Everybody loves dessert, right?

Sometimes I feel guilty about what I share with you, rather, what I don’t share. See, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, which is unusual when you consider desserts are my family’s business. Maybe it’s because I could smell the scent of baked goods wafting through the house almost every day of my life since age 12 or so. Or maybe I just didn’t get that gene, I don’t know. What I do know, is that I don’t share desserts with you guys very often.

I will try to pay more attention to your sweet tooth, starting with this post. It’s cake time. It’s really good cake time. This is again my mom’s basic recipe for vanilla cake, this time, though, I added some guayaba paste (known stateside as guava paste) and a frosting that includes Nutella. What else could you ask for?

Whenever I go back home to Panama I make a grocery store run, picking up all the goodies I cannot find in the US. On this last trip, I found some guayaba preserve that came in a pouch. I was transfixed by the sight of the magical, colorful pouch. Pourable guayaba preserve? Oh my.

If you have purchased this delicious paste in the US, you’ve likely found it in a round tub or a long brick. The consistency of it would’ve been pretty thick, sticky¬†and solid. Nothing wrong with that one, it is the one I’ve purchased most of my life. But being able to pour it out… Think of how you felt the first time you saw mayo in those new squeeze bottles. Heaaaavennnn.

OK, back to the guayaba business. If you are dealing with the tub or brick of guayaba paste, all you’ll need to do for this recipe, is dissolve the paste so it is liquid. I used some of the paste so I could give you some guidance. For about 1-1/2 cps of cubed guava paste, add 1/4 cp of pineapple juice, melt it over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let it cool.

Pastel de Guayaba con Glaseado de Nutella

1-1/2 cps butter (3 sticks), softened
1-1/2 cps sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cp pineapple juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cps flour
3 tsps baking powder
1 cp guayaba paste, melted

Preheat oven to 350¬į.¬†Prepare a 9×13 baking pan: use the butter wrappers to grease the cake pan, then add a bit of¬†flour to coat. Set aside.¬†Combine the milk, vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl and beat until the sugar grains are dissolved and the mixture is smooth and light in color. If the butter is at room temperature, this will take about 10 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to beat each one in completely.

Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until incorporated, then alternate with 1/2 of the juice. Then another 1/3 of the flour, followed by the rest of the juice and end with flour. Take care not to overbeat, just mix long enough to get all the flour evenly incorporated.

Spread half of the batter on the bottom of the baking pan. Then drizzle half of the the guayaba and top with the rest of the batter. Drizzle the rest of the guayaba paste over the top, going in the opposite direction you did the first time.

Use a knife or spatula¬†to swirl the guayaba into the batter. Try not to push all the way to the bottom of the pan, otherwise you’ll have problems unmolding it. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you pierce the center of the cake.

Allow it to cool for a few minutes, while you make the frosting. See recipe below. Unmold the cake onto a platter and spread on the frosting while it is still warm.

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cp butter, softened
1-1/2 cps powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tub Nutella, approx 1-1/2 cps

 In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, cocoa and extracts until smooth. Add the Nutella and mix until smooth and completely incorporated.

Add enough cream to thin out the frosting, it should be about the consistency of yogurt or sour cream. Not runny, just thin enough to smooth it easily over the cake. 

You’ll need a glass of milk to go with this one.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

I’ve gone bananas!

Once I won a ToastMasters¬†Impromptu Award for sharing my dislike of bananas. They still call me the Banana Lady at work. I have a banana mental block: its smell, the way it looks when exposed to air, the texture. Believe me, I have banana issues. Big ones, but I won’t bore you with them.¬†HOWEVER, there are 2 things I like banana hints in: banana bread and banana fritters. The fritters are another¬†goody¬†my mom used to make when I was growing up.

I’ve been thinking about banana fritters for a while now, so when I bought a share of produce from a local farmers market association-group-co op thing and it included bananas, I knew the time had come. I stared at them for days waiting for them to ripen enough to make these fritters. Then they were ready, so here you go:

Banana Fritters

About 10 fritters

2 very ripe bananas
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp sugar
1 cp flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp  milk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
Oil for deep-frying

Mash the bananas, it’s ok to have a few lumps. Stir in the egg, then the rest of the ingredients, until you end up with a pretty thick batter.

Preheat the oil over medium temperature; you don’t want to fry them too hot, otherwise they will brown while remaining raw in the center. Use a large soup spoon to pour the batter. Here’s a trick: dip the spoon in oil before scooping batter from the bowl, this will keep the batter from sticking to the spoon.

Drop the batter into the oil and spoon some of the hot oil over the fritters. This helps seal the top and makes it easier to flip. Fry for about 2 minutes per side until lightly brown and crisp on the edges. Once you flip them, give them a little squeeze, this helps to cook through the middle.

 

Drain on paper towel and serve dusted with powdered sugar.

THEN…

I REALLY went bananas. *I*, Anamaris of Chef It Yourself, the same person who unloves¬†bananas and who cringes at the sight of banana splits, went for the chocolate. I did. I don’t know what happened.

