Friday, October 30, 2009
As Halloween approaches, many of my friends are talking about their favorite Halloween candy. How is it that a day captures our imagination so much? I really like Halloween, even though I am not one for parties and I can never think of that perfect costume. I can always be a ballerina (not much of a stretch since I dance) or a graduate (I’ve graduated from many schools) but neither of those is all that creative. I still love Halloween. I love the candy. I swear I love candy more now as an adult than I did as a kid.
So what’s your favorite Halloween candy? I love 100 Grand Bars. I also love that I can get vanilla tootsie rolls at Halloween, since they are impossible to find the rest of the year. (Find these is you’ve never had them.) My all time favorite candy is from England, these green triangles that come in the Quality Street chocolates. I love them and luckily there are a few British stores around here that sell them. The green triangles are chocolate and hazelnut. I love chocolate and hazelnut together. I look for this combination whenever I can and I found this recipe through the Epicurious iphone application.
You make the dough for these cookies in a food processor, which I think is super easy and convenient. Just process everything together and go! The take a relatively long time to bake, since the ground hazelnuts primarily act as the “flour” in the dough. They don’t look all that different when they come out of the oven, so you just have to trust that they are done. The icing comes together in a snap, too.
They look rugged and maybe like they might be tough, but they aren’t at all. They are wonderfully chewy and the flavors blend together so well. The orange flavor is pronounced but the spice is just there in the background. They aren’t too sweet, just chewy and rich. These aren’t the prettiest cookies you might come across but they are sure good to eat. They don’t get stale very quickly and the flavors blend together as they age.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
Place the hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the butter and the orange zest and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the orange juice and liqueur and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. It will still be crumbly.
Form tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and slightly cracked. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Make the icing while the cookies cool.
To make the icing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Spoon the icing on to the top of the cooled cookies.
Recipe from Epicurious, via their iphone application
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by April of Short + Rose. She selected the Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte and you can get the complete recipe on her blog. Dorie describes the inspiration for this cake as a Black Forest Cake, but it’s quite different. This has a dense chocolate brownie layer with dried cherries and chocolate chunks which is then topped with a mascarpone mousse. I love chocolate and cherry together so I was really excited to make this recipe.
I made this torte on a day when I was making quite a few other things, and I think that was a mistake. The recipe uses up a lot of dishes: a bowl for the flour, a saucepan, a double boiler, and two mixing bowls for my stand mixer. When I started this recipe, I think I had already done the dishes a few times, and I ended up doing the dishes a couple more times by the end of the day. I have to say that I prefer recipes that use fewer dishes! I was a little frustrated just reading through the recipe!
Once I got started, the cake wasn’t difficult, but it did have a lot of components. One of the main components is bringing cherries and cherry brandy to a boil and then setting it alight to burn off the alcohol. I’ve done this a couple times but it’s still a little scary. I lit mine and it seemed to burn for a really long time. I finally put a lid on my pan so the flames would go out. It had been a busy day and I didn’t really have the patience for a kitchen fire. I also was worried that I over mixed the batter, since it was hard to get the chocolate mixed in to the eggs. It still seemed fairly light and airy when I put it in the pan to bake, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
I refrigerated my torte overnight, and I would recommend doing that. It was a little hard to cut straight out of the refrigerator, but the mousse tastes best when it is really cold. This is super rich and you can’t eat a very big piece. I think you could take the brownie layer and bake it in a brownie pan and make some fine brownies. For the torte, I think the brownie later is a little too thick. I would also leave the chopped chocolate out, since the chunks were a bit too much. I loved the cherries though. I also loved the mousse, and I think it would work with so many different cakes. This torte would be a great choice for a fancy dinner as long as you have some patience (and maybe someone to do the dishes).
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 284-285.
Monday, October 26, 2009
My tradition of bringing cookies to work on Friday has been very popular. One of my coworkers said that she really looks forward to coming to work on Friday since she knows that there will be cookies to enjoy. She has continued the tradition and now brings something for us to share on Mondays. She usually brings a coffee cake or scones or something of that nature. Her items are usually less sweet that what I make. She knew that she would be busy over the weekend and asked if I wanted to bring something on Monday, and of course I said yes.
I had a couple of contenders for what I would make, but I ended up making this mincemeat coffee cake. Ok, I had never had mincemeat until I went to England to meet my husband’s family the Christmas before we got married. I was instantly in love. Most people kind of freak out over mincemeat, since they expect it to be some weird meat product. Modern mincemeat doesn’t contain any meat. It’s usually made with apples and other dried fruits, and it’s sweet and spicy. I use Crosse and Blackwell mincemeat, which I can usually find in the stores around Christmas. I typically make mincemeat pies, but it works well in other applications too.
I have made a mincemeat coffee cake before, and it was so good. I made it when we had visitors and they said it was the best coffee cake they had ever had. That recipe had called for applesauce and I had substituted mincemeat. It worked out so well, but unfortunately, I have no idea what recipe I used. I have no memory at all other than the fact that it called for applesauce. I have found a few recipes for applesauce coffee cake in my many cookbooks, but I haven’t found the one I had made. Oh well, this recipe was in my coffee cake cookbook and it sounded really good.
Maybe it’s a little early to make something with mincemeat, since I associate it with Christmas, but the flavors fit for fall. I made this while my husband made the Christmas pudding (which will rest in the refrigerator until Christmas), so it was fitting. The cake came together so quickly and it turned out perfectly. The original recipe called for a 10” x 15” pan, but I used a smaller 9” x 13” pan. I baked it the same amount of time, maybe an extra minute or two. I really love this coffee cake, but I love mincemeat. The mincemeat filling is sweet which is balanced by the cake. I just hope everyone at work will like it as much as I do.
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon orange zest
3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups mincemeat
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 13” baking pan and set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until completely mixed, add the vanilla and orange zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and then slowly add this to the butter mixture.
Spread 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the mincemeat on top of the batter. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls onto the mincemeat. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice to make a glaze. Drizzle over the warm cake and serve.
Recipe from Coffee Cakes: 105 Wonderful Recipes by Lauri Bonn
Friday, October 23, 2009
I first started baking when I was in college and I worked at a local Hallmark shop. I really loved working at Hallmark and to this day I still love going into their stores. I love that their Christmas ornaments come out during the summer and you get a sneak peak. (You should see all the ornaments I’ve collected over the years. I love my Christmas tree!) I loved the gift wrap they sold. It was a great place to work and I worked with a great group of people.
I became the resident baker at the store. I baked cookies every Friday (thus the name of this blog) and I also made things for everyone’s birthday. My coworkers were so nice that they put a tip jar in the staff area, so people could donate to my baking efforts. It was nice, and it kept me well stocked with butter! One year for my birthday the group put together a basket of baking items. One of the items in the basket was a bag of raspberry chocolate chips.
I’d never seen raspberry chocolate chips and was intrigued by what I could make with them. I ended up making these cookies, which for many people are a traditional Christmas cookie. They are traditionally made with mint chips (which are what I used here) but I thought the raspberry chocolate chips would work just as well. Oh, man, did they work well! They had this wonderful chocolate raspberry truffle flavor and anywhere I took them they were gobbled up right away.
Well, I was able to find raspberry chocolate chips for a while, especially at Christmas, but as of a year or two ago I’ve not been able to find them. I found raspberry chocolate swirl chips, but they don’t seem the same. Their raspberry flavor seems more artificial, so I haven’t used those. They are still very good with the mint chocolate chips, and they are very festive for the holidays. I still miss my raspberry chips, but these are still really great.
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
10 oz. mint chocolate chips, divided
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
About 2/3 cup powdered sugar
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Melt 1 cup mint chocolate chips over low heat or in the microwave. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the melted mint chocolate chips and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients and the remaining mint chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats. Shape the chilled dough into 1-inch balls, roll in powdered sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until sides are set but centers are still slightly soft. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Erin of Prudence Pennywise. She selected Sweet Potato Biscuits, which were the perfect accompaniment to soup that I made this week for dinner. It’s just been rainy here in the Seattle area and it’s the perfect weather for soups and stews. I made these while the soup was simmering away on the stove.
These are a quick bread, a baking powder biscuit with sweet potato puree added. I’ve said a couple of times that I don’t like pumpkin, but I like sweet potatoes a lot. We usually make sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin pie. Plus I love the spices usually associated with pumpkin and sweet potato, so I was looking forward to this recipe.
This recipe calls for canned sweet potatoes in syrup. Now, I know that some people have only had sweet potatoes in a casserole with mini marshmallows, or have only had candied sweet potatoes. I guess I grew up in an unusual household because I had only ever had baked sweet potatoes. Just wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven. Super easy and they are sweet on their own so there was no need to add sugary accompaniments. I went to a holiday banquet and for the first time had candied sweet potatoes and they were horrible! Needless to say, I am not a fan of overly sweetened sweet potatoes.
These biscuits have a good sweet potato flavor, but they aren’t too sweet. I used canned sweet potato puree rather than the potatoes in syrup. This was easier as I didn’t have to mash the potatoes. The recipe warns that you should use a very light hand in mixing everything together into dough, but it’s hard to be gentle and get everything mixed. My dough was over handled a bit, since my biscuits didn’t rise as much as I would have hoped. They were still flaky and soft in the middle. I really liked them and I will probably make them for Thanksgiving. I think they will be perfect for the holidays.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 26.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Growing up, I can’t recall ever having meringue. Sure, if we went out for dessert, I knew that lemon meringue pie was an option. But why would I choose lemon meringue pie when there were superior choices such as apple? I love apple pie and will likely always choose that when given an option. I vaguely recall some story about someone in my family trying to make a lemon meringue pie and it being nothing more than a soupy mess in the end. I don’t know if I was afraid to even give it a try because of this tale of my youth, but I never even thought about making lemon meringue pie. And what else would you use meringue for?
A little bit ago I had the opportunity to make a lime meringue pie, as part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group. That turned out well and good, so I was confident in my meringue-making abilities. I came across this recipe for royal bars and thought I would give it a try. I hadn’t heard of using meringue in a bar cookie, so I was intrigued. Maybe it’s the meringue in the bars that make them “royal.” The original recipe called for raspberry preserves, but I had picked up some huckleberry preserves while on vacation in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and thought those would work well here. Huckleberries are the Idaho state fruit and they look a lot like blueberries. The taste is similar to blueberries, but they have more flavor than regular blueberries.
These take a little while to put together, since there are a couple of different layers that you have to work with, but none of the layers are complex. The trickiest part was spreading the meringue over the huckleberry preserves. I didn’t want them to be swirled together, so you have to progress very carefully. They fall apart a little bit when you cut them, so they aren’t the best choice for a cookie if it had to travel too far. They are sticky on the bottom, sweet and crumbly on the top. I love the flavor of the huckleberries and I think that they worked perfectly in this recipe. It’s too bad that huckleberries are so hard to find, they added something really special to the recipe.
1-1/4 cup oats
1-1/4 cup flour
¾ cup coconut
¼ cup plus 2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
¾ cup huckleberry preserves
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, coconut, ¼ cup sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and stir until well blended. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Cool 5 minutes and then spread the preserves evenly over the warm crust.
In a large bowl, with the mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and foamy. Gradually add the 2/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the mixture holds soft, shiny peaks. With a spatula, spread meringue evenly over jam.
Bake until the meringue is browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and then cut into bars. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
Recipe from Sunset Best-Ever Cookies
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table selected this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. She chose Allspice Crumb Muffins. You can visit her blog for the complete recipe. These were the perfect breakfast treat for the visitors we had this weekend. We had house guests and this was a quick, tasty breakfast treat. What a nice coincidence.
People ask me a lot where did I learn to bake. They always assume that I used to watch my mom or grandma bake and I learned from her. In my case, my dad was the one who was the baker. He didn’t bake all the time, but he was the one who made the cookies, and that’s what I started baking. Cookies are still my favorite. My dad doesn’t eat any of the things he bakes, so he has always baked for others.
While I do eat the things I bake, that hasn’t always been the case. So like my dad, I bake for others. The recipes I make on Tuesdays are sometimes hard to share with others. I usually make them on the weekend, when I can’t take them to work. Sometimes they aren’t portable; sometimes the recipe doesn’t make enough to share. These were just perfect. Portable and I had just the right people around to share them with. I really enjoy baking when people are visiting.
