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 Doughnuts

I love doughnuts. They may be one of the world’s most perfect foods. Slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, covered or filled with whatever you like. They can be sweet. They can be savory.  They are portable. Well, they are just delicious.

Not always such an easy process to make at home. There’s usually frying involved.  Too much mess. The Daring Bakers were making doughnuts in October. I have been a very, very lazy Daring Baker as of late. I Googled. The first recipe that caught my eye were Baked Doughnuts from King Arthur Flour. Can you really go wrong with a recipe from King Arthur Flour?

First I needed a doughnut pan. I was going to be right near N.Y. Cake so I thought I would pop in to get a doughnut pan.  They have everything you can imagine at N.Y. Cake. They also have one of the most abrasive human beings on the planet there. I believe he is one of the owners. THey still have everything, but rude doesn’t even begin to describe him. I bought the pan as quickly as possible and quickly arrived home. At this point I was definitely in ‘gotta make the doughnuts’ mode. It was all I could think about!

  • 1 cup Round Table Unbleached Pastry flour or 7/8 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dried buttermilk powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

NOTE: Most supermarkets carry buttermilk powder. It’s right in the baking aisle. If they don’t Amazon is an option. It’s great to have on hand for all sorts of things. If you don’t have buttermilk powder on hand, substitute 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt for the water.  I used all purpose flour. I couldn’t find pastry flour and was really too lazy to mix cake flour and all purpose flour together.

Preheat oven to 375

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and water (or buttermilk or yogurt) until foamy.Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Butter or grease the doughnut pan. I used cooking spray. Even though the pans are non-stick, there is very little fat in them, they may stick. 

Fill each doughnut form half full.

Bake the doughnuts for 10 to 12 minutes. When done, they’ll spring back when touched lightly, and will be quite brown on the top.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven, remove from the pan, and cool on rack.

NOTE: I ended up with 10 doughnuts. Either the guy in N.Y. Cake was fibbing about there only being one size [ :-o] or I somehow had magic doughnut batter!

Once cooled, I glazed three doughnuts with a chocolate glaze, three with a plain sugar glaze, and left 4 plain. They were gone by the time I woke up this morning!

Nanaimo Bars

Trying a new bar recipe is always a good thing, especially in the home of the cookie monsters.

That being said, the graham crackers were a DISASTER. So much so, that pictures would frighten you out of your kitchens forever. I now have all the ingredients and am ready to go … what do I do? I reached for the Trader Joe’s graham crackers and bashed them to bits and then took the recipe from there. (Insert heavy sigh here)

For the Bottom Layer

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 Large Egg, Beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
  • 1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

NOTE: Not big almond fans, so I switched out almonds for pecans

For the Middle Layer

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
  • 2 cups Confectioner’s Sugar

For the Top Layer

  • 4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.

2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.

3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

NOTE: I had read in a different version of this recipe to refrigerate each layer before continuing. This made spreading layers very simple!

Since these bars freeze well, I am going to pop some into the freezer.

They are VERY sweet. A little too sweet for me, but I am sure perfect for the sweet tooths that live here!