Soda Cracker Torte

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Soda crackers are the food you turn too when you are too nauseated to eat food but know you need to eat something.

Starting out a food blog post talking about nausea- tell me, is your mouth watering yet?

Well, soda crackers can be so much more than a snack of desperation when you are feeling sick.

I am a sucker for any recipe that involves meringue in a unique way.  I just cannot say no to whipped, sugary egg whites.  But I love this salty combo by adding in crushed saltines and nuts into meringue.  This is my kind of dessert.   Tastes like what I imagine heaven to be like- sweet pounds of puffy meringue that is crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

SODA CRACKER TORTE
Barely Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

INGREDIENTS

20-25 saltine crackers, crushed
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chopped nuts
Whipped cream and cherries, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish.

Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Increase mixer speed and gradually pour in granulated sugar. Continue to beat until egg whites are glossy and and firm. Fold in saltine crackers and nuts. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and cherries

Meringue Filled Yeasted Coffee Cake: Secret Recipe Club

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I have gone into dessert baking withdrawal.

In December, I had desserts coming out the wazoo (a rather mysterious place), and I always had another dessert in mind to make next.  I was a desert making machine back then, AKA the good old days when I had extremely low amounts of required work.  Well, being busy and back to making meals for one has put my dessert making a little bit on pause.  But here I am ready to get back into the kitchen, and I am ready for a challenge.

So when I got Taryn’s blog Sweetly Serendipity for this month’s Secret Recipe Club and saw that she has lots of dessert recipes to choose from, I was absolutely thrilled.  Taryn has a lot of types of desserts to choose from: from easy sweet tooth fixes, lots of chocolate, and lots of homemade bread.  I went searching for a recipe to challenge myself, and I came across this meringue filled yeasted coffee cake.

You had me at meringue (how my romantic comedy would be scripted).

The recipe name is a mouthful, but I had never heard of stuffing a coffee cake with meringue.  I was intrigued automatically.  I set out to make the coffee cake the first day I had free.  First, I loved that the ingredients are listed by weight- weighing ingredients is so much easier than measuring them for the sole reason that there are less dishes to wash after.  Second, it sounded decadent and perfect for a kitchen challenge.

I got straight to work, and thing were going great.  But, my friends, this was a challenge.  Rolling a pasty around meringue makes for messy work, and if you compare mine to Taryn’s, I could not manage creating a circular pastry.  It was a little messy, but I say let’s call that rustic charm because it is delicious enough that no one will mind.  Just follow instructions and take it slow.  Makes for one decadent breakfast or brunch.

MERINGUE FILLED YEASTED COFFEE CAKE
Barely Adapted from Sweetly Serendipity

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour (200 g), divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (27 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt (4 g)
1/2 package of yeast (4 g)
1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 egg

For the Meringue:
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar (55 g)

For the Filling:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

DIRECTIONS

For the Dough:

In a large bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups of flour (115 g), sugar, salt, and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine milk, butter, and water over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is just melted.

With an electric mixer or hand mixer, slowly add the liquid ingreidents to the dry ingredients until blended. Increase speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour (75 g). Beat for 2 more minutes. If needed, stir in any remaining flour to have the mixture come together as a dough. Knead dough for 6-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding extra flour as needed.

Place dough in a grease bowl and put in a warm place. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

For the Meringue:

After the dough has risen, prepare the meringue. Place egg whites and salt in a large bowl. Beat until foamy and opaque. Add vanilla extract. Slowly add sugar while beating until very stiff and glossy peaks form.

To Assemble to Coffee Cake:

Punch down risen down. Roll dough out into a 20 by 10 inch rectangle. Spread meringue filling on dough, leaving a 3/4 inch border on all sides. Sprinkle toppings on top of meringue. Carefully roll the dough into a long log. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and form a ring.

Use a sharp knife to make cuts deep into the ring. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 25-60 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

 

Vanilla Pavolva with Berries

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It’s back to the grind for me, my friends.

