All posts by Cocofancy

Update 20141114

Whoooey! It’s been a while since I have posted. Though, to be fair, I did start a post in October, I just forgot to finish it, I guess.

But before I go into the crazies of life – the Cocofancy Etsy shop is open! There are just a couple of offerings up so far, but I have finally mastered caramels! And made an interesting discovery of Coffee Toffee.

Life has been hectic. But it’s it always? Well, more so in the last month-ish. I just came into a new position at work, with a new schedule: Monday through Friday! It’s the first time in the nine years we have been together that Mikal and I have both had Saturday/Sunday off together consistently. Sure, there have been the infrequent vacations and whatnot, but this is consistent! It’s also taking a bit of getting used to.

At the same time, I have been attempting to keep up with the baking, but that has definitely taken more of a back-burner than I would like. We had half a dozen sugar-pie pumpkins sitting in our kitchen for a few weeks, just waiting for me to bake them up…. Yeah, nope, was just super-busy. Mikal ended up getting taking care of it for me. This week (I almost said last week because that’s how long this week has been) was the first time I had the smell of wonderful pumpkin bakings in the house this year, and it was heavenly. Pumpkin Espresso Bread. So much yum.

And, to top it all off, wonderful Mikal has managed to deliver an early present: an amazing new computer. My old computer wasn’t dead, and it was a bit slow but not horrible… It just didn’t have a battery and wasn’t terribly user-friendly anymore. Quite stressful to use when you’re sitting there writing a blog post and you accidentally shift and the power cord detaches. It all goes bye-bye. But I have been using his computers to post, and they’re quite functional, so I really have no excuse. BUT THIS ONE IS SO SHINY! I no longer have to drool over his new(ish) computer and its zoomy sleekness. Perhaps I will finally get back to posting regularly.

Orange- and Vanilla-Scented Mini Bundts

I finally made a pretty bundt. I made a series of pretty buds. Of course, Mikal made them even prettier, but I feel pretty proud of myself. Especially since my first attempt at the red velvet bundts a while ago, which were not very happy. Very much pieced together once they came out.

After that, I read up on the proper de-panning of bundt. It’s quite the process. The secret with this one, luckily, did not involve cooling and water and such – just lots of cooking spray and flour in a non-stick pan.

I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit Desserts book. It has a wonderfully light flavor, and a beautiful texture. Just a bit of icing and you’re good to go.

Orange-and Vanilla-Scented Mini-Bundt

from Bon Appetit Desserts

3 cups unbleached all-purporse flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp finely grated orange peel
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
2/3 cups fresh orange juice
2/3 cups buttermilk

Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour mini bundt pan. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Using an electric  mixer, beat sugar and orange peel in large bowl at low speed to release essential oils from peel. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into sugar mixture and beat to blend well. Add butter and beat until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in orange juice (mixture will look curdled). Stir in flour mixture, then buttermilk. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Place powdered sugar in small bowl. Mix in orange juice, 1/2 tsp at a time, until a thick pourable consistency forms. Drizzle icing decoratively over cake. Let stand until icing sets.

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Peach Danish Braid

On with the saga of the peaches.

You see, when I made the Poached Peach Tarts, I only used two of the peaches, leaving a good 6-8 left for more yummies. Mikal ended up eating a few, leaving me with four by the time I set down for my next project. You see, I had originally wanted to make Mason Jar Lid Pies – individually sized, relatively easy to eat, and all around pretty awesome looking.

How could you say no to that? I won’t be for very long, that’s for sure.

But I had a good amount of Danish pastry dough left, so my vote for the moment was on continuing with that dough so as not to waste it. Lucky for me, Sally’s Baking Addiction came to the rescue with her Danish Pastry Dough recipe, and handily had the how-to for a braided pastry. I did take the Spiced Peach filling from the above recipe, though, because it sounded just delicious. This being a Danish, though, I still added cream cheese with just a bit of a twist.

