Wednesday, January 14, 2015

chocolate chip cookies

Seems I haven't posted a chocolate chip cookie recipe in a while. So this is the Jacques Torres/New York Times recipe I'm currently using! This one uses both cake and bread flour and needs to chill for 24 hours before being bakes, so plan ahead, or keep the portioned dough balls in the freezer for when the craving strikes!

I make my cookies smaller, 2-3 tbsp of dough per cookie, and this recipe yields 4.5 doz. For softer cookies, bake in a 350 F oven for 12 minutes. For a crisper cookie outside with a chewy center, bakes for 12 minutes at 375 F. They get nice and golden brown at this temperature too!

Chocolate chip cookies

An altered version of a recipe by The New York Times adapted from Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 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 vanilla extract
1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt into a large bowl; set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with the 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.
Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
Scoop cookies into 2-3 tablespoons balls, 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.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
Place 12 mounds of dough onto baking sheet and bake until pale golden brown but still soft, 12 minutes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

toffee squares

This is one of my favorite super easy treat to make. It's quick, only three ingredients and has that salty-sweetness thing going which I love.

So easy, I let my kids make it! They love to smash an entire box of Ritz crackers. I leave the crackers in the sealed inner bag and let them squish all they want. Next, they get to stir in an entire bag of skor toffee bits and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

I pour the whole thing in a greased 8 x 8 and bake it for about 25 minutes in a 350 F oven, until it's golden brown. Let cool, cut into small squares and enjoy!

Easy-peasy, according to my children.

Friday, December 26, 2014

chocolate hazelnut bûche de noël

I made this dessert for my family's Christmas dinner this year and brought it to my parents's house. It's a really stunning dessert that requires no decorating skill. In fact, the hardest part about this recipe is finding the dulce de leche and not licking every single utensil clean!

The cake is simply eggs and sugar, beaten until doubled in volume, then flour and cocoa powder get folded in, followed by chopped hazelnuts. It bakes really quickly in the oven and has to be rolled up on a kitchen towel so it will keep its shape while cooling.

Once the cake is cooled, it gets brushed with some whipping cream that soaks in while the frosting gets prepared. The frosting is so good! Love the texture. Softened butter gets combined with nutella and dulce de leche. Most of that mixture gets used as filling and the rest goes on top. Chopped hazelnuts are both sprinkled over the frosting inside the roll and on top. Oh, and there's whole ferrero rochers in the very middle of the roll, plus halved ones decorating the top!

I made it on Christmas Eve and it hung out on the counter covered with plastic wrap for a good 30 hrs before we ate it. I was told the leftovers were even better on Boxing Day so the cake does keep well!

A definite keeper of a recipe!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël

recipe lightly adapted from: Mom's dish

5 Eggs
3/4 cups Sugar
1 cup Flour
4 tablespoons Cacao Powder
3/4 cups Crushed Toasted Hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups Unsalted Butter
13 ounces Dulce De Leche
1 cup Nutella
1 cup Crushed Hazelnuts
1/2 cups Whipping Cream
16 Ferrero Rochers

Preheat over to 350F. Line a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Whisk eggs together with sugar until it doubles in volume.

In a separate bowl, sift flour and cacao to combine them together.

By thirds, using spatula, fold flour into the egg mixture. Be careful not to over-mix the dough. Fold in 3/4 cups of crushed hazelnuts. Spread the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven, place it on a kitchen towel. Roll up the cake making it into a long roll. Let roll cool to a room temperature.

Unroll the cake and brush the cream over the cake. Let the cream soak for a few minutes while you work on the frosting.

Combine butter, dulce de leche and nutella together and whisk until everything is well incorporated.

Spread 3/4 of the frostimg on to the inside of the roll. Place the Ferrero Rochers in a line at the edge of the long side of the cake.

Spread 3/4 of a cup of crushed hazelnuts over the frosting. Roll the cake tightly together. Spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with remaining chopped hazelnuts and halved Ferrero Rochers.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pretzel Crunch

This is my new favorite snack! The kids can't wait for it to cool, and my family just can't get enough. I made a double batch to package some for the kids' teachers, but when it came time to package it up, I just didn't want to! (I did anyway...)

Sure, they are not much to look at and not very complicated to make, and that might just be the dangerous part! Too easy to make just another batch!

Pretzel Crunch

Recipe created by Christina Tosi - Milk Bar
4 cups salted mini pretzels – about 1/2 of a 16-ounce bag
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons milk powder
1/3 cup malted milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
14 tablespoons butter (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons), melted

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

2. Pour the pretzels in a large bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, sugar, and salt, toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters.

3. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, until it looks toasted, and sugar coating bubbles and coats the pretzels.

