Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Can you believe that I'm posting a dessert that isn't chocolate? What is that about? Well, it's a fabulous dessert! These dainty cakes are sweet and moist, and the buttercream is caramel perfection.
Tres Leches
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening, butter, and sugar. Add egg yolks 1 at a time. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk to the creamed mixture. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake batter. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. While cupcakes are still warm, stir together the three milks. Poke holes into the cakes and pour milk mixture over each cupcake, filling each hole. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove from pans.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

For the buttercream: Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate and cover with foil. Place in a larger roasting pan and fill the pan with hot water, to a depth of about halfway of the pie plate. Place in the oven and bake at 425 for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Stir until smooth.

Place the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Stir the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small, heavy saucepan. Whisk in the water first, then the dulce de leche and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk the dulce de leche mixture into the 2 egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. Strain through a wire mesh strainer into a small bowl. Cool completely.

Beat the butter on high until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled dulce de leche mixture. Beat in the 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Frost cupcakes liberally.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Fabulous Sunday Dinner

I thought I'd try to dress up Sunday dinner, so we had a full three course meal.

First course - homemade brioche and a blue cheese, candied walnut, and craisin spring salad
Second course - roast pork wrapped in pancetta and served with creamed corn and tomato relish
Third course - molten chocolate cake

Everything was fabulous, but to save you all the details, we'll just focus on the oh-so-rich molten chocolate cakes.

Molten Chocolate Cake

6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup cold ganache, plus more for serving (see below)
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat the interiors of four 4-ounce ramekins with nonstick spray. Set aside on a baking pan. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate, stirring to blend.

Place the eggs, yolk, and the remaining teaspoon of sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment or use a handheld electric beater. Beat on medium-high speed until the eggs are thick and yellow. Add the melted chocolate and continue to whip until thoroughly blended. Add the flour and salt, beating to incorporate. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes or ideally up to overnight.

Fill the prepared ramekins halfway with the batter. Place a tablespoon of ganache in the center. Pour in enough cake batter to cover the ganache and fill to 3/4 full. Bake until the sides are set and the tops are puffed but still soft, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the ramekins for 2 minutes before inverting onto 4 dessert plates.

4 ounces white or dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup nutella, peanut butter, or malted milk powder

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Combine the cream and nutella (or other flavoring) in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until bubbles just begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and immediately pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate in a steady stream. Let it sit for a few seconds to begin to melt. As soon as the chocolate begins to melt, using a whisk or rubber spatula, stir in a circular motion until the chocolate is completely smooth.

The great thing about the ganache is that you can change the flavor by substituting white for dark chocolate or peanut butter for the nutella. Any way you try it, it makes a fabulous cake. It was so rich, it was impossible even for me to finish!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bajio's Sweet Rice

No more need to cook that horrible Spanish rice from the box! This recipe is sweet and savory and complements any type of Mexican food. It's so tasty, that after our first sampling, I promptly got rid of the boxed junk that I'd previously been using. It's a very easy recipe, and is just as convenient as using the boxed mixes.

Bajio's Sweet Rice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 of a white onion, chopped
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
2/3 cups long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup sugar

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the chopped cilantro and saute a minute more. Add the rice, cooking until light brown. Combine the chicken broth and sugar and let the sugar dissolve. Stir chicken broth mixture into the rice until combined. Bring to a boil Cover and let cook on low until the rice is done, about 25-30 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Feel free to swap out some of the sugar for lime juice, if you prefer that flavor. Browning of the rice is also important, as it helps the rice from losing too much starch and getting too sticky.