Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

When it comes to cooking, I love to work with seasonal ingredients. Fresh fruits are one of my favorites, but it's hard to get through the winter with just citrus fruit! Now that spring is here, I'm going crazy with berries, especially strawberries. IMG_0109   Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta is a tasty little bite perfect for a Mother's Day brunch, afternoon tea, or baby or bridal shower. Crusty bread is brushed with melted butter and toasted, then topped with a creamy Nutella mixture, fresh strawberries, and fresh mint. Get started with your bread. I picked up a loaf of crusty French bread from the Chief bakery, but you can grab whatever strikes your fancy! Cut it into small rounds, and brush with some melted butter. Pop it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. IMG_0103 While the bread is toasting, mix up your Nutella mixture. Just equal parts whipped cream cheese and Nutella. IMG_0102 To assemble the bruschetta, spread each toasted bread slice with a spoonful of the Nutella mixture, and then top with finely diced strawberries and fresh mint. Mmmm, such a great contrast of textures. The Nutella gets a little melty on the warm bread, and the mint adds a nice touch of freshness.   IMG_0107  

Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 1 pint strawberries, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to broil. Place bread slices on baking sheet; brush with melted butter. Toast 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and Nutella. Spread over each toasted bread slice. Top with diced strawberries and chopped mint.

Source: adapted from Floating Kitchen

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread

Spring is FINALLY HERE! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the grass is turning green again. I love all the season changes of the year, but the transition to spring has to be my favorite. It's like the whole world comes to life again. I love to cook with fresh & light flavors in the spring time, and this Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread has it all. Asparagus, chives, and lemon bring bright notes to a cheesy flatbread that's perfect as a main dish or appetizer. IMG_0114 The recipe's not too involved... the hardest part is mixing up the goat cheese mixture! You can find this great local goat cheese from Turkeyfoot Creek Creamery in Wauseon, Ohio. Look in your Chief store's specialty cheese section. It's so good! Mix it up with a little lemon zest and some chopped chives, and it's ready for topping the flatbread. IMG_0105 For the flatbread, I used a simple naan bread found in my Chief store's deli/bakery section. You could also pick up a bag of pita bread or large tortillas. To assemble the flatbread, simply layer up all the ingredients - mozzarella, the goat cheese mixture, crisp pancetta (or bacon), and shaved asparagus pieces. The asparagus almost melts into the flatbread as it bakes, and adds a great layer of flavor. IMG_0111 When you take it out of the oven, add a few chopped pistachios for garnish, and slice it up. Pour yourself a glass of white wine, and you've got the perfect date night or girls' night meal.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

  • 2 large pieces naan bread or flatbread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 5-6 large asparagus spears, shaved into thin pieces
  • 3-oz pancetta, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 3-4 tablespoon chopped pistachios

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. In a small bowl, combine goat cheese with chives and lemon zest; mix until smooth.

2. Drizzle naan bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place dollops of goat cheese mixture over mozzarella cheese. Top with shaved asparagus and pancetta pieces. Season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake directly on oven racks for 10-12 minutes until naan is crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with pistachios. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source: adapted from Two Peas and their Pod

Avocado Egg Salad

Did you have a great Easter weekend? My husband, baby James, & I spent the weekend visiting family over in central Illinois, soaking up the beautiful sunshine! Of course, baby James has loved the extra cuddles with all his grandparents. Who can resist this cutie in his baby fedora?! IMG_0171 It always seems like we have an overabundance of hard-boiled eggs the week after Easter. I've got a great way for you to use up those eggs - Avocado Egg Salad! I've recently become obsessed with avocados... avocado on turkey sandwiches, avocado in wraps, avocado BLT's, fresh avocado with a spoon. When I saw this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad, I knew it would be a winner. IMG_0046 I whipped it up in about 5 minutes after church, and my hubby & I enjoyed it for lunch. It's packed with avocado flavor, the addition of lemon juice and green onions make it light and refreshing. It's delicious served between two slices of bread, on mini croissants, or scooped up with crackers. IMG_0040 It's a cinch to make - mash your avocado, then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, and then season with salt & pepper. That's it! The hardest part is boiling the eggs, haha. ;) IMG_0048 Enjoy!

Avocado Egg Salad

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled egg whites, chopped
  • 1 large avocado, ripe
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, (or sour cream)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • ½-1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste

Method

In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add the hard-boiled eggs and egg whites, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, green onion, and sriracha chili sauce. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on sliced bread, croissants, or with crackers for dipping.

