Friday, February 26, 2010
I’ve been really enjoying the Olympics coverage the past two weeks. I live about 2 hours away from Vancouver, so I’ve visited the city quite a few times. I don’t like crowds too much, so I didn’t want to be anywhere near the city during the Olympics! A couple of friends at work have been to the games and they said that the city had such a fun vibe and it was a great place to be. I’ll take their word for it, but I do think that my husband and I will pay a visit sometime soon.
When I am in Canada, I will often pick up maple syrup since you can find it in every store there. Of course, pure maple syrup is available in the grocery store these days, so there’s no need for you to make a special trip! I wanted to make something with maple syrup to honor the Olympics, and this is a recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for some time. Maple and coconut sounded like a great combination.
This makes a fairly small batch, so I decided to double the recipe since the folks at work are good cookie eaters. This recipe is as simple as you can get. Since I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan, I did have to bake it about 2 minutes extra. These are very cake-like, and you could probably serve it as a cake if you whipped up a simple maple buttercream. I thought these would be really sweet, but they aren’t as sweet as I expected. I love the maple flavor and the coconut adds a nice texture. I really enjoyed these and I hope you do too!
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
In a large mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and the egg and beat until smooth. Add in flour and salt and stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Add in coconut and stir to distribute evenly. Pour into prepared baking dish.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until blondies are set and lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Recipe from Baking Bites
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was picked by Michelle of Flourchild. She decided on Honey-Wheat Cookies, which are a honey lemon cookie with wheat germ. Visit her blog for the complete recipe. I didn’t have wheat germ at home, so I had to pick that up at the store. I went to the local co-op since I figured they would have the best selection. I’ve also been reading a book about food fraud, and it’s very scary all the adulterated food out there! I can trust the co-op for local and organic ingredients.
These are quite simple cookies, and I was worried that they might be a bit plain. Their primary flavoring is lemon zest, but once they are baked it’s the honey that is the key flavor. I had a couple of different types of honey at home, and I ended up using blackberry honey. It doesn’t taste like blackberries, but it did have a strong honey flavor. That shines through in these cookies and I loved that! I love honey so I’m always happy to make something where the honey flavor shines through.
These cookies were surprising; they do look a little plain but they are so good! They have a subtle crunch since they are rolled in wheat germ before baking. They aren’t too sweet, but just sweet enough.My husband asked if they have a glaze or anything, and I suppose if you wanted to add some extra sweetness you could add a lemon glaze. I would certainly make these again, and I’d like to try some of the variations, maybe try a batch with lemon glaze and maybe try different citrus. I do have a bag of wheat germ to use up!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 81
Friday, February 19, 2010
I made some red velvet whoopie pies around this time last year, so maybe it will become an annual tradition to make some sort of whoopie pie each February! I saw these posted on Tastespotting, and I knew that these had to be the next ones to make. The world recently celebrated World Nutella Day (February 5) but I’m always a day late and a dollar short. I always see these great Nutella recipes a couple of days after the big celebration.
Andrea, who originally made these, added chopped hazelnuts as well as the Nutella filling. I tried this on a couple of cookies and it was quite messy, so I decided to go the simple route and simply fill them with Nutella. This recipe made about 3 dozen whoopie pies, and I used almost an entire jar of Nutella. Of course the hazard of my kitchen means that not all of the baked cookies made it all the way to being whoopie pies. Some got consumed before they were filled, so if your kitchen is different you may end up using the entire jar.
These may seem really small when you are scooping the batter onto the cookie sheets, but don’t make the mistake of making these too big. When they are sandwiched together, you don’t want them to be very large. I didn’t let mine cool all that long before I sandwiched them together, so they were quite soft. Next time I will let them set longer. I tasted the ones with chopped hazelnuts in the filling and also the plain ones, and I think I like the plain ones. Sometimes less is more!
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla, set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture, mix until smooth. Add another 1/3 of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, and ending with the rest of the flour mixture, scraping between each addition. The final batter should be thick and smooth.
