The Fabulous Baker Girl

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TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets…Don’t let the name fool you! September 22, 2009

When I saw that Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes (http://daisylanecakes.blogspot.com/) chose Cottage Cheese Pufflets for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  For some reason, I was thinking maybe they were a pancake of sorts.  Little did I know that these are actually cookies.  What a pleasant little surprise!  And they aren’t just any cookie.  They are filled cookies that look like a lot more trouble than they are.  The kind where people’s jaws drop open upon discovering that you actually made them.

cottage cheese pufflettes 007The most interesting thing about this recipe is that it does, indeed, have cottage cheese in it.  And butter.  A lot of butter.  The pastry dough is exceptionally easy to put together.  Just cream the butter, sugar and salt, add the cottage cheese and vanilla and process until completely smooth.  Then, pulse in your flour.  Done.

Unfortunately, the ease of making the dough itself is a bit offset by the difficulty the dough is to work with.  It requires a lot of chilling.  The recipe calls for three hours of chill time before rolling out, cutting, and assembling but you’ll find that it’s easier to chill, roll, chill again, and then cut.  The key to working with this dough is to work in small batches and keep it cold (and it does warm up quickly — at least it did for me because when I made these it was very hot and humid).

The recipe calls for the dough to be filled with jam.  I didn’t have any that I was happy with so I tried to figure out what I could use instead.  The obvious answer was chocolate so I went with that.  I whipped up some ganachecottage cheese pufflettes 008 and let that chill too so it was nice and firm.  Since I really liked the half-moon shape of the apple turnovers from last week, I decided to cut the dough into circles instead of the prescribed squares.  This did mean I had leftover dough, but we’ll deal with that later.  Because the dough isn’t very sweet and neither was the ganache, I topped the pufflets with some raw sugar.

My first batch turned out so pretty and they tasted pretty good too but now I was curious what they would be like with the jam.  That’s when it hit me that I had bought some dandelion jam on a whim at the farmer’s market over the summer.  I broke that out and gave it a try.  For those of you who have never had dandelion jam, it tastes a lot like honey.  Mine was also very sweet so I didn’t top these with any sugar.  I found the jam much harder to deal with.  The jam kind of oozed out of the sides as I tried to seal the cookies and I wasn’t left with much on the inside.  This version turned out much different from the chocolate version.  With the chocolate ganache, the cookie and filling remained separate while the dandelion jam pretty much melted into the dough and became a sort of glaze rather than a filling.  Both version were equally delightful though, so no complaints here.

As for the dough I had leftover…well, I knew that the pastry wouldn’t be as tender once it had been rolled out but I didn’t want to waste it.  Last week in my pastry class, I made some various things from puff pastry.  One of those things were palmiers which is fancily rolled puff pastry that is rolled in sugar, cut into slices and baked.  I decided to do the same thing with my leftover dough.  I covered my work surface with raw sugar and rolled out my dough.  I made sure both sides with covered.  Then I rolled the dough into a spiral.  After chilling, I cut them into slices and baked.

I think that these actually turned out to be my favorite.  Like I knew, the dough wasn’t quite as tender, but the sugar melted and gave a very nice, subtle caramel flavor.  I’m thinking I may make this again just do all of it like this.  Or I may try nutella.  Such tough decisions!

cottage cheese pufflettes 005

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Potato Chip Cookies (Yes, you read that right!) August 9, 2009

Filed under: Baking Unplugged,cookies,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 7:24 pm
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Yesterday was Friday and there wasn’t much on the agenda for the day.  All we had to do was go to the store to pick up some milk and go to the bank to pick up some money.  While we were at the store we picked some potato chips to make some potato chip cookies.

Weird you say?  I totally agree.  I found the recipe for them in my new cookbook, Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees.  My girls thought they sounded interested so I figured why not give them a try.  Plus, I was feeling a little guilty about saying they suck the joy out of baking.  That’s not exactly true so I wanted to do something with them.

Melanie joined me right away.  She’s my baker.  She’s like me and seems to like the measuring and presicion of baking.  Ella, on the other hand, enjoys cooking much more.  She likes the chopping and peeling and the sauteing.  Predictably, she didn’t want to help with the cookies so it was just me and the other two.

This is a good recipe to make with kids.  Most of the preparation is measuring which is a great thing to do with kids.  It helps with hand-eye coordination and can solidify math skills.  One kids’ favorite things to do in the kitchen is crush things so crushing the potato chips is a perfect job for them.

These cookies are made entirely with powdered sugar.  This gives them a unique texture that reminds me of a pecan sandy.  They are tender with a bit of a crunch at the same time.  You can actually feel the texture of the potato chips but you can’t taste them.  I find these cookies a bit rich but not quite sweet enough for my taste.  They leave me wanting something more.  As a result, I resorted to my old, faithful friend.  Chocolate.potato chip cookies 007

I melted a bit of chocolate and had the girls go to town drizzling the cookies.  The chocolate helped give the cookie another dimension but they still need something.  I’m not sure what it is.

So what does all this mean?  Well…these aren’t my favorite cookies.  They don’t stand a chance against chocolate chips or peanut butter.  However, they are easy make, kid-friendly, and while I don’t love them, I don’t hate them either.  I think it’s worth trying this unique cookie for yourself and drawing your own conclusion.potato chip cookies 010

Potato Chip Cookies

from Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees

1 cup unsalted butter, soft

1 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

3/4 cup crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

In a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy with no lumps, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy.  Stir in the flour until almost combined.  Stir in the pecans until evenly distributed and then very gently sitr in the crushed potato chips.

Note:  Melt a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips until smooth.  Use a fork to drizzle over cookies.

potato chip cookies 011

 

Now I Can Die Happy May 1, 2009

Filed under: cookies — amynb2008 @ 9:00 pm
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I live a very happy existence.  I grew up in a loving (if a bit crazy) family.  I married a wonderful man who loves and supports me (even if he does occasionally forbid me to step foot into Target).   I have the three smartest, most beautiful, and most facinating daughters in the world.  My dog loves me.  My cat tolerates me.  I am lucky to be able to pursue some of my favorite hobbies.  I have it all.  Charmed…I would say.

Yet, in my baking life things have not always been this way.  For as long as I have been baking, I have been plagued by my lack of the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It has been the bane of my baking existence.

Until now.

After such a long search, imagine my surprise when I opened the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated and saw a recipe for…well…Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Oh ho…I thought.  That is quite a claim.  It definately had my attention but, to be honest, I was skeptical.

I’ve tried Tollhouse.  I’ve tried Neiman Marcus…King Arthur’s Flour…my own concoctions.  I’ve learned a thing or two…but I always come away wanting just a little bit more…something.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give this recipe a try.  I tried them out at the party I had a few weeks ago.  I mentioned them in my last post.  A passing mention where I confessed I didn’t follow the recipe.  Since I wanted to see what they should really be like, I decided to give them another try.  On a whim, I baked up a batch last night.

Let me just tell you.  Now I can die happy.  

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I think these were the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made (and my husband agreed).  When I asked my oldest daughter to rate them on a scale of one to ten, ten being the best chocolate chip cookie she has ever had she gave them a 1225.  Really!  Can you get any better than that?

This time I followed the recipe to a T — even though is was a bit strange.  You have to whisk the wet ingredients together, then let them sit and then whisk again, doing this three times.  The idea is that the sugar has time to melt into the melted butter, resulting in better caramalization of the sugar.

The first time I made them, I added the butter last which didn’t allow this melting or caramelization to happen.  This time I added the butter according to the directions and right away I noticed a difference.  The batter was much more moist and smooth.  Everything was encorporated better.  Once baked, they spread out instead of staying in, more or less, little lumps.  

