February 26th, 2015

Grapefruit Cake, at last

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Soft chiffon crumb, fragrant with zest, dotted with bittersweet syrup, coated in cream cheese icing…

Before I tell you more about this “at last” cake, I need to tell you its backstory,
which curiously begins with cornbread.

Recently I was invited to participate in “Dirty Pages,” a photo and story-telling exhibit about Nashville women and their storied recipes. Each person was asked to submit a favored recipe, one whose splattered, ringed and tattered page demonstrated not only its much-loved use, but told its tale of food–family–community.

I knew immediately where I’d find mine, inside Recipes from Foods of the World. My first cookbook, it was a gift from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, presented on the eve of my wedding in 1974. The marriage didn’t last—but the cookbook is still with me.

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The recipe I had in mind was “Leola’s Cornbread.” Over the years, especially during my catering career, it was a workhorse. My staff and I tweaked and modified the recipe, cut back on the sugar, increased the butter, deleted the margarine, even created a version with buttermilk. We baked it into countless loaves, muffins, hoecakes, croutons, and stuffings. We sparked it with chilis, cheeses, pimentos and scallions.

The recipe became encrusted with cornmeal.

I smile poring over the page: A mess of meal and flour, the blurred notes in the margins jotted by my cohorts Wendy and Tonya, the release of a musty, almost rancid scent from smears of batter, set in now for decades. A veritable “Dirty Page” from my life.

But the cookbook holds other treasures.

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Turning pages, stirring memories–look at that picture of the Grapefruit Cake! When I first saw this as a young cook, I was enchanted by the look of it. I loved the campy tropical staging. But, in my early twenties, I wasn’t crazy about grapefruit, so I didn’t make it. (I know–silly youth.)

My tastes matured, thank goodness. Whenever I–the older, more sophisticated caterer and chef—would peruse the cookbook and land on that page I’d think, “I’d really like to make that cake. I bet it’s delicious.”

I never got to it. Until last week, I had forgotten about it.

Everything in its time, they say. A prompt to review the past, through all my “dirty pages,” and I decided it would be different this time. I was going to make this beauty.

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It took me almost forty one years. But I’ve made it, Amen, at last.

GRAPEFRUIT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING AND CANDIED GRAPEFRUIT PEEL
adapted from Recipes from Foods of the World published by Time/Life books, 1972

THE CAKE
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fresh squeezed and strained grapefruit juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon fresh grated grapefruit zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the sides and bottom of cake pan(s) with softened butter, then dust with flour.

Sift cake flour, baking flour, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
Pour grapefruit juice and oil into a measuring cup. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the 4 egg whites with cream of tartar until they form stiff, unwavering peaks. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the 4 yolks with 1 cup sugar for 4-5 minutes. Mixture will become thick and light yellow.

Beat in 1/2 cup of the flour mixture, followed by 1/4 cup of the juice-oil mixture. Repeat this process until the batter is well incorporated. Beat in the grapefruit zest.

Fold in the egg whites gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the cake pan(s); smooth the tops, and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick or cake tester for doneness. Remove and cool on a rack for 5 minutes before inverting.

Invert cakes onto racks and remove pans. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

makes a 2-layer 9″cakes, or one 11″ springform round, split

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THE CANDIED PEEL
for great visual “how-to” steps, visit here at Cooking Light
1 grapefruit
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Carefully peel the rind of the grapefruit into long strips. Place the strips into a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Drain, add fresh water to cover and repeat. Drain and add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, stirring to dissolve.
Cover and place on medium heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Remove the strips, now supple and glazy, and lay them out on a rack to dry, reserving the syrup.

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CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
2 teaspoons grapefruit syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the zest, syrup and vanilla.
Beat in the powdered sugar, tasting for desired sweetness.

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ASSEMBLY

If you baked the cake in one large (10-11 inch) springform pan, split the cool layer in half.
Dot one layer with reserved syrup from making the candied peel. Spread a layer of frosting and place the other half (or other layer) on top.

Coat the top and sides with frosting.

Decorate the sides with candied peel. Cut the zested grapefruit into supremes–slices or sections without the pith or membrane. Arrange the slices on top of the cake.

Serves 12-16

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Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 24 Comments »




August 23rd, 2012

A (Very) Local Honey Cake

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Our friend Jennifer Barrie has been almost as busy as her bees.

This is the first year that she’s had success: her hives holding frame after frame of cured-and-capped honey. Fortitude and backbone are beekeeper requirements. It takes a full cycle of the seasons–sometimes longer— for a colony to build a large enough population to create a honey surplus, fit for harvest.

Time and weather, pollen and patience all worked in Jen’s favor. She’s extracted copious quarts of light amber honey from her backyard hives–enough to sell.

I was excited to purchase a jar, and couldn’t wait to taste it: the closest to home honey I’ve ever had.

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What I came up with was a humble one-layer cake.
It incorporates the honey with restraint.
Caramel-browned butter deepens that flavor.
Fresh thyme leaves add an herbal undercurrent that seems right with Jen’s floral-forward nectar.

Not-too-sweet, it’s the sort of cake that you’d enjoy with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

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Although you’d be proud to serve it to guests, sidled by a scoop of ice cream
I’m thinking Strawberry, Orange, French Vanilla,
or fresh fruit.
such as Peaches, a scatter of Blueberries,
FIGS.

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I could have left the cake plain, or brushed it with a glaze of citrus and honey.

Instead, I whipped up a basic frosting–just butter, cream cheese, and honey. I split the single baked layer after it cooled, and spread it over the moist and fragrant crumb. I finished it with a top coat, strewn with pistachios.

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Jen told me that she’s just extracted a new batch. This time, it is deep yellow-gold in color. It all depends on what is blooming in the summer cycle. I’m anxious to sample this honey, and compare the differences in taste.

Meanwhile, a piece of delectable, very local honey cake awaits—I’d love it if you’d stop by for a slice.

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BROWN BUTTER HONEY CAKE

1 cup Brown Butter (slowly cook butter in a skillet on medium heat, occasionally stirring, until solids becomes toasty brown)
1 T. fresh Thyme leaves
1 cup Honey
2 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
1 cup Milk
Juice from 1 Lemon (about 2 T.)
1 T. Vanilla
3 Eggs

equipment: stand or hand-held mixer, 9″ cake pan

Toss thyme leaves into warm brown butter.
Sift flour, baking powder, soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.
Place lemon juice and vanilla into the cup of milk and stir. Let it stand and lightly thicken/curdle.
When butter is cooled, pour it into a mixing bowl and beat in the honey.
Beat in milk mixture.
Beat in flour mixture.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Pour batter into prepared 9″ cake pan. (bottom lined with parchment, sides and bottom coated with baking spray)

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

HONEY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4 oz. (1 stick) Butter, softened
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
3-4 T. Honey
1/2 cup Pistachios–coarsely chopped to garnish

Beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
Beat in the honey, one tablespoon at a time. Mixture will be creamy smooth, and somewhat fluffy.

Spread onto split layer and top. Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Serves 10-12
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Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 28 Comments »




December 12th, 2011

Cream Cheese Crescents, and an early Christmas present

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A woman I scarcely knew gave me this cookbook, Blue Ribbon Recipes, in the summer of 1975, an unsold item from her yard sale. She was getting rid of everything–moving out of the sultry South to an arid intentional community on a mesa near Santa Fe. I don’t recall much more about the circumstances, how I’d come to briefly meet her, or why she thought I should have the book.

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But I’d like to thank her.

We all know how cookbooks can be—intriguing to thumb through, eye-feasting at times, with the occasional wonderful recipe that you actually use. But not so with this Blue Ribbon. Throughout the years, it’s been one bearing numerous good recipes, ones that I use again and again, such as these Cream Cheese Crescents.

The smudged and splattered pages tell the story.

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Mary Ann Hill of Perry, Ohio, won a Blue Ribbon at the Lake County Fair for these flaky confections, sometime in the early Sixties. Her recipe is deceptively simple, but the combination of cream cheese and butter whipped with egg yolks into all purpose flour yields a remarkably light and supple dough that bakes into tangy layers.

