Friday, December 27, 2013

Daring Bakers, December: Whoopie Pies

This post is dedicated to Lis of La Mia Cucina, co-founder of the Daring Bakers, who passed away in November. She was a lovely and loving person, and I wish I'd gotten to know her better since I met her online in 2007 after I joined the Daring Bakers.



The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering - the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose... What else is there to say but "Whoopie!"

Mmmm. For the longest time, whoopie pies were one of those desserts I coveted. There were plenty of recipes out there, but I wanted to know what I was aiming for before attempting them. Over the years, I tried dry, hump-shaped whoopie pies that were too big to fit in my mouth; Crisco-fllled, oversweet whoopie pies; cookie-crisp, warm-cream-cheese filled whoopie pies--all sorts of things I didn't want in my mouth. Then, I found more and more bakeries turning out delicious pies with moist, thinner cakes and creamy, delicious filling of all flavors. This DB challenge came along just as I knew what kind of whoopie pie was my personal favorite.


I made chocolate whoopie pies with white chocolate peanut butter filling and with regular vanilla filling to give to my friend for his birthday.


The batter--I wanted flatter cakes, so I reduced the flour, using the chocolate whoopie pie recipe that Bourbonnatrix posted and using only 2 cups of flour.


I didn't worry about the ridges with my altered recipe because I was sure they would melt away.


I was right! They came out exactly how I wanted, and they were deliciously moist and tender.


Go, my little soldiers! My minions!!


And they were delicious! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Notes:
For the white chocolate peanut butter filling, I used White Chocolate Wonderful from my favorite peanut butter company, Peanut Butter & Co. I just replaced half the shortening with peanut butter and used half the powdered sugar, then omitted the vanilla and salt.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Daring Bakers October: Savory Pot Pie--Mushroom and Veggie



Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

I decided to make a mushroom and veggie pot pie.
Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
Although I had other names I called this pie while making and cutting it to serve.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I hated the dough.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
It wasn't so liquid that I could just pour it in and swish it into place.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
But I took comfort in the totally tasty filling.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pieThe filling filled the scary bottom crust.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I used as much flour as I could to roll out the top crust without making it look like a sticky, tacky mess, but it still came out looking like Freddy Kreuger pie.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
I was afraid the crust would totally deteriorate and drip off the top and over the sides, but it set up and stayed right where it was supposed to.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
My puddle pie did set up after I let it cool a bit more, but even after cooling awhile, its filling still flooded out a bit when I started taking out slices.

Daring Bakers October: Double-crusted savory pot pie
When all was said and done, deflated pie wasn't bad at all. The filling was tasty, but the crust was a pleasant surprise. I was afraid ti would be tough, but it was flaky and tender.

Notes:
A cup of water to a pie crust recipe using 3 1/2 cups of flour is way too much! I should've used just over half a cup, but I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter. Normally, I add the minimum amount of water called for and add more only if the dough doesn't come together. This recipe just called for a full cup of water.

Because the dough was so sticky, I kept it cold, and because it was so soft, it rolled out even though it was cold. I rolled it out between plastic, which made it easier to transfer to the pie plate. With typical pie dough, I don't have to flour the dough before laying plastic on it, but with this sticky stuff, I floured it because it stuck to the plastic. Awesome. *sigh*

For my filling, I used the pot pie recipe, but replaced 2 of the 3 cups of chicken with mushrooms and added an additional cup of vegetables.


Classic Chicken Pot Pie:
Servings: about 8 (one 9 1/2 inch (24 cm) pie)

Ingredients

Flaky Pie Crust:
3 1/2 cups ( 840 ml)(17 ¼ oz)(490 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (13 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons (9 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) cold shortening (I always use butter flavored), cut into pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) (6 oz) (170 gm) cold unsalted butter
1 cup (240 ml) ice water

Chicken Pot Pie Filling:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) (2 oz) (55 gm) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (80 ml) (1 ½ oz) (45 gm) flour
2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock
1/2 cup (120 ml) half and half (half milk and half cream)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) white wine, light beer or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups (750 ml) (15 oz) (425 gm) cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup (240 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) frozen peas, not thawed


Directions:

1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in shortening and quickly grate butter directly into the bowl using a cheese grater.

2. Using your fingers, a fork or a pastry cutter, work butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it's broken down into course, chunky crumbs. Stop mixing when the largest crumb is about the size of a pea.

3. Using a fork, quickly stir in very cold ice water. Turn the rough dough and crumbs onto a floured surface.

4. Knead just until dough starts to hold together in a rough mass, up to 10 times. Do not over mix! You will be able to see chunks of butter in the dough and this is a good thing.

5. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before use. The dough will keep in the fridge for a full day, or you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months (and bring back to a thawed chill before rolling).

6. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

7. Heat oil in a wide bottomed skillet or sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add onions, celery and salt and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

8. Meanwhile, make a thick paste by mixing the butter and flour in a small bowl with a fork.

9. Heat 2 cups (500 ml) chicken stock in the empty skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the butter/flour paste into the stock and whisk vigorously until it come to a simmer. Boil briefly until thick like honey. Whisk in the half and half. Turn off heat, stir in wine, thyme and black pepper.

