Inga's Indulgence

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Small bites

Things that come packaged in a petite format better be bringing it in other departments, if you know what I mean. I'm talking about flavor, people! If you want to wow your guests with some impressive appetizers or canapes at your next cocktail party, don't get carried away with the cutest darn toothpick you've ever seen in your life. Do yourself a favor and don't forget about flavor.

Banana Crepe Lollipops

8 Crepes, recipe follows
1/2 cup chocolate sauce
4 bananas
1/3 cup roasted almonds, chopped
25-30 bamboo skewers or lollipop sticks

(yield: about 10 crepes)

2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
3 tbsp butter, melted
nonstick cooking spray, as needed

Whisk everything together in a medium bowl (or blender). Refrigerate batter for at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat a medium non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Pour 2 oz of crepe batter into the pan, while swirling it to get an even, thin layer. Cook 30-40 seconds, flip crepe, and cook for a few more seconds. Repeat, until you run out of batter.

Assemble the Banana Crepe Lollipops:
Arrange 4 crepes onto your work surface. Top each with 1 tbsp of chocolate sauce, and spread in an even layer. Top with a second crepe, and another layer of chocolate sauce.

Place peeled banana onto the bottom third of each crepe, and roll up tightly like a burrito. Slice each roll into 1 1/2 inch rounds. Insert sticks into each round, securing the crepe. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Naughty & Nice

When it comes to dessert, some people prefer to be bad, while others genuinly try to find that paradise where flavor and health are able to co-exist harmoniously.

My personal preference is subject to change. That's why I present you with two sweet treats below, that despite sharing the criteria of being yummy, are polar opposites of each other.

First stop: the "nice" option - with ingredients like whole wheat flour, vegetable oil (not butter), egg whites, and a tart burst of fresh cranberries and apples, these delicious bars will satisfy your sweet tooth, and keep you on that right track ;)

Cranberry Apple Bars
(yield: 12 bars)

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil (plus more for greasing the pan)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 large grannysmith apple, peeled and cut into medium cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 egg white
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9"x13" baking pan with oil.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg, milk, orange juice, and oil together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing just to combine. Stir in the cranberries and apples. Pour batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly.

Make the merengue: In a clean bowl, whip the egg white until frothy. Add lemon juice and sugar, and continue to whip until soft peaks form. Dollop the merengue all over the batter. Using a spoon, gently spread the dollops across the batter.

Bake about 25-27 minutes, until the merengue becomes slightly golden. Let cool completely in pan before cutting.

Now for all you hooligans out there, who are looking to get down to business, here it is...
wait for it....
Oeey, Gooeey, Chewy, Chocolaty, Rich - this baby doesn't mess around - it's the ULTIMATE BROWNIE!!!!!!!!

Everyone needs a good brownie recipe. If you're serious about chocolate, let this one be yours.

The Ultimate Brownie
(yield: 12 brownies)

1 stick unsalted butter (plus 1 tbsp for greasing)
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup All-Purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch Processes cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9"x13" baking pan with butter, and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment as well.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg white, and sugar in a large bowl, until pale yellow, 2-3 minutes. Add the milk.
Place butter, and chocolate into a double boiler, and melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes. Continue to beat the egg mixture on medium speed as you slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate.

Combine remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture in 3 increments, mixing just until combined. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan, and bake 28-30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before attempting to dissect the brownies (these guys are pretty gooey). If you're in a hurry, you can pop them in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lighten Up

I think we're all in need of a break from the holiday gluttony. Before the parties begin, before the cocktails and cookies lead you to a New Year's resolution that beats last year's by 5 pounds, what do you say me and you take a little breather?

Freshen up with this light, crunchy salad. The whole batch probably has less calories than a glass of eggnog.
I'm just saying.

Beet & Apple Salad
(yield: 6-8 servings)

1/2 cup canola oil
6 shallots (about 1/2 cup), sliced into thin rounds
1 large beet (about 1lb), peeled & julienned*       
1 large grannysmith apple, julienned
1 1/2 oz red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat, about 2-3 minutes. Once oil is hot, drop the sliced shallots into the pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove the shallots from the oil, place on a paper towel, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Strain the cooking oil into a bowl, and let cool. Reserve.

Combine julienned beets, apples, and onions in a large bowl. Dress with reserved shallot oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine, top with fried shallots, and serve.

* The grater attachment of a food processor produces perfect beet and apple matchsticks. If you don't have the attachment, you can use a hand held mandolin to form thin slices. Stack the slices, and then just cut into 1/4-inch matchsticks.