Orange Hazelnut Cake

I saw a recipe for a walnut cake and thought I could enhance it by adding orange zest, hazelnut liqueur and substituting the ground walnuts with hazelnut flour/meal.

I call mine “Orange Hazelnut Cake”

orange hazelnut cake

With the addition of Hazelnut Liqueur and orange zest, I further enhanced the flavor, by making a syrup of hazelnut liqueur, honey, orange juice, and orange zest then brushed onto the cake.

For decoration, I made candied oranges slices

Delicious!

Orange Hazelnut Cake
Serves: Serves 8-10
Ingredients
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, plus 3 Tablespoons more for syrup
1 Tablespoon honey, plus 1 teaspoon more for syrup
3 eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from 1 large orange, save and set aside ¼ teaspoon and the orange for syrup
pinch salt
½ cup hazelnut flour/meal

Orange Hazelnut Syrup
3 Tablespoons Hazelnut Syrup
Juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon orange zest

Directions
⦁ Preheat the oven to 350°F.
⦁ Grease and flour a half-size Bundt pan with a 6-cup capacity. (I used Baker’s Joy Baking Spray)
⦁ With a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
⦁ Add the vanilla, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 Tablespoon honey and mix well.
⦁ Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
⦁ Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and orange peel (minus the ¼ teaspoon saved) and beat till creamy.
⦁ Without using the mixer, gently fold the hazelnut flour into the batter.
⦁ Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
⦁ Leave the cake to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully unmoulding it. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
⦁ Meanwhile, to make the syrup, add orange juice, hazelnut liqueur, orange zest and honey to a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and gently boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
⦁ Brush the syrup onto the cooled cake.

Decorate as desired. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pretzel Buns For Pub-Style Burgers

Making homemade “pretzel sandwich buns” was easy and took little time and effort make.

I made these for cheeseburgers we had for supper last night along with a batch of home fries.

Pretzel Buns

For pub-style burgers (or any type sandwiches) at home without the added expense of eating out, I encourage you to make a batch.

You can find the recipe at King Arthur Flours/Pretzel Buns.

Easter For Two

For us, it was a quiet Easter.  We didn’t cook the traditional ham and sides; we dined (here at home) on pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and green bean amandine/almondine.

Since it is just the two of us, I had in mind to make a small batch of homemade peanut butter eggs.  Knowing that I would have some chocolate leftover, and since I had a can of sweetened condensed milk sitting in the cupboard, I made dulce de leche (caramel) from the can of milk.

Dulce de leche

The milk caramelizes in the can by simmering the unopened can (label removed) in a pot of water.

You can find the complete instructions at Serious Eats.

After I made the peanut butter eggs,  I made chocolate covered, salted caramel wafers using the homemade caramel and leftover chocolate.

chocolate candy

I just dropped chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper (smoothing the chocolate down with the back of a spoon), chilled and then spread caramel on top of those and dropped and spread melted chocolate onto the caramel (sealing in the caramel) and added a pinch of kosher salt to the tops.

Easter for two!

French Financiers

Have you ever heard of a financier (pronounced fee-nahn-see-AY)?

financiers

It’s a classic French pastry.

According to the New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret, “IT’S a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with browned butter and baked into a small mold. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that’s as crisp as an eggshell.”

The article also goes on to say, “In France, financiers have been a staple of fine pastry shops for more than 100 years.”

In my quest to bake and taste something different,  I happened upon the article and the recipe for financiers.  

“All you need is a whisk, a bowl, a pan and a mere stroke of finesse.”

Yesterday, I baked a half batch.

financiers

“The batter then has to rest before baking. A few hours in the refrigerator, and the flavors will harmonize and the batter will firm up, making it easier to pipe into molds.”

The instructions say to chill the batter in the bowl.  Then, after chilling for the allotted amount of time, spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round pastry tip.  For me, I found it much easier to chill the batter in the pastry bag.  I, also, eliminated the round pastry tip and just cut an opening in the tip of the bag, then piped it into the prepared pans/molds.

You can find the recipe here: New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret.

Simply delicious!

What’s In Season?

I made a handy, *printable guide for: “What’s in Season?” that I would like to share with you.

This guide can help to explore different fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Reasons Why we Should Cook in Season:

  • Flavor:  Produce that has been allowed to fully ripen tastes so much better! Sweet, juicy and full of natural flavor
  • Nutrition:  We all know fresh is best when choosing what to put in our bellys. A ripe and fully developed piece of fruit or vegetable has had more sun exposure and will have more antioxidants
  • Price:  When there is an abundance of product the price goes down. Stands to reason when something is in season ad plentiful, you will pay less! Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced as well, which reduces the load on our environment due to transport
  • Community:  Our favorite reason. Getting to know where your food is coming from, who is growing your food and how they do it also makes you feel more connected to that whole process

*Click on image to save to your desktop then print from there.

