Friday, September 30, 2011

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.


I've been kinda busy these few days hence the drop in posts, and even when I do post, I have to keep it short so please pardon my silence. It's going to be like this for at least two weeks.

I recently bought a pack of whole wheat flour for baking bread but I was wondering what else I could do with it. I thought that since whole wheat flour has a natural nuttiness to it, it would go really well in cookies. I did a search and popular versions, I found, were chocolate chip and peanut butter. I decided on one recipe of each but I made the chocolate chip first since the recipe was more straightforward.


The recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour but what I had was the regular, more gritty kind, so I used half whole wheat and half plain flour instead. I let the dough sit in the fridge for a day even though I could have just baked it straight away. I've not tested the theory of The New York Times, making comparisons between 4-hour, 12-hour, 36-hour doughs and whatnot- I made the cookie dough ahead just to save some time on the actual day I felt like eating the cookies.

I thought the idea of whole wheat cookies is really a winner. Without having to brown any butter, the cookies had a really nice depth of flavour and they didn't give me that sinful feeling. Although, that can be negotiable... However, because the whole wheat flour I used was coarser, the texture was a little rough. Like stone-ground cornmeal in corn muffins. I think it would be good to invest in some whole wheat pastry flour. I can see myself using that for future cookies instead of white.

I felt that the cookies were a little on the sweet side so you might want to cut down the sugar by 1/4. Also, sprinkling a bit of salt right after they've emerged from the oven would not be such a bad idea too.


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
makes about 20

The cold butter keeps the dough cool and less likely to spread in the oven, omitting a chilling step. You can still make the dough ahead, for more, apparently, flavorful cookies. 

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or a 50-50 mixture of regular whole wheat flour and plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup light brown sugar (I would cut down on the amount of sugar for both kinds)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in a bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Add in the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined.

Portion out the dough about 3 tablespoons in size each onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. Leave to cool. I find that by giving the cookies a chance to cool, the wheat flavour is more noticeable.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

warm chocolate and raspberry tart.


If you like molten chocolate cakes...


You'll love these.

They are like molten chocolate cakes with crunch and a sprinkle of antioxidants.


A ganache is poured into a pre-baked tart shell, and sent into the oven just until the edges are set and the centre is still jiggly. Sounds familiar? So when you stab the poor thing that's about to be devoured in seconds, the chocolate will ooze out like a river. A mini one, because tarts are shallower.

Hmm... I want a waterfall.


Perhaps I would suggest making these in deeper tart shells? The kind used for egg tarts, if you can picture them.

I like the fact that the raspberries were baked with the tart instead of being used as a garnish. Heat does wonderful magical things to berries. They become so much sweeter and juicier.

Of course, although the recipe says to serve them warm, they will be pretty awesome chilled too. I mean, how bad can cold ganache be?


Warm Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
recipe adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme

1 10 inch sweet tart crust, fully baked and cooled

4 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg and 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup raspberries

Preheat oven the 375F.

Melt the chocolate and butter in separate bowls and let them cool until they reach a temperature of 109F. This is crucial for the creaminess of the ganache.

Stir the eggs and sugar together in a bowl, trying not to incorporate too much air. Stir in the chocolate slowly in circles, and then the butter in the same manner. The final mixture should look very thick and creamy. The ganache must be used immediately.

Pour the ganache into your tart shell and top with the raspberries. Bake for exactly 11 minutes for a 10 inch tart, less if baking mini ones. The edges of the tart should look dry and dull but the centre should be shiny and jiggly.

Let the tart cool for a few minutes just to firm up and serve warm. Or you could refrigerate it for a different kind of texture.

Linked to Tuesday Talent Show, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday and Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

golden pearl brownie cake.


Could it be? The first time a PH recipe (half) lets me down?

I had pretty high hopes for this one. I mean come on- vanilla bean sort-of-mousse layer, a dense chocolate brownie studded with tons of toasty pecans and plenty of plump raisins in between. I think raisins don't just go with peanut butter, they work really well with chocolate too! Think cranberries and chocolate, but a sweeter version. I was sold the moment I read the description.


I think both the vanilla and chocolate layers are lacking in their respective flavours. The vanilla layer is actually a vanilla bean pastry cream lightened with whipped cream, but the ratio is of pastry cream to whipped cream is way too low, I feel. The vanilla didn't come through very strongly because of that and the overall texture is very airy, like extremely over-churned ice cream. Perhaps that was intended, but I'm not exactly digging it.


On the other end of the colour spectrum, the brownie wasn't chocolaty enough. The whole recipe called for only 2 1/2 ounces of chocolate. Surely anyone who bakes a brownie often enough knows that that measly amount can only churn out a few squares if you want it to be decently decadent. Again, maybe it was done on purpose so as to not overwhelm the vanilla layer.


Oh, by the way, this isn't exactly how the overall cake is supposed to be. The recipe instructed for the raisins to be incorporated into the vanilla layer but I forgot about them so I decided to mix them in with the brownie too. I like the way it turned out- the brownie being punctured with bits of nuttiness and juiciness, but it may not be a good thing for some because you may feel like eating nuts and raisins held together by brownie batter. Believe me, the ratio of add-ins to brownie is quite high, even without the raisins.


There won't be any recipe typed out, but you can check out other people's attempts at this too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

shanghai scallion pancakes.


You can call this a fusion of glorious nutritionally nada carbs and somewhat good-for-you spring onions. I love spring onions, I can't live without flour... need I say more?


If I tell you that spring onions are (one of) my favourite vegetables, don't laugh, because it's so true it's almost embarrassing. I can eat a whole plateful of it with a bowl of porridge when they are usually sprinkled on top more for aesthetic reasons. I ask for extra spring onions on the side with my fried rice. I think the ratio of rice grains to spring onions may be 1:1. As you can imagine, I had to restrain myself from adding too much to the dough or they would all fall out.


These pancakes are not the American light and fluffy batter pancakes. They are made from dough, salt and just enough water for the right consistency. They also have a very different texture. Think roti prata, if you know what it is- crispy on the outside and fluffy layered insides. It's a bit like puff pastry, but without the puff.


I was actually wondering why not use butter instead of oil? The oil here helps to separate the layers after rolling the dough up. Since fat is what we're after, I thought butter might do the trick too, and with extra flavour to boot. Granted, it won't be very Chinese, but it's a good idea!


Shanghai Scallion Pancakes
recipe just slightly tweaked from Almost Bourdain
Makes 2 (large ones)

You may need more water than the amount specified below. Just add a little at a time until a pliable, non-sticky dough is formed. Also, I included the step of "crushing" the pancake after cooking. Don't be alarmed, I don't have anger management issues. This step helps to separate the layers in the pancake, creating a light and flaky texture. You can skip it if you want, but give it a try if you feel like having a bit of fun. Just be careful though, it's hot! 

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
110 ml warm water
20g spring onions, green parts only, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil or lard

Sift flour and salt into a big bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the warm water. Using your hand, slowly mix to form a dough.

Cover the dough with cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a circle. Try to roll it out as thinly as you can to achieve more layers in your pancake, resulting in a flakier one.

Brush the surface generously with oil or lard and sprinkle with half of the chopped spring onion.

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough like a swiss roll and pinch the ends to seal. Lightly flatten the roll, then roll it up again from one end to form a snail, pinch the ends together. Press the dough down with the palm of your hand. Roll it out to a circle. I find it easier to roll out after resting for a while so why not get started on your other piece of dough while waiting?

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with some oil/lard. Fry pancake for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning once, until the pancake is a light golden brown and crisp.

Remove from the pan and onto a clean chopping board. Let it cool for a few moments then smash it up like scrunching a piece of paper but without picking it up. You should see some layers separate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

dorie's pecan pie.


Dorie (Greenspan)'s pecan pie is not your average pecan pie.

It has chocolate...

and coffee...

and pecans. Like, duh.


It tastes like a more elegant version of its achingly sweet family members. Like pecan pie all grown up. Rather than just boosts of brown sugar, this pecan pie is more complex in flavour than the traditional version. This is the recipe to convert those who think of pecan pie as just a pure sugar cube (or some sort of flattened half-sphere).


Personally though, I prefer the original pecan pie. I wouldn't mind deviating a little by browning the butter, but I think original is best. Yep, I like my sugar rush.


Dorie's Favorite Pecan Pie
makes 1 9 inch pie

1 partially baked 9 inch crust, cooled (I have a favorite I highly recommend)

3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces
85g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 220 degrees. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat.

In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and give the batter a good mix.

Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Pour the filling into the crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by cutting a 9 inch circle out of the center of an 11 or 12 inch square of aluminum foil. Because I made my pies mini, I didn't bother cutting the foil. I just placed a whole square of foil above each pie.

Lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees. Place the foil shield on top of the pie- the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil. Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes or until it has puffed, beautifully browned and no longer jiggles when tapped.

Transfer the pie plate to rack, remove shield and cool to room temperature.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

banana pecan upside down cake.

Before I start, I need to address a very important issue. I know that I don't post recipes with some of my bakes, and apparently is upsetting to some. I hope you understand that there are copyright issues and I can't just type out the recipe and post it online because it won't be fair to those who have bought the book. I only post recipes that have been posted by others too, because I think it's safe to be shared. Also, I would like to say that the purpose of this blog is for me to share what I can make. Posting recipes is not a given because it's not my focus. To me, a blog is all about interaction. To communicate with others about baking and stuff, recipe or no recipe, would be this blog's most valuable achievement. I know this issue isn't new to many experienced bloggers but I'm just a newbie and I find it deeply unsettling so I need to get it off my chest. Thank you for listening.




Don't let this pallid appearance fool you, because it's so much more.

Sure, I made a boo boo along the way. I didn't have a cast-iron skillet so I baked it in a normal baking pan. The recipe instructed those who use a normal pan to preheat a baking sheet to place the pan on so that the bottom will receive an extra oomph of heat to caramelize the sugar. I forgot. Which explains the pale surface. Oops.


I tried my best to inject some colour into it by broiling the top after flipping it over but it didn't work, except for the edges. My pecans nearly burned into black nuggets but the bananas were still a pale yellow. Hmph.


Nevertheless, the cake was delicious. It's a recipe from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum which uses the reverse creaming method (I think that's what it's called). You know, the one where you mix the butter with the flour then add in eggs then liquid? That's the one. The cake was so tender and it practically melted with the slightest nudge of my tongue. It had a superb buttery taste too!


Now, just one grouse...

Why does it have to be so short?! 

I want more cake.

Preferably now.


Banana Pecan Upside Down Cake
adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
makes 1 10 inch cake

Banana layer
2 bananas, sliced such that they are able to fit in 1 layer
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup pecan halves

Cake
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsp softened butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Place oven rack in lower third of the oven. If you're using a normal baking pan, preheat a baking sheet as well.

To make banana layer: Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar until moistened and remove from heat. Arrange bananas and pecans in 1 layer. Transfer the brown sugar-butter mixture to your normal baking pan before arranging if you're not using a cast iron skillet.

To make the cake batter: In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks,  2 tbsp sour cream and vanilla. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Add butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium (high if using hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop cake's structure. Scrape down the sides.

Gradually add egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Pour batter into skillet/pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and a inserted toothpick comes out clean. I think it's best to cool the cake for 5 minutes before inverting on a serving plate.

Linked to Tuesday Talent Show, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Treats Thursday, Fat Camp Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

liege waffles.


These waffles embody the saying that butter is better. Or perhaps specifically, more butter is even better. It's a heart attack the size of your heart, with about 25g of golden fat packed into each waffle. Scary, yet what can be better?

I had my first liege waffle in Belgium and the very first one was the best I've ever tasted. I say that because... I had five liege waffles over four days. I was an aspiring whale, trying to develop blubber to shield me from the harsh below 0 temperatures. That first waffle was handed to my numb fingers, piping hot and with a buttery aroma. I took a bite after handing over my euros. It was crunchy and caramelized on the outside, gooey and a little chewy on the inside. I could have died there. I have to make this when I get back home, I told myself resolutely. And sure enough, even though it has been 9 months since, I have.

When researching for a recipe, I found two distinct methods. One calling for incorporating melted butter, a knead-less method and the other something akin to a brioche method. But both recipes listed down 1 cup of butter. I wanted to recreate that gooey waffle so I though melted butter would be a better bet. Hence, I chose the first recipe which can be found here.

sorry for the horrible photos- i was trying to snap them quick while they were still warm

I didn't have any pearl sugar, so I bashed up some sugar cubes and sifted through it to retain only the larger chunks. I was worried that the vanilla would mask the butteriness of the waffle because the smell was quite obvious but I shouldn't have worried because it hardly showed up in the end. The vanilla went towards eliminating the egginess.

I thought the waffle was pretty good, but not close enough to the one in Belgium. It wasn't as buttery and gooey- perhaps I could have underbaked it a little. It wasn't the same taste-wise either. It's quite hard to put in words. Nevertheless, these waffles are worth a go if you've not tried the authentic one. Once you tried the real thing though, it's hard to go back.

