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Crêpes 101- My Trick to EASY French Crêpes!

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Crêpes 101- My Trick to Easy French Crêpes!

Buttery, paper thin crêpes filled with raspberry jam, topped with maple syrup, fresh berries and whipped cream is an amazing way to start your morning. Not only are these French crêpes a cinch to make but you can totally make them the night before. Re-heat them in your toaster oven wrapped in foil and they taste like you just made them! A real energy saver and perfect for all those holiday guests staying over.

The word “crêpe” actually means pancake in French, although they are quite different from the all American pancake. Now is it French crêpe or Swedish pancake? Well, they are really very similiar in the way that they are both paper thin compared to that well known Amercian pancake. Over the years I have found that French crêpes can be savory OR sweet while the Swedes like their swedish pancakes strictly with sweets, jams, ice cream or yogurts. The Swedish pancake also has a considerable amount more sugar in the recipe where as most crêpe recipe’s don’t have any sugar at all in the batter.

manicotti3My trick to keeping a recipe as easy as possible is knowing how to save time with a proven method of preparation without foregoing the quality or taste. That’s what I do with my crêpe recipe here, the order in which you whisk your ingredients in the batter is crucial and saves you energy and time so you don’t have to strain the batter! This method of mixing is exactly how I make my Homemade Manicotti Pasta Crepes.

IMG_2536If you are big on breakfast you will definitely want to try my mouth watering  Gourmet Frittata where you use what ever your favorite veggies are or my German Pancake that puffs to amazing heights coming out of the oven getting lot’s of ooh’s and ah’s! If your heading to lunch time try my Secret Family Zucchini Torta Recipe that also makes great appetizers! Another delectable brunch item to make are Homemade Gravlax, the best I’ve ever had, or my Pasta Fagioli that will have you going back for seconds! Hope you get to eventually try them all…you won’t be disappointed! Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients for French Crêpes- Makes 12 Crêpes:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp whole milk  (If you like them thinner add 2 tbsp milk…NOTE:  if too thin they will tear)
  • 2 ex-lg eggs
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • NOTE: If filling your crepes with sweets add 1/4 tsp vanilla, if savory omit
  • Maple syrup
  • Favorite jam
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Fresh berries, raspberries, blue berries black berries
  • Whipped cream
  • 8″ non-stick pan OR sauté pan OR crêpe pan

Directions:

  1. Melt 2 tbsp butter and set aside to cool slightly
  2. IMPORTANT: My Trick is – MUST MIX IN THIS ORDER then you won’t have to strain batter …saving time!
  3. Add flour and salt to a large mixing bowl
  4. Pour in milk and whisk until smooth
  5. Whisk in 1st egg until completely combined, then the 2nd egg
  6. Whisk in melted cooled butter until combined
  7. Tip for removing air bubbles – Gently stir the crepe batter with a large spoon to help remove any air bubble as these will cause tears in the crêpe
  8. You can make this up to 1 day ahead keeping in the fridge
  9. Put 8″ saute pan on medium heat
  10. TIP for EASY pan coating…Peel back one end of a whole 1/4 stick of butter and rub open end across pan just to coat right before pouring in ladle of batter!
  11. Right as you ladle in 1/4 cup of crepe batter QUICKLY lift pan off the heat and SWIRL to spread batter evenly
  12. Put pan back down on heat and cook for 35-45 seconds, then flip, 10 more seconds cooking
  13. Turn out cooked crêpes onto a dish or cookie rack
  14. They will not stick together
  15. OPTION: Cool a pinch and then stack them on top of one another and into fridge for the next day
  16. Serve warm crêpes with you favorite fillings and roll up or fold and then top with syrup, confectioners sugar, fresh berries and whipped cream …YUM!

Amazing German Pancake!

Amazing German Pancake!

This amazing German pancake is an awesome dish to make for your holiday guests! It’s festive and quite spectacular when your guests see how your pancake has puffed to enormous heights when you take it out of the oven. Not only does it make for a wonderful presentation but it’s made with little effort and can be served for breakfast or as a dessert!

A German pancake is really a giant popover. “Dutch baby” is another name for this pancake and rumor has it that the reason behind this name came about when a chef’s young child couldn’t pronounce the German word for German, “Deutsche”. Supposedly, this mis-pronunciation lead German Pancakes to the alternative name “Dutch Babies”. A couple other names that this German pancake has been called are “Dutch puff” and “Bismark”.

My kids get very excited for that moment when this amazing German pancake comes out of the oven! It has a bit of a custard like texture inside yet very light. We love eating these pancakes and have come to the conclusion that they taste like something in between a pancake, french toast and a crêpe!

My Vermont friends turned me on to this recipe years ago and I have been making them ever since. It’s fun for me to play around with recipes and see what works best so to this recipe I have added another egg, some vanilla and a little cinnamon. You can add grated nutmeg instead if you prefer. Originally, these homemade pancakes were served with lemon and confectioners sugar. I like to served them with confectioners sugar, real maple syrup, fresh blue berries and a dollop of my favorite “Wild Blueberry Preserves” by Bonne Maman, a product of France (sold right in our local market at Stop and Shop). German pancakes are so easy to make, taking on the same amount of time as making ordinary pancakes. The wonderful thing here is you are not glued to the stove pouring batter every few minutes.

Using cast iron is the way to go here because it holds in the heat evenly distributing it throughout the pan but I have made them in other oven proof pans and it comes out great. Some recipes have you pre-heating the pan in the oven, pulling out the rack, pouring in the batter, then pushing the rack back into the oven and in my opinion, this is a disaster waiting to happen since the batter can easily swoosh over the sides causing the oven to smoke ! The easiest way to start these homemade German pancakes is on the stove top and then into the oven for the duration. The finished product will make you will feel like a french pastry chef all day. This could also make for a great dessert to an impressive dinner with entrees like turkey stuffed peppers, pulled beef tacos & mango salsa or yogurt-chicken kabobs & tzatziki. Enjoy!

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Ingredients for Traditional German Pancake:

  • 5 extra LG eggs (or 6 large)
  • 1 cup Milk – cold
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/4 Tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp butter  -cut up into 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) COLD

Ingredients for savory German Pancake:

  • 5 extra LG eggs (or 6 large)
  • 1 cup Milk – cold
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup swiss cheese OR cheddar
  • 1/2 cup thin diced ham OR sauteed mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup green onion OR sauteed sweet onion
  • NOTE: If you are going the cheddar, sauteed mushroom & onion route add 1 cup fresh baby spinach too!
  • 4 Tbsp butter  -cut up into 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) COLD

Directions:  

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425º
  2. In a medium bowl whisk dry ingredients together
  3. Begin to whisk in milk, vanilla and eggs into dry ingredients just until combined …Note : it puffs more if your milk and eggs are cold!
  4. Put 10″-12″ cast iron pan on stove top on low heat for 1 minute –THIS WILL WORK IN ANY 10″-12″ OVEN PROOF PAN –
  5. Turn heat up to high on cast iron pan, wait 1 minute til pan is hot but not smoking, then add 4 Tbsp of cut up cold butter
  6. When the butter gets frothy add the batter, do not stir
  7. Immediately take off heat and put into oven for 22 minutes until golden and puffy
  8. NOTE: if you are doing “SAVORY German Pancake” …after you remove from heat top with your extra ingredients, do not stir, and place into oven for the 22 minutes
  9. When you take it out of the oven transfer to a plate with a spatula and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
  10. Slice into wedges and serve with maple syrup, warm fresh strawberry jam/sauce (Recipe BELOW) and whipped cream! …mmm!

