Saturday, March 26, 2011

blueberries and cream cookies.


Blueberries and cream? In a cookie? You have to admit, it sounds interesting. Which was precisely why I bookmarked this recipe about 3 seconds after I saw it on momofukufor2.

The cream part of the cookie comes from milk crumbs, something like a streusel but partly made with milk powder. I love milky stuff and I sure did love the milk crumbs. The only problem was that the crumbs didn't have enough liquid to hold everything together, so I didn't get chunks of crumbs (does that even make sense?) and they didn't really stand out in the cookie unless it's on top. I love how it caramelized in the oven so you get this subtle sweetness.

Like all dried fruits, dried blueberries do harden when exposed to the oven heat, and those on top turned out chewy like those irritating caramel candies that stick to your teeth.

I prefer my cookies on the crunchy side so I baked them longer than instructed. I can really see the colour difference between mine and other bakers'! That's why mine wasn't so soft and chewy in the middle but at least I got the crunch!

I really think the blueberries and cream idea was a genius one, but this recipe worked out to be an average cookie for me. I heard that momofuku has this popular compost cookie, I just might give it a shot!



Milk Crumbs Recipe

Ingredients
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon nonfat milk powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Stir in melted butter until well combined. Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until dried and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove milk crumble from oven and let cool completely.
3. Transfer milk crumble to a large bowl and fold in remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk powder and white chocolate. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Blueberries and Cream Cookies Recipe

taken from momofukufor2
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/4 cup glucose (I used corn syrup and it worked great!)
1 large egg
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup Milk Crumbs
Directions
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Cream butter, sugars, and glucose until well combined. Add egg and mix.
3. Add flour mixture and mix then add blueberries and milk crumbs. Scoop dough into balls and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
4. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until cookies are golden brown and tops begin to crackle, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Friday, March 25, 2011

balsamic strawberry shortcakes.


You. Have. To. Make. This.

This is drop-dead delicious, and I'm not kidding. I have no idea what took me so long to try a buttermilk biscuit. Okay, I made some before but I gave them away with raving reviews in return. I can see why now. Light, tender and buttery, I wish I could make a pillow out of it and sleep on it.

I got the recipe for these buttermilk biscuits from Rose's The Bread Bible which is actually called Butter Biscuits. If the word butter appears in the title, you can very well expect some serious butter business. A few minutes before they were done, this heavenly scent of butter wafted out of the kitchen. You'll never overbake these biscuits because you will be right there, waiting in front of the oven before they're even done. Trust me on this.

Rose actually wrote that this is her go-to recipe for strawberry shortcake. The shortcake part, I mean. The recipe included hard-boiled egg yolks in the dough which would contribute to a golden colour and sandy texture. But I was too lazy to bother and I had fantabulous biscuits in the end too!

I paired these with balsamic strawberries from a strawberry shortcake recipe in the Flour cookbook. I always wanted to try balsamic strawberries. Intriguing. And you know what? I may never have a strawberry shortcake any other way again. There is very little balsamic used, but its acidity provides a contrast to the sweet strawberries which brightens up the flavours. Don't worry if your strawberries are sour because there's sugar added. After macerating, the sugar, natural juices from the strawberries and balsamic vinegar combines to create this wonderful syrup.

If you feel like gulping it down, I won't stop or blame you. Just remember that after all, there is acidity from the balsamic vinegar so go easy on it or risk throat burn. Don't ask me how I know this. Oh, and I squished (sounds unappetizing, but wait) some strawberries with the back of a fork when tossing the strawberries to macerate. They integrate better with the balsamic this way.

Just the strawberries and the biscuits were so good together, I didn't bother with the whipped cream. The biscuits, freshly baked and still a little crusty, with sweet-sour syrup-soaked strawberries? Delicious. The biscuits were a little on the salty side which I'm not sure if it was meant to be that way or because I used table salt while Rose used coarse, but the slight saltiness made it even better with the strawberries.


Butter Biscuits
adapted from The Bread Bible
supposed to yield 9 but I made 8

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2 cups self-rising flour or  1 1/4 cups flour + 2/3 cup cake flour + 1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar 

2 hard-boiled eggs *I omitted but the biscuits were still fabulous!
3/4 cup heavy cream or buttermilk *I used buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack.
In a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, whisk flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter and work in with your fingers or pastry fork to make a coarse meal.  If using a stand mixer, mix with paddle attachment on low.  Press the egg yolks through a fine strainer and add to the dough, whisking to combine.  Stir in cream or buttermilk and mix until the dough just starts to come together and you can form it into a ball.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times and roll out to 3/4 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter or small drinking glass to cut the biscuits into circles, and then place them on a cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. *If baking directly from freezer, add about 10 minutes or so to the baking time until golden.


Balsamic Strawberries
adapted from Flour


This makes a lot, as you can see, so please judge how much you need. You don't need expensive balsamic vinegars but choose one of decent quality please. I think half the recipe would suffice for the amount of biscuits above, but you decide the ratio of fruit to biscuit.


Ingredients:


2 pints of strawberries (about 600g)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp sugar


Toss everything together and leave for 30 minutes. Although this isn't completely necessary, squish some of the strawberries with the back of your fork. 


This shortcake is linked to Sweets for a Saturday #10 and Sweet Tooth Friday!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

peanut butter banana cinnamon rolls.

Drooling yet?


I just had to make these rolls when I saw them on Baking and Boys. And since I had spotted bananas attracting flies in my kitchen, I had no reason not to make them.


The dough took ages to rise for the first proofing! So for the second proofing I placed them in a slightly warmed oven and thank goodness, the yeast was finally doing its job. The peanut butter filling got me in a fix. After mixing all the ingredients together, I had a stiff, un-spreadable paste which I eventually just flattened into pieces and smooshed them into the dough. I added sliced bananas too which turned out to be an ingenious idea because the peanut butter filling didn't become molten and gooey like regular cinnamon-sugar fillings when exposed to heat so the moisture from the sliced bananas helped to liquify it slightly. Those parts of the filling that didn't have any contact with the bananas baked up dry and crusty which is not necessarily a bad thing but, you know...
I think the all that peanut butter and sliced bananas overwhelmed the subtle hints of banana in the rolls. The taste was barely noticeable but I bet if I did a peanut butter frosting instead of a peanut butter filling, the flavours might pop more. Speaking of frosting, there is a recipe on her site for one but I chose not to because I find frostings to be tooth-achingly sweet and more often that not, overwhelm the rolls themselves. Although they do contribute to the aesthetic appeal. For the frosting recipe and another variation- a chocolate cinnamon filling, please head over to her site.


Still, kudos to Katrina for such an innovative recipe!
Peanut Butter Banana Cinnamon Rolls
recipe adapted from Baking and Boys
makes 9 rolls


For the dough:



1/2 cup + 2 tbsp banana puree (about 3 1/2 sm.-med. bananas)
1 large egg
2 tbsp lukewarm water *My dough was plenty sticky even without adding this
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour, and more if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon yeast
Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer, adding the flour last a cup at a time.  Knead in the mixer for a few minutes until the dough is smooth—it will still be sticky though.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1  1/2 hours.  Divide the dough in half and using a generous amount of flour, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic—only about 1 minute.  Beware- sticky dough!
For the peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened *I used cream cheese 
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon *I would omit this but its just my personal preference
sliced bananas (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl with a spoon until smooth. I recommend that you combine the peanut butter, butter and vanilla and spread it over the dough first. After that, sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over. Arrange banana slices on top. Roll up the dough, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices and place into an 8 inch square baking pan. Let them rise again until doubled in size.
Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes. Devour!





Saturday, March 19, 2011

carrot cake.


I love carrot cake, but I'd only eaten cake from other bakeries. Which is quite funny, actually. I'm a baker. Why do I need to buy carrot cake? So I set off to research for the best recipe.

Carrot cake is so simple to make, all the recipes out there are more or less the same. Some will differ in the use of buttermilk, amount of spice, amount of add-ins, brown sugar or white sugar. But that's pretty much it. So I just went ahead with this recipe I found from allrecipes as I didn't have to modify much from there.

I halved the recipe to bake into 2 6-inch layers, used brown sugar instead of white for a deeper flavour profile, omitted the coconut and compensated with more shredded carrots.

I did something really bad when baking this cake. Really really bad.

I underbaked it. Whoops.


I'm still in shock. I stuck the skewer in and it came out clean. But only in some parts. I let it go when I saw some batter clinging because I thought I might have stabbed a pineapple and the cake would continue to bake anyway. 2 hours later, I sliced the cake horizontally into half as it was completely cooled but hey hey! raw batter in the middle. It wasn't super raw as in flowy, but it was still rather moist and sticky. I scrambled to the oven to whacked the preheat button and got out a baking tray to place the layers on.