Don’t get me wrong, they were very good the first time around.  But this time…unbelievable!!  Even the batter alone was incredible.  

The cookies were the perfect thickness.  Around the edges they had just a hint of crispness without being at all hard or crunchy. The insides were gorgeously gooey and soft with just enough of a bite to sink your teeth into them.  The melted brown butter and dark brown sugar gave them a complexity and depth of flavor that I had never had in other cookies.

They were probably the only thing that could have made me feel better after Adam didn’t get kicked off of American Idol last night.  That… is saying a lot. 

And right now…they are my motivation for finishing this post.  So…

Sorry…gotta go!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Cook’s Illustrated June 2009

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two  baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.  Transfer butter into a large heatproof bowl.  Stir in remaining butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the butter.  Whisk until fully encorporated.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds.  Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 equal portions, about 3 tablespoons (or a #24 cookie scoop).  Arrange 8 portions per sheet, 2-inches apart.

Bake cookies one tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet half way through baking. 

Transfer baking sheet to wire rack.  Cool cookies completely before serving.

Yeah…good luck with that.  

 

 

Busy Baking Weekend April 20, 2009

Filed under: biscotti,cookies,Screen Doors and Sweet Tea — amynb2008 @ 5:35 pm
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This weekend I was quite busy in the kitchen and I have to say that I loved it!  I had a Private Quarters party on

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

 

Saturday and made some really yummy things for my friends who came.  

 

 

One thing I made was Blue-Cheese Pecan Bread.  This recipe is from the cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose.  I actually met Martha at Zingerman’s last year.  They had a special dinner consisting of dishes entirely from this book.  She was there as well.  The whole evening was so much fun and the food was amazing.  That’s where I first got a taste of this bread.  I’ve made it a few times and it’s always a hit.

I also made biscotti from a recipe I got in baking class.  I have to say, everyone loved them!  They were  very popular, both with and without coffee or tea.  I think everyone was impressed with the biscotti because they think it’s hard to make.  In reality, it isn’t — but let’s just keep that little secret to ourselves.

Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

Another recipe I made was for nut cookies.  This recipe came from my baking text book.  I made them in class a couple of weeks ago and wanted to make them again.  These are basically Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cakes.  I used ground hazelnuts and that just took ’em up a notch.  So good!

Lastly, I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  This recipe is out of the new Cooks’ Illustrated magazine.  It’s an interesting recipe that calls using melted butter rather than softened.  I have to confess that I did not follow the exact recipe.  For some reason, I read it wrong so I’m not sure they came out the way they should have.  They turned out really well regardless.  They had a different texture than the usually

Hazelnut Cookies

Hazelnut Cookies

 chocolate chip cookies I make and the butter and dark brown sugar really make a flavorful cookie.

Spring Biscotti

1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 egg white

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 ounces white chocolate

1 1/4 cups pistachio nuts

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time beating well after each addition.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually blend into the butter mixture using a wooden spoon.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Cover and chill for about a half an hour or until dough is not sticky.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide in half.  Form each half into a semi-flat log about 12 inches by 3 inches.  Put on making sheet about 3 inches apart.  

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow logs to cool on baking sheet until they are cool enough to handle.  On a cutting board, carefully cut each log with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick slices (I actually made mine a bit thinner).  Arrange back on the baking sheet.

Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!


 

Granola Apple Breakfast Cookies March 29, 2009

Filed under: cookies — amynb2008 @ 3:32 pm
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What!  Cookies for dessert?  How can this be?  Cookies aren’t good for you and aren’t you supposed to start the day the healthy way?

My answer:  You can have your cookie…and eat it too!A Cookie Breakfast

A Cookie Breakfast

 

 

One morning my daughter got up and was getting ready for school.  When I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she asked for a cookie, knowing full well that I’d say no.  Well…I said yes.  They were oatmeal-raisin made with whole wheat flour.  How bad could they be?

