Sunday, November 10, 2019

Herb and Garlic Croissant Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

To make this amazing, best-in-the-world grilled cheese you're going to have to put in some work. 
First you have to make the herb and garlic croissants. Croissants take 2 days of fussing. 
Still with us? Okay. Good. 
Until you have had a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato on a homemade croissant you have not truly lived. For real though. It'll change your life. 
Or.... maybe not.... but, really.... can you chance it? Take the risk. Make the croissants. Make the grilled cheese. Live your best life. 
We believe in you. 

Herb And Garlic Croissants

1/2 cup warm water
4 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm milk

Herb & Garlic Butter
1 1/2 cups butter, room temp
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp dried parsley (or 3 Tbsp fresh)

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk

Prepare Herb & Garlic Butter - beat together butter, garlic, and parsley until well mixed. 

Spread your butter into a 6 X 8 1/2 rectangle. I find it is easiest if I cut out a piece of paper to 6 X 8 1/2 and then a piece of plastic wrap over top, and then spread the butter on the plastic wrap to cover the paper. 

Chill in fridge while you prepare the dough. (NOTE - you want butter to be firm before proceeding with it.)
Prepare dough - Stir together the warm water and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the lukewarm milk and yeast mixture. Stir until dough comes together. Add more flour, a Tbsp at a time if the dough is very sticky. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead 4 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. 
After resting, roll out to a 10 X 9 rectangle, cover with plastic wrap, and chill dough for 30 minutes. 
After chilling for 30 minutes - place dough on lightly floured work surface and roll to a 10 X 15 rectangle. Place the chilled butter on top, in the center.
Fold the dough over the butter, to meet in the middle. Pinch the seems to seal. 

Flip the dough over so seam is on the bottom. Roll the dough to a 10 X 15 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). Fold dough in 3 with the top covering the bottom fold. 

Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 4 hours. Do this 3 more times for a total of 4 "turns". (Always start your roll with the short end towards you.) On your last turn, cover well in plastic wrap and set in fridge to chill overnight. 
In the morning, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 13 X 25 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut into 5 - 5 inch wide strips. then cut each strip into 2 triangles. (See photo for clarification.) 

Make a small cut in the wide part of each triangle. Start at the wide end and roll up each triangle. 

Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Continue with remaining triangles. 

Cover and place somewhere a little bit warm. I like to turn the oven on to 400 and set the tray on top. 
Cover with a clean tea towel and let proof for an hour. You don't want them in a place that is too warm or the butter will start to melt and you don't want that!
After they have risen for an hour, prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk and milk. Brush on each croissant using a pastry or basting brush. 

Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes - until tops are a deep golden brown. 

Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack.

You could enjoy them like this, of course. They are so garlicy and crunchy and flaky that they are hard to resist. With a bowl of tomato soup? Don't even get me started!
Oooooor.... you could carry on to making the best grilled cheese you've ever had.

Grilled Cheese Croissants

Herb & Garlic Croissants (recipe above)
aged cheese, sliced
tomato, sliced
onion, sliced
bacon, cooked 

When the croissants have cooled (day old croissants work very well for this too FYI), preheat your oven to 350 and then cut each croissant in half horizontally with a serrated knife. On the bottom of the croissant top with a little butter, some aged cheddar, a slice of onion, several slices of tomato, and at least 2 pieces of cooked bacon. Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. (I used my toaster oven that is why the cookie sheet is so tiny. You can use a regular oven and cookie sheet for this!) 

Place the top of the croissant on the bacon and press down firmly to make sure everything is in place.

Place a second cookie sheet on top of the croissants. You want to press them while they are baking without completely squishing them. (See photo for clarification.) 

Place in a preheated 350 oven and bake until cheese is melty, about 10 - 15 minutes (a little less in a toaster oven, just keep an eye on them). 

Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, and then serve!

They're basically art. 

I'm not the world's leading expert on grilled cheese or anything.... but I'm pretty sure these are the best grilled cheese on the planet. A crispy, flaky, tender, chewy, garlicy croissant filled with melty cheese, crispy bacon, onion, and fresh tomato - you look me in the eye and tell me it's not the best thing ever. I double dare you. 
Side note - if you've never made croissants before I definitely recommend watching a few how-to videos on you-tube or Pinterest to get a feel for the process. It can be intimidating but once you get the gist of it, it's totally doable. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Make Ahead Big Batch Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Waffles are one of the best breakfasts EVER. I'm going to risk the backlash and say, perhaps even better than pancakes. All those little pockets that hold extra syrup (and peanut butter) make them irresistible. The only thing about them is they can be kind of a pain in the butt to make for breakfast. They are a little messy and time consuming when you just want to get your day started. 
Here's the thing.... we've solved that problem so now you can have waffles at the drop of a hat any time you want them. (Helloooo breakfast for dinner!)
You're welcome. 

Make Ahead Big Batch Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

6 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 Tbsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
6 cups buttermilk
6 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla

Also Needed
Melted butter for brushing on waffle iron

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and no flour streaks remain. 

