Dienstag, 23. Februar 2010

TWD: Honey-Wheat Cookies

(This is again a blog I pre-wrote - still on the road. Today I have to go home, buhu...)

Michelle of Flourchild decided on Honey-Wheat Cookies for this week's TWD (find the recipe in the book on page 81, or on her page).

To make it short - I had no idea where to get wheat germ or what exactly this should even be. I decided to use spelt instead. So I have no idea what the cookies should actually be like. I just can say that mine turned out fabulous!

(rolled Honey-Wheat/Spelt cookies and flattened balls)

I halved the recipe and everything went so perfectly - this was really my most untroubled TWD-recipe ever! I made the batter the day before and chilled it over night. No measuring problems, no dark brown (a.k.a. black and burned) bottom (I started to use two baking sheets, that seems to help). I even got exactly the amount of cookies the recipe stated (18 cookies for half the batter). Wonderful! This is, I guess, what it should always be like when your baking abilities are better than mine!
Maybe I would be a little more reluctant with the lemon zest next time, but that's really only a very, very small fly in the ointment...

Dienstag, 16. Februar 2010

TWD: My Best Cocolate Chip Cookies

(This is a post out of the can - sorry but I am away, right now I am enjoying NYC - woha!)

Cookies and chocolate and sweets than can easily be transported to the office are definitely the topic of the month at TWD. Great!
I didn't make cookies in a while, so I was excited to go for these, Dorie's "Best Chocolate Chip Cookies". Chocolate cookies are definitely one of my favourites. To spoil it: The name of the cookies is no exaggeration. The recipe is really great!

I used a mix of different chocolates. As I halved th recipe, in sum I needed 168 g, and  I used about 40g of 86% chocolate, 50g of 50%, 30g of 75% and 50g of Mitzi Blue Nutmix. (an Austrain chocolate I can only highly recommend. It is from an enterprise that started with bars of excellent chocolate, filled with very exotic fillings like Celeriac, Truffle and Port Wine, or Lemon Polenta; but they also have traditional tastes, drink chocolates and lots more. Everything is biological, and most chocolate is Fair Trade. Their latest product are round, very flat chocolates called Mitzi Blue. One sort is with 27% cocoa and a very finely chopped nut mix, so I thought they would perfectly match for these cookies.)

I opted for the cocoa-batter, because I like my cookies dark.

Unfortunately I made some measuring failures. Again. And this time I can't blaim the lack of cup-measures, but only my clumsiness and improvidence.
What happened? I made half the recipe, because 45 cookies sounds like a whole lot of cookies, and I made the wheat-honey cookies for next week, too. So 45 chocolate cookies where way too much.

Everything went fine first. Until I did remember that I wanted to include the cocoa. So, what now. The batter was already finished.
In my thoughtlessness I just included the whole amount of cocoa the recipe called for. Good idea, isn't it?

Yeah. But now I had too many dry ingredients (abaout 50g or 1/2 cup too much flour). I wasn't sure if the cookies would work out like that. So I decided to change my mind and just make the whole recipe, and not only the half amount.

Yes. Good idea. But how to beat butter fluffy, when there is already a ready-made batter in the bowl?
Well, don't ask how I did it. I made a big mess in the kitchen, I absolutely scamped araound and made a big botch, but in the end I had a (very humid) cookie batter ready to bake.
But when the first rack was in the oven I discovered that I doubled everything - despite the chocolate...
So I made chocolate chip cookies with not as much chocolate chips as there should have been. Or, to name it differently, I just strayed off the intented topic and missed the point.

(Chocolate chip cookies with not as much chocolate chips as there should be, waiting on the cooling rack to cool) 

I have no idea how and why, but in the end the cookies turned nevertheless out very, very good! I am absolutely in love with these chocolate cookies and have to redo them, and redo, and do again, and try another playing around option (and include enough chocolate chips next time :o]).


