Monday, February 25, 2013

Oreo Truffles

The recipe for these easy-to-make truffles was all over the blogosphere this past Christmas and I tasted one at some point, thinking I'd make them sometime when I needed a quick and easy dessert. This month's quilt guild meeting was just the occasion.

Makes 40-45 small truffles
1 (16 oz) package Oreo cookies
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
16 oz semi sweet baking chocolate, melted (you can use the Wilton chips or regular baking chocolate)
OPTIONAL:  small candy cups

Crush 9 of the cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Set aside. Crush the remaining cookies into fine crumbs and place in a large bowl. Add the softened cream cheese and mix well. Shape the mixture into 45 one-inch balls.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating and stirring in 15 minute increments until it is completely melted.

Set up a station. Use 1 fork to dip the truffle in the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Use a second fork to roll the truffle in the reserved crumbs. Place in a candy cup or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill before serving.
While these are not your usual chocolate ganache truffles, how can anything with Oreos in them be bad? They are sweet, chocolaty, and delicious. If you're not a purist, you might want to make them with the colored melts available from Wilton. I saw some wild turquoise and purple melts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brickle Brownies

I go back and forth on what kind of brownies I really, really love ( See cake-like brownies), but sometimes nothing but a fudgy, candy-enhanced brownie will do. It doesn't hurt that these brownies are made in one bowl either.

Makes 24
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 X 13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil hang over the short edges (to use to remove the brownies later). Spray with nonstick butter-flavored spray.

1 1/2 cups butter
4 oz semi sweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup Heath English toffee bits

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave butter and chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted.  Add sugar, stirring well. Add vanilla and eggs and stir to combine. Add flour and brickle bits and stir thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Do not overbake! Cool in the pan or on a rack. Use the aluminum foil to remove from the pan and cool another 30 minutes. Remove foil and cut into 24 brownies.

When you first see these brownies out of the oven, you may be disappointed that they are very thin. The taste more than makes up for that. These are dense, chewy, and scream for a glass of cold milk.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eggplant Lasagna (Lazy Girl's Rollatini)

I love eggplant rollatini, but frankly it's too much trouble to make except for special occasions. It also requires frying the breaded eggplant--something I rarely do. A simple solution is to take the same ingredients and put them together in a different way. This eggplant lasagna has the same ingredients as eggplant rollatini, but the eggplant is breaded and oven-fried, making it a lighter option.

Serves 4-6
1 large eggplant
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
olive oil nonstick spray
1 lb part skim ricotta
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
1 egg
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 jar Bertolli vodka sauce (or your favorite sauce)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with olive oil nonstick spray. Beat the egg and egg white. Peel the eggplant and slice it into 1/4 inch rounds. (I prefer to salt both sides of the eggplant, leave it for 1 hour, rinse in cold water, and dry thoroughly. I do this to take any bitterness out of the eggplant, but you may wish to skip this step).

Dip each slice in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs. Place on the baking sheets, then spray each slice with the olive oil nonstick spray. Bake for 15 minutes, turn slices, spray, and bake for 15 minutes more. The slices should be lightly browned and crispy as in this photo.

While the eggplant is baking, mix the ricotta,grated cheese, egg, parsley, garlic powder, and most of the shredded mozzarella together. Place a few tablespoons of sauce in the bottom of an 8 inch square glass baking dish. Fit some eggplant slices to cover the bottom. Cover with sauce, then spread all the cheese mixture over that. Fit the remaining eggplant slices over the cheese, top with sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven, uncovering for the last 10 minutes of baking. Let set for 10 minutes, then serve.
What I love about this dish is that it combines my two favorite eggplant preparations in one--eggplant parmigiana and eggplant rollatini. It serves 4 very generously or 6 with a small side of pasta.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pasta Carbonara for Two

This is a dish I seldom order in a restaurant because there's a better than even chance they'll ruin it by adding cream. Authentic carbonara does not have any cream in it. In fact, it was conceived as a dish to eat when one has been out late (or early, as the case may be) and is looking for a little something to snack on.

Serves 2-3
1/2  lb dried spaghetti
Kosher salt
4 oz pancetta, but into small dice
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 oz finely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
freshly ground black pepper
Optional garnish: braised leeks

Bring an 8 quart pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and 2 tbs salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain.

While the pasta is cooking, put the pancetta and oil in a large heavy duty skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until golden brown (5-7 minutes), but don't render all the fat. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and cheese along with 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.

Immediately after draining the pasta, add it to the skillet, then quickly pour in the egg mixture, tossing continuously with tongs until the pasta is well coated (15-30 seconds). Add more of the reserved water if needed to achieve a creamy consistency. Serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper to taste.
This is a dish best eaten as soon as it is prepared. Frankly, leftovers do not reheat well, so plan to eat it all up or eat the leftovers cold. Don't let the simplicity fool you. Carbonara is a very satisfying dish, unfussy, but unctuous.