Mom’s Chocolate Cookies

While I was out taking a 3.41818 mile, or 6016 yard hike today Fran found my Mom’s handwritten recipe for chocolate cookies. She thought I might like to try my hand at them. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?) Of course, they won’t be the same as Mom’s, but as I am much older than the last time I had hers, I probably won’t be able to remember anyway.

I used silicone baking sheets instead of greased cookie sheets. Also, the cookies are thinner than she probably made, which is weird because she was, without a doubt, thinner than I am now. I believe I know why the cookies are so thin. After I finished I deciphered the word “spoons” as the method to beat in the eggs and melted chocolate. I used the stand mixer and probably over-beat them.

In the end, the cookies were chocolatey, chewy and delicious. I think Mom would approve, but thinking back on it, Mom approved, or at least praised and encouraged us, no matter what we did, (provided it didn’t involve vehicles with sirens and lights, including ambulances or the police, high school principals or the college Dean of Men.)

There’s a Bright Holden Glaze on The Meadow

No, I’m not in Oklahoma, I am still sheltering-in-place in California. In the Galaxy on Orion’s Belt post I mentioned I was going to remake the mousse desserts using Agar Agar rather than gelatin. Agar is a plant based thickener while gelatin is animal based. Well, the agar was delivered this week and as I and still sheltering-in-place, I am still baking, so here we go.

Last week Fran asked for some shortbread cookies so I made a batch this morning. I cut them into rounds, just smaller than the large end of my silicon hemisphere molds. The plan is to fill the mold about 2/3rds of the way with mousse, push a frozen vanilla cream into it and seal the bottom with the cookie. As I planned to coat one end of the shortbread cookies with chocolate, and will have some left over, I will coat the bottom of some of the hemisphere desserts with some, then mirror glaze them.

So the plan was good, but the execution was lacking. The cookies were too big so I cut them down, but they were also too thick. I couldn’t properly fill the mold with vanilla cream and cookie and still have 1/8” space for the chocolate. The new plan is to dip the bottom of the bombe in chocolate, re-freeze and then coat with the agar mirror glaze.

The agar mirror glaze was easy to make, but cooled too quickly and coated the bombes with a thick glaze. Luckily, this glaze, while sticky, was much better than the gelatin version. Portions of the glaze were placed in small bowls and dyed. When ready to coat the mousse bombes some of the colored glaze was poured on a larger aliquot of yellow glaze and poured over the bombe.

The good news is, Quality Assurance certified the mousse as exceptionally light and creamy. The cookies were a bit thick so it was suggested a pan of brownies would be a better base. The chocolate bottom was a nice addition and should be continued.

The directions for the agar agar said you should cool the glaze to 80 – 90 degrees. I found this temperature too low resulting in a thick glaze. I also need to find a better way to mix the various colors with the base color while maintaining the temperature of the dyed glaze at 90-100 deg, maybe place them in a warm water bath until ready to use.

Anyway, they are delicious and worth making!!

RECIPIES

Shortbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS
• 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut with a round cutter just smaller than the opening of the mold. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Cream Filling


INGREDIENTS
• 3 tbsp all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
• 1/2 cup butter (or Trans fat-free shortening)
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.
  2. When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter (or shortening) and sugar together in a medium bowl until light.
  3. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

INGREDIENTS

• 5 1/4 ounces 148 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 14 ounces 396 g cold heavy cream
• 3 large egg whites
• 1-ounce 29 g sugar
• Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
• Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish, optional
• 6 ounces 170 g semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1-ounce sugar 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD

  1. Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a bain marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.
  2. Beat the cream over ice until it forms soft peaks. Set aside and hold at room temperature.
  3. With a mixer, whip egg to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until firm.
  4. Remove the chocolate from the bain marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once.
  5. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Fill each well of the hemispherical mold about halfway. Push a frozen vanilla cream drop in each well and top with a shortbread cookie. Make sure the cookie is below the top of the well.
  7. Place the mold in the freezer until solid.
  8. When frozen solid remove the mousse from the mold .
  9. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don’t trust your microwave timer; time it with your watch.) Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it’s completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  10. Coat the top of each cell with a thin coat (1/8”) with melted chocolate and return to the freezer to set.

