Posts tagged ‘Baking’

October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies | cookies au potiron et pépites de chocolat

‘Tis the season. My favorite season of the year! Where the leaves start to come to life just before they are shed from the trees to let us know that winter is on its way.  It’s the time where we find ourselves getting reacquainted with scarves and boots and hot chocolate by the bowl and all sorts of warm things and that — my friends — is fine by me.  I love feeling cozy.  I love not sweating.  I love all things pumpkin-flavored.  This is my happy time.

This weekend I am going on a little “hike” (more like walk) in the mountains to celebrate birthdays.  In true French fashion, someone usually brings along a snack that is eaten as a reward for approximately every step taken (wish I were kidding.) Après l’effort, le rénconfort (after effort comes comfort) — am I right?

I decided that I would make myself responsible for the snack and decided to go along with the autumnal theme by making some pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  The house smelled like autumn heaven and the taste felt like a giant October hug.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 3 dozen, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups (160 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (145 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée
  • 3 cups (250 g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup (160 g) dark chocolate, chopped

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 375 f / 190 c.  Line two baking sheets with wax paper or slipmats.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and baking soda.
  3. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or by hand, cream butter and sugars.  Stir in the egg and the vanilla.  Add the pumpkin purée.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring well.  Once combined, add the oats and the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough onto the baking sheets using a teaspoon measure (about 12 per sheet.)  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies look set.  Let cookies cool on the tray for 2 minutes before removing them (this will allow them to set even more.  Cool on a wire rack and resist all urge to dive in immediately.

URGENT QUESTION: If anyone knows why my cookies are never plump, feel free to let me know :-\

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September 15, 2012

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am addicted to salted butter.  After 2 years in France, I find myself buttering baguettes with a far higher butter to bread ratio than I ever could have imagined.  There is something about the salted butter in this country that makes it go ‘crunch’ between your teeth and leaves you (endlessly) hankering for more.  In fact, if I could eat only baguette and salted butter for the rest of my days, I think I would be totally fine with it (and totally 3000 pounds.)

The other day, I started taking classes again.  They are in French and 7 hours long.  Hour 1 is fine, I’m perfectly attentive and learning…but by hour 6.5, I am planning what I am going to bake/cook in order to “change my ideas” and think about something else.  During our last in-class 15 minute break, while all of the other students were conversing about formation and adult education, I was on my phone googling David Lebovtiz’s chocolate chip cookies (a tried and true recipe) in order to know what ingredients I might need on the way home.  The first chocolate chip cookie recipe that popped up wasn’t the one I was looking for, but it seemed to tempt me even more.  A traditional cookie made with SALTED BUTTER.  Hallelujah, the angels were singing.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home from school and splurged on the nicest, saltest butter that I could find.  I wanted it to “croque” (crunch) in my mouth. And crunch it shall.

This cookie is delicious. That is all I really have to say.  Make them and see for yourself.  In the US, salted butter really isn’t as salty as in France, so you might have to add some thicker salt (iodized salt just won’t do it) along the lines of fleur de sel or kosher salt…anything large and lumpy!

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from David Lebovtiz) my baking guru

(I got about 36 cookies)
What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup (180g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Now what?

  1. Mix butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a stand mixer (or by hand) until creamy. Do not overmix! This leads to flat and crunchy cookies rather than large and fluffy ones.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla extract and flour and combine until smooth.
  3. Finally, add the baking soda, sea salt and chopped chocolate (and chocolate ‘dust’)
  4. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour (ideally overnight).
  5. Once it is chilled, place spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet evenly spaced out.  Be sure to press down on the top of the dough to flatten them.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through (for even baking!) After 10 minutes, flatten the tops of the cookies with a spatula and put back in the oven for about 2 more minutes.  Be careful not to over bake (if you do they will still be delicious, just crunchy.)
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

(coming home to cookies.)

September 12, 2012

Filling the Void: Macarons (A Guest Blog by Susan Elliot)

Musings from my counterpart all the way in the United States of America, 12 days away from France….a post from Susan Elliot:

Filling the Void

Filling the void with dark chocolate ganache. It’s the only appropriate thing I can think of. Leaving the place and the people, surtout one certain person, has been more of a ‘ripping out, roots and all’ experience than I had expected it would be. It’s bittersweet and, at the moment, more bitter than sweet.

So dark chocolate is the only option I think. At least 70%, as the recipe suggests.

From one day to the next, I’ve jetted so far away from these people, the place, a best friend; the results of my choice yet I couldn’t have foreseen the sentiments this experience would evoke for me.

