Category Archives: Cookies and Cakes

Cantuccini

It is time to test a classic Italian recipe by contributing baker Nick Malgieri.

On Sunday I was hoping that after I do all the food prep for the week, I will get myself a glass of vino and enjoy a marathon of Scandal. Midway through veggie chopping, I was imagining how I have to measure ingredients, wash mixer bowls and mixer attachments after making this week’s cookie recipe. No, I had not read the recipe just yet and this is what happens when you are pre-programmed from your previous biscotti baking experiences. I was in for a pleasant surprise!

No matter if you call them cantuccini or biscotti di Prato, these cookies are super fast and simple to make. In less than five minutes you could have them in the oven with only one mixing bowl to wash. Although the recipe states to knead the dough on the counter, I did that in the mixing bowl.

It would be interesting to try the original recipe used by Antonio Mattei when he first made these in the nineteenth century in the small city of Prato. Nowadays the dough is made with cake pastry flour, 18% of the dough is almonds, 1% of the dough is pine nuts, and more egg yolks than egg whites.

Cantuccini by Nick Malgieri

I subbed the white sugar for raw coconut sugar and the cantuccini are deliciously crunchy! The first baking took around 20 minutes and the second baking – less than 10 minutes. So good!

Here is the recipe. All proportions are the same except for the baking powder. In Baking with Julia, Nick calls for 2 tsp baking powder.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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Mocha Brownie Cake

This recipe for Mocha Brownie Cake is from Marcel Desaulniers, the world-renowned guru of ganache and the author behind ‘Death by Chocolate’. It takes a bit of a commitment to make this cake, but the resulting chocolate blackout is amazing!

Mocha Brownie Cake

I might be a bit too late to join the small dessert party. I still don’t know if I will ever claim that I have had a life-changing experience eating a cupcake that would throw me in baking cupcakes in all imaginable colors and flavors for years to come. Never the less, small cakes are perfect serving size and you do not have to worry about dirtying a knife and figuring how to best cut a cake sans a cutting guide…

Mocha Brownie Cake

Can you believe this cake is gluten, grain, and dairy free? So delicious and so mini and without any resemblance to a cupcake! The original recipe makes a 9-inch cake and uses dairy and all-purpose flour.

 
Mocha Brownie Cake
Adapted from Baking with Julia

Makes a 3.5 inch cake.

Ingredients

Cake

2 tbsp and 1 tsp Bob’s Red Mills hazelnut meal
1 ml baking powder
pinch of salt
25 gr dark chocolate, melted
15 gr unsweetened chocolate, melted
15 gr coconut oil
1 egg
50 ml coconut sugar
1 ml pure vanilla
2 tsp coconut yogurt

Ganache

70 grams dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tsp strong espresso

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of three generously buttered (use coconut oil, if you would like) ramekins with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together hazelnut meal, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Melt together the dark chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and coconut oil.
  4. Mix the egg, coconut sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume. Slowly add the melted and cooled chocolate.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture.
  6. Add the yogurt and mix until well incorporated into the batter.
  7. Divide the batter into three ramekins.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of cakes come out clean.
  9. Cool the cake completely.
  10. For the ganache, combine the coconut milk, chocolate, and espresso in a small pan. Heat over very low heat until the chocolate has melted.
  11. To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake and spread it with one 1/3 of the chocolate ganache. Refrigerate the cake until ganache is set, about 5-10 min. Repeat with the remaining layers. Pour the remaining ganache over the top and the sides of the cake. Allow the icing to set in the refrigerator for an hour.

Chocolate-Mascarpone Mini Cheesecakes

This week our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group is trying to seduce the most serious cheesecake lovers with a scrumptious dessert! The recipe for the Chocolate-Mascarpone Cheesecake is by contributing baker David Ogonowski and it contains cream cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, and dark chocolate.

choco mascarpone cheesecake

Is your heart starting to beat a little bit faster after reading the ingredients list?

