Friday, January 28, 2011

The 50/50 cookie

This recipe comes to you from the esteemed pastry chef and chocolate connoisseur Jacques Torres via The Tender Crumb. The New York Times calls it the best cookie recipe ever. I personally call it the 50/50 cookie because it has a chocolate to cookie ratio of 1:1. Let me say that again. For every one part cookie there is one part chocolate. Yuh-huh. It's awesome. And because you refrigerate the dough, it comes out beautifully ribboned on top. It ain't no  Katharine Canfield Cookie (sorry, Jacques), but it's pretty damn close. And I'm loving the coarsely chopped chocolate, too. It makes the chocolate very well dispersed so you get a lot in every bite! 

Makes 24 1-ounce cookies

For the cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces whole (or 1 3/4 cups chopped) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl, cream butter and the two sugars on medium speed using an electric mixer. Then, beat in the egg. Next, pour in the flours, salt, powder, soda, and vanilla and beat until dough comes together. Using a spoon or spatula, fold in the chocolate until well blended. Refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours to let the dough set.

Dough! Dough! Dough!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a 1 ounce scoop, scoop the dough into balls and lay out on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown and still a little gooey. 

It's up to you if you want to eat it out of the oven (like me) or let it cool on an oven rack (like... wait let's be serious who gives up the chance for warm cookies?).

Recipe adapted from The Tender Crumb.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Blueberry scones

I really like scones, but hate how they leave you feeling so carbed-out. So I was really happy to find this recipe that uses a lot less flour for the same amount of end product. My one complaint was that the dough was really sticky, so be wary of that. Otherwise, they came out beautifully and tasted great. Light and fluffy, but retaining that flaky scone quality. Plus there are like a gazillion blueberries in every bite. Yum!

Makes 8 scones

For the scones:

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1/2 cup cream, plus more to glaze
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Zest of 1 lemon
Raw sugar, to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 395°F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, massage the butter into the dry mix until small balls form (about the size of blueberries, hehe). Then add in the lemon zest and blueberries.

Add in the eggs and cream, and mix with a fork until just combined. On a well-floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together (I found my dough to be reeeally sticky, so I added about 1/4 cup more flour). 

Form the dough into a rectangle 5"x12". Cut into 4 rectangles. Cut each rectangle into a triangle, so you end up with 8 triangles roughly 5"x3". Place dough onto the prepared pan and brush the scones with cream, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for roughly 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for about 20 minutes, then serve!

Recipe adapted from Toasty Biscuit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Low-fat organic chocolate beet cupcakes


I am sitting in my kitchen eating a Katharine Canfield Cookie, waiting for my cupcakes to finish baking. Pure joy? Yuh-huh. Ok, so about the recipe: I was introduced to this recipe by a friend in New York when she made them for a Harvest Party. The idea was to make delicious food using all or mostly all local ingredients. The cupcakes used beets, butter and eggs from the Union Square Market, and the dry ingredients came from Whole Foods' organic section. So not only was it healthy, it was also organic! I remember gawking over their unique flavor- it's a cross between chocolate and zucchini flavors- so I tweaked the recipe and came up with this baby. And best of all, these cupcakes prove it is totally possible to make a delicious dessert while also being both sustainable and nutritious. The cupcakes themselves have virtually no fat aside from the fat from the two eggs and teensy bit a chocolate. This being said, I need a little butter-lovin' in my life, so I opted for a full-fat frosting recipe ;)

For the cupcakes:

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup beet puree

For the frosting:

3 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/3 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a double broiler, heat the chocolate over low heat, stirring until melted. Then, in a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set both aside.

In a large bowl combine the eggs and sugar, beating until the mixture doubles in size, about two minutes. In two batches, beat in the dry ingredients, then the beat puree and melted chocolate.

Using an ice cream scoop, dollop the batter into paper cupcake-cup lined cupcake tins (woah tongue twister) so the batter is spread evenly into 16 molds. Bake for roughly 25 minutes, until knife comes out clean when inserted into the cupcakes. Let cool completely.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee powder, and milk. Mix at first with a spoon as to prevent the dry ingredients from poofing up in your face, then switch to a beater. Beat on medium-high speed for a minute or so, until the frosting is just whipped. 

Frost the cooled cupcakes as you wish. I chose to use a butter knife to spread around my frosting, but if you have a piping mold, that would work wonders here!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Easy peasy pineapple upside down cake

Kiirsten has never had pineapple cake. Who is Kiirsten? Who is pineapple cake? My awesome friend; my awesome cake. So naturally the two should meet. And today we made it happen. We started out the day by walking around Walden Pond in the cold but beautifully sunny weather. It was a serene and peaceful walk and much enjoyed. However afterwards we were brutally cold. So naaaturally we decided it necessary to bake a warm dessert. I don't know what made us in a tropical fruit mood, but something in us whispered "pineapple caaaake." And then we went to work. It's a surprisingly simple recipe and one that takes little to no technical effort for those baking-challenged. Plus it makes for a beautiful presentation! It was a perfect way to end our day :)

Makes one 9"x13" cake

For the cake:

1 standard cake mix
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 20 oz can sliced pineapples (in pineapple juice)
1 6 oz jar maraschino cherries
eggs and oil as according to package directions

My little ranger in the snow
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, heat butter and brown sugar until the sugar is melted and not grainy. Pour into a 9"x13" pan and spread evenly over the bottom (if necessary, place pan with brown sugar mixture into the oven to let mixture melt even more, making it easier to spread around). Place pineapple slices evenly over the brown sugar mixture and DO NOT DRAIN THE PINEAPPLE JUICE-- SAVE IT! Drain cherries, place a cherry inside each pineapple circle and decorate the cake however you'd like with the remaining ones.

Then, prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting the water for pineapple juice from your can (a 20 oz can contains roughly 8 oz of pure juice). Pour mixture over your prepared brown sugar/pineapple/cherry spread. Bake according to cake package's directions (probably 20-35 minutes).

Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven, flip over onto a serving plate. Yum yum done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Maple oatmeal raisin cookies!

I feel like such a mom today. And you know what? --don't judge-- I'm loving it. I woke up this morning, went for a run, made these cookies, had a lunch (of cookies, duh). After spending the majority of my morning in the kitchen, I went to pick up some girlies from school (Rebe, and Maeve, who's a second grader and Rebe's and my pretty-much-sister). I was still in my workout gear and feeling pretty mom-ish. But then I felt cooler when we turned on the radio and jammed to Nelly. After stopping in the center of town to do some errands, we made our way home for some milk and cookies... and we danced some more. Now the girls are in the dining room, doing a puzzle, and I'm about to join. It's been a major housewife day. And it's great. Lol.

Makes approximately 32 cookies

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups old-fashioned, rolled oats
1 stick  room temperature unsalted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup raisins

For the maple glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl,  using a beater on medium speed, combine the butter, sugars, and maple syrup. Add in the eggs and beat until incorporated. Next add the flour, salt, and soda and beat until batter forms. Last, mix in the oats and raisins and beat until just incorporated. 

cookie models
Using a small ice cream scoop (about 2 tablespoons), place the batter onto greased cookie sheets, keeping an inch distance between the cookies. Bake for 7-10 minutes, then place hot cookies on a wire cooling rack. 

While the cookies are cooking, beat the confectioner's sugar, maple syrup, cream, and salt together on medium-high speed until mixture is glossy. Dip a whisk into the batter and then shake the whisk over the cookies on the rack to drizzle. It's as easy as that. Yumski.

Recipe adapted from Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather via La Kocinera.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Scrumptious apple pie

Apple pie is most definitely a conventional winter dessert. And good apple pie, now that's kind of awesome. Even Rebe, who doesn't like apple pie, told me, "this is great!" Now, the secret to this apple pie is the brown sugar and vinegar. As weird as it sounds, the vinegar becomes sweet when cooked and adds an extra layer of flavor to the pie. And brown sugar? Well, let's just say if brown sugar and granulated sugar were my children, brown sugar would be the favorite child. It makes things so much gooier and moist! So go ahead and make this delectable apple pie and see what my fuss is all about.

2 standard store-bought pie crusts
6 large apples (use a variety!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Begin by blind-baking the pie crust. Blind baking is important in making any pie because it involves baking the crust initially on its own, allowing for the final produt to have a crispier bottom crust, not gooey and still uncooked like those aaaamateur pies). To blind bake, grease a glass pie plate and set down the bottom pie crust. Starting from the middle and working your way out, pat down the crust so it lies flat on the plate. Using your fingertips, ruffle the edges to make it look pretty. Use a fork to make 7-10 indentations in the bottom of the crust (this allows air to escape from the crust and prevents bubbles from forming). Now grease the inside of the crust and line it with a piece of aluminum foil. Next, pour in dried rice or beans to line the aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes (your crust won't be fully cooked, per se, but it will make a world of a difference. Trust me!).