Using a small cookie scoop (about a teaspoon), scoop batter onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets after 5 minutes. Bake until puffy and the cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble: spread a rounded tablespoon of Nutella on flat sides of half the cakes, then top with remaining cakes.
Recipe from Andrea’s Recipes
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was picked by Kait of Kait’s Plate. She selected My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies and you can get the complete recipe on Kait’s blog. These are a very traditional chocolate chip cookie. My husband loves chocolate chip cookies, but I don’t make them very often so he was very happy when this recipe was picked. Since he is a traditionalist, I didn’t add any extras to these cookies. I also left out the nuts, since he just wanted chocolate chips.
When I read the Q & A on the Tuesdays with Dorie site, many of the bakers were having trouble with these cookies spreading too much. I had this same problem with a batch of cookies I made last week, and I didn’t want a repeat of that. I took the advice of some of the other bakers and cut back on the amount of butter and added a touch more flour. It seemed to work fine; my cookies didn’t spread too much and they look great.
I’m a bit under the weather, so I’m not the best person to tell you how they taste, since I can’t really taste anything right now! They have a great texture, nice and chewy, just the way I like them. I’m really glad that I changed the recipe; I didn’t notice that much difference in the texture, they seem just right. I don’t know if these are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made, but they sure turned out well!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 68
Friday, February 12, 2010
Ah, it’s been quite the week! I thought I had everything all ready to make my Friday cookies, but I should have known that it wouldn’t go so smoothly. The first batch of cookies that I made, while they taste ok, sure don’t look good! I tried a couple of different things to salvage them, and some worked ok and some didn’t. I’ll maybe post those one of these days, as I think I can get at least one good picture. I used to take it really hard when things didn’t work out, but I try not to worry about it too much. There are certainly much more important things to think about.
So, what to make? Yikes, I wanted to find something and I certainly didn’t want to head to the store. And of course this is the week that I decided that I didn’t need to pick up eggs at the store, since I had enough for what I planned to bake. So I had one egg in the refrigerator. Shortbread came to mind first, since it doesn’t call for any eggs, but I made shortbread last week. I have a bunch of cinnamon chips that I wanted to use, but I just couldn’t figure out which recipe to try. I guess I had cinnamon on the mind, because I ended up with these coffee cinnamon bars.
The cookbook that this recipe came from was published in 1980, and you can certainly tell. Granola and whole wheat flour were obviously big in 1980 and it seems like every other recipe calls for one or the other. This was a very old-fashioned cookie, although this cookie is very cakey. The original recipe called for raisins and some nuts; I substituted chopped hazelnuts since I didn’t want raisins in my bars. The batter is spread quite thin in the pan and so they bake really quickly. (Good for me since I was short on time!) I like the subtle spiciness of these bars, and the coffee flavor isn’t too strong. The hazelnuts add a good crunch. These would be perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup shortening
½ cup water
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
About 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, cream the brown sugar, shortening, and egg. Stir in the remaining ingredients and spread into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, combine the powered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make a glaze. If the glaze is too thick, add additional milk. Spread over the warm bars and allow to set. Cut into bars.
Recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book (1980)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Tanya of Chocolatechic. It’s probably not a big surprise that she chose a decadent chocolate recipe, and she chose Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia. Dorie’s previous book was Baking with Julia, and she was also there when Julia Child was filming the PBS series Baking with Julia. These come from that time, a recipe that chef Rick Katz created for Julia Child. These are quite special and if you’d like to give the recipe a try, visit Tanya’s blog for the complete recipe.
I love brownies, but there are some brownies out there that I don’t like very much. Brownies from a box look good and come together quickly, but I’m so disappointed when I eat them. They are too cakey, and I prefer a fudgy brownie. These are certainly to my liking because I don’t think that you could make a fudgier brownie. They’re on the verge of being raw, but that’s ok. Handle them right and you can have your cake (err, brownie) and eat it too.