Agar Mirror Glaze Recipe

INGREDIENTS

• White Chocolate 8 ounces (220g)
• Sweetened Condensed Milk ½ cup (140g)
• Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
• Corn Syrup ¾ cup (245g)
• Cold Water 7 tablespoons (100ml)
• HOT Water ½ cup (120ml)
• Powdered Agar 4 teaspoons (16g)

METHOD

  1. Bloom agar in the HOT water (120ml), let stand 5 minutes
  2. Combine the corn syrup, the other measure of COLD water (100ml) and the sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pot and get it warmed to at least 150°F add the bloomed agar and bring to a boil.
  3. Allow it to boil rapidly for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and add the condensed milk and whisk smooth
  4. Pour the entire hot mixture over the chocolate and whisk smooth
  5. Pour through a strainer into a clean container and color as you like.
  6. Pour over cakes & pastries once it has cooled to 80 or 90°F

The Galaxy is on Orion’s Belt

So you may have wondered the purpose of making and posting a simple white chocolate mousse. Well, there was actually a reason for making the mousse, posting? Not so much.

Being bored during the rain storm yesterday I decided to make a half recipe of chocolate-chip/raspberry brownies. I cut a number of them in small rounds to embed in a white chocolate mousse molded into hemispheres then frozen. Today I made a gelatin based mirror glaze intending to coat the frozen mousse with swirling colors to make galactic mousse/brownie desserts. Well, it was practice. You all know I like to practice at home and failures never pass through the front door. I have an order of agar agar arriving soon so will try a vegetable based thickener for the glaze.

While not a failure, they were not a nice as I envisioned. However, practice, practice, practice and learn. The taste was excellent!!

Brownies – Some with chopped macadamia nuts

MIRROR GLAZE WITH GELATIN

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin , (1/2 oz)
  • 192 g water , divided use
  • 215 g sugar , (scant 1 cup)
  • 142g or 5 oz (scant 2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk , (1/3 of a standard 14-oz can)
  • 233 g real white chocolate , chopped or white chocolate chips
  • Gel food coloring (I used Americolor Royal Blue, Sky Blue, Electric Purple, Electric Pink, Super Black, and Bright White)

METHOD

  1. Whisk together the gelatin and 3 oz (1/3cup) cold water in a bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water.
  2. Combine the remaining 3.5 oz water, sugar, and condensed milk in a medium saucepan, and place the pan over medium heat. Stir while the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Once it is simmering steadily, remove it from the heat and add the gelatin (no need to melt the gelatin first—just scrape the big blob out of the bowl!) Whisk the gelatin as the heat from the pan dissolves it, and whisk until it is almost entirely incorporated. A few small pieces of gelatin are fine.
  4. Add the white chocolate to the pan, and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the chocolate. If you have an immersion blender, that is best to use—just stick it right in the pan and blend until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth. If not, you can whisk everything together, just try to avoid vigorous whisking that will create a lot of air bubbles.
  5. Divide your glaze into as many bowls as you want. I find it’s easiest to have a few “base colors” that are larger portions, and a few “accent colors” that are smaller portions. I made 3 base colors, using Americolor Sky Blue, Royal Blue, and a mix of Royal Blue + a drop of Super Black. I made 3 accent colors using Americolor Electric Purple, Electric Pink, and Super White. All you need to do is whisk a few drops of food coloring into each bowl of glaze.
  6. Let the bowls set until they cool down to about 95 Fahrenheit (35 C). An instant-read thermometer is the easiest way to check this, but if you don’t have one, it should feel barely warm on your fingertip, and be thick enough to coat it. Stir the bowls occasionally as they cool, so they don’t form a skin on top.
  7. Take the mousse cakes from the freezer. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper for easy clean-up, and set small jars or cups on the sheet for the mousse cakes to balance on—try to use ones that are smaller than the base of the cakes, so the glaze can drip down cleanly.
  8. In a new bowl, pour about 1/3 cup of one of your base colors of glaze, then drizzle the top of it with a few other colors—there’s no rhyme or reason here, so go crazy! After you’ve added all the colors you want, give it a brief stir to swirl everything together, but do NOT swirl too much and muddy the colors! Take this bowl of glaze and pour it over one of the cakes, swirling it around the top to make sure that all the sides are covered. Let the glaze drip down the cake onto the baking sheet.
  9. If it is dripping quickly and is a very thin layer, it’s too warm and needs to cool down a few more degrees. If it is gloopy and clinging to the cake and barely dripping, it is too cool. You can warm the bowls of glaze BRIEFLY in the microwave (start with 8-10 seconds each) and stir until they’re fluid again, and keep re-warming as necessary while glazing the cakes.
  10. Repeat the swirling and glazing process with the rest of the cakes. It’s fun to give them all different color schemes so they each look unique. If desired, finish the cakes with a pinch of edible silver star sprinkles. (Any remaining glaze can be saved and used on a different cake within about a week or so. Make sure it stays covered tightly with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a skin and dry out.)
  11. Let the cakes sit for about 15 minutes, until the glaze is semi-set, then transfer them to small plates. Chill for an additional 10-15 minutes until the glaze is full set.

Peace on this (and all) Shabbats

Most synagogues host an Oneg after Shabbat services on Friday night. The name Oneg Shabbat means joy of the Sabbath in Hebrew and usually refers to a celebratory gathering held after Sabbath services, often with food and socializing.

Our synagogue, Temple Or Rishon, invites each family to host an Oneg once a year and many do so, often joining efforts with other friends or families. We have baked desserts for the Oneg we host with friends every year. This year I made eclairs and chocolate chip/raspberry bit/ganache covered brownies. These have been favorites of the synagogue membership. The recipes for both can be found at eclairs and brownies.

I made two dozen eclairs.

 

And three dozen brownies. This year I topped them with ground cashews. Last year one friend said they would have been the best brownies he ever had, if they had some nuts on them.

A Remiss is as Good as a Re-mile

I was remiss in not documenting the baking I did for our synagogue’s Oneg (celebration of the joy of Shabbat after Friday night services) a couple of weeks ago. All of the recipes are posted elsewhere. Search this blog for the various key words for more detail.

We were one of three families providing pastries etc for the Oneg. I made Gooey Strawberry Brownies. (Previously I made raspberry brownies so tried strawberry this time.)  Due to the size of the strawberry jammy bits the brownies ended up very moist and “gooey,” which is not a bad thing. Somehow, only half of the brownies made it onto the serving tray, so sadly, the other half had to come home with me.

I also made sweet whipped cream filled, chocolate drizzled profiteroles. I find choux pastries easy to make and freeze well for a last minute snack when invited out, or if friends stop by. I actually saw them online a few weeks ago and decided they would be good to add to my Oneg selection.

There is nothing like a couple of dozen tartlets with cream patisserie filling and blueberry topping. Tartlets and cream patisserie are quick and easy to make, and again the tart shells freeze for future use, if necessary.  It wasn’t necessary to freeze any, they were decimated at the oneg. I like to glaze pastries with apple jelly to add that nice shine. Last year I could not find any apply jelly in the stores, or even anyone who had heard of it, so I made a couple of pints and am still using it.

And finally I decided to make some fig newtons with some of the huge store of figs I have in the cupboard prior to this year’s harvest.

Oh! I almost forgot.  I had some sugar cookies in the freezer so added them to the mix on a whim. A few months ago I froze them in cylinders so I could just cut them into disks and bake them. I used them all up so need to make another batch.

Baking in Jammies?

No, not quite. Maybe it should read “Baking With Jammies,” or “Incorporating Fruit Jammies in Your Baking,” or in this case “How I Made Strawberry Jammies to Incorporate in Strawberry Brownies.”

Recently, meaning within the last 4 months, I bought some Raspberry Jammy Bits from KAF to use in making some Raspberry Brownies. They were soooo good and added extra moisture, chewiness and flavor to the brownies, I decided to make them myself. Short story shorter: it didn’t go well. They didn’t gel adequately to form into little sugar-coated bits which would retain some integrity during baking. I ended up storing them in the trash bin.

Even more recently, as in last week, I had some leftover strawberries and decided to give image1it another go. I pureed 2 cups of hulled strawberries and heated it to boiling in a medium saucepan, added 2 Tbl of fruit pectin and mixed until dissolved before adding 2 cups of sugar.  The mixture was cooked over medium-low heat (just boiling) and stirred very frequently. Once it reached 2250 F, I spread it ⅛” to ¼” thick on a caster sugar coated silicone sheet and placed it in the freezer.

After an hour I coated the top of the still tacky spread with more caster sugar. The mixture was still too sticky to cut easily. Using a pizza wheel, I managed, while using some very short words)  to cut half of the spread both lengthwise and crosswise into bits, which I then rolled in more sugar and placed back on the silicone sheet. The strawberry jammy bits were useable but not great.

image2Undeterred, I tossed the second half of the spread back in a small saucepan and cooked for another 10 minutes or so. My candy thermometer died so had to guess the temperature. One trick I remember is to note how long it takes for the stirring marks to disappear. When I first started the second cooking, after the jam started to boil, the marks would disappear in 5 seconds. After 10 min of a quiet boil they remained 7-10 seconds and the jam spun as a wh0le around the spatula. I spread the twice cooked jam back on the silicone and froze again.

An hour later the spread solidified to a crack. I let it warm at room temperature for a few minutes to soften and was able to cut it with the pizza wheel. Actually, this version was just about the correct viscosity (or jamminess) and I could cut it with a long knife, cleaning in hot water and drying between cuts. Roll in more sugar and store in a air tight container in the freezer. Checking a few days later they are still semi-soft and have not fused back into a blob.

image4

Adding the DIY Strawberry Jammy Bits and some chocolate chips to the brownie batter before baking (good alliteration, huh?) resulted in spectacular brownies (NOTE: Do NOT overbake!! The middle of the pan should feel very soft and the edges should look cooked. Don’t let the middle bake to firmness, the brownies will be over baked.)

Fruit Jammy Bit Brownies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Berries (I have now used Rasp and Straw Berries and will try others)
  • 2 TBL Fruit Pectin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Caster sugar (Extra Fine) for coating

METHOD

  1. Hull and puree strawberries
  2. Heat puree to barely boiling and add pectin
  3. Once pectin is incorporated add the sugar
  4. Continue boiling until mixing marks stay 7-10 seconds or about 235-2400F
  5. Spread mixture on caster sugar coated silicone mat and freeze
  6. Remove the sheet of fruit from the freezer and coat top with caster sugar
  7. Flip coated over onto a cutting board and coat the now top surface with more sugar
  8. When the fruit sheet is pliable cut into small squares (1/4” across) with a knife
  9. Toss the jammy bits into a bowl of sugar then store in an air-tight container in the freezer

Stairway to Raspberry Heaven

I saw a KAF recipe for Chocolate and Raspberry Brownie Bars. If you are a regular reader, you know I am baking about 800 one and two bite desserts for a fundraiser in March. Since brownies are baked in a sheet pan and cut to bite size, these brownies become a relatively easy way to make 4 dozen desserts (or about 6%) at once.F677178C-384A-4527-AFD1-0640B7565AD4

Basically this is a brownie with both chocolate chips and raspberry jammy bits folded into the batter and coated with a heavy layer of ganache. Once baked, and still warm a thinned coating of seedless raspberry jam is spread over the brownies. (Don’t over bake the brownies!) I cooled the coated brownies in the fridge for a while as I made and cooled to thicken the ganache.

While not essential topping with a raspberry and dusted with confectioners sugar really set this dessert off. (Rats, just ended that sentence with a preposition.)

CHOCOLATE AND RASPBERRY BROWNIE BARS

INGREDIENTS

BROWNIES

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Raspberry Jammy Bits
  • 3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon  water

CHOCOLATE GANACHE GLAZE

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons light corn syrup (20g)
  • 2 2/3 cups (400 g)) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. To make very even bars, line the pan with aluminum foil before baking, leaving foil sticking up above the edges of the pan.
  2. Crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the sugar and melted butter, stirring until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, chips, and Jammy Bits, again stirring well.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look moist, but not uncooked. Do not overbake! Remove them from the oven.
  7. Heat the seedless raspberry jam with the water, and stir until smooth. Brush over the warm brownies. Set aside to cool for an hour or longer before topping with the ganache.
  8. To make the ganache, heat the cream and corn syrup until they begin to steam. Pour over the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes, add any flavorings, and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes or so.
  9. Pour ganache over the brownies while it’s still warm, but has begun to thicken — reheat if it thickens too much as you work. Allow several hours for the ganache to set up fully. You may refrigerate the brownies to hasten the setting of the ganache.
  10. Remove the brownies from the pan using the aluminum foil sling. Heat a knife in hot water, wipe dry and use to cut the brownies. Repeat with each cut.
  11. Just before serving, garnish brownies with fresh raspberries and confectioners’ sugar, if desired.