Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska and or Ice Cream Petit Fours (August 2010)...Not Really...(But Look...It's Butterfinger Ice Cream)

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop.”

I was so excited about this challenge. I'd always wanted to try my hand at brown butter, baked Alaska and petit fours! Alas, I failed....I didn't allow enough time in my schedule to complete this challenge. I did make the ice cream part needed, so I'll share that recipe with you along with what should have been an awesome challenge recipe. Maybe one day when I have a bit more free time (oye!), I'll attempt this challenge.

I made Butterfinger Ice Cream. It's a basic vanilla ice cream with chopped Butterfingers in it.'s so good...

The Recipe:
Butterfinger Ice Cream
Adapted from Kitchen Aid's French Vanilla Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups (590 ml) half-and-half
8 egg yolks
1 cup (235 ml) sugar
2 1/2 cups (590 ml) whipping cream
4 teaspoons (20 ml) vanilla
1/8 teaspoon (.5 ml) salt
2-3 Butterfinger candy bars, chopped

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside.

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl. Whip using a whisk attachment. Mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing, very gradually add half-and-half; mix until blended. Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.

Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into your prepared ice cream maker. Churn until desired consistency. Add in chopped Butterfinger candy during last 2-3 minutes of churning. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes (soft serve consistency), or freeze in an airtight container.

Enjoy With Love,

PS...Here are the challenge recipes in case YOU want to give them a try. You can also visit The Daring Kitchen for more information and to see this challenge as completed by others.

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz:
Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Meringue (For the Baked Alaska)
8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours
1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.

2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)

5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska
1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaska on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Butterfinger Cookies and The Cookie Tin

Most of my family has always enjoyed sweets. Cookies reigned supreme...I think because they're quick, easy and can be snuck from the jar easily without getting caught.

Awhile back, my Auntie Jan C. and I shared a Cookie Tin. What's that you ask?! Well, it's a tin that we sent back and forth across the country to each other filled with our latest baking delights. We included the recipe so that the other person could easily recreate the goodie whenever they wanted. We also kept track of what was sent so that we didn't send duplicates. It was great fun. So much fun in fact, that I decided to revive the idea with my own niece, Jessica.

Jessica is turning into quite a baker/cook. She and her sisters helps my sister make cookies for lunches each week and I'm told they're wonderful. So, I approached Jessica with the idea of the Cookie Tin and we're off. I decided to get it started. I purchased the tin and then had to decide what kinds of cookies to send.

I decided on Butterfinger Cookies. They're pretty standard cookie-fare based on the ingredients, yet they have the added twist of a bit more brown sugar (which I have in bulk it seems!) and the delightful peanutty sweetness of Butterfingers. They turned out great and were a big hit with Jessica! I can't wait to get the filled tin back with her first creation!

PS...I'll include the "Cookie Tin Instructions" after the recipe for those that may want to start this idea with a loved one.

The Recipe:
Butterfinger Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup chopped Butterfinger candy bars (about 8 “fun size” candy bars or 2-3 regular sized bars)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (I used my Silpats). Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until well combined. Fold in chopped Butterfingers.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Cook 8-10 minutes or until edges start to brown and cookies are set. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
How the Cookie Tin works:
  • Each person will have the tin for approximately one month (or less) before they should send it back.
  • Bake something that will ship well. Pack in the tin. (Remember that plastic baggies, parchment paper or wax paper are good to use to keep items fresh and separated. Also remember the temperature outside; chocolate doesn’t do well in the summer!)
  • Write on the recipe log. Use your initials for the “who” part.
  • Include the recipe for the item you are sending. It can be typed or hand-written.
  • Ship to the other person!
Enjoy With Love,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: The World of Pierogi (August 2010)

The August 2010 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n' Bites and Anula of Anula's Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

So at first glance this challenge seemed a bit repetitive to me....much like when we made dumplings or potstickers. I wasn't overly excited about the filling choices either and didn't really have time to be overly creative. BUT, in the spirit of being a Daring Cook and wanting to participate, onward with the challenge!

Starting with the filing...I chose to make the Russian Style Pierogi. Sure it has cottage cheese in it which I'm not a huge fan of, but's cheese, it'll melt and be yummy right?! has bacon!

The dough was pretty straight forward. Very stretchy when rolled though (again, very similar to the potsticker dough). I used the pierogi form (I found mine at Sur La Table) as a template to cut my circles. Easy onto filling. As I learned, more isn't always better in these situations and this held true. The pierogi forms are fairly unforgiving. The filling portion squeezes out the "bottom" and it difficult to get out of the form if you over fill, not to mention it doesn't squeeze together very well and "seal" the dough.

But, after a few tries I got the hang of it and realized that the recipe was going to make enough to feed an entire army....and their enemies! (Note: feel free to cut the thing in half, or even a quarter, unless you want to freeze them for later!)

The next step is to boil them. Also pretty straight forward, just remember to time them and flip them so that they cook evenly. This is also the step that you'll find out if you sealed them well enough or not. They explode pretty fast if you didn't. Makes for messy water, but not a big deal otherwise.

Verdict...they were ok like this. I wasn't a huge fan...and no, cottage cheese doesn't exactly melt and become the cheesy goodness I'd hoped for. So, the next step in trying to make them a bit better was to fry them. Also, hoping to speed up the process a bit, a large pierogi was formed and sealed using a fork. The result:

This method increased the flavor content...much better, but then again, what isn't usually better fried! :-)

To see other Daring Cooks' creations, visit: The Daring Kitchen.

Special thanks to Neil for helping me out with this challenge!

 The Recipes:
Cottage Cheese Wareneki (Pierogi)
Adapted from The Mennonite Cookbook

Dough Ingredients:
½ cup (125 ml) milk (can be whole milk, 2% or skim milk)
½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
3 large egg whites
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
3 cups (450 gm) all-purpose flour

1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough. (I kneaded this dough quite a bit, and it yielded a nice, pliable dough).

2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8” or about 3 millimeters), cut into 2” (5 cm) squares, and fill with 1 tsp (5ml) cottage cheese filling (see below).

Cottage Cheese Wareneki Filling Ingredients:
1 lb (455 g) dry cottage cheese
3 large egg yolks
Salt to taste

1. Mix well all the ingredients for the filling.

2. Put 1 rounded teaspoon (5 ml) of the filling in each square, fold corners to form a triangle, seal edges well using your fingers or a fork

3. Cook in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.

Note: Boiled pierogi can also be fried after boiling for a nice crunchy dumpling.

Note: If you can't find dry cottage cheese, simply drain normal cottage cheese by nesting the cottage in a few layers of cheese cloth or a fine sieve over a bowl.

Note: You can very easy make a sweet version of Warenki - just add some fruits and sugar to the cheese filling and mix well together (strawberries or blueberries are great idea!) 

Russian Style Pierogi
Makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe

Dough Ingredients:
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

Filling Ingredients:
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you're vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt pinch of pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it's best to use one's hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You‟re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass. Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

5. Serve immediately preferably with crème fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

Other types of fillings:

Potato and Cheese Filling
Ingredients: 4 – 5 (600g – 750g) boiled potatoes 4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml) 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50 ml) milk 1 egg white (from medium egg) ½ cup (about 120 ml) farmers‟ cheese ( or any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer) salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.
Meat and Cabbage Filling

Ingredients: 200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely) 500 g (18 oz) white cabbage (chopped and simmered in a little bit of water, until soft) 1 onion (diced and fried) 1 whole medium egg 1 tablespoon (15g) butter dry breadcrumbs (add as much to hold the filling together, about 2 tablespoons) salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.
Soy bean Filling

Ingredients: 350 g (12 oz.) soy beans (canned, drained and minced) 2 medium eggs 1 onion (diced and fried) 100 g (2/3 cup) dry breadcrumbs salt and pepper

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.

Sauerkraut Filling
Ingredients: 2 cups (500 g) sauerkraut 1 big carrot, grated 1 shallot, chopped and fried with a tablespoon of butter few (about 3) wild mushrooms (I used dry ones, you can use fresh but chop them and fry on some butter before adding to the sauerkraut cabbage) salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

1. Sauté all the ingredients together until soft, cool before filling pierogi.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.

Seasonal Fruits
You can also fill pierogi with whole seasonal fruits for example- strawberries, blueberries, morels, grated apples etc. To prevent the fruits from „sogging‟ just add a little bit of potato flour inside with the fruit and sweeten them after the boiling on the plate rather than putting sugar inside.

Enjoy With Love,