Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tuiles with the Daring Bakers

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I was really bummed that I wasn't able to complete last months challenge.  December was just a crazy month in more ways than one and the Daring Bakers Challenge was pushed to the back burner.  I am back this month, albeit a day late. 

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

I had never made tuiles, a thin crispy, traditionally almond, cookie that is shaped after baking, and so was very excited to jump right in and try this months challenge.  I loved that the list of ingredients wasn't a mile long or weighed down with ingredients that were pricey or over the top.  Just simple ingredients that I already had in my kitchen.

The tuiles were also fairly quick and easy, the hardest part being spreading them onto the pan in an even shape.  We were asked to pair our tuiles with something light and fruity.  I had several ideas but my procrastination shortened that list considerably.  I decided to go for a easy but fancy looking (think Valentines Day) dessert that was part cannoli and part blintz. 

I made a ricotta, cream cheese and raspberry filling for the tuiles which I shaped into tubes around my whisk.  I then drizzled them with dark chocolate and sprinkled them with a few pistachios for crunch and color.  These tuiles were putting on heirs as they donned this fancy look but were so simple to make.  It was fun to put these together and there are so many more possibilities in my head that I am going to have to make these again.

TuilesKristen's Food January 2009 450

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 10 cannoli tuiles

Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Use an off sided spatula to spread batter in circles on greased baking sheet.  Leave some room in between your shapes.

Bake tuiles in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Friday, January 23, 2009

Almond Ricotta Muffins

Kristen's Food January 2009 424  

Last week I received an e-mail from the crew at Desserts Magazine letting me know that I had won the giveaway for a new super awesome kitchen scale, the Escali Pana Scale to be exact.  I love my old one but it is jut your average run of the mill kitchen scale but this one has a new amazing feature.  You can measure out cups or tablespoons of flour or 98 other ingredients without lifting a spoon, or should I say a measuring spoon.  With this scale, you push the volume button, enter in the number of the ingredient on the numeric keypad, watch the display until you get the correct number of cups or tablespoons.  No more spooning and leveling, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I have been dying to bake something since last night when the UPS man delivered my new kitchen scale.  So, after I finished some much needed house cleaning, I looked through my fridge and pantry to see what I could put together.  I found a large container of  ricotta and a partial bag of almonds.  I decided to see what I could throw together in muffin form with these ingredients and came up with these muffins.

The ground almonds give the muffins a little chewiness while the buttermilk and ricotta add the tenderness.  The muffins aren't really that sweet, which is the way I like things.  The almond glaze on top is what gives them most of their sweetness.  You could add a few more Tablespoons of sugar if you really wanted a sweeter muffin but I think that combination of the lightly sweet muffins and the super sweet glaze really balance out the whole muffin.

Almond Ricotta Muffins

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1 1/4 cups Flour

1/2 cups Almond meal** (See notes below on how to make your own)

1/2 cup Sugar

1 Tbs. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 Eggs

1/2 cup Ricotta

1/2 cup Buttermilk

1 TBS. Milk

1/4 cup (4TBS. , 1/2 stick) Butter, melted

1/2 tsp. Almond extract

1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Glaze (recipe Follows)

1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease muffin pan, set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

3.  In a separate bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, buttermilk, milk, butter and extracts, stirring to combine.

4.  Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combined.  Scoop mixture into the muffin pan and bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges are golden and the tip of a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the muffin.  Remove from pans to a cooling rack and let cool.

Almond Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 Tbs. Milk

1.  In a bowl combine all ingredients adding the milk slowly  to form a glaze that is thick enough to drizzle.  Drizzle over the cooled muffins.

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**Making your own almond meal is easy and a lot cheaper than buying it in the store.  Just take a small saucepan and fill with water.  Heat to boiling.  Throw a few handfuls of almonds into the boiling water and boil for a minute or two.  Turn the heat off and let sit for another minute.  Pour the almonds through a strainer.  Take the skins off each almond by lightly squeezing them, the skins should just pop off.  Return the almonds to the pan and turn the heat back on for another minute just to dry the almonds off.  Stir them and watch them carefully, you don't want burnt almonds!  Put the almonds into a food processor or blender with 2 TBS. of powdered sugar and process until it is finely ground.  Be careful not to over process, you don't want a paste, the powdered sugar should help to prevent that.  Measure and use as needed.**

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

English Muffin Bread

Kristen's Food January 2009 411

This morning as I was surfing the Internet,  I checked one of my favorite sites, King Arthur Flour and came across this recipe for English Muffin bread.  They have so many recipes and many of them are guaranteed to work (if they don't they will actually send you a $5 gift certificate).  I have tried several of them and have been pleased with  them all.  This recipe was so quick and easy that I decided to make it to make it this morning and had it ready for breakfast.  This is a bread for those of you who are just starting out with bread making or are looking for something quick and easy. It is so easy that it requires no kneading.  It is a great mix between a yeast bread and a quick bread and only takes about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

The bread has a chewy texture with great air pockets and makes a delicious toast especially when covered in jam.  It is so good that while I was trying to take pictures this morning, my son kept sneaking slices that I had cut ( I lost count after three).


