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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Winner and Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

First for the winner of I Heart Macarons from my previous blog:
We used the time-honored numbered paper slips in a box method at work and the winner is:

No. 6. Flourchild. Congratulations! "I Heart Macarons" will be on its way - just e-mail me your mailing details to

And now for the Tart. Lauren of I'll Eat You picked this very pretty pear and pistachio tart. It's fabulous - a quadruple D:

The pistachio cream - DELICIOUS
The pastry - DELICIOUS
The poached pears in Shiraz - DELICIOUS
The caramelized pistachious - DELICIOUS

At this rate I think it's going to be a wow with my "Taste Testers."

I made one dozen 4-inch tartlets from Dorie's pate sucre recipe, adding half as much again of the quantities as I know from experience that the tartlets take quite a lot of pastry. I also used one stick of butter and 4.5 TBS. of solid Crisco - the rest of my butter had been used in baking Thanksgiving goodies. The combo. seems to be rather nice although if I'd had the butter I would have used it.

I had better get to work before I start sampling the treats!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers - Ice Cream Cannolis

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

After much dilly dallying, I finally decided to give the Cannolis a try. I have had rather a nice afternoon, the day after Thanksgiving, preparing them. My comments on my efforts:

The dough:Tricky - easy to make but took a lot of arm muscle to roll the dough paper thin. Finally I changed rolling pins and used one of those pins that go convex in the middle - it seemed to help.
Boiling the oil - fine but had to keep on checking the candy thermometer to retain an even 370 degrees F deep fry temp; so it was a bit frustrating with lots of stop/starting.
The frying job - not as messy as I thought it would be. In fact I enjoyed watching them sizzle and only got one minor burn on my left forefinger! My first batch was way too dark, almost like tree bark; my second batch came out much better, obviously with less cooking time.
The finished product - difficult to get the blisters - only managed some rudimentary blisters.
The filling - just lazy bones. I decided on strawberry icecream with some cake sprinkles.

All in all, I am very pleased I did brave the challenge, but I don't think I will make cannoli again; my fancy is to return to the Italian Bakery on 60th St. in Brooklyn, and order a double expresso and a large, crunchy vanilla cannoli and I won't feel too guilty.

The dough recipe:
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake and a Give Away

Britin of The Nitty Britty selected this super cake. The recipe is on Britin's blog.

Nice and easy to make and what a divine aroma coming from the kitchen! I followed the recipe exactly except for the oven temp. - my bundt pan was one of those Kaiser or Nordicware dark-colored pans, so I baked at 325 degrees F instead of 350. I have learned that the darker pans conduct heat more quickly so hence the need to bake about 25 degrees lower than the recipe states.

Umm! I've just had a teeny piece of bundt cake that fell off as I was setting it up for its maple syrup glaze. It's a perfect cake for Thanksgiving, with its warm spices and tangy cranberries.

I'm also giving away a delightful little book: i heart macarons by Hisako Ogita. The first edition in English has just been published. I ended up with two copies, due to impatience with the Post Office and running to get another copy from Barnes and Noble. So if you just leave a comment on todays post I'll do the random number thing (or put the numbers in a hat!) next week, in time to announce the winner in my next TWD post.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

This is an amazing cake to make. Everything about it is elegant - the luscious ganache with loads of butter, the chestnut cream in the cake, a good cognac and more gourmet chocolate for the syrup, and the smoothe-pouring glaze. I am quite beside myself with excitement about what it will taste like and have already picked out the best shaped chestnuts I bought from the gourmet store.

If the cake tastes good, it will become the kind of dessert I would like to take to a small literary dinner party with beautiful china on the table and fine wine....Oh well, tis "such stuff as dreams are made on" as I don't get invitations to such affairs!

I found it quite fussy to prepare and what an awful chocolatey mess all over the sink and countertop but it's looking pretty neat right now in the fridge. I followed Dorie's recipe exactly, with the exception of making two layers instead of three - haven't risked cutting three layers yet ever, and the cake square didn't look deep enough to get three layers.

I have told the team at work they are getting a chestnut chocolate cake tomorrow; everyone is looking forward to it.

Katya of Second Dinner picked this recipe. It's a really great choice. Thank you, Katya.

(I didn't want to disturb the cake when I took the pic so it's presentation is pretty rough looking.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sugar-topped Molasses Spice Cookies - Tuesdays with Dorie

These are the best ginger cookies I have ever tasted! I love the size also, the flattened shape, and the fact that they are not too sweet. They are nice and soft in the middle and a bit crunchy on the outside (that is, with baking for 13 minutes).

I have no more to say, nothing but praise, and they are going to our troops in the Middle East - the Operation Baking-GALS program.

The recipe is on Cookies with Boys, a delightful blog created by Pamela. Thanks for a wonderful TWD pick Pamela.