Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Scones and Tea

I know, the phrase is tea and scones. Asking someone how they feel about scones, the response is usually of joy while eating one fresh baked. I like mine with afternoon tea, thank you. These flaky biscuits, traditionally pair well with clotted cream and strawberry jam. It's the kind of biscuit that slows down the world and makes everything seem civilized. This week from the Tuesdays With Dorie group, (TWD) the choice is Apple Cheddar Scones. A savory selection, with a cornmeal crunch. The dough comes together quickly. Portioning out each biscuit with an ice cream scoop, makes work of this sticky dough fast and less messy. Now, to decide on a Darjeeling or Earl Grey.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Call For Flour

I've looked on the Upper East Side for White Lily Flour. None to be found. The week started with a round trip drive on the NJ Turnpike to Maryland for our son to enjoy a week at baseball camp. Then, for Tuesday's anniversary dinner we celebrated at the simply elegant Park Avenue Summer, finishing with a gently poached blueberry pie on a crumbly almond base. Off to Long Island's South Fork a.k.a. The Hamptons, to arrange for a plumber, dumpster and helpers so the basement can get rid of the sogginess that was a flood. Lets not go there with whose to blame.

Many mixed berries

And what I really planned to do, is make the Mixed Berry Cobbler for the Tuesdays with Dori (TWD) group. This biscuit topping over all sorts of berries makes for a comfy dessert best served with vanilla ice cream. I was hoping to make the biscuits with White Lily flour and searched all the usual suspects for the goods. Anyone out there want to send over a bag?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bike Path

So the short story is, this round choux pastry filled with whipped cream is named after a French bicycle race from Paris to Brest. The race is years before the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong, but let's stay focused on dessert. This week's sweet is a Peppermint Cream Puff Ring courtesy of Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD). To make it, a bit of planning is required. It's a three stage process. The dough, the minty light whipped cream filling to pipe on to the base, and finally the chocolate glaze, VOILA . I'm off to bike through Central Park's scenic 6 mile loop. Whew!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Farm To Table

From the distance I see a banner for Fresh Strawberries from one of the few farm stands on the South Fork of Long Island. I know what I have to do. The berries are on the floor in the back seat of the car while the dog is anxious to get out and run like there is no tomorrow. Once home the berries will transform into tarts, ice cream, shortcakes and compote. This edition of Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) is a welcome seasonal Strawberry Tart. Made with love.

P.S. UPDATE from last week: All the brownies were winners...yes Dorie's won, however some kids liked Nick's and Alice's made an impressive show.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brownie Square

I confess, it all started a year ago. It was my first recipe from Dorie's weighty tome Baking: From My Home To Yours. It's also this weeks Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) assignment. I do love brownies. A year ago, The NY Times' Julia Moskin, wrote about brownies. It was a throw down, bake-off or whatever you want to call it. For me, it's about the fudge. I baked all day. The above photo is the Dorie recipe, plated with Haagen-Dazs rum raisin ice cream, butterscotch sauce that was in my fridge and a couple of Raisinets for good measure.

The set-up
Three brownie recipes, by three different chocolate gurus. Nick Malgieri, Dori Greenspan and Alice Medrich. It's the usual butter- sugar-egg combo and chocolate, only better. It's technique. Bake and super delegates, just the popular vote. Kids, moms, dads, teachers. I know the winner. Make them all and you tell me. Results next week. In the meantime I think I’ll make a brownie cheesecake.

The three recipes:
Adapted from ''Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers''

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.
Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.

Adapted from ''Baking: From My Home to Yours''
makes 16 brownies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!
Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Adapted from ''Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies''

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square metal baking pan with foil. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir often, and remove from heat when a few lumps remain. Stir until smooth.
2. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by flour. Stir until very smooth, about 1 minute, until mixture pulls away from sides of bowl. Add nuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: Pour ice water into a large roasting pan or kitchen sink to a depth of about 1 inch. Remove pan from oven and place in water bath, being careful not to splash water on brownies. Let cool completely, then lift out and cut into 1-inch squares or wrap in foil.
Yield: 16 brownies.

The taste.
Have a glass of ice-cold milk (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream)