Monday, March 28, 2011

Creative Epicure's Super Cocoa Espresso Sheet Cake

I love Texas Sheet Cake. It is easy, fast and super delicious. My idea was to create a version that has a little more protein and moistness with the addition of almond flour. Then, I intensified the cocoa flavor with coffee and cinnamon.

Here it is.

Super Cocoa Espresso Sheet Cake

2 sticks butter

1 cup coffee

1 1/2 cups Granulated White Sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp White Lilly Flour

1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 Cup Bob's Red Mill almond flour

1 Cup Sour Cream

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp rice vinegar


1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 tsp vanilla

1 lb powdered sugar


35 chocolate covered espresso beans

1 Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar

Preheat oven to 40o degrees F. Spray a jelly roll pan with baking spray.

In a large pot over low heat melt together the butter,sugars and coffee, whisking occasionally to make sure the sugars dissolve.

In the mean time, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the almond flour.

In a small bowl mix the sour cream, eggs, vanilla and vinegar until smooth.

When the butter is melted and the sugars are dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add in the remaining prepared ingredient and mix until incorporated.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until cake springs back to a light touch. Remove from oven and immediately spread the glaze.

When the timer is down to 10 minutes start the glaze. Over medium/low heat slowly melt the butter with the cocoa, stirring until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla. Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth and pour the icing as evenly as possible over hot cake. Spread with an offset spatula. Garnish with the espresso beans. Break or chop the chocolate bar into small pieces and melt in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake in swirls.

Cool completely in pan before slicing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Cheese Bounties & Poppers

I was trying out a new party popper recipe and had a lot of blue cheese filling left. I remembered a blue cheese cracker recipe I had seen in my book Heirloom Cooking by the Brass Sisters. I decided to use the cracker recipe as a tart base for the filling. Wow! Very blue cheesy, hence the name - Blue Cheese Bounties. The cracker recipe needs to chill before forming. The filling was a take-off on Aarti Sequeira's Bacon-Apple-Jalapeno Pop Em's

My version of the filling includes the addition of creamy Maytag blue cheese, walnuts, nutmeg and lime juice.

I found a link to Nick's Savory Blue Cheese Cracker with Walnuts:

This will make about 24 tarts and 8 poppers, or about 40 Poppers.


Tart shells:

1 recipe Nick's Savory Blue Cheese Crackers minus the walnuts. Again, I used Maytag blue cheese.


8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 ounces Maytag Blue Cheese
1 medium Braeburn apple, cored and minced
3 medium scallions, minced
4 Tablespoons walnuts, chopped (or pecans)
1 1/2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarsely ground Tellicherry black pepper
A very small grating of fresh nutmeg
24 walnut or pecan halves

(If making all poppers you will need 20 pepper and 20 slices of bacon.)

4 slices Wright's Applewood Smoked Bacon, sliced in half
4 Jalapeno peppers/baby sweet peppers, cut in half lengthwise and veins and seeds removed
Mix the cracker recipe, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Blend cream cheese in food processor until smooth, crumble the blue cheese into the processor and mix until no large chunks remain. Now scrape this amalgamation into a medium bowl and blend in your remaining ingredients. (If you chopped your apple up ahead of time mix the lime juice into it to prevent browning.)

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Spray two 12 cup tart pans with baking spray.

Using a 1" cookie/candy measure press full of filling, evenly. Turn the filling into the mini tart pans and press into a tart form. (I used a Pampered Chef press dipped in flour).

Carefully spoon 1 1/2 Tbsp of the filling into the center of each tart shell. Top each with a nut half, gently pressing it into the filling, this will help to distribute the filling, as well as help keep the nut from falling off.

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes until golden.


Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Press filling into each pepper half up to the rim. Gently stretch a piece of bacon. Then, beginning at the tops of the pepper, just under the stem wrap the bacon around the popper spirally to cover the filling. Secure the bacon with a toothpick or small wooden skewer.

Place on the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Let set for 5 minutes. Using tongs, gently lift each popper off the pan and blot it on a paper towel to remove some of the extra fat. Place on a serving tray and enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Creative Epicure's Hearty Healthy Bread

My husband is Swiss and he loves a nice loaf of hearty bread. This was adapted from "Laurel's Black Bread" that I found in The Oakland Press some time ago. The base recipe is very versatile. This is a great snowy or lazy day project.

By the way, I am a huge fan of Bob's Red Mill organic whole grain products.

1/3 cup Cracked Wheat (light bulger)
2 1/2 cups Water
1/4 cup Blackstrap Molasses
1/4 cup Agave Nectar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup Gluten Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 Tbsp Olive Oil (divided)
1/3 cup Oat Bran Flour
1 cup Rye Flour
1 cup Wheat Germ
1/2 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 to 1 cup additional whole wheat flour
Rolled oats
2 Egg Whites
1 tsp Cold Water

Additional inclusions: you can pretty much add anything you like to the bread when you shape it. I divide the dough in thirds and make 3 kinds. Today’s versions were:

Sunflower: 1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds

Cinnamon Raisin: A handful of Raisins (about 1/4 cup) sprinkled with Saigon Cinnamon

Sun Dried Tomato: A good squeeze of Sun dried Tomato Paste (About 1 1/2 Tbsp), a sprinkle of dried Oregano and a handful of Sun Dried Tomatoes - chopped.

