So yesterday was Yom Kippur!
Transcript from chat with close friend Tessa:
Tessa: Are you and John coming to the Yom Kippur break fast dinner tonight?
Me: Fo sho.
Tessa: I didn’t work today.
Me: If I knew I would have asked you to join me and Becky on our bike ride to Sausalito!
Tessa: Well, I’m supposed to be somber today.
Me: What, are you Jewish?
Me: I’m an asshole. Let me make you some cheese.
So “What does cheese have to do with Yom Kippur” you say? Tessa needed full fat cottage cheese for her noodle kugel, which makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Apparently full fat is hard to come by these days, and since I haven’t had a cheese making project in a while, I donated my services. So much fun to make! First I heated the milk and then added some rennet and buttermilk. I let that sit for an hour to set up while I went to get my precious hands dipped in parafin wax and massaged (can you say occupational therapy? love it…) When I came back I sliced up the curds and they looked like this:
Then I heated them up some more, to help them tighten up. All that yellow liquid is the whey.
Then I drained out the whey and salted my curds. And then I had cottage cheese!
Sorry for the lack of kugel photos…we sort of demolished the kugel. It looked like this.
Since I rejected my Twix candy bars for the fundraiser last weekend, I now have 3 quarts of dulce de leche in the fridge just TAUNTING me. It needs to find a home fast, and what better place to start than sandwiched into everyone’s favorite South American cookie? I will admit now that I didn’t actually make a traditional Alfajore cookie dough. I also had some shortbread dough leftover (lesson #1, only make a small batch of anything when you haven’t tasted it yet…) so I figured that would do just fine.
First I sheeted out my shortbread dough to be 1/8″ thick and stamped out circles. I baked those until they were nice and crispy.
I piped on the dulce de leche.
And then we tried to eat them all before the filling smooshed out everywhere!
I’m not saying it wasn’t fun, I’m just saying if you ever hear me talk about making 400 reinvented classic candy bars I want you to hit me. Today I post the last and most certainly not least in my candy bar collection – The S’mores bar. I know technically it’s not a candy bar, but well, who cares? It is now!
First I made a graham cracker crust.
Then I whipped egg yolks and powdered sugar until fluffy.
Then I melted butter and mixed in cocoa powder and chocolate.
I whisked in the egg mixture and then folded in some whipped cream.
I spread the mousse onto my crust and popped the tray into the freezer to firm up.
I sliced them into bite-sized squares and put them back in the fridge. While they were chilling I made a meringue and piped it on top. I used a torch to burn the meringue. So cute!
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 oz butter
1 tbsp sugar
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
12 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 oz egg whites
12 oz sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Press into the bottom of a 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Bake the crust until it starts to brown and become crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- To make the filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and confectioners’ sugar together in a large bowl until they are thick and the color of butter. Beat in the vanilla and salt.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly, then gradually beat into the egg mixture.
- Fold the softly beaten heavy cream into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Spoon the chocolate cream over the graham cracker crust, smoothing it evenly with a spatula. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours.
- When ready to serve, make the meringue: Combine whites and sugar in a KitchenAid bowl. Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously, until the whites register 155 on a thermometer. Transfer to mixer and beat until cooled. It should be thick and shiny. Beat in the vanilla.
- Carefully slice the s’mores into squares using a hot knife. Top each with the meringue in a large dollop. Use a torch to carefully burnish the meringue until topped with golden brown. Serve immediately.
The fun just never stops! Yesterday I had my friends Kaveena and Sareena helping me out and we made Almond Joy Bars for the Party Corps Fundraiser. I’m not usually excited about coconut, but I couldn’t resist this recipe…
I started by boiling sugar, butter, corn syrup and water.
I poured the mixture over the chopped chocolate and let stand for about 1 minute.
Then I whisked in the rest of the ingredients to make a brownie batter.
I spread out the brownie batter.
I baked the brownies until they had a nice flaky top.
I made a meringue, then folded in shredded coconut, sour cream and the seeds from a vanilla bean.
I spread on the filling and popped it back in the oven.
I baked the coconut filling until it was nice and browned.
Then I sliced the bars into bite-sized squares.
I finished them off by pouring on some ganache and topping them with an almond. Adorable!
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
7 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 pound finely shredded unsweetened coconut (6 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)
1 pound 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
4 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
40 unsalted roasted almonds
MAKE THE BROWNIES: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and water and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the chopped chocolate and let stand for about 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the flour and salt, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
Scrape the brownie batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it to the edge. Bake for 15 minutes, until the top of the brownie looks dry and crackly. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack to cool, then transfer the baking sheet to the freezer to chill for 30 minutes, until the brownie base is completely firm.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE COCONUT TOPPING: In a large heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites with the sugar. Set the bowl over a large saucepan of boiling water and whisk the mixture over moderate heat until it is warm to the touch and the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 8 minutes. Fold in the shredded coconut, sour cream, vanilla seeds and grated orange zest, if using. Spread the coconut topping evenly over the brownie base. Bake for 30 minutes, until the coconut topping is lightly golden and set. Transfer to a rack to cool, then cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
MAKE THE GLAZE: Combine the chopped bittersweet chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Let stand until warm to the touch, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, trim the border of the chilled brownie base to make it neat. Cut the base into 2-inch squares and transfer them to 2 wire racks set over baking sheets. Top each square with an almond. Using a small ladle, pour a thick coating of the chocolate glaze over each brownie bar. Using a small offset spatula, spread the glaze to coat the top and sides completely. (Rewarm the glaze over a pot of simmering water if it gets too thick.) Refrigerate the brownie bars until the glaze sets up, about 1 hour. Serve chilled.
Today I tackle the Twix candy bar, another personal favorite!
I got started by cooking the dulce de leche. This was a time-consuming task involving about 3 hours of cooking over a pot of simmering water to evaporate the water without scorching the milk.
Then I made a shortbread dough and pressed it into a buttered pan.
I pricked holes in the dough and baked it until it was nice and browned.
I spread on top my dulce de leche and popped it in the freezer to really firm up.
And then I spread on some chocolate.
And then disaster struck. Big time. When I cut my little bars, all of the dulce de leche oozed out the sides. Totally not cute at all. By this time it was midnight, I had worked a full shift at the restaurant and was NOT in the mood for failure. But these little punks didn’t care. They failed anyways. So I broke up with them, kicked them out of the candy bar club and officially disinvited them from the party.
But you know what? They still tasted good. Really good and very Twix-esque. So I’ll probably nibble them on the sly…
RECIPE: (adapted from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 /12 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk (two 14-ounce cans)
1/2 vanilla bean
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely choppe
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
For the shortbread:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter together until blended.
3. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolk and beat for a few seconds, or until just combined.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough and your hands with a little flour. Use your hands to gently work the dough into a 6-by-6-inch square. You will have to turn the dough and sprinkle the top with flour as you go. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup flour on the surface of the dough. Fold the dough over and knead until incorporated, then flatten the dough into a rectangle. Transfer the rectangle to the prepared pan and press it into the pan.
5. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake in the center of the oven for 23 to 26 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the caramel filling:
Put the sweetened condensed milk in a medium heat-proof bowl and set it over a saucepan of boiling water over low heat with the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, until thick and caramel colored. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat until smooth.
3. Pour the caramel filling over the cooled shortbread and place the pan in the refrigerator until cool, about two hours.
For the chocolate glaze:
1. In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled caramel layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer.
2. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.
3. Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving so as not to crack the chocolate glaze. Cut into squares and serve.
The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
Guess what? I’m on the board or directors for a nonprofit company called Party Corps. What is Party Corps, you say? Well, we like to throw parties! Parties that generate cash for other nonprofits in San Francisco. This Saturday is our third party and will be benefiting The Women’s Community Clinic. Of course, my participation in the company means I get to do what I do best – feed people! The last party was for outreach in Africa, so I made African donuts. This time, I’m going retro. I’ve decided to recreate classic candy bars, but without all the nasty preservatives and artificial flavors. So my first mission: Whatchamacallit bars! This was my personal favorite candy bar when I was a kid (or adult, but who’s keeping track?). I was so excited to make them that I broke my #1 budget rule and ran out and bought a cookbook new instead of waiting to find it used at Green Apple. The book was “Baked – New Frontiers in Baking” and I highly recommend it. They don’t actually call this a Whatchamacallit in the book, but that’s wht it is. So. Let us begin…
I started by pouring my puffed rice in a large bowl.
Then I made a sugar syrup. Once it reached 235 on a thermometer, I stirred in some butter.
I poured that syrup over the puffed rice and mixed it together. Then I pressed the rice into a buttered pan.
While that was cooling I started on the next layer: peanut butter and milk chocolate.
I melted them together into gooey bowl of deliciousness.
ANd poured that on top of the puffed rice.
I spread it out all nice and smooth and popped it into the fridge to firm up.
Once that firmed up I melted some chocolate and butter to top it with.
I spread that around and put it back in the fridge to set up some more.
Then I wait and wait and FINALLY! I get to slice them into cute little bite-size squares!
So pretty! And they totally taste like Whatchamacallits! 35 down, 365 to go!
For the crispy crust
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted (their recommendation) or salted (what I used, and liked) butter, melted
For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk (their recommendation) or semi-sweet (what I’d use next time) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.
Cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.
