A Crepe Cake for Mother’s Day

A Crepe Cake for Mother’s Day

I’m friends with a few moms and wanted to treat them to a special treat on Mother’s Day. I looked through several recipes and settled on a Crepe Cake. I’d never made one before, but I’ve whipped up plenty of pastry creams and millions of pancakes so I figured it would be a cinch!

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Okay, truth be told, it was not exactly a “cakewalk!” I had a few layers slide this way or that. It may not be as pretty as a pro would bake, but it tasted like a slice of heaven. And the moms I shared it with were amazed!

Step One: Make the batter.

Crepe Batter
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups whole milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
7 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
vegetable oil

Directions

Make batter several hours in advance.
Melt butter in a small pan until it turns medium brown.
Separately, heat milk until steaming I used a microwave).
In a stand mixer beat eggs, flour, sugar, and salt on medium speed. Slowly add the slightly cooled milk and browned butter.
Pour into a container with a spout and refrigerate for several hours.

Step Two: Make the cream filling.

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Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp. pure Madagascar vanilla (my personal favorite)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions

Bring milk to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside as an ice bath for the finished cream.
In a separate heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Whisk constantly 1-2 minutes.
Scrape into a small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and continue stirring until the temperature drops to 140 degrees. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

Before you assemble the layers:

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Kirsch

Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and Kirsch (optional – you can substitute vanilla, another sweet liquor, or even almond flavor). Fold into the chilled pastry cream with a spatula.

Step Three: Make the crepes

Bring the batter back to room temperature.
Place a 9-inch crepe pan (or non-stick) over medium heat. Brush with oil.
Pour about 3 tablespoons batter into hot pan and swirl to cover the surface.
Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, like a pancake, then carefully peel back and flip. Cook on the other side for 5 seconds.
Flip the cooked crepe onto a piece of parchment paper.
Make 20 useable crepes. (I ate my mistakes as I went!)

Step Four: Assemble the Crepe Cake

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Place 1 crepe on your cake plate. Cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Add crepe #2. Repeat steps until you finish with the last crepe on top.

Chill for at least 2 hours.
Set out for 30 minutes before serving.
Slice and serve with fresh fruit.

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I must say, this was one of the most time-consuming cakes I’ve ever made, but it was well worth the effort! Let me know if you have any other variations on the Crepe Cake. I have a feeling that these babies get better with practice!

Buon appetito!

Brad

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If You Amore S’mores – Try Peanut Butter S’more Bar Cookies

If You Amore S’mores – Try Peanut Butter S’more Bar Cookies

Sorry for the horrible twist on words in this title. I couldn’t help myself! But seriously, these cookies are outrageous. You may not want to tell your dentist or dietician you’ve eaten Peanut Butter S’more Bars because the sugar content is off the charts. Just sayin’!

I want to give credit to the bloggers who led me to these wonderful cookies.

I follow Six Sisters’ Stuff. Their roundup posts on baked goods always include some keepers. I’ve struck gold many times and last week was no exception. They linked to a recipe by Melanie who writes The Sweet Life. Her recipe is wonderful just as it and I encourage you to visit her site and try the original recipe. I made a few small tweaks to Melanie’s recipe and this was my end result.

Buon appetito!

Peanut Butter S’more Bars

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 1 1/2 packs)
2 large bars Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup bars
1 small jar marshmallow fluff

Directions

s'more cookie dough

Using paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and continue beating until incorporated. Add salt, baking powder, flour, and graham crackers crumbs. Mix until incorporated.

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Press 1/2 of dough into the bottom of a buttered 8×8 baking dish. Lay individual squares, evenly placed in four rows on top of dough. Press in slightly to keep them from shifting.

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Spread a layer of marshmallow fluff over the peanut butter squares.

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Scoop remaining dough onto the top of the fluff layer and carefully spread out to cover entire layer. Tip: An offset knife works great for spreading!

Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees or until the center of the top layer is cooked. Cool and cut into squares.

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I have no clue on the calorie content for these bad boys. Make sure you have a glass of milk handy! If these are too sweet for your liking, try my Chocolate Pillows which use a spritz dough and are not quite as sweet!

