Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Corn Cookies

Yes....corn cookies.  They sound a little different, right?  Well they are a little different but in a good way--like a really good way.  They are sweet and salty and most definitely have a corn flavor to them. And for someone like myself who isn't in love with corn--whether it be corn on the cob or creamed corn--I thought that these were some dope ass cookies.  My partner, who on the other hand is a giant corn lover (something that always perplexes me), was entranced by these cookies.  He loves corn and sweets so this was the perfect dessert for him.  They hail from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook which is essentially a product of the Milk Bar bakeries in NYC.  I've been to one of them and sampled some of their pies which were pretty amazing too.  One of the ones that I tried was their "crack pie" which is also a salty sweet corn flavored pie. In fact, that was the first thing I made from the cookbook.  In my opinion, these cookies are really the crack pie in a cookie form.  I'd give Christina Tosi an A++ on this gem of a cookie.

However, on a different note, I do have one qualm to pick with Christina Tosi.  I mean, there's no doubt that she is an amazing baker and I am greatly excited to bake just about everything in the Momofuku Milk Bar book--they are all drool worthy.  Yet, somewhere in the beginning of her book she states how she wanted to create recipes using traditional ingredients.  Well, now that I've whipped up just two of her recipes--and perused many more--I've discovered that her ingredients aren't so traditional.  The corn flavor in both the crack pie and corn cookies come a la freeze dried corn that's crushed into a powder.  I had never bought freeze dried anything so it took me a bit to find out where I could get some.  Eventually I found this brand at Whole Foods and another local grocery chain. And then there are ingredients she lists out for other recipes like milk powder and citric acid--not necessarily every day baking items.  Or she calls for certain equipment that's not all that common for the home baker. For example, she uses cake rings and acetate to assemble all of her cakes.  As a fairly regular baker who does not normally have those things on hand, I'd be pretty surprised if I found out that most home bakers do have a stockpile of acetate and an array of different sized cake rings in their kitchen cabinets. And yet to be fair, at the beginning of the book she does list out pretty much all of the ingredients that she uses and suggests locations to find them. But, my point is that more often than not--to make one of Christina Tosi's recipes--you can't necessarily just decide on a whim to whip one up on any given day.  There's a good chance that you're going to need to hit up the market or order something from Amazon to be able to make it--which in my mind isn't so traditional. Grant it, if you're a resourceful individual or a seasoned baker you can compensate or substitute for any number of the ingredients or equipment she specifies.  But again, I would argue that her recipes aren't exactly traditional--amazing yes--but not so commonplace.

Recipe courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar

225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
300g (1 1/2c) granulated sugar
1 large egg at room temp.
225g (1 1/2c) all-purpose flour
45 (1/4c) corn flour OR if you don't have corn flour you can use 40g (1/4) flour + 8g (4tsp) freeze-dried corn powder
65g (2/3c) freeze-dried corn powder
3/4tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1 1/2tsp kosher salt

-In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT the sugar
-In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed
-Add the egg to the butter-sugar mixture and beat for 7-8 minutes on medium speed
-Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until well combined
-On a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet--for each cookie--measure out 1/3c of the cookie dough and then pat the tops of each cookie so it flattens a bit
-Wrap the tops of the baking sheets in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week
-Before you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 F
-Bake the cookies for 18 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown
-Remove cookies from oven and let them cool completely

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peach (and blueberry) Cobbler

I almost made a crisp--not a cobbler.  I actually wasn't sure what the difference was until I read about it online.  A cobbler has a biscuit topping and is called a cobbler because when the biscuits are baked they look like cobblestones.

Well I thought that was great and all but I like a sweet brown sugary streusel more. Biscuits are good but they aren't as sweet in my opinion and are tad more involved to make.

So when I decided I wanted to make a cobbler and then actually realized what one was...I was like..."F" that! But then I simmered down and decided that it might be a good experience to actually make a cobbler.  Plus, I might like it more than I was anticipating.

I found a recipe in the cookbook that I have--the one that divides recipes according to the four seasons, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook.

Its been a great cookbook to me. Every time I think of a classic dessert I want to make, I flip through it and--so far--find what I'm looking for. The one thing about this recipe is that although it's named "Peach Cobbler," it has some blueberries in it.

So I don't know if that's an actual "classic" peach cobbler or not.  But I wasn't opposed to it--blueberries are a great addition to just about any fruit dessert.

And the biscuit topping that I thought would be a little more intensive than a crisp's crumble topping really wasn't bad.  You just cut some butter into the flour, add some buttermilk, cut some circles out of the dough and then drop it on top of the fruit.  Easy as pie--or cobbler in this case.

Recipe ever so slightly adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook:


1 1/2 lbs peaches sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch wedges and peeled if you want--I didn't (I used a combination of white and regular)
1c blueberries
1/4c granulated sugar
1/4c packed brown sugar
3T corn starch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt

Biscuit topping:

1 1/4c all purpose flour
3 T granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 T cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes--divided
1/2c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sugar for sprinkling

-In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients and toss well so that all of the fruit is well coated
-Pour the filling into an 8x8 inch baking pan and set aside
-Preheat the oven to 375 F
-For the biscuit topping, in a large bowl sift together all of the dry ingredients
-Using a pastry blender, your fingers or two forks, cut in 4T of the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal or "pea-sized" chunks
-Add the buttermilk and vanilla and stir to combine
-On a lightly floured surface roll out the biscuit topping so that it is about 1/2" thick
-Using a 2 1/4" round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter of some sort, cut out 9 rounds--or as many as you can
-Drop the rounds of dough atop the filling
-Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the dough and the remaining butter over the entire pan
-Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling
-Remove from oven and let it cool a bit--but serve warm and maybe with some whipped cream?  Like I did?  Yeah!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Raspberry and Chocolate Tarts

Basically I made these for two reasons:  I wanted to make use of these little tart pans I purchased that I feel I don't use enough--and by making these I can justify my purchase.  The second reason is that I wanted to make something fancy looking with raspberries.

I have to say that making pie dough turns me into a nervous wreck.  The temperature in my apartment does not fall below 75 degrees during the summer so I'm sweating something fierce rolling it out in a frenzied fashion and attempting to prevent any butter from melting into the dough.  But I have a system in place which involves a pizza stone and the energy inefficient method of opening and closing my freezer door every 5 minutes or so.  Gotta keep that shit cold!  You know??  You know.  

So making 6 little pie doughs can be extra nerve-wracking.  It's not like I can roll out the dough once and cut out 6 individual circles.  In one roll I can only get 3 and then you have to clump the scraps back together without working it too much so you don't get a tough pie crust all the while keeping it cold. It's a mad dash to the finish.  

But I manage and luckily my system--however inefficient may be--seemed to work this time.  The pastry dough is the hardest part about these tarts.  The rest is just melting chocolate and putting some raspberries on top of it.  And I did add a glaze for the raspberries to make them shine a bit.

I really love the taste of chocolate and raspberries together in one bite.  It's sweet and sour and maybe even a little bitter.  Delicious.  I don't have a lot more to say about these so I'll leave it at this--these are easy but fancy and they taste fantastic so I'd go for it.  Love yourself.  But love these tarts more.

Recipe for 6 - 4" tarts

Pie dough:
Your favorite pie crust recipe--enough for a top and bottom crust for a 9" pie

Chocolate ganache:
10 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
1c of heavy cream

As many as you want--I used 8 for each tart so 48 total

Simple sugar glaze:
50g water
50g sugar
25g lemon juice
3g pectin

-Roll out pie dough and cut out 6 - 5" circles
-Line the tart pans with the dough
-Line each tart with parchment paper and pie weights
-Place all of the tarts on a baking sheet and refrigerate while you preheat the oven to 350 F
-Bake the tart shells for 18-20 minutes or until they are golden brown
-Remove from oven and let cool completely
-Meanwhile make the ganache
-Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl
-Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat to the point where it's just about to boil--small bubbles will form around the edge of the saucepan
-Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate
-Whisk together the cream and chocolate until all of the chocolate is fully melted and it's a silky smooth mixture
-Divide the ganache equally between the tarts
-Place the tarts in the fridge until the ganache is set
-Once set, remove from fridge and prep the raspberries by washing and drying them with water
-Divide the raspberries evenly between the tarts and just set them atop the ganache
-To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 3 minutes
-Remove the glaze from the heat and with a pastry brush, glaze all of the strawberries--while the glaze is still warm
-The glaze should set pretty quickly so when it does you are done!