Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chocolate Soufflé

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Source: She's Becoming Doughmesstic



Chocolate Soufflé
from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Serves 4-6

6 ounces bittersweet Chocolate, finely Chopped
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbs. Sugar
1/3 Cup Whole Milk, at Room Temperature
4 Large Eggs, Separated and at Room Temperature
2 Large Egg Whites, at Room Temperature
Confectioner’s Sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Give the inside of a 6-7 cup soufflé mold a thick coating of butter, sprinkle it with sugar and tap out the excess. Refrigerate until needed. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Put the chocolate and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted. Transfer the bowl to the counter and whisk in the milk. let the chocolate cool for about 5 minutes, then, one by one, whisk in the yolks.

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a large ol with a hand mixer, whip the 6 egg whites until they just turn opaque and start to hold peaks. Still beating, add the reamining 2 tablespoons sugar in a slowish, steady stream and continue to beat until the peaks are glossy and almost firm. Stir one-quarter of the whites into the chocolate to lighten it, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining whites.

Delicately turn the batter into the prepared mold and lightly sprinkle the top with confectioners sugar. Put the mold on the baking sheet.

Bake-it’s better not to open the door and peek until you think the soufflé is almost done-for 40 minutes, or until the soufflé is beautifully puffed and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean (find a noncrusty part of the soufflé and gently insert the knife at an angle). Remove the soufflé from the oven and serve immediately, dusting the top with more confectioners sugar if you’d like.

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

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Source: Confectiona's Realm



Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars
from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the oatmeal layer:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

For the chocolate layer:

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts, preferably salted

Getting ready:
Center a rack in the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and place the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the oatmeal layer:

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each egg goes in. Beat in the vanilla. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear. Still on low speed, or working by hand with a rubber spatula, stir in the oats and chopped peanuts.

Set aside 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the mixture, then turn the remaining dough into the buttered pan. Gently and evenly press the dough over the bottom of the pan. Set aside while you prepare the next layer.

To make the chocolate layer:

Set a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt in the bowl and stir occasionally until the milk is warm and the chocolate and butter are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and stir in the vanilla, raisins (if using), and peanuts.

Pour the warm chocolate over the oatmeal crust, then scatter the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top. Don’t try to spread the oatmeal, and don’t worry about getting the topping even — this is fun, remember?

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is dull and starting to come away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for about 2 hours.

Run a blunt knife between the edges of the cake and the pan, and carefully turn the cake out onto a rack. Turn right side up, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Cut into 32 rectangles, each roughly 2 1/4 by 1 1/2 inches. Makes 32 bars.

Serving: I think these are best served cold from the fridge, although my husband likes them straight from the freezer, cut into slivers. Before you chill the bars, though, have one — you might find you like them best at room temperature, in which case you’re lucky: You can start enjoying them sooner.

Storing: Wrapped well, these will keep for about four days at room temperature, 1 week in the refrigerator, or up to two months in the freezer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles



Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream
(from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop)

Ice cream:
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup (4.6 ounces) sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blackberry swirl:
1 1/2 cups (5.6 ounces) blackberries, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vodka
1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.

2. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrap the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as your stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

4. An hour or so before churning the ice cream, make the blackberry swirl by mash the blackberries together with the sugar, vodka, and lemon juice with a fork (if you using frozen blackberries, let them thaw a bit first) until they’re juicy but with nice-sized chunks of blackberries remaining. Chill until ready to use.

5. Freeze the ice cream custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As you remove it from the machine, layer it in the container with spoonfuls of the chills blackberry swirl mixture.

Nanaimo Bars

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Source: The Eclectic Cook



Nanaimo Bars
Adapted from Joyce Hardcastle

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup coconut

Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a double boiler and heat until melted. Slowly drizzle the hot mixture into the beaten egg, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press the mixture firmly into an ungreased 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Middle Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp vanilla pudding powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream together the butter, cream, vanilla pudding powder and icing sugar until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Top Layer
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat. Once cool but still liquid, pour over middle layer and chill in refrigerator until set, about an hour.
Cut into squares using a knife dipped in hot water. For easier (and neater!) pieces, dip the pan very briefly in hot water and then turn out onto a plate. Flip over using a second plate and cut into squares.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

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Source: Epicurious



Double Chocolate Layer Cake

For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut

1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Special equipment
two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans


Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Black Magic Cake

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Source: Hershey's Kitchens and The Repressed Pastry Chef



Black Magic Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Key Lime Meltaways

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Source: Smitten Kitchen and Martha Stewart



Key Lime Meltaways

Yield: 5 dozen

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grated zest of 4 tiny or 2 large key limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (a.k.a. 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.

3. Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

5. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough for up to 2 months. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles



Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
(from Cooks Illustrated)

Serves 3 to 4

CI note: Try not to purchase heads of garlic that contain enormous cloves; if unavoidable, increase the foil-covered baking time to 40 to 45 minutes so that the largest cloves soften fully. A large Dutch oven can be used in place of a skillet, if you prefer. Broiling the chicken for a few minutes at the end of cooking crisps the skin, but this step is optional. Serve the dish with slices of crusty baguette for dipping into the sauce and onto which the roasted garlic cloves can be spread.

Table salt
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks) and trimmed of excess fat.
Ground black pepper
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve ¼-cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper.

2. Meanwhile, toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

3. Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan with oil. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

4. Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.

Neoclassic Buttercream

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Source: Star Chefs



Neoclassic Buttercream

From The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (William Morrow & Co., 1988)
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 to 4 Tablespoons liqueur or eau-de-vie of your choice

Method:
Have ready a greased 1 cup heatproof glass measure near the range.

In a bowl beat the yolks with an electric mixer until light in color. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan (preferably with a nonstick lining) and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.

If using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the syrup into the yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of a bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks with the mixer turned off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Continue beating until completely cool.

Gradually beat in the butter and, if desired, any optional flavoring. Place in an airtight bowl. Bring to room temperature before using. Rebeat to restore texture.

UPDATE: I made this buttercream as directed, and I did not like it. I wanted vanilla buttercream, so I added vanilla extract - but it still tasted like softened butter. I think "regular" buttercream is still too sweet, but this isn't sweet enough. I'm looking for something in between. I had to add confectioner's sugar to this to make it sweeter, which then loses the soft smooth texture, which I did like. I wonder if it would be better if I made more syrup, but used the same amount of butter. Back to the drawing board....

Silk Meringue Buttercream

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Source: Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes




Silk Meringue Buttercream
Makes about 5 1/2 cups

Crème Anglaise

1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract

Make the Crème Anglaise: Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium bowl.

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and yolks.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add 2 Tbsps to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the remaining coconut milk and cook over medium-low heat, continuing to stir constantly, just until below the boiling point. Themixture will start to steam slightly and an instant-read thermometer will register 170 degrees F/ 76 degrees C. Immediately pour the coconut milk through the strainer, scraping up any clinging to the bottom of the pan. With the back of a spoon or silicone spatula, press the mixture through the strainer into the bowl. Cool, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extract. (To speed cooling, put the bowl inside another bowl partially filled with ice water.)

Set a piece of plastic wrap, coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray, directly onto the surface of the crème anglaise to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or until ready to complete the buttercream.


Italian Meringue

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp, divided, superfine sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Make the Italian Meringue: Heave ready a 1-cup or larger heatproof glass measure.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl and have ready a handheld mixer.

In a small heavy saucepan, preferably non-stick, stir together the 1/3 cup of sugar and the water until all the sugar is moistened. Heat on medium-high, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low. (On an electric range, remove the pan from the heat.)

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the whisk is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar until stiff peaks form when the whisk is raised slowly.

Increase the heat under the sugar syrup to medium-high and boil for a few minutes until an instant-read thermometer registers 248-250F/120C (firm ball stage). Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.

If using a stand mixer, with the mixer off to keep the syrup from spinning onto the sides of the bowl, add the syrup to the egg whites. Begin by pouring in a small amount of the syrup. Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Add the remaining syrup in the same way in three parts. For the last addition, use a silicone spatula to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape the syrup off against the beater. If it has hardened before most of it has been poured, soften it to pouring consistency for a few seconds in the microwave.

If using a handheld mixer, beat the syrup into the egg whites on high speed in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl.

Lower the speed to medium and continue beating for 2 minutes. If you don’t have a second mixer bowl, transfer the Italian meringue to another bowl.


Completed Silk Meringue Buttercream

4 sticks unsalted butter
Crème Anglaise
Italian Meringue
2 Tbsp. CocoRibe (optional)
2 3/4 cup, fresh or thawed and towel-dried frozen coconut, finely grated, loosely packed

Complete the Buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually beat in the crème anglaise until smooth. Add the Italian meringue and beat until just incorporated. If the mixture looks curdled instead of smooth, it is too cold. Allow it to sit at room temperature to warm to 70F before continuing to beat, or suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat very briefly, stirring vigorously when the mixture just starts to melt slightly at the edges. To stop the warming, dip the bottom of the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice water for a few seconds to cool it. Remove the bowl from the ice water and beat the buttercream by hand until smooth. Beat in the CocoRibe, if using, and 2 cups of the coconut.

Use the buttercream to frost the cake or transfer to an airtight bowl until ready to use.

Highlights for Success:
- Use whole (not light) coconut milk
- Use “natural” coconut extract available at health food stores

Cinnamon Rolls

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles



Cinnamon Rolls
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe)

This was the first time I’ve used dental floss to cut the rolled and filled dough into rolls. It worked wonderfully, but a serrated knife will get the job done as well.


Dough:
1/2 cup milk
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons yeast)
1/4 cup (1¾ ounce) sugar
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4-4 1/2 cups (20 to 21 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

Filling:
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter

Glaze:
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the water, yeast, sugar, egg, and yolks at low speed until well mixed. Add the salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups of the flour and mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook, add another 2 cups of the flour, and knead at medium speed (adding up to ¼ cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary) until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a round, place it in a very lightly oiled large bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

3. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

4. After the dough has doubled in bulk, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border at the far edges. Roll the dough, beginning with the long edge closest to you and using both hands to pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Moisten the top border with water and seal the roll. Lightly dust the roll with flour and press on it ends if necessary to make a uniform 16-inch cylinder. Cut the roll in 12 equal pieces and place the rolls cut-side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

5. When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of one reads 185 to 188 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Glaze the rolls and serve.

Crispy Baked Chicken Strips

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles



Crispy Baked Chicken Strips
Serves 4

To freeze these, spread them on a baking sheet (without the rack) after coating and before baking. Place the pan in the freezer and chill for about half an hour, until mostly firm. Transfer the strips to freezer bags. When ready to cook, defrost them and continue with step 4 of the recipe.

1/4 cup table salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup flour
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
6 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter), melted
2 cups finely crushed corn flakes cereal

Dissolve the salt in 1 quart cold water. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the cutlets from the brine and pat dry.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400F. Place an oven-safe baking rack in a baking sheet.

Place the flour and butter in separate small bowls. Add the crushed cereal to a medium-sized bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour, then the butter, then the cereal. Place the coated chicken strips on the baking rack in the baking sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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Source: Foodess



Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream
The fluffy, caramel provides buttery relief from the dense, chocolaty crumb of the cookie - the kind that packs to the back of your palate and begs for a glass of milk.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salted Caramel Buttercream (below)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and continue beating until fluffy, 1-2 minutes longer. Beat in milk and vanilla extract. Finally, beat in flour mixture to combine.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets (you should get 12-14 cookies).

Bake for 10-14 minutes, until top springs back when touched.

Cool completely. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of frosting on the flat half of one cookie, then top with another cookie. Repeat.


Salted Caramel Buttercream

1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) cream
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Put 1/4 cup of sugar and water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir of you will get sugar crystals, but you can swirl the saucepan gently. It will bubble itself into a deep amber. Remove immediately from heat and add cream (careful - it will bubble up furiously). Stir until smooth and set aside.

Put the egg whites, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to bowl of standing mixer.

Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Add butter a bit at a time, and continue beating on medium. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and then caramel (you may need to gently rewarm the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it is workable but not burning hot). Beat for 4-5 minutes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Caramel Crunch Bars

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles and What's Left on the Table?



Caramel Crunch Bars
From Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the base:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. instant espresso powder or finely ground instant coffee
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
6 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup Heath toffee bits

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9x13 inch baking pan, line the pan with foil and butter the foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the base: Whisk together the flour, coffee, salt and cinnamon.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel (so you and your kitchen don’t get showered in flour) and pulse the mixer on and off at low speed about 5 times- at which point a peek at the bowl should reveal that it’s safe to turn the mixer to low and mix, uncovered, just until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. If the chocolate isn’t evenly mixed, finish the job by hand with a spatula. You’ll have a very heavy, very sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan and, with the spatula and your fingertips, cajole it into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly – so bubbly that you can almost hear it percolating – and puckery. It will look as though it is struggling to pull away from the side of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and turn off the oven.

To make the topping: Scatter the chocolate evenly over the top of the hot base and pop the pan back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft.. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars, using offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the baking pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.

If, by the time the bars are cool, the chocolate has not set, refrigerate them briefly to firm the chocolate.
Carefully lift out of the pan, using foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Trim the edges if they seem a bit thick. Cut about 54 bars, each about 2 inches by 1 inch, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Anadama Bread

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles



Anadama Bread
(revised from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)

Makes 2 loaves

Note from Bridget: I have to admit that I didn’t totally make Anadama bread, which requires molasses. It turns out that I didn’t have any, so I used honey instead. Not the same, but still good.

3/4 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses (or honey?)
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
6 to 6 1/2 cups (28.8 to 32.2 ounces) unbleached flour
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon salt

1. Heat the water, milk, cornmeal, and sugar in a medium-saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once it thickens, transfer to it to the bowl of a standing mixer or other large bowl, stir in the molasses, and set the mixture aside to cool, about 30 minutes.

2. When the cornmeal mush has cooled to 105-110F, add the yeast and 1 cup of the flour, and stir until smooth. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside until the mixture bubbles, about 45 minutes.

3. Stir the oil, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of the remaining flour into the sponge to make a stiff dough, mixing well (or mix for 2 minutes on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook). Generously dust a board with the remaining flour. Turn the dough onto the board and knead it until elastic, about 10 minutes (or knead on medium low for 6 minutes, slowly adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl). The dough may be sticky, but should be firm.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl, shape the dough into a round, and put it in the bowl, turning it to coat both sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

5. Lightly oil two loaf pans (8.5x4.5 inches or 9x5 inches). Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Slice it into halves and shape each half to fit the loaf pans. Place the dough in the prepared pans, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F.

6. When the dough has risen about an inch above the top of the loaf pans, bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should read 195-200F. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the edge of the bread from the pans. Invert the loaves onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coconut Cake

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Source: Paula Deen - FoodNetwork.com



Coconut Cake
from Paula Deen

Ingredients

Cake:
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

7-Minute Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 cups flaked sweetened coconut

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and coconut milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake.


Filling:

Stir together sugar, sour cream, milk, and coconut in a bowl until well blended. Place the first cake layer onto pedestal. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes approximately 1-inch apart until entire cake has been poked. Spread a third of filling mixture on cake layer. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again.

Cook's Note: As each layer is stacked, stick them with toothpicks to prevent cake from shifting.


Frosting:

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with coconut. Garnish with artificial holly, if desired.

Mini Pecan Pies (Pecan Tassies)

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Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody



Mini Pecan Pies (or Pecan Tassies)
Makes 48 tassies

Tassie Filling
1 cup pecan halves
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Cream Cheese Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour-measured by fluffing, scooping and leveling
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. Bourbon
Pinch salt
8 Tbsp.(4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., with an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Spray-grease three nonstick mini-muffin pans.

For the filling:
Chop the pecans to medium-fine dice. In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients.

For the pastry:

Place the flour, powdered sugar, Bourbon, vanilla extract, and salt in a food processor bowl and pulse-process to mix the ingredients together. Cut the butter into 1/4 inch chunks, add to the processor and pulse on and off, until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

Add the cream cheese, by tablespoonful to the processor. Pulse-process until the dough just starts to come together (about 10, 5-second bursts), and then turn it out onto a board. Press the dough together into a cohesive mass and then divide the dough into 48 balls.

Assembly:

The easiest way to press the dough into shape is to use a tart tamper, if not use your hands.

To use the tamper, place a ball in each cup and tamp down on each ball, lightly, just so that the dough is centered and fills the cup.

Dust the tamper with flour and then press down gently, and not all of the way to the bottom, just until the dough starts to curl around the top part of the tamper bulb. To get the tamper out of the dough, rock it side to side and pull up. Use the tamper to thin the edges of the tarts by patting it against the edges. Place the tamper back into the tart and push down until it bottoms out. Touch the bottom to make sure that it is neither too thin nor too thick, pushing the dough up or down to make it right. The dough in the bottom should not be so thin that you can see through it, nor so thick that it feels squishy when you touch it.

Place 1/2 rounded teaspoonful of nuts into each cup. Spoon in 1 1/2 to 2 tsp of the sugar/egg mixture, filling the tarts to within a scant 1/8-inch of the top. Do not fill the tarts up to the top, as the filling expands as it cooks and tarts that have overflowed are hard to remove from the pans after baking.

Place the pans on a cookie sheet and bake for 23-27 minutes, until the filling is puffed and the pastry is lightly browned. Remove the pans to a cooling rack. Let the pastry stand for 5 minutes. While the pastry is still warm, run a skewer along the top edge of the pastry to loosen it from the pan and then remove the tarts from the pans. Set the tarts on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Sweet Potato Biscuits & Rolls

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Source: The Way The Cookie Crumbles and Prudence Pennywise



Sweet Potato Biscuits
by Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 18 biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 15-ounce cans sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained and mashed
Pinch of ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Get out a sharp 2- to 2 1/4-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and spice, if you're using it, together in a bowl. Add the brown sugar and stir to incorporate it, making sure there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat it with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between -- and that's just right.
Add the sweet potatoes to the bowl, grab a fork, and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading -- 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don't worry if the dough isn't completely even -- a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting -- just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a cooling rack -- cooled a bit, they're more sweet potatoey. Give them 10 to 15 minutes on the rack before popping them into a basket and serving.

SERVING: Unlike most biscuits, these are best served after they've had a little time to cool. They are as good at brunch (they're great with salty ham and bacon) as they are at tea (try them with a light cheese spread and/or marmalade). Or have them with butter or jam, fruit butter or fruit compote.

STORING: You can keep the biscuits in a plastic bag overnight and give them a quick warm-up in the oven the next day, but you won't recapture their freshly made flakiness.

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Sweet Potato Rolls

Notes: Proof your yeast if you are concerned about its reliablity. Mix your yeast into the warm buttermilk and give it 10 minutes to see if it rises nicely. Continue with the rest of the recipe as follows.

3/4 cup mashed sweet potato, pumpkin, or butternut squash
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cups buttermilk, warm (think baby bottle warm)
2 teaspoons yeast (I love SAF)
1 egg, divided use
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 and 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
softened butter, for dough
wheat germ, if desired, for tops

In a large bowl or free standing mixer, combine potatoes, butter, and buttermilk. Add in yeast, egg YOLK, sugar, and salt. Gradually stir in the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. Knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding more flour as needed to produce a smooth, elastic dough. Form the dough into a ball, and rub the outside of the dough with butter. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 70 minutes. Punch dough down and shape into 12 balls. Place on greased cookie sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an additional 45 minutes, or until light and doubled. Brush tops of doughs gently with egg white and sprinkle with wheat germ. Bake at 400 for 8-12 minutes. Serve warm.

Coconut Caramel Chews

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Source: Mary Haley - Cookie Swap Contest Finalist for Austin360.com



Coconut Caramel Chews

Note from Mary: The Coconut Caramel Chews recipe has been in our family for about 75 years. It is my aunt's recipe.

Ingredients
1/2 c. butter
1 c. granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon milk (if needed to thin the batter)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 beaten egg whites
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. coconut

Directions
Make a batter of the butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour, baking powder, milk (if needed to thin the batter), and vanilla. Mix the batter and spread evenly in a shallow pan (12 x 8).

Cover with a topping made with beaten egg whites, brown sugar and coconut.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Cut into squares when cool.
Freezes and stores well.

Blondies, Infinitely Adaptable

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Source: Smitten Kitchen



Blondies
Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Note from Wendy: I've made these in a full pan and in individual portions in my square muffin pan. These are to DIE for.

8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Butter an 8×8 pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below).