Chocolate Pillows – The Best Cookies You Will Ever Eat

Chocolate Pillows – The Best Cookies You Will Ever Eat

It is not Christmas if there is not a batch of Chocolate Pillows on the cookie plate in my family. It has been a family favorite since my grandmother tore the recipe out of her Pillsbury’s 15th Bake-Off in 1964. Second Grand Prize Winner Gemma Jane of Olympia, wherever you are – God Bless You!

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The Chocolate Pillow is brilliant in its simplicity. It is never the prettiest cookie on the platter, but is always the first one gone. It was my father’s favorite, my favorite, and now the favorite of countless friends who put in their orders every year!

You will need a cookie press to make these. Buy one today.

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Chocolate Pillows

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 full size Hershey bars, broken into sections

Directions

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Cream softened butter with sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until dough comes together.

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Using cookie press with sawtooth disk, lay long, straight strips of dough (ridge side facing up) onto cookie sheet. Place chocolate sections end to end along each strip of dough. Press a second strip of dough over each row, covering the chocolate pieces.

Using your finger to find the space between each chocolate bar, make a slice with a sharp floured knife.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until some of the edges start to brown. Cool slightly before breaking apart. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I would love to hear whether any other families out there have been baking these cookies since the ’60s! Buon appetito!

The Simplest Most Delicious Cherry Cheesecake Recipe I’ve Ever Made

The Simplest Most Delicious Cherry Cheesecake Recipe I’ve Ever Made

I briefly touched upon this cheery cheesecake recipe in an earlier post highlighting my favorite Thanksgiving desserts, but thought if was worthy of its own mention since I recently made one for a friend. This no-bake version is my aunt’s recipe and it is always devoured. Friends cannot believe how easy it is to make considering how delicious it is. It is perfect for dinner parties since you quite literally whip it up the night before.

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake

Ingredients
24 graham cracker squares
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 T sugar

8 ounces softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 pint heavy cream (also called whipping cream)
1 can cherry pie filling, chilled

Directions

graham cracker crust
Graham cracker crust (Combine 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers, 1/3 cup melted butter, 3 T sugar and press into pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool.)

whipped cheesecake filling

Beat softened cream cheese until smooth.
Add sugar and vanilla and beat some more.
Slowly pour in heavy heavy cream and beat until the mixture is thick and fluffy.

no bake cheesecake

Pour/scrape into cooled pie crust.

Chill 24 hours.

Brad Nierenberg's Cheesecake

Top with canned cherries.

This is a regular request for birthdays and special occasions. I know you are thinking that it can’t possibly be that good if it is so simple to make…but it is!

Buon appetito!
Brad

Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

Half Moon Cookies Will Make You Howl in Delight

I love sharing my family recipes. I would hate to see so many delicious treats end with me someday rather than delighting new generations for years to come. I recently sent my gram’s recipe for Half Moon Cookies to Jeanie and Lulu’s Kitchen, a food blog that features recipes passed down to Leigh from both of her grandmothers.

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I hope you’ll visit Leigh’s blog and peruse through her family treasures. And if you are looking for a new cookie recipe that is cakey, moist, chocolaty, and scrumptious, be sure and bake up a batch of Half Moon Cookies (also called Black and White Cookies.) They are perfect in October as a Halloween treat!

Let me know how you like them!

Here is another wonderful cookie recipe if chocolate is not your thing but you love cinnamon rolls!

These Cinnamon Chip Scones Will Change Your Life

These Cinnamon Chip Scones Will Change Your Life

IMO the perfect scone is tender and not sickeningly sweet. They are one of my favorite baked goods. I am slightly partial to cream scones, but also enjoy ones that use buttermilk or yogurt. They key of course is not over-stirring them once liquid is combined with the dry ingredients. Like biscuits or pie crust, the less handling, the better!

I offered to bake scones for a friend’s birthday this week and had a craving for cinnamon and maple. I combined those two flavors for what I believe is one of the best scones I’ve made yet. If you are one of those folks that believe scones should be sickeningly sweet like a giant cookie, move along. These are not your kind of scone. If these are a bit too sweet for your liking, leave off the glaze. They’ll still be delicious!

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cinnamon chips

Directions

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Mix all dry ingredients together. Use a pastry cutter to incorporate butter until mixture looks like small peas. It is fine to have a few larger pieces of butter. You can work with it as much as you want at this stage.

