Sunday, September 29, 2019

Danish Butter Cookies...that became tarts

Danish Butter Cookies - made July 12, 2019 from Traveling Foodies
This is another recipe I made awhile back but never blogged about. I’m trying to clear out my queue and keep myself honest about what I’ve done and which recipes I’ve tried. This one is delayed because I made it wrong the first time and always meant to make it properly before blogging about it. But I haven’t had time to make it again as I’ve been making too many other things so I thought I’d better get this up before I forget it completely.

This one I clearly remember because I had such a hard time with it. The dough was so stiff that I couldn’t even get it piped properly. I went through three (burst) piping bags before I gave up and pressed the dough into tart pans, baked them then filled them with hazelnut spread before topping them with toasted hazelnuts. I put a plate of tarts together for my mom to take to a potluck.
It wasn’t until after I’d sent them off and was looking at the recipe again that I had a “doh!” moment. Because only then did I realize that I hadn’t added the egg. DOH! No wonder the batter was so stiff and couldn’t be piped out into a rosette or any other shape. Thankfully, the eggless dough tasted fine as a butter tart shell. Actually, it was pretty good. But, to do this recipe justice, I really should try again and make it properly with an egg this time.

1 egg (60 g)
200 g butter
130 g powdered sugar
320 g flour
2 tablespoons vanilla paste (approx 30 g)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream on low speed until ingredients are combined; do not overbeat.
  3. Pipe wreaths onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper using a large open star tip. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ultimate Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultimate Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - made May 5, 2019 from Your Cup of Cake
I made these cookies awhile back and didn’t blog about them right away so I can’t remember them very well. All I had in my original notes is they were buttery. Which is not surprising since they use brown butter as a key ingredient.

I also must’ve made them for somebody, probably my sister for her to serve at one of her Open Houses, and nearly forgot to take pictures as all I have are these two pictures of the taste test cookie. I feel like I’m not doing them justice in this write up but I’ll blog them anyway so I have some record that I did actually make them. And probably liked them as it’s hard not to like a good chocolate chip cookie, even if I have dozens of them already.

1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt, stirring constantly, as butter foams. Cook, stirring until brown bits form on the bottom and butter emits nutty aroma. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat cooled brown butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing briefly after each addition just to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing briefly after each addition just until combined. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for at least 30 minutes. When dough is chilled enough to handle, portion into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill or freeze another 2-3 hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown and middles no longer look raw. Remove from heat, let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes then remove to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bakery Style Sugar Cookies

Bakery Style Sugar Cookies - made dough September 4, 2019 from Tastes of Lizzy T
Time to confess my guilty secret. You know how I’m a complete and utter baking snob? Especially when it comes to cookies. I duck out of sight when Girl Scout cookie season comes as I’d rather bake my own. The original Tollhouse cookie recipe is so 4 decades ago when all I knew how to make were thin cookies. Mrs. Fields? No flavor except sweet.

BUT, would it surprise you to learn I almost always like those Otis-Spunkmeyer type sugar cookies you can find at any Subway? Or the kind where you buy the cookie dough from the local school’s fundraiser (the little girl across the street just sold me a bucket of cookie dough – I’m a sucker). I can be the world’s biggest chocolate chip cookie snob but when it comes to sugar cookies, my soul goes for pretty cheap.
So when I saw this recipe for “Bakery Style” sugar cookies, I know it meant those buy-them-almost-anything type of sugar cookies I usually go for. What intrigued me about this recipe was that it used a baking emulsion. I’ve never baked with an emulsion as a flavoring but with the exorbitant rise in vanilla prices, I thought it would be prudent to start.
I followed this recipe faithfully to the letter, from using European butter to the emulsion to brushing the tops of the cookies with heavy cream and vinegar and sprinkling with big sugar crystals. My faithfulness was rewarded with some amazing cookies. Seriously, I loved these cookies. I can’t even tell you why I liked them so much except that they had the perfect texture (light, airy crispy edges and chewy moist middles) and beautiful sugar-butter flavor. Like 10x better than Otis. 
My only beef with them is they spread thin and while that would normally be a baking sin in my world, these cookies were so good, I forgave them. I’m not sure if my dough was too soft before I froze it (and I baked from frozen dough) or I needed to bake them at a higher temp than the recipe called for or I made the dough discs too large as they spread into large thin cookies. Regardless, that didn’t detract from the taste or the texture of these cookies. I need to make the next batch a little small so the cookies won’t be so big but still….did I mention they were delicious?

