Brandied Peach Ice Cream

Summertime in the South means putting up with heat, humidity and mosquitos the size of small cars. As a consolation, summer also brings us peaches. It makes my soul happy when I hold its softly in my hand, breathe deep of its perfume before biting into it and letting the succulent juice run down my chin.

Saving a few of them for ice cream makes me even happier. And, adding a little brandy to the mix can make a person nearly expire from happiness! Of course, if you choose not to use brandy, you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Brandied Peach Ice Cream

2 pounds peaches (about 5-6 large peaches)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy

Peel and pit peaches; cut into chunks. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

After it has set for a while in the refrigerator, blend everything one last time to ensure it is well mixed. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container and freeze until firm.

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Pecan Shortnin’ Bread

I’ve been told that the difference between shortnin’ bread and shortbread is the sugar. Typical shortbread uses fine, white sugar. Shortnin’ bread uses brown sugar. I decided to make my shortnin’ bread with pecans. Sort of like pecan sandies but richer.

And, if you’re anything like me, you are now humming, “Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’, shortnin’ Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread.”

1 cup packed brown sugar
4 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup pecans, minced
1 lb unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a light spray of oil.

Place the brown sugar in the bowl of the mixer and break up any lumps with your fingers. Blend into the sugar the flour and salt. Add in the minced pecans. Add the softened butter to the flour sugar mix and blend until you have a smooth dough.

On a pieces of parchment paper on a worksurface, turn out the dough. Press with your hands create a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. If dough is too soft, place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Cut into shapes and lay each piece on the cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Or, press directly onto the prepared pan and using a sharp knife, score the dough into squares.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool on racks for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Oatmeal Bar Cookies

I needed to clear out some room in my pantry to fit some can goods I had gotten on sale and the big container of oats (that was only a third full) had to go. I went to my bar cookie recipes as I didn’t want to stand around making my usual oatmeal cookies after having to deal with contractors for most of the afternoon. This recipe is an old favorite and not just because it has lots of chocolate. The topping is quite reminiscent of It’s-it ice cream sandwiches and that makes me happy.

I used semi-sweet morsels but you can use bittersweet or even milk chocolate, depending on your taste. You can also stir in a cup of butterscotch morsels into the melted chocolate right before spreading it on the bottom layer.

Chocolate Oatmeal Bar Cookies

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted plus 2 tablespoons
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter well a 9×13 baking pan.

In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the 2 tablespoons butter. Stir well.

In a mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 sticks of melted butter, vanilla and eggs. On low speed, pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the oat mixture. Once combined, remove 1 1/2 cups of the mixture and press the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spread the chocolate mixture over the oat mixture.

Sprinkle the reserved portion of the oat mixture over the top of the chocolate layer. Try and co er as much as possible. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is a lovely brown. Let bars cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours or until set. Slice into bars and enjoy!

Cocoa Meringue Cookies

We made Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream yesterday and it left us with 5 egg whites. Perfect number for make some meringue cookies.

If you want a smooth, uniform appearance, sift the cocoa. I don’t because I enjoy biting into tiny spots of intense chocolate.

Cocoa Meringue Cookies

5 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 220 degrees F. Place parchment paper on two large rimmed baking sheets.

Make sure the bowl and whisk are well cleaned and dry. Place egg whites, salt and cream of tarter in the bowl. Starting on low and slowing increasing the speed to high, mix well. Once soft peaks form, begin adding the sugar in 1/4 cup increments. Once the mixture is thick and shiny and stiff peaks have formed, fold in cocoa and vanilla.

Move mixture into a piping bag. I use a gallon plastic bag and cut off a little of one of the bottom corners. Pipe out drops or other shapes with the meringue mixture, twisting the bag as you go to keep pressure up.

Bake for one hour. Turn off oven but keep door closed and let cookies cool completely for 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how humid it is. Peel the cookies off the parchment paper and store in an airtight container.

German’s Sweet Chocolate Birthday Cake

For Michelle’s upcoming birthday, I made her a German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. I used the recipe for both of those off the box of Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. Because it is a sweet chocolate, I made a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting for the between layer. It also went on top of a recipe of German’s Sweet Chocolate cupcakes.

Baker's Original German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Pour melted chocolate and butter into a bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed of electric mixer after each addition until well blended. Add vanilla; mix well.  Add 1/2 cup of the flour; mix well. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups flour alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

Divide into buttered and floured 9-inch baking pan.

Bake cake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cupcakes take 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Frost between the layers with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Frost the top and sides with Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa to remove any lumps.

With an electric mix beat the cream cheese and butter. Add in the vanilla. Slowly add the cocoa-powdered sugar mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until combined.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 – 7 ounce package coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency.

Frost top and sides of cake.

 

A Fine Strawberry Eton Mess

Both Prince Harry and William attended Eton. It seems only fitting, as the older brother is best man when his younger brother gets married to Meghan Markle, to make another British dessert created at that school. The Eton Mess has layers of whipped cream, meringues and rough chopped strawberries.

Strawberries in whipped cream can be pretty darn romantic. At least as romantic as when the prince says to the commoner, “I’m so lucky.”

I could probably come up with a recipe but, seriously, this is a super easy dessert to make, especially if you use store bought meringues. Whip the cream with a little sugar and vanilla. Mix the chopped strawberries some sugar to get them juicy and to keep things sweet.

Crumble the meringues and mix with the whipped cream. Your choice to either mix the strawberries with the cream to make a more traditional mess or to layer the whipped cream and strawberries in glass for a prettier presentation. In any event, prepare to gobble this up!

If you’re like me and make yours in a glass, you can raise it to the newlyweds. My toast to them is: “A toast to love and laughter, and happily ever after.”

Sticky Toffee Pudding

In celebration of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I decided to make a decidedly British dessert. Of course, I’m going to put a southern American twist on it, too. Sticky toffee pudding is one of those things I’ve read about in novels and thought that it would good to eat in the early morning hours.

I started with this recipe from the BBC’s Good Food but then had to make a number or substitutions and conversions (and translations). I don’t have treacle, but I did have molasses. I don’t have the demerara or muscovado sugar but I did have brown sugar. I had no dates but I did have figs.

The result is a figgy spice cake that is very rich with complex flavor.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 cup whole dried figs
¾ cups boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour, sifted
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 stick butter, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses (or black treacle)
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon rum

For the toffee sauce

¾ cups light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses (or black treacle)

Chop the figs into small and pieces and then put them in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water over and leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash the figs. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.

Use two tablespoons of the butter to butter and flour seven ramekins or a small bundt pan and sit them on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together. Beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few minutes until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the molasses. Gently fold in one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used. Mix in the rum. Stir the soaked figs into the pudding batter. The batter will be soft and thick. Spoon it evenly between the containers, allowing room to rise. Bake for 20-25 minutes for ramekins and 35-40 minutes for a bundt pan, until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the molasses, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 5 minutes or until it is a rich toffee color, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

Remove the puddings from the oven and set on a wire rack for 5 minutes before loosening them from the sides with a small knife before turning them out. They can be served now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce. To do this, pour about half the sauce into one or two ovenproof serving dishes. Sit the upturned puddings on the sauce, then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover with a loose tent of foil so that the sauce doesn’t smudge (no need to chill).

When ready to serve, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15-20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling.