Friday, August 19, 2011

"I Want To Marry You" Cookies

This morning I baked some cookies that I've had my eye on for a few weeks.  I often glance at a recipe and think "meh", then pass over it without ever taking a second look because there are SO many sources of recipes out there, I am on overload most of the time.  I am so glad I read the recipe all the way through before I wrote this off as just another chocolate chip cookie.  It's the method that makes this recipe special.  No creaming butter and sugar first, so no worries that you forgot to take the butter out of the refrigerator to soften.  No stirring together flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl creating more dirty dishes.  Everything happens in a medium saucepan people, except for the baking part.  I loved these cookies, and I am excited to use this recipe as a springboard for other flavor combinations that are dancing through my head.

The recipes.  They dance through my head and never stop.

I have a few notes:

-The amount of salt is not listed in the ingredients list, but it's in the directions. This recipe comes from the same contest I was in for my coconut pie, and my coconut pie recipe has the same weird typo too.  (It's not my typo, promise.)  The salt amount is not listed, but it is in the directions.  No biggie, I just thought I'd mention it.

-It takes a few minutes to incorporate the sugar into the melted butter.  I used a spoon, not a whisk or a hand mixer.  Keep stirring and it will come together.

-I almost used light brown sugar in place of the dark brown because to me, dark brown sugar can be a little over powering in flavor.  This turned out perfectly, however, and I was glad I used the dark.  It gave them a nice chewy texture and unique flavor.

-I used quick cooking oats, not rolled.

-I actually made the dough last night.  I scooped out little balls and placed them on a baking sheet, then put that in the freezer.  This morning I baked them straight out of the freezer in their frozen state.  I put 9 to a pan, but because they were frozen, they didn't spread much, so 12 would have been fine.  I baked them for about 17 minutes on the first batch, then the other batches about 15 minutes because they had thawed slightly.  I let them cool for two minutes on the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  I did not use nonstick spray.

-I loved the addition of cinnamon.  I just love cinnamon period.

-Now that I am looking at the recipe more carefully, I had assumed 350 was the baking temperature.  I was wrong, but they still turned out perfectly.

I am doing something really stupid tonight.  I am going camping with my husband.  In the woods.  In Mississippi.  In August.  In a tent.  With mosquitoes all around.  What am I thinking?

At least I'll have these cookies with me.

Here is the recipe:

"I Want To Marry You" Cookies

*And I want to give a big shout-out to Yummly for featuring my Reuben sandwich on their blog recently.  Also, a big thank you to  Be@Home for featuring Mississippi Kitchen in their Best of the Web edition.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Roasted Banana Cream Pie With Butterscotch Ganache

Not to hurt cake's feelings, but I think I like pie a little more than cake.  It's close, but for right now, today, I think pie is winning in my mind. 

And that's probably why I have been on a pie kick the last few months.  I concocted this cream pie back in June for Nestle Kitchens "There's Always Room For Pie" contest.  I totally did the happy dance when I found out I won second place a few weeks ago.

My daughter told me to stop it.  "Stop it, Mom.  Stop dancing like that."

Nestle shipped me this gorgeous gift basket chock-full of baking supplies and single-handedly saved the 2011 fall baking season for me which might have otherwise consisted of pitiful Chocolate Chipless Recession Cookies.  (Is it just me or has the price of groceries gotten really out of hand?)  Now I have something to look forward to when the temperature drops to a crisp 88 degrees and 64 percent humidity.  That's baking weather in Mississippi, y'all.

This pie starts with an vanilla wafer crumb crust.  On top of that is a layer of butterscotch ganache, followed by a creamy filling made with roasted bananas and a hint of cinnamon.  On top of that is freshly whipped and sweetened cream with more butterscotch ganache drizzled on top.  My husband fell in love with this pie.

Don't be intimidated by the lengthy directions.  It's not hard and I promise it's worth it.  You should probably pace yourself when you eat this pie.  I speak from experience.  Check out the other winning recipes here.  They look delicious!

Roasted Banana Cream Pie with Butterscotch Ganache

2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
6 tablespoons melted butter

1 1/4 cups NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels
1 tablespoon butter
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

3 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
1 envelope (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 can (12 fluid ounces) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups cold, heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Press onto bottom and sides of 9 1/2 to 10-inch glass pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes.

Melt butterscotch morsels, 1 tablespoon butter and 6 tablespoons heavy cream in the top of a double boiler or glass bowl placed over simmering water, whisking until smooth. Set aside 3 tablespoons in a small cup and cover for later use. Spread the remaining ganache evenly over the pie crust then place in refrigerator.

Place bananas in medium baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and caramelized.

Place 1/2 cup milk in a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Set aside to soften for 5 minutes. Bring remaining milk and evaporated milk to nearly a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar, cornstarch, and the egg yolks to the softened gelatin and whisk until blended. Gradually whisk about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the gelatin mixture; repeat this process once or twice using about 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Pour the warmed gelatin mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook for a few minutes or until mixture is very thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Strain cream mixture through a fine wire strainer into a large bowl; whisk in 2 tablespoons butter and vanilla extract. Stir in the roasted bananas. Cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for 1 hour to cool. Spread the filling over the ganache in the pie shell and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in a large bowl on high speed until foamy. Add the powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat until soft to medium stiff peaks form. Spread over the pie. Transfer the reserved 3 tablespoons ganache into a small resealable bag. Seal bag, pushing out all the air, and press the ganache to one corner of the bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner and drizzle on the top of the pie. Keep pie refrigerated until ready to serve.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Motorino Pizza, New York, New York

So on my recent visit to New York City I made a list of things I wanted to see and do and most of them started with EAT___________.  (Eat a bagel.  Eat Gelato.  Eat Cheesecake.  Eat street vendor food.  The list goes on and on.)  At the top of the list was eat real New York pizza. After some Internet research, I found Motorino.  (Why not Lombardi's or somewhere else?  I dunno.  All the reviews I read about Motorino were pretty much great and I just felt...drawn.) Yes, it was a tough choice because there were SO many to choose from, not at all like my little hometown where my options end with Inn and Hut.  I wanted to settle this issue before the trip, because I didn't want to haphazardly walk into any old pizza joint in New York and have a bad experience.

That would be tragic.

So Motorino it was.  And we took the subway to get there, then had to walk a little ways.  (Walking seems to be the thing in New York, no?)  It was not at all like I expected.  In fact, we walked right by it and had to turn around.  It was really small in there.  Very casual. We went in the middle of the day between lunch and dinner, so it was not crowded at all.

Richard got a root beer to start with, and right then and there I knew we weren't in Buckatunna anymore because none of our root beer bottles have a picture of Jesus serving beverages on the front.  (Seriously, at first glance I thought it was Jesus and I thought the name was "Virgin" like the Virgin Mary, and up until the end of the meal when I really looked at the bottle I thought he was drinking Catholic root beer.  Is there such a thing as Catholic root beer?)

Richard got the cremini and sweet sausage with fior di latte (it's mozzarella-- yeah, I had to Google it), garlic, thyme, pecorino and olives.  At least I think that's what he got.  I swore I would remember but now the details are a little foggy.  Whatever it was, it made us both very happy to be alive.

I got the the pizza margherita with mozzarella di bufala (another type of mozzarella) because I felt a simple, classic pizza would be best to really gauge if I had made the right restaurant choice.  I would have liked a little bit of fresh basil, not just basil that had been baked on top,  but really, that's just me being picky.  This pizza was excellent.  The tomato sauce was very mild to me, but mild in a good way, not in an unflavorful way.

The real star of the show was the crust.  The crispy, chewy, air pocket-filled, perfectly charred crust.  One pizza would have fed both of us, but I'm glad I got one of my own. After reading a lot of reviews, some people claimed theirs had a slightly soggy middle, but I didn't notice that in either of our pizzas.  I personally don't think a slightly gooey, cheesy, soggy middle would have been all that bad anyway. 

I was kicking myself for not trying their octopus salad, or another salad made of fennel that wasn't on the main menu, but where would I have put it?  Also, the brussel sprout and pancetta pizza sounded very intriguing, as well as their Pizza al' Uovo.  Menu here.  If I only had more time there.  We did share  tiramisu for dessert.  Not overly sweet and the perfect ending to the meal.

If I lived in New York, I could totally see this being a favorite hangout for me.

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