Over medium heat, bring the cracked wheat, water, molasses and agave to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into your stand mixer bowl. Insert a thermometer and wait till it cools to 110 degrees F (mine took 25 minutes to cool). Sprinkle with yeast and add the gluten flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes, scrape down the blow and raise the speed to #2 for 2 minutes, scrape and beat on speed #3 for 2 minutes. Remove paddle, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.

Next I put the rye flour, oat bran flour, wheat germ, oats and salt on a piece of parchment paper and mixed it around a little.

Insert the dough hook onto the blender and, with the speed on low, very slowly add the flours into the mixing bowl and let the machine run to blend it well. (My mixer tends to want to dance around at this point, so I don't leave it unattended.) Then raise the speed to 2 and let it run until all the ingredients become a homogenous mass. Raise the speed to 3 and let it run for another 3 minutes.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the wheat flour onto your kneading surface. You may or may not need the other 1/2 cup. Begin to knead and knead in the additional flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp Olive Oil into a large bowl. Put the dough into the bowl, turning to coat all sides with the olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down dough and divide it into thirds. Press into a circle, leaving the center slightly elevated. Spread whatever flavor/filling you want to about 1/2" from sides.

Now, this is how to shape you loaf into a nice dense one. Fold over all the edges and make into a circular shape, the flip over and cup with your hands, pressing the dough downward and squeezing the folded edges together with your fingertips. Spin the dough a quarter turn and repeat the process until you have a tightly shaped loaf and you will just start to see your filling through the dough. Roll the bottom of the loaf in oats. Place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. (Two will fit on 1 sheet.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, a little over an hour.

Now whisk together the egg white and water and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Brush the top of each loaf and sprinkle with desired topping(s).

I topped the Sunflower Loaf with Sunflowers, the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf with Oats and the Sun Dried Tomato Bread with a little Kosher Salt.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Creative Epicure's Ultimate Veggie Patties

I love a great veggie burger. Seeing Guy Fieri make "Morgan's Veggie Patties", on The Food Network really got me excited. I finally pulled my version together based on my personal preferences and what I had on hand. Here is my version. This is definitely worth the effort.

Creative Epicures Ultimate Veggie Patties
This makes 8 large patties

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium diced red onion
1/4 medium red bell peppers diced
1 diced Serrano chili
1/4 cup diced, thawed frozen artichokes
1 1/2 tablespoons diced garlic
3 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup frozen corn
1 can no-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can low sodium Cannelini (white kidney beans) beans, drained and rinsed
9 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats by weight
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
4 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Garlic Clove, gently smashed, still intact

In a medium saute pan heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, while you prep the veggies. Add the red onion, red peppers, Serrano chili, and artichokes and reduce the heat to low and slowly sweat out the veggies until the onions are translucent and just starting to caramelize. Add in the garlic and cook about a minute until fragrant. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on the burner to cool slightly.

In a dry pan, roast the frozen corn until it is thawed and has browned slightly, shaking the pan occasionally to get a nice even color.

I pan toasted my chili powder, cumin and paprika until fragrant - personal preference to enhance their flavors.

Pulse 1/2 of the chick peas in a food processor about 5 times, you don't want to puree them, just break them into small bits. This lends an interesting texture to the final burgers.

Dump the beans and processed chick peas into a large bowl. Add the sauteed vegetables and corn and mix well (this will help to cool the veggies so you don't end up cooking the eggs). Dump in your oats, spices, bread crumbs and eggs and then squish the whole thing together into a homogeneous mixture. Crushing some of the beans, but leaving some whole for texture and interest.

Form into 3 inch patties. I used a biscuit cutter, which I lined with plastic wrap spooned the filling in and folded the plastic over and really pressed the mixture in firmly. Then place the wrapped patties onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before frying. You could freeze them at this point, but I haven't tried this yet - too good.

To fry preheat your oil and garlic clove in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat until the clove is gently brown. Remove the garlic clove and crank up the heat to medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently place the desired number of patties in your pan and fry on each side about 3 minutes, until a deep golden brown crust forms.

* If you use a larger pan - use more oil so that the burgers will create the nice crust that will hold them together. I tried some with flour coating at first, but this was unnecessary - better flavor without the flour.

I have tried this topped with smashed avacado and on top of green taco sauce, both were fantastic!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Creative Epicure "Chippy Scotcheroos"

This makes a cookie sheet full of goodness.
I always have a bag of blended chips on hand to make "My Chips Have Come In" cookies. The mix can have semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and/or mini-chocolate chips. I just dump a bag of each in a large zip-top bag and shake around to mix.

Creative Epicure Chippy Scotcheroos
9 Cups Rice Krispies Cereal
2 Cups Agave Nectar
1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Cream
1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 Cups Butterscotch Chips
1 1/2 Cups Mixed Chips
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chips (optional drizzle)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Measure 9 cups of Rice Krispies into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan mix the Agave Nectar and Sugar together over medium heat until it comes to a boil, boil for 1 minute then remove from heat and mix in the peanut butter. Add the Rice Krispies and stir until mixed. Working quickly place the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula (I used 2 so I could keep the parchment in place.

In a medium saucepan bring the cream just to a simmer and remove from heat and add your chocolate and butterscotch chips, stir until smooth and spread evenly over the warm base.

Sprinkle with the mixed chips and press them lightly into the topping.

Melt the dark chocolate in a small microwave safe dish in 20 second increments - stirring until melted. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the chips.

Cool thoroughly and cut into squares.