Do you get overwhelmed when you walk up the spice aisle of the grocery store? Do you know how to use things like extracts and salts in recipes?
Well the Virtual Potluck group has embarked on a journey and we'd like to take you along. We have partnered with the Savory Spice Shop and have cooked our way through every section of their store. Each of us focused on a different category...mine is extracts.
We hope that by the time you are done reading all 12 of our posts you will have a better understanding and appreciation of spices and how they can be used to change the ordinary to the extraordinary when cooking.
What is going to make this event even more fun for you is that each blogger is offering a cool Savory Spice Shop gift set from their specialty. That means 12 different gift sets, to 12 different winners. So be sure to visit the entire group. I guarantee you it will be worth it. Here's a look at what you can win...see below for details on how to enter.
So let's get started....I told you my focus is on extracts. Why extracts? Well I love to bake and extracts are a way to enhance the flavor of baked goods without changing structure. So technically you can start with one basic recipe and by just switching out the extracts have a different product each time.
The Savory Spice Shop has a great line of extracts all of which are gluten free and contain no added sugar. They use only the best essential oils and naturals flavors and guarantee their extracts to be bake and freeze proof. Which means there's never a loss of flavor.
When I started browsing through the extract section online I'll admit I was a bit overwhelmed...there is quite a large selection of flavors to choose from. So to make it easy on myself I decided to start with the finished product. I knew I wanted to do a cake sundae of sorts...and I knew that chocolate had to be involved.
This helped a lot...I decided to randomly choose 3 flavors that would work well with chocolate and go from there. My picks: cherry, almond and pistachio. The first thing I did when my extracts arrived was taste them. This might seem odd but I needed to know what to expect before I could start using them. I was not disappointed. Each one of them had a very distinct flavor not chemically like some extracts i've tasted in the paste.
I decided I was going to find a way to use all three in my recipe; and I did. That is how I came up with my spumoni sundae. It's layers of chocolate cherry cake and pistachio ice cream topped with almond whipped cream.
The Chocolate Cake
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup water
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons cherry extract
Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter two 9″ x 2″ cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
Mix together the water, cherry extract and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then add the milk mixture. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
The Pistachio Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon pistachio extract
2 drops of green food coloring (optional)
Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot.
Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining cream, the half-and-half, and the pistachio extract.
Add green food coloring if using.
Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, for at least eight hours or overnight.
When ready to churn, remove the vanilla pod (reserve the bean for another use), then make in your ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze on a flat sheet pan
The Almond Whipped Cream
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes. Then place all the ingredients in the cold bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.
If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate.
Using a cookie cutter the size of your cup cut pieces of chocolate cake and pistachio ice cream. Save the excess for another use. Press cake and ice cream into glass. Gently pipe whipped cream on top. Garnish with crushed pistachios if desired.
There's several ways you can win:
1. Go to the Savory Spice Shop Facebook page, click the Virtual Potluck link, and choose an extract from the extract section that you would like to try...come back here and let me know what it is (mandatory)
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Like the Savory Spice Shop on Facebook come back here and tell me you did
4. Follow me on Facebook
5. Comment on one or more of the other VP bloggers and let me know
6. Follow @SavorySpiceShop on Twitter...let me know
Contest ends midnight EST on Saturday 4/21/2012