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I first tried Mary Ann’s recipe around 1980. My sister and I had a kiosk in an old warehouse, “Goodies” where we sold sandwiches and baked goods, including the famous Marbled Cream Cheese Brownies. We were always on the lookout for something delicious and different. This recipe caught our attention.

We tweaked it slightly, and substituted almonds for walnuts.

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The dough is made in advance, and can be divided and frozen, even, if need be.
The recipe can also be easily cut in half–but for catering purposes, it made sense for us to leave it as it is. The complete batch makes up to 8 dozen filled crescents!

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We also valued the recipe for its versatile nature. You could enhance that seductive meringue filling with cocoa, espresso powder, different extracts, if you wanted another flavor profile. You could add pecans, pistachios, even dried fruit and jam.

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The pastry dough is not sweet at all, and only gets its sweetness from being rolled in the powdered sugar on the work board.

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Indeed, Mary Ann Hill deserved the Blue Ribbon for this recipe, and should be pleased, if she’s still on the planet, that it is inspiring cooks today. It is a delicious shaped cookie.
I’d like to thank her, too.

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An afternoon of rolling, filling, twisting and folding–this is why I love baking cookies.

A soothing rhythm that results in a roomful of treats–
Crescents for now, Crescents for later, Cresents to keep, Crescents to share.

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ALMOND CREAM CHEESE CRESCENT COOKIES adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes

Pastry Dough:
1 lb. softened Butter
1 lb. Cream Cheese
4 cups All Purpose Flour
4 Egg Yolks

Confectioner’s Sugar—at least 2 cups

Filling:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 cup Sugar
1 t. Almond Extract
1/4 t. Vanilla
1 cup toasted, ground Almonds

Method:
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together. Beat in egg yolks, then the flour. Separate dough into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Take reserved egg whites and refrigerate overnight as well.

The next day:

Make Filling:
Beat egg whites into soft peaks. Beat in sugar, almond and vanilla extract. Filling will hold its shape without being too stiff.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees, if convection)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar on the work counter, and roll out dough ball. Flip and roll on the other side, so that the sugar gets layered in.

Score dough into 2″ squares, and sprinkle with ground almonds. Place a dab of filling in the middle of each, and roll up–diamond corner to corner.

Place rolled crescents onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Dust with more ground almonds, if desired.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Makes 7-8 dozen crescents.

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Here’s a happy Post Script.

Many of you were so kind when I posted about the passing of our sweet old cat, Cass, just three months ago. Last week, I awoke early to the sound of plaintive crying somewhere outside, near my home. I investigated, called out, and this young fellow bounded up onto my front porch, encircling my legs, positively beaming that he’d been heard.

I’ve checked around the neighborhood, posted on the area list serv. No one has claimed him. I took him to the vet for a check-up. No micro chip in him. But the poor guy, neutered and declawed, had been somebody’s cat—and he had been out in the world for a while. Dirty, dehydrated, anemic, hungry, a terrible mouth infection….but he’s coming around nicely.

My vet says that sometimes that Cat Angels take over—send someone new to replace the one who died. Bill says that our previous cats sprayed the word “Suckers” all around our house, so that any in need would immediately know that ours was a cat-friendly place.

In any case, Sid is safe with us, in a good home. An early Christmas present!
We’re crazy about him already.

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Sid, the Christmas Cat, aka Sid-Not-Vicious

Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 41 Comments »




December 22nd, 2010

Two for “2” Italian Cream and Red Velvet Cake

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Gifts! More Gifts!

It’s just days before Christmas, and the hustle is on to fill in the missing pieces of the present-puzzle. I have to navigate with care getting those last minute goodies, and quell those did-I-get-enough-maybe-I-should-get-just-one-more-thing feelings.

Whew. Stop! There’s more the enough.

As we like to say in the South, there’s Gracious Plenty.

But I didn’t want to forget you this season. Wouldn’t think of it! You’ve been so nice to come along with me on these little culinary forays. And, since this is the Two Year Anniversary of Good Food Matters, (whoo-hoo! we are 2!) it seems only fitting that I offer you not one but two cakes. Please. Yes, you deserve them.

