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Category Archives: Baking

Mini Spiced Apple Tarts with Chocolate

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

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It’s that time of the year where Christmas lights start going up and families plan their Thanksgiving feasts. A big part of the holidays are apples, more specifically apple pie.. YUM. There’s nothing that can be wrong with a hot, fresh, flaky and juicy apple pie. And what’s better than just a slice- a tart! Just as flaky and yummy but smaller and with CHOCOLATE. Plus at the Thanksgiving table theres GOING to be that family member(s) that doesn’t want to eat too much dessert, or a big slice or they’re watching their weight. So this is the PERFECT addition to your dessert spread!

Petite decadent pastry shells filled with moist apples, brown sugar, spices and zest topped with lucisious chocolate and the only things left to complete the deal is your hand and mouth! I swear by Williams & Sonoma Basic Pastry Dough recipe because it’s easy, fast and super tasty. I just tweek it a bit of course!

OF COURSE I used my AMAZING Babycakes Machine and the tarts  they came out so cute and petite! However, these can be done in regular mini-muffin tin pans.

Basic Pastry Dough:

Spiced Apple Filling:

  • 4 green apples– peeled and cubed small
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (fresh is so much better!)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange zest
  • pinch clove powder
  • PAM Baking Flavor

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 3-4 bittersweet chocolate squares (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2-3 tbsp half & half (I used fatfree Land-o-Lakes)
  • 2-3 tbsp warm water

Before Chocolate..

For the Pie Dough:

1. In a food processor add the flour, salt and sugar and pulse until blended. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter chunks are small pea sized. While pulsing, slowly dribble in the cold water. Add enough water until the dough has turned into a rough mass.

2. Place dough mixture on a floured counter and form into a 1-2 inch thick disk. Wrap with plastic and place in the fridge for AT LEAST 2 hours.

For the Apple Mixture:

1. In a bowl mixture together all the ingredients listed above. Place aside.

Putting it together..

**If using a conventional oven, preheat to about 375. Spray the muffin tins.

1. After 2+ hours, remove the dough from the fridge onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a thin pastry sheet (just before its thin enough to see through! Using a round 3 inch cookie cutter or a knife, cut out circles. Regardless of whether you’re using the babycakes machine or regular muffin tins, make sure to SPRAY them. Line each cup with the circles of dough pressing lightly into the cup to create a tart shell. If using babycakes machine, use the pie tart tool to press into the cups. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the shells are slightly cooked and slightly golden.

2. Remove the tins from the oven/ open the babycakes machine lid. Add enough apple filling to come over the top of the tin a little. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until apples are soft and crust is golden brown and crispy. Remove each tart from the tin/babycakes machine and let cool on a rack.

Pouring the Drizzle..

1. Heat chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for about 45 second. Pour in milk and 1 tbsp of water. Heat for another 30-40 second. Stir and if not melted, add another tbsp hot water and heat for another 30 second. Stir until smooth and glistening. You want the consistency to be a bit thin so you can drizzle the tarts.

2. Using a small whisk or spoon (I used a spoon) drizzle the tarts in a fast back and forth motion until tops are covered. Cool until chocolate is hardened.

Makes about 20 tarts

Serving Suggestions:

Hot with fresh whip cream and chocolate curls

Hot with fresh vanilla or dulce de leche ice cream

Hot with a nice cup of coffee

Wanna See More Recipes Using the Babycakes Machine?

 

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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Baking, Chef Priyanka, Fruit, Sweets

 

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Homemade Brioche Loaf Recipe

Egg yolks.

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I don’t think I’ve ever actually made homemade bread..well actually my parents used to way back in the day when we bought this toaster oven that was also a bread maker (yes, very clever invention). Other than that I usually buy my bread from a bakery or regular supermarket- I’m a little too lazy to sit there kneading dough and all that. But I was in DESPERATE need for a loaf of Brioche for my Herbed Fig & Walnut Brioche Stuffing, but apparently all the Italians on Staten Island (nor the Panera) don’t make Brioche!! I searched in multiple supermarkets, called various bakeries and stalked the Panera website to see if they have a loaf similar to brioche. But everything was either too complicated and fruity or it simply wasn’t available!

My mother was trying to persuade me to make another kind of stuffing, but I was too set on making this yummy Brioche stuffing to give up on my main ingredient! Then I decided, wait I cook, I bake, why don’t I just MAKE a loaf of Brioche? To my surprise, the recipe is SUPER simple, and literally contains ingredients that are staples in a household. Butter, milk, sugar and eggs (I had to buy the yeast, but no biggy!). It’s simple and really delicious- so good that I was tempted to eat it right then and there instead of making my stuffing with it! So, here we go!

