Nougatkugeln

Aka the chocolate truffle, the bite-sized petit four is made from a creamy mixture of chocolate ganache, usually with butter and cream. However, this German version I've prepared below is with less fat in the recipe, but does not sacrifice the decadent chocolate flavor. As I've written prior, the quality of the truffle is primarily dependent on the quality of chocolate you start with. I can't stress this enough.

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Nougatkugeln

Recipe by Chef George Hirsch | Makes about 35 truffles 

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

*2 Tablespoons espresso or strong brewed coffee, or as needed

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup hazelnuts or almonds, lightly toasted & ground 

Optional filling: To make an all chocolate truffle: substitute 1 cup semisweet chocolate, ground medium-fine, for the hazelnuts.

Optional flavoring: Reduce espresso by 1 Tablespoon and substitute with 1 Tablespoon of Frangelico (halzelnut flavor liquor), or Grand Marnier (orange flavor liquor) 

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula to avoid over heating. As chocolate begins to melt, remove the bowl from the heat.

In a separate bowl, combine the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder with a wire whisk. Mix in espresso, vanilla, and nuts. Mixture should be slightly thick, add additional espresso if truffle mixture needs to be slightly smoother. 

Cool mixture slightly; and with a small scoop or by hand form small balls by shaping into 1/2- to 3/4-inch diameter balls. Dip the balls into the melted chocolate.  

Garniture: Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate and roll truffle balls in one of the following:

Toasted crushed nuts

Powdered sugar

Cocoa powder

Tempered chocolate striped over truffles

Coconut

Shaved chocolate

Chill until firm. Nougatkugeln is best when served at room temperature. 

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World's Greatest Cupcakes

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Switching to a kid (+ Adult) favorite sweet for Muffin Monday!

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Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 2 dozen 

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1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons Baking Powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Scrape bowl, add the sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

Add the eggs in three stages one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three stages, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix. Scrape down the bowl after each addition to make sure the ingredients are well blended. 

Fill cupcake liners approximately three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the muffin pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. 

Ice the cupcakes with either Vanilla Icing or Chocolate Icing

Vanilla Icing

Makes icing for 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla 

Place room temperature and softened butter in a large mixing bowl. 

Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. 

Beat on medium speed beat until smooth and creamy 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is thick enough for spreading consistency. *You may not need to add all of the sugar. 

Optional: Add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Icing is best used at room temperature, as it will harden when chilled.

Note: Use and store the icing at room temperature as icing will set if chilled.

Chocolate Icing

Makes icing for 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla 

Sift cocoa powder into six cups of the confectionary sugar. Place room temperature and softened butter in a large mixing bowl. 

Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. 

Beat on medium speed beat until smooth and creamy 3-5 minutes. Scrape the bowl and gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition approximately 2 minutes, until the icing is thick enough for spreading consistency. *You may not need to add all of the sugar. 

Note: For deeper chocolate; heat just until melted,2 Tablespoons chocolate chips in the microwave and combine with butter and sugar before adding milk. 

Use and store the icing at room temperature as icing will set if chilled.

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Chocolate Pound Cake

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This recipe is one of those cakes that gets better with age; meaning, it tastes even better the day after it is baked. You may not have access to Sag Harbor Rum for the simple syrup, so if you find yourself in a strange port use a good quality rum. 

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George Hirsch Chocolate Pound Cake, Sag Harbor Rum Syrup

Chocolate Pound Cake

Makes one loaf

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 1 1/2 cups cake flour  

1 teaspoon baking powder  

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweet butter, room temperature

1 cup pure cane granulated sugar  

3 eggs, beaten 

1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fine grated orange zest 

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder such as Droste

1/4 cupboiling hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Grease a loaf pan with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a small bowl mix cocoa powder into boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a separate bowl, mix cake flour with baking powder and salt.

On medium high speed, mix butter until softened, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after adding each egg. Add vanilla, orange zest, cocoa mixture. add the flour mixture and mix only until combined.  

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake on a center rack in oven for about 50 - 55 minutes or until done. To test doneness, cake will spring back when touched lightly with index finger.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Slice pound cake, serve soaked with rum simple syrup and with fresh whipped cream.

To make simple syrup:

1 cup water, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup of Rum, 1 orange, cut into quarters

Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Remove and cool.

Late Summer Cobbler

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A peach berry cobbler is one of my favorite desserts using a combination of summer fruits. This cobbler is a must during late summer when the fruit is at the perfect level of natural ripeness. The natural sugars from the soft fruit provide excellant sweetness. And, making the cobbler in a cast iron skillet makes it easy to serve during a Labor Day BBQ for the last hurrah! Wait, summer isn't over..Let's just call this a Late Summer Cobbler. 

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ingredients for George's Warm Peach Berry Cobbler

George’s Warm Peach Berry Cobbler

Makes 4 –6 servings

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George's Warm Peach Berry Cobbler

For Topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup flour

3/4 quick oats

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup melted butter 

Mix all sugars, flour, oats and nuts. Pour in butter and mix until topping looks like wet sand. Do not over mix; topping should have a lumpy consistency.

For the Filling:

4 cups Fresh Peaches- sliced and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. 

2 pints Fresh Blueberries, or mixed berries

1 loaf pound cake, sliced thin 

1/3 cup water or *simple syrup

Pre heat a 375 degree oven.

Grease small individual ramekins, or one nine inch ovenproof casserole, or an iron skillet. line bottom of pan with sliced pound cake. Add peaches, blueberries and simple syrup. Top with a generous amount of crumb topping.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until crumb topping is crisp and light brown. 

Serve warm topped with powder sugar, whip cream or powder sugar.

*To make simple syrup:

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

1 orange, cut into quarters

Place all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Remove and cool.

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