Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pickled Apples

This month the Creative Cooking Crew was creating...  pickles!

Embracing the cooler weather, I tried something a little different and tried pickling apples.  Since cheese goes as well with apples as peanut butter, I made some cheddar cheese crisps to act as a 'chip' for a salsa made from tangy pickled apples, crunchy walnuts, and fresh parsley.

Perfect for an upscale football snack or fun party appetizer :)

Cheddar Crisps with Pickled Apples

For the apples:
1/2c + 2T water
8T rice vinegar
3/4t kosher salt
1-2t local honey
2 sm-med apples
1t coriander seeds
1/4t black peppercorns

For the cheddar crisps:
cheddar cheese (I used an aged goat cheddar), finely grated
few stems of parsley, chopped
1-2T chopped walnuts

Heat water, vinegar, salt and honey in a small pot until honey dissolves.  Take off the heat, cover and let steep while you prepare the apples.

Julienne the apples and stuff into a jar (my apples may have been a bit large and filled a 16 and 8oz ball jar).  Add coriander and pepper to the jar, and then pour the brine over the apples.  Refrigerate at least 1 day before using.

Set aside some of the pickled apples to drain while you prepare the cheddar crisps.  Preheat the oven to 325deg and line a cookie sheet or baking stone with parchment paper.  Using ~2T of cheese, form circles on the parchment paper about 1" apart.  Bake for 10-12 min, until slightly browned.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once the cheese crisps are completely cool, transfer to a serving plate and top with the drained pickled apples and a bit of the chopped parsley and walnuts.

I imagine the pickled apple/walnuts/parsley combo would also go well on top of some baked brie.  Or tuck some pickled apples into a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and black forest ham!

Who else has ideas on how to use the rest of my pickled apples?

Check out Foodalogue next week for more inspiration to get your pickle on!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Frosted Carrot Cake Bars

While my most recent cupcake adventure went quite smoothly, I did goof on one thing- way overestimating how much white chocolate whipped cream was needed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  It went perfectly well with fresh-picked strawberries (as I had at the time, but it would go well with any fruit), but that only got me so far.

Enter these white chocolate whipped cream-topped treats: Carrot cake meets portability meets white chocolate.  Definitely a good reason to whip up a batch of white chocolate whipped cream, in case you needed one ;)

Frosted Carrot Cake Bars
adapted from Cookie Swap via use real butter
yield: ~2 dozen

These are best made ahead, as the white chocolate whipped cream melts on the warm bars and firms up a bit after a stint in the fridge.

for the crust:
1 1/2c whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
2T evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1/2t salt
3/4c unsalted butter, softened and cut into T-size chunks

for the filling:
2 1/2T whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4t cinnamon
1t ground ginger
3/4t ground cloves
1/2t salt
1/4t baking soda
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2T unpacked dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1t vanilla extract
1 1/2c carrots, finely grated
1c pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
3/4c golden raisins
1/2c unsweetened coconut

for the topping:
1 1/2-2c white chocolate whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350deg.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil, leaving 1" overhang around the edge of the pan.  Smooth out wrinkles and lightly coat with nonstick spray.

To make the crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Add butter and pulse until the mixture just starts to form a ball (15-20sec).  Transfer to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom.  Prick dough with a fork, then bake for 20-25min, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30min.

In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt and baking soda) and set aside.  In a large bowl, add the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla.  Whisk together until well combined.  Add the flour and whisk well, then stir in the remaining ingredients (carrots, pecans, raisins and coconut).  Pour the mixture over the crust and spread evenly.  Bake for 35-40min, or until the edges are caramel-brown.  Let cool on a wire rack.

While the bars are still slightly warm, add the whipped cream and spread evenly on the surface.  It will melt a bit, and that will aid in the spreading.  Once fully cool, transfer to the refrigerator overnight to allow the whipped cream to harden again.  If you need to serve these the same day you're baking, I would let the bars cool fully before adding any whipped cream.  Cut the bars and serve!

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