Sunday, October 31, 2010

double chocolate hard boiled egg cookies.

Or perhaps I should say Double Chocolate Scrambled Egg Cookies.


Yeah yeah, I know I probably should have followed the recipe exactly since it was my first time making it but I couldn't stand wasting the other half of the hard boiled egg. (I don't like eggs hard boiled.) So, because I had to crack open the egg to use half of it and cook it, I went for scrambled.
The only problem was, some of the egg did not integrate with the cookie, which left me with pieces of tough chewy egg.


Bleh.


Although, I did read about some others who followed the recipe having trouble with bits of egg white in the cookie so I guess both cooking methods are not exactly fool-proof. 


BUT! The texture of the cookie was so worth it. It was crumbly and crunchy at the edges while dense and moist on the inside, like a brownie! Kudos to this wonderful recipe!
The dough was stiff and dry, like a shortbread's. Which was why the tablespoon of sour cream in the recipe was called for. However, I didn't have any on hand so I used milk instead. My dough was weirdly thirsty so I added a touch more just so that it doesn't fall apart.


I did mine with Reese pieces! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

supposedly healthier banana bread.

The thing is... I don't like uncooked bananas. 


They have this sorta dry starchy taste which really puts me off. BUT apply some heat to them and its a whole new ball game.


I like caramelized bananas. Sprinkle them with brown sugar, cinnamon, 200C oven for 5 minutes and oomph... so good...


Sauteed bananas? Sure, why not? Coat with brown sugar, saute them in butter, add some rum... Nah, just kidding. I can't drink rum yet! But I have to say, I do love the smell of it!
I got the recipe from here. This blogger made a healthier version of her mom's banana bread by replacing one whole egg with 2 egg whites instead and using applesauce, and replacing some of the sugar with Splenda, all the while without compromising on flavour.


Even though there's nothing wrong with good old banana bread, its too tempting to pass up an opportunity to make a Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread. 


Now that sounds goooooood. 
This bread is extremely moist and chockfull of bananas, thanks to the 3 bananas per loaf the recipe called for. 


The coconut and pineapple make it even better! I felt like I was in Hawaii!
I toasted a 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut in a 180C oven for 5 minutes...
and added 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple wannabes before mixing them into the batter at the last stage. 


I say wannabes because I all I had were cubed pineapples, which would exude too much liquid if I used them just like that. So, I halved the cubes, flattened them with the back of a fork, then halved the halves for smaller pieces. 


Flavour-wise, this recipe was great! However, I would prefer a more sturdy, cakey sorta banana loaf. If you have any wonderful recipes to share, please do. I am always open to try new banana bread recipes!

Monday, October 25, 2010

build-a-bars.

Aka Hello Dolly Bars, 7 Layer Bars, etc. Whatever they are called, its just a name for piling on whatever you fancy on a cookie crust before topped off with sweetened condensed milk to bind everything together to prevent any delicious morsels from falling off. 

No siree, we wouldn't want that, would we?

It would certainly be disastrous if any of my *take a deep breath* milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, Reese' pieces, shredded coconut or pretzels decide to pull off a disappearing act.
I don't know about you, but the first thing I do once I get my baked stuff out of the oven is to smell it. 

Yes, smell it. 

I shove my face as close as I can get to the pan without burning my nose, close my eyes and inhale the aroma. And this baby smelled like, guess what?

Caramel popcorn. 

Oh. My. Goodness. It was like walking into a popcorn shop. It was like standing next to a pot of caramel. It was like...

Heaven.
Remember the saying "Don't judge a book by its cover"? This time, its "Don't judge a bar by its looks". These bars gave me a hell of a time slicing them, even after chilling. Next time, they are going into the freezer, not just the fridge.

Ha! Take that! 
These bars are almost perfect, as much as it pains me to say. I knew that the pretzels could get soggy, and I wasn't wrong. Maybe if I had left them whole, they would not soggify so quickly? Can anyone give me pointers?
Instead of the traditional condensed milk, this recipe I used from KAF gave a cream cheese topping, reason being because they found the condensed milk too sweet. It tasted slightly tangy and as the majority of the bar is actually your chocolate chips and stuff, the switch did not make a significant impact on the overall taste of the bar. Your waistline will thank you too!
Recipe from THE KING ARTHUR FLOUR COOKIE COMPANION
Makes 24 bars

Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
(I added a pinch of salt)

Mix all the ingredients together and press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch or 11 x 11 inch pan. Bake in a 180C preheated oven for 10 minutes, until set.

Filling:
4 to 5 cups of whatever you fancy!

Sprinkle them over your cooled crust.

Topping:
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk

To make the topping, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and salt. Add the egg and continue beating until no lumps remain; scrape the inside of the bowl to be sure everything combines evenly. Add the evaporated milk and stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour it evenly over the filling. 

Bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges bubble a bit and the center is set.

Remove from the oven and let it cool (I recommend chilling) before cutting.

KAF actually used something like a shortbread bottom layer instead of a graham cookie crust. I picked the cookie crust for convenience but you can use their recipe if you feel like it.




Friday, October 22, 2010

levain chocolate chip cookies copycat #1.

