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Incredibly Delicious Bread Pudding

29 Nov

bread pudding with croissants

If you’re looking for a good dessert recipe for a holiday potluck, you’ve hit the jackpot.

This is an incredibly delicious bread pudding. I don’t make it often because it’s so rich; it’s in my recipe book as “Incredibly Rich Bread Pudding.” In fact, I think Thanksgiving weekend was the first time I made it because there would be a big crowd at the table and there wouldn’t be any leftovers.

I first experienced this dish at a potluck, where I ate much more of it than I should have. The recipe was originally from the a Barefoot Contessa cookbook by Ina Garten, where it is called Croissant Bread Pudding; I got the recipe from the guest who brought it, but every time I considered making it for a home meal, even with company, I’d look at the ingredients and say, “Nah, I just can’t do it!” because it’s that rich and fattening.

I tried making it with less calorific ingredients, like 2% milk instead of half & half, and regular bread instead of croissants, but it just wasn’t the same.

I’m giving you the recipe as I received it. I did make a couple of minor adjustments when I made it. I had large, not extra-large, eggs, so I used nine yolks instead of eight (but kept the original three whole eggs). I bought a quart of half & half, something I rarely use, so for the fifth cup I used lowfat milk.

I used an electric mixer to whiz the eggs, sugar, vanilla and half & half.

When you put the croissants in the pan (I used minis), you will probably have a few that don’t fit as halves. This is fine; break them up and stuff the pieces into bare spaces between the halves.

The recipe calls for a 10 x 15-inch pan. Mine was 9 x 13 and it worked fine. (I needed my larger baking pan for the water bath!)

It took closer to an hour to bake, possibly because I used a slightly smaller pan than the recipe called for.

This was a big hit at the Saturday-after-Thanksgiving dinner — and there wasn’t a crumb left over!

Ingredients:

3 extra large whole eggs
8 extra large egg yolks
5 cups half & half (you can use some milk if you don’t have that much cream)
1½  cups sugar
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large croissants or 12 minis (preferrably day old)
1 cup dark raisins or dried cherries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the eggs and yolks, sugar, half and half, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Set this custard mixture aside.

Slice croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 x 15-inch baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants.  Be sure the raisins are down inside, as they will burn if they surface while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow it to soak in. Press the croissants many times to insure that they soak up the mixture. Do this for 10 minutes.

Place the casserole into an even larger dish (or a disposable aluminum pan) that you will fill with a few inches of hot water to create a bath.

Place an aluminum foil sheet in a tent-like shape over the entire top of both pans; this allows the pudding to steam. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow some steam to escape.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set, not jiggly.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Serves 8-10 

 

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Natty’s Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake

12 Sep

Honey glazed chiffon cake

Last year at this time I came across a wonderful website from Australia called the Monday Morning Cooking Club. They have a lot of great recipes on their website and have also published a cookbook, The Feast Goes On, available through Amazon.

One of their signature recipes is this delicious Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake. It’s lighter than the usual Rosh Hashanah honey cake because it uses tea instead of coffee as the liquid and calls for whipping the egg whites.

The club ladies gave me permission to use the recipe (I adapted it slightly to meet American standards and terms) and this photo of Natanya, one of their members.

Ingredients:

CAKE
6  eggs, separated
175 g (⅔ cup) superfine sugar
275 (¾ cup) honey
¾ cup light olive or grapeseed oil
¼ cup strong black tea
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
2¼ tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

GLAZE

80 g (½ cup) confectioners’ sugar
½ lemon, juiced (or 2 Tbs. lemon juice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need an angel cake (tube) pan that is not non-stick and has a removable base. Do not grease it.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add half the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and the remaining sugar until light and pale. Add the oil and keep beating for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the honey into the hot tea. Add these to the egg yolks, alternating wet and dry, beating gently until fully combined.

Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture with a metal spoon, until just mixed through.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 320 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert it to cool by balancing the middle funnel onto a bottle neck. The cake will be dangling upside down. (If your tube pan has feet, or if the funnel is higher than the sides of the pan, you don’t have to use a bottle.)

When completely cool, run a knife around the outside of the cake and the funnel. Lift the base out of the pan, then use the knife to ease the cake off the base.

To make the glaze, add the lemon juice (a few drops at a time) to the confectioners’ sugar until you have a thick, smooth paste. Pour over the cooled cake.

Serves about 12

Creamy Rice Pudding

26 May

It’s almost Shavuot, that little-observed Jewish holiday where we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai by eating dairy foods. I could go into the reasons why, but that’s not the purpose of this blog. Suffice it to say, you may be looking for a  dairy dish to serve next week.

This rice pudding recipe won’t feed a crowd, but it’s nice for a light summer dessert, for Shavuot or any other time. It’s also a great way to use up leftover white rice.

Ingredients:

2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
2 cups milk, scalded (heat until bubbles form at the edges of the pot – do not boil!)
1 cup cooked white rice
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
⅓ cup raisins, optional
¼ tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg, or  a few drops of rosewater, optional

Directions:

In the top of a double boiler, combine the eggs and sugar. Stir in the milk, rice and salt.