(not picture-perfect looking, but perfectly tasting chocolate cookies)

Thanks to Kait of Kait’s Plate who has chosen them! You can find the recipe on her page or in the book (p.68).

Montag, 8. Februar 2010

TWD: Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia

The first Brownies I ever ate, that must have been back in about 2003. Not too long ago, hu? That's mostly because Brownies were more or less unknown before Starbucks invaded mainland Europe. Since, I am a big brownie fan. I love them moisty and with lots and lots of chocolate (what is a somewhat redundant, because Brownie and lots and lots of chocolate are basically the same...)

Except for the Brownie cake I made for my birthday recently, I never made Brownies myself (as I never made chocolate bars, creamy cakes, tartes etc. before I joined TWD, so it is not really something extraordinaire that homemade Brownies are new to me).

Because I take everything I bake to work (no husband, no kids, no dog), I always appreciate recipes that can be transported easily, as the one Tanya of Chocolatechic picked for this week. This month, I am especially lucky in this regard! You may find the recipe at her page or in the book.

One of my colleagues is gluten- and lactose-intolerant and I don't do the extra work often, but sometimes I try to bake things she can also enjoy (with less success, I have to admit). This week was one of these weeks. I chose to make a second Brownie recipe, and opted for the "Tribute to Katherine Hepburn" Brownies. I just love Katherine Hepburn. I do.

But let's first speak about the duty, before the pleasure.

Rick Katz Brownies for Julia turned out to be a bit of work, at least compared to what I expect of Brownies (what is a batter mixed together in 5 min. without any difficulties). It was not that tricky, but nevertheless you need at least three different pans/bowls, and some more time as you have to whip part of the egg-sugar-mix.

For the chocolate I again mixed different sorts. The recipe calls for 4 ounces (112 g) unsweetened chocolate. Originally, I intended to half the recipe, so I had only about 2,5 ounces (70g) at hand. In sum, I needed 6 ounces (168g) of chocolate so I decided to just take more of the other chocolate. I had 2,5 (70g) of excellent Dolfin chocolate (70% with little cocoa bean pieces - great!) and replenished for the rest with ordinary 70% chocolate.
( If you have never seen Dolfin chocolate, enjoy these pictures! The tablets are packed in enveloppes, and when you open it, it looks like a pack of tobacco...)
For the rest I did as the recipe said. As always, I used spelt flour and cane sugar.

It worked out quite good for me. I sprinkled a small band with shredded almonds, and another one with non-pareilles, just to test it.

The part with the pearls did not turn out to be a great idea. Nothing bad happened, but they lost their colour and it is just not necessary. But the almonds look pretty fine.

Like with many others, the inner parts stayed very, very humid (or "gooey" - a new word I learned. Generally, TWD is a language crash course for me. Gooey, fudgy, cake-like is what I learned this week :o]). As I said in the beginning, I am a big fan of humid Brownies. But it was not really possible to cut them, and I guess that's too much humidity.

I decided to frost them and had the great idea to make a white-chocolate-iceing also for the Hepburn-Brownies, so I had to use the lactose free butter and the no-lactose-no-gluten chocolate.
Not such a good idea. I don't know what went wrong, but I made it again afterwards with ordinary butter and chocolate, and the second time it worked out, so I guess for this one time it was not my fault. Maybe lactose is necessary for the iceing. Anyways. My lactose-and-gluten-free attempt turned out as an ugly butter-soup with ropy chocolate algae. Really ugly. I spare you with the pics. But the second iceing, with ordinary dark chocolate, was fine, and I used it for a part of the Katz-Brownies. Now I have a band sprinkled with shredded almonds, a strip glazed with dark chococlate iceing (some pieces having non-pareilles under the iceing what gives them a crunchy cover that I enjoy!), and some pieces pure and simple.
Finally, I put the Rick Katz Brownies in the fridge (because I read that could improve the almost-liquid-problem. And it did).

Brownies can't be wrong for me, so I definitely appreciated them. Thanks to Tanya for choosing them!

Oh, and here the result for the Hepburn-Brownies: They were a flop. Big problems. Again, it could be that the no-glute-no-lactose topic eventually plays a role in here. I hope so, because otherwise it would be all my fault...

The batter was easy. I just added a bit less coffee powder, no cinnamon and almonds for the nuts.
The test piece (see left) turned out as a  brick. Really. A round, black, brittle-not-in-a-good-way brick.

The "real" piece looked the same, but I found out that the inner parts are ok. I just had to cut off the edges (well, if you call 2 cm still an "edge"). They are more cake-like than anything else. I finally did pass them over to my colleague, but they are really not my best piece of work.

Mittwoch, 3. Februar 2010

I got a cup measure for birthday!! Yeah!!!

It's not one of these fancy multiple-spoon-matryoshka-eske tools, but an ordinary measuring cup. But it's all I need, and it even measures liquid ounces! Maybe, when I will be in Washington/NY the coming weeks I will look for a spoon-measure for table- and tea-spoons, but this is not implicitly necessary.

I am so much looking forward to next week-end when I will bake with my all new cup measure for the first time! Things will become so easy!! (but when somethings going wrong, now I will have one excuse less...)

Dienstag, 2. Februar 2010

TWD: Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes

Milk Chocolate. Well. Ok. If it really has to be...
Milk chocolate is not really my favourite chocolate. But I was ready to give it a try.

The mini chocolate bundts look like an Austrian dessert (I already mentioned it and the debate about the name, that leaves a bad taste, here), and one many people do not like a lot. (Don't ask me why. Mini-chocolate cakes with a bit of hazelnuts in the dough, covered by a dark-chocolate glazé, served warm with whipped cream - personally I don't see anything wrong in here. Nevertheless, I can't remember having ever eaten it ...) 
But still - I am always ready to try something out!

What made me a little bit more interested in the mini-bundts was the "Playing around" section. Normally, I don't got for it becasuse I am such a newby in baking, I can be happy when I manage the recipes just as they are, without any fancy playing around. But first, there was an option to use buttermilk, and I had some leftovers from the Cocoa-nana-bread. And secondly, there was this little sentence, stating that we could use other nuts and/or dried fruits for the nut-swirl. Dried fruits.
 And suddenly I had a vision. I love figs. And I think that figs and chocolate do match perfectly. And - I even think that figs and milk chocolate matches even better.
Converted to grams I had to use 169g chopped nuts. I used chopped cashews, maybe my favourite nuts, and three dried figs (chopped very finely). I left out just as much nuts that the whole volume stayed the same. Sorry, but re-calculating into cups just overstrains my mathematical abilities.
(left: chopped cashews with figs and cocoa for the swirl)

As many other TWD-bakers I don't have mini-bundt pans, so I used my silicone form for 6 brioche, which I also often use for muffins.
It turned out, that I had batter for 12 mini-cakes! Maybe original mini-bundt pans are just bigger than my brioche baking dish.
I tried to leave out a hole in the middle by rolling some parchment paper and putting it in the middle of the form. I know that the sense of the hole in the bundt-pan is to let the air circulate, and that a rolled piece of parchment paper doesn't serve this purpose. It was more to try if I can get out the form of a bundt cake.

Well, yes, it works. But not very well, and I guess it is not necessary. The mini-"bundts" are alright, even without a hole in the middle.

When I was preparing and baking this, I already had the feeling that milk-chocolate, figs and nuts could turn out to become an all-time favourite. (So much for my hesitations at the beginning about milk chocolate... it is always worthwhile to give things a try!!)

And what can I say? It definitely did. This was more than perfect. The figs are not too dominant, but there is a slight note. The cocoa-nut-fig swirl is just wonderful. The milk-chocolate works pretty fine in this mix. The mini-cakes are just the size to be less than a whole slice of cake, but more than a "beside the coffee-cup" sweet. Per-fect.

Can I take a bath in this?