Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ryan McGrale: Ultimate Mojito

Best part of the summer?  Sitting on your balcony/porch/front step drinking something cool and refreshing.  Preferably with alcohol.  And just enjoying the sounds of the leaves rustling and the cicadas buzzing and everything just being slow.  And the best drink for this activity is of course the ultimate mojito.  Full of minty-limey goodness and summery perfection.

Ultimate Mojito
From Ryan McGrale, No 9 Park

15 mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce Mint Syrup
2½ ounces light rum
1 ounce chilled club soda

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and Mint Syrup.  Add the ice and the rum, shake well, and strain into an ice-filled highball glass.  Top with the club soda and garnish with the mint sprig.

Makes 1 cocktail

Mint Syrup
½ cup simple syrup
1 cup mint leaves

In a heatproof bowl, pour the simple syrup over the mint leaves.  Cover and let the syrup steep overnight in the refrigerator.  Strain and refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week.

Makes 4 ounces of syrup

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Brown Betty Cookbook: Hey Thelma (Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Caramel Coconut Filling)

I must admit that I had never heard of the Brown Betty Bakery before I got the cookbook.  I mean, the place is in Pennsylvania.  I have no way of enjoying their amazing array of delicious baked goods.  And flipping through pictures is just a form of torture.  So I'm heartily glad I have the recipes now.

I've always wanted a German chocolate cake.  Not sure why my mom wasn't a huge fan, but we never made them or ate them when I was a kid.  So of course the first thing I had to make out of the cookbook was...essentially a German chocolate cake.  And boy, have I been missing out.  Toasted coconut + toasted pecans + dulce de leche = a kind of Heaven I didn't know existed.

Note:  For the filling, instead of cooking the sweetened condensed milk, I just bought a can of dulce de leche.  Easy.

Hey Thelma (Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Caramel Coconut Filling)
From The Brown Betty Cookbook by Norrinda Brown Hayat and Linda Hinton Brown

Vegetable Shortening
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon regular salt
¾ cup buttermilk
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup boiling water
1 recipe Caramel Coconut filling (recipe follows)
1 recipe Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed.

In a large bowl, mix together the buttermilk, butter, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla until just blended.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture in 2 batches, beating on low speed until blended.  Increase the mixer to high and beat until smooth.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in ¾ cup boiling water, beating until blended.  The batter will be thin.

Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To assemble and glaze the cakes, place 1 cake layer, bottom-side up, on a cake plate.  Use an offset spatula to spread the filling on top.  Add the second cake layer, bottom-side up.  Pour 1 cup of the glaze over the center of the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.  Chill the cake until the glaze is set, about 15 minutes.

Pour the remaining glaze over the cake and spread it, covering the top and sides of the cake.  Chill until the glaze is set, about 3 hours.

Caramel Coconut Filling
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Spread the coconut and pecans on 2 separate rimmed baking sheets.  Place the pecans on the upper rack of the oven, and the coconut on the lower rack of the oven.  Bake the nuts and coconut until golden, stirring occasionally, 10 to 16 minutes.  Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.  Pour the condensed milk into a 9-inch pie pan.  Cover tightly with foil.  Place the pie pan in a large roasting pan, fill the roasting pan halfway with boiling water, and bake for 45 minutes.  Refill the roasting pan with water, if necessary, and continue to bake the condensed milk until it is caramel colored and thick, about 35 minutes longer.  Remove the pie pan from the oven and stir the coconut, pecans, and vanilla into the thickened condensed milk.  Cover with foil to keep warm until ready to use.

Chocolate Glaze
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoons cognac

In a bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering water, stir together the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add the cognac and stir to blend.  Let the glaze cool until lukewarm but still pourable, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.