Simple Brioche Recipe:

  • 1 2/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp wet yeast, crumbled (or dry-bakers yeast is fine) I used wet because that’s all my deli had!
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp cut into pieces (yes, this obviously is not one of my healthy recipes)
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/3 cup warm milk (I used Skim Plus)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk with a dash of sugar (for the glaze)
  • PAM baking flavor

Tempted yet?

No fancy tools here- I used my hands!! You can use a mixer attached with a dough hook. You DO need a loaf pan though.

1. In a large bowl add flour and yeast and mix well. Create a hole in the middle of the flour mixture.

2. Slowly dribble the warm milk into the middle, while mixing the dough in with your finger tips. It’ll form into rough dough pieces.

3. Add the salt and sugar and combine well. Add the soft butter piece by piece, mixing well after each addition with your fingers. At this point I started to knead the dough to make sure each piece of butter was incorporated well.

4. Once all the butter is incorporated, add each egg ONE AT A TIME, and knead into dough. Mix well before the 2nd egg, making sure all the white and yolk and combined into the dough. Dough will be very sticky and wet. Knead and mix until the dough becomes and elastic and pulls away from your fingers and bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic and set in a warm place to rise. I put mine in the oven (it was off obviously), so no drafts hit it.

After 2 hours..

5. By now it should have doubled in size. Mix and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Rip into 4 even sized balls. Spray loaf pan with PAM and place the 4 balls in a row. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise again.

After 1 hour..

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. In a small bowl mix together yolk and sugar. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops on the rolls. Using a scissor, cut small vents on top of each roll.

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 and bake for another 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown and shiny and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (I baked mine for 25 minutes). Remove and cool before slicing/serving.

Makes 1 standard size loaf

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Baking, Chef Priyanka

 

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Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Picture of fries made from sweet potatoes.

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by chefpriyanka
I love fries- who doesn’t! You’re only LYING to yourself if you say that you don’t like fries. I don’t eat fries because they’re deep-fried and unhealthy. Of course if someone handed me a nice crispy curly fry or waffle fry, I wouldn’t be able to refuse! However, I don’t like getting that greasy, fatty feeling that I generally get after eating deep-fried food; another reason why I avoid fried items!
But, this weekend I made some sweet & spicy sweet potato fries that were amazing- crispy, light, salty, sweet, spicy what can be better than that! Plus, sweet potato is generally low in calories (~150/medium potato) and high in Vitamin A and Dietary Fiber. Baked crisp with melted brown sugar and spicy cayenne- believe me the combination is delicious!
Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries:
  • 3 sweet potatoes- washed & scrubbed
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 tbsp smokey paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse black pepper– few grinds
  • salt- to taste
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar (for garnishing)
  • few sprigs of chive- finely chopped
  • PAM olive oil flavor

1. Preheat oven to 425. In a small bowl whisk together oil, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika.

2. Cut the potatoes into strips (french-frie size) and lay them on a baking sheet. Pour oil mixture over potatoes and toss until evenly coated. Spray with some pam and make sure each strip is hitting the baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar evenly over potatoes.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until darker and crispy, tossing every 10 minutes. Remove and cool. While cooling, sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and garnish with chives. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce- I recommend Honey Mustard YUM :)

Serves 4

Look at those crispy fries sparkling with brown sugar.. yummy..

 

Want MORE Vegan?

Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”

Roasted Garlic Baba Ghanoush

Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)

…and more..

Nutritional Info

 

 

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Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani (Indian Spiced Rice)

Cashew nut snack, roasted and salted

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Christmas is around the corner (trust me it’ll creep up on you really fast, so you better have your gifts ready :-D ), and I like to add a little Indian flair to my Christmas Eve dinner. Ok, I’m obviously not Christian, but being born and brought up in Staten Island, I can say I know a thing or two about Christmas festivities and how important it is, religiously speaking. However, I tend to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in food and gifts- yes, I’m still a child and there is NO shame in that! For some reason squash reminds me of the holidays- maybe because it’s all over the supermarket in ridiculous quantities and they’re pretty cheap! Just look how cheap you can get some Acorn Squashes at Freshdirect averaging around $1.24 for 1! While using this inexpensive vegetable, I decided to put my Indian twist on Stuffed Acorn Squash.
I roast the squash with some masalas, scoop it out and toss it with Spicy Biryani along with cashews and saffron. It has the perfect winter touch with warm flavors of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and spicy masalas- it’s sure to keep you cozy on a cold snowy day! Biryani by the way is a traditional spicy-roasted basmati rice, served in different varieties across India. It comes in Chicken & Lamb Biryani, but we’re not too concerned with that here :-P . Actually, Wikipediahas a pretty good definition of it! Did I mention this dish is Vegan– yes, I know amazing! So why don’t we get started on my Indian inspired Christmas dish?!
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani:
  • 4 acorn squashes cut in half, gutted
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp garam masala (click for a homemade recipe or store-bought is fine)
  • 1 medium red onion- diced
  • 3-4 small sweet peppers- diced
  • handful cashew nuts– chopped a bit
  • pinch of saffron
  • handful cilantro– finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp biryani paste- recipe BELOW (or store-bought)
  • 1 medium onion- cut into thick slices (garnishing)
  • salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet place the squash halves, spray with PAM and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp garam masala. Place in the oven and BROIL till tender and charred- about 10-15 minutes.

2. While the squashes are roasting, in a large skillet, spray with PAM and add vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the cashews and saute until fragrant and slightly darkened. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with black pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions and peppers are soft, but now brown, add the soaked basmati rice (make sure not to get any water in it!). Saute for 5-7 minutes. You want to toast the the rice.

3. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for a few minutes before handling. Score the squash into small cubes, WITHOUT cutting through the skin. Scoop the cubes out into a bowl and set aside. Keep the shell aside, DON’T throw out!

4. Once the rice is toasted add 1 cup of water, pinch of saffron, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. You want the rice to be cooked thru, not mushy so don’t mix it around too much! Once the rice is cooked, add the cubed squash, tossing gently (you don’t want the squash to break and mush around the rice). Add the Biryani paste and toss to coat. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and biryani flavor- it should be strong, spicy and aromatic.

5. In a small skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium-high heat. Add onion slices, and saute without breaking up the circles. Cook until brown-ish about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

6. Fill each squash bowl with rice, just coming over the top. Top each one with an onion round and sprinkle with remaining chopped cilantro. Serve with yogurt or raita.

Serves 4

Biryani Paste:

  • 1 medium white onion- diced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato- diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic- crushed and minced (click HERE for amazing garlic tips!)
  • 2 tbsp ginger- freshly grated (need help Tackling Ginger?)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (it should be spicy!)
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 hefty tbsp Biryani paste (I use Patak’s Brand)
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium skillet, spray with pam, add oil and set over medium-high flame. Add onions and tomatoes, saute until golden-brown about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder and cilantro. Saute until vegetables are soft and fragrant about 4-5 minutes. Add the biryani paste and mix well, making sure all the veggies are coated. Remove from the heat and let cool (10-15 minutes).

2. In a grinder/food processor, add the biryani mixture and grind until smooth (slightly chunky is ok). Store in an air tight container. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer- for a while!

Makes about 1/2-1 cup

Can’t Get Enough Healthy Vegan? Check these out:

Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”

Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu

Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)

Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Idli & Vada (South Indian Delight)

Creamy Maharashtrian Chole

 

 
 

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Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes with Rosemary, Chili & Chives

Russet potato with sprouts. Sliced (left) and ...

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Here’s a great holiday side -dish for our next Christmas party! The title is self-explanatory, but this ain’t no typical Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes.

  • 4 medium Idaho potatoes– scrubbed
  • 2 heads of garlic– tops trimmed off
  • 4 dried cayenne chilies
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary– fresh
  • 1 cup fat free half&half (I use Land-o-Lakes Brand)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 6-7 sprigs of chive- finely chopped
  • 1/3-1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese
  • salt
  • coarse black pepper
  • PAM olive oil flavor

1. Preheat oven 425 degrees. In a sheet of foil place both garlic heads, chilies, rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper. Spray liberally with PAM and fold foil to create a packet. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until cloves are soft and rosemary and crispy. Remove and cool.

2. Meanwhile, cut potatoes in half and boil in salted water with peel on until fork tender. In a small bowl squeeze in garlic cloves, add rosemary, chilies, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined and garlic is mushed. Add this mixture to the potatoes and combine thoroughly. In a slow stream, add half&half and light cream. Mash together until smooth and well combined. More or less milk can be used to achieve desired consistency. Then stir in the grated parmigiano. I like smashed potatoes a little chunky and smooth. Taste for salt.

3. Place on a pretty serving platter top with a sprig of rosemary and chopped chives and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil (if you want!) Dig in!

Serves 6


Nutrition:

I cut the fat by a pretty substantial amount by using light cream instead of heavy cream and fat free half&half. If you want to keep it completely healthy, use only fat free half&half. The consistency will still come out yummy. I also didn’t put any butter, which traditional mashed potatoes have (it’s really not necessary, because the strong rosemary and garlic flavors keep it yummy)! Plus this dish serves 6, so a little light cream won’t kill you ;)

Like Potatoes? Try these!

Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu

Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

 

 

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Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes

Home-made chocolate cupcakes Self-raising flou...

