Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate Banana Loaf

It's a variation on my favorite chocolate pound cake recipe this time made a little bit healthy with mashed bananas. This coffeecake is filling and not too sweet so it's perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Chocolate Banana Loaf

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1-2/3 cups refined sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium-sized bananas, mashed

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven at 350°F. Grease, line and flour loaf pans.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Mix together milk, vanilla and mashed bananas. Set aside.

Mix all streusel topping ingredients by hand or food processor till you get coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes scraping down bowl once or twice. Add eggs one at a time. At low mixer speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk-banana mixture. Scrape down bowl and mix another minute.

Transfer batter into prepared pans. Top with prepared streusel. Bake loaves for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2- 7" x 3.5" loaves or 18 muffins

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blueberry Crumble Bars

My son loves anything made with blueberries. Blueberry topping on cheesecake, blueberry ice cream milkshake, and blueberry preserves on toast.

He was away for a sleepover so as a welcome home treat for him, I decided to surprise him with blueberry crumble bars.

Bar cookies are such a joy to make. Perfect for when you are pressed for time, these bars can be made even if you only have an hour or two to spare. It's also the perfect cookie to make in the summertime when it's simply too hot to linger in the kitchen which is what we are experiencing these days.

I used bottled blueberry preserves for this recipe which was in my pantry. Fresh blueberries are hard to come by in our area. If and when I do spot them at the market, they are imported and cost a hefty sum. But by all means feel free to use fresh blueberry compote if fresh ones are available where you are.

Happy baking!

Blueberry Crumble Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup refined sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup bottled blueberry preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9" x 9" pan. Set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes or till light and fluffy.
3. Blend in vanilla.
4. Slowly add in flour, salt and oats.
5. Spread half of dough on bottom of prepared pan.
6. Spread blueberry preserves over base.
7. Top with spoonfuls of the remaining dough.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
9. Cool completely then slice into bars.

Makes 20 to 24 bars.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes is Manila's IT dessert of the last couple of years. Visit any bazaar and you'll surely see someone selling this yummy dessert.

The blogging arena is peppered with reviews and features about it. Because of the raves, the varieties are growing by the minute.

There's the classic vanilla; regular brazo with vanilla ice cream. I read somewhere there's black forest with a chocolate cake base and a berry sherbet. Recently I saw a version made with matcha or green tea. Then there's cheese made with cheese-flavored ice cream. I'm sure there's a whole lot more flavors I'm not aware of.

Personally, I make and enjoy the classic version made with vanilla ice cream . It pairs perfectly with the chewy custard. It is one my family's favorite desserts and for good reason. From the fluffy meringue and refreshing ice cream to the rich custard and crusty graham crumbs; this frozen dessert takes your mouth to a play of textures that's out of this world.

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes is a cinch to make. The only baking you have to do is the meringue part. I will advise you though that you make this dessert way ahead of time to allow for enough freezing time. Just let rock hard frozen brazo de mercedes sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Here's the recipe for the classic version:

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes

2 pints Vanilla Bean ice cream, slightly soft
Graham Cracker Crumb Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons refined sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Press onto bottom of 9" x 9" refrigerator cake container. Keep in freezer until needed.

Custard Filling

6 pieces eggyolks
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup refined sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine eggyolks, sugar and condensed milk in a heavy saucepan or double boiler. Cook till thick and bubbly. Stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to cool.

Meringue Layer

3/4 cup eggwhites (about 6 large eggs)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup refined sugar

sifted confectioner's powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Brush jellyroll pan with vegetable oil. Line with baking parchment then brush paper with oil again. Set aside.

2. At highest mixer speed, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until you get fine bubbles. Add refined sugar slowly beating till meringue has stiff peaks but not dry.

3. Spread meringue evenly onto prepared jellyroll pan. Make decorative combing strokes on top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from pan and invert meringue onto parchment generously dusted with powdered sugar. Cool on wire rack until ready to use.

To assemble:

With an offset spatula, spread cooled custard on top of graham cracker crumb crust. Add layer of vanilla ice cream on top of the custard layer. Top with cooled meringue. Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sometimes I Cheat...

Ok I'll admit it. There are times when I make stuff from a box to make my life easier.

What's wrong with that? It tastes good anyway and puts a smile on people's faces. That's the goal right? If I can do that in 25 minutes flat so much the better.

But let me tell you I'm quite selective when choosing which ones to do. I only do brownies and cookies from a mix. Everything else, I bake from scratch.

Let me take for example this Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix. You can make a mean Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars from the ready-mix version which you can get from the supermarket. Just prepare the dough according to package directions, fold in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips then transfer to a 9-inch square pan and it's ready to bake.

Time saved goes into more fun activities like sharing these bars with loved ones over a cup of coffee and some meaningful conversation.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Double Chocolate Cookies

There are a few recipes I want to pass on to the younger generation to enjoy and this one for double chocolate cookies is one of them.

It's always a hit and never disappoints; comfort food through and through.

Prepared cookie dough keeps well frozen too for when you have unexpected guests or for late night cravings. You can scoop prepared cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. Pop the sheet in the freezer. Once the cookies are frozen, you can put them in resealable freezer bags and keep up to three months frozen. All you need to do is thaw them out on the counter while your oven is preheating. Twelve minutes in the oven and you have warm cookies in a jiffy.

Here's the recipe for the coolest cookie around:

Double Chocolate Cookies
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups refined sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream butter, refined sugar and brown sugar for 5 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
4. At low mixer speed, add slowly add dry ingredients.
5. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
6. Drop tablespoonful of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart.
7. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350°F. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.