Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Orange Cookies with Orange Glaze

Orange Cookies with Orange Glaze - made July 28, 2012, recipe adapted from Stephanie's Kitchen blog

Back to the recipes.....

After 23 hours of travel time from my hotel in Barcelona to my house, I finally made it home only to spend the weekend trying to adjust back to my local time zone.  I tried staying up so I could adjust more quickly and just ended up with some raging headaches from sleep deprivation and I still woke up at 2 am.  I love to travel but sometimes I'm not a good traveler because I can't sleep on planes and it takes me awhile to adjust to different time zones.  Nevertheless, it was good to be home and I missed baking in my kitchen so of course, sleep deprivation or not, I hit the butter, flour, sugar and eggs to start baking again.

First recipe out of the gate is this one for orange cookies from Stephanie's Kitchen blog.  I indulged shamelessly in Swiss chocolate while I was gone so I switched gears back to oranges with this recipe.  This is a good summer cookie with its citrus flavor.  I modified it slightly by increasing the flour by 1/4 cup as when I used the original amount, the dough seemed a bit too soft and I didn't want it to spread flat.  I liked the fresh orange taste of this cookie but this is one you definitely don't want to overbake or it'll easily be dry.  Err on the side of underbaking for the proper texture which is moist and almost "fudgy" had it been chocolate.  I also only used just enough orange juice to make more of a thick glaze or a frosting rather than a runny glaze.  It's the glaze that brings out the orange flavor really well.  This is not a stackable cookie unless you let the glaze set so I wouldn't recommend it for care packages or bringing anywhere really hot or else the glaze will just melt off the cookies.
I love this texture when it's just slightly underbaked
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 egg

For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
fresh orange juice
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until zest is throughout the sugar. The sugar will become moist from the oils being released. 
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and orange-zested sugar. Add egg and orange juice. 
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients until well incorporated. At this point you can chill for an hour or so or overnight. 
  5. Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roll into smooth round balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until very lightly golden on the bottoms.
  6. Mix the confectioners’ sugar, orange zest and enough orange juice to get a glaze consistency and mix until smooth and creamy. Pour glaze over the tops of the cookies and let set.
  Chef In Training 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Barcelona, Spain 2012

My next stop after Schaffhausen was for a series of meetings in Barcelona.  I'd gone there last year for the same type of meetings but this time, the schedule worked out so that I was actually on the ground in Barcelona a little longer than I was in the air (last year's trip was a whirlwind, literally).  The night I arrived from Switzerland, our group went out for a late dinner.  We left the hotel a little before 9 pm and came back around 12:30 am.  Talk about leisurely dining!

The restaurant, Merendero de la Mari, was close to the wharf and the weather was perfect: not too hot, not too cold, with a small breeze.  With that kind of climate, it's almost sacrilege to eat inside so of course we ate outside.  I had missed lunch since I was on a plane half the day (quick connection in Heathrow) and airlines never serve food anymore on short trips but I wasn't too hungry because when I arrived at the hotel from Barcelona airport, I was welcomed with this thoughtful presentation from our events management company - do they know me well or what?
I did refrain from scarfing down all of the cookies and actually only ate one.  And when we got to the restaurant, I opted for seafood because it was lighter and I preferred not eating a big, heavy dinner so late at night.  Plus, it's Barcelona, so of course I'm going to have seafood.
Shrimp Catalan
My entree turned out a bit lighter than I expected and I don't eat the heads of shrimp, just the shrimp itself, but it was actually the right amount because that left room for dessert.  I had "Chocolate Textures" - I had to ask the waiter to explain to me what that was since there was no description on the menu.  It turned out to be layers of chocolate mousse sandwiched between layers of solid chocolate and praline.  Good stuff.