The brownies are simple in terms of the ingredients they contain, but the method to put them together is different. You melt the chocolate and butter and combine eggs and sugar. You add half of that mixture to the chocolate, but then whip the remaining egg/sugar mixture until light and then fold it in. The eggs are the only leavening in this brownie, so they have a fairly dense texture. They aren’t dry at all. In fact, it’s a little hard to tell when they are done, since they are still gooey when you take them out of the oven. I baked mine for the specified time plus a minute or two, and hoped for the best.
Dorie says to cut these into 18 bars, but I cut mine smaller since they are so very rich. I chilled mine after they had cooled since I knew some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers had trouble cutting them due to their gooey-ness. They cut beautifully when chilled! These are the ultimate fudgy brownie. They are pure, unadulterated chocolate!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 91.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Long before I started this blog, I made a lot of cookies for the people I worked with. This even continued when I was in graduate school, although I certainly didn’t have as much time then! I worked as an intern at a federal library at the time, and I would occasionally make treats and bring them to work. My boss really enjoyed the things I brought, but she was quite the foodie. That year for Christmas I was surprised when she gave me The All American Cookie Book. It’s been one of my favorites ever since.
I like lemon bars a lot, but sometimes they are just a little too fussy. They don’t travel well, and sometimes they just aren’t lemony enough. I had found these lemon shortbread fingers a couple of years ago and they are the perfect option when you want something with lemon. They contain quite a bit of lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, so they are very lemony. The buttery shortbread is a nice balance to the tangy, sweet icing. These really are perfect.
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
½ cup powdered sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
¾ cup butter, softened
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and then line with foil, allowing the foil to overhang by 2 inches on the sides. In a small bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch.
In a food processor, process the powdered sugar, sugar, and lemon zest until the zest is pulverized. Add the butter, salt and lemon juice and process until well blended and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and process in on/off pulses until well blended. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 37-45 minutes or until pale golden brown and slightly dark at the edges. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool completely.
To make the icing, in a food processor, process the sugar and lemon zest. Add the lemon juice and corn syrup and process until combined. Add the powdered sugar and pulse until combined. If the icing is too thick to spread, add a couple drops of water.
Remove the shortbread from the pan and peel away the foil. Place on a cutting board and spread with the icing. Let set for 5 minutes and then cut into fingers. After cutting, allow the icing to set completely, about an hour.
Recipe from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Kristin of I’m Right About Everything. She picked Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes. Visit Kristin’s blog for the complete recipe. I love baking in my Bundt pans and I already had the mini Bundt pans, so I was happy to put them to good use.
The only issue that I have had with my mini Bundt pans is that the cake always sticks and I can’t get them out of the pan. Some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers noted that this was an issue, but I hoped for the best. I really buttered the pan heavily. I figured that there was no way that they could stick, and I was right. They came out of the pan perfectly and effortlessly. I was very pleased.
This is a rather petite recipe, since it only makes 6 mini Bundts. Since there is just the two of us, it was nice to make something that didn’t have so much left over. I splurged and used the good chocolate, and since that is the main flavor of the cake I’m glad I did. I bought my chocolate at Whole Foods, where they sell it in big chunks. They often have gianduja (chocolate with hazelnut) bars there too and this recipe would be excellent made with gianduja!
The hardest part of the recipe was portioning out the batter between the pans. You put a little batter in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with a nut-sugar-cocoa powder mixture, and then top with the remaining batter. I used my cookie scoop to portion out small amounts of batter, and this made the job a lot easier. In the end they were fairly forgiving, as I couldn’t tell any difference between the ones that I got the filling complete covered and the ones that were a little shy of enough batter to cover the filling. I skipped the glaze and just dusted with powdered sugar. I love the milk chocolate flavor of these Bundts. I bake so frequently with dark or bittersweet chocolate that this was a nice change. I thought that these were pretty easy but look special, so they’d be great to serve to guests.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 188 and 189