While your crust is baking, peel and core 6 large apples. I used 4 crisp granny smiths and 2 sweet jonagolds. Cut each apple into roughly 16 slices. In order to prevent browning, mix half of the juice from your lemon with water in a large bowl. Place your cut apple slices into this mixture to keep them fresh and from turning gross colors. 

The quintessential pie-cooling-by-the-window picture :)
In a large bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Mix until combined. Then add the rest of the lemon juice and the vinegar. Finally, rinse the apples from the water mixture and pour them into the large bowl. Using your hands, toss the apples in the sugar mixture until the apples are well coated.

Turn the oven down to 375°F. Place the apples into the baked pie crust in a circular fashion, eventually creating a rounded mountain of apples. Set the second pie crust over the top of the pie and, again using your fingers, create a ruffled edge around the outside rim of the plate. Cut 4 slits in the top of the crust to allow air to vent out of the pie. Whisk the egg and brush it over the crust. Bake for roughly 55 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples have fully baked. Allow to cool for ~2 hours before serving. Enjoy with a dollop of ice cream!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Upside-down apple biscuits

I'm feeling very wintry today. Maybe it's the fact that our furnace has been on the fritz for 3 days and I am relegated to wearing Uggs and my winter coat around the house. Or maybe it's the fact that I decided to go for a run yesterday, realizing only after I ran down the huge hill that our house is on that it was definitely too cold to go running (I mustered up the courage and ran anyways. Thank you, Under Armour). Either way, it's cold out. And cold temperatures mean warm desserts (hazzah!). So I woke up this morning and had a little baking adventure. And out came these beautiful biscuits! The warm apple-cinnamon smell filled the house with a spiced goodness reminiscent of fall and no-snow-time. A perfect way to start the day.

For the sauce:

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the apples:

1 1/2 tart apples (I used Granny Smith, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

For the biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup cold buttermilk

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar on medium heat until a spreadable mixture forms, about 2 minutes*. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 9" round cake pan and spread evenly to coat the bottom. Set aside.

In a large pan, melt butter for the apples. Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and apples. Sauté until the apples become tender and begin to caramelize. Once done, turn off heat and add lemon juice. Arrange the apples on top of the brown sugar mixture in a decorative fashion.

At this point, preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, powder, soda, salt, and sugar. Using a large grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Working quickly, use your fingertips to knead the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse oatmeal. Using a fork, mix in the buttermilk. Move the dough onto a floured surface and pinch the dough into 8-10 round biscuits. Arrange on top of the apples.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top of the biscuits are golden brown. Let cool for 2-3 minutes. Turn the mixture over on a serving platter and serve immediately... with ice creammmmm.

Recipe from Pam Anderson's Perfect One-Dish Dinners via Cookin' Canuck.

*Be sure to put the butter and sugar in together. If you melt the butter first, the mixture will not congeal properly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chocolate chip coffee cake

I'm watching Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa right now. She's talking about bringing dinner to a woman who's just moved down the street from her posh East Hampton digs. And guess what she says? She says, "This will be a great way to welcome her to the hood." What, Ina? If there were one place on earth that was the opposite of a hood, it would be East Hampton, NY. Sorry. I know this has nothing to do with coffee cake. I just couldn't stop laughing when I heard her say this, and now it's on my mind.

So, uh, how about that coffee cake. I feel bad because it really deserves more recognition than I'm giving it. It hits your craving for a chocolate bar, a cake, and a moist gooey thing all in one. Yuh-hum. My mom has made this coffee cake since I was little, and every time it is a new experience in my mouth. And it's one of the few desserts I've had that tastes just as good room temperature as fresh out of the oven. It's great! And I cannot stress enough how overcooking this will seriously detract from its full potential of greatness. So reeeally stick close to your oven so do a knife check for cooked-ness. As soon as your knife comes out clean, take the cake out! Trust me, you'll be happy you did :)

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt/sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a large bundt pan and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla. Add in eggs, stir. Incorporate flour, baking soda, salt.

Meanwhile, using a fork, whisk together brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan and smooth using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over the batter and swirl into batter using a fork or knife. Pour in the second half of the batter and swirl the rest of the brown sugar mixture over it. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then plate and serve for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.