Saturday, February 23, 2013

Crunchy Chewy Curros with Dulce de Leche Caramel Sauce

When my friend told me she was having a Mexican themed dinner I couldn't help but want to make these puppies.  They have been on my 'to-do' list FOREVER so when the opportunity came up I jumped!  First thing I did was some research and I came across slews of articles and blogs on exploding churros ... yup, you heard me correctly... exploding!!  I got scared, so I started googling 'ways to avoid exploding churros' and found out that it has a lot to do with the temperature of the oil ...  if you don't have a deep fryer (like me) get yourself a good thermometer.  It will save you from this fate.

Unfortunately I made these in kind of a hurry so I don't have any pictures of the process, but I will describe it the best way I can.

Here's the recipe:  (I doubled it to serve 6 people)

1 cup water

2 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 quarts oil for frying 

1/2 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon for coating

Original recipe is posted here on

Step 1:
In a heavy saucepan, add your oil and heat to 375 degrees F.  Don't heat it more than that, or you will be the victim of exploding churros.  While the oil is heating, put the 1/2 cup sugar and the 1 tsp cinnamon onto a plate and keep it aside.

Step 2:
In a smaller saucepan add the water, 2 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil then remove from the heat.  Add the flour.  It will be a mixture that will look like mashed potatoes but thick enough to make a ball out of ... kind of like playdough.

Step 3:
I put this mixture into a cookie press with the small star tip.  If you don't have a cookie press you can use a pastry bag with a medium sized star tip.  I wouldn't make them too big or the inside will be raw while the outside is crispy.  I'm a little afraid of hot oil so I put some wax paper down on the counter and piped the dough onto that first instead of straight into the hot oil.  

Step 4:
Place the strips into the oil ( I did about 7 at a time), fry until golden brown.  When they're done, take them out and toss them into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Then place them on some paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Congratulations, you've now made curros!!

You can serve them with a chocolate sauce, but I decided to serve it with a dulce de leche caramel sauce which was ridiculously good if I do say so myself.

Here's the recipe for the caramel sauce:

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream (you can use half and half or heavy cream)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 can dulce de leche (I used Eagle Brand, you can find it next to the condensed milk)
1/2 tsp salt (if you used salted butter you can omit this)
1 tsp vanilla

Step 1:
In a medium heavy saucepan add the sugar, cream butter and dulce de leche.  Heat on medium.  Keep it on a rolling boil for 5 minutes ( you really just need everything to be melted together) and remove it from the heat.  Then you can add your vanilla.  There, you're done.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can change pretty much anything you like .. if you want it to be thinner, add more cream. If you like more dulce de leche flavour, add more.  It's extremely forgiving.  You can even add more cream after it has started to cool if you think it is getting too thick for you.... or more salt if you want to make it more of a salted caramel sauce.  Have fun with it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homemade Chicago Mix Popcorn

Ever heard of Chicago mix popcorn??  It's a delightful mix of cheddar popcorn with caramel popcorn.  Sounds weird, I know, but trust me on this one.  If you like the salty sweet mix, you will LOVE this ... if you don't .. well just use regular buttered popcorn and go for it.  Really easy to make, just takes a little time in the oven.  I used Paula Deen's caramel corn recipe as the base for the caramel.


2 bags cheddar popcorn (I used Orville Reddenbacher's White Cheddar)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (you can use salted butter just don't add any additional salt)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp kosher salt (you can use regular salt if you don't have kosher salt)

1 Tbsp pure maple syrup  ( optional)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Step 1:
Set your oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2:
In a large saucepan on medium heat, add the butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and maple syrup.  Boil this mixture for 5 minutes. Then add the baking soda and give it a good stir.

Step 3:
Dump your popcorn onto the lined baking sheet

Step 4:
Evenly pour your sugar mixture over the waiting popcorn and mix it around

Step 5:
Bake for about an hour, mix your popcorn around every 15 minutes or so.  You want your caramel to harden over the popcorn.  It's done when it has hardened.

And you're done!  Quick and easy.

Sugar mixture bubbling away
Ready to go in the oven
This is the popcorn I used

I call this picture CORNucopia  bah ha ha

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gooey S'more Cookie Sandwiches

The world is unfair to s'mores.  There, I said it.  Now it's out in the open and we can talk about it.  S'mores are delicious, everyone loves them, yet somehow they are only eaten once or twice a year when you find yourself near an open fire.  That's just not good enough for me.  I need my ooey gooey s'more goodness all year round!  Enter the s'more cookie sandwich.  Two soft graham cracker cookies, gooey marshmallow filling and a surprise soft chocolate centre. Enough talking ... to the sandwiches! (okay, I meant that to sound like 'to the Batmobile!' but it sounded like I was done talking to the cookies ... which isn't all together untrue)


Graham Cracker Cookie Recipe: (yields about 30 cookies = 15 cookie sandwiches)

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (as fine as you can get them)

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/3 cup white sugar for the cookie tops

Marshmallow Filling

1/4 cup butter

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp.  vanilla

2 Tbsp.  heavy cream

1  jar marshmallow cream (I used Marshmallow Fluff)

12  roasted marshmallows (details to follow)

Chocolate Ganache

1/4 cup cream 

125 g dark chocolate

Step 1: The butter and the sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the butter with the sugars together with a mixer (I use the paddle attachment for this, but use what you have).  You don't have to cream this for too long, just until it's all mixed together.  Creaming for a long time adds more air into whatever you're making, for cookies you don't really need more air ... cakes are a different story.