Peach Danish Braid

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction and Dessert for Two

2 peaches, peeled and pitted
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp flour
1 tbsp sugar
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
remaining syrup from poached peaches
Danish Pastry Dough (see previous post)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Thinly slice peaches and combine with ground ginger, cinnamon, lemon juice, flour and sugar. Set aside.

Combine cream cheese with an appropriate amount of peach syrup. What is an appropriate amount? That is up to you. Just make sure it integrates well.

Remove chilled pastry dough from fridge, and roll out into a 9×15-inch rectangle (or however large you would like it). Mentally divide the dough into thirds lengthwise, and spread cream cheese mixture over central section in an even swath.

Take peach slices and distribute them evenly over the cream cheese swath, in whatever pattern or layout you deem necessary. Just be sure to keep the overlap height consistent so you don’t have a lumpy pastry.

In the remaining pastry areas, slice dough into strips at a 45° angle from the center swath, and mirror this on the other side. Starting at the top (where top means the point of the arrow the angular slits are pointing to), fold one strip at a time across the filling, alternating sides to create a braided visual effect. As you get closer to the bottom, you may have excess dough leading off the filling; fold this into the dough at the end of the pastry to create something of a pocket to keep the juices in. Fold in any excess dough at the top of the pastry in a similar fashion.

Coat outside of pastry dough with egg wash, then bake the pastry for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan as needed to ensure even cooking. (I just found out in baking this that my oven has hot zones. Hadn’t really noticed it before, but then I don’t usually bake this large of items. Will have to observe in the future.) Cool pastry and consume.

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Top of pastry

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Poached Peach Tarts

Mikal loves fruit. Any type of fruit – stone fruit, berry fruit, fruity fruit fruit-fruit. Blueberries are his favorite (and he can have them all), but peaches are a very close second. So when Sprouts had them on a good sale, he bought a bunch and demanded (not in so many words, but it was still a demand) that I make them into something scrumptious. Not one to take such things lightly, I immediately remembered some items on Pinterest I had found that might fit the bill.

He also stated that it would be something would not be sharing with others. I thought this to be a bit unfair, but that’s ok.

My grandparents came up for the weekend on their way to Santa Cruz, and as a little thing we decided to make dinner. After all, they always make amazing food for us – why not return the favor? Mikal decided to dig out the turkey that has made its home in our freezer for entirely too long (we keep going to other peoples’ houses for holidays, so we haven’t had the opportunity to make it) and made an amazing slow-roasted turkey breast with roasted potatoes and carrots, and it was quite the hit. Turned out absolutely beautifully.

It was also ready around lunch time, and you don’t really have that and something else in the same day – just seems wrong. So I tried to figure out a dessert to go along with it. Mikal was kind enough to proffer some of the peaches and suggested trying to make those pastries with the half-peaches and stuff. I had a vague idea of what he was talking about, but not having had one I wasn’t 100% sure, so I looked up some images and found that one version called it a Danish. Sounds about right. So I looked up how to make Danish pastry dough, because that was a bit new. Pretty easy, though you do have to let it chill for quite a while, at least a couple of hours, to make sure you plan ahead.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the filling, though, and looked up how to poach a peach. Found a wonderful recipe from the BBC for vanilla poached peaches, and decided that was the perfect thing to do. So the below is quite the lengthy recipe, and unfortunately doesn’t have any pictures , but it was very well-received and AMAZING.

One thing to keep in mind – I only used half or so of the dough generated below to make the tarts (total of four). The other half will be used for Peach Danish Braids (link to come).

Poached Peach Tarts

Danish Dough
from Sally’s Baking Addiction
prep time: 2hrs + 4hrs initial chill time

1/4 cup warm water, 105-115°F
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one standard package)
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
14 tbsp unsalted butter, cold

Whisk the yeast and warm water together in a large bowl. Allow to sit for 3 minutes until foamy. Add milk, egg, granulated sugar, and salt. Once these wet ingredients are mixed together, set the bowl aside and make your butter/flour mixture.