English Muffin Bread

from King Arthur Flour


1) Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.

2) Combine the milk, water, and oil in a separate, microwave-safe bowl, and heat to between 120°F and 130°F. The liquid will feel very hot (hotter than lukewarm), but not so hot that it would scald you. As a reference point, the hottest water from your kitchen tap is probably around 120°F (unless your tap water is so hot that it burns you).

3) Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl.

4) Beat at high speed for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft.

5) Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal.

6) Scoop the soft dough into the pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.

7) Cover the pan, and let the dough rise till it's just barely crowned over the rim of the pan. When you look at the rim of the pan from eye level, you should see the dough, but it shouldn't be more than, say, 1/4" over the rim. This will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, if you heated the liquid to the correct temperature and your kitchen isn't very cold. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

8) Remove the cover, and bake the bread for 20 to 22 minutes, till it's golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.

9) Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monkey Bread

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I'm sure that everyone has their  own recipe for monkey bread but my preschool kids made this one with me today and they were so proud of it I thought that I would post the recipe here and show off their cooking skills. 

I really love to cook with kids in the kitchen, they love to help out and see the results.   The preschoolers eyes were huge when this came out of the oven.  My kids are always begging me to cook all of our meals and desserts together.   Saturday is our big breakfast day and my 7 year old makes the pancakes while my 5 year old makes the eggs and my 2 1/2 year old flips the sausages.  It can be a little crazy and there are times where I just have to ask them to let me cook on my own, but they would be in the kitchen making every meal with me if I let them. I also notice that my kids are a lot more willing to try something new if they have had a hand in making it.

This is such a fun snack to make with your kids and it is so delicious you'll want to make it again and again.

Monkey Bread

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2 cups warm water

4 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup oil

2 tsp salt

5-7 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 TBS cinnamon

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1.  In the bowl of a mixer, combine the water, yeast,  sugar and vanilla.   Allow to sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.

2.  Add the oil, salt and 3 cups of the flour.  Mix with the dough hook until combined.  Slowly add more flour until the dough clears the side of the bowl but still sticks to the bottom.  The dough will be a little sticky but will handle well with floured hands.  Spray the top of the dough with a little spray oil and cover with a cloth.  Allow to rise for about 1/2 an hour or until puffy.

3.  Remove dough from bowl onto a floured surface and give it a quick knead.  Cut the dough into small pieces.  ( I weighed mine at about 30 grams or a little over 1/2 an ounce each.)

4.  Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 12 cup bundt pan.  In a small sauce pan combine the butter and brown sugar.  heat over low heat stirring until the mixture is melted together.

5.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon, roll the dough pieces into little balls and roll into the sugar and cinnamon mixture coating them well with the mixture.  Drop them into the greased pan, fillinf 1/4 pan full.

6.  Once pan is 1/4 full ( about half of the dough)  pour half of teh brown sugar and butter mixture over the coated dough pieces.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough and then pour teh rest of the syrup over the top.  The pan should be 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Do not over fill the pan with dough or the syrup and dough will spill out of the pan as it bakes.

7.  Set the pan on top of the warm oven and let rise for about 15 minutes or until puffy.  Bake at 350° for about 30 -40 minutes or until the top is golden and the syrup is bubbling.   Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes then cover with a large plate or platter and turn the pan over and let the bread fall from the pan.  Eat while warm.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

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The other day while I was at the store I noticed that they were finally carrying the Hershey's Cinnamon Chips.  I have been looking for these for the past year and had previously been unsuccessful in finding them, until now.   If you haven't seen these they look like butterscotch chips but have a strong cinnamony (is that even a word?) flavor.  If you tasted them alone you might think that they are too strong, but combine them with a cookie or a muffin and they are absolutely delicious.

While trying to come up with this recipe, I instantly thought of the coffee cake that I used to eat every morning in middle school.  We had these really amazing bakers and they made these huge pans full of buttery cake that was topped with plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon.  They would sell a humongous  slice for 35 cents.  Ah, those were the days, when I could eat buttery coffee cake everyday without any consequences. Well, now I have these muffins which by the way are lot healthier than that buttery coffee cake but they may have the one-up on flavor.  If you can find these cinnamon chips try a bag.  They are great in oatmeal cookies and about a billion other things.

Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

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1 cup cake flour

1 cup minus 2 Tbs. all purpose flour

1 Tbs. Baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)

1/2 cup milk

4 Tbs. melted butter,cooled

1 tsp. vanilla

5 oz. cinnamon chips (1/2 a bag)

For topping

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1/3 cup sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 375 ° and grease muffin pan.  In a large bowl mix together the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a separate bowl combine the eggs, sour cream, milk, butter and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixing until just combined.  Stir in the cinnamon chips.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients.

3.  Drop heaping Tablespoons into each of the 12 muffin cups.  Top with 1/2 Tbs. of the topping.  Cover with the rest of the muffin batter.  Slightly wet fingers and smooth the tops of the muffins.  Top each muffin with a teaspoon of the topping.

4.  Bake the muffins at 375° for about 15 minutes.