Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dulce de Leche-Nutella Swirl Loaf Cake

There are still a few things Dan and I need to do to fully recover from our Great Beach Robbery -- getting new driver's licenses, for example -- but everything is closed on Sundays, so we've been having a pretty lazy day so far. We slept in until the hungry meows of our kitties could no longer be ignored, fed the little beasts, and then promptly collapsed in front of the TV to catch up on all the shows we missed during vacation.

But, once we'd blown through all the eps in our DVR queue, things got real boring real fast. Sundays are just so blah. I don't know about you, but nothing interesting ever happens to us on Sundays, and the day is mostly spent being lazy and dreading the start of the work week. As I type this, Dan is moaning "Boooo, we gotta work tomorrow! Ughhhhhhh." 

You know what's really good for fighting the end-of-weekend blues, though? Cake. Particularly if it's cake made with ice cream, homemade dulce de leche, and Nutella. Mmmm.

For this dulce de leche loaf cake, I found a simple vanilla loaf cake recipe online and modified it to fit my needs. Vanilla ice cream instead of chilled heavy cream; dulce de leche instead of sugar; and Nutella because if I didn't immediately use up the rest of the jar, I was going to keep eating it by the spoonful  and feel guilty. The resulting loaf was moist and sweet on the inside, with a deliciously crunchy Nutella-laced crust. 

Dulce de Leche-Nutella Swirl Loaf Cake

- 1 cup vanilla ice cream, melted at room temperature.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup dulce de leche
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt

(1) Preheat oven to 350.
(2) In a large bowl, mix together ice cream, eggs, vanilla, and dulce de leche until well-combined. The dulce de leche will make the batter clumpy, but just keep working at it until everything is smooth.
(3) Add dry ingredients.
(4) Pour most of the batter into a greased/floured loaf pan. Save about 1/2 cup for later.
(5) Add nutella to the loaf pan in well-spaced spoonfuls. Top with remaining batter. Then, run a knife through the whole thing to create a nice swirl/marbled pattern.
(6) Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake starts to come away from the side of the pan.
(7) Enjoy alone, with coffee, or smeared with more dulce de leche.

For other delicious chocolate recipes, go here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dulce de Leche

So, Dan and I just got back from a week in Costa Rica. We're a little more tan, a little more relaxed, and approximately $1200 poorer. No, that's not how much our trip's the combined value of all the stuff that got stolen from us on the beach at Playa Grande, Montezuma. Yeah. Don't you just love petty thievery?


Other than the bag-snatching incident, it was a good trip. The weather was beautiful, the food was delicious, and we even managed to squeeze in an exhilarating zip-lining tour through the canopy before racing home a few days early to take care of bank account stuff. Even so, I was more than a little bummed when we got home (I could still be on the beach, you know!). Instead of wallowing, though, I decided to make something for my blog. That's dedication, y'all.

So, why dulce de leche? Why not? Also, I had a bunch of condensed milk leftover from way back when, and it needed to be consumed one way or the other. Besides, dulce de leche is delicious, and the process of making it seemed pretty straightforward. Easy enough for a Friday night, anyway.

In the end, I was too much of a wussy to go the usual route and boil a can of condensed milk for 3 hours. I mean...I was not prepared to hover over a pot in the kitchen for multiple hours, and then what if the can exploded and my kitchen caught fire? I really couldn't handle a destroyed kitchen after getting robbed. Fortunately though, I was able to find a recipe online that didn't involve can-boiling -- just good ol' oven + condensed milk in a pan + water bath action.

Since I've never made dulce de leche any other way, I can't comment on any difference in texture or taste, but I can tell you that it's delicious. Thick and creamy, delightfully sticky, sweet, caramel-y goodness. Yum.

Dulce de Leche


- 1 14 oz can of condensed milk

(1) Preheat oven to 425.
(2) Pour condensed milk into a round baking dish. (I used a Pyrex pie dish)
(3) Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
(4) Place dish in a larger baking pan, and fill pan with water until 2/3 of the pie dish is submerged.
(5) Stick whole thing in the oven for 60-90 minutes, checking every 30 minutes to see if mixture is burning, or if water needs refilling.
(6) Pull dish out of the oven, uncover, and whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, then store in airtight bottle or jar.
(7) Enjoy by the spoonful, smeared on top of stuff, or baked into desserts.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Turkish Delights

The first time I heard about Turkish Delights was probably fourth grade, when I was reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." The White Witch gives Edmund Pevensie some Magical Turkish Delights, and he gets so hooked on the stuff that he betrays his siblings  later in the story just to get another taste. I remember reading that and thinking the fourth grade equivalent of "that must be some good sh*t!" 

The book didn't really describe how Turkish Delights looked or tasted, but I just always assumed that they were chocolate. I mean, a magical candy good enough to cut through bonds of blood loyalty? Must be chocolate. Maybe with some caramel and mousse cream  and candied nuts. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered, years later, that Turkish Delights are not, in fact, chocolate candies, but actually lemon and rose-water flavored jelly confections made from sugar and starch. Sigh. Another dream dashed. I don't even like jelly candies! 