Ingrediesnts and Directions for EASY STRAWBERRY JAM/SAUCE:

  • 1 lb. hulled and chopped fresh stawberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh sqeezed lemon juice
  1. Finely dice strawberries and add to a wide 8″ sauce pan with 1 cup sugar and lemon juice
  2. Over med/high heat bring to a rolling simmer
  3. Keep an eye on the mixture, keep simmering for 15 min. – make sure it doesn’t boil over
  4. Skim off white foam that accumulates around the edges while simmering as this will make the jam cloudy (its just air bubbles that form in the jamming process)
  5. Remove from heat and serve warm with German pancake
  6. Jar the remaining strawberry sauce and refrigerate as it will thicken into a jam as it cools! It will stay good for 2 weeks in the frig.

 

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These homemade chocolate crackle cookies will make you feel like a baker of fine cookies. The snowy white confectioners sugar and the chocolaty brown cookie dough make a beautiful contrast when the cookies bake in the oven and make all those crackle lines.  Now the inside is some what of a surprise when you first bite into it. By the looks you might think its a crunchy cookie. Then you sink your teeth in and that velvety texture hits your tongue, feeling lighter then you thought and then the chocolaty silkiness just melts away.

I have been baking these incredible chocolate crackle cookies for at least ten years and for the life of me I can’t remember where I got this recipe from. All my life I have always written down recipes that looked irresistible whenever I was in a waiting room with an assortment food or cooking magazines. So I unfortunately cannot give credit where credit is due. I did of course change the recipe a pinch with the baking time and chocolate used. It originally said 12-15 minutes but I only bake them for eight minutes with a five minute waiting period before I move them off the cookie sheet to a cooling rack this way they can solidify a bit more. Shortening the cooking time gives them softer, gooier center that melts in your mouth rather then a slightly firmer cookie. I use the confection on my oven because the bottom of my oven runs really hot on “bake” not being conducive for even cooking. The hot air circulates in confection mode in my oven giving a more consistent outcome. As for the chocolate, the recipe had called for Verona chocolate which might be difficult to find last minute so I have been using my Ghiradelli bittersweet or Perugina chocolate bars and those are both scrumptious!

This homemade gourmet chocolate crackle cookie just may become a holiday tradition for you and your family too. Easy to make, oh so chocolaty and melts in your mouth! What more could you ask for in a cookie? Hope you enjoy the show 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick of butter softened to room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. bag of a bittersweet chocolate chips- Ghiradeli

Directions – Pre-heat oven to 350º to bake cookies :

  1. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and set aside
  2. Place bitterswewet chips in a pan over double boiler and melt – you can use a microwave – heat 20 seconds and stir and 10 more seconds and stir but be very careful not to burn the chocolate in the microwave
  3. Cream room temperature butter with light brown sugar in your Kitchen Aid mixer
  4. Add in 2 eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition
  5. Add vanilla and melted chocolate and beat briefly til combined
  6. Alternatively, begin to add dry sifted ingredients and 1/3 cup of milk all awhile mixing
  7. When completely mixed turn out dough onto 3 pieces of saran wrap
  8. Fold up in saran wrap and shape dough into disks, chill at least 2 hrs. – overnight
  9. You can also freeze at this point for a later date
  10. Take dough out and cut into 1″ pieces
  11. Roll each of the pieces into balls
  12. As you shape the dough into balls place them into a bowl full of confectioners sugar and roll around to completely coat
  13. After the balls are coated place them onto cookie sheet 2″ apart
  14. You will need to periodically rinse you hands to remove the dough accumulating on them
  15. NOTE: The dough rolls into balls the easiest when your hands are rinsed and a little damp
  16. Bake for 8 minutes on 350º
  17. Remove and let cool on the cookie tray for 5 minutes before you transfer the cookies to a cooling rack
  18. Let cool completely before to stacking on serving plate

 

“Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake”

“Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake”

ghostpeepstwoThe name “perfectly chocolate chocolate cake” pretty much sums it up right there although you won’t know how easy it is to make this homemade gourmet chocolaty cake until you give it a go! This incredible cake and frosting made from Hershey’s Cocoa Powder I have been making for almost 20 years now!  Once you see how easy it is to make these moist and chocolaty homemade cakes you’ll never go back to the box again! Besides on my blog you can find these recipe’s right on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa canister.

