Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Thankfully, I had everything I needed at hand, it was just a matter of letting the butter come to room temperature. The dough was very easy to make and actually pumping the cookies was a hoot. I had never used a cookie press before so it was a bit of a challenge, however, all was well in the end.
The cookies looked and tasted great. My only complaint is that the cinnamon overpowers the very expensive vanilla flavor. I still have some dough left and when I bake it, I'm gonna leave the cinnamon out of the sprinkling mix. Other than that, the cookies are excellent!
One last thing, I didn't have a wreath disc for the cookie press so I used a similar disc. The cookies were baked to perfection in 9 minutes.
Vanilla Bean Spritz Wreaths
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar
3 sticks (12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flour, salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
2. Beat the vanilla seeds and 1 cup of sugar with a mixer on medium speed until incorporated, about 3 minutes (sugar may clump together slightly). Add butter, and beat until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until smooth.
3. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Pack 1 portion into a cookie press fitted with wreath disk (cover remaining portion with an inverted bowl or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bringing to room temperature before using), and press shapes about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake until edges are just golden, 9 to 12 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with remaining 4 teaspoons sugar. Sprinkle over hot cookies. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight containers at room temperature up to 4 days.
PS. I'm out of practice. This post was very difficult to write. I had a hard time coming up with things to say about the recipe and end product. Goes to show that skills do get rusty if not used!
Labels: cookies, spritz
Sunday, April 27, 2008
The full recipe was just too much so I halved it. We didn't eat the pops but they looked good and the cheesecake actually tasted good. To bad it wasn't something either one of us really likes, otherwise they would have been great. I think they would make great treats for children's birthday parties!
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
Labels: cheesecake, Daring Bakers
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I used the same recipe I previously used in the UK (Paella at Last!) but with a change. This time, instead of the squid, I used small bay scallops. I also cooked it a bit differently. For starters, I actually used a paella pan that I've for 3 or 4 years and gone unused 'til now. I started cooking on the stovetop but the pan was too big for the burners and the burners were not leveled so all the liquid pooled on one side. I decided to be adventurous and do the rest of the stovetop cooking on the gas grill. That worked like a charm! I did finish cooking the paella in the oven as per the recipe and everything was perfectly done. It was truly delicious. The recipe says it feeds 6-8 people but it feeds a lot more! Most of the eaters had seconds and we only ate just over half the paella. I'm not complaining though, I have leftovers for dinner :)
To go with the paella, I shredded some cabbage in the food processor and put salt and olive oil on it for a very simple but yummy salad. I also fried some plantains. Today was a day of firsts as far as hardware; I used the paella pan for the first time, I used the shredding disc of the food processor for the fist time and just today we bought a deep fryer which I also used for the first time.
To accompany the meal, we had a lovely Moscato d'Asti that I had since I lived in Italy. It is one of my two favorite wines and that was the last bottle I had. We finished it but don't freak out, I only had a small glass. I'm so bummed I can't actually buy that wine here in the US because I love it. My other favorite wine cannot be bought here either. Oh, I miss Italy!
So, all in all, it was a great afternoon with my family, great food, great wine, great everything. To boot, my mom did all the dishes that needed to be done by hand and my husband loaded the dishwasher. I'm so glad I am getting my energy back!
I have made other things this week but I haven't blogged them yet because I haven't taken pictures. They are coming though so stay tuned!
Labels: paella, seafood