Tuesday, December 30, 2008
As I have mentioned before, cheesecake has got to be one of my favorite desserts. The name of this cheesecake is Tall and Creamy and let me tell you, the name doesn't lie. With 2lbs of cream cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, 4 eggs and a list of many other tasty ingredients, this is not a lightweight. But, its texture is surprisingly light and fluffy. I opted to go for the chocolate crust and to keep the cheesecake part plain. As you can see from the pics though, it wasn't plain for long. Caramel sauce was the perfect complement for the tangy taste of the cheesecake.
Baking a cheesecake in a water bath was new to me but it went fairly well. Martin found some extra large, heavy-duty aluminum foil for me so I could wrap my springform pan completely and not worry about water seeping through the pan. I did bake the cake about 15 minutes longer than the one and a half hour specified as it was still pretty "giggly". I was a little concerned but, I turned off the heat and crossed my fingers.
I had nothing to be concerned about as the cheesecake set perfectly well and tasted fabulous. Even Martin, who isn't a real cheesecake fan, thought it was delicious. I can't say if I like the fluffy kind or the dense kind better but that just means I'll have to experiment a little more. Should you want to experiment a little yourselves, you can visit Anne's blog for the cheesecake recipe. And for even more inspiration, visit the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie gang, I'm sure you'll find a few interesting cheesecake variations to start on. Have fun! :)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Since the Holidays wouldn't be the same without a little added stress, on December 23rd, I made the brioche dough for the chocolatines and did a little research on how to properly fold the butter into the dough to make it flaky. I read so many posts and techniques on how to make pâte feuilletée it was enough to make my head spin!
It's a wonder really that the chocolatines turned out as well as they did because, seriously, I have no idea what I did. I rolled out the dough, spread the softened butter onto it, folded the dough over, refrigerated it a while and then, things got fun. I had no idea which way to roll the dough again, how to re-fold and roll again, I was all mixed up! It was in no way the recipe's/instruction's fault, I think I just wanted to do everything a little too quickly. Again, the Holidays were probably not the best time to try my hand at pâte feuilletée. But, be it beginner's luck or a small Christmas miracle, we had a delicious Christmas Eve breakfast. :)
The recipe I used for the dough was from Les gourmandises d'Isa and can be found here (it's in French but can be translated through Google); I found this post from Susan at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy very helpful for the folding technique (though I should, and will, read it again, more carefully); and also, Fanny over at Foodbeam has a great tutorial for pâte feuilletée.
Whether you're having fun in the sun or knee deep in snow, I hope you all had as fun and relaxed a Christmas as I had, filled with family, friends and good food.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I want to thank Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews and Suitcases for a great pick this week. A very comforting and easy dessert, just when I needed it. Please visit her blog for the recipe. Don't forget to check out a few of the wonderful bakers who also participate in Tuesdays with Dorie every week! And may your Holidays be as sweet and comforting as this pudding! :)
Friday, December 19, 2008
The cookies are made up of three flavors of dough, vanilla, cherry and chocolate. They're meant to mirror the traditional look of Neapolitan ice cream. I know that usually, Neapolitan ice cream's pink is strawberry flavored but the candied cherries in this recipe give the cookies such a nice color and they taste good too! The recipe comes from the same Robin Hood booklet in which I found my recipe for Pouding Chômeur. I love that little booklet so much, I might have to "borrow" it next time I see my mom.
Being refrigerator cookies, once the dough is made they fall into the "I'll bake these when I have time" category, which I find really useful during the Holidays. The cookies do call for a little more prep than usual refrigerator cookies but they're so cute and fun, they're worth the extra work.
Part of the round-up for Eat Christmas Cookies is already up over on Food Blogga but you still have a few days to submit an entry. So go on and bake Christmas cookies! Hope you like these, Susan!
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup of candied cherries, finely chopped
5 to 10 drops red food coloring
1 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 cup toasted, finely chopped pecans
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
With your mixer of choice, in a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg and the vanilla, beating well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended.
Divide the dough into thirds. Keep one part as is. To one part add the candied cherries and the red food coloring. To the third part, add the chocolate and chopped pecans. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
After one hour, shape each piece of dough into a 12" X 2" X 1/2" rectangle. Place each rectangle one on top of the other, keeping the pink one in the middle.* Refrigerate the dough log for at least 4 hours, until firm.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the log into 1/8" slices and place them 1/2" apart onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Let them rest for one minute on the cookie sheet before transferring them to racks to cool completely.
