Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

When family comes to visit it's just another excuse to bake something special. But "special" can be anything from a cookie that is easy to prepare to a cake that has many steps to it's preparation. When my mother in-law comes she generally stays for two weeks. "Argh", you say but, this little lady is the best anyone could ask for. And she is my biggest fan...what's not to like? So we embark on a two week baking frenzy-sugar high, in between work that is! Our first project had to be simple since we had to get something sweet on the counter to avoid any of those nasty sugar withdrawals. So we chose shortbread cookies with chocolate chips (can't forget the chocolate fix). Shortbread consists of only a handful of ingredients and have so many possible variations. But first a good base is essential. This recipe is one of many recipes received through my email from: dailycookie@marthastewart.com . I first tried it on a whim not having had a favorite recipe for shortbread as yet. I generally find shortbread cookies to be a little greasy and aside from the taste of butter which has to be really good butter, unexciting. This rendition was a pleasant suprise. The butter flavor does not over power the delicious vanilla taste. The snap and texture is perfect. I love, love, love these cookies. Thank you Martha from mom and I!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm not big on Valentine's Day (too commercial) but, decided to be creative this year. I combined that thought with a self challenge. Since the weather was cold outside it would be a good time to do a batch of puff pastry again. I truly love puff pastry and therefore choose not to make it too often (high fat and many calories). The results is I always feel rusty when attempting it again. So this time I searched out a new version with a lower fat ratio. Thank you Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers.
The dough came out beautiful thanks to the easy to follow directions and a cool kitchen. I did 6 turns; 3 letter and 3 book. I was so excited about the results until I realized I hadn't thought of what I wanted to do with the dough!
Ah ha, why not make some small Palimers in honor of Valentine's Day! So as not to over do my enthusiasm I took only half the dough freezing the rest for another project.
They came out golden and cute, crunchy and sweet from the carmelized sugar and simply crumbled in my mouth. My tester was thrilled to help and quickly finished the whole dish!
I'd sy that was over an all success. Hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day too!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I have been making Rugelach for years. Sometimes with apricot jam and sometimes with raspberry jam always filled with chopped walnuts and raisins (the panel isn't crazy about chocolate so I leave that out). I get alot of requests for these little treasures especially around the holidays.
But, for the past couple of years I decided that the dough really wasn't what I was looking for. So I have been on a quest to find just the right balance of cream cheese and butter. Keeping in mind that the technique was equally as important. I was determined to have a firm yet flaky dough. Not too soft so that it isn't difficult to roll out (I hate when the dough sticks to everything).
Of course my tasting panel didn't understand why I would want to change anything. "Leave it alone", they said. My answer...I am looking for perfection and I will find it. And when I do you will understand. Well, I really think I'm there so I have attached a photo for your review (since I also need to practice photographing the goods!) I'm not ready to post the recipe yet. But, if you leave me a comment with your email address I will be glad to pass it along to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baby steps

Wow, it's been a long time. I started this blog with good intensions but it became overwhelming. What with work, home and teaching the blog was pushed to the back burner. I want to step back in the fire now but I think I'll keep it short and sweet. Since the holidays ended I have been busy testing recipes for my class and trying new ones for my family. I thought perhaps I would just keep track of those projects right here. So here I go:
This past week my friend, baking pal and former boss informed me he was making something special for his family; Gateau Basque. Intrigued I went through some of my treasured cookbooks and found I had the recipe and had already marked it to try. So this was my chance, I rose to the unspoken challenge and to my amazment it was amazing.
Gateau Basque is aka Custard Pie courtesy of Nick Malgieri, "A Baker's Tour". The crust is cake-like in texture with flecks of orange zest giving it a subtle orange flavor. Delicious on it's own! The filling is a creamy, smooth base of vanilla pastry cream with finely ground almonds. Accentuated by a layer of black cherry jam. Truly a feast for the palate! Thank you Sal for the challenge.
Here are a couple of photos of the results.