Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Granola Energy Bars - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Next installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking Chez Moi.  The recipe is Granola Energy Bars.
I hadn't planned on preparing this recipe (still reeling from the busy-ness of December :-), but then I looked at the Tuesdays with Dorie site today and saw the links and comments from the group on how easy this recipe is, and figured I could whip it up after work with ingredients on hand.
I'm so glad I did!  It's basically a recipe for homemade granola bars, something I've tried to make a couple of times before.  I've never really found a recipe that's just right before, but I really like this one. This will be a great snack to have on hand for our post-holiday withdrawal - sweet, but grainy and nutty too.  And it was indeed, very easy.

You lightly toast 2 cups of rolled oats and 1 cup of nuts.  She suggests sliced almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds - I used sliced almonds and roughly chopped macadamia nuts and hazelnuts, because that's what I had on hand.   Mix in dried fruit (1 cup) and coconut, and a bit of salt.   Here's the dry mixture:

Next, you boil together a bit of butter and some brown rice syrup (the secret ingredient to make the bars hold together!), and then pour it over the dry mixture.  Press that into a parchment lined pan, and then bake.  It has to cool completely before cutting.  I will definitely try this one again - planning to experiment with different combinations of fruits and nuts.  It looks like some of the other bakers in the group have tried chocolate - sounds like a bit of a trick to figure out how to get the chocolate chips or chunks in there and not melt them with the hot syrup.  I'll just have to experiment....

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 72nd installment. The recipe is Inside-Out, Upside-Down Tirami Sù.
We enjoyed this dessert with our New Year's Day feast. The family gave it rave reviews, which made all the fussing with phyllo worth it.  

It has the flavors of Tirami Su, but in different form. You make a sabayon, and combine that with whipped cream and marscapone cheese, for the creamy component. The coffee flavor comes from a coffee granita - combine espresso, water and milk, freeze it and then scrape into shavings with a spoon.  The shell is phyllo - butter and sugar half a sheet of phyllo, and then scrunch it into a disk. The recipe calls for baking them in buttered and sugared 4" cake pans.  I ddin't have those, so used a combination of english muffin rings and tart shells, which were about the right size.

Here are the pans ready for baking.

The phyllo was a little bit fussy to work with. I had trouble peeling the layers apart. I had thawed it in the refrigerator overnight, and then on the counter for a few hours, but I'm still not sure what I could do differently to make it easier. I have no idea if my disks were done correctly, since there was no video to watch - I just kind of folded and squished it into a circle.

The phyllo came from a local Greek deli, which had a whole variety of different types of frozen phyllo - I got "#7" (need to look that up to understand what it means!).

We had leftovers on the following couple of days, although the recipe is correct in saying that the cream and granita do not keep well for very long.

Onward to more phyllo adventures in the future....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 71st installment. The recipe is Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps.

This was one of those few recipes without a photo in the book, leaving me wondering if mine were turning out correctly.  It's a thin wafery (but soft) cocoa cookie, sandwiched together with chocolate mint ganache.  How could I go wrong? ;-)  The ganache recipe has you soak fresh mint in the hot cream, and then pour over chopped chocolate, and I used peppermint extract instead, since I had no fresh mint on hand.   I was too time-strapped to watch the video (yes, too time-strapped to watch a few minute online video - that sounds insane ;-) so I just guessed at the "nightcap" shape for the ganache decoration on top, based on the description in the book.  Looking forward to seeing other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers' versions of this!

The cookies seemed a little floppy (visible in the photo above) - I think I was expecting something crisp, rather than spongy.  So, I'm not quite sure I got this to match what the recipe writer was looking for.  They are pretty yummy, especially the ganache part (of course!)
Cookies after baking

Mixed-Starter Bread - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 70th installment. The recipe is Mixed-Starter Bread.

This recipe was a French-style bread dough, made in several stages over two days.  It was delicious, and kept quite well, which I find is the case when the bread has a slower start and rise. You start with a small piece of dough, soak it in water, and add add a small amount of flour, and that is the first starter.  It rises for eight hours, at which point you put that starter into water, soften it for a few minutes and then add another small amount of flour.  This rises for four hours.  

