Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In this Galaxy- Milky Way Tart

I haven't posted for over a month now and I apologize-December is the time I do my gift baking, and there was no time to blog. Now that the holidays are over,  I should be more consistent. In the meantime, my neighbor invited me to bake for his first annual office bake-off since he and his wife are constantly sampling what I make, and they know I like to try new things.  It was an opportunity to make another Flour bakery recipe without the justification of an occasion. Only problem is,  I actually never got to taste it. But, my feeling is that anything with caramel and chocolate just has to be good.  This is a tart that reuqires multiple steps involving chilling and cooling so you can't just throw it together at the last minute, but if you want a special dessert...

Milky Way Tart
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Milk Chocolate Mousse
5 ounces (140 grams) milk chocolate, chopped
2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Caramel Filling
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80 grams) water
3/4 cup (180 grams) heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pate Sucree -10 inch tart shell
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk

3-4 inch slab milk chocolate at warm room temperature for  decorating

For Tart Shell: Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until pale and light.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.  Add the flour and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds or until the flour mixes with the butter- sugar mixture (will look like wet sand)/  Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed until the mixture comes together (about 30 seconds).  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a 10 inch tart ring on top.
Using a rolling pin, bang and flatten the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick.  Flour the work surface and sprinkle the dough disk with a little flour.  Roll out the dough into a circle 12 inches in diameter and just under 1/4 inch thick.  Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the ring and patch up with any scraps.  Trim the edge of the dough so it even with the rim of the ring.  Refrigerate the shell for about 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake (directly from refrigerator) for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack and then remove the tart ring.

To make the mousse: Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and instant coffee powder and scald over medium-high heat (bubbles form around the edge of the pan, but the cream is not boiling). Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let sit about 1 minute.  Whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a small container, stir in the salt, cover tightly and then refrigerate at least 8 hours until absolutely completely chilled.

To make the caramel filling: Place the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan and slowly pour in the water.  Stir gently to moisten the sugar.  Brush down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Then continue to boil rapidly with moving the pan until the sugar starts to caramelize.  This will take 3-4 minutes. The sugar syrup will boil furiously, and then, as it thickens, it will boil more languidly and will start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.  When you start to see color, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly.  The syrup will start to turn golden brown and then get darker as you swirl the pan.  To see the true color, tilt the pan so you can see the syrup covering the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking til this layer is deep amber brown but check constantly as caramel can go from dark to burnt quickly.  As soon as the caramel is ready, slowly add the cream and reduce the heat to low. It will sputter for a few seconds and then when it settles down, whisk tho mix in the cream. Turn up the heat to medium and whisk together the caramel and cream for 2-3 minutes or until they come together.  Whisk in the butter, salt and vanilla.  Remove from the heat and pour into an airtight, heatproof container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To put together the tart: Place the tart shell on a flat plate.  Spread about three-fourths of the caramel filling evenly in the  bottom of the tart shell.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the mousse on medium speed until it holds soft peaks.  Mound the mousse in the shell and spread it evenly over the caramel filling.  Drizzle the remaining caramel in a criss-cross pattern on top of the mousse.  Using the back of a small knife or a vegetable peeler, shave curls from the milk chocolate slab.
Decorate the tart with the curls.  Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.  ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't Give These A Raspberry- Raspberry Crumb Bars

Sorry for the length of time since the last post- had some computer issues getting on to the blog site- but I have been continuing on baking my way through the Flour bakery cookbook.  Still have not made anything that isn't delicious, and still so many more recipes to try.  These cookies are a little complicated and time consuming, but are special and worth the time it takes.  Similar to a linzer cookie (one of my old bakery favorites) but more delicate, and they melt in your mouth. I was hoping to have a better picture, but they were eaten before I could retake the photo.


Raspberry Crumb Bars
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Rick's Shortbread
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (510 grams) raspberry jam with seeds
1/4 cup (35 grams) confectioner's sugar

To make the shortbread: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and confectioner's sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the egg yolks are thoroughly incorporated.
     In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix for about 15 seconds , or until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl again to make sure all of the flour mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
    Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate sheet of plastic wrap.  Wrap the remaining 3/4 of the dough entirely in the plastic wrap, pressing down to form a disk about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.  Refrigerate the dough disk for about 30 minutes, or until the dough has firmed up but is still somewhat pliable.  Pat the reserved 1/4 of the dough into a small disk, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours or until hard.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
     Lightly flour the 8-inch dough disk and two large sheets of parchment paper.  Place the dough between the sheets of parchment and roll it out into a rectangle about 13x9 inches and 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.  Carefully peel off the top sheet of parchment. Trim the edges so the rectangle has fairly neat sides.  Transfer the bottom sheet of parchment with the dough to a baking sheet.  Trim the parchment so it fits the baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the shortbread is light brown- about the same color as maple wood.  Remove the shortbread from the oven (leave oven on), let cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then spoon the raspberry jam on top of the still-warm shortbread. Spread it in an even layer  with a spoon or spatula, covering the surface. If the jam is stiff, put it in a small bowl and stir it with a wooden spoon to smooth it out and loosen it up before you put it on the shortbread.  Remove the smaller dough disk from the freezer, and, using the large holes on a box grater, grate it into large flakes.  Evenly sprinkle the large flakes over the jam.  Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack.  When cooled, sit the confectioner's sugar evenly over the top.  Trim the edges again and then cut into 9 large bars.  (I cut into smaller bars).  The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days. ((post by Susan))

