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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

Monthly Archives: August 2009

There are things that I bake without any intention of putting on my blog…you know, a simple [chocolate chip] cookie, something I’ve made 2…or 3…or 10 variations of, but who’s counting?  Just like the many other cookies I’ve made on a whim, these started off as an attempt to cure a bout of intense boredom.  Much to my surprise, these cookies were far from ordinary.  I had planned on making Tyler Florence’s My Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookie, but I decided why not brown the butter for a change?  It was love at first sniff.  I’m telling you, the aroma is wonderful, as is the cookie itself.  Because the cookies were all gone (yes, all of them) before I could photograph them, I had to make them again, but let me assure you no one is complaining.

my variation on tyler florence’s my big fat chocolate chip cookie

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used brown butter…see here for instructions: how to make brown butter)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.

To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.

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These cookies, along with some of my tried and true favorites (rugelach and orange chocolate chunk cookies), will soon be off on a little adventure to the Big Apple.  Remember when I made that pie?  the one that I wasn’t able to send?  Well, as a replacement, I am sending my cousin some delicious cookies.  I really hope she enjoys them!  This was my first time making these chocolate dipped espresso shortbread cookies, but as soon as I came across the recipe, I knew it sounded too delicious NOT to make.  The crumbly, sandy texture of the espresso cookie pairs wonderfully with the smooth and decadent chocolate coating.

Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread Cookies – Fine Cooking (Carolyn Weil)

For the cookies:

8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. table salt
10 oz. (2-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. finely ground espresso coffee beans
For the dipping chocolate
9 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbs. vegetable shortening

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and ground espresso and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don’t overmix.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking. Using a heart or other shape cookie cutter, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300° F. Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour. (After 15 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking.) If the cookies are done before 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 275° F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than 1 hour, increase the temperature to 325° F.

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I’ve been planning this entry since the beginning of the summer….the only thing that was different in my plan was that the pie actually made it to its destination .  Today, August 21st, is my cousin’s birthday.  When I learned that her favorite pie was a sour cherry pie with a lattice crust, I could not wait to make it and send it to her on her birthday.  So, yesterday morning I woke up early, went to the store to get the ingredients, and began baking.  I tried to make the pie crust, but it wouldn’t stay together (even though I added more water than it called for); it was a crumbly mess.  I tried another pie crust, and it still didn’t work.  Needless to say, I was ready to throw in the towel.  I really hate disappointing people, and it was really important for me to make this pie so I kept baking.  The pie crust I used for my strawberry rhubarb pie was delicious, so I used that and hoped it would work.  Finally, I had a pie crust.  I continued making the pie, and had much success.  It looked beautiful and I could not wait to send it out.  Today, I woke up early, packed up the pie, and went to the UPS store with my mom.  When we arrived, I explained my situation and the man at the counter just looked at me…I knew that this was not a good sign.  He explained to me that the UPS workers throw packages into their trucks, often without consideration for the packages’ contents.  Basically, he was trying to tell me that I would be paying to have my pie destroyed…and if it even made it to its destination, it would be a gooey mess.  I thought his explanation was a little harsh, but I did understand the point he was trying to get across.  My mom and I went home, and soon after I got home, a pleasant thought popped into my head:  Laura may not be able to try her birthday pie, but I could.  I know, I know, it sounds selfish, but I was a little excited (all the while COMPLETELY devastated) that I could try the pie – it was great.  Don’t worry, I will be sending Laura something to make up for this disaster.

 

Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust – Crust from Smitten Kitchen, Filling from Bon Appetit

Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour


2 1/2 teaspoons sugar


3/4 teaspoon salt


2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces


10 tablespoons (about) ice water

 

Filling:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (if using sour cherries) or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (if using dark sweet cherries)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon (about) milk

Vanilla ice cream

 

For Crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. [Alternately, you can use a pastry cutter to make your dough, as I did.] Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

For filling:

Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla; set aside.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal. Brush lattice crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle lattice with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m a very sentimental person.  I can find sentimental value in almost anything – an unopened pack of gum, a plastic spoon, a leaf (all of which were things I found in my room) – so, when I decided (er, was forced) to “clean” my room this week, it was not the usual chore that takes a few minutes to complete, rather it was a big undertaking.  Don’t get me wrong, my room was clean, it just had a lot of stuff in it.  It was tough to throw away my beloved spoon that was used to keep a 10 year old me silent during “silent dinner” at camp, and I had trouble letting go of my prized green pen, but it was well worth having the extra space in my room.  So, five garbage bags (and many hours) later, I was done.  And what did I find during this cleaning spree? – my daisy girl scout pin!  I was so surprised that I had had my pin all of these years without even knowing it.  Unfortunately, I was a bit of a rebel growing up and was a brownie girl scout dropout (aka I never actually had the opportunity to sell cookies).  Still, I’ve tasted many girl scout cookies in my time, and now, years later, I, inspired by this pin, wanted a second chance – I made a classic girl scout favorite: thin mint cookies.  I have yet to taste one myself, but I have gotten rave reviews from those who have tried them.  They look so delicious!

Thin Mint Cookies – http://www.bakingbites.com

Homemade Thin Mints
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick – if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp – and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating
10-oz dark or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating.
Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm.
Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it smooth and easy to dip into.

Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

*Cookies are best when kept frozen!

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I made a poll a LONG time ago that asked readers to choose my next recipe.  I just realized that I never made the winning recipe, which was Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow.  So, here it is:

Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow – Martha Stewart, Courtesy of Jennifer Shea

INGREDIENTS

Makes 2 dozen.

  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.
  4. Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping.
  6. Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.
  7. Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip (such as Ateco #867 or Ateco #809). Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting, taking care not to burn the cupcake liners. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

INGREDIENTS

Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.
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    Waking up to the sound of booming thunder and pounding rain, I knew I would be stuck inside all day because of the dreary weather.  I decided it would be a good opportunity to bake.  After scouring through just a few (8?) cookbooks, I found what I was going to make: Brown Sugar – Apple Cheesecake.  I don’t actually like cheesecake – at all – but it sounded so good, and I do know a lot of people who love cheesecake, so I figured I would be able to find some people to eat it.  Unfortunately for me, I did not just have multiple packs of cream cheese on hand, nor did I even have any eggs.  Thus, I did what any determined baker would do: I ventured out into the torrential downpour to the store.  The cheesecake wasn’t too difficult, but it did take a decent amount of time to complete (not to mention the 6+ hours it has to be chilled!).  Regardless, it was surprisingly delicious, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like cheesecake.  I would definitely recommend this!

    Brown Sugar – Apple Cheesecake : Dorie Greenspan

    For the Crust
    30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs) – I used gingersnaps (so good!)
    2 tbsp light brown sugar
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
    1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
    For the Apples
    1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
    3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (I used fuji)
    2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
    For the Filling
    1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
    3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
    6 tbsp sugar
    3 tbsp apple cider (I omitted this)
    2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    3 large eggs
    3/4 cup sour cream
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional) (instead, I made extra apples for the top)

    To Make the Crust:
    Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
    Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

    Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

    To Make the Apples:
    Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

    Getting Ready to Bake:
    Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

    To Make the Filling:
    Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

    Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

    Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

    Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.

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    I had planned on baking something to honor the release of the much anticipated movie, Julie & Julia, but it seems that our Julia Child cookbooks are M.I.A.  In lieu of a tarte tatin, or even a pear clafoutis, I made a more contemporary treat – Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops.  They were great!


    Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops – Dorie Greenspan

    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup malted milk powder
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup whole milk
    • 2 cups chocolate-covered malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
    • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
    1. Position oven rack to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
    2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
    4. Beat in the vanilla. Don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled; it will even out once the dry ingredients are added.
    5. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add half the dry ingredients, mixing until they just disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will resemble frosting more than cookie dough.
    6. With the mixer on low, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the malted milk balls and chocolate pieces.
    7. Drop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, one rounded tablespoon per cookie, leaving about 2 inches between each. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.
    8. When done, the cookies will be puffed and set, but slightly soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before using a wide metal spatula to transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature. Bake remaining dough in similar fashion.

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