Friday, September 25, 2015

Cocoa Sugar Cookies

          
    You know those really chewy cocoa cookies? Those ones that come in .99 packages at Stop and Shop; as a pastry chef I'm horrified to admit that these are my guilty pleasure. Please tell me I'm not the only one! It is slightly bashful to buy these when I bump into my foodie friends. So a recipe had to be found.
        Que my mother to the rescue! These are the perfect amount of sweet, meaning you can eat a dozen or so without realizing.

Ingredients

2 Cups AP Flour
3/4 Cups Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Butter - Softened
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

Next cream butter and 2 cups of sugar together, using an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and 1 egg. Mix well and add your final egg. Mix again until homogeneous.
Add in flour mixture in small batches until completely incorporated.

Place your dough in the fridge to chill. My mothers recipe says over-night, but i found an hour suffices. Or until the dough is nice and firm.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  Then roll them around in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes . I baked mine for 13 minutes and achieved the perfect chewy consistency.
YUM 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Singapore Restaurant Week

Never been to Singapore? Join me and the majority of the population.
But you're in luck if you live in New York, Singapore is coming to New York City! Singapore restaurant week is going to be an event.
There are over 20 events to attend; including Shake Shack with their own version of a Singapore slider which I am just dying to try. I can only imagine what they're cooking up!

Today -->27th
Starting off the Singapore fantasy is Singapore: Inside Out, hosted in Madison Square Park. I can think of no better venue to showcase this Asian culture.

check Instagram @snack_rack for updates 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pancakes stuffed with Nutella

   


         It always seemed strange to me that pancakes are a breakfast food. They're delicious fried cakes covered in syrup, but when I have chocolate cake for breakfast I'm out of line! You see the hypocrisy we're dealing with? All cake should be equal.
      So naturally I think we should push this envelope as far as we can people. I give you Nutella stuffed pancakes. Below I posted a pancake recipe from scratch, but feel free to use Bisquick.
Make these as often as possible until people realize that we're eating chocolate cake for breakfast...

Ingredients 
1 egg
1 1/2 Cups Nutella
1 1/8 Cup Milk
3 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

First take 2 Tbsp. of Nutella and spread on parchment to make a 3 inch disc. Repeat until you have the desired amount of discs, then place in freezer until solid. (These defrost quickly so keep frozen until you need them)

For the pancake batter whisk together dry ingredients. Then make a well in the center of the dry mixture, pour all wet ingredients in. Whisk together until combined and lump free.
Pour 1/4 cup of the batter on a nonstick skillet, take a Nutella disc and place in the center. Then top with batter until covered. When you see bubbles forming on the edge of the pancakes and the underside is golden, flip the pancake. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
Top with berries and syrup! YUM



Friday, September 18, 2015

DIY Pumpkin Spice Creamer

       Starbucks is detramental to my bank account, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Certainly non of us are willing to give it up though, that's blasphemy! Especially since the pumpkin flavors are coming back for fall. I mean they must be putting their own mix of nicotine and pumpkin in that coffee.
So I present DIY pumpkin spice creamer! This is in no way healthier, but it will keep your wallet nice and fat. Did I mention it's sinfully delicious?

Ingredients 

1 container Coffee Mate Bliss cinnamon creamer
1/4 Cup 100% Pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp. Pumpkin spice

Whisk all ingredients together
(if your looking for extra sweetness add maple syrup in teaspoon increments to taste)
Pour back into container and store in fridge for up to 1 week.
YUM!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Overnight Oats

       Lately I've been on an oatmeal kick. And my best friend found a recipe for something called 'overnight oats'. I was perplexed by how delicious this was and of course I couldn't stop doing just ONE flavor. So I made a few more...and ate them. But have no fear, these are far healthier than any candy bar your purchasing for your sweet tooth. So go ahead and eat! I wont tell.





