Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stained Glass Window Cookies

Every year about this time I notice magazines with articles about the best cookies to bake at Christmas.  Often one of those recipes is "Stained Glass" cookies--sugar cookies with cut-outs into which you put crushed candy.  The result, at least in the magazine pictures, looks terrific and fun.  So I was really happy that Dorie's recipe for Stained Glass Cookies was chosen to be baked this December.  I had a holiday party to attend this past Saturday and planned to bake them for the party.

While at the store, I picked out lifesavers from the bulk bin.  I hadn't remembered how many Dorie said I'd need, but I selected several in different colors until I figured I had enough.  When I looked at the recipe she said about 15 and guess what?  I had exactly 15!  It was as if this was confirmation that my cookies were going to be perfect!

I made the dough, rolled it thin, put it in the refrigerator.  Everything was going as planned.

I crushed the lifesavers by color, using my heavy and excellent mortar and pestle.  They looked very pretty indeed.

I rolled out the cookies and cut them into two-inch rounds.  So far so good.

Dorie suggests cutting one or more tiny circles in each cookie, using a 1/4" icing tip.  This was the start of my problems.  I had star shaped tips about that size but that didn't work.  I tried using the tip of a grapefruit knife and that wasn't successful.  I finally used the end of the decorating bag coupler and that worked reasonably well.

Then I used the same coupler as a funnel to fill the holes with crushed candy.  I painted on some egg wash and sprinkled on sugar.

The first results out of the oven were okay, but not great.

The second tray was not so great--I forgot to set the timer and overbaked them, the candy turned brown (as Dorie warned that it would) and the cookies did too.

By the time the too-brown cookies came out of the oven, I had about one hour left before we were leaving for the holiday party.  One thing I've learned from Dorie is that if something isn't coming out as well as you'd planned, it's best to improvise!  I pulled out a simple Christmas tree cookie cutter, cut the cookies and sprinkled on some colored sanding sugar.  (I suppose I could have tried the crushed lifesavers but I really wasn't sure how the candy would melt).

I ended up with a small tray of cookies.  They tasted great and were much appreciated at the party, but weren't the cool looking stained glass cookies I had hoped for.  One thing I've learned, however, is that when someone compliments my baking, I just smile and say thank you.  It's unnecessary to reveal that the result wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I started.  And those overly browned cookies?  My husband thinks they were delicious and has been steadily eating them up.

Check out what the other Tuesdays with Dorie baked this week.  And if you don't have Baking Chez Moi  by Dorie Greenspan, tell everyone you know it would be a perfect gift.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pear-Cranberry Roll-Up Tart

This tart is beautifully photographed in Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking Chez Moi, and I had high hopes for it.  I was not disappointed!

The tart uses her galette dough which is tasty and easy to roll out.  The filling is pretty simple:  pears, cranberries and the secret ingredients of raspberry preserves and fresh ginger.

My only difficulty was in sealing the ends.  As a result, some of the preserves leaked out and burned on the parchment paper.  But once I moved the tart to a rack to cool, everything was great.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chocolate Covered Toffee Break Ups

Last fall, when I first got my hands on Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking Chez Moi, I read through the book and marked the recipes I wanted to make right away.  There were lots of post-it notes sticking out of this book!

One of the recipes I wanted to try was Chocolate Covered Toffee Break Ups on page 402.  I love both chocolate and caramel so the combination of chocolate and toffee was especially appealing.  And then there are the almonds, so I could delude myself into thinking that actually this candy was almost healthy!

The first time I made the recipe was around Christmas and I gave a good deal of it away.  It was a good thing, because every time I passed by the container, I found myself taking a little nibble.  It was delicious as I made it last year, but I also wrote a note on the page of the book to try using good milk chocolate instead of semi or bittersweet chocolate.  So that's what I did this week.

Roughly chopping the toasted almonds

Butter and sugar beginning to cook

Chopping the good milk chocolate

The toffee burbling away

Keeping the thermometer handy

Just about ready--lovely color!

The toffee cooling

Chocolate spread on and more nuts added.  Ready for the refrigerator.

The end product.  Only there aren't this many pieces left.

I'd say that this toffee would be great with any kind of chocolate!  Using your favorite is probably the best advice.

