Friday, July 30, 2010

NUTELLA-licious*


I have been taking Italian classes all summer, actually that is kind of an understatement--I have given up my life to learning Italian 7 1/2 hours a day this summer :) It is a pretty insane process, but I knew what I was getting in to because I have done intensive language study before. I am learning a lot and I really think it has been a productive five weeks (only three more!). As part of our class, we had a "mandatory" party a few weeks ago. Doesn't "mandatory" just make it scream fun?  Needless to say, we spent a lot of time asking each other what we were doing for the weekend, what kinds of food we like, and what we like to do in our free time.

For the event, I decided cupcakes were necessary since I haven't really been able to bake much recently. In my mind I associate Italy with nutella (or really, all of Europe with nutella) so I decided to whip something up. I went with my standard chocolate cupcakes, for which you can find the recipe here and used a nutella icing recipe. Personally, I like a lot of hazelnut flavor so I adjusted the recipe a bit from the original and I am still not totally satisfied, but it will do for now.



Nutella Icing
adapted from Sugarlaws

2 sticks of butter, softened
approx. 4 cups of powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
approx. 1/2 cup of nutella

beat together the butter, vanilla and nutella until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it reaches a desired consistency. I also added a pinch of milk at the end to make it slightly creamier. Basically, just adjust the ingredients until it tastes/feels like you want.

*for the title to this post, I must give credit to D who sent me an email with the same title.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mini Galettes



As I have made abundantly clear on this blog, I am not a fan of pie, however this summer I have made quite a bit of pie and fruit related dessert because we have had a lot of fruit around from our CSA. This week in particular we received plums, nectarines and blueberries so I decided to make some mini-galettes to use up some of the not-so-perfect fruit (when we get so much, some of it is bound to be a little less than wonderful).

I've made galettes before, but this time I thought mini versions would be a nice alternative because my favorite part is the sugared crust and I just really like mini desserts.

See this post for the crust recipe. This time, instead of using strawberries I used plums, nectarines and blueberries, basically whatever I have sitting around.



Other than these galettes, I've been spending my time chugging away at Italian (ciao ciao!) and doing basically nothing else.

Here is a picture of Joe trying to look innocent, "what me? you think I chewed another hole in the wall??? impossible!!!"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday!


My friend Elizabeth had a birthday this week, but since I have been busy learning Italian I couldn't make her a cake until this weekend. In honor of the occasion, we held a small brunch and also ate this cake (what? you don't eat cake for brunch at your house?). She requested berries and whipped cream--something fresh. I guess when your birthday is in June you grow up eating a lot of ice cream cakes. This cake was a take on a shortcake and I thought it would be appropriate for the incredibly hot weather we've been having recently.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite books: Sky High Cakes. When I was putting it all together I worried that it would just topple over because of all the berries and cream, but it managed to stay in one piece until we cut into it. I think this would be equally delicious with any other berries or maybe even peaches? Really, it just a light, yellow cake layered with a strawberry mixture and unsweetened whipped cream. How much simpler does it get?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coconut Milk Fudge



I have a list of recipes to try for my dessert bar and I decided to give this one a whirl this weekend. I liked the looks of this recipe because the process and ingredient list is very simple, but the end result is tiny and pretty. Although they look like chocolate truffles, these are coconut milk fudge--or brigadeiros--covered in various toppings. I think the picture describes them better than my own words.

Coconut Milk Fudge
from smitten kitchen

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 T. butter
2 t. light corn syrup
finely shredded, unsweetened coconut
ground pistachios
chocolate sprinkles

In a saucepan combine the condensed milk, coconut milk, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and then reduced heat to medium-low. Whisk constantly until the mixture becomes fudgy in consistency. The recipe says this should take 10-15 minutes, but it took me at least thirty and I still think mine was too thin. Pour mixture into a bowl and cool for four hours in the refrigerator.

Once cooled, form the mixture into small, teaspoon sized balls. Roll the balls in the various toppings and place in the tiny cups  (if you have them). These will save at room temp or in the fridge.