Chocolate Cake 
1/2 Cup Quick or Rolled oats
1/2 Vanilla Almond Milk
1/2 Small Banana- Mashed
1/2 tsp. Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract  (Check side bar for DIY Vanilla Ext)



First combine your oats and liquid, stir to combine. Then add in all your flavorings! Give the mixture a good stir to combine all the ingredients. Cover and let sit over night. In the morning you will have the perfect sweet treat.

                                                              More variations!

Pina Colada 
1/2 Small Banana- Mashed
2 Tbsp. Crushed Pineapple (I used frozen, cheaper and delicious)
1/4 tsp. Coconut Extract
1 Tbsp. Shredded Coconut
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup


Mango 
1/2 Small Banana- Mashed
2 Tbsp. Crushed Mango (frozen or fresh)
1/4 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup


Almond Butter and Jelly 
1/2 Small Banana
1 Tbsp. Almond Butter
1 Tbsp. Raspberry Jam
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup

Monday, September 14, 2015

Beer Batter Brownies

     The autumn weather is almost upon us. I will personally be looking forward to stouts and pumpkin ales. So quite naturally I think we should mix these with chocolate!
      Chocolate and beer may seem like an odd combination, when they are actually a natural pair. I for one am shocked that there aren't more dessert beers on the market, but I suppose I am a little biased towards pastries.
      So for all your pumpkin induced fantasies this fall, throw in some chocolate or beer to really spice it up!


Ingredients

1 Cup Flour 
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
3.5 oz of semi sweet chocolate
1 Stick of butter
1/2 Cup of stout (or any dark beer will do)
4 Eggs
1 Cup Sugar 
1 Cup Brown Sugar 
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract 
1 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips 

Pre- heat oven to 350F
Melt the 3.5 oz of chocolate over a double boiler. While this is melting, brown your butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, pour the browned butter into the melted chocolate.
Next add your beer to the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. 
Beat together eggs and sugar, about 1 minute or until thick and shiny. Continue beating while slowly adding all dry ingredients and wet ingredients alternatively. Finally add the vanilla and fold in your chocolate chips. 
Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. 
Wait till the brownies are nice and cool until you slice them. 
Serve with a tall glass of cold milk, YUM!  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Snacking during Halloween

         Summer is over and we are all about to be launched into the holiday season. To start us off is the diabetics worst nightmare, HALLOWEEN! Even before October 31st I am tempted to buy that fun sized bag of Kit Kats, they are after all only 99 cents...
         
So I have compiled a list of snacks that will save your teeth and your waistband. I won't lie to you, this will not keep you from craving the sweet taste of Snow Caps. However maybe this will keep us full enough to curve the holiday sugar rush. Happy snacking! 

1. Sliced red bell pepper & ranch dip
2. Greek yogurt & honey 
3. Toasted almonds (please skip the almond milk and enjoy the natural crunch of this nut)
4. Pumpkin seeds
5. Raisins 
6. Dried apricots (these taste like candy)
7. Cucumber and - thick greek yogurt mixed with olive oil for dipping. FAVORITE
8. Apple with a slice of cheddar cheese 
9. Frozen yogurt dots (recipe to come)
10. Berries and cottage cheese 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NO BAKE Nutella Cheesecake

         I cannot stop posting fabulous Nutella desserts. And if you're interested in the history of this spread, read on! I am a history buff with a serious baking problem, so naturally I want to share little facts like this with you all.
         Did you know that Nutella was invented in Italy during World War II? Because of the war there was a shortage of chocolate and candy makers needed an alternative. With hazelnuts being plentiful, these delicious nuts were ground with the chocolate to help stretch the limited supply. However it was not the creamy spread we know and love today. In its original form Nutella was a loaf that was designed to be sliced and eaten on bread for an after school snack. But children were removing the chocolate hazelnut goodness and eating it plain; can we blame them? So Nutella was reinvented into the super smooth, super sexy spread we know today.
       So to make sure we all get a balanced diet lets blend this Nutella into a cheesecake. That way we won't eat it straight out of the jar...

