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!

10 Scone Recipes to Try

10 Scone Recipes to Try

Since before the Starbucks craze hit the nation, I’ve been baking scones for friends. Creating these finicky little treats seems to improve with a practiced hand. The basic rule of thumb is to handle the dough as little as possible once you incorporate the wet ingredients.

Scones come in sweet and savory varieties and use different wet substances. This post focuses only on sweet scones. Most of the recipes are not my own, but I use these recipes over and over, adjusting them to my tastes or what I happen to have in the pantry.

10. Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze – This is a Tyler Florence recipe and one of the best blueberry scone recipes out there. If you’ve been blueberry picking, try these instead of muffins for a change. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/blueberry-scones-with-lemon-glaze-recipe.html

Tip: Don’t skimp on the zest!

9. Fresh Raspberry Scones – You’ll find joyofbaking.com a few times in this list because it is my go-to site for scones. This scone uses yogurt as its wet ingredient. It is moist and delicious. I like white chocolate chips in this one as opposed to dark chocolate, but that is a personal choice! http://joyofbaking.com/RaspberryScones.html

Tip: Fresh raspberries are nearly impossible to work with. Be gentle and try not to mush them!

8. Maple Oat Scones – If you are hungry for scones but feeling guilty, these are your best bet. Using buttermilk instead of cream gives them a different texture. They are lower in fat and the oats make them seem healthier! Plus, maple syrup makes everything in life taste better! http://bakingbites.com/2011/09/maple-oat-scones/

Tip: No need to roll and flatten these out. Remember that the less you handle them, the more tender the result. Just drop them on your parchment paper and bake. I make them the size of golf balls.

7. Pumpkin Scones – It is difficult to find a pumpkin scone recipe that is not too dense or too moist. This recipe from Pinch My Salt was first published in 2007 and is the one I always go back to when fall rolls around. http://pinchmysalt.com/pumpkin-spice-scone-recipe/

Tip: I’ve tried both icings and prefer the molasses one myself.

6. Iced Gingerbread Scones – Like pumpkin scones, these are perfect over the holidays. I use this recipe for the base, but I like to mix confectioners sugar and maple syrup for the glaze. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/12/iced-gingerbread-scones-recipe-christmas-breakfast.html

Tip: You can rewarm scones in the microwave the next day.

5. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones – These are perhaps a bit too desserty for a scone, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. They’re good, but the guilt factor is high when you’ve reached over to grab a second! http://www.browneyedbaker.com/oatmeal-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-scones/

4. Glazed Heart Scones – Guys, if you like to bake, these scones make a lasting impression on your Valentine. I suggest you put this recipe aside and try it in February! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/glazed-raspberry-heart-scones-231579

Tip: Don’t be a cheapskate. Buy seedless jam.

3. Cranberry Orange Cream Scones – Ina Garten bakes up a very nice scone with this recipe. I am not a huge fan of dried cranberries, so I always substitute dried cherries instead. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cranberry-orange-scones-recipe.html

Tip: Remember the rule about handling your dough. That would include rolling and cutting. I press into a round disk and cut into pie wedges using a pizza cutter.

2. Pecan and Chocolate Chip Scones – Using the coffee house scone recipe as a base, very few scone recipes are as delicious as this one. The texture is the best thing about these scones. Stephanie’s method of dusting the top with powdered sugar then sticking them under the broiler to form a sweet crust makes them absolutely perfect right out of the oven. http://www.joyofbaking.com/SconesPecanChocolate.html

Tip: Watch these under the broiler like a hawk. And eat them soon after. Buttermilk scones do not hold as well as cream scones.

1. Cream Scone with Currants – This is my recipe. The one I use most often. Though the recipe calls for currents, you can substitute whatever you are in the mood for.

400 degrees
15-20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups flour (unsifted)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
¼ cup your choice of add-ins (dried currents, chocolate chips, dried cherries, or whatever you prefer)
1 egg
½ cup heavy cream
jam

Directions:
In bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar. Cut in butter. (I use a pastry cutter and work with it until butter incorporated like small peas)

If you are adding any dried fruit or chocolate chips, do so now.

This is where a good scone is made or spoiled. You can work the flour and butter as much as you’d like before wet ingredients are added. Just as with biscuits, to keep them tender, you want to minimize messing with the dough once you add wet to dry.

In same measuring cup add egg to heavy cream and fork mix together. Gently fold into dry mixture.

Turn out onto baking sheet lined with parchment or baking mat. Using your hands, form into a ball and mush it down into a disk about 8 inches in diameter.

Brush top with a bit of heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 8 sections with a pizza cutter.

At this point I often use a small round measuring spoon or a melon baller and make a small indent in the center of each scone and spoon in a small dollop of strawberry jam.

Bake until firm. Serve warm with jam.

I’ve added another to my list of favorite scones. Check out my recipe for cinnamon chip scones!

Enjoy!