Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gingerbread House

December’09 Daring Bakers challenge: Gingerbread House
This month’s DB challenge was all about gingerbread house..I’ve never made it before but was very excited to try it and since it was the winter break of my nieces and nephews they wanted to help me with it. So I decided to use both the recipe by Anna and Y. the dough was really giving me problem needed to add more liquid, so I left it to rest over night. Next day I came down with the flu and my allergies acted up. I didn’t make the gingerbread house that day wanted to rest still the next 2 days got worse but I went ahead with my challenge. I chose the design and templates of our 200 year old house in the village, I baked them and the all shrunk so I had to size and cut again for assembling… I assembled it but I just could not continued with the decoration so the kids said they will do it…I just felt I could not do well in this challenge and got late in posting due to net problems. =(

Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas
1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]
1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.
3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.
4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]
5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Royal Icing:
1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
Simple Syrup:
1 cup (200g) water
2 cups (400g) sugar
Combine in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pecan Pie Cookies

November’09 Cookie Carnival Challenge

The November challenge of the Cookie Carnival was put to vote and the winner cookie was Pecan Pie Cookies! Jen from Beantown Baker was the one who submitted the recipe...Thanks Jen!. I wanted to try these the moment I saw the challenge and enjoyed baking them as pecan is not easily available but canned verities which are quite expensive are available in few selected shops…Here I found a can of slightly toasted & salted pecan in a shop despite being quite expensive … I really wanted to try it so I did. Usually when trying a new recipe I do it on the school days cause then my nieces and nephews are busy in school and won’t bug me by saying are they done yet? Are they done yet? after every 2 minutes…while they were in school I started with my baking and the first batch was ready when they all arrived from school…my 9 year old niece came running said ok hand over whatever you baked today I was like you just came go wash up then have them she said she does not trust anyone so she wants her share now!..she took the 1st try as it is our deal the 1st batch is always goes to her and it’s up to her either she wants to share or not as everyone was waiting cause they could smell the lovely and tempting aroma so my niece had no choice but to share and wait for the other batch. I must admit they were good so good that they made me bake them every 2nd day and I substituted the pecan for walnuts and still they tasted amazing.
I had no problem baking them…the recipe was quite simple and easy plus the taste was heavenly. These cookies were really enjoyed by me & my family..Thank you for this challenge.
Pecan Pie Cookies - from Land O Lakes - makes ~3 dozen
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F.
Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.
Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.
Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


November’09 Daring Bakers Challenge: Cannoli

As this is a very busy month for me so I thought I should finish the challenge in the first week but could not, got a free weekend and made the challenge. Me and my mom like cannoli but not the rest of family (they usually look forward to the challenges so they get to try new and different recipes and this time they were really not thrilled about this challenge.) As ours is a alcoholic free house I used red grape juice made the dough and left it over night in the fridge and was the dough stubborn it just won’t corporate while I was rolling it at least I managed to roll and cut minis by the way I didn’t have or find any Cannoli forms/tubes so I managed to make my own by an aluminum tube which I got cut into 5”inch tubes actually the first few I put in to the oil quickly burnt as I forgot to check the oil while talking to my niece…she was telling me she won’t like them at all no matter what! and I should stick to just baking…and I was like no jan you will like em cause these are good and we’ve had them before remember and she said Oohh please I didn’t like them then and I won’t like them now!!..oh well what can I say she is just 2 years old! =p and was she right!...I just made a simple filling with mascarpone cheese filled with nuts…filling was tasty….I offered them to everyone to taste they did not really like them…except for my mom and sister who liked them and despite that they were tasty…looks wise I think they didn’t turn out as well as I expected. Thank you for the challenge Lisa. =)

