mascarpone gelato, like vanilla, only creamier

It’s been in the upper 80’s for the past few days which prompted me to bust out my ice cream maker– hot weather = ice cream time. So many flavors to choose from, so many mix-in options, but I was wanting something simple and straightforward, something that might go well with pie. I found a recipe I had cut out from a 1994 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine (apparently even as a young teen I was a Martha fan) for mascarpone gelato. Winner!

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Mascarpone is a soft Italian style cheese that is similar to cream cheese, though smoother and more fresh tasting. The rest of the ingredients for the custard base were exactly what they would be for vanilla gelato (vanilla bean, whole milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, and sugar) and the mascarpone is added at the very end when you chill the custard to prepare it for your ice cream maker.

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The resulting gelato tastes like the best vanilla ice cream you’ve ever had, except creamier and richer. Ah-mazing. Will definitely pair nicely with the rhubarb pie I’m planning to make this weekend!

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Mascarpone Gelato (from 1994 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla bean and scrapings. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove from heat. Steep for 30 minutes.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, return milk to a simmer.

Remove vanilla bean. Add half the milk to egg-yolk mixture and whisk until blended. Stir into remaining milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Remove from heat and immediately stir in cream. Pass mixture through a strainer into a medium bowl set over an ice bath to chill. Whisk in mascarpone until completely blended, then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in a plastic container.

Happy Father’s Day! Green Tea Cupcakes for you.

I attribute my appreciation of food and my sense of adventure when it comes to it to the man on the right.  He and my mom were on to the local and organic thing way before it was a thing, back when it was just called having a large garden and raising various livestock and using that as your main source of food for the year.  Imagine that.  He’s also always willing to try something new which I love (Indian?  Sure!  Ethiopian?  Why not.  Dim sum?  Loves it.)  Thanks Dad.

These cupcakes are an example of something that my dad would totally try and love even though they are a bit non-traditional.  Awhile back I had an awesome green tea cupcake at a teahouse and decided it was time to try making my own version.

I ran out and bought some green tea powder (Matcha) and did a bit of Googling and found a recipe that twisted the traditional vanilla cupcake a little bit by adding the green tea powder in.  I found another recipe that suggested using almond extract instead of vanilla extract which seemed like a bold move in the right direction.  Done and done.

I made up my own frosting recipe using mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and more green tea powder.  The results came out pretty darn good.  These cupcakes are for people who are not into overly sweet things but still want a treat.  And what a treat they are.

Green Tea Cupcakes (adapted from recipe found at www.thefoodieskitchen.com, original recipe source “Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes”)

  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons Matcha (green tea powder)

Preheat the oven at 350ºF and line two 12-muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Whisk the Matcha with the milk and vanilla, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually and beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about ¾ full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes.  Remove cakes from the tins and cool on a wire rack before icing.

Green Tea Mascarpone Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. container of mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Matcha (green tea powder)

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and mascarpone cheese until combined.  Sift the powdered sugar and the Matcha into mixing bowl.  Mix until incorporated.  If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk and mix until combined.

vegan gluten-free cupcakes are pretty good, it turns out

Gluten-free baking is a bit of a challenge, I’m not going to lie.  You have to buy a lot of different kinds of flours to blend together and then add a gum (like xantham or guar, not Wrigley’s) to take the place of traditional wheat flour.  And these other flours and gums are not cheap.  It makes sense, since wheat is subsidized in this country, but still.  You better believe I will use every last tablespoon of these flours even after Lent is over…  But I digress.

A few weeks ago when I knew I was giving up wheat I decided to order a few gluten-free baking cookbooks I had been eyeing on Amazon.  One of them was from a very well-respected gluten-free vegan bakery in NYC.  Vegan bakery?  Say what?  Seems kind of counter-intuitive, right?  Even though I never got around to visiting this bakery when I lived in New York (a wrong I intend to right on my next visit) I always heard great things so decided to test it out.

And you know what?  The results were pretty darn good.  I even had a few coworkers say they were the best cupcakes they ever had.

Even though the cookbook provided dairy-free frosting recipes I opted to thaw out some leftover strawberry mascarpone frosting from an earlier baking experiment that is decidedly not vegan but you can frost however you see fit.

Vanilla Cupcakes (from “Babycakes” cookbook by Erin McKenna)

  • 2 cups garbanzo-fava bean flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • ½ cup arrowroot (I substituted tapioca flour and it worked just fine)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/3 cups agave nectar
  • ¾ cup homemade applesauce or store-bough unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine.  Stir in the hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.  Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tins 180 degrees after 15 minutes.  The finished cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the center.

