Desserts

The Ingenious Creation of Cheesecake

April 15, 2016

Anytime it comes to ingenious culinary creations—i.e. pizzas, cronuts, etc.—I have to know how it happened! The who, what, when, where, why’s of how these decadently “simple” (of course there are much more involved versions than others) recipes came to be! And today we are talking CHEESECAKE! A simple combination of cheese, eggs, and sugar—that have been around, in one form of another, since 2000 B.C.

First concocted in Ancient Greece, it was actually considered to be a good source of energy for athletes. It was even served at the very first Olympic games back in 776 B.C.  Prior to the matches the athletes would eat cake to fuel up! A novel concept indeed—I’d know I’d hit the weights harder if cheesecake was involved—but undoubtedly an obsolete tradition.

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Photo Credit: bonappetit.com

Of course their recipe wasn’t quite what we know it as today. The Greeks used cheese, honey, and wheat flour. When the Romans conquered Greece, the cheesecake recipe was re-adapted to include eggs! As the Romans expanded their empire, the tradition and execution of making cheesecake would change hands many times. Great Britain and Eastern Europe would eventually begin making their rendition with added, along with an extra step of soaking the cheese in milk prior to incorporating the other ingredients. When Europeans immigrated to America, the tradition of making cheesecake followed and in 1872 a New York dairy farmer who was attempting to replicate the French cheese Neufchatel, accidentally made another ingenious culinary development…He invented CREAM CHEESE! Fast forward a few years and you have the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Company. 

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Leave it to another culinary explorer, Arnold Reuben a German immigrant and owner of the legendary Turf Restaurant at 49th and Broadway in New York City, to accidentally develop the first cream-cheese based cheesecake recipe! He allegedly came upon his take on the dessert when he fell in love with a friend’s cheesecake and decided to duplicate the recipe using the ingredients he had on hand—lucky for us, that included cream cheese! It wasn’t long after he perfected the recipe and began serving it in his restaurant that other restaurants took notice and the re-known New York-Style Cheesecake was born! A simple combination of cream cheese, cream, sugar, and eggs (extra egg yolks contributing to the signature flavor); served with just the cake—no fruit, chocolate or any other additions.

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Photo Credit: chefjar.com

Of course New York isn’t the only place to have its signature cheesecake. In Chicago sour cream is added for an extra creamy bite! Over in Philadelphia, cheesecake is even creamier, but surprisingly lighter that it’s comrades. It can also be served with fruit, chocolate, or other sweet toppings. Across the pond you’ll find Italians use ricotta cheese, Greeks use mizithra or feta, Germans prefer cottage cheese, and in Japan they use a combo of cornstarch and egg whites. Even Haagen-Dazs jumped on the cheesecake bandwagon with a cheesecake-flavored ice cream and—get this—cheesecake flavored postage stamps! What do you think about that?!

For now, I’ll stick with the good old fashion cake version!

Main Course

Mediterranean Bowl

April 11, 2016

Homemade crispy falafel, rice pilaf, greens, tomatoes/cucumbers, and a delicious spicy curry yogurt to tie it all together. Mediterranean food is my favorite genre of food to eat, so making this was a no brainier! I can eat this all day, errrr day!

Hope you enjoy #MediterraneanWeek.

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Begin by boiling water in a medium size sauce pan. Add in a single bay leaf…

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…3 tbsp ground cumin…

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…1 tbsp dry coriander…

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…a pinch of fennel seeds…

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…and 1 cup garbanzo beans that have been pre-soaked (in cold water for 3 hours), or cooked. 

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Cook for 30 minutes…

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…strain…

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…and pour them onto a plate with a drizzle of olive oil.  Place in the fridge for a brief chill.

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In a small sauté pan on high heat add 4-5 tbsp olive oil…

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…a pinch of ground cumin…

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…fennel seeds, coriander…

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…and 1 clove of crushed garlic.

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Sauté for 2 minutes… 

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…and then transfer to a food processor…

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…along with 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 bunch of parsley…

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…and the chilled chickpeas.  

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Add a drizzle of olive oil…

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…and a pinch of salt.

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Blend on high for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s coarsely ground.

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Once blended, transfer the chickpea mixture to a medium mixing bowl.

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Add in 1 whole egg…

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…1/4 cup wheat bran, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour…

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…1 whole lemon (zest and juice)…

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…salt and pepper to taste.

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Mix thoroughly. You can add up to 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup bread crumbs if desired (optional for texture).