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Source: chefpriyanka.wordpress.com

Did you ever want to make just a few cupcakes for maybe you and your immediate family or some friends? Isn’t it annoying when recipes are written to serve like 24 cupcakes- does anyone reallyneed to eat 24 cupcakes? No. Aside from the fact that it’s not healthy, it’s just completely unnecessary if you’re not having a party or get-together. So, I decided to make these cupcakes in a small batch, therefore nothing goes to waste and no one is compelled to eat more (even though they’re so delicious you’re going to want to eat like 5 of them at one sitting :) ).

Scrumptious chocolate cupcakes topped with lucisious dark chocolate frosting and snow! And by snow I mean sweetened coconut flakes- yummy! They’re easy to make and even easier to eat! And the cake is unbelievably moist because I used homemade buttermilk of course! Oh, if you’re wondering what kind of cupcake liner I used, they’re Reynolds Wrap! I did not use mybabycakes machine with this recipe- I know surprise surprise! I was in the mood for a regular sized cupcake :) .

Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes:

1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12 cup cupcake sheet with PAM and place liners in each cup. Set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate squares in the microwave and set aside to cool a bit. Meanwhile in large bowl beat together softened butter, brown and white sugar until creamy. Add the egg and beat until combined well about 2 minutes. Using a spatula stir in the melted chocolate.

3. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In a small bowl combine buttermilk and vanilla- set aside.

4. With the mixer on low, add in about 1/3 of the flour mixture and blend well. Then add about 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture and blend well. Continue adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, alternating and mixing well between each addition. Scrape sides of bowl with the spatula. DO NOT OVER MIX.

5. Pour about 2 hefty tbsp of mixture into each cup. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and cool before frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Frosting:

  • 4 tbsp Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2  cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Ghiradelli Brand)
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate melted (I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao Bar)
  • 3 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp Milk (I used skim plus)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1. In a large bowl combine melted butter and cocoa. Add the melted chocolate. Mix well until lumps are smooth. Using a hand mixer beat in confectioner’s sugar and 2-3 tbsp of milk. Beat until thick and creamy- I like my frosting really thick because it’s easier to pipe that way. However, you can add more or less milk depending on your desired consistency.

2. Place frosting into a piping bag with a medium round tip, or cut off a small corner of a big ziplock bag. Pipe into swirls on the cooled cupcakes. Top with a generous amount of sweetened coconut and serve!

Makes about 2 cups

Like Cupcakes? Try These!

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

Vanilla-Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberries

 

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Peppermint Bark Lollipops

a girl with a lollipop

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Do you like peppermint bark? Do you like lollipops? Then you’re going to love these sweet treats- Peppermint Bark Lollipops. So easy to make. Cheap, cute and did I mention they’re a show stopper. Yes. SHOW stopper. I made about 60 lollipops for a Christmas Eve party and everyone was talking about them! It’s just the right amount of chocolate and peppermint and they’re great for big parties, to hold and walk around and still look pretty :) .

Going for an NYE party? Make these and bring them! Plus I’ll show you how to turn these lollipops into a chocolate bouquet- it’s super easy and cheap! And impressive, might I add. Let’s get started:

Peppermint Bark Lollipops:

Holiday Bouquet Prep:

  • 1 small basket (I bought mine from Michael’s)
  • 1 small styrofoam ball (I bought mine from Michael’s)
  • ribbon- assorted colors
  • pine tree leaves- optional

Tools: cookie sheets, parchment paper

1. Break up the dark and 1 bar of the semisweet chocolate and place into a glass bowl. Microwave for 35 seconds. Remove, stir with a spatula. Microwave for another 35 seconds. Remove and stir. Microwave for another 35 seconds if chocolate is not melted. When it’s just melted add the remaining semisweet chocolate bar and stir until everything is smooth and melted. Add 1-1 1/2 tbsp peppermint extract and stir. Melt the white chocolate in a separate bowl and stir in 1 tbsp peppermint extract.

2. On a cookie sheet (I used 3 of them) line with 1-2 sheets of parchment paper. Using a tbsp pour 1 tbsp of dark chocolate into a circle on the cookie sheet. Take the cookie stick and swirl into the bottom of the circle. Decorate with cranberries/pearls/sprinkles or a drop of white chocolate in the center and swirl with a toothpick. Repeat until chocolate is finished. I made a few white chocolate lollipops. Place in the fridge until hard and cool.

3. To make the bouquet: Cut small pieces of ribbon and tie around each stick. Using a scissor curl ends. Place lollipops in the freezer an hour or 2 before placing in the basket before your party. Place styrofoam ball in the basket and if using pine tree leaves, cover the foam with the leaves. Once the chocolate lollipops are hard and slightly frozen, stick them into the styrofoam until the whole thing is covered like a bouquet.

Makes 60 chocolate lollipops


Like Chocolate? Like Dessert? Check these out!

Mini Chocolate-Pumpkin Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting

Snowy Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

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