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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Momofuku Carrot Cake Truffles

As you may have notice I am obsessed with the recipes from Christina Tosi’s Milk: The Momofuku Cookbook.  In this day and age it’s not easy to find baking recipes that are totally innovative and unique.  Although it has to be said that there is nothing wrong with the classics, you can’t go far wrong with a good lemon meringue pie or sticky toffee pudding, it is nice to see somebody creating something totally new rather than trying to improve upon a traditional recipe that is often better before it was fiddled with.

I made some cake truffles before, which turned out very nicely, despite being just leftover cakes from the freezer mixed with icing, but this time I wanted to try the real deal.  I meant to take them to work for an Easter treat, but to be honest I’m not sure they’ll make it to Monday.

It’s quite a lengthy process, you really have to make three different recipes and then assemble them, but totally worth the effort.  I will also add that with the addition of a few nuts and sultanas, this carrot cake is going to be my new go to recipe.  It’s dense, wonderfully moist and carroty and make have ended my quest for the perfect carrot cake recipe.  Similarly the liquid cheesecake is probably the best I have tasted and I’ll definitely be making it again, probably with the base made from the Graham Crust from the compost cookies recipe. Although it does set quite firmly when chilled, I foresee problems with cutting and serving a slice (being liquid cheesecake after all), but I’m pretty sure presentation will be overlooked once everyone has a taste.

I used the whole cake and cheesecake recipe to make truffles, but didn’t have enough of the milk crumb so got a bit creative and covered some with the caramelized cornflakes used in the Cereal Milk Ice Cream recipe.  Then I got even more creative and tried to make my own ‘crumb’ with coconut, milk powder, and sugar.  This worked surprisingly well, and cuts through the richness of the white chocolate a bit.

The original recipe calls for a paddle attachment on the mixer, which I haven’t got, but used a normal whisk with no problems!

Carrot Cake Truffles (From Milk: The Momofuku Cookbook, by Christina Tosi)

3 cups Carrot Cake Scraps (recipe below)
2-4 tablespoons Liquid Cheesecake (recipe below)
1/2 recipe Milk Crumb finely ground in a food processor (recipe below), you’ll probably need more if you use all the cake!
80g. White Chocolate (more if using all the cake- more like 200g)

1.  Combine the crushed up cake with 2 tablespoons of the liquid cheesecake, mush it all together with hands.

2.  Add more cheesecake if needed to form a ball.  Portion out  balls of the mixture- roll them together with your hands and set them aside on a cookie sheet.

3.Melt the white chocolate and put it in a shallow bowl.

4.  Using a spoon, dip each ball of cake into the white chocolate

5.  Toss it in the milk crumb, coconut crumb or caramelized corn flakes until well coated.

6.  Chill in fridge to set the chocolate.

The truffles can be stored in an airtight container for unto a week in the fridge.
Whole cake makes about 35 truffles

Carrot Cake

113 g butter- room temp.

Milk Crumb Coated

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup  vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups grated peeled carrots (2-3 medium sized carrots)

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
2.  Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl and cream together with an electric mixer on a medium-high for 2 to 3 mins.

3.  Add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 mins. Make sure to scrape bowl to get mix of the sides.

4.  On low speed, stream in the oil

5.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 4 to 6 mins, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter/sugar mixture, with no streaks of fat.

6.  On low speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix for 45-60 seconds, just until your batter comes together all dry ingredients are mixed in.

7.  Add carrots and fold in with a spatula.

8.  Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and spread the batter in  the pan.

9.  Bake for 25-30 mins. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 25 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger, if it bounces back slightly and isn’t jiggly in the center, it’s done. Leave it in for 3-5 more minutes if it isn’t quite done.

Cool the cake on a wire rack (or in the freezer.)

Liquid Cheesecake

250g. Cream Cheese

Corn Flake Coated

3/4 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tsp.  salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg

1.  Heat oven to 180 C.

2.  Put cream cheese into a  bowl and using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 2 mins.

3.  Add the sugar and mix for 1-2 mins.

4.  Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl then whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until all mixed together.

