Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jams and Jellies!

In my first attempt at "jamming" we made three different ones and I made a variation of one a bit later. My goal was to do Jams and Jellies that would be good for Cheese for serving. I like the idea of these as gifts which was another reason I liked the cheese type jams because I feel like maybe not everyone needs another regular strawberry jam. Making these was super easy and I'm fairly sure any one can do it. Just make sure you pay attention and take your time!

You have to completely sanitize your jars and lids. This is unfortunately a great germ breeding ground. I just ran my though the sanitize cycle on my dishwasher and boiled the lids and rings until I was ready to use them.

They exist alot of places but I got some really cool Jam tools at Williams Sonoma. Including a jar funnel, jar lifting tongs and a lid lifting magnet. These help and come in handy for sure.

We used two different types of Pectin. For my pepper jellies we used a no sugar needed Calcium Activated Pectin called Pomona's Universal Pectin. This comes with some calcium that you mix with water for your very own Calcium water. You then add this and the pectin to the future Jam mixture. I got this Pectin at Williams Sonoma. One box has so far made 16 jars and I still have enough left for say another 4. For the other two we used plain old Certo Pectin which you can pretty much find everywhere you can get jars. Certo comes with a ton of recipes and I'd say that most of the jam recipes we found were made for the Certo Pectin. Liquid or Powder.

Links and some stories below!

Jalapeno Jelly

The Jalapeno Jelly turned out great! It was really simple and a really good one to start out with. I used all Jalapenos and added a little extra sugar so it definitely has some heat. If I made it again I would probably use some green bell peppers and green food dye. Just for the look, I don't know how much they would add to the flavour. But it's not super appetizing looking with Jalapenos floating in some goo. So I think the green would help. There was no call to strain the jelly which I like but I think alot of people think this jam should just be green with no peppers actually in it. This jelly is great on cheese and even just some buns... say those Jalapeno Cheddar Rolls.. Tried and Tested. Delicious.

The recipe I used was actually right from the packet! Certo didn't come with any pepper recipes but I've found a ton more on the internet for whatever will suit your needs and wants.

Here's the recipe:

This recipe makes 4, 250mL jars. It can be easily doubled or tripled!

1 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Jalapeno Peppers
1 1/3 Cup Vinegar
2 1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Pectin Powder
2 Tsp Calcium Water

*If you just want the regular green pepper jelly use 1 Cup of bell peppers and only 1/3 cup of hot peppers. Adjust to your needs though.

1. Bring the peppers and the vinegar to a boil.
2. Once boiling, turn down, add Calcium Water and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Mix the pectin into the 1/2 Cup of Sugar until thoroughly mixed.
4. Add the sugar-pectin mixture to the Peppers and Vinegar, stir to dissolve.
5. Add remaining Sugar.
6.Stir vigorously while bringing mixture to a boil once again and  to dissolve the rest of the sugar and combine.
7. Remove from heat after mixture has boiled.

8. Fill jars to 1/4" of the top. Screw on the two piece lids.
9. Put in pot over boiling water to cover.
10. Boil 15 minutes (or 10 minutes + 1 minute for every 1000 ft above sea level)
11. Remove from water and let cool. Seals will suck down while cooling.

These last about 3 weeks after opened, 12 - 15 months while still sealed.

Red Pepper Jelly

I made the Red Pepper Jelly a bit later on with my boyfriends Mom. She was going to buy some from Epicure and I'm sorry Epicure, I love you but its so simple to make!! So we made some that she wanted to share with her sorority sisters. Super awesome. We used all red peppers, probably a bit over the required amount but it made the jelly a little less "floating peppers" like my Jalapeno one. We used 6 Serrano Chili peppers in it to give it some heat. If I made this for myself I would add a couple more of those peppers or not seed them all. I seeded 5/6 of them because she didn't really want the crazy heat I would enjoy.

Recipe for this one:

This recipe makes 4, 250mL jars. It can be easily doubled or tripled!

1 Cup Finely Chopped Red Bell Peppers
1/3 Cup Chopped Serrano Peppers (seeded if you don't like as much heat)
1 1/3 Cup Vinegar
2 1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Pectin Powder
2 Tsp Calcium Water

Follow the same steps as above that I used for the Jalapeno Jelly.

Ginger Pear Jam

I had really high hopes for this one since I love the spice of ginger. We actually doubled the ginger and it still didn't make it all that "warm" I suppose.I won't lie to you. I hated making this one. We had to peel and core all the pears, which was alot. Then had to grate them on a cheese grater. My hands got pruney. It was horrible. The result was worth it though. Also I find it to be a little bit like an applesauce. Still another success!

Here's the link to the Ginger Pear Jam!

Apple Cinnamon Jam

This one was really hard. Maybe not hard, but it was complex. We ended up over cooking it slightly so its a little closer to a candy loaf or something. Still delicious though.

Here's the link for the Apple Cinnamon Jam, hopefully you will have better luck than we did!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

The name itself got me with this one. It's so long! How could it be bad? But I definitely thought it would be more complicated. I did the whole recipe, including cooking time, in just under an hour. Also, I liked that the ingredients were fairly simple and most people would probably have most or all of them. Understand that this was originally a Paula Deen recipe, there is no shortage on calories!

Since its baking I didn't change anything. If I made these again, which I probably will, I think I would add more apples. Just one more, as the apple flavour was really lost in mine, even though I used the stronger granny smith apples as directed. I don't usually use Granny Smith, since I don't really like them as much as other types of apples. I also found there was a bit too many oats and streusel topping generally. That may have been why the apples weren't the star at all. I also thought about making these with strawberries instead and maybe a thinned whipped cream drizzled on them instead of the caramel sauce.

I just bought my caramel sauce and drizzled on top before serving since I was trying to keep the recipe quick and easy. But making a caramel sauce while the bars are cooking or cooling wouldn't be too big of a deal. They did need about an hour to cool.

Here's the picture and recipe!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
(Adapted slightly from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)

Streusel Topping
 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
 pinch salt
 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature (low fat is fine)
 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
 1 large egg
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 pinch salt
 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the streusel: In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Use a fork (or a pastry cutter) to combine until the mixture becomes crumbly. Refrigerate while you finish making the bars.

To make the crust: Stir the flour, brown sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan (if the mixture is sticky, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes - it's easier to press into the pan when cold). Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown and set. Remove the pan to a wire rack.

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with 1/4 cup of the sugar until well combined and smooth. Add the egg, vanilla and salt, and beat just until the mixture is uniform. Pour over the crust (it's fine if the crust is warm, no need to cool it completely).

Combine the apples with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir until evenly coated. Distribute the apples evenly over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely, then refrigerate for at least a few hours. Use the foil handles to lift the bars out.

I drizzled the Caramel Sauce (store bought) over them after cutting for a decorative effect!

Makes about 16 bars (depending on how large you cut them)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mudslide Cupcakes

It was one of my friends 25th birthdays so what better than cupcakes loaded with booze? I found these on my favourite food blog -Tracey's Culinary Adventures and was interested right away. It was maybe a little sad I already had all the ingredients...

These were a pretty labor intensive cupcake compared to a lot of the ones I've made in the past. To me they turned out a bit dry, but they were a hit with everyone that tried them. Altitude has alot to do with that though, so I recommend only adding in flour a bit at a time until the batter looks good to you. Or to change your recipe when you make it again. Sometimes you just can't tell. I got 24 big cupcakes and 6 mini ones. With the full amount of icing (I doubled the Bailey's one) I used all of it minus a little maybe but I piped mine up nice and high too.

I would definitely make the boozey cake batter again. As for the icing, I agree with what Tracey said in her blog, I'd cut down on the Bailey's. It was waaaay too much for me. And I even put coffee in, instead of 2 TBSP of the Bailey's. I didn't do the swirled icing. Just the baileys flavour to have "equalish" parts of the coffee, boozey and chocolate flavour. I've also made the Margarita cupcakes she mentions, loaded with tequila, and these were definitely more intense.

But like I said, they were loved around the table.

Heres the recipe!

Mudslide Cupcakes
(Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup french vanilla coffee, at room temperature
3/4 cup French Vanilla Kahlua
3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Bailey’s Buttercream

1 Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla prepared coffee

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

Combine the coffee and Kahlua in a measuring cup.

Add the egg whites to the the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until foamy. With the mixer still running, gradually add the granulated sugar. Once incorporated, increase the mixer to medium-high speed and continue beating until stiff peaks form - the egg whites should be glossy, not dry.

Transfer the egg whites to another bowl and clean out your mixer bowl (or use a second bowl if you have one).

Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee/Kahlua mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3-3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the Bailey's buttercream:

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (it will look almost sandy). Add the vanilla extract and Bailey's and beat to incorporate. Once the frosting comes together, increase the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until smooth and fluffy.

I piped the icing onto the cupcakes one they were fully cooled. That's super important otherwise it melts away!

Here's my picture!