On our last night in Barcelona, my colleagues and I went to Las Ramblas, a busy shopping and dining district of Barcelona.  And in keeping with local fare, we went to a tapas bar.  I've had tapas before but not at a tapas buffet so that was kind of fun.  They didn't have food labels on anything so you had to take your chances on what you were selecting.  I guessed wrong on a couple of items (a breaded scallop-shaped tapas was not actually a scallop but filled with something cheesy-seafoody) but for the most part, enjoyed sampling the little plates.  The restaurant charged 1.80 euros per stick (see how each tapas has a stick in it?) and as we ate and emptied the sticks, we put the used sticks in a round metal container at our table and when we were finished, our waiter counted up the sticks in front of us and prepared our bill accordingly.  Think of it as the Spanish version of dim sum but instead of stamps on your bill as you selected dim sum plates from the carts, it was sticks that tallied up your meal cost.
The tapas buffet
And lest you think all I did in Barcelona was eat, we did walk around Las Ramblas quite a bit and I took some non-food pictures.  Just don't ask me what anything is called because.....I don't know.  But I just love the impressive architecture and the energetic vibe of Barcelona, not to mention the fabulous weather while we were there.  While I don't speak Spanish, it's close enough to Tagalog that I'm familiar enough with the language to be dangerous.  And not get lost on the way to the airport since the meaning of "aeroporto" is much easier for me to guess than "flughafen", lol.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Although I did some posting this past week, in truth, I was traveling for work and posting from there at odd hours, thanks to jet lag and my inability to sleep on airplanes.  I went to Europe on business and my first stop was Schaffhausen, Switzerland.  I'd been to Zurich before some years back but not to Schaffhausen.  I didn't have much time (I was there to work after all, ha) but I flew in a day early to (theoretically) get over the jet lag before I had to show up in the office.  I had a chance to walk around Schaffhausen for a few hours, partly because I was looking for our office and partly because I like exploring new grounds on foot.  It turned out that the hotel had given me the wrong directions to the office so I ended up covering more of Schaffhausen on foot than I had intended.  But it was all good since it gave me a chance to leisurely explore the area.  Walking along the Rhine was pure poetry because it was a beautiful day with cool temps and the sun shining.

Around my hotel, there were a lot of little cute shops but since I was walking around on a Sunday, many of them were closed.  I did happen upon some restaurants, one of which I patronized for lunch and a gelato shop where I availed myself of the gelato.
Spaghetti Carbonara from Don Quixote restaurant

Chocolate and mocha gelato
I didn't know much about "Swiss food" beforehand but when I looked it up, it seemed to be a combination of German, Italian and French.  German was the primary language in Schaffhausen but I ended up eating Italian cuisine most of the time.  The great thing about Europe is the variety of cuisines available.  Ironically though, in the area around my hotel and the office, I really didn't see any German restaurants.  They all seemed to be predominantly Italian.  A coworker and I went out to dinner one night and I had Italian again - risotto this time with prawns.  And in sticking with the Italian theme, a banana split with gelato.

Risotto Gambieri from Santa Lucia
One tip if you ever find yourself in Switzerland and don't speak German (I'm bilingual but German is not my 2nd language).  "Flughafen" means airport. I almost missed my stop on the train ride back from Schaffhausen to the Zurich Airport because I erroneously assumed the stop I was going to get off at was the airport, since I didn't recognize Flughafen as the stop I originally came from when I arrived.  I was so intent on figuring out how to get to Schaffhausen when I first arrived and which train to take that I made the cardinal mistake of not noting where I started from.  Fortunately though, my coworker ended up on the same train as me and, having lived in Switzerland for the past year and a half, she knew exactly where to go.  Whew.

And I must give props to the Flughafen Zurich because they had an inordinate amount of chocolate shops that I must applaud.  Even down to the classy chocolate button proclaiming your location on the gelato from the Lindt store.
Milk Chocolate Gelato

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies - made July 14, 2012, recipe modified from About.com

"Not a real sugar cookie but a soft blank slate" - those are the words of one of the reviews from About.com and I have to admit, that's pretty accurate to describe this cookie.  I was still in "gotta use up sour cream" mode so I tried out this recipe.  Usually I can tell if I like a cookie in the first bite.  For this one, I had to eat a whole cookie and even then I wasn't really sure how I felt about it.  My first thought was "wow, this is really..... bland."  I liked the soft texture but I wouldn't call this a sugar cookie.  If you want it sweeter, add a frosting or glaze.  Otherwise, it's a nice chewy cookie but don't expect to be overwhelmed by its flavor.  You also have to bake these just right - if you take them out too early, they'll be gummy.  If you overbake them, they'll be cakey-dry.

2 7/8 (or scant 3) cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
 In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Beat for 2 minutes.
Add sour cream and half of the sifted dry ingredients; beat 1 minute. Stir in remaining dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
Divide dough in half and roll each portion into a log.  Wrap in waxed paper and put in the freezer  until firm.  Cut into thick rounds (at least 1/4" thick).  Place rounds on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper; bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes. Store soft sugar cookies in an airtight container.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Food is a safe gift for a foodie

My birthday was last week and one of my old college roommates, Caroline, always manages to find a new bakery to send me something from.  Last year it was cupcakes from Crumbs Bakery in New York which were to die for.  This year, she sent me mini cupcakes from another New York Bakery, Baked by Melissa.  I'll have to ask her how she finds all these great bakeries that ship from online orders. For some reason, I never think of it when I have to give gifts.

