Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers & Dessert Rangoon

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. Thank you Karen and Zorra for such a fun challenge. You would think that making stencils and having to shape the cookies would be such daunting tasks. However, this was my favorite challenge so far. You could mold your cookies into whatever shapes you wanted them to be. Oh the possibilities :)

Since I am obsessed with other cultures foods, I thought it only right that I shape my tuiles into one of my favorite things to eat. Crab rangoon. Yum :) I decided to make the sweet version, so obviously these were crab-free. I filled half of them with a sweet cream cheese and the other half with nutella. Just to make sure the nutella was up to par though, I had to taste test it. And by taste test I clearly mean take a large spoon and get the biggest scoop possible of the chocolate hazelnut goodness. Don't judge. You know you would do the same thing if you were me. Now on to the recipe.

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Recipe:Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)

Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

1. Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

3. Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
4. If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

I think I need to go try some more of that nutella. I did buy 2 jars just in case one was bad ;) 
Stay tuned for my next baking adventure!
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pasta + Sauce + Wine = Dinner :)

"I'm hungry. Feed me."

Tomato Feta Pasta

1/2 box of Barilla whole wheat rotini
1 8oz. can of tomato sauce
1/2 large red onFont sizeion, chopped up
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
dash of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
feta cheese crumbles

1. Cook your pasta. You can really use whatever kind is your favorite. I love the taste of whole wheat pasta, so that's what I use.
2. Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. In the pot you used for the pasta, sprinkle in some olive oil and turn to medium heat.
4. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes.
5. Now add your garlic and saute for another minute.
6. Add the tomatoes and let cook until they are tender.
7. Add your can of sauce, wine, and seasonings. You can adjust the seasoning amounts to fit your taste buds.
8. Cook until the sauce starts to lightly bubble and then remove from heat.
9. Add your pasta to the sauce and mix together.
10. Serve up into your favorite bowls and top with feta or whatever your favorite cheese may be.
11. Enjoy with a glass of wine :)
This dish is so easy and you can add all sorts of veggies or even meats to it. Kale or mushrooms would be really great in this pasta. Or if you love meat, maybe some spicy sausage. Enjoy! And stay tuned for my next baking/cooking adventure!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sorry Excuse for a Blogger & Lemon Bars

Where did December go?! Seriously! And now January is almost over. So it's time to get my butt back into baking gear! I decided to make lemon bars, but then completely forgot to take ANY pictures. WHAT?! Oh well. I guarantee that minus the pictures, this recipe will make some of the best lemon bars you've ever had.

Lemon Bars
2 cups of flour
1 cup of softened butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
4 eggs
2 cups of sugar
dash of salt
5 Tablespoons of lemon juice (juice of 2 large lemons or 3 small)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 cup of flour
powdered sugar

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. Combine flour, butter, and powdered sugar.
3. Mix thoroughly and press into ungreased 13x9 pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until it looks golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, mix eggs, sugar, salt, and lemon juice.
5. Fold in 1/4 cup of flour and baking powder.
6. Pour the lemon mixture onto hot crust.
7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
8. Let cool and sprinkle powdered sugar onto bars.
9. Cut into squares or eat straight from the pan with a fork and enjoy :)

Stay tuned for my next baking adventure :)