Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Midweek Kitchen Confessions 30: I'm taking...

...the easy way out. On the ladyfingers. When you see next week's project, I trust you'll forgive me.

I am, however, planning two projects for this weekend, instead of just one: French Silk Chocolate Pie (thanks for the link, Mir), and Tiramisu (which you already knew about, but instead of making my own ladyfingers, I'm buying real Italian Savoiardi at Caputo's--hey! at least I'm buying the real thing!). Neither of them involve baking, per se, but still. They will be delicious desserts and they will be relatively easy, which is what I chiefly need right now. I'll perfect the process of making tiramisu, and then...sometime in the not so distant future...I'll make my own ladyfingers and see how they work compared to store-bought. Promise.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New York Deli Rye Bread

epic fail

But not for the bread. For the fact that I didn't know February 20 was National Cherry Pie Day! Or I would have made at least one and blogged about the wondrousness of this (in my opinion) perfect confection.

Ah well. Next year.

Now. Rye bread. I really thought this one was going to be an epic fail. All signs pointed to yes, as I was measuring out ingredients. I know, WHAT?! I tried to use my fancy new kitchen scale like Alton Brown uses his: one bowl, zero out the scale after each ingredient is added. smitten kitchen's recipe shows all the ingredients in grams, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try this method of measurement.

I think at a certain point my scale's level of accuracy just sort of, well, got blasted by all that zeroing. By the time I finished measuring it looked like I had at least 2 times more flour than I needed and probably 2-3 times more yeast as well. But I soldiered on. And, surprise, surprise, it worked out.

There probably was more yeast than I actually should have had. The loaf did rise quickly and ended up quite large. BUT. This is delicious bread. My favorite thing about the recipe is the suggestion to grind the caraway seeds--I love the taste of them, but certain people in my family don't really like the way they feel in their mouths/teeth.

The bread is very easy to make. Yes, there's certainly lots of time involved (8-9 hours), but most of that time the dough is rising. And you are doing other things around the house. Or even leaving the house for a short errand. It has a great flavor, without the rye being overpowering. I don't know that I can really comment on the texture because of my aforementioned yeast measuring foibles. I think it ended up a lot lighter than it should have been. But the crust was wonderfully crusty, the inside deliciously soft. This is definitely a better recipe than the last one I tried.

TGIP Rating--New York Deli Rye Bread--KEEPER. I will definitely be trying this one again. Next time I have a full day free. And I think I've worked out my scale usage issues.

Next up: We're having some friends over for dinner on Sunday. I asked Voiceover Man what he wanted for dessert and he presented me with a challenge: tiramisu. !! I have never made it. I'm not sure that I've ever eaten the geniune article (Olive Garden doesn't count as "genuine" Italian). And yes, I know it's not a baked good. But the requisite Ladyfingers are. And it just so happens, your friend and mine, Julia, has a recipe in her famed book. So, that's where I'm headed this week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Classic Diner-Style Chocolate Pie

...or as I'm calling it today "I love you enough to make this" pie. Kidding. It was super easy. Obviously, I had a change of plans this week. I had planned to bake rye bread, but then realized it was St. Valentine's Day and I had the whole day to make something the girls would really like for a treat. I asked them what they wanted. The answer went something like this, "Chocolate pie. With chocolate crust. And chocolate filling. And chocolate whipped cream. And chocolate sprinkles on top." Hm, do you think my children like chocolate a little bit?

I was happy to oblige. I've been wanting to try a different chocolate pie filling since I realized that the one I previously liked wasn't so special after all.

AND, sometimes YOU score...and get two weeks in a row of BAKED recipes that have already been published on the web, so I can share them with you. This time, Martha Stewart posted the recipe. I made a few alterations. I didn't use whiskey. Unlike me, the girls do NOT like the taste of booze in their desserts. So, I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla. I also changed the proportions of dark and milk chocolate. The recipe calls for 7 ounces total--just so happened I had 3 oz. of milk and 4 oz. of dark in my pantry. Note--I just noticed that the version in the book calls for 5 oz. dark chocolate and 2 oz. milk chocolate, the online one just shows the dark chocolate. So. And I used dark cocoa powder instead of Ovaltine, but that's an alteration suggested by THE BOYS.

I also (confession on its way) couldn't find chocolate wafer cookies, so I used Chocolate Teddy Grahams for the crust. Oh. Yes. I did. And it actually worked out perfectly delicious.

This. Is a rich, chocolatey pie. You can't miss the chocolate. It is by no means subtle. Which is exactly the way a chocolate pie should be. I actually prefer chocolate pie when it has a regular pastry crust, but this will certainly do. Especially because it's easier than making a pastry crust.

Oh, and here's my recipe for Chocolate Whipped Cream: 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 Tbls. cocoa powder, 2 Tbls. confectioners' sugar. Beat to soft peaks.

P.S. I measured the Teddy Grahams using my new kitchen scale. One of my Valentine's Day presents from mr. who is always too too good to me.

TGIP Rating--Classic Diner-Style Chocolate Pie--KEEPER. And try it the way the recipe is actually written sometime. Probably when I'm making it for adults.

Next up: This week I'll for sure be baking New York Deli Rye Bread. And hoping for a better result than last time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Midweek Kitchen Confessions 29: I have a lot... learn.

Last weekend, I attended the first cooking class of my life. At Les Madeleines. Where Romina Rasmussen makes magic. She taught me (and others) a lot. Most of it about croissants and danish. But also about baking in general. And baking resources. Here are the most important things I came away from the class with:
  • If I'm ever going to successfully make croissants or danish, I need one of these:

so I can measure by weight, rather than by volume. And one of these:

so I can beat the living daylights out of the butter that gets folded into the dough.

  • I need to start baking with European (83% butterfat) butter.
  • I would probably be better off just buying croissants and danish from Romina rather than trying to do it myself because it will take me hundreds of tries before I can get my dough to have perfect layers like these:

Take a close look. There are so many beautiful layers of folded dough/butter, it's ridiculous. I didn't make this dough. Romina did. And gave it to me. Honestly, it's like a brick of gold sitting in my freezer waiting for me to shape and bake.

  • I will never have a bakery. I'm not nice enough. Or motivated enough. Or enough of a food scientist. The amount of knowledge in that one woman's head is astonishing. And she just holds it in there. She hasn't written it down for posterity.
  • I need to take more classes from her.
  • And eat there more often.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The BAKED Brownie

Hey! Guess what! This brownie is so popular, the BAKED boys have the recipe up at Don't ask me. I don't generally look there for recipes. But there it is, so here you go. Lucky you!

Here's the thing: we do brownies in my family. And when I say we "do" them, I mean, they are a traditional part of pretty much every gathering we have. It's not a party until somebody shows up with a pan full of uncooked brownie batter and throws it in the oven so they're hot and ready when it's time for dessert.

When I was a teenager, I would make brownies using boxed mixes and The Pie Queen always told me to follow the "cakelike" instructions. Once I was out on my own, I discovered that I prefer fudgy/gooey to "cakelike", and I've been making them that way since. All this is to say, a gooey brownie is not new to me. But this. This. Goes beyond gooey goodness to deep chocolate-y, buttery, delicious perfection.

The BAKED boys say it best: "The brownie--the perfectly fudgy, intensely chocolaty brownie--is an endangered species. Terrible variations on the classic brownie are popping up and taking over like weeds. There are cakey versions, dry versions, versions with gloppy, sweet icing and versions that lack any chocolate taste. This recipe is an attempt to set things right and bring back the elegance to the humble brownie."

Yep, you brought it back. Of course, the deliciousness may have something to do with the fact that there are two different kinds of dark chocolate in it. And that I finally bought good cocoa. I really can taste the difference. I'll never go back.

No, the color balance isn't off in any of these photos, apparently good cocoa is red. Who knew?! Not to mention the wee little bit of espresso powder that makes the chocolate taste that much more intense. I found another blogger who wrote about this recipe and she complained that it was too buttery. WHAT?! "Too" and "buttery" are two words I never expect to see next to one another. Speaking of which, I think the combination of butter, dark chocolate, and espresso powder all melted together may be the most tasty substance on earth. Could I eat it and bathe in a vat of it at the same time? Happily.

TGIP Rating--The BAKED Brownie--KEEPER. Family, be prepared, I'm showing up with them next time we gather.

Next up: It's been almost 6 months since the last time I baked bread. I blame going back to work. Bread isn't something you can whip up between getting home from work and wrestling the children into bed. So, I'll set aside time on a weekend day to try a different recipe for rye bread. I wasn't completely thrilled with the last (and first) rye bread recipe I tried. I'm going to give smitten kitchen's a try.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Midweek Kitchen Confessions 28: I do what I'm told... the BAKED boys. I splurged on Valrhona cocoa powder for my upcoming project: their famous Brownies. Never thought I'd do it. But I did.

What did I really want to splurge on? Some of their Sweet & Salty Brownies.

Now you know what to send me for my birthday. In about 6 months.