This year's cupcake treats came in a large box, surrounded by a dry ice container labeled with all sorts of dire warnings about not touching with bare hands and opening in a well-ventilated place.  Once you get past those skull and crossbones, you get to the cupcake package inside.  Both packages were simply and beautifully presented, with a legend on what flavors the cupcakes were.

The best part is they were an assortment of mini cupcakes, meaning you could have 1 (or um, 3) and not feel like a complete pig since they were literally bite-sized.  When giving someone a sampler pack, it's always nice for the samples to be small enough that you can do quite a bit of sampling without feeling sick :).

The chocolate-covered mini cupcakes were enjoyable too although I think the chocolate couverture tended to overwhelm the minis a bit so the individual cupcake flavors weren't as pronounced as the non-chocolate coated ones.  They were almost like high-end Ding Dongs but better tasting.  Still, it was a thoughtful and delicious gift for a foodie - thanks, Caroline!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marble Bundt Cake

Marble Bundt Cake - made July 17, 2012 from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Continuing with the sour cream usage, I went with this bundt cake from the Baked guys.  I had made their Root Beer Bundt Cake from the same cookbook and thought it was fantastic so I was hopeful this cake would be good too.  And it was.  Perfect pound cake texture, the plain batter was buttery and the chocolate batter was nicely chocolatey.  I made this for my friend Jeannie who is halfway through her chemo treatment for breast cancer and also my partner in crime when it comes to chocolate desserts.  They should dedicate the Factory Mud Pie at Cheesecake Factory to me and Jeannie for our faithful consumption of it whenever we dine there.  

Anyway, in Jeannie's honor, I also added a chocolate glaze to the cake just to give it a little extra chocolate yumminess  Because you can never have too much chocolate, especially when you're kicking cancer in the ass and not letting it bring you down, which is what Jeannie and so many other courageous people are doing.  Rock on, girlie.

Chocolate Swirl
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% - 72% cacao), chopped
1 teaspoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder

Sour Cream Cake
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup whole milk, more if needed

1.     Make the chocolate swirl: In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate.  When the chocolate is completely smooth, add the cocoa powder and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.  Remove  the bowl from the heat and set aside.
2.     Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
3.     Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.
4.     In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth and ribbonlike.  Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar.  Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the bowl and mix for 30 seconds.
5.     Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients in three additions, scraping down the bowl before each addition and beating only until each addition is just incorporated.  Do not overmix.
6.     Pour one third of the cake batter into the chocolate swirl mixture.  Use a spatula to combine the chocolate mixture and the batter to make a smooth chocolate batter.
7.     Spread half of the remaining plain cake batter in the prepared pan.  Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the chocolate cake batter directly on top of the plain cake batter.  The dollops will touch and mostly cover the plain batter but some plain batter will peek through.  Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate and plain batter together.  Pour the remaining plain batter on top of the chocolate layer and smooth it out.  Once again, use the knife to pull through the layers to create a swirl.
8.     Bake in the oven for 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a sharp knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
9.     Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake and invert it onto the wire rack and let cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature. If making glaze, whisk cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar together. Gradually add milk and whisk smooth. Adjust amount of milk depending on consistency of glaze desired. Spread over cooled cake before serving.
The cake will keep for 3 days, tightly covered, at room temperature.

Linked to Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday

Cast Party Wednesday

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Aroma of Cinnamon Cake, Take One

Aroma of Cinnamon Cake, Take One - made July 14, 2012, recipe adapted from Baking Style by Lisa Yockelson

If it seems like I bake the most random things sometimes, it's because I do.  Or because I have a certain ingredient I need to use up so I look for any and all recipes that use it.  That's where this falls.  I had a Costco-sized tub of sour cream to use so I went hunting for sour cream recipes.  It never fails - whenever I'm stocking up on baking ingredients, I always optimistically think the expiration date is far away on something perishable and I'll have lots of time to use it all up.  I also think of all these recipes that use up said ingredient but I wasn't able to make them before because I didn't have that ingredient on hand at the time.  And now that I do, I'm going to whip up all those recipes and try them out.  Yeah, that's a nice thought.  Now if only I could remember half those recipes when it comes time to actually using up the ingredient when I have it marching towards its expiration date.

Anyway, whenever I have an excess of sour cream I have to use in a hurry, coffeecake-type creations are usually a safe bet to need sour cream.  Lisa Yockelson has two different version in Baking Style and I went with the first one.  This one turned out really well.  The cake was moist and cakey, not too light but not too heavy.  I modified by adding the glaze but you can leave it off if you wish.  I do recommend using more of the sugar-cinnamon filling and topping as a filling rather than a topping, especially if you end up doing the glaze.  This makes for a really good breakfast or brunch cake.

Sugar Cinnamon Filling and Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sour Cream Batter
1 2/3 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsifted bleached cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Glaze (optional)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup whole milk (more if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
2.     For the filling: combine granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Set aside.
3.     For the batter, sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
4.     Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 1 minute.  Add the granulated sugar in 2 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.  Beat in the eggs.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  On low speed, beat in half of the sifted ingredients, the sour cream, and the remaining sifted ingredients.
5.     Spoon a little more than half of the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle over half of the cinnamon-sugar filling.  Spoon the remaining batter on top in dollops.  If you wish, swirl the batter, using the tip of a rounded table knife or small offset palette knife.  Smooth the top with a palette knife or rubber spatula.  Sprinkle the remaining sugar-cinnamon filling over the top.
6.     Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until set and a toothpick withdraws clean when tested about 2 inches from the center. 
7.     Combine the glaze ingredients, beating until smooth.  Add just enough milk to form a runny consistency.  Drizzle over warm (not hot) cake and let cool until set.

Linked to Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Trick or Treat Tuesday

Chef In Training

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Best Ever" Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best Ever Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies - made July 13, 2012 from Kelsey's Apple a Day blog

I'm always a bit skeptical whenever a recipe has a superlative in the title.  We all have different tastes and someone's idea of the perfect or "best ever" cookie may not match someone else's.  There's no one right set of taste buds.  That said, um, this really was an extremely good chocolate chip cookie. It didn't spread too much, the edges were crisp but not overly so, the texture of the cookie was chewy and stupendous and overall, I really liked it.  It wasn't too sweet either, although, granted, I have a high tolerance for sugar.  But this is exactly the type of cookie with a great taste and texture that I like.  I also stacked the odds in its favor and instead of chocolate chips, I cut up a large milk chocolate bar my parents had brought me from Switzerland last year.  Yeah, I know, I kept that chocolate block for months without even being tempted to open it.  So it seemed like a good idea to use it for cookies and it was.  Fortunately, when it's vacuum sealed, it lasts.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 teapoons vanilla extract 
2 cups all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup milk chocolate chunks (or you can use milk chocolate chips or semisweet chips)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.
4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)
5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chocolate Meets Chocolate Chip and they have a cookie

The Best of Everything Chocolate Chip Cookies - made July 13, 2012 from 125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble and Savor by Elinor Klivans

Still trying out a few more recipes from this book before I have to return it to the library.  This is a simple concept and a good one - make a chocolate chip cookie dough, add cocoa and melted semisweet chocolate to half the dough to make a chocolate dough then squish both doughs together to make a two-tone cookie.  It was pretty good although I would've preferred less spread in the cookie and the chocolate half somewhat takes over the regular chocolate chip cookie half.  But all in all, still pretty good as an extra twist on the traditional chocolate chip cookie.

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) soft unsalted butter
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large cold egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, such as Droste
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips

1.       Preheat oven to 350°F (unless you’re chilling or freezing the dough before baking).
2.       Melt semisweet chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth when stirred.  Let cool slightly.
3.       Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
4.       Put the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed for about 15 seconds until blended thoroughly.  At low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated.
5.       Transfer half the dough to a medium bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, stir in the melted chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.  Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips to each bowl of dough. If dough is soft, refrigerate until more firm.  Using a small spoon, scoop a rounded teaspoon of chocolate dough onto the spoon, the dip the spoon into the plan dough and scoop a rounded teaspoon of dough beside the chocolate dough.  Place paired dark and light dough mounds on the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. 
6.       Bake the cookies for about 11 minutes, or until the edges are dark golden, reversing the baking sheets after 6 minutes to ensure even browning.  Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Linked to Sweet Treats Thursday

 What's cooking, love?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Pancakes

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Pancakes - made July 12, 2012 from Brunch Cookbook by Sunset

Continuing with the breakfast posts, I tried out this recipe for no other reason than I had buttermilk to use up (a common occurrence).  This is very similar to Margaret's Oatmeal Hotcakes that I had blogged before, both in terms of appearance, texture, taste and soaking the oats in buttermilk overnight.  I did like the subtle flavor of cinnamon in these though and, when cooked properly and eaten right away, these have crisp edges and a nice oatmeal-y texture in the middle.  It's not too sweet so I prefer eating it with maple syrup rather than butter.  Be warned though that this is pretty filling.  1 pancake is plenty for breakfast.  I made a half recipe and it made 4 regular-sized pancakes.

2 cups regular rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

1.     In a bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; stir to blend well.  Cover and refrigerate until next day.
2.     Just before cooking, add eggs and melted butter; stir just to blend.  In another bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to oat mixture and stir just until moistened.  If batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk, up to 3 tablespoons.
3.     Preheat a griddle or large frying pan over medium heat; grease lightly.  Spoon batter, about 1/3 cup for each cake, onto griddle; spread batter out to make 4-inch circles.  Cook until tops are bubbly and appear dry; turn and cook other side until browned. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancakes - made July 4, 2012 from A Flock in the City blog
Apple Pancake from the Original Pancake House
No, I didn't make the above pancake myself.  It's the Apple Pancake from the Original Pancake House and is one of their specialties which takes 15 minutes to bake and bring out.  It's worth the wait.  What I liked best about it was the texture of the pancake.  It was more like a bread pudding but without the bread.  And we know about my love for bread pudding.  Ever since I tried this at the Original Pancake House, I've wanted to make it myself, at least the pancake part since that was my favorite part of the dish.  Thanks to A Flock in the City's blog recipe for Dutch Baby Pancakes, I think I've come close.
I've re-written the recipe to make only 1 pancake and made mine in an 8-inch cast iron pan.  I also modified the directions to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  When I did it the other way 'round, I ended up with too many lumps because there's more wet ingredients than dry.  I didn't want to overmix it by getting all the lumps out so I ended up straining the batter before putting it into the cast iron pan.

Despite having no chemical leavening, this rose obligingly during baking, although it does deflate like a fallen souffle minutes after you take it out of the oven.  This isn't too sweet so you can sweeten it up with syrup or a dusting a powdered sugar or fruit if you wish.  It's best served warm but it wasn't too shabby at room temperature either.


4 tablespoons butter
1 cup of milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Put butter in cast iron pan; place pan in a 425-degree oven until the butter is melted and bubbly (you want it hot, but don’t burn the butter).
  2. Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add a little of the wet ingredients, mixing slowly to form a smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing gently to prevent lumps.  Do not overmix.
  4. Pour the batter into the hot pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until well-raised and brown on top.  Serve immediately.  Serve with butter, syrup and/or powdered sugar if desired (optional).
  Cast Party Wednesday

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Biscoff-Stuffed White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Biscoff-Stuffed White Chocolate Chip Cookies - made July 4, 2012 from The Rickett Chronicles blog

I like to look for cookie recipes that are a little different from the norm and I liked how this incorporated biscoff spread; it's like a cookie within a cookie.  Or at least a cookie filling within a cookie.  The original picture and post from The Rickett Chronicles shows the biscoff filling leaking out when the cookies baked.  I was a bit more anal about it and completely sealed the spread inside the cookie dough, partly because I didn't know if the texture of the spread would change if it was exposed to high baking heat and partly because I'm sometimes a neat freak, even in baked cookies.

Regardless, these cookies were amazing.  Without the biscoff filling, it's a fantastic white chocolate chip cookie on its own merit.  With the biscoff filling, it adds another flavorful dimension.  Because I was sealing it all up, I didn't use very much spread though.  Next time I would add more, even if it meant making bigger cookies (not a bad problem to have).  I really liked the taste and texture of these cookies and they didn't spread too much which is always something I look for in a good cookie.

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips 
1 cup Biscoff Spread (I used Speculoos Cookie Spread)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.
  3. In a stand or electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until well combined.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla beating until well combined.
  5. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  6. Slowly add to the wet ingredients along with white chips until just combined.
  7. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
  8. Using your thumb, press a well into each cookie for the Biscoff.
  9. Using a small spoon, scoop about 1 tablespoon Biscoff into each well of the cookie.
  10. Place another scoop of cookie dough on top and press edges gently. The Biscoff will not be completely enclosed and will be visible around edges.
  11. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.
  12. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  Chef In Training