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with. By the way, the name ‘Lidisano’ is a combination of Lidia, Lisa and Sopranos..LOL
Cannoli forms/tubes - optional, but recommended if making traditional shaped cannoli.
Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
Deep fat frying thermometer. although the bread cube or bit of dough test will work fine.
Metal tongs
Brass or wire skimmer OR large slotted spoon
Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
Cooling rack
Paper bags or paper towels
Pastry Brush
Sieve or fine wire mesh strainer
Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
Food Processor or Stand Mixer – also optional, since you can make the dough by hand, although it takes more time.
Rolling pin and/or Pasta roller/machine
Pastry or cutting board
Round cutters - The dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife.
Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
Plastic Wrap/Clingfilm
Tea towels or just cloth towels
Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes
2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar
2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios
Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through
2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.
3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.
For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.
1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.
1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells
1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.
- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded
- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.
- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.
- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.
- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.
- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.
- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.
- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.
- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.
- Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.
- When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling..TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.
- Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.
- If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.
- Practice makes perfect. My first batch of shells came out less than spectacular, and that’s an understatement. As you go along, you’ll see what will make them more aesthetically pleasing, and adjust accordingly when rolling. My next several batches turned out great. Don’t give up!!
Gluten free cannoli recipe that looks great –
Vegan cannoli –
Online resources:
Videos: – scroll through, loads of videos on the making of the shells. filling, etc. Mario Batali’s are particularly good.
Photos: – Loads of beautiful and unique cannoli photos along with the traditional. Great way to get some ideas for fillings and décor.
Online retailers for cannoli forms - If you want to buy a lot of them for one set price.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mama & Hassanah: Birthday

Nov’09 Birthdays

Ok now for the November birthdays, my mothers and my niece the 2nd sous chef of mine her 2nd birthday is right after my mother’s which was on the 9th and nieces on the 12th! I wanted to bake her birthday cake as well as my nieces. First to tackle mama’s cake, since I wanted to surprise her with the cake I made sure I told my sisters, brothers and sister-in-laws not to get a cake…usually we wish her at 12:00 am with flowers & cake that we did minus the cake…since all her grandchildren wanted to celebrate with her. so we planned a Hi-Tea.

Chocolate cake is her favorites, I chose a chocolate fudge cake and the colors are sea green and marine blue with tiny roses in white, pink and purple (roses are her favorite flowers) and silver degrees. It was a 4 layer cake with chocolate fudge filling. Since it was a surprise I could not bake the cake at home cause she always comes and check when she can smell something baking and takes it the second it’s out of the oven…I had to go to my sisters place for the backing and decorating….baked the cakes on day one, layered it at night and finished the decoration in the morning so at tea time we could surprise her. Hiding the cake from her was the hardest part cause I never go to bake anywhere else nor do I spent more the 2 hrs in any other place so she was a bit suspicious and was after me all the time I got back…what were you doing at your sisters?..You never stay there more than an hr so what were you up to? Are you in some kind of trouble you can tell me?...hehe no matter what I said she was not convinced at all but when she saw the cake the surprised look and happiness on her face really made us happy and she loved the cake so did everyone else…and I got a extra BIG HUG from her which really was the best!! =)

as soon as I was done with mama’s cake I started work on my nieces cake, since we were having a costume party for her, I chose “Tinkerbell”, I made the sketch for the cake and got everything ready for the cake but wanted to wait until we got the costume (which of a good idea) and just 2 days before her birthday we got the wrong costume...As her maternal aunt sent Princess Aurora “Sleeping Beauty”.
So I had to change the cake design and color and made the enchanted castle of sleeping beauty, it was a chocolate cake with white chocolate filling and butter cream frosting, everything was of butter cream, the roses and fairies were marzipan, and sleeping beauty is finger puppet doll. My little princess loved it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Citrus Biscotti

October’09 Cookie Carnival Challenge

This is my first challenge from the cookie carnival and I was really excited cause before reading about the challenge I was having tea with yes you guessed it with some chocolate biscotti!! And I was making a mental note to try making some; the wish came true when I saw the challenge was really glad to see this as my first challenge in cookie carnival, and I had no problem in making them was very easy to make and quick to finish. =)
The recipe can be found here.

Then I tried another variety with Chocolate and added white & dark chocolate chips and was amazing.
Note: was supposed to post on the challenge but due to some problem I could not access my blog until today.

Macarons? MACAROONS?

October’09 Daring Bakers Challenge: French macaroon

The October challenge for Daring Bakers was French Macarons, when I saw that I was like oohh boy! Since I’ve made them before and It’s not that I don’t like macarons or like eating them it’s just that they are very moody with me, one day they’ll true out perfect and the next try no feet’s but still amazingly delicious and would finish as soon as out of the oven and no one wants to wait for me to fill them or take photos for the challenge…that’s what happened with the second batch with 3 days aged eggs which I wanted to try after Helen suggested…sorry guys no pic’s but they did turn out perfect and im going to try to make another batch just for a photo-shot. =)
I did use the recipe that was given for the challenge for the ones in the photo but I usually use Helens recipe and the tips. Thanks for the challenge guys, my family really enjoyed this month’s challenge.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Preparation time:
Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature, the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.
Actual baking time:
12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.
Equipment required:•
Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment• Rubber spatula• Baking sheets• Parchment paper or nonstick liners• Pastry bag (can be disposable)• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip• Sifter or sieve• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off• Oven• Cooling rack• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen or depends on the size your making.

Additional Information:
Go behind the scenes of Paulette:

Monday, September 28, 2009

A hectic week: Eid and September 21st & 27th Birthdays

The past 1 week was really busy for us; there was Eid, the twin’s 9th birthday (my niece & nephew) and their mothers (my sister) birthday all came in the same week. Before going to Dubai the twins made me promise that I would be here for their birthday and would bake their choice of birthday cakes, I had no choice but to promise. I had no idea I would be down with cold and fever but a promise is a promise. Colorful Spooky Cake (Brownie with chocolate fudge Cake) for my nephew.

Jade Bratz (Pineapple Cake) for my niece
Eid was on the 21st same day as the twin’s birthday so they decided to push it to the weekend which was the 26th so there friends could come too and I was happy about that but soon realized that on the 27th it is their mothers birthday, all the arrangements were done at CK restaurant (I for one was really happy about that) and I baked them their cakes. For my niece it was either Hannah Montana or Jade of bratz and for nephew it was a very colorful circus or spooky cake.

Then on the 27th it’s my youngest sisters birthday the baby of the house and I wanted to give her a surprise party, usually when there is a birthday between us siblings we all take flowers and cake at midnight to wish whose ever birthday so we did that but minus the cake and we pretended we forgot the cake and we have no plans to get one or go out to celebrate….she was really pissed off and went to bed in the morning even we didn’t say much and she kept on asking in-direct questions I kept on saying I’m sorry I have no time u see I am soo busy these days and I’m sick have fever blah! blah! Poor thing she just went to sunk in her room, our plan was to take her to pizza hut to celebrate so I told everyone to get to pizza hut we’ll bring her, my niece helped me in tricking her mother and getting her to pizza hut pretending one of her school friend was having a birthday party there so she got there and we all jumped and surprised her with a huge TAZ the Tasmanian Devil (Double Fudge Devil’s Food Cake) birthday cake. =)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Puff pastry (aka pâte feuilletée) Vols-au-Vent.

September’09 Daring Bakers Challenge

This month challenge was to make Puff pastry (aka pâte feuilletée), which I had already made twice before and I dread making it in hot weathers. This time the challenge came in the Holy month of Ramadan as we fast in this month, fasting is not a problem here but my allergies are and to top it there are renovations going on around the house and I was to leave for Dubai, so I didn’t have much of a choice to be really relaxed with the challenge, I started with the challenge in the first week and I made the dough a day before I was supposed to use it and as usual I had problems with it…it started getting sticky and the butter melting so I was like folding and freezing folding and freezing….finished with the dough, I made both the stuffing’s for patties and empanadas too.

The next day I made the fillings for the vol-au-vents and gourmet pie (made just 1 pie and that even for my mom, she loves em).

Again the rolling and cutting was a bit hard work the filling and baking was easy,… made the taste’s last so by the time it was time for opening of the fast everything was ready. Everyone really liked them and my mom loved her gourmet pie, my sisters wanted me to make it again next week so I told her sorry I won’t be here! =)

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. (In fact, if you participated in the Danish Braid challenge back in June 2008, then you already know the general procedure for working with laminated dough.) A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry DoughFrom:
Baking with Julia by Dorie GreenspanYield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
4 sticks (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich.
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)-rolling pin-pastry brush-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)-plastic wrap-baking sheet-parchment paper-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)-sharp chef’s knife-fork-oven-cooling rack
Prep Times:-
about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete
Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)-your filling of choice
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Humza's 2nd Birthday

August 29, 2009.

