Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Espresso Chocolate (& Oatmeal Spice) Shortbread Cookies

In my book, there are few words one can use to describe something that more or less guarantee its success in my view:


In this recipe, we get three of my favorite things in one cookie!

This recipe highlights one of my favorite Dorie Greenspan techniques: when rolling out shortbread, Dorie has us put the dough in a large zip top bag and roll it out in the bag. Genius, pure genius. When I made these, I left them rustic, but normally I use Dorie's technique whenever I make shortbread.

By now you realize I do most of my baking in the morning before work (when normal people sleep or go to the gym). These were no exception. I left the butter on the counter when I went to work, and when I came home, I creamed the butter, mixed the dry ingredients (pre-measured before I went to work) and the wet ingredients, scooped it into the plastic bag and rolled it out. The plastic bag went into the fridge for the night and after I washed the mixing bowl, I was done cleaning up. Sweet!

The next morning, I pulled the dough out of the fridge, slit open the sides of the plastic bag, and sliced it into square-ish shapes and baked the cookies. The house smelled amazing...I wish I had a candle in that fragrance:  coffee, chocolate, butter...mmmm...... The cookies were delicious from the oven, delicious when they cooled and especially delicious when I filled them with chocolate ganache ice cream and we ate them for dinner. Not after dinner, for dinner.

They were so easy to make that I got carried away and also made the oatmeal spice variation in the Playing Around notes. These poor cookies were at a disadvantage from the start...they were up against the espresso chocolate ones and that's a tough place to be at home and in the office. I wasn't crazy about them, but I may have been put off by oatmeal in a shortbread cookie.

Donna at Life's Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First is the brilliant baker behind this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. If you'd like the recipe, Donna will have it for you, but you should buy the book. You won't be sorry. Well, not until you can't fit into your jeans anymore. But then you'll bake the next recipe and you'll feel better.

*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chocolatey Granola - Cocoa Puffs for Grown-Ups

This week, Sweet Melissa Sundays bakers are making the Sweet Plum Clafoutis with Almonds. I'm a little behind, so I made what they made a few couple of weeks ago, the Cherry Almond Granola (chosen by Wendy of Pink Stripes). Although I had bought everything I needed to make the recipe, things have been so busy at work that I didn't have time to make the recipe with the other SMSers. But I spied Jessica's (of My Baking Heart) version, to which she added chocolate chips, and I decided it would have to get made soon.

Granola is a favorite here, and this one, with its chocolate and cinnamon overtones, takes granola to a whole new level. Chocolate for breakfast...yay!

Chocolate Granola - adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
Printable recipe
4 cups/320 grams old-fashioned (not quick) oats
1/2 cup/66 grams raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup/92 grams pumpkin seeds
1 1/3 cups/240 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup/37 grams dry milk powder (optional)
1/2 cup/225 grams whole almonds
1/4 cup/50 grams canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup/90 grams clover honey
1/3 cup/75 grams maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup/80 grams dried blueberries
1 cup/120 grams dried cherries

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two sheet pans or cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, chocolate chips and dry milk powder. Stir well to combine (I used my hands for this part).

In a small saucepan, combine the oil, honey, maple syrup and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Pour the hot mixture over the oat mixture and stir well.

Divide the mixture evenly between the sheet pans and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden (it's a little hard to tell because of the chocolate, but you can also monitor the moisture of the granola). Remove to a rack to cool completely.

Break up the granola into a bowl and add the dried fruit. Mix thoroughly.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Makes 2 quarts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I was both excited and scared when I saw Elissa's pick. I LOVE browned butter anything, but petit fours sounded so beyond my expertise. But the recipes looked so easy that I decided I'd make the petit fours instead of the baked Alaska (piping is a huge obstacle for me).

The brown butter pound cake Elissa selected from Gourmet (sniff, sniff) was a snap to make and the batter tasted so good I wanted to eat it out of the mixing bowl. I made the pound cake and base for the ice cream before work, split the cake layers, churned the ice cream and spread 2 cups of it in a 9x9 pan and froze it when I got home (early for the first time in well over a month). I had to go out for the evening but when I got home I sandwiched the frozen ice cream layer between the split cake layers, wrapped it and froze it. Everything was going so well that as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I decided I'd use transfers to decorate my petit fours. I imagined perfect, square petit fours coated with a thin layer of chocolate with elegant gold marbling on them. My decorating demons would be vanquished forever.