This cheesecake contains all-purpose flour. Since I was on a mission to make this beauty gluten-free, I used Bob’s Red Mills Hazelnut Meal. When prepping the cake I was also getting dinner ready. The joys of multitasking! Beets, fennel and orange salad was on the menu that night. So no surprises here that the orange zest ended up in the cheesecake batter. The decision to use full-fat ricotta instead of mascarpone cheese was made when grocery shopping the previous day. Hello, Scrambled Eggs with Ricotta and Caramelized Onions!

The original recipe makes an 8-inch cake and it encourages you to use your favorite type of cookie crumbs for the crust. My gluten-free crust was from ground hazelnuts, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. I used 1/3 of the recipe and ended up with 12 mini cheesecakes baked in a 12-cup muffin pan.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Chocolate-Mascarpone Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Baking with Julia

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup hazelnuts
1 tbs coconut sugar
3 tbs coconut oil, melted

Filling

230 gr cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup Bob’s Red Mills hazelnut meal
¼ tsp vanilla
orange zest from one orange
75 gr full-fat ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
40 ml sour cream
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Directions

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts with the coconut sugar until finely ground. Add the coconut oil and pulse until the mixture resembles moist sand. Press the crumbs into the muffin pan (approximately 2 tbs per cup). Bake for 10 minutes.

3. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at low speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating for another 3-4 minutes. Add the hazelnut meal, vanilla, orange zest, and ricotta and beat just until incorporated.

4. Add the egg and beat the mixture until well mixed. Add the sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

5. Melt the chocolate and add 1 cup of the cheesecake mixture into the warm melted chocolate. Then mix the chocolate into the cake batter.

6. Place the muffin pan into a roasting pan and place on the center rack of the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the muffin pan. Bake the mini cheesecakes for 15 minutes.

7. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and cool to room temperature. Chill the mini cheesecakes for at least 6 hours before serving.

Vanilla Chiffon Roll

I always thought of chiffon as a fabric but as it turns out it doubles as a cake. This week’s recipe from our Tuesday with Dorie baking group is for Vanilla Chiffon Roll by contributing baker Mary Bergin.

vanilla chiffon roll

It is a chiffon cake rolled around chocolate walnut mousse. Since my oven is not big enough to accommodate a large jelly-roll pan, I decided to make a cake. After halving the recipe, I ended up with two 8-inch cake layers and enough mousse to spread in the middle. Instead of walnuts, I used roasted hazelnuts for the mousse and the final result was like dark chocolate Nutella. To finish the cake, I covered it with dark chocolate ganache. We enjoyed it on a lazy Sunday with some red wine. Half of the cake was enough for four of us.

For the recipe, please follow the link.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Gingersnaps

As always in December I promise myself that I will not be baking any (!) cookies and then I don’t know what happens but I keep baking and questioning if there will be enough cookies for everyone on my list. There are times when I hear myself: “You just went through a 5.5 lbs of flour in a week, are you sure you need to go get another bag?”

gingersnaps

I have been on a quest to find a good gingersnaps recipe for quite some time. As part of my searches, I decided to bake the gingersnaps from Baking with Julia last December. The cookies were a total disaster…I ended up making cheesecake crust with them and I still could not hide their sogginess and blandness. So, I admit that I was not enthusiastic at all when our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group picked this as one of our December recipes.

The only change that I made to the recipe was to increase the spices three times and to try the molasses glaze. The cookies took way longer to bake that the recipe suggested. They were crunchy with a very prominent molasses flavor and quite dense. I do not think that I will try this recipe for a third time. And if I do, I will use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, increase the spices, and skip the molasses glaze.

Do you have a good and tested gingersnaps recipe? Dorie’s Speculoos recipe from Around My French Table has been the closest to what I am looking for.

If you would like to give this recipe a try, please follow the link.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Come to the dark side, we have cookies!

As part of the Vancouver International Film Festival we watched a documentary about the life cycles in a very remote village in northwest Greenland. In Niaqornat, the Village at the End of the World, the population is only 59 predominantly Inuit people. It was fascinating to see and hear the stories of people whose traditions have been jeopardized by climate change and financial hardship and who despite all that have the spirit to keep going.

double chocolate cookies

During the permanent darkness of winter, the rhythm of life in the village became slower and affected people’s moods. It was a dark period! Watching TV did not seem to alleviate depression, but perhaps tons of chocolate would be a good medicine?

This week our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group is making cookies. The Double Chocolate Cookies by contributing baker Rick Katz might offer a temporary solution for those of you who are having trouble living in darkness during the long winter months. The recipe uses 16 oz of chocolate and makes twelve cookies! Since there was only a small amount of flour in the recipe, I subbed it for hazelnut flour. So the cookies became gluten free and had those lovely mocha chocolate Nutella flavors. Chocoholics Anonymous Unite!

The description that this is half cookie, half brownie sums it up great. The recipe could be found in Baking with Julia.

X Cookies

Our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group made X cookies by contributing baker Nick Malgieri earlier this month.x-cookies tower

Since I had the original baking schedule in my agenda (X cookies for Oct. 15th and Danish Braid for Oct. 23rd), I was caught up by surprise when I realized that the two recipes are pushed by one week each and the last Tuesday of the month will be Make-Up Tuesday to bake any recipes that we have missed. Enough excuses and explanations… The more baking opportunities, the better 🙂

x-cookies

If you are wondering, what are X cookies, here is my quick and dirty definition – X cookies are cookies filled with spicy fig filling and shaped like X-s. They are typical Sicilian cookies and are also known as Cucidati or as Sicilian Fig Cookies, if you can’t twist your tongue to pronounce ‘cucidati’.

Let’s do a quick pronunciation exercise. Say: ku-chi-da-ti. Now, say it five times fast. Awesome! Doesn’t it sound lovely? Let me just say that your pronunciation will improve after you taste the cookies!

The dough for the cookies – pasta frolla, is rather quick and straightforward to make. The fig filling is the more intriguing part of the recipe. It is made out of dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, and spices. I started the preparation of the fig filling three days in advance when I bought the oranges and made the candied orange peel. I plumped the figs in my favorite blended green tea by Steam – Fresh Bamboo Mint.

I followed Nick Malgieri’s original recipe from Baking with Julia, however I added 1 tsp of espresso powder and ¼ tsp ground cloves to the fig filling.

x-cookies print out

Shaping the cookies is the most intriguing part and it can’t be done if you have too much caffeine in your system. Shaping and baking the cookies took me around 1.5 hours… The cookies were piling high on the cooling rack and I am not ashamed to admit that I tasted cookies from every single baking sheet that I baked. After I pulled out the last batch from the oven, I thought that these cookies will last us until Christmas…Gone in 604800 seconds!

x-cookies cross

This is a variation of the recipe – the dough and the technique are the same, the fig filling ingredients are slightly different.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

This week our Tuesdays with Dorie group is celebrating Spring and baking with rhubarb. It is that time of the year when we are drawn to lighter tasting desserts and indulging our sweet teeth in fruit-based baked goodies is a must.

rhubarb uspide down

The recipe is by contributing baker Johanne Killeen and yields eight baby cakes, each four inches in diameter or one large twelve inch cake. After an energy draining debate with myself, I decided against the purchase of eight new pans and baked one eight inch cake. Had to tweak the recipe and that involved some college-level calculus. Here is the problem, in case you are wondering:

If a recipe yields eight one-inch cakes and you are to bake one eight-inch cake, how would you adjust the ingredients? Please convert to metrics and make sure that you account for the butter that is used to make the caramel sauce.

At the end I halved it and it worked! Well, not exactly…I used the original amount of rhubarb and walnuts and added some orange zest for extra oomph.

The surprise ingredient in the cake batter was crème fraîche. I decided to make my own following the instructions in Baking with Julia. After 24 hours of inoculating the whipping cream and yogurt, the crème was still liquid. Getting a little panicky, I shook the jar and decided to give it another 24 hours. In the meantime I bought a container of crème fraîche, just to be on the safe side…Let me tell ya, after 48 hours I had an amazingly thick crème fraîche and I was left wondering what to do with the store-bought one. Ooo, all the drama ! Another cake ? Any recommendations ?

crème fraîche

And I have left over rhubarb – should it be rhubarb chutney or rhubarb ginger ice cream ?

If you would like to feel Spring in your kitchen, please visit Erin who is the host for this week’s recipe.

 

Madeleines

This week our Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking the quintessential French cookies – madeleines using a traditional recipe based on a génoise cake batter.

Madeleines are quite often linked to Marcel Proust since he used one of his madeleines memories to explain the difference between voluntary and involuntary memory. Believe it or not there are actually studies being conducted that have tried to assess the accuracy of Proust’s ideas. I am ready to bet the idea to research such a topic was born in the head of a foodie researcher.

Edmund Levin in The Way the Cookie Crumbles even went on a madeleines recipe testing quest trying to find the recipe that Proust might have referred to. Come on now, don’t try to guess if the recipe in Baking with Julia by contributing baker Flo Braker made the cut!

Last year when we baked the French Strawberry Cake using the Perfect Génoise, I had to bake the cake twice because it kept deflating. This time around – not a chance! I was determined to bake the recipe only once and try to use what I have learned about génoise. A picture is worth a thousand words – cliché but so true:

madeleines_chaos

The whisk attachment – the real superstar in this recipe:

madeleines_whisk Since I could not figure out how to use the extra cup of sugar that the recipe called for, I made a lemoncello glaze from 1/4 cup icing sugar, 1 Tbs butter, and 1 Tbs Meyer Lemon Limoncello. Also, added some crushed cardamom to the cake batter.

The not so pétit madelines:

madeleines

Quite dry but flavorful, this is the perfect cookie to dip in your hot drink of choice. It would be great in a tiramisu type of desert. I still prefer biscotti though!

If you are trying to decide between madeleines and biscotti for yourself, please visit Katie and Amy of Counter Dog who are the hosts for this week’s recipe.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week our Tuesdays with Dorie baking group is all excited about using 1 (one!) pound of chocolate for a chocolate chip cookie recipe contributed by Rick Katz.

The story behind this cookie recipe is very sweet and when reading it I decided that this recipe will not be halved no matter the four dozen cookies it is supposed to yield. The more gluttonous reason was that I was also curious to try the combination of apricots and dark chocolate in a cookie.

Chocolate chip cookies are the most American dessert for me. Period. Move away apple pies and brownies! Since their incidental discovery in 1930s by Mrs. Wakefield and attributed to a Nestle chocolate bar falling off and shattering into an industrial mixer that was mixing dough for butter drop cookies, for cookie lovers rarely is there another recipe that is more dearly loved than the classic chocolate chip variety.

How come a cookie that is made by more or less staple kitchen ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter, sugar, leavening agents, and chocolate is sending cookie aficionados on “Find the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest”? I admit – I am one of them and no matter how many new recipes I try, I am always on the look out for a new and better tasting cookie. Did I mention that we have picked to stay in a particular hotel just because they were serving chocolate chip cookies to their guests upon arrival?!

What’s exciting about this particular chocolate chip cookie recipe is that uses espresso powder to give the cookies their mocha flavor and also dried apricots. Oh, and did I say ONE POUND of chocolate?

The recipe stated that it would yield 48 cookies, I baked and counted 36 cookies. In the process of baking and counting, I was accused of secretly eating the missing 12 cookies. I am not admitting anything!

mocha_choco_chip_cookie

The cookies tasted better the second day after baking although when they were straight out of the oven it was fun to bite into the melting chocolate. The mocha flavor was really there! Unfortunately, the apricots became an unknown extra when staying beside the chocolate superstar. Also, they made the cookies very, very sweet… Walnuts or pecans would be a great substitution for the dried apricots.

And I used my own vanilla extract that I made by soaking vanilla beans in grappa for 4 months. Pure insanity flavor-wise!

vanilla

If you would like to add another chocolate chip cookie recipe to your baking arsenal, please visit Peggy of Galettista who is the host for this week.

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