Let the cupcakes stand in the tins for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely.  Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon vanilla frosting over each cupcake.  Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting (NOT vegan, clearly)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ strawberries, cleaned and pureed in food processor or blender

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter and mascarpone cheese until smooth.  Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in pureed strawberries with a spatula.

a Fat Tuesday cake for you

I’m going to start with the bad news: unfortunately I did not bring home a prize at this year’s bake-off.  I was bummed but have consoled myself with these two thoughts: 1) a second trophy would just be plain ostentatious on top of my fridge, and 2) this cake recipe was not meant to be consumed in one-square-inch portions.

You see, at this bake-off we were asked to cut our desserts into one-square-inch pieces so that many people would be able to sample them and then vote for their favorite.  Problem is, this cake is best enjoyed as one big sloppy piece.  It’s a triple layer cake and you gotta get all three layers and the frosting in a single bite to capture all of its wonderment.  You live, you learn.

I  will admit that this recipe is not for every home baker.  If you are looking for a simple cake to make for a loved one’s birthday, this ain’t it.  This is the cake you make when you’ve got a few hours to spare and really want to impress people with something a little out of the ordinary.

My mom has a rule that any recipe she tries has to be two pages or less– if it’s more than two pages she says it’s too complicated.  Well Mom, this is a three-pager.  Sorry.

It starts out with a white chocolate/malt/milk powder crunch.  Then there’s the malt fudge sauce.  And the malt chocolate cake.

The one fussy thing about this recipe that I don’t love is that you have to whip up egg whites until they form soft peaks and then fold the egg whites into the batter.  It takes an extra seven minutes to do and then you have to figure out what to do with the egg yolks you don’t need, (I froze mine to save for ice cream-making at a later date) but I will admit it makes for a nice light, fluffy cake.

Once you’ve made the malt crunch, the malt fudge, and the malt cake you start to layer them up…

…and up…

…and up.

Then you whip up some cocoa mascarpone frosting and frost the heck out of those layers.  I mean, who says this cake is not a winner?  In my book it is.

Chocolate Malt Crunch Cake

Malt Crunch (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)

  • ¾ cup milk powder
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • ¾ cup malt powder

Heat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine ½ cup of the milk powder (reserve ¼ cup for later), flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Toss with your hands to mix.  Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat- lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool the crumbs completely.

Crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl.  Add the reserved ¼ cup milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Pour half of the melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed.  Then add the malt powder and toss with the milk crumbs until all of the crumbs are a light brown.

Pour the remaining melted white chocolate over the crumbs and continue tossing until all of the clusters are enrobed.  Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to cool and then toss again and break up large clusters.  The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

Malt Fudge Sauce (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)

  • 2 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup malt powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Combine the chocolate, malt powder, molasses, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to boil over high heat.  The moment it boils, pour it into the bowl holding the chocolate.  Let sit for 1 full minute.

Slowly begin to whisk the mixture.  Then continue, increasing the vigor of your whisking every 30 seconds, until the mixture is glossy and silky-smooth.  The sauce can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.

Chocolate Malt Cake (adapted slightly from recipe found in “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup malted milk powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ice cold water
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.  Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

Sift the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg together into a large bowl.  Whisk in the malted milk powder.  Set aside

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low.  Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until soft peaks form.  Do not over-beat.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops.  Bake for 40 minutes to 45 minutes, rotating the pans twice during the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.  Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.  Remove the parchment.

 

Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting

  • 1      (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1      stick butter, softened
  • 2      cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¾      cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3.5      oz. milk chocolate bar, chopped and melted

Blend mascarpone cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl with beater or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment at medium speed until combined. Add cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar and blend on low.  Add melted milk chocolate and blend until smooth.

Assemble Cake:

Place one cake round on plate.  Re-heat the Malt Fudge Sauce if necessary by microwaving at 30-second intervals in the microwave until at spreadable consistency.  Spread approximately half of the Malt Fudge Sauce over the cake and smooth with a spatula.  Sprinkle about ½ cup of the Malt Crunch over the fudge.  Place second cake round on top and repeat with Malt Fudge Sauce layer and Malt Crunch.  Place third cake round on top.  Frost top and sides of cake with Cocoa Mascarpone Frosting.

what’s up doc?

Sometimes I like to tell myself that incorporating healthy things like vegetables into baked goods makes them less bad for you.  Seems logical, right?

Well, maybe by the time you add the butter and the sugar that’s not always the case but it sure makes me feel better about stuffing myself with a treat such as these inside-out carrot cake cookie sandwiches.

That’s a mouthful in more ways than one.  The cookies have shredded carrots (obvi), raisins, and walnuts (if you so desire; I happen to think nuts [with few exceptions] ruin desserts).  They are hardy and cinnamon-y and make your kitchen smell like a cozy fall afternoon.  Guaranteed.

The filling is two simple ingredients: cream cheese and honey.  I substituted Mascarpone cheese for cream cheese as I have been wont to do lately.  It complimented the sweeter cookie quite nicely.

I have tagged these as being appropriate for Thanksgiving.  I made them a few years ago for the young ones in case they weren’t into pecan and pumpkin pie like I wasn’t when I was their age, and adults ate them just the same.  I mean, who doesn’t love carrot cake?

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes about 13 cookies

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 scant cup walnuts (3 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I substituted Mascarpone cheese instead)
  • 1/4 cup honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.

marshmallow-y goodness

You would think with a title like “marshmallow-y goodness” this post would be about a recipe that revolved around marshmallows, right?  Well in this case, you’d be wrong.  We won’t even get to the marshmallow part for a while, but once we do it will make perfect sense.  Stick with me here folks. 

Last week there were two birthdays that I wanted to bake for and since it was for two separate people and the birthdays were celebrated in two separate places and because you can’t nicely cut a birthday cake in half and take one half to one party and the other half to the other party I opted to simplify things and make cupcakes instead.  Red velvet cupcakes.  I hadn’t made them in quite some time and they sounded good– plus, they’re usually a crowd pleaser so it seemed like a safe bet.

I’ve been on the fence about using food coloring for some time now.  I don’t use it except for red velvet cake and to color icing for Christmas sugar cookies but ever since I overheard a coworker say she made a connection between red dye in foods she’s consumed and her subsequently getting nightmares after consumption I’ve been even more freaked out.  But a little bit a couple of times a year can’t be too bad for you, right?  And how the heck can you make red velvet cupcakes if they aren’t red?  No one would know what to think.  (Yes, the thought has occurred to me to try using beet juice or some other such natural dye.  Some day when I have loads of time I will try this…)

My compromise was to use less red food coloring than the recipe called for.  The result was more of a burgundy-colored cupcake which I found to be quite aesthetically pleasing.  And no one questioned what kind of cupcakes they were– there was just enough red to them. 

Now here is where the title subject comes in… Years ago I was doing my usual routine of watching the Saturday morning Food Network lineup and Paula Dean made red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting and to that cream cheese frosting she added melted marshmallows.  Eureka!

Paula’s recipe calls for one cup of melted marshmallows but if one cup is good two is even better, right?  The answer is yes, yes two cups of melted marshmallows in cream cheese frosting is supreme.  And to continue with my kick of substituting mascarpone cheese for cream cheese in frosting I tried that here too.  It’s to die for.  Heck, I even forgot to sift my dang cake flour before mixing so the cake from my batch of cupcakes was a little dense but the heavenly frosting more than made up for it.  No complaints whatsoever from the birthday peeps!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from Red Velvet Cake with Raspberries and Blueberries found at www.epicurious.com)

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with muffin cups (this recipe makes about 18 cupcakes) and set aside.

Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend.  Using electronic mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.  Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when touched.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cupcakes out of the tins and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.  Frost with Mascarpone Marshmallow Frosting (recipe below).

Mascarpone Marshmallow Frosting (adapted from Grandmother Paula’s Red Velvet Cake Icing recipe found at www.foodnetwork.com)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 cups melted marshmallows
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar

Blend mascarpone cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl. Add marshmallows and confectioners’ sugar and blend.

chess pie, take two

After making the chess tart a few weeks ago I quickly researched other versions of chess pie and found one that involves two things I know and love: blueberries and mascarpone cheese.  I happened to have some mascarpone cheese leftover from something I baked a few weeks prior, so thought it was a sign from the heavens.

This pie was not as sweet as the chess tart and the blueberries and mascarpone complimented each other well.

A short post today but will be back later in the week with a rustic cherry pie.  My favorite!

Blueberry Mascarpone Chess Pie (recipe by John McMillan published in Fresh Home magazine)

  • Pie dough (see recipe below)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup Mascarpone cheese

Roll dough out and place in 9-inch pie plate; flute edges.  Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil.  Bake at 450 for 8 minutes.  Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer.  Cool on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, milk, butter, 1 tablespoon flour and vanilla.  Toss blueberries with remaining flour; fold into filling.

Pour into crust.  Drop cheese by teaspoonfuls over filling.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (cover edges with foil during the last 25 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary).  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate leftovers.

One Crust Pie Pastry (from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook)

  • 1 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl.  Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until particles are size of small peas.  Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball.  Shape into flattened round.  If desired, wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes to firm up the shortening slightly, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky and lets the water absorb evenly throughout the dough.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface using floured rolling pin into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down pie plate.  Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate.  Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.