Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ultimately Chocolate- Cookies with a Crunch

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies with Heath Bar Crunch
adapted from a Ghiradelli Chocolate Cookie recipe

Several years ago I saw a picture of these cookies in a magazine. It was an ad for Ghiradelli chocolate and the cookies looked so mouth-wateringly delicious, I wanted to eat them off the page. I have since made them many times, but added various things to the mix- heath bar crunch, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips.  My personal favorite is heath bar crunch. It makes these into an intensely chocolate cookie with a chewy consistency- sort of in between a cookie and a candy bar. Delicious.

1 bag (11.5 ounces) Ghiradelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
12 ounces (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag (8 ounces) Heath Bar Crunch toffee bits (if you cannot find the bits, chop up heath bars instead)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In double boiler, over hot water, melt the bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. Let cool slightly. In the mean time, in large bowl of electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until thick.  Stir in chocolate mixture.
In small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.  Stir into chocolate mixture.  Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips, heath bar crunch bits and nuts (if using).  Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 8 inches long.  Dough will be very soft.  Divide dough in two and wrap in plastic wrap, using wrap to form into logs.  Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Unwrap dough and with a sharp knife, cut into 3/4 inch slices (I prefer thinner slices).  Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-14 minutes or until a shiny crust forms on top but the interior is still soft.   Watch carefully because a little too long in the oven and the bottoms will burn.  Cool on baking sheet and then move to wire rack to cool completely. ((post by Susan))

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not for Dunkin'- Baked Currant Doughnuts

Baked Currant Doughnuts
from Christy Timon and Abram Faber of Clear Flour Bakery, Brookline, MA (Food and Wine, July, 2010)

I am not particularly a doughnut fan, but I thought it was time to try to make something other than cookies or cakes.  The Clear Flour Bakery in Brookline is a favorite of mine- their breads are beautiful and delicious.   Everything looks and smells so good, it is hard to choose.  The line out the door and around the corner on weekends is testimony to that.  Though no one is standing on line for my version of their doughnuts,  they are still very good.  Very time consuming to make because the doughnuts have to rise 3 times, but definitely worth a try if you have a long, open afternoon.

1 cup dried currants
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2-1 cup for dredging
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup milk, warmed
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
4 ounces unsalted butter softened plus 4 -6 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt

     In a medium bowl, cover the currants with hot water and let stand until softened, 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a small bowl, stir the yeast with 2 tablespoons of warm water and a pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes.
     In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, nutmeg and cinnamon with 1/4 cup of sugar. Add the milk, egg, egg yolk and half of the softened butter and beat at low speed for 3 minutes.  Beat in the yeast and then add the salt. Beat the dough on medium speed until soft and silky, about 8 minutes.  The dough should pull cleanly away from the bowl.  With the machine on, add the remaining butter to the dough in walnut size pieces, beating at low speed until incorporated.  Drain the currants, pressing out any excess water and beat them into the dough at low speed.  Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover and let stand in a warm , draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about  1 hour.  Punch it down, reform into a bowl and return to the bowl.  Cover and let stand until billowy, about 1 hour.
     Butter 2 large baking sheets.  Turn the dough onto a work surface and cut it into 12 equal pieces. Pinch each piece into a ball and arrange 6 balls on each of the baking sheets, smooth side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.  Using lightly floured hands, press each ball into a flat 4 inch disk.  Using a 1 1/4 inch round cutter, stamp out the centers of each disk and return the holes to the baking sheets.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour until risen slightly.
     Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the doughnuts and the holes for 20-25 minutes, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.  The doughnuts are done when they are golden and puffy and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 200 degrees.
     Spread granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Brush the hot doughnuts and holes on both sides with melted butter and dredge them in sugar. ((post by Susan))

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going Local- Blueberry Sour Cream Cake with Barley Flour

The farmer's market near where I live is wonderful, and this is the time of year where to find amazing fresh produce. What I wasn't expecting to find was locally milled flours- a new stand popped up selling grains grown in an ecologically responsible manner at a local farm.  That was an invitation I couldn't pass up. I bought the barley flour and made the following recipe which they supplied.  The cake could be a delicious breakfast coffee cake but would be good anytime. It is incredibly moist and not quite as sweet as one made with all purpose flour.  If you do not have barley flour or do not wish to use barley flour, all purpose flour may be substituted one for one.  I choose to make the cake with blueberries because they were fresh and also locally grown, but this could be made with almost any kind of fresh fruit.

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake with Barley Flour
adapted from the L'Etoile Family of Four Star Farms

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

12 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
3 cups barley flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.
For topping: Thoroughly combine all ingredients and set aside.
For cake: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  In a bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Combine sour cream with vanilla and almond extracts.  In flour mix alternatingly with sour cream mix, beginning and ending with flour mix.

Spread topping on bottom of bundt pan. Spread half the batter over the topping.  Sprinkle with blueberries.  Spread remaining batter over berries and smooth.  Bake 45 minutes  to one hour until cake tester comes out clean (took me 45 minutes- recipe states 1 hour). ((post by Susan))                                                                        

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sweet Talk on the Road-Ooh La La-PB Boulangerie

A French bakery has come to Wellfleet, Massachusetts and by the length of the line, it seems that people have been waiting for this for a long time. Just off Route 6 in South Wellfleet, you cannot miss the bright pink building. Inside it smells delicious, and it is difficult to choose among the various croissants, brioche, breads- so we didn't really choose. We took one of many things.  When we got home, we realized that we
had a few extra things, a slice of apple tart and a sweet brioche.  The almond croissants were my favorite- flaky with an unbelievable creamy almond filling, but if you don't get there first thing in the morning on the weekend, the almond croissants are often sold out.  The multi-grain bread was also delicious- a dark, chewy crust and dense interior.

The bakery is now serving lunch and starting today, Bastille Day, will be serving dinner in a lovely inside dining room or outside on a covered deck.  Definitely worth a stop if you are visiting the outer Cape. ((post by Susan))


Monday, July 12, 2010

First Time's the Charm- Chocolate Charms

If you are noticing, we are blogging less frequently this summer- there are two reasons. The weather has been less than charming-  so incredibly hot that it has been hard to turn on the oven. I  am hoping that this heat wave will break and I can go back to normal baking.  Emily has been studying intensely for the NY bar exam and hasn't had time to bake, so please bear with us.   
These are cookies I baked for a friend's book group.  Of course, it was the day it was 100 degrees, but they don't require much time in the oven so it worked.  In any event,  they are a crumbly, bittersweet chocolate cookie, another Martha success story.

Chocolate Charms
from Cookies by Martha Stewart

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl.
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer and using paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and beat about 2 minutes more, until very light in color and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and then add flour mixture on low speed, beating until just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers.  Form dough into a flattened disk and wrap in plastic.  Chill until firm, at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a spoon, form  dough into one inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake until firm 20-25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.  (I mixed in a little confectioner's sugar with the cocoa powder to add a little sweetness. ((post by Susan))

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paved with Good Intentions- Salted Caramel Squares

You know the expression "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"- that is a good description of what it is like writing a baking blog when you are trying to eat a healthy diet and manage your weight.  You cannot bake without tasting- and I bake what is appealing to me so I want to taste it.  As I have probably mentioned before, I love caramel, and these cookies are no exception.  They are, in essence, a buttery shortbread cookie with caramel on top.  The salt is a nice counterpart to the sweetness of the caramel.  For the first time, I had a little problem making the caramel. My first batch of sugar did not caramelize so I added a pinch of cream of tartar, and that seemed to work for the second batch.
Hard to eat just one so i guess I am just on the road.

Salted Caramel Squares
from Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe, LA (as seen in Food and Wine, July, 2010)

Pastry Shell
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg white, beaten

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2  1/4 cups sugar
pinch of cream of tartar (my addition)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on the short sides.  In a large bowl, cream the butter.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar.  Add the whole eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in the flour and salt.  Press the pastry into the prepared pan in an even layer, 1/4 inch thick. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.  Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Carefully remove the pie weights and parchment.  Brush the shell with the egg white and bake for 20 minutes longer, until golden and cooked through. Let cool.
Make the Caramel: In a saucepan, bring the cream, vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer. Cover and keep warm.  In a large, heavy saucepan, stir the sugar into 1/4 cup of water.  Add pinch of cream of tartar. Simmer over moderate heat without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 7 minutes.
Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully add the cream.  When the bubbling subsides, stir in the butter.  Insert a candy thermometer and cook over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the caramel reaches 240 degrees F,, about 10 minutes.  Discard the vanilla bean and stir in the salt.  Pour the caramel over the shell.  Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight.  Bring to room temperature. Remove the bar from the pan using the parchment overhang.  Cut into squares.  ((post by Susan))