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  • Recipe: Pastry Cream

    Pastry Cream from Chief Family OfficerPastry cream is an egg-based custard filling you can use in pies and other desserts. I made some yesterday for the Strawberry Trifle I’ll be putting together later today (recipe to come), and since I tweaked the recipe I used, I thought I would share it here. It’s actually really simple, and you can use a hand-mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer.

    Pastry Cream

    Makes 4 cups
    Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

    2 2/3 cups 1%, 2% or whole milk
    1 vanilla bean
    8 large egg yolks {save whites for another recipe}
    2/3 cup granulated sugar {I used organic}
    4 tablespoons corn starch
    4 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour

    1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod and milk to the seeds, and heat over medium-high heat until just simmering. Whisk frequently to prevent the milk from curdling and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

    2. While the milk mixture is heating, combine the egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and flour in the bowl of your mixer. With the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat on high until the mixture has thickened and is pale yellow.

    3. Remove the vanilla bean pod. Transfer 1 cup of the milk mixture to a measuring cup. Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the milk down the inside of the bowl. When the milk has fully incorporated into the egg mixture, pour the mixture into the milk in the pan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until thickened, whisking frequently to prevent clumping. The pastry cream is done when it forms a film over the back of a spoon.

    4. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and pour the hot pastry cream into the sieve. Do not force any clumps through the sieve. Remove the sieve, and directly cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap – this will prevent the cream from forming a skin. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

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    Homemade Caramel Sauce

    I’ve been perfecting an iced caramel coffee recipe, and the first ingredient is homemade caramel sauce. Unfortunately, this is one of those recipes that seems to fall more under the “art” than “science” category, although in actuality, it’s probably more science in the sense that certain chemical reactions have to take place in a precise manner. In practice, you’ll probably have to make caramel sauce a few times in order to get the flavor and texture you really like. Here’s my version:

    Homemade Caramel Sauce
    I know, I have to stop using the camera phone. Sorry about the fuzzy photo!

    Homemade Caramel Sauce
    makes approximately one cup

    2 to 4 tablespoons water
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1. To the bottom of a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add just enough water to coat the bottom. Add the sugar. Heat the sugar over medium high heat until the sugar water bubbles. You can swirl the pan, but do not stir. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sugar mixture thickens and turns golden. You’ll need to keep a close eye on it as the line between golden and burnt is a thin one.

    2. Stir in the heavy cream (be careful because the sauce will foam). Stir in the butter until it’s melted and cook one minute. Remove from heat.

    3. Immediately transfer to a storage jar – as you can see from the picture, I’ve been using a measuring cup but a mason jar would be lovely. Cover and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

    Note: Because the sauce foams when you add the cream and butter, be sure to use a pan with high sides compared.

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    Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips

    Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips
    As you can see, I forgot to take a picture before we started eating!

    I baked a couple of things yesterday, and Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips was one of them. I adapted my original recipe for Classic Banana Bread, and reduced the sugar, subbed in some whole wheat flour, and baked it in cake form to maximize the crunchy top, which is absolutely one of my favorite things in the world to eat.

    Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips

    1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    6 ripe bananas, mashed
    1 cup fair trade chocolate chips

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan and set aside.

    2. In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt, and stir to mix well.

    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and mix for five minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla and bananas. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

    4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

    This recipe is freezer friendly. I recommend wrapping individual servings tightly in plastic wrap, putting the individually wrapped servings in a zip top freezer bag, and squeezing out as much air as possible before putting the bag(s) in the freezer.

    Recipe & Giveaway: Musselman’s Chewy Fruit Bars & Apple Sauce

    Spring is in the air, so Musselman’s wants to encourage you to see all that’s growing in your area. Reconnect with nature – and your family and friends – by getting outdoors for a spring hike, complete with healthy snacks made with apple sauce. There are many recipes on their web site, and they sent some products and recipes for us to try. I made the Chewy Fruit Bars, which were a huge hit with my boys despite the lack of brain power that I demonstrated:

    The recipe calls for a 13×9 pan, but I wanted to bake it in my toaster oven. So I planned to make a half-recipe and bake it in an 8×8 pan. Only . . . I made the full recipe, put it in the 8×8 pan, and realized what I’d done only after I’d spread the filling. I baked it anyway and crossed my fingers. My oldest called it “great.” So apparently this recipe is very forgiving!

    Chewy Fruit Bars
    adapted from Musselman’s

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    2/3 cup butter, softened
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup quick-cooking oats
    4 4-oz cups Musselman’s Healthy Picks Apple Sauce {I used cinnamon}
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup chopped, dried sweetened cranberries

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking pan with cooking spray.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, and baking soda, and mix well with a fork.

    3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add oats and mix until just combined. Press two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared baking pan.

    4. In a medium bowl, combine the apple sauce, raisins and cranberries. Spread evenly over dough in pan. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into bars.

    WIN IT!

    Musselman’s wants to give one lucky CFO reader some Musselman’s apple sauce products so you can try out their recipes yourself.

    To enter this giveaway, visit Musselman’s and tell me a recipe from their site that you’d like to try in the form below. Email, RSS and mobile readers may need to click through to the blog in order to see the form. If you’re having trouble with your entry, you can go directly to the published form. This entry must be completed in order for your subsequent entries to be counted.

    For a second entry, “like” Chief Family Officer on Facebook. Then fill out the form again.

    For a third entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you’ve done so. You’ll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox (your subscription must be confirmed). If you’re already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know (and thanks!).

    For a fourth entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway (including a link to this post). Then fill out the form to let me know you’ve done so (include the link to your update). You can tweet the following to make it easy: @cfoblog is giving away Musselman’s apple sauce!

    For a fifth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

    For a sixth entry, subscribe to updates from my other blog, LAUSD Magnets & Beyond. Then let me know about it in the form below.

    You can enter up to six times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. (To see the form again once you’ve completed it, just refresh the page.) Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I’ll select the winner using and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. Winner must respond within 24 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. Additionally, these guidelines apply to all giveaways here at CFO.

    The giveaway ends at 8 p.m. PST on Monday, May 21, 2012, and is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

    Disclosure: Prize, information, and giveaway have been provided by Musselman’s, including product for me to try and review. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    Toaster Oven Brownies

    It gets really hot where I live, and when temps are over 90 degrees, I find myself loathe to turn on the oven. So in the summer, I do a lot of baking in my toaster oven. The batches are smaller, but it’s worth not overheating my kitchen.

    Toaster Oven Brownies
    Makes 16 good-size brownies

    1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup fair-trade unsweetened cocoa powder
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup melted butter
    2 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup fair trade chocolate chips

    1. Before you begin, make sure an 8×8 baking pan will fit in your toaster oven. Thoroughly grease the 8×8 baking pan. Preheat the toaster oven to 325 degrees.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar and mix well.

    3. In a small bowl, combine butter, eggs and vanilla and stir well with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

    4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan comes out with a few crumbs. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack before cutting.

    Sorry about the picture quality. I’m trying to be more diligent about taking pictures for my recipes, but need to work on my technique!