Friday, November 26, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Carol's son in law, Slava, made these for Thanksgiving in Korea. Jen said the group thought they were really good!


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

4. Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

5. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.

6. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One-Bowl Mascarpone Brownies

I came across this recipe on the kitchn blog while looking for something delicious to do with my leftover mascarpone cheese. By the way, am I the only one who has been pronouncing it "marscapone"? Imagine my surprise when Google informed me that I have been so very wrong. I'm just as bad as the folks who pronounce chipotle as "chipolte." Oh well.

Try not to focus on the copious amount of butter in this recipe. Also, I don't want to hear from any of you that you tried the recipe but cut down on the amount of butter or added some low-fat butter substitute. Brownies just should not be adulterated (unless you are adding a bit of instant espresso, like I did).

The texture of these is more like a very dense cake than a brownie. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I cut them into small squares because the chocolate is intense ... almost like eating a truffle.


Mascarpone Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 large eggs, at room-temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 325F and grease or parchment paper a 8x8 pan. Set aside.

In glass mixing bowl melt butter in microwave on full power. Stir in chocolate and mix until combined (a few additional seconds in the microwave may be needed).

Add sugar to chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Heat for an additional 30 seconds on high, remove and stir until it looks shiny. It will still look a bit grainy.

Add marscapone, vanilla, eggs and mixing until smooth.

Sift flour, salt and cocoa into mixture with a sieve and stir just until combined, making sure to scrape all sides of the bowl. (Mixture will be rather light in texture, instead of dense and heavy like many brownie batters)

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top to ensure even baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes until tester comes out clean. Leave in pan and set on wire rack to cool.

While brownies are cooling, make your ganache to pour over the top (which you will want to do while your brownies are still warm). To do so, simply heat butter and cream on medium power (taking care not to boil) in the microwave and add chocolate. Stir until all lumps disappear. Immediately pour over brownies. Let cool completely, or chill in the fridge. Once chilled a knife will cut through them cleanly. Make sure to clean your blade for each cut for a more polished look.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 7, 2010

We met Sunday, November 7, 2010 at Carol's. All were in attendance. Yea! This would also be the last month we have Teresa for a while due to an extended leave in Florida. Boo! We will hold Teresa's spot open and include her via email and possibly Skype! Gourmet Gals goes hi-tech OH MY!

Appetizer: Angie, Warm Cranberry-Walnut Brie with pears, grapes and whole wheat crackers
Soup: Carol,Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Curry Condiments with honey cream
Salad: Janet, Mixed Green Salad with Pomegranate Dressing
Bread and Wine: Teresa, Rosemary Bread and Assorted wines and Champagne
Sides: Tonya, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Fennel Puree
Main Dish: Carol, Roasted Pork with Dried Fruit and Port Sauce and Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Dry Fruit Chutney
Dessert: Mary, Pavlova

As always, Carol had a beautiful table scape. I loved the pumpkin bowls for the soup and leaf salad plates.

For an appetizer we started with Warm Cranberry-Walnut Brie. The picture was snapped after we started on it, so it does not look very pretty. I was hoping to distract with the cute turkey plate!

I removed the rind from only the top where the topping goes and left the rest of the rind to hold the shape. I served it with sweet pears, grapes and whole wheat crackers. I did not follow directions on how much topping to use, I just used my best judgement since I think the recipe is a little skimpy. Also this would have been good with a drizzle of honey.

Brie rind is an interesting thing. It looks like tissue paper and maybe it is... I nibbled some of it and it did not seem like paper. It also did not seem edible.

Carol wanted to try a soup so we gladly obliged and enjoyed her Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Curry Condiments. It was very yummy and good for you too! Carol served the soup with green onions, cashews and honey cream as condiments.

Honey Cream
Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

1 cup sour cream (I used Daisy Light)
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp curry powder

Combine all ingredients, blending well. Cover and chill up to 8 hours, if desired. Yield: 1 cup

For the salad course, Janet made Mixed Green Salad with Pomegranate Dressing. It was very delicious! Changes to the dressing recipe include using ¼ cup Pure Pomegranate Juice rather than Ocean Spray. The green salad included:

½ head Butter lettuce
½ head Romaine lettuce
¼ Yellow Pepper
¼ Red Pepper
¼ Orange Pepper
Pomegranate seeds
Grape tomatoes

Tonya brought two sides so the plates did not seem naked. And we all know we need more food on our plates! I loved the Roasted Brussels Sprouts even though there are only two on my plate. My belly was getting full with an appetizer, soup and salad (and a glass of wine or 2)!