I don’t know why I did it. Well, I think I do know why I did it. It’s become apparent to me that my palate is growing up, expanding, refining, becoming more flexible.

I gave it a try, and OH.MY.GAWD!

 

Just a light smear of it will do. There was something magical about the combination. The fritters are slightly sweet with just a hint of banana, they develop a nice crisp edge, while they’re goey¬†doughy inside. The Nutella teases you with its light chocolate taste.

Now I must leave you so I can come to terms with this choco-banana turn.

Enjoy!

Cookingly yours,

Anamaris

Boston Cream Puffs

I admit it. I’ve been cheating on you. My attention to you has not been undivided and, every now and then,¬†I’ve been throwing fluff your way. I’m sorry about that, but I promise to do better.

I’ve been thinking about the direction I’d like to take you in the new year. Calm down, calm down, I don’t know what that direction is YET. I will let you know. Soon. In the meantime, have a puff, won’t ya?

I had been thinking about trying my hand at making Boston Cream Pie. When I read the ingredients I thought, there’s no reason I can’t apply this to cream puffs! So I did. Don’t be afraid of the puffs, be one with the puffs. They ARE easy to make, they REALLY are. You just need to get them in the oven pretty fast and no opening the oven while they bake. mmmkay?

These are your basic cream puffs or eclairs made¬†better by a creme patisserie (pastry cream) filling and ¬†the addition of Nutella.¬† You should make and cool the cream first. The hubby and I have been going through them, our spare tires are proof of it. Hope you like ’em too.

Boston Cream Puffs
Yields 12 medium puffs

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cp butter (1 stick)
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400. In a saucepan mix the butter and salt with the water, bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat. Quickly add all of the flour and mix it in with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.

Here’s a little trick I picked up from my mom’s pastry cook: transfer the dough to your mixer’s bowl. Now add the eggs one at a time and beat, making sure each egg is completely mixed in before you add the next. You can also do this in the saucepan, but there’s a greater chance the eggs may cook in the process.

Prepare your baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. I used a pastry bag to pipe them on to the sheet; I piped about 1/3 of a cup for each puff. You can also do this with a spoon, same results. Make sure you drop them about 1 inch apart from each other. Try to do this part as quickly as possible.

Once you’ve got them all on the baking sheet, put them in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes. I baked this batch for about 30 minutes, the size of them will determine how long to leave them in.

 

 

Creme Patisserie
2 cps milk
1/2 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/3 cp sugar
1/3 cp flour
1 tbsp bourbon or other liquor
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean; you don’t want it to boil, but you will see small bubbles around the edges.

Using your mixer, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it stretches like ribbon when you raise it with the spoon, then add the flour. Bring the mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour the boiling milk into the mixture, being careful not to drop the vanilla pod.

Once you have incorporated all of the milk, put the mixture back into the pot you used to heat the milk and cook over medium high heat, stirring continuously. This process will take about 20-30 minutes, once it thickens, remove it from the heat. Set aside to cool.

Now, put it all together.
After the puffs have cooled, use a small serrated knife and slit the tops. You can remove them completely if you’re going to use a spoon to fill them, or just partially if you will use a pastry bag.

First, pipe/drop some Nutella, about 2 tsps at the bottom of each puff, then fill with the cream. Replace the tops, sprinkle with powder sugar or a dollop of Nutella. Keep cool and serve.

That’s it!
Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

Sometimes you feel like a NUTELLA!

There’s this beautiful blog I lurk around in, it makes me feel all perp-like and hungry. Paula from Bell’alimento¬† puts out the most amazing Italian¬†recipes, she also started a Nutella Challenge. This being one of her favorite food items, she opened her blog to foodies who would like to try their hand at making life better one Nutella bite at a time.

So, I’m taking a bite at the challenge; this one is not a complicated treat. Yesterday was so rainy in Houston that I wanted¬†some sunny homey comfort, I halved my mami’s basic cake recipe and added Nutella to make it a marble cake. I also baked it in a tart pan, but you can use a regular 9-inch pan.¬†Easy, breazy and oh so yummy! Give it a try.

mmmNutella!

Mami’s Nutella Marble Cake
1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
7 ozs sugar (just under 2/3 cp)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/4 cp flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cp Nutella
Preheat oven to 350¬į. Get ingredients ready: combine the milk, vanilla and almond extracts in measuring cup, separately combine the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Set aside.

This is best done using a mixer, add the butter and sugar in the bowl and beat until the sugar grains are dissolved-if the butter is soft, it will take about 10 minutes or so. Add the eggs one at a time.

Add 1/3 of the flour and mix until incorporated, then alternate with 1/2 of the milk. Then flour, rest of the milk and end with flour. Take care not to overbeat, just mix long enough to get all the flour into the batter.

Grease and flour the cake pan and add the batter to it. Drop Nutella by tablespoonfuls on top of the batter.

Use a knife to swirl the Nutella into the batter. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you pierce the center of the cake.

Enjoy it plain or with some ice cream!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris