I watched Valerie Bertinelli make manchego cheese and fig puff pastry straws on YouTube so I said to myself …why not?
If you have read other posts of mine using puff pastry you know while I have made it from scratch before, I prefer either Pepperidge or Trader Joe’s puff pastry. Pepperidge Farms puffs up 2 or 3x more Trader Joe’s so choosing which to use depends on what you are making. This time, I used Pepperidge Farms puff pastry.
This recipe resulted in a flavorful treat with a good snap, provided you bake them long enough. They are best warm so if you have them in more than one sitting, warm them up in an oven or toaster-oven. Be sure they are warm!
Oh! I also made a batch of blueberry drop scones for freezing for quick breakfasts
Manchego Cheese and Fig Straws
• All-purpose flour, for dusting • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed • 1 tablespoon fig jam • 1 cup grated manchego cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling • 1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two 18-by-13-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.
Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Roll out the puff pastry into a 14-by-12-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, cut the dough in half horizontally: Measure 7 inches up the side, mark the dough and cut in half, using the mark as a guide.
Evenly spread the fig jam over the bottom half of the dough, leaving a little room at the edges. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese over the jam. Top with the other half of the dough, pressing down lightly to adhere to the cheese and jam. With a pizza cutter, cut into 1/2-inch strips (about 24 strips).
Twist each strip four or five times, then pinch the ends together to prevent unraveling while baking. Place the twists on the prepared baking sheets.
Mix the egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl and brush onto the twists. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.
Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before releasing the straws from the parchment with an offset spatula. Let cool completely.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 day.
I wanted to try a new recipe for blueberry muffins that purported to yield soft, moist, not dense muffins. I also had some new ‘tulip’ muffin papers to try. These were advertised to not need a muffin pan (read that as one less pan to wash.) In use, the papers were too thin, therefore too flimsy to not need the support of a muffin pan.
The papers would have been good had I squeezed them into a pan small enough to help them maintain a round shape. They weren’t bad, but not perfect. Perhaps a heavier paper, or using 2 or 3 of them to make the papers stiffer? On the positive side they did not leak resulting in a clean pan which require no washing.
The recipe was very good. The muffins were not stodgy, rather were moist, soft and just a bit crumbly. Nearly perfect, or at least very good.
While the oven was hot I also made a batch of apple/raisin ‘scones’. Scones are in quotes as they are un-traditional. I made them in an ring mold pan to force them to rise up the sides rather than spread horizontally. (They did.) The same brown sugar and cinnamon crumble was used on both the scones and muffins. It was a good experiment, but I prefer my standard, traditional drop berry scones topped with sparkling sugar.
I was bored as the scones baked so using Dan’s modified waffle recipe I made a batch of waffles to freeze and nuke for a quick breakfast before an early tee time.
I just cancelled golf for tomorrow due to a forecast 100% chance of 55 degree rain. Now… what to do with another day off? Hmmmm….
INGREDIENTS Streusel Topping • ½ cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Muffins • 1¾ cups (220g) all-purpose flour • 1 teaspoon baking soda • 1 teaspoon baking powder • ½ teaspoon salt • ½ cup (115g) room temperature unsalted butter • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar • ¼ cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar • 2 large room temperature eggs • ½ cup (120g) room temperature sour cream or plain/vanilla yogurt • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract • ¼ cup (60ml) room temperature milk • 1½ cups (250g) fresh or frozen blueberries METHOD
Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or use cupcake liners. Grease/line a second pan with 2 liners because this recipe yields about 14 muffins. Set aside.
Mix all of the streusel ingredients together. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract on medium speed until combined. By hand, add the dry ingredients and milk into the wet ingredients and stir gently, no more than 4 stirs. Gently, fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the batter into liners, filling them all the way to the top. Top each with streusel, gently pressing it down into the surface so it sticks. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205-210 °F or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 23-25 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Muffins stay fresh covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Apple/Raisin Ring Scones
INGREDIENTS • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour • 1 tablespoon baking powder • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt • 1/3 cup sugar • Zest of 1 small lemon (I used a small mandarin orange) • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes • 1 cup diced apple • 1/2 cup raisins • 1 cup heavy cream • Brown sugar/cinnamon streusel (see above)
Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and zest. Pulse a few times to incorporate.
Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate. The mixture should resemble very coarse sand.
Empty the flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the cream and stir until just barely incorporated.
Dice the apples leaving the skin. Use the outside of the apple removing a majority of the inside without skin. The skin will add some color to the scone. The dough should just be moist, not wet, but also not crumbly or powdery looking. If it looks too dry, add a tablespoon of cold water.
Add and mix in the diced apple and raisins
Spoon the dough into 6 ring molds sprinkle some streusel over the top, if desired.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The scones should be lightly golden and cooked through.
Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then carefully remove to a cooling rack.
This afternoon’s ‘to do’ list contained nothing pressing. Tuesday I hard boiled eggs to include in our dinner salad and to make egg salad Wednesday. Today I baked a loaf of sandwich bread because I love egg salad on fresh baked bread. And as long as I was making bread I decided to replace the hamburger rolls I froze a few weeks ago. (I wasn’t happy with the rise of those whole wheat buns.) Today I mixed a double recipe of bread dough and shaped half into a loaf to bake at 425 deg and the rest into hamburger rolls to be baked at 375 deg.
To make a softer crust I coated the top of the loaf with melted butter before baking (hence the darker crust) and once again after it was baked, but still hot.
I also had a cup of heavy cream to use before it expired, and as long as the oven was on, I dropped the temperature and made some multi berry scones, baked at 400 deg.
Remember the hamburger rolls that baked at 375 deg? Well, as long as the oven was going to be dropped to 375 deg and as long as I had some frozen chocolate chip cookie dough that also bakes at 375 deg, I figured, what the heck.?
I have to find more chores to add to the ‘to do’ list. Today was exhausting.
The best part of the day was participating in the Grandparents Drive-Thru Car Parade at Grace’s school! (Unicorn car. You can’t see the fuzzy pink tail.)
Speaking of Grace, here we are making the aforesaid chocolate chip cookies.
Before teeing off on the 8th hole yesterday, I flashed back to my mom’s molasses cookies. I don’t have her recipe, but as she was always a Betty Crocker kinda gal I found Betty’s recipe, made some this morning and they were exactly as I remembered!
(Betty’s recipe didn’t say, but I flattened the sugar coated balls a little. They may have flattened on their own, but I was concerned the centers and the edges may not cook evenly. Whatever the reason, they were excellent!)
Now, this may be childhood folklore or faulty memories, but growing up I had a neighbor named Betty Crocker. That was her married name after she and George wed. As a single woman her last name was Taylor, and of course her formal first name was Elizabeth but was known as Betty. Even without this celebrity, I was raised in a fabulous neighborhood and remain friends with MOST of my classmates from that time. So fortunate.
Soft Molasses Cookies
• 1 cup packed brown sugar • ¾ cup shortening • ¼ cup molasses • 1 egg • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour • 2 teaspoons baking soda • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1 teaspoon ground ginger • ½ teaspoon ground cloves • ¼ teaspoon salt • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, molasses and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar.
Shape dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into 1 ½ – inch balls. Dip tops into granulated sugar. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls, sugared sides up, about 2 inches apart.
Bake 13 to 16 minutes or just until set and cookies appear dry. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
Expert Tips From Betty Crocker
o Purchase shortening formed in oblong packages marked for easy cutting and measuring. It eliminates messy measuring in cups. o There are reasons for using shortening versus butter when mixing up a cookie dough. Shortening has a higher melting point, so cookies will hold their shape longer in the oven before the fat melts in the dough (and shortening doesn’t release any steam like butter) so results in moist, chewy cookies. While butter melts more quickly and releases some steam so that cookies will spread more and be crisper, with a distinctly buttery flavor. Some recipes use a combination of the two fats. o There is enough fat in these tender cookies that they won’t stick to the baking sheets. But for easier clean-up, line the baking sheets with baking parchment. The parchment can be used several times before composting or recycling it. o What type of molasses should you keep in your pantry? Choices include light, cooking, unsulphured and blackstrap. Each style is a by-product of the sugar making process and offer mild to robust levels of flavor in baked goods. A good all-purpose molasses is an unsulphured one, made from sun-ripened sugar cane; it has a full, smooth flavor without being bitter. o Measuring flour accurately is key in baking. Stir flour a bit before spooning into measuring cup then level off top using a flat-edge utensil such as a knife.
