Inspiration….Singapore and St. Lucia

Over the past 18 months I have had the great opportunity to travel many places. Two related places have been Singapore and St. Lucia.How are these related in one post you ask? The answer is Nutmeg!

Below is a picture of a giant nutmeg sculpture that I saw in Singapore in the fall of 2010.

Giant Nutmeg Sculpture in Singapore

Last fall I had the opportunity to tour the Diamond Falls Botanical Garden, Soufriere in St. Lucia where I saw real nutmeg for the first time.

 Real Nutmeg in St. Lucia

Sour Cherry Crumb Coffee Cake

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Yesterday we had a friend stop over for coffee in the afternoon. Luckily for him, he gave us a couple of hour notice. So a coffee cake was born.

I was inspired by a Martha Stewart Blueberry Coffee to come up with this one. Plus I was able to use a pound of frozen sour cherries from last summer.

As the super amazing cherry pitter I bought last summer in Cologne is not quite get all of the pits out I did have to break open each frozen cherry to ensure all of the pits were removed. My better option for a cherry pitter is here.

For this recipe I used:
Cake
2 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Cardamom
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
10 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Whey Low Granulated Sugar Substitute
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Greek Style Yogurt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Pound Pitted Sour Cherries
Topping
1 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

It was a good one…although I would use cake flour for the cake next time.
I heated the oven to 350 degrees and lined an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Lined Pan

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt and set aside.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – The Dry Ingredients

In the mixer, I creamed the butter and the Whey Low sugar for 3 or 4 minutes. Then added the eggs one at at time followed by the vanilla.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Creaming the  Butter and Whey Low
Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Creamed until Light and Fluffy

I mixed in the sour cream and yogurt until well combined.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake -Adding Sour Cream and Yogurt

Then I added the flour mixture until just about mixed. I removed the bowl from the mixer and finished by hand. The mixture is quite stiff.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake -Adding the Flour Mixture

I then out the mix into the lined pan and spread it out into the corners followed by putting the cherries on top in an even layer.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Adding the Sour Cherries
Sour Cherry Coffee Cake -All of the Sour Cherries

After blending the crumb topping ingredients with my hands I topped the cake.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Crumb Topping

The off to the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes (your mileage may vary).

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – In the Oven

It cooled on a rack for 10 minutes until I turned it out to fully cooled.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Cooling
Sour Cherry Coffee Cake – Ready to Eat

As our guest arrived a little earlier than planned. I did cut the cake in quarters while it was really hot and then cut it into 4 pieces again and let it cool 10 more minutes. Still warm is was great. Letting it sit for a day it will be even better!

Makes 1 big piece or 16 smaller ones. 🙂

Inspiration…. A Silversea Halloween

As luck would have it I was blessed to be able to be on the Silversea liner Silver Spirit for Halloween in 2011.

The Pastry Chef and his team went all out for the lunch buffet dessert spread in La Terrazza.

Enjoy these!

Silver Spirit – Chocolate Spider Cake
Silver Spirit – Gouling Almond Cake – Gluten Free
Silver Spirit – Pumpkin Patch Jello – Sugar Free
Silver Spirit – RIP Cakes
Silver Spirit – Ghostly Chocolate Torte
Silver Spirit – Slimy Lime Pie
Silver Spirit – Bloody Peanut Butter Mousse

Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies – The Hit of the Christmas Cookie Box

I am always keeping in my the annual cookie box and what recipes would be great. I came across this one from Martha Stewart and thought it would be great. I did make a change and used candy canes rather than peppermint candies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Packing up the Box

This year I made 6 Batches of this cookie. It required:
6 Cups All-purpose Flour
3 Cups Dutch process cocoa powder
3 Teaspoons Baking Soda
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3 Teaspoons Salt
15 Ounces of Unsalted Butter
4 1/2 Cups of Sugar
6 Large Eggs
6 Large Egg Yolks
4 1/2 Teaspoons of Peppermint Extract
24 Candy Canes
10 Pounds of White Chocolate

This yields about 432 cookies. WOW!

Due to a vacation in the midst of the holiday baking season last year, I split the mixing and baking of this recipe up. Mixing and freezing one day and the baking and assembly later. Since there a bunch of steps to making this cookie recipe this was a great idea.

I’d love to gear from you. Enjoy!
For the chocolate cookie dough part:

I sifted the flour, coco powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt together and set it aside.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Cookie Dough Ingredients

Next, in a mixer,  I creamed the butter and sugar together for a minute or so, then added the eggs and egg yolk to the mixture and mixed until it was combined, then I added the peppermint oil.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Creamed Butter and Sugar with Eggs

Then I started to add the flour/cocoa mixture on low until everything was just combined. Then I finished off with a spatula until everything was combined thoroughly.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Adding Chocolate & Flour

After the mixing I split the mixture up into smaller squares (12 in all) and wrapped them in plastic wrap flattened. I then placed the discs on a cookie sheet and froze them.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Wrapped and ready for the Freezer

Then I was very fortunate to go on a great cruise!