That is how this recipe came to be.  I used the recipe off the Quaker Oatmeal box as a base.  The biggest change I made was to substitute granola for the oats.  I wanted to give the cookie maximum flavor and I thought the granola would offer more punch than plain oats.  I used a homemade granola with no fruit.  Since the granola is sweetened, I didn’t use any of the white sugar the recipe called for.  I just used the brown sugar.  I also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose and added some ground flax seed.  I was worried they might turn out dry so I added a bit of unsweetened applesauce.  I added double the amount of cinnamon, again to boost flavor.  Lastly, since my girls don’t like raisins, I substituted finely chopped apples.

The result?   A very, nice, moist cookie.  I really liked the addition of the apples.  I cut them pretty finely so they almost disappeared, but they did offer a nice touch of sweetness.  Next time I might  cut them a little larger.   I didn’t find the cookies overly sweet and they were nicely spiced, even using double the cinnamon.  The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe is the amount fat I used.  It results in about 11 grams of fat per cookie.  Not so great, but what do you excpet.   These are still cookies.  The dough was very moist, so I’m thinking that loosing a couple of tablespoons of the butter might work.  The recipe below is my original, but the next time I try these I will decrease the butter.  

But what did everyone else think?  Well…my 4-year-old didn’t like the apples and asked for something else.  My 7-year-old said the cookies were “very good”.  My 1-year-old didn’t say anything.  She just ate it.  Later, when I was eating mine, she followed me around yelling, “Cookies!  Cookies!”  So I had to share.  They also seemed to be a hit with my husband, although he said he felt guilty eating cookies for breakfast.  Which is kind of the point.  Why not give your kids something fun for breakfast and let them think they are getting away with something naughty?  You know the truth!

Granola Apple Breakfast Cookies

Granola Apple Breakfast Cookies

 

 

Granola Apple Breakfast Cookies

Yield: 12

6 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

a pinch of salt

2 cups lowfat granola without fruit

1/2 cup finely chopped apples

Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, flax seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir into the buter mixture.

Stir in the granola and apples.

Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

*These cookies don’t spread very much, so if you want a bigger, flatter cookie, use a larger scoop and flatten slightly.  Watch your baking time.  

A cookie from 1 tablespoon of batter is 75 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber, and 1.6 grams of protein.  Serve 2 of these cookies with fruit and milk for a complete breakfast.  Just keep in mind that they are still cookies.  🙂


 

The Ultimate Comfort Food…No Bake Cookies March 10, 2009

Filed under: cookies — amynb2008 @ 2:56 pm
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Ahhh...I don't really need to say more.

Ahhh...I don't really need to say more.

Yes, I know it’s ironic that the first post on my baking blog is about cookies you don’t even bake.  I don’t care.  I love these cookies.  They are kind of staple when it’s late and I need a chocolate fix.  My mom used to make these all the time so they remind me of growing up.  In fact, I still have the bowl my mom used to measure the oatmeal.  I can’t make No Bake Cookies without it.  Sometimes, we would run out of oatmeal but we’d make them anyway.  Only we’d pour the mixture onto a plate and turn it into fudge.  Occasionally we’d cook it wrong and it would turn out wierd.  It still tasted good, so we’d just pour it the same plate and eat it with a spoon.  I know that everyone has their own recipe for No Bake Cookies.  Mine is the best.  So here it is.  

 

 

Amy’s (okay, Amy’s Mom’s) No Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar

1 stick butter (it MUST be butter)

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 cups oatmeal

Place the sugar, butter, cocoa, milk, and vanilla in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.  When mixture comes to a boil, boil for 2 minutes exactly.  Turn off heat and add peanut butter.  Once peanut butter melts, stir in the oatmeal.  Get a spoonful of the mixture.  Blow on it.  Eat it while it’s warm.  Get a clean spoon and drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto waxed paper, a silpat sheet, or a clean counter sprayed with cooking spray.  Let harden (if you can) and eat with a glass of cold milk.   Enjoy!