• Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

    Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

    This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

    Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
    ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
    TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
    THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
    FOURStaying in for a movie night.
    FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

    Serves: 8 to 10 people
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Bread Pudding Ingredients
    adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

    1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
    3 whole eggs
    8 egg yolks
    4 cups half-and-half
    1 cup whole milk
    1¼ cups white sugar
    2 tsp bourbon
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
    Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

    TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

    THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

    FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

    FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


    Crème Anglaise Ingredients

    1 cup milk
    ¾ cup heavy cream
    1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
    2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    4 egg yolks
    1/3 cup white sugar

    Crème Anglaise Steps

    ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

    TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

    FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

    YAY!! xoxoxoxo

  • Tart Cherry Clafoutis

    Alright folks, I’m here to talk to you about clafoutis. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a type of baked French dessert with a thin, eggy batter that bakes into a custard-y cake studded with the fruit of your choice. This was my first attempt at clafoutis and let me tell you, I am a changed woman. The recipe I followed, which you can find here, used pitted sweet cherries, but because I had 2 jars of tart cherries I decided to try those out instead and let me tell you I was not disappointed. A generous sprinkling of sugar caramelizes into a crisp, top layer, while the vanilla-almond scented batter is perfectly offset by the slight sourness of the cherries.


    It reminds me slightly of a more substantial Dutch Baby, and I am not joking when I say this was the easiest baking project I have ever undertaken. You have 50 minutes total? You can make this, and 45 of those minutes are spent baking anyway. It’s crucial that the batter is completely mixed without lumps, so the entire thing should be blended before baking, preferably with an immersion blender, but it can also be done in a regular blender as well, never fear!

    I know this picture doesn’t do it justice, but i needed everyone to see how thin it baked up and the LAYER of custard it produces.

    I think I’m finally off my rhubarb kick, so thank you all for sticking with me! I also realized that it’s been ages since I’ve posted a savory recipe and for that I apologize, I find myself cooking the same meals lately (I’ve been in a bit of a dinner rut), and branching out more into baked goods. The good news is that with the warm months comes fresh produce, so some new dishes will be coming soon, never fear! But until then, I really suggest that you bake this dish up at your earliest convenience, most fruits can be substituted for the tart cherries, and it becomes the easiest (but also still impressive) dessert.
    Let’s get baking!

    Makes: 10-12 servings
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Bake Time: 45 minutes
    Total Time: 50-60 minutes

    Ingredients
    Adapted from “David Lebovit’s Cherry Clafoutis” on Food52
    2¼ cups (1¼ lbs) pitted cherries, I used tart, but sweet will also do! (Can also be done with berries, pears, peaches, etc.)
    3 eggs, room temperature
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    ¼ tsp almond extract
    ½ cup + 3 tbsp white sugar, divided- ½ cup is in the batter, remaining tablespoons go on top for baking
    1 1/3 cups milk
    Softened salted butter, for greasing the dish

    Steps

    1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and generously grease a 2 quart baking dish (mine was roughly 9″x13″). When I say generously I really do mean it, I thought I had done enough and there was still some sticking in the corners.

    2. If your cherries are fresh, wash and pit them, or if they are jarred in juice, drain. Spread the pitted cherries on the bottom of the dish evenly, but don’t obsess over it because they will shift when the batter is poured in.

    As a side-note, look at this fun summer tablecloth!!!!

    3. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, white sugar, and milk. Using the aforementioned immersion blender (or regular blender), blend this batter thoroughly until smooth, so that all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

    4. Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

    5. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is brown and crisp, and a knife comes out ~mostly~ clean.

    This can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, whipped cream, but it’s also perfect on its own!
    xoxoxoxoD

     

     

  • Cinnamon Birthday Cake (with Marzipan Succulents!)

    Hello! It’s been a bit since I last posted, I’ve been all over the place but I’m back now, never fear. Today’s recipe is brought to you once again by my love of cinnamon, in case you haven’t sensed the theme here. I turned 23 on Monday, and because I know who I am, I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own birthday cake. It works because I can experiment and pick my favorite flavors, but no one complains because it’s a cake for me anyway! (As if anyone could complain about eating cake though.)