Actually, I was ‘experimenting” with vegetarian mirror glaze today. Previously, I made a mirror glaze that was too rubbery so I thought I would give it another try. Anyway, I wanted to try making some chocolate mousse domes. The recipe I found for the domes was good. It uses Agar Agar rather than gelatin sheets so it remained vegetarian.
As I only needed six shortbread cookies for the bases of the domes, I decided to make a few (24) shortbread cookies with the balance of the recipe. And, as long as I was also using chocolate for the domes I figured I might as well dip one side of the cookie to make a nice chocolate crescent accent
To make the domes, I filled my 2.5” diameter silicone mold with mousse to within 1/4” of the top. This provided room to fit a 2.5” trimmed cookie in the base. As the cookies spread a little while baking, the thinnest were trimmed with a cutter and placed on the still soft mousse, then put in the freezer until solid.
Even the thinnest shortbread cookies were too thick (about 1/4”.) The problem is the unbaked cookies are too fragile to move if they are any thinner. Next time I will roll the dough out thinner on the cookie sheet then remove the excess from between the round cookies. Wish me luck.
The results were promising. The glaze was too thick to pour. Spreading the glaze ruins the effect of a smooth. Coating. I found another recipe for the glaze, but using gelatin sheets. I will substitute Agar powder using one third the amount of Agar to gelatin. The ratio of cocoa powder to liquids seems right to allow it to pour. Time will tell.
Chocolate Mouse Domes with Agar Agar
INGREDIENTS: • 60 g Dark Chocolate (melted) • 50 ml (1/4 cup) Heavy Cream • 175 ml (3/4 cup) Whipping Cream ( whipped into soft Peaks) • 1 tbl Agar Agar • 6 short bread biscuits
Add Agar Agar to heavy cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate
Let rest for five minutes, then mix chocolate and heavy cream into a smooth mixture.
Fold in Whipped Cream to the above mixture
Pour the mousse mixture into semi dome silicone molds or any medium sized round bowls.
Place one biscuit over each dome
Freeze the mousse until solid.
White Chocolate Glaze
INGREDIENTS • 50 g White Chocolate • 50 ml Heavy Cream • 2 tsp Agar Agar • 1 tbl Butter
Mix in the above mixture and bring it to boil once.
INGREDIENTS • 206g, or 1 cup sugar • 142g, or 1⁄2 cup, plus 11⁄2 tbsp heavy cream • 1 ½ tsp Agar Powder (originally 12g, or 4 tsp gelatin, powdered) • 60g, or 1⁄4 cup water, cold • 148g, or 2/3 cups water, room temperature • 71g, or 1⁄2 cup, plus 5 tsp cocoa powder
In a medium pot, bring sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Add the Agar powder and heat while stirring until mixture starts to thicken (1-2 min, medium low heat.)
In a bowl, combine the 148g (2/3 cups) room temperature water with the cocoa powder, stirring with a spatula until it becomes a uniform paste.
Stir cream-sugar-Agar mixture into cocoa powder paste until combined.
Remove the pot from the heat, and strain the glaze mixture through a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl to remove any clumps of undissolved cocoa powder.
Emulsify the mixture with a hand blender (immersion blender) to remove any lumps, until smooth.
Cover and chill in the fridge overnight to set, until ready to use. Should be 90 deg to pour.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
OPTION PUBLISHED WITH THIS RECIPE INGREDIENTS: • 50 ml Water • 50 ml Heavy Cream • 50 ml Sugar • 80 gm Cocoa Powder • 2 tsp Agar Agar
Bring all the ingredients to boil in a medium saucepan.
Whisk to cool to room temperature
Sieve once to remove lumps
ASSEMBLING AND DECORATION:
After 8 hours remove mousse from freezer and remove from the moulds
Place mousse domes on cooling rack.
Pour Dark Chocolate or White Chocolate Glaze over the dome and place the dome in freezer for 5 mins.
