Monday, June 28, 2010

Milk and Cookies- Milk- Chocolate Cookies

Too much ice cream still in the freezer, so I am back to cookies.   I was not looking forward to turning  the oven on yesterday since it was 91 degrees and 100 percent humidity- not ideal baking conditions.  These cookies, however, did not take long to prepare and needed less than 15 minutes baking time.  I  have always preferred dark chocolate, but using good quality milk chocolate makes a big difference.  These are big, thin, chewy cookies with a subtle sweet milk chocolate taste- great with a tall glass of cold milk or ice coffee for that matter, on a hot summer's day.

Milk-Chocolate Cookies
from Cookies by Martha Stewart

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, 4 oz coarsely chopped and 4 oz cut into 1/4 inch chunks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Melt 4 ounces coarsely chopped milk chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let cool slightly.  Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until combined.  Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture.  Fold in chocolate chunks.                                                              

Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, spacing two inches apart.  Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 15 minutes.  Cookies will be soft.  Let cool on parchment on wire racks.  Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days. ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just Chillin'- Apricot Sherbet

If it seems like there is a theme here- there is. It has been very hot and I am trying to think cool thoughts.  I haven't felt like turning on the oven and trying out different ice creams that can be made without an ice cream maker feels just right.
This is a sherbet- no cream involved- much lighter and not as rich and creamy as ice cream. The apricot flavor is tart/sweet, and ice cold anything is so refreshing.  Surprisingly, this was a little more time consuming than making ice cream because it has to be frozen and beaten twice instead of once, but sitting down with a cool bowl of sherbet on a hot day makes it all worth it.

Apricot Sherbet
from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

2 cans, each 1 lb. 14 ounces, apricot halves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
pinch of salt

Drain the apricots, reserving the juice, and puree them in food mill or food processor.  Add enough of the juice to make 4 cups. Turn into a large bowl and stir in lemon juice, almond extract and sugar.  Beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold a definite peak, but are not dry.  Stir a cup of the apricot mixture into the whites, and then stir and fold the whites into the remaining apricots.

Turn the sherbet into a large, shallow metal pan or several ice cube trays and freeze. Place large bowl of electric mixer and beaters in the freezer or refrigerator.  When the sherbet has frozen solid around the edges and is mushy in the center, turn it into the cold bowl and beat it until smooth and fluffy.  Return it to the container or leave in mixer bowl and freeze again until partly frozen.  Beat again at high speed for 2 minutes. Turn into a container, cover and freeze until firm. ((post by Susan))

Monday, June 21, 2010

We Are Still Screaming for Ice Cream- Lemon Ice Cream with Lemon Curd

Jean Hewitt's Old-Fashioned Lemon Ice Cream
adapted from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

It is a very hot summer day here in Boston, perfect for making and, especially, eating ice cream.  This is another ice cream that is made without using an ice cream maker. It is unbelievably simple  and quick to make, and since I love lemon curd, I thought adding it throughout the ice cream would intensify the lemon flavor.  The result, in just a few hours, was a creamy, tart, lemony and very refreshing ice cream we can all scream for.

 Ice Creamfinely grated rind of 1 large lemon (or 2 small)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups light cream
1/8 teaspoon salt

 Combine lemon rind, juice and sugar and stir to mix.  Gradually stir in the cream and salt, mixing well. Mix in lemon curd as desired, using a fork to pull through the cream.  Pour into an ice cube tray or shallow pan and freeze until solid around the outside and mushy in the middle. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Cover and continue to freeze until firm.

Lemon Curd
from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
6 large egg yolks
freshly squeezed juice of 4 lemons

Put all the ingredients in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir with a heatproof spatula to moisten the sugar.  Put the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring without stopping, until the butter melts and the mixture thickens like custard, 4-6 minutes. Watch carefully because it can curdle quickly.  It is cooked enough when you can run your finger along the spatula and the curd doesn't run into the track you've created.  Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the curd into a heatproof jar or bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap against the curd to create an airtight seal, and cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it cools.  Will keep in the refrigerator in a tightly covered jar for up to 2 months.  I halved the recipe for the ice cream, but there is no harm in having extra lemon curd around. ((post by Susan))





Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Z is for Zebra- Chocolate Zebra Cake



Chocolate Zebra Cake
from Chocolate Cakes: 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion by Elinor Klivans

Chocolate or Vanilla- the age old question.  I prefer chocolate, but if vanilla has to be included, my favorite combination is chocolate cake with white icing. For those who don’t have a preference, this is the perfect party cake- chocolate layers with white chocolate icing and a chocolate design on the white frosting to give it that animal print look.   The layers are very thin and light, and although the filling/frosting is rich, the cake is not overwhelming.  This was a fun and easy cake to make, although I definitely could improve on my zebra stripes. A good cake for those who don’t want to weigh in on either side of the chocolate vs vanilla debate.

