Saturday, September 26, 2020

KEY LIME PIE: National Key Lime Pie Day

Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite pies. There seem to be several different Key Lime Pie Days (September 23, 26, and June 15). You pick... or have this easy delicious pie whenever you want. I'm going with September 26 for the purposes of this blog!

Several years ago when I visited the Florida Keys, I tasted over 25 different key lime pies. I judged them (for myself) on tartness, firmness, sweetness (too sweet is unacceptable), whipped cream vs. meringue, and more. It was a hard job, but I had to do it. 

FYI: Key Lime Pie is the official pie of the Florida Keys.

I've made different variations of key lime pies, and, as I always say, you can never have too many recipes. Variety is what it's all about. One ingredient that is essential is using real key limes.

I buy key limes at my market. Key Limes are definitely different from 'regular' limes. Key limes are smaller, about the size of a ping-pong ball. They are round, think-skinned, and contain very few seeds. They're juicier than other limes, too. Green key limes are actually immature fruits. They ripen to yellow as they mature. That being said, I buy them green, probably because that's they way they sell them at my market. Just an FYI: bottled Key Lime juice is sometimes used in Key Lime Pies. This juice is not always made from key limes. Find fresh key limes, if you can. It will make a huge difference.

Key limes are also known as Mexican limes and West Indies limes. Cultivated for thousands of years in the Indo-Malayan region, this variety made its way to North Africa and the Near East via Arabian traders, and then carried on to Palestine and Mediterranean Europe by the Crusaders. Columbus is credited with bringing the Key lime to Hispaniola (Haiti), where it was carried on by Spanish settlers to Florida. Key Limes are found in in South Florida, particularly the Florida Keys, hence the current common name of Key Lime. Due to hurricane-depleted soils, locals switched from pineapple commercial crops to limes in 1906, and business boomed until a hurricane once again reared and wiped out the lime groves, never to be restored. Sadly, even if they had been, they would be gone again after several other hurricanes. Most Key limes now come from Mexico.

Key Lime Pies are yellow, not green (unless you add food coloring--ugh!).  And, some people top Key Lime Pie with Meringue.. some with whipped cream!

Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
Spray pan with non stick spray.

Filling
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh squeezed Key Lime juice
1 Tbsp grated Key Lime zest

Directions

Crust
Mix together crumbs and sugar in bowl, add butter, and mix well. Press into bottom and up sides of  9-inch pie pan. Make it tight.
Bake 350 F for 8 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Filling
Beat egg yolks and grated Key Lime zest for about 5 minutes until fluffy.
Add sweetened condensed milk and beat for 4 more minutes.
Reduce speed and beat in lime juice until combined.
Pour into prepared chocolate graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (until firm in center)
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Top with Whipped Cream or Meringue (whichever you prefer)

Friday, September 25, 2020

BACK TO SCHOOL MILKY WAY BROWNIES: RETRO AD & RECIPES

I like this Retro Milky Way Ad. Students don't really look like this anymore (nor do the Milky Way bars) and not a lot are attending 'in school" this year, but it got me thinking about those old school days. 

My friend Donna always had Milky Way bars in her freezer, and I'd stop by her house on the way to school and have one. Her mother never minded! I love frozen Milky Way Bars. When we were older, Donna and I got a ride to high school with a neighbor. While we waited for him, we availed ourselves of the Milky Way bars on his family's coffee table! Maybe this wasn't particularly healthy, but it was a delicious way to start the day!

Now, I buy miniature Milky Way bars to give out at Halloween. Probably that won't happen this year because of the pandemic. I will miss may favorite holiday. Sigh. Nevertheless, here are two recipes for Milky Way Brownies are great for back to school! One's for home, and the other's for a crowd (if you have one)!


1. EASY MILKY WAY BROWNIES!

Make your favorite Brownie Mix (I like Ghirardelli), following directions by adding the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup water. At 20 minutes into the baking (350F), put about 7 ounces of chopped up miniature Milky Way Bars or Milky Way Bites on top. Bake another 20 minutes. Oh yum! Gooey back to school love!

2. MILKY WAY BROWNIES FOR A CROWD!

Save this recipe when the virus is under control and the kids actually go back to school. This recipe is for Milky Way Brownies from scratch? It's the Bees Knees! Love the Vintage Ad above!

Ingredients: 
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (or very dark - 90%), chopped
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
7 large eggs
2 Tbsp Madagascar vanilla
2 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 ounces miniature Milky Way bars, chopped
2 Milky Way Bars, sliced

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 12x18x1-inch pan. Line with foil that hangs over sides (butter the parchment). This makes it easier to get brownies out.
In metal bowl or saucepan over saucepan of simmering water, heat butter and chocolate until melted and smooth; cool slightly.
In large bowl, whisk together eggs, espresso powder, vanilla, and sugar. Stir egg mixture into slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Cool to room temperature.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to batter. Stir chopped mini Milky Way bars into chocolate mixture. Then pour into prepared baking pan and smooth top with rubber spatula.
Place slices of full-size Milky Way Bar on top of brownie batter.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake!
Let cool completely, then cover tightly and chill overnight. These are very gooey, so be sure to chill if you want to cut them!