I sprinkled some freeze dried raspberry powder on the domes to add a little bitterness to the sweetness of the mouse and glaze.
Anyone who read the post on my go-to brownie recipe knows a vital ingredient is jammy bits. These are small pieces of sugar coated chewy raspberry jam. They add texture, moisture and flavor to the brownies, but they are time consuming to make. (You can buy them at King Arthur Baking.)
The California wildfires “smoked us in” this morning with the AQI over 300 (!) I decided to stay inside (except to walk Rosie while wearing a KN-95 mask.) This provided the time necessary to make jammies. (Full disclosure: I also baked some chocolate chip cookies and blueberry drop scones from frozen doughs I made previously. I had to do something as the jam was reducing!)
Once the jammy bits are cut put them in an airtight container, add several tablespoons of caster sugar and toss to coat the bits. If some stick together break them apart and re-coat. If some to stick together when you go to use them, just cut them apart.
Fruit Jammy Bits
• 2 cups Berries • 2 Tbl Fruit Pectin • 2 cups sugar • Caster sugar (Extra Fine) for coating
Heat puree to barely boiling and add pectin
Once pectin is incorporated, add the sugar
Continue boiling until mixing marks stay 7-10 seconds or about 235-240F
Pour mixture into a fine sieve to remove seeds. Press firmly to squeeze as much seedless puree as possible through the sieve. I let the drippings fall on the caster sugar coated silicone mat trying to keep the thickness to 1-2mm.
If necessary, spread mixture on caster sugar coated silicone mat and freeze
Remove the sheet of fruit from the freezer and coat top with caster sugar
Flip coated over onto a cutting board and coat the now top surface with more sugar
When the fruit sheet is pliable cut into small squares (1/4” across) with a knife
Toss the jammy bits into a bowl of sugar then store in an air-tight container in the freezer
So what is a person to do with two very over-ripe bananas? Throw them out? I think not! Being both thrifty and whimsical I found an easy recipe for banana bread and at QC’s request added some raisins. In hindsight, I should have added more raisins. Next time I will use a whole cup instead of half. (Below recipe modified)
The recipe called for two tablespoons of sugar to be sprinkled on the top of the loaf prior to baking. This added a nice crunch and caramelization to the loaf. However, one tablespoon would probably be adequate. (Below recipe modified.)
Banana Raisin Bread
INGREDIENTS • 2 cups flour • 2 teaspoons baking powder • 1 teaspoon salt • 3⁄4 cup sugar • 2 eggs • 1⁄4 cup oil • 1⁄4 cup milk • 1 teaspoon vanilla • 2 ripe bananas, mashed • 1 cup raisins • 1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Mix wet ingredients in another bowl.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Pour in loaf pan sprayed with baking spray with flour and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Sometime around my birthday our Florida BFF send me a packet of recipes she culled from a selection of magazines. This Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake caught my eye, however, the first attempt hit the bin after QC rated it thumbs down. (Mfg agreed.)
I modified the original recipe from FoodNetwork by swapping out the AP flour for cake flour. This reduced the gluten to make a softer, lighter cake. Pound cake is not expected to be light and airy, but let’s be honest, dense, wet, stodgy cake is not terribly pleasant. I also substituted caster sugar for the cane sugar, reduced the oven temperature from 350F to 325F, increased the number of egg yolks by 2 and eliminated the almond extract. (QC and I do not like almond extract.) The final result was deemed presentable!
Raspberry-Swirl Pound Cake
INGREDIENTS Cake • 226g (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan • 198 (1 ¾ cups) cake flour, plus more for the pan • 6-oz fresh raspberries • 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam • 248g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster sugar, divided • 3 large eggs, plus 3 egg yolk, at room temperature • ¼ cup heavy cream • 1 1/8 teaspoons pure vanilla extract • 4 drops red gel food coloring (or enough to make an intense pink color) Glaze • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar • 2 tablespoons heavy cream for topping (more to thin if necessary) • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla • Crushed freeze-dried raspberries, for topping
Make the pound cake:
Preheat the oven to 325˚. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with Baker’s Joy, then line with parchment paper in two overlapping strips, leaving an overhang. Butter the parchment and lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Combine the fresh raspberries, jam, 2 tablespoons cane sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring and smashing the berries with a wooden spoon, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula. Let cool.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl until slightly foamy; set aside.
Beat the butter and remaining 1 cup caster sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and increase the mixer speed to medium high. Beat until pale and fluffy, 6 to 7 more minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour until just combined.
Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl, increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy, 15 to 30 seconds.
Scoop 3/4 cup batter into the bowl with the raspberry sauce and stir in the red food coloring. Transfer half of the remaining plain batter to the prepared pan and top with half of the raspberry batter; swirl together with a knife. Repeat and swirl the batters together again.
Bake until the top springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. (205 F internal temperature)
Transfer to a rack and let cool 15 minutes in the pan. Lift the cake from the pan and remove the parchment; return to the rack to cool completely.
Make the Glaze
Combine the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons heavy cream and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth; thin with the remaining 1 tablespoon heavy cream, if needed.
Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle with freeze-dried raspberries. Let set at least 20 minutes.
While on vacation last month, and at King Arthurs Bake shop, I learned a new word—Cakelets! I had absolutely no reason for buying a Nordicware Cakelet pan and, back home, tried it this morning for the first time. I used the Noricware recipe for Honey Chamomile Cakelets as a control for future bakes.
The recipe was simple and easy to follow, although I made a couple of changes and converted the volume measurements to weight. (I moved making the simple syrup to the beginning as reducing the liquid to a syrup takes a while and the cakelets should be coated while warm.) I find it’s convenient to measure most ingredients (such as honey) by weight. A cup of honey weighs 340g and a tablespoon weight 21g. Put your bowl directly on the scale and weight the required amount. Less mess and more accurate!
There was about twice as much honey syrup than required, so it’s quantity could be reduced by half. The cakelets released from the pan perfectly and maintained all the detail. I was very pleased with the result. The cakelets were strong honey which overpowered the chamomile but that is easily adjusted. I wonder how these would be with either a mirror glaze, or perhaps dipped in tempered chocolate. Hmmmm.
HONEY CHAMOMILE BEE CAKELETS
Recipe from Nordicware
INGREDIENTS • 177ml (¾ cup) water • 3 chamomile or jasmine tea bags • 115g ( ½ cup) butter, softened (best to let come to room temp) • 150g (¾ cup) granulated sugar • 126g (6 tbsp) honey • ¼ tsp vanilla extract • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk • 218g (1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour • ¼ tsp salt
After my success with the whole wheat bread yesterday I bit the bullet and created my own pumpernickel bread recipe based on what I learned yesterday and two other recipes. The results were excellent. (Whew!)
PUMPERNICKEL MINI LOAF BREAD
INGREDIENTS • 2 ½ cups warm water (100°-110°F) • ¼ cup vegetable oil • 2 Tbl molasses • ¼ cup honey • 3 ½ cups (400g) pumpernickel flour • 2 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder • ¼ cup Vital Wheat Gluten • 1 Tbl lemon juice • 1 ½ tbl (13.5g) instant yeast • 1 tsp (6g) salt • 2-3 cups (240-360g) bread flour • rolled oats (for dusting loaves)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together water, oil, molasses, and honey until mixed well.
Add pumpernickel flour to water mixture.
Add cocoa, yeast, and salt, Vital Wheat Gluten, lemon juice and stir until blended.
Let mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in bread flour, one cup at a time, until dough clings to hook and almost clears the sides of mixer, about 3-4 minutes.
Continue to knead with the dough hook for 6-8 minutes
Turn dough out on a lightly greased counter and knead by hand for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple.
Divide dough by weight into 8 equal portions. Mine were 192 g each.
Place each portion into a mini loaf pan and dust with rolled oats.
Allow dough to rise in until it is about 1 inch above the the edge of the pan, about 30-60 minutes. Take note of how high the bread is before starting proof. Mine was almost an inch to begin and I let it rise to 1 1/2 to 2”. There was a lot of oven spring also.
Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350 F.
Bake at for 18-25 minutes. (Internal temp should be 190-200 deg. F)