It’s my attempt to get back there, to feel closer to you, to feel as if you would be with me in the kitchen. These macarons are my attempt to bridge the gap between us. From one side to the other with dark chocolate ganache, just what you’ll find in the middle of this chocolate macaron.

The goal was smaller, traditional macarons, but in the end, one big maracon cake was the best I could pull off for this first attempt.

August 26, 2012

Fannie’s Chocolate Muffins | Muffins au chocolat de Fannie

After spending a week in the South West of France (near Bordeaux) with a group of very culinary people, I managed to pick up a few tricks of the trade.  In France, the only thing the French like more than eating is talking about food WHILE eating (what else is there to do when you spend 5 hours à table).  My heaven. And it isn’t the typical American banter, either.  The French don’t talk about calories, about portions, or about what they aren’t allowed to eat because it’s “bad for you.”  They talk about the basic steps involved in creating a fabulously flavorful yet simple dish.  Or the highly caloric pleasures they indulge in occasionally which leaves them satisfied but not one thousand pounds.

So while on vacation, two very lovely women tried their hand at a chocolate muffin bake-off.  All eleven of us sat around the table grading each muffin based on presentation, taste, texture, aftertaste, among other things.  No one was concerned about how many calories each muffin was.  That’s why I love France.  But anyway, I digress.  While both muffins were very tasty, I took with me the recipe for the winning muffin which is no more complicated than a very basic French fondant au chocolat.  Let me sell you this chocolately delight right now: 5 basic ingredients you are sure to have in your kitchen.  Very short preparation. 15 minutes in the oven.  Outstanding taste but very, very simple.  What the French do best, quoi.

Fannie’s Chocolate Muffins | Muffins au chocolat de Fannie

What you’ll need:

  • 7 ounces (200 g) dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50 g) flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
  • 1 stick + 1 tbsp (120 g) butter

Now what?

  1. Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a microwave safe bowl (or on the stove in a bain marie)
  2. Add the eggs, sugar and flour.
  3. Bake at 350 f/ 180 c for 15-20 minutes.  Don’t overcook.  The inside should be melty and slightly undercooked!

(a willing Julie always ready to help get rid of the extra batter)

August 6, 2012

Grandma Edith’s Ricotta Cheesecake | Cheesecake à la ricotta

I am an Italian American which means that I grew up feasting on all things delicious (and saying things like ‘rigoth’ instead of ricotta and ‘ganol’ instead of cannoli).  As a child though, I didn’t fully appreciate the allure of this cake.  Every Easter, I poo-pooed it and grabbed some Cadberry eggs instead, satiating my sophomoric taste buds.  But there is something funny about being across an entire ocean that makes me rethink all of those old recipes that I grew up knowing but turning my nose up at out of sheer ignorance.  When spending Easter without your family, for example, all that you can think about making is your Grandma’s cheesecake, even though you can’t seem to remember exactly how it tastes.  In just creating the cake with your own hands, it brings forth an entire culture, familial history and series of memories that are essential on all days, but on holidays in particular.

But it’s no such holiday right now and I am simply fulfilling a request for an Italian cheesecake.  Using ricotta instead of cream cheese really changes the texture a whole lot.  Don’t poo-poo this cake like I did a very long time ago.  Make it just once and it will be your go-to cheesecake for a while!

Usually this produces an enormous amount of batter.  Since I was cooking for 8 (on two separate occasions, I know, cheating my way out of baking two separate desserts! How dare I!),  I thought I would make single serving portions out of wax paper.  This could be a very fruitful idea, in theory, but be sure to press your crust INTO place to prevent overflowing cheese rivers that create your very first  kitchen “debacle.” I did manage to salvage four cheesecakes (which I believe to be kitchen karma telling me I should’ve never lump-summed two desserts into one…)

Grandma Edith’s Ricotta Cheesecake

What you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ lb (600g) ricotta
  • 1 cup (250 g) of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½  tsp vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup (60 g) heavy cream, whipped
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups graham crackers (or speculoos cookies), crushed

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Beat drained ricotta until smooth and gradually add ¾ cups sugar and egg yolks, beating after each addition.
  3. Beat in flour, lemon zest and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff and then combine with whipped cream.  Gently fold cream mixture into ricotta mixture.
  5. Turn into 12-inch spring form pan (or mini vessels, or mini muffin tins, or mini ramekins or whatever you’d like) which has been well buttered and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs.
  6. Bake 10 minutes at 425 and then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for one hour or until golden brown and wobbly to the touch.
  7. Turn off heat and allow to cool in the oven with the door closed.
  8. Cool in fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

(the vessels)

(the cream)

(the very minis)

(the salvaged)

(the explosion)

(the massacre)

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