Step 2: Add the dry ingredients
In a separate bowl, add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and baking soda.  Give it a good mix (or better yet, sift the mixture).  Then add it to the butter and sugar mixture.  Mix on low speed and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl so that everything is mixed.  At this point it will look pretty crumbly ... don't fret, step 3 will take care of this.

Step 3: The eggs and vanilla
Crack your eggs into a small bowl or glass and add the vanilla to the eggs, give it a little mix.  Then add half this egg mixture into your crumbly cookie dough.  Mix on low to medium speed.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with your spatula and then add the rest of your egg mixture.  Mix again on low speed until it's all blended together and it looks like this:

Tip:  Cracking your eggs into a separate bowl will save you from having to fish out egg shells from your dough.  It also is a good way to make sure your eggs look okay before you add them in.

Step 4: Prepare the cookies
Time to bake the cookies.  Take out a plate and add the last 1/3 cup sugar (like in the picture above).  Use a teaspoon or a small scoop to help make sure the cookies are all about the same size.  Roll the dough in your hands to form a ball and then press it to form a disc.  Press the disc into the sugar (just one side) and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (if you have it) or a silicone baking mat (if you have it).  Once it's on the cookie sheet press the cookie disc down and make it even thinner, a picture of mine are below.  If you don't do this your cookies will be too thick and once you make it into a sandwich you'll have way too much cookie and not enough ooey gooey centre.  

Step 5: Bake!
Bake for 7-8 minutes.  If your oven has a convection fan like mine does, it will be about 6 minutes.  You will see the sides of the cookie turn a little bit brown.  It's better to under-bake than over-bake in this case or your cookies will be too hard and will make it difficult to eat.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool for about a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.

Step 6: Start the marshmallow cream
While the cookies are baking you can get started on the marshmallow filling. Make sure you set a timer for the cookies or you'll get so wrapped up with your delicious marshmallow cream that you'll forget.  Put the butter in your mixing bowl then, with the whisk attachment on, cream the butter.  You want the butter nice and fluffy.  Add the icing sugar and continue mixing.  When it's nice and smooth add the heavy cream and keep on mixing.  At this point you'll basically have a buttercream icing.

Step 7: Roast the marshmallows
Once your cookies are out of the oven, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and put the marshmallows on it.  Set your oven to 'Broil'.  Put the marshmallows in the oven for about a minute, until the tops are nice and toasted (see my picture below).  Keep an eye on them, they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt very quickly. Take them out of the oven to cool.  You can put another batch of cookies in the oven now if you're not done yet.

Step 8: Finish the marshmallow filling
Add the marshmallow cream to your butter/sugar/cream mixture and mix for a minute.  Put your roasted marshmallows in the mix and keep on mixing.  Once everything is incorporated, it's done (hooray!)

Step 9: Make the chocolate ganache
Since this is only going to be in the centre of the cookies, I used the microwave to make my ganach.  Put your heavy cream and your chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and microwave until mostly melted (about 45 seconds to a minute).  You don't want the mixture to get too hot or your chocolate will burn and nobody wants that. Blech.  Stir the ganache until it's smooth and then leave it at room temperature to cool.

Step 10:  Take a break
Your cookies and your ganache are cooling.  Take about 30 minutes to do something else ... or clean up the dishes if you're so inclined.  Just step away from the cookies, there's nothing more you can do here .... yet.

Step 11:  Assemble your cookie sandwiches
This may be a two person job, so if you have someone around that can help you might want to call them in now.  Put your marshmallow filling and your chocolate ganache into two separate piping bags with whatever sized tip makes you happy.  I used a very small round tip for the chocolate and a medium sized star tip for the marshmallow.  You can pick whatever you like.  If you don't have tips, just cut a small hole in the piping bag and go for it.  If you don't have a piping bag, use a large Ziploc type of bag and cut one of the corners off.

Working quickly pipe a circle of marshmallow filling around the inside of the cookie making sure there is a hole in the filling.  Use your chocolate to fill that hole.  Place another cookie on top.

Tip: this can get quite messy especially if your kitchen is warm. I put a cookie sheet in the freezer and when I was done assembling a cookie I would it in the freezer to keep the marshmallow from spilling out too much.

There you go.  You've now created delectable s'more cookie sandwiches!  Enjoy a sample ... you've earned it! 

This is the scoop that I used to portion out my cookie dough
See?  They're REALLY flat
Cookies fresh from the oven, just a little golden on the outsides ... perfect

My marshmallow army, waiting to be deployed
Bulls eye

Doesn't hurt to offer a little bribe when asking for help in the kitchen
Yes, I love you too  xoxo

Just try not to eat one ... I dare you

Things to try:  Add a little peanut butter to the inside of these puppies, if you like peanut butter, you'll LOVE it.  Or just do the chocolate with the peanut butter ... trust me on that one.
Blogging tips
Share on Tumblr