Tags: baking, cookies
I’m not supposed to be home writing this post right now, but the last three days we’ve had power outages at work and closed up shop early. Hard to work in a food business when your refrigeration is down. I feel bad for the store owners because it’s truly a mess and they lose sales when this stuff happens, but it’s a little bonus time off for me. Time off means time for a cookie break with Alice Medrich’s Hazelnut Biscotti!
These super-crunchy biscotti are the perfect little something on the side of a plate. Good with coffee (naturally), ice cream or fruit. The recipe calls for skin-on hazelnuts and has kind of a kooky method for removing the skins (just watch this video…ick). I went a far more straight-forward route– I bought pre-blanched nuts! I just toasted them as directed before proceeding with the dough. A tip that worked well for many of us this week is to lightly wet your hands before shaping the dough into logs. This helps neatly deal with the stickiness. And I recommend slicing the cookies pretty thin after the first bake, because after the second, the cookies are so crisp that a fat cookie would be hard to bite down on. They have proven to be good keepers, even with the heat and humidity we’ve had here this past week.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Jodi’s Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina’s Baking and Boys. There’s also a video of Alice and Julia making the biscotti together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll! I kept mine pretty plain and simple, but I’m sure there are lots of fun substitutions and biscotti variations this week.
Tags: baking, cookies, dessert
Glad I didn’t have to wait very long for TWD to choose Gale Gand’s Hungarian Shortbread…this recipe has been calling to me since I bought Baking with Julia years ago (but I was rather painfully pretending I couldn’t hear because of all the butter). Shortbread dough with a homemade rhubarb jam layered in between– oh, come on. Actually, I didn’t find rhubarb at the greenmarket in my neighborhood the weekend I made these, so I used it as an excuse to help clear out the fridge and went with store-bought jam instead (I used Sarabeth’s Plum Cherry).
I made half of a recipe, which worked wonderfully in an 8-inch square metal cake pan (I prepped it with parchment first). The dough is pretty cinchy to layer in the pan because you freeze it and grate it….then just sprinkle the grated dough fluff right in and pat without really pressing much. I grated my dough the old-fashioned way, but I hear a food processor works great, too. I figured my store-bought jam would likely be sweeter than a homemade rhubarb one, so I cut back on the sugar in the shortbread just a tad to compensate. Then I added in a splash of vanilla and bumped up the salt with an extra pinch. I didn’t want the bottom layer to be rawsies (which can sometimes happen with multilayered bar cookies), so I decided to par bake the bottom crust before adding jam and top layers. Twenty minutes in the oven was enough to make the bottom layer look set but not browned, which was all I was going for.
I went to Budapest back in the nineties, but I didn’t have anything like this. I’m certain I would remember, because these are really delicious (so don’t feel bad at all if you want to skip the homemade filling and use jam from the shops). And they hold up very well refrigerated, as I can assure you, since it takes us days for the two of us to get through an 8-inch pan. In fact, I wound up freezing the last couple of pieces before my husband and I went out of town for our anniversary this past weekend (nine years– what?!?), and they were perfect after they defrosted to room temp…even the powdered sugar on top was still intact!
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynette’s 1smallkitchen and Cher’s The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler… Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cookies
This week, Tuesdays with Dorie is celebrating Purim with Lauren Groveman’s Rugelach! (I know it should be hamentaschen, but that one’s not in the book.) Anyway, we made rugelach in the last round of the group, but that was years ago now, so I was more than ready to make them again this past weekend. This version’s quite different, as it turns out. Most noticeably, these rugalach are round spirals, not cresent-shaped. They’re formed from slice-and-bake-style rolled logs. And they are stuffed–almost bursting– with good things. Things like cinnamon sugar, nuts, dried fruits and apricot or prune lekvar (a thick jam/fruit butter). I went with walnuts, golden raisins and prune butter.
