Sunday, July 23, 2017

Traditional South African Melk Tert

I've made a melktert before, with my Culinary Arts class during our African foods unit. Here's a slightly different version (traditional family recipe) with what is probably a more authentic crust -- which is not actually a crust at all.

Filling Ingredients
3 T cake flour
4 T cornstarch
1 C sugar
1 liter milk
125 grams butter
4 eggs
1 T vanilla

Crust Ingredients
2 T butter
2 T sugar
1 egg
3 T flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400.

Begin Filling: In a large saucepan, mix cornstarch, flour and sugar. Slowly add in milk, stirring to combine dry ingredients smoothly. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly until it just begins to boil, and thickens. Add butter, stirring until butter melts; stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool while preparing crust.

Prepare Crust: Cream together butter and sugar. Blend in egg. Stir in flour and baking powder. Smear evenly over bottom and up sides of a pie pan.

Complete Filling: Whisk egg whites into stiff peaks. Stir half the egg whites into filling; gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour filling onto pie pan; sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake 15-20 minutes; center will still be slightly 'loose' (jiggly) in the center.

Pecan Pie

I have an allergy to nuts. So, I don't make pecan pies often. But, I do make them for the caterers where I work. Full size or, more often recently, into mini pecan 'tarts' (pictured).

1 (single layer) pie crust
1 C sugar
3 T brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 C corn syrup
1/3 C butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 C chopped pecans
Optional: additional whole pecans (halves) for topping

Preheat oven to 350˚. Press pie crust evenly into pie dish. Spread chopped pecans into bottom of pie crust.

In a large bowl, mix together everything except pecans. Pour mixture over chopped pecans. If desired, arrange whole pecan halves on top. Bake pie for approx 50 minutes*, until center is barely jiggly in the center.

* Ovens vary, cooking time may vary as well. Pie can be covered with foil for the first 30 minutes to prevent crust or tops of pecans from burning.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shortbread Crust

1 C butter, softened
2 C flour
½ C powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients, stirring -- or mixing by hand -- until thoroughly blended.
Press into pie pan or into baking dish...

Chocolate Version:
Reduce flour to 1½ C and add 1/3 C cocoa powder.

Chocolate Cream Pie

I have another chocolate cream pie recipe that uses only chocolate (no cocoa powder, like this one). That one and this one are both very good (and very chocolatey!). I've never made them both at the same time to do a side-by-side comparison of which one's the best. If you don't have heavy cream on hand, the other just uses milk...

2/3 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
2 T cocoa powder (I use dark)
dash salt
1 C heavy cream
2 C milk
3 egg yolks
1½ C semisweet choc
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla

One 9" pie crust
          A standard pie crust is fine.
          A graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust is good.
          A chocolate shortbread crust is my personal favorite!

Combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in, a little at a time, cream milk and egg yolks. Heat gently to a boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Blend in semi-sweet chocolate, butter and vanilla, stirring until chocolate and butter are completely melted. Pour into prepared crust.

Once cooled, cream pie may be spread with a generous layer of whipped cream before serving; garnish with chocolate curls...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Fudge Brownies

1 C butter
3 C sugar
4 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1½ C flour
1 C cocoa powder (I use dark)
1 tsp salt
optional: 1 C chocolate chips (or white chips, peanut butter chips...)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a 9x13" baking dish.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly blended. Add remaining dry ingredients all at once. If desired, fold in chocolate chips.

Pour and spread batter evenly in prepared 9x13" pan. Bake 30-40 minutes.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (...Torte)

This is better than the flourless chocolate cake recipe I've made before. ANY flourless cake I've made before has left me disappointed if I really want a cake. Even if the flavor is good, the texture isn't ever light or fluffy enough to satisfy my expectations. This recipe isn't light and fluffy  enough to be a cake, but if you call it a torte (which is typically layered, but also typically has little to no flour and is more dense)...  The flavor is rich and intensely chocolatey!

3 eggs
¾ C sugar
1 C semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chips or chopped
½ C butter
C unsweetened cocoa powder (I use dark)
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Grease (or lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray) an 8" round pan. Beat together eggs and sugar until well blended.

Place chocolate and butter in double boiler (or a microwave safe bowl) and melt gently.

Combine melted chocolate and butter with egg & sugar mixture. Add cocoa powder, salt and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Pour into prepared pan; bake 25 minutes. (Toothpick test is NOT effective to test for doneness.)

Cool in pan 5-10 minutes before turning onto serving plate.

Serving suggestions: Top with chocolate ganache, drizzle with raspberry coulis, caramel sauce...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lemon Buttercream

1 C butter, softened
2 tsp lemon zest
2-3 C powdered sugar
1½ T heavy cream
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Whip butter and lemon zest until light, fluffy and very pale, almost white. Blend in 1 cup powdered sugar. Mix in heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Add 1 to 2 cups more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Lemon Cupcakes

1 C butter
2 C sugar
2 T lemon zest
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
3 C flour
2 T baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 C whole milk
2½ T lemon juice
Optional: lemon wedges and mint leaves to garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and very pale. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla and lemon zest. Next, alternately blend in dry ingredients, milk and lemon juice.

Fill cupcake liners ¾ full; bake 15-18 minutes. Let cupcakes cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on a rack.

Frost with lemon buttercream, or citrus cream cheese icing.

Monday, July 3, 2017


I don't feel obligated to make hummus from scratch every time I care to enjoy some. But it's not difficult -- especially using a mini blender (Magic Bullet, Nutribullet, etc.) if you have one -- and it's nice to be able to adjust the seasonings to your own taste, or add extra flavorings...roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, garlic and herb...  Using the recipe below as a base, I added a little extra lemon juice and salt to mine, then kept half of it as is and blended half a jar of sun dried tomatoes I needed to use up with the other half. Both tasted great! (The hummus pictured has the sun-dried tomatoes blended in., so it's a bit redder.)

¼ C vegetable broth
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained*
2 cloves garlic
2 T lemon juice
3 T tahini*
½ t salt

* The brand of chickpeas I used was 15 ounces. I didn't have ready made tahini (sesame seed paste) but I had sesame seeds; I just put my Magic Bullet blender to use with 3 generous tablespoons of sesame seeds and the vegetable broth before adding the other ingredients. 

Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

If desired, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.