My dad, however, does like them. And, he's apparently a fiend for Turkish Delights. A family friend gave my parents a few boxes of the stuff when they were in Europe a while back, and he demolished the candy in record time. So, no brainer, I decided to make some homemade Turkish Delights for Father's Day. I didn't have lemon extract or rose-water (I don't even begin to know where to buy rose-water), so I opted for raspberry flavoring instead. Not super traditional, but whatever -- tasted fine to me. And more importantly, my dad liked them. A lot. He ate half a plate after lunch today and looked pretty happy with the extra tin of candies I gave him to take home. He even asked me to give the recipe to my mom so that she could make them for him regularly in the future. Awesome. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Love you :)

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Sprinkle Bakes blog.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blueberry-Limoncello Cooler

Maybe it's just my imagination, but I'm pretty sure the limoncello is getting stronger. It's only been two days, but when I poured myself a glass yesterday, the lemony-boozy fumes about knocked me out on the first sip. It was still very sweet and lemony and all, but...whew. I can see why people say the stuff is lethal. This is definitely a leisurely-post-meal-sipping kind of beverage. 

Mixed with tonic water and blueberries though, the limoncello lost its intense boozy kick. In fact, the cocktail tasted almost exactly like Sprite! Don't be fooled though, the alcohol is definitely still there -- it's just diluted enough by the fizz to not be quite so in-your-face. Proceed with caution, folks. 

Blueberry-Limoncello Cooler (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis's recipe)

- 1 500ml bottle of limoncello
- 1 cup sparkling water (or tonic water), chilled
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Mint sprigs for garnish
- Crushed ice

(1) In a large pitcher, combined the limoncello, sparkling water, and blueberries, and give it all a good stir.
(2) Fill a highball or other drinking glass with ice, then fill to the brim with the limoncello mixture.
(3) Garnish with a mint sprig and enjoy immediately.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hanbagu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)

So, my friend Spike and I have been having intense gchat conversations about what we can do with all the ground beef we've got on our hands.  We each saw family-sized packs of ground beef on sale at the grocery store a couple weeks ago and couldn't resist getting in on the deal. Seemed like a pretty idea at the time, but now we've each got 5 lbs of meat in the freezer. That is a lot of meat, guys.

I used up a little over a pound of the meat for stuffed burgers a few weeks ago, and Spike made both burgers and meatballs.  Not sure what he's going to do with the rest of his meat, but I have grand plans for kimchi fried rice, empanadas, and maybe sliders. Today, though, it's Japanese hamburger steaks topped with a runny egg for lunch. Delicious! 2.5lbs down, 2.5 more to go. Oy.

Hanbagu (Japanese Hamburger Steak)

Ingredients: (Makes 2 hamburg steaks)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup onions, diced and cooked until soft
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp salt + more for sprinkling
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs.

(1) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well mixed.
(2) Divide meat mixture into two equal parts. Shape into patties.
(3) In a large pan, fry patties in olive oil until a nice crust forms on the outside -- about 2-3 minutes on each side. Place on plates and set aside.
(4) Cook two eggs sunny side up, and top each cooked patty with an egg. Sprinkle a dash of salt/pepper on the egg for flavor.
(5) Serve with some nice vegetable sides -- spinach, potatoes, carrots, etc.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


OK, so the thing about summer is that it's so frickin' hot that I never really have any motivation to cook anything. Who wants to stand in front of a hot stove/oven when it's 95 and humid? I mean, yes, I have A/C, but just knowing that the air outside is thick enough to swim through really takes away a person's appetite. So lately all I really want to do after work is sit on my couch, in my air conditioned apartment, and suck down an endless stream of cold beverages. Frozen margaritas, rum punch, lemonade, daiquiris, agua frescas...etc etc. 

After a string of recent posts on summer beverages, my friend Karen accused me of getting lazy with my blog. How rude! I obviously did that one post about stuffed burgers two weeks ago, and then there was the mille feuille post last weekend...and before that there was the...uh...Ok fine. I've been making a lot of drinks lately. Like I said, it's hot, and all I want to do is drink stuff. Whatever.

And this limoncello recipe wasn't a total walk in the park. I had to peel eight lemons. Eight! By hand. Without a vegetable peeler. Have you ever tried peeling a lemon with a butcher knife? Not easy, especially when you have to manually remove the pith from the peel too. Phew. Talk about cramped hands.

But aside from the lemon-peeling, this limoncello really wasn't too hard to make. It was more a matter of patience, since the peels have to be soaked in vodka for four whole days, and then once simple syrup is added the mixture needs to sit overnight before it's strained. After that, the stuff still has to chill for a couple hours before it's served. I am not a patient person, so I skipped the last two steps. I let the lemon-infused vodka and syrup marinate for about an hour and a half before I decided I just had to have a taste. 

Whew, this stuff is much stronger than I expected. I don't know why I thought it would be less strong -- it's just vodka and sugar water, after all. Very tasty though -- sweet and lemony and refreshing. But, probably would be better served chilled, as intended.

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis.