Thursday, April 24, 2014

Aunt B's Pound Cake


Do you have one of those recipes that instantly makes you think of someone in particular? This pound cake is that recipe for me. I have loved it since the first time Aunt B made it for me. I always look forward to when she offers to bring dessert, because I hope it is this pound cake.

It is a moist, sweet and dense pound cake - perfect with a scoop of ice cream, fresh berries, or by itself. This is a very large recipe, making three loaves. These cakes freeze well, so just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, label and you have an instant dessert right out of the freezer.

Aunt B's Pound Cake
a Love and Confection Family recipe

Pound Cake Ingredients:
 - 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
 - 3 cups Granulated Sugar
 - 7 Eggs, room temperature
 - 1 cup Sour Cream
 - 3 cups All Purpose Flour
 - 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
 - 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
 - 1 teaspoon Salt

Pound Cake Directions:
 - Heat oven to 300F. Grease and flour 3 loaf pans.
 - In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the Butter and Sugar together for 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.
 - While on a low speed, add in the Eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides as needed.
 - Add in the Sour Cream and mix to combine.
 - Sift together the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt. Add into the egg mixture gradually.
 - Divide mix evenly between 3 loaf pans and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Until next time,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Individual Chicken Pot Pies and the Importance of a Family Meal


Baking and Pastry is not the only thing that keeps me in the kitchen. I usually have a home-cooked meal on the table every night - which is a pretty amazing feat with a 4-month old. Growing up, my Mom made dinner for us almost every night. We had the occasional pizza night, but we always ate together. Sitting as a family around the kitchen table is something I truly cherish from my childhood.

It didn't matter if we had homework or sport practices, we took a break and ate dinner together. That is how I was raised and that is how I want to raise my daughter - to take time out from our busy lives and share a meal. I don't want to eat dinner alone, or fight to have a conversation over the television; I want to spend what little time I have eating a meal with the ones I love.

I may not make everything from scratch, and the slow cooker is my best friend lately, but I try and that is what counts.  I make food with love - that's how my Mom and Grandmother made it and that is the most important lesson I have ever learned, do everything with Love!

I have only been blogging about the "confections" in Love and Confections. Now I am going to start posting about the Love too - the savory side of my life and the love of cooking for my family.

Individual Pot Pies
a Love and Confections original

Individual Pot Pie Ingredients:
 - 4 cups Chicken Stock
 - 1 stick unsalted Butter
 - 1/2 a large Onion, chopped
 - 1 cup All Purpose Flour
 - 12 ounces cooked Chicken, chopped (homemade, rotisserie or grilled)
 - 1-12 ounce bag Bird's Eye Frozen Mixed Vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans and peas)
 - 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
 - Salt and Pepper
 - 1 can of Biscuits (I had a can of 10 small biscuits, but I would recommend a can of 8 larger biscuits)

Individual Pot Pie Directions:
 - Heat oven to 350F. Place 8 ramekins on a sheet pan with sides.
 - Heat Chicken Stock in a medium pan.
 - In a large pot melt the Butter and add in the chopped Onions. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add in some Salt and Pepper to your liking.
 - Sprinkle Flour over the onions and butter and stir to coat. The flour needs to be completely combined and cooked with the onions so it doesn't have a raw taste.
 - Slowly add the Chicken Stock to the large pot, stirring while combining. 
 - Add in the Chicken and Frozen Vegetables. After everything is combined, add in the Heavy Cream.
 - Stir often and salt and pepper to taste. It will thicken as it cooks - about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are to your liking. If you don't like slightly crisp veggies you can pre-cook or steam them to soften. 
 - Ladle pot pie filling into ramekins and top each with a slightly flattened Biscuit
 - Bake in the oven for 14 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and done, Let it cool slightly before eating. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Strawberry, Pineapple and Banana Smoothie

A few of my Food Blogging Friends have posted some great looking smoothies recently and it totally got me in the smoothie mood. I hadn't made any since Baby L&C was born because I didn't know how she would react to a blender - turns out that kid can sleep through anything: vacuum, blender, people upstairs who sound like a herd of elephants...

The Lemon Bowl's Chocolate Espresso Protein Smoothie and Aggie's Kitchen's Fruity Kefir Smoothie had me wanting to whip up and slurp down a cold, refreshing smoothie. I hadn't planned ahead for smoothie-making, so I was lucky that I had a few ingredients on hand. Next time I make a trip to the store I am definitely going to get some great produce for smoothies!