To get the recipe, buy Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking Chez Moi.  Click here to see blogs from the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Apple Pielets

These little hand pies look so adorable in the picture in Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi.  And it is a perfect time to bake them because apples are readily available in a great many varieties.  As part of my participation with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, my goal is to bake and post every other Tuesday.  I did bake them on Tuesday (yesterday), but here it is already Wednesday and I am only now beginning to write about it.

Let me say that there are only 3 pie-lets left of the dozen.  And we didn't even eat them for dessert at dinner--it's just that every time someone passed by the kitchen, it was impossible not to grab a pie-let.

The dough was easy, although a little fussy to cut out since I was using make-shift cutters.  I left out the raisins because I wanted to leave them out.  I used two different apples:  Northern Spy, my absolute apple pie apple, and Cortland.  I'm sure to make these again!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tiger Cakes

One of the very first Dorie Greenspan recipes that I baked was one I found years ago in a magazine.  It was Chocolate Glazed Walnut Tea Cakes.  They were little cakes made with ground walnuts and cinnamon and unbeaten egg whites and baked in muffin tins.  They were topped with a lovely chocolate ganache.  Sound familiar?
Dorie's Chocolate Glazed Walnut Tea Cakes

When I first looked through Baking Chez Moi and saw the recipe for Tiger Cakes I realized that they were a wonderful variation on the Walnut Tea Cakes.  I made them some months ago and was delighted by the flavor but extremely frustrated when these tasty little goodies stuck to the muffin tins.  I made them again the very next day and generously buttered one tin and generously sprayed another.  This time, they came out fairly easily, although I had to run a blade around each cake while it was in the tin.

So yesterday when I was getting ready to bake these cakes I was well aware of the potential sticky problem.  I checked the P&Q on the TWD site and saw a great recommendation from Nancy T. to put a little bit of plain batter in the bottom of the pan.  I decided to do this in addition to spraying the tins thoroughly.

Here's the result:

Most of the Tiger Cakes stuck!

Most of them stuck really badly.  There were only three that came out unscathed after I ran a thin, sharp blade around the edges.  These three were on one side of the tin and I know that my oven heats unevenly.  So maybe these three were a little better baked.  

I decided not to make the chocolate glaze this time because nothing could pretty-up the cakes that fell apart as I removed them from the pan.  I must say, however, that they are very tasty--my husband says "addictive" and he has already eaten half of them.  

I do plan to bake these again but am thinking I may need to invest in a silicone mini-muffin pan.

I'm really looking forward to the experiences of other TWD bakers.  Check out their blogs here.v

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apple Kuchen: A Tall Apple-Custard Tourte

Showy and delicious, those are apt words to describe fall in Rochester, New York and also perfect words to describe Dorie Greenspan's Apple Kuchen.  This is the first apple dessert I have made this fall and it is a winner!

I have been baking along with the Tuesday with Dorie bakers as we work through Dorie's book, Baking Chez Moi.  When I saw the beautiful picture accompanying this recipe, I was very anxious to make it but held off till now--a perfect time with many varieties of apples hitting the farm stands.  And if I do say so myself, my kuchen looks as lovely as the one in the book!  Thanks, Dorie, for such great recipes and easy-to-follow directions!

To see how the other bakers did this week, check out Tuesdays with Dorie.

Dropping the butter into the food processor

Whirring till there are small pieces of butter

Adding the egg yolks and whirring until the machine makes a different sound.

The apples and rum-soaked raisins in the crust.

Into the oven--add the custard in 15 minutes.

Out of the oven

With the sugar and buttery glaze.

Cutting the first piece

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jam Filled Sandwich Cookies

When Dorie's book, Baking Chez Moi,  came out late last fall I started baking tons of recipes.  How could I wait for the twice a month Tuesday with Dorie baking??!!  So last February I made these cookies and they were lovely.

It's really hot this summer (I'm not complaining) so I've been reluctant to turn on the oven.  Since I made these last winter and even remembered to take a couple of pictures once they came out of the oven, I decided not to bake them again this week.

They are two delicious, thin cookies with a bit of jam in the middle.  My notes in the margins of the book remind me to press on the sides of the cookies before baking so as not to squish out the jam.  What else can I say?  They turned out great!

Here are a couple of pictures of the just-baked cookies and of the view outside my window when I baked the cookies in February!

Delicious cookies . . .
. . . and winter in Rochester, NY

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bubble Eclairs

Eclairs always look so fancy in the pastry shop window, but having a little experience baking from Dorie Greenspan's books made me confident that mine would both taste great and look fabulous.

Cream puff dough is surprisingly easy to make and I am so happy that I own OXO cookie scoops because I was able to scoop up three "bubbles" with no problem.

Because there were only three of us for dinner, I made just four eclairs, then scooped out the rest of the dough to be frozen and baked later this week for my birthday celebration treats!

I topped our bubble eclairs with crackle top cookies and filled them with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Then each of us had one, then 1/3 more and they were gone!  Will bake up the frozen ones on Saturday and I'm sure they will be a hit.


To see what the other Tuesday with Dorie bakers did this week, click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cherry Crumb Tart

I am committed to baking through Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, with the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, but I missed the July bakes!  The first miss was due to an absence of apricots, and the second was due to an absence of me (vacation).  But I am home now and happy to be back on the baking bus.

This week's recipe is a Cherry Crumb Tart.  Dorie introduced me to baking tarts in Baking from My Home to Yours and I love them because they are beautiful, parts of them can be made ahead, and above all, they are delicious.  The Cherry Crumb Tart was a bit of a project, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to bake.

Dorie suggests using a square tart pan and I had to resist the urge to walk down to the nearby Cook's World and buy one.  But I already own a variety of round tart pans so decided I'd make due with what I had.

In this new book, Dorie says she likes to roll out the tart dough.  I've grown quite fond of her alternative method which is to pat the dough into the pan so that's what I did here.  Once it was in the freezer, I started on the other components of the tart.

I made the streusel topping, using the optional orange zest.  At first I thought the amount of zest would make the topping too orange-y but of course it was just the right amount of tanginess on the finished tart.

Once the streusel was in the refrigerator I made the filling, which was quite easy to do once I found the almond flour which I had sensibly hidden in the freezer.  Since I had the food processor out, I intended to use that but discovered that there was so little butter (only 6 Tbsp.) that the whirling blade didn't reach the butter so I got out my reliable stand mixer.  Using the right tool made it easy.  I intended to use vanilla but after searching through the little bottles of alcohol--all of which we have acquired for cooking and baking--I found the kirsch so in it went.

Later in the day I partially baked the tart shells, then pitted the cherries.  My mother owned a really wonderful cherry pitter which I still have.  Unfortunately, it seems to be missing a critical piece on the pit-plunger so it no longer works!  The hand-held OXO pitter is  functional, but it's not as cool to splat the cherry pits into a bowl as it is to plunk them into a mason jar.

Filling on the partially baked tart shell

My old cherry pitter and the new OXO
The pitted cherries
Tart into the oven
I assembled the tart except for the streusel and popped it into the oven.  I wish I'd taken a picture of how it looked when the filling puffed up around the cherries before I added the streusel.  It was beautiful!

Out of the oven
The finished tart was also beautiful and everyone enjoyed it after dinner.  Another winner as far as I'm concerned.
Onto the serving plate

Click here to see what the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers have to say about this tart and rush right out to buy Baking Chez Moi if you want this recipe and lots more fabulous recipes from Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strawberry Shortcakes Franco-American Style

Strawberry season is so short that I always find myself making everything with strawberries during the few weeks when the local berries are available.  This week the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers had the opportunity to make Strawberry Shortcakes Franco-American Style, found on page 338 of Baking Chez Moi.

The fun part for me was using that open star decorating tip that I bought to decorate the Limoncello mini-cupcakes a few weeks ago.  Who knew that a little $2 purchase could bring so much pleasure?!
I used it this time to pipe on the whipped cream.  Messy, but really fun to do.

We enjoyed these shortcakes very much.  They were lighter than the usual American biscuit-type shortcake and oh, so delicious!

For more scrumptious strawberry pictures, check out the blogs of other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Sifting the dry ingredients

Making the meringue

piping them on to the baking sheet

The leftovers

Out of the oven

The finished product!

Fun with piping on the whipped cream!