For the Cake:
¾ cup flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt                                                                     
3 large eggs at room temeperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup heavy cream

For the filling and frosting:
8 ounces white chocolate chopped
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto or other almond liqueur
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a jellyroll pan, 15x10 inches. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the paper.

For the cake: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Mix in half the flour mix until just incorporated.  Stir in the cream and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Bake about 15 minutes or until the top feels firm when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan.  Cool cake in pan on rack until cool to the touch, about 2o minutes.  Spread a long sheet of wax paper on the counter,  Invert the cake onto the paper. Peel off parchment and discard it.
Filling and Frosting: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place it over barely simmering water to melt.  Stir constantly til melted and smooth.  Scrape into a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.  In the chilled bowl, with a chilled beater, beat the cream, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extracts and amaretto at medium speed until firm peaks form.  Whisk about ½ cup of this whipped cream into the melted white chocolate until blended.  Then using a spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Cut the cake into 4 equal rectangles, each about 7 ½ x5 inches.  Transfer one rectangle to a serving plate.  Spread about ¾ cup of the filling/frosting over the layer.  Carefully place another rectangle over on top of the filling and repeat with remaining layers.  Spread remaining filling/frosting over the top and sides of the cake. I didn’t have quite enough for frosting the top and sides, so I beat some additional heavy cream with a little confectioner’s sugar and spread this over the white chocolate whipped cream.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth.  Spoon the chocolate into a medium pastry bag fitted with a small round tip about 1/8 inch opening.  Pipe zigzagging lines over the top of the cake, to look like zebra stripes.  Cover and refrigerate.  The flavor mellows overnight and is better the next day. ((post by Susan))



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spice in the City: Five Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have been conspicuously absent from the blog for the past few weeks, and that is because, not only have I been studying for the bar exam, but I have also been in the process of moving into a new apartment in NYC. Now that I am officially moved in, and I have my brand-new, cornflower blue Kitchenaid mixer (!!) all set up, I am back to baking on a semi-regular basis. I wanted to make something quick an easy during a short study break, so I decided to inaugurate my new mixer with oatmeal raisin cookies. My boyfriend also specifically requested something without chocolate (see my previous post). I found this recipe on my Epicurious iPhone app, and the amazing reviews convinced me to try it. The result? Spicy, oatmeal raisin perfection.

Five-Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, adapted from Diane's Six-Spice Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Gourmet, September 1997
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

In a bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and slowly beat until just combined. Stir in rolled oats and raisins.

Drop dough by tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Cook cookies on baking sheet 1 minute, and transfer to racks to cool completely. ((post by emily))

This made about 50 cookies.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Everyone Likes Ice Cream

Deep South Chocolate Ice Cream from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts

It has definitely been ice cream weather- very hot and humid, and all you want to eat is something really cool- the kind of weather when ice cream for dinner sounds wonderful.  Homemade ice cream is what I wante, but I don't have an ice cream maker and most recipes for ice cream require one.  Found this recipe   from Maida Heatter- she has several recipes for ice cream that you can make just using your freezer. It is fairly easy and makes a creamy and delicious ice cream. Several hours and one broken candy thermometer later (careless on my part), I had wonderfully creamy chocolate ice cream (served with Koloa Rum Co. Rum Fudge Sauce from Hawaii)- the aloha spirit in New England.

2 tablespoons instant coffee
1/2 cup boiling water
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup creme de cacao or Grand Marnier
3 cups heavy cream

Dissolve the coffee in the 1/2 cup boiling water. Place it with the chocolate in a small, heavy saucepan or in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Stir occasionally to melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Beat the yolks in an electric mixer at high speed for several minutes until thick and lemon-colored.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix the 1/4 cup water with the sugar and cream of tartar.  Stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Let boil without stirring for about 3 minutes until the syrup reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer (light-thread stage).  Gradually, in a thin stream, add the hot syrup to the egg yolks, still beating at high speed.  Continue to beat for about 5 minutes more until the mixture is cool.  Stir the creme de cacao or Grand Marnier into the cooled chocolate mixture and then add to the cooled egg yolk mixture, beating only until blended. Remove from mixer.

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, beat the cream only until it holds a very soft shape.  Fold one cup of the cream into the chocolate mixture, and then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining cream.
Pour into a shallow metal pan (13x9x2) or several ice cube trays, and freeze until firm around the edges (1 1/2 to 2 hours).  Meanwhile place the bowl and beaters in the freezer.  Beat the partially frozen cream in the chilled bowl until smooth.  Return to pan  and freeze covered until firm (about 1 1/2 hours).
((post by Susan))

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Alternative Blondies

Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies from Cookies by Martha Stewart

Humid and muggy day in Boston with off and on thunderstorms. Not ideal for turning on the oven,  but after making ice cream, it was time for something else.  I am trying to bake more things without dark chocolate for friends who are not chocoholics.  Since I love blondies and gingerbread- these seemed like a good combination to try.  I am not always a fan of white chocolate because it is, believe it or not, a little too sweet for my taste, but my faith in Martha made me willing to suspend judgement for the finished product.  The blondies are not what you would expect- there is that buttery taste of blondies,  but with ginger and other spices. The white chocolate works because darker chocolate would be overpowering. Next time I would add some candied ginger bits to pump up the ginger flavor and to mitigate the sweetness of the white chocolate.

