Monday, January 20, 2020

Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake

On Episode 171 of the Reading Envy Podcast, I spoke with Jen Nathan Orris about foodie recommendations - cookbooks, memoirs, and more. She brought up Julia Turshen, cookbook author and recipe developer extraordinaire, and recommended all of her cookbooks, particularly Small Victories. Julia actually appeared on Jen's podcast, Skillet, where she cooked Chicken Pelau. (I would later discover Turshen also has her own podcast called Keep Calm and Cook On, which is on brand for her reputation of making cooking accessible.)

I am always excited when I learn about an author or cook (or both) who I haven't heard of before, because it gives me an excuse to dive into something new. So of course I listened to the podcasts and hunted down the cookbooks. I would actually love to try making the chicken pelau at some point, because I am still feeling a bit tentative about cooking chicken and it has some unique techniques like starting with burned sugar. 



I'm not sure if this happens to anyone else, but sometimes I will encounter a recipe in a blog, Instagram post, or cookbook, and it will stick with me. When I'm thinking of my grocery shopping lists it will come to mind again, and I'll make sure I have the ingredients in case I feel inspired to make it. This cake is one Turshen makes for her wife. I was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe and the strange (to me) ingredients in the frosting. I liked that it tasted better cold. The combination of chocolate and raspberry probably moved it up a few notches. And then when I needed to bake something to burn off some nervous energy, this was the thing. My husband was called home to Oregon at the last minute, and I must admit I've been eating this cake for breakfast (but you know, happy wife and all that.)



Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake
from Small Victories by Julia Turshen

Cake:

1 1/4 cups (150 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) sugar
3/4 cup (75 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (such as Guittard or Droste, sifted if lumpy)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 Tbsp (110 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (240 ml) strong black coffee, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting:

3/4 cup (130 g) semisweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup (180 ml) sour cream, at room temperature
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup (160 g) raspberry jam (seeded or seedless, whatever your preference)

Raspberries for serving (optional)

To make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C). Use your hands to butter the bottom and sides of two 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans, then line the bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. For good measure, butter the parchment paper. Set the pans aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the melted butter, eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.

Bake until the cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cakes, still in their pans, to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Once cool, use a dinner knife to loosen the edges of the cakes from the pans and invert them onto your work surface (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off and discard the parchment.

To make the frosting: Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Put the chocolate chips in a large stainless steel or heatproof glass bowl and set it over the pot (the water should not touch the bowl - if it does, simply pour some out). Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between increments.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and maple syrup. The frosting should be smooth and quite silky. Refrigerate the frosting until the cakes have cooled. It will thicken as it cools (a good thing).

Once the cakes are cool, put one on a serving platter upside-down so that the flat side is facing up. Spread the jam over the top. Put the second cake on top of the jam-slathered cake, again flat-side up—this way you get a nice flat top. (If the jam makes the layers slip and slide a bit, use a couple of skewers to hold the layers together while you frost the sides and then remove the skewers to frost the top). Using a small offset spatula or a dinner knife, spread the frosting all over the sides and top of the cake. There’s no need to be perfect with this; I like it kind of rustic looking. But if you’re more of a type-A person, go ahead and smooth the top and sides (and you could even stick strips of parchment paper under the bottom of the cake before frosting it to keep your serving platter clean). Whatever makes you happy.

Let the cake sit for about 1 hour before serving. There’s something about letting each element get to know the others that serves this cake very well. In fact, I prefer to make it the day before and refrigerate it overnight, and serve it cold. Either way, slice and serve with some fresh raspberries alongside if you’d like.

Note: If you only own a single cake pan, fear not! Simply pour the batter into the pan and bake it until a toothpick tests clean (it will take 10 to 15 minutes longer in the oven than the two separate layers). Once the cake cools completely, use a serrated knife to cut it into two layers. Voilà.  