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's Old is New- New Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake

I know. I know. All I have been doing is baking from the Flour cookbook and I can't say I will be stopping anytime soon. But, everything sounds so delicious, and everything I have baked so far has lived up to expectations with the exception of the bran muffins- and someone I work with loved those as well.  So far I have been focusing on breakfast items and cookies, but I am getting ready to branch out to cakes and more complicated fare.  This coffee cake is addictive, and I loved the way the crunchy streusel gets integrated into the cake.  Another great recipe from Flour!

New Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Streusel
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (75 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons cake flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

Cake
2 1/2 cups (300 grams) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 10-12 pieces
3  large eggs at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 grams) creme fraiche

    Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan with a removable insert.
     To make the streusel: In a food processor, combine the brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, 3 tablespoons flour, and butter and pulse for about 20 seconds or until the mixture comes together roughly. Don't pulse too long. You want to chop the ingredients coarsely to make a crumbly mix.  Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. It should be about 1 1/2 cups.
      To make the cake: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar on low speed just until well mixed. Add the butter a few pieces at a time and continue to beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes or until the butter is well incorporated into the dry ingredients.  The mixture will look like coarse meal.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and creme fraiche until thoroughly mixed.  On low speed, slowly pour about half of the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Turn up the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for about 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture will go from looking thick and clumpy and yellowish to light and fluffy and whitish.  Stop once or twice to scrape sides and bottom of bowl, making sure all of the ingredients are mixed in. Turn down the mixer to low speed, add the remaining egg mixture and beat for about 30 seconds or until combined. Again, stop once or twice to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
     Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of the batter into the bowl holding the streusel, and then fold the streusel and the batter together until well mixed.  Scrape all of the non-streusel batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Then, top with the streusel batter, spreading it in an even layer and smoothing it.  Bake for  55-70 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and bounces back when you touch it near the center.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 3 hours or until completely cool.  Then, remove the cake from the pan. ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yes, Another Apple Cake- Apple Snacking Spice Cake

I have a new second favorite apple cake.  Teddie's Apple Cake (published on this blog, but also in the new Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser) is still my absolute favorite because of its crunchy, chewy outside and its moist, full of apples inside, but this cake comes pretty close. It is also chock full of apples, raisins and nuts, and is one of those cakes that you keep tasting a little and then some more, and pretty soon, it is gone.  So full of apples and nuts, you can convince yourself, it's healthy. The only adjustment I would make to the recipe is in the baking time- it could be my oven, but I am finding variations of 10-15 minutes in the Flour recipes. Other than that, this is one to definitely try.


Apple Snacking Spice Cake
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1  1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
12 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
4 cups (450 grams) peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith (or Mudzu) apples
1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins
1 cup (200 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
confectioner's sugar for dusting

      Place rack in center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan.
     In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Using the paddle attachment, add the granulated sugar and butter to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer several times and scrape the paddle and sides of the bowl to make sure all the butter is mixed in.  Add the eggs and mix on low speed for 10-15 seconds or until fully incorporated.  Turn the mixer to medium high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until the batter is light and fluffy.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins and pecans.  The batter will be very stiff and thick.  It will look like too many apples and not enough batter, but that's okay. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you press it in the middle and the top is dark golden brown.  Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. To remove from pan, invert the cake onto a plate and then invert again so it is right side up.  Dust slices with confectioner's sugar.  ((post by Susan))

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Carving Out More Pumpkin- Pumpkin Muffins with Candied Pepitas

     As I am slowly working my way through the Flour Bakery cookbook, I have been on kind of a baking frenzy these past few days because there are so many of her recipes I want to make.  New cookbooks do that to me.
      I am not fond of pumpkin pie, but I love pumpkin muffins, especially at this time of year.  I had a go- to recipe I made for years, but these are even better. They are moist, spicy and surprisingly light. The candied pepitas add a nice crunch and an unusual twist..  Although the recipe says it makes 12, it made 18 muffins in my tins.  I also added some raisins and minced candied ginger because I like the combination of flavors.  All my regular tasters were very positive.

Pumpkin Muffins with Candied Pepitas
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

Candied Pepitas
3/4 cup (170 grams) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 egg white
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

Muffins
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsulphured light or dark molasses
4 eggs
3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
1 can (16 ounces/454 grams) pumpkin puree
3 cups (420 grams) unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

To make the candied pepitas: Line a small tray with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, stir together the pepitas, egg white and sugar to make a loose slurry.  Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and leave out, uncovered,  to dry overnight. The next day, using your fingers, break apart the pepitas into separate pieces. (can be prepared up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature)

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
     Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition to combine the eggs and butter-sugar mixture thoroughly.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once more. On low speed, add the fresh orange juice and pumpkin and beat until combined.  The mixture will look somewhat curdled but will come together once you mix in the flour.
     In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves until well mixed.  Dump the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and fold carefully, just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim.  Sprinkle the tips evenly with the candied pepitas.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove from the pan.  ((post by Susan))

Monday, October 25, 2010

Granola Bars

Although I am a firm believer in dessert- and real dessert, not dessert made with sugar substitutes or fake anything, it is good to have a more healthy sweet alternative.  I first tasted these at Flour Bakery a few months ago and thought they were delicious.  They are good for breakfast, a snack or even dessert. Lucky for me, the recipe is included in the new Flour Bakery cookbook.  It is a little time consuming because there are several steps, but the final product is really good- very fruity with a wonderful crust- and these granola bars taste nothing like what you buy commercially.  


Granola Bars
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson


Granola Jam
1 cup (80 grams) dried apples
1 cup (160 grams) dried cranberries
1 cup (160 grams) dried apricots
1/2 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups water


1 cup (100 grams) walnut halves
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (80 grams) sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 8-10 pieces
6 tablespoons (128 grams) honey
3 tablespoons flaxseed
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons millet


To make the jam:  In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, craberries, apricots, granulated sugar and water, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 1 hour.  Transfer to a food processor and pulse 8-10 times or until a chunky jam forms.


     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant.  Let cool.
     Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In the food processor, combine the flour, oats, nuts, brown sugar, coconut, salt, cinnamon and butter and pulse about 15 times or until the mixture is evenly combined.  Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle the honey on top.  Work in the honey with your hands until the mixture comes together.  Press about 2/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Place the remaining 1/3 in the refrigerator.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes until light golden brown throughout.  Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the granola jam on top in an even layer, covering the whole surface.  REmove the reserved granola mixture from the refrigerator and break it up with your fingers into a small bowl.  Add the flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and millet and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the mixture like a crumb topping evenly over the jam.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2-3 hours.  Cut into 12 bars.  The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.  ((post by Susan)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whatever Lola Wants- Chunky Lola Cookies

Flour Bakery and Cafe is a Boston "go to" spot with delicious baked goods, soups and sandwiches. One branch is located right in my neighborhood, and I resist going there on too regular a basis. It is hard to go in there and not want to try multiple things. I have been waiting for the publication of the Flour cookbook for months, hoping I can make some of their treats at home. The cookbook just came out a week ago, and the first thing I made was these cookies.  At first you think you are making chocolate chip cookies, but these have the addition of coconut, pecans and oatmeal.  It makes rather large cookies so I would suggest just using less batter for a smaller cookie. Otherwise, they are crunchy and wonderful- and got a thumbs up from the 18 month old twins upstairs!

Chunky Lola Cookies
from Flour by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson

11 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces (255 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62-70% cacao) chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1 cup (120 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

     Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
     In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Add the chocolate, pecans and coconut and toss to combine.  On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.  For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3-4 hours) before baking.  When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
     Drop the dough in 1/4 cup balls (or smaller) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mats, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake 17-22 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes or until cool enough to remove with a spatula. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not the Apple of My Eye- Upside Down Caramel-Apple Muffins

I haven't made muffins in quite some time because scones are now my preferred breakfast carbohydrate treat. These muffins caught my eye because they combine two of my favorite flavors, apples and caramel.  Reading the recipe, the muffins sounded as if they could almost be a dessert.  But, the muffins turned out a little disappointing and not as moist and flavorful as I thought they would be.  I think I would prefer to have the fruit and nuts mixed in with the batter rather than on the bottom.  If you use paper muffin cups to make these, make certain to let them cool completely before peeling off the paper.

Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins
from Melissa Clark, NY Times, 10/5/10

For the apple topping
3 apples (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, chopped (optional)

For the muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
     In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, stir together the apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Distribute the apple slices among the muffin cups.  Add walnuts, if using, on top of the apple slices.
     In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until smooth.  Distribute the batter on top of the apples. Bake until the muffins are slightly puffed, about 20-22 minutes.  Let cool and serve. ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taming the Beast- Hazelnut-and-Chocolate Meringue Cake

As you probably can tell by now, I am always intrigued by baked goods that have interesting or clever names.  This cake sounded delicious and its nickname "the beast" pulled me right in. I imagined a big, heavy dessert, but it is actually a fairly simple cake- just layers of hazelnut chocolate meringue sandwiched with whipped cream.  It looks like it took hours to make.   A rich dessert with all the whipped cream, but the taste is surprisingly light and crunchy, despite its nickname. It is a perfect ending to a special meal.

Hazelnut-and-Chocolate Meringue Cake
from the Genoa Restaurant, Portland, Oregon as seen in Food and Wine, October, 2010

1 1/2 cups ( 7 ounces) hazelnuts
6 large egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup (6 ounces) mini chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
chocolate shavings for garnish

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line 2 large  baking sheets with parchment paper.  Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet and one 8-inch round on the other.  Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast 12-14 minutes until browned.  Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins.  Chop the nuts finely in a food processor.  Lower the oven temperature to 225 degrees F.
     In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled.  Divide the batter in three and spread the meringue over the drawn circles, baking for 2 hours, 30 minutes until crisp.  Rotate the pans halfway through baking.  Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
      In the chilled bowl of the standing mixer, beat the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the paper.  Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them, meringue, cream, meringue, cream, meringue, cream.  Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight.  Cut into wedges ( it can get a little messy) and let come to room temperature before serving.  Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving. ((post by Susan))

Friday, October 8, 2010

Too Much of A Good Thing?- Heath Bar Brownies

As Mae West said "too much of a good thing is wonderful".  That is how I feel about brownies- classic, fudgy, chewy, almost candy-like brownies.  But can there be too much of a good thing? My favorite brownie recipe is the Palm Beach brownie recipe in Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.  I have tried, over the years, many other brownie recipes, but always come back to that one.  Again, I am always willing to try something new to see if there is a brownie even better.  Haven't found it yet.  This is another brownie recipe of hers, and frankly, it was disappointing.  I was expecting more from her description.  It is a more cake-like brownie, and the addition of the heath bar bits adds some crunch and richness, but the overall flavor and texture is just not the same. So I will stick to my favorite. Sometimes you do not have to leave room for improvement.

Heath Bar Brownies
from Maida Heatter's Brand New Book of Great Cookies

3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces pecan halves or pieces)
6 1/4 ounces Heath bars, cut up into small pieces)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sifted unbleached flour

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with butter or cooking spray.
    Toast the pecans in a shallow pan in the oven for about 12 minutes until they are very hot and smell toasted. Set aside.  Place the unsweetened chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over warm water on moderate heat.  Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from double boiler and set aside.
     In the small bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar until mixed.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat only to mix.  Add the flour and beat only to mix.  Stir in the nuts and all but 1/4 cup of the Heath bar pieces.  Turn into the prepared pan and spread smooth. Sprinkle the remaining Heath bar pieces over the top.  Bake about 28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle barely comes out clean.  Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.  Remove the brownies from the pan by inverting over a cookie sheet and peeling away the foil. Invert to cool right side up.  Refrigerate for about one hour.   Cut into bars.  ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Great Pumpkin -Cake

Even though I am still trying to deny that fall is upon us, the weather and the produce at the farmer's market are fighting against my illusions.  Pumpkins are here and definitely mean fall and leaves and Halloween.  I was about to try another apple cake, but at the suggestion of my son, I decided to make this cake, which I hadn't made in many, many years. I made a few additions to the original recipe, and it turned out wonderfully.  It is a moist, dense, spicy cake, perfect for this time of year.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze
adapted from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

3 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries (my addition)
1 cup walnuts, broken into medium size pieces, optional
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, cut into tiny pieces (my addition)
1 1 lb. can plain pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup safflower, corn, canola or other salad oil (not olive oil)
4 eggs

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of non-stick tube pan with unbuttered baking liner paper.
     Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and salt.  Add a tablespoon of the sifted dry ingredients to the raisins and dried cranberries in a bowl.  With your fingers,  toss them to separate and coat with the dry ingredients.  Stir in the nuts and set aside.
     In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the pumpkin, sugar and oil.  Beat at medium speed until  smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until incorporated.  On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beating only until smooth.  Remove from mixer and stir in raisins, dried cranberries and nuts.  Turn into prepared pan.  Bake 55-65 minutes until  a cake tester comes out dry.  Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.  Cover cake pan with rack and invert. Remove pan and paper.  Cover with another rack and invert again to cool right side up on rack.  When cool, dribble with maple glaze.

Maple Glaze
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

6 tablespoons sifted confectioner's sugar
2-3  tablespoons maple syrup

Sift confectioner's sugar in bowl.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of  maple syrup.  Add additional maple syrup a little at a time until you have an icing that runs nicely off the edge of a spoon. ((post by Susan))

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boo!: Halloween Candy Bark

October is my favorite month. Not only is it when the air feels crisp and you have an excuse to buy some new fall clothes, but it is also responsible for my favorite holiday: Halloween. I admit that I love Halloween largely because it gives me an excuse to eat tons of Reeses peanut butter cups - my favorite candy. I found this recipe - a variation on Peppermint Bark - in this month's issue of Bon Appetit.

Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar (or, as I like to call it, Halloween Candy Bark)
from Bon Appetit, October 2010


1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
3 2.1 oz butterfinger candy bars
3 1.4 skor or heath toffee candy bars
8 .55 oz peanut butter cups
1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz high quality white chocolate
Reeses Pieces

Line baking sheet with foil. Melt chocolate chips in saucepan over low heat until just melted. Pour chocolate onto foil, spreading it out evenly to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Put butterfingers, toffee bars, peanut butter cups, and peanuts in a food processor and pulse for about 10-15 seconds until candy is slightly ground up. (Note: this is where I deviated from the Bon Appetit recipe. They recommend just chopping the candy into one inch pieces, but I preferred the final product not to be quite as chunky.) Sprinkle the crushed candy over the chocolate, making sure it is evenly spread and pressed into the chocolate so it sticks.

Melt white chocolate. (This can be tricky. I recommend putting it in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring after each interval until just melted.) Dip spoon in white chocolate and wave it from side to side over the bark creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reeses Pieces over, making sure they touch the melted chocolate.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm - about 30 minutes. Slide foil with candy onto a cutting board and peel off foil. Cut bark into irregular pieces.

I packaged it in cute Halloween treat bags to give to friends.  ((by emily))

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Apple A Day- Apple Torte with Breadcrumb-Hazelnut Crust

An apple a day- using that as a guideline, I won't be seeing a doctor ever.  You will be seeing a number of apple recipes here now that apple season is upon us. I love apples and apple desserts, and am always happy to try a new one.  This recipe is a little time consuming to make, but the result is delicious.  a few things in the recipe were a little confusing, but basically it was simple to follow.  It looks more like a pie than a cake, but does not taste like the traditional American apple pie.  Anyway you look at it from my perspective, you can't really go wrong with apples in a delicious crust.

Apple Torte with Breadcrumb-Hazelnut Crust
from Lidia Bastianich in Bon Appetit, October, 2010


Apple Filling
2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup hard apple cider or dry white wine

Crust
8 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless Italian or French bread, finely ground in processor
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and husked
10 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Apple Filling:  Arrange apples in even layer in heavy large skillet. Sprinkle with sugar and then pour apple cider over. Cover and cook over medium heat until apples are tender, gently turning apples occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Uncover and cook until juices evaporate, frequently but carefully turning apples to keep wedges intact, about ten minutes. Let cool completely in the skillet.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread breadcrumbs on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until dried and light golden, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool.
Finely grind hazelnuts and 6 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor. Add 3 cups of breadcrumbs and process 5 seconds. (although the recipe calls for 8 cups breadcrumbs, there is no use for the other 5 cups in the recipe- a mystery to me) Transfer mixture to large bow. Stir in 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon peel and salt.  Combine milk and butter in small saucepan.  Stir over medium heat just until butter melts. Pour milk-butter mixture over breadcrumb mixture  Stir until moistened (dough will be sticky).  Let dough rest in bowl until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Transfer 1 cup of dough to floured work surface. Gather into ball and flatten into disk. ( i mixed in some flour to make the dough less sticky and easier to work with). Press out to 9 inch round. Wrap in plastic.  Chill at least 1 hour for top crust.  Transfer remaining dough to work surface.  Gather into ball. Flatten into disk. Press disk onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, pushing crust up to extend 1/2 inch above sides. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Fill crust with apple mixture.  Place top crust over filling.  Fold bottom crust overhang up over top crust edges, pressing together to seal.  Bake torte until crust is deep golden and crust begins to separate from sides of pan (top crust may crack) about 1 hour.  Cool in pan on rack at least 2 hours.  Carefully remove sides from tart pan.  Transfer to platter and dust with powdered sugar.  ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nice Rice Pudding

After traveling around South America for 5 weeks, we got back just in time for my boyfriend's birthday, and I made him his favorite dessert: rice pudding. This pudding is deliciously creamy and sweet. I sprinkled vanilla sugar and cinnamon on top, and served it in teacups with Argentine alfajores on the side.


Rice Pudding
adapted from a Gourmet 2007 recipe


2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup arborio rice
8 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon (or to taste)
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit.

Add milk, rice, sugar, and cinnamon to an oven safe bowl. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove dish from oven and stir in heavy cream. Bake for another 45 minutes, or until milk and cream are absorbed and pudding is thick and creamy.

Serve pudding chilled or at room temperature. ((post by emily))

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ugly But Good- Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies

I absolutely love the name of these cookies- of course, it rolls off your tongue and sounds a lot better in Italian. And they are kind of ugly, but the taste is wonderful. The cookies are from the Lazio region of Italy, right outside of Rome. They are a simple cookie- just four ingredients- and take no time at all. The result is a chewy, crunchy, nutty cookies that is great on its own or even better with a cup of coffee.

Brutta Ma Buoni
from Food and Wine Magazine, October, 2010

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toast about 8 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and the skins blister. (Watch the time carefully. I burned my first batch). Transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel and let cool. Then, rub them together to remove their skins.
In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts with the confectioner's sugar and salt until finely chopped. Scrape the mix into a medium bowl. Stir in the beaten egg white and vanilla. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon tablespoon size mounds of the hazelnut dough onto the prepared baking sheet, one inch apart.
Bake the cookies about 10-12 minutes for chewy cookies and a little longer for slightly crisp cookies. (Again, watch the time so the bottoms do not burn) Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. ((post by Susan))

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ready for Fall: Fudgey Chocolate Maple Brownies

You may have noticed that I haven't posted here for awhile. Unfortunately, studying for the bar exam, taking the bar exam, and traveling to relieve the stress of the bar exam took up quite a bit of time. We got back just in time for fall. Fall is my favorite season. I love feeling the air turn colder, and watching the leaves change color. Fall is also a wonderful time for rich, warm desserts made with flavors like pumpkin and maple. I was definitely in the mood for chocolate, but I wanted to slightly alter the traditional brownie, so I added some maple extract. Maple extract is sometimes hard to find, but it is usually carried at Williams-Sonoma.

