust for taste and maybe add more lemon juice, If needed.
  3. Toss with hot pasta. Spread over toasted crostini also topped with ricotta, Serve as a dip for veggies and crackers.
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Summer Fruit Sheet Cake
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Servings
24 2 inch pieces
Servings
24 2 inch pieces
Summer Fruit Sheet Cake
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Servings
24 2 inch pieces
Servings
24 2 inch pieces
Ingredients
Servings: 2 inch pieces
Instructions
  1. Wash fruit. Hull and halve strawberries. Make sure stems are off of blueberries. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and then line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with paddle, cream together butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg, additional yolk and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Add milk and continue mixing. Sprinkle baking powder evenly over the top of batter and mix in thoroughly. Scrape down sides of bowl and slowly add flour, until just combined.
  3. Spread batter evenly in pan. Arrange strawberry halves, cut side down on top of batter. Fit as many as you can ad press into batter. Toss blueberries with extra flour and sprinkle on top of batter. Press into areas left open between strawberries. Sprinkle with extra 3 Tbs. of sugar, use it all.
  4. Bake until golden brown and cake tester inserted comes out with just crumbs. About 45 - 50 minutes. Let cool in pan. Cut into even squares and serve. You can serve it with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Brownie Bark!

Brownie Bark!
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Brownie Bark!
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325°. Generously butter an 18x13 rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Melt the butter in microwave or on stovetop.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously until batter is thick, shiny and smooth. I like to use a heavy wooden spoon. Stir in the flour until well blended then beat vigorously, another 30-40 strokes
  4. Spread batter evenly onto baking sheet in thin, even layer. Push it all the way to the corners. It will seem too thin but the batter will rise. Add your toppings, pressing in firmly. I used about 1/2 cup peanut butter and swirled it through the batter and then pressing lightly with wet hands. I also used mini marshmallows and walnuts for a rocky road as well as dried cherries and almonds. You can get as creative as you want. This is a great activity for a kids or teens party.
  5. Bake until firm to the touch and tester comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool completely then cut into pieces and serve. I did one batch and divided it into thirds to try different toppings. Have fun!
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Ahhh… Fresh Bay Leaves.

I recently came across a small blurb about buying fresh bay leaves from a French purveyor. It caught my eye because the photo made it appear that you could tie some kitchen twine around the stems and hang this aromatic in your kitchen. I wanted to learn more about this ubiquitous herb, that I use but don’t much about. Here’s what I learned.

Apparently there is “good” bay laurel from Turkey and Central America and then there is the bay laurel from California. The California version is more minty, a little oilier and can be bitter. If you are allergic to bay leaves, or have had allergic like symptoms, it is the California version. Bay Leaves are native to the Mediterranean and have a natural oil that has a similar nose to eucalyptus or clove but a lot more mellow. When you do start to cook with either the fresh or dried versions, remember you don’t need much to reap all the benefits.

Typically, bay leaves are used in vegetarian stocks, brines, and longer cooking dishes like soups and stews. I was intrigued with the idea of adding them to your coals for barbecue like you mesquite wood chips. You can also light a couple on fire and toss them into a covered dish, right before serving, to impart a smoky, aromatic flavor. Bay leaves pair well with anise, lemon, onion, oregano and white pepper. As a matter of fact you can grind dried bay leaves with any of these and make your own spice blend. Stay tuned. When I try this I will let you know.

Fresh bay leaves are usually available in the produce section of your local market or can be found at your farmer’s market. I even found a link to buy them from Amazon, of course. When buying fresh make sure they are Laurel.

Here’s a couple of fun facts about bay leaves. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, C and iron. They are great for digestion and are a natural anti-inflammatory. Food with benefits.  I love it!

Here are a few recipes that use bay leaves in a more forward way.

Bay Leaf Roasted Chicken
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Bay Leaf Roasted Chicken
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° Remove giblets and such from cavity of bird and discard. Rinse inside cavity and let dry completely.
  2. Loosen skin on breasts and legs with fingers. Rub salt and pepper all over the chicken and under skin on breasts and legs. Arrange 3 bay leaves under the skin on one breasts, in a decorative design. Repeat on other side and under the skin of legs. Place remaining leaves in cavity of chicken.
  3. Tie legs with twine and tuck wings under chicken. Arrange celery, carrots and onions in roasting pan in a single layer so that chicken can roast on them.
  4. Place chicken breasts side down on vegetables and bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Turn chicken breasts side up. Increase heat to 450° and cook for 25 minutes longer. Watch that chicken doesn't burn. Check internal temperature to 170°.
  5. Remove chicken to cutting board and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. You can serve chicken with the carrots and onions or discard all vegetables. I think this chicken will be juicy and flavorful without a gravy. However, if you want a gravy; bring pan drippings to a simmer in a saucepan. Make a slurry of 2Tbs. flour and 3 Tbs. water. Stir slurry into simmering drippings until clear and thickened.
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Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Bay Leaves
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A fresh way to prepare potatoes. Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Bay Leaves
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A fresh way to prepare potatoes. Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an enameled cast iron pot or large saucepan, arrange potatoes in a single layer and pour chicken broth over. place bay leaves, garlic and olive oil also in pot. Before covering, give a good sprinkle of salt.
  2. Cover and cook over a low heat until potatoes are tender. This really depends on size of potato, but think 30-40 minutes. Check occasionally on broth. You can add more if needed.
  3. When cooked tender place in a serving bowl and give another sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

One great thing about this really flavorful potato dish is leftovers. I made a potato salad the next day by simply adding some dijon mustard and a little celery for some crunch.  Wow! it was great.

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You can serve these together. I think the bay leaf flavors show up very differently. But you can also dip your toe in slowly with one or the other. As always please let me know what you think of these recipes or how you are using bay leaves other than in soups and stews.

Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake

I had never had it, Blum’s Crunch Coffee Cake, but it appeared in my feed in December 2017 and then appeared in Sunset Magazine in December 2018. What is this cake that everyone seems to craving?

Blum’s was a pastry shop located in the Bay Area. Most notably its flagship was situated in Union Square, in the days when a shopping trip was special. It usually meant getting dressed up and was finished with a treat in the form of a special luncheon place.

Blum’s started as candy shop and was passed down through a couple of generations until Jack Levy was at the helm. He realized that they were selling “the same old candy” they had for decades. He challenged his candy makers to make a new candy every day to find “the next great thing.”. One day a candy maker over boiled what was to be a soft coffee candy, like a taffy, and it was too hard. Rather than throw it away, the baker crushed the “useless” candy and used it to decorate a chiffon cake. An icon was born!

Since then people have been clamoring to get the recipe; the flavor and textures evoke memories for so many. Martha Stewart published a well respected version on her website and Valerie Gordon, of Valerie’s Confections, has a very popular  version on her menus in Los Angeles.

As I said above, I have never had the cake. Here is my adapted version of a recipe that was published on Tasting Table in December 2017.

I made a few adjustments, with all respect, to the recipe.

1- I didn’t have Cream of Tartar, so I added 1 Tbs. vinegar instead.

2-While I did use light corn syrup, in this recipe. I prefer not to. An easy substitution is dissolve 1 1/2 cups sugar in 1/4 cup hot water. and then measure out what you need accordingly. Please remember this is now almost 4 cups of sugar in just the candy. You can also use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Treacle). I found it on Amazon very easily.

3- When preparing your pan, I suggest make an elevated rim with parchment paper. The cake batter rises quite nicely and this will help keep that height.

4- Once you pour the batter into your prepared pan, gently run a sharp knife through it to remove any large air pockets.

5- When making the candy, if you have them wear oven mitts. The mixture gets quite hot. Remember the temperatures in the recipe matter.

I hope it brings back great memories for you. Please share your comments below when you make it!

