Showing posts with label maple syrup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maple syrup. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

Chestnut Cake with Maple Icing

I’m going to call this my snowstorm cake. Not because it looks like a snowstorm (although a dusting of confectioner’s sugar could take care of that pretty fast) but because I was snowed in all day this past Sunday (17.6 inches!), and I wanted to bake.

I had all the necessities—flour, butter, eggs—but I wanted to experiment with nuts. Except I forgot that my daughter had cleaned out my nut supply over the holidays when she was visiting. Which left one lonely little package of . . . chestnuts?



I have never cooked with chestnuts. I bought the package because I’d never seen it for sale before. Why not give it a shot? I set out to find a recipe for something baked that included chestnuts.

I came up with some odd and interesting ideas, both sweet and savory, but the only one that grabbed my attention was a 1999 recipe from Bon Appetit (I used to love that magazine!) for a cake flavored with maple syrup. Aha! I had plenty of maple syrup (which I bought in Granby, Massachusetts, from the Parker family, whose sugar house I visited because I always wanted to see how maple syrup was made). So I was off to the races.

As you may have noticed, we here at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen seldom leave a recipe alone—we tinker with it, we swap out ingredients, and we have fun. That’s true in this case. The original recipe called for mashing up half the chestnuts and combining them with some of the other ingredients. I tried, really, I did. These chestnuts, soft and lovely though they might be, would not mash. I gave up and just threw the chopped bits in (the other half of them get scattered on top but then disappear into the batter). It all came out fine.

And wait until you get to the icing part—it’s wicked! And easy.


Chestnut Cake with Maple Glaze

For the Cake:


1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-3/4 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (12 oz) or jarred chestnuts (8 oz)
3/4 cup plus 1 Tblsp light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (real) maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8x8x2 baking pan. [Confession: I don’t have one, so I used a 9" springform pan, which is roughly the same volume. It worked fine.)

Sift together the dry ingredients.

Coarsely chop the chestnuts. Split into two equal parts.

The chestnuts (they are peeled)
A single chestnut
The chestnuts, chopped

Mix 3/4 cup brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer, or mix with hand-held mixer. Beat until well-blended.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each.

Beat in flour mixture. Stir in half the chopped chestnuts.



Spread the batter in the pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chopped chestnuts, and the extra Tblsp of brown sugar.

Ready for the oven

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack.

Baked

For the Icing:


3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 Tblsp maple syrup

In a small bowl, blend the powdered sugar, melted butter and maple syrup and beat until there are no lumps and the icing forms thick ribbons.

Pour over the cooled cake.

Let stand until icing is set (about 20 minutes).


My verdict? The chestnuts have a mild pleasant flavor and add an interesting chewy texture to the cake. I would make this one again, if I ever find a package (or a jar or can?) of chestnuts again. The icing I would eat with a spoon any time!



In case you haven't heard, I'll be starting a new Victorian Village series--the first book will come out in 2018. It's so new, there are no pretty pictures yet! It's about a magnificent mansion that hasn't been touched for a century, in a small town that's desperate for a new venture to bring in tourist dollars and keep the town alive--and the woman who comes up with an idea to save the town.

But before that, Cruel Winter! Coming March 14th.


Yes, it does snow in Ireland! Spoiler alert: the snow melts.

Find it for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

www.sheilaconnolly.com




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon puff pastry tart


Mmm. This seems to have most of our favorite foods (except chocolate!) in one recipe.  We felt we couldn't lose and we were right.




You may remember our previous tarts with purchased frozen puff pastry. Many of us here at MLK have recipes for puff pastry treats. But there is always the issue of what to do with the half of the puff pastry that remains.  So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a lovely looking tart in the village tea house and caterer’s display.  Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon.  Yum! 



Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon puff pastry tart: it needs no argument in its favor.
Ingredients:
1 sheet (½ package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large sweet potato, cut in chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 slices hickory smoked bacon (or your favorite)
2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp thyme
Sea salt

Toss sweet potato chunks in olive oil and top with thyme, and sea salt. Roast sweet potato in 375 oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until tender.  Short of time? Just boil it up or even make ahead. 
Cool and mash.


Preheat oven to 425 F.  Unroll puff pastry and place on a baking tray and cover the top with parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes or until nice and golden.  Remove from oven and discard paper. Leave oven on.


Spread mashed sweet potato over pastry. 


 Don’t go right to the end, leave a half inch or so border.
Trim bacon to fit width of pastry. As you can see, ours was a bit too short - next time (and there will be a next time, we'll take it a bit further to pervent curling.  Lay ten or so slices overlapping until the pastry is covered. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  


Remove and brush tart (and bacon) with maple syrup.  Return to oven for about 10 minutes, until bacon seems cooked and tart is rich golden color.  Keep an eye: it can burn at this temperature.





Remove and add a bit more maple syrup if that suits you.  Cut in four and serve.  

Confession time: two of us ate the entire thing.  It was delicious and we will certainly do it again.  We’ll do the sweet potatoes ahead of time in future: that was it’s a nice easy way to do brunch or lunch with a green salad.  Or do what we did and treat it as a pizza with pizzazz!


The shadowy body known as VICTORIA ABBOTT is collaboration between artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane, author of three mystery series.  Together they write the book collector mysteries.  








 By the way, we  (THAT'S VICTORIA ABBOTT) are very excited that THE MARSH MADNESS isshortlisted for a Bony Blithe Award, for 'mysteries that make us smile'.




