Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream (TWD)

I think that Vanilla Ice Cream is the "little black dress" of the dessert world. It goes with almost anything - it can go fancy accompanying an elaborate dessert or be enjoyed simply on top of a sugar cone. Here is one of my favorite ways to enjoy vanilla ice cream....

Take a glass and add one scoop of Dorie Greenspan's fantastic vanilla ice cream,
One scoop of root beer sorbet (too simple to make - heat one can/bottle of your favorite root beer and 1/4 C sugar, until the sugar dissolves. Cool, then freeze in your ice cream maker),
Top off the glass with root beer:
Wait, we're almost done:
Ah yes, one more scoop of vanilla ice cream. Now, it's time to enjoy!
As I'm writing this post, I am craving the crazy delicious Root Beer Float at Michael Mina - home brewed root beer, sasparilla ice cream, and root beer granita. Served alongside this delicious concoction are warm chocolate chip cookies. My tummy is growling!

Dorie Greenspan's vanilla ice cream is delicious! Her recipe uses a 50/50 ratio of milk and heavy cream, which is unlike the heavy cream dominant recipes that I'm typically used to. The ice cream is wonderfully rich and creamy, and for what it's worth, I'm happy to save a few fat calories going with the 50/50 ratio.

Thank you Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu for a perfect summer dessert recipe! If you'd like the recipe, please visit Lynne's blog. My fellow TWD bakers have also been churning up a storm, so make sure to peruse the TWD blogroll.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Milan Cookies (DB)

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was to make homemade versions of a couple of grocery aisle cookie favorites, Milano Cookies and Mallomars. I'm pretty good about resisting temptation in the cookie aisle at the grocery store, but I definitely have a weakness for these two cookies. In college, both cookies provided essential nutrition (i.e. sugar and carbs) for my all night study sessions. Thanks to Nicole of Sweet Tooth for a great selection this month. Nicole graciously gave us the option of making one or both recipes. Due to some scheduling challenges, I opted to just make the Milano Cookies.

With a heatwave hitting full stride in Los Angeles, I was so happy to work on a recipe that minimizes baking time. I cheated a teeny bit and filled the cookies with Scharffen Berger milk chocolate ganache.
These homemade milanos were so tasty and easy to make! In fact, I may never go back to the packaged version.
Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Raspberry Blanc-Manger (TWD)

When I read that Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy selected Raspberry Blanc-Manger as this week's TWD recipe, I immediately had a flashback to this:I was a total new wave music fanatic in high school, and this recipe totally sent me into 80's flashback mode! :) But I digress...

Until this week, I had no idea what a blanc-manger was. I did a little research on wikipedia, and this is what I found:
Blanc-manger is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given a pink color as well. Some similar desserts are Bavarian cream, vanilla pudding (in US usage), panna cotta, and haupia.

The historical blancmange originated some time in the Middle Ages and usually consisted of capon or chicken, milk or almond milk, rice and sugar and was considered to be an ideal food for the sick.
Without question, Dorie Greenspan's version is infinitely better than that from the Middle Ages (blech)! I loved the simplicity in the preparation, and with a little effort, you are rewarded with a sophisticated looking and very delicious dessert. I also loved that this recipe didn't require turning on the oven.

Thank you Susan for this perfect summer pick! If you'd like to get your hands on this recipe, please visit Susan's blog. Not only is Susan a talented baker, but her photography is absolutely beautiful - total food porn!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brioche Apricot Tart (TWD)

A Brioche Fruit Tart? I can say that this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe would be a first for me. A rich brioche base, layers of fruit jam and fresh fruit, and a sprinkling of sugar and chopped nuts --- all of these components sounded absolutely delicious, so I couldn't wait to try my hand at this recipe.

Instead of using plums as indicated in the original recipe, I couldn't resist using Blenheim apricots:
These scrumptious beauties are considered to be the best apricots around, and I wholeheartedly agree. These apricots are sweet with just a hint of tartness, intensely fragrant and have a luscious, velvety texture.

They have a relatively short season (June & July) and bruise easily, so it is my understanding that this fruit is hard to find outside of California.

In Los Angeles, I've only seen a few farmers market stalls carry these gems (I found mine at the Santa Monica Market at the See Canyon stall), and I've learned to pick up my share and gorge on them fresh while they are in season.
This will be my first time baking with these beauties, so I couldn't wait to see how this tart would turn out.

This recipe required a little advance planning, as the brioche dough would need a overnight rest in the fridge. When ready, the dough is rolled out and pressed into a tart pan. A layer of fruit jam (apricot in this case) is slathered on the dough and the apricot halves are arranged on top.
After letting the tart dough rise a second time, a little sugar and chopped nuts are sprinked on top, and the tart is popped into the oven for 20 minutes.
Once baked, the brioche dough transforms into a crunchy/chewy crust, and the fruit softens yet retains its shape. In my case, the brioche crust browned a bit quickly (13 minutes), so I had to get the tart out of the oven before the sugar had a chance to caramelize. I ended up bringing out my kitchen torch to finish the job.
I would consider this more of a breakfast or tea pastry instead of a dessert. Whatever you call it, it was delicious! The flavor and sweetness of the apricots intensified after baking, and the jammy texture of the fruit went wonderfully with the crunchy/chewy brioche crust.

Now, I hope I'm not insulting this dessert, but it was like having a decadent version of toast and jam.
This tart is perfect to assemble and bake on a weekend morning, and I know that I'll be making this again very soon...I'll definitely have to try this with plums next time.

Thank you Denise of Chez Us for selecting this gem of a recipe (please visit Denise's blog for the full recipe)! Also, make sure to visit the TWD blogroll to see the beautiful creations of my fellow bakers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute To Katherine Hepburn Brownies (TWD)

I hope that everyone had a great July 4th holiday! We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather in Los Angeles. We definitely took advantage of it and spent a nice lazy long weekend at home. Important priorities included floating in the pool, sipping fruity cocktails, and playing with the dog. With this hectic schedule, I'm glad that I was able squeeze in some baking time. ;)

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is a variation on the much talked about Katharine Hepburn Brownies. Try doing a Google search on "Katharine Hepburn Brownie"... you can do some serious research with 8,000+ results! This recipe is Dorie Greenspan's riff on the original recipe, with the addition of ground espresso, cinnamon, and chopped bittersweet chocolate. I've been a bit flaky with my brownie research, so this gave me a great excuse to get back into my brownie baking mode. I loved the simplicity of this recipe, and you only need to dirty one bowl (or in this case, one saucepan). I followed the recipe as written, and baked them for 30 minutes.

As we all know, choosing a favorite brownie is a matter of personal preference. Unfortunately, this wasn't my kind of brownie. I loved the subtle coffee and cinnamon flavors, but the gooey fudgy texture wasn't my favorite (I'm a cakey kinda gal).

If you'd like to try this recipe on for size, please visit Lisa of Surviving Oz for the complete recipe. Lisa was the winner of the TWD logo design contest, and we love the new logo! Also, make sure to peruse the TWD blogroll to see more sweet creations.

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