Archive for June, 2008




Duelling Coffee Cakes

Before the heat wave hit, I made not one but two coffeecakes in one day in the kitchen: blueberry coffee cake and cocoanut coffee cake.  The dough for the two of ‘em is similar in formulation and ingredients (the blueberry coffee cake calls for butter milk while the cocoanut coffee cake calls for sour cream) but because of the difference in the sort of pans I used to bake ‘em, the texture & character of the cakes was very different.  The recipe for the cocoanut coffee cake specified a bundt pan and the cake came out very coarse and porous but evenly done.  I used a common layer pan for the blueberry cake which came out with a very fine-grained texture and much more dense than the cocoanut cake.  Alas, the blueberry cake overflowed its banks and many of the actual blueberries ended up on the oven floor. This is because, while the recipe called for a 9-inch single cake pan, unbeknownst to me, my common round layer cake pan was only an 8-inch pan.  They should mark that on the pan itself, but at least on my pans, they didn’t.  So, the blueberry coffee cake (what there was left of it) nontheless came out well though I lost some to overflow and it made a huge mess.  Maybe next time I’ll try the recipe in my somewhat larger (hopefully the right size) square corning glass pan.  I’ll lose some distinctiveness but save some mess and blueberries.  Either way, it looks like these two coffeecake recipes will be added to the family repetoire because both came out to be very moist.

Coconut Coffee Cake

Filling

1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar

Cake

1/4 pound butter (do not substitute)
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
1/2 pint sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (measure, then sift)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
In a small bowl mix filling ingredients – coconut, chocolate chips, walnuts and sugar. Set aside.

With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar; add eggs and beat well. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix well.

Cooking Catch-up

Just because I’ve been away from the computer for a while doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking…on the contrary, I’ve been too busy cooking to be typing.  And when I have had time to type I’ve been too mentally and or physically tired to do so. 

For mother’s day, I made the light strawberry cake again but this time with the proper (larger) amount of strawberries and the regulation white, not angel food cake mix.  It came out more evenly in shape and texture, but without as intense a flavor and interior color as the one I described in my previous posting re: light strawberry cake.  You win some you lose some.  It took a while and visits to several different stores in several different areas to get proper white not angelfood cake mix.  A lot of grocery stores in NYC are hole-in-the-wall affairs and even a lot of the big ones have minimal baking supplies/accessories and very often may only have brownie and yellow cake as the cake mixes they stock.  Related to the endeavor I will mention next, I also bought a nice big Ginseng root.

I tried two new recipes recently: one for myself: Gingerbread Biscotti , and one for my mother and sister, Soft Molasses Cookies.  As expected, they really didn’t like the Gingerbread biscotti, but that’s ok, they loved the soft molasses cookies.   The irony is that the two recipes contain may of the same ingredients.  (see recipes below if the links don’t work).  Baking the biscotti was fascinating: until you cut it into slices it is really a loaf and is really soft.  Also after you bake it for the second time, homemade biscotti turns out somewhat softer than the ones you get in stores and coffee houses.  Until some of your batch sits around for a week or more because you’re eating ‘em one at a time.  So…I’ve now found out the ones in shops and cafes are old and stale (and not nearly as flavorful as the ones I made at home).  Both my mother and I liked the pre-biscotti soft loaf better, and she thought that the minced ginseng was too strong and the extra texture too distracting.  I agree that it is a bit distracting but not necessarily bad.  The one thing I would change, however, were I to make this recipe again, would be to add some citron or candied orange or lemon peel to “brighten up” the flavor. I definitely plan to make more varieties of biscotti in the future.

I made a second batch of Soft Molasses Cookies (the first batch plus the Gingerbread Biscotti having been made shortly after Mother’s Day).  With this one I made up the dough at the beginning of the heat wave  that hit NYC last week and then it sat in the fridge for about a week and I baked it during a break in the heatwave.  I think this batch came out firmer in texture because it went straight from fridge to cookie sheet unlike the previous batch which I made up and baked at the same time without having put the dough in the fridge to chill.  Unfortunately we have very few of ‘em left, the majority were a present for some new neighbors, who last week shared some barbecue and birthday cake with us, and this was the handiest way to reciprocate at the present moment.

Soft Molasses Cookies
  •  Rating:
    15 Chef Hats 
Molasses, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger make this spice cookie a perfect treat without being too sweet.

