My Cake Decorating Gallery

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twice Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes with Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Bacon

Since we have a smoker, we often have people over for a BBQ. The Husband is not a fan of potato salad so that's not anything I'm ever going to make at home (save for a hot bacon german potato salad), so I've looked into other potato dishes, especially ones you can make in advance. The twice baked potato is a perfect match - savory, nice for a special occasion, and you can customize it to your preferences.

I think I originally got the gruyere and caramelized onion idea from a Cooking Light recipe... I forget what they recommended or what made it "light".. who cares! My version uses yukon gold potatoes, adds bacon, and jazzes up the presentation - my favorite way to dress up a twice baked potato is to turn it on it's end. I saw this somewhere on a blog a few years ago and it stuck in my head. It looks very attractive. You could use very small potatoes for bite-sized appetizers, or I have used medium sized potatoes fully expecting guests to take 2 or more (halves). I love potatoes in any fashion, don't you? Too bad I cut them out of my diet most of the time!

Elegant Twice Baked Potatoes - Yukon Gold, Caramelized Onions, Gruyere, and Bacon
By Kitchen Bliss

Base Ingredients:
1-2 medium sized potatoes per person, plus 3 extra for filling
salt and pepper to taste

Customizations I have used:
gruyere cheese (amount varies per how many people you are serving)
bacon - my preference is to bake in the oven and then crumble
1 large onion
green onions or chives
sour cream
heavy cream or milk

More ways to customize:
Fresh herbs besides scallions and chives - whatever your preferences are, thyme, basil, dill, etc.
Cooked veggies besides onions - broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, leeks, celeriac, fennel, roasted garlic, etc.
Cheese, glorious cheese - parmesan, sharp cheddars, cream cheese, swiss in place of gruyere, pimento spread, gouda, creamy havarti, pinconning, etc.
Sour cream

Let me know what great combinations you've come up with!

Bake washed and poked potatoes in a preheated 415 degree oven until fork tender. Let potatoes cool slightly enough to handle them, but still warm enough to spoon out the insides. For the extra potatoes you baked, just peel and set aside in your large bowl.

For the remaining potatoes - Cut each end of the potato off slightly, in order to make a flat end which will be the bottom of your potato cup - very sturdy! Cut each potato in half. Use a spoon (a toddler spoon is usually thinner and the right size for small potatoes) to scoop out the insides but try to leave a 1/4inch thick shell of skin/potato, so that you end up with a cup. Sometimes I make a mistake and scoop too far and reach the bottom of the cup - have no fear, for minor cup breaches, it really doesn't matter - you will be filling it up with mashed potato soon and it will still probably hold up and look OK. No one is looking at the bottom of these things.

Great! The hard part is over. You have a big bowl of potato yumminess to be mashed up with whatever toppings you so choose. In the example photo above, I mashed the potatoes with butter, cream, salt, pepper, lots of sharp cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, and some sauteed onions. I used green onions cut on a bias and stuck one in the top of each potato for a cute and tasty decoration. Don't forget to salt and pepper your filling to taste - no one wants any bland potatoes.

The last step is to either put the assembled potatoes in the fridge overnight, maybe with suran wrap on top, or bake them straight away. I would recommend an oven of 375 and bake until warmed through and the cheese is melty. I reserved some shredded cheese and crumbled bacon for the tops for decoration as well. It gives your guests a preview of what deliciousness is inside. After you pull them out of the oven, then top with the fresh herb garnish, if using.

The first time I made this recipe, which I don't think I have a photo of - I used the Cooking Light version of caramelized onions and used gruyere, as noted here (except I added bacon):

  • 2 cups vertically sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • garlic clove, minced
  • Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sugar; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Stir in sherry, Worcestershire, thyme, and garlic; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe - I think the presentation is unique but easy enough, and another great tip is you can make these ahead. Then before serving, bake in an oven until heated through and the cheese on top is melty. I'm not sure if you can freeze ahead, but if some one tries it, let me know. I seem to recall twice baked potatoes do usually freeze well, no?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Brownie Tart - Behind The Husband's Back

Calling all Peanut Butter and Chocolate lovers!!

