Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daring Bakers, November: (Two of the) Twelve Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Peta asked us to bake two kinds of cookies—one from her recipes and one from our own collection. I baked Peta’s piped shortbread rings and Amanda Hesser’s flat and chewy walnut cookies.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies

Here's some 'splainin'--first, the piped shortbread.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
The color of the cookies in this photo is closer to how they actually looked--the sunlight in the previous photo washed them out a bit.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
The batter was really light and fluffy after 10 minutes of beating!

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
Not the best photo, but here's the general difference in color and texture between the just-combined batter and the fully beaten batter. I wonder if I overbeat the batter, though. I halved the recipe, so maybe I didn't need the full 10 minutes of beating the recipe called for. The cookies crumbled whenever anything touched them. You couldn't bite them because they'd turn to dust and make a huge mess. You had to shove the whole thing in your mouth, and if you weren't ready for it, you kinda choked a little bit. The flavor was wonderful, though! Mmmm, tasty shortbread cookie choking chalk! No, really, it was good! I think I just need to rework things--maybe add more flour to give it more structure, or make smaller, more shove-able cookies.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
You can see how much definition I lost after baking--not much! According to the recipe, whipping the batter long enough was crucial to making sure you didn't lose much definition during baking--all those ridges would melt away otherwise. The recipe also said to not overbeat. Have fun finding out that middle ground. ;)

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
Action shot!

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
It took a couple of rows to figure out the piping technique. No, it didn't matter how thin I piped the cookies or how brown they got--they were all just as crumbly as the next.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
Duncan thinks they're pretty in the sunlight, even if they are invading "his" sunlight.

Now, the flat and chewy walnut cookies, but I just call them chocolate chip walnut cookies. This was my first time making them, but I'm looking forward to playing with the recipe!

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
Mmmm. Got milk? Or coffee or tea or hot chocolate? These are wonderful dunkin' cookies! No beverage? Just dunk 'em in your mouth!

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
The batter was supposed to be scooped into rounded-tablespoon-sized balls, but my only disher is a little more, um, generous. Make sure you give these babies room to grow--they spread a lot!

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
Cooling on the rack. Or, you can cool it in your mouth! Soo good warm! Be warned, though--they're really fragile fresh out of the oven. By the time they're cool enough to actually handle, they're cool enough to eat.

Daring Bakers November: Twelve Days of Cookies
They're almost as big as a dessert plate! And to that, I say, "YAY!"

Amanda Hesser’s Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 30 cookies

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 3/4 tsp sea salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (12 oz) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 cups (8 oz) finely chopped almonds, walnuts

Directions
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend together on the lowest speed, just until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and nuts, on the lowest speed just until blended. Chill the dough for at least one-half hour or up to several days.
3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Drop generously rounded tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto the baking sheet.
4. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the middle still looks wet, 14 to 16 minutes. Don’t overbake, as you will lose the chewiness in texture. Cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Daring Bakers, October: Mille-Feuille



Our October 2012 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

Daring Bakers, October: Mille-Feuille
I filled my mille-feuille with white chocolate pastry cream and topped it with white chocolate shavings.

I love making puff pastry, even if it can be an epic, day-long undertaking. Make the dough, rest and let it rise, roll it out, stuff it with butter, fold it up, roll it out, fold it up, rest it longer, roll it out, fold it up, roll it out, fold it up, rest it longer, another round of rolling and folding, then shaping, another rise, then it's done. Luckily, this wasn't a yeasted dough so there wasn't as much rising involved, but it still took several hours to put together. Which brings the bummer home that I burned two of the three leaves of my mille-feuille:
Daring Bakers, October: Mille-Feuille

Daring Bakers, October: Mille-Feuille
Ah well. I just cut my remaining leaf into three squares and made a single piece of mille-feuille.

Daring Bakers, October: Mille-Feuille
At least what I was left with was a flaky, buttery serving that was enough to split between me and my little family. =) It was delicious!

Check out how my fellow DBers fared through our blogroll!
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Mille-Feuille (Napoleon!)

Pumpkin + Butterscotch = Good Stuff!

That being established, I made pumpkin-butterscotch pudding, spread it between three sheets of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, and topped it with cocoa powder and chopped roasted pecans. It made quite a tasty dish!
Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)

Pumpkin-Butterscotch Mille-Feuille (Napoleon)

Here's the recipe:
2 cups pumpkin-butterscotch pudding, or to taste (see recipe further down)
1 sheet defrosted Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp chopped, roasted pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Defrost puff pastry according to directions, unfold, then cut into three equal pieces.
3. Place puff pastry between two sheets of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and place another cookie sheet on top of the pastry so it won't rise.
4. Bake puff pastry for 20 minutes or until golden brown, then cool on the counter.
5. Spread 1/2 cup pudding on each of two of the three pieces of puff pastry, then stack one of the piece on top of the other.
6. Decorate the top piece, which doesn't have pudding on it, by dusting with cocoa powder and sprinkling with pecans.
7. Place top piece on top of the stack and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set.
8. Slice and enjoy!