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Now that the falafels are ready, dust a plate with whole wheat flour…

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.59.57 AM…and begin to form a long oval/triangular shape that is synonymous with falafels.

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Once formed, cover in plastic and preserve in the fridge until they are ready to fry up.

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In a medium sauce pan on medium to high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil…

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…1/4 cup minced onion…

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…and 1/2 cup orzo pasta.

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Lightly toast the orzo for 2 minutes (while stirring)…

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…and add in 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Cook for 12-15 minutes on medium to low heat.

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While the pilaf is simmering, begin frying the falafels in a medium sauce pan, half-filled with canola oil that has been heated to 350ºF.

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Drop in the falafels and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until they are a nice and golden brown.

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Let them drain over paper towels for several minutes…

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…sprinkle with salt, and begin plating.

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 Begin plating by adding a smear of spicy curry yogurt (1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper to taste)…

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…a healthy portion of the orzo pilaf…

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…some shredded cabbage and arugula that have been tossed in olive oil and sea salt. 

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Top with some shaved cucumber and red onion…

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…a few falafels…

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…and some roasted cherry tomatoes.

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Drizzle with a little olive oil…

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…add a pinch of sea salt, and you’re ready to enjoy!

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Mediterranean Bowl

Mediterranean Bowl

Ingredients

    Falafel:
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (soaked or cooked)
  • 1 tbsp dry coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 whole lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water (optional for texture)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (optional for texture)
  • Pilaf:
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Spicy curry yogurt:
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Arugula/Sliced cabbage
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh squeeze of a lemon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Begin by boiling water in a medium size sauce pan. Add in a single bay leaf, 3 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp dry coriander, a pinch of fennel seeds, and 1 cup garbanzo beans that have been pre-soaked (in cold water for 3 hours), or cooked.
  2. Cook for 30 minutes, strain, and pour them onto a plate with a drizzle of olive oil. Place in the fridge for a brief chill.
  3. In a small sauté pan on high heat add 4-5 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of ground cumin, fennel seeds, coriander, and 1 clove of crushed garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes and then transfer to a food processor along with 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 bunch of parsley, and the chilled chickpeas. Blend on high for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s coarsely ground.
  4. Once blended, transfer the chickpea mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Add in 1 whole egg, 1/4 cup wheat bran, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 whole lemon (zest and juice), salt and pepper to taste.
  5. You can add up to 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup bread crumbs if desired (optional for texture).
  6. Now that the falafels are ready, dust a plate with whole wheat flour and begin to form a long oval/triangular shape that is synonymous
  7. with falafels. Once formed, cover in plastic and preserve in the fridge until they are ready to fry up.
  8. In a medium sauce pan on medium to high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup minced onion, and 1/2 cup orzo pasta. Lightly toast the orzo for 2 minutes (while stirring) and add in 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Cook for 12-15 minutes on medium to low heat.
  9. While the pilaf is simmering, begin frying the falafels in a medium sauce pan, half-filled with canola oil that has been heated to 350F. Drop in the falafels and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until they are a nice and golden brown. Let them drain over paper towels for several minutes before plating.
  10. Begin plating by adding a smear of spicy curry yogurt (1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper to taste), a healthy portion of the orzo pilaf, some shredded cabbage and arugula that have been tossed in olive oil and sea salt.
  11. Top with some shaved cucumber and red onion, a few falafels, and some roasted cherry tomatoes.
  12. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add a pinch of sea salt, and you’re ready to enjoy!
http://www.byrontalbott.com/mediterranean-bowl/

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| Top Left: Cutting Board | Top Middle: All-Clad Sauce Pan | Top Right: KitchenAid Food Processor |

| Bottom Left: All-Clad Saute Pan | Bottom Middle: All-Clad Strainers | Bottom Left: Squeezy Bottles |

Desserts

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

April 4, 2016

Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla have never looked so good! I made about 15 or 16 of these and they didn’t last an hour in my home. I guess I’ll have to make more? This is the best way I can think of to kick off the #MacaronWeek! Let’s dive in.

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In a medium size mixing bowl add 1 egg white…

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…and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar.

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…and add an additional tbsp of granulated sugar.

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Continue to whisk until you have a meringue with soft peaks.

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Once the meringue is ready, sift in 1/4 cup of almond flour and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.

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Gently fold in the ingredients until it is roughly combined.  

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Add the additional 1/4 cup of almond flour and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to the mix.  

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Gently fold in the ingredients and be sure not to under or over mix (see technique in video).

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Transfer the batter to a pipping bag…

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…and pipe out several evenly portioned circles onto as silpat lined baking sheet.

