Who knew a burly, 6-foot-4-inch, 225 lb. fitness trainer would know what these are?

16 Apr
Madeleines, ala Proust

Madeleines, ala Proust

Well, I did it again. I decided I’d ‘workshop’ these cookies. And, it’s a good thing! My initial attempt at these made me learn that baking them at 400 degrees at ten minutes was at least two minutes too long. Attempt two (in a different oven) reinforced that 400 degrees was too hot (even at eight minutes they came out black!).

So, it was time to consult the oracle: Google. I found a you-tube video that explained making madeleines perfectly! And, according to the chef in the video, the batter isn’t necessarily as fragile as our recipe made it out to be. His recipe was baked at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Rather than piping the batter into the pans, he scooped it, using a #40 ice cream scoop. Oh, and the chef in the video said for more ‘fluffy’ madeleines, use more butter (up to 1/2 cup) but that the madeleines made famous by Marcel Proust were dryer using less butter (better for dunking in tea). I’m thinking these are the ones we made.

Armed with this information, I decided to back off on the temperature (375 degrees), used an ice cream scoop and watched them like a hawk for 8-1/2 minutes! Perfectly done! And, when sampled by my fitness trainer, he deemed them exactly right. And now that I have this information, I will absolutely make them again.

“Can you make a Chocolate Mud Cake?…”

13 Apr

so asked our Australian “son,” the other evening. My husband responded with, “I’ve heard of chocolate mud pie;” I merely asked him to describe what he thought of as a chocolate mud cake. And then, I thought of the oracle of Google…

I found two different recipes and since I don’t know what I’m supposed to be baking at all, decided to bake them both. Turns out, they’re made with self-rising flour – that’s something different and both have coffee of some kind in them (not surprising for a very deep chocolate cake).  I’ve told the boy it’s his job to let me know which of the two are closer to what he gets at home!

Versions "A" and "B"

Versions “A” and “B”

 

“Have faith and keep beating.”

2 Apr

Five of my favorite words!

Rustic Potato Bread, pre-baking

 

 

This was one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made. Favorite thing? All done with a stand mixer. Least favorite thing? Can’t think of a one – oh, well, maybe the loaves were too immense. But, is that really a bad thing?

Rustic Potato Bread, after baking

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

19 Mar
Mocha Chip Cookies

Mocha Chip Cookies

So, I really think I have the perfect, most delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe: Jacques Torres Chocolate Chunk Cookies. And, this Mocha Chocolate Chip recipe is interestingly similar to that one. I really think the addition of instant coffee is a nice touch! Now, my caveats…I’ve never liked fruit in cookies – nope, no raisins in oatmeal cookies(well, to be honest, raisins don’t belong in anything…) – so no apricots are in mine. However, I do believe that chocolate chip cookies of any kind scream for nuts! So, I added 1/2-pound of walnuts to mine. (Yeah, yeah, broke my cardinal rule of not changing a recipe the first time preparing it!)

As for the chocolate – I have the good fortune of living two doors down from a professional pastry chef! As a result, she hooks me up with the most delicious chocolate pistoles: Cacao Barry American Dark Chocolate and Extra Bitter Dark Chocolate. (I buy it in 11-pound boxes at a time. My family eats a lot of chocolate chip cookies!)

I used Starbuck’s Italian Roast Via powder (four packets – measured to a little more than one tablespoon).

Finally, drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet? Really? I used a #40 scoop, weighed each out to 2-ounces and rolled them into balls slightly larger than a ping pong ball. I think a cookie should be big enough that one is enough, and that last bite is the one that makes you say “UGH!”

Baked these cookies just as directed, and I found them doughy. (OK, in full disclosure: I prefer cookies on the ‘crispy’ side – keeps with my “You’re either a chewy or a crunchy person?” – I’m crunchy!) My family, however found them fine.

Now, will they replace my Jacques Torres recipe – nope! But, I did  make a batch of the Jacques and added the instant coffee, and they were an instant hit! So, I will make that change.

Pizza with Onion Confit

8 Jan

 

I’ve been looking for a really good pizza dough recipe – and I finally found one! This pizza dough is perfect: simple to make, easily ignored, and bakes up just like a pizza dough should!

IMG_0401

 

 

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And, then, was there anything easier than caramelizing those onions? I’ve done big batches of caramelized onions before, and they were waaay more work than these. And, the flavor? I could have eaten the entire batch with a spoon!

 

Finnish Pulla

18 Dec
2012-12-17 10.26.21

Before baking

I love bread – good bread (Italian ciabatta is just about my favorite), bad bread (don’t judge – WonderBread is a terrific bread when slathered in mayonnaise, cranberry sauce and leftover Thanksgiving turkey and makes me a little woosie), so the opportunity to make this bread has been this month’s comfort nestled in all the hullabaloo.

2012-12-17 12.00.57

After baking

I didn’t have pearl sugar, but large crystal sugar worked just fine. Oh, and rather than one large wreath, I made two smaller ones – this way the husband and I can eat one of them and the other one will go to work with him tomorrow. And just as an aside – is there anything to make one feel better than a loaf of bread shaped like a braided wreath? I think not!

Ginger Baby Cakes

4 Dec Ginger BabyCakes2

love strong flavors: coffee, red wines, dark chocolate…Ginger Baby Cakes! It’s rare that I will bake something and then lament that I’ve given the leftovers away, but this was one of those occasions. (Lucky for me, my husband doesn’t like molasses or gingerbread or anything like gingerbread!) The day after I baked them, I found myself dunking two last mini-cakes in hot coffee and wondering if I could get back the sixteen I sent to work with a friend!

I don’t have miniature cake pans, so I used cupcake pans to make ‘mini’ cakes and they worked perfectly! They were moist (the hot coffee referred to above was to make them warm, not to moisten them up!) and comforting, but yes, strong. Oh, and for the record…the batter was delicious, too. And, I do not, as a rule like batter or uncooked cookie dough.

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