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. I always err on the side of caution with baking times — nobody ever complained about a gooey-middled cookie. Cool on rack before cutting them.

Further additions, use one or a combination of:

• 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor (I used)
• 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips (I used)
• 1/2 to 1 cup toffee chips (I used)
• 1/2 to 1 cup coconut (I used)
• 1/2 teaspoon mint extract in addition to or in place of the vanilla
• 1/2 cup mashed bananas
• 1/4 cup bourbon, scotch or other whiskey; increase the flour by one tablespoon
• 2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the vanilla
• Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit, especially dried cherries, into the prepared batter
• Top with a vanilla butter cream or chocolate peanut butter cream frosting

Chipster-Topped Brownies

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Source: Supplicious



Chipster-Topped Brownies

Dorie Greenspan Note: These brownies are topped with a layer of great chocolate chip cookie dough – two all-time favorites baked together in one delicious double decker.

For the Brownie Layer:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the Cookie Layer:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup chocolate chips

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking pan, line it with wax or parchment paper and butter the paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Brownie Layer: Put both chocolates and the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, heat just until the ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. If the mixture gets too hot, the butter will separate from the chocolates. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then on low speed, add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the batter. Using the spatula, fold in the walnuts, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set aside.

To Make the Cookie Dough: Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Working with the stand mixer in the cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter, and using a spatula and a light touch, spread it evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cookie top is deep golden brown and firm, and a thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

When the brownies are completely cool, carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper and turn right side up onto a cutting board. Cut into bars.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Comparison

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles (various sources)



Chocolate Chip Cookie Comparison

From The Way the Cookie Crumbles: I wish I could provide a solid answer to the “which is best” chocolate chip cookie question, but I’m not sure it’s that easy. For one thing, every one has their own preferences – I only had two testers and we couldn’t agree! However, keep in mind that chocolate chip cookies are pretty much always good. Any of these recipes will give you something delicious. But if I have to recommend one, it would be Alton Brown’s The Chewy.

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The Chewy
(from Alton Brown)

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Mixer

Heat oven to 375F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from the New York Times)

1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8½ ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8½ ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Cooks Illustrated)

Makes 1 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies

CI note: These truly chewy chocolate chip cookies are delicious served warm from the oven or cooled. To ensure a chewy texture, leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to cool. You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with one cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.

2 1/8 cups bleached all-purpose flour (about 10½ ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 7 ounces
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3½ ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)

1. Heat oven to 325F. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.

3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined 20-by-14-inch lipless cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Smaller cookie sheets can be used, but fewer cookies can be baked at one time and baking time may need to be adjusted. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month – shaped or not.)

4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

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Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Original here - slightly adapted)

Makes 60 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
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-ounces) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, 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 morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2009)

Note from Bridget: The recipe makes large cookies in an effort to maximize the difference in texture between the crisp exterior and the tender center. However, I prefer small cookies. I tried baking both sizes, and preferred the texture of the smaller cookies anyway. They still had a great mix of textures. If you do this, you’ll want to reduce the baking time to 7-9 minutes.

1 3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

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Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
(from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Red Velvet Cake Showdown

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Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, The Pastry Case and The Smitten Kitchen



Red Velvet Cupcake Showdown

From The Way the Cookie Crumbles: I generally prefer butter over oil in desserts, and I think sour cream makes cakes really tender, so I was pre-disposed toward liking the Pastry Queen’s cake. And it really was great – fluffy, moist, tangy, even-textured (although it doesn’t look like that here – the recipe specifically warns not to overbake the cupcakes, so of course I underbaked them). However, in the end, I still preferred the recipe from Kelsey’s Apple A Day, originally from Saveur, which also has great texture, and I like the flavor a little more. But this is definitely a personal preference – you can’t go wrong with either recipe. Next time I might experiment with using the ingredients from AD, substituting butter for the oil, and using the mixing method from the Pastry Queen’s recipe (both recipes follow):

Red Velvet Cupcakes
(The Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) red food coloring
3 1/2 tablespoons high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill muffin cups (approximately 2 1/2 dozen) with paper liners.
In a small bowl, stir the red food coloring and cocoa powder together to make a smooth paste. Set aside. using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition, then add the cocoa paste while continuing to beat. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and beat the batter for about 4 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk (this can be done in the measuring cup).
Add the flour mixture in three increments, starting and ending with the flour. Beat on medium speed just until the ingredients are combined. Add the sour cream and vinegar and beat on low speed until combined.
Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full with batter. Bake for 18 minutes or so, just until the cupcakes feel firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake, or the cupcakes will dry out. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
Yield: Approximately 2 1/2 dozen standard cupcakes

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
(The Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone (Italian cream cheese, available at most grocery stores)
1 teaspoon vanilla or mint extract

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone on very low speed until just combined (Be careful, once you add the mascarpone, excessive beating can make the frosting curdle). Stir in the vanilla or mint extract.



left – Pastry Queen; right – Apple a Day

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(from Apple a Day, who adapted it from saveur.com)

Makes 1 8-inch 3-layer cake
For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8″ round cake pans.
5. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.
6. For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.
4. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake, if desired. **Tip: after leveling cake, turn it upside down to reduce numbers of crumbs. I also did a crumb coat on the outside, let it set for ten minutes, then finished with remaining frosting.
5. Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

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Smitten Kitchen's Version is more chocolate flavor and looks rich - so I'm including it as well.





Red Velvet Cake
(from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss via the New York Times 2/14/07)

Bridget note: This is the frosting that I used. It was great. (I’ve never met a homemade cream cheese frosting that I didn’t like.) Also, note that this recipe makes 50% more than the others.

Makes 1 9-inch 3-layer cake
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons white vinegar.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.
2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.
Cupcake variation: Since this has been published, many readers have written in to express that it adapts well to cupcakes. The yield is approximately 35 cupcakes, with the liners filled only 3/4 of the way, and the baking time should be between 20 to 25 minutes, but check in on them 2/3 of the way through in case your oven gets the job done faster.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from several sources
Makes 6 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
Icing Notes:
Technique: Cake decorators will always tell you to ice a cake in two batches, first a “crumb layer” and then the more decorative one. Though I rarely bother, in this cake in particular, with its dark hue barely disguised by a thin layer of frosting, it is especially helpful. To do this, place a small amount of frosting on the cake and spread it over the entire surface that will be iced, thereby anchoring wayward crumbs in place so that they will not mess up the final product. A few minutes in the freezer or longer in the fridge will firm this up so that you have an ideal surface to build the real layer of frosting upon. (I did a rushed, half-assed one, hence the visible crumbs in the final product.)
Quantity: The recipe here creates an amount of frosting that allows for a thin coat between and over the cake layers. I found it to have the ideal cake-to-frosting balance for this recipe. However, you might want to double the recipe if you prefer a more decadent, padded frosting layer.

Chocolate Cupcakes (with variations)

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Source: Velez Delights



Chocolate Cupcakes (with variations)

*makes 12 cupcakes*

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Line muffin pan with paper liners.
3) In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
4) In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.
5) Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
*makes enough to frost 12 to 18 cupcakes*

Ingredients :
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp chooclate cream liqueur
1 tbsp strong brewed coffee or milk
pinch salt

Directions :
1) In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, butter, chocolate liqueur, coffee, and salt until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.
2) Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.




Coconut Pecan Frosting
*makes enough to frost 16 or more cupcakes*

Ingredients :
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
1/3 cup semisweet chocoalte chips (optional)

Directions :
1) In a heavy saucepan, whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly whisk in evaporated milk until cornstarch is dissolved. Add butter. Butter will be lumpy, but don't worry, it will melt from the heat.
2) Place saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Whisk continuously until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
3) Cover coconut mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled and thick. When cold and thick, stir in pecans and chocolate chips, if using. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes. If not serving cupcakes right away, keep cupcakes refrigerated until ready to serve or for up to 1 day.




Cookies and Cream Buttercream
*makes enough to frost 12 or more cupcakes*

Ingredients :
1 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch salt
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 chocolate sandwich cookies, broken into pieces

Directions :
1) In a small bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat together sugar, butter, and salt until well combined. Increase speed to high, beating until light and fluffy. Add cream and vanilla, beating until frosting is smooth. Add broken cookies, beating until mixed.
2) Spread icing on cooled cupcakes with a knife.