Fudgey Chocolate Maple Brownies
adapted from Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins' Brownie recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring the pan
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used ghiradelli)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon maple extract (or more to taste)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease and flour a 8x8 square pan.

Melt butter and chocolate slowly in a small saucepan on low heat. When melted, set aside to cool at room temperature.

Beat eggs and sugar in mixed until thick and lemon-colored. Next add the vanilla and maple extracts. Fold chocolate mixture into eggs and sugar and mix thoroughly. Pour flour into mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake until center is just set. Be careful not to overbake. Allow brownies to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into bars. ((post by emily))

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full of It- Chocolate Chunkers

I haven't really acknowledged that the summer is over,  because summer is my favorite season, but it certainly is better baking weather.  Now I look forward to turning on the oven, and it warms up the apartment just enough to take off the early morning chill.  These cookies looked like fun to make. They are very chocolatey, but not too sweet because they are made with bittersweet chocolate.  I tweaked the add-ins a little bit, and you could definitely be creative and switch things around to suit your personal taste.

Chocolate Chunkers
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 3 pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped into chunks or 1 cup chocolate chips
6 ounces premium or quality milk chocolate or white chocolate cut into chunks or 1 cup milk chocolate
or white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped nuts, preferably salted peanuts or toasted pecans
1 cup moist plump raisins or finely chopped moist, plump dried apricots or dried cherries or dried cranberries

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats
     Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.  Set a heatproof bowl over a pot simmering water.  Add the butter, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted. Chocolate and butter should be smooth and shiny.  Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
     In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until they are pale and foamy.  Beat in the vanilla extract and then scrape down the bowl.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted butter/chocolate mixture, mixing only until incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and then on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Mix just until the dry ingredients disappear into the dough which will be thick, smooth and shiny.  Scrape down the bowl and then mix in the semisweet chocolate  and milk or white chocolate chunks, the nuts and dried fruit.  Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls on the the cookies sheets, leaving about one inch of space between the mounds of dough.  Bake the sheets one at a time for about 10-12 minutes.  The tops of the cookies will look a little dry but the interior should still be soft. Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then move to a baking rack and finish cooling.  ((post by Susan))

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pound for Pound- Citrus Almond Poundcake

This is one of the best poundcakes I have ever tasted.  Got the recipe from the NY Times and planned to make it for several weeks before I actually got to it. It is one of those cakes that looks deceptively simple- easy enough to make- but so incredibly moist and delicious, it needs nothing else with it.  The citrus glaze completely soaks into the warm cake,  and the flavor is very refreshing.  Mark Bittman made the cake just using his food processor. I chose to make it with my stand mixer, and it came out perfectly.

Citrus-Almond Poundcake
Adapted from Grandaisy Bakery by Mark Bittman, NY Times 8/25/10

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
7 ounces almond paste
7 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1  1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan.
     Place lemon juice, orange juice and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook until the sugar dissolves and then remove from the heat.
     Put almond paste and remaining 2 cups of sugar in bowl of stand mixer and beat until combined.  Add butter and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time along with zest and vanilla, and continue to beat until smooth.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix until just integrated.  Do not overbeat.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, 60 to 70 minutes.  When a skewer or thin-bladed knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly.  Pour the citrus soak over the cake and let it sit for about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the cake releases from the pan easily.  ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Simple French- Salted Butter Break-Ups

I found this recipe on a Boston Globe food blog- it sounded delicious, and is so simple. It is really important to use good butter and sea salt because they make the cookie.  When done, I started with a small piece, sat down and then got up to eat some more. With this cookie, you could easily eat the whole plate before you know it.  They are plain and just slightly sweet, but the edges become darker brown and a little chewy.

Salted Butter Break-Ups
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
9 tablespoons good quality cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3-5 tablespoons cold water
1 egg yolk (for the glaze)

     In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to mix them. Drop in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-sized and small flakes.  With the machine running, add the cold water gradually, just until the dough almost forms balls. It should be malleable.  Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of foil set on the counter. Shape it into a square, and pat it down to flatten it.  Fold over the remaining foil and refrigerate for 1 hour.                                                                            
     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut a piece of parchment paper that fits a baking sheet.  Place the dough on the parchment.  Cover with plastic wrap and roll the dough into a rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick all over.  Peel off the plastic wrap.  Brush the dough with the egg yolk.  With the back of a fork, mark lines going in one direction, then in the other to form a crosshatch pattern.  Bake the cookie for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown with a little spring when pressed in the center.  (the edges of my cookie really started to get quite brown after 20 minutes so you might want to start checking after 20 minutes before it gets too brown) Slide the parchment onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Break up the cookie and serve it in pieces.  ((post by Susan))



Monday, September 6, 2010

Sweet Talk for the Holidays- Rugelach

 The Jewish New Year begins later this week, and tradition reigns- at least my tradition.  There are two things I like to bake every year,  Teddie's Apple Cake (previously on this blog) and rugelach.  Rugelach are wonderful, flaky and bite-size pastries- a little labor intensive, but you can make a great deal at once and freeze them if you do not want to serve them all at once.  I have tired various recipes over the years, cream cheese doughs and this sour cream dough, but this is my favorite.  This dough is really easy to work with and rolls out smoothly.  I like this cinnamon, nut, raisin filling the best, but some people make rugelach with apricot jam in addition to the cinnamon nut mixture.  Happy New Year!

Walnut Horns (a.k.a. Rugelach)
from Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies

Pastry Dough
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
finely grated rind of 2 cold and firm lemons
2 cups sifted unbleached flour

Filling
8 ounces (2 1/4 cups walnuts) cut into small, even pieces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup currants or raisins (optional)

Glaze
1 egg white
crystal sugar

Pastry Dough: Place butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat to melt it, and then set aside.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg yolk, salt, sour cream, and grated lemon rind to mix.  Add the melted butter (which may still be warm or even hot) and the flour and beat to mix, scraping the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.  The mixture will appear uneven (and look curdled). Just place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and stir to mix once or twice. It will become smooth.  Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, form each piece into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and then flatten slightly.  Refrigerate overnight- or you can place in the freezer for 1/2 hour and then in the refrigerator for an hour.

Filling: In a small bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside. Mix nuts and currants or raisins in separate bowl and set aside.

     When you are ready to shape and bake the rugelach, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, shiny side up.  Flour a pastry cloth and rolling pin.  Place one ball of dough on the cloth and with the rolling pin, pound it firmly to soften a bit.  Roll out the dough to a 12 inch circle.  Sprinkle with one-fourth (about 3 tablespoons) of the sugar mixture.  Then sprinkle with one-fourth of the nut mixture (about 1/2 cup), keeping the nuts away from the center of the circle.  With the rolling pin, roll over the filling to press the ingredients slightly into the dough.  Cut the circle into 16 wedges using a knife or pastry wheel.  Roll each wedge, jelly roll fashion, rolling from the outside to the point.  Place the little rolls, points down, 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
      In a small bowl beat the egg white just until foamy.  With a pastry brush, brush over the top of the rugelach.  Sprinkle with the crystal sugar.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned, reversing the sheet from front to back once during baking.  Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool.  ((post by Susan))

Monday, August 30, 2010

All It's Cracked Up to Be- Crack Pie

I have never eaten at any of the Momofuku restaurants in NYC, so I have not tasted first hand any of Christina Tosi's unusual sweets. I must admit that reading about her recipes recently in Bon Appetit did not make me want to jump up and bake. Most of the described desserts sound unappealing to me. I am sure they taste good, but the combination of ingredients makes me think of something we used to do at summer camp- mixing everything from the table into one disgusting mess and daring someone to taste it. However, she is the pastry chef of the Momofuku "empire" so she has to be doing something right.  I decided to try the Crack Pie- the ingredients are much more palatable- and the play on words reeled me in.   It is delicious- a little too sweet for me to get addicted, but I can understand the attraction.  The filling actually reminds me a little of shoo fly pie. Allow a good chunk of time to make this, including an overnight in the refrigerator.

Crack Pie
from Bon Appetit, September, 2010

Oat Cookie Crust
9 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
5 1/2 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Oat Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down bowl, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended,  about 1 minute.  Turn oat mixture out into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes.  Transfer pan to rack and cool completely.   When cool, using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl and add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar.  Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together.  Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9 in diameter glass pie dish.  Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling: Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Whisk both sugars, milk powder and salt in medium bowl to blend.  Add melted butter and whisk until blended.  Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until blended.  Pour filling into crust.  Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble).  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around the edges, but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, 10-20 minutes.  Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack.  Chill uncovered overnight.  Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie.  Cut into wedges and serve cold.  ((post by Susan))

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cream in My Coffee-Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

Now that I have an ice cream maker, there is no going back. It is just so easy to make delicious homemade ice cream- only problem is what to do with it all.  Last week I made cappuccino ice cream from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook- but this blog is not about making ice cream- and I was trying to think what else I could do with it. I found this recipe for an ice cream sandwich which, of course, could be made with any flavor of ice cream, store bought or homemade.  It is a little time consuming with all the various steps, but not difficult.  I made one big sandwich and then used a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to make the perfect size, just a few bites.

German Chocolate Cake for Ice Cream Sandwiches
from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

3/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1.15 oz or 33 grams) sifted before measuring unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil at room temperature
2 large eggs, separated plus 1 egg white at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (2.6 oz or 75 grams) sifted before measuring
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 1/12 quarts ice cream of your choice

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 20 minutes before baking.  Coat the bottom of a 9x 2 inch round cake pan with shortening and top with a parchment round.  Encircle pan with a cake strip.
     In the bowl of a stand mixer by hand whisk the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  When cool, add the oil and yolks to the mixer bowl.  Using the whisk beater, start on low speed and gradually raise the speed to medium, beating for 1 minute until smooth and shiny and resembling a buttercream.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and beat for a few seconds.
     In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift the flour mixture onto a large piece of parchment.  Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the remaining flour mixture.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for one minute.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  On low speed add the egg whites.  Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.  The batter will be like a thick soup.  Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake about 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
     The cake must be unmolded as soon as they have baked.  Spray a wire rack with cooking spray.  Run a metal spatula between the side of the pan and the cake and invert onto the wire rack.  Remove the parchment and immediately reinvert onto a rack.  Cool completely.
      Slice the cake into two even layers.  Place the bottom layer on the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Remove the ice cream from the freezer to the refrigerator to soften to a spreadable consistency or soften in 4 second bursts in a microwave.  Spread the ice cream in an even layer over the cake layer.  Set the other cake layer on top of the ice cream.  Coat a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray and
place it directly on top of the cake.  Cover the pan with another piece of plastic wrap and immediately set in the freezer for at least 8 hours.  To unmold, wipe the sides of the pan with a hot, damp towel and remove the sides.  Dust the top with cocoa.  Let it soften a little and cut into small rounds with 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  To store, wrap individually in plastic wrap and place in plastic bag. ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Variations on a Theme- Alternative Blondies

 Raspberry Almond and Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

The traditional blondie with chocolate chips can stand just as it is- as far as I'm concerned they are perfect, chewy, butterscotch and chocolate flavors all combined- but in baking, as in life, sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone, and open yourself to new experiences. I decided to try these two blondie recipes from Martha Stewart's cookie book.  Neither of them have changed my mind about what would win in a taste test, but for the non-chocolate person, they are an alternative.  For the raspberry/almond blondie, I followed her recipe exactly and was a little disappointed.  They did not have that buttery, chewy texture of blondies.  The basic recipe was just not as good as the gingerbread-white chocolate blondies from her cookie book,  so I adapted that recipe for the pear, pistachio and ginger blondies with a much better result.  No verdict yet from my usual taste testers, but I am going to stick with the traditional.

2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1  1/4 teaspoons salt
10 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

for the Raspberry-Almond Blondies
2 cups sliced toasted almonds
3 cups raspberries
1/4 teaspoons almond extract

for the Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped dried pears (about 6 ounces)
1 1 /4 cups shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (about 5 ounces)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger


     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12x17 rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment and set aside.
     Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and molasses (and almond extract for raspberry/almond) and mix on medium speed until combined. Add flour mixture on low speed until just combined.

For the Raspberry/Almond- Mix in almonds to the basic batter.  Place batter in prepared pan and spread evenly.  Scatter raspberries over top.  Bake until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely and cut into squares.

For the Pear, Pistachio and Ginger- Mix pears, pistachios and ginger into basic batter.  Spread batter in prepared pan and bake until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely and cut into rectangles. ((post by Susan))

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Still Screaming for Ice Cream- Fresh Peach and Raspberry Ice Cream with Ginger Bits

 I finally broke down and decided to buy an ice cream maker- just too many recipes I want to try that require one.  Even though I am trying to simplify my kitchen, I managed to find room for it. This summer I have expanded my ice cream repertoire to include fresh fruit ice cream. Since this is peach season and the fresh peaches are so wonderful, I adapted a recipe for summer berry ice cream to include peaches.  It is incredibly easy to make ice cream with an electric ice cream maker- the only time consuming part is chilling the bowl and chilling the base mixture.  This ice cream is slightly tart because of the raspberries, but more sugar could be added if you like your ice cream a little sweeter- and it was very creamy.  It will be hard to go back to store bought ice cream.

Fresh Peach and Raspberry Ice Cream with Ginger Bits
adapted from Summer Berry Ice Cream (NY Times 8/4/2010)

4 large ripe peaches, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons as needed
1/2 cup candied ginger diced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons amaretto

     Coarsely chop 2 peaches into chunks and put them in a small saucepan.  Add the honey and bring to a boil  Lower the heat and cook about 10 minutes until peaches are soft.  Place in food processor and puree.  Set aside.  Finely dice the remaining peaches and set aside.  Mash the raspberries with a fork or potato masher until just slightly chunky.
     In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream to a simmer with 1/3 cup of sugar and the salt.  Taste berries and if they are very tart, add 2 additional tablespoons of sugar to the saucepan.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.  Transfer to a bowl, add amaretto and peach puree and mix. Place in refrigerator and chill.
     When base mixture is chilled, pour mixture into the ice cream machine.  Add the raspberries and diced peaches and churn according to the manufacturer's directions.  Add diced ginger pieces about 5 minutes before the end of the churning cycle.  Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving. ((post by Susan))