The next morning, I heated the cream, mixed in the chocolate and let it sit while I sliced the frozen cake and ice cream. So far so good. My squares weren't perfect, and I cut them smaller so more people at work could have one. Then I started enrobing them in chocolate and that's where everything fell apart (sometimes literally). The chocolate didn't want to coat all sides of the chocolate. If I got it all coated, the ice cream started oozing through. Some fell over on the tray or, worse, into my pan of glaze. At least they would still look elegant with their gold marbling from the transfers.

Or not. When I peeled off the transfers, I realized the chocolate was too cool to melt the pattern onto the petit fours, so the transfers only dulled the glossy appearance of the chocolate. By this time, I had long abandoned enrobing one petit four at a time and had lined them all up on the sheet pan and poured the glaze over them.

No worries. I didn't get to taste one as I left ours out of the freezer by mistake but my coworkers loved them. What's not to love about brown butter pound cake, rich vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate glaze? For me, the real keeper was the brown butter pound cake. The vanilla ice cream was good, but not as good as my standby vanilla ice cream from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours.

Thanks, Elissa, for a fun challenge. When I was 17, I was also baking, but from a mix. I hope your first semester of college is easy and painless!

*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.

Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze

9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Assembly Instructions

1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.

2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)

5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

We have been blessed with an abundance of peaches this year, including a giant bag of sweet/tart yellow cling peaches from a friend at work. There are so many delicious treats to make with peaches but nothing beats a fresh peach you must eat over the sink so you don't mess up your clothes.

Until now.

I was a bit skeptical about this tart, chosen for Tuesdays with Dorie by Rachel of sweet tarte, hoping it was a combo that worked and did it ever. The custard and the peaches were wonderful together, and the topping provided just the right amount of sweetness and crunch. I seem to have problems following recipes if I make them before 6 AM, and this one was no different. I completely forgot to use almond flour in place of part of the flour, but I still used the trick I learned from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Deb uses the whole egg in the crust and rolls it instead of pressing it into the pan. I like the way the dough handles better, as my pressing skills are right up there with my piping and decorating skills.

A few blueberries found their way into my tart as I remembered from this crumble how nicely they play with peaches.

I had to work quickly to get a photo of the tart after it was sliced...it was disappearing too fast to wait any longer! My tasters seemed to like it with one scooping up some crumbs and having them with his sorbet.

If you'd like the recipe, Rachel will have it for you here. And if you'd like to see how the other TWD bakers did with this one, you can find them here. And many thanks to Rachel for a delicious and timely pick.

*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader (like I was before...not) or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everyday Chocolate Cake

The very moment I spied this chocolate loaf cake on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it, but I wanted to take it over the top. Deb reworked the recipe to make a one bowl recipe and added weights so you can measure the ingredients into the mixing bowl. To take this over the top, I made two changes: I added a teaspoon of espresso powder to amp up the chocolate flavor, and to eliminate any confusion that this was a chocolate loaf cake, I added a cup of chocolate chips.  I also doubled the recipe to make two loaves as I was taking it to work.

This was a terrific, easy weekday recipe. I made it before work and as it bakes for about an hour, I had plenty of time to get ready for work while it was in the oven. You'll probably be tempted, as I was, to slice off a piece before it finishes cooling. That's OK; what could be finer than warm chocolate bread, oozing melty chocolate chips? How about chewy chocolate bread with the oozy chips slightly chewier but not hard.

Consider this recipe a base for whatever mix-ins you like, such as nuts, toffee chips, cocoa nibs, or white chocolate chips. Or enjoy it without the chocolate chips for a more buttoned-down chocolate experience. Either way, you'll be in love.

Everyday Chocolate Cake (adapted from Magnolia Bakery by Deb at Smitten Kitchen)
Printable recipe

1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup/237 grams/8 3/8 ounces firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup/100 grams/4 ounces granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups/190 grams/6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour
3/4 cup/75 grams/2 5/8 ounces Dutch cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup/170 grams/6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Stir the espresso powder into the buttermilk until no lumps remain and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, add the chocolate chips and stir in, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan.

*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Natalie of Oven Love. This is one of those recipes that I would normally have waited to post because, well, I wasn't wild about it. So normally I would wait to see what others thought of it and if I was in the minority, I'd make it again and try to make it successful. But as I write this, Ramadan starts tomorrow and I have posts to write, the house to tidy, laundry to do and, oh yes, lots of work too. So re-baking this one isn't going to get done.

