Friday, July 27, 2012

Team USA Spiral Cookies


Okay, so I may be a little over-excited for the Olympics. But seriously... it's a 2800 year old festival! It started in 776 BC!

In honor of good ol' Team USA, I made red, white, and blue spiral cookies. And they're CUTE.


I adapted the recipe from Rachel Cooks.

Spiral Sugar Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
Blue or red food coloring

1. Cream butter and sugar. The butter should be softened, not room temperature. Here's the difference between softened and room temperature:

Left is softened and right is room temperature. See how much the room temperature spreads? That's too soft, and will produce a different texture of cookies. 

Creamed butter and sugar

2. Add vanilla and egg. Mix until it's mostly incorporated. Scrape bowl. 

3. Mix dry ingredients. With the mixer on, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. 

4. Cut dough in half. Take one half out and put it on wax paper. Make an impression with your fingers in the remaining half and add about 10 drops of food coloring. Mix until the dough is evenly colored. 

5. Put another piece of wax or parchment paper atop the uncolored dough. Roll it out until it's about 1/8-1/4" thick. Do the same with the colored dough. 

6. Take the top layer of parchment paper off of each dough and put the colored on top of the uncolored dough. Roll it so it's long. Put the sprinkles on the plastic wrap and roll the dough in the sprinkles. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 1 hour. 

7. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch cookies. Place them 1"-2" apart on a cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. 

8. Remove and let them cool before eating (all of them)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mini French Cruller Donuts

Donuts. We all love them. 

Let's be honest and say that we've all eaten a whole dozen when no one was looking... just me? Okay. 

There are so many great varieties-- cake donuts, classic glazed, chocolate filled, sprinkle donuts... and then there's the French Cruller. French Crullers are so soft and light, almost crepe-like inside, while still maintaining a crispy delicious outside. They can be served with any variety of glaze, sauce, and they can even be cut open and sandwiched with fresh fruit inside. I chose to do all of the above tonight. 

The best part? They were so simple! It's essentially just a fried Pate a Choux, and you know how friendly I am with Pate a Choux lately!

Mini French Crullers

Adapted from Use Real Butter

Yield- about 15 donuts

1 cup water
6 tbsps (3 oz.) unsalted butter
2 tsps (10 g) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (135 g) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2-3 egg whites, slightly beaten
oil for frying (I used peanut oil), about 2 inches up the pan

1. Using heavy bottom pan, bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rapid boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon.


2. Add flour, all at once, to the mixture. Stir rapidly to get flour clumps out. When a film begins to coat the bottom of the pan, turn heat off. You can see if a film is developing by scraping the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon. 

3. Stir for a minute or two to cool it down. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly in between eggs. Add the egg whites and make sure everything is fully incorporated.


4. Turn the oil on to heat up. Put the dough into a gallon ziplock fastened with a 1/2 inch star tip. Cut 3"x3" parchment squares and butter each thoroughly. 

5. Pipe 2"-3" circles, making sure to barely overlap. If you overlap too much, they will be lopsided.

6. Test a little piece of the dough to see if the oil is ready. If it is, gently place one of the squares dough-side down. The parchment paper will come off by itself. Take it out of the water with tongs (unless you just happen to love the interior decor of the Emergency Room- then you can use your hands). Flip the donut over when the bottom side seems golden brown enough.


7. After frying both sides, take the donut out and place on paper towels. Dip in glaze, dust with powdered sugar, or eat plain! 

8. Repeat step seven until you've gained 5 pounds. 

This one is filled with fresh peaches and drizzled with fresh blueberry reduction... Oh man my keyboard has drool all over it!

Get creative and enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Softest French Bread EVER!

French bread is the best baked thing, ever. Hands down. 

There are two types of French bread: the traditional crusty baguette, and the soft, tender french loaf. 

My personal favorite is the softer bread. I love making sandwiches on it, and I love enjoying it warm with butter. Mmmm... butter. 

Bread is my true love. I've been feeling so inspired, I even wrote a bread haiku:

Bread, thou art tasty,
so delicious on my lips
but not on my hips. 

I am a firm believer in eating everything in moderation. No food is "bad" for you. The problem is when I bake bread, I eat the whole loaf by myself! 

When I found this recipe, I decided I couldn't resist. It was described as "soft" and "dense"! How could I resist?!

The recipe I used was adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Soft French Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

This recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish. 

2 1/4 cup warm water (warm to the touch- a little warmer than your finger)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp oil (I used veggie oil)
5 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 egg
1 tsp water

1. Add sugar and yeast to the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 seconds or until the major clumps are gone. Let it sit for 10 minutes, until bubbles form. 

2. Pour the yeast mixture into your mixer and add salt, oil, and about half the flour. Using the paddle attachment, mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour and mix for about 15 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and mix for 6 minutes. 

3. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Turn the mixer on for 15 seconds to stir it down. Repeat this step for a total of 5 times. (for a total of about 50 minutes)

4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half. Roll each dough into a 9x13 inch rectangle. Roll up (so it will be 13 inches not 9 inches) and place on silpat (or parchment) lined baking sheet, seam side down. Tuck the ends under slightly so the "spiral" end doesn't show. Using a sharp knife, slice three shallow gashes on the diagonal. 

5. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick baking spray (so it won't stick to your gorgeous loaves!) Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Thanks, Siri!

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Beat egg with water and brush on loaves. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. 

It's so soft! I just made a grilled Nutella and banana sandwich! It was seriously too good. 

I think I'll start to work on my French bread sonnet... 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pate a Choux Puffs- Don't Bother Me!

I've always been afraid of Pate a Choux.

Pate a Choux is one of those gateway recipes. Like a gateway drug, it leads the baker to more intense recipes that can be addicting and time-consuming... I knew it was my time to try Pate a Choux.

You guys... it was EASY. It was so easy! From taking my ingredients out until putting the puffs into the oven took maybe 10 minutes, tops.

Not to mention they were perfect! They tasted like they came from a French Patisserie.

The best part of these puffs is that they're so versatile! You can fill them with the classic cream, but you can also fill them with things like chocolate mousse, Nutella, or even savory filling like cheese!

I used Martha Stewart's recipe. 

Pastry Puffs

Yield: about 60 medium-large puffs (small puffs can yield up to 100!)

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs

gallon ziplocks
1/4" or 1/2" plain round tip
silpat (or parchment paper)
filling tip (something to push into the baked puffs)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with silpat (or parchment paper). Set aside. 

2. Place butter, water, and sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

3. Immediately remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Continue to stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, about one minute. Let it cool for three minutes. 

4. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir with a wooden spoon until each egg is fully incorporated. Cut the very tiny tip off of a gallon ziplock. Transfer the dough into the ziplock. 

 5. Pipe the dough into rounds about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wet your finger and smooth the pointy tops of the rounds.

6. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 25 more minutes, or until golden. 

7. Fill puffs with the filling tip with either fresh whipped cream, chocolate mousse, Nutella, or anything you desire! I would love to experiment more with flavored whipped creams, like raspberry whipped cream. Top with powdered sugar or chocolate sauce. 

Yum... just yum. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lord of the Rings Party- Lembas Bread Cookies and The One Ring Cookies

Today, my dorky friends and I are having a Lord of the Rings movie marathon/party. 

Well hello, there, Aragorn. 

I searched the internet for Lord of the Rings themed food, but my searched was fruitless. Other than Lembas Bread, Rabbit Stew, and countless potato dishes ("Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew!"), I found virtually nothing. Nothing was party appropriate. 

So on went my thinking cap. 

I decided to make The One Ring cookies and Lembas Bread inspired cookies. 

What's Lembas Bread, you ask?

Lembas Bread- (n) elven waybread with magical powers of satiation; one small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man

The elves eat it. 

I didn't want to just made flat bread, so I made cookies that looked like the leaf wrappings. 

I used one batch of sugar cookie dough to make all The One Rings and the Lembas Bread. 

This recipe is especially great because it requires no refrigeration. 

Lembas Bread/One Ring Sugar Cookies

Yield: 3-4 dozen depending on size and thickness (This is my aunt's recipe and she has been known to get 10 dozen cookies out of this recipe)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (clear preferably)
1 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with either Silpat (SUCH a life saver!) or parchment paper. 

2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape bowl.

Left is "incorporated" and right is "fluffy"

3. Add egg and vanilla. Scrape bowl. (notice a trend here?)

4. Mix baking powder and flour together before adding it in three parts to the wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated and it's in big chunks. 

5. Divide cookie dough in half or thirds, depending on how much space you have to roll out. Flour the counter. Roll out the first chunk into 1/4 inch dough. You can change the thickness, but just remember to change your baking time accordingly. 

6. Cut out the desired shapes. to make the lembas bread, I used a football cookie cutter and used a knife to make the leafy slash marks. To make The One Ring, I used a round cookie cutter for the outside and cut out the inside with a medicine bottle cap. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies from the counter to the silpat/baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until golden around the edges. 

The precious! We wants one, yes we do. 

7. Frost cookies however you want. Sometimes when I'm crunched for time, I take a tub of Pillsbury (or the like) frosting, NON-WHIPPED, and microwave it for 20-30 seconds. When it's really thin, I barely dip the front of the cookies in it, and it acts just like royal icing! It dries pretty quickly, about 30 minutes. Just make sure they're completely dry before you stack them. 

Legolas Greenleaf approves. 

One small bite should fill the stomach of a grown man. 

I've eaten four... what does that say about me?

Stupid, fat hobbit!