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup European-style butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon LorAnn Princess Cake & Cookie Bakery emulsion
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
extra sugar for sprinkling on top
  1. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, emulsion and lemon juice. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  3. Scoop the dough into about 18 1 1/2" balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Slightly flatten the top of each cookie with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar.
  4. Refrigerate cookies for at least 1 hour.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the heavy cream and vinegar (it will curdle). Use a pastry brush to brush this mixture on top of the cookies.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the cookies with extra granulated sugar or large sugar crystals.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space chilled cookies on baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, removing the cookies just before the edges get brown.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Gideon's Bakehouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gideon's Bakehouse Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough September 2, 2019 from Oola
I’ve never heard of Gideon’s Bakehouse or had one of their chocolate chip cookies so I don’t know if this is a faithful copycat or not. But I do know it’s a damn good chocolate chip cookie. 

I was intrigued by this one as it calls for a combination of cake flour and bread flour. Normally you use cake flour for a softer, more tender crumb and bread flour for something more chewy. Combining them together seems like the same as using all-purpose flour to get the best of both worlds. 

But any excuse to try a new chocolate chip cookie is fine with me so I did. And I’m glad I did as this turned out to be an excellent cookie. Crisp at the edges, chewy in the middle, great caramelized brown sugar flavor. Loved it. 

The hallmark of a Gideon’s Bakehouse chocolate chip cookie is that it’s studded all over with chocolate chips. Think porcupine. I genuinely tried it on the larger-than-life-sized taste test cookie I made but since it did spread a little (but not too much), the cookies studded all over the dough ball spread so the baked cookie wasn’t quite as blanketed with chocolate chips as I think it was supposed to have been. 

I did the same with the smaller, normal-people size cookies and the chocolate chips still spread out as the cookie baked. I think I need to be more aggressive and heavy handed with the chocolate chips next time.

1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups chocolate chips, divided
sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for approximately 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition just until combined.
  2. Sift together the cake flour and bread flour. Add cornstarch, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine. Add to wet ingredients and beat until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Fold in 2 cups of chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour 4 cups of chocolate chips in a bowl. Portion chilled cookie dough into large dough balls. Cover the entire surface of each dough ball with the chocolate chips. Chill or freeze briefly while oven preheats.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Evenly space dough balls on prepared sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown. Rest on baking sheets for several minutes then transfer cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with sea salt and let cool completely.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Orange Cream Cookies

Orange Cream Cookies - made dough September 3, 2019 from Cookies Unlimited by Nick Malgieri
I've always liked this cookie book from Nick Malgieri and have had my copy for years. I recently dusted it off and paged through it to look up all the recipes I've been meaning to try, also for years.
I went with this fairly simple one for Orange Cream Cookies. Don't be put off that it's a "rolled" cookie, meaning you have to roll it out and cut out shapes. You could skip that part and just portion into dough balls if rolling out dough sounds like too much trouble. But it wasn't for this recipe as the dough was really easy to handle and doesn't spread out too much so your cookies will hold their shape.
I didn't roll out the dough too thin as I like my cookies to have a certain degree of thickness. I liked how these turned out.

The cookies are good orange-flavored butter cookies, easily served plain or you can dress them up with a little orange glaze made from powdered sugar and orange juice. Just whisk the two and add one or the other until they’re the consistency you like.

If you want more of a frosting, use more powdered sugar and less orange juice. Vice versa if you want more of a glaze. I served them both ways and both versions were good.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon strained orange juice
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to mix.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light-colored, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and orange zest, beating until smooth.
  3. Lower the mixer speed and beat in half the flour mixture, then all of the orange juice and cream, one at a time. Beat in half the remaining flour. Stop the mixer and work in the remaining flour by hand with a large rubber spatula.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and pat into a rough rectangle of even thickness. Cut the dough into quarters. Wrap three of them and set aside.
  5. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Using a fluted cutter between 2 and 3 inches in diameter, cut the cookies. Place the cookies as they're cut onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving about an inch of space all around each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they first become dry and dull-looking and feel slightly firm when pressed with a finger tip. Do not overbake. Remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Easy Gluten-Free Pancakes

Easy Gluten-Free Pancakes - made August 30, 2019 from Mama Knows Gluten Free
Still trying to use up my remaining bag of gluten-free flour. I didn't want to try cookies again since, to my mind and taste buds, gluten-free versions just aren't as good as their gluten counterparts. But I did want to try pancakes again since the gluten-free pancakes I'd made before turned out so well.

And so did these. They were different from the other recipe in that the batter was pretty thick. If you don't want thick pancakes that are practically like baked cakes, you might want to use a little more milk. I made the recipe as is and loved the rise and thickness of each pancake. Plus the taste and texture were great. I had to use more maple syrup on these than the other recipe since the fluffiness just seemed to cry "blanket me with syrup" but that added to the flavor and taste, not detracted from it.

Unlike the other gluten-free pancakes though, it's hard to eat more than one before you get full, simply because the pancakes do cook so thick. I made three for the picture and ate a third of it to equal a whole pancake but couldn't finish it and had to eat it as leftovers throughout the day. It was worth it but let's not pretend that helped my diet.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (use a blend with xanthan gum or if it doesn't have it, add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (1-2 tablespoons more if you want thinner pancakes)
  1. Whisk together granulated sugar, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until smooth.
  2. Heat frying pan or griddle and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour out 1/4 cup of batter and cook over medium low heat until bubbles form in the middle. Flip over and continue cooking for another 2-4 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Authentic Classic Pad Thai

Authentic Classic Pad Thai - made August 31, 2019, modified from Hot Thai Kitchen
I took some liberties with the original recipe so this probably isn't as authentic as Hot Thai Kitchen intended. But it was more authentic than some of the other recipes I've found in that it uses palm sugar and tamarind concentrate rather than more Westernized ingredients like ketchup, brown sugar, etc. My modifications were more to make it how I customize pad thai when I order it in Thai restaurants.
No surprise, I omitted the bean spouts. Can't stand bean sprouts. They don't taste like anything but they interfere with the texture of the noodles while, when cooked, can look so much like noodles they co-mingle like little noodle imposters but have an annoying crunch I don't like. So no bean sprouts here.
I did genuinely look for tofu in the grocery store to include it but, not being a purchaser of tofu on any regular basis, I couldn't find them. And I didn't want to include them badly enough to track down a store employee to ask where the tofu was. So no tofu. The other ingredients like daikon, garlic chives and peanuts, I also excluded simply because I didn't want them in my version of pad thai. I figure as long as I got the sauce right, that would be good enough.
I did have to make a special trip to the Asian grocery store to find the palm sugar and the tamarind concentrate so if you don't have those handy, you will likely need to find some substitutions, e.g. brown sugar for the palm sugar and ketchup for the tamarind concentrate. Pad thai noodles are more widely available in mainstream grocery stores but I also bought these at the same Asian grocery store since I was already there anyway plus they're always cheaper at the Asian grocery store.

This actually did taste like "real" pad thai. Having the right noodles and the authentic sauce ingredients probably helped. Here's what I did wrong (you know there had to be something) and what I would do better next time: palm sugar doesn't melt like regular sugar in liquid. The palm sugar I bought came in a plastic container of palm sugar pellets that weighed 15 grams per pellet. When I whisked the sauce ingredients together, the pellets didn't dissolve with the addition of the tamarind concentrate, fish sauce or room temperature water. They did gradually shrink over time in the liquid but not nearly enough or fast enough. I would recommend using hot water in the sauce to help with melting the palm sugar.
Second, is I let the rice noodles soak in room temperature water for an hour. That was a good idea as that's one of the blog suggested to prevent the noodles from becoming like mush. After 45 minutes though, the noodles, while pliant, seemed a little coarse and tough to me so I decided it'd be a much more brilliant idea to soak the noodles in boiling hot water for awhile. Fifteen minutes later, you guessed it, pliant mush.

Despite all this though, I still liked how the pad thai turned out. The flavor might've been a little bland but I was okay with that. If you want more spice, add more chili flakes or Thai chilies. I want to try more pad thai recipes now that I (still) have tamarind concentrate and palm sugar to use up but for my first foray, this was pretty good.
45 grams palm sugar
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons water

Pad Thai
4 ounces dry rice noodles
8 - 10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
2 eggs, whisked together
3 green onions, green tops sliced into 1" lengths
1 lime
  1. Soak the noodles in room temperature water for 1 hour, until the noodles are very pliable.
  2. Whisk the sauce ingredients together; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Sear the shrimp until just pink. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add 1 - 2 tablespoons more oil and saute the garlic until brown. Add chili flakes.
  5. Drain the noodles, add to the pan, add sauce and toss together over medium high heat until noodles have absorbed the sauce.
  6. Once the noodles have absorbed the sauce, push to one side and add eggs to the empty space. Scramble the eggs gently until set halfway. Put the noodles on top of the eggs and let the eggs set another 10 - 15 seconds. Toss mixture together to break up the eggs. Add shrimp, green onions and lime juice; toss together. Serve immediately.