Tags: dessert, giveaway, icebox
Now that the days are getting warm– maybe even borderline hot– wouldn’t it be nice to just reach in the fridge and pull out a cool, creamy dessert that practically made itself? That exists…it’s called an icebox cake! At its most simple and familiar, an icebox cake is just store-bought wafer cookies and sweet whipped cream, stacked in alternating layers and left to meld in the refrigerator (or icebox– my dad actually calls it that, by the way) for several hours. The cookies absorb moisture from the cream and soften during the rest, and what you get afterward is a rich, creamy dessert that falls somewhere between pudding and cake.
You can imagine that you can take this basic, yet brilliant, idea in a lot of interesting and delicious directions…like my friend and former co-worker Jessie Sheehan, who, along with her co-author Jean Sagendorph, just published a super-fun (and super pretty) new cookbook called Icebox Cakes: Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town. They have the basic “old school” covered, of course, and recipes for 24 other awesome-sounding icebox cakes. Espresso-chip– hello! Chai-ginger– whaat? And OMG– a black-and-white malted. That’s the first one I decided to try.
You need four main components for this malt shop-inspired treat: whipped cream flavored with malt powder (super easy), milk chocolate ganache (super easy), vanilla wafer cookies (not hard to make yourself, but super easy if you choose to buy them instead) and time (the hardest part!). Oh, and some chopped malt balls scattered over top will make it extra pretty– let’s not forget that! You just alternate layers of the cream, cookies and ganache in a springform pan and you’re ready to refrigerate. If you’ve used store-bought cookies, you can get away with just 5-8 hour chill, but if you’ve made your own cookies, you’ll need a full 24 hours in the fridge for them to properly soften. You can see I took a little artistic liberty and divided the components into individual-sized mini icebox cakes instead of a full 9″ springform.
Go find the full recipe for the Black-and-White Malted Icebox Cake on Jessie’s blog…and know that you can use shop-bought vanilla wafers (like Nabisco or Keebler) if you don’t have the desire or time to make your own. It’s rich, creamy, malty, sticky and delicious, and when you see this black-and-white zebra striped beauty waiting for you on the icebox shelf, you’ll be very happy you put it together the night before. Jessie says it’s a crowd-pleaser, and I can’t argue with that.
I’m so excited about Icebox Cakes: Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town that I want to send a copy to one of you! A signed copy at that! Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Friday, May 15 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I have two copies to giveaway, actually! I used random.org to generate two random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to Maureen and franklyentertaining! I’ll be in touch soon.***
Tags: baking, bread
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Maybe you are getting a tres leches soaking or quadruple checking a mole recipe to make sure you didn’t miss an ingredient. If you are thinking about flatbreads today, you’re probably thinking about tortillas, but put Ka’kat on your radar for later. I had never heard of ka’kat before, but Dorie says they are a very typical Eastern Mediterranean street food. You can find them everywhere apparently, just like soft pretzels here in New York. They’re made with a really straightforward yeast dough. If you make it in the morning after breakfast, you can easily have fresh, warm bread snacks by lunchtime!
Although this is another recipe in the flatbread section of the book from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, my ka’kat (at least) came out round and chubby. With sesame seeds on top, they did not look unlike mini bagels. Ka’kat are often flavored with ground mahleb (also mahlab), which are little tiny cherry kernels. This spice has a bit of that bitter almond flavor and is used in Middle Eastern, Greek and Turkish baking. You probably won’t find it at your standard grocery store, but you can get it online (at Penzeys, for example) or in a Middle Eastern market. I found whole seeds at Sahadi’s here in Brooklyn (I love that place!) and ground them to powder in a spice grinder. All that said, the mahleb is totally optional. It gives a very subtle aroma and taste, and I always like to buy an interesting new ingredient, but you can leave it out, no probs.
These were so tasty warm and soft from the oven. I ate four– no kidding! But they are little, yeah? I dipped them into olive oil and dukkah (like I did with the Pebble Bread)…they’d be good with salty butter, too. I made half a recipe and divided the dough into fifteen ka’kat to fit neatly on one sheet tray. I have about half of them left in the freezer and I’ll definitely warm them up a bit before eating them.
This week’s recipe will probably evoke some strong feelings…feelings of dislike, that is. Tapicoa is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea (or pudding). I don’t really even know why I like it, since it’s certainly not something I grew up eating, and I’ve never make it at home until now. But I think the gummy little bubbles are fun to eat and I was looking forward to making this Coconut Tapioca recipe.
This is a simple recipe but it wasn’t problem-free for me. First, I mistakenly bought small pearl tapioca, rather than the large pearl called for in the instructions…this is because often I shop first and then read directions. I used Dorie’s ingredients and method, but tried to cover my goof by following the soaking and cooking time instructions on my package (which are waaay less for small pearl than for large). The first day the tapioca was a nice creamy consistency, but after a night in the fridge, it was pretty much a solid glob. I didn’t want to toss it so I folded through some softly whipped cream to lighten it up. It was much better that way, but If I make this again with small pearl tapioca (and I probably will since I have a ton left in the bag), I’ll either cook it with some extra liquid added or I’ll incorporate egg yolk like other “true” custard recipes I’ve seen.
Despite the snags, I had a good time playing around with toppings for my tapioca. In the picture above, I sprinkled on a little brown coconut sugar and added mandarin slices. The next day, I used chocolate sauce, toasted almonds and coconut flakes. Berries or tropical fruit would also be natural combos with this.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
The Matzo recipe from Lauren Groveman is bread at its most basic. Really, it’s just flour, salt and water, hand-kneaded and with no real resting period required. A little ground pepper and some sesame seeds are technically optional, but I wouldn’t skip them…they make a boring-sounding dough interesting and flavorful.
The instructions say to roll the dough as thin as possible. When I make crackers, I like to roll them out on my pasta machine rather than with a wooden pin. I did that here, too, and because the machine cranks out long, narrow, strips, I wound up cutting them into smaller pieces than the large, plate-sized matzos shown in the book’s photos. The smaller pieces seemed also more easy to deal with using the kinda scary-sounding baking-and-flipping-on-a-blazing-hot-sheet-tray technique called for in the recipe. I only burned myself once, so I’d call that a success!
I got matzos that were much more thin and delicate than the store-bought ones I’ve had. And did I already mention how good the sesame seeds are in here? I made a little smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese spread to go with the matzos, and the combo was every bit as addictive as chips and dip.
Tags: baking, cupcakes
Cupcakes…it’s been a while. They don’t get the same love that they used to, but I still like them. I especially like them when there’s booze involved, and here it’s limoncello, the sweet Italian after dinner drink. This one was missing from my little digestivo collection, but now I have a bottle of limoncello hanging out in the freezer for whenever I might want it!
The cupcake batter is simple to make. It gets it’s moisture from yogurt and oil, so there’s no pesky creaming involved and it comes together in a flash by hand. There’s a little dollop of marmalade hidden in the center of each cupcake, but if you have some lemon curd, I bet it would be good, too. As I was making the batter and scooping the cupcakes, I realized that it’s pretty much the same deal as another Dorie cake– her yogurt loaf cake with marmalade glaze— that I’ve made several times before, just tweaked into a different form and with a bit of limoncello added. The cupcakes rose perfectly. They had a nice dome and the yogurt/oil combo gave then a springy, moist texture. They get brushed with a limoncello simple syrup while they’re still warm to boost that citrusy flavor.
What’s a cupcake without frosting, right? Well, due to an unexpected powdered sugar shortage, I really only made frosting for the two in the picture. The others we ate naked, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of the limoncello syrup all over. We actually liked them better that way, so if you don’t want to make frosting, they are great as-is…but I’d still recommend the syrup for a little extra spike of limoncello.
Tags: baking, pie
This Sweet Ricotta Pie from Nick Malgieri is the dessert version of his Pizza Rustica, which we made a few Easters ago. It’s made with the same sweet, cookie-like pasta frolla dough and also has a ricotta-based filling. Apart from the ricotta (and few eggs to bind), the filling is pretty simple and is just flavored with sugar, anisette and cinnamon. I’m not wild about anisette, and thought the filling could use a little more pizzazz anyway, so I tweaked it a bit. I had a small handful candied orange peel left from this year’s batch of Hot Cross Buns, so I soaked that, along with some golden raisins, in a good amount of Grand Marnier. I kept the cinnamon, but stirred it into the filling along with the dried fruit (rather than sprinkling it in a layer on top).
This pie has good orange flavor, but the filling’s a little dry. If I make this one again, I may try adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the batter or try swapping out a couple of the whole eggs for just yolks to see if that adds more moisture. I like the pasta frolla dough, too, although I wish the lattice strips had gotten a little more color in the oven. Looking back, I see that with the Rustica, I eggwashed the lattice for some browning action…seems I always look back a little too late.
Tags: baking, bread
A couple of weeks ago, the group made the Pebble Bread recipe from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, world travellers who have brought us a few other flatbreads you may or may not remember. I was all geared up to make this one, and then I didn’t. Sometimes I just run out of gas. Thankfully we get a make-up week every now and again.
Pebble Bread is a round Moroccan flatbread; traditionally baked on hot pebbles, it gets dimply and a little puffed. The not-so-traditional Western method we used here involves a bowl of water, your fingertips, and a heavy skillet…first dipping a rolled out dough round into water to create steam, next quickly dimpling it with your fingertips, then starting the bread in a skillet on the stovetop to cook the bottom, and finishing it under the broiler to cook the top.
I only made half a recipe (four large-enough-to-share pieces of bread) and since I used two skillets and they take just a few minutes each to cook, I worked though the process pretty quickly. Of course I totes torched the top of my first one under the broiler, but, just like my morning toast, it was nothing a little scrapey-scrape with a serrated knife couldn’t fix. You learn, eat your mistake before anyone else sees it, adjust and keep going.
I’d call these a definite success. I can’t roll pie dough into a nice round to save my life, but these breads all rolled out into perfect circles. They had just enough puff and chew, and a good flavor from the overnight sponge (yes, you need to plan to make a sponge the day before you make the bread, but it’s virtually hands-off) and the barley flour in the dough. I have a couple breads left in my freezer and I am very happy to eat all of them warm, ripped up and swiped first into olive oil and then into dukkah (which is actually an Egyptian nut and seed mix, but we found it all over the place when we lived in Australia, and ever since I must have it on a regular basis).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Pebble Bread a couple of weeks ago!