Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

March 24, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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crispy-topped brown sugar bars

Anyone remember the Snickery Squares from BFMHTY?  I think Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars are BCM‘s answer to those.  Junky, but in the best possible way, these homemade candy bars have a brown sugar cookie base and a smear of dark chocolate.  The star of the show, though, is the layer of caramelized Rice Krispies on top.  You may be tempted to skip caramelizing the Krispies and just toss on a handful as-is outta the box, but it is a step that is worth it.  (A couple of people used caramel corn instead of Krispies, and that sounds pretty darn good, too.)  Also, you’ll wind up with extra caramel Krispies– score!  I shamefully admit that I considered eating those extra sugary puffs with milk for breakfast, but decided to save them for ice cream sundaes instead…far less shameful, right?

I heard that the brown sugar cookie base was very crisp and a bit of a mess to cut when baked at the recipe’s stated time and temp (375°F for 22 minutes), so I baked my base at 350°F for about 15 minutes instead.  It was easy to cut into bars and ate like a soft, chewy shortbread.  I did only make a half recipe in a loaf tin, but if I did a full size batch, I’d still definitely peek in the oven after 15 minutes and see what’s going on.

These bars sounded like they had the potential to be very sweet, so I used a 72% bittersweet chocolate with a tiny pinch of salt sprinkled in to keep it under control.  They are rich enough that I could say a little goes a long way, but really, they are moreish enough that I could have eaten the whole loaf pan in one go!

Make them!  For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

P.S.: If you’re interested in gluten-free baking, enter my Gluten-Free Flour Power book giveaway here.

Gluten-Free Double-Chocolate Brownies and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 22, 2015 at 11:14 am | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 13 Comments
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double-chocolate brownies

By no means do I follow a gluten-free diet (more like a gluten-full diet), but I know plenty of people who do, and I’ve had to do an increasing amount of gluten-free baking for customers at work.  So I’m interested in it, even if I don’t do that much gluten-free baking at home, and was excited to see a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot (from the very cool Ideas in Food) show up in my mailbox.  They’ve developed gluten-free flour blends and devised recipes to use them that run the gamut of baking…breads, cookies, cakes, pies…heck, even kougin amann and cannelés!  There’s pasta, dumplings, steamed buns and Japanese fried chicken, too.

Flipping through my new book, I fixated on a brownie that’s made gluten-free, not with a blend, but simply with the use of oat flour.  When it comes to brownies, I’m not loyal to any one recipe.  I play the field and always seem to be trying a different recipe out.  Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies are a favorite of mine, and I knew I’d like a bit of that wholesome flavor in brownie-form.  You can buy oat flour at most stores or make it yourself by blitzing old-fashioned rolled oats in your food processor, blender or spice grinder.  I use oat flour often for whole-grain pancakes and when I need it, I usually go the homemade route because it’s something that’s a lot cheaper to DIY (and it’s quick and easy).  Just make sure the flour or the oats you buy are certified gluten-free if you also want your brownies to be.

These brownies use melted chocolate and a healthy amount of natural cocoa powder, so they really fix a chocolate craving.  They’re tall and kind of straddle the line of being a little cakey on the edge and fudgy in the middle (I’m assuming this structure comes from having 6 eggs in the batter).  And yeah, I could taste the oats, but no, I didn’t mind one bit.  They’re delicious.  A scoop of coffee ice cream on the side is delicious, too.

The kind folks at W.W. Norton sent me a copy of Gluten-Free Flour Power,  and now I want to send a copy to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Sunday, March 29 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.

Double-Chocolate Brownies– makes a 9-16 brownies
adapted from Gluten-Free Flour Power by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot

Steph’s Note:  If you grind your own oat flour and are using cup measures, grind more than you think you’ll need and measure again after.  You can save any extra to add to other recipes.  Also, nuts were not included in the original recipe, but I like them in brownies and added them to mine.

6 oz/ 170 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tbsp/ 6 oz/ 170 g unsalted butter, sliced
1 cup/ 130 g oat flour
2 cups/ 400 g sugar
1/2 cup/ 60 g natural cocoa powder
1 tsp/ 6 g fine sea salt
6 large eggs (cold)
1/2 cup toasted and roughly chopped nuts (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. (You can line the pan with buttered parchment if you’d like, and the brownies will be easier to remove.)

– Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted and smooth.  It should take about 2 minutes total.  You can do this in a double boiler on the stovetop if you prefer.  Let the mixture cool.

–Put the oat flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  Add the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk to blend.  Add the eggs, one by one, stirring in each well with a rubber spatula before adding the next.  If using nuts, fold them in now.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, give the batter another 20-25 strokes to insure the batter is well-blended.

– Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the brownies are just set in the center.  They should feel firm when gently pressed and they will not jiggle if you shake the pan.