Coffee Crunch Cake (adapted from Blum's)
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Servings
10 servings
Servings
10 servings
Coffee Crunch Cake (adapted from Blum's)
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Servings
10 servings
Servings
10 servings
Ingredients
Chiffon Cake
Coffee Crunch
Coffee Whipped Cream
Servings: servings
Instructions
Chiffon Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and position rack in middle of oven. Prepare a 9" springform pan with nonstick baking spray. Cut a 3" wide strip, long enough to go around pan. Tape it on the side away from cake.
  2. Sift together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add in the water, oil and vanilla and mix well. If you don't have an extra bowl and whisk for mixer, transfer the yolk mixture to another bowl and clean well the bowl and whisk.
  3. Back in the stand up mixer, clean bowl, start beating egg whites. When just frothy , add vinegar to enhance volume and beat until soft peaks. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff shiny peaks form. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and beat briefly until just combined.
  4. Use a rubber spatula and stir about a 1/4 cup of egg whites in to yolk mixture. Then fold yolk mixture into remaining egg whites. Gradually fold dry ingredients into egg mixture, in thirds, until fully incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan rimmed with parchment paper. Draw a knife, gently, through the batter to release air bubbles. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely on cooling rack, at least 45 minutes. Do not skip this step or the cake may tear or deflate. Run a knife between the sides of the cake and pan, then release springform pan. Run a knife between cake and bottom and wrap cake in plastic wrap, until ready to to assemble.
Coffee Crunch
  1. Heavily coat a 13x18 rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick spray and set aside. Measure the baking soda into small dish and set by stove with a whisk.
  2. Using an accurate candy thermometer, add sugar, coffee and corn syrup to a heavy 6 quart pot and cook over a medium heat, (I recommend wearing oven mitts. It will get very hot.) stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula until the thermometer reaches 270°. The temperatures are important for the candy to have the correct texture. This can take up to 10 minutes.
  3. When the candy thermometer reaches 270°, increase to high heat and stir constantly until the temperature reaches 305°. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the baking soda. The candy will start to expand and get airy very fast. Watch closely, when it starts to fill light and the color lightens up, pour it , as evenly as possible, onto baking sheet. Allow the candy to cool completely for 30 minutes. Do not to touch it.
  4. I used a rolling pin to chop up the candy into quarter sized pieces. You can also put it on a cutting board and use a heavy knife to cut it. The candy can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time and stored in an airtight jar. It would never last that long in my house.
Coffee Whipped Cream
  1. In a large mixing bowl whip to a medium peak the cold heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and coffee. Hold in refrigerator until ready to use.
To Assemble Cake
  1. Place the cake on a turn table or cake stand and cut in half horizontally in half. Cover the bottom half with 1/3 of the whipped cream and sprinkle about 1 cup of the candy crunch on top. Place the other half of cake on top and slather remaining whipped cream all over top and sides of cake. Gently press crunch candy all over the top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. You can make the cake a day or two ahead of time. If this is the case don't add candy to top and sides until just ready to serve, or it will start to melt and not be as crunchy.
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Babka, the Trendy “New” Dessert

I could barely write that title without laughing. You see Babka has been around at least as long as I can remember and really even longer. Jewish housewives started making it, in the 1800’s, with extra challah dough. It wasn’t the chocolate cinnamon version we know today. It was usually filled with jam or fruit and topped with some kind of streusel. Chocolate Babka hit the scene in the 1800’s and mostly here in America, not so much the “old country”.

When I was growing up, it was one those desserts that was always out on Friday night, Saturday lunch and Sunday dinners. It was easy to bring to somebody’s house and I’m sure my mom ate her share with a cup of coffee while playing bridge and gossiping. As a kid it was a take it or leave it dessert. If there was nothing else on the table then I would take a slice or not.

When babka was first made in Russia and Eastern Europe, it was usually a Pareve, or neutral, dish. This was for the kosher home and meant it could be served with milk or meat dishes because it was made mostly with water and oil. This made for a little bit of a drier cake. Once in America, bakeries started adding butter for a moister, richer cake with a brioche like density.

I knew Babka was having its moment in 2016 when Trader Joes started selling it. It seems only natural that I would share a recipe now. This is one of those that are not super hard to make but will make great impression. You may even bring back some memories and tears for your older friends and family.

As are all my recipes, this Babka recipe is a compilation of lots of recipes. However, I want to give specific credit for technique to Paula Shoyer, http://thekosherbaker.com . in addition to twisting the babka, she opens it before twisting which really allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Each bite has a little bit of all the flavors.

Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
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Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka
Print Recipe
Servings
2 loaves
Servings
2 loaves
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Streusel Topping
Servings: loaves
Instructions
  1. Pour yeast into warmed (110°) milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, until well blended. Whisk together flour and salt.
  2. Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and pour into egg mixture. Slowly start adding flour/salt mixture into yeast/egg mixture until dough starts to form. I reserve about 1/4 cup of the flour mix. You want the dough to be soft.
  3. Use some of the reserved flour and turn soft dough out onto floured board. Knead slightly and add flour if necessary. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Filling
  1. While dough is rising you can make your fillings and streusel. Melt together dark chocolate and oil. Set aside. I like to make the milk chocolate filling in a food processor. Make sure your butter is very cold. Pulse milk chocolate and butter in processor until small pea-sized pieces. Put back in refrigerator until ready to use.
Streusel
  1. Using the same processor, pulse together brown sugar, flour, and cold butter. It should be very crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Putting it All Together
  1. Cut a piece of parchment to a little bigger than 14"x18". Place it on cutting board and lightly flour it. Roll out your dough almost to the edges, in a rectangle.
  2. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted dark chocolate all over the dough, edge to edge. Then sprinkle the milk chocolate all over the dough. Try to get edge to edge here too.
  3. Using the parchment paper as a guide, start rolling the dough on the long side. Press as you go to keep the roll tight. pinch the ends closed and wrap in parchment. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up. While dough is refrigerator line bottom of 2 loaf pans (9X5) with parchment paper, then spray whole pan with non-stick spray.
  4. Take roll out of refrigerator and remove from paper. Cut in half. Take each half and, making sure the seam side is down, cut the rolls in half length wise, leaving one end in tact. Essentially you are "opening" them.
  5. With cut sides up, start twisting pieces over each other, keep the open side up. Tuck other end under and place in loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour. You should have 2 twisted loaves.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together reserved egg white and 2 Tbs. milk. Once dough has risen, brush tops with egg wash and gently press streusel topping into dough.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here's the trick, if it looks just slightly golden brown but not quite done, it's ok. It will continue to cook in pan and you DON'T want to overcook it or It will be dry.
  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. You can serve it warm or it is certainly good at room temperature.
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Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka

Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka

Print Recipe

Servings
2 loaves

Servings
2 loaves

Double Chocolate Brown Sugar Babka

Print Recipe

Servings
2 loaves

Servings
2 loaves

Ingredients
Dough

Filling

Streusel Topping


Servings: loaves

Instructions
  1. Pour yeast into warmed (110°) milk, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
    Meanwhile cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg yolks, until well blended.
    Whisk together flour and salt.

  2. Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and pour into egg mixture. Slowly start adding flour/salt mixture into yeast/egg mixture until dough starts to form. I reserve about 1/4 cup of the flour mix.
    You want the dough to be soft.

  3. Use some of the reserved flour and turn soft dough out onto floured board. Knead slightly and add flour if necessary. Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.

Filling
  1. While dough is rising you can make your fillings and streusel.
    Melt together dark chocolate and oil. Set aside.
    I like to make the milk chocolate filling in a food processor. Make sure your butter is very cold. Pulse milk chocolate and butter in processor until small pea-sized pieces. Put back in refrigerator until ready to use.

Streusel
  1. Using the same processor, pulse together brown sugar, flour, and cold butter. It should be very crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.

Putting it All Together
  1. Cut a piece of parchment to a little bigger than 14"x18". Place it on cutting board and lightly flour it. Roll out your dough almost to the edges, in a rectangle.

  2. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted dark chocolate all over the dough, edge to edge.
    Then sprinkle the milk chocolate all over the dough. Try to get edge to edge here too.

  3. Using the parchment paper as a guide, start rolling the dough on the long side. Press as you go to keep the roll tight.
    pinch the ends closed and wrap in parchment. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to firm up.
    While dough is refrigerator line bottom of 2 loaf pans (9X5) with parchment paper, then spray whole pan with non-stick spray.

  4. Take roll out of refrigerator and remove from paper. Cut in half.
    Take each half and, making sure the seam side is down, cut the rolls in half length wise, leaving one end in tact. Essentially you are "opening" them.

  5. With cut sides up, start twisting pieces over each other, keep the open side up. Tuck other end under and place in loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise another hour. You should have 2 twisted loaves.

  6. Preheat oven to 350°.
    Whisk together reserved egg white and 2 Tbs. milk.
    Once dough has risen, brush tops with egg wash and gently press streusel topping into dough.

  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Here's the trick, if it looks just slightly golden brown but not quite done, it's ok. It will continue to cook in pan and you DON'T want to overcook it or It will be dry.

  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack. You can serve it warm or it is certainly good at room temperature.

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