So this month was my first time participating in the Daring Cooks Challenge! This month’s challenge was hosted by Debyi from http://www.healthyvegan.com, and she picked a recipe for a vegan dosa, with a coconut curry sauce. I was super excited, since I (shamefully) haven’t cooked much Indian food and have never even attempted these little Indian savory crepes.
I started out by chopping up all of the ingredients and putting them in cute little bowls:
Then I sauteed them. While I was doing that, John was hustling on the crepe batter and the coconut curry sauce. Because, well, I haven’t had a day off in weeks and I just don’t have the energy to spend hours on dinner! OK, and I was making 2 batches of jam at the same time, but still.
Then tossed in the spices to get nice and toasty.
Then I pureed some cooked chick peas and mixed them in with some tomato paste. Now at this point my confidence was at an all time low. As you can see, it wasn’t the most appetizing mixture. And well, I’m just not a huge fan of tomato paste. I decided to throw a little water and stock in and let it stew a bit, to let the flavors meld.
But I chugged along, because I was hungry and we had guests arriving to eat with us. I fried up a stack of crepes.
I stuffed the crepes with the filling and poured coconut sauce all over. And it was so good! I’ll never doubt the ability of Indian food to taste delicious even when it looks…well you know…
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp curry powder
½ cup almond milk
¾ cup water
oil for cooking (I cheated and used clarified butter)
1.Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
2.Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3.Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.
Curried Garbanzo Filling:
5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 bell pepper, finely diced
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP turmeric
4 cups (30 oz) cooked or canned chick peas
½ cup (4 oz) tomato paste
1.Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2.Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.
Coconut Curry Sauce:
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp ground cumin
¾ tsp salt
3 TBSP curry powder
3 TBSP flour
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced
1.Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2.Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3.Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4.Let it simmer for half an hour.
This post is a shout out to my fabulous pastry instructor and mentor: Jennifer Altman, pastry chef of Baywolf Restaurant in Oakland. One day in class she shared her recipe for a tomato galette with me, and it remains my favorite way to celebrate gorgeous summer tomatoes. Oh yeah, and it’s quite simple. Well, if you know how to make galettes…
Let’s start with the dough. You need a pastry board or a counter top that you can spread out and get messy on. Spread out your flour.
Take half of the butter (which is very cold) and use a bench scraper to cut it into the flour, tossing constantly to coat.
Once the chunks are the size of lima beans, start cutting in the other half. Keep cutting until the last batch of butter is the size of quarters. This ensures that some butter gets broken down to coat the flour, while the rest remains in large chunks that will turn into flakes. It should look like this:
Then take your ice cold water and basically “flick” it onto the flour, tossing constantly. Keep going until the flour is shaggy. It’s ok if there are still some dry bits, just make sure that it will smash into a dough when you press it with your fingers.
Then comes the fun part: you smear it. Literally. You use the heel of your hand to smear it into strips on your board. This is like pie crust magic in the making. All those large chunks of butter are now in the form of long sheets.
As you smear the butter, use your bench scraper to scrape it off the board and throw it in a pile somewhere to rest while you work on the rest.
Once finished, smash it into a plastic wrapped disk and pop it in the fridge for at least an hour. The dough should look like marble, with the butter swirled in. Spend this time slicing your tomatoes and shredding some gruyere cheese.
Once it has chillaxed, roll it into a circle that is about 1/8 – 3/16″ thick. You’ve got a lot to do to this future galette, so moving quickly is important. The longer the dough is at room temperature, the warmer the butter gets. And warm butter is a no-no in flaky pie crust land. It also makes it nearly impossible to work with.
Then spread on some good dijon mustard. Not too much, just enough to give the galette a little kick.
Then spread on a thin layer of gruyere cheese. Obviously the better the cheese, the better the galette.
Now place the tomato slices on top. Make sure you trim the edges of your dough. I usually do this before I start piling on the filling, but I forgot this time.
Now fold the edges onto the filling. Some people are into pleats, but Jennifer taught me that any time you have dough folded onto itself, it’s nearly impossible to cook it all the way through. And thanks to her I too am a fanatic about not eating raw dough. Once your galette is finished being assembled, slide it on a parchment lined sheet pan and pop it in the freezer. This will help keep it from immediately melting into a shapeless blob when it goes into the oven.
Then you paint a little egg wash on the crust, and since it’s savory, sprinkle on a little chunky sea salt. Then bake it at 375 until it’s browned on top. Reduce the heat to 325 and continue to bake until the bottom is golden brown. It usually takes about an hour total. Let it cool for 10 minutes and top it with some creme fraiche (homemade if you got it) and some basil. I like to fry the basil leaves to give a nice crunchy contrast to the gooey yummy tomatoes and cheese. Now you dig in!