Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Blackberry Squares

Yields 2 dozen
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

7 1/2 Ounce(wt)s flour, all-purpose 
1 1/4 Cup oats, quick cooking 
2 3/10 Ounce(wt)s sugar, white 
1/3 Cup sugar, light brown, packed 
1/4 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt, table 
1/2 Cup pecans or almonds finely chopped
3/4 Cups butter, unsalted cut in pieces, softened
1 Cup preserves, blackberry (seedless) 

Tools Needed:
Nordic Ware Square Cake Pan with Lid, 9 Inch
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display
Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan (overhang will help in removal of baked squares). Fit second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. 

In bowl of standing mixer, mix flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add butter pieces; continue to beat until mixture is well-blended and resembles wet sand, about 2 minutes. 

Transfer 2/3 of mixture to prepared pan and use hands to press crumbs evenly into bottom. Bake until starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Using rubber spatula, spread preserves evenly over hot bottom crust; sprinkle remaining oat/nut mixture evenly over preserves. 

Bake until preserves bubble around edges and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours, then remove from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch squares and serve.

Snickerdoodle Banana Bread

Yields 1 loaf or 3 mini loaves

3/4 tsp baking soda 
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar 
1 3/4 Cup flour, all-purpose 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
1/3 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
2/3 Cups sugar, white 
2 Large egg, whole 
1 Cup banana mashed, overripe
1 Cup chips, cinnamon 
Cinnamon Sugar:
2 Tbls sugar, white 
1/2 Tbls cinnamon, ground 

Tools Needed:
Wilton Recipe Right 3 Piece Mini Loaf Pan Set
Wilton Recipe Right Medium Loaf Pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray a bread pan (not a large bread pan, but a slightly smaller bread pan.) and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, cream of tartar, flour and salt. set aside. 

Cream together the softened butter and sugar. add the eggs and mix until smooth. 

In a glass measuring cup, smash the bananas. 

Add a little flour to the egg mixture and turn on the mixer. cream everything together as the four gets incorporated add a little banana. continue to alternate between the dry ingredients and banana, ending with the banana. stir in the cinnamon chips and place in the bread pan. 

Mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the loaf with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Sometimes I tent with foil the last 15 minutes if its getting too brown. 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of cinnamon sugar, allow to cool before slicing for nice slices, or dig in while it's warm but it may be a little more crumbly hot. 

If making 3 mini loaves, put 1/2 tablespoon on each loaf before baking and the other 1/2 tablespoon on each loaf when it comes out.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chai-Spiced Mixed Nuts

Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 Tbls extract, vanilla 
1 Large egg white 
1 Cup almonds, whole 
1 Cup pecans 
1 Cup walnuts, halves 
1/4 Cup sugar, white 
1 tsp salt, Kosher 
3/4 tsp cinnamon, ground 
3/4 tsp allspice, ground 
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground 

Tools Needed:
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Combine vanilla extract and egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Stir in nuts. 

Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom in a small bowl. Sprinkle over nuts, tossing to coat. 

Place nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn off oven. 

Toss nuts, breaking pieces apart. Return pan to oven, and leave pan in oven for an additional 10 minutes (with the oven still turned off). 

Cool to room temperature. Store nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chili-Kahlua Pecans

Yields 2 1/2 cups

2 Cups pecans 
2 Tbls liqueur, KahlĂșa or maple syrup
4 tsp oil, vegetable 
2 Tbls sugar, white 
2 Tbls chili powder, ancho 

Tools Needed:
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. In a medium bowl combine pecan halves, liqueur or maple syrup and oil. Stir in sugar and chile. Spread in prepared pan. 

Bake, uncovered, in a 250 degrees oven for 45 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on a large piece of foil to cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.

Cinnamon Sugared Pretzels

Yields 1 pound

2/3 Cups oil, vegetable 
1/2 Cup sugar, white 
2 tsp cinnamon, ground 
1 Pound pretzels small twists 

Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

In a large roasting pan stir together oil, sugar and cinnamon. Add pretzels; toss well to combine. 

Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Spread on waxed paper to cool. 

Store in an airtight container.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Yields 6 1/2 Dozen using 1 tablespoon cookie scoop

2 Cups flour, all-purpose 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
1 Cup sugar, white 
1 Tbls zest, lemon 
1/2 Cup Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
2 Large egg, whole at room temperature
1/4 Cup juice, lemon 
1/2 tsp extract, lemon 
1/2 Cup sugar, powdered sifted 

Tools Needed:
Norpro Stainless Steel Scoop, 1 Tablespoon, 35mm
Chicago Metallic Non-Stick 3-Piece Value Pack with 2 Cookie/Jelly Roll Pans and Cooling Grid

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. 

With clean fingers, rub the zest into the granulated sugar until very fragrant. 
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth. 

Add the lemon juice and lemon extract, and mix again until smooth. 

Add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Roll dough into 1 tablespoon balls, then roll in powdered sugar until well coated. Arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ganache

Yields 2 dozen macarons (once filled)

2 Cups sugar, powdered 
1 Cup flour, almond 
3 Tbls cocoa powder (unsweetened) 
1/4 tsp salt, table 
3 Large egg white at room temperature
1 Pinch cream of tartar 
3 Tbls sugar, white 

Tools Needed:
Lekue Macaron Mat
Ateco Plastic Coated Decorating Bag, 18-Inch
Ateco Pastry Tube - Plain - Size 6

Line two baking sheets with Macaron mats; set aside. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2-inch (size 6) plain tip; set aside. 

Place the powdered sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse 4 to 5 times to aerate. Process until fine and combined, about 1 minutes. Sift through a flour sifter into a large bowl; set aside. 

Note: you will most likely have bits of almond left behind in your sieve - no worries.  Just toss these (or eat them like my niece and sister in law did)

Make a meringue by placing the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until opaque and foamy, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium high, and beat until the egg whites are white in color and you see trains from the beaters, about 1 minute. Continue to beat, slowly adding the granulated sugar, until the sugar is combined, the peaks are stiff, and the whites are shiny, about 1 minute more. (Do not overwhip.) Transfer the meringue to a large bowl. 

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry mixture into the egg whites in multiple small batches until the dry ingredients are just combined. (The meringue will deflate.) With the final addition, stop folding when there are no traces of egg whites, the mixture runs like slow-moving lava, and it looks like cake batter. (Do not overmix.) 

Transfer the batter to the pastry bag. Pipe out 1-1/4-inch rounds about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets, about 25 per sheet. Pick up the baking sheets and bang them against the work surface to remove air bubbles. Let the rounds sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to dry the tops and ensure even cooking. 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the macarons for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheets and cook for 7 minutes more. Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool completely.

Bittersweet Ganache for Macarons: 
6 Ounce(wt)s chocolate, baking, bittersweet (finely chopped)
3/4 Cup cream, heavy
3 Tbls butter, unsalted (at room temperature cut in cubes)

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup.  Place in the microwave for 1 minute.  Remove and whisk.  If mostly melted, continue to whisk until completely melted.  If only partially melted, then nuke for 15 more seconds.  

Note: You do NOT want to overheat as it will break the chocolate.  You want to get the chocolate mostly melted and then use the heat in the chocolate and butter and the friction of whisking to finish the job.

Slowly add the cream and continue to whisk until all of it has been incorporated and the ganache is smooth and creamy.  Let set for 10 to 15 minutes (but not until all the way solid).  

Scoop dollops onto the flat side of one macaron.  Top with another macaron (like a sandwich/Oreo) and lightly press so the ganache is pushed out to the edges.  Set macaron on a plate or in an airtight container.

Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.