Notes from JennyBakes:

I don't have a lot to say because the recipe is solid. I did specifically look for Dutch-processed cocoa at the store and even in the 21st century, I'd have to go to a specialty place for it, so I just went with a combination of the last of the Ecuadorian cocoa powder from Libby and the Ghiradelli I had in the cupboard. And it was fine. I also didn't wait for the coffee to cool and only quick thinking with the buttermilk saved my eggs from curdling, but all told this is a pretty forgiving recipe. The frosting was such an interesting texture from the start, and the tang of the sour cream is amazing with the raspberry.   

Monday, January 13, 2020

Save-the-Day Spinach Pie

One of my goals for this year is to get better about weekday dinners, and to learn more recipes that might be palatable for younger eaters. I was poking around the internet and found a recommendation for Every Day is Saturday: Recipes + Strategies for Easy Cooking, Every Day of the Week by Sarah Copeland. This recipe is in the "Projects" section because it's just as easy to make two at once, and then you will have made an extra! I like the unusual sections in this cookbook because it's based on type of meal or rather need like quick dinners, last minute friends, etc.

I made a few mistakes with this recipe but I don't think they mattered to the final taste, but it's definitely not as pretty as the one in the cookbook! I'll add some notes at the end to talk about what I could have done better.



Save-the-Day Spinach Pie
(recipe from Sarah Copeland) 

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

30 oz frozen spinach, thawed
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Set the spinach in a colander to drain while you prepare the remaining ingredients, then place it in the center of a large, sturdy dish towel. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can. (If you wash the towel shortly after, the color won’t stain.)

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Melt the butter, and pour off and reserve about 5 tbsp.* Add the onion to the skillet and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with the squeezed spinach, and add the ricotta, eggs, feta, dill (If using), lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Brush a 9x11 inch baking pan with some of the reserved melted butter. Lay the two first sheets of phyllo side by side in the bottom of the pan to cover it and come 1 inch up the sides; brush with butter. Continue with another two sheets of phyllo right on top, layering them slightly overlapping to cover the bottom and up the sides (so far, you’ve used four sheets.) Add the spinach mixture and spread into an even layer. Lay two more sheets of phyllo side by side on top, to cover the entire filling, and brush with butter. Tuck the sides of the phyllo over the top, and layer the two remaining sheets of phyllo on top. Brush with the remaining butter.

Bake until the phyllo is cooked through, shiny, and golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and let cool until just warm to the touch before cutting. Cut into 9 or 12 pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

DOUBLE UP
One pan is a great start, but two pans of spinach pie will have you set for one hot meal, plus packable lunches and late-day snacks. Cool one pan completely and freeze, well wrapped (in plastic wrap and foil, right in the pan), for up to 2 weeks. To eat, bring to room temperature first, then warm in a hot oven for 5 minutes.

Notes from JennyBakes: Thawing the spinach and phyllo requires some thinking ahead and this makes this recipe more challenging (I know I need to do better at planning!) Making a double batch makes sense, maybe one in a disposable pan, because otherwise you just throw phyllo away.

Phyllo is tricky; you need to keep a damp towel on top of it every second you aren’t working with it directly. It’s ridiculous to melt all the butter in the pan only to pour and measure it out. I melted 3 tbsp in the pan (and that’s probably too much for one small onion!) and 5 tbsp in a ramekin for the assembly.

I might use nonstick spray for everything except the top next time, since the filling has so much fat already and it would assemble more quickly.

And I should have baked this about 5 more minutes!

Monday, January 06, 2020

Spoon Cookies (Lusikkaleivat)

I've had this recipe pinned for a while but finally made them before the holidays. They are called spoon cookies because of the unique way they are shaped - using a regular or teaspoon. I'm not sure if the traditional Finnish uses browned butter, but this one does, and made the cookies extra tasty. If you recall the chocolate cherry trifle of last week, I had some cherry jam leftover, and it was perfect in these.

Here is a picture of the cookies after shaping but before baking:


And here they are after baking, sandwiching, and sprinkling with powdered sugar:



Spoon Cookies
(Recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch fine salt
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup jam, such as a berry, plum or cloudberry
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Melt the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter browns lightly and smells slightly nutty, about 15 minutes. Transfer the butter to a medium bowl -- be sure to get all the tasty brown bits -- and cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in another medium bowl.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk, sugar and vanilla into the cooled browned butter.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture to make a uniform but crumbly dough that looks like wet sand.
  6. Scoop out dough with a small teaspoon (the kind you set the table with, not the ones you measure with). Rock spoon gently back and forth against the side of the bowl, packing the dough into the spoon, then scrape/slide the spoon against the inside of the bowl to make spoon-shaped cookies. Trim excess dough with your fingers and slide out onto the prepared pans, preserving their shape. (Try to make sure you form an even number of cookies, since these sandwich together.)
  7. Bake cookies until just browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool almost completely on the baking sheets, and then transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
  8. When cool, spread 1/2 teaspoon jam on the flat side of a cookie, and then sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat until all cookies have met their match. Lightly dust the cookies with the confectioners' sugar. Serve.
  9. Busy baker's tips: The dough can be prepared several hours ahead and stored at room temperature. Freeze baked cookie halves wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks. When ready to serve, defrost at room temperature and assemble as desired. Store sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Do not store with crisp cookies, as moisture from the jam will soften the texture of other crisp cookies.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Top JennyBakes Recipes in 2019

This list is based on my own opinion, not necessarily by popularity of the post.
  1. Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies (from Stella Parks @bravetart in Instagram)
  2. Peanut Butter (and Chocolate) Chess Pie (from South by Sean Brock) 
  3. Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
  4. Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup (from The Bacon Bible)
  5. "Featherlite" Pancakes (from Rosa Parks via the National Archives)
  6. Chocolate Chunk Cookies (from Genuine Pizza)
  7. Chocolate Sheet Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Ganache Frosting (from Edd Kimber @theboywhobakes on Instagram)
  8. Orange Honey Cake (from Icing on the Cake)
  9. Brown Butter Blondies
  10. Pumpkin Tea Cake (from Tartine)
You know a recipe is good when you repeat it. I've made #9 at least three times this year.

I liked #7 and then went and made a different cake for my birthday, one I threw away without even finishing the first piece! Boo.

This was my last year with the Abrams Dinner Party, and recipes #4, 6, and 8 came from cookbooks they sent my way. 

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

I was wandering Lidl or Aldi and came across a large jar of sour cherries, and it brought to mind this ancient recipe of Nigella Lawson's show where she makes a chocolate cherry trifle, in her inviting, no stress way of making the viewer feel they can cook or bake just as easily as she can! (You can see that original video and see what I mean.) The unfortunate thing in my household is that I'm the only person who loves cherries, so I knew I'd need to make it for the annual library holiday lunch. I feel like it was a good choice; I saw a few people go back for seconds.



Nigella buys small chocolate pound cakes from the store but I didn't have that option; I did however have an aging chocolate cake mix in the pantry, and made this pound cake recipe using it as the base. It was just fine and worked well. A few notes at the end of this post about other differences I picked up along the way.


Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Ingredients:

2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolate pound cakes
1/2 cup black cherry jam
1/2 cup cherry brandy
2 cups drained bottled sour cherries (recommended: Morello)
Custard:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
Topping:
3 cups heavy cream
1-ounce bittersweet chocolate
Special Equipment: Large wide trifle bowl

Directions

  1. Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl. Pour over the cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the drained cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to macerate while you make the custard.
  2. Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate is melted, ser aside while you get on with the custard.
  3. In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the custard pan into the cold water and
  4. whisk like mad, which will avert possible crisis.
  5. The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick, so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny. Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  6. When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set, covered in plastic wrap overnight.
  7. When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate over the top. 
Notes from JennyBakes:

The custard made me nervous and I feel I undercooked it, but I was worried from this recipe that it would get too thick or burned. I sure wish they included a temperature!

I added a little powdered sugar to the whipped cream because I felt strange adding it unsweetened.

Since this was a daytime function, I replaced the cherry brandy with the cherry juice from the canned cherries, but did put 2 tbsp of kirsch to make up the 1/2 cup. This way there was plenty of flavor but not an overwhelming amount of alcohol.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Buckwheat Double Chocolate Orange Cookies (gluten-free)

I came across this recipe while looking for new cookies for the holidays, and thought it sounded tasty enough to apply to everyone. I was disappointed when I made them because the gluten-free flour combination resulted in that somewhat bitter aftertaste I think most people who have baked gluten-free will be familiar with. Well boo, I thought, I'll just freeze them and send them to my family when I'm ready to send that box, which wasn't quite when I made these.

This morning I decided to taste one to see how they did post-freezer and discovered - no bitter aftertaste! Dang! They are actually quite soft and delicious! And I could have included them in my cookie boxes after all, which were all already packed. Ah well. Hopefully my sister will enjoy them. I'm wondering if a quick trip to the freezer will solve all my gluten-free flours taste woes and plan to try that strategy again.


Buckwheat Double Chocolate Orange Cookies 
(from fixfeastflair, where they call them Buckwheat Orange Double Chocolate Cookies)

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Tbsp. (85 g) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. (345 g) bittersweet chocolate (60–70% cacao mass), chopped (about 2 1⁄4 cups), plus several chunks for the tops of the cookies
  • 11⁄2 tsp. (1 g) packed finely grated zest from 1 medium orange (or bergamot if you can find it!)
  • 1⁄2 c. (65 g) buckwheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. (15 g) tapioca flour
  • 3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. (130 g) organic granulated cane sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Flaky salt such as Maldon, for the tops

FIX

  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Line 2 rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over the lowest possible heat. Add
  3. 8 ounces (230 g) of the chocolate and the orange zest, and melt together, stirring frequently to prevent the chocolate from scorching. Continue cooking until the mixture is pleasantly warm, but not super hot, to the touch. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Sift the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place the eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and stir in the vanilla until just combined, then the warm chocolate butter mixture. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a flexible silicone spatula to fold in the remaining 4 ounces (115 g) chopped chocolate.
  5. If the batter is very runny, let it cool for a few minutes until it firms to the consistency of a thick brownie batter. Use a #40* spring-loaded ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Top each cookie with a few chunks of chocolate and a few flecks of flaky salt.
  6. Bake the cookies until puffed and cracked and the edges are set, 8–12 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Let cool on the pans. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. The cookies are best the day of baking but will keep, airtight at room temperature, for up to 3 days. 

NOTES FROM JENNYBAKES

-Usually I ignore recipes that say to scoop all cookie dough onto cookie sheets at once. For this recipe, you really should, because the tapioca flour will keep thickening the dough.
-Seriously, freeze these cookies overnight before eating.
 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Panforte

I've been circling David Lebovitz's recipe for Panforte for a few years. I couldn't decide if it was just like fruitcake or more like candy. If it was sweet or decidedly not too sweet. Last year, I bought all the ingredients for it but never made it, leaving me cleaning out candied fruit and rancid nuts that really should have been used, whoops. This year I was determined to try it so even though it was the last thing I made for my holiday boxes of baked goods that I give out to a select few, I extended my baking by a day to make it. And honestly unless you are candying your own fruit it is not that complicated, I don't know why I get recipe hangups sometimes.

The most important thing to know is that this recipe looks to be something that a baker can improvise with (see my extensive notes after the recipe for more), it keeps forever, and at least in this iteration, it smells super Christmasy while you are making it. I hope I did it justice.


Panforte

(recipe from David Lebovitz, a pastry chef I admire, go buy his books and read his blog!)

