Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

December 16, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 6 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 | 10 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: Mixed-Starter Bread & Walnut Bread

December 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Posted in BWJ, groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 13 Comments
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mixed-starter and walnut breads

Two things you need to have before making Steve Sullivan’s Mixed-Starter Bread are a piece of leftover bread dough and plenty of time.  The “old dough” can be just a little hunk of raw dough saved from last night’s pizza party.  As for time, we’re talking about a whole weekend.  That’s the time needed to feed that old dough and turn it into a big batch of airy new dough.

Once you’ve successfully done your time feeding the starter and kneading and rising your dough, you can make a variety of shapes out of it…like a nice baguette, an amazing couronne, or cute wheat stalk.  You can even knead in a heap of walnuts and make a big Walnut Bread.  Not wanting to fully stock my freezer with bread loaves, I made a half-recipe of the dough and divided into a somewhat imperfectly snipped wheat stalk (pain d’epi) and a walnut boule.

In the book, the walnut boule is made with an entire batch of the finished mixed-starter dough, so mine is just a baby boule and it baked through much faster than a big guy would have.  As a result of reduced oven time, it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, so I cheated by painting on a little olive oil before its last five minutes of baking.  I still wish I’d gotten a both breads a bit darker.

Due to the lack of afternoon light in my house this time of year, I didn’t get a good shot of the cut breads.  Even though you feel like you’ve done a lot of waiting while making this dough, it actually doesn’t hang around long enough to develop a sourdough flavor.  You get soft white bread with air holes inside and a real crust outside.  The walnut version is excellent with cheese, and I’ll take salty butter on the epi, please.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (the mixed-starter bread is also here and the walnut bread is here). There’s also a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make and shape the mixed-starter bread. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Cranberry Crackle Tart

November 25, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 17 Comments
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cranberry crackle tart

If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way.  This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition.  It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though.  The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries.  This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw).  The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd.  And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.

The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry.  I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead.  We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.

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: 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: Sunny-Side up Apricot Pastries

October 7, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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sunny-side up apricot pastires

Michel Richard is a chef with a sense of humor.  Case in point, these cute Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries.  At first glance, they’re fried eggs on toast.  At first bite, they’re poached fruit and pastry cream on top of crispy puff pastry.

Before you can have these for breakfast (or for dessert, if you are like I am and this is too much to process in the morning), you have to make pastry cream and poach fruit.  I’d take care of these a day in advance.  You also have to deal with the puff pastry situation and decide if you are going to buy it or make it.  I’ve worked in restaurant and bakery kitchens for more than 10 years now…while not every place I’ve worked has made puff from scratch, a few of them have, so I’ve laminated me some dough.  Frankly, it can be a pain in the neck (literally). On a large scale, those of us with no upper body strength (who me?) struggle to roll a ginormous batch by hand if there isn’t a dough sheeter.  If the kitchen’s too hot, butter oozes everywhere.  It’s often a rush-job because no one bothers to mention that they took the last sheets from the freezer and left me with nothing for the day’s production.  But, I’ve made this very puff pastry dough recipe at home before–I actually chose it several years ago when I hosted a Daring Bakers Challenge– and I know that it’s not hard at all, especially if you make it a day or two before you need it and the temps are relatively cool.  If you are on the fence, a half-batch is super-approachable, doesn’t take too much counter space to roll and will give you plenty of puff for treats.  And if you’re still on the fence, just get a nice store-bought one….I do it all the time, so no judgments.

puff pastry dough

Apricots aren’t in season here anymore, so I had planned to just use canned ones instead (and also skip the recipe’s poaching step).  Then at the Greenmarket this weekend, I saw that nectarines are still around, so I picked out a few of the smallest “apricot-sized” ones and went ahead with those.  I gave them a gentle poach and left their skins on.  I thought they were pretty, but they kind of wrinkled up in the oven.  Next time they’re coming off.  Next time I’ll also leave the puff a little fatter than the book indicates.  I think the recipe says to roll it too thin, so while the front and back ends puffed nicely, the sides were a little flatter than I would have liked.  Super crispy, though.

These were delicious, and a fun weekend kitchen project.  I’ll make them again, especially since I have extra homemade puff in the freezer now.  Here’s a document that I typed up about making puff pastry for my DB Challenge back in 2009…somewhere near the end are some tips and suggestions.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make both the puff pastry dough and the pastries. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Raspberry-Plum Crostata

September 30, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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raspberry-plum crostata

I’ve had a busy September.  It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around.  This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them.  I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe).  I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.

The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly.  Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on.  The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl.  I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

September 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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oven-roasted plum cakes

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!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baking Powder Biscuits

August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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baking powder biscuits

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.

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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