Tag Archives: berry

Blueberry Buckle

It’s official–My baking block is over! I’m back to cooking too. The long work hours, new wifehood, and zumba take up a lot of a girl’s time and doesn’t leave time for much of anything else. Most of the time, I get home from work or class and all I feel like doing is plopping. My little bro and I call it “potato time”. (Oh, did I mention–my younger brother is now living with me? Yes, in my studio. He has a mattress all the way on the other side of the coffee table. I’ll get more into it later, but it’s actually pretty great. I like having him around!)

Anyway, potato time. Its been my go-to home hobby for the past, oh, 6 months. So much has happened. I started my dream job, Liam moved in, I fell in love with zumba–and I got married. And as a result, I stopped cooking, baking, and sometimes even cleaning. But it’s all over now. I’m back!

Yesterday was Sunday–my new LMA (leave me alone) day. And I baked this pretty little blueberry buckle. Much like the French apple tart recipe from my last post, fruit is the leading lady. It’s like a pound of blueberries, a simple batter, and streusel topping.

Love: The streusel is the batter mix before adding liquid.
Love: Berries start on top and sink to through the batter while baking.
Love: Super transportable for taking to work.

Don’t love: I had to bake 20 min. longer than stated in the recipe.

It’s tart and über-berry. I think you’ll like it. So here’s the recipe and a few pics of the sweet thing.

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It’s raining. I need cake.

Yes, it’s raining in San Francisco. I’m from Oregon, so I shouldn’t (and normally don’t) care. But, it’s been a tough week at work, I’m tired, it’s wet outside…and I haven’t baked in ages.

So I stayed in tonight, foregoing happy hour, friends and perhaps even dancing. Instead, I made cake. And actually, I’m really happy I did. It feels good to be home, doing something just for me. I need to do this more often.

The recipe is Martha Stewart’s via Shoots and Roots. I made a few modifications:

  • 2 eggs, not 1: Because 2 in this case seemed better than 1!
  • 1 tbsp sugar, not  2 for sprinkling: Shoots and Roots said so.
  • Almond milk, not regular: I needed to save the milk for my morning coffee 🙂
  • Loaf pan, not pie: Because I halved the recipe. (It IS just for me–and the rest for the office tomorrow.)
It’s good. It’s one of those humble share-with-the-one-you-love cakes. You know those? The kind that warms your heart on rainy days like today.

Enjoy.

Strawberry Cake (a Martha Stewart recipe courtesy of Shoots and Roots)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup, plus 2 tbsp sugar

2  large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lb strawberries, hulled and halved

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 10 inch pie plate or 10 1/2 inch cast iron pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Mix butter and 1 cup sugar in a separate large bowl and mix on medium high speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is soft and fluffy, ca. 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add the eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  3. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Transfer the batter the pie plate or cast iron pan and spread evenly. The batter will be thick. Arrange strawberries on top, cut side down. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp sugar on top of the cake.
  4. Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F. Bake until golden brown, ca. firm to the touch and pulled away from the sides of the pan, 55-60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into wedges (or slices) and serve. Cover loosely; can be stored on the countertop for up to 2 days.

Fruit Galette for Summer


Oregon. Winter is cold and rainy. Spring? Fall? Yup, cold and rainy. But summer, oh, summer–mildly hot, dry, and sunny, they are seriously the best. All you want to do is be outside, hiking, biking and swimming. And when you’re not doing that, you’re popping u-pick berries into your mouth and eating the sweetest peaches, plums and cherries, their juices dribbling down your chin.

I haven’t gone hiking yet (but am going tomorrow), but I’ve definitely eaten my fair share of summer fruit. What with the seemingly endless supply of nectarines, peaches, blueberries and grapes at my parents’ house right now and with the whole family being home, I decided to make a summer pie. Actually, I made a galette, i.e. a free-form pie, but which sounds way more shi shi in French 😀

I ended up making two galettes, each with a different filling (blueberry-nectarine and red grape), and relied on two recipes, one for the crust and blueberry-nectarine filling (via In Erika’s Kitchen) and one for the  grape filling (via Mac and Cheese). As for changes, for the crust, instead of using only all-purpose flour, I used half whole-wheat and half all-purpose. For the grape filling, I used lime zest instead of lemon (didn’t have any lemons at home).

Oh my goodness, there are no words to describe just how delicious each galette turned out. The crust was flaky, soft and so buttery. And the fillings—both amazing. I’d have to say I preferred the grape over the nectarine. Just a personal preference thing, I think.

Make this, make this, make this. And then tell me how it all turns out!

Enjoy!

Fruit Galettes for Summer: Blueberry-Nectarine and Grape (adapted from In Erika’s Kitchen and Mac and Cheese)

Makes two 8-inch galettes

INGREDIENTS

Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 c. all purpose, 1 1/4 c. whole wheat)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp raw cane sugar

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, frozen and cut into small cubes (I grated with a cheese grater.)

1/4 cup ice water

1 large egg

2 tsp milk

sugar, for sprinkling

Blueberry-Nectarine Filling

3 cups thinly sliced nectarines

1 cup blueberries (I only had frozen at home.)

1/8 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

Grape Filling

4 cups grapes (I used red.)

1/2-3/4 cup raw cane sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes

the zest of 1 lemon (I used lime.)

2 tbsp cornstarch

METHOD

Crust

  1. Place the flour, salt, and 2 Tbsp sugar in the food processor and give it a spin to combine. Open the processor and sprinkle the bits of frozen butter over the flour mixture. Pulse five or six times, or until the whole thing inside looks like wet sand. (If doing by hand, combine flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Then, grate the frozen butter into the bowl and gently rub ingredients together with your fingers.)
  2. Sprinkle over about 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse again in your food processor is such that when you pinch some in your fingers it holds together. If necessary, continue adding small amounts of ice water and pulsing until it does this. (If doing by hand, form a small well in the flour-butter mixture and pour in the water. With a fork, gradually work the dry ingredients into the water. Then, with your hands, very briefly knead until a dough just begins to form.) Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide in half and shape into two disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling

  1. Blueberry-Nectarine: Put the prepared blueberries and nectarines in a mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of the raw sugar and the cornstarch, and mix thoroughly. Let them sit in the sugar-cornstarch mixture at room temperature while the dough is chilling. This will help the fruit juice flow once you get the pie in the oven.
  2. Grape: Crush 3/4 cup of the grapes in a saucepan. Add remaining grapes, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and cornstarch to the crushed grapes. Heat fruit on stove, stirring occasionally until the juice has thickened. Allow to cool.

Assembly

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 deg. F. Roll out one of the dough disks into a rough circle. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.) Transfer the dough to baking pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the nectarines in a spiral fashion in the middle of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch wide edge around. Fold the edges up over the fruit, leaving the middle part of the arranged fruit exposed. Repeat the same process with the grape filling. Note: If there is excess juice, use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit, in order to avoid making a big, wet mess. (Oops, I forgot to do this…my wet mess turned into baked solid caramel mess. Still looked and tasted good though!)
  2. Combine the egg and milk, and then with a pastry brush, brush over each galette. Sprinkle sugar over each. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden. (I covered them with aluminum foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to avoid over-browning.)
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Lazy Isn’t Always Bad Bread

This just might be the bread I’ve been looking for: no bacteria-breeding, no kneading, and best of all, no sticky dough goo-gaa to clean up. Everything is mixed together in a bowl, left to slow-rise in the fridge overnight and then baked the next day. The recipe’s creator, JW (from JW’s blog via The Fresh Loaf), calls it “Lazy Bread”. Hmmm…just because it’s lazy doesn’t mean it’s bad.

“Lazy” in this case is actually pretty good: well-developed flavor, nice crumb and not to mention, very, very pretty! ❤

To be honest, it’s still not exactly how I envision my perfect loaf recipe to be, but it’s prettttty close. Actually, JW made a recent update: instead of letting the dough rest for 30 minutes before refrigerating, it is refrigerated immediately. Then, after slow-rising overnight, the dough sits out and is left to rise for another few hours at room temp. Apparently, this yields even better results. I’ll be trying this new way next time; I’ll also be folding in my fruit and nuts, instead of just sprinkling them on top. (I realize the sugar is going to react with the yeast, but since the dough rises for so long, I don’t think the effect should be too drastic.)

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Spelt Bread (adapted from a post on JW’s blog via The Fresh Loaf)

Makes 1 large loaf

INGREDIENTS

250 g lukewarm water (1/4 liter)

12.5 g fresh compressed yeast (or 5 g instant)

220 g whole wheat bread flour

110 g spelt flour

1 tsp salt

50 g sunflower seeds and raisins

olive oil

METHOD

  1. Stir together lukewarm water and yeast. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix together whole wheat and spelt flours; stir in the salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast-water. Using a fork, gradually stir the flour into the water, from the outside in. This should take about a minute. Lift up the dough, grease the bowl with a little olive oil, and put the dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes before refrigerating for 30 minutes.
  4. After 8-16 hours (or overnight to a few days), take the dough from the refrigerator and gently scrape it onto a floured surface. (I used my Silpat.) Do not knead! Just use your hands to roughly shape the dough into loaf form, tucking under to build tension on the surface. Cover and let rest for another 45 minutes. (The dough will spread a little.)
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 250 C (480 F). Then, score the dough and moisten the surface with water. (I used a pastry brush to brush water over the entire surface.) Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and raisins, or whichever grains, seeds and/or dried fruit you want (I pushed the raisins into the dough to avoid burning during baking). Moisten again with water. (This is perhaps important in order to also avoid burning).
  6. Bake the dough on the center rack at 230 C (450 F) for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 200 C (390 F) and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn off the heat completely and leave the bread to sit in the oven for another 3-5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool to room temp. before slicing.

For the Love of Carbs Bread Pudding

What a simple yet completely brilliant idea bread pudding is. How often do I bake bread? Weekly. And how often do I end up with stale leftovers which I have to throw away? Um…always. (-_-“) Oh, for the love of carbs…

This is another dessert I had never tried until now. Probably because in my head when I think “bread pudding” I think of a tuna sandwich (my favorite), but in pudding form. Kinda gross to imagine it, actually. Also, when I see it on a menu, there always seems to be something better…like tiramisu (oh…) or cheesecake (oooooh…) to eat. Since trying it, however, I’ve decided I’ve been quite unfair to this homely, little dessert. It’s sweet, carby, warm and comforting—perfect snuggle-on-the-sofa-in-your-snuggy dessert, that’s what it is. (Does this snuggy reference mean I have to get one now? :P)

I can’t say I’d choose bread pudding over a big, fat slice of creamy NY cheesecake. Still, I’m glad to have it on my dessert radar. Oh, and now that I’m no longer afraid of bread pudding, I can’t wait to experiment with both sweet and savory versions…oooooh, like a savory tuna version, i.e. breakfast strata or tuna noodle bread casserole, sounds reallly tasty! (^_^)

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Bread Pudding (adapted from a recipe from A Homemaker’s Habitat)

Makes one 8-inch springform cake tin

INGREDIENTS

1/2 loaf whole wheat bread (mine had cranberries and sunflower seeds in it), preferably stale

1 cup milk (I used non-fat)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 eggs, beaten lightly (I used 1 jumbo, and I’m sure 2 large would’ve been fine too)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

METHOD

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, tear the bread up into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together milk, cream, butter and eggs, followed by the cinnamon, ground nutmeg and brown sugar until combined.
  3. Stir the custard mixture into the bowl with the bread until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F, with the baking rack in the center.
  5. Into a greased 8-inch springform cake tin or small cake pan, pour the bread-custard mixture. Bake 1 hour, or until golden and puffy on top. (According to the original recipe, the pudding should “wiggle slightly” when shaken.)
  6. Allow to cool for 5 or so minutes before slicing/serving. You can also serve it at room temperature or cold with a fruit sauce, custard (yum…), ice cream or whipped cream.

Cranberry Bread with Sunflower Seeds and Rosemary

I made this bread a week ago. It’s delicious; I love the flavor of the rosemary mixed with the sweet cranberries and the nuttiness from the sunflower seeds. However, it was a real pain in the butt to make. Then again, my family was here all last week visiting, which meant a lot of running back and forth between hotel, home and work for me, and which didn’t leave me with much time or energy for my baking.

In any case, I found a fairly straightforward recipe on Wild Yeast, which I was able to adapt quite easily. It requires a little prep beforehand, i.e. developing a poolish, and is actually a big, wet beast of a dough to work with. But it comes together in the end, I promise. I replaced the instant yeast with fresh compressed yeast. (I’ve looked for instant, but haven’t seen it anywhere). I also got rid of the soaker for no other reason than the fact that I don’t have whole flaxseeds.

I’m still on the look-out for a good go-to bread recipe that has that slow-rise flavor that good breads all seem to have, but that does not require me to breed and feed bacteria in my fridge for a week–not yet anyhow. I want something that will work every time, one that I can adapt for both salty and sweet, and one that I will eventually know by heart and hand, eliminating the need for a recipe. Alas, this is not it.

Still—it’s a tasty, little loaf: sweet, crunchy, and light—much like ciabatta but one loaded with good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat, cranberries, sunflower seeds and ground flaxseed.

Enjoy!

Sunflower Cranberry Orange Bread (recipe adapted from Wild Yeast)

YIELD

2.3 g (6 – 8 small loaves). The recipe can easily be halved.

TIME

  • Mix and ferment poolish: 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 10 – 15 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2.5 hours, with folding after 1.5 hours
  • Divide: 5 minutes
  • Proof: 45 – 60 minutes at room temperature, or 1.5 hours in the refrigerator plus 45 minutes at room temp
  • Bake: 40 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F

INGREDIENTS

Poolish

215 g white flour

215 g water at about 70F

0.2 g instant yeast (or 0.5 g fresh compressed)

Final Dough

729 g white flour

43 g fine whole wheat flour

43 g flaxseed meal

43 g fine whole rye flour

755 g cool water (about 50 F)

All of the poolish

21 g salt

4 g instant yeast (or 10 fresh compressed)

129 g dried orange-flavored cranberries

103 g sunflower seeds (can be toasted for better flavor)

NOTE: If using fresh compressed yeast, dissolve in water first before adding to dry ingredients)

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, mix the poolish ingredients until just combined. Cover the bowl and let the poolish ferment at room temperature for about 12 hours. It is ready to use when the surface is creased, and pebbled with bubbles.
  2. Place the final dough flours, flaxseed meal, yeast, salt, poolish, and all but about 20% of the water, into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 or 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency at this point (similar to a basic French or sourdough bread).
  3. Continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This might take about 5 minutes, but will depend on your mixer.
  4. Add the remaining water (and even more, if needed) and continue mixing until it is all incorporated and you have a dough that feels very soft and stretchy, yet strong and springy.
  5. Add the sunflower seeds and cranberries and mix on low speed until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
  6. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled container.
  7. Ferment at room temperature for about 2.5 hours, folding the dough after 1.5 hours. Make sure the container is well oiled before returning the dough to it.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a very well floured counter.
  9. Working from the center towards the edges, very gently stretch the dough into a rectangle about 2 cm in height. Try to deflate the dough as little as possible.
  10. With a dough scraper, cut the dough into diamond-shaped or rectangular pieces. Gently lift these pieces to a floured couche, supporting the entire piece from underneath and keeping the floured side of the dough down. Again, be careful to deflate as little as possible.
  11. Cover the couche with plastic or slip it, on a board or sheet pan, into a large food-grade plastic bag.
  12. Proof for 45 – 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough is very light and full of gas. Or place the loaves in the refrigerator for 1.5 hours, then at room temperature for another 45 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 440 F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  14. Prepare a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking stone, and put it on a board or sheet pan.
  15. Sprinkle the loaves lightly with flour and flip them gently onto the parchment-covered pan, so the heavily floured side is now up. Do not score the loaves.
  16. To bake, slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto the baking stone.
  17. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 27 minutes or so without steam. Crack the oven door open during the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a golden brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for another 5 minutes, still with the door ajar.
  18. Cool on a wire rack. Wait until completely cool to cut and eat.


Birthday Macarons

I am not a natural baker, which is funny because the name of my blog kind of indicates the opposite! Unlike cooking, baking requires concentration and most importantly, discipline. Though I am learning to curb my naughty baking ways, I still find it hard to follow the rules sometimes. I am impatient, I skip steps, I open the oven door during baking, and I (gasp!) guesstimate.

This time, I tried really hard to do exactly as told. I suppose knowing that I would be presenting what I made as a gift helped 😛

My friend Uchi (Ursula 🙂 ) celebrated her birthday this weekend. When I was contemplating what gift to get her, I decided it would be really fun to make little French macarons: they’re sweet and petite, just like Uchi!

As this was my first time, I decided to invest in a few essentials that every baker should have (especially someone claiming to be The Little Baker SF). I bought a Silpat, a pastry bag and a piping tip. So the Silpat cost $20 at Sur La Table, which I wasn’t so excited about, but I figure I’m saving in the long-run since I’ll never have to buy parchment paper again.

The recipe I ended up putting together was inspired by three sources: Tartelette for the macaron ingredients and measurements, Food for Torte for the method, and Life’s A Feast for the buttercream. I decided to do two flavors: classic with a fresh strawberry buttercream filling (I had a few berries left over from my CSA) and coconut with dulce de leche (Wanted to use up the rest of my manjar blanco from Peru).

I was all set to follow the rules. I tried—really, I did. I did my research, read through the recipe to make sure I understood all the steps, figured out all the measurements, and still, things didn’t go exactly as planned. (Sigh…maybe one day they will 😛 ) My first batch was so frustrating. I had no idea what I was doing and ended up underbaking them and having to put them BACK in the oven for another 10 minutes. They turned alright, but were not as fine as I had imagined they would be.

The second (coconut) batch, on the other hand, came out lovely. Such dainty, elegant little things, I was shocked that one batch could be so ugly and the next so gorgeous. I suppose being a little less clueless that time made a difference.

I’ve noted in the recipe below all the things I found helpful in the process. I think, however, that you just have to be brave and do it. It’ll come together in the end!

I’m in love with them. They are the cutest things I have ever made, not to mention a mini triumph for this Little Baker. Makes me feel like I’m finally finding my baker’s feet, or more appropriately, hands. 🙂 The strawberry buttercream is pure love: the softest pink in color, tenderly tart and sweet, and so smooth. That sandwiched between almond macarons is the perfect combination of crunchy bite and soft, chewy meringue. As for the coconut macarons with dulce de leche filling, they’re sticky, gooey caramel treats. Both versions tasted good, but if I had to choose, I’d say the strawberry cream filled ones were the standout.

Enjoy!

Dual Flavor Macarons: Classic with Strawberry Buttercream Filling and Coconut with Dulce de Leche Filling (adapted from Tartelette and Food for Torte)

90 g egg whites (between 2 and 3 eggs)

30 g sugar

200 g confectioners’ sugar

110 g ground almonds (For the classic batch, I used 55 g almonds; for the coconut, I used 45 g, plus 10 g shredded and sweetened coconut)

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filling (recipe adapted from Life’s A Feast)

175 g confectioners’ sugar

50 g unsalted butter, at room temp.

2-3 fresh strawberries, roughly chopped (or squished with the back of a fork, which is what I did)

1-2 tbsp boiling water

METHOD

  1. Using a food processor, process the confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds until combined and well ground.  (At this point, I split the mixture into two, measuring out 145 g and adding 10 g shredded coconut for the coconut batch and leaving the remaining 155 g for the classic.)
  2. Separate the eggs. Then, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape (soft peaks).  Add the white sugar 1-2 tbsp at a time and beat in well.  Be careful not to overbeat your eggs. (If doing 2 different flavored batches, whip 2 batches, 45 g egg whites and 15 g sugar, or whip the whole amount and split by eye.)
  3. Fold—don’t stir—the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula.  It will seem very dry at first, but will eventually come together; just keep folding under. (If you are adding food colouring, do so now and combine well.  I didn’t do this.)
  4. When the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a small circular piping tip (I used a #4, 3/8-inch tip). Pipe small rounds of mixture onto a baking tray covered with baking paper.  Leave enough room in between each round—they will spread! Note: If a piece of almond blocks the filling from coming out, don’t squeeze harder. Use a toothpick or tip of a needle to dislodge it; this way is more effective and will also save you a lot of tears should you squeeze and the pastry bag were to burst. (I did the piping and baking in two batches: classic then coconut.)
  5. Leave them out so their surface begins to harden up.  This will help the macarons form their shiny shell and ‘foot’.  Rest them for as long as it takes to heat up the oven to 355 F (180 C).
  6. Place the macarons on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes (I needed the entire 15).  Remove them from the oven then let them cool completely before peeling them gently off the baking paper or your Silpat. (I had stickage issues and ended up sliding a piece of thread underneath cookie to unstick them. This worked really well.)
  7. While the macarons are baking, prepare the strawberry buttercream: Using an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides.
  8. Add the chopped (or squished) strawberries to the mixture and the boiling water. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Set aside until ready for spreading. (Don’t refrigerate; it will harden and become hard to spread.)
  9. Spoon or pipe (I spooned; it was easier) a generous tsp of buttercream onto one half of a macaron, then sandwich together with the other half. together.

Strawberry Thumbprints

Dorie, I adore thee.

These thumbprints are ahhhh-mazing. Seriously. Could be the ground almonds or perhaps it’s the sinful amount of butter that makes them so light and crisp. You barely even have to chew—God, that sounds lazy—they just crumble and melt away in your mouth.

I don’t really have anything to say about the prep or baking process. After baking, I opted not to dust the cookies with powdered sugar; they are sweet enough for me. Plus, the jam-filled center provides more sweetness.

Strawberry Thumbprints (adapted Dorie Greenspan recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup + a well-rounded 1/4 cup of finely ground almonds

1/2 cup + 1/4 + 1/8 of a cup of all purpose flour

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, at room temp.

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

About 1/2-1 cup of your favourite jam(s)

Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)
METHOD

Cookie Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a separate larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add both extracts and beat to blend. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the nut-flour mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated into the dough. Cover and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set them aside.
  4. Working with a well-rounded teaspoonful of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Steadying each cookie with your fingers, use the back of a quarter-teaspoon to make e a hole in the center of each cookie. Be careful not to go all the way down to the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 13-16 minutes. The cookies should only be slightly browned. They may look underdone, which is fine. You don’t want to overbake them. When the cookies are baked, remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest on their sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. If the holes have puffed up during baking, gently push them in again with the end of a wooden spoon (be sure to do this while they are still warm.) Place the cooling racks over a sheet of paper towel or parchment paper and sift some confectioners sugar over all the cookies. (I didn’t do this—didn’t feel it was necessary.)

Filling

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the jam to just a boil over low heat. You can also do this in the microwave. (Microwave was fine.) Fill the holes of all the cookies with enough of the hot jam to come to level with the tops. Cool to room temperature.

Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti

Before all the New Year’s Eve craziness got started (great night out, btw), I baked these delightful little peanut butter and jelly biscotti. I’ve never seen dual-layer ones before, so making these was kind of exciting—like I was creating something new and of my own imagination. My base recipe is a peanut butter biscotti one I found here.

The biscotti came out really cute and dainty. I used strawberry and blackberry jam. The strawberry layer didn’t really show as well as the blackberry, so from now on, I’ll use darker colored jams. Trader Joe’s has cherry right now, which would be an interesting flavor combination with peanut butter.

Bye Bye 2009. And happy new year!


Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti (adapted from Kicked Up Cookie Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (I used unsalted.)

2 heaping tbsps jelly or jam of any flavor (I used strawberry and blackberry.)

1/8-1/4 cup water (in case the dough is too dry)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another larger bowl, use a hand-mixer to mix together the eggs and brown sugar. Next, add in the peanut butter. Mix until combined thoroughly (no lumps).
  3. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir together with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the dough starts looking a little dry, add the water.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Divide the dough into 4 roughly equal-sized sections. Then, form the bottom layer of each biscotti log. It is helpful to use your hands (moisten with water first) to shape and flatten the dough section to roughly your desired size. Finish shaping on the cookie sheet, using moistened fingers to smooth out the surface and edges. (I always make 2 biscotti logs—for even baking and for handling ease. Also, for this batch, I use 2 different jam fillings.)
  5. Once you’ve formed the bottom layer, spread a heaping tablespoonful of jam or jelly on top. Be sure to leave about 1/2-inch of space at the edge jam-free.
  6. Form the top layer of the biscotti with your hands to roughly the same size as the bottom layer. Carefully lay it on top of the jam layer. Then, use your fingers to seal and press the edges together. Don’t press from the middle; this will cause the jam to spread and leak out.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the biscotti to cool for ca. 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
  9. Once cooled slightly, slice at a diagonal and to your desired width. (I like mine about 1-in. thick) Lay the slices out flat on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, take the biscotti out of the oven to flip. Return to bake for another 10 minutes. Once finished, allow to sit overnight before eating.

Tri-flavored Dutch Almond Buttercake (Amandel Boterkoek)

Yay! We have internet at home! F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. No more stealing, no more switching/tweaking/adjusting laptop positions and unlocked wireless networks in order to get connected. Some people (esp. Dennis) might not understand how we three girls have managed to live like this for already half a year (?!?!?!)—actually, now that we have internet, I don’t know how we ever lived without it!

I had already planned on making this Dutch Almond Buttercake before coming home tonight. But now it feels almost like a celebration cake! Calorie-wise, it’s definitely one worth saving for a special occasion.

The recipe is from Almost Bourdain. It really couldn’t have been easier to put together—short list of ingredients; little to no prep, no fancy utensils required and short bake-time. I adapted the original by adding a layer of filling in the middle before baking: 1 part blackberry jam, 1 part unsweetened chocolate and 1 part plain.

I’m not really sure how to categorize this cake. It’s definitely more pastry than cake—crumbly shortbread texture, buttery and firm. It reminds me of a similar French teacake called “Gateau Breton”. However you want to categorize it, this pastry/cake is DIVINE. It’s dense, crumbly and rich in texture—like eating marzipan!! And as for flavor, it’s mildly sweet and SUPER almondy. The added filling is a great addition to the original in my opinion. The tartness from the jam blends well with the buttery crust, as does the chocolate. I imagine that the flavors will continue to blend and improve over time. The filling also provides a pretty layer of color.

Tri-flavored Dutch Almond Buttercake (Amandel Boterkoek) (adapted from Almost Bourdain)

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

1 egg, beaten (reserve 1 tsp)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

1/4 cup jam (I used blackberry, but any would flavor would do)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and almond extract.
  2. Add the beaten egg, reserving 1 tsp for later.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the bowl with the wet ingredients.
  4. Layer half the dough in a greased 9-inch springform. Then, spread the melted chocolate onto 1/3 of the tart, repeating the same process for the second-third but with jam.
  5. Using a wet spatula and your fingers, carefully layer the remaining half of the dough in the springform until the filling is completely covered.
  6. Mix the reserved 1 tsp beaten egg with 1 tsp water. Brush this over the dough, smoothing over the surface of the cake.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the cake surface is firm to the touch.
  8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting.