Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dulce de Leche and Cashew Bars

Remember the Dulce de Leche I blogged about a few weeks ago?  Well, I put it to good use in this recipe.  Who can resist sweet caramel-like Dulce de Leche and cashew nuts...definitely not I!  This recipe was so simple and only used up one saucepan.   

These bars came out gooey and delicious.  They were soft, moist, and incredibly sweet with added texture from the crunch of the cashews.  I found that my edges cooked a bit more than the rest of the pan, so I cut about a quarter of an inch off all sides, sliced into smaller bite size pieces, and reserved for those people who love edges!

Dulce de Leche and Cashew Bars
adapted from Lucie Madeleine
(6 PointsPlus per serving)


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche (store-bought or homemade)
3/4 cup roasted salted cashews (halves and pieces)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8 x 8 pan with tin foil and make sure the foil reaches up the sides.  Butter the foil. 

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Add the brown sugar to the saucepan of melted butter and whisk until mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the egg then add the salt and flour and whisk for 1 minute.

Spread about half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop about half of the Dulce de Leche over the batter and carefully spread it around with a small spatula.  Sprinkle with cashews, then gently spread the remaining batter over the Dulce de Leche.  Top batter with the remaining Dulce de Leche and spread around.

Bake for 35 minutes or until set in the center and golden brown at the edges (it may seem a little underdone because of the Dulce de Leche in the middle, so just make sure it’s firm).  Cool completely in the pan and then remove bars by lifting up the tinfoil.  

Because the edges of blondies tend to get a little tough, first slice off about ¼ inch from each edge and save for someone who likes edges!  Then slice into 16 squares. (1 serving = 1 piece, 6 PointsPlus per serving)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fresh Fraisier: Daring Bakers'

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

After reading this month's challenge for the first time I thought to myself what in the world is a Fraisier!  But because the San Francisco bakery holds a special place in my heart, I knew that any recipe from the Tartine cookbook would be spectacular.   This recipe did not let me down.

Even though I had a few slip ups along the way, my cake turned out beautiful and delicious.  Thank you Jana, for a great challenge!

Fresh Fraisier

Chiffon Cake


1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.  Do not grease the sides of the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.  Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.

Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.

Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.
Pastry Cream Filling


1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 tablespoon water
1 cup heavy cream


Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine  Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.

When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.  Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.

Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.  Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.

In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.  Put two inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.

Measure 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.  Heat the cream until it is 120 F. Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.

In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks.  Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Simple Syrup


1/3 cup of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup of water


Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.

Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.  Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

To Assemble the Fraisier


1 baked 8 inch chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup simple syrup
2 lbs strawberries
1 lb blueberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup almond paste


Line the sides of a 8-inch pring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.  

Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.  Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.

Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.  Add other types of fruit if desired.

Pipe cream in between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.  Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries entirely with all but 1 tbsp. of the pastry cream.

Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.

Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch round 1/16 inch thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.

**Because the top of my cake sunk after cooling, I decided to whip up a batch of coconut whipped cream.  I spread this over the almond paste.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grape-nuts Cookies

Gape-nuts remind me of the days I would run late in high school.  I lived about 20 minutes away from school, so I would pour a bit of milk and grape-nuts in a red plastic cup and take my breakfast to-go.

It has been years since my last cup of grape-nuts cereal, so when I came across this recipe I knew it would be a fun one to try.  These cookies were delicate and soft on the outside, but once you found the grape-nuts you were hit with a nice crunch.  The texture was amazing.

I made half of this recipe with dried fruit and half without.  To be honest, I can't say which one is better because I liked them both equally!  The berries made the cookies more sweet and chewy, but the non-berry cookies had more of a brown-sugar and cinnamon flavor.

Grape-nuts Cookies
adapted from Bourbonnatrix Bakes
(2 PointsPlus per serving)


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Grape-nuts
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dried berries, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cream the butter.  Beat in the Splenda until fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Stir in the Grape-nuts and rolled oats.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add to the butter mixture and mix until combined.  Add in the dried berries if desired.

Using a tablespoon, portion out the cookie dough and place on the baking sheets.  If you prefer a rounder cookie keep them in the shape of the tablespoonful of dough.  If you prefer a flatter cookie, slightly flatten the balls of dough with a fork.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until the edges start to get golden brown.  Leave on the cookie sheet to cool until set, then transfer to a cooling rack.  My recipe made 34 cookies.  (1 serving = 1 cookie, 2 PointsPlus per serving)

These cookies look like they belong on the Grape-nuts box!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I had leftover almond meal from a previous recipe and needed to find a way to use it all.  I stumbled upon this recipe from Rivka of Not Derby Pie, another DC blogger, and figured that even though Passover had passed you can never have enough flour-less recipes on hand.  So I gave it a shot and loved the result.  These are definitely worthy of baking and savoring at any point throughout the year, not solely during Passover!

Chocolate Fudge Cookie
adapted from Not Derby Pie
(2 PointsPlus per serving)


8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  When the chocolate has fully melted, stir in the butter.  Let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar until light, about 60 seconds.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir until combined.  Add the almond flour and stir just until combined.  Cover the mixture and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, the texture should be similar to that of fudge.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.   Scoop dough into tablespoon-sized pieces and roll into balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8-9 minutes.  The recipe made about 35 cookies.  (1 serving = 1 cookie, 2 PointsPlus per serving)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Homemade Dulce de Leche

I have already professed my love for dulce de leche in my Dulce de Leche Duos post and have used this recipe in my Millionaire's Shortbread post, so why am I repeating this recipe?  Well, anything with dulce de leche deserves to be repeated, but more importantly, I never showed you photographs!  So here it is...the easiest way to make homemade dulce de leche and the photographs to prove it! 

Dulce de Leche


1 can of sweetened condensed milk*

*You can cook 2 cans at a time if you wish.  I also prefer to use fat free sweetened condensed milk because it's healthier without sacrificing taste!


Remove all labels from the can of sweetened condensed milk.  Place the can in a crock pot and fill water so the can is submerged.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Remove the can with tongs because the metal will be extremely hot.  Wait about 30 minutes and open with a can opener.