Thursday, December 29, 2016

Spiced Honey Cake

Spiced Honey Cake is Dorie Greenspan's version of pain d'epices, a French spice cake traditionally made with rye flour.  Dorie's recipe uses lavender, peppercorns (Sichuan, white, or black), ginger, and orange peel for spicing, and all purpose flour instead of rye.

I left out the lavender and used black peppercorns, fresh ginger, orange peel and local honey.

The batter was difficult to mix, much stiffer than muffin batter.  If I make this again I will try using less flour.

The recipe suggests adding dried cherries.  I went with the raisins that I had on hand.

The cake bakes at a low heat, 300 degrees, for 75 to 85 minutes.  I wrapped the finished baking in plastic and left it for several days before cutting a slice.  The flavor is strongly orange.  I could not taste the pepper or ginger.  As other bakers commented the cake is dry, and would likely be good toasted.

The great thing about this recipe is the number of variations possible.  I can see trying it again with tea, different spices, a stronger flavored honey, or other dried fruit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Spice Cookies

Christmas Spice Cookies is a recipe from Dorie's Cookies that uses the Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough as a base.

We started by making half a recipe of the cookie dough.  There was not quite a cup of flour left in the bin, so we used white cake flour and all purpose whole wheat flour to make up the required two cups of flour.  We had ample supplies of the other ingredients:  butter, sugar, salt, egg whites, and vanilla extract.

The spice cookie recipe is written for 1/4 recipe of the cookie dough, so we doubled all the spices (cinnamon, ginger, clover, and allspice) to work with the half recipe we had made.

We rolled the dough between pieces of parchment paper as instructed, froze it for an hour, and then cut out the cookies with cookie cutters and baked them.

The baked cookies were darker than the cookbook photo due to our use of whole wheat flour, with a delicious buttery and mild spice flavor.  The next day we used pastry brushes to top the cookies with melted white chocolate chips.  White chocolate has such a mild taste, and it combined beautifully with the crisp, tasty cookies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chocolate Truffles

It was a choice of chocolate truffles or spiced honey cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie.  I made the truffles, and am looking forward to baking the honey cake soon.

Never having made truffles before, I was surprised at how simple they are to make.  Melt some chocolate, bring cream to a boil and add to the chocolate, stir gently, add butter, stir some more, add light corn syrup - that's it.  This lovely chocolate mixture is chilled for a few hours, shaped into balls, rolled in cocoa, and you are done.

The only difficulty I had was with the butter.  I stirred the butter into the chocolate in four or five additions, as Dorie suggests in the recipe.  When I got to the final addition the butter just didn't seem to want to mix in.  It was like there wasn't room for any more butter.  I stirred for awhile and then put everything in the fridge.  Today when I went to roll the balls of chocolate there were some pale spots on top that I think were unmixed butter.  The whitish portions dispersed as I rolled the chocolate into balls and did not mar the final product.

Dorie's recipe includes a number of flavour variations.  I want to try the ones that add texture to these truffles - coconut, peppermint, and cookie crumb all sound good.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I've eaten pfefferneusse in December, but never made them before.

It was fun to use all the spices (cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cardamon, and mustard!) for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Dorie's Cookies.  The cookies are easy to put together and baked up exactly as the recipe says.

The flavour is really good, perfect for a cold, snowy day.

It was a couple of days before I had time to glaze the cookies and take a photo.   The pfefferneusse will be a lovely addition to my cookie plates this month.