Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stuff I Made in December That I Haven't Gotten Around to Blogging About Yet

I kept trying to post about each of these things separately, but I just could not.

(Disclaimer: It is almost 3am, and I am too tired to proofread. Please forgive all the errors and poorly written, run-on sentences, like this one.)

(Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day, or as my roommate likes to say, Happy VD.)

So, here's the recap:
  1. Annmarie's Gluten-Free, Agave Sweetened Coconut Flour Cake
    Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

    I loosely based this cake after the top layer of Julie and Noah's wedding cake, you remember, the one made from rice flour and sweetened with agave syrup? I figured I could just substitute cocoa powder for a portion of the flour, and off I go. I also decided to try out coconut flour, because I was so curious about it. I even boiled the water and mixed in the cocoa powder to form a paste and let the chocolate flavor bloom, just like RLB likes to do.

    And then, something crazy happened, readers. That coconut flour slurped up all that water and demanded more! Although the regular recipe called for only 1/4 cup of water, I ended up pouring in about 2 1/2 cups of boiling water! Crazy! What was supposed to be one little 6 in cake layer turned into two. Annmarie was going to get a little layered cake.

    Until I dropped a (baked and cooling) layer on the kitchen floor, that is. Ah well.

    The cake layer that Annmarie did get to eat, however, was really tasty. It was fluffy, and light, and moist. The texture was a little fibery, I guess, but it was fine. There wasn't any coconut taste, which were we concerned about. Most GF cakes don't absorb liquid very well which makes it hard to convert glutinous recipes without worrying about mushy, soggy cake. I think substituting coconut flour for a part of the flour mix is a good way to combat that. What the proportions would be, I don't know...

  2. GF Agave Sweetened Chocolate Cake!

  3. Sugared, Spiced Nuts
    I tend to make these every year for stocking stuffers or Christmas gifts. It is a really simple recipe and yields a yummy, completely addictive nutty snack. This year I gave them out as stocking stuffers and my parents couldn't stop eating them!

    I made these during Snowmageddon 2008 when I had nothing better to do, and something about all the flavors makes them perfect for the fall and winter. It is still winter, people, so you still have time to make these!
    Sugared and Spiced Nuts
    Makes about 1 ½ pound
    • 1 egg white
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1 pound hazelnuts or walnut halves, or a ½ lb or each
    • 2/3 cup superfine or Baker’s sugar
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ¾ tsp ground ginger
    • ¾ tsp ground allspice
    • ½ tsp ground coriander

    Preheat oven to 250. Whisk the egg white and water together until the mixture is foamy. Stir in the nuts; mix well. Pour into a sieve and drain for 3 minutes.

    Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice and coriander in a paper bag; gather the neck of the bag and shake to mix the contents. Add the drained nuts and shake the bag vigorously to coat them with the sugar and spices.

    Spread the nuts on 2 baking sheets, making sure they do not touch. Place one baking sheet on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and the other baking sheet on an oven rack in the upper third; bake nuts for 15 minutes, then stir them and spread them out again.

    Lower the oven temperature to 225 degrees and continue to bake the nuts, stirring occasionally, until they are well-dried and crisp, about 1 ¼ hours longer. Midway through the baking, switch the shelf positions of the 2 pans.

    Turn off the oven and let the nuts cool with the oven door open.

    Store the completely cooled nuts in airtight containers. They will keep for a few days at room temperature; 3 weeks refrigerated; or 6 months frozen.

    From “Fancy Pantry”
    By Helen Witty
    Oregonian FOODday
    October 30 2001

  4. The Best Freakin Peppermint Bark Ever

    Back in November Annmarie invited me to spend a day at Wordstock. It was a day full of thought-provoking discussions, laughter, smart people, boring people, crazy people, all lovers of word crafting. It was the most fun $5 has bought me probably since the 70's.

    One of the topics was "Serving up Your Words," and it was about food writing in the form of blogging, columnist, and book. They gathered a few notable people including Vitaly Paley from Paley's Place who had just published a book (recipes and stories, more than just a cookbook--on my list), and Molly Wizenberg who blogs at Orangette.

    We didn't stay for the whole panel discussion. I guess foodies are much more interesting when there's food present.

    But later on I checked out Orangette, which is an inspiring blog for those of you who haven't stopped by, and the first post was about her favorite peppermint bark. I love peppermint bark, and when she revealed that her bark was a three layered confection with the middle layer being mint chocolate ganache, I was in.

    I didn't get to make it until I was in my mother's kitchen, which has no logical plan to it. It took at least an hour to find all the gadgets, tools, bowls, and pans needed. So complicated.

    But oh, this bark. It is truly the best peppermint bark EVER. All other candy sold as bark is really just twigs and lichen. Although bark seems to only be necessary during the holiday season, wouldn't this be a tasty treat for Valentine's Day? Or Easter? Or anytime?

    Get on it, people. You know you want to.
    Three-Layer Peppermint Bark
    From Orangette, adapted from Bon Appétit, December 1998

    To crush the peppermints coarsely, Bon Appétit advises tapping the wrapped candies firmly with the bottom edge of an unopened 15- to 16-ounce can. She used a heavy glass jar, and that worked fine too.

    • 17 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped (make sure cocoa butter is one of the major ingredients--I used the Whole Foods white chocolate chunks)
    • 30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
    • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, such as E Guittard 61% semi sweet chocolate
    • 6 Tbsp. heavy cream
    • ¾ tsp. peppermint extract

    Turn a large baking sheet upside down, and cover it securely with aluminum foil. Measure out and mark a 9- by 12-inch rectangle on the foil. (Instead of doing this I used an unrimmed cookie sheet.)

    Put the white chocolate in a metal (or other heatproof) bowl, and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water.) Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth; if you take its temperature with a candy thermometer, it should register 110°F. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Pour 2/3 cup of it onto the rectangle on the foil. Using an icing spatula, spread the chocolate to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, combine the bittersweet chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a heavy medium saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Then remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator, and pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle. Using an icing spatula – make sure you cleaned it after using it for the white chocolate, above! – spread the bittersweet chocolate in an even layer. Chill until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

    Rewarm the remaining white chocolate over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour the white chocolate over the firm bittersweet layer, using your (again, clean) icing spatula to spread it to cover. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

    Carefully lift the foil from the baking sheet onto a large cutting board. Trim away any ragged edges of the rectangle. (These are yours to immediately devour, which you will.) Cut the bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slip the bark off of the foil and onto the cutting board. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections, and then cut each section diagonally into 2 triangles.

    Pack into an airtight container, with sheets of wax paper between layers of bark to prevent them from sticking to one another. Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or, to emphasize the slight softness of the bittersweet layer, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Much better at room temperature.)

    Note: This bark will keep for up to 2 weeks, if not more. If you plan to pack it in a tin or baggie with other holiday sweets, be sure to wrap it separately in plastic wrap. Or maybe wax paper and then plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t sweat. If you left it naked, so to speak, to mix and mingle with other cookies or candies, everything might wind up tasting and smelling like peppermint.
  5. peppermint bark!

  6. David Leite's Freaking Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies
    I know this is the second time I have described something in this post as freaking amazing, or the best EVER, but TRUST ME, I am not exaggerating.

    David Leite went on a quest last summer to bake the best chocolate chip cookie. He went back to the Tollhouse where the original cookie came from and looked at the recipe, he spoke with Jacques Torres, Dorie Greenspan, Shirley Corriher, and other noted bakers. He condensed all his newfound knowledge about my favorite cookie ever, into one crazy amazing, 100% addictive cookie.

    David discovered certain things that can guarantee you a cookie you won't be able to stop eating: firstly, you must let you dough rest for 12-36 hours to ensure a wonderful toffee flavor to develop. Also, the size of the cookie matters: David found that the big ol' cookie allowed for a moist and chewy center, a crisp outer edge, and the between part, where the toffee and caramel flavors do a dance with the chocolate and the gooey.

    I then found Smitten Kitchen's David Leite's cookies, and Organette's David Leite's cookies, and I was chomping at the bit to make them, which I did for our holiday cookie party.

    (Are you seeing a theme, here folks? Lots of time reading food blogs in December. All that freakin snow.)

    Those cookies I made for our holiday party overshadowed everything else on the table. And I could not stop eating them. And when there were no more cookies for me to eat, I plotted how and when I would bake more of them. Which I did, for my family after Christmas, and they inhaled them pretty darn quickly.

    They are like the crack cocaine of chocolate chip cookies, friends. And I HIGHLY suggest you get addicted.

    *Note: I didn't use bread flour, just all-purpose flour, and for the chocolate I used E Guittard's 61% semi sweet chocolate wafers. So good. Soooo good.
chocolate chunky cookies


  1. Wow! That's a big catch-up!

    So, did you use the coconut flour in the cake?

    Also, looks like folks just took forks to the cake and had at it! Must have been terrific. :)

  2. aww yeah, those cc cookies are awesome! I just polished off the last of a batch last night. mmmm. Who would have guessed that salt is good on top of a cookie? And I've totally been meaning to make that peppermint bark recipe, it looks so good. Ganache is a brilliant addition to peppermint bark!

  3. You haven't converted me to gluten-free anything yet, but I can't wait to try the cookies, peppermint bark, and nuts--they all sound amazing, and perfect for next year's Christmas gifts. But do I have to wait until then?

  4. That GF cake looks *wonderful* -- I've never baked anything with coconut flour before but might have to give it a try.

    Great blog! Adding to my RSS reader!

  5. Hi Deb, I did use coconut flour in the cake. Next time, I think maybe using 1/3 of the total amount of flour would be best. But I am only guessing here.
    By the way, your article about agave syrup was most illuminating!

    Amanda, I agree on both counts!! How's the truffle making these days?

    BBC, try them now! Why wait; you won't be disappointed!

    Julia, welcome to the blog, and thanks! Let us know how your forays into coconut flour turn out. And, wow, I like your blog; you are baking some fancy pantsy stuff over there! I will definitely be back for more:)

  6. I saw the choc chip recipe ages ago and wanted to try it out. I am always looking for Mr. Goodbar CC Cookie!
    Do you add any guar gum to your gluten free cakes?
    I just have seen it added to other ones, and wondered.
    Your peppermint bark looks so Christmassy. I must remember that recipe for next year.
    Now don't you think for a minute it has escaped my attention that you haven't baked your LB bread yet...! You thought I could be side tracked with your 3 in one post, didn't you?

  7. ECL, I think I'm done with truffles for awhile. I'm on a budget, and also a diet! Kind of. But nothing kills even the possibility of a diet like a batch of 60 truffles. Sigh. So I"m not baking much anymore, and I shall have to live vicariously through you!

  8. Melinda, hello, eagle eye. I WILL bake the bread, I will! Probably after my vacation next week.
    I add xantham gum to my GF baked goodies. I see guar gum in some GF stuff, but the couple of GF baking books I've used call for xantham. I don't know how the baked goods would differ...

    Amanda, I hope you haven't given up on baking forever! Until then, I will bake for us! (holds baking torch high)

  9. Want. Those. Cookies. Badly. It's 1:30 a.m., and I'm working, and I Want. Those. Cookies.

    I thought of you, ECL, on Valentine's Day, when the little guy and I made cupcakes. Beet-chocolate cupcakes with beet-buttercream frosting. Totally freaky, but ohhh so yummy, and no red food coloring! The recipe is here:

    Only I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder rather than regular. It was soooo chocolaty and moist, Andy said they were the best cupcakes he's ever had.

  10. Raiuchka, make the cookies, they are soooo good. The hardest part is waiting a day or two to bake them after you've mixed up the dough.
    I made red velvet cupcakes on VD too! However mine were full-on chemical cupcakes. I saw some dude on Martha make beet-chocolate cakes last week, and I am very curious. I will check out that recipe.
    Hershey's Special Dark cocoa is my favorite, for the very reasons you mentioned.

  11. Anonymous11/3/09 04:37

    Snowmageddon! Ha! Resting the ccc dough in the fridge is Best Practice, but sometimes it is sooo hard to wait....

    Got your Seven Minute Frosting question over at my place; I answered in the comments. Basically, "get it very hot" is the name of the game, but you can wander over if you want and see The Big (ish) explanation for yourself if you like. Thanks for wandering by; I like it over here:)