5.  With the mixer on a medium low speed stream the egg mix into the cream cheese.

6.  Mix for 3 or 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth.

7.  Line the sides and bottom of a 6×6 baking pan with plastic wrap.

8.  Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan and bake for 15 mins.  It is done when it is set on the edges but still wobbly in the center. If the edges aren’t quite set, bake for 5 min increments until it’s done- no more than 25 minutes.

9.  Cool completely to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set.
Milk Crumb
1/4 cup milk powder
1/8 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

1/8 cup milk powder
40g white chocolate.

1.  Heat the oven to 120C.

2.  Combine 1/4 cup of milk powder with the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt in  bowl. Toss with your hands to mix.

3.  Add the butter and toss using a spatula until the mixture comes together and forms small lumps.

4.  Spread the clusters on a baking paper lined tray and bake for 20 mins. Watch them, they burn quickly!

5.  Crush any bits that are larger than 2 cm in diameter and put the crumbs in a medium bowl.

6.  Toss in the remaining milk powder

7.  Pore melted white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your the crumbs are all well-coated.

8.  Continue tossing them every 5 mins until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters aren’t sticky.

9.Run the dried and cooled clusters through the food processor before using them for the truffles. (I didn’t have a processor, so I used the stick blender, which didn’t make them quite as fine as they should have been)

Coconut Crumb Recipe

Coconut Crumb Coated


3/4 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 Tbsp Butter melted

1 tsp corn flour

1Tbsp Milk powder

1/2 tsp salt

1.  Mix ingredients

2.  Bake at 180 C on a paper lined tray for about 15 mins or until coconut starts to brown slightly.

Click on link for Caramelized Corn Flake Recipe

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!

Traditional Salted Caramel Fudge with Sultanas

Ever since my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I have been lusting after the fudge like Burfi sweets which I tried there.  These come in a variety of flavours and are generally based on ground nuts such as almonds or pistachios, milk or coconut.  They can also me made with sweetened condensed milk, although I’m not sure this is entirely authentic!

Sri Lankan Burfi in a variety of flavours

After extensive internet research I decided to make a coconut burfi recipe (post to follow), but also to make a traditional fudge recipe as I was in possession of a new thermometer and wanted to try it out.  Both sweets turned out well and were not difficult to make.

For the fudge I used a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage everyday‘.  This is a traditional fudge recipe, based on cream and butter, rather than sweetened condensed milk or marshmallow creme, (I presume this is an American invention!).  The recipe in the book is for a vanilla fudge, but I decided that with the substitute of white to brown sugar this  was close enough to caramel to warrant salt, (salted caramel is my current sweet obsession!), and threw in a few sultanas as I really like fudge with nuts or sultanas in it.

It’s very moreish, highly unhealthy and totally delicious.  It set very well and cut into nice cubes, so perhaps would be suitable for presents as well.

Salted Caramel Fudge with Sultanas (Based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Vanilla Fudge)
Makes 30ish squares

  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup (I omitted this as can’t get it here)
  • 100g unsalted butter, diced
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/ essence

1.  Put the sugar, syrup, butter and cream into a large saucepan, you need plenty of room for the mixture to bubble as it boils.

2.  Melt and combine over a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

3.  Turn up the heat, stop stirring and bring to the boil with the sugar thermometer in the pan. Boil until the mixture reaches soft ball stage – 116C.

4.  Remove the pan from the heat, remove the sugar thermometer and leave to stand for 10 mins.
5.  Meanwhile lightly oil a 15cm x 22cm baking dish.

6.  After resting the mixture for 10 mins, add the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture thickens and starts to come away from the base of the pan, about 8 minutes with electric whisk.

7.  Put the fudge mixture into the baking dish, smooth the top and leave to cool.

8.  When quite cold mark it into squares and leave for about 4 hours to firm up, then take out of the dish and store in an airtight tin.