Where did I go wrong? Dorie writes that this recipe is reminiscent of a couple decades ago when replacing the fat in recipes with applesauce was all the rage. I used organic applesauce from Trader Joe's. I used chopped dried apricots from Andy's Orchard, dipping into my precious stash for a handful of these beauties to make my bread. I doubled the streusel and put some in the middle of the loaf and the rest on the top as Dorie suggests. So far so good, right?

Afraid not. Although my loaf tested done, it was a bit damp in the middle. Was it the applesauce, the apricots, the extra sugar from the streusel? I have no idea. But it wasn't just the dampness, it was the weird taste (this was another one that I made while I had a cold/sinus thing going on, so the taste problem could have been mine).

Sorry, Natalie, I really wanted to like this one! I hope you and the other TWD bakers had a better experience with it than I did.

*******PLEASE NOTE: Lethally Delicious is on hiatus for the month of Ramadan. I will be responding to comments but not keeping up with my Google Reader or visiting bloggers other than those who leave comments. I'll be back around Sept. 10th with a spirit refreshed by this blessed month of fasting and prayer. Peace.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peach Nutmeg Scones

When Di at Di's Kitchen Notebook tweeted that she'd made peach nutmeg scones, several of us jumped at the chance to try the delicious sounding recipe she was baking from. Compliments of the King Arthur Flour website, these light, flaky scones use fresh peaches and freshly ground nutmeg to make a powerfully yummy pastry. I had worried that fresh peaches would be too wet, but scone doughs like to be wet and shaggy,and this one is no exception. The flavor of the fresh peaches comes through clearly.

If you aren't a nutmeg fan feel free to substitute cinnamon (and why not toss in some blueberries while you're at it?) I mixed this in the stand mixer as I do with all scones. I've had good success with freezing scones and saving them to bake another day (well wrapped, of course). Don't bother defrosting them, just brush them with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar before baking. Give them an extra 3-5 minutes in the oven if baking from the freezer.

Peach Nutmeg Scones (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Printable recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup diced peaches (about one good-sized peach)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and baking powder together. Toss the butter into the dry ingredients, turn the mixer on low, and blend until most of the butter is the size of peas. Remove mixing bowl from the mixer.

Mix the eggs, yogurt, and almond extract. Stir this into the dry ingredients with a spatula. Add the peaches and stir just until mixed.

Liberally flour the counter and your hands. Put the dough on the counter and pat it into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 10 triangular scones or use a 2 1/2" round cutter to make smaller scones.

Place scones on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and a cake tester inserted into a scone comes out dry. Yield: Ten triangular scones scones or 18 round ones.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TWD - Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

This ice cream and I go way back. I first made it last year, and it has been so popular around here that once I told M. that we were making it for Tuesdays with Dorie, he said to go ahead and take this bombe into work, he'd rather have Dorie's chocolate ganache ice cream.

I've made this ice cream with 60% and 70% bittersweet chocolate, and it's definitely better with 70%. If you're not a dark chocolate lover, you'll want to stick with 60%. If you are a dark chocolate lover, who doesn't love a ganache you can practically stand a spoon in? I used to mix the custard into the ganache obsessively to ensure a smooth texture, but I've since decided that leaving it a little shaggy gives it a texture similar to a stracciatella. Those crunchy bits of chocolate are delightful with the creamy chocolate ice cream. When I made this batch, I let the ganache cool quite a bit before making the custard, so my chocolate pieces a bit larger. Crunchy and delicious!

The hilarious, talented and oh so creative Katrina at Baking and Boys! selected this one, and it didn't surprise me at all that she would gravitate to chocolate ganache. She puts chocolate on or in practically everything. Katrina will have the recipe for you (and I expect she'll do a lot of variations with mix-ins, toppings, etc.) My fellow TWD bakers will also have a field day with this. You can find them all here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gingered Carrot Cookies

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is gingered carrot cookies, selected by Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina. Dorie relates that she was trying to capture the flavors of carrot cake in a cookie. The flavor of the carrots wasn't as prominent as she hoped but she liked the taste of the cookie as is.

These cookies have the flavors of ginger and nutmeg with raisins and toasted pecans added in for extra yumminess. I made these while I had a cold, and wasn't as in love with them as my tasters. My tasters were more enthusiastic about these cookies than practically any other chocolate-free cookie I've made. The texture is similar to a scone, flaky and light, yet chewy and chunky. People who don't usually care about cookies stopped me in the hallway to wax poetic about how fabulous these cookies were.

If you visit the other TWD bakers (you can find them here), you'll learn that the rest of them love Natalia as much as I do. Natalia and I are in several of the same blog groups and she is as talented as she is sweet and funny. She'll have recipe if you want to try these delicious treats.