    So to start, I use a classic birthday cake recipe from a Williams-Sonoma Cake cookbook that I’ve had for years now, and it’s simplicity is its greatest asset. But because I can never leave anything alone, I added a few tweaks here and there in the form of some cinnamon, almond extract, and a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, and boy it went well. As my mo remarked, the cake smelled like snickerdoodles as it was baking, and was moist and amazing when iced and sliced. To complete the cinnamon masterpiece I covered this cake in a cinnamon-y buttercream and free-handed a few marzipan succulents for decoration. I, of course, know that they could be cleaner if I used cookie cutters or stencils, but I simply didn’t have any so I made do!

    This whole recipe is great because without my flavor additions, they serve as basic templates for cake and buttercream that can be changed as you see fit. I’m including stars next to the ingredients that I added so that the following recipe can be two in one! Let’s get baking!!

    Makes: 1 2-layer 9″ round cake or 1 9×13″ sheet cake
    Prep Time: 1 hour+ (depending on how into decorating you get!)
    Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
    Total Time: 1.5-2 hours

    Cinnamon Cake Ingredients
    adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Cake

    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    ¼ tsp kosher salt
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon*
    ½ cup whole milk
    ½ vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
    ½ tsp almond extract*
    1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1½ cups granulated sugar
    4 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten

    Cake Steps

    1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour your desired cake pans, or grease and line your pans with parchment paper (which is my preferred method, to keep the consistency correct and to prevent sticking mishaps).

    2. In a large bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

    3. If you’re using a vanilla bean, add the milk, almond extract, and scraped vanilla bean seeds + pod to a saucepan and heat over low heat (do not boil the milk!), until the vanilla has infused with the milk. Remove and discard the pod. If you’re using vanilla extract instead, add both extracts to your milk at room temperature.

    4. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or large bowl + hand mixer), cream your butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Add in the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

    5. Drizzle your eggs into the bowl of the mixer on low speed, a little at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding more.

    6. Next you’re going to be adding your flour mixture and your milk mixtures alternatively, starting and ending with the flour. Add your flour in 3 batches, your milk in 2. Mix until just combined.

    7. Pour the batter into your pans and spread evenly. Before baking, tap your pans on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    8. Allow the cakes to cool almost entirely in their pans, trying to move cakes around when they’re still warm makes them way more likely to crack or break! While they’re cooling, you can make your frosting.

    Cinnamon Buttercream
    adapted from Domino Confectioners Sugar
    *you may have to do this in 2 batches if you have a smaller mixer like me! If so, just divide these amounts in half*

    7 cups (2 boxes) confectioners sugar
    1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
    ¼-1/3 cup whole milk
    ½ vanilla bean, scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
    ½ tsp almond extract*
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon*

    Buttercream Steps

    1. Cream together your butter and sugar. Slowly add in the milk, little by little until your frosting has reached the desired spreadable consistency.

    2. Add the extracts (or extract and vanilla bean seeds), and cinnamon, and mix to combine.

    3. Once your cakes have cooled, generously frost the top of your first cake and stack the second cake on top, so that both domed tops are in the center and the top and bottom of your cake is flat.

    4. “Crumb coat” the cake with a thin layer all over and chill for 15 minutes. Finish with a second, thicker coating of frosting. Dip your spatula in warm water and run it along the sides and the top to smooth.


    Decorations

    Almond paste (marzipan)
    Food Coloring
    Cocoa powder
    Chocolate Shavings

    or any sprinkles/ extra frosting you want!

    Steps

    1. To color your marzipan, break off a large chunk and make a well in the center, adding in a few drops of the color you want. Knead it around in your hands until the color is evenly distributed. Warning, you WILL dye your hands this way, I looked like Elphaba from Wicked for quite a while.

    2. To make a succulent, I cut out star shapes in gradually smaller sizes, starting with the largest and then 3-4 more, getting smaller each time. I layered them on top of each other one at a time and pressed the center in until the pieces were stuck together.

    3. Brush the edges with a little cocoa powder and arrange them on the top of the cake. Cover the area with chocolate shavings if you feel like it, I thought the cake needed to look a little more like a garden you know?

    Then, take at least 600 pictures to brag to your friends about your masterpiece, and enjoy!!!

    xoxoxoxoxoD