Monthly Archives: December 2008
At first, I wanted to make chocolate pretzels, but I didn’t have any sanding sugar. I later decided on a simple macaroon, but I didn’t have the main ingredient – coconut. This frustrating cycle continued until I found the chocolate crackle recipe – the only recipe that I had all of the ingredients for. It must have been by some random stroke of luck, because this cookie actually looked and sounded delicious. When baking, the best recipes are often found by chance. Sometimes you just need to work with what you have, and the results will often please you…because that’s the way the cookie crackles.
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Set aside and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Divide each piece into sixteen 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar to coat, then in confectioner’s sugar to coat. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
I just couldn’t find the right recipe. So, instead, this Mixed Berry Tart is a combination of two recipes; the crust is from The Modern Baker, and the filling is from The Joy of Cooking. This experiment was a bit of a risk, but the thought of what it could taste like if it were to be a success was enthralling. Much to my delight and surprise, it turned out wonderfully. My Mixed Berry Tart was a success.
PRESS-IN COOKIE DOUGH CRUST
Combine 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with paddle on medium speed until whitened, about 5 minutes to aerate mixture. Add 1 large egg yolk and continue beating until it is absorbed and mixture is smooth. Use a large rubber spatula to incorporate 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour.
Scrape dough from bowl onto a floured work surface and shape dough into a rough cylinder. Press 2/3 of dough (using floured palm of hand) into bottom of a 10-or 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Divide remaining dough into 3 pieces and roll each into a cylinder about 10 inches long. Arrange the 3 cylinders of dough against the inside of pan, slightly overlapping where they meet to form the rim of the tart. Using floured fingertips, press dough against side of pan, making sure it is well joined to dough in bottom of pan and is of even thickness and top edge is straight and even.
Cover with plastic wrap or slide it into a plastic bag and seal securely. Refrigerate formed crust for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Just prior to baking, use a fork to pierce chilled tart crust at 1-inch intervals to keep from puffing up during baking. Bake on middle rack of a preheated 350-degree oven 20 to 25 minutes, until golden, checking occasionally and piercing with a fork any large bubbles that appear. Cool crust on rack. Use crust on the same day it is baked.
MIXED BERRY FILLING
Prepare by picking over and hulling:
4 cups fresh berries
2/3 to 1 cup or more sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle these ingredients over the berries and stir gently until well blended. Let stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450°.
Bake the pie in a 450° oven 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: I altered the original filling recipe (slightly) to make a tart instead of a double crust pie. Also, I used 2/3 of a cup of sugar and lemon juice instead of cinnamon.
(to enlarge the pictures, click on them)
Tonight I made another Ina Garten recipe, though this time it was one of her more traditional recipes – her famed rugelach. This was my first time making Ina Garten’s rugelach, or any rugelach, for that matter. Even for a rugelach novice like myself, her directions were clearly stated and easy enough to follow. I did, however, slightly tweak the recipe; it calls for raisins, but I used chopped up dried cherries instead, which was a very tasty substitution. I usually don’t like to say this about things that I make, but this was by far the best rugelach I have ever had. I would definitely recommend this recipe.
Ina Garten’s Rugelach
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.
Ina Garten modified her trademark “outrageous brownies” for the Oprah Magazine in 2003 by adding America’s favorite sandwich cookie, the Oreo. I mean really, how bad could they be if they have the Oprah seal of approval? These brownies definitely met and even surpassed my expectations. They were so moist and chocolate-y. They were delicious. The only modification I made to the recipe was that I eliminated the instant coffee granules, just for personal taste preferences. Also, like the recipe says, make sure you wait until the brownies are completely cooled before cutting. I know, first-hand, that it is difficult to wait when they are sitting hot on the counter, exuding their mouthwatering smell…but I tried to cut them before they were completely cooled and it turns into a sticky mess. It will be well worth your time to wait until they are cooled.
Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies, Ina Garten
Makes 20 brownies
- 4 sticks butter
- 1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
- 6 eggs
- 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup plus 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups chopped Oreo cookies (50 cookies)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter and flour an 11 1/2″ x 17 1/4″ x 1″ baking pan.
In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, heat butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together one cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. In a small bowl, stir Oreos and remaining 1/4 cup flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 3 inches from center comes out clean; do not overbake. Allow to cool. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, until cold; cut into squares.