Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheddar Chive Biscuits - SRC

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Rachel Cotterill, who lives in England and has a great passion for travel and learning a wide variety of skills, from juggling to rope splicing.  She has authored a couple of novels as well. Impressive!

Rachel has an abundance of vegetarian dishes on her blog, and many interesting ethnic foods I had never heard of, such as Kalaalit Kaagiat  (Greenlandic cake), Pastiera Napoletana (Italian Easter Pie), and Baslama (Turkish grilled flatbread).

But when I saw these scrumptious-sounding biscuits (or scones, as they're called in England), I had to try them.  I'm sorry, Rachel - I had to call them biscuits because in my house, "scones" are sweet and served for breakfast.  I didn't want to confuse my children (or husband)!

I made them as an accompaniment to this soup and the dinner was a HUGE hit.  The kids couldn't stop talking about how much they loved the biscuits and how tasty they are, without even a smear of butter inside. (of course, I was thinking that a brush of garlic butter would be fabulous, but it's really not necessary).
The leftovers reheated in the oven beautifully the next day and were nearly as good as fresh.

This is a keeper recipe for sure.  Thanks, Rachel!

Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Makes a large batch - about 10 3" biscuits and 12 to 14 1-1/2 " biscuits

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour 
5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) salted butter
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
black pepper, to taste
3/4 ounce chopped chives (or other desired herb, such as rosemary, parsley, or sage)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (I used milk - and I didn't need quite all of it)

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Grate the cold butter into the flour and mix with fingers to make mixture with the texture of breadcrumbs.
Add most of the cheese to the bowl, reserving some for sprinkling on the tops.
Season with pepper and chives (or other herb).  Stir to combine.
Break the eggs into the middle of the bowl and add a little milk.  Start to pull the mixture together, adding extra milk as needed to make a soft (but not very sticky) dough.  Mix just until combined - trying not to knead it much.
Roll out the mixture to about 1 inch thick on a floured surface and cut with a biscuit cutter.  I made some large and some miniature.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little milk and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

adapted slightly from Rachel Cotterill 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

Okay, so don't hate me.
This cheesecake has a ton of steps and more than a few calories. I think I may have gained 2 pounds the week we ate it. (not a joke)
And, I made it for Valentine's Day and haven't gotten around to typing it up until now.

Y'all know I love cheesecake. Definitely more than the normal person.  I've made quite a few that I thought were top of the line.  But this one.......this one really is at the top.

Oreo crust, rich homemade caramel flavoring the cheesecake and a layer of extra sauce dripping out of the sides, smooth and creamy ganache, and mildly sweetened whipped cream topping it off.  
It's phenomenal.
The only thing that could make it better (for some people) would be some toasted pecans, making that classic turtle flavor.

I love love love this caramel sauce recipe.  I've tried several, with varying degrees of success (read: some outright failures, resulting in tears a few times) over the years, and this one was not only simple, but simply divine.  I did burn the first batch, but that was only because I walked away from the stove for too long.  So keep an eye on it.  But if you follow the tutorial (linked to in the recipe, it's fantastic), you should end up with a jar full of pure deliciousness that you'll almost hate to put in a cheesecake because you just want it eat it by the spoonful.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I am also thrilled with the stabilized whipped cream.  I can tell you that it stayed perfectly piped on the cheesecake leftovers for the entire week while Grant and I nibbled away at it each night - no drips, oozing, or melting.  But it still tastes like regular whipped cream.  I've wondered how to pull that off for years - probably since my first Cheesecake Factory visit.  Now I can do it myself!!!  Major score.

The only thing I should note about the whipped cream is that this recipe makes WAY too much for this cheesecake.  And I was very generous with extra dollops on top of each piece as I served it.  So next time I'll just reduce it in half (hopefully that won't affect the way the gelatin works at all) and hope for the best.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Caramel Sauce: 
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 Tbsp. salted butter
3/4 to 1 tsp. kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. water

1 Family Size package chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos), finely processed into crumbs (about 45 cookies)
7 Tbsp. salted butter, melted and cooled

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling: 
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup caramel sauce 

Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
8 oz. heavy cream

Stabilized Whipped Cream:
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar 

Step 1. Make Caramel Sauce
**See Baking a Moment for an awesome tutorial
  • In a small pot, gently heat the cream, butter, and salt until the butter has melted and the salt has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  • In a larger pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Heat over a medium high flame, swirling the pot occasionally to distribute the heat evenly.  
  • Continue to boil the sugar mixture until the bubbles begin to get smaller and it becomes amber colored.
  • Reduce the heat to low and pour in the warm cream mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps or crystals.
  • Immediately transfer the hot mixture to a heat-safe container and cool completely.  
Step 2. Make Oreo Crust
  • Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Combine crushed cookies and melted butter until all the crumbs are moistened.  Press into bottom and up the sides of springform pan.  Place in freezer while you prepare filling.  
Step 3. Make Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling
  • Heat oven to 300°F. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one a time, just until blended.  Add heavy cream and 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce; stir until blended.  Pour filling over crust.
  • Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from edge of pan but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly.  Turn oven off; open door 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen cheesecake.  Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. 
  • Remove from refrigerator and pour the salted caramel sauce on top.  Use as much as you want - but be sure to reserve some for drizzling when serving. Put back in the refrigerator while you make the ganache. 
Step 4. Make Chocolate Ganache
  • Chop the chocolate finely and place in a medium bowl.
  • Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges.  Pour over the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool about 5-10 minutes, until it's still pour-able but no longer hot.
  • Pour ganache on top of caramel layer and refrigerate while you make the whipped cream. 
Step 5. Make Stabilized Whipped Cream
  • Place 1/4 cup of cold water in a small sauce pan, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin. Let the gelatin soften and absorb all of the water (about 5 minutes)
  • Place pan over low heat and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Let it cool off the heat while you complete the next step.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in warm dissolved gelatin and mix until soft peaks reform.  You may not get stiff peaks, but it will be perfect for piping on top of cheesecake, pies, and other desserts.
  • Place whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a 1M tip, remove cake from fridge, and pipe whipped cream out on edge of cheesecake.  Drizzle top of cake with caramel sauce and sprinkle with flaked sea salt if desired.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sources: adapted slightly from Tidy Mom; caramel sauce with tutorial from Baking a Moment

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