Tuesday, December 25, 2012

ChezCindy: Gingerbread Cake with Clementine Cream Cheese Frosting

Gingerbread has become a Christmas favorite of mine, but only in recent years.  It was not a holiday standard learned from my mother for traditional Christmas baking.  We grew up on thumbprints, cut-out cookies, and later peanut butter chocolate kisses as we gravitated to more modern cookie recipes.  

I came upon this cake recipe in Bon Appetit magazine last year.  It uses fresh grated ginger in the cake batter, as well as ground dry ginger.  The cake is very moist and is actually better the next day.  This year I decided to make a cream cheese frosting for it, although it is very good as a cake plain.  I added juice from a clementine to the frosting and topped with clementine zest.  Adding the clementine frosting turned a plain sweet treat into an upscale comfort cake. 

Gingerbread Cake with Clementine Cream Cheese Frosting 
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking oil spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Spray the paper. 

Whisk the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, add the butter, pour the boiling water over the butter, stir to melt the butter.  Stir in the sugar, molasses, lightly beaten egg and the fresh ginger.  Add the dry ingredients, stir to combine.  Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or the cake tester comes out clean when tested in the center of the cake.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting 
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of powder sugar
1 tablespoon of juice from clementine
clementine zest

Cream together the softened cream cheese and butter until well combined.  Add the salt and vanilla.  Mix in the powder sugar.  Add just enough clementine juice to loosen the frosting until you have a smooth consistency, about 1 tablespoon.  Stir in 1 teaspoon of clementine zest. 

Frost the cake or cupcakes.  Sprinkle with additional clementine zest.

To make this cake as a Chocolate-Gingerbread Cake:  Add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.  Melt 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate along with the butter and increase the boiling water with 2 tablespoons in addition to the 1/2 cup.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ChezCindy: Corn Tortilla Chips Breakfast Strata

Corn Tortilla Chips Breakfast Strata

As I walked through the kitchen this morning looking for a breakfast idea, I spied the bag of corn tortilla chips sitting on the counter, left-over from a previous guacamole snack.  I began to wonder if I could use the tortilla chips much like stale bread is used for breakfast strata.  I have never seen that done before.  So I set out to experiment with the corn tortilla chips breakfast strata.  I must say it came out very well.  I ate three pieces before I made myself stop. 

The recipe below represents the ingredients I used, but really, this can be made with whatever vegetables, cheese, or meat you have available, or is your preference.  Thus the beauty of a breakfast stata.  The basics are eggs, stale chips (normally bread) and cheese.  In this recipe I used parsnips, which is somewhat unusual, but I encourage you to try it.  Parsnips are an underused winter vegetable that are related to carrots, but are sweeter and richer in nutrients and minerals (a good source of potassium).  In this breakfast bake, the parsnips provided a contrast in texture and a surprising sweetness as a compliment to the heat of the salsa.  This turned out to be a delicious experiment.  Try your own experiment by using spicy chorizo sausage or ham, or sun-dried tomatoes and sweet potatoes.  Just follow the basic process as described below.

Corn Tortilla Chips Breakfast Strata
2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips
1 1/2 cup Egg Beaters egg substitute*
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup sliced parsnips
1/4 cup slivered onions
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped bacon
2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon oil
cooking oil spray

Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking oil.  Place the crushed corn tortilla chips in the baking pan; set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a non-stick skillet, place over medium heat.  Add the thinly sliced parsnips and the onions to the pan.  Season with salt; cook for 5 minutes.  Add the chopped green onion; cook for 1 minute.  Allow to cool.

In a medium size bowl, combine the eggs and the egg beaters.  Whisk together.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper.  Add the parsley, red peppers; stir to combine. 

To assemble:  Spread the cooled parsnip/onion mixture evenly over the crushed tortilla chips.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and chips.  Sprinkle the cheese and bacon bits over the top of the egg mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set in the center.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with prepared salsa.

* if not using egg substitute, use a total of 8 whole eggs.