Friday, October 29, 2010
One of my favorite candies is the Sea Salt Caramels from Fran’s Chocolates. Fran’s Chocolates is a local company, which always gets rave reviews. Sometimes when we go into the shop Fran is actually there, which I think is pretty cool! It’s amazing how well salt works with chocolate; it really brings out the flavor.
I saw these on Annie’s Eats (one of my favorite blogs!) and it reminded me of Fran’s caramels. I put this into my “Baking to Try” folder on my computer and this was the week to give it a try. I had bought some fancy salt at Whole Foods (Cyprus Flake Salt) and this was a great opportunity to use it. The original recipe had you sprinkle the salt on after baking, but I sprinkled it on before I put the cookies in the oven. I was worried that the salt would fall off and you wouldn’t get that great salt/chocolate combination.
These cookies are super chocolaty! 8 ounces of chocolate in the dough plus 12 ounces of chocolate chips. It kind of reminds me of a dense chocolate cake. There’s only 2/3 cup flour for about 3 dozen cookies, which makes a dense, gooey cookie. I made them smaller than Annie did for her blog, so I baked them for a slightly shorter time. These are so good and I loved the salt on top. I’m glad I didn’t make them too big since they are very rich. If you are looking for chocolate, these are the cookies for you.
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a microwave safe bowl, combine the 8 ounces chopped chocolate and butter. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each interval, until the chocolate is melted. In a separate small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the melted chocolate mixture, blending until incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Scoop teaspoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with additional salt.
Bake until the cookies are just slightly soft in the center and crackly on top, about 9-10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from Annie’s Eats, who adapted the recipe from other sources
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Emily of Sandmuffin. She chose the All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie, which is a classic two-crust pie. I love baking with apples, and I love pie, so I was looking forward to this week’s recipe! You can get the entire recipe on Emily’s blog and check out the links left by all the Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers on that site.
As much as I like pie and apples, I’m not really sure when the last time I made a double crust apple pie. I think many years ago! As I recall, mine weren’t that great, with the filling being kind of blah and the bottom crust never baking properly. I was hopeful that this would be different. I followed the recipe nearly exactly and used granny smith and honeycrisp apples. The only substitute I made was cornstarch for the tapioca. I have a weird aversion to tapioca, which has its roots in high school Chemistry class. That’s a story for another day, but let’s just say I avoid tapioca.
This baked up very well and it was completely beautiful when I took it out of the oven. It was all bubbly and golden brown. My husband and I had a piece when it was room temperature and it was so, so good! I served it with vanilla ice cream (and some apple mead: it was a rough day at work!) and that was the perfect accompaniment. It was sweet, but not too sweet and the cinnamon shined through. I don’t often make this type of pie, but this was so good that I am encouraged to try a few more like this.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 300-302
Friday, October 22, 2010
After making this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, I found myself with a lot of leftover pumpkin. For some reason I bought the big can of pumpkin, and now I needed to use it up. Pumpkin’s not my favorite, but I’m starting to like it more and more. I like the cinnamon and other flavors usually associated with pumpkin, so I’ve been trying new things.
I have wanted to make a cheesecake bar of some sort, and I knew I could find a pumpkin cheesecake bar. There are many different recipes out on the web, some more cheesecake-like than others, but I settled on this one. It’s beautifully simple: no crust, no multiple layers of topping. This recipe is just the batter with a bit of cream cheese swirl. I’ve made a number of recipes from the Cookie Madness blog and I’ve always had good results.
The original recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch pan, which I don’t have. I did make it in a 9 x 13 pan, which the recipe said I could do. I did end up baking the bars for 35 minutes, which is 5 minutes more than the original recipe. I refrigerated these for a couple hours before cutting, which I think helped. These bars are very cake-like, so they cut super easily. (My husband kept asking when I was going to cut the cake!) I ended up using a serrated knife so that the bars wouldn’t tear too much. I really like the flavor and texture of these. They are kind of like banana bread, but the cream cheese adds a nice richness. I think I am beginning to come around to liking pumpkin.
6 tablespoons melted butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
In a large mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar. Stir to combine. Beat in the eggs, pumpkin, and water, stirring until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together; stir into batter. Reserve a few tablespoons of batter; spread the remaining batter evenly in prepared pan.