We think THE MARSH MADNESS might make YOU smile. If you haven't read it yet, it's easy to get!  HERE  Or ask your favorite bookseller.  

And if you have read it, then keep in mind that THE HAMMETT HEX is now ready for pre-order.




Or wherever you like to order books!





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How to Make Perfect Coffee Bacon with Maple-Espresso Glaze plus a Special Giveaway from Cleo Coyle



WARNING: Once you start eating this beautiful, smoky-sweet bacon, you won’t be able to stop!  At least, that’s been my experience and Marc’s, my husband and partner in crime writing. 
Click here to learn more.


Our readers may recognize a version of this treat from our bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery Dead to the Last Drop, set in Washington, DC.

Assistant chef Luther Bell cooks it up for customers of the new Village Blend Jazz Space, a relaxed supper club co-managed by our amateur sleuth Clare, who soon feels more than the heat of the kitchen when she becomes a prime suspect in the kidnapping of the President’s college-age daughter. Forced to go on the run with acting federal agent Mike Quinn, Clare must solve the perplexing mystery in order to save her good friends, Mike’s law enforcement career—and her own bacon. 




* * *


OUR SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

Marc and I hope you enjoy the recipe and...we invite you to check out a very special giveaway, along with an insanely easy recipe for Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake...


TO ENTER, CLICK HERE or on the photo below
and jump to our Cherry Coffee Cake post
where you can enter our giveaway...
.

TO ENTER CLICK THE PHOTO.


Now let's get our bacon on!




How to Make Perfect Coffee Bacon 
with Maple-Espresso Glaze


Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

While there are plenty of recipes out there for coffee bacon or glazed bacon, this one is our own—one my husband and I tweaked to perfection, in our opinion, anyway! 

One strip of this beautiful bacon evokes the glorious flavors of a pancake breakfast—
the sweetness of maple syrup, the earthiness
of coffee, and the unctuous richness of smoked meat...

Now you may be tempted to change the recipe—say, use regular bacon instead of thick-cut. Or make the bacon on a rack instead of a sheet pan or leave out the espresso powder (aka instant espresso). 


Our advice is don't do it, follow the recipe! Thick-cut bacon works wonderfully in this cooking process; regular or thin-cut will burn to a crisp! A rack will drain too much grease, which is necessary in the cooking for both flavor and caramelization. (It would also become caked with the glaze, making a royal mess.) And the deep earthiness of that espresso powder is needed to balance the cloying sweetness of the maple syrup and unctuousness of the bacon. 

Finally, be sure not to undercook the meat. The real key to perfection is watching for the slight char on the edges of the strips. That char assure you that the sugars have properly caramelized in the glaze.

You can serve the finished bacon with coffee, grapefruit, and slices of melon for an amazing breakfast (that's how Marc and I are eating it this morning)! Or make this a show-stopping side dish as part of a larger brunch, or try it as a fun snack or dinner appetizer. It’s also fantastic in a BLT. However you serve it, one thing is certain... You will be eating with sheer joy!





To download this recipe in
a free PDF that you can print,
save, or share,
click here.

Click for the free recipe PDF.


Cleo's Coffee Bacon with
Maple-Espresso Glaze

Makes 6 bacon slices

Ingredients:

6 Thick-cut bacon slices (must be thick-cut)

2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar (dark gives deeper complexity)


¼ teaspoon espresso powder
(aka instant espresso,
     see my note and the end of the recipe) 


1 Tablespoon hot coffee

1-1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

Optional addition: For a smoky-spicy note, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon chili powder to the glaze. For more heat try chipotle chile powder or ancho chile powder. Start with a little and taste-test the glaze until you reach the level of spiciness you like. (And, yes, there is a difference between "chili" and "chile" powder. Learn more here.)

Directions: 


(1) First preheat your oven to 375° F. Place bacon slices flat on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper. You want the slices to warm up a bit before going into the oven, so lay out the bacon before making the glaze. 

The parchment paper is there to absorb grease and prevent the bacon from sticking to the pan. Believe me, the process is messy, and you’ll be glad you used the parchment paper!



(2) Measure dark brown sugar and espresso powder (aka instant espresso) into a small bowl. Add hot coffee and whisk with a fork until sugar and espresso granules are dissolved. Whisk in maple syrup. 



(3) Brush each slice with your coffee-maple-glaze. 


(4) Bake for 10 minutes at 375° F. Flip the bacon, brush the other side with more of the glaze. Increase the oven temperature to 425° F. Bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. 

Watch closely to prevent burning. Bacon is not done until the edges show caramelization—they should look slightly charred. (See my photos below as a guide.)






(5) Drain grease: Allow the bacon to cool a few minutes and the sizzling to stop. Then move the hot bacon slices to a baking sheet or counter surface that’s been covered with waxed paper or parchment paper. Do not use paper towels, the glazed bacon will stick! Serve and eat with sheer joy!




*Note on Espresso Powder: 

Espresso powder (or instant espresso) is not made of ground espresso beans. It is freeze-dried espresso that dissolves quickly in liquids. A good quality brand to look for is Medaglia D’oro. You can use any brand of instant espresso in this recipe, but do not substitute instant coffee. It gives a harsher and more sour flavor than instant espresso, which brings a richer, earthier note.






Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries


Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here


* * *



Our newest mystery is now

a bestselling hardcover!


Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N




A Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor Fall "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists


Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.



*  *  *



The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


GET A FREE TITLE CHECKLIST
OF BOOKS IN ORDER

(with mini plot summaries)


* * * 


Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 



Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.