What with making the cream cheese dough and prepping the list of fillings, this recipe has a lot of steps, but you can make it a little easier on yourself if you want. I made my dough the night before, and toasted my walnuts then, too, since I already had the oven on for dinner. The one big shortcut I took was that I used a plum butter that I had bought at the Grenemarket in place of making my own lekvar. I’d had that little jar of plum butter open in the refrigerator for months, so I was glad for the excuse to finish it off. It was the consistency of a thick prune paste, anyway, so I thought it would work perfectly, and in fact any thick store-bought jam would likely do just fine. Also, I admit I didn’t measure anything related to the fillings. I used good judgement and eyeballed it all. I also eyeballed the amount of filling I put into each dough roll-up. I know when enough’s enough and I didn’t want my spirals to unravel or explode.
These taste great. The flavors are big and warm, so I’m glad we made them while it’s still chilly where I live. They’re thick cut, so they’re nice and sturdy. And I am in love with the prune swirls…it looks like a letter “C” in each cookie. So cute that even though the cookies are supposed to be completely coated in cinnamon-nut sugar, I didn’t want to hide the tops. Instead kept the sugar concentrated on the outside of the cookies and just sprinkled a bit on top.
Here are my rugelach pointers: With all the cream cheese in the dough, it gets soft fast, so I didn’t hesitate to left it have a rest in the fridge at different stages of rolling and filling. The dough rolls up best if the chunky things like nuts and dried fruit are chopped pretty fine. When these guys bake, there’s a lot of jam and sugar that gets caramelized on their bottoms, and it’s best to get them off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack as soon as you can so they don’t get stuck. They’re sturdy enough to handle almost right out of the oven.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Margaret’s The Urban Hiker and Jessica’s My Baking Heart, as they are co-hosting this week. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Marshmallow Madness!
Tags: baking, chocolate, cookies, dessert
Today was a warm and beautiful day (what a strange winter we’ve been having over here). Too bad I was mostly unaware of it because I work in a basement, but at least I had a nice walk home. And now that the sun is about to set, I think I’ll plop on the couch next to an open window and watch Downton Abbey (oh, please tell me you love it, too!) while drinking tea and eating crunchy biscuits. I’m quite certain that Mrs. Patmore didn’t make Chocolate Biscotti for the Crawleys, but I bet these are tastier than the whatever dry cookies went into the biscuit jar in those days. These are full of flavor. I contrasted the dark cocoa and espresso base with chunks of white chocolate and macadamia nuts. Mmmm…they sliced and baked nicely and are good keepers, too.
Tags: baking, cookies, dessert
So here is it…the last recipe TWD is baking as a group from Baking: From My Home to Yours. I’ve been in the group for close to four years, close to 200 recipes. It’s kind of hard for me to imagine that we are here at the finish line, and I almost don’t know what to say. It’s very true that my week-to-week posts are not as wordy as they were at first, but I have still have been baking (and eating) with the same enthusiasm. I bake professionally, but, as much as enjoy it, it is so much more satisfying to fire up the oven at home and bake for people I know and love. So, thank you, Dorie for your big, beautiful book of recipes, stories and kitchen wisdom. My husband thanks you, too, btw…that guy has gotten quite accustomed to homemade cake and cookies! Thank you, Laurie for your brilliant idea to start this group and to Julie for keeping it running like clockwork. And thanks to my fellow bakers for leaving so many nice comments over the last four years and always being quick to lend advice and suggestions. You have been so much fun to bake with and get to know!
Boy, I am talking like we are all done here, or maybe like I have just won an Oscar, and neither of those things are true. Starting in February, TWD is switching to a different Dorie book, the classic Baking with Julia. New members are very welcome, so if you want to join the fun you have a whole month to get the book and get on board! And while we’re on hiatus in January, I’ll definitely be posting a least a few rewinds for the handful of BFMHTY recipes I’ve missed along the way.
I almost forgot that there are cookies to talk about! These Thumbprints feature the classic kids’ flavor combo (which I have never outgrown), PB&J. A peanut-coated shortbread-style cookie holds a dollop of yummy jam in the middle. Here, I used the concord grape jam I made back in the fall. These were good cookies, and they served as my Christmas cookies (since they were the only cookies I made). I have some more unfilled doughballs in the freezer, and I think when I bake those I will try filling them with some chocolate in the center.