I was first turned on to the recipe by a mother-daughter baking team that I met about 20 years ago. They were professional baking contestants from the Midwest who had won numerous times. My quest at the time was to find the “perfect” chocolate cake and their answer was the Hershey’s Cocoa recipe. Not that the name itself on the back of the Hershey canister for this chocolate cake recipe wasn’t “perfect” enough I just couldn’t take the irony of it all so off I was trying out the recipe and baking this cake! It had such a lovely texture without being too dense or heavy. It was oh so chocolaty and moist to top it off. The amount of steps and effort put in to making this cake is pretty much equal to that of making a box cake so why would you ever resort back to making box ever again. You know me, I test other recipes to make sure I have the best and I always go back to the Hershey Cocoa recipe!

The Hershey’s “perfectly chocolate chocolate frosting” is one that should not be over looked either. The frosting is amazing and one of my favorite go to recipes totally blowing away that “canned” stuff with the plastic lid. I am really excited for these recipe’s to become a couple of your favorites too. You may find your friends and family requesting “your” perfectly chocolate cake for their next visit! I hope you enjoy the show!

You should check out my Green Goddess Dip & Sweet Potato Fries for an appetizer!  what ever you do DON’T FORGET TO ROAST your PUMKIN SEEDS! And how about some green ghoul Best Guacamole Guacmole Ever!  Or be creative with another dessert placing eatable eyballs on top a homemade Chocolate Meringue Pie!

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Ingredients for Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar  -(Hershey recipe calls for 2 cups white sugar)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey Cocoa
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder -(Hershey recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda -(Hershey recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp)
  • NOTE: I like to use 1 1/4 tsp baking powder & 1 1/4 tsp baking soda instead of the “Hershey” recipe that calls for 1 1/2 tsp for both because this produces a cake that is a little more moist because it doesn’t rise fully, and sometimes I even use 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp baking soda for a cake that has more of a pudding texture (not too dense or heavy either …just pudding like) Have fun!
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

TO MAKE GHOST CAKE THIS IS WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

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Find at “Michaels Stores” No. 1-3                                                                                                               Find at “Fresh Market” No. 4

  1. Ghost peeps
  2. Eatable eyballs
  3. Cookie Icing to write on small Hershey chocolate bars for tomb stone’s “RIP”
  4. Spider web stretchy candy (stretchy cotton candy-like) – stretch all around base & in between chocolate bar tomb stone’s
  5. Confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top to look like a dusting of snow!
  6. Hershey chocolate bars-small ones-write on back “RIP” with Icing in bottle SHOWN ABOVE
  7. Glue candy eye’s and anchor tomb stone’s to cake with the cookie icing

Directions for Cake…NOTE- I Bake My Cake On Convection:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350º
  2. Grease and flour 2 – 9″ round baking pans
  3. Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine
  4. Add in eggs, milk vanilla and oil and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes
  5. Stir in 1 cup boiling water til combined (batter will be thin)
  6. Pour evenly into cake pans
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes –NOTE: I ALWAYS take the cake out at 30 minutes!
  8. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes
  9. Remove cakes from pans, place on cookie racks to cool completely before frosting
  10. I cool for 1 hour then immediately frost the cake

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter melted
  • 2/3 cup Hershey Cocoa
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions for Frosting:

  1. Melt butter and add to lg bowl
  2. Add in Hershey Cocoa and vanilla and whisk til smooth
  3. Alternate adding in a tbsp of milk and 1/4 powdered sugar while beating on medium speed til smooth
  4. When texture is smooth add in more milk and powdered sugar until all is gone and it’s the thick creamy consistency you want