Monday, December 27, 2010

rugelach take two

While at home with access to a food processor, I decided to try out Dorie Greenspan's rugelach recipe for my family.   Boy am I happy I did.  They were so flaky and stayed just as delicious the next day.  I did get a food processor for Christmas, so I will be making these again.  It might be one of my new favourites.  The only complaint would be that they didn't turn out quite as pretty as Ina's rugelach.  Personally, I choose taste over looks making these winners.

Dorie's Rugelach 
posted here  

For the Dough
4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans, but you can use walnuts or almonds)
1/4 cup plump, moist dried currants
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

For the Glaze
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar

For the Filling
2/3 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Makes 32 cookies

TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes — you want them to be slightly softened but still cool.

Put the flour and salt in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds — don't work it so long that it forms a ball on the blade.

Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)

TO MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave, until it liquefies. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (Silicone baking mats are great for rugelach.)

TO SHAPE THE COOKIES: Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, either leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) a thin gloss of jam over the dough, and sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter over half of the nuts, half of the currants and half of the chopped chocolate. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.

Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.) Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each cookie becomes a little crescent. Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, making sure the points are tucked under the cookies, and refrigerate. Repeat with the second packet of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. (The cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don't defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

TO GLAZE: Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit of this glaze over each rugelach. Sprinkle the cookies with the sugar.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

SERVING: Tea is traditional, but we drink coffee with rugelach. These are pretty and, even with their jam-and-fruit filling, not overly sweet, and they are even good with sparkling wine.

STORING: The cookies can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

cookie decorating party

I mentioned before that I was planning to host a cookie decorating party in December and have posted some of the treats we ate while decorating.  It was last Sunday and for those who attended, it was a great success.  I made three different cookies: gingerbread, sugar cookies and chocolate roll out cookies.  I used Dorie's sugar cookie recipe which I've posted before.  I can't remember where I got the gingerbread recipe which is disappointing because it was good and I definitely lost the scrap of paper that I wrote it on.  I also used a new royal icing recipe which turned out much better than last time.  I went super simple and used the Joy of Baking meringue powder recipe.  It was easier to work with and the taste was less tangy than my first attempt.

 I always say I hate roll-out cookies because they're so much work, but when you leave the decorating step to other people they're not so bad.  It also gives me an excuse to use my insane quantities of cookie cutters.  When you're a baker, everyone loves to give you cookie cutters, but then you end up with so many that you don't know what to do with them!

heather's ugly christmas sweater
This is a picture heavy post because I wanted to showcase everyone's creations.  Some arguably better than others.

Rob picked out this penguin with a hat...THAT I HAD SPECIFICALLY SAID WAS MINE!  haha  There was a scrap of dough from a skate and I had planned on making a dapper little penguin, but somebody beat me to it *ahem* and the results were far from dapper.

John made a dinosaur out of a sleigh and Justin made a knight to fight him and save the princess.

There were many more fabulous creations but I don't want this to be too long.  Hope everyone who is celebrating Christmas is having a wonderful day with their families!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

buttermilk pie

I saw this pie on The Twisted Chef  a little while ago and immediately decided I HAD to try it.  I even commented to Lynne that I intended to.  I followed her recipe exactly and it turned out beautifully.  We had it while decorating cookies at my decorating party (post coming soon).  The pie was light, sweet and the kind of dessert you could really pig out on because it is not too rich.

I won't repost the recipe here, but head on over to Lynne's blog.  She has a bunch of great Christmas cookie recipes for any last minute baking (and they'd still be good in the new year and beyond!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I apologize that things have been so quiet around here lately.  It's not for a lack of baking, but a lack of time to blog about it.  I'm hoping to have time to play catch up now that I will be off work starting on Thursday. 

I have wanted to make rugelach for quite some time but never got my act together to do it.  I decided to make it as something to eat while decorating cookies on Sunday.  I had been thinking I would use Dorie Greenspan's recipe but when it called for a food processor (which I do not yet's on my Christmas list), I decided to look around and found Ina Garten's recipe.  It looked less fussy, so I tried it out.  The rugelach was soooo good fresh from the oven, but I was dissapointed with how well it kept.  Perhaps Dorie's would be better.  I'll have to try it in the new year because I will definitely be working to find the perfect rugelach. 