The Fennel Puree is back for its second showing because we ALL LOVE IT!! It is so delicious. Tonya uses parsley rather than mint in the recipe.

Carol picked two pork tenderloin recipes for us. Both had fruit and both were delicious. The pork was so very tender and the secret is DO NOT overcook it! Roasted Pork with Dried Fruit and Port Sauce is on the left, with the larger fruit and the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Dry Fruit Chutney is on the right. Yum!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Dry Fruit Chutney

2 Pork Tenderloins (2 ½ lbs total weight)
½ cup Purple Onion, diced
1 ½ cups White Wine
¾ cup Sugar
½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
½ cup Dried Apples (diced)
½ cup Dried Apricots (diced)
½ cup Dried Cherries
½ cup Dried Cranberries
Herbs (your preference)
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Butcher Twine
Parchment Paper
Olive Oil

Saute diced onions in a little olive oil to sweat. Add the sugar, white wine, and vinegar and bring to a boil.

Add the dried fruits and stir to incorporate. Cook over medium low heat covered for five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. When all the liquid is absorbed and the dried fruit has taken on a plump chutney like look, adjust seasoning and finish with herbs. Remove from the heat and place on saran wrap, roll like a cigar (needs to be thin to fit in the tenderloin) and freeze until firm. (If you do not want to freeze the chutney you could instead cool the chutney and pipe in with a pastry bag.)

Trim Pork tenderloins of silver skin and any non essential fat. Remove sharp tip of tenderloin and reserve for another application.

Insert fillet or boning knife or end of wooden spoon through tenderloin and carefully insert index fingers from both ends and touch them in the middle. Carefully “roll” your fingers to “open up” the insider of the pork tenderloin to accept the chutney.

Push the frozen chutney into the tenderloin or pipe in with a pastry bag.

Cap the ends with parchment paper and “salami tie” the tenderloin for even cooking.

Season tenderloins with salt and pepper. Pan sear in olive oil and cook in pan lined with parchment paper in a hot oven (400 degrees) until center is hot (150 degrees). Let tenderloins rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

For dessert, Mary made Pavlova with Pastry Cream. It was beautiful yet mysterious as I could not figure out how she put it together! And there were so many flavors: meringue, cream, pineapple, strawberries and nuts. Oh, and coconut! (But not for Tonya). Very beautiful presentation and a light taste to finish our meal.


1 tbs unsalted butter, for parchment
½ tsp distilled white vinegar
½ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp vanilla extract
6 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 (10 oz) can crushed pineapple, well drained
Pastry Cream (below)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Butter a baking sheet and line it with buttered parchment paper. Set aside.

Mix the vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, slowly add ¼ cup of sugar. Continue beating to stiff peaks. Slowly whisk the vinegar mixture into the meringue until well incorporated.

Spread the meringue evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the coconut, walnuts, almonds and pecans evenly over the meringue. Bake until the coconut begins to turn golden and the whites are shiny and springy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine the strawberries and drained pineapple in a bowl and set aside.

Use a knife to release the edges and remove the meringue from the pan. Gently flip the meringue onto a parchment lined surface, nut side down. Spread the pastry cream (recipe below) over meringue and sprinkle evenly with strawberry mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around the perimeter of the meringue. Leave a little extra room at 1 of the short ends to help seal the Pavlova when it is rolled.

Starting with the short side with more fruit, slowly roll the meringue into a log, keeping the roll as tight as possible and tucking in the fruit as you go. Use a serrated knife to slice the ends for a clean look.

Master Pastry Cream

Dorie Greenspan is a renowned baking cookbook author.
This recipe is in her Cookbook - Baking

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch, sifted
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
3 ½ tbs unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk--this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they will not curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold.

Austin thought everything was delicious and stayed close by our sides as to not miss anything.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Banana Pudding Part 100

I love trying new recipes. Even if I have a really good recipe already. I know... it drives my parents nuts too. I made this Banana Pudding recipe for them on Sunday and it was amazing! And, it makes a ton. I used a trifle bowl and put some of the vanilla wafers on the outside to make for a pretty presentation. I also used the entire box of cookies because I have no use for the left overs! Though I do eat roughly 10 cookies while mixing the ingredients.
Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature. I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese, skim milk and low fat whipped topping and no flavor was sacrificed! Also, I think you could mix all of the whipped topping into the pudding rather than spreading half on top, as called for in the recipe.