Saturday, February 19, 2011

Whole Wheat Raisin Biscotti with Flaxseed and Lemon Glaze

Sometimes mistakes turn out all right, don't they?  That's what happened with this biscotti recipe.

Silly me, I added too much butter.  Oh well.  They were delicious anyway :)

I was in the baking mood recently and wanted something sweet, but not too sweet, to enjoy with coffee in the morning and after dinner for dessert.  Biscotti sounded perfect, especially since I knew I could tweak them to be a little bit healthier.  I guess the extra butter canceled all that out, but hey, you can't always get what you want.

I started off with whole wheat flour and baking powder.

Next, I added 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed.  Gotta get those Omega-3s!

Raisins are good too.  Why not?

In my handy dandy Kitchen Aid mixer, I creamed together 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 7 (yes, 7) tablespoons of butter (it was supposed to be 5), and 1/2 cup sugar.

Then, I slooooowly added the flour mixture.  Whip it good!

I love eating dough.  It makes my soul happy.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a long log about 1 inch thick.  These will be mini biscotti.  That means you can eat more and not feel as guilty about it :)

Loafin' around.

Bake those puppies for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until they're firm to the touch.

But you're not done yet!  Let them cool for about 5 minutes so you don't burn your hands in the next step.  That would hurt and you need your fingers to pick up the biscotti and eat 'em.  Just looking out for ya :)

Cut each loaf into 1/2 inch slices.  Bake 'em again for another 10 minutes until they turn golden brown and are slightly dry.

Fresh out of the oven.  But wait, yet again!

These biscotti need some dressing up, don't you think?

You must make the glaze!  This is the crowning glory :)  You'll need 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and a whole lemon's worth of juice.  You probably won't use all the juice, but it's nice to have extra just in case.

Stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at at time, until you have a lovely, smooth glaze.

And go to town with your spoon (that would be the white blur in the photo below)!

Let the glaze harden.  Or at least try.  You'll probably inhale a few in the process.  That's okay.

A perfect post-dinner treat or lovely snack with your afternoon coffee or tea.  These are softer, chewier biscotti - they still have that nice crunchy edge, but are moister and easier to bite into thanks to the extra butter.  You'll be glad it's there, promise :)

Whole Wheat Raisin Biscotti with Lemon Glaze
Makes about 36 biscotti

For the biscotti:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 4 tbsp. raisins
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
For the glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, beat together sugar, butter, and lemon peel until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, until well blended.  Stir in vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, flaxseed, and raisins.  Add to butter mixture and stir until well blended.
  • Divide dough in half.  On a floured board, shape each half into a log about 8 inches long.  Flatten them until they're 1 inch thick.
  • Place logs 3 inches apart on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until logs feel firm to the touch.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven.  Allow logs to cool for 3-5 minutes.
  • Cut logs into 1/2 inch slices and place, cut side down, on cookie sheet (you may need an extra one).
  • Bake biscotti again until they are light brown and slightly dry, 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool on racks.
  • While biscotti are cooling, make the glaze.  Stir and combine your powdered sugar with 5 teaspoons lemon juice, adding more as needed to smooth out the glaze.
  • With a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled biscotti and allow to harden.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cooking for Foodies, Class 1

Well, since I have my second cooking class tonight, I figured I might as well blog about the first one before it's too late!

My coworker Carrie is a fellow foodie and spread the news a while ago about an upcoming cooking class taught by a local chef and culinary instructor and run by a local high school district's adult education program.  The class is called "Cooking for Foodies" and of course I didn't hesitate to sign up (thanks Mom and Dad for the birthday present!).

Chef Jenn is our instructor and creates each week's menus based on what is local and in season.  I love that she buys all of the fruits and veggies at the local farmers' markets.  There are so many wonderful farmers' markets in the San Diego area and I appreciate supporting local businesses for all their hard work.  Chef Jenn demonstrates a few 'moves' from each recipe and offers cooking tips along the way before our class splits up into groups and starts cooking.  Each person takes one recipe and makes it, then we put it all together for our group.  At the end of the night we have a delicious dinner to enjoy and boy, was last week's meal tasty!

We started off with Farmers' Market Panzanella: crusty bread, heirloom tomatoes, Persian cucumber, fresh cilantro, green onions, haricots verts, radishes, spring peas, and a delicious dressing of olive oil, Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, fresh minced garlic, and salt + pepper.  This was my dish and I was quite pleased with the results, if I do say so myself :)  Delicious!

