Entries from September 27th, 2008

Sorry, Daring Bakers…I'm Sick

September 27th, 2008 · 28 Comments · Personal

All my lovely fellow Daring Bakers,

I got sick a couple days ago and just managed to get my cupcakes up for Sugar High Friday…but couldn't make it the next few steps to do the Lavash Crackers.

I'm recovering at home, hoping this little bug will go away by the end of the weekend. I'm sorry I couldn't participate!

I'll be visiting the other DB blogs to see what you've all done and I hope to make up for my absence next month!

Please come back in a few days; hopefully I'll be better and I'll be able to write about my trip to Elizabeth Falkner's new restaurant and a chocolate contest announcement!

Cheers,

Anita

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Sugar High Friday: La Vie en Rose

September 25th, 2008 · 37 Comments · Cakes, Recipes

Vanillasaffroncupcakesbyanitachudessertfirst
When the lovely Fanny of Foodbeam announced Cupcakes as the theme for Sugar High Friday, I did a little jump for joy. San Francisco feels like cupcake central sometimes – there's at least five cupcake-dedicated stores in the city, and dozens more bakeries that carry these bites of bliss in their lineup. Two more cupcake stores have also opened in the last couple weeks; dare I say that San Francisco denizens' adoration of the cupcake is still on the rise?

Even though I enjoy challenging myself with expanding my pastry repertoire, there's something just uninhibitedly appealing about cupcakes. They are simple to make, yet the variations are endless. In foodie-paradise San Francisco, you can be certain the the cupcakes go beyond vanilla and chocolate, to flavors from salted caramel to coconut buttermilk to lemon curd. With all these high end cupcakes around, it was with no small trepidation that I agreed to teach a cupcake class at my pastry school next March. Stay tuned for details!

In preparation for the class, I've been tweaking my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and wanted to do something exotic and different with it – vanilla can seem so simply down home, but it's also the perfect canvas for wild experimentation. A few hours later and I emerged from the kitchen with Vanilla Saffron Cupcakes with Rose Petal Frosting and Pistachios.

Vanillasaffronsugarbyanitachudessertfirst

The inspiration was a jar of rose petal sugar I had picked up at the market; as finely ground as fairy dust, and intoxicatingly redolent of roses. The price for the sugar makes it rather dear, and probably not the most economical ingredient for tossing into batter. However, sprinkled on top of a cake, or cookie, will lend your baked goods its floral, delicate quality. I imagine you could also make your own rose petal by placing a few (unsprayed) rose petals in a jar of sugar for a few weeks.

My vanilla cupcake falls on the ethereally light, just-shy-of-angel-food-cake side: its uses egg whites to lighten the texture, and also allows the vanilla flavor to come through. Combined with saffron's spicy earthiness to balance out the pure sweetness of the vanilla makes for a intriguingly different cupcake. Saffron, of course, is also what gives the cupcakes their sunny yellow hue. When I was steeping the saffron in the milk, I watched the tendrils of yellow color unfurling from the saffron strands, permeating their way into the steaming whiteness of the milk. I felt like an apothecary concocting some ancient elixir with rare ingredients – already this recipe was taking me away to strange and unfamiliar climes!

I topped off the cupcakes with a rosewater buttercream – it seemed only appropriate to fashion some roses with the frosting. Unfortunately, the only petal tip I had on hand was a small one; if I could do it again, I might have made mini-cupcakes so that the roses would cover more of the surface and look even more like a blooming garden. Nevertheless, I thought it turned out fairly nicely, especially once I sprinkled the flowers with tinted rose petal sugar and bits of pistachio. 

Vanillasaffronoverheadbyanitachudessertfirst

When I take a bite, I'm transported to a hot, dusty, bazaar, filled with the scent of oranges and dates, the sounds of odd-plumaged birds and sleepy camels, and water flowing from blue-tiled fountains. The sun is setting over the desert, and in few hours the sky will be endless blue velvet, punctuated with hard, white stars.

Not bad for a cupcake, wouldn't you say?

Thanks again to Fanny for a great Sugar High Friday. And as a last announcement, I'm the next baker to take up the SHF torch! Be sure to come back here in October for my Sugar High Friday theme!

Vanillasaffronsinglebyanitachudessertfirst

Vanilla Saffron Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg plus 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake papers.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

Combine milk and saffron in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on stove over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool while you do the next steps.

Combine sugar  and butter in a stand mixer. Cream on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and combine thoroughly. Add in the egg whites, one at a time, and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the mixer in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour. Combine thoroughly between each addition. After you add the last of the flour mixture, add the vanilla extract and mix just to combine.

Divide batter among cupcake cups. Bake in oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch.

Let cupcakes cool on wire rack before frosting.


Rosewater Buttercream

adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

7 oz sugar

4 large egg whites

12 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces

1 tablespoon rosewater

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.

Whisk the sugar mixture constantly over heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled.

Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth.

When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth.

Add in the rosewater and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla.

The buttercream is ready to be used. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface until you are ready to use it to prevent it from drying out.

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Plum Perfect: Galette, Two Ways

September 18th, 2008 · 41 Comments · Fruit, Pastry, Recipes, Tarts

Edited 9/19/08: Go right below the last photo to see the text I added about Robert Steinberg, co-founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolates.

Plumgalettesbyanitachudessertfirst
I'm no fashionista by any means – you'll sooner find me in Sur La Table than in Saks, and when in bookstores I go for the cooking magazines over the fashion glossies. However, it has not escaped even my offhand attention that purple seems to be quite the popular shade for fall – in every store window I pass by there seem to be clothes in hues of mauve, eggplant, violet, and plum.

Well, my wardrobe may not be on-trend for fall, but my kitchen is: I've been hoarding plums of every variety that I can find at the market. Their dramatic, jewel-toned skins give them star presence on my table: every day they remind me that I ought to use them properly, in a way befitting their gorgeous succulence.

I'd been wanting to make a galette, and what better showcase for delicately thin slices of plum, fanned out in a golden, ruby-edged sunburst?

Interestingly, galette can mean many things in France, depending on the region. It can be a flaky, sablé-style butter cookie. It can be a crêpe, especially a savory one. It can be a round, pastry-like cake – King's Cake is known as galette des rois, and I made it in pastry school – what a time-consuming task that was! But galette can also mean a freeform, open-faced tart, and that also seems to be the most popular incarnation of the term over here in the states. To me, the casual, almost deceptive rusticity of a galette is what makes it so charming: it simultaneously embodies the spontaneity of making use of what's fresh at the moment, and it's also a really tasty way to enjoy some really delectable fruit.

I kept the galette as simple as possible: my favorite blitz puff for a light, flaky, buttery crust, spread with a little frangipane to add some nutty dimension, and a topping of plum slices – nothing else required. 

However, just as in fashion you choose the styles that appeal to you (or least pick the ones that suit you best so you don't end up a fashion victim!), so I've made two variations of the galette, so you can select which one catches your fancy.

Plumgalette2byAnitaChudessertfirst
Modern Classic: This is traditional, tried-and-true, and never out of style: buttery puff pastry, almond frangipane laced with vanilla bean and cinnamon, and sweet, juicy plums on top. Notice the puff pastry got so puffy it nearly unfolded itself!

Chocplumgalette2byanitachudessertfirst
Edgy Sophisticate: This number adds a few unexpected twists for a different sensibility. The puff pastry has cocoa powder added for a bittersweet chocolate richness, and the frangipane is flavored with star anise. Combined with the plums, this makes for a decadent and no less delicious experience.

I found both of them worked quite well with the fruit without overpowering it. Flaky, delicate, fruity, sweet, rich – everything I was looking for. And it was so simple to put together, it's easy to experiment with other additions and combinations. I hope you try your own combinations of flavors with this galette. Who knows, you may find your signature style!

Chocplumgalettebyanitachudessertfirst

Added 9/19/08: When I took the photo above a day ago, I had not heard the news yet that Robert Steinberg had passed away on Wednesday. A sad coincidence that I used his chocolate in my latest photo, but I hope to turn it into a belated tribute to him.

When Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger joined together to form Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. in 1996, they were at the forefront of the American artisan chocolate revolution. As their chocolate bars made their way into stores across the country, Americans learned about where cacao comes from, how it is turned into chocolate, and what makes a good chocolate. Before them, most home bakers could only find Hershey's and Nestle chocolate in the stores. Now bakers everywhere can find Scharffen Berger and Guittard and Valrhona in the supermarket, and they have Scharffenberger and Steinberg to thank for that.

I have Scharffen Berger's book, Essence of Chocolate – see this post for my in-depth thoughts on it. It's one of my favorite cookbooks, because you can really feel the passion of these two men for chocolate. It's not just a vanity cookbook with some recipes – there are in-depth, heartfelt discussions of the cacao industry, on how chocolate is made, and on the joy that making and eating chocolate can bring. The two of them have made an indeliable contribution to the world of fine chocolate – and I'm so proud that the company is in the Bay Area, right in my backyard.

It is a sad day for chocolate lovers everywhere. You can also read the offical statement by John Scharffenberger and the New York Times article on this chocolate visionary. I hope you remember Robert Steinberg the next time you eat or bake with some fine chocolate – I'm going to have a piece of Scharffen Berger 70% in his memory.


Plum Galettes

makes (4) 7" round galettes

3-4 plums

1 recipe Blitz Puff, see below

1/2 cup frangipane, see below

Egg white for egg wash

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Apricot jam for glaze

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Halve and pit the plums. Slice them thinly.

Divide the puff pastry in four parts and return three pieces to the refrigerator to keep them cold. Roll out the fourth piece on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick (not too thin).

Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into an approximately 8"-9" circle, depending on how big the plum slices are. There should be about 1/2" between the edge of the pastry and plums after you lay them out.

 Spread a thin layer of the frangipane on top of the puff pastry, leaving a 1/2" border clear. Do not make the frangipane too thick or it will puff out and make the galette lose its shape.

Arrange the plum slices in a circle on the frangipane.

Fold the border of the pastry up and over the fruit, pleating the edges together. If you want, you can brush the edges with a little beaten egg white and sprinkle turbinado sugar over them.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. The puff pastry should puff up and turn golden brown. Place galettes on a wire rack and brush lightly with apricot jam. Let cool slightly before serving.

Blitz Puff Pastry

makes (4) 9" ci rcles

10 ounces all purpose flour

10 ounces unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-in pieces

3/4 tsp salt

90 ml water, ice cold

For chocolate puff pastry, add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the flour before combining with the butter.

Combine the flour and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the ingredients together on low speed  until the mixture is shaggy and resembles cornmeal, with visible pieces of butter still. Do not let the flour and butter turn into a solid ball of dough – if the components are completely mixed you will not have the layering of flour and fat needed to form the flaky layers!

Add the salt to the mixture. Pour in the water and mix on low speed just until the dough starts to come together; again, don't let the dough turn into one solid lump. There should still be little pieces of butter and the dough should be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and form into a square. If the kitchen is warm and the dough is very soft and sticky, place it on a sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes until it firms up enough to work with.

Using flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking, roll out the dough about 1/2 inch thick and in the shape of a rectangle. The dimensions are not important – a roughly rectangle shape is fine, but try to keep the edges straight and square with each other so when you fold the dough over the edges will line up evenly.

To do a single turn on the dough, imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into thirds. Fold one end third over onto the middle third, then fold the other end third over on top, making a trifold. Make sure the edges are lined up as evenly as possible.

Roll the trifold out again to about 1/2" thickness and in the shape of a rectangle, switching the directions of the long and short sides – in other words, the folded sides of the trifold should become the long side and the open sides should become the short side.

Do another turn (trifold) with this rectangle.

Repeat this process one more time so you have done a total of three turns. If at any point the dough starts becoming very soft or rubbery, let it rest in the refrigerator for a little bit before working on it some more.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle. This time, do a double turn – imagine the long side of the rectangle divided into fourths. Fold both end fourths over onto the center fourths, then fold the two sides together again so all four layers are stacked on top of each other. Wrap the dough up completely in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

Frangipane (adapted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake)

3/4 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup flour

If you want to flavor the frangipane, you can add: 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon grated star anise. Add more to taste.

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor. Process until almonds are very fine.

Add almond extract and one of the eggs and process until smooth.

Add the butter and process until fully combined and the mixture is smooth.

Add in the egg and process just until incorporated.

Add in the flour and process just until incorporated.

You can use the frangipane immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Fall and the Full Moon: Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Five Spice Peanut Brittle

September 11th, 2008 · 37 Comments · Candy, Custards, Recipes

Blacksesamepc

I got a call from my mom reminding me that the Mid-Autumn Festival was coming up: since its date is tied to the lunar calendar, it falls on a different day on the Western calendar every year, but usually some time in late September. This year it falls on Sunday, September 14, when the moon will be at its fullest, most lucent beauty.

If you’ve read my previous Mid-Autumn post, or you celebrate it yourself, you know what Mid-Autumn means foodwise: mooncakes, those elaborately molded little cakes that hide a gleaming whole egg yolk inside, a tribute to the shining full moon overhead. Every bakery, and grocery, in Chinatown has tins of these delicacies piled high, ready for buying and gifting.

Perhaps because of the ubiquity of these cakes at Mid-Autumn time, I’ve never thought to recreate them at home. There’s another, less pretty reason as well: I’m not the biggest fan of mooncakes. They are dense, rich, heavy, and the salted egg yolk has just never made it onto my list of favorite tastes. However, my very American boyfriend quite enjoys them! Go figure.

So, in lieu of trying to make mooncakes at home, I’m making a different lunar-themed dessert to celebrate the holiday. The Mid-Autumn Festival is all about appreciating the beauty of the luminescent, equinoxal moon, so what I made was a black sesame panna cotta that hopefully alludes to the speckly, variegated surface of the moon.

Black-sesame-panna-cotta

Black sesame is a classic Chinese flavor, especially in desserts, so it’s a natural to add to a basic panna cotta, which takes flavors so well. Here, the delicate, slightly smoky taste of toasted black sesame is perfectly showcased in a unctuous, just barely set, creamy panna cotta.

You can find black sesame powder in most Asian groceries; it’s often mixed with milk or water, similar to chocolate powder, so it works beautifully here in the panna cotta. You can also find black sesame paste, although I haven’t used so I don’t know what the results would be like: I imagine you may get a more uniformly black color, and it might be sweeter from the extra sugar in the paste. Finally, if you can’t find either, you can always resort of grinding together black sesame seeds, which I did! It does work, although unless you’ve got an amazing food processor or are a whiz with the mortar and pestle, you will probably want to strain the panna cotta mixture after you cook it to get rid of any large bits of sesame, which would totally defeat the perfect, silken texture you’re aiming for.

I also haven’t figured out how to manipulate those specks of sesame so form a man-in-the-moon pattern, or the Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit: Chang’e is the Chinese goddess of the moon, and her companion is the Jade Rabbit, who can be seen pounding out the elixir of life on a stone. Nevertheless, I think the panna cotta is suitably celestial-seeming, and tasty to boot!

Peanutbrittle

In Chinese desserts, sesame and peanut are a natural pairing, so to go with the panna cotta I made a five-spice peanut brittle. It’s crunchy, buttery, sweet, and has just a lick of spice from the addition of Chinese five spice. This Chinese kitchen staple is a combination of five spices that is meant to hit all five basic flavors in Chinese cooking – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory. The actual spices can vary, although the most common ones are cassia (Chinese cinnamon), fennel seed, star anise, ginger, and cloves. It gives off a distinct, earthy aroma when used in cooking, and it lends a fabulous, exotic dimension to the peanut brittle. Broken into pieces, the brittle makes a lovely complement to the panna cotta, scattered about like shining stars in the inky night sky.

Happy Mid-Autumn, and be sure to enjoy the full moon this weekend!

Oh, and since I made this for a celebration, it seems appropriate to make this my contribution to Susan’s Blogiversary Bash at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Happy blogiversary, dear!

Blacksesamepeanut

The Mid-Autumn Festival is always on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. This year it falls on September 14th.

 

Other Recipes to Try

Sesame Balls with Chocolate Filling

Sesame Seed Cake

Wasabi Ginger Truffles with Black Sesame

 

P.S. You may notice that I’ve done some tinkering with the page layout – things have been moved about, doodads and widgets added, but nothing’s been taken away, I think! Now there’s a direct link to my upcoming book on Amazon and Chronicle Books, as well as to my Amazon store. Hope you enjoy the refresh!


Black Sesame Panna Cotta
makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 tablespoons black sesame powder

Fill a small bowl with about 6 teaspoons of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it turn into a gummy paste.

Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring just to a simmer on the stove over medium heat. Do not let it come to a boil; it should be steaming hot and just starting to bubble.

Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin, stirring until it dissolves fully.

Stir in the sesame powder. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Strain the mixture if necessary. Pour the mixture into individual glass dishes or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to serve the panna cotta, dip the dishes briefly in hot water to loosen the panna cotta and invert onto a plate.

 

Five Spice Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup corn syrup

2 cups raw peanuts

1 tablespoon butter

2 1/2 teaspoons five spice powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

 

Prepare a surface to pour the brittle onto – you can cover a marble surface with cooking spray or butter, or line a sheet pan with a silicone baking mat.

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in  medium saucepan, making sure the sugars are completely covered by water.

Bring to a boil over high heat, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet brush if necessary to prevent crystallization.

Continue cooking syrup until it reaches 238 degrees F (soft ball stage)

Add in the peanuts and continue cooking until it reaches 300 degrees F. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the butter, and then the five spice powder.

Stir in the baking soda – be careful as the mixture may start bubbling up. It will turn very thick and light-colored.

Pour the mixture onto the prepared surface. Use an offset spatula to spread it out thinly.

Let the mixture set, about 45 minutes, before breaking into pieces.

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From the Pantry: Almond Shortbread with Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Ganache

September 5th, 2008 · 32 Comments · Chocolate, Cookies, Recipes

Almondshortbread 

I know quite a few of my fellow Daring Bakers have chocolate fatigue after the chocolate eclair affair, but what do you when you've got a jar's worth of leftover chocolate glaze? Can't just let it go to waste.

One of my friends, long ago, told me the theory of why men need their alone time, why they come home and need to sit in front of the TV in silence, or retreat to the garage/workshop by themselves, whereas women will talk and chat with their friends, one of the topics of course being, "why doesn't my guy want to talk to me?"

The"caveman theory" goes that back in prehistoric times, cavemen would retreat to their caves to ponder the difficulties of life, and think about how to solve their problems. I don't know, I guess being cavemen they hadn't evolved enough to talk about their problems with others. Instead, they sat in their cave until they had figured out the solution to their problems or come to terms with their caveman existence, and that's how men have been programmed to act ever since.

So now, whenever I'm talking to my boyfriend and I notice he's staring off the distance, and not really paying attention to what I'm saying (I know all you girls know what I mean!) I immediately ask him, "Are you in your cave?" And he'll usually say yes, and I'll respond, "Well, just let me know when you're done sitting in your cave."

Almondshortbreadsw

Well, I'm not really one for sitting around in caves, but being a baker what I do is "sit in my pantry." When, say, I've got a tub of chocolate glaze and I need to use it, I'll sit in my chair and start picturing all the ingredients I have on hand, and all the different ways to combine them. I'll pair flavors, add some, discard others, consider various techniques, until something pops into my mind and I think, yes, that's exactly what I want to eat right now. It's amazing how it always coalesces together  – sometimes I'll know in a moment what I want to make, sometimes it takes a while, but once I've thought it out I'm always so excited to get started.

When I first started baking, I was reproducing recipes from my favorite cookbooks – a  perfectly respectable and reasonable course for a beginner. I would always pore over the recipe listings, noting the various combinations of ingredients and flavors, and wonder how these so-talented chefs had conceived of them. It wasn't until several years later that I gained the courage and initiative to start coming up with recipes of my own, but now I realize it's just a matter of learning, practicing, and experimenting. Sometimes my creations come out just as I envisioned, other times I taste them and I think about what I'd do differently. But I like to think every time I attempt something new in the kitchen is another step on the long and very delicious road of pastry.

Almondshortbread2

So what did my trip to the pantry yield this time? Well, I thought about turning the glaze into truffles, or using it as a layer in a cake. Then I thought about what tastes I'd been missing lately, and my mind flashed immediately to almonds. That turned quickly into almond shortbread, topped with a spoonful of chocolate. I wanted one more element, and the last piece fell into place: raspberries. So: tender, buttery discs of shortbread combined with a rich, dark chocolate raspberry ganache. When my mouth starts watering I know I've hit on my kitchen project for the day.

The almond shortbread recipe is adapted from the shortbread recipe for my Field Guide to Cookies book, so you are getting a bonus preview as well! It's very rich and buttery, and fantastically fragrant with the almond extract! The dough can get very soft, especially if you are working in warm weather like I was, so my advice is to not fight the dough and use the refrigerator as your friend! I find it easiest to roll the dough out on a silicone baking mat or some other transportable surface. If it starts getting soft and sticky, place the entire thing in the refrigerator and let it chill for about 5 minutes or so. Resist the urge to dump more and more flour on it to prevent sticking, or from balling up the dough to try again: the less you manipulate the dough, the more tender and delicate your shortbread will be. Again, work with the dough, don't fight it! The results will be well worth it.

My glaze, after refrigeration, had firmed up enough to be piped out, but if you have no leftover glaze i've provided a simple ganache recipe below. It's flavored with Framboise, but you can add whatever flavoring strikes your fancy. I rolled out the shortbread to a thicker 1/4" and topped the baked cookies with a swirl of ganache; I also rolled it out to a thinner 1/8" and made a sandwich with the ganache as filling. Either way, it makes for an elegant little afternoon bite, and it used up my remaining chocolate nicely.

So if you ever see me gazing off into the distance, just know I'm not "in my cave", I'm "in my pantry", dreaming up something new to bake!

Almondshortbreadsw3

Almond Shortbread

Makes 36  2 inch by 1 ¼  inch cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup rice flour
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Whisk both flours together in a bowl  and set aside.

In the mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and almond extract on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Remove bowl from mixer and mix in the flours by hand with a wooden spoon, until combined. The dough should be homogeneous and stick together as one lump, but try to mix as little and gently as possible – this will make the shortbread more tender.

Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a ¾ inch thick  rectangle.

Refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up the dough. At this point the dough can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease several cookie sheet pans or line with parchment paper.

Process the sliced almonds until fine in a food processor.

On a floured board, place d ough and dust with flour. Gently roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. If dough gets soft, place back into refrigerator for 5 minutes.

Roll cookie edges in the ground sliced almonds. Place on sheet pans leaving 1 inch space between cookies. Dock centers of cookies with the tines of a fork twice.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges a lightly golden in color.

Cool completely on sheet pans or transfer to a wire rack to cool.
   

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

Makes about 1 cup

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon Framboise

Chop the chocolate up into small pieces and place into a bowl.

Combine the cream and corn syrup together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil on medium heat over the stove.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let the mixture sit for a minute or so to let the chocolate start melting.

Using a rubber spatula, carefully stir the mixture until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth, trying not to incorporate too much air into it.  Stir in the Framboise.

Let ganache cool to room temperature and thicken. Once it is thick enough to pipe you can spoon it into a pipng bag fitted with a small star tip and decorate the cookies. If it's too soft you can refrigerate for an hour or so to let it firm up.

Other Recipes to Try

TKOs

A Study in Shortbread

Linzer Tart

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