Be a good cookie. That’s a real motto for life, don’t you think? It was also the message behind an event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer that the good folks at OXO, their strong partner and supporter of good cookies, and the lovely Dorie Greenspan invited me to last Tuesday night. I was thrilled to chat with Dorie (she also gave a baking demo), to flip through her amazing new book, Baking Chez Moi (which is coming out next month– get it!), to drool over OXO’s awesome Chelsea test kitchen and to fiddle with some of their latest baking gadgets (I went out the very next day and got myself a spiffy baker’s dusting wand). Most importantly I got to learn more about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which provides research grants to some of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer centers to advance the development of less toxic, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.
I want to do at least a small part to help spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month (that’s this month), so I’m going to give two lucky winners both an OXO Good Cookie Spatula and a copy of Gretchen Holt-Witt’s book Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies! The sale of both these items helps raise money for pediatric cancer research.
Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you win! **I’m really sorry, but I can only make this giveaway open to U.S. residents.**
You can see heaps of photos from Tuesday’s event here. Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site to learn more about the organization and to get involved. Also, if you’re looking for some new kitchen toys (like a baker’s dusting wand, perhaps?), OXO will make a donation to the initiative from the sales of select baking items.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to Becky and Stephanie. I’ll be in touch and sending your items soon!***
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums. The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest. I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand. I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine. The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.
These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece. I liked them best with whipped cream. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: dessert, ice cream
Summer is about bright nail polish and ice cream cones. Why the heck have I waited till the tail end of it to both paint my nails coral and to make my first homemade ice cream of the season? The color is new for me, but the ice cream is sort of one I’ve already made here before. Am I allowed a redo? I hope so, because while this ice cream has the same flavors as the one I made six (gasp!) years ago, I found that one to be a little too fatty, a lot too hard and also too homogenized. This a totally different recipe and technique, with swirls of dark purple blueberry sauce in a tangy, scoopable base.
Most homemade ice cream aficionados out there have probably at least tried out Jeni’s technique, which concentrates and denatures dairy proteins by boiling off some of the water in the milk and cream, and uses cornstarch and cream cheese to thicken the base…these steps make the finished ice cream less icy and hard when frozen. I thought this eggless base would be a good match for blueberry sauce, and since it has a bit of cream cheese in it already, it would also go right along with the tang of sour cream.
This is ice cream and sauce in one– perfect for cones!
Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (makes about a quart)
inspired by and adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
Steph’s Note: I like to store my homemade ice cream in a restaurant-style 1/6 pan with a snap-on lid. Freeze the empty stainless steel container while the ice cream is churning, and you’ll be good to go!
for the blueberry sauce:
1 cup blueberries
squirt of lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
-In a small pot over medium-low heat, add the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, as the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down and release juice. (You can gently squish some of the berries as they cook to encourage “saucing”…I like to leave about half the berries somewhat intact for texture.)
-Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Add to the cooking berries and bring to a gentle bubble for about a minute, stirring constantly. After about a minute, the sauce will thicken slightly (you are just looking to give it a little more body), at which point remove it from the heat, transfer it to a container and refrigerate it until completely chilled.
for the ice cream:
11/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup sour cream
-In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip it smooth. In a large bowl, make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside.
-Pour the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and remaining milk into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, set a timer for precisely 4 minutes and boil for exactly 4 minutes—you will need to be right there with it, stirring and adjusting heat so as not to endure the cleanup that comes with a dairy boil-over! Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
-Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese. Whisk in the sour cream (or if you’ve had a hard time getting out lumps, place the sour cream in a separate medium bowl, strain the milk mixture over the sour cream and then whisk them together).
-If you are not making your ice cream until late in the day or the following day, place the bowl in your ice bath and when cold, transfer to the refrigerator until churning. If you need more immediate ice cream, do a fast chill by pouring the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, sealing, and submerging the bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until very cold, about 30 minutes.
-Pour the chilled base (if you used the Ziploc bag method, you can do this by just cutting off a corner of the bag) into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine. Churn according manufacturer’s directions.
-Transfer to a container for freezer storage, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
Tags: baking, biscuits, breakfast
Marion Cunningham’s Baking Powder Biscuits were good for breakfast, and also good for dessert, all dressed up like shortcakes. These were easy to make. I didn’t want to do an all shortening biscuit like the recipe called for, so I swapped out half of it for butter. I rubbed my shortening/butter and dry ingredients together the night before and stashed the mix in a container in the fridge…in the morning I just had to work in the milk. They didn’t rise as high as I wished they would have (maybe I should have patted them out less? or maybe they really do work best with all shortening?), but they were very tender, not dense at all. I made square biscuits instead of round, just so I didn’t have to deal with scrap and reroll.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked. Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange. The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.
Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake. The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves. I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color. I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.
Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet. It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth! I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.
Tags: baking, fruit, tart
Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever. When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello. Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country. You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts. Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?
We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do). We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not. Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit. I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too. I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.
This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time. The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling. It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust. For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
I went from no fougasse ever to two fougasses (or is the plural Fugazi?) in one month. The group made Craig Kominiak’s Sweet Berry Fougasse back in September of last year, but we were given a choice of two things and I skipped it to make muffins instead. When we did Leaf-Shaped Fougasse a couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that I could also make enough focaccia dough to turn the extra into the Sweet Berry Fougasse for this week’s make-up. Know what that’s called? That’s called strategery.