My nephews who is one of my little taster sous chefs, his 2nd birthday was coming up and I wanted to bake him a birthday cake, my sister could not decided which cake she wanted between Daffy Duck and Winnie the pooh, she kept on changing her mind and till the 2 days before his birthday, i reminded her that i am fasting its really hot and there is renovation going on in the house so she better make up her mind soon so i can prepare the cake a day before but nOOoo!! She just could not make up her so i was left with no other choice then to consult my sous chefs and he likes car's better then pooh or daffy…finally!!
i decided to make Lightning McQueen from Cars. It was my first time making McQueen and I think I didn’t do a bad job! Baked the cake a day before a chocolate brownie cake with white chocolate ganache filling. Then I made some cookie pops in the shape of Lightning McQueen the children really enjoyed helping with the icing and eating.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

August’09 Daring Bakers Challenge

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

· 2 baking sheets
· 9” (23cm) spring-form tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
· mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
· a sieve
· a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
· a small saucepan
· a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
· metal offset spatula
· sharp knife
· a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a spring-from tin.
· piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times
· Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
· Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
· Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
· Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers:

· 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
· 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
· 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
· 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
· pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream:

· 4 large eggs, at room temperature
· 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
· 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favorite dark chocolate, finely chopped
· 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping:

· 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
· 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
· 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
· 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grape seed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches:

· a 7” cardboard round
· 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
· ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) spring-form tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)

3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing) sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, and then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" spring-form pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.

3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Directions for the caramel topping:

1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel.

3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Assembling the Dobos

1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4. propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mallows & Milan Cookies

July'09 Daring Bakers Challenge:

The July challenge from DB was Mallows (chocolate covered marshmallow cookies) and Milan Cookies (a cookie version from Peppridge Farm Milano Cookies). We were told to make both or one of the recipes. I’ve never made marshmallow before and so wanted to try and got a chance to do it now, We were allowed store bought marshmallows though but I’ve decided to make my own from the recipe even though I don’t have an candy thermometer and was a bit worried how I would do it then one of the fellow DB baker Audex helped in this matter providing her own illustration and links that really helped with the sugar syrup. I decided to make both the recipe and started to make the milans I had all the ingredients in the pantry so got on with it, I did a test batch first to see how much the cookies will spread and I must admit I piped only ¼ inch strips and they did spread but not quite the size I was looking for they made cute minis though. Then the rest came out quite good thin and smooth. Had no problem making them and quite enjoyed.

Since its very hot and humid here I made the cookies dough for the mallows the same day I made milans and kept in the fridge over night, the second day I was really having trouble rolling it cause of the heat it kept getting really soft and sticky the only solution was to take ¼ of the dough and keep the rest in the fridge and work quickly.

Made mini rounds, stars and flowers, my littler taster niece helped
too as I was babysitting my niece and she was just not leaving me alone so I decided not to take chances and make the marshmallows as handling her and the hot syrup was quite impossible for me, I kept all the cookies wrapped in cling-film and the other day I started early to make the marshmallow, when the sugar syrup could hold the bubbles when removed from the heat I did the water test but it was not there so I left it for few minutes more and checked and yahhh!!! =) it was on the softball stage, then I started to pour it in the egg white and kept on beating with the hand beater as I don’t own a stand mixer and I kept on beating I was getting tired thinking why is not coming to the did I do something wrong? Did I add very hot syrup should have waited? Then it started to come together turning into a glossy thick creamy consistence, and continued till peaks formed at least success!, put them all in the piping bag and started the piping and coating turned out quite well the dipping was fun for the kids they helped too.

kidnapped from the 2nd try aswell!!

We did make one try that was about 24 mallows and I left to get the camera and I was gone just for a minute and came back all the mallows were gone!! =O My mouth open i look around and asking no one would tell me what happed then I caught them cause the chocolate was sticking on my sister-in-laws and both nieces (one who is my sisters daughter) lips. I told them at least you could have waited until they were set! hehe
I kicked them out and made more and took photos as now my mama and sisters were here too so I had to work quickly and hide… hehe… for the photo session! All the elder loved them and so did the kids…i had fun making them and hiding them =) thank you DB and the ladies for such yummy and fun challenges!.