Almond Croissants

I've got quite the decadent breakfast treat for you today - Almond Croissants. (No, we are not making croissants from scratch... I'm not that crazy! Though homemade croissants are on my baking bucket list.) IMG_0029 These would make a great Easter morning breakfast or a nice addition to an Easter brunch buffet. Heck, they'd make a great dessert topped with some vanilla bean or salted caramel ice cream! Day-old bakery croissants are soaked in a vanilla simple syrup, then filled with a toasted almond cream, and baked until golden and toasty brown. They are buttery and just slightly sweet... perfect when served warm from the oven. Start by making the vanilla simple syrup. Just combine some water, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl, and microwave until the sugar dissolves. IMG_0022 For the almond cream, combine some almonds with sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Then add some softened butter and pulse until smooth. Finally, add a few eggs and pulse until creamy and fluffy. almond cream Now for the assembly. Slice your day-old croissants (they need to be a little dry) in half; then dip each half quickly into the simple syrup. Dollop a bit of the almond cream onto each bottom half and cover with the top half. Spread with a bit more almond cream, and top with a few sliced almonds. IMG_0021 IMG_0023 Bake at 350*F for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and toasted. A little bit of powdered sugar, and they're ready to be devoured!

IMG_0024

Almond Croissants

Yield: 12-15 croissants

  • 12-15 small day-old croissants
  • cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar, for garnish
  • For the syrup
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the almond cream
    • cup sliced almonds, toasted
    • ½ cup sugar
    • pinch salt
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 large eggs

Method

1. For the syrup, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a small microwaveable dish. Microwave on high 1 minute until sugar dissolves. Stir, and set aside.

2. For the almond cream filling, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2/3 cup almonds, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the softened butter, and mix again until well-blended. Add the eggs; pulse on high speed until creamy and fluffy.

3. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

4. Slice each croissant in half sandwich style. Dip each half of the croissant quickly in the syrup, just a light coating. Place on baking sheet. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the almond cream on the bottom half of the croissant; place top half onto bottom half. Spread another tablespoon of almond cream on top. Repeat with remaining croissants.

5. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of all the croissant sandwiches. Bake at 350*F for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and toasted. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Natasha's Kitchen

Crunchy Chicken Bites with Celery-Carrot Slaw

I was first introduced to Pampered Chef about 6 years ago, while I was still in college. One of my friends had a Pampered Chef party, and since I enjoy cooking, I attended and had a blast. I came away from the party with my first clay baking stone - and I'm still using it today! At the party, I also purchased a cookbook, 29 Minutes to Dinner. Who needs 30 minutes to cook dinner, when you can do it in just 29?! ;) It was my go-to cookbook throughout my senior year of college... easy, simple recipes that were easy to prepare and pretty nutritious. I recently re-discovered the cookbook, and decided to share one of my favorite meals. Crunchy Chicken Bites are bite-size pieces of chicken breast, coated in a crunchy whole grain chip coating, and baked until golden brown and crispy. They are served with a side of celery-carrot slaw and a homemade ranch dipping sauce. IMG_9941 First, make the dipping sauce by combining some sour cream, mayonnaise, and a tablespoon of ranch seasoning powder. This actually doubles as the dressing for the slaw as well. Set aside. To prep the chicken, cut it into bite-size pieces, about 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, beat an egg white together with another tablespoon of the ranch seasoning powder. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to coat evenly. In a gallon-size zipper bag, combine 6 cups of whole grain chips (Sun Chips!) with the rest of the ranch seasoning powder and a bit of paprika. Crush the chips to smithereens and shake to combine everything. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, and shake to coat evenly. IMG_9930 Place the chicken pieces onto a baking stone or large baking sheet. Bake at 400*F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and chicken juices run clear. IMG_9936 While chicken is baking, prepare the rest of the slaw. Combine thinly sliced celery and carrot with about half the dipping sauce from earlier. Add a bit of gorgonzola cheese and mix to combine. IMG_9932 Such a quick & easy meal! The chicken stays nice & juicy, while the Sun Chips give them a bit of a crunch. The carrot-celery slaw adds a nice contrast on the side. I am thinking they'd be even better with the cheesy Sun Chips! Yum! IMG_9943

Crunchy Whole Grain Chicken Bites

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • For the dressing & slaw:
    • ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
    • 2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
    • 1-oz package powdered ranch seasoning, divided
    • 5 stalks celery, thinly sliced
    • 10-12 baby carrots, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese
  • For the chicken bites:
    • 1-lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 egg white
    • 6 cups whole-grain chips, such as Sun Chips
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. For dressing, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix. Set aside.

