Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macaroons (Daring Bakers in October)

The Bakers challenge this month was more challenging than I was anticipating. I must say the cookies were good, I just didn't get the best results. No little feet at the end of my cookies. Too bad I don't like nut cookies enough to try this recipe again. It is a must to use parchment paper, which I didn't do :(. I used Reynolds wrap. Bad idea. But here are my results.

Recipe Source: This recipe comes from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.Ingredients
Powdered sugar: 2 ¼ cups
Almond flour: 2 cups
Granulated sugar: 2 Tbsp.
Egg whites: 5
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.
(baking before the "jump" or "cut")

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Pie Comfort

I have been lax on posting lately, I made chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter fudge about a week ago. They were both super delicious, and I may post them eventually. TBD...Anyway, I ate at my parents house today. Sunday dinner, very comfort food today. We had homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes with roasted squash. It was soooooo goood. And of course followed by the ultimate comfort food dessert, Apple Pie. I really wanted to go with a very flaky and tasty pie crust. So I used half butter and half lard. Also, I changed the pie filling, and used brown sugar, instead of granulated sugar. I used Green Apples from my parent's apple tree. They are super good. We made applesauce all weekend and decided to do apple pie, because it sounded so good. So, here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy. (It is not wise to even try to count calories with this recipe, but wise to eat the results :)

Apple Pie

For the Crust:
(Yield: 2 crusts)
1/2 cup lard, freeze for 20-30 minutes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and freeze for 20-30 minutes
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, put in the freezer long enough to get very cold
1/2 cup ice cold water
pinch of salt

In a large bowl: Mix together the flour and salt. Toss in the butter and lard to coat in the flour mixture. Use your fingers to crumble the butter/lard with the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. May need to put back in the freezer if the butter/lard is getting too warm. Sprinkle the water over the flour and mix with your fingers just until you can form the dough into a ball. Try not to over moisten the dough. It's alright to be a little flaky. Divide the dough into two equal portions flatten into discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour. Take out one disc and unwrap, leaving it on the plastic wrap, cover with a 2nd piece of plastic wrap. Roll the dough out into a 9-10 inch round, or least enough to overlap the edge of a pie plate. Leave the plastic wrap on and loosely roll up, replace in the refrigerator. Repeat with the second disc until ready for use. Lay one crust on a 9-inch clear pie plate and lightly pat in the pan. Put the pie plate back into the refrigerator. Now to prepare the filling...

For the filling:
9 medium apples (3 pounds), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. flour
dash of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together and toss with the apples to coat. Pour the filling into the crust lined pie pan. Moisten the edge of the crust with egg white, or water. Place the second crust over the apple mixture. Cut into the crust in an apple shape, 1-inch cuts should do it. Place the pie pan onto a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another hour. Check about 30 minutes in, you may need to cover the crust edges with foil. Keep an eye on the pie, you may need to take it out before the hour is up, depending on whether the crust is cooked through. Remove the pie from the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I am finally getting around to posting this. I took these muffins to my friend, Kristin, this past weekend. They were so good. I loved them so much, I had to make them twice, 2 times in one week. They are that good!
("Bakery Blueberry Muffins" from http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen) I tried another Pioneer Woman recipe before this and I was not happy with the lower fat version that I made. This recipe on the other hand is awesome!

Blueberry Muffins
yield 12 muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 tspn. vanilla
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk, vinegar soured milk
1/2 tspn. salt
2 tspns. baking powder
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I sprayed a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, and also lined the cups with liners, spraying them lightly also.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then add vanilla, eggs and buttermilk.
In a medium bowl; mix together the dry ingredients. Add the blueberries in, lighty stirring to mix. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until mixed. Do not overmix! Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. If you would like, sprinkle some turbinado/raw sugar on top of the muffins.
Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (no gooey batter!).
Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve immediately or serve the next day, if you can wait that long.
I used frozen blueberries the first time I made these, and thawed and rinsed them the second time. You can tell the difference in how blue the first set is.

Spiced Cutout Cookies

Yield: 160 cookies (This depends on how thin you roll the dough and the cookie cutter you use. The original recipe noted a yield of 9 dozen/108 cookies)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg
3 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. orange zest

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in molasses and egg. In a separate bowl; whisk together the flour and spices, add in the soda, whisk well. Separate the dough into 2 balls, wrap in saran wrap and chill for 1-2 hours to stiffen the dough a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
On a well floured surface, roll the dough to around 1/16-inch thickness, may need to reflour under the dough and keep the rolling pin floured. Cut dough with 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on edges. Let cookies cool on pans for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe comes from Delisa Narr, West Bend, Wisconsin, in the "Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars", Fall 2006 edition, page 103.

