Sunday, June 22, 2008

Egg Whites: Pecan Meringues or Resurrection Cookies

I have to admit I'm a sucker for a name and Resurrection Cookies totally appeals to me. It conjours up images of zombies for me - and while these meringues aren't anything like zombies they are pretty amazing. The term resurrection refers to the fact that once you make the meringue you leave them in the oven overnight to dry out and presto! Out come magnificent sweet pillows of meringue.

1 cup roasted pecans cut finely with a knife.
3 egg whites
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Put egg whites into a stand up mixer bowl. Add salt. Start the mixer speed on low, gradually increasing the speed until soft peaks start to become visible and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Increase the speed to medium-high, and slowly add the sugar to the egg whites. Continue to whip the eggs and sugar for a few minutes. Then add the vinegar to the bowl. Increase speed to high and whip the egg whites until they fluff up and become glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4-5 minutes.

4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan pieces. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or Silpat.

5. Put the cookies sheet in the 300°F oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Leave them in the oven overnight. In the morning they should be ready - crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside. If they are a little marshmallowy or chewy on the inside in the morning, just let them dry out for a few more hours.

Taken directly from the great blog "Simply Recipes"

Egg Whites: Nougat with Roasted Hazelnuts and Rum

I had a bunch of eggs whites left over from making the custard for the strawberry tart - so I had to use them. I thought I'd have a go at this recipe for a gooey sweet - nougat.

2 cups of sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
2 egg whites
1 Tbs rum
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup roasted hazelnuts

1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper (make it a small baking tray for thicker nougat - mine was quite thin due to the large baking tray).

2. Place the sugars (honey, corn syrup, and sugar) in a saucepan and stir over medium low heat until dissolved.

3. Boil until the mixture reaches 250F - remove from heat.

4. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form.

5. Slowly, while the mixer is on low, pour 1/4 of the sugar syrup into the egg whites.

6. Beat for 5 min on the medium setting.

7. Place the rest of the syrup back on the stove top. Heat until it reaches 290F.

8. While the mixer is still mixing, slowly pour in the remainder of the sugar mixture.

9. Beat until very thick.

10. Add the rum, and butter.

11. Beat for another 5 min.

12. Stir in the hazelnuts with a metal spoon.

13. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth the top with an off set spatula.

14. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

15. Cut into pieces with a knife and wrap in individual wrappers.

Mostly taken from: "Sweet Food" ed. Kate Scarlett pp. 300-01.

Strawberry Custard Tart

It's summer, and the berries are out and utterly delicious. I had some strawberries this week and swooned, so I thought that I would make a fresh fruit tart that involved two of my favorite things: strawberries and custard.

Ingredients: Tart Base
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients: Custard
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch (sifted)
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
3.5 Tbs unsalted butter at room temp and cut into bits

Ingredients: Topping
2 pints fresh strawberries
1/4 cup apricot jelly
1-2Tbs water

Method: Tart Base
1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form.

3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch in diameter).

4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan.

5. Freeze until firm (around 30min).

6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork.

7. Bake until golden (20-25min).

8. Let cool to room temp.

Method: Custard
1. Bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan.

2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan whisk the egg yolks together, as well as the sugar and cornstarch until it is well blended and slightly thick.

3. Still whisking stir in around 1/4 of a cup of boiling milk (do this slowly - always adding a small bit whilst you whisk).

4. Keep whisking and pour in the rest of the boiling milk.

5. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil while constantly whisking.

6. Keep boiling for around 1 min, then remove from the heat.

7. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

8. Let sit for 5 min.

9. Add the butter and whisk in until it is well Incorporated (the cream should be smooth and slightly shiny).

Method: Topping
1. Wash, hull and cut the strawberries in any way you desire.

2. In a microwave proof dish add the jelly and water - mix. Microwave until it boils. The consistency needed is quite watery.

Method: Assembly
1. Once the tart base has cooled, add the pastry cream. Smooth the top with a mini pastry scraper or a rubber spatula.

2. Place the strawberries on top in a manner that pleases.

3. Using a pastry brush, brush on the apricot glaze.

4. Keep refrigerated until serving time - best served on the day it is assembled.

Taken in part from: Dorrie Greenspan "Baking from my home to yours" pp. 448 and 376-7. as well as The magazine "Food".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pine Nut and Lavender Cake - Yogurt Part 2

This cake has a bunch of flavors and textures - ranging from gritty to smooth and citrus to floral, this cake is pretty dynamic it'll have you're taste buds figuring things out with every bite!

Ingredients: Cake
3/4 cup raisins
2 Tbs brandy
3/4 cup fine grind polenta (or cornmeal)
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup roasted pine nuts
Ingredients: Glaze
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs of dried lavender

Method: Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

3. In a small bowl mix the raisins and the brandy together- let alone for 10 min, until plump.

4. In a medium bowl whisk together the polenta, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.

5. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment combine the eggs, honey, olive oil, and yogurt. Beat until blended.

6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, the raisins most of the pine nuts (keep around 3 Tbs. aside for decorating the top of the cake).

7. Mix on low speed until the batter is almost smooth.

8. Pour the batter into the springform pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

9. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean (around 25-30 min).

10. While the cake is baking make the glaze. In a small saucepan combine the honey, lemon juice, and lavender.

11. Bring to a boil and remove from heat - let cool.

12. Transfer the cake to a wire rack.

13. Immediately poke holes all over the top of the hot cake with a toothpick and then using a pastry brush, brush the cake with the glaze.

14. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 min.

15. Remove the cake from the pan and flip upside down.

16. Once again prick holes all over the underside of the cake with a toothpick and glaze it using a pastry brush.

17. Place the cake the right way up and glaze again, this time sprinkle the roasted pine nuts on top as well as some fresh lavender.

Taken from "Essentials of Baking" Williams-Sonoma pp.98-9.

Cherry and Choc Chip Cookies

Although nice - I should have done as the recipe first suggested: Use white chocolate. I did use bittersweet chocolate which although was good - I think overwhelmed the tart cherry taste which I would have like to have had more of. However, the texture was good (more on the chewy side) and overall the cookies were pretty good.

1 cup dried tart cherries (around 5.5oz)
1/3 cup cherry liquor
2 Tbs. water
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1.25 cups semisweet chocolate chips (around 8 oz)
1.25 cups white chocolate chips (around 8oz)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. In a small saucepan bring the cherries, the liquor and 2 Tbs of water to boil.

4. Remove from heat and let soak for 15 min - drain cherries and pat dry.

5. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together.

6. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and both sugars together until creamy.

7. Add the eggs and the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until combined.

8. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

9. Stir in the cherries until combined.

10. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the batter onto the sheets of parchment paper making sure to leave around 1 inch between the cookies.

11. Bake for around 13 min - or until the edges are a golden brown.

12. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Taken from: The July 2008 issue of "Bon Appetit" p. 22.

Raspberry Yogurt Cake - Part 1 of the Yogurt Cakes

Raspberries are here! They are in season and they are tasting mighty fine. As such - I had to do some more baking with them. Although not the prettiest cake this cake was seriously moist and tasty. It had pockets of fresh raspberries which disintegrated into little jam like nuggets just bursting with raspberry flavor. A very nice cake indeed!

3 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1 and 3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs. orange juice
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup of low fat plain yogurt
1 tsp. grated orange zest
3 large eggs at room temp

1.5 cups fresh raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Grease a bundt pan.

3. In a large bowl whisk 2.5 cups of flour, salt and baking powder together.

4. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy.

5. Add the orange juice, almond extract and orange peel to the butter mixture - beat together for 30 seconds.

6. Add one egg at a time, beating for 30seconds between each egg.

7. Mix in the yogurt.

8. Add the dry ingredients until they are barely blended.

9. In a separate bowl put in the raspberries and add 1/2 a cup of flour. Mix together.

10. Fold in the berries with the rest of the batter.

11. Put the batter in the bundt pan and bake for 1hour and 10 min. The cake is ready when you place a thin knife through it and it comes out clean.

12. Serve!

Taken from the July 2008 "Bon Appetie" p. 63.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Chocolate, Caramel and Honey Roasted Peanut Tart

This is a tart I've been wanting to make for quite some time. A layer of caramel pitted with honey roasted peanuts and then coated by a bittersweet chocolate ganache means decadent salty, caramelly, sort of sweet tasty.

Ingredients: Tart Base
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients: Caramel
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar, sifted
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 Tbs. salted butter, at room temp.

Ingredients: Ganache
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup + 2 Tbs heavy cream
4 Tbs. unsalted Butter cut into 4 pieces and at room temp.
Ingredients: Extras
3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts (or other nuts - this would work well with hazelnuts for a more nutella feel)

Method: Tart Base
1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form.

3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch in diameter).

4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan.

5. Freeze until firm (around 30min).

6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork.

7. Bake until golden (20-25min).

8. Let cool to room temp.

Method: Caramel
1. Bring the cream to boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat sprinkle in around 3 Tbs of sugar.

3. Wait for it to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon. Then add another 3 Tbs of sugar.

4. When this set of sugar has melted add the rest of the sugar, wait for it to melt.

5. Stir with a wooden spoon.

6. Add the corn syrup and stir again. Boil until a deep caramel colour has been achieved.

7. Stand back from the fry pan and add the butter.

8. When the butter has melted, add the cream.

9. Lower the temp. a smidge and let the caramel boil for 2 min.

10. Pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl (also make sure the bowls microwave safe) and set aside.

Method: Ganache
1. Put the chocolate bits into a heatproof bowl.

2. Bring the cream to a boil and pour half on top of the chocolate.

3. Wait 30 seconds, and then with a whisk very gently stir the chocolate and cream together (begin with small circles in the center and then slowly make larger circles).

4. Pour in the rest of the cream, and stir using the same circular motions.

5. When it is smooth and shiny stir in the butter (one piece at a times). Don't stir the ganache any more then you have to - the less you work it the better the texture will be.

6. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap - pressing the plastic against it as to seal it.

7. Set aside at room temp.

Method: Assembly
1. Using a small rubber spatula stir the peanuts into the caramel. If the caramel has cooled to an unusable concrete consistency put it in the microwave and zap it for 3 seconds and see how it is. Keep zapping it until it becomes useful again.

2. Spread the caramel over the base of the tart shell.

3. Put the tart base with the caramel in the fridge for 15 min to let the caramel set.

4. Next is the ganache - check and see if it is a pourable consistency. If not, do as you did the caramel to make it useful again (zap zap zap).

5. Rap the bowl on your bench and then pour it on top of the caramel and peanuts. Jiggle the pan to even it out.

6. Refrigerate for 30 min. And then let it be at room temp for serving.

Taken from the ever wonderful: Dorie Greenspan "Baking from My home to Yours" pp. 355-7.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lisa's Lemon Raspberry Desserts

This was a wonderful idea from Lisa my co-worker who suggested the wonderful combo of lemon cream, berries and tuiles.

Ingredients: Tuiles
1/2 cup cake flour
2/3 cup icing sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Ingredients: Lemon Cream
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)

2 sticks + 5 Tbs. of butter, at room temp, cut into 1 Tbs pieces.

Ingredients: Accoutrement's
3 punnets fresh organic raspberries
a couple of tsp. worth of icing sugar

Method: Tuiles
1. Cut out a cardboard stencil of the size of the tuiles you wish to make (mine was around 12cm x 5cm).
2. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment, and trace the stencil onto the paper.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and icing sugar.
5. Add the egg whites and vanilla extracts and whisk until smooth.
6. Whisk in the melted butter until well blended (the batter should look smooth and shiny).
7. Use around 1 Tbs. of batter for each tuile. Place the batter in the center of the stenciled shape and spread with a metal spatula.
8. Bake for around 7-9 min or until the edges have a deep brown color and the center is still pale.
9. Remove carefully (these are remarkably thin) from the parchment paper and let cool on a wire rack.

Method: Lemon Cream
Have an instant read thermometer, a strainer and a blender at hand.
1.Bring a few inches of water to boil in a saucepan.
2. Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl (that will fit inside your saucepan of simmering water). Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, and very aromatic.
3. Whisk in the eggs, and then add the lemon juice.
4. Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid.
5. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180F whisk the lemon cream the whole time.
6. Once it has reached 180F, remove it from the saucepan of simmering water and strain it into the blender. Throw away the lemon zest.
7. Wait until the temperature of the lemon cream is 140F before turning the blender on.
8. Once it is 140F, turn on the blender, and proceed to feed the butter into the lemon cream 5 Tbs at a time. Make sure you periodically scrape down the sides of the blender.
9. Blend for 3 min. on the highest setting - this makes the cream light and airy.
10. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Method: Assembly - to be done as close to serving time as possible
1. Place 1 tuile on a serving plate.
2. Spread around 1 Tbs. of the lemon cream on top.
3. Halve some raspberries and arrange them around the edges of the tuile.
4. Place another tuile on top and repeat.
5. Place another tuile on top, and then place the lemon cream on top. Instead of halving the raspberries for this final layer, simply stand them up (like the photo).
6. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve!

Taken and adapted from: Williams and Sanoma "Essentials of Baking pp. 136-7 and Dorie Greenspans book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pp. 331-33.

Apple Fritters

I received a deep fryer for my birthday from my brother and his wife ( my arteries sincerely thank them for it!). This is one of my first attempts at deep frying as deep frying has always been such a daunting proposition for me (fire! splattering oil! fire!). These were, by the way - very nice indeed!

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs - separated
1 Tbs. unsalted butter - melted
2 Tbs. sugar
2 cups of apples peeled, cored and grated

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the yogurt, egg yolks, melted butter and sugar.

3. Add the flour mix and stir well.

4. Let the mixture rest for 1 hour.

5. Grate the apples and squeeze out the excess juice (the recipe I used had an additional recipe for a honey apple dipping sauce - if you want to make the sauce keep the apple juice).

6. Add the apples to the mixture.

7. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.

8. Fold in the egg whites.

9. Heat the oil for deep frying.

10. Using a teaspoon measure out the batter and put into the oil (1 tsp. for each fritter).

11. Cook the fritters 3 min the first side and 2 min for the flip side.

12. Remove from heat and serve with icing sugar, cinnamon sugar or with the honey dipping sauce recipe provided by the link.

Stewed Rhubarb

Ok, not technically baking - but as the last post was me bagging a rhubarb dish I didn't want people thinking that I didn't like rhubarb. So, I thought I'd post on a good rhubarb dish - simple stewed rhubarb.

1 lb fresh rhubarb cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar (probably will require more - just add more to taste)
3 pieces of thick lemon skin
2-3 pears (or apples) peeled and chopped into pieces (around the same size as the rhubarb pieces)
1. Place all ingredients into a saucepan, and cover with water (the water should cover the ingredients by around 1cm).
2. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer until the rhubarb and pears have boiled down into each other.
4. Taste and see if it requires more sugar - if so then add some.
3. Wonderful served with vanilla ice cream or custard.

Rhubarb Flan

So, there were some good things but also some not so good things with this flan. Firstly, I do love rhubarb I grew up on the stuff. I love the way it eats the enamel off your teeth, and the way it pairs with apples and vanilla ice cream. However, I did have some issues with this recipe - namely it felt disjointed. The base, the rhubarb and the meringue layer on top didn't feel united. There are things I will use again - specifically the base (I loved LOVED the combo of almonds and amaretto cookies as they soaked up the juices and gave a fabulous texture to the whole thing), but I won't be making this flan again, as the flavors just didn't feel 'right'.

Ingredients: Base
150g all-purpose flour
1 pinch baking powder
50g sugar
100g soft butter

Ingredients: Topping
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup amaretto cookie crumbs
3 pounds fresh rhubarb washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Ingredients: Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar

Method: Shortcrust base
1. line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 400F.

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

3. Add the other ingredients.

4. Using a hand mixer, mix until the dough is formed.

5. Roll the dough out to fit your baking sheet.

6. Prick with a fork, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 min.

7. Let cool.

Method: Topping
1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine the ground almonds and amaretto cookie crumbs together and sprinkle on top of the shortcrust base.

3. Arrange the rhubarb on top of the crumbs.

4. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and then sprinkle over the top of the rhubarb.

5. Place in the preheated oven, bake for 25-35 min (you want the rhubarb to feel soft to the touch and the sugar to have mostly disintegrated).

6. Let cool.

Method: Meringue
1. Beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff.

2. Spoon into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe meringue in a lattice pattern over the rhubarb.

3. Bake for 10 min in the 350F oven.
Taken from a couple of books: Dr.Oektker (shortcrust pastry) "German Baking Today" p. 68. The flan itself came from another book - I have to find the name of it as I borrowed it from my boss at work...