For The Love Of Caramel by Paul Lindemuth

One of my favorite cookbooks is “My Last Supper” by Melanie Dunea. It is a journal where 50 great chefs were asked “if you were to die tomorrow, what would you want for your last meal on earth?’ Each chef shared their personal thoughts and requests.

I’ve often been asked a similar question when I’m teaching: “what is your favorite food or flavor?” I know the answer, hands down, to either of these questions:  Caramel.

There is something seductive about caramel and the flavor descriptors are pretty diverse:  buttery, nutty, smoky, toasted, butterscotch, burnt.

I love the chemistry part of working with caramel which begins with melting pure cane sugar and slowly controlling the temperature to turn the sugar from crystal clear to pale amber to deep golden brown. Each stage yields different flavors: pale amber is light and mild, deep amber is rich and complex. Taking the caramel beyond this point to dark caramel yields a more bitter flavor due to increased oxidation (my favorite). Additionally, heating beyond this point (which happens very quickly) will turn the caramel into a black, smoking, bitter mess as the sugar breaks down into pure carbon.

I spent the 4th of July holiday toying with this chemistry while roasting marshmallows to create S’mores. I started with that initial golden-brown crust on the marshmallows, took it one step further to dark brown (actually peeling that layer off to taste it and then putting the remainder back over the fire and tasting again). Then I let a couple of marshmallows actually catch fire and get totally charred…. not so tasty. It sure was fun playing with melted and burnt sugar!

When you peel back the layers of chemistry and technique of caramel, you can easily create some pretty amazing flavors. Patiently working with one cup of granulated sugar, ¼ cup of water to dissolve the sugar and adding 1 cup of heavy cream to the hot caramel will yield my favorite thing to eat:  perfect caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup cold water
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  5. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges
  7. ¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
  8. ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 2 tablespoons Calvados or apple brandy
  10. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  11. 1 package frozen puff pastry thawed
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush down any sugar particles that cling to the side of the pan. Continue to boil until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep amber color, being careful not to let it get too dark and burn.
  2. Place the saucepan in the bottom of the sink. Carefully pour the cream into the melted sugar. The sugar will bubble violently and give off steam. Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until the caramel is dissolved and smooth. Add the sea salt and set the caramel aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and toss to evenly coat them with the butter. Sauté the apples until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar melts and the apples are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Add the nutmeg, Calvados or apple brandy and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Set the apples aside. (The apples may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, loosely covered and held at room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Gently unfold one sheet of the thawed puff pastry. Cut the pastry into 4 rounds. Transfer the pastry rounds to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a smaller round cutter make a shallow indentation into each puff pastry round, being careful to not cut all the way through the pastry. Using a fork, evenly prick the center of each pastry inside the inner circle.
  7. Divide half of the apples into the center of the pastry rounds. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and apples.
  8. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and scatter the butter evenly over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the tartlets. Bake the tartlets until the pastry is puffed and brown and the apples are soft, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  9. Remove the tartlets from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates. Spoon some of the caramel sauce over each tartlet and serve.
  10. Serves 8
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Walnut Cake

Walnut Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup walnut pieces (ground to 1/2 cup walnut powder)
  2. 1 1/4 cup cake flour (divided, plus more for dusting pans)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 stick butter (softened, plus 1 tablespoon to grease pan)
  7. 1 cup sugar
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 orange (zested)
  11. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  12. 3/4 cup buttermilk
  13. powdered sugar (to dust)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease an 9-inch cake pan with butter and dust with flour and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor add the walnuts and 1/4 cup flour and pulse until finely ground to a powder. Remove from the processor to a large bowl and set aside. Wipe out the food processor.
  3. To the ground walnuts, add the remaining flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. In the bowl of the food processor add the butter and sugar and pulse until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, vanilla, orange zest and maple syrup and process until combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture and pulse until just combined. While the machine is running, drizzle in the buttermilk and continue to process until the batter just comes together.
  6. Remove to the cake pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is golden brown. Remove to a baking rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Adapted from Carla Hall
Adapted from Carla Hall
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Lemon Curd Tart

