I made these cupcakes for my boyfriend's dad, who has the biggest sweet tooth ever (which I love!)
They were something I put together quickly, the base is just chocolate cake mix, doctored up with coffee instead of water in the mix, and the frosting is a delicious and simple recipe from Epicurious. I chopped peanuts and toasted them in a pan quickly and sprinkled on top.
Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients. To decorate, I filled a large Ziploc bag with the frosting, cut a quarter size hole from the corner, and pipe a circle onto the cupcake. With a spatula, flatten it out. Sprinkle with toasted chopped peanuts.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I made these cupcakes for my boyfriend's dad, who has the biggest sweet tooth ever (which I love!)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Both are extremely light, crisp white wines, the perfect thing to enjoy with an outdoor lunch or dinner before the summer's over. The first is Bastianich Friulano (formerly Tocai Friulano), a personal favorite anytime I dine in a Bastianich/Batali restaurant. It's very drinkable, sort of plain but enjoyable.
Secondly, I suggest the Grooner Gruner Veltliner. This is a crisp, fruity white wine with just a touch of acidity. It's packaged with a screwcap in a bottle with hip, cartoony art- it's a fun, lighthearted, not so "serious" wine.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
We started out with a tour and tasting at the Brooklyn Brewery. If you live in one of the boroughs and are looking for something different to do, this is it. Plan to drink all day and hang out with your friends. Bring a deck of cards.
If you go:
- Sample the more unusual beers; the Pilsner, Lager, Pennant, Brown, and EIPA are all readily available in liquor stores, and all taste like variations on the same formula, but the options in the brewery showcase a much wider range of flavors and styles.
- Bring cash! There's lots of fun souvenir stuff to buy, including coasters, tees, and glasses, plus it's popular to order delivery to the brewery.
- Tours run on the hour, starting at noon on weekends.
- Located at 79 N 11th St. in Williamsburg.
- Phone: (718) 486-7422
- Website: http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/
Monday, June 1, 2009
Makes 1 drink
2 tsp sugar
4 jalapeno slices, cut 1/8 in thick
4 cucumber slices, cut 1/8 in thick
1 1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
1/2 oz lime juice
Rim the edge of a margarita glass with a slice of lime and dip into kosher salt.
In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar, jalapeno, cucumber, and lime juice together.
Fill glass with ice.
Add tequila and orange liqueur.
Shake, and pour into margarita glass.
Garnish with additional cucumber and jalapeno slices, if desired.
If spice isn't your thing, for a great Classic Margarita mix 3 parts tequila with 2 parts lime juice and 1 part triple sec. Shake over ice and pour into salted glass!
I'm bringing this margarita to Louise's Online Picnic! What are you bringing?
**I highly, highly recommend this book!! It is packed with tons of drink recipes, categorized alphabetically and by spirit, along with information on mixing, wine, beer, and how to make common mix-ins like sour mix, grenadine, and syrups.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Let the butter foam up a bit and toss them in (this is also where you could toss in other vegetables, like onions or peppers).
I made some bacon as well. I could have thrown that in with the potatoes, but for calories' sake I put a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and cooked them in the oven, so the excess fat and grease could be thrown away, instead of absorbed into my potatoes (not that that's a bad thing!)
This will take about 10-15 minutes, but they are very forgiving. When they are done, just cover the pan. The residual heat will keep them warm.
While they cook, get your eggs ready. I like my eggs sunny side up, but I cook them in a pan with the cover on. That way, the top of the egg kind of steams to get cooked, but the yolk remains runny.
Here's what it will look like when finished. I chopped a tomato and added it in at the very end, just for a kind of fresh taste to break up the buttery starchiness.
Here's the finished dish! I mixed up the potato and bacon, then topped with my eggs and a little sprig of rosemary for a garnish. The runny yolk gets absorbed by the potatoes and it is soo delicious.
Here's a close up.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
This was the dessert I made for a recent family event. I'd been dying to have a reason to try Dorie's Lemon Cream tart, and I thought it made a perfect springy dessert.
And I was right. Let me tell you, this is without a doubt the most delicious thing I've ever made. I suppose my love of lemon makes me slightly biased, but honestly, it was wonderful. My mom and I ate it two pieces at a time. (which I actually don't recommend because after we were both completely stuffed- it's very rich!)
Sweet Tart Dough, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours
To bake, butter the shiny side of tin foil and fit it, buttered side down, on the crust. Bake it for 25 minutes, and if anything puffs (it shouldn't, as you froze it) just press it down with a spoon.
Lemon Cream Filling (also Dorie Greenspan)
The older I get, the more I realize how much my mom has done for me throughout my life. Sometimes I recognize the oddest things, like how she silently let me go through my “thug life” phase back in high school, even though she must have been totally cringing inside. Or sometimes it’s more obvious things, like how annoying it must be to be the one to organize and plan every holiday, event, do all the cooking, clean up every single time, with not enough help from the rest of us.
Anyway, so I started the day with a brunch. Originally I had planned eggs benedict with lump crab, but as I learned it’s really hard to find crab NOT in a can (and I find canned crab to be off putting). So I opted for toasted Italian bread with cheese, arugula, mushrooms, and fried eggs (I like to cook them in a covered pan so the yolk is slightly hard, that’s why they are white on top not yellow).
Recipe (adapted on the fly from a bunch of crap in the fridge)
2 slices of round Italian sesame loaf, toasted.
2 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup arugula (pretty much a big handful; enough to just cover the bread)
1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms
4 large eggs
Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet. Add in mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Saute for about 5-7 minutes, until soft and browned. When done, add salt and pepper and set aside.
Meanwhile, top toast with slices of Swiss cheese and melt in oven under broiler. Top with arugula, then mushrooms.
Drizzle olive oil into skillet and crack four eggs. Cover pan and cook until desired doneness. (I like my yolks semi-set with a slightly runny center, so I flip them over at the end). Salt and pepper generously, and place two eggs on top of each piece of toast.
Serve with mimosas!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Cream Cheese Frosting, from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Recently, Brad and I went to DC for a weekend. It was a really fun and sort of insidery trip, so I thought I'd write about it. La Dolce Vita's the sweet life, right? Doesn't have to be just food! Anyway, we did some of the typical tourist stuff, and also visited my cousin for his 24th bday.
The trip started with a Friday night birthday party at my cousin Eric's house. A little background on Eric: he's been obsessed with politics basically since he was old enough to talk. He's been involved in countless groups, been a Senate page, and recently worked as the luggage coordinator on the Obama campaign. All the work's paid off, as he is now David Axelrod's assistant in the White House. Impressive, considering no one in my family has ever held a political job (actually, no one besides Eric's immediate family is even Democrat).
Anyway, the party. I must admit, it was a bit awkward for me; I'm really not very political, and the guests were basically a "whos who" of Capitol Hill up-and-comers: Obama's assistant, Gibb's assistant, Rahm Emanuel's assistant, etc, etc, plus plenty of other young kids working for boldfaced names. While it looked like any generic college party (40 kids taking shots in an 8x10 kitchen), I was kind of nervous someone would out me as not being informed enough. But it was very cool to be around people whose daily jobs directly affect our country.
I think my boyfriend, who's something of a politics nerd, was in heaven. I was nowhere near there until some girl showed up with Cakelove cupcakes. OMG. I usually hate those trendy bakery cupcakes, finding them far too dense and heavy. But Cakelove was soooo good. Light, sweet, amazing. I had a vanilla cupcake with peanut butter frosting, and I spent the entire weekend cursing out our schedule, which didn't leave time for a trip to get more.
Anyway, the real highlight came the next day, when Eric gave Brad and I private tour of the White House! I can't tell you how badass it felt to stand on the street and get buzzed in through the gate to the White House (well, badass until we realized the people behind us also knew someone there and got buzzed in too).
Taking a break from a busy Saturday at work (they never stop! I would hate that), Eric greeted us at the gate in his button down and jeans (ohh the casual Obama administration), and led us up the White House driveway to the West Wing. Inside, it was exactly as I'd expected: thick carpets, oil paintings in ornate frames, and security seated right at the door. Eric led us down a hallway, stopping in front of a roped-off office. I was about to ask "Why are we stopped in this tiny room?" until I realized it was the Oval Office! Whoops. It's admittedly a bit less impressive than it seems in pictures, apparently Obama hasn't gotten around to redecorating (it still features Bush's decor and the walls are plain white).
Then, Eric took us next door to his office, a small narrow space that served as a blockade between Axelrod's office and the hallway. And yes, by next door I mean his office shares a wall with Obama's! We also stopped in Biden's office, which was next door to Axelrod's. Neither man was around (damn!), though we did see Axelrod in a meeting. It was very cool to be able to glance around their offices; while the media allows us to constantly check in on their professional lives, it's rare to get a glimpse of these prominent men as normal people: Biden has pictures of family printed out on a crappy inkjet printer and stuck to a corkboard, while Axelrod has a framed family pics crowded onto a small bookshelf. And his office is painted navy, which I loved.
Next, he showed us around conference rooms, cabinet rooms, the situation room, the Rose Garden, and the press room. The picture at the top of this post is from the press room, though unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pics elsewhere (and, FYI, both of us were having a bad hair day and are not normally that gross!) What was really cool to see was the basement below the press room; it was once the Presidential pool but has since been converted into an electronics room where reporters get online and send their articles out post-press conference. The tile walls were signed by all the reporters and presidents, kind of the way you see in cheesy tourist pizza places.
While walking around the West Wing, it was really cool to see the photos of the Obamas that adorned all the walls. My favorite was a glam shot of the President and First Lady dancing at one of the inaugural balls, with everything blurred out but them. I also liked one of the President in a conference, with the table and attendees blurred out, and the focus on his hands, clasped together, displaying his wedding ring (even though, let's face it, the Obamas looove to market their relationship).
The rest of the trip included tours of the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington, and the Washington Monument. I won't go into it, as this post is long enough already! But what hit me was how far the country has come in only what, around 250 years? I mean it started off as a bunch of religious expats and look at us now, an enormous world power, despite current troubles. Thinking about it all sort of made me feel like a leech on society, even if I do work for the government (especially considering I'm writing this at work).
So what I took away from the whole trip was a sense of wanting to do more. I don't mean politically, I just mean sort of following dreams and doing more with my time. Except I'm not really sure what said dreams are. All I know is my days are spent obsessively reading about food or shopping online, and then I trudge home to chug cheap beers at Friday's (woo I'm cool) or watch marathon Friends reruns on TBS (side note though, they should REALLY make more shows like this. Is anyone else sick of "reality" TV?) So new personal goal, time to figure out my passions, see how to work them in with the job, experience life more, and enjoy it more. And also really try hard to understand more about Army budget appropriations since it's my job.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
from NY Times
Monday, March 2, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
What I miss most is having roommates. I lived with my three best friends (and sometimes additional people) for 4 years, and it was like having built in fun 24/7 (well, most of the time). It was nice that no matter what I did I had friends there doing it with me, whether it was getting drunk for Mardi Gras or cooking a Thanksgiving dinner or just loafing around watching hours of wedding shows on the Style Network. So it was definitely nice to recreate all of this on a recent Saturday night, when my best friend (and former roommate) Jenn came by, and we sat around the entire night drinking wine and eating my new official favorite cookies.
Those would be Dorie's Lemon Sables. These were incredible! Between the two of us, we demolished about 20 of them. I also made a batch for a Superbowl party, and they got my guy friends' approval (they merely said, "Wow these are good," instead of busting my chops as usual). And my boyfriend, who is notorious for his extremely small appetite, ate an entire half batch alone. That, my friends, is no small wonder. And it's proof of the awesomeness of these cookies.
This is a very basic recipe, one which encourages customization and new versions. I personally can't wait to try the Smitten Kitchen Margarita Cookies version, but for now, I wanted to try out the base recipe and see where that went. And it was truly delicious: crumbly, simple, buttery cookies with a crackly coating of sanding sugar sprinkles around the edges.
Lemon Sables, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours
2 cups flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
So here's another recipe for what's turning into a collection of breakfast breads. For a year or two now, I've been on the hunt for the best scone recipe. I've tried many from cookbooks, Food Network, and Allrecipes, some of which have been just terrible, some of which have been declared delicious by my roommates (well, not all my roommates but that's another story), but somehow I found that awesomeness factor eluded me.
So I turned to Dorie Greenspan, as usual. All of her recipes thus far have been great, so I went for the Sweet Cream Scones. I doctored them using some frozen strawberries (really not all that smart in hindsight, kinda watery). They were very quick to throw together My mother thought these were very good. And from the picture below, so did my dog! (though that's not saying much she eats everything).
But my verdict? Still lacked that awesome factor...I think what I've learned here is that I just don't love scones...but if you do, check this out. I recommend them warm from the oven, topped with a little jam.
Cream Scones, adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours
1 large egg
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup strawberries, halved or quartered
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment.
Stir the egg and cream together.
Whisk the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter, and using your hands, toss to coat and then rub the butter into the dry ingredients until mix is pebbly. You will have a very nonhomogenous mix, with big and small chunks of buttery flour.
Pour the egg and cream over the dry ingredients and stir just until the dough comes together. It will be wet and sticky, not fun to handle. Drop in the strawberries, and fold a few times with a spatula to combine. Don't overwork.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour. My favorite method is to masking tape a big piece of wax paper to my counter for easiest clean up. Divide the dough in half and quickly shape into a big rectangle, flattening with your hands but being careful not to overwork. Cut into six wedges. Repeat with other half.
Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, until golden and firm. Transfer to a rack to cool for ten minutes before serving.
These can be frozen. Defrost at room temp and reheat in oven before enjoying.
Monday, February 2, 2009
But seriously, don't let the terrible picture put you off the cake. It was incredible. It got rave reviews via text message from all my mom's friends. It's a moist, delicious cake, flavored and covered with unsweetened coconut, which perfectly balances the supersweet, light-as-air buttercream. I was surprised I liked this, because I'm not usually into layer cakes and frosting, but it was awesome.
Coconut Cake, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I found it in the organic section at Wegman's)
2 1/3 cups cake flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup (1 and 1/3 sticks) butter
1 and 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour 2 9" round cake pans.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
Cut the butter into 1 inch piecces and put them in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beaters or paddle attachment. Soften on low speed, and cream until smooth and light in color, about 2 mins.
Add the sugar, slowly, taking about 6 to 8 minutes to blend it in well.
Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides. Blend in the vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the coconut/milk mix in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl, and mix 10 seconds longer.
Spoon the batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven, allow to cool 10 minutes, then invert pans onto racks and let cool completely.
Quick Buttercream Frosting, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
4 and 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
This recipe makes a large quantity of frosting, as that's one thing you don't want to skimp on when making a cake!
The frosting starts by making a bechamel sauce. Place the flour in a small saucepan, and whisk milk in slowly. Over low heat, whisk constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens to a thick white sauce. Remove from heat and whisk to remove any lumps. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. It needs to be warm enough to blend in but not so warm that it will melt the butter.
While that cools, cut the butter into one inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mier. Soften on low speed, increase speed to medium high, and cream until light and smooth.
Reduce speed to medium. Gradually add sugar. Then add the bechamel sauce over about thirty seconds. Blend in the vanilla and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, until the frosting is fluffy.
This cake can be refrigerated, but bring it to room temp before serving. The cake will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
*If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute one cup of all purpose flour less two tablespoons for every 1 cup of cake flour.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
I was excited when I saw that it was tuiles, as I'd always meant to try making those and never got around to it. Plus, I loved the idea of pairing it with something. I have to say January was a busy month, so I eased myself into the challenges and just kept it simple.
I made an "Escape from Winter" theme dessert. Once the holidays are over, I pretty much have no use for winter. January-March just drags on, and already all I can think about is summer. It doesn't help that I work right near the beach, but it's too cold to sit on the boardwalk during lunch! So I transferred my longing for summer onto a dessert. I made classic tuiles in the tuile shape, using the cocoa powder to stripe where the bend is (not sure if you can tell from that picture though). I paired the tuiles with Strawberry Margarita sorbet, a recipe I got from The Man, aka Mark Bittman from the New York Times. I love Mark Bittman, and like many of the recipes he provides, this one was foolproof.
The recipe for the sorbet as I made it is as follows:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar (more or less)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp tequila (you can definitely taste the tequila, so make sure it's halfway decent- that's a mistake I made!)
Combine first four ingredients in a food processor. If necessary, add a little water to loosen it up. Blend until sorbet textur is reached. That's it. Seriously. It's the easiest thing ever. If you have a food processor you have no excuse not to try making this, I really think boiling water might take longer and be more effort!!
And just think of all the delicious variations to try- I plan on mixing up a blackberry lime, champagne, and mango margarita.
Monday, January 26, 2009
WOW. These are SO good. In my last post I said the lemon poppy muffins were the best breakfast ever, but I have to take that back. This is better.
This is a lesson to me on not to make snap judgments. This recipe is one I passed over many times when flipping through my Dorie book. I tend to skip recipes without pictures, as I have a weird theory that if the publisher didn't take a picture, it's not a good recipe and they don't want to draw your attention to it. That was not the case with this! I tried it regardless of my theory because I had some leftover pecans and sour cream from other recipes, and boy am I glad I made it! The biscuits were light, flaky, and delicious, with a hint of sweetness and a delicious crunch and flavor from the toasted pecans.
The secret here is to just barely mix the dough. You cut the butter up into small pieces and use your hands to just work it into the dough quickly. You stir quickly with a fork when adding the liquid ingredients, and just flatten it out with your hands instead of rolling it. Since the ingredients don't really get homogenously mixed together, the chunks of butter melting create flakes and pockets of air in your biscuits. (And if you eat them straight from the oven, you'll bite into layers with delicious, warm, melty butter- omg its amazing).
Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, adapted from Dorie Greenspan Baking.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
Ccenter a rack in the oven and preheat to 425 F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar. Toss in the butter, and using your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a pebbly mixture. The pieces will all look different, this is good.
Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Using a fork, stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Give the dough a quick kneading with your hands to make sure it's all combined. Don't overwork it. Toss in pecans and knead another 2 or 3 times, quickly.
Dust a work surface with flour (I always tape wax paper to the counter for easy cleanup). Pat the dough out with your hands. Size and shape doesn't matter, just try to mess with the dough as little as possible.
Use a biscuit cutter (or in my glass, a glass) to cut as many as you can out. Then gather the scraps, reroll, and cut again.
Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, until tall and golden brown.
These freeze decently. I wouldn't freeze and serve to guests, as the quality is definitely lessened if not eaten immediately. But they're okay for just you, or if your fam is not exceptionally picky. Defrost over night and pop back in the oven to warm up.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, adapated from Dorie Greenspan Baking.
Friday, January 9, 2009
*You can use any flavor extract you want, or leave extracts out altogether.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
This a no-fail cookie recipe. Like you literally can' t go wrong with these (provided you follow the recipe!). They're sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, forming a slight crust that gives way to a soft interior. They are my friends' favorite, hands down- normally they find some way to complain about anything I make (ohh, boys), but these they just eat. I remember I took them to Brad at school once, and as we sat in his dorm talking I watched our friend Phil quietly eat almost every single Snickerdoodle I'd made (Brad was not pleased, but I was!)
If you're having a casual gathering, want to bring something into the office, or just have a craving for something sweet, I highly recommend these! They also freeze well, so they are good to keep on hand.
Bear in mind that the dough needs to chill for 8 hours, so it's wise to spread the baking over 2 days. Additionally, just so you know, the recipe makes a lot of cookies (like 50).
Snickerdoodles (From Carole Walter's Great Cookies)
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (don't substitute)
1 and 3/4 sugar, divided into 1 and 1/2 and 1/4 c
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Strain together flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening on medium speed until lightened in color. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar in a steady stream, and mix another two minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until just blended. Scrape dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, position the shelves in the upper half of the oven, or in the middle and bake only one sheet at a time (that's what I do. In my oven, anything on the bottom rack tends to burn so I just do it one cookie sheet at a time, despite the fact that I have double ovens). Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with foil.
Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Scoop pieces of dough about the size of walnuts and roll into a ball, then roll in the cinnamon and sugar. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes.
Remove from oven when they are golden brown around edges (they'll look a bit puffy, but will deflate as they cool, creating perfect, homemade looking cracks). Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from foil and set on cooling racks.
These cookies will last 3 weeks if stored airtight. And trust me, everyone will love them!! Make these!
Happy New Year!! While this may be, for many, a time to reflect on the past year or to make resolutions for the new year, it's not really looking that way for me. Usually I'm big on resolutions; one year I did the Ross on Friends try something new every day (until it got to be really stupid things like "wear gold lip gloss" by January 5). This year I'm not making any particular resolutions, but I do want to put more focus into my baking. So that means more recipes and definitely some better pictures! (see above, Nikon D60 vs a cheapo Canon Powershot- what a difference!)
