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CHOCOLATE SHEET CAKE

The Free Press WV

This chocolate sheet cake requires that you use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. What exactly is that? A process called Dutching, which was invented in the 19th century by a Dutch chemist and chocolatier named Coenraad Van Houten, raises cocoa powder’s pH level, which gives the cocoa a fuller flavor and deeper color. Dutch-processed cocoa (sometimes called “alkalized” or “European- style” cocoa) is the best choice for most baked goods. Using a natural (or “unalkalized”) cocoa powder results in a drier cake. Follow this recipe with your kids.


CHOCOLATE SHEET CAKE

Servings: 15

Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes (Inactive time: 1 hour, plus cooling time)

Ingredients Needed:

Vegetable oil spray

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all- purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

2?3 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Gather Cooking Equipment:

13-by-9-inch metal baking pan

Medium bowl

Whisk

Large saucepan

Rubber spatula

Toothpick

Oven mitts

Cooling rack

Icing spatula

Chef’s knife

Start Cooking!

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 F. Spray bottom and sides of 13-by-9- inch metal baking pan with vegetable oil spray.

In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In large saucepan, combine chocolate chips, milk, and cocoa. Place saucepan over low heat and cook, whisking often, until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.

Turn off heat. Slide saucepan to cool burner and let mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add oil, eggs, and vanilla to saucepan with chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth, making sure to scrape corners of saucepan.

Use rubber spatula to scrape batter into greased baking pan and smooth top (ask an adult for help because saucepan will be heavy).

Place baking pan in oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Use oven mitts to remove baking pan from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking pan on cooling rack and let cake cool completely in pan, about 2 hours.

Use icing spatula to spread frosting evenly over cooled cake (see photo, right). Cut cake into pieces and serve.

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Milk Chocolate Frosting:

Makes about 2 Cups

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time

This recipe calls for just three ingredients but they are transformed by the microwave and refrigerator. Don’t use salted butter in this recipe. This recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes or one sheet cake.

Prepare ingredients:

11/3 cups milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

Gather cooking equipment:

Large microwave-safe bowl

Rubber spatula

Whisk

Electric mixer

Start cooking:

In large microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Heat microwave at 50 percent power for 1 minute. Stop microwave and stir with rubber spatula. Heat in microwave at 50 percent power until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from microwave.

Add softened butter to chocolate mixture and use whisk to stir and break up large butter pieces. Let sit until butter is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until completely smooth.

Refrigerate frosting until cooled and thickened, about 1 hour.

Use electric mixer to beat frosting on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 30 seconds.

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Nutrition information per serving: 456 calories; 253 calories from fat; 28 g fat (11 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 86 mg cholesterol; 159 mg sodium; 45 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 32 g sugar; 6 g protein.

BAKED BRIE WITH HONEYED APRICOTS

The Free Press WV

Baked Brie topped with jam or fruit is popular for good reason. When the cheese is warmed, it becomes rich and gooey, and pairing it with sweet fruit brings out the savory notes in the cheese.

For sweet and creamy flavor in every bite, we reengineered the traditional whole wheel of baked Brie by trimming off the rind (which doesn’t melt that well) and slicing the cheese into cubes. This allowed our honey-apricot mixture to be evenly distributed throughout this deconstructed version of the dish, not just spooned on top.

Baking the cheese in a cast-iron skillet seemed like a no-brainer; since the skillet holds on to heat so well, it keeps the cheese in the ideal luscious, fluid state. We finished the dish with an extra drizzle of honey and some minced chives to reinforce the sweet-savory flavor profile.

Be sure to use a firm, fairly unripe Brie for this recipe. Serve with crackers or Melba toast.


BAKED BRIE WITH HONEYED APRICOTS

Servings: 8-10

Start to finish: 30 minutes

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (8-ounce) wheels firm brie cheese, rind removed, cheese cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 F. Microwave apricots, 2 tablespoons honey, rosemary, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until apricots are softened and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring halfway through microwaving. Add Brie and toss to combine.

Transfer mixture to 10-inch cast-iron skillet and bake until cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons honey and sprinkle with chives. Serve.

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Nutrition information per serving: 239 calories; 141 calories from fat; 16 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 57 mg cholesterol; 432 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 12 g protein.

SMOKED TURKEY PANINI WITH SIMPLE CRANBERRY SAUCE

The Free Press WV

Panini, sandwiches traditionally cooked in a ridged press, are hard to get wrong_but also surprisingly hard to get just right.

To turn a crowd-pleasing combination of smoked turkey and melty cheddar cheese into an inspired lunch, we needed a condiment with some big personality. To that end, we turned to our Simple Cranberry Sauce, spreading it onto both slices of bread for maximum tart, fruity impact. For a fresh finishing touch, we added some baby arugula.

To achieve the signature ridged grill marks without a press, we used a grill pan as the base and a Dutch oven as a weight on top.

A hearty rustic bread with a crusty exterior and substantial, slightly chewy crumb worked best_tasters found that softer sandwich breads flattened out too much.