In another mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat just until mixed. Drop tablespoons of cheese mixture over pumpkin batter then drop reserved pumpkin batter over top. Drag a knife through the batters to make it swirled.
Bake until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, then chill for an hour or more. Grab the foil and lift the bars out of the pan; peel away the foil. Cut into bars with a serrated knife.
Recipe from Cookie Madness
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs. She picked the Caramel Pumpkin Pie, which is a perfect recipe for fall. I don’t really like pumpkin pie all that much, but I was actually really excited to make this pie. With all the spices and the dark caramel in the filling, I thought that this would be very interesting. If you’d like the complete recipe, visit Janell’s blog.
I did make one change to this recipe: I made a gingersnap crust instead of a regular pie pastry. With all of the flavors of the pie, it seemed like that would be a good fit. The gingersnaps I bought were so crispy that they almost broke my food processor! It took quite a bit of work to make those gingersnap crumbs. I didn’t know if I should prebake the crust or not, I did prebake it and I think it got too done while the pie baked.
The pie starts with making a very dark caramel. I’m never sure how long it takes to make caramel, but this time mine got dark very quickly. My husband was surprised how dark it was, but it was just how Dorie described. I baked it up and it was a beautiful color. When I went to cut it, the crust was impossibly hard, almost brittle. I think it just baked too long. I chiseled out pieces and I really liked all the flavors. You kind of forget that it’s pumpkin pie, since it’s the other flavors that come through. My husband made a honey whipped cream to serve with the pie, which was really wonderful. For not liking pumpkin pie very much, I really enjoyed this pie. My crust was a little off, but I think I can fix that next time!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 322 and 323
Friday, October 15, 2010
I really like making sandwich cookies because they can make an ordinary (but tasty) cookie seem special. My husband recently sent me a couple of recipes for peanut butter sandwich cookies and I decided to give these a try. I hadn’t made peanut butter cookies in a very long time and the sandwiches seemed like they would be fun. Sometimes I worry about making a more involved recipe since I don’t always have a lot of time to make my Friday cookies, but these came together very quickly.
The cookies themselves are a basic peanut butter cookie. I didn’t have to refrigerate the dough before baking with was a nice time saver. They spread out a little bit and don’t be afraid if the dough balls seem kind of small! They baked up and looked great when they came out of the oven. The trickiest part of the recipe was measuring the marshmallow fluff. How do you measure this stuff? It’s super sticky and I did my best. The original filling recipe called for some cinnamon, but I decided to leave it out.
I really liked these. The filling really makes the cookie. I asked my husband to describe these and he just said “They’re really tasty!” They are reminiscent of the peanut butter sandwich cookies you buy at the store, but I think I like these a lot more. The cookie is soft with a little bit of crispness and the filling has an intense sweet, peanut butter flavor. Yummy!
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
8 tablespoons shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixer bowl, combine peanut butter and shortening until stir until incorporated. Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, stir until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until combined.
Scoop out the dough by level teaspoonfuls and roll into balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets. Using a fork dipped in granulated sugar, flatten each ball by making crisscross marks on top. Bake until the edges are lightly brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients. Sandwich cookies together in pairs with about one teaspoon filling.
Recipe from Culinary in the Desert
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen. She selected Fold-Over Pear Torte. You can get the complete recipe on Laws of the Kitchen. This was quite an interesting recipe. I didn’t really know if this was cake-like, tart-like or what. At first I thought that it would be something like a rustic tart, but it was very different!
So to make this, you line a springform pan with pastry; fill with chopped pears, dried apricots, and nuts and then top with a custard filling. There are a lot of ingredients and flavors in this, and I wasn’t sure at all what to expect. Making this was a bit challenging. I guess I should have known that this might be troublesome since Dorie says that it “might be tricky” to line the springform pan with pastry! That was pretty hard, but luckily I had enough excess pastry to patch the many holes I made when I put the pastry in the pan. You put in the filling and then you fold the pastry towards the filling; not all the way over, since the filling rises while baking. Yep, I was confused too! I just edged the pastry towards the filling, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best.
