Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

I will fully admit, up front, that I was very cheater-like this week. I did make this dessert, I just used a short cut or two. In my defense, on Thursday, I baked 300 cookies for a friend's wedding (she gave me the dough balls, I baked them off) The wedding was Saturday, and Sunday was Yom Kippur. I baked for the break the fast dinner (two challahs and a pound cake-post coming soon). So this wasn't exactly high on my list of things to bake.

Here's how I cheated. Remember this recipe? I had some crusts in the freezer. That's one pre-made component.

The caramel layer? Some dulce de leche that I made last month. I sprinkled the crust with the honey roasted peanuts and poured some dulce on top. That's two layers taken care of.

The third layer was some chocolate glaze that I had in the fridge. I melted it slightly, spread it on, and then let it chill again.

Ta dah! A chocolate crunched caramel tart! I will admit that the caramel scared the bejeebus out of me, so I'm kind of glad I didn't make it. I may try it another time.
You know, my cheater version was pretty darn good! All the flavors of the original in a chocolate crust!
Go check out Carla's blog Chocolate Moosey. She has the recipe and pictures of the real thing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets

First, can I start out by saying that hosting was so much fun! The validation of all the comments made my low self-esteem rise just a bit for the week. I'll get to do it again in about a year and a half. ;-) Seriously, thanks for all the great comments. Seems the recipe I chose was a winner.

Now on to this week. I really liked the finished product. All two of them that actually came out... This was a TOUGH recipe in execution. In theory, it's simple. Just whir together some ingredients in the processor, chill your dough, roll, and then bake.

If only.

My food processor is a big one -- 14 cups. I had to make the full recipe of dough or it wasn't happening. In hindsight, I should have used my (slightly hated) mini prep and quartered the recipe. The butter kept creeping up on top of the blade and I had to stop a zillion times to push it down. The rest of the ingredients went in just fine. I got my VERY sticky dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and I put it in the fridge. Four hours or so later, I took out a quarter of the dough and rolled it out in a plastic bag. (The rest was well wrapped and put into the freezer) The bag went into the freezer. After what I had read from other bakers I figured it was a safer bet.

In the time that it took me to cut the three edges of the plastic bag off, the dough had become soft. Back into the freezer. Then I realized that it was too thick. Now I put it between two sheets of plastic wrap, rolled some more, and then it went back into the freezer. It came out, I cut it into squares, and.... it was already too cool and wouldn't transfer to the pan. I got two squarish pieces, I dabbed some jam in them, and then I dumped the rest of the dough onto the pan.

They baked. They browned. They were delicious! They were, however, such a huge pain to work with that I'm not sure what to do with the rest of the dough. Any suggestions? What bummed me out is that I've done a recipe for cottage cheese pastry before and it was much easier to work with. Maybe I'll post that one later in the week.

Here are the two that actually came out shaped and filled.

Here is the "dumped" set. I scored them on the plastic wrap and tried to separate them. Didn't work. So I just turned it out onto the parchment and dabbed some jam on.

Anyway, we liked the flavor. Even the dumped and topped ones. Oh, I used some cherry jam that I made with this recipe from David Lebovitz.

Thank you to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes for getting us to try something new. Go check out her blog to see what these are supposed to look like.

*** Edited to add: I just looked at my other recipe. It calls for the same amount of butter and cottage cheese but two cups of flour. I think that extra 1/3 of a cup makes a huge difference in handling.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

Do you believe it? This week is actually MY pick! Woo hoo! I perused the book many times over the past year wondering what I would pick when it was my turn. I knew it would depend on the season. I knew it would depend on what other people were picking. I also wanted to make a friendly recipe -- one that could be halved or quartered easily. I narrowed down my choices. It was almost fall, it had to have apple in it. After a bit more scrutiny, I chose the apple turnovers.

I love fall. I love apple season. I love these turnovers! They were flaky bites of deliciousness. There are two components to this treat. Each was easy to make, so I give this a low rating on the Dorie fuss factor. First I made the dough. Other recipes I have seen call for puff pastry. This was a different dough. It called for sour cream. Dorie credits the acidity in the sour cream for the tenderness of the dough. It came together easily for me. It needed a rest in the fridge for about an hour. At that point it gets rolled out and then folded like an envelope. Back into the fridge for an overnight rest. The next morning was part two. First I mixed up the apple filling. Then the dough got another roll out. This one was a bit harder. It took some elbow grease to get it to the right thickness. I got eight rounds out of the first roll. The remaining dough went back into the fridge.

I overfilled the turnovers a bit, and the dough didn't want to seal very well and developed a few holes. Totally user error. I brushed with the egg wash and used sparkling sugar for a finishing touch. They smelled amazing while baking. They came out a litter sooner then they should have, and the crust wasn't as golden as I would have liked. Second batch was rolled out, and I cut it into rectangles so I could use all the dough with no waste. I hate waste. These were filled with a homemade blueberry/rhubarb jam. Again, they smelled amazing. I let these go a bit longer, and they got that gorgeous golden color on them.

