Monday, March 26, 2012

International Desserts, Month 7

(Subtitle: mega fail)

"Bruiti Ma Buoni" means ugly but good in Italian.  That is supposed to be the idea behind these cookies.  They are supposed to be lumpy and ugly, and really tasty. 

Um, yeah.

I saw these cookies on an episode of "David Rocco's Italy" and I thought they looked awesome.  Simple, easy ingredient list, pretty much all stuff I already had in the house!  And, since they are an Italian thing, they qualified for the International Desserts series.

I have no real idea what happened to these.  I followed the directions, I swear!  But, the first batch I  baked for the recommended time and they were totally burnt.  So the next batch I baked less, and those, and the ones after them, totally stuck to the pan.  That's why the photo is so bad, and why they are still on the pan in the photo.  I peeled a couple of them off to eat, and they were okay, but not anything great.  Sort of disappointing, actually.

So, I'm going to give you the recipe, and you can make them if you want, but I'm not actually going to recommend them.

Brutti Ma Buoni
Source: Cooking Channel

6 egg whites
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment, or butter and flour them.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gently fold in the hazelnuts, almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and amaretto until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Spoon blobs of batter onto prepared baking sheets, leaving approximately 1-inch between each cookie. Bake 30 minutes (um, don't do that), or until firm to the touch.  If you prefer chewier cookies, underbake them slightly.  Remove the cookies to a wire rack and lest rest for 30 minutes, or until cooled.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another spin on a regular

You all know I love monster cookies.  It's just so much fun to look in the cabinet, see what I have, and throw all kinds of things into a cookie.  So satisfying.  I came across this recipe, called "Chocoholic Cookies", and I knew I had to make it.  It didn't really start out as a monster cookie -- the original recipe only calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I knew I could easily change that.  Also, the original suggests dipping half of each cookie into melted white chocolate, but I opted to (sloppily) drizzle the white chocolate on instead.  I prefer the more even coverage.

There is a note in the recipe that says not to alter the order in which the ingredients are added.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I went with it.  I didn't notice that these cookies were any different from regular cookies, but whatever.  I don't really want to find out what happens when you do alter the order, because that could result in a sad loss of a whole batch of cookies.

Chocoholic (Monster) Cookies
Source: Life Happening and Fun on the Farm
Makes a few dozen.

2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick)
2 cups of your favorite add-ins (chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc) - more if you like
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 oz white chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease with butter. Author's note: Do not alter the order in which the ingredients are combined.

In a large bowl, combine the oats and other mix-ins; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa, then slowly add to the butter mixture. Stir until combined.

The dough will be very stiff at this point.  Do not fear. Combine the milk, vanilla, and eggs. Stir slightly. Slowly add to the butter mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour in the oats and other add-ins; stir until well mixed.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop batter 2 inches apart on parchment lined sheets. Bake 9-12 minutes, longer if your cookies are larger, until cooked through. Cool on pan until completely cool, or transfer to a wire rack after a few minutes.

Once cookies are completely cooled, melt the white chocolate with the veggie oil in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  You can either dip the cookies in the melted chocolate, or drizzle it over the top of the cookies, using a fork.  Cool completely, and let the white chocolate set up.  Store between layers of wax paper in an airtight contained in a cool place.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi(e) Day

At some time in your life, someone you know will need a pie. 

Happy Pi(e) Day.

Dutch Apple Pie
Source: America's Test Kitchen "Family Baking Book"

1 recipe for single-crust pie dough (I always make an all-butter crust. you can find that recipe here. for this pie, you can just use half of the recipe. it freezes well.)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds firm tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
2 pounds firm sweet apples, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup golden raisins (i used craisins instead)
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line your chilled pie crust with a double layer of aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until the pie dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and remove the weights and foil. Leave the oven at 375, and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, and place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the rack.
  2. For the streusel: Mix the flour, sugars, and cornmeal together in a medium bowl, then drizzle with the melted butter. Stir the streusel with a fork until roughly combined.
  3. For the filling: Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins and continue to cook, covered, until some of the apples have begun to break down, about 7 minutes longer.
  4. Drain the apples thoroughly through a colander, reserving the juice. Combine the drained juice and cream in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until very thick and reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  5. Spread the apples into the baked pie crust and drizzle with the cream mixture. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake until the crust and streusel have browned, about 25 minutes. Let the pie cool on a wire rack until the filling has set, about 2 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Have I mentioned...

That I love lemon desserts?  I do not care for lemon candy, but give me a lemon dessert, and I'm in.  Also strange is that I don't prefer cheesecake.  It was never my thing until I had some that was really really good.  But even now, it's still not what I choose if given options.  However, lemon + cheesecake = divine! 

This dessert takes a delicious lemon cheesecake bar, and adds a wonderful crunchy creme brulee crust on the top.  So many good things happening in one little bar!  And, they were pretty simple to put together, and should actually be made ahead (except for the torching), so that's a plus.

Let's talk about the torching, shall we?  I have a small blow torch.  It's not one of those tiny "creme brulee" torches you find in housewares stores -- it's actually a little blow torch.  I don't get to use it often, so I get kind of excited when I get to pull it out.  When I made these bars, my excitement lasted approximately 1 minute, until the torch started to run out of fuel.  No big deal, I have more, so I refueled it.  I must have grossly underestimated the amount of fuel that either goes from the butane can into the torch, or the amount that was needed to burn the sugar, because I had to refuel so many times.  I think, at best, I could get through 2 bars before needing to refuel.  I got frustrated.  So for the last 3 bars, I thought I would just stick them under the broiler for a second and see how that worked.

Warning - when you use the broiler to torch sugar, DO NOT WALK AWAY! Not even for a second.  I did, and this is what happened:

So, let my sadness be a warning to you.  Keep close when  you use the broiler!  Good thing I only did 3 bars!

Lemon Cheesecake Creme Brulee Bars
Source: Lauren's Latest

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz softened cream cheese
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons fine granulated sugar for brulee-ing, approximately

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line at 8x8 inch glass dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour and vanilla until dough forms. Press evenly into the bottom of prepared dish. Set aside.

In another bowl, whip cream cheese.  Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Scrape sides and mix again. Pour in egg, lemon zest and juice. Mix until mixture starts to thicken, 20-30 seconds. Scrape sides and mix again briefly. Pour over cookie bottom and smooth the top. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cheesecake is set completely. Cool, then refrigerate. 

When completely cool, cut into 16 squares and separate (fp note: i found it easiest to lift the whole thing out of the pan using the parchment and then cut it.). Sprinkle the tops of each square with 1 teaspoon of sugar and spread around with your finger to evenly distribute sugar. Torch the tops until the sugar melts and turns an amber color. Return squares to the fridge until ready to serve.