With the dough ready-made (I had it frozen and took it out the night before baking to thaw in the fridge) and blueberries and raspberries from the greenmarket, all I had to do to put this together was mix up a little sweet streusel topping and turn on the oven. This was good…it made a fine breakfast treat without the little twinge of shame that I have when I start the day with half a pound of butter. I pretty much want every coffee cake or muffin I eat to have streusel on it, so it was nice on bread, too, and helped sweeten up the juicy berries. I probably wouldn’t bother to make this from scratch start-to-finish, but more likely if I have some extra focaccia dough on my hands again.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (a version is also here and there’s a video here that includes Kominiak making all things focaccia and fougasse). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see the other recipes folks revisited this week (and the Blogroll from September)!
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
The promise of a blueberry pie made my husband finally agree to drive me out to the country for some berry picking last Saturday. It’s good to know that bribes do work, although I still haven’t made good on my end…this is obviously not blueberry pie. We came with a quart of U-pick raspberries, too, so using those delicate jewels became my first priority. Not turning on the oven became my second priority.
You may see the words “raspberry brûlée” and think immediately of Prince, or you may see them and think of crème brûlée…I assure you this is far less fancy than either, even though it looks and tastes like a million bucks. In fact, apart from straight-up fresh fruit, this might be one of the easiest summer desserts out there. It’s simply whipped cream folded with fresh raspberries and given a torched sugar top. It’s fresh and light as air, but with but with a sweet crunch.
A lot of times the broiler works as a reasonable alternative to a kitchen torch. I’m not sure how it would do in this case though, since whipped cream is not as sturdy as a custard. You want a bit of runny, melted cream just under the crispy brûléed top, but I suspect the boiler may take melting the cream a step further than a torch would.
Raspberry Brûlée- serves 6-8
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 94
Steph’s Notes: The dish can also be made with tayberries (which I have never seen here before) or blackberries, and I’m sure diced peaches or nectarines would be tasty, too.
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼-½ cup powdered or superfine sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how sweet your berries are)
splash of cassis or frambiose (optional)
2 pints raspberries
⅓ cup demerara sugar
– Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Add the powdered or superfine sugar and the booze (if using) and continue beat to stiff peaks.
-Add the raspberries to the whipped cream and fold gently to coat. Carefully transfer raspberries to a wide serving dish or divide them between 6-8 individual gratin dishes and liberally strew the top with demerara sugar. Using a kitchen torch, evenly caramelize the sugar until it gets bubbly and darkened in some spots. A bit of the top layer of cream will start to “run” in this process, but if you don’t hold the torch too long in one place, what’s underneath will stay whipped.
-Refrigerate brûlée for about 15 minutes to let the sugar harden. If you’ve used one large serving dish, scoop servings into bowls, making sure that each scoop includes some of the crunchy sugar topping. If you used individual gratin dishes, just grab spoons. Serve immediately.
Tags: baking, bundt, cake, dessert
I love a good Bundt, and I think Flo Braker’s Vanilla Pound Cake recipe makes a particularly handsome one. I’ve been sort of afraid that my nice little 6-cup Bundt pan (that I always use to make half recipes) has been losing its non-stick abilities, but with a good spraying and flouring this cake fell right out, no problem. The cake was no problem to mix either– super straightforward. The only trick I had up my sleeve was to swap the vanilla extract for a smear of vanilla paste.
The cake is really tender…it’s not dry at all. Because I only made a half-sized cake, I really watched the baking time and took it out of the oven at just under 40 minutes. I think this cake would go with just about anything, but summer fruit sounds particularly good to me. I had jar of dark cherries that I poached in the fridge, so we had half our cake with those. The other half’s in the freezer, but the recipe mentions toasting stale slices as the base for ice cream sundaes, which makes me think about recreating a yummy, fancy affogato concoction my husband had at Brooklyn Farmacy a couple of weeks ago.
Tags: baking, bread
Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!
In a kitchen without A/C, mid-summer bread baking is not really my idea of a good time, but the oven doesn’t need to be on too long for Craig Kominiak’s Leaf-Shaped Fougasse. From what I gather, French fougasse is similar to Italian focaccia, and the teardrop leaf shape is traditional in Provence. I should research the technical differences between the two breads, because I’m sure there are some, but for this purpose, we made the same easy dough recipe that we used for the focaccia last year (overnight rise and all that stuff). I thought that getting the dough into the teardrop shape would be diffucult, but it wasn’t at all and I followed Cher’s suggestion to easily cut the pattern in the dough by snipping it with kitchen shears. Also, I did my cutting directly on my sheet pan (which I sprinkled with cornmeal but did not line with parchment), and that saved me from having to delicately move around and transfer the shaped bread.
I find soft, bubbly, salty, oily bread like this to be addictive, and the hole pattern in the fougasse makes for little sections that are way too easy to rip off and snack on. After R & I demolished the left side, I quickly wrapped up the right side for the freezer, just to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing in one go. The word “fougasse” makes me think of the band Fugazi, but I guess that’s for another blog.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (a modified version of the dough recipe itself is also here and there’s a video here that includes Kominiak shaping, cutting and baking the fougasse). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!