Friday, October 30, 2009

For all it's worth...

So all those batches of brownies - failures and successes - have finally come to its finale!

Here is the finish line!
A variety of brownie rounds...

covered in chocolate, and "initialized"...

into the box...

closed and ribbon-ed!

Sampler box: "Nutella" "Classic" "P.B." "Dark"

And of course, as if I didn't have enough to do... I decided to try my hand at truffles. A variety of 5, no less.

Green Tea, Italian Truffle, Chocolate Chunk

Earl Grey, White Cointreau

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gruyere Gougeres

Gougeres are savory cream puff things... without the cream. just the puff.
I added gruyere to mine, with a bit of dijon mustard and pepper. (couldn't taste much of the dijon).

I made the pate a choux as I have before... just added in shredded gruyere in the same amount of butter (8oz.)

And this time around... I had the trusty kitchenaid! I could mix hands-free!
Adding the eggs was easy peasy!

Instead of piping the puffs, I just used an ice cream scoop. What can I say - I'm lazy.
And it worked out pretty well too!

The final product:

They got done a lot faster on the bottom... so most were "burnt"-ish. But not too badly. I personally think it adds some flavor. Haha.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Marble Cookies

OK. so even though I got everything "back to normal" like a month ago... things like messed up cable tv, slow internet, then NO internet, then CRAPPY DSL, then NO DSL, then DSL(hopefully), and then of course, no more groceries... I haven't baked. oh so sad!

BUT after a few trips to Costco, I've fully stocked up on eggs and butter. the main staples of baking! (and now, I've found I'm running low on flour. figures.)

Today I decided to make some cookies!
(I'm not quite done with brownies yet... even though I am pretty sick of them.)

Marble Cookies
from [Indulgence Cookies by Cristabel Martin]
1-1/3 C bittersweet chocolate
1/2C unsalted butter, softened
1C superfine sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp milk
2C AP Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Melt chocolate in double-boiler. Set aside to cool a bit.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Then beat in yolk and milk until just combined.
Then stir in sifted flour and baking powder to form dough.
Form a well in the center of dough, the pour melted (but not HOT) chocolate into well.

Using a knife, swirl chocolate with dough. But don't over mix.
Place on baking sheets and flatten slightly.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 min, until edges golden brown.

Easy enough recipe. I woulda done a few things different.
Use less chocolate - perhaps just 1 C. And maybe milk chocolate instead of bittersweet.
Don't forget to flatten the dough (like me!). Oopsies.
I didn't let the butter soften as much as I probably should have.
It's hard to tell when edges turn golden brown when there's chocolate mixed in... so 15 minutes is maybe a bit more than needed, but not overbaked - just crispy.
The cookies came out not very sweet... more bittersweet (like the chocolate, durr.) ANYWAYS, it's a really pretty cookie as long as its not over-chocolatized. But taste-wise... I would probably choose a good ol' choc chip cookie over this any day. If you like just a hint of sweetness, then this could be for you!

It's good to be back! (tentatively)... next up! Gruyere Gougeres. That is if my gruyere hasn't gone bad by now.

PS: I am in love with Glee. And thanks to the show, can't get Sweet Caroline outta my head! (buh buh buh!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

oh yeah. vegas

I've been MIA for a while...
and before I post my cookie post, I just want to share some of the yummy funtimes from when I went to Vegas recently. It is SUCH an afterthought to share these pics... OOPS. Getting back to work is certainly a punch in the face that zaps away funtimes. Sadface.

Sipping a white sangria at the wynn...

the desserts at the buffet looked pretty good. but nothing spectacular tasting. very much mass produced (duh).

I did like the panna cotta though... especially the cute little green cup!

Other places we checked out with lots of food stuffs:
@ the bellagio

the world's tallest chocolate fountain (i think?)

@ the venetian


Gallagher's Steakhouse... its the meat aging room! oooooohhaaaahhh~~

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunny Sunday!

Yay! I am back to my "normal" functioning self... everything is unpacked, I'm not on the verge of a mental breakdown, there's food in the fridge, and I'm restarting the healthy diet/daily jog thing.

And given the happy sunshine streaming in through the windows, I was in a relatively un-lazy mood and baked. Hooray!

I've been sitting on this recipe for a while... from the August issue of Gourmet:
Plum Kuchen
(Recipe by Ruth Cousineau)
1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (preferably Greek-style) at room temperature
1 large egg, warmed in shell in warm water 5 minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened, divided
3/4 lb firm-ripe plums (about 4 small), halved and pitted

Stir together yeast and warm water in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Add 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt, yogurt, egg, zest, and vanilla to yeast mixture and mix at medium-low speed 1 minute. Beat in 1 stick butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until incorporated. Beat at medium speed until dough is smooth and shiny, about 5 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)

Scrape down side of bowl and sprinkle dough with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Spread remaining 2 Tbsp butter in bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup sugar.

Cut each plum half into 5 or 6 slices and arrange in 1 layer in pan.
Stir dough until flour is incorporated, then spread evenly over plums. Loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until almost doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Bake until kuchen is golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then invert and unmold onto a rack to cool completely.

Kuchen is best the day it is baked but can be kept, loosely covered, at room temperature 1 day.

Proofing the yeast was SUCH A PAIN IN THE BUTT. I tried 3 times, and couldn't get it to foam. So I just moved on... and of course my dough didn't rise, but it still turned out ok. A bit dense, but not unpalatable, especially warm out of the oven. The lemon zest was really nice in lightening up the shortbread like "cake". I would definitely try it with other stone fruits as well. But I think the plums look really pretty with the dark red skins and light flesh.
Overall, this was pretty easy to make for something so "fancy" looking. It just takes time to wait for the dough to rise - if it ever does, that is.

I also baked a familiar batch of brownies...

AND made a quicky sammich, inspired looooong ago by Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. I'm still dying to make her version as it is though!
12-grain bread with pesto, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and deli cut chicken.

I got these loaves via a Foodbuzz Tastemakers opportunity... Nature's Pride. I never really have a preference for bread... I tend to just pick a loaf that is either cheap, or whatever I need for any sandwich makings. And I've never had 12-grain before... and I guess I like it!