4. Cool the pretzel crunch completely before storing. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month. 

I used small letter shaped pretzels so I didn't crumble them up, just left them as-is. The last few times I made this recipe, the butter separated from the rest of the ingredients while baking, so I might try to reduce the amount of butter next time I make this. I also toss the mixture once while baking, and a few times while its cooling so that the sugar coats the pretzels properly. And lastly, if the pretzels aren't very salty, I suggest adding a pinch of salt of two. The very first batch I made with the bottom of the bag where all the salt had collected, and it was my most favorite batch to date. I'm sure the added salt made the difference!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

chewy chocolate mint cookies

Two Baked Sunday Mornings posts in a row: I'm on a roll! And these cookies were crazy good, so I'm really glad I made them!

They remind me of the chocolate cream cheese snacking cookies we made last summer in that they are soft and tender but... refreshing. And I totally didn't expect that. The mint, and there's a lot of it in this recipe, took them to a whole other level.

Instead of the chunks called for in the recipe, I used callebault chocolate chips and I didn't roll them in sugar before baking. These only bake for 10 minutes and stayed nice and soft after cooling.

I had plans to turn these into ice cream sandwiches but I was assured that they wouldn't last long and they didn't.

For the recipe, and to see how the other bakers enjoyed their cookies, click on through to the Baked Sunday Mornings blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

vanilla bean malt cake

This morning's recipe for Baked Sunday Mornings is one that I made last fall, then again, at xmas time, one of the first recipes I made from Baked Elements.

I'm not a big fan of malt, but really liked this recipe. It produces a really nice and moist vanilla cake that doesn't scream malt but has that little something extra.

I had first tried to make little acorn cakelets but I overfilled my moulds and it made a big mess. The cake is a bit too airy to keep the distinct impression of the mould anyway. But the rest of the batter made for really cute mini bundt cakes! These are about 3 or 4 inches across the bottom and perfect to share!

Love this recipe. To find it and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers did, head over to the blog!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

boston cream cake

We were celebrating my SIL's birthday today, so I quickly whipped up this easy but quite delicious Boston cream cake.

I kept going back and forth all week trying to decide what to make. I had a ton of egg yolks left over after making an angel food cake earlier in the week, so I quickly decided to make pastry cream out of them before they dried out and went bad.

Pastry cream  
7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 cups whole milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, the salt, and cornstarch until the mixture is pale, thick and smooth.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the milk and the remaining half of the sugar. Continue stirring until the mixture boils. Remove the pan from the heat, and slowly stream the liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until thickened to pudding consistency.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, and vanilla until combined. Strain throught a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Once the pastry cream have cooled for about 15 minutes, wrap the bowl in plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours of overnight.
 Recipe source: Baked Explorations
I was still hesitating between a strawberry shortcake style cake, or one with rhubarb and strawberry compote as the filling with the pastry cream but settled on the Boston cream cake after my husband suggested it.

I used a basic yellow chiffon style cake recipe because I wanted the cake to stay nice and fluffy even straight out of the refrigerator.

Great Yellow Cake
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple juice
2 cups (9 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or butter two round cake pans, each 8 inches in diameter and 2-inches deep, and line the bottoms with parchment.
In a liquid measuring cup, mix the oil, water, and apple juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set that aside as well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is thick, has tripled in volume, and makes a fat ribbon that holds its shape for a few seconds on top of the batter when you lift the whisk, about 4 minutes.
With the motor running on medium speed, add the liquid in a slow, steady stream. (The trick here is to incorporate and emulsify the liquid into the eggs without causing the eggs to deflate. Adding the liquid slowly in a constant stream is the name of the game.)
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth and lump-free, about 30 seconds. (Be careful not to overbeat, which will make the cake tough.)
Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake until the cakes are golden, spring back to a light touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 40 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment and let cool completely.
Recipe source: Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (Bi-Rite Creamery)

I had a hard time deciding on the glaze, but went with a modified version of the glaze I had made for the Mile high cake, just cutting out some of the cream so the glaze wouldn't be too soft.

Milk Chocolate Glaze
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60–72%), coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ounce unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes
Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream and corn syrup and bring just to a boil.

Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes, then slowly blend the chocolate and cream together, whisking from the center, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk for another 2 to 3 minutes to release excess heat from the mixture. Add the butter and whisk again until the butter is completely melted and incorporated. Leave the glaze at room temperature for about 3 hours, until slightly thickened (it should drip thickly when poured slowly from the spoon).
Spoon teaspoonfuls of glaze up to 2 inches apart around the top edge of the cake, allowing glaze to drip down the sides of the cake. Spoon the remaining glaze over the top center of the cake and smooth with an offset spatula, covering the top completely. Chill the cake until the glaze sets, at least 1 hour.
Recipe source: Baked Explorations
I split each cake into two layers and filled each layer with 3/4 cups pastry cream. Once all my layers were stacked, I left the cake set in the refrigerator over night. The next morning, I made the glaze first thing, and finished the cake around noon. A quick trip into the refrigerator to set the glaze, and that was it!

I think the pastry cream between the layers helped the cake stay moist and gave it a really good texture. The glaze consistency was just right, and the flavor spot on. I had lots of leftover glaze, but I'm sure we'll find a way to use it up :)