Daring Bakers November Challenge 2012: Twelve Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

The challenge recipe I chose to make was the chocolate sables, recipe here.  I left out the egg yolk as I had read some other recipes on the internet that did not use it, so I thought I’d see how it went.  The cookies were delicious, crumbly with big chunks of chocolate and not too sweet.  They even seemed to get better with time!  Try them crumbled up in vanilla ice cream for an excellent version of cookies and cream.

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As my second cookie, I made Alfajores, which are South American corn starch based cookies, filled with dulce de leche.  I used the recipe from familyfoodie.com, which have a little lemon zest as well as vanilla for flavour.  Dulce de Leche, whilst readily available in Spain is quite expensive, so I made my own using the oven method, which seems a lot safer than boiling sweet and condensed milk in a pan and is also much faster.  Simply pour a can of sweetened condensed milk with a sprinkle of salt into a pyrex tray and bake at about 180 degrees until golden brown (time varies with your oven-mine took about an hour but my oven is terrible).  When it is golden whisk it up to get rid of any lumps and leave to cool and set a little before using.

The cookies were lovely and crumbly, although very sweet and with a tendency to stick your mouth together!

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 This was an excellent challenge, Ill probably make a few more cookies before Christmas hits!!

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Another Momofuku Milk Bar Hit; Compost Cookies

Are you a sweet tooth, craving cake, chocolate and cookies?  Or maybe more of a savory snacker who goes in for chips, pretzels and the like.  Which ever your snacking preference, these compost cookies from Christine Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook will hit the spot.  Basically you can throw in anything you like or have in the cupboard, although the recipe makes some pretty awesome suggestions that you’ll probably want to try first!

Compost Cookies (Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook). 

  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams  granulated sugar
  • 150 grams  light brown sugar
  • 50 grams glucose (I left this out as I didn’t have it and they were still great!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grams  vanilla extract
  • 225 grams  flour
  • 2 grams  baking powder
  • 1 1/2 grams baking soda
  • 4 grams  salt
  • 150 grams  mini chocolate chips (I used chopped chocolate)
  • 100 grams mini butterscotch chips (I used chopped mars bar)
  • 1/4 recipe Graham Crust -see recipe below
  • 40 grams old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 5 grams ground coffee (I forgot this- didn’t matter)
  • 50 grams  potato chips
  • 50 grams  mini pretzels
  • handful sultanas
  • handful chopped hazelnuts

Directions

1.  Combine the butter, sugars and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.

2.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

3.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4.  Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, sultanas and nuts and coffee, and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

5.  Add the potato chips and pretzels, and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

6.  Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1⁄3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly.  (I put mine in the freezer for about an hour and they held shape well)

7.  Heat the oven to 180.

8.  Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment-  Bake for 18 minutes.

9.  The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 15 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.

10.  Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Spot the chip!

Graham Crust Recipe

Ingredients

  • 190 grams graham cracker crumbs (I used digestives)
  • 20 grams  milk powder
  • 25 grams  sugar
  • 3 grams salt
  • 55 grams butter, melted, or as needed
  • 55 grams heavy cream

Directions

1.  Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

2.  Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 grams (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) butter and mix it in.

3.  Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

This would make an awesome cheesecake crust too!

Cake Truffles: Momofuku Genius

Peanut Caramel Banana Bread Truffles

I have spent the weekend delving into the sweet tooth heaven that is the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Christine Tosi.  Starting with the cereal milk ice cream, (recipe to follow- definitely the best ice cream I’ve made at home so far, and one of my favourite ice creams ever!), I then started perusing the internet looking at pictures of other fantastic creations from this New York bakery.

One picture that kept popping up was the Cake Truffle, in particular Birthday Cake Truffles, sold by the bakery.  These looked absolutely amazing, and combined two of my favourite things, truffles and cake.  I couldn’t locate a recipe for these bite sized cake balls, but after reading a number of blogs from people who had tried them, or made something similar it seemed it was simply a case of crumbling a cake, mixing it with icing and rolling into balls.  Perhaps with a quick roll in something to coat to improve the appearance. Obviously the quality and flavour of your original cake and icing will effect the ball. I’m not sure this is quite how Momofuku does them, as the menu seems to feature binding ingredients such as liquid cheesecake (further experimentation to come!), but it was a good starting point.

I had a couple of cakes in the freezer after a Saturday baking frenzy that resulted in three cakes and only two people to feed, so I thought I would experiment with those.

One cake was a banana peanut loaf and the other a mandarin and yogurt cake.  I quickly whipped up some salted caramel butter cream for the banana and chocolate butter cream for the mandarin, crumbled them up and mixed them in.  I then rolled the mixture into balls, rolled the banana cake in shredded coconut and the mandarin one in icing sugar and chilled in the fridge for a couple of hours.

not so attractive Mandarin Chocolate Cake Truffles- next time I'll coat them in chocolate

The resulting balls were amazing, dense and moist like the part of the cake that comes in contact with the icing and is really soft (my favourite part!).  They were definitely a huge improvement on the cakes themselves which were a little dry.  A great use of any slightly old/dry cake really, but probably tastes even better with a fresh moist one.

You could really do this with any cake you enjoy, or even a packet mix.  The icing possibilities are endless and these little bites make great, transportable treats.  I think next time I will chocolate coat them, and there will definitely be more than one next time!

Daring Bakers January 2012 Challenge- Scones

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I stuck with the plain scones as I just can’t go back a plain scone with jam and cream.  These scones were very tasty and light.  I really liked the layers that the folding technique produced, but unfortunately mine didn’t rise very much (probably due to old baking powder), and they were a little heavy because of this.

I would definitely make this recipe again if I was looking for a non-sweet scone.  However, I personally like my scones a little sweet, and although it’s probably cheating a bit , I love a nice lemonade cream scone.  The best part is you just lob everything in, the gas in the lemonade makes it rise well and it always works!  (recipe to come).

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.