Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
I find myself staring into the maw of my second semester of senior year, and you know what that means - time to find a job. If you were going to ask me very politely what I'm thinking about doing, you may very politely shut your mouth. It's not a nice question to ask a senior in college. I went to a career fair in October and it was the most dispiriting hour of my life. I even invented a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone asks you if you're a software engineer and then his face falls when you say you aren't. By the end of it, you'll be drunk enough to go the career fair and not come out of it believing that you're never, never going to be employed. Apparently, at the February career fair there's more variety, but only companies with massive hiring needs know that they have the funding to recruit at places like Brown at the beginning of the year, so the only people there are Web- or tech-related companies like Amazon or Facebook, do-gooders like Teach for America or the Peace Corp, and financial sector firms.
Which brings us to cake. I mean duh. My friend Nikhita recently received a job offer from not one but two financial firms, and in the end she picked the Big Bad Goldman Sachs. Exciting stuff! I promised that we would bake a congratulatory cake in exchange for my being her trophy wife and lounging around her apartment baking all day, since she'll never be in said apartment when she's working 27-hour days. Her parameters were that it not be chocolate and not be too complicated. Nikhita is a fantastic cook, inventive and intuitive, but she has no confidence in her baking ability. We decided on a simple Martha Stewart lemon cake recipe with whipped frosting, which I had originally picked out because it was golden, like the vast amounts of money Nikhita will soon be making.
I don't think we could have made a more perfect choice. This cake was a dream in every way. It was so easy to make, not to mention forgiving - I accidentally added an additional egg yolk and it didn't mess things up at all! It baked to a perfect even hue and not only came out of the pan whole, but remained whole when I placed one layer on top of the other. As avid readers of this blog know, that NEVER happens to me, so major points for the cake. The whipped frosting looked lovely, although I'm more of a buttercream kind of gal. But most importantly, a) it tasted amazing, fluffy and delicately flavored and b) it gave Nikhita the confidence to believe that she too can bake delicious treats. She said that she would try this recipe, which was always one of her favorites when we were in Cambridge together. We'll let you know how it goes!
You can find the recipe here. (We didn't make the candied lemons.) This is definitely going to become one of my go-to cakes.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I used the recommended recipe, a KAF guarantee (although being a poor college student who had just shelled out five dollars for blue sugar, I was not using KA Flour). I'm not wild about their method, which involves beating butter into the dry ingredients instead of the usual butter-sugar-eggs-dry ingredients steps. That's not maligning the finished product, though; my complaint is more that flour gets everywhere when you're working with a hand mixer. But the finished cake was delightful, dense and moist. Also, I have to put in a plug for these cupcake wrappers. They're the kind where you don't even need a cupcake tin, you just stick 'em on a cookie sheet and bam, you're done. I was skeptical that something so magical could exist but let me tell you, these were the most evenly baked cupcakes I've ever made. The wrappers are as sturdy as they are pretty. They really get the job done!
But enough plugging. I made a simple buttercream - two sticks of butter, a bunch of confectioner's sugar, a dash of vanilla - and piped it on. With the blue sugar sprinkled on top, it ended up being almost overpoweringly sweet, so I was glad that the cupcakes themselves were more delicately flavored. All in all it was really adorable and fun and I think it will make a great holiday tradition!
Here is the link to the original KAF post about the cupcake menorah, and here's the recipe. I halved it and it was perfect for eight regular-sized and one jumbo cupcake. Have a great last night of Hanukkah!
Golden Vanilla Cake from the King Arthur Flour Blog
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour your choice of pan(s): one 9" x 13" pan, two 9" round cake pans, three 8" round pans, or the wells of two muffin tins (24 muffin cups). You can also line the muffin tins with papers, and spray the insides of the papers.
1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.
3) Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
4) Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
5) With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
6) Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added.
7) After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.
8) Transfer the batter to the pans of your choice. For layers, divide the batter among the pans. Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a tablespoon.
9) Bake for 40 minutes for a 9" x 13" pan; 27 minutes for 9" layers; 24 minutes for 8" layers, or 23 to 25 minutes for cupcakes.
10. The cake is done when it's golden brown around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
11) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
When you've known a family for as long as the Rosenthal have known the Palmer-Shermans, some traditions are bound to accumulate, whether it's the yearly trip to the Big Apple Circus or just Shabbat dinner. Going to their house is always one of the most comforting and enjoyable experiences I have when I go home, in large part because of the routine. There's always a delicious fluffy challah, some meat that's so red it's practically still alive (only the Palmer-Shermans like their meat redder than we do), and some New Jersey cake. You may know it as checkerboard cake but since it comes from a kosher bakery in New Jersey, we've given it its own special name. Checkerboard cake often seems magical. How do they do that? we wonder as we examine the perfectly even alternating layers of black and white. Well, I'd tell you...but then I'd have to kill you. The next-best thing is making these cookies. And when I was thinking about what to make for the Shabbos Kallah, I realized that nothing could be more appropriate than these.
However, let me tell you that they are an enormous pain in my ass to make. When they make the New Jersey cake they have special pans that make just the right sized layers for stacking. (Okay, I told you.) But you have to do it by hand. And they must be as precise as possible or they will end up looking all wonky like the ones in the picture above. While it's somewhat satisfying to watch the tower go up, and while the finished product looked very impressive on a plate, I just don't think it was worth it. And that's really the bottom line. The dough is easy to make and they tasted like buttery, yummy shortbread cookies, but you could make buttery, yummy shortbread cookies that take a lot less time and effort - there were no particularly interesting flavors in here. So if you're trying to wow people with your baking skillz, or if you happen to be picking a recipe for a party that is in honor of someone who makes you think of checkerboard cookies, I would say save yourself the aggravation and make something else. This is extra-true if you've been baking for the last eight hours nonstop and this was the last thing you made, as was the case with me, so maybe I'm biased. With all those caveats, the recipe is here.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
It's Hanukkah, Christmas' less sexy Jewish cousin! They've got the decorated trees, the beautiful music, the mass cultural dominance. Luckily, we have a couple of things going in our favor as well: the pretty candles, the best song ever written, and lots and lots of fried food! I'm actually amazed that we haven't achieved more mass cultural dominance, considering our mass culture's love of fried food. Chief among these are latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). I was invited to a Hanukkah dinner featuring a lot of really heavy Ashkenazic-type food, including of course latkes, and as resident baker I got commissioned to make sufganiyot! I just picked a recipe at random off the Internet and only later realized that it was by Joan Nathan, something of a doyenne in the world of Jewish cooking. I was glad it had that extra credibility because I'd never made donuts before and I was kind of nervous.
It didn't start out well. I'm almost as afraid of yeast as I am of dropping things in hot hot oil and having it spatter everywhere, so I knew donuts were going to be a challenge. I didn't really let the milk get sufficiently lukewarm before I yeasted it up, and I think I killed the yeast. So I dumped in another packet and let that bubble. By this point it was already 12:30 a.m., way past my bedtime (I'm a lame college student, I know). The rest of it went fine - really sticky dough before the butter was added, but that's to be expected - and I stuck it in the fridge.
The next morning I took it out and let it rise on the counter for a couple of hours, and I was glad that I did because it hadn't risen much in the fridge. I felt it was the yeast getting its revenge on me for killing its pals. The dough was very easy to roll out and cut, although I found that you only need one egg white to seal the donuts, so if you're using a fresh egg as I was instead of the whites left over from the yolks, keep that in mind. I let them rise for closer to 45 minutes but that's mostly because I got caught up in watching 30 Rock.
Then came The Frying. This was extremely scary for me - I still have little burns up and down my arms from when I deep-fried banana fritters when I was eighteen. I was very apprehensive about getting the right temperature, since I don't have a thermometer. I had to eyeball it, but I was helped along mightily by our smoke detector, which beeped its hellish beep as it informed me in its calm voice, "Fire. There is a fire." (This was the second time this had happened in 24 hours. The night before, I was simultaneously cooking rice and beans without the vent on, using a blowtorch for creme brulee - more on that later - and burning my Hanukkah candles. The smoke detector was not amused.) Anyway, I had to keep Ole Smokey happy so I didn't let the oil get too hot and I'm glad. The first two donuts I made were very dark, not burnt beyond repair but not donut color either. The rest were more successful. The tip I would offer those who are making these with a spatula is to flip the donuts over onto the spatula before you drop them in the oil, so that the flatter side is facing up. That way, when you flip them back into the oil the flatter side will be facing down, and it will be easier to pick it up with your spatula and turn it to the other side.
And how did my first foray into donut making actually taste? Well, not exactly like donuts. I'm pretty sure that the yeast continued to exact its yeasty revenge on me by not rising enough so it was denser than I would have liked but hey, c'est la vie. It still tasted very good, like a big solid funnel cake with raspberry jam inside! I don't think that I would make donuts just for a random occasion because I found them sort of stressful, but I'd definitely make them for Hanukkah next year, smoke detectors be damned.
Sufganiyot Recipe, adapted from Joan Nathan's The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen
Monday, November 29, 2010
There are some baked goods that I never really thought I could make. Bagels are one of those things. Although I have made a few good attempts, they never really come out like the ones you buy in a store. I thought that Black and White cookies fell in that category. Somehow they seem really complicated to me. Maybe it is the double frosting thing.
However, as I recently learned, black and white cookies are not only more delicious when you make them at home, but they are a snap to make. The cookie batter comes together easily and the frosting is very quick. You make the vanilla first and then take some of that frosting and mix cocoa powder into it.
These cookies taste like what you hope a black and white cookie will taste like when you buy one in a deli in New York City. Somehow, those cookies are often disappointing. These are not. They are just the right combination of cake and cookie and the frosting is divine. I got 7 cookies from the recipe, but it is so easy you could double it and put some in the freezer. Or make minis. These would also be great for Hanukkah -- instead of chocolate frosting, you could dye one side blue and do blue and white cookies. The possibilities are endless.
Thanks to Anna over at cookie madness for doing a comparison and coming up with this great black and white cookie. You can find the recipe and the comparison here.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
However, I wasn't sure I was interested in the whole cookie cutter endeavor, although I may try that at a later date. Instead, I wanted the gingerbread flavor in a softer cookie that was slightly lower maintenance. I found these cookies here and chose them because they looked soft yet delicious. I love the consistency of these cookies, but I think I would add more ginger next time because they didn't quite have the kick I was looking for.
Also, the recipe called for the cookies to be rolled in sugar before they were baked, but I had seen a recipe for a lemon glaze for gingerbread in the book store and I found that I really liked that idea, so I went hunting again and came up with this icing recipe. I really like the lemon and ginger combination. The only issue was that the icing was pretty runny, so I think I would either add less liquid or more sugar next time. Overall, though, I definitely recommend these cookies, and this comdo.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Our friend Kerrith is getting married on Sunday (mazal tov Kerrith and Derek!), so last Saturday night, two of her friends threw her a belly dancing bachelorette party. (I know what you're thinking. Rachel, don't you do anything other than go to wedding-related events? The answer to that question is no, I do not do anything else.) Anyway, the party was a potluck, and the instructions were for us to make something with a Middle Eastern theme.
Being a Baking Sister, obviously I chose to make dessert. However, I have no idea what makes a dessert Middle Eastern. So I did some research through my good friend Google and came up with these ghoraibi.
As it turns out, I had hit the jackpot, because not only are these cookies Lebanese, but they are also traditionally served at weddings, apparently. That is because they are totally white, like the bride, who is meant to be clean and pure. And additionally, if you like almonds, they are also delicious.
These cookies are super easy to make, and I really liked their almond flavor. Since butter is basically the only wet ingredient, though, they are very rich, so I recommend making them pretty small. I also think they're very pretty, and overall, suited the occasion very nicely. You can find the recipe here.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A few weeks ago, for some reason, I was struck by a craving for cinnamon buns. I've never endeavored to make them before, but most of the ones that you can buy on the street and seem delicious aren't kosher, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I did some reading around compared reviews, and settled on these ones from the food network.
These cinnamon buns were super intense-- delicious, but also very rich. As I told somebody who asked me, it's basically butter, sugar, sugar and more butter. I enjoyed them, but I was glad that I made them on the smaller side because otherwise, I would not have been able to finish them. (As it was, I served them at two Shabbat meals, left six of them at my friend's house, and still had more to bring to school.) I also found the dough to be a little too dense and crumbly, so if I made them again, I would probably use more milk and a little less flour. Finally, I found the butter icing to be a little too sweet. I think using a cream cheese glaze would make these a delicious dessert or breakfast-- as long as you're not concerned about your cholesterol.
You can find the recipe here.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Double post day! It is Martha Stewart Cupcake posting day for November and National Bundt Day, and I am posting in support of Mary the Food Librarian and her quest to make 30 bundts in 30 days. You can see that post here. But on to the cupcakes...
When I saw that these cupcakes were the selection for November, I groaned inwardly. You see, these cupcakes combine many elements that I am not that interested in... coconut, gummy fish and marshmallows (which are fine, but hard to find kosher). As readers of this blog know, coconut is up there with foods that I really do not enjoy, so when I read that these cupcakes were covered in coconut and involved coconut covered marshmallows (hard to find kosher when its not Passover), I debated not making them.
But, now I have to thank Rachel at Simple Girl, because these cupcakes were really fun to make. I joined this club because I love cupcakes, but I also enjoy learning new decorating techniques and it was a fun activity to make the turkeys. I'm not sure how much they actually look like a turkey, but I think they are kind of cute anyway.
I made a few changes to this recipe. First, I made 1/4 of the One Bowl Chocolate cupcake recipe and got 4 cupcakes, which was prefect because I had no where to bring these. Second, I could not find coconut covered marshmallows, so I just used orange ones. I did not use sprinkles for the eyes and instead I used dots of black food coloring. Finally, 10 minutes was way to long to toast the coconut (burned the first batch and almost burned this one too). I think I would do a much shorter amount of time, maybe 4 minutes.
You can find the recipe here.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
When I ask Miriam what she wanted for her Shabbos Kallah, the only thing that she said was "chocolate." The cake that I made was pretty much all chocolate (except the marshmallow frosting), so I wanted to do some more interesting variations. Voila, in comes Martha Stewart with these bee-youtiful cupcakes. Of course, they look nicer on her Web site - they always do - but they've still got the wow factor because of the chocolate-covered mint leaves. Said leaves appeared to be everyone's favorite part of the cupcake, or at least what pushed them over the top; no one could stop talking about the intensity of flavor or prettiness of presentation.
The leaves were kind of a pain to make but in the end they were worth it. You can either dip one side in chocolate and paint the other side (you can't really dip both sides, it ends up making the leaf too limp) or paint both sides, which means you're more likely to get the pattern of veins on the leaf but also takes a long time and leaves you exposed to unsightly green patches. Your choice.
Also, I don't know why - maybe I just didn't heat the whites hot enough or beat the meringue long enough - but this frosting absolutely did not work for me. I ended up having to shovel spoonfuls of confectioners' sugar into the mixer just to get it to achieve the correct consistency, but I think it spoiled the "fresh mint flavor" she was talking about, so then I had to add a lot more peppermint extract. Anyway, it ended up tasting good but I could have just made a simple buttercream and it would have tasted the same with a lot less effort. So let that (whatever "that" is) be a lesson to you all.
You can find the recipe here. Also, the pretty cupcake wrappers I used for both these and the maple cupcakes were bought at Zabar's, on 80th and Broadway.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
We interrupt our regularly scheduled Shabbos Kallah programming to bring you this breaking update: it's Halloween! Kids dress like monsters, girls dress like sluts and we all get diabetes. Huzzah!
Since I am in college, the party's pretty much been going on all weekend. Last night I dressed up as Donna Reed, the quintessential 1950s housewife (as any Gilmore Girls fan knows), which meant that I wore a poofy-skirted dress, an apron, heels, and a slightly manic look. And of course I had to have baked goods, because surely Donna would never go to a party without them!
And since it was Halloween they had to be thematic. Inspired by the King Arthur Flour blog, I tried to make my brownies look like a spiderweb but they ended up looking more like a pretty floral design. I had a lot of trouble piping the cream cheese mixture; I guess I got overconfident about my piping skills after my last two highly successful endeavors. As my roommate Abi pointed out, it's okay - sometimes, scientists give spiders crystal meth in order to show kids the effect of drugs on brain and behavior, and their webs come out looking a bit wonky too. I think I just didn't make the spokes sufficiently even but it was hard to drag the knife through the viscous brownie batter. Oh well, it still tasted deliciously fudgy, as this recipe always does! (I didn't put in the optional mint extract so the cream cheese didn't really change the taste or texture at all.) Also, I left out the chocolate chips, which I think was a wise move, since they just would have gotten in the way of the knife. Also also, if unlike me you can find black licorice within five miles of your home, I would definitely recommend making the little cookie spider they have on the Web site to go along with the brownies so that if yours also doesn't turn out looking very weblike, people will have a hint. Even if I'll never truly be a perfect housewife, the brownies were better than that horrid-looking Jell-O concoction Rory made for Dean on their Donna Reed night. So there.
You can find the recipe here. Happy Halloween!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
As Sarah mentioned, my best friend recently got married and we had a lovely celebration in her honor here the day before the wedding. (The basic idea is to focus on the bride before the wedding. As if everyone doesn't do that at the wedding as well. Oh well.) As Sarah also mentioned, we made a truly ridiculous amount of dessert. Although I would have to say that I was fairly impressed by how much of it got eaten. Nothing like a room full of women eating half of a half to get the table cleared.
Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350
Blend sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and eggs until light and fluffy.
Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend.
Mix in oats and raisins.
Place 2 inch balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
As the Baking Sisters’ dad, I obviously wasn’t invited to the Shabbos Kallah (see the Shabbos Kallah post). I did get to participate in – and bake for – another wonderful Jewish wedding custom: sheva brachot (seven blessings). These blessings are first recited as part of the wedding ceremony and then are repeated as part of grace after meals at celebrations in honor of the bride and groom for the following seven days. We hosted two dozen guests one evening in honor of Miriam and Dave. I won’t go into the full menu, just the desserts.
Four desserts seemed to offer enough variety, so I went with two chocolate and two non-chocolate recipes. Since the meal was a stand-up reception, everything was finger food, including the desserts: two kinds of cookies and two bar-type desserts (which I cut in half to make bite-size servings and served in mini-cupcake wrappers). All the recipes came from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. And if I don’t say so myself, everything was delicious!
The other classic cookies were Linzer Sablés, a wonderful sandwich cookie with an almond-based dough and a raspberry jam filling. Dusted with powdered sugar, they are both elegant and delicious, and not too sweet. The recipe is below.
The Bittersweet Brownies were almost like eating fudge – only better. They, too, call for the best chocolate you can get. Here is a link to the recipe.
I wanted something fruit-based for the fourth dessert, so I chose Applesauce Spice Bars. They have a wonderful combination of flavors and textures – spices and rum, applesauce and chopped apple, raisins and nuts – and are topped with a creamy glaze. Here is a link to the recipe.
My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks and chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking
sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in
a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth.
Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in
the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing
only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber
spatula, mix in the chocolate and nuts.
Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving
about 2 inches between spoonfuls (the cookies really spread as they bake!).
Bake the cookies – one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point –
for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center
(they may still be a little soft in the middle). Pull the sheet from the oven and allow
the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer
them to racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.
1-1/2 cups finely ground almonds
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Scant 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
2 tsp water
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup raspberry jam plus 1 tsp water
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Using a fork, stir
the egg and water together in a small bowl.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer
in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth,
about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat
for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing
only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour
is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the
bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber
spatula or your hands.
Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between
a sheet of waxed paper and plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into
a disk, then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
Leave the dough between the waxed paper and plastic wrap and repeat with the
second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting
board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze until it is very firm (about 2 hours in
the refrigerator or about 45 minutes in the freezer). The rolled-out dough can be
wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer
for up to 2 months –thaw just enough to cut out the cookies.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking
sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Peel off the plastic wrap from one piece of dough and, using a 2-inch round or
scalloped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. If you want a peek-a-
boo cutout to see the jam filling, using the end of a piping tip to cut a small circle
from the centers of half the cookies. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets,
leaving a little space between the cookies. Set the scraps aside.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies
are lightly golden, dry and just firm to the touch. NOTE: If the cookies are not of
uniform thickness, the thinner ones will bake much faster, so keep a close eye on
Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets
between batches. Gather the scraps of dough from both batches, press them into
a disk, roll them between a sheetsof waxed paper and plastic wrap and refrigerate
them as before, then cut and bake.
Place the jam in a small saucepan or in a microwaveable bowl and stir in 1 tsp of
water. Bring to a boil over low heat or in the microwave. Let the jam cool slightly,
then turn the cookies without the cutout flat side up and place about 1/2 tsp of the
jam in the center of each cookie; sandwich with the remaining cookies.
Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Store at room temperature, or
freeze without the sugar dusting (dust the cookies before serving).
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Fall is here! There's a chill in the air, the leaves are changing, and the time is ripe for bringing back pumpkin. Unlike my sister, I love pumpkin, but I always feel like there's something vaguely off about eating it in the summer when it's such a fall food. But as soon as I broke out my jacket, I knew it was time to bring the pumpkin muffins back.
This recipe comes from Susie Fishbein's Kosher By Design: Short on Time. I've been making it for a number of years, and it's always a hit. They make a great breakfast muffin or a dessert. Some people serve them as a side dish, but that always felt a little funny to me. The recipe calls for cranberries and I've found that chocolate chips also work great. However, my favorite way to eat them is plain, or, as I recently discovered, with cream cheese frosting. I used frosting from the can (I was short on time), but I think the one Rebecca makes would be even better. The recipe follows:
Kosher by Design Short on Time by Susie Fishbein
These muffins are moist and delicious. They are also quick and easy to bake.
3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sweetened cranberries such as Craisins (optional)
shelled pumpkin seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 (6-cup) muffin tins with muffin liners on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
Add the pumpkin, oil, eggs and cranberries. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Each cup should be filled two-thirds of the way. Top each muffin with a few pumpkin seeds.
Bake, uncovered 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out dry. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Two weeks ago, on 10/10/10, was the wedding of our dear friend/almost sister, Miriam Palmer-Sherman. She married a wonderful man named Dave and the whole thing was very, very beautiful. But let's get to the part that everyone cares about - the baked goods.
As Miriam's best friend, it fell to Rachel to host a Shabbos Kallah, which is basically this extremely tame Jewish bachelorette party where, instead of strippers and tequila, everyone sits around on Saturday afternoon and eats and talks about how awesome the bride is. It's all women so there's a lot of crying and chocolate and whatnot. I'm poking fun, but it's actually quite a lovely tradition, in my opinion. Plus, it was an excuse for some truly epic baking.
Perhaps too epic.
Rachel and I got our signals crossed. When she asked me to bake for the Shabbos Kallah I thought that meant I would be the only one baking, where as she thought it meant I would make an extra dish or two. Long story short, we each made four desserts. Whoops.
I knew that Miriam really likes chocolate so everything I made involved chocolate except these (you have to accommodate those crazy chocolate-haters somehow). These are nice and fall-y and pretty simple to put together. They weren't too sweet, which was important because they had a lot of syrup in them. However, I feel that you could reduce the amount of syrup and not suffer. The bottoms were, as Maida Heatter warned, soggy, and when I left them out overnight the syrup seeped through and formed little pools in the cupcake carrier.
For whatever reason, the cupcake recipe didn't come with frosting, so I just pulled one off the Internet at random. It was simple and tasty and easy to pipe, and when I sprinkled a couple of slivered almonds on top, I was proud of how pretty the cupcakes looked!
The cupcake recipe can be found here. The frosting recipe (which also comes with its own cupcake recipe, for which I cannot vouch) can be found here.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I confess that I have been remiss in blogging. Between the Jewish holidays, getting back into a regular school and work schedule, and my best friend's wedding (the event, not the movie-- more on that later), things have been totally nuts. However, I have returned and hope to avoid such lengthy absences in the future.
So, to go back in time a month or so, one of my friends invited me for lunch on Rosh Hashanah and asked me to bring dessert. I wanted to make something with a traditional feel for the holiday-- read honey, apples, etc.-- without making something too ordinary. After scouring the internet and my cookbooks for a while, I found just what I was looking for-- honey gingersnaps.
I'm actually glad I took time before I blogged about these cookies because I wasn't so happy with how they turned out the first time. I don't like to cook with shortening, but a little bit of research told me that margarine works as a substitution, so I decided to try it. I felt like the final product was way too greasy. So when I tried again a few weeks later, I only used half a cup of butter, instead of the recommended 3/4 cup, and I liked them much better.
One thing to know about these cookies is that they grow dramatically in the oven, so make sure you leave lots of space on your baking sheet. They got rave reviews, especially the second time I made them, so give them a try and enjoy! The recipe can be found here.