Lemon Curd Tart
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Tart Shell
  1. ¾ cup butter, room temperature
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. 1 ¾ cup flour
  5. pinch of salt
Lemon Curd
  1. 2-4 lemons
  2. 1 ½ cups sugar
  3. ¼ pound butter, room temperature
  4. 4 eggs, room temperature
  5. 1/ teaspoon salt
  6. 1 10” baked tart shell
Tart Shell
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. Then add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Press the dough into a 10” round tart pan, making sure the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm. Place a piece of parchment paper inside the chilled tart. Fill with rice or beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove parchment and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20-25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature*.
Lemon Curd
  1. Remove the zest from 2 of the lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.Squeeze enough lemons to make ½ cup juice. Put the zest in a food processor and add the sugar. Process for 2-3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. Add the butter, then the eggs, one at a time. Finally, add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The curd will thicken at about 175 degrees. Remove from heat.
  2. Fill the tart shell with the warm lemon curd** and allow to sit at room temperature.
Notes
  1. *Can be made 1 day ahead. Makes one 10” tart shell or 5 4 ½” tart shells.
  2. **Can substitute limes, oranges or grapefruit for equal measures of the lemon zest and juice.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Roasted Plum-Apricot Ice Cream

Roasted Plum-Apricot Ice Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 4 plums
  2. 2 apricots
  3. ¾ cup sugar, divided
  4. 1/3 cup heavy cream
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 3 drops almond extract
Instructions
  1. Halve the fruit and pull out stones. Set in a small baking dish, cut sides up. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar. Roast in a 350 degree F. oven until fruit has collapsed, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Scrape fruit and juices into a food processor along with the remaining ½ cup sugar, cream and extracts; swirl until smooth. Press through a medium mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Chill.
  3. Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions, approximately 25 minuntes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A “Go-To” Birthday Cake by Rita Cevaal

I have two kinds of recipes that I cook from. One is a collection that I go to automatically; it contains recipes that are quick and easy and family recipes that I have been making for decades – my “go-tos.” The other collection has more elaborate recipes that require more time and ingredients, saved for special occasions.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 2.22.42 PMI have a recipe that you will want to add to your “go-to” collection of recipes. It is quick and easy, looks beautiful, and of course it’s delicious! When reading Bon Appetit last spring this Raspberry Ricotta Cake caught my eye not only because it looked so cute but also because the ingredients were items I had at home. It makes a 9” round pan (you can also make it square, but it is prettier in a round).  It is the perfect size when you need to bring a dessert somewhere, it does not need any embellishment, and you can make it throughout the year since it uses frozen raspberries. No mixer required. It’s so easy. It’s delicious. It’s a pretty cake. It has become “the” cake for our birthdays here at Marcel’s. Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake
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Ingredients
  1. nonstick vegetable oil spray
  2. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 t. baking powder
  5. 3/4 t. kosher salt
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  8. 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  10. 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  3. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Notes
  1. Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
  2. You can also make this in 2 6” round cake pans. Reduce baking time to 40-50 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

A Rediscovered Recipe by Julie Busteed

It’s that rare but valuable experience – where you set off in search of one thing, and find something completely different. Such was the case during a recent recipe search.  I was given a large cardboard box full of cookbooks.  Or so I thought…

The box with filled with items from a dear friend of mine who had passed away last year.  She was a wonderful cook who also had the gift of hospitality. I was blessed to receive her cookbooks. What a treasure!  

LemonBars1Upon looking more closely, I discovered that the box contained not only cookbooks but also three ring binder notebooks where she kept all of her recipes from food magazines like Bon Appetit and Food and Wine.  While leafing through the notebooks I found that she kept a list of every dinner party she had hosted, who was there, and what she served.  Her journal was a gold mine of 25 years worth of dinner parties, with notes about what worked and what did not. Since we were often guests at her home, my name reappeared many times… the earlier entries dating back to before I was married.  I, of course, don’t remember exactly what she served at every meal, but my memories were of delicious evenings feeling loved and cared for. 

I had also been looking for a lemon bar recipe that I used to make, but couldn’t find in my own files. It was such a surprise to find a copy of my recipe in her files!  I hope that you enjoy this rediscovered favorite recipe!

Lemon Bars
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Crust
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  3. 1 cup butter
Filling
  1. 4 eggs
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1/3 cup lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup flour
  5. 1/2 t. baking powder
Crust
  1. Preheat over to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour and sugar and cut with butter until it clings together. Press with a fork into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
Filling
  1. Beat eggs, lemon juice and sugar together. Sift flour and baking powder and stir into egg mixture. Pour over baked crust.
  2. Bake for 25 more minutes.
  3. Sift powdered sugar over top when ready to serve.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Molten Cupcakes

Raspberry-Filled Chocolate Molten Cupcakes
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  2. 6 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
  3. 4 large eggs
  4. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 11 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted (2 ½ cups chopped)
  7. 18 raspberries (36 if they are small)
  8. confectioners' sugar, for serving
  9. vanilla ice cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line 12 standard muffin tin cups with paper liners.
  3. In large bowl with a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, beat in flour and salt. Beat in chocolate until just combined.
  4. Divide half the batter among cups, add two raspberries to each, and top with remaining batter. Bake until tops are just set and no longer shiny, 10 to 11 minutes, let cool in pan on a wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove from pans, dust with confectioners' sugar, and top with ice cream, if desired.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Chef Kelly’s Favorite Chocolate Cake

Chef Kelly's Favorite Chocolate Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 3¾ cups sugar
  2. 3 1/3 cups flour
  3. 1 cup cocoa powder
  4. 3 t. baking powder
  5. 3 t. baking soda
  6. 2 ½ t. salt
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 16 oz. milk
  9. ¾ cup vegetable oil
  10. 2½ t. vanilla
  11. 16 oz. boiling water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. In a different bowl, combine eggs, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla.
  4. Add wet ingredients into the dry with paddle attachment on medium speed.
  5. After combined, add the boiling water.
  6. Fill 3 9-inch round pans 2/3 full and bake at 350 until cake tests done and begins to pull from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes.
Kelly loves to serve this cake with Warm Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter with 2/3 cup brown sugar; add in 2 T. brewed coffee, 2 T. corn syrup, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cool slightly and drizzle over cake and serve.
Adapted from Chef Nancy Carey
Adapted from Chef Nancy Carey
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

As Easy as Pie by Teri Hiben

We’re in that time of year we call “The Holidays.”  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day….  Celebrations abound!  We gather with family and friends from near and far.  We have parties and dinners, catch up on the latest news in each other’s lives and reminisce about the years past.  As our families and friend groupings multiply and change, these gatherings help to deepen the love and admiration we have for one another.  At the centerpiece of these gatherings is the food: food from our past, new dishes to share.

For me, many of my family food traditions involve baking.  My mom has already been busy baking the family pfeffernusse (peppernuts) to send to each of us in the next weeks. (I can’t wait!)  Here at home there are cinnamon roll coffeecakes to mix, rise, bake and share with neighbors, as well as gingerbread and snowball cookies (and many others) to make.  There will be sweet potato crescent rolls, stollen and biscotti to create – all filling the house with enticing aromas.  But, first on the list of holiday baking are the Thanksgiving pies.  

TeriPieBlog2My love of baking was passed down from my mom, Della, who was the baker for her family of 7 on her family’s Kansas farm starting at age eight!  She’s an expert baker of many breads and cookies, but it’s her pies that have brought her fame.  She’s affectionately known as “The Pie Lady” and her pies are fervently sought out at work and asked for by friends and family.  I’ve been the willing recipient of much of her baking wisdom so have grown up baking pies of all sorts.  This Thanksgiving I’ll be baking up a few cherry pies for the pie social at church and for our dinner, I’ll be serving both apple and pumpkin pies.   Every bite eaten while spending time with people I love.

I’d like to share with you mom’s pie crust recipe.  It’s an easy, forgiving crust that bakes up flaky and tasty and is truly NO FAIL.

Happy Baking!

Della's No Fail Pie Crust
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Ingredients
  1. 2 ¼ c. flour (can use up to half whole wheat flour)
  2. 1 t. salt
  3. 2/3 cup oil
  4. ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Mix together flour, salt and oil with a fork. Then add water and mix. Divide into 2 disks. Roll out between 2 pieces of wax paper that you “stick” to the counter with a slightly damp dishtowel.
  2. After adding the top crust to pie, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you wish.
Notes
  1. Yields a 2 crust pie.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Dessert Squares with Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter

Dessert Squares with Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pkg. yellow cake mix; set aside one cup
  2. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  3. 3 eggs, large
  4. 1 jar of Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter
  5. 2 T. milk
  6. 1 T. flour
  7. 2 T. sugar
  8. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  9. 1 t. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Divide yellow cake mix, placing all but one cup in a mixing bowl. Stir the melted butter and one egg into the cake mix. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9" x 13" pan.
  3. Mix the jar of the Muirhead Pecan Pumpkin Butter with two eggs and milk. Pour this result over the cake mix.
  4. Stire the reserved cup of cake mis with the flour, sugar, softened butter, and cinnamon. Mix together until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of the pumpkin layer.
  5. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Cut into 2" squares.
Marcel's Culinary Experience http://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/