Ingredients

1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 C. sugar, plus more for coating the dough
1/2 C. molasses
21/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 large eggs
31/2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions

 
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses while mixing at slow speed, then the baking soda, salt and spices. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets. Shape or scoop the dough into 11/2-inch balls; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll them in granulated sugar and put them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. The centers will look soft and puffy, which is okay. As long as the bottoms are set enough to lift part way off the cookie sheet without bending or breaking, they’re ready to come out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 44 cookies

Gingerbread Biscotti
  • A favorite holiday flavor mixed with a classic Italian dessert makes this the perfect cookie for dipping into your eggnog or hot chocolate.

Ingredients

1 C. blanched almonds
3/4 C. granulated sugar
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 C. dark molasses
1/4 C. fresh, minced ginger
3 eggs
3 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Directions

Place the almonds in a baking pan and roast at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden. Allow the nuts to cool then chop and set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, molasses, and ginger until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Using another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and almonds. Add to wet mixture and stir to blend.

On two greased 12×15 inch baking sheets, using floured hands, pat the dough into 4 flat loaves, spacing them evenly on sheets; each loaf should be about 1/2 inch thick, 2 inches wide and the length of the baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven until just browned at edges and springy to touch, about 25 minutes. Halfway through the baking turn the pans so they bake evenly. Allow biscotti to set on baking sheets until just cooled, then cut into long, 1/2-inch thick diagonal slices.

Arrange the slices close together on the baking sheets and bake again at 350 degrees until browned, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely before dipping or storing.

Add comment June 15th, 2008

Marshmallow Mermaid Misadventure

A couple of weeks ago, I was sufficiently motivated to try making Marshmallow Mermaid Pie.  As Recipe4Living describes it, “From the movie Waitress, this marshmallow pie was one of Jenna’s creations.”.  It sounded simple enough, and I used a pre-made store-bought graham cracker crust like the one who wrote in the comments section on the recipe 4 living version suggested:

Marshmallow Mermaid Pie
Submitted
Ranking: Fry Cook
User Rating:
  • 1 Chef Hat
Marshmallows

From the movie Waitress, this marshmallow pie was one of Jenna’s creations.

Ingredients

9 graham crackers
1/2 C. sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted
5 Tbs. butter or margarine, melted
34 lg. marshmallows (8 oz.)
1/2 C. whole milk
1 1/2 C. heavy or whipping cream
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, grated

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine coconut and graham crackers in food processor until coarse crumbs form.

Combine crumbs and butter with fork. Press to bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.

Heat marshmallows and milk in 3-qt. saucepan over low heat until smooth, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat. Cool completely (30 minutes.)

In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold marshmallow mixture into whipped cream with grated chocolate. Spoon filling into cooled crust. Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours or overnight.

Top with mini marshmallows, maraschino cherries and rainbow sprinkles.

What the movie Waitress doesn’t tell you is that good old Jenna must have had a dozen or so arms like a Hindu Goddess and much better coordination than I do, because when I blended the melted marshmallow goo and the hand-whipped whipped cream, I got whipped cream plus stripes of chewy marshmallow as the end result, not an evenly distributed hybrid of the two, except in a few scattered pockets.  I think mine cooled down too rapidly.  They don;t warn you about that or tell you what steps you should take to prevent it.  Maybe next time instead of folding the two sets of ingredients together like they tell you to, I should use a pastry blender and _blend_ the two taking the air out of the whipped cream, but acheieving a more complete amalgamation of the two.  If there _is_ a next time for this dessert: my family acclaimed it too high fat for common consumption, and furthermore, it also tasted simple…yeah, it was marshmallowy,  but not very fancy, not enough so to justify having had to make it from scratch…it seemed a little like a lighter, less sugar-y version of marshmallow fluff (the commercial whipped corn syrup confection which contains no actual marshmallows but is used for the “fluff” in “fluffernutters”).  Maybe I should have put the candied cherries and chocolate sprinkles on top like the recipe suggested.

Add comment June 15th, 2008

Comments
This has been a favorite family dessert for the holidays, for my whole life. I have modernized it by doing a double recipe at once, and melt the marshmallows with the milk on half to low power in the microwave. I also use two ounces of baking chocolate per pie. When the filling is ready, I spoon it into pre-made graham cracker pie shells. 

Submitted by: Fairway7
Ranking: Fry Cook
2/2/2008 9:02:48 AM

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