So in keeping with that, I thought I'd try to invent a recipe. Since biscotti are one of my favorite types of cookies, I went with that idea. I've got a no-fail recipe for Almond Biscotti, which I'll share one day, but have had some trouble finding a good chocolate biscotti recipe. I find that with many recipes the cookies tend to be a little too cakey, and to me, a biscotti should be completely crisp, and not at all soft. That's just a personal preference- if you like yours a little on the softer side, this may not be the recipe for you. I think this recipe could be considered an original. It's culled from studying multiple biscotti recipes, as well as the scientific properties of butter, baking soda, and eggs to determine how to develop the ultimate crispness (move over Alton Brown!) I noticed recipes varied mostly on butter. A Carole Walter recipe used an entire melted stick of butter, a recipe from the Rao's cookbook used minimal amounts of butter, and a Martha Stewart used none. What I decided to do was use was four tbsp of melted butter. I also used less eggs than many recipes called for, to cut down on the cakiness. Baking powder was also used to add to the crispness. Next time, I'd like to try the addition of 1 tsp of vanilla extract, though I'll say the cookies were delicious without.
The recipe I used is as follows:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts, toasted
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, coca powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of my electric mixer, I beat the eggs and sugar until pale and slightly foamy. I poured in the melted butter, along the side of the bowl, and mixed until blended.
I then added the flour mixture in 2 additions, stirring just to combine. The dough was very sticky, soft, and thick.
I used a spatula to drop spoonfuls of dough onto parchment, forming 2 logs, each maybe like 16" long, then baked for about 20 minutes, until firm on top. I let the cookies and cool about 20 minutes and sliced them into logs. I put them on their sides and baked for 10 minutes, then flipped them over, and baked another ten minutes. Then I shut the oven off and let the cookies cool in oven with the door cracked open a little for about an hour. They will be very crisp, just the way I like them!
(Side note: if you like them less crisp, don't let them cool in the hot oven. Just remove, and let cool on a wire rack).
Friday, January 2, 2009
The dough itself is pretty straightforward, as it's a simple icebox cookie dough. It's also very versatile, lending itself to countless variations in flavoring, shape, or additions (nuts, chips, etc). It freezes extremely well and can hang out in the fridge for a few days (in fact, it kind of has to) before you're ready to bake. Additionally, the two colored dough can take tons of different shapes- checkerboards, chevrons, striped cookies, marbled, whatever you think up.
I split my dough in half and tinted it with red food coloring (use paste), but you could also use melted chocolate or, obviously, any other food color (I plan on making a Superbowl version soon with team colors). You then split each half in half and roll them out in a square shape. You'll have two squares of red, two squares of plain. Place one plain on top of the colored, and roll them tightly together. This step is important, as you don't want a gap in the center of your cookie when you slice it! The roll chills overnight- another very important step, as it won't cut properly if the temperature isn't right.
Pinwheel Cookies, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cookies.
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unslated butter, slightly firm
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Red food coloring (I used Wilton paste variety)
Strain together flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar in four additions, and mix for two minutes longer. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, mixing again for one minute.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, blending until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Using a kitchen scale, divide the dough in half. (Each half will weight about 1 lb, or measure out to 1 and 1/3 cups of dough). Blend the red food coloring into one half of the dough, mixing thoroughly but trying not to overwork. Shape each half into a 4 x 5 in rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or until firm enough to roll).
Divide each half into quarters. You'll have 4 pieces of red dough, 4 pieces plain. Shape each piece into a cylinder about 4 in long and 1 1/4 in wide. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days in fridge or 3 months in freezer).
When ready to roll, place each red cylinder in between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper and roll into a 6x7 rectangle. Do the same for the plain cylinders, rolling into a 6x6 square. Chill each piece in fridge for 10 minutes.
Remove the top sheet of wax paper from each piece of dough, and invert the plain dough onto the red dough. Line it up so that a bit of red dough peeks out at the top and bottom. Press lightly to seal the layers together. Peel off the top layer of wax paper.
Starting at the side closest to you, curl the edge of the dough, careful not to leave any space where the pinwheel's center will be. Use the wax paper to help you lift and turn the dough, rolling tightly. Repeat this process for each of the sheets of rolled out dough. You'll wind up with four cylinders. Wrap them in plastic, refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Turn each cylinder periodically during the first hour just to ensure that you don't wind up with one flat side.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, and arrange racks to separate oven into thirds. Line cookie sheets with nonstick foil. Slice cookies into 3/16 inch slices and bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Let stand one minute then allow to cool on cooling racks.
These cookies will last for 3 weeks stored airtight.