Monday, February 4, 2013

A Good Ol' Coffee Cake

When I think of coffee cake, I think of that Seinfeld episode where everyone's loving Drake's Coffee Cake. I don't believe I've ever really been a fan of coffee cake and may only have eaten it on the rare occasion that someone gifted it to my family. It's not something that I grew up on nor is it something that I would choose to go along with my occasional sleep-deprived early college morning lattes. I usually went with a muffin(often a bran muffin because I like to eat healthy or at least think that I do) or a croissant because they just seemed less messy by not having to deal with a crumbly topping.

One day a few months ago, my sister mentioned that she was in the mood for some sort of a crumb cake type dessert. So when a dinner occasion came up that called for or rather left open room for dessert since dessert is not typical in my household, I decided to make a coffee cake. My sister helped me make the topping and it came together very quickly.

The recipe is a downsized version of a coffee cake from the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook and to me, it seems like the dictionary definition of coffee cake. It's not too sweet, very cinnamony, moist, and as its name suggests, goes perfectly with coffee or tea. Since we were unfamiliar with coffee cake, the amount of topping/filling seemed like too much to us and so, we didn't put it all in, but it really isn't. It bakes nicely into the cake and gives you the cinnamon swirl you want running through your cake.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Makes One 8-inch Cake

3/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp unsalted better

In a food processor, process flour, sugar, 1/8 cup of the brown sugar, and the cinnamon until combined. Take out 1/2 + 1/8 cup of the mixture, set aside in a small bowl, and stir in the remaining 1/8 cup of brown sugar. Add the pecans and butter to the remaining mixture in the food processor and pulse until it comes together in small pieces.

6 tbsp softened unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing pan
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 + 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch cake pan with butter and line with parchment. Whisk 1/2 cup of the sour cream together with the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed until combined. Then, add the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sour cream and mix on low speed for about a minute and a half. Increase to medium speed for 10 seconds before adding egg mixture slowly as you mix. Scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another minute until the batter is light and fluffy.

Add about a cup of the batter to the pan, sprinkle with half of the filling without nuts/butter. Add another cup of batter on top and sprinkle with the remaining filling without nuts/butter. Add the remaining batter on top and sprinkle with the topping with nuts and butter.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting, removing the parchment, and serving. The cake may be served warm or at room temp. Wrap in foil and store at room temp for up to 5 days.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Coconut Jello

This recipe really could not be any simpler or quicker for a great tasting light dessert. Coconut jello is my favorite dessert at chinese restaurants, but I stopped ordering it just because I felt like it was something I should easily be able to make at home at a much lower cost. It was also a hit or miss ordering it in restaurants because it never tasted quite rich or coconutty enough to me, like they were trying to skimp on the coconut milk. Well, after my recent foray into jelly desserts with the Osmanthus jelly, I thought I would give coconut jello a go as well.

After scouring the available recipes for coconut jello, I settled on this one from HI Cookery and it was fantastic. It's rich with coconut flavor and sooo easy to make. If you include some of the possible add-ins, it takes a little bit longer, but it's still really easy.
Coconut Jello molded in mini muffin cups

Coconut Jello
Recipe from HI Cookery

1 can unsweetened coconut milk(13.5 oz)(I like Chaokoh brand)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup milk(whole or reduced fat milk)

In a sauce pan over low heat, mix the coconut milk and sugar until dissolved. Measure the 1/2 cup water in a measuring cup and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture into the coconut milk. Turn off the stove and mix in the milk.

Pour mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pan or a 9 inch pie dish to set. You can pour the mixture through a sieve if there seems to be any bits of undissolved gelatin. At this point, you can mix in your add-ins. They tend to sink to the bottom, but as the jello cools and begins to set up, you can stir it up to redistribute everything.

Let the mixture come to room temp before chilling it in the fridge for at least a few hours until completely set. Cut into squares and serve.

Cooked Adzuki beans, mung beans, cooked and rinsed tapioca pearls, shredded coconut, etc.

Add as much of the add ins as you'd like, but not so much that it's hard for the coconut mixture to come together. I've found that the tapioca makes the jello a bit firmer. I boiled about an 1/8 of a cup of dried tapioca pearls until translucent, drained, and rinsed them and found it to be plenty.