Monthly Archives: December 2011

Almond Cookies

Almond Crackle Cookies

Almond Crackle Cookies

Okay so I left the crackle out this time :-). If you like almonds you will love this cookie. They are really hard to resist right as they come out of the oven. You can even use them in desserts like mousse for example – just crumble them up and layer them with mousse. They hold their form and provide a lovely crunch when you get to them – and I mean mousses that are more like fruit mousses.

For the almonds, I normally soak them in hot water to help loosen their skins. Then pop them out of their skins and let them dry. Process them in a food processor until finely ground. At this stage you want to make sure you do not over process so that you end up with Almond butter. Or you can get almond flour from the stores – it makes these cookies go so much easier.

Recipe

Makes about 70

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup  vegetable oil (canola)
  • 1 tablespoon of pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
  • Icing sugar, to coat

Method

Sift the flour, baking powder into a bowl. Add the ground almond and salt and stir.

Whisk the eggs and sugars together until well combined. Add the oil, extract and amaretto and continue whisking until everything is incorporated.

Add the flour mix to the batter and mix. I used my dough hook to knead the mixture. It becomes fairly thick but its still moist. Wrap it and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out portions of the dough. Roll each scoop into a ball and then roll to coat in the icing sugar. Dust off excess icing sugar. Place on prepared cookie sheet (lined with silicone or parchment). Space them about 1″ apart.

Bake at 375F for about 14 minutes until the sugar is cracked and the cookies have lightly browned on the bottom. The cookies will seem soft on the top – don’t worry they will harden up as they cool.  Take them out of the oven and then off the cookie sheet and let them cool on a rack.


Espresso Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Espresso Coffee Crackle

Espresso Coffee Crackle

 

Its that time of year to bake oodles of goodies. As you can tell I love crackle cookies – I think they look super and these ones turn out cakey inside as well which is a nice surprise. I had ‘I love it’ and ‘It could be sweeter’ with this one. The espresso that I used could have been strong so these are definitely not your average sweet cookie – so if you do make it I would highly recommend using more sugar. However, the coffee lovers wolfed them down. Let me know what you do!

Recipe

  • 4 tblsps unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsps instant espresso
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 (about) tablespoon milk
  • Icing (confectioners) sugar, for coating

Method

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue beating until combined.

Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Sprinkle on the espresso powder and salt. Fold into the mixture.

Add the milk (you may need a little more if the batter is too stiff). Put the chocolate morsels in and stir.

Put this mixture into a bowl, cover it and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Using a cookie scoop (small), scoop out the batter, roll between your palms to form a ball and then roll in icing sugar to coat.

Place on a silicone or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Heat the oven to 350F. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes until they have spread and the sugar has cracked.

Let them cool on the tray for 3-4 mins before moving them to a wire rack.


Easy Bread Rolls

Bread Rolls

Bread Rolls

I got the original recipe from my Aunt. She is a great cook and is always happy to share recipes when you like them. This is a really cool recipe and reminds me of the bread rolls we used to get from the ‘Bread walla’ in Bombay. He used to come in the morning on his bicycle and you would buy whatever bread you wanted from him. There was one I never liked called ‘Kadak Pau’ – literally hard bread because the crust was really hard. I happily never got into that one. However, I used to love these soft rolls and we used to call them ‘Pau’. We would eat them with Amul butter (which has a nice salt content) and just loved them so much.
The nice part about these little rolls is that you can make and then freeze them. Then when you want to eat them just take them out and heat them in the oven or microwave them.

Recipe

  • 7 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 tsp of yeast
  • 1/2 cup of yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups of warm water

Method

Put the sugar in the warm water, stir to dissolve. Add the yeast and let it sit for about 7-10 minutes. The yeast should rise up and be all frothy.

Meanwhile, sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt, yoghurt on the side and oil. Then add the yeast mixture to the dough and knead.If your dough is too dry add a little more warm water – just a tad bit at a time. If it too sticky add a little flour. Knead for about 10 minutes. Your dough is done when it springs back if gently pressed. I used my kitchen aid to do the kneading for this.

Oil a bowl well and the dough well and place the dough in the bowl. Place a damp (dampened with warm water) kitchen towel over the dough and let place it in a warm place. I used my microwave for this. Let it sit there for about 2.5 hours until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down. Using a pastry scraper, out small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls that are a little larger than golf balls. Place them on a cookie sheet or a baking stone if you have one with space between them. The space should be about the size of the dough ball. I got 30 balls out of the dough and I used two cookie sheets. Now cover both sheets with damp kitchen cloths and let them rise again. It took about 2 hours but if you have a warm house it normally takes about an hour.

Heat your oven to 350F. Bake the rolls for 13 mins. Then turn the oven to Grill Low and grill them for about 2 mins. You will see the tops start to brown. The middle ones will brown quicker than the ones on the end. Keep a close watch as you do not want them to burn. Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a cookie sheet for about 3-4 mins and then move them off the tray directly onto the cooling rack.

Once they are cool you can put them in freezer bags and into the freezer.


Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

 

One of my items this year for my thanksgiving potluck was banana pudding. A thanksgiving favorite of a lot of people. I made the banana pudding from scratch – its really simple and I used fresh vanilla beans. I got a whole bunch when I was in India and they were so cheap. And I will let you in on a little secret – buy them online. You will find a lot of places that sell a whole load of beans for a fraction of the cost.

Using a vanilla bean is really simple, you slit it down the middle and then scrape out all the seeds and add. How easy is that. Then you use the leftover pods in your sugar jar for vanilla flavored sugar. Even if you just use that sugar in tea or coffee its still quite delicious!

A variation on using vanila wafers is to use pound cake. This recipe is sized for a trifle bowl.

Recipe

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1.5 cup heavy cream
  • 6  large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 stick of butter

Method

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the back of your knife or a spoon to scrape the seeds out of the pod (save the pod to make vanilla sugar). Put the vanilla seeds, egg yolks, milk, 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup of sugar to your kitchen aid bowl. Whisk until incorporated. Add sifted corn starch and whisk again (You can use your hand held egg beaters for this but why not use the kitchenaid when you have it!).

Pour the mixture into a saucepan. Heat the mixture between a low to a barely medium heat and stir the mixture continuously. Make sure that the mixture does not begin to boil. You want the mixture to come up to a gradual heat and it will thicken slowly. You will notice that your custard starts thickening after a while. Keep a close watch on it from this point on as you stir. Mine took about 18 mins to get done to the consistency I wanted it. Remember as you take it off the flame it will continue to thicken in the pan because of the heat. If you want it to stop plunge it into a basin of cold water and continue to stir because you want it all to cool evenly. Set it aside to cool completely.

Peel and slice the bananas. Put  the butter into a frying pan and heat it gently. Once it melts add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir. Then add the bananas ans stir letting them gently warm up. Once they are warm after about 2-3 mins. Turn off the gas. Pour the rum over the bananas and light it. Use a long handled lighter for this. The flame will go out quickly. Let this cool as well.

Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold this into the cooled custard.

Put a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom of the trifle bowl. Then spoon a layer of custard. Spoon bananas – repeat.  Cover – use cling film and let the film touch the top of the pudding. Refrigerate overnight preferably.