I made a few changes based on personal preference.  I used apricot preserves for most of my rugelach but did try one batch with raspberry.  I also added chopped chocolate and used pecans instead of walnuts.  Here is the original recipe, but I would feel free to jazz it up using your favourite spices, nuts and jams!

by Ina Garten (here)


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash


Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

goat cheese and sundried tomato scones

I've been sick with a cold and haven't been able to do nearly as much baking as I had planned for the last week.  Instead I've been watching hours of Mad Men and sneezing on my poor cat. Before I was sick I had an order for savoury scones and was given creative discretion to come up with a tasty combo.

This was my first time ever making savoury scones so I played it safe.  Perhaps too safe, but the results were still delicious.  I used a herb goat cheese which added flavour.  If not using it, I would add some spices to the mix.

Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Scones

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup crumbled herb goat cheese
1/2 cup sundried tomato, chopped into small bits
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Crumble goat cheese onto a baking sheet and place in freezer to harden.
2.  Combine flour, baking powder, grated parmesean and salt in a bowl (add spices here if using).  Cut in cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add tomato and goat cheese (directly from freezer). 
3. Add buttermilk and stir until just combine (still a bit crumbly). 
4.  Turn out onto a floured surface and make two discs.  Cut each disc into 6 scones.
5.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden brown.

Friday, December 10, 2010

corn cookies

On Sunday I finally got over to try Edgar with Melissa of Plum-Cake.  I won't say much about it other than it lived up to everything that has been said already.  I had a delicious fritatta with salad and Melissa had a panini with wild mushroom soup. We thought about getting a treat after, but decided to go back another time because we were heading back to Melissa's to attempt a new treat of our own. 

Since trying the Momofuku corn cookie in October, I have wanted to recreate it.  Melissa has a food dehydrator and an abundant supply of frozen corn so she offered to deyhdrate a big batch for the corn powder that would go in the cookies.  The powder tasted like Captain Crunch ground up.  We took a look at the recipe for the Momofuku blueberry cream cookies and at Martha Stewart's classic  sugar cookie recipe.  I remembered the texture of the cookie being soft and chewy like a chocolate chip cookie so that was the goal we had in mind.

For our first attempt, we decided on a recipe that was quite similar to the blueberry cookies but with some changes to the sugar content and leavening agents.  As soon as we tried the cookies, we determined they were slightly too cakey and immediately decided to try again with some tweaks.  Now don't get me wrong, the first batch of cookies was still very very delicious, they just weren't exactly what we were going for.  The second round of cookies were still not 100% there, but we were out of corn powder...and already had a lot of cookies to eat! 

We decided on a few tweaks that would make it perfect next time, and I've put that recipe up here.  It was so close to perfection, that I am pretty confident that these minor changes will take it there.  The sweetness of the corn with a smooth texture that isn't usually found in corn baked goods due to corn meal, makes these cookies unforgettable.  Will definitely be making these again. 

Corn Cookies
inspired by Momofuku

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup corn powder (dehydrated corn)
1/2 cup corn flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Beat together butter and sugars, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the egg and beat again.
3.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
4. Roll or scoop into balls and bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies - we did fairly big cookies and they took close to 20 minutes).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

mini chocolate donuts with chocolate ganache and candy cane bits

On Saturday night, I went to three different parties.  One was a surprise going away party, one was a holiday party, and the other was a birthday party.  Not wanting to show up empty handed, I made a big batch of these little guys.  I saw crushed candy cane bits at the bulk food store and thought to myself, those would be good on mini chocolate donuts made in my new(ish) pan. Then, a few weeks later, Tim Horton's put out the exact same thing!  Not baked of course, but same idea.  I swear I had it first. haha 

I used this recipe.  I won't repost it here because I didn't think it was the best.  They ended up a bit dry and a bit bland but the ganache was delicious.  For the ganache I went a bit heavier on the chocolate than usual so that it would firm up before putting on the candy cane bits.  Was so rich and delicious...I may have (not admitting or denying) eaten quite a bit straight from the bowl after I finished icing the donuts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

cornmeal chocolate torte with balsamic vinegar glaze (gluten-free)

Light, airy, melt in your mouth, yum, friggin' delicious and rich.  All words used to describe this torte.  I came across this recipe in a Longo's (a grocery store in the GTA) flyer of all places. It immediately appealed to me as something different, but also because it's another gluten-free recipe to add to my list.

I brought it to work and people loved it.  It doesn't get better than that for me.  Positive feedback makes me so happy and yet, I always strive to get people's honest opinions...because that's the only way to improve.  One thing that was super nice about this torte is the rich chocolatey flavour that is not overpowered by it being too sweet. The balsamic glaze added a unique flavour and next time I would put more on.  I was a bit cautious.  Overall, a great recipe for chocolate lovers with or without gluten intolerances!

Cornmeal Chocolate Torte with Balsamic Glaze
from the Longos Flyer

1 cup water
¼ cup cornmeal
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp amaretto

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9inch spring form pan by putting a parchment circle on the bottom.
  2. Bring water to boil, reduce heat and add cornmeal, stirring until thickened. (about 3 minutes).
  3. Add ground almonds, butter and chocolate, cooking for about 1 minute more until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. Beat together egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with the remaining sugar until they form stiff but moist peaks.
  6. Add egg yolks to the cornmeal/chocolate/almond mixture.
  7. Fold in egg whites until no streaks remain, being careful not to over mix.
  8. Pour into pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until set.  Combine glaze ingredients (icing sugar, balsamic vinegar and amaretto).  Allow torte to cool slightly, and poke holes in it with a toothpick.  Using a pastry brush, put glaze all over the top of the cake.
  9. Serve warm with ice cream and additional glaze if desired.

Friday, December 3, 2010

gum paste update

It occured to me that I owe everyone an update on what I did in my gumpaste course. I’m sure you were all dying to know! Well, it is now over.  The final exam was Wednesday night.  It went better than I expected, although I still manage to get stressed when I can’t get something that I deem to be perfect. I really need to work on that. I don't have my final mark yet, but I will let everyone know when I get it.

The first course we learned daises and forget-me-nots. Both were pretty easy and I did really well on my homework mark. I got ½ a mark off because the centres on my impossibly teeny tiny little forget-me-nots were too big (seeing them side-by-side makes me realize that perhaps they were, but really, the only people that could get them smaller are children and I'm not about to hire child labour for my flowers). This picture makes the flowers look way bigger than they are...they're super tiny!

The second class, we learned how to make carnations, rose buds and roses. My hatred for carnations really shone through, and I struggled to get them looking right. What a stupid flower. If you want a cake with carnations on it, go somewhere else.

The roses were a bit easier but time consuming as well. The rose bud caused quite a stir in class because people were struggling so much with it. I didn’t find it too bad, but still need practice to get it just right.

In my last few classes, we learned orchids, calla lillies, chrysanthemums and tulips.  Calla lillies are a new favourite for sure.  They are so easy and yet have a big impact.  I'll have to show the other three in another post because I don't have pics yet.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

gerbera daisy cake

Last Thursday I put my new gum paste skills to work and made a cake for my coworker’s wife’s birthday. They had orange gerbera daisies at their wedding, and his wife really likes them, so we decided to go with those. I had done them before taking the gumpaste course and based on this tutorial online, but I felt more confident now and the results were better.

The cake was two vanilla layers with a “strawberry cheesecake” filling. I obviously don’t have a picture of that, because I wasn’t there when they ate it, but you can use your imagination. The filling is just strawberry jam that I mixed with cream cheese frosting. Then, I covered the cake with cream cheese frosting. Now, I know what you're thinking...cream cheese again!?  It’s not my fault that I seem to make it every week, people love it.  The cake was a success and both my coworker and his wife loved it!