I think it baked up fairly well; the filling had risen and met with the crust. Mine didn’t brown all that much, but I was afraid to overbake it. Although the recipe suggests eating it the same day it was baked, I put mine in the refrigerator and ate it the next day. I don’t often bake with pears, so when I tried this I kept thinking that it should taste like apples, which of course it doesn’t. I think that there are too many flavors in this. Maybe if you left out the apricots it would be better. Maybe I needed to bake the pastry a little more so that it was more browned. Overall, I didn’t like this all that much, but it was an interesting recipe to try.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 348 and 349
Friday, October 8, 2010
I’m very impressionable these days it seems. I was eating lunch at work and reading the newspaper and found this recipe. It was described as the perfect fall cookie. I must have been hungry or something because I thought they just looked perfect and I wanted to try them as soon as possible.
They’re really a great find since they called for ½ a cup of maple syrup. Maple syrup is one of those ingredients that I buy to use in a specific recipe and then I have some left over. What can you make that just calls for a little bit of maple syrup? I try not to waste things but I end up with these random odds and ends of ingredients. This was the perfect recipe that used up the extra syrup that I had on hand.
In making these, I have to say that they are one of the strangest cookies that I have ever made. Cookies are usually made with the creaming method where you cream the butter and sugar and then add the dry ingredients. This recipe has you combine all the dry ingredients, coconut, sugar, and spices. Then you melt the butter and add all the wet ingredients and mix everything up. It’s not very dough-like, I don’t exactly know how to describe it. I made small cookies and baked them for 14 minutes and they are soft and pliable. They have a wonderful maple flavor, which I love. Toasted nuts, oats, and coconut make for a very tasty cookie!
3 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut
2-2/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon maple or vanilla extract
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar. Whisk to combine.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, and corn syrup. Heat on medium until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and boiling water, stir to dissolve the baking soda. Add to the maple syrup mixture and stir well. Stir in the extract.
Add the liquid ingredients to the oat mixture and stir to combine. Add the pecans and stir to combine. Drop by teaspoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process.
Cool on the cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from relishmag.com
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Lynne of Honey Muffin. She chose the Double Apple Bundt Cake, which is the first of a few apple delights that were picked for October. I love baking with apples so I’m very excited for this month. I love apples, I love Bundt cakes, so I was so excited for this recipe. I had seriously considered picking this recipe for my selection, but this cake is so reminiscent of fall that I just couldn’t make it in the summer. I’m glad it was picked this fall.
This cake contains apples, apple butter, pecans and raisins. I thought I had raisins, but I guess I didn’t so I substituted dried cranberries and I’m glad I added them since they added a nice welcome zing to the flavor. I made mine and then let it sit, wrapped in plastic wrap, for a couple of days. (I’ve had a bit of a baking marathon at home, and we were eating the other things first.) It is super moist and the flavors have come together very well.
I love the spiciness that the apple butter adds to the cake. I’ve never really had apple butter on its own, only in this and one other recipe. The flavors worked so well in this recipe that I’m excited to try other recipes with apple butter. I loved this cake and if you’d like to try it, you can get the recipe on Lynne’s blog. You can also check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see how the other bloggers did with this week’s recipe.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 184 and 185.
Friday, October 1, 2010
The beginning of October marks the beginning of birthday season at work. We have quite a few birthdays in October and November, so I will be making some extra things to celebrate those days. Luckily, there are a few of us who like to bake so I’m not the only one who will bring treats. This weekend is the birthday of my Persian coworker. She brings the best pistachios to share with us. I came across these pistachio and cherry blondies and I knew I had to make them. I also made her birthday cake which I will be sharing in a couple of days.
The pistachios for this recipe came from my Persian coworker and they taste so much better than ones that I buy here at the store. It took a little time to shell them, but I figured it was worth the effort! I used tart cherries in these blondies and I loved the combination of the slightly bitter chocolate, the sourness of the cherries and the pistachio flavor. When baking them, I wasn’t quite sure if they were done when I took them out of the oven. They tested done but weren’t golden brown. They are quite soft, but perhaps that’s how these blondies are. I really enjoyed these, and I hope everyone at work likes them too!
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted pistachios
2/3 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Stir in flour and salt, mixing just until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips, pistachios and dried cherries. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake for about 27-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is a light golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.
Recipe from Baking Bites