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.)

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt

February 17, 2015 at 12:02 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, puddings & custards, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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crème bruléed chocolate bundt

This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made.  I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes.  And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts.  And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding?  I knew this would be good.

If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched.  I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order.  I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too.  I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it.  It didn’t!  I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!

I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor.  The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??).  I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream.  I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely.  After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess.  All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.

crème bruléed chocolate bundt

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!  (Update:  I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

December 23, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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gingerbread bûche de noël

It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen!  Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate.  Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche.  That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps.  In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.

If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral.  I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end.  I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable.  Next time, I’ll do better with that.  Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half.  I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste.  If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.

gingerbread bûche de noël

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here and here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.  Happy holidays!!  xoxo

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 BCM: Cranberry Crackle Tart

November 25, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 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 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: 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!

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

August 30, 2014 at 11:41 am | Posted in ice creams & frozen, sweet things | 13 Comments
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blueberry-sour cream 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

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.

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