10. Stir together the cooked vegetables, chicken, peas and sauce.

11. Roll out one half of the chilled dough about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick using a floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface. Once your round of dough is about ten inches (25 cm) across, dust the top with flour, pick the round up from the counter and dust under the dough again before rolling out completely to about 15 inches (38 cm) across. Hold your pie plate up to the round of dough to ensure it is large enough to fit your pie plate.

12. To set the dough into your pie plate, fold the round of dough in half, then in half again to create a large triangle of dough. Point the tip of the triangle of dough into the center of the pie plate and unfold. Be careful not to stretch the dough while you ensure that you have the dough tucked into all corners.

13. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.

14. Roll out the top crust and cover the filling. Trim excess dough and seal the edge crust by folding the top dough layer under the bottom and pinching the dough together with your fingers or pressing with the tines of a fork.

15. Bake in the lower third of your oven until the pastry is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. To ensure the bottom is browned, you may choose to prop an electric oven open using the handle of a wooden spoon for the last ten minutes of the baking time. If at any point you fear the top crust is over-browning, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time. Serve immediately while warm.






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Friday, September 27, 2013

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches



Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

I've made different tres leches cake recipes before, but I think this is my favorite. The warm milk mixture soaked in really well, and cooking it allowed me to bring a caramelized flavor to the milk. I usually see tres leches cake layered and/or decorated with strawberries, but while blueberries are in season, they're my berry of choice. Plus, blueberries and cream cake just sounded awesome.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I overwhipped the whipped cream, not quite into butter, but it looks like ricotta. Which still doesn't sound bad, since sweetened ricotta is still fantastic in its own right--cannoli cake, anyone??

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Mmm, looks like moist.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I don't have a tall cake pan, so I just baked two short cakes in the two pans I have.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
The tres leches mixture. I didn't keep stirring, so some of the milk solids caramelized a little, but they tasted really good. If they'd tasted burnt, I wouldn't tossed the whole mixture out.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Soaking the cakes.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
I layered the whipped cream and blueberries onto the top layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Then slipped the soaked bottom layer out of the cake pan, took a deep breath, and ...

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Flipped it onto the top layer. I removed the plastic wrap from the bottom layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
Put my cake plate onto the bottom layer.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
And carefully did another flip-dee-doo.

Daring Bakers September: Pastel de Tres Leches
And that's how I went about the daunting and seemingly intimidating task of building a layered tres leches cake. It worked with this recipe, but I wouldn't try it with a recipe where you soak the cake totally in milk mixture until it's just a soggy lump. Then you'd have like a trifle mush or something.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daring Bakers August: Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco



Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

I chose to make the mawa cake and bolinhas de coco--they were both tasty!

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Bolinhas de coco dough. I photographed it in a glass bowl--it's not actually floating 4 feet over my kitchen floor. Not that miracles don't happen in my kitchen! HA!

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
The bolinhas de coco dough after resting it overnight.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Some of the cookies I flattened as directed, and they made crispy, flat cookies.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Others I formed into balls and left mostly spherical. They baked up moist and fluffy.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

Making the mawa for the mawa cake took less than an hour.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Just simmer and scrape, simmer and scrape, to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom and sides of the pan and burn.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Slow curdle.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
And you end up with what looks like a bowl of oatmeal (to be polite).

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
It's a rustic cake, so you're supposed to just toss the cashews on a bit randomly instead of fussing over decoration.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies
Mmm, really quite tasty.

Daring Bakers August:  Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daring Bakers, June: Life of Pie



Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies!

Rachael provided recipes for Momofuku Milk Bar's famous crack pie, a French chocolate and caramel tart, a double-crust apple pie, and an Italian crostata di marmellata. I'd made each of these before, and I decided to go for the crostata because I wanted only a couple of servings for my boyfriend and myself, and this was the easiest to reduce and we had the ingredients already on hand--namely, some delicious fig jam I needed to use up.



Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I estimated how much dough I needed for each tin, then rolled out each dough ball between two pieces of cling wrap.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I made sure the dough was rolled out thinly, and wide enough to cover the bottom of the tin.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I took off one sheet of plastic and stuck the dough into the tin, then pressed the dough down into the tin before removing the top sheet of plastic.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I pressed the edges of the dough down against the tin to trim the edges.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I removed the excess dough and set it aside so I could roll it out for the top.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
I blind-baked without beans because it was so small (and I was lazy). I docked the dough with a fork and let the dough-lined tins rest in the fridge for half an hour to lessen shrinkage while blind-baking. Also, remember not to spray the tin--that ensures the dough can cling a little to the tin.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
A little shrinkage, but not much.

Daring Bakers June: Life of Pie
Another reason I wasn't bothered by the shrinkage is because crostata filling is a layer of jam, and I didn't want a whole lot of jam.





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