2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1  1/3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped best quality white chocolate (10 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 12x17 inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and yolk one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and molasses, and mix on medium speed until combined.  Add flour mixture on low speed until combined. Stir in white chocolate chunks.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake until golden on edges, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan, and then cut into 2 inch squares.  ((post by Susan))

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gonna Make A Pie


     Summer is pie season to me. There is nothing like a fresh, just out of the oven, summer fruit pie.  Although I happily make apple pie in the fall, my closest friend and I have a special summer tradition of making pies together in her weekend house on Cape Cod.  We started out this Memorial Day weekend wanting to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but ultimately ended up with this crisp (got lazy about the crust).  Apparently fresh rhubarb is more popular than either of us imagined, because she had to scour the upper Cape to find some.  Delicious strawberries were a lot easier to come by. This is a fairly simple recipe, and the tartness of the rhubarb plays so nicely with the exceptionally sweet local strawberries.  We doubled the amount of topping- personal taste, but it worked well here.   Next up- July 4th and peach pie.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Cardamon and Nutmeg from Bon Appetit, March, 2005

Topping
½ cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup packed golden brown sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
generous pinch of salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter cut into ½ inch cubes

Filling
5 cups ½ inch thick slices fresh rhubarb (from about 2 pounds)
2 cups halved fresh strawberries
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons grated orange peel
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

For topping: Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor. Add butter. Rub in with fingertips until moist clumps form or pulse until moist clumps form.

For filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9 inch by 14 inch rectangular pan.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend and then let stand about 15 minutes until juices form.  Put mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle topping evenly over fruit mixture.  Bake until topping is golden brown and crisp is bubbling thickly around the edges, about 45 minutes.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.  Makes 6-8 servings.   ((post by Susan))

                                                                               







Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Raspberry for these...

Summer is unofficially here in the northeast, and it such a pleasure to be able to buy fresh, local produce again in the farmer’s markets.  Although I try to eat a healthy, protein breakfast in the morning, it does get boring eating the same thing every morning, and as a treat I like to make muffins or other breakfast foods with fresh berries.  These muffins are moist, sweet and full of raspberries, but would be equally good with blueberries.  The streusel topping adds some additional richness (and sugar, I know).  All in all, they are worthy of a break from more nutritionally minded breakfast fare.

Raspberry Streusel Muffins from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

Batter:
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
½ cup mil
1 ¼ cups fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Streusel Topping
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Glaze
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
To make the batter, sift the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together into a medium-sized bowl and make a well in the center.  Place the egg, melted butter and milk in the well. Stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are just combined.  Quickly stir in the raspberries and lemon zest.  Fill each muffin cup ¾ full with batter.

To make the streusel topping, combine the pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon zest in a small bowl.  Pour in the melted butter and stir to combine.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of each muffin.  Bake until nicely browned and firm, 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the glaze, mix the sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over the warm muffins. ((post by Susan))

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brioche

It has been a long time since I have made brioche. A number of years ago, I took a baking class and brioche was part of the curriculum. Although I love its eggy, buttery taste, after trying it on my own, I decided brioche was one of those things it was better to get from a professional bakery.   The other day, I decided to revisit it and was surprised at how easy it was though it is a two day process. The use of a kitchen aid mixer helps the mixing process enormously and though it is time consuming process, the results are well worth it.

The recipe makes two loaves- good for immediate consumption and one to save for French toast at a later date.

Golden Brioche Loaves from Baking by Dorie Greenspan
2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the touch water
1/3 cup just-warm –to-the touch whole milk
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
12 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature but still slightly firm

Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved.  Add the flour and salt and fit the mixer with a dough hook, if possible.  Cover the mixer with a kitchen towel so the flour does not go all over the place.  Turn the mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour.  Increase the speed to medium low and mix for a minute or two until the flour is moistened.  It will be a fairly dry, shaggy mass.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes until the dough forms a ball.  Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in two tablespoon size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next.  The dough will be very soft.  Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40-60 minutes.  Deflate the dough by lifting up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap into the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  Slap down the dough in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about two hours, and then leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, butter and flour tow 8 1/2x 41/2 inch loaf pans.  Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces.  Cut each piece of dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 /12 inches long.  Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the  loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1- 2 hours.  It took my loaves closer to 3-4 hours to rise, even though it was a very warm day.  I checked my original recipe for brioche and it allows for a rising time of  3 hours. Just be prepared for the variable.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Make the glaze, beating the egg with water.  Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.  Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 -35 minutes. Cool on a  rack for 15 minutes and then turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert and cool for at least 1 hour. ((post by susan))