Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rough Draft

Candied grapefruit is something I want to perfect. I tried the Gourmet recipe which was basically peel 2 grapefruit, blanch 4 times, and then candy in a 2 to 1 sugar syrup. I ended up blanching twelve times because whenever I'd test the peel, it still seemed very bitter. The peel ended up getting very mushy and breaking into little 1-2 inch bits. They initially were very sweet with little grapefruit flavor, now about a week later, they are more dry and tangy. The peel still doesn't have any texture though, it pretty much dissolves right away.

The picture is before the superfine sugar. I think I liked them better like this. I'm looking forward to trying again. Now I need to learn to temper chocolate so I can dip them!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dec 30 Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

The Tall and Creamy Cheesecake was quick to put together. I'd read somewhere (I think either a Malgieri cookbook or The Cake Bible) that a crust on a cheesecake isn't necessary. This was the first time it'd worked for me! I used parchment to line the base of the pan, and then just slid the cake off the base to the cake plate after it was chilled about five or six hours.

The cake was very fluffy as other reviewers had noted. I'd like to try the lemon or lime versions.

Next week is French Pear Tart selected by Dorie Greenspan!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dec 23 Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

These were really for Dec. 9, but I was using them as my sign-up item for my kid's preschool Christmas party so I just made them last week. The dough was very sticky for me. I tried rolling between wax paper and plastic wrap, the plastic seemed to work best for me. I'd only chilled it the minimum because of our schedule here, I'm thinking chilling it longer would resolve some of those problems. The cookies were not like any other sugar cookies I've tried. They were very buttery and chewy, almost like a chewy chocolate chip cookie. They seem pretty sturdy (we'll see how well they survive the four year olds' decorating!). I have to say I still like my mom's sugar cookies best :)

Check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers for Butterscotch Pudding - next week: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

I made the Buttery Jam cookies for last Tuesday. I'll be making the sugar cookies for this Friday and will post next Tuesday. Nothing for today!

Monday, December 15, 2008


After reading so many articles about how fun marshmallows are and seeing McAuliflower's Brownie Points photo, I had to try making some! I used Nightscotsman's strawberry marshmallow recipe on egullet, used the vanilla variation and substituted 2 tsp peppermint extract for the vanilla. The 2 tsp ended up being almost too much, I think 1 to 1 1/2 next time would be best for eating out of hand. Two is nice for cocoa though!

Mixing them went pretty well. I almost forgot the peppermint extract so had to mix it longer, but it still poured pretty well. I tried using red food color on half to make them pretty for the holidays, but only half because I've never been very good at swirling.

Removing them from the pan was the biggest challenge. It took forever! I used foil and didn't have spray so I'd greased the foil with vegetable oil on a paper towel. I think I didn't use enough oil. I'll also try the parchment suggestion (I think this was on the Brownie Points blog). In any case, the tops looked pretty good still. Cutting them was super easy using a chef's knife; I didn't even need to use much oil. Even with the pain of taking them out of the pan, my first try with marshmallows was pretty rewarding!

The white ones look so fluffy and pretty on the plate, I really want to learn to make these well!

Chocolate-Espresso balls and Peppermint Biscotti

After finishing my gluten-free attempts, I needed to make 6 dozen cookies for my preschooler's school's cookie walk. I wanted some high-yield recipes! I also wanted something a little unusual, no spritz or gingerbread (besides that I hate rolling out dough). I ended up trying the Chocolate-Espresso balls from the Whimsical Bakehouse's Christmas cookie book. They're pretty much like mocha mexican wedding cakes. They turned out pretty good. The coffee flavor seems to come through more once they're cool. They're also the perfect bite-sized cookie, so no mess!

Then I tried these peppermint biscotti from allrecipes. I'd only gotten one box of candy canes, which I ended up needing for the dough, so instead of dipping in chocolate and rolling in crushed peppermint candy, I used red chocolate candy wafers. That's also why I decided on the white chocolate, red on brown didn't sound too great. These were really nice. I didn't try any with the chocolate or with coffee, but I liked them just plain!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gluten-free "Oreos"

So my second attempt at gluten-free baking was "oreos". I used this recipe for the cookies and this one for the filling. I made half with vanilla filling and half with pink peppermint filling (adding about 1/2 tsp peppermint extract to half of the frosting). I noticed the same thing with the grittiness of the brown rice, so I'm thinking in the future I think I'll just try using white rice flour. The cookies weren't too bad. The xanthan gum seemed to leave a bit of a metallic sort of aftertaste, but once the cookies were filled, I really didn't notice it. They're nice and crisp wafers, and I think they'd be great for a chocolate crumb crust for a gluten-free cheesecake.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Alton Brown's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the first time, I tried using gluten-free flours for baking. I was hoping to make a tray of goodies for a friend with celiac. Some of the candies I'll use for all, I just was more intentional about avoiding cross contamination. One recipe that I think turned out pretty well was
Alton Brown's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They don't have any odd aftertaste. They call for brown rice flour, I used Bob's Red Mill. I think white rice flour would give a smoother end product (or a different brown rice flour maybe?). These tasted a lot like the cookies I make when I sub ground flax for half the butter. They're good, but the grittiness I think could be off-putting. Next are the gluten-free 'oreos'!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies

I also made Dorie's World Peace Cookies/Korova cookies for the first time. I just used fine sea salt (no fleur de sel here), Hershey's natural cocoa and some Guittard semisweet chocolate chips chopped a little finer, but these were pretty fantastic.

I'm thinking I'll include them with the holiday cookies this year. I'd picked up some Guittard mint chips, and I'm thinking a half and half mix of mint and semisweet could be nice? I do need to make sure that I chill them long enough or consistently enough, so they all end up looking the same.

I also love that they can be frozen ahead. I am loving the Artisan Bread in 5 min a day, and always have my dough in the fridge. Now I'll be able to make my bread in time for dinner and my oven will be preheated for my cookies, done in time for dessert!

Dec 9 Buttery Jam Cookies

Dorie's description as 'like biscuits' was perfect. I used apricot jam, and they really were like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie. They were really good warm. Still good later, but it was similar to biscuits - amazing right out of the oven, ok later. I'll make these again, they were very homey and cozy. I'd also like to try experimenting with other jams, maybe strawberry or raspberry.

So I'm hoping I was reading the flexibility in the rules for TWD correctly since I'm posting out of order here. If not, please let me know! This week's actual recipe is Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies selected by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein. I'm still hoping to catch up on the linzers (Ulrike has some beautiful linzers!)! The Buttery Jam Cookies are actually scheduled for next Tuesday, Dec 16 and was selected by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl.