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

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)

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))