Ingredients

8 oz. tub Cool Whip
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 (8 oz) package Cream Cheese
2/3 Cup Nutella

Crust
Dozen- Crushed Oreos
3 Tbsp. Melted Butter

In a bowl combine your crushed Oreos and melted butter. Divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes. Press down to make a crust.

In a kitchen aid bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and Nutella together until smooth. Add vanilla. Continue to mix until combined. Fold in the Cool Whip until well blended throughout and no streaks remain.

Pipe or spoon the cheesecake into the serving dishes. Chill before serving, about 2 hours.
ENJOY!



Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gluten Free?

    "Is this gluten free?"
These are the words I am haunted with as a Pastry Chef.

        Let me start by saying that people who have Celiac disease (intolerance to gluten) must avoid gluten at all costs. Ingesting gluten, in the simplest of terms, causes the villi lining their small intestine to die. The villi are responsible for absorbing nutrients from food; without them the body is unable to absorb vitamins and basic nutritional needs. If you do have Celiac disease eating food baked in the same oven as gluten products can make you ill. But we have been hearing the words GLUTEN FREE everywhere, so why do so many people suddenly have this disease? Well, they don't.
   
       Less than 1% of the people who claim to have Celiac disease actually have this terrible condition. This is in part due to the fact that the testing for this disease causes terrible pain. In order to confirm a diagnoses of Celiacs the patient must ingest a large amount of gluten. There are also food sensitivities, which are less severe but should still be treated by a physician. But lets not overlook the power of 'food fads'.  In the 80's everything was FAT FREE during the workout craze sweeping the nation. If we all weren't high from hairspray fumes, I'm sure we would have checked the nutritional information on those cookies. While there may not have been any fat in there, the sugar in the recipes were sky high. The food manufactures had to compensate for the lack of fat somehow! You were better off eating one normal cookie instead of ten fat free cookies.

       There are many people who choose a gluten free diet because they believe it be a healthier lifestyle. I'm finding it difficult to be politically correct so I'm just going to say that you're all wrong. Gluten is not harmful to your system, nor will cutting it out of your diet cause weight loss. Whoever started that awful rumor, I hate you and so does every other Pastry Chef.
So please enjoy your bread. Eat the cake. And relax with a big bag of tortilla chips.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Minnie's Chocolate Pie from The Help

       


        Immediately after seeing the movie The Help I had one unanswered question; what was in Minnie's chocolate pie?! Her infamous pie in the movie was a focal point in the story, but aside from that I'm simply in love with chocolate.

        Now I have dedicated more time than I'd like to admit to replicate Minnie's pie and created something I think the sassy character would be proud of.
It is rich beyond your wildest dreams! You'll only need 1 slice...but you'll want 2.
Let me know what you think!

Ingredients 

Pie Crust 1x

3 Tbsp. Cocoa

1 1/2 Cups Sugar

1/2 stick butter (melted)

2 large eggs

3/4 Cup Evaporated Milk

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Salt
Whipped cream for topping!


Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups AP flour

1 Tbs. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

3 Tbs. cold water

In a stand mixer combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and mix until butter resembles small crumbs (the size of oats). Now add water and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.

* This dough can be frozen for up to a week* 

Pre heat oven to 350F.
Roll out pie crust, crimp edges (whatever design you wish) and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Blind bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Combine sugar, cocoa, melted butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together until smooth. Pour into pie crust and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pie is firm.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Serve with whipped cream.





Friday, September 4, 2015

Milk with Chocolate


Here's a random thought I realized while making some midnight chocolate milk;
receiving a glass of warm chocolate milk is the biggest slap in the face.
Why don't you just hand me a melted Hershey bar while you're at it?
Or a bowl of room temperature lemon ice?

Here is the solution, freeze chocolate ice cubes and add them to your milk. While your chocolate melts, your milk will get colder and more delicious. Let's take it to another level and make this more adult with a little Kahlua. This tastes like a fantastic frozen hot chocolate!

Of course make sure the kids in the house don't start eating Mommy's chocolate ice cubes when you're not looking. Or maybe give them one if they're fussing before bedtime...
Try this instead of that glass of wine and unwind!

Ingredients 

80 grams dark chocolate
40 grams milk
40 grams water
1 shot of Kahlua

Break chocolate into small piece and put in a medium sized bowl.
Bring milk and water to a boil and pour over your chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, to allow the hot milk to melt the chocolate. Pour in your liquor and vigorously mix. Allow to cool.

Once at room temperate, pour into an ice cube tray. Keep frozen until needed.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

COOKIE BUTTER


I have a confession, I eat butter. Please contain your gasps of surprise!
          I came across this gem called 'Cookie Butter' in Trader Joes. Now I have only found chocolate chip cookie butter, but I do love having options. I made mine with Oreos and couldn't be happier with the results.

Ingredients

2 Cups Cookie Crumbs
1/2 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
Water (as needed)

Place your cookies in a food processor and blend until you have very fine crumbs. You'll need 2 cups of crumbs, so continue to add more until you reach that yield. Every cookie is different, with different sizes so you will never use the same amount of each cookie.
If you're using a cookie with a soft cream center, like the oreo, you will need to scrape out the centers. The cookie crumbs need to be as dry as possible.
Place cookie crumbs in a large bowl.

In a saucepan melt your butter over medium heat. Stir in the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk until the mixture is melted together. Start streaming in the milk/butter mixture into your cookie crumbs in small additions. Stirring well after each addition. Cool the cookie butter in the refrigerator.
                                           If you would like it to be more of a dipping consistency...

Once cool, stir in tablespoons of water at a time. Stir vigorously! It may look like the water is causing the mixture to separate, do not panic! Keep mixing until you achieve a super smooth, super sexy consistency. Store in the refrigerator and this deliciousness will last about 2 weeks. EAT FAST.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Star Wars Marshmallow Treats

   
107 Days. That's how long we have until the next installment of Star Wars. This may seem like forever and it is. You are not being dramatic when you get emotional over the new light saber design, or anticipate a new trailer with bated breath. I understand all too well.

     Thankfully Lucky Charms came out with Star Wars cereal. Marshmallows and Star Wars, I nearly danced when my brother brought this home. Now this is only a limited edition cereal, so they say, so I am forced to get as much use out of this treat as possible.

     Naturally my first thought is to add more marshmallows! So here we have a deliciously sugar coated treat that will make everyone a Star Wars fan.

WARNING: If you eat more than two of these, you may need to take a nap afterwards...or possibly need a shot of insulin.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Butter
1 package ( 10 oz) Marshmallows
6 Cups Star Wars Cereal

Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan and rubber spatula. Set aside.
In a large pot melt butter. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.
Remove from heat and stir in cereal.
While still pliable, pour mixture into the prepared baking pan. Allow to cool completely before cutting into desired shapes. These are best if eaten the same day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sangria Sunday...Sunday came more than once this week

It may seem simple, but I have actually have had my fair share of bad sangria. I know what you're thinking, its fruit and wine what can you screw up?
I'm glad you asked. The answer to your question is A LOT.

Most people just add sugar to wine. Wrong.  I personally prefer to sweeten this drink with more alcohol, this will punch more flavor into the drink!  Brandy works best, peach or apricot can be used in this recipe.

Next if you're making a white sangria, like this one, use white fruits. Fruits like peaches, grapes, pears,or lychee. Red fruits like cherries, raspberries, and strawberries compete too much with the light flavor of the Moscato wine.

Make a big pitcher and go soak up the last of  the summer sun!
Get your fruit serving for the day!
Grab a fork and fish out the wine soaked grapes




Ingredients 

1.5 L bottle of Moscato (I used Yellow Tail)
3/4 Cup Peach or Apricot Brandy 
1 L Seltzer 
3 Peaches- sliced 
2 Cups White Grapes 

Just combine everything in a large pitcher and enjoy!