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Add cinnamon chips and stir in with a fork.

Measure heavy cream into liquid measuring cup. Stir egg and vanilla into the cream using a fork to incorporate the egg. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and carefully mix together until it comes together. A spatula works great.

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Turn dough onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a baking mat. Press into a 8-inch disc. Add a bit more cream to measuring cup and brush the top of the dough with a thin layer of heave cream. Lightly sprinkle the top with a pinch or two of sugar. Use a pizza cutter to cut into 8 wedges.

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Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden around the edges.

Glaze (optional)

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In a separate bowl combine 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup. Stir until smooth. Add more syrup or sugar to alter consistency. Drizzle over scones.

Scones are always best served warm. You can keep these in an air tight container for a day or two. Just warm them for 30 seconds in the microwave or place them in a warm over for 5-10 minutes. You can also wrap them individually and freeze some for later.

10 Apps No Cook Can Live Without

I know this is a dramatic title. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Huff Post lately! But seriously, these are the apps I rely heavily on while in my kitchen. And as always, feel free to chime in and share what apps you find indispensable to cooking.

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iPhone camera
What would I do without my smartphone camera? I use it to take pictures while I’m cooking which is handy. But more importantly, I take photos of recipes in magazines whenever I am in a waiting room! Remember the days when you were in the doctor’s office and found a recipe you wanted to try, so you had to either write it down on a scrap of paper or secretly tear it out of the magazine? (OK, I never did that!) Now I snap a photo and refer back to it when shopping or ready to cook.

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Epicurious
This was the first cooking app I ever used and it continues to be a mainstay. I’ve compiled many of my favorites in the recipe box feature. I like the categories such as “picnic ideas,” “main course salads,” or “Mexican tonight.” Photos, reviews, ratings, and step by step instructions make this a user-friendly resource that is loaded with recipes. Epicurious features a suite of mobile applications, including one for your smart Samsung fridge!

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Grocery Store
I’m not going to recommend any specific grocery store since I have no idea what’s available in your area. I will tell you however, that if your favorite store has a useful app, download it! I really like the Wegmen’s app. I can add all my ingredients to the list and it will organize them by aisle for faster shopping. It gives me a total of what I’m about to spend. Other cool features include tons of recipes and even a prescription refill option.

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Coupons
You might already have a favorite coupon app since there are a few out there. This one from coupons.com allows you to register your loyalty card, add applicable coupons to your account, and redeem them right at checkout. It takes some time to scroll through the available coupons whenever you go shopping, but saves you the trouble of clipping and storing paper coupons. Since I love to cook, it helps keep costs down on my grocery bills.

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Grill
If you like grilling, then the Weber’s Grill app is one to consider. Besides a slew of grilling recipes, it serves up grilling techniques and a handy timer. It has a grocery list feature, but since I use my grocery store app, I haven’t really taken advantage of that section.

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Thermometer
This is more of a product than an app, but it’s the app that makes it so cool. Weber’s iGrill products mean you are no longer tethered to the grill or oven when cooking. The app on your phone keeps you updated on internal temps. If like me you start talking to your guests in the kitchen while your meat is cooking out on the grill, then this is a lifesaver.

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Converter/Calculator
If you’re a baker, this app is for you. Scale recipes up or down like a pro. Convert between metric and non metric measurement.

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Substitutions
Have you ever been up to your elbows in a recipe only to find you are missing a critical ingredient? I sure have! Substitutions is a handy app to have when you need to find a way to make a recipe work when running to the grocery store that minute is not an option. Even better, the app helps you find substitutions for ingredients that cause allergic reactions. Brilliant!

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Pairing
If you are an average Joe (or in my case, Brad) like me, your knowledge of beer, wine, and cheese is limited to what you like. But that’s not always helpful when it comes to entertaining. That’s why it’s important to have a couple of useful apps for wine, beer, and cheese pairing suggestions. Unfortunately, I have not come across one app that does it all, but I have a couple that I rely upon. Here they are:

Pocket Wine Pairing
PairWise

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Plus one bonus!
Cheese & Wine

What’s on your smartphone that makes home cooking easier? I’d love to know!