Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sweet Potato Bread with Pecans

So, we've just dug up 10 lbs. of sweet potatoes; what's a gaijin mother to do? Make Sweet Potato Bread of course! Now besides making bread out of the Japanese sweet potatoes, they are actually fabulous baked with the skin on and eaten by pulling back the skin and eating the flesh. The Japanese call these Yakiimo (Sounds like Yakeeeemo) I learned in my son's Japanese class that the word Yaki means burnt and Imo is short for sweet potato and that Tori means bird so, Yakitori (that wonderfully BBQ'd meat on a stick) literally means, burnt bird. Not so appetizing when literally translated! Yakiimo (Burnt potato) is something I thought I would have never liked. I wasn't too fond of sweet potatoes back home. The only thing that I do differently than the Japanese when eating Yakiimo is melt some butter on it! This bread is also much better with some butter spread on top. It yields two loafs of bread so, make one for yourself and give one to your neighbor. I promise, they won't complain about your little Bobby throwing balls in the backyard any more!

2 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups water
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine sugar, water, oil, eggs, and sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add pecans and mix well. Divide between 2 greased loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes. Cool in pan to room temperature.

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Warm chocolate Praline Tart with Caramel, Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

I call this the recipe from hell!!! It is to die for but is the biggest pain in the butt to make. Seriously, if you are aiming to impress someone, this is the recipe to do it with. Everything is from scratch. The chocolate sauce, the caramel sauce, the chocolate pralines, the vanilla ice cream and the chocolate tart crust. If you have children, it will probably take you about 3 days to make. If you don't have young toddlers running about you can probably get it done in 1 day. When you go shopping, make a list and check it twice because there are a lot of ingredients!!

I got this recipe from an Emeril show so, you can always check it out on

When I made the crust, the outer edge seemed to be to hard so, I think next time I will make the crust the same throughout rather than doubling up the edges as the recipe suggests. I may also use the recipe for the pralines and add it into some homemade vanilla ice cream as a mix in. YUM!!

My recommendation is to make the pie crust and ice cream first (if you're making homemade ice cream) Then while the pie crust is chillin' in the fridge and the ice cream is hardening, you can make the pralines, chocolate and caramel sauce. Without further delay:

6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely crumbled Chocolate Pralines, recipe follows
1 recipe Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
1 recipe Chocolate Sauce, recipe follows
1 recipe Vanilla Ice Cream, recipe follows, or good quality store bought ice cream

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Gently fit the dough into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, easing the pastry gently into the bottom and sides. Trim the edges of the dough so that they overhang slightly over the edge of the tart pan, then fold this excess dough over the sides so that the outer edges are almost twice as thick as the bottom of the crust. Press so that the edges are flush with the top of the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and pie weights, beans, or rice and bake until set and the edges just begin to firm up, about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake until completely set, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. To prepare the tart filling, combine the sugars and flour in a large bowl and stir to blend. Add the eggs, dark and light corn syrups, rum, vanilla, and salt and whisk to blend. Crumble the pralines evenly over the bottom of the prepared tart shell and pour the filling over the pralines. Bake until the tart is set, 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To serve, cut the tart into 8 slices. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Caramel Sauce onto the center of 8 dessert plates and arrange the slices on top. Drizzle each slice with about 3 tablespoons of the Chocolate Sauce and arrange a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream to the side. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Tart Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt into a large bowl. With your fingers, incorporate the butter pieces into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the egg to make a soft dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to rest for at least 1 hour before using.Yield: 1 (9 or 10-inch tart crust)

Chocolate Pralines:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Line a large heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside. Combine the sugars, heavy cream, and butter in a large heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugars have dissolved, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches the softball stage, 238 to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the pecans and chocolate chips, and stir vigorously until the pecans remain suspended in the mixture, about 2 minutes. Spoon onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading with the back of the spoon to form a thin layer of uniform thickness. Cool completely and then crumble, as needed. (Alternatively, make individual pralines by dropping the hot praline mixture by the spoonful onto the prepared baking sheet, let cool, and then remove with a thin knife.)

Yield: about 3 cups crumbled pralines

Caramel Sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup milk Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Carefully add the cream or it may splatter, whisk to combine, and remove from the heat. Add the milk, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.

Yield: a generous 3/4 cup

Chocolate Sauce:
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips (1 1/3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Scald the half-and-half and butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat. Place the chocolate and vanilla in a medium heatproof bowl. Add the hot half-and-half and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Serve slightly warm. (The sauce can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; rewarm gently before serving.) Yield: 1

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