Let's talk chocolate chip cookies.

Or more specifically, Levain's famous chocolate chip cookies. 

They are supposed to be a whopping 6 ounces each, tender, with a raw doughy center and of course, studded with chocolate chips. I have never been to the Levain Bakery before though, so I don't know how close I've come to the original so far. 


There is a very reliable recipe circling around, from here. I followed that recipe the first time around, but it didn't turn out as tall Levain's. So I readjusted the leavenings, replacing the baking powder AND baking soda with just baking powder, just to see if it would make any difference. Plus, I added some cornstarch to give the rumor a go. Oh, and I reduced the overall sugar amount by a 1/2 cup which is just perfect for me.


And yes, there is a difference. The cookies spread less this time and it certainly remained taller than before. I found that using solely baking powder resulted in a much chewier texture. But because I formed my cookie dough balls into 4 ounce  balls each and baked them at 190C for just 15 minutes, the center was gooey while the outer edges were chewy. 

Personally, I think the stickier the dough (but not too sticky!), the more tender the cookie. The cornstarch may not be a factor to ensure a soft cookie because I felt that there was no difference. But you could give it a go and tell me what you think.

Before baking...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

blackberry turnovers.

Mr Pastry and I, how should I put this... don't really get along so well.


We argue a lot. Yesterday, my self control slipped a little and I flattened him with a rolling pin. Flattened him almost paper thin. 


Oh boy. He was mad. So mad, he refused to help me hold the blackberries. He ripped himself apart, exposing the blackberry filling. Gee thanks. 


Luckily it happened to only one of the turnovers and I patched up the hole, stashed it in the freezer overnight, and hoped for the best.




My shaping skills leave little to be desired. Especially this one, the oversized monster. The recipe called for 3 to 4 tablespoons of filling per turnover, but really, I should stick with 2.




Brush with egg wash, sprinkle some sugar, blast some heat and voila! Magic!




Much prettier, don't you think?




Look at that little bubble of filling. Isn't it adorable?




The cream cheese pie crust was my favourite bit. Buttery, flaky... The aroma from the oven was drool inducing.




The recipe is from THE PIE AND PASTRY BIBLE. Rose gave the option to use either a normal pie crust or a cream cheese one so I went with the cream cheese version since I have not tried that before. You won't regret it, I assure you! 


I chose blackberries for my filling since I had some canned ones kicking around. Watch out for their tiny seeds though. They can get stuck in your teeth. Which is why I think if I were to make fruit turnovers again, I would choose a different kind of fruit. A more refreshing kind too. 


Or, I could just stick in some lemon zest.




Check out this blogger's take on Rose's fruit turnovers!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

peanut butter pretzel cookies.




I have a confession to make: I used to scoff at soft cookies, chewy cookies, just any kind of cookies that isn't crunchy. 

I can hear you now. What? Has she been living in a cave?

I know, I know. Just until very recently, I have begun to see the light. It all started with watching the chocolate chip cookie throwdown with Bobby Flay. His competitor? A very formidable giant, soft, with an almost raw cookie dough middle chocolate chip cookie from Levain in the NYC. Utterly inspired, I surfed the web for copycats despite of my aversion to soft cookies. I managed to find what seems to be quite a successful clone but I shall post about that another time.

Darned show. I'm now fully armed with 4 packs of butter sitting in the fridge to fuel my sudden obsession with giant cookies. I had planned to make another batch of Levain clones but this sudden need kicked in. The need for the sweet and salty. 

So I thought: Hey. Why not use peanut butter and pretzels!

And so I did.

I took a peanut butter cookie recipe from KAF and made my own little adaptations.

Recipe by THE KING ARTHUR FLOUR COOKIE COMPANION
Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies (1/4 recipe)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cool and cubed
60g dark brown sugar
80g sugar
5/16 cup or 83g peanut butter
1/2 egg, cold
80g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt (I recommend you skip this if  you are using pretzels)
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder

5/16 cup chopped, dry-roasted salted peanuts
1/3 cup peanut butter chips or chocolate chips 
(I just substituted about 3/4 cup of crushed pretzels)

Preheat the oven to 180C. I refrigerated my dough overnight and used 190C to make a tall cookie. 

Cream together your butter, sugars and peanut butter. But just until combined. Beating too much air in will cause the cookie to spread more! Add in the egg and beat it in, then the flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add in your peanuts/chocolate chips/peanut butter chips/pretzels.

At this point, if you don't plan to refrigerate your dough, drop it by the tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 14 minutes, until they're set and brown around the edges. To satisfy my need for giant cookies, I made a 100g cookie dough ball which I baked at 190C for 15 minutes and made the rest normal sized.

Remove them from the oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely or just dig in!

Makes 18.

Because I under baked them on purpose, my cookies were chewy and almost raw inside while the outside was crisp-crunchy. I let them cool on the rack for 10 minutes out of the oven to let the insides cool down a bit first. 

I have self control. Who knew?

These cookies were nuggets of caramel-ly goodness though there certainly are other recipes out there which have a stronger peanut butter taste. But these are good. Very good.

Take note: If you use pretzels pieces, they can soften up after a day or so, so don't let them sit around!

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