Cook over hot water, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat a metal spoon (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in raisins and vanilla.

If you like, add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg and/or a few drops of rosewater. Pour into 4 dessert dishes. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 4

 

 

 

Lemon (or lime) mousse

21 Feb

lemon-mousse

This is a nice, light dessert that’s good any time of year. The only thing hard about this recipe is finding kosher unflavored gelatin, if that’s important to you. The recipe was originally for “lime mousse” and it’s really delicious with lime too — but I almost always have lemon zest on hand, and rarely lime zest.  The recipe is also easy to halve if you want to make less.

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup lemon (or lime) juice
1½ Tbs. butter or margarine
1 Tbs. grated lemon(or lime) zest
1½ tsp. unflavored gelatin
½ tsp. vanilla

Directions:

If you use fresh lemons or limes grade the rind for zest before you squeeze for juice.

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, half a cup of the juice, butter and 1½ tsp. of the zest in the top of a double boiler. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat.

Soften the gelatin the remaining lemon or lime juice and dissolve over a pan of hot water. Stir in the egg yolk mixture. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir the vanilla into the yolk mixture, then fold in the egg whites. Pour into serving dishes and sprinkle with the remaining zest. Chill several hours before serving.

Serves 8

Passover Chocolate Truffle Cake

3 Apr

Passover chocolate truffle cake

Passover is less than three weeks away (yikes) so you’re probably planning your holiday meals.

This recipe isn’t what I’d call easy, but it’s really yummy and it’s gluten free. You can kid yourself that it’s good for you because it’s made with sweet potatoes – which you can’t really taste, but which help make it lighter than most flourless chocolate cakes.

You can gussy it up more than I did in this photo by garnishing with berries and/or whipped topping.

Ingredients:

16 oz. semisweet chocolate, divided
1½ cups baked mashed sweet potatoes at room temperature (or use canned sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup plus ¼ cup sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. very soft unsalted butter or margarine
6 large eggs, separated
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Melt 10 oz. of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler and let cool.

Using a wire whisk, blend together the mashed sweet potatoes with 1/3 cup of sugar, the vanilla sugar or vanilla and the softened butter until well blended.

Stir in the egg hyolks and then the melted chocolate, mixing to blend.

In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer, starting on low speed. When the egg whites are foamy, add the salt and whip on high speed, slowly dusting in the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the sweet potato mixture and work in to lighten the batter. Then gently fold in the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites, blending well but taking care not to deflate the mixture.

Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes. The cake will rise somewhat, look dry, and have a slight crack on top. The middle should be soft but firm.

Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then remove the sides from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Chill for at least an hour.

Make the ganache glaze: Chop the remaining 6 oz. of chocolate. Bring ¼ cup of water to a gentle boil and add the chocolate all at once. Remove from heat and stir briskly with a wire whisk until all the chocolate melts and is a thick sauce-like consistency. Refrigerate for an hour.

Invert the cake onto a platter so the flat bottom faces up. Pour the glaze over the cake, using a spatula to even it out and spread along the sides.

Serves 8 to 10

Hamentaschen

8 Mar

HamentaschenI just bought a can of Solo pie filling for my annual hamentasch bake. With Purim coming up in just a few weeks, I thought I’d rerun my recipe for hamentaschen, which I offered you three years ago. It’s a winner! The dough is sweet but not too sweet, and you can roll it out thin.

The Jewish festival of Purim commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. The three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish.

My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver. In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis, Ida’s oldest child, called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen.” But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down and emailed her. In her response she admitted it the recipe not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “But I would love to see my mother’s recipe if you would be willing to email it to me,” she wrote. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it….I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

I think my daughter has begun making these as well, with help from her daughter, continuing the tradition.

Pinching hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Like my mother, I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

The recipe can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not stickyDirections:

Preheeat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

 

Gila’s Chocolate Cake

1 Mar

 

Gila's chocolate cakeParve or dairy

I got the recipe for this cake, which could be nicknamed “death by chocolate,” from Gila Semp. It’s very rich and moist, and it’s easy to make, especially with a stand mixer. And even though it’s based on boxed mixes, it tastes homemade.

Full disclosure: I made this cake for guests last weekend, but I neglected to take a photo! This one is by Emily Hill, via Flickr Creative Commons — and I like her addition of shredded coconut and sliced chopped nuts on top, though because this cake is so rich I often make it without the chocolate glaze, and just sprinkle with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Ingredients:

1 box devil’s food or chocolate fudge cake mix
5 eggs
½ cup oil
1 cup water
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (most are dairy, but you can find parve mixes in kosher food stores)
1 package (12 oz.) chocolate chips
1 package (6 oz.) chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, water and pudding mix together with an electric mixer.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into a greased bundt pan.

Bake 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Optional glaze:

Combine a 6-oz. package of chocolate chips with ¼ cup of boiling water. Stir to combine.

Add a little more boiling water if the glaze seems too thick. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.

Serves 12 or more