Monday, April 24, 2017

Frango (like) Mints

Candy seems to be my nemesis. When we first got married I tried making caramel and it broke the glass container it was in when we tried to remove it. Since then I have had a fear of candy making. I continue to try of course. This recipe is one that I can successfully make. I have had the recipe since around 1996.
I was in a group of recipe sharing ladies who would meet once a month and share recipes and the fruits thereof. We could sample and know if we would like to take the recipe. It was so great. I was in the presence of amazing cooks. Most of which I have lost touch with over the year. This is a great sadness and regret of mine.
Ladies would come and go but there was a core 4-5 of us that stayed for years! This recipe came from a 1 timer..didn't even write the name on my old 3 X 5 card. She said the mints came from a famous Frango mint take off. She was mind blown when none of us had heard of Frango Mints. If they are like this recipe they must be really good.

Homemade Chocolate Mints

2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cube margarine (I used butter once and it was a disaster)
1 cup plus 2 T powdered sugar (or more as needed)
2 eggs well beaten
1 tea vanilla
2 tea peppermint extract ( I accidentally used "mint" one year and it was like toothpaste-yuck)

Melt chocolate chips over low heat. Cool. In large bowl cream margarine and sugar. Add beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in cooled chocolate and finally peppermint extract. Drop by teaspoonful on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Chill. (can use almond, run, or coffee instead of mint)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Joel says that these cookies are his favorite. I checked this book out of the library mostly because I saw this recipe and thought, "Gross. That sounds disgusting. I must try it." The recipe uses bacon fat. I have made these several times because we do love them. I can't pinpoint which bacon is best but it does make a big difference. The bacon grease can change these from "GREAT" to "What is that taste..Bacon?"

Irma's Chocolate Chip Cookie 
(Made in America Cookbook)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tea baking soda
1/2 tea salt
8 Tb (1 stick) butter, room temp
1/2 cup bacon fat (dripping from bacon-stored in fridge)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tea vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (wish my girls didn't have nut allergies!)

Cream butter, bacon fat, and sugars until super light and fluffy up to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla then dry ingredients. Spoon in chocolate chips.

Bake 350 for 11 minutes. Best fresh.

I have been freezing my cookie dough in dollops. I freeze them by the dozen and can bake 1 dozen fresh when needed. I love this because I can always have fresh cookies within 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Taste of Italy-Tiramisu

Tiramisu (from Italian, spelled tiramisu, meaning "pick me up", "cheer me up" or "lift me up") is a popular coffee-flavoured Italian custard dessert. (Wikipedia)

I have never been one for soggy cakes like Tiramisu, Trifle, or some puddings that are really cakes in disguise. But when in Rome..literally, I tried tiramisu. wasn't really Rome it was Florence, Italy. I had other treats in Rome. When in Italy, I loved Tiramisu. It was heavenly and didn't have a soggy cake texture at all.

So I thought I would try my hand at making this fun dessert at home. I used mascarpone cheese, which is worth the extra expense. I used ladyfingers which were hard to hunt down but worth it. I was telling my daughter that it was very similar to a recipe I have for "Mexican Lady Cake". The process was similar, ingredients different, and the end result different. I liked the recipe I found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe because it used hot chocolate instead of coffee which we do not drink or care for the flavor of.

The cake is delightful. It does bring cheer to the soul as does reminiscing about the wonderful place where I discovered that I really loved Italian food, Italian people, and the beauty of Italy. This adult went on an after hours adventure to find great dessert! I succeeded.

Tiramisu-Italian Lady Cake
Mel's Kitchen Cafe Recipe (with my changes)
  • 1 ½ cups good-quality hot chocolate, 1 1/2 cup water and 6 TB hot chocolate powder (Ghirardelli)
  • ½ teaspoon rum extract
  • ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • About 36 crisp ladyfingers cookies/biscuits (I used 1 package with 28)
  • 1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder- I would half this-my kids thought it was too bitter
  1. Make the hot cocoa with 1 1/2 cups hot water and 6 TB Ghirardelli hot chocolate powder. Once it is lukewarm, add the vanilla and imitation rum extract. Due to the high cocoa to water ratio, whisk the cocoa mixture frequently to keep the cocoa suspended.
  2. Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and fill with about 1-2 inches water. Let it come to a simmer while you proceed with the recipe. In a medium bowl (an appropriate size to be placed on the pan that is heating), beat the egg yolks at low speed with a mixer (hand or electric) until just combined. Add the ½ cup sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add ¼ cup cream to the yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape the bowl. Set the bowl with the yolks over the saucepan of water that has come to a simmer. Cook the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly and scraping along the bottom and sides of the bowl with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the egg yolk mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese to the cooled mixture and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, about a minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside. In the now-empty bowl (no need to clean the bowl), beat the ½ cup heavy whipping cream at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set the mixture aside.
  4. Give the hot cocoa mixture a good whisk to combine. Pour it into a shallow baking dish like a pie plate. Dip 1 ladyfinger into the hot cocoa at a time, allowing it to soak up the hot cocoa for about 1-2 seconds per side (I way over soaked mine-soggy in places). Transfer each ladyfinger immediately to an 8-inch square baking dish. Lay the cookies side-by-side to create one even layer. You may have to trim/break the soaked cookies to fit the pan. After finishing the first layer of ladyfinger cookies, spread half of the mascarpone cream mixture evenly over the ladyfingers, spreading to the edges of the pan. Using a small fine-mesh strainer, sprinkle (I would half this) 1/2 tablespoon of the natural cocoa powder over the mascarpone layer.
  5. Repeat the soaking process with the ladyfingers, creating one more layer of ladyfinger cookies over the mascarpone/cocoa layer. Spread evenly with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Dust with the final 1/2 tablespoon of natural cocoa powder. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill and set. This can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cut into squares and serve.

Thank you Mel for sharing a wonderful recipe and giving such clear instructions.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

Sometimes you find a real gem on the internet! This recipe was such a find. The website is, love, and sugar. How can you not love that title. She mentions that the original recipe comes from the pioneer woman. Love her too!

I was on a quest to find fun recipes for Thanksgiving. My sister was creating a multi-day menu of wonderfulness for when our whole Zisette family would be in town.
We didn't make this at Thanksgiving but it remained on my mind as one I had to make. So months later I finally made it and it is fantastic. A great fun change when a big breakfast meal is needed.

Overnight Pumpkin Spice Baked French Toast Casserole
1 loaf Sourdough Or French Bread 
8 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice (3/4 tsp + 3/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut in pieces

1. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish with butter.
2. Tear bread into chunks and evenly lay out in dish.
3. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, pumpkin and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread.
4. Cover and store in fridge for several hours or overnight.
5. In another bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp pumpkin spice and salt. Add butter and mash into the dry mixture until it all comes together. Store this mixture in the fridge overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees the next morning.
7. Remove casserole and pre-made topping from fridge. Crumble pre-made topping and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
8. For some extra topping to cover areas that aren't covered by the pre-made topping (I like the cinnamon and spice on every bite!) combine 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 3/4 tsp pumpkin spice (same stuff as the pre-made topping, minus the butter). Sprinkle over top of casserole and pre-made topping.
9. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more moist texture. Bake an hour or more for a firmer, less moist texture.
10. Enjoy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Life Changing Pancakes

Another winning recipe from The Family Cooks by Laurie David. The oat pancakes use almond flour with make these delicate and wonderful. The recipe calls for blueberries...they are great alone. Tender and light.

1 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 Tb maple syrup or honey
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tea baking powder
1 tea salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Pour into bowl and let set for 15 minutes before heating on griddle.