Let sit while your waffle iron heats up. When the iron is ready, brush with melted butter. 
Scoop enough batter to cover the bottom of the waffle iron, spreading as necessary so it is not too thick - about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. Cook in waffle iron until just lightly golden. (NOTE - only cook to light golden if you are preparing them for use later. If you are eating them right away then cook to a bit deeper brown!) Remove from the waffle iron and place on wire racks to cool.

Continue with remaining batter. I always get between 12 and 13 Belgian waffles. 

When they are cool you can wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them (or place them all in a large Tupperware-type container that is air tight). 
When ready to eat: remove a waffle from the freezer and unwrap. Place in microwave for 1 minute (until just thawed) and then place in toaster to crisp up. NOTE - you can also thaw them at room temp and place on a griddle to crisp up)
Top with your favorite toppings! (Pictured here: warm apricot puree with whipped cream)

Pictured below: warm apple pie compote with whipped cream.

12 giant Belgian waffles that you can eat whenever you like! What's not to love?
I cook them a bit longer if we are eating them straight off the waffle iron but leave them a little softer if I am going to be re-heating. You could use these to make regular style waffles but I'm not sure how many you would get.  Instead of 12 maybe 18 or so? If you do try it please let us know!  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Giant Nutella Stuffed Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are big. BIIIIG BIG. 
I'm not going to lie, they're also pretty sweet, *shocker* I know... but I'm always surprised when people comment that a cookie recipe is "really sweet". Okay.... but it's a cookie soooo... To be fair, I suppose some cookies are not sweet.. like.. healthy cookies... but these are NOT healthy cookies. NooooOoooOOooo they are not. At all. 
What they are though, is delicious and addicting and totally worth making for an every-once-in-a-while indulgence. I took my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and stuffed in some Nutella because, why not? and then made them super jumbo... again, because why not?
Sure... you can make these "normal" size, if you want to *sigh* but I totally recommend giant. When we are talking cookies... size matters. 

Giant Nutella Stuffed Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies 

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup BECEL original margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

12 Tbsp Nutella

mini chocolate chips for sprinkling on top

Prepare cookies - Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 
Whisk together flour, baking soda, coffee granules, and salt. In another bowl, beat together BECEL brown sugar and sugar until creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 
Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. 
Using a large cookie scoop, about 1/4 cup in size, scoop cookies onto one of the cookie sheets. They can be close together because you are not cooking them right now you are going to chill them. Chill for about 30 minutes. 

While dough is chilling, prepare the Nutella. 
On a small tray lined with parchment paper, scoop 12 heaping tablespoons of Nutella about 1 inch apart. Try to leave the Nutella fairly heaped up and not spread out. Place in freezer until your cookie dough is chilled. 

Take one of the chilled cookie balls and press one disc of frozen Nutella into the center of it. You need to work fairly quickly as the Nutella thaws fairly fast and gets hard to work with. 

Top with another chilled cookie dough ball and form into a round ball. Continue with the remaining dough and Nutella. Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. You should get 12 jumbo cookies. 
Lightly press the cookies down with the palm of your hand and then sprinkle a few more mini chocolate chips on top of each cookie. 

Bake at 375 for about 11 - 18 minutes. Start checking at 11 minutes. The bottom and edges should be light golden brown and the center should look pale. Don't over bake or cookies will be crunchy instead of chewy!

Let cool on cookie tray for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 

Recipe yields 12 ginormous mocha chocolate Nutella cookies. So good. 

In case you are in a hurry and DON'T chill these...

You'll be okay but they will spread out more and not be as high...

Also, instead of the Nutella being a blob in the center, it kind of spreads out throughout the cookie more...

Not that this is a bad thing. It's just different than if you let the cookie dough chill. 
Both ways result in a heavenly tasting cookie #justsayin
FYI - this is my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. I ALWAYS use real butter when I bake but decided to try BECEL just to see what happened. Turns out everyone loved these more than my usual recipe. 
I'm as surprised as you are. 
But, for real though, try this one. It's a really good, soft but chewy, sweet but not coma inducing, chocolate chip cookie. Feel free to leave out the instant coffee granules if you don't like that hint of mocha-ness in there. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Giant Spider Cheese Ball

Cheese balls are the best, aren't they?
Need something to bring to a potluck? Cheese ball. Want to make something festive? Cheese ball. Something for an appie, side, or dessert? Cheese ball. Looking for quick and easy? Cheese ball. 
We made this spooktacular chocolate peanut butter cheesecake-y spider as a treat for our Halloween party. It only takes a few minutes to put together and makes a pretty big impression on the table! If your chocolate piping skills are lacking (as mine are) then you can use black licorice for legs instead. Up to you! You can also stick edible googly eyes on him, if you like. I found he looked creepier without eyes. 

Giant Spider Cheese Ball

2 bricks (16 oz total) cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar
6 Tbsp  baking cocoa
~1 cup mini chocolate chips 

chocolate for piping legs or black licorice 

Beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until smooth, scraping bowl as needed. Stir in the icing sugar and baking cocoa. 
Divide into 2 balls - one about 2/3rds and one about 1/3rd, for the body and head. Roll the balls in the mini chocolate chips and then wrap in plastic wrap. Place in bowls so the balls retain their round shape. Chill until firm. 

After chilling; unwrap the balls and roll in more mini chocolate chips to cover any spots that you may have missed. Place on a serving platter. 
Pipe 4 legs on either side of the body (or place black licorice). Cover and chill until ready to serve!

Looking to make something that will have everyone talking, but don't want to have to work too hard?
We feel ya. We're here for you. 

We served him with graham crackers, animal crackers, and strawberries! You could use any fruit you like! 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Red Velvet Brain Cake

Halloween is getting closer! I know it's only the end of September but really.... I mean.... it's basically Halloween. Sue and I start planning our Halloween shenanigans in the summer as we are both a little holiday crazy so by the time we get to September we're anxious to get things started. 
Anyway, I made this gruesome cake last year and decided it needs to be a staple at all our Halloween parties. It's just sooooo gross yet delicious. And really, how often do we get to say that about things?

Brain Cake 

Red Velvet Cake
3 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp baking cocoa
pinch salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 - 3 Tbsp red food dye
1 cup buttermilk

Marshmallow Fondant
1 lb bag mini marshmallows (16 oz)
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp red food dye
2 lb icing sugar
(Butter, to grease your hands)

Also needed
1 jar Raspberry Jam
1/2 cup-ish Vanilla Frosting

Prepare the red velvet cake - preheat oven to 350. Using a "soccer ball sized", oven safe bowl, first spray with cooking spray and then place a couple of strip of parchment paper criss cross in the bowl (See photo below for clarification.) Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the oil and then the eggs and vanilla, beating well in between each addition. Add in the vinegar and red food coloring. 
Alternately beat in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk into the wet ingredients. 
Pour into the prepared bowl. 
Place a small, shallow, "cereal bowl sized", oven safe bowl, into the middle of the cake batter and press down gently. This helps the cake to cook faster.  
Cook at 350 until toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean - about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 20 minutes in the bowl on a wire rack. 

Gently remove the small bowl from the middle. Let cool completely. (Don't worry if you have a hole right through the cake. You will be covering the cake in fondant so you won't see it. 

Gently invert cake onto a serving tray and remove from the bowl. 

Using a serrated knife, trim the cake so it is more brain shaped. (NOTE - I used the trimmings to cover the hole on top and create a little more domed appearance.) 
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of vanilla frosting. Use a knife to carve a shallow line down the middle of the cake separating the two brain halves. 

Place cake in fridge while you make the marshmallow fondant. 
Prepare fondant - Place marshmallows and water in a microwave safe bowl. Heat approx 40 seconds and then stir. If marshmallows are not completely melted, heat another 20 seconds, stir, repeat if needed. Stir until smooth. Stir in the red food dye. 
Add in the icing sugar about 1/3 at a time. You may need a little bit more icing sugar if it is very sticky. 
Place some icing sugar on a flat work surface and scrape the fondant onto it. Cover your hands in a bit of butter to prevent sticking and then knead the fondant until it is not sticky and is fairly firm. You may need to add more icing sugar as you knead. 
Pull off tablespoon sized pieces of the fondant and roll them between your hands to form "worms" about 2 - 3 inches long. Start placing these on the cake in a wiggly, zig zag pattern so as to look like a brain. See the photo below to get a better idea of what we mean. Make sure to NOT cover up the line down the middle so the brain looks like it has 2 halves. 

Warm a bit of raspberry jam in the microwave for about 20 seconds. I use about 1/2 cup at a time. 
Use a pastry or basting brush, brush the melted jam over the fondant liberally. Be sure to cover all the fondant and the white bits of frosting peeking through. The gooier the better! 

Chill until ready to serve!
We also made poison pudding shots and they looked extra creepy sticking out of the cake!

You can fill the cake center, if you want to.... we actually placed the small bowl we baked in it back in there for more stability. You can see it peeking out in the photo below. 

So gruesome!

The most time consuming part of this cake is rolling all the little "worm" shapes to make the brain squiggles. 

Totally worth it though. You'll have people talking if you bring this to your next Halloween get together. 
A couple of notes: 
1.) The brain squiggles do not have to be uniform. In fact, it looks better if they are not. 
2.) If you are not filling the center of the cake then definitely put the bowl back in there for stability. It can start to collapse under the weight of the fondant. 
3.) The cake can be made ahead of time and frozen until needed. The fondant can be made a few days ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. Just remember to take it out and let it come back to room temperature before trying to work with it. 
4.) I use canned vanilla frosting to crumb coat the cake as you only need a little bit - but feel free to make your own if you prefer. 
5.) You can use any red jam you like to cover the cake but just be sure it doesn't contain seeds!