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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

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.

CHOCOLATE CRACKLES

Martha Stewart

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.

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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 

Combine: 
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.

 





                
There was a special on blueberries at the market today.  Of course, I was unable to resist the temptation; I had to incorporate them into my baking.  I decided on Nick Malgieri’s Blueberry Crumb Cake, simply because it looked and sounded so good.  If only I could post the smell to my blog, along with the pictures…
 
Blueberry Crumb Cake
Nick Malgieri (The Modern Baker)

One 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined fully with parchment or foil

For the Cake:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter. softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
4 cups blueberries, picked over and patted dry

For the Crumb Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. 

For the crumb topping, mix the flour, baking powder, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Stir in the melted butter.  Rub the mixture between your fingers to form coarse crumbs.  Scatter the crumbs over the berries as evenly as possible.  Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until soft and light.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.

Stir together the flour and baking powder and add the dry mixture to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the yolks and milk, beginning and ending with flour.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. 

Scatter the blueberries and crumb mixture evenly over the batter, pressing in gently.

Bake the cake until the batter is firm and the crumbs are well colored, about 40 minutes.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.  Cut the cooled cake into twenty-four 3-inch squares.  Remove the squares from the pan to a platter.

 





   


Some people, after a long day of zumba, chauffeuring, and babysitting, would choose to go to bed once the first opportunity presented itself.  Others, like myself, would bake.  Last night while perusing the Internet and all of my mom’s cookbooks, I came across the recipe for these honey and almond biscottis.  I’m not a honey lover, so I was skeptical at first to make these, but I thought that they seemed good regardless and I decided to try them.  Of course, they were delicious.  I hope you will all try them.  I do have a few suggestions though.  While shaping the dough into logs, make sure your hands are VERY well-floured.  Also, they do not say to flip the biscottis to the other side while baking, but I did because I wanted both sides to be equally browned.  Happy Hanukkah and Happy Baking! 

Honey and Almond Biscotti
Bon Appétit
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).  Butter and flour large baking sheet.  Whisk flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl to blend.  Make well in center of dry ingredients.  Add 4 eggs, honey, lemon peel, and vanilla to well.  Stir egg mixture until blended; gradually mix in dry ingredients.  Mix in almonds.  Drop dough onto prepared sheet by tablespoonfuls, forming two 12-inch-long by 2-inch-wide logs.  Space logs 3 inches apart.  Using moistened fingertips, shape logs neatly.  Beat remaining egg in small bowl.  Brush logs generously with egg; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.  Bake logs until golden and firm to touch, about 15 minutes.  Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees (F).  Transfer warm logs to work surface.  Cut on slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices.  Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 clean baking sheets.  Bake until pale golden, about 8 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store airtight up to 1 week.

 





                                       
I recently made this cake for my french class, but because of a snow day, I was able to enjoy it at home, instead.  It is called a Buche de Noel (yule log) and is traditionally eaten during the holidays in France.  For my cake, I used Martha Stewart’s chocolate génoise.  I filled it with homemade whipped cream, and frosted it with chocolate italian meringue buttercream (add 5.5 oz. of semisweet chocolate to recipe).  This cake was so good, and definitely a crowd pleaser.

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