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Give the baking sheet a few taps on the counter…

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…and gently pop any remain air bubbles with the tip of a sharp knife. Let the macarons dry for 10 minutes.

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For decoration, I like to flick red food coloring over the tops of the macarons.  I used a 2 tsp water to 1 drop of gel food coloring ratio.

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After they’ve dried for 10 minutes, put them in the oven and bake at 280°F for 15 minutes.

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When the macarons have finished baking, carefully remove them from the tray and let them cool.

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Repeat this process for the chocolate macarons, adding an additional 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the original recipe above.

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When both cookies have baked, put them in the freezer to cool.  

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Once cooled, pipe strawberry ice cream onto one flavor of the macarons and gently sandwich it between that and the opposite flavor.

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Let these ice cream sandwiches set up in the freezer for about 2 hours and ENJOY!

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Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

Ingredients

    Plain Macaron:
  • 65g (2/3 cup) Powdered Sugar
  • 50g (1/2 cup) Almond Flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 20g (2 tbsp) Granulated Sugar
  • Red & Pink Food Coloring (optional) / 2 tbsp water : 1 drop of food coloring
  • Chocolate Macaron:
  • 65g (2/3 cup) Powdered Sugar
  • 50g (1/2 cup) Almond Flour
  • 15g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
  • 1 egg white
  • 20g (2 tbsp) Granulated Sugar
  • 2 drops brown gel food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl add 1 egg white and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. Whisk for 1 minute and add an additional tbsp of granulated sugar. Continue to whisk until you have a meringue with soft peaks.
  2. Once the meringue is ready, sift in 1/4 cup of almond flour and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar. Gently fold in the ingredients until it is roughly combined. Add the additional 1/4 cup of almond flour and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar to the mix. Gently fold in the ingredients and be sure not to under or over mix (see technique in video).
  3. Transfer the batter to a pipping bag and pipe out several evenly portioned circles onto as silpat lined baking sheet. Give the baking sheet a few taps on the counter and gently pop any remain air bubbles with the tip of a sharp knife. Let the macarons dry for 10 minutes.
  4. For decoration, I like to flick red food coloring over the tops of the macarons. I used a 2 tsp water to 1 drop of gel food coloring ratio.
  5. After they've dried for 10 minutes, put them in the oven and bake at 280°F for 15 minutes.
  6. When the macarons have finished baking, carefully remove them from the tray and let them cool. Repeat this process for the chocolate macarons, adding an additional 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the original recipe above.
  7. When both cookies have baked, put them in the freezer to cool. Once cooled, pipe strawberry ice cream onto one flavor of the macarons and gently sandwich it between that and the opposite flavor.
  8. Let these ice cream sandwiches set up in the freezer for about 2 hours and ENJOY!
http://www.byrontalbott.com/macaron-ice-cream-sandwich/

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| Top Left: Boos Cutting Board | Top Middle: Glass Bowl Set | Top Right: All-Clad Strainers |

| Bottom Left: Baking Sheets | Bottom Middle: Pastry Bags | Bottom Right: Silpat |

Drinks

Passion Fruit Granita

April 2, 2016

Passion fruit is AMAZING!! I always forget how insanely obsessed I am with this fruit and just the idea of experiencing new and inventive ways to enjoy unusual flavors. Today we’re making a refreshing passion fruit granita with a little asian inspiration!It’s the kind of treat you can’t put down! Refreshing and delicious! Let’s get started.

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In a mixing bowl at in 1 cup passion fruit juice (alternatives: 1/4 cup fresh passion fruit pulp or 1/2 cup passion fruit puree)…

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…along with 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp yuzu juice…

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…and 2 tbsp sugar.

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Give this a good whisk and freeze for about 3-4 hours.

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In the meantime go ahead thinly slice a lemon.

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Lay those slices onto a sheet tray, dust with cayenne pepper and chile powder.

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Sprinkle with sugar.

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Cover with and additional silpat and bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes.

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Once the lemons have finished baking, remove them from the oven.

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Peel way the top silpat and let them cool for 5-7 minutes.

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Once cooled, remove from the silpat and set aside until you’re ready to garnish.

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Once the passion fruit mixture has set up, remove it from the freezer and begin scraping at it with a fork.  

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After it’s nice a shredded, add a generous portion to a chilled glass.

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Add a splash of chilled sake…

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…and garnish with a sliced if spicy candied lemon. Enjoy!   