At this point, it is very liquid and bubbly:

Now it's time to turn it into dough, with a small quantity of yeast (just 1/2 teaspoon), plenty of flour and salt.   This rises for 1.5 hours, and then you can shape and have the final rise before baking.  I tried several shapes - the basic baguette, the "wheat ear" (having not watched the video, I was just winging it in terms of the cuts to make the shape!) and the mini "Pain Fendu", with a channel down the middle, kind of baking up like two skinny short baguettes.  Here they are, on the peel, after rising, and before going in the oven:
Baked it on the baking stone, with a cast iron skillet of water in the oven, per the directions.  We really liked the bread!  I'm not sure if it's better than the speedier French bread recipe we did earlier - I'd need to try them side-by-side to know for sure.
I was glad the recipe included a time table, so I was guided on how to split this over the two days.  It wasn't a lot of hands-on time, but I did need to be time conscious in order to keep on top of getting the steps done without staying up too late the first night.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart - TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Here's the next installment of Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi - Cranberry Crackle Tart.
This was fluffy, tasty and  easy!  I've never made a pie with cranberries as the main fruit.  Dorie suggests two possible crusts you can use - I chose the Galette dough, which is a lot like an American pie crust, and mixed in the food procesor.  You roll it out, put it in the pan, and then use a pastry wheel to cut the edge off down below the rim of the pie pan, so you're making a tart with a low edge, inside a regular pan (I was glad it didn't call for a special pan for this - I may use this technique for future tart baking)  Pre-bake the crust (I used pie weights to keep it from puffing up), and then spread it with jam.  I found a strawberry/raspberry/cranberry jam, and used that:

Next, you whip up meringue, mix in cranberries, and pile that on top of the jam. I use the stand mixer with whisk attachment for meringue, and it is pretty reliable. Meringue is fun to play with, making swirls on top of the pie....


It bakes for a fairly long time at a low temperature. I'm not quite sure if I baked it long enough, but it seemed like the right consistency inside.   

We had many desserts already lined up for the Thanksgiving dinner, so had this as a pre-Thanksgiving treat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Amaretti - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 69th installment. The recipe is Amaretti.

These cookies are a recipe from Nick Malgieri, and contain very few ingredients; almond paste, sugar, and egg whites, with optional pine nuts to top them.  I skipped the pine nuts and just went for the plain cookies.    The texture and taste are both quite addictive - crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and very pure almond flavor.  Yum - I will definitely consider making these again.
 The finished cookies are flatter than I expected - I think of amaretti as little domes, rather than flat disks. As soon as I put these on the cookie sheet, they flattened right out.  The dough more like a batter than a dough. I also did not have to cook them as long as the recipe said.

The recipe suggests using almond paste in a can, since that has less sugar.  I did get a can of "Almond Filling", but it looks like it has some other odd ingredients that may not enhance these cookies  - coconut (?!) and a preservative.  I also had the almond paste in a tube, so I used that instead of the can, and will save the can for a future experiment.  
The cookies stuck to the parchment, and as I was too lazy (!) to do the suggested trick of setting the parchment on a wet cloth in order to soften them up, I just used a thin meta spatula to get them off as well as I could.  The bottoms of the cookies weren't completely intact (damage hidden in the photo above! :-) but that didn't affect the taste!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Palets des Dames- TWD: Baking Chez Moi

Maybe I'm crazy, but I want to try baking along with the Tuesdays with Dorie group for at least a few recipes from Dorie Greenspan's new Baking Chez Moi book.  I was enticed by the gorgeous photo of these cookies, and the fact that there was a free download of the recipe (the first one's free....).  I'm not sure I can keep up the pace, given the continuing "demands" (ok, complaining about baking being demanding is idiotic :-) of Baking with Julia, but I'll see.
Meanwhile, I did prepare the first recipe, this vanilla cookie called Palets des Dames.  The dough was quite simple, butter and sugar based, and came together quickly. You chill it, and then put small scoops or balls on your cookie sheet:

You bake the cookies until just golden - you can see from some of mine that I lost my focus (oops) and let them go a little too long for one of the cookie sheets, although they were perfectly delicious anyway.
Once they're baked, you ice them with a simple confectioner's sugar glaze, and that's it!  They are simple but delicious, and it's a good change of pace from the "chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate" tendency we have in our cookie baking here.