P.S. Your waffle iron will turn into a nightmare- butter will ooze out of the dough, on the iron and then out from the sides and sugar will caramelize and stick stubbornly between the ridges. Just giving you the heads up.


Liege Waffles
makes 8 to 10

1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups plain flour
3 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup Belgian pearl sugar

Mix the yeast, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Place the flour in a separate large mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the flour then pour in the yeast mixture. Mix until blended on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, pour in melted butter slowly, and the vanilla and cinnamon, making sure to mix well after each addition to the batter. It will be very sticky.

Let the dough rest until doubled in size. Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes.

While the dough is resting, heat your waffle iron. Spoon about a 2 inch diameter ball of dough into the center of the waffle iron. The waffles will take 3 to 5 minutes to bake on level 3. If you want lots of gooeyness, try underbaking them. They should just start to take on a bit of colour.

Monday, September 12, 2011

blueberry milk.

my first picture of me on the blog! well, my hands, that is

Blueberries are my favourite berries. When you get the good ones, they're so goood. And their colour is beautiful too!

Inspiration struck when I saw this post, and I proceeded to the kitchen to whip up my own blueberry milk. I only had dried blueberries, so I made up my own proportions. Plus, I even added some cornstarch to thicken the milk because thin milk never does it for me. Except for cereal.


Blueberry Milk
serves 1

2 to 3 tbsp dried blueberries
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 low fat milk

Combine the blueberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook it until the blueberries have softened up and the mixture is reduced and syrupy. Mix in the cornstarch until dissolved then pour in all the milk. Bring to a boil again for a few seconds. The milk would thicken slightly, then pull it off the heat. Let it cool and refrigerate until completely cold for maximum enjoyment!

P.S. The milk will have a skin so if you don't like it (why?!), use plastic wrap to cover it, ensuring that the wrap touches the surface of the milk.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

bake sale: no-knead olive bread.


No knead breads are a godsend. This one is really good. I held back on the salt because 1 1/2 tablespoons seemed too much but I shouldn't have. Make the recipe as it is and it would be perfect- hearty, moist and spongy interior with a crumb slightly on the denser side.


No Knead Olive Bread
makes four 1 pound loaves
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

The original method for mixing the dough was to add the yeast, salt and water together. I was afraid that adding salt directly to the yeast would kill it so I modified the instructions a bit by adding the salt later. I also omitted the cornstarch wash and instead just dusted the surfaces of the loaves with extra flour for a rustic look. 1 cup of olives seem like a lot but trust me, it will all work out.


Dough
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups plain flour
Cornmeal, for dusting (I omitted because I didn't have)

1 cup olives, chopped or 1/4 cup per 1 pound dough

Cornstarch Wash 
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Mix the yeast and water in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix thoroughly with a spoon. Cover with cling wrap and let it rest for 2 hours at room temperature. The dough would rise and collapse.

After 2 hours, the dough can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator in a lidded container for up to 2 weeks.

When ready to bake, portion out the dough and knead in 1/4 cup chopped olives to each pound of dough. Shape the dough into a ball. Sprinkle a baking tray with cornmeal and place the shaped dough on top. If you don't have cornmeal, you can just use parchment paper, a silicon mat or use flour instead. Let the dough rest for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Place a baking stone or cookie sheet upside down onto the middle rack. Put an empty broiler tray or baking dish on the rack below.

Make the cornstarch wash by blending the cornstarch with a little bit of water to make a paste. Then whisk in 1/2 cup water. Heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds on high.

Right before baking, brush the surface of the dough with the wash. Make a few slashes across the loaf with a serrated knife to make a pattern. Slide the dough into the oven and pour a cup of hot water into the broiler tray below. Close the oven door quickly and bake for about 35 minutes or until the top crust is  very firm and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

post #200- philadelphia almond cake.


This cake got the VIP privilege here because it's a spectacular one totally worthy of my 200th post! Wow... that's a lot of blabbering from me.


By the way, did you all notice an addition to my blog name? Well, in case you missed it, it's others eat breakfast for dessert, i eat dessert for breakfast. I don't lie. I'm eating this cake as I type at 11 in the morning. Okay, technically, it's brunch. But you get my drift.

If you think this cake looks suspiciously like a PH aka Pierre Herme recipe, you're absolutely correct! And like all PH recipes I've tried so far, this one passed with flying colours. It consists of a almond sponge, cream cheese mousse, cherries and a layer of streusel which, surprisingly, isn't my favourite part. I think the best component of this cake is the refreshing mousse. It's slightly sweeter than the cream cheese and blueberry cake one, but retains a bit of tartness which pairs so well with the juicy dark cherries.


This is kind of random, but making the almond sponge brought back memories of macaron baking. The technique is almost the same- the only difference is when folding in the dry ingredients, you want to keep the air, not deflate the batter.


I have only two complaints.

First, this cake is extremely low in height. The ratio of cake to mousse is practically 1:1. I wish there was more mousse to go around, or maybe that's because I'm just greedy. Cakes with a french influence are never like towering 4 layer american cakes. They are slim, sleek and chic.

Secondly, although the streusel was crunchy, it wasn't as flavorful as I would like. This is because white sugar was used instead of brown, which I prefer.


But really, this cake is another winner.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

peanut butter banana smoothie.


I feel sorry for those poor souls with a peanut allergy. Same goes for banana-haters.

Because...

They can't have the almighty peanut butter-banana combo!

By the way, don't you think bananas are amazing? They are nearly unbeatable sauteed, grilled and caramelized but frozen? It's like eating banana ice cream! I'm serious. One of the healthiest and speediest desserts ever! Just slice the banana into chunks, stick a toothpick in if you're going to dip it into something, wait for a few hours after chucking it into the freezer, then eat it as it is. No defrosting necessary, please.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
serves 1

Trust me. A little peanut butter goes a long way. 

1 banana, sliced and frozen
2/3 to 1 cup milk, depending on how you like the consistency
2 tsp peanut butter

Throw everything in a blender and blend.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

cream cheese and blueberry cake.


It sounds like a cheesecake recipe, but it's not. It's actually two layers of sponge with a cream cheese mousse and sweet juicy blueberries sandwiched in between with swirls of meringue torched on top. The original version from Pierre Herme calls for ladyfinger biscuits instead of the sponge but anyway...


Pierre Herme is a name that you're gonna see around here very often now, so get used to it. Along with the multi-component recipes which can require you to start planning days before you bake and the countless number of bowls you have to wash. Why am I doing this to myself?

I'm sadistic. I truly am.


The mousse isn't sweetened to the point of cream cheese frosting but only with a touch of sugar so that its tartness shines through. It contrasts with the plump sweet berries and I'll say that this is one of my favourite food combos evah!


I was quite disappointed with the sponge though. The recipe was also taken from Pierre Herme's book and it was a simple straightforward one. Very traditionally french, unlike recipes that have been modified for a softer, more fine-textured sponge which I'm more used to. The texture was really rough and coarse, but certain areas with more lemon syrup brushed on were more palatable.


Something is wrong with my meringue. It became grainy and a pain to pipe on top. The picture of the cake in the book showed really smooth swirly piping. Hmm...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

bake sale: cookie box.


A mix of peanut butter cookies, vanilla pecan squares and quintuple (triple actually, since I didn't add white chocolate) chocolate brownies.


I find piling cookies into a box very comforting...


as I would when I see a tower of boxes of cookies.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

vanilla pecan squares.


There are really good cookies and there are meh cookies. These are the meh ones. I made these because I wanted to use up some pecans but I don't think my pecans have been wasted. Texture wise, they are not that great. The corner and side squares are crunchy around the edges and soft-cakey in the middle. I think I'm as confused as these cookies- are they supposed to be crunchy or cakey or soft?


The good thing is, when the name says vanilla pecan squares, you really taste the vanilla up front, none of that hmmm... I'm detecting something. I wonder what it is... And the toasty nutty pecans really complement the vanilla too. However, I think it's a little on the sweet side so you might want to cut down on the sugar.


Vanilla Pecan Squares
recipe adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini
makes 40

200g sugar (you may want to reduce this to 150g)
2 eggs
200g flour
100ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum (I omitted because I didn't have)
a pinch of salt
40 pecan pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil, vanilla and rum, mix again. Add in flour and salt, mix again. The dough should resemble cake batter- liquid and thick.

Pour into a lined 9 x 13 inch baking pan and even out the surface with a spatula. Arrange the pecan pieces regularly across the surface for easier cutting later on.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (mine took 20-25), until the top is lightly golden and the pecans are fragrant. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Lift all the squares carefully and place them on a cookie sheet and leave inside a turned off oven for 30 minutes to dry them out.