We were having dinner guests over and I had plenty to do in the realm of dinner so I wanted a tasty, pretty but easy dessert. I also was in the middle of an unusual situation where most of my cake pans were in boxes and possibly in storage, though I was in my new house already. One thing I did have was my fluted false bottom tart pan. It's pretty big, 10 inches wide and 1 inch deep. I had this idea if I could use a brownie base in a tart pan shape, then I could maybe do some embellishments to make it into something new and special. 

I'm not above using box mixes if I feel like it, and my favorite brownie mix is any kind of Ghirardelli. One of their brownie boxes - I usually go for Double chocolate - fills up my tart pan nicely. It baked in about the same time as you would expect a single layer of short brownies to bake - maybe a little less if your tart pan is bigger than your brownie pan, maybe more if vise versa - so keep your eye on it. 

I cannot remember the specifics but The Husband was going to be out of town yet we were hosting some of his relatives whom we see maybe once a year. His sister and family and parents were there too so it was a nice group. This was a chance to make something The Husband hates and I never get to make - anything involving peanut butter! I love peanut butter. I know there are tons of people who don't like it. I, however, love love love it. We were having salmon for dinner, and PB/Chocolate in no way makes any sense for dessert, but I didn't care. The Husband was out of town and my mind was made up.

I had never made peanut butter frosting before and selected a recipe and it was ridiculously good. I would use it again in a heartbeat on chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake... Anything. For this peanut butter lover's chocolate tart, there were two other things I did to push it over the top. First I took several Reese's Peanut Butter cups and placed them inside of the brownie batter which I had just spread into the tart pan. I put in maybe 6 or more, so that every piece when sliced liked a pie, would get some extra peanut butter goodness. Lastly, after quickly piping on a basic design (just using a snipped ziploc bag as my pastry bag filled with the soft peanut butter frosting), I took it to one more degree of delish by adding toppings: some roasted spanish peanuts sprinkled on top, some shaved chocolate curls (use a vegetable peeler on a bar of any kind of chocolate), and a drizzle of Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge dessert topping (which, if you are from metro Detroit, is a decadent splurge just on its own).

Was it all too much? Probably, but I love chocolate and peanut butter and was sorry I only had a small triangle since we had so many people over. I sent the last piece with our out-of-town relatives instead of hoarding it like a pig (though it did cross my piglet mind). A small piece was great with some ice cream - the Reese's PB cups were taken over by the dark fudgy brownies and rich and sweet peanut butter frosting. Yes, it was sweet on sweet on sweet. Probably wouldn't win any Top Chef competitions due to its lack of balance.. and store bought brownie mix. I'm OK with that! It was delicious and you probably know a chocolate and peanut butter lover as well - I know they will love this easy dessert.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Brownie Tart
By Kitchen Bliss

1 box Ghirardelli brownie mix
1 recipe Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin' (see recipe below)
6 or 8 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Optional Toppings:
Sander's milk chocolate hot fudge topping
1 chocolate bar, such as semi sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate
1/2 cup of spanish peanuts

Mix up brownie batter according to directions on box and spread into a large tart pan with removable bottom (10 inches wide, 1 inch tall -- or use a 10 inch springform pan). Unwrap Reese's PB cups and press into the brownie batter in whatever pattern you'd like. Bake according to box, checking early and remove from oven when just set, for fudgy brownies.

Mix up peanut butter frosting recipe. After brownie cools, remove from springform pan or tart pan and transfer to serving plate. Decorate with frosting in any manner you choose and then top with toppings.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frostin'

Originally from the recipe seen on the A Cooking Bookworm blog.

1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (half a stick) softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup of creamy peanut butter (do not use 'natural,' the kind you need to stir)
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream

Cream the soft cream cheese (nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds, if you forgot to leave it out for a few hours) and together with a mixer. Stir in vanilla and peanut butter. Slowly add the powdered sugar and add enough cream or milk to make it spreadable or pipe-able - whatever consistency you'd like.