Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes

7 Jul
Ingredients
4 ounces  dark or bittersweet chocolate, (60-75% cacao), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon  granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons  light cream
2 teaspoons  instant espresso powder, or granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water, divided
1 tablespoon  light corn syrup
1 large  egg
2 tablespoons  canola oil
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon  salt
5 tablespoons  confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons  all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon  unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1-3 teaspoons  very hot water
Directions
1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously coat the mini muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. (Alternatively, see “No Microwave?” below.) Microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir well, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until the remaining chocolate melts completely.
3. To prepare filling: Stir together granulated sugar, cream and half the espresso mixture in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High just to steaming, 20 to 40 seconds. (Alternatively, combine in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just steaming.) Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and half the melted chocolate (reserve the other half for the batter); stir until completely smooth. Cover and transfer to the freezer until cold and firm, about 30 minutes.
4. To prepare batter: When the filling has been chilling for 20 minutes, whisk egg, oil, vanilla, salt and the remaining espresso mixture in a medium bowl until very smooth. Return the remaining chocolate mixture to the microwave. Microwave on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until just warm again (do not overheat). In two batches, whisk the egg mixture into the warm chocolate until well blended. Sift confectioners’ sugar, flour and cocoa over the batter and whisk in just until smoothly incorporated.
5. To assemble cakes: Remove the filling from the freezer. Spoon half the batter into the mini muffin cups, about 1 rounded teaspoon per cup. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon filling onto the center of each (reserve the rest for the sauce). Divide the remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups, about 1 rounded teaspoon per cake. Smooth out the batter to cover the filling.
6. Bake the cakes on the middle rack until the edges look dry and puffed but the centers still look very underdone and puddinglike, 6 to 9 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until firm, about 2 minutes. Place a cutting board on top of the pan and invert the mini cakes out onto it. If the cakes are stuck to the pan, run a knife around and under them to loosen.
7. To prepare sauce & serve: Thoroughly stir very hot water into the reserved filling, 1 teaspoon at a time, until very smooth and slightly fluid. Serve the warm cakes drizzled with the sauce.
Tips:
No Microwave? Melt chocolate in a double boiler instead: Place chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water. Gently stir until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove from the heat and stir until it melts completely.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Prepare through Step 5, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. After baking (Step 6), the cakes will keep in the pan, tightly covered with foil, for up to 1 day. The sauce (Step 7) will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To serve, reheat the cakes in the covered pan at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Reheat the sauce in a microwave on Medium for about 20 seconds.
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Baby Tiramisu

7 Jul
Ingredients
1/2 cup  nonfat ricotta cheese, (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons  confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
12   ladyfingers, (about 1 3/4 ounces)
4 tablespoons  brewed espresso, or strong coffee, divided
2 tablespoons  bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (see Tip)
Directions
1. Combine ricotta, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
2. Place 6 ladyfingers in a 9-by-5-inch (or similar size) loaf pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Spread the ricotta mixture over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of ladyfingers over the ricotta and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons espresso (or coffee). Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Tip:
Tip: To melt chocolate: Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium in 20-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Or place in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

7 Jul
Ingredients
3 tablespoons  unsalted butter
3 tablespoons  canola oil
1 cup  whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1 cup  reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup  sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
3   ripe but firm peaches , (about 1 pound), pitted and sliced into eighths, or 3 1/2 cups frozen
2 cups (1 pint)  fresh or frozen blueberries
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .
2. Place butter and oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Heat in the oven until melted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add milk, sugar and vanilla; stir to combine.
4. Add the melted butter mixture to the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Spoon peaches and blueberries evenly over the batter.
5. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top of the cobbler is browned and the batter around the fruit is completely set, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

7 Jul
1 1/2 cups  whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Note)
1 cup  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  poppy seeds, toasted (see Tip)
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1 cup  buttermilk, (see Tip)
1/4 cup  canola oil
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
2 tablespoons  freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons  lemon juice
2   large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip)
2   large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups  sugar
3/4 cup  confectioners’ sugar , plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons  lemon juice
1 tablespoon  water
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan, preferably nonstick, with cooking spray and dust with flour (or use cooking spray with flour).
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in a glass measuring cup.
3. Beat eggs, egg whites and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes.
4. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula, a third at a time, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
5. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
6. To prepare glaze: Sift 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl; mix with lemon juice and water to create a thin glaze. Poke 1-inch-deep holes all over the cake with a skewer. Coat the warm cake with the glaze using a pastry brush. Let cool completely. To serve, set the cake on a serving plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Tips:
Note: Whole-wheat pastry flour is milled from soft wheat. It contains less gluten forming potential than regular whole-wheat flour and helps ensure a tender result in delicate baked goods while providing the nutritional benefits of whole grains. Store in the freezer. Sources: Available in large supermarkets and in natural-foods stores, and from King Arthur Flour, (800) 827-6836, bakerscatalogue.com, and Bob’s Red Mill, (800) 349-2173, bobsredmill.com.
Tips: Toast poppy seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk” the ratio is 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
To bring cold eggs to room temperature quickly, place in a mixing bowl and set it in a larger bowl of warm water for a few minutes; the eggs will beat to a greater volume.
To separate eggs safely: Use an egg separator, an inexpensive gadget found in cookware stores; separating eggs by passing the yolk back and forth between pieces of eggshell or your hands can expose the eggs to bacteria.

Whoopie Pies

7 Jul
Ingredients
1/3 cup  canola oil
3/4 cup  packed light brown sugar
1   large egg
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups  whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon  baking powder
3/4 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
3/4 cup  nonfat milk
1/2 cup  cold water
2 teaspoons  unflavored gelatin
1 cup  whipping cream
2/3 cup  nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup  confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. To prepare cookies: Beat oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with milk; beat until smooth. Let the batter stand for 15 minutes.
3. Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, spreading the batter into a 2- to 3-inch circle with the back of a spoon if it doesn’t spread itself. (Each large baking sheet accommodates 8 cookies; they will be close together.) Bake the cookies until firm to the touch, about 8 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Wash, dry and coat the baking sheets with cooking spray again. Repeat with the remaining batter.
4. To prepare filling: While the cookies cool, stir water and gelatin in a small heatproof cup or bowl. Let stand 1 minute. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the gelatin has completely dissolved but the liquid is not boiling, 20 to 30 seconds. (Alternatively, bring 1/2 inch water to a gentle simmer in a small skillet. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture in the simmering water until the gelatin has dissolved completely.) Stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes.
5. Beat cream, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until very thick, about 1 minute. With the mixer beating constantly, add the gelatin mixture in a steady steam until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until the cream filling is thickened to the consistency of pudding, about 30 minutes. Whisk again until smooth.
6. To assemble whoopie pies: Turn half the cookies bottom side up and top with a generous 2 tablespoons of the cream. Top with the remaining cookies. Chill in the refrigerator until the filling is set, about 30 minutes.

White Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

7 Jul
Ingredients

12 reduced-fat vanilla wafers

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened

3 ounces white chocolate baking squares, melted and cooled

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup fat-free milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Chocolate curls (optional)

Sliced strawberries (optional)

Sliced kiwifruit (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with twelve 2-1/2-inch foil or paper baking cups. Place one vanilla wafer on the bottom of each cup. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheeses with an electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Beat in white chocolate, sugar, milk, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in egg white. Spoon mixture into muffin cups until each is about three-quarters full.

3. Bake about 20 minutes or until set, then set pan on a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove cheesecakes from pan; cool on wire rack 1 hour. Cover and chill 3 to 24 hours.

4. Before serving, remove baking cups. If desired, garnish with chocolate curls, strawberries, and/or kiwifruit.

Nutrition facts per cheesecake: 153 calories, 4g protein, 17g carbohydrate, 7g fat (4g saturated), 0g fiber

Pan Seared Scallops with Lemon Vinegarette

7 Jul

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
12 ounces sea scallops, thawed if frozen
2 lemons
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 fresh basil sprigs, including stems
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (optional)

Directions
1. Rinse the scallops and pat dry. Set aside.
2. With a sharp knife, score one lemon lengthwise in four sections and remove the peel from each section. Scrape the white portion from the peel; discard. Cut the peel into very thin strips and set aside. Squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from the lemon; reserve.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; season to taste with the salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm.
4. Combine the lemon peel, basil sprigs, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Remove the lemon peel and basil sprigs with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the skillet; discard.
5. Cook the scallops in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until opaque, turning once. Stir in the reserved lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
6. Place the scallops over the asparagus mixture. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges. Garnish the scallops with the wedges and, if desired, the fresh basil.