To skin hazelnuts, rub the still-warm toasted nuts in a tea towel, to get off as much of the skins as possible. The nuts can be toasted in a 350ºF/180ºC oven for about 10 minutes first. If you want to make your own candied citron, you can find [David's] recipe at that link. You'll often see Panforte baked on rice paper (or made of another edible starch), which is harder to get than parchment paper. You can buy sheets of wafer paper online, and cut them to size.
5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
2 1/2 cups (325g) nuts; any mix of walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup (110g) flour
1 cup (200g) chopped candied citron or another candied citrus
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
3 ounces (85g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (200g) sugar
3/4 cup (210g) honey
extra cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting the panforte
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC.)
2. Spray a 9 to 10-inch (22-23cm) springform pan with nonstick spray. Dust the inside with cocoa powder, making sure to get it up the sides. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, nuts, flour, candied citrus, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, and red chile powder. Use your fingers to make sure all the ingredients are separate.
4. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside.
5. In a pan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and honey until the temperature reads 240ºF (115ºC.)
6. Pour the hot honey syrup over the nut mixture, add the melted chocolate, and stir well. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. I start by using a spatula and as the mixture cools, once it’s cool enough to touch, I use a dampened hand to get it flat.
7. Bake the panforte for 30 – 35 minutes; the center will feel soft, like just-baked custard; if you touch it, your finger will come away clean when it’s done. (Do not overcook it, or it will be too firm once cooled.) Let the panforte cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan. Remove the springform carefully (sticky edges might tear, so keep an eye out), then let cool completely.
Once cool, remove the bottom of the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Sprinkle the panforte with powdered sugar and rub it in with your hands.
Storage: Panforte can be kept for several months, well wrapped, at room temperature.

Notes from JennyBakes:

- I am down one regular sized springform pan and knew I'd be cutting this up, if it worked out, to put into holiday boxes. Since I saw quite a few panforte around the internet in square forms, I felt okay baking it in my 9" pyrex with two overlapping sheets of parchment paper, which I sprayed with nonstick spray. These recipes are sticky so you want some way to get that sucker out of there.

- I have not had hazelnuts for a few years. I grew up with them and sometimes my Mom sends them for the holidays but I have not found a way to buy them online without buying in bulk or spending astronomic amounts. I thought I had almonds but they had gone bad, so all I used were walnuts. That wasn't what I would have done on purpose and I think it's best either with his mix of nuts or just some kind of variety. I did toast the walnuts I had for 10 minutes and let them cool before making the recipe.

- I wish I had followed David's direction on step 6 to put more effort into making the mixture flat on top before baking. Unlike a cake which would settle, the panforte retained the shape it started, and so when I added the powdered sugary it looked quite nobbly.

- I still am not certain of the desired texture and since my candy thermometer somehow only goes up to 222, I only know my sugar boiled beyond that. The pieces are slightly gooey but still hold up on their own so it's possible I either underboiled or underbaked, but I was equally wary of overboiling and overbaking. I may ask one of my colleagues who travels often in Italy, in case she's had the chance to eat it from the source.

- I came across this wonderful article in The Guardian about making the perfect panforte and there are so many interesting variations. I was also comforted by the one pictured from Nigella Lawson, because the top looked like mine after baking - slightly sticky, darker around the edges, maybe a bit of a feeling of goo.  That feature makes it sound like many of the ingredients are interchangeable, although at some point it is no longer a traditional recipe. I saw one recipe in my searching that was a ginger apricot version, and that sounded delicious, as did one that used dried figs.

- I am not certain how this differs from a fruitcake, although I am recognizing that there is no booze in this recipe, which I think of as central in a fruitcake.

- For even more information, check out the historical entry on Panforte di Siena from Fine Dining Lovers


Monday, December 09, 2019

Cheddar Biscuits with Pecans

Martha Stewart calls this a "Southern hors d'oeuvre" and it's true that I was first gifted a tube of these during the holidays in the south. I knew I'd want to make them as gifts in the future, and that future is now. These are a super easy food-processor recipe, you just need chilling time. I think this is similar to the mixture used for cheese straws but rolled up and sliced is a bit easier. I apply the egg white prior to pressing the pecan on, because that made more sense to me, but you should try it however it makes sense. I added very little cayenne but if you are baking for people who have higher spice tolerance, you can play with that as well.


Cheddar Biscuits with Pecans
(recipe from Martha Stewart)

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
30 pecan halves
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Paprika

Directions

Place cheese, butter, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in the bowl of a food processor; process until a dough is formed, about 10 seconds. Turn dough out onto work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log; wrap with wax or parchment paper and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Unwrap dough and slice each log crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place dough rounds on prepared baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart; gently press a pecan half into the center of each. Brush with egg whites and sprinkle lightly with paprika.

Bake biscuits until crisp, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Biscuits may be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.