Monday, December 28, 2015

Stained Glass Cookies and Chocolate-Chestnut Tart with Chestnut-Vanilla Syrup

The December 2015 recipes for the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group are Stained Glass Cookies and Chocolate-Chestnut Tart with Chestnut-Vanilla Syrup from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi.  I made both within the past week.

We've got so many cookies here that I only made half a recipe of the cookies.  The frozen dough was easy to work with.  I don't have the pastry tip that Dorie recommends for cutting out the windows, and wasn't able to find a good small cookie cutter.  The windows of the three cookies pictured were cut free hand.  The green centre was an entire lime Lifesaver, uncrushed.  It melted nicely.
I loved the taste of the baked cookies.  I will make these again in the future.

The Chocolate-Chestnut Tart was fun to make.  Chestnuts are a bit hard to find here but we located some at a store with lots of imported food.  The can had enough chestnuts for two recipes so I made a Jamie Oliver nut roast before tackling the tart.  All went well with the Sweet Tart Dough crust and candying the chestnuts.  While preparing the filling I dumped the heated butter and cream into the bowl with the chestnut syrup instead of the bowl with the chopped chocolate.  With the extra liquid/chestnut syrup in the filling the tart took longer to bake, but turned out delicious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart and Catch Up

Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, looks like a strudel but it's not.  The pastry is made with Galette Dough, which comes together easily in the food processor.

For the filling I used apples, cranberries, and home made rhubarb jam that was strongly flavored with ginger.

I had a bit of trouble rolling the tart, as the dough was sticking to the parchment paper.  I persevered and it rolled up nicely with no tearing.

After baking the tart for 40 minutes at 390 degrees it looked lovely but alas the bottom was burned and the tart started to come apart when I pried it off the cookie sheet.

It still tastes good, with the burnt bottom scraped off.

Also this past week I made Chocolate-Covered Toffee Breakups, our recipe for November 10.

I didn't know making toffee was so easy!  I followed the recipe as written and was very pleased with how it turned out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple Pielettes

After baking twice a month with the Tuesdays with Dorie online baking group for the past year I am feeling a bit more confident when it comes to making crusts.  I was looking forward to making Apple Pielettes this week.

The crust for these little pies is Galette Dough, which Dorie says is flaky like American pie dough with the butter flavor of French tart dough.  It is easy to make in a food processor.

I cut the bottom crusts using a mug and fit them into the muffin pan as instructed.

For the filling I improvised, using what I had on hand:  an apple, raisins, apple butter, and freshly made cranberry sauce.  I was only making half the recipe, so one apple seemed like enough to work with.

I cut the top crusts with a glass and fitted them onto the little pies after moistening the the edge of the bottom to stick them together, and baked for 45 minutes.

Pie juice leaked out between the top and bottom crusts which made it a little difficult to get the pies out of the muffin pans.  I was able to extract all six without tearing the crust, and we have been enjoying eating them.

If I make these again I would use more apples and less raisins, and add the dried apricots.  It was fun to bake these little pies.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tiger Cakes

Tiger cakes are small cupcakes made with almond flour, chocolate and a lot of butter.  That is what the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group made this week.  The recipe is on page 197 of Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.

The tiger cakes are easy to mix up and bake.  I am enjoying all the recipes from Baking Chez Moi that use almond flour.  After reading comments mentioning difficulties getting the cakes out of the mini muffin pan I was careful to grease my non stick pan well.  All the cakes came out fine.

I iced one cake warm from the oven with chocolate chips and kept the rest bare.  The cakes are good, but a bit too rich for me.  Perhaps some orange zest or cinnamon might tone the richness down.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Kuchen

This week the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group made Apple Kuchen:  a Tall Apple-Custard Tourte.  This recipe is in the Simple Cakes sections of Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi but I wouldn't categorize it as a simple recipe.

First you mix up a crust in the food processor, roll it out, chill it, and fit it into the pan.  Mine was kind of messy and perhaps not as thin as it should have been, but surprisingly I was able to press it into my ten inch springform pan without too much difficulty.

The filling is a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, topped with 3 pounds of chopped apples.  That was more apples than I realized when I first read the recipe.  It took me awhile to cut them up.

The crust and filling bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then the custardy topping of eggs, sugar and cream is added.  The recipe says to bake for 60 to 70 minutes.  Mine was in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes.  Because of the time it took to chop the apples and the extended baking time I had to leave before the final step of adding sugar and melted butter to the top and broiling.  I don't know how long my cake was under the broiler, but it came out tasting delicious.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies

The online baking group Tuesdays With Dorie made Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies from Baking Chez Moi this week.

The cookie dough is a mixture of confectioners' sugar, butter, white sugar, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.  In the recipe Dorie says the dough will be crumbly while you are mixing, and then will come together and "just about clean the sides of the bowl."  I mixed and mixed for 15 minutes or more and this never happened.  I added a little milk and then pressed the dough together with my hands, and then rolled it as directed.

I was concerned about the delicate nature of the dough, but as suggested in the recipe refrigerating it makes it easy to roll out and cut.

My cookies were probably a bit thicker than the 1/8 inch in the recipe.  I used apricot jam and a round cutter just over 2 inches.  The jam leaked out a bit when I added the second cookie on top.  I used my finger to clean it off the cookie sheet to avoid burning.

I sprinkled the tops with sugar mixed with chai spices.

My oven runs a little hot, so I baked at 345 degrees for 15 minutes.  Some of the cookies came out a little too brown on the bottom.

My yield was 12 round cookies plus one canoe shaped cookie that I shaped out of the dough scraps.  I ate that extra cookie right out of the oven and it tasted really good.  My taster says these are the best cookies he has ever eaten.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bubble Eclairs

When I was a small child, before my mother had so many children, she used to make eclairs and cream puffs.  I was interested and curious to see what it was like to bake eclairs myself for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.  I especially wondered about the filling, if I could recreate the yellow filling that I remember.

I followed the recipe as written, and it wasn't that hard.  I spooned out 12 eclairs and baked as directed.  My oven light only turns on when I open the oven door, so I wasn't able to watch the eclairs rise.  At the end of the baking time they were all puffed up, but the ones in the centre of the pan fell within a minute of leaving the oven.

After reading about the options for filling the eclairs I chose to make pastry cream.  I think this is what my mother put in her eclairs.  The milk boiled over and putting the cream through a sieve was also pretty messy, but otherwise everything worked fine.

In the end these eclairs were very much like what I remembered from my childhood.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cherry Crumb Tart and catch up

Cherry Crumb Tart from Baking Chez Moi is the latest group baking project for Tuesdays With Dorie.

Because I had some catching up to do I made two batches of Sweet Tart Dough.  But then when I washed the food processor I noticed that a small piece of hard plastic had come off the top.  It could have happened weeks ago but I didn't want to risk feeding anyone hard plastic shards, so I threw the two unbaked crusts out.  I made the Cherry Crumb Tart and catch up Apricot-Raspberry Tart crustless.

Dorie suggests pitting the cherries with a chopstick.  I wasn't able to get this working for me and instead split and pitted the cherries using a small curved fruit knife.  The pitting went very fast.  The filling and the streusel were easy to make.  I baked in a square glass dish, pulling the dish from the oven when the streusel was just starting to look toasty.

The end result was likely less rich than the original with crust recipe, but delicious.  One taster commented on how luxurious it tasted.  When we ate the last of it two days later the cherries had lost some of their taste so in future I would make this for consumption within a day as noted in the recipe.

Next up was the Apricot-Raspberry Tart, sans crust.

I made the Apricot-Almond Cream Bonne Idee version, thinking that the almond cream would replace some of the heft lost with the crust.  I picked the last of the raspberries growing outside to add to the apricots on top of the almond cream.  Again I baked this in a square glass pan because I was going to a potluck and the dish has a nice lid.  The flavour of the end product with good, though perhaps a bit too sweet (did I sprinkle too much sugar on top?) and very soft.  With a smaller dish and less baking time this would have been even better.

Making these recipes was a revelation for me.  I had never baked with cherries or fresh apricots and never knew how good they taste in fresh, home made baking.

One more catch up.  I made the Vanilla-Mango Panna Cotta two weeks ago along with the group but never posted it.

I have made panna cotta before and love how easy and elegant it is.  With a vanilla bean to flavour the heavy cream and milk it was just superb.  I substituted lemon juice for lime juice in the mango puree that goes underneath the panna cotta.  I don't like lime, but perhaps I used too much lemon juice or not enough honey.  The mango puree was too sour for me, but other tasters liked it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

Chocolate-Cherry Brownies are what the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group made this week, from Dorie's latest book Baking Chez Moi.

This easy recipe produced a very rich brownie.  I used dried cherries and cooked them in coffee and water, rather than the wine or port and water in the recipe.  The cherries are soft and luscious in the finished brownie.  I was glad I made the effort to get the cherries because they really make the brownies seem extra special.

The recipe uses more chocolate, 10 ounces, than I would usually put in a brownie.  So it is lovely and full tasting.  I can't really taste the black pepper.

I baked this for 36 minutes which is longer than the time in the recipe.  It took that long for the top of the brownie to lose its shine.  If I make these again I will experiment with baking for a shorter time to have a more fudgy texture.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

I wouldn't normally harvest my rhubarb for another 3-4 weeks, but the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group was making a rhubarb upside-down cake, so out I went with my knife.  The rhubarb grows under a lilac hedge which smells heavenly right now.  The rhubarb stalks were not very long yet, and I cut off half the plant to get the 1 1/4 pounds of rhubarb for the recipe.  I hope the plant will keep growing larger so that I can use more rhubarb later in June.

The recipe was fairly straightforward, except for caramelizing the rhubarb.  I melted the butter and stirred in the sugar as directed.  As the mixture was heating the sugar started to make clumps.  I was concerned about this and also not sure what exactly "just starting to color" should look like, so I dumped in the rhubarb and carried on.  The rhubarb never browned but did reach a nice soft but not mushy consistency.

The cake batter came together quickly and I slowly and gently spread the batter over the rhubarb.  I added three minutes to the 25 minute baking time listed in the recipe.  The cake came out of the pan easily and cleanly.

It is kind of a homely looking cake.  If I make it again I will do the apple jelly glaze and perhaps add the optional grated orange peel to enhance the flavour.   Instead of whipped cream I will serve with vanilla Greek yogurt.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nutella Buttons

Nutella Buttons, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, are mini vanilla cupcakes with Nutella in the centre.

When I first looked at the recipe last week I wondered about making home made Nutella, which doesn't look very hard.  With no hazlenuts at hand and little time I proceeded with a jar of Nutella from the supermarket.

I ran into some trouble with the batter towards the end of the recipe when it seemed lumpy  You've got sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla and almond extracts mixed together, supposedly looking like a paste.  My mixture seemed thicker than that.  Next you add melted butter.  Perhaps at that point I didn't beat it enough?  I wasn't sure how the batter should appear.  I mixed in the beaten egg whites trying to be gentle, but perhaps I overmixed?

The next problem came after baking, when only six of the cupcakes came out cleanly.  I got the other eighteen out, leaving little bits in the pan.  If there ever is a next time with this recipe I will be more generous with buttering the pans.

I didn't ice them because I was transporting some to a function (only six, the nice ones), some to a friend, and stashing some in the freezer.

One taster said they were delicious.  I wished they were more tender, probably my fault, not the recipe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Coconut Tapioca

I don't recall ever having eaten tapioca pudding before, so I was curious about this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Coconut Tapioca from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi.

The recipe calls for large-pearl tapioca, which I was unable to find in the supermarket.  The pearls I bought were pea sized.  Based on other cook's comments about the gelatinous nature of their finished puddings I increased the milk by one half cup.  I substituted almond milk for whole milk for the comfort of the other eaters in the household.  I didn't notice until later that the almond milk had added sugar.  One taster thought the pudding was too sweet.

To me the finished product was much like rice pudding, and I wished later that I had sprinkled the top with cinnamon.

Now I will have to investigate other recipes to use up the rest of the tapioca pearls.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Limoncello Cupcakes

This week the Tuesdays with Dorie online baking group made Limoncello Cupcakes from Dorie Greenspan's latest cookbook Baking Chez Moi.

I made an alcohol free version, substituting lemon juice for the limoncello.  The cupcake batter can include cardamom or cracked black pepper.  I used cardamom, but cannot taste it in the finished cupcake.  There is an option to put marmalade in the centre of the cupcakes.  I used an orange, grapefruit, lemon marmalade.

My cupcakes were done in 22 minutes.  I spooned a sugar/water/lemon juice syrup over the warm cupcakes and frosted then as soon as they were cool.

The recipe worked out very well, but didn't top the wonderful taste experience of the lemon madeleines we made last month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

A brown sugar/butter/flour base topped with melted bittersweet chocolate and walnuts.  Dorie's recipe suggests topping with caramelized rice krispies, but I wanted to freeze most of these and chose walnuts instead.  Based on other baker's comments I lowered the oven temperature to 350 and baked for only 15 minutes, leaving me with a crust that was very easy to cut, and so sweet.  These bars are more like candy.  So easy to make.  I hope to try them again with the caramelized rice krispies soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lemon Madeleines

Never having eaten a madeleine before I ventured out to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a madeleine pan.  The Tuesdays with Dorie online baking group was making lemon madeleines from the cookbook Baking Chez Moi.

The batter was easy to put together.  There are two chilling times - one for the batter and then one for the batter in the madeleine pan.  This meant that the little cakes weren`t finished baking until late in the evening.  I ate one right out of the oven - oh so delicious.  I look forward to more experimenting with madeleines.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pink Grapefruit Tart

Pink grapefruit tart from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi is the chosen recipe for the online baking group Tuesdays With Dorie this week.

This recipe has four components.  I used a couple of shortcuts because I was pressed for time.  First you need a tart crust.  I substituted a store bought pie crust.  Next there is the lemon - almond cream.  This is a simple mixture of butter, brown sugar, almond flour, lemon zest, and egg.  Then there is the grapefruit cremeux, a wonderful cooked custard.  I left out the Campari and wasn't able to think of a good non alcoholic substitute in the short time I devoted to this project.  Finally you top the tart with grapefruit segments.  I used jarred fruit brought to me by the family's shopper.

The lemon - almond cream and the grapefruit cremeux both require chilling, as does the completely assembled tart.  If I make this again I will map out the time needed for all the parts before I start, working backwards from the time I want to serve the tart.

It tastes pretty good, and would be even better with a home made crust and an additional flavoring in the cremeux.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Marquise au Chocolat

This week the Tuesdays with Dorie online baking group made Marquise au Chocolat from Baking Chez Moi.

This rich, frozen chocolate mousse was fun to make.

The recipe calls for raw egg yolks.  There was an outbreak here of Salmonella linked to eggs, so to be safe I researched how to cook the egg yolks.

After melting butter and chocolate in a metal bowl over hot water I used the same set up to cook the egg yolks and sugar.  It was a bit tricky to stir continuously so the eggs wouldn't turn scrambled and check the temperature with the thermometer at the same time.

I may have beaten the egg/sugar mixture too long after removing it from the heat.   It got thick and sticky like melted marshmallows that have cooled a bit.  I was still able to mix it in with the chocolate and butter.

Heavy cream is not sold here.  I whipped up some whipping cream (33% mf) and folded it into the other ingredients.  Then I froze it in a loaf pan as written in the recipe.

It tastes divine.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

The Tuesdays with Dorie online baking group made a vanilla loaf cake from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.

I baked this cake in early January during a snow storm.  I didn't have the heavy cream called for in the recipe and didn't want to venture out to buy it.  I substituted canned full fat coconut milk with very good results.

For me it was the first time making brown butter.  I followed the recipe directions and it worked out fine.

This is a lovely, plain cake, very good toasted.  I wonder if  the cake would have been more flavorful if my vanilla bean had been bigger?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Granola Energy Bars

This week the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group made Granola Energy Bars from Baking Chez Moi.

The recipe worked very well.  I used peanuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds for the nut/seed portion and raisins and dried cranberries for the dried fruit portion.

As promised the brown rice syrup really sticks everything together.

My bars came out quite firm and were a bit of a challenge to cut.  They taste delicious.  I will make this recipe again soon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gingerbread Buche de Noel

I was away for Christmas so I made the Buche de Noel from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi yesterday for New Year's Eve.

The buche has four components:  praline, cake, filling, and frosting.

I was a bit concerned about pulling the sugar syrup off the stove at the right time.  I followed the directions as written and the praline worked out fine.  I used walnuts instead of pecans.

This was the first time I have used my stand mixer.  I knew I needed to use it for the cake because the egg mixture is beaten for awhile.

I wasn't worried about the cake because I have made a rolled cake before with no problem, but it did not turn out very well this time.  As the photo shows the cake broke when I rolled it.  I baked it the minimum time listed in the recipe.  I don't know why it was so dry and fragile.

The filling is a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, cinnamon, and chopped praline.

The frosting was the most fun to make.  I have never made a cooked frosting before.  The sugar and water was cooking and cooking and then suddenly it was the right temperature.  Again I just followed the recipe's directions and the frosting turned out beautifully.

The break in the cake made it look more like a real log.

Here is the buche, icing slightly damaged in transit, ready for our celebration.