Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Adventures with the Ice Cream Maker: Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

So, Rebecca got an ice cream maker for her graduation and has been experimenting with yummy ice cream recipes since. So far, she has made chocolate peanut butter ice cream from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop and strawberry frozen yogurt, from the same book. Both have been very tasty, but neither have made it onto this blog. That's what moving will do for you.

However, Rebecca finally got around to making some ice cream and remembered to take a picture of it, so we finally get some ice cream on this blog. Apologies for no pictures of the finished product. This batch was churned at 11PM, and I wasn't about to stay up waiting for it to freeze so I could take a picture. Also, this way, you get to see my pretty ice cream maker.

This ice cream is chocolate ganache ice cream from page 430 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. You can see the recipe here, from Google Books. This ice cream is delicious. Silky and smooth and it tastes just like ganache. I was a little worried, since I think I overcooked the custard a bit and it got lumpy, but it smoothed out in the ice cream maker. I also don't think I chilled it for long enough (hey, I wanted to go to bed), so the finished product is a bit soft, but even with all these mishaps, it is still delicious. Next time, I think I will put chocolate chunks in it, as Dorie suggests.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Peppermint Love

Hi there, faithful readers, it's Sarah! Though I am from New York, NY, today I am blogging from Carlisle, PA, about some cookies that I made for a trip to Providence, RI. It was an intense day of baking, encompassing the aforementioned cookies, homemade Thin Mints, some AMAZING toffee bars from Dorie, a miserable attempt at lemon pound cake, and a more successful attempt at Snickerdoodles. However, these were the only ones I got to photograph, so these are the ones I am going to write about.

I was going to Providence to visit my wonderful friends from school, and to express my affection I decided to bake. These particular cookies were for my friend and suitemate Devon and the girls she's living with over the summer. They were so kind to take me into their lovely house and let me sleep on their comfy couch, so they definitely deserved cookies. And these were good ones!

The recipe is from Dozen Flours, and I will post it below. They are very girly-looking, especially in their original incarnation (heart-shaped, though I made them circular due to lack of appropriate cookie-cutting material), so you should probably make them for girls. However, that is not to say that boys can't enjoy them; it takes a real man to eat pink. A couple of notes:

1) The dough is AMAZING. Seriously, this is the best dough I have ever tasted. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with it- anyone have ideas or suggestions?
2) Despite the amazing taste of the dough, it was frustrating to work with. Obviously, you wanted it to be as cold as possible to prevent the shapes from spreading in the oven, and I froze it accordingly, but every time I rolled it out to cut out the circles, it would get soft and warm again. If at all possible, cut out the shapes first and then chill the dough; that should prevent the problem from happening.
3) I found the buttercream to be weirdly grainy, which is odd because apparently it's adapted from a Magnolia recipe and normally I love Magnolia buttercream. Maybe I used too much sugar or something, but it was not worthy of the dough. However, the peppermint flavor was a nice contrast with the sweetness of the cookie.

Here is the recipe, as it appears on Dozen Flours:

Peppermint Heart Shaped Cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Cream the butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. With the mixer on low/medium speed, slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, being sure to scrape down the bowl frequently. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Separate the dough ball into 2 balls and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll the ball out to about 1/4 inch thick being sure to keep all the dough between the sheets of paper. Transfer to a cookie sheet and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until firm (you can also cheat by putting them in the freezer).

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut out desired shapes (I used a big heart shaped cookie cutter plus a slightly smaller one to create a heart shaped frame) and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake for 8-12 min. Keep a careful watch on your first batch so you can establish the correct cooking time. After 6 minutes, keep checking them every minute until they are firm to the touch and just the slightest bit brown. Cookies will continue to bake as your remove them from the oven. Let them sit for a minute, remove the cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula big enough to support the entire surface of the cookie (or they may break) and cool on a wire rack.

Repeat steps with left over cookie dough.

When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container or a big zip-lock bag. You can even freeze them and save them until later.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
adapted from More From Magnolias Bakery

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (if you don't like peppermint, use vanilla)
pink food coloring gel (optional)
4-5 red peppermint candies or one candy cane, crushed but not pulverized (optional)

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar or you may find you need to add more milk. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly until you get your desired color. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Carefully spread each heart-shaped cookie with a generous dollop of pink frosting. Top with a heart shaped cookie frame (if desired) and sprinkle a little crushed peppermint candy in the center.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Father's Day Blueberry Pie

Our dad is awesome. He is an excellent dad. We learned many of our cooking and baking skills from him. However, it is always hard to buy a father's day card and/or present for him because he doesn't really drink beer, never plays golf and can only rarely be seen on the couch watching TV (although on the couch sleeping/pretending to read is a different story). Despite these troubles, we know that he loves blueberries, so making a blueberry pie was a no-brainer.

Confession time -- I ran out of time and so used pre-made pie crusts. They were good, although I know the pie would have been better if I made the crust. However, I did roll out the top so that I could seal the two crusts together well.

Second confession -- the picture is terrible since we ate the pie soon after I baked it and it was such a hit that there was very little left to photograph. Sorry!

Anyway, we made the filling from Dorie's Double Crusted Blueberry Pie and it was AWESOME. The only thing is that we had a lot of leftover flour/sugar/lemon mixture after pouring the filling into the pie, which we left out so that it would not overflow. It turned out great.

Here is the recipe:
2 ½ pints fresh blueberries
1 cup of sugar, or a little more, to taste, plus more for dusting
½ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Coarsely grated zest of ½ lemon
Squirt of fresh lemon juice, or a little more, to taste
¼ cup dry bread crumbs (you can use packaged unseasoned crumbs)

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp of water, for egg wash
Sugar, for dusting

Getting Ready: Butter a 9-inch pie plate (Dorie uses a standard Pyrex pie plate).

Working on a well-floured surface (or between wax paper or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 – inch. Fit the dough onto the buttered pie plate and trim the edges to a ½ inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8 inch thick circle and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover both the circle and the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you pre-heat the oven and prepare the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the berries in a large bowl and gently stir in the sugar, flour, salt, zest and juice; let sit for about 5 minutes. Taste the filling and add more sugar and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Remove the pie shell and top crust from the refrigerator. Sprinkle an even layer of the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the shell. Give the filling a last stir and turn it into the crust.

Using your fingertips, moisten the rim of the bottom crust with a little cold water. Center the top crust over the filling and gently press the top crust against the bottom. Either fold the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp the edges attractively or press the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you’ve pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together securely. Using a small, sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust crust and cut a circle out of the center, then lift the plate onto the baking sheet. (If you have time, refrigerate the pie for about 30 minutes. The pie can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. Glaze and sugar it before you put it in the over and add at least 15 minutes to the baking time).

Brush the top crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with a little sugar, just to give it sparkle.

Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the pie for another 30 minutes or so (total baking time is about an hour) or until the crust is a beautiful golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the slits. If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, make a loose foil tent for the pie.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let it cool and settle for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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