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This first cake, the lavish Italian Cream (sometimes called Italian Wedding Cake) has so many delicious elements–lemon zest, toasted pecans, shredded coconut–that combine to create a complex cake with terrific texture. People who do not like coconut like this cake. Layers are light, a little spongey–thanks to eggs that are separated, whipped, and folded throughout the batter.

I hadn’t made one in a long time, and remembered this tip, in preparation: Do not overbeat the egg whites—you want soft peaks that will fold with ease. Stiff egg whites will result in stiff (tough!) crumb. But otherwise, this is a simple recipe, elegant under a coat of lemony cream cheese. Enjoy.

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And then there is the Red Velvet Cake, the Enigma. It elicits an initial Shock of the Red, and speculation of what its flavor could be.

It’s a flavor that has nothing to do with its color, (eek! red food dye!) and cannot truly be described as chocolate or vanilla, even though cocoa and vanilla extract are recipe ingredients.

Buttermilk and vinegar make major contributions to its alluring tang.

Created at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1920s, Red Velvet was popular for its regal crimson layers. In the times of scarcity that soon followed, Red Velvet was preferred over chocolate cakes for its modest use of cocoa. Sometimes beet juice was used as a coloring agent. The butter roux icing mimicked whipped cream. Somewhat.

It never made sense to me that I should like this nebulous concoction, but it has a beguiling je ne sais quoi.

Once, I thought I had pinpointed its mysterious appeal. I was leveling the tops of some Red Velvet layers, which left some thin slices behind. I slathered them with the icing, and rolled them up to eat. In this fashion, the Red Velvet reminded me of a cherished childhood treat, like a “Yodel” or a “Devil Dog.” Hmmmmm. Somewhat.

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ITALIAN CREAM CAKE

1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
5 Eggs, separated
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Buttermilk
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 teaspoon Lemon zest
½ teaspoon Salt
1 ½ cups shredded Coconut
1 cup chopped toasted Pecans

3-8” or 2-9” cake pans, spray coated, bottoms lined with parchment

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg yolks, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon zest.
Sift flour, baking soda and salt together and beat into mixture. Fold in coconut and pecans. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold into batter.

Divide batter between the cake pans.

Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
Cool, remove from pans, and frost with cream cheese icing.
Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

CREAM CHEESE ICING
1 1b. softened cream cheese
½ lb. softened unsalted butter
1 T. Vanilla
1 T. Lemon Juice
2 plus cups Powdered Sugar (to taste!)

Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla and lemon.
Gradually add powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, a cup at a time, until you reach desired sweetness.

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RED VELVET CAKE
¼ lb. softened Butter
½ c. Canola Oil
1 ½ c. Sugar
2 Eggs
3 T. Red Food Coloring
3 T. Cocoa
1 t. Vanilla
1 c. Buttermilk
2 ½ c. All Purpose Flour, sifted
½ t. Salt
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Vinegar

Cream butter, oil, sugar, and eggs together. Make a paste of cocoa, food coloring, and vanilla, and beat into mixture. Beat in buttermilk and flour alternately, then add salt, baking soda and vinegar.

Pour batter into 2 -9” or 3-8” buttered and floured cake pans and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, if in 9’ pans, or 24 minutes, if in 8” pans. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

WHIPPED BUTTER ROUX ICING
4 ½ T. All Purpose Flour
1 ½ c. Milk
1 ½ c. Sugar
2 t. Vanilla
12 T. softened Butter (1 ½ sticks)

Stir flour and milk together until lumps are removed, and cook in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, continuing to stir, until thickened. Cover with plastic wrap (so that it will not get a “skin”) and allow to completely cool.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together. Beat in cooked milk/flour mixture until fluffy. Icing will become whipped cream-like.

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WISHING YOU ALL LOVE*PEACE*HEALTH*HAPPINESS*GOODWILL*GOOD CHEER!!
Have lovely holidays, and we’ll gather again soon. x Nancy

Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 25 Comments »




October 1st, 2010

Swirling Brownies Forever

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Of all the recipes I have posted, of all the recipes I have ever cooked, these brownies—marvels of rich marbled chocolate—are what I have made the most. Thousands of batches!!