Super Quick Pudding Recipe
Ingredients:

1 cup prepared pumpkin (aka canned pumpkin), or to taste since some people will want more or less pumpkin flavor
1 box instant butterscotch pumpkin

1 cup milk, any fat content as you like
Directions:
1. Combine all three ingredients and stir for two minutes until combined. If you want less pumpkin flavor, add 1/4 cup of the pumpkin at a time until you reach the desired taste. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

From-Scratch Pudding Recipe
Ingredients
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
2 cups milk (any fat content, though your results will vary), separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoon (28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:
1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and 1 cup milk in heatproof bowl and set aside. This bowl will be the bowl of a bain marie. This means your bowl should be able to fit over the top of your bain marie pot while leaving room for at least 1 inch of water and 1 inch of space--in other words, there should be at least 2 inches between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the inside of your pot.
2. Start water boiling in the pot of your bain marie, leaving 1 inch of room between the water and the bottom of your bowl. Bring it to a simmer and hold it there over medium-low heat.
3. Warm to simmering the remaining 1 cup of milk in the microwave or in a pot over medium heat, being careful not to scorch.
4. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking the mixture constantly as you add the milk.
5. Once the hot milk is incorporated, place the bowl on top of your bain marie pot of boiling water and stir the mixture constantly until thickened to a pudding consistency. This will take just a few minutes at the most.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract, then add the pumpkin, tasting as you add until it tastes the way you want it.
7. Allow the pudding to set in the fridge for 4-6 hours until chilled and set. If you're squeamish about pudding skin, stick a sheet of plastic wrap to the top of the pudding.


Process Photos!
Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)
Setting the pastry between parchment and sandwiched between two cookie sheets so they don't puff up a lot.

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)
The baked pastry

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)
The top layer set up with stencils and dusted with cocoa powder.

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)
Using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry--the decorated top layer

Butterscotch pumpkin mille-feuille (napoleon)
Pre-pecans.



Bonus! What do you do when you have another sheet of puff pastry to use and some extra pudding? Make fried pies (sez I).

fried butterscotch pumpkin pudding pies

fried butterscotch pumpkin pudding pies
Filling the pastry--two with just pudding, two with pudding, chocolate chunks, pecans, and marshmallows (which was better).

fried butterscotch pumpkin pudding pies
Pinched pies! Sometimes, when you fork your pies, the edges don't seem to want to stick. It helps if you flip the pie over after forking the edges on one side to fork the edges on the other side--then it's like . . . um . . . pie crust velcro!

fried butterscotch pumpkin pudding pies
What a fully fried pie looks like versus a pale pie. Make sure you get your oil hot before frying--I heat it up to about 375 so the temp doesn't drop below 350 when you drop the first pies in. If you don't get your oil hot enough, you'll have to leave your pies in longer to cook through, and that means all those lovely layers will sponge up a LOT of oil. Each side should fry up in less than a minute! After frying, set the pies upright in a paper towel-lined bowl so the oil can drain out.

fried butterscotch pumpkin pudding pies
Fried pies!
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega



Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
I filled my empanada with ground turkey and bulgur wheat with some Italian beans, spinach, and provolone cheese.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
By the slice.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
The dough before rising. The dough recipe was easy and awesome--it came together quickly and with very little effort, and was very responsive.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
The dough mid-rise.
Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
The dough fully doubled.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
The filling cooked and "dried"--cooked until as much liquid as possible is cooked out because any liquid will make the bottom crust soggy.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
The bottom crust laid into the cookie sheet and filled with the cooled filling.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
With cheese.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
With the top crust laid on top.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
With the edges trimmed and crimped, the top decorated, and a vent punched in and the crust docked so steam can escape and not sog down or crack the top crust.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
Glazed with a beaten egg and baked!

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
For me, a good balance between crust and filling is never more crust than filling--ideally, there's at least an equal amount if not more filling.

Daring Bakers, September: Empanada Gallega
I'm so happy with how it turned out! The crust was so crisp and tasty, and the filling was delicious. The dough recipe is a keeper, and I'm looking forward to playing with other fillings. Check out what my fellow DBers baked by clicking through our blogroll.


And here's the dough recipe:
 Empanada Dough
(a recipe using wheat flour from “La Empanada Gallega”)

Servings: 6
Ingredients:

3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon (3 gm) sweet paprika
 

Directions:
1.Shift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients (you should break the fresh yeast as much as possible).
2. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated
3. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 8 minutes
4. Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.


Assembling the empanada:

1. If you haven’t used wax paper, either lightly flour or line with wax paper your pan or tray.
2. Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
3. Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanada become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible.
4. Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.
5. Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. You can use a piece of wax paper for this too. Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling.
6. If not using wax paper, move carefully the top to cover the filling. If using wax paper, transfer the dough, turn upside down, cover the filling and gently peel off the wax paper.
7. Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk
8. When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.
9. You can use left-over dough to decorate the empanada, using rounds, bows, lines… let your imagination flow and make it pretty!
10. Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the top layer.
11. In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.
12. Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Daring Bakers, August: Filled Pate a Choux



Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans
I have made many a pate a choux project, and many a filled swan. They aren't as elegant as I could've made them, but here they are!

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans

Notes:
-This recipe made some really wet choux paste, so I cooked and stirred like crazy when the dough was in the pot, before adding the eggs. If the dough doesn't ball up, it's still to wet.

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans
The necks all baked up and cooling on a cookie sheet.

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans
I baked the puffs for over 15 minutes until they were golden brown so they wouldn't deflate, then I pierced them with a thin paring knife--the swans I pierced down the middle of the top where I'd be slicing the puff for the wings, and each puffs I pierced in their sides and baked them for about 5 more minutes, then turned the oven off, propped the oven door open, and let them sit in there for about another 10 minutes to ensure they were completely dried.

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans
All golden, crispy, and ready to fill! For the puffs, I just jammed a piping tip into the whole I'd made with the paring knife and filled it with chocolate pastry cream.

Daring Bakers August: Filled pate a choux swans

Check out my fellow DBers' filled choux!
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