Note: some of the marshmallow was left I made a mix of icing sugar and corn starch and spread the leftover marshmallow on it, the next day it tasted delicious.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Apricot Upside-Down Cake & Mango Mousse With Raspberry Jelly

Apricot Upside-Down Cake

We have seasonally fruits coming from family and friends all the time. This time we got apricots and cherries (used some cherries for the frangipani cherry jam and some for another dessert (coming soon)) everyone had their share while I wanted to experiment with mine was double minded wanted to try apricot jam or apricot upside-down cake, put it to vote and everyone preferred the cake. I found this recipe and it sounded good and the brown sugar addition was and picture was tempting.

As i was not in the mood to go looking for a 10 in skillet, I just used my good old trustee baking pan melted the butter and sprinkled the brown sugar, arranged the apricot halves and batter, everything turned out quite good the caramel didn’t burn, I left it to cool in my sister-in-laws room (actually was my sisters were hiding it from the unexpected guests who came to visit was) and we forgot about it till after dinner when the guests left and my sister-in-law went in her room, she came back with it all the while it was cooling the cake top had really sucked the caramel making it sticky and gooey while the lower was soft and crumby served it with homemade vanilla ice cream and not a crumb was left!

Mango Mousse With Raspberry Jelly

Here I made some mango mousse with raspberry jelly for my nieces and nephews who had some friends over. They wanted something cold and with mango, as usually I made more then they needed knowing very well my family just won’t leave the kids share alone, while I was still decorating them my mama picks up a glass and just walks away not looking back or saying anything…should I have stopped her? =/
then comes my older sister demanding one for herself, I said I didn’t make any for the you’ all older lot these are for the kids she said what!?! How could you do this to us! Then comes along her son “Humza” he like my mama grabs a glass and runs away! Now how do you stop a innocent looking face?? My sister tells me serves you right! =0

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cherry Bakewell Tart

June' 09 Daring Bakers Challenge:

Another month another new challenge from DB,

This month challenge was making Bakewell/pudding tarts, Hosted/co-hosted by: Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar.
A sweet Short-crust pastry and Frangipane was mandatory in this challenge to make, while homemade jam or curd was optional.

Cherry & Mango Bakewell Tart

I like tarts a lot and had a Bakewell tart…pudding in London at a road side café on oxford I liked it and made a mental note to try making one.
The pastry was not hard to make as I have made shortcrust pastry before the main thing for me was the jam and then baking the whole thing. As I never made jam before or never saw anyone making it either.
So I decided to make cherry jam and followed the recipe/instruction from
Jasmine’s Blackberry Pan Jam.

I made the pastry dough and let it to rest, then went off to make the jam, i was very excited about the cherry jam and was really trying to get it right knowing well that I can’t leave it alone so I started with the cherry pitting and then put them to cook as they were cooking it was time for prayers I lowered the heat and went for prayers, when I got back there wasn’t much juices left it had reduced and while I was away was a bit sticy other than that it was very good & tasty! So i still decided to use it, left it to cool.
while I rolled the pastry dough on a large tart pan as quickly as I could cause the dough kept on getting soft & sticky due to heat, left it in the freezer while I made the frangipane.
Assembled the whole thing and popped it in the oven, went off to make the other tart with mango topping =) checked it after 30 minutes it looked like it need a bit more baking so I gave it 5 more minutes.
Turned out quite good, didn’t have more almonds for topping so left it as it is….The mangos ones came out quite good too
My mom didn’t wanted to wait for it to cool down so she had the cherry jam frangipane right out of the oven hot with some fresh cream and she loved it, everyone was watching my mom enjoying it they all grabbed a piece each....loved it and so did I by making it. Thanks for the challenge ladies.

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)

Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges),
rolling pin
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)

Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched,

flaked almonds

Assembling the tart:

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It's a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn't have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.

Annemarie’s notes:• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.
Annemarie’s notes:• Add another five minutes or more if you're grinding your own almonds or if you're mixing by hand (Heaven help you).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mango Epidemic: 3

Mango Ice Cream

I have made ice cream before and quite enjoyed it; usually the flavors are what my 8 years old niece wants & likes, we made old fashioned vanilla ice cream, vanilla with chocolate chip, pistachio (mama’s favorite) and now Mango Ice Cream. Kids loved it and enjoyed it and fought over it, my little tasters who follow me like Mary’s lamb just didn’t wanted to share with anyone plus they didn’t let me take more photos, you can see the sad angry look on my 1 1/2 years old niece, and she certainly did not want me to take her pic! =)