Strawberry, Pineapple and Banana Smoothie
a Love and Confections original

Strawberry, Pineapple and Banana Smoothie Ingredients:
 - 1/4 cup Pear Juice (any juice will work)
 - 100 grams fresh Pineapple
 - 100 grams Strawberries (if using frozen let them thaw)
 - 1 very ripe Banana
 - Ice (optional)

Strawberry, Pineapple and Banana Smoothie Directions:
 - Place ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth. I did not use ice because I didn't want to chance waking up the baby. My blender is pretty loud with ice and doesn't crush it all the way.
 - Pour into a glass with a fun straw and enjoy!

Until next time,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Carrot Cake Muffins

 I don't know about you, but I L-O-V-E carrot cake. There is something about eating it that just feels right. I love it as a celebration cake - sheet cake, layer cake, loaf, muffins. I can't think of a way that I don't like carrot cake - especially when it is topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting.

Sometimes I put nuts in my carrot cake. I usually use walnuts, but decided to make a nut-free recipe today. These muffins are great warm, right out of the oven with some butter. I sometimes cut mine in half, put it in the toaster oven, then top it with some whipped cream cheese!

Carrot Cake Muffins
adapted from a culinary school recipe

Carrot Cake Muffin Ingredients:
 - 15 ounces All Purpose flour
 - 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
 - 2.5 teaspoons Baking Soda
 - 2 teaspoons Salt
 - 1 tablespoon ground Cinnamon
 - 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
 - 8 ounces Granulated Sugar
 - 8 ounces Brown Sugar
 - 4 large Eggs
 - 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
 - 1 pound Carrots, peeled and grated
 - 5 ounces chopped Walnuts (optional)

Carrot Cake Muffin Directions:
 - Heat oven to 325F. Line cupcake tins with wrappers or coat using baking spray.
 - Sift together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Cinnamon and set aside. If using walnuts, add them into the flour mixture now, so they get coated and won't sink to the bottom of the batter once mixed in.
 - Cream Butter, Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.
 - Add Eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition
 - Add Carrots and mix until incorporated.
 - Slowly add the flour mixture into the batter and mix well.
 - Portion into baking cups using a scoop to have uniform muffins.
 - Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done when a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.

Until next time,

Disclaimer: I received some packages of carrots from Gimmway Farms for #Brunchweek. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Easy Strawberry Shortcakes

It's nearing the end of strawberry season here in Florida. I can't get enough strawberries - they are one of my favorite fruits.

A lot of people associate strawberry shortcake as angel food cake topped with strawberries, but if you are from the south you know different. This is a true strawberry shortcake. The biscuit is buttery and crumbly and best eaten as soon as it cools off. If you want to give yourself a workout - like I did - hand whip your heavy cream - it's a lot quieter than turning on the stand mixer, especially when Baby Grace is taking a nap.

I was actually out of milk, so I substituted heavy cream. Next time I will probably try the milk, just to see how it turns out. I recommend a disher or ice cream scoop, so they are uniform in size - I got 8 from this recipe at about 2.75 ounces per shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Bisquick

Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients:
 - 1 pint Strawberries, hulled and diced
 - 2 & 1/3 cups Bisquick mix
 - 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
 - 3 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
 - 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
 - 1/2 cup Heavy Cream, kept well chilled
 - 2 teaspoons Powdered Sugar

Strawberry Shortcake Directions:
 - Heat oven to 425F. Prepare strawberries and set aside.
 - In a medium bowl, combine the Bisquick mix, Heavy Cream, Sugar and Butter until it is combined and a soft, sticky dough is formed.
 - Using an ice cream scoop or disher, drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down slightly so it flattens a bit.
 - Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, depending on your oven. Let the shortcakes cool while you prepare the whipped cream.
 - Either by hand or using a stand mixer, whip the Heavy Cream and Powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
 - Slice the shortcakes, fill with whipped cream and strawberries. Enjoy!

Until next time,

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

My Mom and I gave my sister a bridal shower recently and I made the dessert table. One of the first things I knew I wanted to make was cream puffs or profiteroles. There is nothing else like a homemade cream puff filled with fresh vanilla bean pastry cream. It is truly delicious

Cream puffs are pretty easy to make. The most time consuming thing is waiting for the pastry cream to cool down. I usually make my pastry cream a day ahead, just so it can be nice and cold when I get ready to fill the puffs.

Cream puffs are made with Pate a Choux dough. This dough is different from many batters because it uses steam for leavening, instead of chemical leavening like baking powder or baking soda or natural leavening like yeast. The high initial temperature helps create the steam, then the oven is lowered for the rest of the baking time.

Cream Puffs
adapted from culinary school recipes

Pastry Cream Ingredients:
 - 500 grams Whole Milk
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar

 - 100 grams Egg Yolks
 - 100 grams Granulated Sugar
 - 40 grams Cornstarch
 - 75 grams Unsalted Butter
 - Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

Pastry Cream Directions:
 - In a stainless steel pot (not aluminum) heat Milk and first measure of Sugar until sugar is dissolved and the milk is hot but not boiling.
 - In a medium bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks, Sugar and Cornstarch. Temper* milk mixture into yolk mixture.
 - Pour tempered egg mixture back into the pot and return to a boil, cooking about 2-3 minutes or until nappe**
 - Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on the lowest speed. Add in the Butter and Vanilla Bean Seeds or Paste after it has cooled for a few minutes.
 - Pour into a clean medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
 - It is best to make this the day before the Pate a Choux, so it has time to fully chill.

Pate a Choux Ingredients:
 - 240 grams Whole Milk
 - 113 grams Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
 - 2 grams Sugar
 - 2 grams Salt
 - 110 grams All Purpose Flour
 - 225 grams Eggs
 - 1 Egg for egg wash
 - Powdered Sugar (optional)

Pate a Choux Directions:
 - Heat oven to 400F. Prepare sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats.
 - Bring the Milk and Butter to a boil. Add in Flour, Salt and Sugar and cook on medium-high, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a paste is formed. The mixture should form a ball or leave a film on the bottom of the pot.
 - Remove from the heat and place in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on low for a minute then add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the previous one is incorporated before adding the next one.
 - Once all the eggs have been added and the mixture is a bit cooler, put in a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip. Pipe small mounds on the sheet pans, trying to not create a point when lifting off. Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, brush the egg wash over the puffs, trying to make sure there is no point sticking up.
 - Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375F for the remaining time. It should take about 30 more minutes, or until the puffs are dry and golden brown.
 - Let them cool completely before filling. You can dust with Powdered Sugar or use a poured fondant or chocolate frosting. Enjoy

*Tempering: eggs are tempered when a hot liquid, usually milk, is slowly streamed into them, while whisking constantly, to bring the eggs up to a warm temperature without cooking them.
**Nappe: French term referring to a liquid "coating the back of a spoon". With pastry cream, if you run your finger through the (hot) pastry cream on the back of a wooden spoon, the lines will stay separate.

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

I recently hosted a bridal shower for my sister, KB. It was a garden party theme with peonies and pearls. KB loves anything and everything pink, so that was the color scheme Mom and I went with. We had it at a gold club near my place. They did some fantastic food, but they do not provide dessert. I knew I was going to make the desserts for the party anyway, so that didn't matter. I wanted to do a dessert buffet with a bunch of small desserts that everyone would enjoy.

I planned a total of 5 desserts plus the favor was cake in a jar. I am lucky that I have such great friends to help me out. Denny made the mini tart shells for me, which helped out a lot since my 3-month old has been a bit cranky lately

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts
a Love and Confections original

Mini Lemon Meringue Tart Ingredients:
 - Tart Shell Recipe
 - Box Mix Lemon Pudding and Whole Milk as directed
 - 100 grams Egg Whites
 - 200 grams Granulated Sugar

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts Directions:
 - Prepare Tart Shells
 - Prepare Lemon Pudding as directed on box for pie
 - In the bowl of your stand mixer, make a double boiler, heat the Egg Whites and Granulated Sugar, whisking constantly and until the mixture is warm and the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl.
 - Place a piece of foil around the opening of the mixing bowl to trap the warm air. Egg whites whip better when warm, hence the double boiler. Using the whip attachment, whip on high until you have stiff peaks.
 - Pipe onto filled tarts using a star tip just before serving. With a blow torch, toast the tops. Enjoy

Until next time,