Friday, September 14, 2007

oh yeah--the cookies!

I almost forgot I was going to tell you about the cookies I baked from the leftover Haupia crust!

The dough was really sticky, and RLB suggests rolling out this dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap. I chose the potato starch flour, hoping it would absorb some of the moisture that this dough seemed to be holding onto.

It didn't really work.

As I rolled out the dough and grabbed my water glass to cut out the cookies, I suddenly remembered Nanny (my grandma on my dad's side) rolling out sugar cookie dough on our kitche table, and me hanging out and watching her as a little kid. I can't remember if she let me cut out the dough with a water glass, or if I just watched her do it, but the memory came back so strong it surprised me. Maybe that's why I love sugar cookies so much...

Anyhoo, I was able to get about 10 cookies out of the dough, and they baked up nicely in about 20 minutes or so...

...and they're not too bad, but a little bland. They could be sweeter, and I can't believe I'm saying that!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chocolate-Haupia Squares

Earlier this year I ventured out to Uwajimaya, the Asian food store of stores out in Beaverton. For those not familiar with Portland, Beaverton is the serious suburb on the West side that is chock full of strip malls, big box stores, and ex-pat Californians. So to me, it feels like going home.

There are only a few ways to get out to Beaverton which means they are snarled in traffic and hence, suck ass. So going out to Beaverton requires a real need, as well as nerves of steel.

The need of this particular trip was to scout out the alternative flour situation at Uwajimaya and possibly purchase said flours. The occasion? The Oscar Party Cupcakes!

There were a lot of really cool flours out there in the suburbs. One I would like to play with is lotus root flour. How cool is that?!

This is what I came home with:


And as an aside, I will say that the rice flour I bought at Uwajimaya was far superior to Bob's Red Mill Rice Flour. Sorry, Bob. You ground your rice flour on the coarse side, leaving my baked goods grainy. Boo.

So in the bottom right corner of that photo is the box of Haupia mix that is the subject of today's post.

Haupia is a Hawaiian dessert that is basically jellied coconut milk or something. It is kind of a cross between a jelly and a pudding. It is coconutty and tasty. Ted's Bakery in Sunset Beach, Oahu, is famous for their chocolate-haupia pies. You can get them in grocery stores around the island and from Ted's store itself. We always get (at least) one when we go to Oahu, and so when my friend and ex roomie came with me and my family one year, I got her hooked on the pie.

Of course, she can't eat gluten so she would eat the filling out of the pie shell and it was supposed to be my job to eat the crust. But who cares about the crust? It's about the whipped cream-haupia-chocolate filling, people!!

She and I often reminisce about them damn pies, and lament our Mainland status when wishing we could go get one to eat. I think she once tried to make Haupia using vanilla pudding and fake coconut extract. As you might expect, it was not so good.

Today I was invited over to her home for a potluck, and as she is leaving for a mondo trip around India in a few short weeks, and who knows when she'll return, I thought it was high time I made a version of chocolate-haupia pie.

September 9, 2007
Occasion: OMG You're Leaving Soon!!
Name of pie/dessert/thing: Gluten-Free Chocolate-Haupia Squares
Constituents: GF Sweet Cookie Tart Crust, Chocolate Pudding, and Haupia

The real big thing about this post is the GF crust. The pudding and the haupia came from boxes, so nothing amazing to point out there except that cooking pudding and cooking haupia take a long time, and chilling pudding and haupia in the freezer is awesome. 3 hours in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in the freezer? Nice.

The classic crust for a chocolate-haupia pie is a basic pastry crust. I've gotta agree with Reid over at 'Ono Kine Grindz and say the crust of Ted's pie could use a little work. I think it could be baked to a golden brown and have a little more flavor. I always find it blah and bland and bleh.

So since I dislike making pie crust anyway, I decided to adapt the Sweet Cookie Tart Crust from RLB's Pie and Pastry Bible and make the chocolate-haupia in a baking dish instead of a pie or tart crust. (Actually, if I owned a tart pan, I would have made a tart. I think it would make a great tart.)

RLB's original recipe calls for 200 grams of unbleached all purpose flour. AP flour has more protein than cake flour, so I decided I needed a high protein flour for the bulk of the GF flour mix. I decided to go with 100 g sweet white sorghum flour, 30 g tapioca flour, 30 g potato starch flour, 30 g white rice flour, and 10 g cornstarch to prevent grittiness.

In retrospect, cornstarch probably isn't the best thing to be adding to a GF mix because it has NO protein at all, so it actually detracts from the overall percentage of protein in the flour. However, without making a trip to an Asian grocery and getting good rice flour, I am stuck with gritty Bob's Red Mill, and cornstarch seems to prevent the baked product from feeling gritty in the mouth. I associate a gritty mouthfeel to eating sand, so I try to stay away from that sensation in my baked goods.

The rest of RLB's recipe I kept the same.

I did notice that when cutting the butter into the flour/sugar/salt mix, there seemed to be a bit too much butter. Is it that these flours don't absorb as well as wheat flour? Not starchy enough? The dough was ready to form a ball before I added the egg; with the egg, the dough was wet and sticky. And buttery.

Thinking back, I do remember wet and sticky and buttery being problems with the GF pie crusts I made last Thanksgiving...must be something about these flours? The lack of gluten? Curious.

After letting the dough rest up for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator, I greased my 8x8 pan, tore off about half of the 6 inch disc of dough, and pressed it into the pan. I lined the dough with parchment, loaded up the baking beans, and blind-baked the crust. After the 20 minute bake, the edges were very brown and the center was underbaked. I think I loaded in too many beans for the baking, which prevented the heat from evenly penetrating the crust. I pulled out all but a single layer of beans and returned the crust to the oven. A little bit later, my roommate was asking me if my crust was burning. Dangit!

Oh well, I thought. My ex roomie likes things burnt. She won't mind.

As the crust cooled, I stirred and stirred and stirred the chocolate pudding until finally one day it cooked. Then as the pudding cooled in the pan in the freezer, I stirred and stirred and stirred the haupia until one day it too cooked. Then as the haupia, which I poured over the pudding, cooled in the freezer I changed and got ready to leave for the potluck which had started 90 minutes ago.

The haupia was a big hit. The crust was awesome. However it was so good it almost overshadowed the whole dessert. Maybe that's why Ted keeps his crust so bland and underwhelming?

The real test to determine the success of this GF crust will come tomorrow, when I bake the remainder of the dough as GF sugar cookies. I will be sure to keep you posted, stay tuned.