These were a huge hit at my house. They were NOT pretty. But who cares about pretty when they tasted so so good. They will definitely be back at my house. I really love that they can be formed ahead of time and frozen. That makes it really easy to put together an impressive breakfast. Or after school snack. Or midnight snack. Or... snack.

Ok, so not so golden brown. But delicious! And a little hole because I pulled the dough.

Here's the blueberry/rhubarb version. I let this one bake longer. And a little less filling helped.

Here's a lovely display of both versions.

Here's the recipe so that you can have this deliciousness in your own house.

Flaky Apple Turnovers

For the dough: 1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small

For the filling: 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Fuji or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
sugar, for dusting

To make the dough:
Stir the sour cream and sugar together; set aside.

Whisk the four and salt together in a large bowl, then toss the butter bits over the flour. Working with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers, cut the butter into the ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Don't worry about being thorough - it's better to have an uneven mix than an overworked dough. Switch to a fork and, using a lifting and tossing motion, gently stir in the sour cream. The dough will be very soft.

Divide the dough in half. Put each half in a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to shape each piece into a rectangle (don't worry about size or precision). Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, or for up to 2 days.

Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll it into a rectangle about 9 x 18 inches. The dough is easiest to work with if you roll it between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap - if you want to roll it traditionally, make sure to flour the rolling surface. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, wrap it and refrigerate it. Repeat with the second piece of dough, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

To make the filling:
Whisk the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss to coat.

Getting ready to bake:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.

Roll out one piece of dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, and cut out 4 1/2 inch rounds with a large cutter or the edge of a tartlet pan. Repeat with the second piece of dough. If you'd like, you can gather the scraps together, chill them, and make additional turnovers. (The turnovers made from scraps will taste good, but they won't be as pretty and light as the first rounders.) You'll get 7 or 8 rounds from each piece of dough.

Place 1 to 2 tablespoons apples in the center of each round and dot with the butter. Moisten the edges of each round with a little water and fold the turnovers in half, sealing the edges by pressing them together with the tines of a for. Use the fork to poke steam holes in each turnover, and transfer the turnovers to the baking sheets. (At this point, the turnovers can be frozen; wrap them airtight when they are firm and store them for up to 2 months. Bake them without defrosting, adding a few minutes to their time in the oven)

Brush the tops of the turnovers with a little of the egg wash and sprinkle each one with a pinch of sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 10 minutes. When done, the turnovers will be puffed, firm to the touch, and golden. Gently transfer them to racks and cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Souffle

Ok, this was just.... fail. I've made a chocolate souffle before. It was lovely and delicious. This one was not. I don't know where I went wrong on this one. I made a half recipe. I read about other TWD bakers who made smaller amounts and used their baking times. I followed the instructions. I even used a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat. I don't usually use a pan when Dorie tells me to, but this time I did.

And I got two sad ramekins of chocolate goo. I couldn't even bear to take pictures. So this will be a sad photo-less entry. And I am also sad. Really, it was very sad. I couldn't get past the texture to even try to appreciate the taste. Maybe I overbeat my whites? Maybe I used lousy chocolate? Maybe it was the silicon lined pan.

I don't know. I may try this one again, but I'm a bit souffle shy right now. Sigh.

Well, next week is my pick! This one will not fail! At least it had better not.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

I'm pretty sure I've made my feelings about brownies pretty clear. I like them, but they seem to be ubiquitous. Remember, these are the only baked good where I'll willingly use a mix. Here's what's interesting about this week's recipe -- I'm not too much of a cheesecake fan, either. If I never ate it again, I don't think I'd miss it. It's not something I crave or seek out. If it's there, and there aren't other better choices I'll eat is.

Which is why I was so surprised that I liked this recipe as much as I did. And I really really like this dessert. It was fairly low on the Dorie fuss factor. I really only needed two bowls and then the pan to bake it in. I followed the recipe almost entirely. The one change I made was to substitute a good bittersweet/orange/almond chocolate for the plain chocolate. A) I had it and B) it sounded like it would work. Oh yeah, and I skipped the topping. Again. This seems to be a habit with me lately. Truthfully, it wasn't missed.

This called for ingredients that I already had. (Psst. If you haven't discovered and purchased espresso powder from King Arthur Flour, you should) The chocolate was probably an impulse buy at one point. The brownie layer is made first. Then the espresso cheesecake. Most of the brownie batter gets spread into the pan with the cheesecake batter next. Mine seemed awfully runny, so I was a tad worried. I don't think I kept out enough brownie batter. My swirls are kind of pitiful. I took these out when they were slightly brown and pulled away from the pan. Just like Dorie said!

The testers really enjoyed this one. The boy was not as enthusiastic. I would certainly make this again. I really liked the way the flavors played against each other. The coffee taste was clear but not overwhelming. The orange added a nice element, and I liked the slight crunch of the almonds. Maybe next time a plain chocolate and add some cinnamon?

Here they are in the pan. They REALLY pulled away from the side. Not so swirly.

Here's one piece. I really need to work on my food photography.

And another piece. Still not so swirly.

Thank you Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell for choosing this yummy dessert.