When the Polar Vortex sweeps through town, this will temper the chill.
(adapted from A Simple Feast)
fills 4 mugs or 6 small cups
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for garnish
pinch of salt (I used coffee flake salt from Jacobsen)
3 tablespoons sugar (I used vanilla sugar from Jones & Co.)
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (preferably Medaglia d’Oro)
4 cups whole milk
¼ cup Nutella
½ teaspoon vanilla (I used pure vanilla from Jones & Co.)
optional: your favorite brandy and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream
In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, salt, sugar, and instant espresso powder. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over low heat. Whisk in the Nutella until smooth, then slowly whisk in the cocoa mixture. Add the vanilla and serve the cocoa in appropriately festive cups or mugs. Adding a splash of brandy, a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder certainly couldn’t hurt.
½ cup heavy cream, chilled
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
In a chilled bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla just until soft peaks form. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
from Dorie Greenspan and Melissa Clark, with the slightest adjustments
makes one 9” loaf
3 tangelos, cara cara, or navel oranges
zest from three of the oranges
1 cup sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup stone ground cornmeal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
a little less than ½ cup plain yogurt (see below)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably from Jones and Company
¼ teaspoon pure orange extract, preferably Nielsen-Massey brand
3 large eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9” x 5” x 3” glass loaf pan with olive oil. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. (I know some consider this pan lining overkill, but I think it protects not only the bottom, but also the sides of the cake from getting too dark.) Lightly grease the parchment with olive oil and dust the pan with flour, knocking out the excess.
Use a microplane or fine grater to remove the zest from the three oranges. Place the zest into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Use your fingertips to rub the zest and sugar together. (It’s a small amount for a large bowl, but you will eventually mix the rest of the batter in this bowl.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Now it’s time to supreme two of the oranges. (This is a bit of a time commitment, but a great life skill.) Slice off the top and bottom of two oranges. Stand one orange on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, follow the curve of the orange and slice away the peel and bitter white pith. Set the orange on its side and cutting towards the center, cut along a membrane. Then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet, releasing the segment. Cut the segments into pieces measuring about ¼.” Transfer the segments to a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Repeat until you have finished with the first orange. Hold the remnants of the orange over a small bowl and squeeze to release the juice. Repeat the steps with the second orange. Turn the orange pieces out onto a plate or a small baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towel to absorb some of the excess liquid.
Squeeze one half of the third orange and measure out ¼ cup of juice. (Any remaining juice can be combined with the little bit you reserved from straining the orange segments. You can add this to the candied oranges when you glaze the cake.)
Add just enough yogurt to the ¼ cup of juice so you end up with a total of ⅔ cup of liquid. (I measured slightly shy of ½ cup of yogurt.) Whisk together the juice and yogurt until they are combined. Add the vanilla and orange extracts, whisking once or twice to combine. Add the yogurt/juice/extract mixture into the bowl with the sugar and zest and whisk well. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and finally whisk in the olive oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, using a rubber scraper to gently combine the mixture. Fold the reserved orange segments into the batter.
Pour the batter into the parchment lined/buttered/floured loaf pan, and smooth the top with a small offset spatula. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake the pound cake on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes. Keep an eye on things after 45 minutes, covering the cake with a piece of parchment paper to protect the cake if it is getting too dark. The cake should be golden and test clean when a small knife is inserted in the center. Remove the pound cake from the oven and set it on a cooling rack. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before carefully turning the cake out of the pan, removing the parchment and letting it cool completely, right side up. (The flavors continue to develop as the cake sits, so if time allows, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and let it sit one day before serving.)
Serve with whipped cream and candied orange slices, if you wish. If you are short on time, you can combine the reserved orange juice (from straining the orange pieces) with ½ cup of orange marmalade and heat the mixture on low until it melts. Spread the marmalade over the cooled cake and garnish with a few fresh orange slices.
For the Candied Oranges- (best to prepare these early in the day or the night before)
3 tangelos, cara cara, or navel oranges (mine weighed about 1 and 1/2 pounds)
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 and 1/2 cups honey
one half of a vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped with tip of a paring knife
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
4 cardamom pods, crushed
Thoroughly wash and dry the oranges then halve them and slice them, no thicker than 1/4.” Place the orange slices in a non-reactive saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the orange slices for 8-10 minutes, just until tender. Drain the slices.
In a heavy bottomed, non-reactive pot, combine 1 and 1/2 cups of water with the honey, vanilla bean and seeds, cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the boiled peels and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Gently cook for 30 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Strain the oranges in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl to catch the syrup. (If you have a little bit of orange juice left over from the orange segments used in the pound cake, add it to the syrup.) Use a fork to separate the oranges and spread them out on top of a cooling rack. Let the oranges and the syrup cool completely. (If you combine them while they are still hot, the fruit will continue to break down.) Combine the cooled orange slices with the cooled syrup in a container, cover and refrigerate, allowing the fruit to steep in the syrup overnight. When ready to serve the pound cake, brush some of the syrup over the cake and garnish with slices of candied oranges. (The syrup and oranges will keep refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.)
(adapted from The Fleischmann Treasury of Yeast Baking and Jessie's Sugar Buns)
makes one dozen buns
Bake in two large muffin/cupcake pans, (also known as ‘Texas’ muffin pans) 6-wells per pan (my pans measure 8 ½ “ x 12 ¼.)
You can also bake these in a large, rectangular ovenproof baking dish; make sure your pan has 2” sides and take into account that the buns will spread a bit while baking. You can bake them up the night before serving, let them cool and cover them securely with plastic wrap. Ice them with the lemon curd just before serving. I think these are best served slightly warm, the day they are baked.
These are a labor of citrus love. Arm yourself with a few lemons, limes, oranges, and a good citrus zester (preferably a microplane) and you’re ready to begin. It’s a good idea to prepare this in stages; I like to make the Lemon Curd the night before so it has a chance to thicken and chill completely. Give yourself ample time to prepare the Dough, because it takes a good 90 minutes to rise, and additional time to rise once the buns are rolled and cut. (You can let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, but you will have to let it warm up a bit the next morning before rolling it out.) I prefer to make the dough early in the morning, fortified by caffeine. The Citrus Filling takes little prep time and will sit agreeably on the counter while it waits for the dough to rise.
If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on some of the wonderful Jones & Company products, you are lucky, indeed. Visit their inspiring website @ vanillasoftheworld.com
Prepare the Lemon Curd-
(this recipe yields about 2 cups; you will only need ½ cup of curd to fill the Citrus Morning Buns. Don’t be tempted to overfill them- it will make it difficult to roll them up. You will use plenty of the additional curd as icing. Any leftover curd should be covered and refrigerated; it will last for up to one week.)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from approx. 3 lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx. 1 lemon)
7 large egg yolks
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
In a non-reactive, heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Stir occasionally using a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes very thick, and coats the spoon, leaving a line when you draw your finger through. This will take about 10-15 minutes. (It should register 172 degrees F on a candy or insta-read thermometer.) Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let the lemon curd cool for about 15 minutes before whisking in the butter, a little at a time, until it is thoroughly incorporated. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
Prepare the Dough-
¼ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar or Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, (1 stick) room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar or Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten with a fork
1 cup whole milk, warm to the touch but not hot (do not substitute lowfat)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract ( I use
3 ¾ - 4 cups bread flour, (plus additional for rolling out the dough)
In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to proof; the yeast will dissolve and become foamy.
Warm the milk in a pyrex container in the microwave for 15 seconds on low power, just to take the chill off of it. (Alternatively, warm it in a saucepan over low heat on top of the stove, very briefly so it is warm to the touch, just 100 degrees F. Do not overheat it or let it boil or it will kill the yeast.)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. In a medium bowl, place the ½ cup of sugar and the citrus zests, rubbing the mixture together with your fingertips to release the citrus oils. Gradually add the sugar/zest mixture and the salt to the butter, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing to blend, then slowly add the milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Stir in the yeast mixture. (The 3¾ cups of flour is added in thirds, 1¼ cups at a time.) Gradually add 1¼ cups of flour to the butter mixture, beating on low speed until thoroughly combined. If your mixer has a dough hook attachment, place that on the machine now. If not, add the next 1¼ cups of flour using the paddle attachment, making sure the flour is well combined. Add the last 1¼ cups of flour, and wait and see if you need to add any additional flour. The dough should be soft and come away from the sides of the mixing bowl. (You can add an additional 1 or 2 tablespoons if the dough is very sticky, but less will yield a lighter dough.) Continue beating the dough on low speed for an additional five minutes. (If you do not have a heavy duty stand mixer, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic when ready.)
After the dough has been kneaded, place it in a large, well-buttered, mixing bowl; turn the dough so it is lightly coated with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Prepare the Citrus Filling-
¼ cup unsalted butter, (4 tablespoons) room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar or ¾ cup Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx. 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons orange zest (from approx. 1 orange)
1 teaspoon lime zest (from 1 lime)
In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula or a fork to blend together the butter, sugar and zests. Set aside at room temperature so it stays spreadable.
Prepare the Egg Wash. (This will be brushed along the edge of the rolled dough to seal it.)
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water or milk
When ready to Roll the Dough-
Lightly butter the two muffin pans or the one baking pan.
Gently punch down the risen dough. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle, 12” x 18”. Use a ruler or a bench scraper to straighten the edges of the dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the citrus filling evenly over the dough, leaving a one inch border all the way around. Measure out ½ cup of lemon curd and gently spread it over the citrus filling. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough jellyroll style, easing the roll with your fingers to keep it an even thickness. Don't worry if a little bit of the filling peeks out from the dough, use your offset spatula to tuck it back in. Brush the long edge closest to you with a little egg wash; this will help seal the roll. Mark the jellyroll with a small paring knife in 1½” widths; this will give you 12 pieces. Use a serrated knife to cut off any stragglers on the end of the jellyroll, so the roll is even. Brush a little egg wash on the open ends and pinch them closed.
The easiest way to divide the roll is to use a long piece of dental floss; guide it beneath the jellyroll, bring it up and cross it, pulling the floss to slice through the dough. Divide the pieces of dough evenly between the two lightly buttered pans, cover the pans with clean kitchen towels and let the dough rise for about 40 minutes, until the buns have doubled in size. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Every oven is different and dark sided pans tend to yield a slightly darker result. Keep an eye on things! Check the buns at the 20 minute mark to make sure they are not getting too brown; if so, you can cover them with a sheet of parchment paper. Check them again at 25 minutes- their internal temperature should be 190 degrees F. If not, or they feel doughy, they may need an additional few minutes.
Remove from the oven, set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then carefully run a small offset spatula or paring knife around the edge of each bun, easing them out of the pan and on to a cooling rack. Let cool a bit before icing them with lemon curd. Any leftovers should be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated. Again, they are best enjoyed the day they are baked.
Chocolate Celebration Cake Frosting
… for Barbara…
Fills and frosts one 9” three layer cake
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, preferably 60%, coarsely chopped
1½ cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons Cognac (depending on the type of celebration)
Place the chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until the chocolate is finely chopped. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, scald the cream. Turn the food processor on and pour the scalded cream through the feed tube, processing until blended. (You can skip this step, but I like to pour the chocolate/cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve, just in case there are any chocolate stragglers.) Transfer the chocolate cream into a large bowl and let it cool slightly.
Whisk the butter and Cognac into the chocolate cream just until blended. Don’t go crazy here, because you want the frosting to be smooth. Let the frosting stand until it firms up. (If you make this ahead of time, you may need to warm it up slightly by setting it over a bowl of warm water before frosting your cake.)
In-Or-Out of Season Strawberry/Rhubarb Compote
makes a generous 2 cups
2½ cups rhubarb, (leafy stems removed!) preferably fresh (if frozen, let it sit for a bit so you can blot away any excess ice crystals) cut into ½” pieces
1 generous cup fresh strawberries (in a pinch you can use frozen)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (I prefer my rhubarb on the tart side- you may wish to add another tablespoon of sugar)
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
scrapings from ½ of a vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from one small orange
In a non-reactive saucepan, place all of the ingredients and cook over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Cook the mixture for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to mash the fruit; the idea is for the rhubarb and berries to retain some of their shape. The compote should cook down and thicken slightly; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Test a piece of rhubarb to see if it is done to your liking. I prefer the slightest hint of texture, not a totally saucy mixture. Let the compote cool completely, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The compote keeps, covered and refrigerated for one week.