Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Fortunately, Mike of Living out West, chose Toasted Almond Scones for our weekly baking adventure. These scones taste the way scones are supposed to taste. They have just a touch of sweetness, the toasted almonds are added in three forms, almonds we toast and grind, almonds we toast and chop and almonds which toast themselves on top of the scones while the scones are baking. In addition, we added just a hint of almond extract to the liquid ingredients. Delightful.
Of course since I can't seem to do anything right the first time anymore, I did burn the living daylights out of my first cup of almonds. Honestly, do they have to go from albinos to crispy critters in the blink of eye? I say no, but my eye was probably blinking for more like three minutes than three seconds, so I have only myself to blame.
Luckily I had more almonds in the freezer so I was quickly able to rectify this error. Other than that, I had no problems with this recipe at all. I love that in a recipe.
For those folks who find they overwork their dough trying to incorporate the butter, I do have a suggestion. Keep your butter in the freezer, then when you are making pastry, grate the necessary amount into your flour mixture. It is then super easy to mix into the dry ingredients, it is predisposed to make small chunks and the clumps that stick together make the larger pieces that make pastry so light and flaky. This is especially helpful for unsalted butter since it keeps for such a short time in the refrigerator.
Check Mike's blog for the recipe, some great photos and some serious dedication - five rounds of scones!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I got a yield of about 30 cookies from a half batch. I used my small scoop to form the cookies. I probably should have given them a gentle nudge after putting them on the cookies sheets. One or two were a bit bulbous in the center. They are the chewier version of all I made.
These are quite chocolately, a flavor profile, I heartily endorse. However, I found the appearance of the albino oat flakes to be a bit off-putting. On the other hand, I always claim anything with oats in it is healthy, so I do approve of these cookies being a braggards about their healthy content. These are so chocolately, in fact, that I actually drank that milk (in the photo) when I ate those cookies. I believe that would be second class of milk in the last four or five years!
Caroline and Claire of Bake with Us selected this week's recipe and it can be found on their blog.
So, I started leafing through my cookie cookbooks. Immediately, I considered making something with a meringue base, but all the recipes I saw called for two egg whites, except one. It called for four (which was how many I had on hand) but it yielded a massive amount of cookies. Since it involved leaving the trays in the oven for a couple of hours, I figured it wouldn't be the best choice. Seriously, how is that supposed to work? You can only fit so many trays into the oven at one time. Are the other shapes just supposed to sit on the counter and wait their turn?
In flipping through Presidential Cookies, I saw a recipe for John F. Kennedy's favorite: Chocolate Almond Tuiles. Now, I missed making tuiles with Dorie a few weeks ago. I can't remember why, but I am sure it was a very good excuse!
So, I thought, perfect, I shall dip into JFK's history and whip these bad boys up. First, let me say, I am underwhelmed with the instructions Ms. Young provides. She says to chill the batter for one hour. I did this, then she says to spread it onto parchment paper. I managed this, but it was difficult. I was unsure of how thick to make the tuiles and was guessing at how much batter to spread. In addition, the batter did not want to spread, it wanted to stick to the parchment and lay in a lump. I persevered and managed to form some fairly round shapes. I then baked them and as suggested, lay them over a rolling pin to form the curved tile appearance. What a pan in the hiney that was, I should have lay them down so that the part from the cookie sheet was forming the curve. Sometimes I did, sometimes I put the top part on the rolling pin. I realized afterwards that one way meant the ugly bottom was the eye catching part of the cookie - duh.
And, let me quote the directions for forming the cookies:
1 -Make a circle template by cutting a circle in a thin piece of cardboard or plastic (about 3.5 inch diameter).
2 -Several other steps are inserted and then -
3 - Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the template on it.
4 - Using a small spatula, spread a small amount of batter evenly over the template. Carefully lift the template off.
Am I dumber than the average bear or is this confusing to you, also? I can assure you, if you spread the batter onto the template there will be no removal of said template from the batter. I finally decided that what I would do would be to draw circles on the back of my parchment paper and then spread the batter within those circles. That worked pretty well. Maybe Bev meant I should place the template under the parchment, but that is just too annoying for words. My circle idea was much closer to genius than her stupid template.
The tuiles tasted okay the first day (I made them Sunday) but I actually prefer them a couple of days later. The first day I found them to be extremely cakey or crispy - depending on their thickness. Now, two days later they are pleasantly chewy.
I remain convinced however, that JFK was so happy with these tuiles because he did not have to form the little bas**rds!
I forgot to mention, the almond flavor in these tuiles comes from almond extract. It will be interesting to substitue a little ground almond for some of the flour to enhance that flavor and alter the cookie's texture, slightly.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I should change the name of this dish - I did not make Bourbon Bread Pudding. I had no bourbon and I wasn't about to go out and buy a bottle just to get one tablespoon. Instead, I made Grand Marnier Bread Pudding and it was a smash hit at my meeting.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I was quite looking forward to this one. I love potatoes, I have days when all I eat are potatoes, fried potatoes with cheese for breakfast, boiled potatoes with butter for lunch and a baked potato for dinner. That is my idea of comfort food.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I cut this recipe in half and got eight muffins in my batch. I swear I do not know how Dorie only gets one dozen out of the full mixture. I always get at least 18 from a full batch. I even bought new muffin tins a few months ago to ensure I had the proper normal sized ones.
The molasses really give you a darker hue to your crumb, but I like that. I also quite liked the al dente crunch provided by the corn meal. I had forgotten I used the meal and when the muffin had the tiny resistance I thought, what is going on -- then of course, my genius kicked in and I remembered. I used a handful of chopped walnuts and a handful of raisins as a bonus in my muffins. You can find this recipe posted by Christine at Happy Tummy. (Love that name.)