It’s that time of year when it is just plain scary to enter the hallowed halls of Walmart- even more than usual.  Everyone please remember to watch our for the wild children running down aisles begging their parents for the next cool batch of school supplies (anyone else miss gel pens), large families stocking up for the academic apocalypse, college students buying an inflatable chair for the dorm/prison cell, and

And let’s not even get started on the parking lot.  Instant road rage.

The school year is definitely back in gear, and I am having a small adjustment period to being back on a more normal schedule.  Sometimes I feel super productive and ready to get work done, and other times all I want to do is sit on my couch and binge watch Orange is the New Black.

This semester marks the start of a lot more new work for me.  I will start seeing clients in therapy within the next week, and earlier this week I held the first day of my Introduction to Psychology class.  Here hoping these students enjoy me as much as my pretend students I instructed when I was seven years old.  Because they loved me.

These new tasks have put a lot of work of my plate, which doesn’t leave me as much time to put delicious food on that plate.

This pavlova was a dinner for me during this first week back.  A treat for all my hard work.  This was a perfect recipe for a busy night.  All you do is whip up some egg whites and sugar (delicious) and then bake it for a little bit over an hour.  Then you can use that hour to get some work down (or watch Orange is the New Black- best show ever).  Then enjoy a delicious meringue treat.  Topped with summer berries this is perfection.

Eating dessert for dinner- I think I am setting a wonderful examples for my pupils.  The lessons they could learn from me.

VANILLA PAVLOVA WITH BERRIES
Slightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

100 grams egg whites
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup super fine sugar*
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For serving: berries, whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Draw a circle that is 6 inches in diameter on the parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine sugar and cornstarch.  In another small bowl combine vinegar and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites and a pinch of salt on low speed, slowly increasing the speed to medium, until soft peaks form.  This should take 2-4 minutes.  Increase speed to medium-high and slowly adding in sugar-cornstarch mixture.  Then slowly add vinegar-vanilla mixture.  Whip until stiff peaks form, 6-8 minutes.

Use a spatula to spread the whipped egg white mixture into a 6 inch circle.  Leave a slight indentation in the middle for the berries and whipped cream.  Bake for 75-85 minutes.

Let cool slightly.  Serve with berries and whipped cream.

*If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can run normal granulated sugar in a food processor.  Also, I have made this with granulated sugar, and it has generally worked.

Meringue Topped Cranberry Curd Pie

The world didn’t end, so let’s celebrate another year of my existence!

Now, my grudge against the Mayans for predicting the end of the world right before my birthday aside (quite inconsiderate of them), I am always up for celebrating anything, especially when that celebration will include dessert.  The traditional birthday celebration usually ends with cake, but I am a pie lover through and through.  And I may have made a fruitcake and a fancy layer cake for the upcoming Christmas festivities.

Besides being a pie lover, I am also a cranberry lover.  The cranberry curd comes out slightly sweetened and tart- and it is a beautiful holiday red color.  The curd is poured into a graham cracker crust, my personal favorite, and topped with meringue just to be fancy.  The meringue is absolutely divine, a nice light and fluffy topping.  Just watch it carefully while broiling- as you can see from my pie it can change in an instant.

MERINGUE TOPPED CRANBERRY CURD PIE
Adapted from Cooking Light
INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Cranberry Curd:
12 ounces cranberries
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup water, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, softened

For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, salt, sugar, and butter.  Stir together until moist and mixture clumps together.  Pour into pie pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.  Cool completely.

For the Cranberry Curd:

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract..  Cook for 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to burst and mixture boils.  In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 2 egg yolks.  Whisk together until smooth.  Temper the egg mixture by adding approximately 1 cup of cranberry mixture while whisking constantly.  Pour egg mixture into pan while whisking constantly.  Cook over medium heat until the filling reaches 160°F, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Pour mixture through sieve, straining out the cranberry skins.  Run through food processor until smooth.  Pour filling into crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

For the Meringue:

Preheat the broiler.

In a large bowl combine egg whites and 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Beat at high speed with mixer until soft peaks form.  In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 238°F.  Gradually pour hot syrup into egg white mixture while beating until stiff peaks form.  Transfer meringue to a piping bag and pipe on top of pie.  Broil for 30-60 seconds, or until lightly browned.  Serve immediately.