Lemon Slices

I decided to make cookies this week, but I couldn't possibly narrow it down to just one. Thus a double cookie day, which of course made my day better. I sure had a hectic one. Baking almost always relaxes me, and this definitely worked. I'm taking the two cookie batches i'm making to Illinois this weekend. It's Spoon River Drive this weekend. I love this scenic drive, and shopping for fall crafts, antiques, and of course food. This cookie is the less labor intensive of the two I decided on.

from the "Good Housekeeping Great Baking" cookbook, Hearst Communications, Inc., published 1999, page 56

Lemon Slices
yield 60 cookies

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large lemon
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus extra granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In medium bowl; whisk together flour, powder, and salt. Set aside. Grate lemon into a small bowl. I used scissors to cut the zest smaller. Squeeze 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice into a small bowl.
In a large bowl; cream together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and powdered sugar until creamy. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and juice, until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir just until mixed.
Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into 6-inch long logs. Wrap each in saran wrap and refrigerated dough 1-3 hours. The original recipe says overnight, but this works too.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take 1 dough log out and cut into 30 equal slices, around 1/4-inch each. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 10-11 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Remove the cookies and let cool on pan(s) 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough log.
1 cookie per serving
Calories: 50
Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I decided on this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. I am using the last garden zucchini of the season, and this sounded like a good recipe to that with. I am taking it to a friend that I am visiting tomorrow. She hasn't been feeling in the best health for quite a while, and i'm hoping that Kelsey (her sister) and I can help with house work and bring her food, so she doesn't have to cook. I am also going to make Blueberry Muffins in the morning to take for breakfast. I'll let you know how both taste. The cake looks pretty good though.

(This recipe is adapted from the kitchen of The Pioneer Woman.)

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups peeled, grated Zucchini
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt (drain some of the liquid if possible)
1/2 tsp. Lemon extract
3 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. Lemon zest
2 cups frozen Blueberries, slightly thawed (you can use fresh as in the original recipe)

3 Tbsp. butter softened
3 of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. Lemon zest
1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan, set aside. Sift together dry ingredients in a small bowl, set bowl aside. In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, sugar, eggs, yogurt, and lemon extract. Lightly fold in the blueberries. Pour into the bundt pan. Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let the cake sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until well blended and creamy. Add the zest and stir, then stir in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Stir in enough lemon juice to a consistency that is easily spreadable.

10/5: Officially, I tried some, the flavor was there, but the texture was not good at all. The yogurt substitution might have done it, but unfortunately i'm not really in the mood to try making it again to see if I could fix it. There are so many other recipes out there to try. It did look pretty good though. Disappointment has set in. :(

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

I decided on these cookies for 'Girl's Night', after some help from by bff Kelsey. They just sounded like fun. I found this recipe on http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/2008/09/28/i-was-doing-so-good/
If you would like the original recipe, check it out there. I only varied it slightly. And next time I make these cookies, you better believe there will be a next time, I am going to change it a little more. They were soooooooo good! I love new recipes, and thank you to awesome bloggers for that!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
yield: I got 29 cookies, depending on the size scoop you use, it varies.

3 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed (I suppose light brown sugar would work)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 Tbsp. Fat-free Vanilla Yogurt
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper. I had to use 4 baking sheets. In a large bowl: spoon flour into measuring cups and pour into bowl, mixing a whisk, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a second bowl, whisk together the oil and sugars. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly, then add the eggs and vanilla. Again whisk thoroughly. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until completely incorporated, no flour lumps please.
Use a Tablespoon sized cookie scoop, must have a release mechanism, drop full Tablespoonfuls onto the pans. Space the dough about 1 inch between each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, making sure baked through. Cool the cookies on the pans until they come to room temperature. You can remove them to wire racks to cool completely, if you like.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

 Using a hand held mixer, beat the butter until creamy, add the cream cheese, syrup and vanilla. Beat until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar only until combined.
Turn half of the cookies upside down, place a heaping Tbsp. of frosting onto each half and place other half of cookies on top, pressing down slightly. Put the assembled pies/cookies into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. To store: Place in sealed containers and refrigerate.

Chai Shortbread

I saw this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, courtesy of Juliana Grimes and Ann Taylor Pittman, December 2007 issue. I really liked their presentation, looks like a good Christmas idea...ok, I realize it's a little early, but I love, love, love Christmas! One thing about this recipe is that I would definitely double up on the spices next time, everything but the salt and pepper anyway.

Chai Shortbread
yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups flour (spoon into measuring cups)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
dash of freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup powdered sugar
10 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. ice cold water
Mixing Tools: Whisk, Wooden Spoon, and Fork

Combine flour and spices through ground pepper with a whisk. In a separate bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together sugar and butter until creamy. Sure, you can use a mixer, but I like the hard way. Using the wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until it appears crumbly. Sprinkle the water over the dough and toss with a fork until the dough mostly comes together. Divide in half and shape into 2"x6" logs, wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Unwrap dough, one log at a time. Using a serrated knife, cut each log into 18 equally sized slices. Place dough circles at least 1-inch apart on two greased baking sheets, or use parchment paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned around edges. Cool cookies on pans for a few minutes, and then place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. You can use twine or ribbon to neatly present 8 cookies in a festive way.

1 cookie per serving=57 calories, 3.2 grams of fat, and 0.2 grams of fiber