Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Pepper Pound Cake

Pepper Pound Cake

Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1999 ed.), pg. 168.

This Jamaican pound cake is a bit different from others that I have tried. The flavoring of allspice and black pepper give it a very unique taste. It is made with cream cheese and butter and has a fine texture. It is a breeze to make. I used a Bundt pan but a tube pan can be used. I served this with Grand Mariner soaked strawberries and a bit of cream. Very good!

3 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 lb. butter (softened)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
3/4 tsp. black pepper
1 TBS. vanilla extract
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
7 eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray or butter and dust a 9 inch tube pan or Bundt pan.

Cream the butter and the cream cheese with the salt, allspice, pepper and vanilla. Add both sugars. Mix well, beating for 2 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time on higher speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary. The mixture will be very light. On low speed, slowly add the flour, beating until smooth.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan and let it stand for about 10 minutes.

Bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean (my cake was done in 1 hour, Maida advises 1 hour and 20 minutes!).

The cake will crack at the top - this is normal. 

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a rack and allowing to cool completely. Let it stand 8 hours or more (overnight is good) before serving.


Monday, June 1, 2020

Biscotti Cioccolato

Biscotti Cioccolato
Source: Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 237.

It has been a long time since I've made biscotti. In Maida's book "The Brand New Book of Great Cookies", she devotes an entire chapter to biscotti. I've tried three of them (Palm Beach Biscotti, Macadamia Shortbread Biscotti and Barbara's Milk Chocolate Biscotti). All were delicious. In checking my dates, I see that the last one I made was in 2013! That seems inconceivable but there it is.

I was recently corresponding with a fellow Maida fan and she highly recommended this recipe which is from another book (Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever). This "Biscotti Cioccolato" was featured in a New York Times article. And my friend is right, it is fabulous with a rich, chocolate flavor and it smells divine when baking.

I was afraid to try biscotti the first time I made it but it happens to be very easy. It is time-consuming because you have to bake it twice (but hey, at least you don't have to blanch the almonds). It feels like a strange thing to do and I wonder how someone came up with the idea. Surely it was a mistake that turned out to be delicious.

1 1/4 cups whole unblanched almonds
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
2 TBS. instant espresso or coffee powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the almonds for 12 minutes and set aside. Line two cookie sheets with foil.

Beat the eggs with the brown sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts.

In a mixer bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, ginger, cocoa powder, espresso and sugar.

Place the chocolate in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and process for one minute.

Now you have three mixtures - the flour mixture, the chocolate/flour mixture and the egg/brown sugar mixture.

Place the flour mixture into the mixer bowl and add the chocolate/flour mixture and the egg/brown sugar mixture -

Beat in the nuts -

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Lightly sift a bit of flour over the top of the dough. Cut the dough in half.

Lightly flour all sides and turn the dough a few times and then form it into an oval shape about 10 inches long -

Carefully transfer the dough to the cookie sheet. The dough may be soft so do it slowly.

Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough -

Bake both sheets at the same time for 50 minutes, reversing the sheets about halfway through.

Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 275. Transfer the biscotti to a cutting board and cut it into 1" strips with a serrated knife -

Place the cookies cut side down on the cookie sheets again and put them back in the oven. Bake an additional 30-40 minutes, turning them over about halfway through.

Cool completely. If desired, you can ice one side of the biscotti with melted bittersweet chocolate ( a 4 ounce bar should be enough).

I iced about half of them and of course I liked the chocolate covered ones best of all!