2. Whisk together egg white with 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix in a medium bowl. Add chicken pieces, and mix to combine.

3. Add chips to large gallon-size freezer bag with remaining ranch seasoning mix and paprika. Crush chips and mix to combine. Add chicken pieces to bag and shake to coat evenly.

4. Place coated chicken pieces on baking stone or baking sheet. Bake at 400*F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and chicken juices run clear.

5. Prepare slaw by combine about half the dressing with celery, carrots, and gorgonzola cheese. Serve chicken bites with remaining dressing (to dip) and slaw.

Source: adapted from Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner

Thin Mint Milkshakes

St. Patrick's Day is TOMORROW, and I've got just the treat for you! We always celebrate with Guinness Shepherd's Pie and Irish Soda Bread... followed up with a green dessert! This year, we'll be enjoying these Thin Mint Milkshakes. Cool creamy ice cream, blended together with creme de menthe syrup and Thin Mint cookies. If you are a fan of the famous Girl Scout cookie, you will absolutely love these shakes. IMG_9817 Funny story - I posted a picture of this shake on Instagram, and one of my friends asked for the recipe. She assumed it was a healthy spinach smoothie (probably due to the greenish color), and when I gave her the recipe, she was quite surprised! Haha. While this is not a healthy spinach smoothie, it is a tasty treat, and super easy to prepare. IMG_9812 To make the milkshake, combine some vanilla ice cream, creme de menthe syrup, and Thin Mint cookies in a blender. (If you don't have access to Thin Mint cookies, Keebler Grasshoppers work great!) Whirl it all together, and then pour into a glass and top with whipped cream! Easy peasy.

Thin Mint Milkshake

Yield: 1-2 servings

  • cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons creme de menthe syrup
  • 7 Thin Mint cookies
  • 2 tablespoons milk (optional)
  • whipped cream & additional cookies, for serving

Method

Combine ice cream, creme de menthe syrup, and cookies in a blender. Blend until smooth. (If you like a thinner milkshake, add the milk.) Top with whipped cream and crushed cookies.

 Source: adapted from Taste of Home

Lasagna Stuffed Portabellos

Lent is upon us, and for a lot of people, that means meatless meals on Friday. Fish fries are great, but sometimes it's nice to have another option. Lasagna Stuffed Portabellos are a unique twist on stuffed mushrooms. When I think stuffed mushrooms, I think of the typical appetizer-portioned mushrooms stuffed with a mixture of sausage, cheese, and garlic. Lasagna Stuffed Portabellos are similar, but on a much larger scale. Oversize portabello mushroom caps are stuffed with a ricotta cheese mixture that is very similar to lasagna filling. They're topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, and roasted until tender and the cheese is melted. Surprisingly, they were quite filling as an entree! They reminded me a lot of lasagna, just without the noodles. (Which also makes them a great low-carb or gluten-free entree as well.) Start by prepping the mushroom caps. Remove the stems and scrape out all the gills, and place the mushrooms on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of garlic oil and roast at 425*F for 10 minutes to release some of the moisture. If any excess water has pooled around or inside the mushrooms, blot it dry with a paper towel. IMG_9648 While the mushrooms are roasting, prepare the cheesy filling. It's just a mix of ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella cheese, egg, spinach, and some Italian spices (basil, oregano, and parsley.) Spoon a portion of the cheese mixture into each mushroom cap; then, top with tomato sauce and more mozzarella cheese. IMG_9649 IMG_9650 Return the mushrooms to the oven and bake another 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts. Delish! IMG_9652 Serve the mushrooms alongside cooked noodles with a salad and garlic bread. Searching for other great meatless meals? Look no further!

Lasagna Stuffed Portabellos

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 6 large portabello mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¾ cup finely chopped spinach
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup tomato sauce

Method

1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and scrape the gills from the cap and discard. Place the mushrooms stem-side up on the baking sheet. Combine olive oil with minced garlic; drizzle over mushroom caps. Season with salt & pepper. Roast 10 minutes and remove from oven. Use a paper towel to blot away any moisture that has collected inside or underneath the mushroom.

2. While the mushroom caps roast, make the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, Parmesan, 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, basil, oregano, and parsley. Spoon mixture evenly into the mushroom caps. Top each mushroom with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

3. Bake 10-15 minutes longer until cheese is golden and the filling is warmed through.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

White Chicken Chili

Back in high school, one of my favorite restaurants used to be Ruby Tuesday. (I still like it, it's just not my favorite.) They have an 'endless garden bar' that is quite tasty, and my mom and I would go for their soup & salad meal deal for just $5.99. What a steal! We would take as many trips to the salad bar as we wanted, and we would both get a steaming hot bowl of their White Chicken Chili. Full of meaty chicken pieces, white beans, and spicy green chiles, it was definitely a favorite. IMG_9618 Unfortunately, Ruby Tuesday has since replaced the White Chicken Chili with a much inferior Chicken Tortilla soup... sad day for us. (Also - the garden bar + soup deal is now $8.99! Not such a great deal anymore!) Luckily, I've discovered a pretty close copy cat recipe, and now I can enjoy it anytime at home. It's just a bit spicy, so if you're not a fan of the spice, dial back the cayenne pepper. Bonus? This recipe makes a LARGE pot of soup, so if you're like me, you'll love eating the leftovers all week. It's one of those recipes that gets better the day or two after you make it. Make it a complete meal by serving with cheese quesadilla wedges, cornbread, or tortilla chips. Start by cooking about 2-lbs of cubed chicken breast until tender. Set aside. IMG_9612 Saute a diced onion in the same saucepan until softened. Then, add a whole slew of spices - garlic, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Saute about 30 seconds to bring out the flavor; then, add chicken stock, white beans, the cooked chicken pieces, and chopped green chiles. IMG_9614 IMG_9615 At this point, let it simmer about 20-30 minutes. It will look like sludge, but trust me, it gets better! After it's simmered for awhile, add in the sour cream and heavy cream and stir to combine. Now it becomes a creamy, delicious chili! Serve with additional sour cream, green onions, and shredded cheese.

IMG_9618

White Chicken Chili

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 (16-oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 (8-oz) cans diced green chiles
  • cups sour cream
  • ½-1 cup heavy cream
  • chopped green onions, for garnish
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • additional sour cream, for garnish

Method

1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil (if necessary) to the pan along with the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne and sauté 30-60 seconds more, just until fragrant.

2. Return the chicken to the pan along with the beans, chicken stock, and green chiles. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

3. When the chili is finished simmering, remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream and heavy cream.Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve warm, garnished with chopped green onions, cheddar cheese, and additional sour cream.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Bananas Foster Pancakes

Mardi Gras is in full swing down in New Orleans, so we're doing a little Fat Tuesday celebrating in our household! I love any excuse to cook a themed meal - because cooking should be fun! Bananas Foster is a dessert that originated in New Orleans in the 1950s. Bananas are caramelized in a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes dark rum. They're usually served over vanilla ice cream, but I decided to turn it into a breakfast treat! IMG_9515 My father-in-law makes the best buttermilk pancakes, and I knew they would taste even better with a bananas foster topping. Definitely kicked it up a notch! This fancy breakfast came together really fast - less than 20 minutes start to finish. First, start the bananas foster by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan. Then, add some brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let it simmer until it thickens slightly. IMG_9507 While the sauce is simmering, mix up your favorite pancake batter. (My father-in-law's best pancake recipe is below.) Go ahead and cook your pancakes while you finish the sauce. This would also be good on top of French toast or waffles, if that's more your style. IMG_9509 After the sauce has thickened slightly, slice up 4 bananas and add to the pan. Let them cook another 3-5 minutes on low, until coated with the sauce and caramelized. Add a few chopped pecans if nuts are your thing! IMG_9514 To serve, simply top the pancakes with the bananas foster, and enjoy! A sweet, indulgent treat to start your day. (They call it Fat Tuesday for a reason! ;) )

Bananas Foster Topping 

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 medium bananas, sliced
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, optional

Method

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cook 3-5 minutes until golden and bubbly. Add banana slices and pecans, if using. Cook another 3-5 minutes until bananas are caramelized. Serve on top of pancakes, waffles, or French toast.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Yield: 14-16 pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add to flour mixture all at once. Stir mixture just till blended but still slightly lumpy.

2. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each standard size pancake onto a hot (350 degrees if using an electric skillet or medium heat on the stove), lightly greased electric skillet or heavy skillet.

3. Cook until pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and slightly dry edges.

Source: family favorite

Baked Alaska

Last week, I shared a perfect "Date Night In" dinner recipe for Valentine's Day - Drunken Chicken Marsala. This week, I've got the perfect dessert to follow it with... Baked Alaska! Flourless chocolate cake is topped with your favorite ice cream, and the whole thing is covered in meringue and toasted until it's a beautiful golden brown. Rich chocolatey cake, creamy ice cream, and marshmallow-y meringue? Who wouldn't fall in love with this dessert? IMG_9384 I will admit, there are several steps, mostly to the cake. Flourless chocolate cake is quite a fancy-pants dessert, often seen in high end restaurants. It's rich and decadently fudgy, plus it's gluten-free. (If you don't want to mess with the flourless chocolate cake, a boxed brownie mix would probably taste good as well.) Here we go! For the cake, begin by melting 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate, in the microwave or over a double boiler. My favorite is Ghirardelli. (Use a big bowl, because this will be the bowl that everything eventually goes into.) Set aside to cool. IMG_9363 In small bowl, add 15 tablespoons of softened butter. Stir it up with a wooden spoon or spatula until it's smooth and creamy, almost the consistency of mayonnaise. (You might get a workout!) Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and mix until smooth. Set this aside. IMG_9364 In another small bowl, combine 3 egg yolks (save the whites!) with 1 egg and 1/3 cup sugar. Whisk until smooth. IMG_9365 In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, place the egg whites you saved from earlier. Whip them until soft peaks form; then add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. IMG_9368 Now you've got your four bowls of different batters ready to go. Here's how they get all mixed together. IMG_9369 1.) Mix the butter into the melted chocolate until smooth. 2.) Mix the egg yolks/sugar mixture into the chocolate/butter mixture until smooth. 3.) Fold a small portion of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it; then fold in the remaining egg whites until thoroughly combined. Whew! The batter is finally done. Spread it into a greased 9-inch springform pan, and bake at 325*F for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Set aside to cool, then place in the refrigerator or freezer. (I made the cake a day ahead and stored it in the refrigerator so it was easier to handle.) Once the cake cools, it forms almost a bowl - perfect for the ice cream! IMG_9373 Next step - the ice cream. Remove the flourless chocolate cake from the refrigerator or freezer and remove it from the baking pan. Soften up 2 pints of your favorite ice cream, and spoon the softened ice cream into the center of the cake, doming it up toward the middle. (I used 'Cherry Garcia' to go with the Valentine's Day theme. Though I thought the ice cream would be more pink!) Return the cake and ice cream to the freezer to firm up again, at least 1 hour. IMG_9376 IMG_9380 When you're ready to serve, whip up the meringue. Place 3 more egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, whipping until stiff and glossy. Spread over the ice cream and down to the edge of the cake, making sure to seal the edges. Then, using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the meringue until toasty. Alternately, if you don't have a torch, place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Cut into wedges to serve. IMG_9392 Mmmmm, what a showstopper dessert. My husband and I loved this... what a great dessert for Valentine's Day!

Baked Alaska

  • For the cake:
    • 4 large eggs
    • 8-oz bittersweet chocolate , coarsely chopped
    • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • cup, plus 1/4 cup sugar
    • pinch salt
  • For the ice cream filling:
    • 2 pints your favorite flavor premium ice cream, softened until spreadable
  • For the meringue:
    • 3 egg whites
    • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • ¾ cup sugar

Method

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325*F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment, and spray with cooking spray.

2. Separate 3 of the eggs. Place the 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg in a small bowl. Set aside. Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.

3. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool 5 minutes.

4. Place the butter into a medium bowl and work it with a spatula until it is soft and smooth as mayonnaise. Add the cocoa powder and mix until it is thoroughly blended.

5. Add 1/3 cup sugar to the bowl with the egg and 3 yolks; whisk until mixture thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

6. Whip the egg whites and salt, using the whisk attachment or hand mixer until opaque. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to whip at high speed until the whites form shiny peaks.

7. Now it’s time to mix everything together. Add the butter mixture to the bowl of still-warm chocolate. With a spatula, gently stir and blend until you have a thick, shiny, smooth mixture. Blend in the egg yolk/sugar mixture, stirring until they are completely incorporated and the mixture looks like brownie batter. Finally, fold in a small amount of the whipped egg whites to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrap the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8. Bake at 325*F for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. Cool the cake completely to room temperature. Remove the cake from the springform pan and refrigerate or freeze at least 2 hours.

9. When you are ready to fill the cake, remove it from the refrigerator or freezer. Spread the softened ice cream into the cake and dome it up in the center. Return to freezer for at least 1 hour.

10. To make the meringue, combine the 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continuing to whip on ugh until the egg whites have formed stiff and glossy peaks.

11. Remove the cake from the freezer, and spread the meringue over the ice cream layer, taking care to seal off the edges.

12. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, or place in a 500*F oven for 3-5 minutes until the meringue is browned.

Source: adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan