Friday, April 27, 2012

Grasshopper Bars


Chewy brownie+mint buttercream+chocolate glaze=surprisingly delicious.

I can never decide whether I like "grasshopper"y desserts. I love mint and chocolate together, but something about Crème de Menthe makes me...squeamish. It COULD taste medicinal, if the proportions weren't just right. And I've certainly had that experience. I thought, for just a moment (and then I remembered I should just trust the BAKED boys) that this was headed down that path. The brownie portion, I knew, would be perfect.

But then I started in on the buttercream. All went smoothly (I've even figured out why my buttercream sometimes doesn't work, and realized the surefire trick is to beat the living HECK out of it) until I added the Crème de Menthe and peppermint extract.

The smell wafting from the mixer bowl scared the daylights out of me. Doctor's office?  Maybe. I plugged away. Finished the buttercream. Tasted it. Divine. Subtle, minty, buttery flavor. Like these guys, which I love:

Together with the delightfully chewy, dense brownie layer and the smooth, ganache-like glaze on top, this is a perfect dessert. 

It's not too heavy, but it's not too light. It's beautiful to look at. 

And it contains chocolate. And a little bit of booze. What more could you want?!

The recipe is from this book. But a blogger has also posted it online. You know I'm still going to recommend that you go out and buy the book. You will not be sorry.

TGIP Rating--Grasshopper Bars--KEEPER. Also, not difficult at all.

Next up: I MADE the Chocolate Macarons, I just haven't BLOGGED about them yet. You get that next time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ciabatta (cold fermentation method)

I wonder sometimes if I will ever get over the feeling that bread is magic. I mean, you go from a lumpy, heavy-looking mass of dough:

to a golden, crusty, airy, delicious loaf of bread that begs to be shoved in your mouth:

MAGIC. And it happens in a half hour. Some of this magic, from what I've read, is called "oven spring". I love that.

This was the second recipe I've tried out of this book:

and I was thrilled once again with the results. It's such an interesting process for bread, using cold fermentation.  Look what happened. I started with a dough ball this size:

 and after two days IN THE FRIDGE I ended up with this:

 Look at all of those amazing bubbles! And at a cold temperature, not room temperature! I'm gobsmacked.

The idea that I CAN spread bread making over a period of days is liberating in a way: I don't have to dedicate a full day to it. But, as I said before, it makes me obsess a little and think about bread nonstop over the period of those days. I suppose there are worse things I could obsess about. And there is a definite payoff from that extra time that the dough gets to develop: the flavors are rich and complex, it's not just a crusty white bread. It's tasty on its own, or with butter, or used for panini.  And I could probably think of a few hundred other ways to use it. The trick I discovered with ciabatta is GENTLENESS. There are so many bubbles in the dough, it has to be handled carefully and slowly in order to not destroy them. Bread making could teach a person (me) patience if a person (I) was ready and willing to learn.

One other small piece of advice for me (and maybe for you?): clean your oven before you use it at a setting as high as 550.  

TGIP Rating--Ciabatta--KEEPER. Not difficult and so so tasty. I also tried this recipe but forgot to take pictures. Also very easy and tasty, but is a one-day affair. Just in case you don't want to spend more than that amount of time thinking about fermenting dough.

Next up: I really am making Chocolate Macarons this weekend. Just try and stop me.