Saturday, March 05, 2005

Clothilde's Pistachio Cookies


 Posted by Hello
One of my favorite food blogs is Chocolate and Zucchini. The writer Clothilde is a young French woman who blogs in English. I enjoy her writing style even more than her recipes. Recently Clothilde could not resist the temptation and bought a big can of pistachio paste for 25E. Her creations of many things pistachio have since been appearing on her blog. Shortly after, I mimicked her in a smaller scale and ordered 8 oz. of pistachio paste for $11.75 from Lepicerie (a good source for Varlhona chocolate and other hard-to-find baking items), which has been sitting idly in my refrigerator for a while. Yesterday, I used Clothilde's recipe to make these cookies. My experience is that there is quite a difference between European and American flours, so one has to be very careful when following international recipes using flour. I think that it is better to use common sense than to follow exact measurements (even when one goes with weight rathen than volume.) Well, I did not heed my own warning when I made these, and I used the full 2 cups of flour called for in the recipe. I ended up with a dough I could easily roll into balls with my hands. I did not need the parchment paper she mentioned either. These baked in exactly 12 minutes like she said. Alas, none of the subtle green color I expected of a cookie with 1/4 c of precious pistachio paste in its dough, but there was a hint of pistachio taste. They were liked by my taste testers (including Ceyda), but I don't think I am baking them again. Decrease the flour if you do!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Chocolate and Pecan Cheesecake


Posted by Hello

This is one of my favorite fall-back chocolate desserts. The original recipe comes from The Book of Cheesecakes by Steven Wheeler. (You can buy a used or new one for $1 from Amazon.com) However, I made some changes/additions to it, and I will share with you this altered version. This is lighter than a cheesecake since it uses ricotta instead of cream cheese, and I find the texture irresistable with crunchy pecan pieces scattered throughout the maple-flavored chocolate filling. It is very simple, too. Just make sure that everything is at room temperature. I must have made more than a hundred of these! (I made it several times for the dergah.)
Photo: courtesy of Mehmet Doganata

Crust:

1/4 c butter
1 1/4 c crushed vanilla (or chocolate) wafers

Filling:

1 1/2 lb ricotta
4 tbs maple syrup
1/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 c whipping cream
7 oz semisweet chocolate, broken in pieces
3/4 c coarsely chopped pecans
1 tsp maple extract (optional)

Garnish:

Chopped pecans
Grated chocolate
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. To prepare crust, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in crushed vanilla wafers. Press mixture in bottom of springform pan. Set aside. To prepare filling, beat ricotta cheese, maple syrup, brown sugar, extract and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Bring whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from the heat. Stir in chocolate until melted; blend into cheese mixture. Stir in pecans. Spoon filling into prepared crust. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until set. Cool before removing from pan. Garnish as desired.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Orange Bread with Dried Cranberries


 Posted by Hello
This recipe comes from "The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking" cookbook by Marion Rombauer Becker, Irma S. Rombauer and Ethan Becker. Whenever I make this bread, my friends love it. It goes so well with tea or coffee, and it's so easy to prepare. I suggest that you leave it overnight before you start cutting it. Enjoy!!!
BTW ... when you mix cranberries and apricots, it tastes even better.

Have all ingredients at room temperature (68 F - 70 F). Position a rack in the lower third of the over. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease one 8.5 x 4.5 (6-cup) loaf pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine in another bowl:
¼ cup milk
¼ cup of orange juice
grated zest of 1 small lemon
grated zest of 1 orange

In a large bowl, beat on high speed until lightened in color or texture, 2-3 minutes:
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar

Gradually beat in:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Add to butter-egg mixture, the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula just until incorporated and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in:

2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup finely chopped dried cranberries or apricots

Scrape butter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Lemon Pound Cake from Ceyda



Ceyda sent us this recipe she found in The Secrets of Baking by the award-winning chef Sherry Yard. Here is her message:

Here is the recipe. It's pretty long. I am going to shorten it as much as possible. I loved the flavor and the texture. The only thing it browned too much on top. I have to figure out how to minimize that. Also I increased the amount of lemon juice for the amount of sugar given in the recipe. I included that in the the ingredients. The result; after you have a slice you do not have an sweet after taste in your mouth which I dislike...

For the cake:

1&1/2 cups all-purpose flour,
1&1/2 cups cake flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
1/4 tsp salt,
1 cup buttermilk,
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice,
4 sticks unsalted butter,softened,
2 cups sugar,
finely grated peel of two lemons,
4 large eggs.

For the lemon syrup:

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice,
1/2 cup sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Layer with parchment on the bottom. Triple sift the flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.Combine the buttermilk and lemon juice in another bowl and set aside. Beat the butter on high speed until it is soft and creamy. Slowly add the sugar and lemon zest beating on high speed for about 10 minutes until it is fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Then add one third of the buttermilk mixtur, mix until just incorporated. Repeat the process until you use them up. Pour the batter into the pans. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring the lemon juice and sugar to a boil in a pan.Cook until the sugar has dissolved about 3 min. While the cakes are still warm poke holes all over the tops, with a pastry brush apply the syrup. Serve warm.


Thanks Ceyda!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mocha Frappuccino

The first time I tasted a frappuccino I loved it and decided to find a recipe online. This is one I recommend to all Starbucks Frap lovers like myself.

Ingredients

3 oz hot espresso
1/4 c granulated sugar
2-1/2 cups of milk
1 tbs dry pectin
1 c. ice

Stir sugar into espresso, then cool mixture. Stir milk and pectin into espresso mixture until pectin is dissolved. Fill a glass with ice and either serve mixture over it or pour into blender and frappe for 30-45 seconds.

~Note~
The coffee in a frapp is actually double strength italian roast. And a different way to make double strength coffee is to use 1&1/2 as much grinds and only run it through once, it will keep your coffee maker clean!

Pierre Herme's Chocolate Mousse


 Posted by Hello

This is an excellent mousse recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. It is light in taste and calories--comparatively speaking, that is--and is very easy to make. I had other mousse recipes, but after having tried this one, I don't think I am ever going back to them. Part of the success of this recipe is that I use my precious stock of Varlhona chocolate to make it. I am pretty sure that if you compromise on the quality of chocolate you use, the turnout won't be as good. This is a simple mousse; with no butter and no cream to frill it, it is perfect to show off your chocolate. Last time I made it, I added 1 tsp of instant coffee to the milk, and Mehmet and Ahmet ate it without complaining once of the coffee taste. It is that good!

Ingredients:

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 c whole milk
1 large egg yolk
4 large egg whites
2 tbs sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. If necessary, transfer it to a bowl that is large enough to hold all ingredients. Keep the chocolate on the counter until needed. The chocolate should still feel warm when you are ready to use it.

Bring milk to the boil and pour over chocolate. Using a small whisk, gently blend the milk into the chocolate. Add the egg yolk and whisk it into the chocolate, again working gently; stop when the yolk is incorporated.

Beat egg whites on medium speed just until they hold soft peaks. Increase the speed to medium high and gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat the whites until they are firm but still glossy. Scoop one third of the whites out of the bowl onto the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Now with either the whisk ora large flexible rubber spatula, delicately but thoroughly fold the rest of the beaten whites into the chocolate.

Turn the mousse into a large serving bowl--glass is very nice for this dessert--or into individual coupes or cups and refrigerate 1 hour to set.

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