* The original recipe stated to keep the pink slice in the middle but after a little research, I think the traditional Neapolitan ice cream had the white part in the middle. Either way, still good! :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
But, since I had only a few left, not enough for photos, I decided to make them again, this morning. In the batch I made with my friend we used a vanilla plum freezer jam I made a few months ago and they turned out great, really good with the ginger. This morning though, I wanted to do something a little different and as my friend had given me some sour cherry jam that she made I decided to use that in the cookies. I added some orange zest to give them a little Christmas-y feel and since I hadn't used tonka bean in a while I used that instead of the ginger. Those cookies smelled sooooo good. I rolled little balls of the dough, about a tablespoon's worth, in granulated sugar (as I had seen it done here) and flattened them with the bottom of a glass. These do not spread, you have to help them a little.
The orange zest and tonka bean complimented the sour cherry jam really well and the cookies ended up being just sweet enough. They're really tender, almost cake like in texture. Perfect with my morning coffee, I have to say. I'll definitely be making these again with different jams and spices. Please check out the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see what variations the other members made and for the recipe, please visit Heather's blog.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This week's recipe, Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies, comes courtesy of Ulrike of Küchenlatein. I have to admit when I first saw sugar cookies I knew I'd have a few problems because I am not very patient with cut-out cookies. But then I read the recipe (duh!) and saw that there was a slice and bake option. Ahhh, slice and bake cookies. I love those. They were certainly invented for busy moms or by a busy mom, because they are time savers! You can make the dough when you have a few minutes, shape it into a log, throw it in the fridge for future use and when feel like/have time to bake you just slice and bake. Voilà! They can be baked in minutes when you need a lift when you're say, knee deep in gift wrapping and you think everyone will make it to Christmas on time except you. A few cookies, a tall glass of milk and you're back on track!
I found this recipe came together very easily. But then I have no other sugar cookie recipe to compare it with. They were my very first sugar cookies and they were delicious! This recipe is a keeper. It is begging to be tweaked though, as in adding some orange zest or finely chopped chocolate or nuts, or extracts of some kind. So many possibilities. And even if you just roll them in coarse sugar for a little crunch, you'll still get people to say "you made those yourself?!". Not too shabby for a few minutes' work. So visit the the rest of the TWD baking guys and gals to see how Dorie's recipe compared to their Grandma's recipes and if you'd like to try them yourselves, visit Ulrike's blog for the recipe!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saint Catherine's Taffy is a tradition in Québec and I remember making it only once when I was about 8 years old. I came home from school with a recipe for taffy and my mom agreed to make some with me. It was so much fun! Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I was watching a Ricardo episode with Tom. Ricardo was making said taffy and my little guy looked at me and I knew we would have to make taffy. We waited for the weekend so Annabelle could partake in the fun and, oh, what fun we had!
Buttery, sticky hands and laughing kids. Could there be anything better? And the taffy even tasted just like I remembered! The kids loved it, even had a few pieces before lunch. I know, I know... But how could I say no when they'd been working so hard pulling and twisting the taffy! Thank goodness Martin took some of it to his co-workers because we made a lot of taffy.
So, even if it isn't Saint Catherine's day, making taffy is a great activity and the taffy makes a wonderful homemade gift. Get pulling everyone!
Saint Catherine's Taffy adapted from Ricardo Magazine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup salted butter (plus more for buttering hands!)
1/2 tsp baking soda
parchment paper, cut into squares, for wrapping
Butter a 13 X 9 inch Pyrex baking dish and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses, water, vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until your candy thermometer (you'll need one for this recipe!) hits 260F. Remove from the heat and mix in the baking soda. Pour the taffy into the prepared Pyrex dish. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle. It should still be warm though as it will be too hard to pull if it's cool.
Once you're ready to begin pulling, butter your hands (kids LOVE this part!), grab the taffy and pull. Fold it in half, twist it up, pull again. Repeat until the taffy takes on a lighter, golden color, about 10 minutes. Cut the taffy in half and pull it, once piece at a time into a 1/2-inch tube. Cut the tube into 1-inch pieces and set them aside on your prepared baking sheet. Wrap the taffy pieces in parchment paper. If it is wrapped well, the taffy will keep for weeks at room temperature.