French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Today's recipe was selected by Clara from I*heart*Food4Thought. I heart her choice of cupcakes!

I love cupcakes. Tiny little individual cakes - a cake all for me and I don't even have to fell guilty about it. I love it!

It seemed many other bakers had issues with this recipes. They found the cake too dry and wondered if it were a result of either overbeating or excess flour. Several people discussed the relative merits of weighing your flour versus measuring it. And, if you were measuring it, what method would yield the best result? Discussion also revolved around the type of flour used.

Personally I fall into the King Arthur's unbleached all-purpose flour club. I stir the flour and then lightly scoop it into a measuring cup. I have never weighed it and I don't plan on doing so. If my cups weigh more or less than yours do, I don't want to know about it. They are working for me as they are and I am sticking with them.

My cupcakes were until a cake taster inserted into them came out clean. I think it was 20 minutes. I pretty much bake things until they smell done. I am horrible about remembering to set the timer. I just wait until it smells right and then I stick in the cake tester. This method works for me.

I loved the icing on top. I brought these into work and put aluminum foil on top. Sadly much icing was found clinging to the foil when I got to the office. Maintaining my professional poise - I did not suck the icing off the foil. I quite maturely scraped it off with a spoon and ate it like a lady! God it was good.

Everyone loved these cupcakes. As a companion to the cupcakes (since I feed way more than 12 people) I brought in a loaf of banana bread (recipe from the Kitchen Aid cookbook). This was also well received, apparently my office-mates quite like banana bread, go figure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

Well, I am embarrassed to be making my posting a day late, but the truth of the matter is . . . I fell asleep! I was baking the black and white loaf last night and I was going to make my entry after I removed it from the pan. I sat down to wait the ten minutes before taking it out of the pan and promptly fell asleep for about an hour and a half! It being approximately 12:30 A.M. when I awakened, I decided a late post was in order and I flipped out the loaf and hit the sack!

I made these as mini-muffins - the more to share with the folks at work. I thought they were pretty tasty. They were a bit more dense than I expected, but still quite moist and tasty. I absolutely loved the scent of them and the house still smelled fabulous when I got home from work last evening. I thought the sunflower seeds looked pretty attractive on the top. We have Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp to thank for this choice.

I also took this opportunity to make something for our group meeting. For months, I have been dying to make tiramisu. I finally got my act together and made that on Monday evening. I brought it in for a meeting on Tuesday and it was a total smash hit. I have no photos of that because cameras at work are forbidden. I figured photos of it uncut were pretty boring. Had I any clue this fabulous dessert was so daggone easy I think I would have been making it for years. I also had the idea that it used a lot more marscapone than it did. Only one eight-ounce container per batch. I made two.

My only complaint about it was that I had to dirty three mixing bowls to make it. Since I only have two that was a pain. Not a major pain, but a pain nonetheless. I do not own a hand mixer only my beloved KitchenAid. This is one of the few times when I would not mind having a hand-held mixer. I could have used it to mix the cream or the egg yolks instead of swapping something out of one bowl and then washing it out. Of course, I survived, but I do so love grousing about these non-essentials.

Anyway, back to the black and white loaf. I detest bananas. However, I concede their healthful benefits and I have been having leg cramps something fierce lately and I have been told the potassium in bananas is helpful in avoiding these. I saw three pounds on sale for $1.49 the other day so I bought them. I read that they do not ripen as quickly if you separate them, so I did. Of course, this meant that they essentially bypassed ripening and instead turned into leopards. You know? Those bananas with the spots all over them? Disgusting. I can barely gag down a pure yellow banana - no way can I eat one with spots. I could barely bring myself to touch it. It was time to show those leopards on the counter who was boss and turn them into something a little less dangerous than lurking fruit! Of course, there are still some left to traumatize me and I may be too damaged to ver visit the Big Cat Display at the Philadelphia Zoo. But, I have been wanting to go there this since the new display opened a few years ago and haven't made it yet, so I don't think they are worried about the loss of revenue).

After stupidly misreading the recipe and melting all of the butter with the chocolate and then even more stupidly tossing it down the drain, instead of just making a completely chocolate loaf, I did manage to put together the proper loaf. I swear I am so stuck in a rut, my brain was thinking black and white (a.ka. marble) the realization that I could do a complete chocolate loaf and thereby save that chocolate that cost me $11/pound did not even enter my head until after it hit the sink - don't worry I have already slapped myself! I mean for God's sake, no one is holding a gun to my head and making me follow these recipes exactly - what am I my own Nazi policewoman? Okay, I'm over myself now and it is too late to suck it back up the drain anyway.

At any rate, I re-melted the chocolate using the appropriate amount of chocolate and finished the loaf appropriately. Marbled it, in what I believe was a very successful manner and baked it right up. I brought it in to work this morning and all who ate it loved it. Most were also stunned that I would bake something that I would not eat, but I always say, hey if there is a calorie I don't like, I am not about to try and convince myself to eat it. I like way too many other calories as it is. Here for your viewing pleasure is the photographic evidence of that effort.
See isn't it cute? Well, except for those spots - and trust me - I am showing this banana's GOOD side!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lenox Almond Pancakes

Oh, sorry, my bad, I mean Lenox Almond Biscotti! These are the oddest biscotti I have ever made. Okay, I don't make biscotti all that often, I have no idea why not - they are darned easy - but nevertheless - I do not make them frequently. However, when I do make them, I can assure you, they look a boatload better than these flat-ass turkeys!

This recipe was selected by Grethen of Canela & Comino.

Aside from the appearance I found the almond extract too heavy in these. It's not as much as a chef I once had the misfortune to encounter liked to use but it is a lot. I'm fairly confident he purchased his almond extract by the barrel and used a good quart (or rather a bad quart!) in the meal he prepared for my group. He used it in each and every item we ate (make that each and every item we were served) that night and burned out the sinuses of a small group of women in Parkersburg, WV. I think we all still bear the mental scars! But, I digress, Obviously, the amount in this recipe doesn't match his extreme, but still, I found the taste strong enough to jolt me back to that very unpleasant memory.

Unlike several of the other bakers, I do like the use of cornmeal in the dough. I like the bite it gives to the cookie. Mine are so thin that they would have crunch and bite in every piece anyway, but the cornmeal would ensure this even in a cookie that is not as dry as mine. I'm not a wine drinker but for those who do drink wine with their biscotti I am sure the cornmeal would provide an interesting layer of flavor.

I thought the problem was in my execution so I made another batch of the biscotti this evening. Tonight I was very careful to ensure that my logs were the requisite 1.5 inches (or less) in width. They are slightly taller, but still they look more like rolled cookies than they do biscotti. I also decreased the amount of almond extract. They are slightly better looking than the batch above, but are still more pancake than biscotti!

To ensure myself that I could still make a good biscotti, I made a different kind for comparison. Why I thought a recipe I cobbled together would prove anything to me, I do not know. But, nevertheless, these did turn out much more like I expect biscotti to behave.

I'm not sure how they taste. I don't like coconut at all, so I don't find them particularly appealing. They look pretty good, but the coconut taste is too apparent for my taste buds. I tried a few crumbs and decided I would get taste opinions from the folks at work tomorrow!

I think I got carried away with add-ins so they were a bit soft in the middle, but they are drying out nicely. I am calling them Tropical Fruit Biscotti.

My recipe was:

1 stick of butter

1 cup butter

1/2 cup diced dried pineapple

1/2 cup diced dried papaya

1/4 cup rum (I soaked the fruit in this)

3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

2 eggs

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup toasted coconut

3/4 cup chopped nuts, toasted

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

I creamed the butter and sugar. Then I added the eggs. Into this I put the soaked fruit and lemon extract. I mixed this until everything was incorporated. Then I added the dry ingredients (which I had tossed together). After I added the dry ingredients I added the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips and mixed until they were just combined. Then I turned the dough out onto parchment paper and formed it into two logs of equal size. I baked these for 20 minutes at 375. I removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool for about 15 minutes. I moved the parchment paper to a rack to facilitate the cooling. I reduced the oven heat to 350. I then cut the logs into diagonal slices and moved them back into the oven for 20 minutes.

In Dorie's book she says she makes the Lenox Almond Biscotti very frequently. Either she has a lot better luck with them retaining their shape than I did, or she really likes a flat thin biscotti. I guess I'll find out when I try her other biscotti recipe. I definitely won't be trying this one again. I will stick with my King Arthur's Flour version. It never lets me down.