Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chickpea Brownies

I know, I know.  I make my comeback and now I seem to be posting some weird stuff.  Trust me these are good. 
Really, really good.
And for anyone who is on a gluten free diet, these work for you too…
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Chickpea Brownies (adapted from Livestrong.com)

Ingredients

  • 15 oz Chickpeas, Canned
  • 3/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Good quality dark chocolate for drizzling over the top
Directions
Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. Meanwhile, mix in a blender the eggs, drained and rinsed chickpeas, maple syrup and baking powder. Once blended, add in melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Pour into a square baking dish and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Melt the dark chocolate and using a fork drizzle over the top of the brownies and let cool.
***I loved these and have made them over and over again.  They have become my go to snack.  Love the texture and the feel of them.
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

So we can all do with another way to use up over ripe bananas right?

I had a bunch sitting on the counter and I needed to find a way to use them up.  Sure I could have frozen them but it is so much more rewarding to make something out of them then to shove them into the deep dark abyss of the freezer!  This is what I came up with…

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Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting (previously posted)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. baking soda (add to pureed bananas)
3 pureed bananas, very ripe

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan or two 9" layer cake pans.
2. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Sift flour several times, then add the salt and baking powder to the flour.
3. To the creamed butter mixture, add the milk and flour (alternating, beginning and ending with flour).
4. Add vanilla and mashed bananas (with the baking soda added to the bananas) to this mixture.
5. Bake layer cakes (9") for 25-30 minutes, oblong (9x13") for 35-40 minutes.
6. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING (Hershey Cocoa container)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Angel Food Cupcakes

DSC_0238 Topped with White Sparkling Sugar

The girl’s have been asking (read begging) for me to bake something, anything.  I have been in involved in a weight loss challenge with a bunch of people at the BMX track and I really didn’t want to have to pay any money just because I am very weak and will eat just about anything sweet in the house, hence there has been very little baking going on around here!  Now that the challenge is over and I won, I can get on with baking up some goodies! 

Today I thought I would start by baking some cupcakes…trouble was I couldn’t decide how to top them!

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Topped with Chocolate Frosting (looks like I was frugal with the frosting but the angel food cake is so light it won’t hold up to a lot!)

Angel Food Cupcakes (adapted to cupcakes from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Be sure that your muffin pan is prepared and lined with cupcake liners. Sift together the flour, and 3/4 cup of the sugar, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites along with the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt, to medium stiff peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar while continuing to whip to stiff peaks. When the egg white mixture has reached its maximum volume, fold in the sifted ingredients gradually, one third at a time. Do not over mix. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 or less full. Refrigerate the remaining batter for the next batch.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cupcakes are a nice golden color.
  4. I rolled some still hot cupcakes in White Sparkling Sugar and allowed the rest to cool for frosting.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING (Hershey Cocoa container)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Dark Chocolate and Bacon (yes, bacon) Cupcakes

I have so many things that I have made and kept meaning to post.  You know like the perfect popsicle, or salad and then you get distracted by a play date by the pool, or a trip to the beach, or a lengthy vacation?  Well that’s exactly how my summer went. 

So better late then never here are some cupcakes that I made for Tony’s birthday by special request.  I won’t even tell you when his birthday was but I will tell you that he loved these things!  For me it was really the novelty of it and I really didn’t like the smokiness with the chocolate but truth be told I am not a huge smoky flavor lover.  Really none of that mattered anyway.  It was his birthday and these are what he wanted…

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Dark Chocolate and Bacon Cupcakes (allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Chocolate Banana Brownies

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Sorry for the quick hit here but I was tweeting about these brownies and how delicious they are so I needed to get it up quickly in my very limited time!

I took my favorite brownie recipe and replaced all of the fat from the butter with 1/2 cup of mashed ripe bananas and then placed slices on the top.  These turned out moist and cakey on the bottom and deliciously gooey on top…

I made these from the following recipe but when thinking about it I really want to try it with a boxed brownie mix.  It should work the same!  Replace the full 1/3 cup of oil with 1/3 cup mashed up banana and follow the rest of the instructions…

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Chocolate Banana Brownies  adapted from Cooks.com

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
2 eggs
Sliced bananas for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.

Mix banana with 3/4 cup of cocoa powder. Then add 2 cup of sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2/3 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix to combine.

Grease a 9X9 baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and gently remove from pan to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Turkey and Pinto and Black Bean Chili

I’m cold. Now I am not talking just a little cold here, I mean I am bundle up in a bunch of sweaters, fuzzy sock and big slippers, gallons of hot tea being drank, but I still can’t seem to get warm so I guess that’s why my family is eating lots of soups and comfort foods right now! Anything to try and be warm. This chili fit the bill. Needed to simmer on the stove and I knew if would smell just perfect and add the illusion of warmth to the house!

Turned out absolutely perfect and I can’t wait for the leftover for dinner tonight!

Recipe for the cornbread can be found here!

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Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili (adapted from Epicurious.com )

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium-size red bell peppers, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil in a large heavy bottom pot. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic and sauté over high heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add turkey and sauté until no longer pink, breaking up large pieces with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Mix in chili powder, cumin and oregano and stir 1 minute. Add beans, tomatoes with juices, broth and chocolate. Bring chili to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour but can be simmered longer for a thicker chili. Season with salt and pepper.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers do Nanaimo Bars

And lucky me…I grew up eating these!!!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

I almost missed making these.  Something about them having to be posted on the 27th of the month just messes me up bad but with bold determination and severely lacking eyesight I forged ahead and got these done!!!

I knew I had to make the graham crackers first.  I had already decided that as interesting as it would be to do them gluten free I really didn’t have the time or the money to be hunting down ingredients I would only be using once so I cheated and made them with Whole Wheat Graham Flour and they really are delicious!!!  I made these this morning and it went off without a hitch.  Had them out of the oven and I was on my way to the eye doctor.  Well. by the time I got home I couldn’t see a thing.  He had tricked me a dilated my eyes.  I was virtually blind, but the DB Challenge must go on!!!  I cut the recipe and copied it and then made it REALLY, REALLY BIG so that I could at least make out the measures.  The whole time I am kicking myself for leaving it til the very last minute…:-(

Anyway…these turned out beautifully despite all of my self inflicted challenges and it brought back a lot of great childhood memories for me!!!

P1020442 These were taken after my eyes were dilated by the stupid eye doctor.  I was lucky to find the camera!!!

Graham Cracker Recipe (that I used) by Cupcake Project

Ingredients:

4 T (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
6 T sugar
4 T honey (Some graham crackers use half honey and half molasses. You might consider trying that as a variation.)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t water
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 C graham flour (If you can't get a hold of graham flour, there are plenty of graham cracker recipes that use regular whole wheat flour such as this graham cracker recipe from Baking Bites. You may also be able to directly substitute whole wheat flour in this recipe, but I haven't tested it and I make no promises.)
3/4 C all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the butter, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the honey and blend.
  4. Dissolve the baking soda in the water and add to the butter mixture.
  5. Add the salt, graham flour, and all-purpose flour to the mixture and blend thoroughly. The dough should hold together and be manageable. If it is too "tacky" add a little more graham flour.
  6. Liberally dust a surface with graham flour and roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. For convenience in handling, cut the rolled dough into three or four sections that will fit on your cookie sheet. (I am not good at rolling things out. It doesn't come up too often since I mostly make cupcakes. To make my life easier, I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper and rolled the dough directly on the cookie sheets. That way I didn't need to worry about the dough breaking when I lifted it onto a cookie sheet.)
  7. With a knife, score the dough, without cutting through, into 2 1/2 inch squares. (Boring! Since your graham crackers are not store-bought, they don't have to be square. Use your cookie cutters to make them any shape you want!)
  8. Prick each square a few times with the tines of a fork. (I did this because those little pricks do make them look like graham crackers, whatever shape they are.)
  9. Using a spatula, place the sections of scored cracker dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I didn't have to do this since I rolled right on the cookie sheet.)
  10. Bake on the first side for 8 minutes, then turn the cracker over and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes. (Cheryl of Free Range Living said that she found that flipping wasn't necessary. I agree. I left out the flip step.)
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on racks. (They weren't quite crispy when I removed them. However, they hardened up as soon as they cooled.)

Here how is the recipe as it should have been done for gluten free:

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
Ingredients
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

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Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Okay, I really loved these and despite all of my self inflicted trouble with them I would make them again and again!  Almost every family special occasion that we had we had the on the dessert table.  Such a treat to be able to make these myself.  Thanks Lauren for the opportunity and the reminder!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Cookies – The very last day…sort of

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

P1020348

So for my 12th and final cookie (even though I am days over the deadline :() I chose to make something that wasn’t even part of the bon appétit Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.  I really need to feel like I have completed the challenge of 12 Days of Cookies though. This cookie is something that I needed to make for one of my girl’s class parties.  And one that she could help me with!!!  It’s easy and comes together really fast too…Man, did I ever cheat on this one!

Chocolate Haystacks (www.bigoven.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or marg.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 7 tblsp. cocoa.
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut.

Preparation

Boil first 4 ingredients for 1 minute

Then add last 3 ingredients

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto foil lined cookie sheet and refrigerate.

Would I make these again?  Oh yes I would.  Took me about 10 minutes to pull it all together and the kids loved them…

Forgive me for cheating and not doing another bon appétit one but the girl’s really did want to help!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 11 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crinkles

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

P1020338

For the 11th and almost final cookie I was forced choose to make the Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Crinkles.  You see my daughter has been home sick for the past 2 days I inadvertently let her have some say in the cookie choice.  Truth be told I am a little tired of the flavor combinations of these cookies.  Lots of nuts, chocolate, cranberry and mint but without a lot of variety in the cookies themselves.  Oh well there is always next year and I am on my 11th batch of cookies so it is kinda hard to be too enthusiastic about cookies right now…hehehe!

Chocolate Chip and Peppermint Crunch Cookies

These fudgy treats, also known as crinkles, get their name from the small wrinkles that develop on top as they bake.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Coarsely crushed peppermints
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolates melt and mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat. Mix in finely crushed mints and 6 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Whisk eggs into chocolate mixture, 1 at a time, then whisk in vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl to blend. Whisk flour mixture, then chocolate chips into chocolate mixture. Cover batter and chill until firm enough to shape, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 generous tablespoonful for each cookie, roll dough between moistened palms into 1 1/4-inch-diameter balls, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked on top but still soft to touch in center, about 11 minutes. Let stand on sheets 5 minutes. Press coarsely crushed mints onto tops of cookies or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Transfer to racks; cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper in refrigerator.)

chocolate peppermint crinkles 2

Would I make these again? I think so.  I really liked them and so did the girls.  T. didn’t much like them and described their taste as “eating a chocolate cookie right after brushing your teeth” nice huh?  They were definitely easy enough to make and right now that is exactly what I was looking for.  They certainly would look pretty on a holiday cookie platter too…

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 10 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Brownie Thins!

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This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dogs
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
Tiffany of The Nesting Project

brownie thins

For the 10th cookies I decided to make Brownie Thins.  I needed something that was quick and easy and wanted something chocolate.  These should have fit the bill.  Several of my partners in crime had made these so I did know what I was up against.  Some issues with the part of the plastic wrap being used to spread these out so I skipped that part and just used the back of a spoon to spread them out.  I also had no pistachios so I used cashews…

Brownie Thins

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch of coarse kosher salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios

Directions:

  • Position rack in lowest third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter 2 baking sheets. Place butter and chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high power until almost completely melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Add sugar and egg; whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add flour, both extracts, and salt; stir just to blend. Let batter stand 10 minutes.

  • Scoop rounded teaspoonfuls batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing apart (12 per sheet). Spray sheet of plastic wrap lightly with nonstick spray. Place, sprayed side down, over cookies. Using fingers, press each mound into 2 1/2- to 2 3/4-inch round. Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle pistachios over rounds. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until slightly darker at edges and firm in center, about 7 minutes. Cool on sheet 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack; cool completely.

  • Would I make these again?  Nope.  These were soooo not forgiving.  I found them to be very bland tasting and not at all what I had hoped.  I even added salt to the tops of the last couple of batches hoping that would make them sing to me.  Too bad too because these were really a fast and easy cookie to make!

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Day 9 of the 12 Days of Cookies - White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle

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    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    P1020258

    For Day 9 I choose to make White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle.  Not sure why I choose this recipe as everyone in the house is rather put off by white chocolate.  But make it I did and I am so glad about it.  These cookies are delicious!  They turn into a nice hard cookie like brittle and then the candy melts and hardens inside as well.  Just a really perfect cookie and really, really pretty too!

    White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 10 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped into 1/3-inch pieces, divided
    • 3/4 cup coarsely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies (about 6 ounces), divided

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk melted butter, both sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in 1 cup chopped white chocolate and 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy.

    • Transfer dough to prepared sheet. Press dough into 14x8-inch rectangle, about 3/8 inch thick. Bake cookie until top is firm and dark golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

    • Stir remaining white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle about half of melted chocolate in thin lines over cooled cookie. Sprinkle remaining crushed peppermint candies over chocolate. Drizzle remaining white chocolate over top. Let stand until white chocolate sets, about 1 hour. Break cookie into irregular 2- to 3-inch pieces. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

    P1020252

    Would I make these again?  Oh yes I would, and maybe even for Saturday for a bake sale.  These are wonderful.  Crunchy, chewy, sweet and gooey!  LOVE, LOVE, Love them!

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Day 8 of the 12 Days of Cookies – Chocolate Mint Cookies!

    image 

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    Day 8 of the 12 Days of Cookies brought me back to wanting chocolate.  These Chocolate Mint Cookies fit the bill perfectly too.  Just the right amount of mint and I thought I would pretty them up with just a drizzle of chocolate and some sparkling white sugar…

    P1020246

    Chocolate Mint Cookies

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

    Directions:

    Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in peppermint extract and vanilla extract. Beat in sugar in 3 additions. Add egg and beat until blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended (dough will be sticky).

    Divide dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as aid, form dough on each into 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate dough until well chilled, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

    Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops and edges are dry to touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets with cookies to racks; cool completely. Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool melted chocolate until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes. Dip fork into melted chocolate, then wave fork back and forth over cookies, drizzling melted chocolate thickly over cookies in zigzag pattern. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. (Cookies can be made 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.)

    P1020243

    Would I make these again?  Yes I would.  They are a good sturdy cookie that could be dressed up real easily for a holiday platter!  Everyone liked them even people who are not huge mint fans.  Really liked these ones!

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    We are on the 6th Day!!!  Halfway done and so far I have been keeping up.  Now it would be a whole other story if you asked my family how I was doing…laundry half done, kitchen perpetually a mess.  You get the picture right?

    Anyway for the 6th day of the 12 Days of Cookies I had decided to make the Coconut Orange Snowballs but when I pulled out my coconut I realized that the kids have been nibbling on it and there is not nearly enough left for the recipe!  Quick change of plans.  I have things to do today.  Decided on the Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans because I have some really yummy Callebaut Chocolate for the glaze!

    P1020236

    Chocolate-Glazed Mocha Fans

    Ingredients:

    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or coffee powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup whipping cream
    • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 10-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Sift flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until dough clumps together. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of prepared tart pan.

    Bake shortbread until firm around edges and baked through but slightly soft in center, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Gently remove pan sides. Using large sharp knife, cut warm shortbread into 16 wedges. Cool completely on pan bottom on rack.

    Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Let stand until glaze begins to thicken but is still pourable, about 10 minutes. Place shortbread wedges on rack set over large baking sheet. Spoon glaze over shortbread, allowing some of glaze to run down sides and spreading over sides with small spatula. Chill just until chocolate is firm, about 45 minutes.

    P1020233

    Would I make these again?  Yes I would.  These were truly delicious.  Once I tasted them though I didn’t want too much chocolate on them but I did want some nuts so I dipped them in chocolate and added some chopped pecans to them.  Now that was GOOD!

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – a bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Chocolate Peppermint Stars

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but this year is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    CHocolate stars

    So, I guess you can tell that they don’t look very star like right?  These cookies and I were doomed right from the start.  Still not sure where I went wrong.  I followed the recipe to a tee.  The only thing I can think of is that it was just too stinky hot in here and the recipe is kinda weird.  No egg, no baking soda or baking powder.  Hmmm…

    Here is my star attempt…

    P1020201

    Not very star like right?  I decided that I was not gong to waste any more chocolate on these cookies so I just put the candy cane crumbles on them before I baked them.  I realized after that wasn’t such a good idea so on the drop ones I made I just pressed it into it when it was baked.

    Chocolate Peppermint Stars
    Servings: Makes about 32 cookies. 

    Ingredients
    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies
    Preparation
    • Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients; beat until dough holds together. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm enough to roll, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.

    • Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 3-inch star-shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps into ball. Wrap; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

    • Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until tops feel firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used. DO AHEAD Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.

    • Stir chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle chocolate over cookies in zigzag lines. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Drizzle remaining chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store cookies between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.

    CHocolate stars 2

    Would I make these again?  No way!  As RJ of Flamingo Musings pointed out they could be saved by adding an egg, more flour, change to regular sugar and add baking powder...Hehehe!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza! Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies…

    image

    This wonderful event, in it’s second year, is the brain child of Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, but is being organized and ran by Sandy of At the Baker's Bench.

    How I got asked to be involved with this incredible group is beyond me but all the thanks goes to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and after last year I sure earned my way in the hard way! There are 10 of us that have decided to do The 12 Days of Cookies – A bon appétit cookie extravaganza. We will be choosing, baking, tasting, blogging and sharing with you a cookie a day for the first 12 days of December.
    These cookies are coming from bon appetit's Holiday Cookie-a-Day Slideshow.

    These are my partners in crime. We will all be choosing different cookies and surprising each other. How fun is that???? Be sure to check out their selections for the day!

    Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
    Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
    Courtney of Coco Cooks
    Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
    Kelly of Sass & Veracity
    Michelle of Big Black Dogs
    RJ of Flamingo Musings
    Sandy of At the Baker's Bench
    Tiffany of The Nesting Project

    For my first cookie and to kick of the event I have chosen and rather simple cookie. I based my choice on the ingredients I had on hand in my pantry and the use of fresh cranberries was intriguing! Lucky for me they are totally delicious! I did skip the white chocolate as no one in the house is a fan and I had major problems with the drizzle…you still get the idea right?

    cranberry

    Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (bonappetit.com)

    Chunks of fresh cranberries and dark, milk, and white chocolate chips dress up oatmeal cookies for the holidays.

    Makes about 30

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)
    Preparation
    • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

    • Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

    • Stir chopped milk chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until milk chocolate sets, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

    cranberry2

    Would I make these again? Not so sure. Yes, they were good but I already have a cranberry, chocolate, oatmeal cookie that I love…

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

    So it’s been a while.  I can give you a million reasons why I haven’t posted since last month but I won’t.  Hopefully this is the end of the dry spell.

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    I had 4 small bananas that were past the eating date according to everyone in my family.  I knew I needed to make something with them but couldn’t decide on anything.  I was going to make a banana cake with cream cheese frosting but getting out the mixer seemed like a lot of work while I was trying to do laundry and clean.  Banana bread rarely gets finished here for some reason.  Everyone starts gung ho on it and then I end up throwing out the last 3 slices.  I was going to make banana snicker doodles but once again sounded like too much work.

    Finally I came across a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins from the Epicurious  website.  I love this site because of the honest reviews that people leave on the recipes.  How can you go wrong when 275 people have left comments for you!!!

    These muffins were delicious.  Light and fluffy, full of bananas and chocolate chips.  Definitely yummy my taste testers just confirmed! 

    Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins (Epicurious.com)

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 350°F.
    • Line twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups with foil muffin liners.
    • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
    • Mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk in medium bowl.
    • Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended (do not overmix).
    • Stir in chocolate chips.
    • Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.
    • Bake muffins until tops are pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out with some melted chocolate attached but no crumbs, about 32 minutes.
    • Transfer muffins to rack; cool.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Daring Baker’s do Puff Pastry and Vols-au-Vents

    The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

    P1010892 Wow, was this month’s challenge ever a “challenge” . Our temps here in Southwest Florida are still in the mid 90’s every single day and if I turn my A/C to more than 80F I end up with an electric bill that is $350+!!! Anyone who has ever worked with puff pastry knows that these are not ideal circumstances for making the dough…But I DID IT!!!! And look how pretty and puffy these turned out!!!

    There was a lot of refrigerating going on though and I had butter popping through and melting all over my counter so I was shocked at how nicely these turned out. Unfortunately they took me a whole day to make and then I let them chill over night. After all of that I just ran out of time for making the wonderful lemon mousse that I had planned to fill them with. Whatever, the girls loved them filled with fresh blueberries and drizzled with chocolate. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway???

    P1010891

    For this challenge we had to make puff pastry (Michel Richard’s recipe) and form at least part of it into vols-au-vent…

    The recipe and directions:

    Equipment:
    -food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
    -rolling pin
    -pastry brush
    -metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
    -plastic wrap
    -baking sheet
    -parchment paper
    -silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
    -set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
    -sharp chef’s knife
    -fork
    -oven
    -cooling rack

    Prep Times:
    -about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
    -about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

    Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

    Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

    Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

    Fill and serve.

    *For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

    *Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

    *Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

    Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

    From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
    Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

    Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

    There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

    Ingredients:
    2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
    1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
    1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
    1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

    plus extra flour for dusting work surface

    Mixing the Dough:

    Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

    Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

    Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

    Incorporating the Butter:

    Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

    Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

    To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

    Making the Turns:

    Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

    With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

    Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

    Chilling the Dough:

    If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

    The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

    Steph’s extra tips:

    -While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

    -Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

    -Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break through the dough...you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

    -Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

    -Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

    -Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

    -Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

    -When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

    -Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

    -You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

    -Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

    Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

    Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

    In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
    -well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
    -egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
    -your filling of choice

    Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

    Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

    On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

    (This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

    Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

    Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

    As Always…

    Happy Entertaining!!!

    Judy
    www.nofearentertaining.com

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Chocolate and Key Lime Cupcakes

    I’ve been having a bit of a block lately.  I can’t write.  I’m still cooking and baking but nothing seems to be inspiring me to write (or “right” about it. LOL!!!). 

    I keep putting it down to the season.  I know it sounds weird to all of you northerners but here in Southwest Florida in the months of August and September we are a virtual dead zone of fresh produce!  It is just too stinking hot outside for anything to grow let alone thrive…I will be planting my garden this month so hopefully that will help give me a badly needed boost!  Until then I offer you some delicious chocolate and key lime cupcakes…

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    Chocolate and Key Lime Cupcakes

    Ingredients:

    Cupcakes:
    1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    1 c. sugar
    1/4 c. baking cocoa
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 c. water
    1/3 c. vegetable oil
    1 Tbs. white vinegar
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Filling:
    1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
    1/3 c. sugar
    1 egg
    1/8 tsp. salt
    1/4 cup of fresh squeezed key lime juice
    zest of one key lime

    Directions:

    In a bowl, beat cream cheese. Add key lime juice, zest, sugar, egg, salt. Mix well. Set aside.

    For cupcakes, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well. Fill paper-lined muffin cups half full with batter. Top each with 2 Tbs. of cream cheese mixture and then top with more chocolate batter to cover the cream cheese.

    Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. This makes 12

    P1010815

    These were truly delicious.  I tossed around whether it should be a white cupcake or chocolate but my helpers decided it HAD to be chocolate.  Glad I listened to them.  Some of them caved in but that’s because I was a little over zealous in my filling!!!

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

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    I have been a bad blogger, a very bad blogger!  I have not posted since the end of July.  I really have no real excuse other then the fact that I have been pretty busy with a new job and then just being a little lazy and hanging out with the kids.

    But get ready.  I am back and raring to go.  I have my Mom here visiting me next week from Toronto so I am sure we will be cooking up a storm!

    I have to clean my house and work so I am going to leave you with my guilty pleasure from yesterday…

    I adapted these from the original Toll House Chocolate Chip recipe by adding some cocoa powder and dried cherries.  I still have 1/2 of the dough in my fridge (I have realized that 5 doz. cookies around are not such a good thing so I always save some in the fridge to make when the first couple of dozen are gone) and I think I am going to add some pecans to them.

    These were wonderful and chock full of chocolate and cherries.  Great for an afternoon snack and equally as good for a quick breakfast (shhh…don’t tell the kids!)

    P1010778

    Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies (adapted from the Nestle website)

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi sweet chocolate chunks and chips
    • 1 cup dried cherries (rehydrated slightly in some hot water)

    Directions:

    PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
    COMBINE flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in cherries and morsels and cherries. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
    BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

    Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

    * May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

    As Always…

    Happy Entertaining!!!

    Judy
    www.nofearentertaining.com