gastronome
chocolate shortcakes with bananas and caramel

I appear to be on something of a dessert kick. Cupcakes last weekend, shortcake this. Yes, shortcake in the middle of winter, maybe because today's gorgeous weather didn't feel like winter at all. I don't think I've ever had chocolate shortcake before, and the cocoa and butter made these guys super-rich and yummy. I did my best not to overwork the dough, and they did come out pretty tender. From the Jan/Feb 2007 Cooking Light.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To prepare the shortcakes, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces, with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk; stir just until moist. Knead lightly in bowl 5 or 6 times. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 8 wedges, cutting into, but not through, dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes or until just firm to the touch. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack. Place shortcake on a cutting board or work surface; cut along score lines with a serrated knife to form 8 wedges.

To prepare filling, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; stir gently just until sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until pale golden (about 4 minutes), gently swirling pan if needed to cook sugar evenly. Remove from heat; add 2 tablespoons whipping cream and 1 teaspoon butter, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cool 5 minutes.

Place 1 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed, and 1/8 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa in a medium bowl; fold until just combined. Split shortcakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Arrange about 1/4 cup bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, over bottom half of each shortcake; top each serving with about 1 teaspoon caramel sauce, about 2 tablespoons whipped topping mixture, and top of shortcake. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon caramel sauce over top of each shortcake. Yield: 8 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:20 AM

lemon-scented blueberry cupcakes

The first time I've ever made cupcakes! I guess I'm now officially part of the craze. I just tested one (while watching Charlie's Angels, natch), and I can report with authority that the lemon and the blueberry blend together most deliciously. I topped them with extra fresh blueberries, but if you wanted to get super-fancy you could use edible flowers as decoration...or marzipan sculptures. From the Jan/Feb 2007 Cooking Light.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 12 decorative paper muffin cup liners into muffin cups.

To prepare cupcakes, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Measure 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; level with a knife. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon flour, 10 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda in a large bowl. Combine 1/4 cup melted butter and 1 large egg in another large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk, 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind to butter mixture; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss 3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen blueberries with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until just blended. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (do not overbeat). Stir in 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes; garnish with fresh blueberries, if desired. Store, covered, in refrigerator. Yield: 1 dozen.

Posted by astraea at 11:01 PM

cranberry upside-down coffee cake

I just checked to see when I posted last, and it was in June of 2005. Well. The story is: I got my heart broke, and started going out to hear bands play to distract myself, and then I started DJing about the same time... But with the turning of the year I'm starting to feel pulled less to the bars and clubs and more to my kitchen. I decided to dive right back in with this recipe from the December 2006 Cooking Light. I forgot how difficult it is to find fresh cranberries, so I substituted half a cup of dried. I think that contributed to how much the "crust" caramelized in my version. It's pretty chewy on top. But it's still freaking tasty, with the cake buttery underneath. I'll be taking it to a party tonight, and here's hoping cute hipster boys like coffee cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; dust with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour. Combine 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted dates, 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind in a bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, softened, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour brown sugar mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle cranberry mixture evenly over brown sugar mixture.

Lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place 1 cup granulated sugar and 6 tablespoons butter, softened, in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 large egg; beat well. Add flour mixture and 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk alternately to granulated sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter over cranberry mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; run a knife around outside edges. Invert cake onto a plate; cool.

To prepare glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon butter, melted, and 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Cut cake into squares. Yield: 12 servings.

Posted by astraea at 08:06 PM

salted caramel ice cream

Photo by Melissa Schneider.
This post is for Derrick, but the ice cream was for Melissa. This Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to have the Schneiders over for a long, lazy day of cooking and chatting and storytelling. Just what the Borogoves needed: an eye in the midst of a torrential storm of work. (And they did the shopping to boot, which pretty much elevates them to sainthood in my book...)

Miss Melissa looooves ice cream - and I wanted to try and mimic the incredibly tasty salted caramel ice cream I had at Berthillon last winter in Paris. The perfect excuse to pick up the ice cream maker I had been coveting...

The result? A deep, just-to-the-edge-but-not-quite burnt caramel ice cream, with surprising pops of salt every few bites. I thought it was perfect on our apple pie - even though I was so so so full!

I went my usual route, consulting a few of my favorite books; unfortunately, I wasn't excited about any of the precise recipes at my fingers. (Ask around - I can't ever do anything the easy way.) The recipe that follows was synthesized by poking at the ice cream recipes in Room for Dessert, The Last Course, and A Sweet Quartet.

1.5 c sugar
a dash of karo syrup
a wee pat of butter

1 big sploosh homemade vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks, whisked together minimally

a couple general pinches of your favorite sea salt

Put the sugar, butter, and karo syrup in a heavy bottomed pan. Make a caramel. I took mine fairly dark - I wanted to have the deep, rich flavor to hold its own amongst all the dairy and egg. When the caramel is to your liking, drop in the heavy cream and stand back - it will spatter! Turn down the heat; incorporate the cream & vanilla. Then the milk. Add a small pinch of salt. Taste the caramelly sauce - you don't want it to be at full salt yet.

Slowly pour the solution over your eggs, whisking continuously. Strain the mix into a container, and chill according to your ice cream maker's directions. Freeze according to the same (or your whim, as the case may be). Just before you turn the ice cream maker off, add in a generous pinch of big-grained sea salt. (We used some fleur de sel we picked up on the aforementioned trip to Paris.)

Cure the ice cream during dinner, and enjoy!

Posted by shock at 06:47 AM

chocolate & spice! cake

wedding cakes!....aka, Andi & Brian's other wedding cakes! I've had the pleasure of dining with Andrea many a time - and she's ALWAYS ready (and gunning!) to share "the chocolate thing" on the dessert menu with me - especially when it's cake. When she asked if I'd make her cakes, I knew that I needed to dream up an interesting and tasty chocolate thing. I had a few ideas (and was definitely inpsired by this chocolate that Robert gave me), and this was the one that grabbed her when we were reviewing the options. Their wedding cakes wound up built from two layers of chocolate cake which I stuffed with a whipped ganache spiced with ancho, chipotle and cinnamon, and then coated in that same gorgeous glaze that I used on Mo & P's wedding cakes. The cake, ganache, and glaze are all based on recipes from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible. So many congratulations to Andi & Brian!

Chocolate Butter Cake
This is Beranbaum's Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake, with the cocoa and sugar quantities adjusted to suit my particular tastes and cocoas. This is technically a double batch - I wanted taller cakes in my 9" pans.
63 grams Scharffenberger unsweetened cocoa powder
63 grams Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate & cocoa (this is the dutch process)
2 cup boiling water
6 large eggs
4.5 tsp vanilla
470 grams cake flour (I used Queen Guineviere's)
2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease 2 9" cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, and grease & flour.

In a medium bowll, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the remaning dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaning cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1.5 minutes to aerate and develop the cakes structure. Scrape down the sides, Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrap dwn the sides.,

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cake spring sback with pressed lightly in the center. the cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert to that the tops are up and cool completely.

Whipped Spiced Ganache
Makes enough to fill a 9" 2 layer cake, with some left over.
MY NOTE: MAKE SURE THE CAKES ARE REALLY, TRULY, ALL-THE-WAY COOL BEFORE YOU FILL THEM.

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% Scharffenberger.)
2 liquid cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.25 tsp ancho chile powder
1.25 tsp chipotle chile powder
1.25 tsp cinnamon

Notes: This is Bernabaum's whipped chocolate ganache recipe - I just added the spices. I buy my chile powders at my local farmer's market from Tierra. Their peppers are fantastic, and very fresh. You may need to adjust to taste for your locally supplied products. If you're not in the Bay Area, you can order the chipotle online.

Mix your ancho and chipotle powder together, and put it aside in a small bowl.

Break the choclate into pieces and process in a food processer until very fine.

Heat the cream to the boiling point, and with the motor running, pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process a few seconds until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl of an electric mixer. and refrigerate until cold, stirring once or twice. Don't let it get too cold, or it will be too stiff to incorporate air.

Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Add a quarter of your spice mix, and taste on the end of a spoon. Keep adding you chile mix until you get a heat level you like - I stopped when I could catch the edge of the flavor as I tasted the chocolate, and then figured out what the flavor was as a hint of warmth developed on the back of my throat.

Beat the mixture just until very soft peaks form when the beater is raised. It will continue to thicken after a few minutes at room temperature.

If the mixture gets overbeaten and grainy, it can be restored by remelting, chilling, and rebeating.

Chocolate Cream Glaze
Makes 2 full cups, enough to glaze a 1-layer 9" cake (with some leftover).
Note: I found I needed 1.5x the recipe to glaze a 2 layer 9" cake.

9oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 7oz 60% Scharffenberger with 2oz of Bernachon chocolate that was around 50%.)
1 liquid cup heavy cream

To prepare cake for glazing: brush all crumbs from the surface and place on a cardboard round the same size as the cake. Suspend the cake on a rack set on a baking sheet to catch the exceess glaze. It's best to have enough glaze to cover with one application: touch-ups don't produce as flawless a surface. (Trust her on this one.)

To prepare the glaze: Break the chocolate into pieces and process in a food processor until very fine. Remove the chocolate to a small heavy saucepan.

Heat the cream to the boiling point and pour three quarters of it over the chocolate. Cover for five minutes to allow chocolate to melt. Gently stir together until smooth, trying not to create air bubbles. Pass through a fine strainer, and allow to cool until just tepid.

Check for consistency: At a tepid temperature a small amount of glaze should mound a bit when dropped from a spoon before smoothly disappearing. If the glaze is too thick and the mound remains on the surface or if the glaze seems curdled, add some of the remaining warm cream by the teaspoon. If the glaze is too thin, gently stir in a small amount of melted chocolate. When the consistency is correct, use at once or store and reheat.

The glaze should be poured onto the center of the cake, allowing the excess to flow down the sides. Smooth quickly and evenly with a large metal spatula, moving it lightly back and forth across the top until smooth.

Allow the cake to set for at least 3 hours at room temperature. Don't refrigerate.

Posted by shock at 12:40 PM

rum butter cakes

rum butter cakes
...aka Andrea & Brian's wedding cakes, part one. (Yes, two kinds of cake. They're food people, and dear to me, afterall!) Brian asked specially for rum cake - like a rum baba. Having never made a rum cake, I turned to my favorite baker-of-ethanol-laced cakes for advice. Eric kindly gave me his family's old recipe for rum cakes - his favorite growing up, too! They were a big hit - but be careful. If you eat a few with your morning coffee, the sugarcrash aftermath is wicked.

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cups butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or soured milk)
2 tsp vanilla

Butter-Rum Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
3 T dark, good quality, rum

Combine milk and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar; blend in eggs one at a time, beat well. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk/vanilla mixture with creamed butter/sugar/eggs, beginning and ending with dry, eg. add 1/3 dry, 1/2 liquid, 1/3 dry, etc.

Grease bottom of 10 inch tube or bundt pan, or you can use a mini bundt pan Bake at 325 for 55-65 minutes if using large pan, or 20-30 minutes if using mini bundt pan.

Combine sugar, butter & water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. (Mko note: original calls for 2 Tbsp of rum - I upped this to 3 or 4. Weddings are for excess, no?)

While cake is still warm, prick throughout with bamboo skewer and drench with hot sauce. Remove from pan after cake has cooled.

Notes from Eric: The butter sauce can make the cake really stick to the pan, but if you use the Pam baking spray with flour to grease the pan it almost always come straight out. If you need to make a lot you can bake two mini bundt pans at the same time. We never seem to have buttermilk, but regular milk soured with vinegar or lemon works fine. Poke LOTS and LOTS of holes in the cake for the tastiest results.

Notes from meriko: I used 2 mini-bundt pans with quarter-cup capacity per cake. The recipe for cake fills 24 slots, and leaves enough leftover for 3-4 cupcakes to be baked off right after the cakes. Only fill the cups 2/3 full if you want flat bottoms so your cakes will stack. I didn't use Pam - don't have it around. Instead I used the old-fashioned butter & flour method. Melted butter & a pastry brush are the easiest way to butter the nooks of the crazy bundt pans. To get an easy release after the cakes have cooled, I inverted the pans, hit the bottom of a cake with a kitchen torch for a few seconds, and wiggled the cake until it dropped into my hand. (All hail the croquembouche trick!)

Posted by shock at 10:44 AM

steamed milk with ginger or "quick" dou fu hua

I have been craving two things with great constancy of late: the Cantonese dessert dou fu hua, and hot milk tea with ginger.

dou fu hua is a silky custard made of soymilk, ladled out of a wooden bucket in wide scoopfuls and served in a light ginger syrup. The name means something like "blossom tofu". It has a texture similar to creme caramel, but without the egginess -- just the clean freshness of good soy. You can only get dou fu hua on weekends, during dim sum hours, and only if the dim sum kitchen is beneficient. I am blessed with a beneficient dim sum kitchen nearby, but dim sum every time I want this dessert seemed too decadent. And sometimes I need my fix on ordinary week days.

This led me to a quest for the ginger syrup, which in turn brought me back to the hot milk ginger tea, as it turns out that a syrup suitable for dou fu hua is eminently suited to the making of hot milk tea. Now if only someone would post a recipe for tapioca bubbles, I'd be set...

Ginger syrup:
3 c. water
1/3 c. brown sugar
"a good sized chunk" of ginger -- about 1.5 inches thick and 2 or 3 inches long.
---
Using a paring knife, peel the skin and any blemishes from the ginger.
Combine the water and sugar in a pot and place over medium high heat. While you bring the mixture to a simmer, finely grate the ginger. I stick a fork into the ginger and grate it quickly with the smallest microplane grater I have. There are proper Chinese implements for reducing ginger to juicy pulp (I haven't got one. As soon as I organise the kitchen to make some room, there will be a Quest to Chinatown.) If you have neither of these, chop the ginger as fine as you can and bash it with a meat tenderizer. Add the ginger directly to the simmering syrup.

Keeping the pot at a low simmer -- you don't want to boil it or the ginger will become bitter -- cook the syrup for about 10 minutes (or as long as it takes you to putter about, check your e-mail, and scrub a few pots).

I use some of the syrup for instant gratification, and then strain the rest through a funnel into a glass bottle for use in the fridge. (I can't say how long it lasts. It's a sugar syrup, so probably quite well, but mine hasn't stuck around long enough for me to find out.)
---
Hot milk ginger tea: Steam 2/3 c. hot milk. Add hot ginger syrup. Serve. :)
---
"quick" dou fu hua: Open a fresh package of silken tofu, as soft as you can get it, and spoon some tofu out into a bowl. Warm the tofu and serve with warm ginger syrup.
I microwaved my tofu and syrup covered for 1-2 min, but a steamer or double-boiler on the stove should work as well.

This isn't real dou fu hua, of course. To get that, you have to go to Saigon Harbour Seafood Restaurant when the dim sum kitchen is in a benificient mood. Real dou fu hua is actually made by freshly coagulating soymilk. And you have to have the wooden bucket. And also the paddle.


Posted by naomi at 11:33 PM

blueberry-lemon coffee cake

Winter baking has its pleasures, but summer baking has Fruit. Namely blueberries, in this recipe from the June 2005 Cooking Light. Blueberries and lemon, together in an incredibly moist cake that you can nevertheless eat with your fingers. The almond paste also adds a little nutty something something. I'd never baked with it before but enjoyed the sticky scent it gave off as I mashed it into submission. The magazine warns against substituting marzipan, which is too sweet. Me, I haven't been able to go near marzipan ever since I watched a mystery movie where Diana Rigg used it to disguise deadly poison. But I digress. I just had a slice of the cake with a tall glass of milk, and I'm bringing the rest to Crissy Field tomorrow.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup almond paste, and 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces, in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, beating well. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup fat-free milk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in 1 1/2 cups blueberries and 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind. Spoon batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.