For our main course, we enjoyed Roasted Tri-Tip with Sautéed Mushrooms on top of Cauliflower Puree and sauteed Rainbow Chard.  It. Was. So. Good!  The cauliflower puree was light, but still had that 'meat and potatoes' vibe going on.  I am NOT a cauliflower fan but I loved this (I think the added shallots, milk, butter and Mexican crema definitely helped ;) ).  The mushrooms were sautéed in butter, chicken stock, and cognac - hello, yummy!  I don't recall trying Swiss chard before, but we used both the leaves and the stalks finely chopped and it was fantastic.  The secret ingredient: honey!  Chef Jenn explained that adding a tablespoon of honey really cuts the bitterness of the chard and makes it more palatable.

This is Chef Jenn's fancy plated version :)

Our plates, almost ready to serve!  I loved that I was surrounded by fellow foodies taking pictures of everything - it was nice not to feel weird about photographing my food for once :)

Don't you think I'd leave you without dessert!  We made Phyllo Cups with Orange Blossom Strawberries and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  This was truly fabulous.  The phyllo layers were brushed with melted butter, sugar, and ground blanched almonds, then baked in muffin tins to make the fancy cups.  On top of that went vanilla bean ice cream, and strawberries marinated in orange juice, orange zest, and orange blossom syrup.  Simple but oh-so-tasty!  I finished mine and wanted more :)

Stay tuned for this week's recipes!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mocha Pomegranate Cream Cheese Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I love cupcakes.  I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I could.  I love discovering new cupcake bakeries, trying different cupcake combos and figuring out what frosting and cake pairings work the best.

I also love chocolate, but you already knew that :)

Imagine my excitement when POM Wonderful contacted me and offered a bottle of their Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Concentrate in exchange for creating a CUPCAKE recipe using the product.  They are having a cupcake recipe contest in honor of American Heart Month and are donating $1 to the American Heart Association for every recipe contributed.  How could I say no?  (Shameless plug: you can vote for my recipe here!)

The Pom Concentrate is fabulous - you can simply add it to recipes or beverages for the delightful pomegranate flavor, or dilute it with water to make your own pomegranate juice.  A little goes a long way so I'm excited to have some in my fridge to use later on.

I decided to combine my love of chocolate with pomegranate and cream cheese for that extra gooey goodness.  Here we go!

The recipe requires a lot of ingredients, but don't worry, it's pretty simple to put together.

Mix together your dry cupcake ingredients:

Add sugar,

and all the wet ingredients.

Chocolate batter in all its glory.  Mmmm :)

Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full, not 3/4 like I did.  That's another story for another day.

Now make your filling with some cream cheese, sugar, an egg white, and a little pomegranate extract.  Mix this happiness in a bowl together until it's nice and smooth.

Now add a dollop of the cream cheese mixture to each cupcake liner.  Do not overfill them like I did.

Bake your cupcakes at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until they're firm on top.  

There should be a picture of the finished cupcakes here, but they overflowed and looked really ugly so I'll spare you the horror. 

Once the cupcakes have cooled, get going on your frosting already.  You'll need more butter, more cream cheese, more cocoa, more pomegranate extract, and pretty much a whole box of powdered sugar. Embrace it and love it.  It's Valentine's Day, goshdarnit!  You'll be glad you did :)

First you fluff up the cream cheese and butter.  (I now embrace the irony of making cupcakes filled with dairy products and sugar in honor of American Heart Month.  Well, these cupcakes are good for your emotional well-being.  That counts, right?)

Then add in your cocoa and pomegranate extract, and gradually add in the powdered sugar.

Add milk as needed to smooth things out.

Ohhh yes.  It's as divine as it looks.

Give the cupcakes a once-over with a little frosting to smooth them out, then frost 'em again to make them look pretty.

Chocolate chips and shaved chocolate add that little extra something, don'tcha think? :)

Here you can see the gooey cream cheese mixture at the bottom of the cupcake.  Yes, it's delicious.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!  Much love to each and every one of you <3

Mocha Pomegranate Cream Cheese Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pure Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese (3/4 of a regular package), room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice Concentrate

For the frosting:

  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice Concentrate
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. milk
For the cupcake batter:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12-hole muffin tin with 12 paper liners. 
  • In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and sugar. 
  • Add oil, pomegranate juice, vinegar, and vanilla extract and stir until combined. 
  • Fill each muffin liner 2/3 full with the batter.

For the filling:
  • Beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg white, and pomegranate concentrate in a large bowl until combined. 
  • Add a spoonful of the mixture to each cupcake.
  • Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until firm to touch. 
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the frosting:
  • Mix together cream cheese and butter on a low setting until fluffy. 
  • Add cocoa powder and pomegranate concentrate and mix on high for 2 minutes. 
  • Gradually add powdered sugar until it is incorporated. 
  • If the frosting is dry, add a tablespoon of milk at a time as needed until smooth.
  • Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Don't forget to vote! :)

Disclaimer: POM Wonderful sent me a complimentary bottle of their 100% Pomegranate Juice Concentrate in exchange for submitting a recipe to their Cupcake Contest.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated.
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