These are quick to put together. They take about as long to prepare as the oven takes to preheat. I had read that some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers had some issues with the crumb topping melting, so I was very conservative in my use of crumb topping, and my muffins came out looking picture perfect. I really like the flavor of these: not too sweet, nice spiced flavor. I can’t say that I use allspice very much in baking, but these were certainly very good.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 16-17
Friday, October 9, 2009
So I always have the best of intentions that I will clean out the baking cupboard and use up all those ingredients. Having a well stocked cupboard is a good thing, but not when it gets as cluttered as mine is! I pulled out three bags of chocolate chips out of the cupboard: mint chocolate chips, raspberry chocolate swirl chips, and a bag of chocolate toffee bits. I made a pledge to myself that I would use up one of those bags so there would be at least one less package in the cupboard.
I ended up deciding to make these cookies and use the chocolate toffee bits. They sounded really homey: a big oatmeal cookie with chocolate and toffee. They spread quite a bit when they bake so don’t crowd too many on the baking sheet. These are quite thin and flat and the brown sugar and toffee just melt together for a wonderful flavor. I don’t think that you can taste the chocolate very much, but I think that’s ok. For me, these flavors remind me of fall and they were a perfect choice to make now that fall has arrived.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2-1/3 cups oats
1 package chocolate covered toffee bits
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats.
Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl , mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the dough and stir. Add the oats and the toffee bits and mix until combined.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheets. With the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, flatten the cookies to about ½ inch thick. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Recipe from Company’s Coming: Most Loved Treats by Jean Pare
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie was selected by Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla. Garrett picked Split Level Pudding, which is vanilla pudding with a hidden layer of chocolate ganache. Check out Flavor of Vanilla for the complete recipe. Man, I have made chocolate ganache about 4 times in the last week, so I am quite the expert! I’m a little tired of making it so I hope that my recipes will be ganache-free for the next few weeks.
Since joining Tuesdays with Dorie, I have become quite adept at making puddings and custards. Dorie is very diligent in her process of making the pudding, which is ok. She has you make the pudding in a saucepan, but uses a food processor to keep everything nice a smooth. I did use the food processor at the beginning of the process, but not at the end after the pudding had thickened. I didn’t want to pulverize it after it had gotten nice and thick! It still looked perfectly smooth, so I figured it would be ok.
I wanted to show off the two layers of the pudding, so I put some of the pudding in fluted wine glasses. It was hard to get the ganache in the bottom of the glass but it was worth the effort because they look great! It would definitely be a nice presentation for when company was over. I think that the ganache gets too hard to really work with the pudding. It takes a little effort to get a bit of the chocolate with the vanilla pudding when you take a spoonful. The chocolate is the strong flavor here and I like vanilla pudding, so I miss the pronounced vanilla flavor. Pretty good overall, but not the best dessert ever.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 384- 385.
Friday, October 2, 2009
These cookies came from one of my favorite blogs: Elly Says Opa! She made these back in February for World Nutella Day. I had never heard of World Nutella Day, but I am glad I have now since I am quite a fan of Nutella. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked since she first posted it, and the time was right to make them.
Ironically, I didn’t quite use as much Nutella as the recipe calls for. Hey, I had two jars of Nutella in the cupboard so I was sure I was fine. Ok, so I didn’t realize that both jars were nearly empty. I scraped together as much as I could; a bit shy of ½ cup, but it was enough to cover the oat layer that is the base of the cookies. I also got to use up my jar of cherry preserves. I almost used cherry apple chutney, but I thought that might be too runny. I must think of something to make with that chutney.
These were quick and easy to make, I was able to put them together in the time I was waiting for some cakes that I was making to cool. Make sure that you get the oatmeal mixed in completely or the dough will be hard to press in to the pan. Elly suggests warming to Nutella to make it easier to spread, but I didn’t need to. I did warm the preserves slightly to make it easier to work with. These have a great hazelnut flavor, but I would probably add even more chopped hazelnuts to the dough, just because I love hazelnuts so much.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Nutella
2/3 cup cherry preserves
1-1/2 cups oats, divided
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9″ square baking dish.
Beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture to combine. Stir in 1-1/4 cups oats. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the baking dish.
Spread the nutella over the crust, and then spread the cherry jam over the nutella. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oats and the chopped hazelnuts to the remaining flour/crust mixture. Crumble the mixture over the nutella and jam.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack before cutting into squares.
Recipe from Ella Says Opa!