Thursday, September 24, 2020

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE CAKE: National Cherry Jubilee Day!

Today is National Cherries Jubilee Day! Cherries Jubilee was created by Chef August Escoffier in honor of Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebration. Cherries were her favorite fruit. The original recipe only featured cherries poached in syrup and warmed with brandy that was set afire just prior to serving.

Here are two recipes - one for Chocolate Cherries Jubilee Cake and one for Chocolate Cherries Jubilee. The cake is moist and scrumptious. You can also pour the Cherries Jubilee sauce over your own favorite chocolate cake!

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE CAKE!

Cake:
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1- 1/2 cups cake flour or 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1- 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided use
1/2 cup unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Canola oil
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Cherry Sauce:
1 (16 or 17-ounces) can pitted dark sweet cherries, drained (reserve 3/4 cup liquid)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp Kirsch or Cherry Brandy
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Dash salt

Vanilla ice cream

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

For Cake:
Stir baking soda into buttermilk in medium bowl until dissolved; set aside.
In large bowl, stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add oil, buttermilk mixture, egg yolks, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
In small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into chocolate batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan.

For Cherry Sauce:
In medium saucepan, stir together reserved cherry liquid, cherry liqueur, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add cherries and orange peel.

Serve cake with a scoop of ice cream and Cherry Sauce spooned over the top.

CHOCOLATE CHERRIES JUBILEE

Ingredients
1/2 cup dark cherry preserves (I love Bonne Maman)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tbsp Cognac or Kirsh

1 pint chocolate chocolate chip ice cream
Toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Directions
Melt preserves in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Mix in cinnamon and Cognac.
Scoop ice cream into bowls. Spoon sauce over (you can ignite it for special effects and then pour :-). Sprinkle with almonds (optional)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

WHITE CHOCOLATE LEMON TRUFFLES: White Chocolate Day

Today is White Chocolate Day.  I like white chocolate, and I always have. My parents bought us two special treats at their favorite candy shop on the boardwalk in Atlantic City: Toffee (English toffee) and White Chocolate. I considered them "grown-up candies" that were fresh and presented in small individual boxes. As a child of 8 or 9, this was so different from penny candy or a 5 cent candy bar.

Officially white chocolate is not chocolate because it doesn't contain chocolate liquor. However, it does contain cocoa butter (along with sugar, milk solids, vanilla and lecithin). The most important thing to remember when buying white chocolate is that it must contain cocoa butter. Some brands on the market, and many of those little disks you see, are really just vegetable fat. Real cocoa butter should be an ivory color. The 'fake' white chocolate is 'white'. Why bother with that. Go for the real thing. You'll be rewarded by flavor!

One other hint: White chocolate scorches easily, so always use a low heat. In the truffle recipe below, be very careful when combining the white chocolate with the cream (see note).

There are several white chocolate brands on the market. I like Askinosie White Chocolate. Their White Chocolate Bar is 34% Cocoa Butter made from Davao Philippine beans. The main ingredient in their white chocolate is the non-deodorized cocoa butter which is then pressed in their factory. Askinoise combines this with goat's milk powder and organic cane juice and then crafts it for days in their 85-year old German melanguer.

Guittard also makes a fabulous white chocolate. They actually have two. My favorite is only available for professional bakers, and sadly I didn't need 100 pounds of white chocolate. I seem to remember it was about 44% cacao, so that's pretty close to 'chocolate'...

I sometimes use Lindt, too. Depends what I have when I decide to cook or bake with white chocolate.

It's funny but just this past weekend, I was talking chocolate .. well, we were talking dark chocolate.. and I mentioned I really like chocolate and citrus.  So now for White Chocolate Day, what could be better than White Chocolate Lemon Truffles? This is a simple and delicious recipe!

WHITE CHOCOLATE LEMON TRUFFLES

Ingredients 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
3 Tbsp heavy cream
1 cup quality white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp lemon extract or pure lemon oil
1/4 cup powdered sparkling sugar (sanding sugar) for coating

Directions
Put white chocolate in bowl, set aside.
Melt butter along with lemon zest in small saucepan. Stir in cream and heat until bubbles just start to form at edges (do not boil).
Pour hot cream mixture over white chocolate. Add lemon extract and stir until smooth.
Cover mixture and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.
Scoop mixture out by heaping teaspoon fulls and form into balls.
Roll in sparkling sugar.
Freeze truffles 20 minutes or refrigerate one hour.