To prepare topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, chopped, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl, tossing with a fork until moist. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Yield: 12 servings.

Posted by astraea at 10:33 PM

Apricot-Peach Galette

I've never eaten baked fruit in my life, but tonight I made my first baked fruit dessert! After flipping through Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, I felt confident enough to wing my first galette as a surprise for my husband (who loves fruit pies, tarts, and other hot fruit desserts).

A galette is basically a rustic, open-faced pie; fruit is heaped in the middle of rolled-out pie dough, which is folded up over the fruit. I had frozen peaches and a few fresh apruims (apricot-plums!) on hand, and a TJ's pie crust in the fridge. I dropped a handfull of rum-drizzled bread cubes on the room-temperature pie dough for flavor (in theory the bread sops up juices from really watery fruit - I did the rum just for flavor), heaped the fruit, pleated the dough up very rustically (read: hapzardly), based it with melted butter and dusted the whole thing with raw cane sugar. Baked in a pre-heated 425°F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until brown. I let it cool a little before serving.

The result? My husband tried it then re-proposed marriage to me, so I'm guessing it turned out pretty good!

Posted by rebecca at 08:09 PM

Cinnamon Fruit Dip

We get the Penzey's catalog monthlyand found this delightful recipe in the past issue. After spending another $40 dollars on spices, we had this dip with pineapple and strawberries. It also goes very well with cantaloupe.

The one change I made to the recipe was I leave the fruit bare, instead of dusting the fruit with sugar, and put a full tablespoon of sugar in the dip. My suggestion is that you start with a little sugar and add slowly according to your own taste.

Cinnamon Fruit Dip
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar

Mix together until all lumps are gone. Chill for about an hour and serve with fruit.

Posted by merry at 09:43 AM

carrot sheet cake with cream cheese frosting

I made this tasty cake last weekend and then got too distracted to post the recipe (it's from the May 2005 issue of Cooking Light). All who sampled it liked it very much. I used a metal baking pan purchased especially for the occasion, but the magazine says if you use a glass one just reduce the baking temperature to 325 degrees and start sticking the toothpick in after 25 minutes. My frosting was just a little runny, and I realize now that I let the cream cheese soften even though the recipe didn't call for that. And I'm not entirely sure I added the powdered sugar in batches either. Tricky delicious frosting.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.

Place 9 tablespoons butter, softened, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add 2 large eggs and 2 large egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Lightly spoon 2 cups all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in 2 cups finely shredded carrot. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place 1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Stir in 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish with 1 tablespoon orange sugar sprinkles. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. Yield: 16 servings.

Posted by astraea at 08:21 PM

chocolate and malt pudding

A handy dish to have made if one happens to have been invited to a chocolate-themed party. The April 2005 issue of Cooking Light says this pudding is high in potassium, but more importantly it was so yummy I wanted to suck it up with a straw. I thought it had just the right amount of malt flavor, but if you want it stronger you can always add more.

Combine 2/3 cup malted milk powder, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cornstarch, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium, heavy saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add 4 cups 1% low-fat milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk until well blended. Place pan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, and stir until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Pour pudding into a bowl; cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap. Chill. Remove plastic wrap; spoon 2/3 cup pudding into each of 6 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 2 teaspoons crushed malted milk ball candies. Yield: 6 servings.

Posted by astraea at 12:38 AM

deep chocolate brownies w/nibs

As promised to various folks here is the recipe for the brownie recipe i came up with for COPIA. This is the recipe that went to the semi finals. and honestly i think it should have won, but you know how it goes. back to the drawing board next year a new recipe will be had.

This brownie is not for the faint of heart or the person who would prefer a light or milk chocolate brownie. This recipe is a marriage of many years baking, my love of chocolate and the search for the elusive “perfect” brownie. It is a dark chocolate brownie that is not overly sweet, and yet not bitter either, leaving room to appreciate the quality of the chocolate. It goes well with ice cream and could easily be topped with powdered sugar or cinnamon to add a different twist. It is cakey and yet not too dry, the nibs add a twist that should make everyone happy. These brownies are even better after having sat for a day, give it a try if you can wait.

A note on Cacao Nibs:
Cacao Nibs are perfectly roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits. They are the essence of chocolate. Nibs add crunchiness and subtle chocolate flavor to baked goods and savory dishes. They are a great substitute for roasted nuts or chocolate chips, without added sweetness.

Ingredients:

6 ounces quality unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cacao nibs
4 extra large eggs
½ teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking pan.

Melt chocolate and butter in top of a double boiler. When chocolate and butter mixture is melted, remove from heat, stir in the nibs and let cool.

Beat eggs and salt until fluffy, add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat until frothy and well mixed.

Gently fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and gently fold until just blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 20-30 minutes let cool completely before cutting.
Makes approximately 24 brownies.

Posted by karine at 02:26 PM

Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie

* For the Lactose Intolerant *

I modified this Cooking Light Dec 2004 recipe to be lactose intolerant friendly. Why should dairy-digesters have all the holiday cheesecake fun?

(Barely-Dairy) Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie
Crust:
1 pre-made graham cracker crust
-or-
32 low fat graham crackers (8 cracker sheets)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy margerine, melted
1 large white egg (or equiv. egg substitute)
Cooking Spray

Filling
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 cup (8 oz) Toffutti non-dairy cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Silk Soy Egg Nog
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

If you don't leverage a pre-made crust (which I'm a big fan of), you'll need to prepare the crust. Place crackers in the food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, soy margerine, and 1 egg white; pulse until just moist. Press crumb mixture into a cooking-spray coated 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes; cool on a rack for 15.

Reduce oven temp to 325. Prepare the filling: spoon yogurt into several layers of paper towels and spread to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels and let stand 5 minutes. (Why, you ask? I think it's to absorb all extra liquid off the yogurt.) Scrape yogurt into bowl using a rubber spatula. Place 'cream cheese' and vanilla in a fresh bowl, beat with mixer at a medium speed until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine sugar, flour, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to cheese mixture and beat until combined. Add yogurt to cheese mixture; add egg nog. Beat at low speed until just combined.

Beat 2 egg whites with a mixer at meduim speed until soft peaks form. Add 2 tabelspoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gentle fold the egg whites into the eggnog mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack. Chill overnight.

The recipe I massaged this from also described a Bourbon Cream whipped topping, but I think the pie stands on its own with just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. I'm a huge eggnog-a-holic, and the pie this recipe yields could have even been more 'noggie' for me and I would have been happy - but it's a damn fine holiday pie in it's own right, and a great lactose-free alternative for folks who can't stomach the cow. Save this recipe for next year when the nog starts showing up in your local dairy case.

Posted by rebecca at 08:44 PM

patrick's birthday cake

i made a chocolate cake with mascarpone and toasted almond frosting. the original recipe was found on epicurious (i have posted the original chocolate cake with mascarpone and praline recipe). the one i made i tweaked a bit.

i doubled the recipe and instead of a single layer cake with topping, i filled and topped it. i used toasted sliced almonds and didn't have any of the praline.
i added lemond zest to the mascarpone. oh and i put a little shaved chocolate on the top as well.

the cake was a dense chcolate that reminded me of pudding. if you are in need of a birthday cake you should give this one a try.

CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH MASCARPONE AND PRALINE

For praline
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

For cake
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup) at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make praline:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a baking pan toast nuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until almonds are lightly colored and hazelnut skins are blistered. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove any loose hazelnut skins (do not worry about skins that do not come off) and cool completely.

Line a baking sheet with foil. In a small heavy saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals that cling to side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until it begins to turn golden. Swirl pan until syrup is deep golden and remove from heat. Stir in nuts and pour praline onto baking sheet, spreading evenly. Cool praline completely and break into pieces. Transfer praline to a sealable plastic bag and with a rolling pin coarsely crush.

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 300°F. Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan (at least 2 inches deep) and line bottom with wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pan with flour, knocking out excess.

Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan combine cocoa powder, butter, oil, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until smooth, and remove pan from heat. Add chocolate and sugar, whisking until smooth, and transfer to a bowl. Cool chocolate mixture completely and whisk in egg. Sift flour and baking powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Whisk in buttermilk and pour batter into cake pan, spreading evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and invert cake onto rack. Discard paper. Cool cake completely and transfer to a plate. In a bowl stir together mascarpone and sugar. Spread mixture over top of cake and generously sprinkle with praline.

Posted by karine at 11:26 PM

cyprus sorbet
cypressweb.jpgThis is a versatile sorbet - it's not very sweet, and the champagne lends festivity to any dinner party. I served it as a palate cleanser between courses at the L-cubed tapas dinner, and offered it for dessert at Thanksgiving this year. It's simple to make, and the alcohol content prevents it from turning into a solid sorbet-cube in the freezer. Perhaps add scoop at the bottom of your champagne at midnight on New Year's Eve?

Definitely tailor this to the size of your ice cream maker or cake pan.

1 part grapefruit juice (The fresher, more organic, and tastier, the better. I often use Odwalla's to good effect.)
1 part decent champagne (I generally use a basic Domaine Chandon - either the Brut Classic or the Blanc de Noirs.)
A shot or two of Campari

Combine grapefruit juice and champagne. Add it to your ice cream maker, and start it running. Start dropping in Campari - this will add a little depth, and turn the sorbet a brilliant pink color. You want at least a generous shot for each 3-4 cups of grapefruit-champagne mixer. Freeze according to instructions.

I have a basic Cuisinart freezer-bowl model; I use 2 cups of champagne + 2 cups of grapefruit juice, and a shot and a half of Campari.

You could also make a granita with this recipe - Put the mix of all three ingredients in a glass cake pan, and stick it in the freezer. Every half-hour or so, break up the ice crystals with a fork, and continue freezing until you have a fluffy, snowcone-like texture.

Posted by shock at 10:02 AM

Guinness-Ginger Spice Cake

cakeweb.jpg
I've made this cake a few times, sometimes adding in chocolate, sometimes running the recipe as printed in Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. Most recently, I served it as finger food at our tree-trimming party . Interestingly, it's so rich that even when there's no chocolate, everyone is sure there's some in there! I like to serve it with an apricot glaze; the book also recommends a ginger ice cream, which I think would also be spectacular.

In most gingerbread recipes, the molassess is cooked off with water or coffee. As Claudia Fleming points out, the most interesting thing about this recipe is that Guinness Stout replaces the water or coffee.

You can definitely play around with the spice levels in this cake - it's pretty forgiving. I definitely reccommend that you keep the fresh ginger for an extra zing. She calls for a loaf pan in her recipe; I usually bake this in a 9" round cake pan. If you want it to have a bit of chocolate, replace a half cup of the flour with dutch-process cocoa powder.

For my apricot glaze - beat equal parts powdered sugar and apricot butter in a mixer until it's the consistency of slow honey & tastes sweet and tart. (If you want to store extras, keep it in the fridge and warm gently over low heat before glazing your cake.) For a big party, it slices into bite-sized cubes nicely.

1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup molasses
1/2 tbsp baking soda
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil (I've used peanut oil to good effect, too.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp grated, peeled fresh gingerroot

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter your pan. Line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment. Flour the pan. Alternately, butter & flour a 6-cup Bundt pan.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the stout and molasses and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the baking soda. Allow to sit until the foam dissipates.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs and both sugars. Whisk in the oil.

4. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg & cardamom.

5. Combine the stout mixture with the egg mixture, then whisk this liquid into the flour mixture, half at a time. Add the fresh ginger and stir to combine.

6. Pour the batter into the laof pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Do not open the oven until the gingerbread is almost done or the center may fall slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Posted by shock at 07:33 AM

pink-lady & cranberry crumble

This apple & cranberry crumble I served at Thanksgiving 2004 was intended to be Patrick Farley's crumble - but I couldn't leave well enough alone & changed it all about. This recipe is wheat-free & smelled just heavenly while it was baking. It almost didn't make it down to the dessert-holding room on Thursday; William and I were ready to devour it on the spot when we took it out of the oven.

8 medium pink lady apples (or other low-juice good-for-baking-apple)
8-12 oz frresh cranberries
1/2 cup calvados
3-6 Tbsp sugar (taste an apple and a cranberry, and sugar to taste.)
1 Tbsp corn starch

1/2 - 3/4 cup butter, cold & cut into pieces
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
a bit of cinnamon

Oven at 375F.
Peel and cut the apples into chunks. Toss 'em in a mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, sugar, calvados, and cornstarch. Toss well to mix. I baked mine in a big souffle dish. The apples will sink when you cook them, so you want enough filling that the dish is a bit overfull.

Put 1/2 cup of the butter, the oat bran, sugar, walnuts and cinnamon into a food processor. Pulse to combine and grind the walnuts. The mixture should look like wet sand rising through the food processor. If it's too clumped, add more oat bran and walnuts. If it's too dry, add more butter.

Press the topping into the top of the crumble. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm, with ice cream.

Posted by shock at 06:52 AM

gingersnaps

Inspired by meriko's latest fall-y confection, I dug out a recipe for gingersnaps that to me taste like the season: warm and spicy, sweet and peppery.

Gingersnaps
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Granulated white sugar or coarse white sugar for dusting the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.

Form the dough into 1 inch balls, 2 inches apart, on the baking sheets. Place on the baking sheet and, with the bottom of a glass that has been lightly dusted with flour, flatten the cookies slightly. Sprinkle the cookies with granulated white sugar. Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies feel dry and firm on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Posted by rebecca at 01:40 PM

hazelnut-coriander cake
godzillacakeflog.jpg.... aka, Mo & Patrick's wedding cake.

This ia hazelnut-coriander layer cake, with praline ganache filling and a chocolate glaze over the top. When you get the glaze exactly right, it almost looks like a fondant - so smooth and shiny. The goal was to get a moist cake with the tiniest hint of spice - one you can detect, but not identify. The cake was adapted from the Hazelnut Torte in Claudia Fleming's The Last Course (and in turn, hers was adapted from Lindsey Shere's almond torte). (Truthfully, I just added the coriander. The rest of the recipe is hers.) The ganache and the glaze are from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible.

For each layer of the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks unsalted butter)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
8 oz unsweetened hazelnut paste (I ordered mine from Sugarcraft. Search for filbert paste or praline paste.)
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground coriander

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9" cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and then butter the paper and flour the entire pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and smooth. Add the hazelnut paste and beat until just incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and coriander. Sift a third of it into the wet ingredients and gently fold to combine. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients in two additions, folding gently after each.

3. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted in the center. The torte should be puffy in the center ans should spring back when lightly pressed.

4. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before serving.

my notes: in my convection oven, I baked 2 layers for 45 minutes at 300. You can do two layers at once in a Kitchenaid if you're careful, but you run the risk of different layer heights that way.

Whipped Praline Ganache
Makes enough to fill a 9" 2 layer cake, with some left over.
MY NOTE: MAKE SURE THE CAKES ARE REALLY, TRULY, ALL-THE-WAY COOL BEFORE YOU FILL THEM.

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% Scharffenberger.)
2 liquid cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup hazelnut paste

Break the choclate into pieces and process ina food processer until very fine. Add the hazelnut paste, and process until combined.

Heat the cream to the boiling point, and with the motor running, pour it through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process a few seconds until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl of an electric mixer and refrigerate until cold, stirring once or twice. Don't let it get too cold, or it will be too stiff to incorporate air.

Add the vanilla and beat the mixture just until very soft peaks form when the beater is raised. It will continue to thicken after a few minutes at room temperature.

If the mixture gets overbeaten and grainy, it can be resotred by remelting, chilling, and rebeating.

Chocolate Cream Glaze
Makes 2 full cups, enough to glaze a 1-layer 9" cake (with some leftover).
Note: I found I needed 1.5x the recipe to glaze a 2 layer 9" cake.

9oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 7oz 60% Scharffenberger with 2oz of their milk chocolate)
1 liquid cup heavy cream

To prepare cake for glazing: brush all crumbs from the surface and place on a cardboard round the same size as the cake. Suspend the cake on a rack set on a baking sheet to catch the exceess glaze. It's best to have enough glaze to cover with one application: touch-ups don't produce as flawless a surface. (Trust her on this one.)

To prepare the glaze: Break the chocolate into pieces and process in a food processor until very fine. Remove the chocolate to a small heavy saucepan.

Heat the cream to the boiling point and pour three quarters of it over the chocolate. Cover for five minutes to allow chocolate to melt. Gently stir together until smooth, trying not to create air bubbles. Pass through a fine strainer, and allow to cool until just tepid.

Check for consistency: At a tepid temperature a small amount of glaze should mound a bit when dropped from a spoon before smoothly disappearing. If the glaze is too thick and the mound remains on the surface or if the glaze seems curdled, add some of the remaining warm cream by the teaspoon. If the glaze is too thin, gently stir in a small amount of melted chocolate. When the consistency is correct, use at once or store and reheat.

The glaze should be poured onto the center of the cake, allowing the excess to flow down the sides. Smooth quickly and evenly with a large metal spatula, moving it lightly back and forth across the top until smooth.

Allow the cake to set for at least 3 hours at room temperature. Don't refridgerate.

Posted by shock at 10:25 AM

(rekeyed) lime pie

It was a warm Sacramento afternoon. The event? A six year old's birthday. The cake ala Spiderman. The adults, making their own party out of the occasion, created a Southern BBQ style potluck. I chose to bring the dessert.

I think I'm a baker at heart. Key lime pies are inherently easy recipes, but I looked forward to making this one for days. I planned for it. Made it 2 days early for logistical reasons. Bought a hand-mixer that I lost in our last move. Bought spring form pans I've always wanted. Actually shied from the $25 non-stick 9" pan and settled on buying 2 for $15. Until I'm convinced by others, or by experience, that you need to shell out that much for a spring-form, I'll stick with the cheap ones.

I beat egg whites until they formed soft peaks, and smiled. How fast! How easy! I must make a merengue sometime soon!

Then I completed what turned out to be a black-hole-cave-in-so-sour/sweet-your eyes cross Key Lime Pie that prompted a comment, "Wow. This thing's so good it must have been rekeyed!" Geeky, but still a compliment.

(Key) Lime Pie

I followed this recipe to the letter from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. Love her.
Suggestion: 9" spring form pan

for the crust:

3/4 c plus 2 T (or 7 ounces graham crackers)
scant 1/4 cup softened, unsalted butter
(you can add 1T of cocoa powder to make a chocolate variety, but she stresses avoiding using chocolate graham crackers cuz they're hard to cut after baking)

for the filling:

5 large egg yolks
14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
zest of 3 limes (I had to buy a zester, too! always wanted one)
1/2 c plus 2 T lime juice (of 4-5 limes, I found out)
3 large egg whites

--Preheat oven to 325, and put in a baking sheet
--Mash the graham crackers and butter together and press into the pan evenly, going a little up the sides, then chill while you make filling (lament: don't have a food processor as suggested, so resorted to the old stand-by of plastic sealable back and a rolling pin, then mashing butter in by hand)
--beat egg yolks until thick, then add condensed milk, grated zest, and lime juice.
--whisk egg whites separately until soft peaks form, then fold gently into yolk goo
--pour into the pan and cook for 25 minutes (ended up being 30 in my oven), or until filling is firm. It puffs a little, then falls during cooling - hey, as Nigella puts it, "that's the deal".
--cool on rack before unmolding, and chill well

serves 6-8

Posted by adam at 10:02 AM

tofu cheesecake

A dreamy version of a classic New York-style cheesecake. Touched with lemon, it contains far less cholesterol than conventional cheesecake, without sacrificing any taste or creaminess. Recipe from The Joy of Soy by Dana Jacobi (Prima Health; 1996).

World's Creamiest Tofu Cheesecake
crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons low sodium vegatable spread

filling
16 oz. soft silken tofu
16 oz. tofu cream cheese
3/4 cup unbleached cane sugar
2 eggs
4 tablesppons grated lemon zest
2 tablesppons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or corn starch)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Prepare the crust: (Note: if you purchased a pre-made crust you can pop the crust in the 'fridge to chill, skip the crust-making step and go straight to making the filling.) In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with the ground almonds and sugar. With a fork, blend the veggie-spread into the mixture until it clings together when you press a teaspoon of it between your fingers. Turn half the mixture into a 7-inch springform pan. With your fingers or the back of a spoon, spread and pat the crust until it covers the bottom of the pan. Spoon the remaining crust mixture around the sides of the pan with your fingers. Pat and press the crust up the sides of the pan tot a height of about 2 inches, leaving it thicker around the bottom edge where the sides and bottom of the pan meet. Make the crust thinner around the top edge. Set it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Prepare the filling: Puree the tofu in a food processor. Add the cream cheese and process to blend. Add the suagr and eggs and process to incorporate them completely. Blend in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend in the arrowroot.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust, filling it to within 1/2 inch of the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake will be lightly browned around the edges, and should jiggle slightly in the center. Turn off the heat but leave the cake sitting in the oven for another 60 minutes. The top of the warm cake should be lightly golden-browned and just soft to the touch in the center. Set the cake on a rack and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the cake with foil and refrigerate in the pan overnight before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Posted by rebecca at 11:36 AM

brownie cheesecake

this is a very fudgy cheesecake and I am told it is good in a vanilla crust, but have only tried it in a chocolate crust.

Crust

1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (~30 cookies or chocolate cookies)
1 Tablespoon sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick ) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnites or pecans

Cake

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup hot very strong brewed coffee
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature

1. preheat the oven to 350F
2. for the crust, place he wafer crumbs, sugar, butter and nuts in a small bowl and toss them together with a fork. press the mixture over the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan and bake for 10 minutes. remove it from the oven and cool.
3. reduce th oven heat to 300F and place a roasting pan or baking dish filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven to create moisture.
4. for the cake filling, melt the chocolate in the coffe in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water.
5. cream the cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and flyffy, about 2 minutes. stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.
6. add the eggs and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. scrape the bowl and beat on medium speed 30 seconds longer
7. add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat on mdium speed for 15 seconds. scrape the bowland then mix until the batter is smooth and uniform in color, about 10 more seconds.
8. pour the filling over the crust and bake the cake on the cetner oven rack until it is set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes.
9. allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate overnight.

the cake might sink and/or crack, have some whip cream on hand to top it with . this will hide the imprefections.

Posted by karine at 09:15 PM

chocolate crackle cookies

This is not a cookie for someone seeking immediate gratification in the form of a 15-minutes-from-scratch-to-baked-cookie sort of recipe. This is not your average chocolate cookie; this cookie is chocolate perfection. It's a weekend in Aspen cookie, it's shoppping in Barney's cookie; this cookie ain't no Safeway Special. It feels like a high maintenence cookie... and is in fact a Martha recipe! (Damn her to hell for setting the bar so high and delivering!)

The recipe produces 4 portions of dough that can be popped in the fridge and baked over several days. The result? Dangerously good chocolate cookies which are gooey on the inside; firm, crackled, and dusted with confectioners sugar on the outside.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, corsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup confectioners sugar

Melt chocolate on a heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double broiler, over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Into a small bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer beat butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix on low speed until combined. Divide dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in refridgerator until firm (at least 2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets w/parchement paper (or use a SilPat). On a surface dusted with confectioner's sugar, use your hands to roll each portion of the dough into a log 16 inches in length and about an inch in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and return to the refridgerator to chill (at least 30 minutes). Cut each log into 1-inch pieces and toss in confectioner's sugar a few at a time, rolling to completely cover each ball. Place cookies on sheets 2 inches apart. bake until cookies have flattened and sugar splits (12-15 minutes).

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week... if you don't eat them all first! Many thanks to my husband for test-driving this recipe for me!

Makes about 5 dozen.

Posted by rebecca at 11:15 AM

chocolate babycakes -- a little bit of heaven

upon reflection of my posts it looks like all i make are desserts. for some reason i never think of adding my savory dishes. i will have to work on this. in the meantime, here is another amazing recipe. these little cupcakes are nearly flourless. they are so rich and in a small bite size portion. they resemble a souffle.

it was time to give nigella lawson a bit of a rest, all of her cupcakes were beginning to taste the same, so i moved to my next favorite dessert book, Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed Jam-Filled Butter-Rich No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book, Judy Rosenberg. Her other book; Rosie's Bakery All Butter Fresh Cream Sugar Packed No Holds Barred Baking Book, is a kitchen must.

I have found that the times judy uses for mixing seem to be very off.
On to the cupcakes.

The Cake
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
9 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons raspberry preserves

The Glaze

6 Tablespoonds heavy (whipping) cream
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

The Topping

24 fresh raspberries

1. preheat the oven to 325F, grease 24 mini cups with butter

2. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler places over simmering heat. Remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

3. with the electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter, 5 tablepoons of the sugar, and the vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy, 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium speed until blended, 30 seconds, stopping the mixer once to scrape the bowl.

5. add the flour on medium-low speed and blend for 15 seconds, stopping the mixer once to scrape the bowl. then add the melted chocolate on medium speed and blend for 15 seconds, stopping the mixer once to scrape the bowl.

6. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl on medium speed until foamy, 20 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, beating until the whites form firm but not dry peaks, about 45 seconds.

7. Using a rubber spatula, fold one third of the whites into the batter to loosen it. Then gently fold in the remaining whites.

8. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter. then place a generous 1/4 teaspoon of the preserves in the center of the batter, and spoon enough batter over the preserves to just fill the muffin cup.

9. bake the babycakes until they set, about 15 minutes. cool them completely in the pan.

10. meanwhile, prepare the glaze (or see step 12): heat the cream in a small saucepan to the boiling point. remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. when the chocolate is melted, stir with a whisk until shiny and smooth, about 5 seconds. transfer the glaze to a small deep bowl.

11. Dip the top of each babycake into the glaze so it is well covered. place the cakes on wire racks, and garnish the top of each with a whole raspberry. allow to set for 3 hours before serving, or place them in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours to speed the process.

12. serve the babycakes that day or store overnight, uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator. if you are making them more than 2 days ahead of time, do not frost them; freeze the unfrosted cakes in an airtight plastic container with plastic wrap, parchment paper, or waxed paper between layers, for up to two weeks. Bring them to room temperature for glazing on serving day or the day before.

Makes about 24 babycakes

Posted by karine at 08:45 PM

vegan hot fudge sauce!

This is a fantastic fudge sauce, and if you use the right chocolate, it's vegan. It's very rich, and not terribly sweet. It hardens up like a ganache as it cools or hits ice cream; i think it would be fantastic as a frosting for Beca's Mexican Brownies. It's fast to whip up, and will keep in your fridge for months - enabling you to throw together an impressive dessert in minutes when friends drop by for dinner. (As David and Andy did last night - it was lovely!) A small side bonus - because it's not too sweet, it pairs nicely with dessert wine. We tried it last night with a Navarro late-harvest white reisling.

I use Scharffenberger chocolate to make this sauce. It's "Nancy Silverton's Definitive Hot Fudge Sauce" from The Best American Recipes 1999.

7.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp water
1/2 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. instant coffee granules
3 tbsp cognac or brandy

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a large stainless steel bowl (or the top of a double boiler) set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Be sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Turn off the heat and keep warm over warm water until ready to use.

Combine the water, corn syrup, cocoa powder, sugar, and instant coffee in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to dissolve the cocoa powder and sugar and to prevent scorching.

Whisk in the melted chocolate. Boil the hot fudge for a few minutes to reduce it to the consistency you like; it should be quite viscous and the surface should have a glossy shine. Cool slightly, then beat in the cognac or brandee.

Store the sauce in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator and reheat before serving. It will keep for several months.

Posted by shock at 06:26 PM

mexican chocolate brownies

Bit by the baking bug yesterday and inspired by Nigella's recipe posted by Karine earlier this week, I went to my kitchen determined to bake some brownies... Only to figure out I lacked the bittersweet chocolate required to execute Nigella's recipe as posted.

So I improvised! I MacGuyvered the brownies together using what was available in my pantry: namely, several boxes of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate that were purchased at $.25 a piece last year on sale, and some margerine from the 'fridge. The result? Less buttery, less fudgy, less bitter-chocolatey, more flavorful: I think I might have made my ideal brownie.

Rebecca's Mexican Chocolate Brownies

note: As this was a first run, all measurements are approximated.

1 1/3 cups margerine
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9 oz (3 disks) Mexican Chocolate
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1 1/4 cups egg 'product'
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Spray/grease one 9" square pan thoroughly.

Melt margerine and chocolates together in a large heavy-based saucepan. Beat eggs with vanilla and sugar. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

After chocolate-margerine mixture has melted and cooled a little, beat in eggs and sugar. Add flour and continue on low speed until mixed. Scrape out of the saucepan into the greased pan.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. When it's ready, the top should be baked evenly to a just-done shiney firm crust; test with a toothpick to confirm the borwnies are done (i.e. toothpick when inserted and removed should come out clean).

Cool brownies, then cut into 1 1/2" to 2 inch squares.

These firm, flavorful, cake-like brownies would be excellent candidates for a nice sour-cream chocolate frosting or ganache and served with milk or coffee. (After all my acrobatics in the kitchen, I was too tired to work out a good vegan option for the frosting and opted to just sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top.)

Feedback welcome!

Posted by rebecca at 12:41 PM

one of the best brownies

I wasn't going to post this recipe since it is such a basic brownie recipe. However, Tim and Heather popped in lastnight and I fed them some of the brownies, and Heather said I should post the recipe.

I am on a huge "How to be a Domestic Goddess" cooking kick. The title on this recipe is simply Brownies. Nigella talks about putting them out on a plate with a candle in each piece and serving it instead of a birthday cake. Since "I'd much rather eat a brownie than a piece of birthday cake anyday".

They are very basic, nearly fudge like. I had thought I had found the perfect fudge brownie in one that Heather brought home from Meriko about a year ago. Not sure where it came from. Nigella's brownie rocks my world.

I have yet to try it with lining the pan as suggested, instead I just butter it well, and so far it has worked out. I have also made it with no nuts and with thin sliced almonds, absolutely wonderful.

1 2/3 cups soft unsalted butter
13 ounces best bittersweet chocolate
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups chopped walnuts

pan measuring approximately 13 x 9 2 1/2 inches

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line your brownie pan- I think it's worth lining the sides as well as the base with foil or parchment.

melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. in a bowl or large wide-mouthed measuring cup, beat the eggs with vanilla and sugar. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

when the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour. beat to combine smoothly and then scrape our of the saucepan into the lined pan.

bake for about 25 minutes. when it's ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. and even with such a big batch you do need to keep alert, keep checking.

makes a maximum of 48... the pieces do not need to be large. It is very very rich.


Variations: Dried cherries, peanuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, shredded coconut, white chocolate chips... so many options.

Posted by karine at 07:33 PM

burnt-butter brown-sugar cupcakes

What better way to spend a sunday afternoon then baking.
Shari and I were just settling in to watch 'the big game' when there
came a knock on the door, and heather appeared. Now I really was
inspired to bake something. I handed Shari 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and asked her to pick out a cupcake recipe. She chose the 'burnt-butter brown-sugar cupcakes' , sounds very strange, but they taste really good.

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 Tablespoons milk

12-cup muffin pan lines with 12 paper baking cups

Preheat the oven to 400F and then get on with burning your butter. Put it in a small saucepan on medium heat, stirring all the time until it turns dark golden color. Take the pan off the heat and strain the butter into a bowl or cup, as it will have made a sediment. In other words, this is like clarified butter, but with a smokey note. Let the butter solidify again but don't put it in the refrigerator; you need it to remain soft for the cupcakes. This shouldn't take long, except in hot weather, in which case leave the preheating of the oven till after the butter's been burnt.

When the butter is solid but still soft, put all the cake ingredients except the milk in a food processor and blitz to a smooth batter. As normal, add the milk down the funnel, pulsing sparingly to form a soft, dropping mixture.

Divide among the paper cups, and cook for 15-20 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking get on with the icing.

1/2 cups ples 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
12/3 to 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons milk

It's the same procedure for the butter-- burn, strain, solidify -- then beat it with half the sugar or enough to make it stiff. Add tablespoons of milk and the remaining sugar alternately to reach a good consistency, and finally the vanilla.

While the icing's still soft, smear messily over the cooled and waiting cupcakes.


I was unable to find cheese cloth to strain the butter but found that the sediment was not a big issue. Additionally, I had problems with the butter becoming solid again, so I just waited until it had cooled and then threw it in. I used my kitchen aid and not a food processor and all came out well. There was more icing then the little cakes could hold, but it was all really good.

A very unusual flavor but quite pleasing... The cake is very light, crisp on the edges and buttery... hmm maybe the remainders will be today's breakfast.

Posted by karine at 10:55 AM

chocolate chunk cookies

This morning i was on a mission - to make cookies for my granddad, Tom Raison. He's in the hospital, and he loves to eat, adores dessert, and chocolate chip cookies are about at the top of his list. I was determined to bring him some that were freshly made today.

I've been on another mission to thoroughly evaluate my copy of How to be a Domestic Goddess so that i can have a proper opinion - but for such a thoroughly American cookie, i had to turn elsewhere - and David Lebovitz didn't let me down. This recipe is from Room for Dessert. Mr. Lebovitz has the clever suggestion of rolling your batch of dough into four logs, and freezing a few of them, so you're always ready to slice a few cookies off the end and bake them for friends who have stopped by to say hi. I have three logs now, just waiting. ;)

I especially like that this recipe turns out cookies that aren't too sweet. It's not that they aren't dessert - they're just not tooth-achingly sweet. Try them!

Makes about 50 cookies.

2 cups nuts, toasted (i omitted these - i hate nuts in my cookies.)
1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2.5 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
14 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (about 3 cups)

1. Coarsely chop the nuts. Cream the butter with the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla. If you use an electric mixer, it will take about 1 minute. [note from mko: If you use cold butter and a KitchenAid, it will take about 3 minutes!] Stop the mixer once during beating to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula so all the butter gets incorperated.

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating until thoroughly mixed.

3. Mix together the flour and baking soda and stir into the creamed butter and sugar. Stir in the nuts and chocolate.

4. Transfer the cookie dough to a lightly floured surface, divide it in four, and use your hands to roll each piece of dough into a log about 9 inches long. Wrap the logs in plastic rwap and refrigerate until firm, about one hour. The dough can also be frozen at this point for up to 2 months.

5. To bake the cookies, position the oven racks in the center and upper part of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Slice each log into 3/4-inch-thick slices and place the cookies on parchment-covered [note: i use silpats!] baking sheets, 3 inches apart. If any unbaked cookies fall apart, just push them back together with your hands. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets and switching racks midway through baking. When done, the cookies should be very lightly colored in the center, and just barely baked - if you like chocolate chip cookies chewy.

Posted by shock at 06:46 PM

RICOTTA, MASCARPONE, CHOCOLATE, ORANGE TART

I made this easy tart for the Bornschlegel xmas festivities. We kept wanting to call it a cheesecake, for obvious reasons (like the length of the above title), but it's quite a bit lighter than a typical cheesecake because of the egg whites.

The recipe is from a Jamie Oliver cookbook, transcribed while in the Amsterdam airport bookstore on a 5-hour layover, so the wording is mine, not his.

Ricotta/Mascarpone/Chocolate/Orange Tart

Prepare and bake a tart shell. I didn't copy JO's recipe since I used meriko's pate sucree recipe (pastry scares me but I've successfully used that one before). I think a graham cracker-type crust would also be good. Underbake it a wee bit since it will get baked again.

Preheat oven to 325.

Filling:
9 oz. ricotta cheese
9 oz. mascarpone cheese
4.5 oz. confectioner's (powdered) sugar
grated zest of 3 oranges
seeds from 2 vanilla pods
2 eggs, separated

Topping
3.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped


Combine everything except the egg whites and chocolate in a mixing bowl, whip until smooth and shiny. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the filling. Pour the filling into the tart shell, then sprinkle the chocolate on top.

[The recipe called for making an extra crust to lattice on top, but that sounded like too much work for my taste, and overkill besides. If you like the idea of overkill, brush the lattice top with beaten egg and dust with powdered suger.]

Bake 40-45 minutes (light to medium brown...I believe it also looked fairly well set but don't quite remember, sorry).

notes:
The odd amounts are because Oliver's a Brit and when listed in grams they were nice neat measurements.

I used 8 oz. of each cheese since the mascarpone came in that size tub.

I used one real vanilla pod plus some vanilla extract since I'm a cheapskate.

Posted by andrea at 09:58 PM

Ginger Shortbread

Ginger Shortbread
The recipe is from Rosie's Bakery. Chocolate Packed, Jam Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred, Cookie Book, Judy Rosenberg

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon (lightly packed) light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons ground ginger
1 cup coursely chopped candied ginger (chopped by hand)

1. sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl, and set aside

2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, creamthe butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and ground ginger together in a medium-sized mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice during the process to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the mixture is fluffy again about 45 seconds. Scrape the bowl.

4. Remove the dough from teh bowl and place it on a work surface. Work the candied ginger into the dough with your hands

5. Divide the dough in half. Place two 16-inch lengths of waxed paper or plastic wrap on a work surface. Shape each half of the dough into a rough log, about 10 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and place it along one long side of the paper. Roll the dough up in the pape, and twist the ends like a hard-candy wrapper. Refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours.

6. Remove the dough from teh refrigerator. Using your hands, roll the wrapped dough gently back and forth on the work surface to smooth out the the logs. Refrigerate again for 4 to 6 hours.

7. Fifteen minutes before baking preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, or leave them ungreased.

8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the logs, and cut them into slices that are a generous 1/3 inch thick.

9. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, and bake until they are golden and firm to the touch. About 28 ro 30 minutes ( to test for doneness, remove a cookied from the oven and cut in half. There should be no doughy stip in the center) Cool the cookies on the sheets.

10. Store the cookies in an airtight contrainer at room temperature for a day or two if you think you will be snacking on them. After that, store the container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. ring cookies to room temperature before eating.
makes about 60 cookies.

I removed steps 5-10 and instead too the dough and packed it into an 8x8 glass pan and baked it for 30 minutes. They might be slightly underdone, but they are amazing. So much ginger in such a little package. Oh the only problem I came across in baking it in the pan was that when I went to cut the cookies they were uneven due to the ginger chunks.

Posted by karine at 10:00 AM

molasses-ginger cookies

These are tasty, chewy, spicy, molasses-ey cookies. They don't pack the ginger punch that my ginger cookies do, but that's ok - this is a different monster. I first made these last year; Heather passed on this recipe from Nola. My friends at work argue about whether these or the triple-chocolate cookies are better. Me, i like them both.

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour

Mix in order given. Roll into balls the size of a quarter and roll in granualated sugar. Place dough on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 9-11 min.

I alternate position from bottom to middle of the oven half way through and slam the cookie sheet down so they're heavier. It makes a satisfying loud noise and releases tension. This must be the variable factor in it all - how hard and what angle I slam the cookie sheets.

Notes: The original recipe called for margarine, but you know me - i replaced it with butter. The slamming, as noted, is good fun - and the cookies are different when you don't. Cook a little shorter if you want them chewier, and a little longer if you want them crispy.

Posted by shock at 09:52 AM

triple chocolate cookies

I've been making these during the holidays for the last few years - everyone always loves them! They're rich without being too heavy. I extracted the cookie from a Food and Wine recipe for Triple chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies... I tried them with the filling a few times, and it never comes out quite right. The cookies on their own are just stunning, so they stand on their own.

Makes about 3.5 dozen cookies.
1c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably dutch process
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (i usually use sharffenberger)
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1.5c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch chunks (i have often used callebaut chips for this purpose)

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate with the butter over low heat. Scrape the melted chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool. Stir in the granulated sugar and vanilla until blended, then mix in the eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms, then fold in the milk chocolate.

3. Roll slightly rounded teaspoon of the dough into 3/4 inch balls. Arrange the balls 2 inches apart on th eprepared baking sheets and flatten them slightly. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, or until firm outside but still soft in the center; rotate the baking sheets halfway through. Slide the cookies onto wire racks to cool.

Notes from meriko: i cook mine around 9-10 minutes, and i use silpats or non-stick cookie sheets to good effect to replace the parchment paper. I often use semi-sweet chocolate instead of milk for the chips, and noone complains. And yep, the dough will be pretty sticky - just make sure you roll it in your palms, and wash your hands before you do your intra-tray-bake tasks.

Posted by shock at 09:42 AM

gingerbread tiles

Hungry for some new holiday dessert options, I tried a new recipe out of the latest issue of San Francisco magazine for Glazed Gingerbread Tiles. This recipe was contributed by the folks who run Tartine Bakery - the one down the street on Guerrero that's been packed since it opened a couple months ago! My husband tasted the fruits of my efforts and declared the recipe 'a new family favorite.' The cookies were spicy, rich, and dense without being belly-bustin heavy.

Glazed Gingerbread Tiles
3 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses

glaze
1/4 cup cool water
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Combine the flour, cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter until smooth, add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the egg and beat untill combined. With mixer running, pour in the molasses and beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half, shape into flat squares, and wrap in plasticwrap. Refrigerate until cool, about an hour. Heat oven to 350F. Place dough on parchement-covered baking sheet and roll it out with a patterned rolling pin until its approximately 1/3 inch thick. Bake the dough until it's no longer shiny - about 8-10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

To make the glaze: Wisk the water and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Brush the warm cookies with the glaze. When cool, cut the cookies into 3-by-4 inch pieces.

Posted by rebecca at 09:10 AM

blueberry and lemon tart

As i mention in the pate sucree entry, this is one of my favorite desserts to make. I'm not great with dessert - i usually defer to Carol on that front - so having a few in my repertoire that are clear winners is important. I most recently made this for anne & Dave's 2002 Thanksgiving feast; of the three pastries i brought, this is the one that was almost gone at the end of the night. (We made it through half of the mini-not-so-key-lime pies, and about half of the pumpkin-bourbon pie with pecan streusel.) You'll need to make up a tart shell - i recommend the one in the pate sucree entry. Both recipes are from Chez Panisse Fruits.

I have only made this during the summer, and with the veeeeery last of the blueberries from summer. I haven't tried it with frozen ones; if anyone does, let me know how it works out!

Lemon Curd
Grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
3 tbsp water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
3 whole eggs
3 yolks

1 prebaked 11" pate sucree tart shell

Blueberry Topping
3 cups blueberries
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp water

To make the lemon curd, put the lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sugar, butter, and salt into a 1-quart heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Briefly whisk the eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl. Drizzle the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking all the time, then scrape the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Strain the curt through a fine-mesh sieve and pour, still warm, into the prebaked tart shell. Spread evenly.

To make the blueberry topping, put 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries into a small saucepan with the sugar and water. Cook about fivec minutes over medium heat, stirring ans smashing up the berries until they turn into thick jam. Forlk the reamining blueberries into the jam, keeping them whole, and heat for aboutg 30 seconds, just enough to warm them slightly. Spoon the topping evenly over the lemon curd in the tart shell. Let the tart cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 11-inch tart

note: i used an extra lemon for juice when i made this; and the lemon zest was fine enough that i didn't strain it out, and noone (including me) noticed it in the final tart.

Posted by shock at 11:06 AM

Jenny's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Karine asked for chocolate chip cookie recipes -- My classmate Jenny brought these in for a potluck party at school, and the entire class went crazy. They're the best cookies I've ever had. She's not kidding about the "more baking soda" than normal part. Think I'll try making these myself today or tomorrow.


Jenny's Chocolate Chip Cookies


Baker’s Note: This is your basic Toll House Cookie recipe, but with more
brown sugar, more baking soda, more chocolate chips, and the secret
technique to “break the crust”, which gives the cookies a nice texture.


One cup Crisco butter flavored all-vegetable shortening, (conveniently sold
in sticks, like butter)
Half cup regular white granulated sugar
One cup light brown sugar, packed and overflowing
One teaspoon pure vanilla extract, (use real extract, not imitation vanilla
flavoring)
Two large eggs, (eggs must be at room temperature and added one at a time)
One tablespoon baking soda
One teaspoon salt
Two and a quarter cups of all-purpose flour, (you may need to add a little
more for consistency)
Two bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips, (that’s 24 ounces total)


Mix the ingredients in the order listed. Use a mix-master if you have one.
Mix in the last cup of flour by hand. Of course, add the chocolate chips by
hand. Don’t over-mix as this may toughen the cookies. You may need to add
a touch more flour to achieve a perfect consistency.

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Incidentally, the best cookie sheets are
the ones with the pocket of air in the middle, so the cookies bake evenly
and won’t burn. Also, keep in mind that the oven rack should be directly in
the center of the oven. Use only this center oven rack, and only place one
cookie sheet in the oven at a time.

Bake at 350 or so for about seven minutes, and then rotate the cookie sheet
so the cookies bake evenly. Bake for another four or five minutes, for a
total of about 10-12 minutes baking time. If you have a nifty convection
oven, then consider yourself lucky and you can skip the rotation step.

Now, this is the important part: When the cookies are a nice browned color
(not under-cooked, not over-cooked, just right), then take the cookie sheet
out of the oven and set aside for one minute to allow the cookies to set.
Keep in mind that the cookies are continually baking as long as they remain
on the cookie sheet. Don’t over-cook!

Place your wire cooling rack on the counter top. You must have a proper
cooling rack.

OK, this might sound a little tedious, but this is the secret technique and
well worth the time: Take each cookie, one by one, off the cookie sheet,
and while it’s still on the spatula, “scrunch” the cookie with two thumbs
and two index fingers to “break the crust”. This will give you the nice
textured cookie top. Try not to burn your fingers on the hot chocolate
chips.

Let the cookies cool a bit and enjoy!

Posted by heather at 10:24 AM

Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

I have been looking for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, and when I am feeling lazy I like bar cookies. I got this recipe off of epicurious, and modified it a little. I don't like nuts, so I swapped the pecans for shredded sweetened coconut. They are very yummy...

Whats your favorite chocolate chip cookie? How is it as a bar cookie?

CHOCOLATE CHIP BAR COOKIES WITH PECANS

1 pound dark brown sugar (about 2 cups firmly packed)
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted, cooled
3 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and shortening in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Sift flour, baking powder and salt over batter; beat to blend. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; cut into bars.

Makes about 24.

Posted by karine at 05:05 PM

dense chocolate loaf

You really must read the entry in Nigella Lawson's, How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Baking And The Art of Comfort Cooking. Furthermore, you must follow the instructions and use your best bittersweet chocolate.

recipes follows

1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
9X5 inch loaf pan

preheat the oven to 375 put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips
later, and grease and line the loaf pan.
(I just used flour since I didn't have any parchment paper). The lining is
important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf
pan shaped liners.

Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric
hand help mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next fold
in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well
but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: you
don't want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you've
added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water
until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf
pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 and continue to
cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgey inside,
so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.

Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before
turning it out. Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do
so because it's suck a dense damp cake.

Makes 8-10 slices

Posted by karine at 10:24 PM