Because of so many Auspicious Numbers—this marking the 100th Good Food Matters BlogPost, and 30 Years of Brownie Baking, all on the heels of 10-10-10 my daughter’s wedding—I wanted to share with you the recipe and the story.

It all started in an old warehouse in downtown Nashville.

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It was called Goodies: the brainchild of Barbara Kurland, who rented the three story brick Victorian warehouse in 1976 as an emporium for little eateries and retail shops, along with art galleries, and studios for artists and craftsmen.

Rent was Cheap.

More than true urban pioneering–our riverfront district was not to be “developed” for another decade or so—Goodies was a place for underdogs and their dreams. For $30 or $50 or $100 a month rent, you could try your hand at whatever business you’d fancy.

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Over its seven-year life, Goodies served as stage for more than 125 assorted ventures. Some were long standing–a stained glass shop, a photography studio, a museum card store, a saucy hot dog stand. Others, such as the painted pebble sculptor, the iris reader, the holograph artist, made their appearances and vanished, odd blips on the downtown screen.

When my daughter turned one year old, I was offered to take over a little food kiosk inside Goodies. Barbara’s daughter Amy had been running it, selling little quiches, chess tarts, and walnut brownies. She had decided to go the Culinary Institute. My sister and I decided to go for it.

Simply called “The Bakery,” the Kurlands had outfitted that warehouse kitchen sparely but to health codes specs. When my sister and I took over, we inherited two used refrigerators with defunct defrosters, a hand sink, a triple sink, a single hot plate and a relic of the sixties: an avocado green residential electric double oven that distinguished itself with its minimalist heating properties. The upper oven only operated at 400 degrees and the lower either on warm or broil.

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No matter. You’d be surprised at what good things you can make with limited and/or funky equipment. We expanded the menu with sandwiches, salads, cakes-of-the-day, and tweaked the brownie recipe to make these swirly cream cheese delights.

Back then, I used a 4 qt. glass bowl–“Duralex” made in France, tempered to withstand high temperatures–for melting the chocolate in that minimalist oven. Countless searing rounds had fused bits of chocolate and sugar to the inner diameter of the bowl, distinguishing it with the look of a spinning comet’s tail.

Today, a microwave will do the same work, without the same cosmic results.

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That funky kitchen and kiosk formed the foundation for a successful run in the catering business. And, the cream cheese brownies became one of the favorite treats–turning up in thousands of box lunches and on thousands of dessert trays. There are few ingredients and the basic recipe can be embellished with any variety of nuts. It can be mixed by hand for one batch, or multiplied by 8 (as we did years later when the business had grown and we had a 20 qt. Hobart mixer. )

The creativity comes in the swirling.

Globs of almondy cream cheese are spooned into warm batter, and with a chopstick or stem of beater, you can marbelize that creamy goodness throughout the chocolate. Tonya, who baked untold batches for us in the catering kitchen, always said she felt like she was writing a poem when she swirled. Or drawing a picture.

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This morning, I was writing a couple of cream cheese brownie poems.

I have been busy making and freezing swirly slabs in preparation for the wedding reception. They will be cut up into nice bites, served with some petite chocolate cupcakes, alongside a grand tiered Wedding Cake. The wedding day is fast approaching–Sunday October 10th—10/10/10 !!

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And so, dear friends, this 100th post will have to hold us for a few days–I invite you to make these brownies and swirl away. Craft your poem, paint your chocolate portrait. Have a warm brownie and cup of coffee. We shall visit again soon. I’ll post again, after the Big 10-10-10 doings! x Nancy

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NANCY’S BEST MARBLED CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES

The Brownie
4 oz. (squares) Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) Butter
2 c. Sugar
4 Eggs (at room temperature)
1 c. All Purpose Flour
2 t. Vanilla
pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, convection oven (350 degrees conventional). Coat 9×13 baking pan with butter or pan spray.

In a heatproof (pyrex) bowl, melt chocolate, butter, and sugar together. Stir until you are certain that sugar is dissolved and no lumps of chocolate remain. Beat in eggs, One At A Time. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in flour. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into coated baking pan and add The Swirl.

Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes.
Makes 1 dozen big brownies.

Swirling Material
1/2 lb. Cream Cheese
1/4 c. Sugar
2 t. Almond Extract
1 t. Vanilla

Beat cream cheese well with sugar and extracts. Taste for sweetness, and intensity of almond, and adjust.

Using a tablespoon, gently but generously dollop several blobs of cream cheese mixture in spaced spots allover the top of the brownie batter. Take a “swirling tool” (like a chopstick, or the end of an electric beater) and begin rhythmically swirling and drawing the material through the batter, making your marbleized pattern.

Beware of overswirling your design will disappear and you could lose the separation of the chocolate and the almond cream cheese.

After Baking: Maldon Finishing Salt
This is optional, but I found that a mere scatter of this chippy salt over the top (added after the brownies come out of the oven) brought another compelling flavor dimension to brownie.

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The One Hundredth Post!!

Posted in Chocolate, Desserts, Recipes | 27 Comments »




December 22nd, 2009

Olive Oil Carrot Cake, belated blog birthday post

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One Year Old. (not the cake….the blog!)

I hadn’t intended for this post to be a dessert one, but suddenly, in the whirl of The Season, I realized that this little Good Food Matters blog had passed a milestone. A whole year old on the 16th. (!)

So, in honor of It–the persistence of its existence—and You, the persistent dear reader, I present this most delicious cake, recently made for our friends visiting from Italy, and their guests.

Now, there are carrot cakes, and there are Carrot Cakes. I took my long-time, well-proven recipe and tweaked it by substituting fruity olive oil for the common, neutral vegetable oil. What a difference!

The result was extraordinary—the richness of the olive oil enhanced and deepened the spicing of the cake, while retaining moist texture.

That, coupled with raisins, organic carrots, which are sweeter, and you can effectively cut back on the sugar. (Had there been pineapple in the house, I would have included 1/2 cup of diced bits, too.) My original recipe called for 2 cups, but I found that 1 1/2 cups total, combining both brown and white sugar, was just right. However, if you like a sweeter cake, boost the sugar back up to 2. It’s okay.

This recipe will make two 9″ layers, or one 9″x13″ rectangle. For my friends’ party, I doubled the recipe to make this grand confection.

The cream cheese icing is rather silky, luxurious, and also not-too-sweet. Fresh lemon juice and zest, along with vanilla, enliven the butter-cream cheese blend. Be sure that both are soft before you cream them together—that way they will marry smoothly.

After the two are well blended, I add the lemon and vanilla. The flavors infuse better. Confectioners sugar is added last, which you are welcome to increase to your taste. I like that dulcet tang to come through, and so am judicious with adding the powdery stuff.

So, here’s to a blog birthday, and all the season’s best.

From here at Good Food Matters,
I wish you all love, health, and happiness,
and, of course,

good food and company.

Cheers!

yummy carrotcake slice

Olive Oil Carrot Cake

1 cup Olive Oil
3 cups shredded Carrots
1 1/2 to 2 cups Sugar—divide equally between Brown and White
4 eggs
1/2 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Raisins
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Baking Soda
1 t. Salt
2 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Nutmeg
1 t. Ginger
1/2 t. Cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly coat 2 9 inch cake pans.
Using a mixer, blend all the “wet” ingredients together. Add raisins and pecans, pineapple too, if you like. (These ingredients are optional. You can make it simply carrot.)

Add dry ingredients and mix until all are well-incorporated.
Pour into baking pans, and place into the middle of the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until center tests done.

Allow to cool. Remove from pans. Let cool further before icing.
Note: This cake freezes well. It also stays moist for a long time, wrapped, so you can safely make the cake in advance.

Cream Cheese Icing
12 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
4 oz. (1 stick) Butter, softened
3 T. (or more) fresh Lemon Juice
1 T. Lemon Zest
1 T. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar

Using an electric mixer (I am fortunate to have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer–and I use the paddle attachment for this.) cream the softened butter and cream cheese together. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and mix well. Add the confectioners sugar–about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until smooth.

Taste for lemon and vanilla, as well as sweetness; add more as you see fit.

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Posted in Desserts, Recipes | 16 Comments »