So in the end, I managed to save the cake, although the centre has a weird dense, mushy texture and the rims of the cake were slightly chewy. Even after all this drama, the cake was still wonderfully moist!

To ensure that the cake doesn't develop a domed top which would eventually have to be cut away (what wastage!), I baked at a lower temperature of 160C for a longer period of time. Totally works. You should try it.

For the cream cheese frosting, I used a recipe from The Dessert Bible which I chose because it has a low ratio of butter to cream cheese which I like. I never understand why cream cheese frosting recipes have so much butter. Doesn't it detract from the flavour which you would have to then cover it up with copious amounts of icing sugar resulting in an atrociously sweet frosting?

Another bad thing I did was to not make enough cream cheese frosting.


Sam's Famous Carrot Cake (I halved the recipe and made it a 6 inch cake)
adapted from allrecipes.com


3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil *I replaced half of this with applesauce
1 1/2 cups sugar *I used brown sugar
2 ts. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ts. baking soda
2 ts. ground cinnamon *I added a touch of nutmeg too
1/4 ts. salt
2 cups shredded carrot *I used more to make up for the lack of coconut
1 cup flaked coconut *I omitted
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup can crushed pineapple with juice *I didn't use the juice as it would be way too moist
1 cup raisins *I plumped them up first



Preheat the over to 350 degrees F (I baked at 160C for flat layers), grease 8" x 12 " pan.
Sift all dry ingredients, set aside.
Combine carrot, coconut, pineapple, walnut and raisin. Set aside.
Whisk egg, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.
Whisk in dry ingredients, then carrot mixture.
Pour into a prepared pan, bake for 40-50 minutes. Check with toothpick.

Cream Cheese Frosting (I'm giving the full amount here so you can judge how much you need. Usually more is better than less!)
recipe from The Dessert Bible

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream

Beat the softened cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on low speed until homogenous, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and sour cream and beat until well blended, up to 2 minutes longer. (The frosting will be quite soupy so chill it in the refrigerator until it has thickened up enough to frost.) 


Carrots totally cancel out the calories, fat and sugar so don't feel guilty! 


This post is linked to Sweets for a Saturday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

bialys.


I debated between these and bagels from The Bread Bible by Rose and they won because of their method which is the straight dough and the fact that they had an onion topping. I have a not so small weakness for caramelized onions. There was supposed to be a teaspoon for each bialy but I probably piled a tablespoon on. Oops. If I went according to the recipe, the onions weren't supposed to be that caramelized but I just prefer mine that way.


The dough had so little yeast and took an agonizingly long time to rise. For the second rise, even after 2 hours in a suitably warm oven puffed the tiny balls of dough up barely. I didn't have the patience to wait, or the ability to shush my growling stomach, for them to double in size so I proceeded with the recipe, hoping that it wouldn't end up as bread bricks.


I've never tried a bialy before but I do think they need more salt. Rose's bread recipes always seem to have too little. Does anyone else feel the same way? Smitten Kitchen seems to think so too.

A bialy is very much like a bagel- dense and chewy. It was great warm and slathered with salted butter. The butter melts into a warm puddle and then you take a bite with some sweet caramelized onions. There's hearty chew, soft onions, crisp crust...



Bialys
Adapted from The Bread Bible

Yield: Six 4 x 1 1/4-inch high bialys or six flat 5 x 1-inch high bialys

2 cups (10.5 ounces/300 grams) King Arthur high-gluten bread flour, preferably, or bread flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 teaspoon (6.6 grams) salt *I would use more, maybe double
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7.25 ounces/206 grams) water, at room temperature


Onion-Poppy Seed Filling
2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (1.5 ounces, 43 grams) onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds *I left them out since I didn't have any
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste


Mix the dough. In the bowl, whisk together the flour and the yeast, then whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming in direct contact with the salt which would kill it). With the dough hook, on low speed (#2 if using a KitchenAid), gradually add the water, mixing for about 1 minute or until the flour mixture is moistened. Raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and continue mixing for 7 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl but be soft and elastic. Add a little extra flour or water if necessary. (The dough will weigh about 17.75 ounces/506 grams).

Let the dough rise. Place the dough in a 1 1/2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approimately where double the height of the dough would be. Allow the dough to rise, ideally at 75 to 80°F, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it has doubled.

Shape the dough and let it rise. Deflate the dough by firmly pushing it down, and transfer it to a floured counter. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (about 3 ounces, 84 grams each). Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. Maintaining as much air as possible in the dough, round each piece by pulling the dough together to form a pouch, stretching to make a smooth skin, and pinching it together where the edges meet. Set it on a floured baking sheet or tray, pinched side down. (The rounds will be 2 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches high.) Flour the tops and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow the bialys to rise for about 2 hours at 75 to 80°F or until almost doubled; when pressed lightly in the center, they should keep the impression. If the dough is underrisen, it will puff up in the center instead of maintaining the characteristic hollow crater. The trick for underrisen dough is to make a small hole in the center before adding the filling. Since the dough bakes so quickly, it’s easy to test bake one to see if the dough is ready. If you want to be on the safe side, make the hole anyway.

Make the onion-poppy seed filling. In a small saute pan, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Remove from the heat and add the poppy seeds, salt, and pepper to taste. Cool.

Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 475°F 30 minutes before baking. have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it, and a sheet pan on the floor of the oven, before preheating. *My oven couldn't reach that high a temperature, for some reason, so I had to bake the bialys for about 12 minutes instead.

Make the craters for the filling. Holding each piece of dough with both hands, with your thumbs in the middle and almost touching, pinch the center of the dough tightly between your thumbs and first two fingers and stretch the dough to 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter, forming a crater in the center. Place it on the lined baking sheet and spoon 1 teaspoon of onion-poppy seed filling into the center.

Bake the bialys. Place the baking sheet with the bialys directly on the hot oven stone or hot baking sheet, or, if using parchment, use a peel or a cookie sheet to slide the parchment with the bialys onto the stone or sheet. Toss a handful of ice cubes into the sheet pan on the oven floor and immediately shut the door. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until pale golden and mottled with brown spots (an instand-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 211°F.)

Cool the bialys. Remove the baking sheet or parchment from the oven and, with a pancake turner, transfer the bialys to wire racks to cool until just warm.

Storage: The bialys keep well for one day at room temperature in a paper bag. For longer storage, wrap each in airtight plastic wrap and place freezer bags in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Variation: To make crisper flat bialys, brush the tops with a mixture of 1 large egg white beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water and sprinkle with poppy seeds (use 3 times the weight of the egg white in poppy seeds). Cover with plastic wrap and press down on the bialys with a sheet pan or cookie sheet to make 5 1/2- to 6-inch rounds. Remove the plastic wrap and use the wide end of a chopstick to make about 12 holes in each bialy. Bake as above, but add a few minutes to that bialys turn golden brown.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

s'mores.

I must be the last person on earth to eat a s'more. It must be the marshmallows. I admit, I'm not a marshmallow fan, but molten gooey marshmallows? Heck, yes please!

I decided to make s'mores when I came across a recipe for one in Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook but the marshmallow recipe had egg whites and the graham cracker recipe had some ingredients that I didn't have on hand. I heard that marshmallows made with egg whites melt too quickly to be enjoyed in a s'more so I didn't want to use her recipe. But this voice in the back of my head kept chanting S'mores. S'mores. You gotta make s'mores.

I used Baked's recipe for vanilla marshmallows instead since I've made it before and was pleased with the results. Somehow, the marshmallows were stickier this time. I think its because I didn't beat the mixture as much. More air makes it lighter and easier to manage. (You know how bad an idea it is to touch the marshmallow mixture? Trust me, I know. But I just love fingering the white fluff. It's so spongey and light, practically an edible cloud.) When grilled just slightly, the warm marshmallows dissolved on my tongue like a good quality vanilla ice-cream. And the light crust on top? Just give me a spoon and a bowl of marshmallow gratin and I'll be contented for the rest of my life.


I used the graham crackers I made yesterday.
I think s'mores should be more variations than just chocolate and vanilla marshmallows. Why not green tea marshmallows and adzuki beans? Peanut butter marshmallows and bananas? Rosewater marshmallows and strawberries? I could make a gourmet s'mores selection!

How about you? What new variation would you come up with?



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

graham crackers.


I think I may have offended roll-out cookies in my previous life.

I have just about a gazillion problems when making them.

The dough is too soft and sticky. I rolled them too thin. I rolled them too thick. They're not of equal sizes. They puff up too much. They expand into one another. They never bake up to the perfect crisp texture- I either underbake or overbake them. They look hideous...


Still, I had to give homemade graham crackers a go. I've never really eaten one before, I always use digestives as a substitute in recipes because they're not available in my neighboring stores. Besides, homemade is always best.

Graham Crackers
recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares



2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract



Topping (optional)
3 tablespoons (43 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground cinnamon



Make the dough: Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
[Alternately, if you don't have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they're very well incorporated.]


In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.


Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. 


Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.


Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.


Decorate the crackers: Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer (I like to use the blunt end of a wooden skewer for more dramatic dots), prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.


Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.


You know something's coming when you see graham crackers...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

chocolate chip cookie dough truffles.



"Nobody eats cookie dough for breakfast!"


Well, technically, there are such people. Because I just did.

Do you feel this gravitational pull towards your screen? I'm sure you do. Don't lie. Lying is bad for your nose. And if you do, your nose will taste the truffles before your mouth does. See? What better way to teach little kids the lesson of honesty?

Searching for a chocolate chip cookie truffle recipe isn't hard. They're everywhere! But majority of them uses sweetened condensed milk and I didn't want to because that won't be a true cookie dough. So I finally found one from Baked Perfection and tweaked just one thing. Instead of brown and white sugar, I used all brown sugar. And I think upping the salt just slightly would bring out the flavours better. I bet browning the butter would kick ass. Try it and make me drool!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pops
adapted from Baked Perfection

makes 20

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt + maybe a bit more
dash of cinnamon
1 stick butter, softened (it is even okay if it is melting a little) *why not try browned butter?
3/4 cup brown sugar (was initially 1/4 cup white and 1/2 brown)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips



Extra chocolate for dipping, melted


In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll the mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Chill for several hours or freeze for 15-20 minutes until firm. Dip liberally into melted chocolate.

Pardon the horrendous dipping. I'm not the world's best dipper. Sure, they're ugly truffles


But they're my ugly truffles.

Monday, March 14, 2011

sticky sticky buns.


Beware. This is evil in disguise.

It makes your self-restraint disappear, your saliva flow like Niagara Falls, and your pants tight. Behold, the Sticky Sticky Bun.


Finally, I've attempted the famous sticky bun recipe by Joanne Chang which trashed Bobby Flay's in a throwdown! It shouldn't have took me so long but the amount of butter in the entire recipe totally put me off. Brioche + goo, there was close to 1 3/4 cup in the entire batch! I think my butt just grew.

Anyway, I didn't part with that much butter. I did just a third of the recipe to make 3 buns and adjusted the amount of goo since I read that it made too much. 2 cups for 8 buns? I think we may have a mini volcano eruption going on. I quartered the amount to get a 1/2 cup to share among the 3 buns and I still had way too much. But it was because when the dough doubled in size it unceremoniously pushed the goo out of the pan, so I suggest you hold on to the extra goo and drizzle the remaining on after baking.

Note: I made mine in individual pans which resulted in the overflowing goo. If you made yours in a 9 x 13 I doubt you'll have any issues. I love the shape of the buns I get from the pans! So cute and chubby.


Besides the change in quantities, I also tweaked the recipe by adding dates and more cinnamon to the filling. I feel that Joanne is always very shy with the cinnamon in her recipes. The dates worked so perfectly with the gooey center! I'm such a genius! They contributed more moisture to the rolls and when forked up with some buttery brioche and goo, it's like an orchestra is playing in your mouth. I'm serious. I wanted some more after I finished, and do you know how huge one bun is? Bakeries always make stuff off ginormous proportions. But that's why I love them.

Do remember that you should use half the recipe of Basic Brioche Dough, not the full quantity. And forget about letting the buns cools. Just dig in!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

pecan pie.


I love pecan pie but this is only my first time making it. It all started when I walked past this bakery selling wedges of pecan pie, each slice generously stuffed and studded with those gorgeous nuts, and each slice was quite reasonably priced too. I can't remember how many times I've succumbed to its temptation already, but I've never thought of making my own, even though there were a few flaws I could pick at. The crust was soggy, the pecans tasted a little stale...


So anyway, I finally got down to baking my own pecan pie after having found this recipe from cookiemadness, which is one of her favourite pecan pie recipes. I used dark brown sugar, but on hindsight, I should have used light brown. It's just my personal preference because dark brown has too much molasses flavour.


Another thing I did was to bake it mini. I did a third of a recipe for a 9 inch pie crust, and 1/4 the recipe for the filling. I par-baked the crust first to ensure that it didn't get soggy. After pouring in the filling, the pies looked done after just 15 minutes. They were kind of set and slightly jiggly in the middle. When I finally couldn't resist anymore, but I did let them cool completely, I forked through the pie and brown sugar lava flowed out.

This was what ran through my mind at that time:

Ooh, molten pecan pie!


Molten pecan pie?!


So apparently, my pie was still under baked. I stuck my pies back in the oven for another 15 minutes, hoping that would be enough and thank goodness it was. I realized only much later that the pies were only done when the filling sort of puffs up, something that I didn't notice during the first round of baking. So anyway, tragedy solved.


I used my favourite pie crust recipe from smitten kitchen that is practically unshrinkable, unless you want to count the few millimeters. I used this crust recipe for my fruit tarts as well.

A Great Savory Tart Shell

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 egg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. If this does not happen easily, toss it out onto a counter and knead it together. This dough is rather tough but with a little elbow grease, it does come together nicely. (Dough can also be made in a food processor, or as the original recipe suggests, in a stand mixer, though I have not tested in in the latter.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Proceed with a filling of your choice, no parbaking required.



This recipe would yield 6 mini pies.





The Best Pecan Pie Yet
1 9 inch deep dish unbaked pie shell *I par-baked the crust first even though the crust didn't require it
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cut up
3 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup or Karo “brown sugar” corn syrup (both work equally well)
3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar *I would prefer light brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place pecans in a large skillet or saute pan and turn heat to medium high. Cook pecans for 2 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium, add butter to skillet with pecans, and “stir-fry” butter and pecans until butter melts and and just barely starts to browns – take care not to burn. This should only take about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and salt. Remember just to whisk — don’t beat or add too much air to the mixture. Stir in melted butter/pecan mixture then pour filling into unbaked crust.
To catch any drippings, set a rimmed cookie sheet on the lower rack of the oven. Set the pie on the middle rack and bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden brown and appears set. The pie should still be slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely at room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator to chill. I make it a day ahead, chill overnight, then bring to room temperature and slice.
This pie also freezes quite well. (This recipe would yield enough filling for 8 mini pies)



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

alton brown's the chewy.

I've never been much of a chewy gal. More like a crispy. But when more than 800 people gave The Chewy the thumbs up on foodnetwork.com, I just had to try it.

I made some modifications to the recipe based on the commenters, well, comments. I reduced the amount of butter from 1 cup to 3/4 cup because it was supposedly a tad oily. I also browned the melted butter since it was already melted. Because hey, how bad can browned butter get?

Because I reduced the amount of butter quite significantly, I didn't have the same problem with the dough being too soft and gloopy. I got quite the opposite in fact. I could actually shape the dough without ending up with chocolate chip cookie hand cream. So I got out more milk and adjusted the consistency.
first batch
The first batch I made came out somewhat with a crumb that looked cakey. I might have overbaked it because it didn't appear golden brown to me yet. So for the second batch, I froze the dough and baked it straight from the freezer at an even higher temperature, 200C instead of 190C. This time, the edges of the cookies got a nice brown but still super moist and gooey inside.

I have to say, I'm kind of disappointed. Even the edges that got brown weren't as crunchy as I would like. The second batch had a gooey interior but I didn't find it that chewy. In fact, I think the first batch was chewier. Strange, huh. On the plus side, the cookies had a really good caramelized flavour from all that brown sugar. I knew sacrificing the ratio of white sugar to brown sugar really affects the crunch, but I didn't think it would be that drastic.

I'm starting to warm up to the idea of crunchy-edged, chewy-interior cookies because I admit, there aren't many great crisp all the way through cookies out there. I really like how thick some of the chewy cookies can get too!

Anyway, sorry Alton, your cookie recipe gets a thumbs down from me. Can anyone recommend their favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe with crunchy edges and with tons of chew?

Alton Brown's The Chewy

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter *I used 1 1/2 sticks
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk *I had to use more
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
2. Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Chill the dough (about 2 hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, using an ice cream scoop, 6 cookies per sheet. Cookies should be quite large if you are using a regular ice cream scooper. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.