Pistachio Dried Cherry Torrone ~ March Daring Bakers

Done 3

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been able to join in any cooking or baking events. I’ve missed it.  I am so pleased to be able to join in BOTH Daring Kitchen challenges this month.

I have had this Martha Stewart Torrone recipe on deck for a LONG time and made my own changes to it, but felt the base recipe was easy enough for me to handle!

Done 2

And you-know-who is screaming WHY? And in the same breath WHERE’S MINE??

This was a bit fiddley. I was a bit hampered by not being in my own kitchen. I used a hand mixer that’s affixed to a bowl that turns, so it was a semi-stand mixer type piece of equipment … but not really.

It needs to sit and ‘dry’ a bit more, but man oh man, this is tasty stuff!

  • 2 pieces edible rice paper, (9 by 13 inches each) wafer paper
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C shelled salted pistachios, (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 1/3 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut, (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 C dried cherries

Place 1 piece of rice paper in a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

NOTE: I lightly buttered the sides of the baking dish. You’re going to trim them off anyway so it just makes removing the Torrone easier.

Put sugar, honey, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

NOTE: Aside from the no stand mixer problem, I also suffered from a no CANDY THERMOMETER problem. 300 degrees is hard ball stage. Drop a tiny amount of the boiling sugar into a cup with cold water, when it becomes a hard, crunchy mass once in the water, you’re done.

Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Raise speed to high. Pour hot honey mixture into egg-white mixture in a slow, steady stream, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes.

Ingredients

Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in vanilla, pistachios, coconut, and cranberries.

Working quickly, spread mixture into prepared dish. Place another sheet of rice paper on top; press down to flatten and spread evenly. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Ready to cut

Cut around edges of Torrone to loosen. Remove from baking sheet; transfer to a cutting board. Trim edges to be straight. Using a long, sharp knife, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquitos

Baked

All the back and forth in my life, coupled with the Dear One’s travels, make my ability to blog … well, hampered, to say the least.

This recipe was one I made with my brother, Nick, for a Super Bowl party he was attending. You may remember the other recipe we made together, Buffalo Chicken Bites. Snarky comments aside, the chicken bites were fab.

These were good, but I think if they were to be made again, I would change these slightly.

First, canned chicken? It was okay, but if you’re going to cheat, you may as well buy a rotisserie chicken. A poached chicken breast would be best.

Smaller tortillas, more blue cheese, more hot sauce, maybe some chopped celery.

But, changes aside, these were easy, taste great, and are good for a Super Bowl party when grab and go food is called for!

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 C buffalo sauce
  • 1 C shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/8 C blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 can (12.5-ounce) Swanson® Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • coarse Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Filling

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and buffalo sauce. Mix well. Stir in the Monterey jack cheese, blue cheese crumbles and chicken; mix well.

Stuffed

Place 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture down the center of each tortilla and roll up. If needed, microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds to make them soft and pliable enough to roll. Place on a baking sheet. Spray the taquitos with cooking spray, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Rolling

Bake in the preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with blue cheese dressing for dipping, if desired.

Ready to Bake

NOTE: These definitely needed more of a kick. Maybe a little more buffalo sauce. Perhaps a few dashes of hot sauce. Maybe a bit more blue cheese. And while I like the 8″ tortilla, I really think the smaller ones would be better.  They would be crisper. And as my pal Sandra would say … I like crunchy!

Homemade PopTarts

Ready

One of my guiltiest pleasures from childhood is POP-TARTS. Cherry Pop-Tarts to be exact, even better when they added the frosting to them! Don’t even need them toasted. Just right out of the package, simply inhaled.

I so related to Paula Poundstone and her thoughts on Pop-Tarts:

Inside there are three pouches of two. This is what happens to me: I open the first pouch, and I eat one tart, and I enjoy it very much, as naturally I would. And then I feel, Well, I have to eat the second one or it will go stale. Well, now I’ve eaten two, and it’s no longer just a snack, it’s a meal. I figure I may as well eat two more. And then finally I’m just like, Well hell, I don’t just want two pop tarts hangin’ out in a box. I eat the last two just to tidy up, really.

That’s exactly right! It makes absolute, perfect sense. And that’s pretty much what happened with the 9 that were baked in our house! Sadly, mostly by me … and Lisa … but not the skinny girl, who has ridiculous self control and loves to come into the kitchen to play with me!

I didn’t frost these. I have no excuses. It may have been sheer exhaustion. But they were really very good. And with a really good helper, very easy to make!

  • 2 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 T milk
  • 3/4 C raspberry jam – or flavor of your choice
  • 1 T cornstarch mixed with 1 T cold water

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a rough 3″ x 5″ rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

While the dough is resting, make the filling. Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Once the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes.

Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. Laying a 9″ x 13″ pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9″ x 12″ rectangle of dough.

Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough.

Filling

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides.

Crimping

Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.

Cooling

Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

NOTE: Instead of jam you can fill the tarts with a tablespoonful of chocolate chips. Use seedless jam!

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