Cut butter into 1/4″ cubes and add to the butter, cutting together until it is fairly crumbled.

Pour flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Very gently fold the two mixtures together. Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened to maintain a tender dough. The butter must remain in pieces, which creates the flaky pastry. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough up tightly and refrigerate for at least 4hrs or overnight.

After 4-12hrs, take the dough out of the refrigerator to begin the rolling and folding process. Flour a work surface, and roll the dough out into a rough rectangle. You will likely have to continue flouring as you roll as the dough will be sticky. Fold the dough together in three sections like a letter, then roll out into another rectangle. Repeat once more. After the third folding together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and stick back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.

In the mean time, prepare the peaches.

Vanilla Poached Peaches
from BBC Good Food

2-6 peaches
425ml sweet white wine
2 tbsp clear honey
1 vanilla pod, split

Blanching: Put the kettle on, and fill a large bowl with iced water. Place the peaches in another large bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Leave for 30 seconds, then remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the cold water. The skins should now come away easily.

Cut peaches in half and remove pits, and set aside.

Place the wine, honey, and vanilla pod in a pan large enough to hold all the peaches, then gently heat until the honey has dissolved. Lower the peaches into the pan, cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until tender but not overly soft. Remove the cooked peaches from the pan and set aside.

Boil the syrup hard until it has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

After at least 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut in half. Wrap one half up and return to the refrigerator. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 8×12 inches or so – large enough to get sizable squares of dough for the peaches to sit on and have a bit of a lip to roll.

Cut out the dough squares and place onto baking sheet. Place the half-peaches in the centers of the squares, then roll or fold the edges of the pastry up to create a lip. Pour 1 tsp of syrup over the peach, and coat the pastry dough with egg wash. Repeat process for each square.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating as needed for even baking. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, crème fraîche, or alone with a bit more syrup drizzled over it.

Chocolate Orange Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips

Long title, right? But let me tell you – this received quite a bit of wide-ranging praise when it was distributed. I had people actually asking for the recipe.

It all came about when I had an overripe banana, and Mikal bringing home oranges. Bananas were easy to find something to make with them – banana bread, banana bread, more banana bread, and I even found a recipe for bananadoodles – a banana-snickerdoodle. That’ll be in the works, you can bet your hat on that.

And oranges are pretty easy to think of stuff to make – my grandma’s orange rolls, orange scones, cookies, anything.

But trying to figure out something to blend bananas and oranges into a baked good – that was a little bit of a stumper. All I could really think about were smoothies. I mean, that would be awesome together. It’s just not something I can easily share with people at work.

So I turned to Pinterest. Most of what came up was what I had thought of: smoothies. They even sounded pretty awesome. But then I came across a few recipes that I will be trying in the coming weeks. The first is the one listed below. The image for the recipe showed a decadently dark bread with white chocolate chunks, so of course I had to try it. That being said, I’m really not a fan of the chocolate/orange mixture. I still have one of those chocolate oranges sitting in my desk at work from over a year ago for emergency chocolate. Of course, the whole chocolate+fruit thing is just weird to me. The only thing that gets around that are frozen chocolate-covered bananas – also known as Monkey Tails – which will always remind me of renaissance faires.

Mikal also shares my ambivalence regarding chocolate+orange, but even he really enjoyed this, so keep that in mind. I tried a couple of slices and they were definitely better than I had expected – but I didn’t quite love it. There’s a lot going on with the flavors.

This recipe makes any of the following: 1 large loaf, 2 small loaves, or 8 mini-loaves.

Chocolate Orange Banana Bread with White Chocolate Chips

from Rock Recipes

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 medium bananas, mashed
1 orange, zest + juice
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb white chocolate – chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 325°F, and prepare pan.

Beat sugar and oil in bowl until foamy. Add eggs, orange zest and mashed bananas. Mix well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Fold dry ingredients into the banana mixture alternately with the orange juice. Fold in white chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared baking pans and bake 45-60 minutes for the large loaf, 30-35mins for mini loaves. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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