For easy cleanup, cover the bottom of the Dutch oven with aluminum foil. If you don’t have a nonstick grill pan you can use a nonstick skillet. Buy a rustic 8-inch loaf (often called a boule) with a good crust and cut it into 1/2-inch slices.


SMOKED TURKEY PANINI WITH SIMPLE CRANBERRY SAUCE

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread

1/4 cup Simple Cranberry Sauce (recipe below)

8 ounces thinly sliced cheddar cheese

8 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey

2 ounces (2 cups) baby arugula

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 F. Brush oil evenly over 1 side of each slice of bread. Flip bread over and spread cranberry sauce evenly over each second side. Assemble 4 sandwiches by layering ingredients as follows between prepared bread (with cranberry sauce inside sandwich): half of cheddar, turkey, arugula, and remaining cheddar.

Heat 12-inch nonstick grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 1 minute. Place 2 sandwiches in pan, set Dutch oven on top, and cook until bread is golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer sandwiches to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining 2 sandwiches. Serve.

Simple Cranberry Sauce:

Cooked fruit sauces combine fruit and a careful selection of complementary ingredients; they pair perfectly with a range of savory foods, bringing sweetness and brightness to salty, creamy, or intensely umami-rich dishes.

The key to making a great fruit sauce is treating the different types of fruit in different ways to best bring out their unique characters: Sour fruits need their tartness tamed without becoming cloying, and sweet fruits need their flavors coaxed out and balanced with acidic seasonings.

For our classic cranberry sauce, we found simplest was also best: After testing different sweeteners and cooking liquids, we found that white sugar and water let the natural flavor of the fresh cranberries shine. We cooked the sauce just long enough to thicken it and break down some of the berries, but not so long that we lost all the cranberries’ signature “pop.”

For a bright and lively peach sauce, we used wine, thyme, mustard, and vinegar to create an aromatic, savory-leaning backbone. For a bold, luxurious cherry sauce, we called on red wine and port to underscore the pure cherry flavor.

Finally, we paired plums with sesame oil, ginger, and lime juice, then processed and strained the sauce for a smooth texture.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

This sauce also makes a great accompaniment to cheese and meat platters. If using frozen cranberries, do not defrost them; just add about 2 minutes to the simmering time.

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Bring sugar, water, and salt to boil in medium saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Stir in cranberries and return to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until slightly thickened and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. (Cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before serving.)

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Nutrition information per serving: 571 calories; 263 calories from fat; 29 g fat (12 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 76 mg cholesterol; 1127 mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 29 g protein.

RUSTIC DINNER ROLLS

The Free Press WV

European-style dinner rolls are different from their rich, tender American cousins. The dough for these rustic rolls is lean and the crumb is open, with a yeasty, savory flavor. But the best part might be their crust_so crisp it practically shatters when you bite into it, yet chewy enough to offer satisfying resistance.

It is this crust that keeps European-style dinner rolls in the domain of professionals, who use steam-injected ovens to expose the developing crust to moisture. We wanted a reliable recipe for rolls as good as any from a European bakery.

Unfortunately, when we tasted our first batch, we found a dense, bland crumb beneath a leathery crust. The flavor was easy enough to improve: We added whole-wheat flour for earthiness (just 3 tablespoons did the trick) and honey for sweetness. Extra yeast opened the crumb slightly, but it wasn’t enough.

The crumb structure of artisan-style loaves is achieved with a wet dough, so we ultimately found success when we upped the hydration of our roll dough. The water created steam during baking, opening up the crumb and making it airier.

For an ultracrisp crust, we came up with a two-step process that mimicked a steam-injected oven: First, we misted the rolls with water before starting them in a cake pan at a high temperature to help set their shape (since the dough was soft, individually baked rolls turned out squat).

Next, we lowered the temperature, pulled the rolls apart, and returned them to the oven on a baking sheet until they were golden on all sides. We do not recommend mixing this dough by hand.


RUSTIC DINNER ROLLS

Servings: 16

Start to finish: Total time 5 hours (Active time: 30 minutes)

3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour

3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, room temperature

2 teaspoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and yeast together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water and honey together in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until honey has dissolved.

Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl and hook as needed. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Add salt to dough and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and slightly sticky, about 1 minute. Transfer dough to lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Using greased bowl scraper (or your fingertips), fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and fold dough again; repeat turning bowl and folding dough 2 more times (total of 4 folds). Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, then cover bowl tightly with plastic and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to well-floured counter, sprinkle lightly with flour, and divide in half. Stretch each half into even 16-inch log and cut into 8 equal pieces (about 2 ounces each). Using your well-floured hands, gently pick up each piece and roll in your palms to coat with flour, shaking off excess. Arrange rolls in prepared pans, placing one in center and seven around edges, with cut side facing up and long side of each piece running from center to edge of pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic.

Let rolls rise until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, about 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 F. Mist rolls with water and bake until tops are brown, about 10 minutes. Remove rolls from oven and reduce oven temperature to 400 F.

Carefully invert rolls out of pans onto baking sheet and let cool slightly. Turn rolls right side up, pull apart, and arrange evenly on sheet. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer rolls to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

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Nutrition information per serving: 101 calories; 4 calories from fat; 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 219 mg sodium; 21 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 3 g protein.

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