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Passion Fruit Granita

Ingredients

  • 1 cup passion fruit juice or 1/4 cup fresh passion fruit pulp or 1/2 cup passion fruit puree
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice
  • Optional - Sake to finish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl at in 1 cup passion fruit juice (alternatives: 1/4 cup fresh passion fruit pulp or 1/2 cup passion fruit puree) along with 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp yuzu juice, and 2 tbsp sugar.
  2. Give this a good whisk and freeze for about 3-4 hours.
  3. in the meantime go ahead thinly slice a lemon. Lay those slices onto a sheet tray, dust with cayenne pepper and chile powder, and sprinkle with sugar. Cover with and additional silpat and bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes.
  4. Once the lemons have finished baking, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the silpat and set aside until you’re ready to garnish.
  5. Once the passion fruit mixture has set up, remove it from the freezer and begin scraping at it with a fork. Once it is nice a shredded, add a generous portion to a chilled glass. Add a splash of chilled sake and garnish with a sliced if spicy candied lemon. Enjoy!
http://www.byrontalbott.com/passion-fruit-granita/

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| Top Left: Silpat | Top Middle: Glass Bowl Set | Top Right: Baking Sheets |

| Bottom Left: Boos Cutting Board | Bottom Right: All-Clad Bowl Set |

Desserts

Mini Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

April 2, 2016

 What do you get when you cross a cookie with a hot chocolate? I have no idea, but I’m just going to enjoy these Mini Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups in the meantime! These are out of this world! Let’s get started.

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In a mixing bowl add 3 egg whites…

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…a pinch of salt…

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…and 1 cup sugar.  

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Whisk for 1 minute.

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Add in 1/4 cup melted butter…

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…1 tbsp vanilla extract…

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…and 1/4 cup AP flour (half at a time) while whisking.

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Whisk until the batter is completely lump free, or for about 2 minutes.  

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After that cover it with plastic and allow is to rest in the fridge for 3-6 hours.

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Make a simple stencil (I used a manila folder) for a 3.5” x 8” rectangle. Place it on top of a silpat lined sheet tray. 

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Once the batter has set up, remove it from the fridge and smear it from edge to edge of the stencil.

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After that, gently peel away the stencil being careful not to smear the batter.

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Bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes, or until it’s a light golden brown.

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Remove from the oven, quickly remove the silpat from the tray (to stop the cooking process), and drizzle melted dark chocolate over half of the cookie.  

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Quickly roll it all the way around a rolling pin (shot glass thickness)…

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…and gently slide it off.  Repeat the process until you have about a 1/4 cup of batter left.

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On a silpat lined baking sheet, dollop of few circles of the leftover batter onto the silpat. Bake for for about 7 minutes, or until the outer edges are golden brown.

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Trim down one edge of each cookie cup so that they stand up straight.  

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Gently press them into the dollops of baked batter.

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Let these cool for about five minutes, and gently trim the excess cookie from the base of the cookie cups.

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Pour a little melted chocolate to the bottom of the cookie cups, giving this a few gentle taps to make sure it settles to the bottom of the cup.  

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Smear the remaining chocolate around the inner walls of the cookie cup to ensure they’re sealed and ready for liquid. 

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Refrigerate for 30 minutes and they’re ready!

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Pour hot chocolate into the cookie cups, drink, and bite in! Enjoy.

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Mini Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

Mini Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup Ap flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup melted chocolate

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl add 3 egg whites, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup sugar. Whisk for 1 minute.
  2. Add in 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup AP flour (half at a time) while whisking.
  3. Whisk until the batter is completely lump free, or for about 2 minutes. After that cover it with plastic and allow is to rest in the fridge for 3-6 hours.
  4. Make a simple stencil (I used a manila folder) for a 3.5” x 8” rectangle. Place it on top of a silpat lined sheet tray.
  5. Once the batter has set up, remove it from the fridge and smear it from edge to edge of the stencil. After that, gently peel away the stencil being careful not to smear the batter.
  6. Bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes, or until it’s a light golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven, quickly remove the silpat from the tray (to stop the cooking process), and drizzle melted dark chocolate over half of the cookie.
  8. Quickly roll it all the way around a rolling pin (shot glass thickness) and gently slide it off. Repeat the process until you have about a 1/4 cup of batter left.
  9. On a silpat lined baking sheet, dollop of few circles of the leftover batter onto the silpat. Bake for for about 7 minutes, or until the outer edges are golden brown.
  10. Trim down one edge of each cookie cup so that they stand up straight. Gently press them into the dollops of baked batter.
  11. Let these cool for about five minutes, and gently trim the excess cookie from the base of the cookie cups.
  12. Pour a little melted chocolate to the bottom of the cookie cups, giving this a few gentle taps to make sure it settles to the bottom of the cup. Smear the remaining chocolate around the inner walls of the cookie cup to ensure they’re sealed and ready for liquid.
  13. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and they’re ready! Pour hot chocolate into the cookie cups, drink, and bite in! Enjoy.
http://www.byrontalbott.com/mini-hot-chocolate-cookie-cups/

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| Top Left: Silpat | Top Middle: Glass Bowl Set | Top Right: Baking Sheets |

| Bottom Left: Boos Cutting Board | Bottom Middle: Rolling Pin | Bottom Right: Pastry Spatula |

Food for Thought

World’s Most Popular Pastas

March 14, 2016

Pasta, pasta, PASTA! I couldn’t live without this Italian staple and the countless ways it can be served up! I decided to serve you up with a little pasta refresher course! As in, what’s the difference between penne, fusilli, and rigatoni?! Have a clue?

If your a pasta aficionado you may know, but for the rest of us…here’s everything you need to know about the different types of pastas being served world wide!


Cannelloni

Spinach-and-ricotta-canelloni

Photo Credit: Smart-Restaurants.co.uk

Chances are you’ve heard of a stuffed cannelloni. It’s one the most popular dishes on an Italian menu. The noodle itself is called “cannelloni.” It’s a flat pasta that typically gets rolled into tubes, stuffed with various meats and cheeses, topped with sauce, cheese, and gets baked!


Farfalle

Photo Credit: DIY Gourmet

Photo Credit: DIY Gourmet

Farfalle pasta is better known as “bow-tie” pasta, and the name is very fitting. Mini bow-ties made from pasta dough.  Great for holding sauces and the king of pasta salads! Serve it hot or cold, it’s great!


Fettuccine

pasta-fettuccine-con-sugo-di-tonno-con-aglio-e-panna-1

Photo Credit: Sbuck119.wordpress.com

Probably one of the more renown pastas, the fettuccine noodle is long, flat, and is great for thinner sauces! Best known for being served Alfredo-style, this is also excellent with a little butter and lemon. DELICIOUS!


Fusilli

IMG_5978

Photo Credit: CookingEpisodes.com

This spiral of a noodle was first introduced to me in veggie form.  It was tri-colored (beige, green, red) and is still one of my favorite types of fusilli! Whichever way you like it served, the spirals are great for holding thick sauces and ensure that you get an even sauce to pasta ratio in every bite!

Linguine

Photo Credit: FoodNetwork.com

Linguine can be bought dry, or fresh and it’s very similar to the spaghetti noodle, only it’s less rounded and more flat.  Best known for being paired with seafood.


Penne

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Photo Credit: FoodieCrush.com

Penne vodka is definitely a favorite of mine! It’s a creamy tomato and vodka based sauce that finds it’s way into the center of each and every piece of penne pasta it comes in contact with! Penne is a small tube like noodle that is best served a bit al dente and is ideal for sopping up every last drop of sauce! Probably one of the biggest crowd pleasers—and great in pasta salad.


Rigatoni

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Photo Credit: Saveur.com

A larger and thicker version of the penne is rigatoni.  It comes with with long grooves around the outer skin that are perfect for scooping up sauce—in addition to the large tubes that hold sauce like no other! It’s a very hearty noodle that is perfect for baked dishes, like casseroles.


 Shells

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Photo Credit: TheNewGoodLife.wordpress.com

Shells come in a variety of sizes. The smaller versions are great or for thinner sauces, as they scoop up and retain liquid quite well. The larger ones are great stuffed with mixed cheese and fresh herbs. Ideal for baking as they can stand up to the heat and heavy fillings.


Spaghetti

Photo Credit: GreenValleyKitchen.com

Photo Credit: GreenValleyKitchen.com

The hands down most popular pasta is SPAGHETTI! It’s the star of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and by far the biggest crowd pleaser.  Whether or not you’ve experienced the pure ecstasy of spaghetti and meat balls, you’re well acquainted with the long, round, uniform noodles. Served 101+ ways, this is the ideal pasta for keeping around the house when the carb cravings begin! VERY versatile.


Tortellini

Photo Credit: Communitytable.parade.com

Photo Credit: Communitytable.parade.com

Last, but not least, the Tortellini. Small pasta dumplings that are typically stuffed with meat or cheese and formed into small “U” shapes. The rich fillings are perfectly paired with a mild sauce as the tortellini should always be star of the show!


With all of that said, what is your go-to pasta