– Let brownies cool completely before cutting them with a sharp knife.  (I like to refrigerate brownies for a couple of hours before cutting them.)

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. Congratulations to Becky Ellis!  I’ll be in touch soon.***

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Lemon Madeleines

March 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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lemon madeleines

By now, I’ve made several of Dorie’s madeleine recipes, but these Lemon Madeleines were the first to give me that coveted backside bump!  The trick, apparently, is to keep the batter super-cold until the second the shell-shaped pan hits the oven.  Hmmm…perhaps I should revisit one of the older recipes (chai was a favorite)?

I like madeleines, but I never really think of them until they roll around for TWD.  They’re easy enough to make…the batter is quickly whisked together by hand and it can even out in the fridge for a few days.  Madeleines are for sure best eaten fresh, so it’s handy to be able to bake them off as you want them (I did about four a day until the batter was gone).  These ones came out nice and spongy.  And lemony, of course, because of zest in the batter and juice in the glaze.

Madeleines often find themselves dunked into a cup of tea, but there was some lemon curd left from last week’s BWJ recipe, so we swiped them in that.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Granola Energy Bars

January 13, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, breakfast things, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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granola energy bars

Granola and yogurt is my standard weekday morning brekkie.   It’s fast, it’s easy and I like it.  Sometimes I add a banana to jazz it up but, all in all, I keep it all pretty plain, so it’s fairly healthy.  A lot of store-bought granola is anything but, with loads of sugar and add-ins.  Store-bought granola bars are usually the same way…more like candy bars than healthy snacks.  I eat enough sugar for dessert, so I try to avoid those “extra” sweets during the day.  If you wanna control what goes in it, I guess you gotta make it yourself!

These Granola Energy Bars are loaded with nuts, seeds, dried fruit (I used raisins, cherries and apricots) and oats, of course, bound together with brown rice syrup.  I think the brown rice syrup helps keep the bars chewy, too, but corn syrup or golden syrup would be likely substitutes if you can’t find it easily.  These were a cinch to make, and I feel good about what went into them.  And they’re filling, too, if you just need a little something to hold you over.

I bought the brown rice syrup at the health food store just for this recipe, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the jar…apart from making more granola bars.  Perhaps I’ll tweak the recipe to make my own homemade, fresh version of the candy bar kind with mini chocolate chips and peanuts, for dessert, of course.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll and please join us, if you haven’t already!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

December 16, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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chocolate-mint nightcaps

Every Christmas, I have visions and hopes of a cookie baking extravaganza.  And every Christmas, other things (work, visitors, forgetting to buy sugar, general laziness) seem to get in the way…not only is there no baking extravaganza going on in my kitchen, there is not a single cookie to be found.  I try my best not to poop out on TWD each week, and lucky for me these Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps from Marcel Desaulniers are, ya know, seasonally flavored. I think I’ve finally make a Christmas cookie– yay!

These are little cocoa sandwich cookies, filled and (night)capped off with a squiggle of dark chocolate and mint ganache (the recipe calls for steeping fresh mint, but a drop or two of peppermint extract is what I used in its place).  Before I had even read the recipe, I made the assumption that the cookies would have a fauxreo thing going on…I was a little surprised that I wound up with a cakey batter when I mixed the dough.  I made these late in the day and sandwiched a few as soon as they’d cooled.  They were so soft and crumbly…even though it was clear that they weren’t going to be crispy wafers, I was not expecting them to fall apart like they did.  Kind of of discouraging, but I decided to let the rest of my batch of cookies hang out unfilled overnight.  Actually, I decided to let them sleep in the freezer, thinking that would really help them set (whether or not that was necessary, I don’t know).  When I put them together with the ganache the next day, they’d firmed up and were like fudgy, minty brownie cookies.  Seriously good….I only made a quarter-batch, or I’d definitely leave a couple out for Santa.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: The Rugelach That Won Over France

December 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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rugelach

The Rugelach That Won Over France is a spiral of cinnamon sugar, coconut, pecans, chocolate and dried cherries.  I’ve made other Dorie rugelach once, no twice, before…in fact, hers is the only rugelach I’ve ever made.  She uses essentially the same cream cheese pastry dough in each, and it’s great.  It’s easy to make in the food processor, pretty easy to roll out and bakes up nice and flaky.  But, while this version may have won over France, it wasn’t my favorite flavor combination.  I thought it was a little dry compared to the other two, and I realize the difference is likely because they had some sort of jam in the filling and this one didn’t.  I’d certainly give this a shot again, but would swap out the chocolate for some fruit jam.

I followed the recipe here, but instead of freezing my rolled up rugelach logs before slicing, I just chilled them in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Then I cut them an inch thick, rather than 1/2-inch thick, for chunkier cookies.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll and please join us, if you haven’t already!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Amaretti

November 18, 2014 at 9:50 am | Posted in BWJ, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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amaretti

My husband is half-Sicilian, and he and his family live for Italian-American bakery sweets in a way that I can’t quite understand.  I knew he’d be all over Nick Malgieri’s Amaretti cookies because he never passes them up in the case at Court Pastry Shop here in Brooklyn.  They’re easy enough to make at home, though…you just need some canned almond paste, and couple of egg whites and some sugar.

R, my husband, also requires pine nuts on his amaretti.  Am I right that that makes them pignoli cookies?  He has expensive tastes– pine nuts are like $46 a pound here!  Luckily I can buy just a small scoop at Sahadi’s. I tried to be cheap with them without looking like I was being too cheap with them.  I don’t love amaretti the way that R does, but these are good and just like at the bakery…crispy outside, chewy inside, sweet and full of almond paste flavor.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make the amaretti cookies. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Palets de Dames, Lille Style

November 11, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 29 Comments
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palets de dames

In case you didn’t think Dorie Greenspan’s sweets were well-represented here (I’ve only made about 300 of them), I’m thrilled to tell you that Tuesdays with Dorie, the BCM edition kicks off today! Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere is Dorie’s latest gem.  It’s a huge book filled with recipes– some are French classics, some are French twists and some are not-so-French, but her Parisian friends love them.   We’ll be baking from BCM on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, and Laurie, Jules and I hope we’ll see a lot of new bakers join in the fun!  The recipes are awesome, the rules are relaxed and there will be group nominations each month to decide what we’ll make– fun!.  (Don’t worry– we’re not abandoning Baking with Julia.  In fact, we’d love to have more folks jump in as we move through the second half of that book.)

Now, onto Palets de Dames, our first recipe!  Palet means “puck” in French.  While they may be shaped like little disks, there’s nothing hockeypuck-ish about these little cake-cookies.  They’re soft and flavored with vanilla and are a perfect tea or coffee break treat.  The cookie dough is actually like making a simple cake batter and the icing is just whisked together.  Not too hard, although somehow I did manage to make a little screw up.  I think I was actually supposed to dip their bottoms in glaze and serve them upside-down.  I did the opposite.  Oh well…ce n’est pas grave, as they say.  They’re still dainty and cute, and I thought they deserved a little sparkly bling on top of the sweet glaze to celebrate our first BCM post.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll and please join us, if you haven’t already!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Cantuccini

April 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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cantuccini

Nick Malgieri’s Cantuccini are thinly sliced, super crisp biscotti.  I put almonds and cardamom in mine, but I bet pretty much any nut/sweet spice combo you want would work well.  Citrus zest and dried fruit would be fine additions, too.  Oh, I wonder if anyone will add chocolate?

The canutccini have to be baked twice, which takes a bit of time, but the dough itself is really quick to make.  The recipe gives “by hand” instructions, but I just tossed everything into my stand mixer.  I probably had that dough ready to go in the oven faster than I was able to make the ghetto cappuccino I dunked them into later!  Just like with the hazelnut biscotti from a couple of years back, lightly wetting your hands helps with shaping sticky dough into a log.  I wish I’d made a fatter log so I would have had cookies that looked more like the slim little half-moons in the book.

The recipe notes say that cantuccini are typically enjoyed with the sweet wine vin santo.  I’ll be looking for a bottle of that at the wine shop this afternoon, since I have lots more of these to eat up (even though I made just a third of the recipe).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s also a version of it here.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Gingersnaps

December 17, 2013 at 10:58 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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gingersnaps

Last week I was in paradise, now I’m back to reality.  I’m trying to brighten up the Brooklyn dreariness with a tree and some holiday-spiced cookies.  How convenient that David Blom’s Gingersnaps are up for TWD this week.  Cutout cookies are fun, I think.  Sticky doughs can be tricky to work with and get soft quickly, but I’ve found that rolling out dough on parchment and then chilling the rolled sheet for 10 or so minutes before punching out shapes makes the process a lot easier.

I heard that these cookies tasted more like molasses than ginger, so I doubled the spices in my batch.  I also reduced the water called for in the recipe to just 1 tablespoon, as I didn’t think the dough needed so much extra moisture.  Since I was trying to boost the spiciness, I skipped the molasses glaze and sprinkled my stars with sanding sugar instead.  While I baked these a few minutes longer than the recipe called for, they were still a little more chewy than snappy.  They never quite dried out in the center.

These may not be my ideal gingersnaps (those are from Miette, although I’ve only had them in the shop and have not tried their recipe in my own kitchen), but they were tasty enough and the recipe was small enough that I don’t mind too much.  They were good with tea.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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