Opera Cake

Like nothing I have ever tasted before.

The “Opera Cake”.

opera cake1For a while, I have been wanting to make this cake.  After reading through all the different recipes, my enthusiasm started to wane.  This cake has many different components and uses many ingredients.  I was just too lazy to go through all those steps.

Nevertheless, I wanted to challenge myself and to taste what all goes into one.  At the “Patisserie New York” an Opera Cake sells for $51.90.  It should be really tasty at those prices.

And yes, it was tasty-it was delicious!

I gathered a bunch of different type of recipes from around the net for this cake and put together a recipe for me. It took me a while to put it together and to convert amounts to cups, ounces, spoonfuls, etc.

I needed a joconde, ganache, coffee syrup, Italian buttercream, a chocolate mirror glaze, and lots of time.  An Opera Cake is usually made with almond flour, but can be made with hazelnut flour.  I used the hazelnut flour.  I thought coffee flavoring goes well with hazelnut flavor.

I had never made Italian Buttercream before.  I felt it had too much butter for one recipe  and it was too much work to create.  With this recipe, timing is everything.  Blah!

I found a little “umph“, the other day, and headed right into the kitchen to make that buttercream.  I can now say that all the effort (and butter) that goes into this Italian Meringue Buttercream is well worth the energy. The taste is heavenly.  It’s not too sweet, but melt-in-your-mouth creaminess.  I only made 3/4th of the Italian Buttercream recipe.

The buttercream was made on day one.  The next day, I made the rest of the components and the cake.  It took me 6 hours to bake, make and put together.  Whew!   It would have taken me longer, but Tom did all the dishes after each additional component was made.

This isn’t an entremets that should be eaten all the time and then, only a thin slice will do.  Moderation is the key word for this lovely, decadent dessert.

With all the work, ingredients and effort I put into this cake, and not knowing what I was doing, I think it turned out picture perfect!

Check out it’s, possible, history at “The Good Life France“.

You can find my recipe for this cake on this page-Opera Cake.

Weekend Bakers

What was happening this weekend-

Yesterday, I made an apple-caramel tarte tatin. It came out so pretty and it was delicious.

tarte tatin (2)

I inverted in on to a plate; snapped a picture of the applely-carmelly-almondly goodness. I was pleased at how well it turned out.

However, I unintentionally deleted the photo and can’t show you how pretty and appealing it was.

Ugh!

tarte tatin

This is before turning it out onto a plate.

Friday, I made (eight) ciabatta rolls for Italian sandwiches.  We filled them with Salami, picante provolone cheese, paper thin-cut veggies and homemade Italian sub dressing.

ciabatta

Today, Tom made us a delicious brunch. He made eggs, bacon  and cheese galettes. For sides, he cooked hash browns and sausage.

galette egg

Looks good and hit the spot on the cold, Sunday morn.

Weekends, for us, are rather nondescript. But, they weren’t always that way. As one gets older they seem to, unmemorably, fade away.

There was a time when we couldn’t wait for the weekend. They were always filled with family and fun. We made so many good and fun memories.

As they say,

“C’est la vie and Bon Appétit!”

Pork Ragù and Pappardelle

When home cooking becomes a necessity.

Tuesday, I made a pot of pork ragù, Italian bread and pasta dough for pappardelle (wide pasta).

ragu and pappardelle

Tom (hubby) rolled and cut the pasta dough which gave me some time to step away from the kitchen for a little while.

Yay, Tom!

Tom the pasta maker

We made a pound of pappardelle. This is just one of two sheets.

pappardelle

For me, home cooking is cheaper, taste far better and healthier than processed, prepackaged or restaurant foods.

The downfall to home cooking is that it can be time-consuming. However, for some of us retired baby boomers, it is a necessity.

Sad as it is, it is just the two of us now.  Family is grown, far, far away and have lives of their own.  All we can hope for is that they all stay safe, healthy and happy.

Tom and I cook all of our meals, here, at home. The only days we don’t cook, are the days we eat left-overs from the day before.

Just last spring Bloomberg reported that Americans now spend more on dining out than they do on groceries. 

Luckily, most of us were taught, by our parents and grandparents, how to cook and prepare a home cooked meal.

It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that my parents finally took us to eat at a restaurant.  Up until then, all our meal were eaten at home.

I might add, it was the first time and the last time my parents indulged us with dining out.

Although I do understand why so many eat out; I find it sad that most don’t have the time or basic kitchen skills to cook at home.

There may come a time when it is a becomes a necessity.  If not a necessity, ` than a tradition to pass down to each generation.