Tags: baking, brownies, chocolate, dessert
I’ve been doing a lot of holiday baking…but it’s all for work…all for strangers. Home baking will largely have to wait until our customers resolve not to eat another slice of almond cake or pint of gelato or whoopie pie until Valentine’s day. (I kind of like the holiday rush, but I love the post-holiday slow-down.) I can’t possibly miss out on the last couple weeks of TWD, though, and this week the group is giving us a chance to make up a recipe we missed. I chose these Bittersweet Brownies specifically because I thought they might lend themselves to a little bit of Christmassy doctoring up…maybe my husband won’t feel so neglected. Instead of espresso powder, I added a few drops of mint extract to the brownies. And I actually do use a dropper for mint extract because things can go from a hint-of-mint to mouthwash pretty easily.
Everything came out right with these brownies. Since it’s the last brownie recipe in the book, maybe that means I’ve learned something. The texture was perfect…rich and fudgy. And of course they were choco-minty. I liked them best right out of the fridge. I’m going to leave one for Santa and see if I get a good present.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Lethally Delicious, as Leslie chose this recipe last month. Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll and see what everyone else chose to rewind this week!
The fourth and final madeleine recipe from the book…you can tell Dorie lives in Paris! The original recipe calls for an Earl Grey tea infusion to give these cookie/cakes flavor, but I usually only have one or two types of tea kicking around my cupboard at a time, and the Earl wasn’t one of them. So I used chai (from a teabag actually…I tore the bag open and sprinkled the bits into my hot butter to infuse; then I put it through a very fine strainer to remove any sediment). I thought the chai spices would be nice with the honey that was already in the ingredient list. I could really taste the tea in here. They were delicious, and I amped up the spicing even more by tossing them in a cardamom sugar while they were still warm. I made big, full-sized madelines…I didn’t really get the pronounced madeleine bump with these, but they had rounded backsides and great texture and taste, so I guess I don’t mind so much.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Bakeologie. And see Grandma’s Kitchen Table for Honey-Almond Fig Tart, this week’s other recipe (which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to make this week). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cookies
OK, Tuesday has come and gone (happy 11/11/11, by the way), but I did bake both of this week’s TWD recipes, so I wanted to show you my Mini Madeleines as well. Better late than never, right? I like madeleines…so much that I got a little greedy and swiped one from my photo session…oops.
Good reasons to make madeleines include:
*Little cakes that disguise themselves as shell-shaped cookies– how cute!
*A batter that’s hand-whisked and allowed to rest for as long as a couple of days– how easy!
*A soft crumb that you can flavor a zillion different ways– how tasty!
*Less than ten minutes of baking time– how energy efficient! (alright, that’s a stretch)
If you’ve avoided making them because you don’t have the traditional madeleine baking pan, I’m pretty sure a mini muffin tin would make a fine substitute. I browned my butter for these and used lots of lemon zest. They had great flavor and were nice with chamomile tea.
Tags: baking, brownies, chocolate, dessert
Chocolate and ginger together? Yes, please! This is a combo I like a lot when the weather gets cool, and it makes for a brownie with some heat. The mixing method was kind of unusual for brownies– creaming rather than melting the butter– and my Ginger-Jazzed Brownies were more on the cakey side than the fudgy side (but not fluffy cake, like this delicious chocolate gingerbread). Perhaps that’s because while I made a half recipe, I used two eggs instead of the 1.5 I technically should have. Or maybe it’s because instead of the corn syrup called for (for chewiness, I guess?), I used golden syrup, but I usually make this swap and it doesn’t seem to affect other recipes. Or maybe that’s just how they’re supposed to be…I’m curious to see results from the other TWDers to compare. With ground and grated fresh ginger, these were good, and even better with a little frosting and candied ginger bling.
Tags: baking, chocolate, cookies
Chocolate shortbread with a little hit of salt and pepper? Sounds exotic, but the s&p doesn’t overpower (even though I added 50% more of each than the recipe called for). It just gives the slightest tickle on your tongue. I used a little of my precious Aussie pink salt here…love that stuff. After I baked off what you see here, I put the other half of my dough log into my freezer cookie stash. I’ve built a good selection in there at this point, and while I must admit that this one may not bring about world peace, it’ll be a nice addition to that massive cookie platter I’ll one day make from all the leftover dough hunks.