Aboard the Silver Spirit

After I returned the real work for this recipe started…..

After thawing for a couple of days in the Fridge each square was rolled out to about 1/8″ and used a 2″ circle cutter to stamp out the cookies.

Placing cookies on a lined cookie sheet an inch apart and baking at 325 for 12 minutes. A great smell enters the kitchen of cocoa and peppermint.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – The Baked Cookies

Re-roll the scraps to create more cookies.

The cookies are then cooled on a rack.

In a zipper bag place 12 unwrapped candy canes and crush evenly and reserve for later.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Candy Canes For Crushing

Using  a serrated knife, chop the white chocolate into small pieces. Place the pieces in a double boiler, or a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and melt chocolate until there are still some lumps left. Remove the chocolate form the heat and continue to stir until smooth.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Melting the White Chocolate

Take each chocolate cookie and dip into the white chocolate and remove with a fork. Gently scrape the bottom of the fork on the side of the chocolate bowl. Place the chocolate coated cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue with coating cookies until the cookie sheet is full. When the sheet is full, sprinkle a few pieces of crushed candy cane on each cookie.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – Coated Cookies

Place the cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer until the chocolate is set.

To store, put parchment or wax paper between layers of the cookies and keep in a cool place.

Inspiration….. The Puyallup Fair

Last fall we took a weekend trip from Vancouver to Puyallup Washington to take in the state fair. We don’t do fairs so well locally so this was a great chance to see something new. It was great! We had a lot of fun during our day there.Unexpectedly, we came across “Fair Scones”. There were 5 or 6 stands throughout the fair grounds and then we happened upon the factory. As I said we totally were not expecting this.

You have to try one!

The line ups can be huge but luckily we only waited a few minutes. I have since seen the scone mix in the grocery stores if you can’t wait for the fair this year.

The Puyallup Fair – Entrance
The Puyallup Fair -Fisher Fair Scone

The Puyallup Fair – Fair Scone Waiting for the oven
The Puyallup Fair – Fair Scone more for the Oven
The Puyallup Fair – Fair Scone The assembly line… Splitting the scone, Adding Butter & Jam
The Puyallup Fair – Fair Scone Assembly Line
The Puyallup Fair – Fair Scone The Butter Station

Inspiration….Whole Foods Honolulu

The second last day before returning home from Oahu we took a trip to Whole Foods to see if we could find anything interesting to bring home with us.It turns out there wasn’t much to bring home but I did spy this Fruit Flan:

Whole Foods Honolulu – Fruit Flan
This thing was 8″ high!
Something to aspire to!

Hermit Cookies

Hermit cookies are a spiced cookie with glaced fruit and raisins. Yummy with a cold glass of milk!I have bought Hermit Cookies at our local grocery store with varying success. Sometimes fresh and awesome, sometimes a few days old – starting to get dry, and sometimes when I have been tired after a trip I forget to check the date and end up with dust cookies.

Enough!

Last fall I made a batch of Apple- Raisin Cookies from Martha Stewart – found here. These were good, but the taste also reminded me of Hermit cookies from my local Safeway. So…. I set out to transform the cookie recipe.

For 60 cookies this is the recipe that I came up with:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 Cup Softened Unsalted Butter
2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
6 Tablespoon Milk
2 Cup Raisins
2 Cups Glace Fruit in small cubes

Hermit Cookies – Cooling

A couple of notes here.  For Whole Wheat Flour I use White Whole Wheat Flour and for the Glace Fruit I search (high and low as it turns out) for all fruit mixture – no rutabega! When I was adding the fruit I noticed some whole cherries which I removed and cut up into smaller pieces.

More after the jump….
Pre heat oven to 350˚. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silpat.

In a mixer cream the butter, sugar, and spices on high until light and fluffy – up to 5 minutes here. Then scrape down the bowl.

Hermit Cookies – Creaming Butter & Sugar

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then scrape down the bowl.

Hermit Cookies – Adding the Eggs

Mix the flours, the spices and the baking soda together.

Hermit Cookies – Flour Mixture

Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing well. Then add in the milk and mix again.

Hermit Cookies – First the Flour
Hermit Cookies – Then Some Milk

Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just barely mixed.

Hermit Cookies – Just Mixed

Remove the bowl from the mixture and hand mix with a spatula until the flour has disappeared. Add the raisins and mix in by hand. Then add the glace fruit and mix well by hand again.

Hermit Cookies- Adding the Raisins
Hermit Cookies – Adding the Mixed Fruit
Hermit Cookies – The Final Mix

Drop 2 table spoons for each cookie on the pan and bake for 12-15 minutes. Mine took 14 minutes.

Hermit Cookies – 2 Tablespoon Scoops
Hermit Cookies – In the Oven

Cool well on a rack while keeping thieving hands away.

Great with cold milk!

More pictures:

Hermit Cookies – Getting it all together
Hermit Cookies – Chopping up the bigger fruit bits

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