Thursday, June 10, 2010

Raspberry-White Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

On my normal baking-extravaganza day (i.e. Tuesday) I was way under the weather and had a day at home. Normally this would entail a much bigger baking endeavor than cookies but with the sickness I decided to take it easy. And as far as I'm concerned, cookies are taking it easy. Even though these are sandwich cookies which I suppose requires twice the work, plus a bit more for the filling, they still weren't took bad (in terms of work) and in no way did I make myself worse for the ware for making them. Actually this was the ONLY thing I did on Tuesday, which I guess is good for my health but not so good in terms of productivity, but whatever.

I really don't know why I bought the ___ book. Every recipe is on her website anyways. Word to the wise. 

I hesitate to say that I am happy/fortunate/etc. to own the Martha Stewart "Cookies" book because as I've expressed before, and I'm glad that others agree, her stuff is a bit hit and miss. Seems strange that the reigning heavy weight of all things domestic (is she still reigning? maybe only by default) would have recipes in her repetoir that really weren't all that good. Nearly half the stuff I've ever made of 'hers' turns out not just bad, but almost awful. I can't all be my fault. It still baffles me. At any rate, I always enter in to making her recipes with a fair bit of apprehension and this time I searched around a bit to see if others had tested this recipe before I even attempted it. I wasn't about to make something else on my sick day if it turned out bad. Not going to happen. Seemed like several people in the blogging world had tested and liked the recipe, so I forged ahead. 

The dough was mousse-y and granular. Mmm I love it when you can taste and feel the sugar. One of my favorite textures. Baking the cookies I noticed took a bit more skill but not much. I noticed the cookies tend to puff up a bit when baking, but when you turn the baking sheet half way through, you end up deflating them by opening and closing the oven door. This kind of annoys me and makes me think why didn't Martha's minions figure this out when coming up with the recipe? Why have such a temperamental cookie? I mean it's a cookie for ___'s sake. Anyway, they become a bit flat when all is said and done. Not a deal breaker but irritating. They cool extremely fast which is a great trait of this particular cookie I have to say. I'm far too impatient to wait around for something to cool. I do most of the time, but I don't like it. 

I had to tamper with the filling just a bit to get it to work. 'Martha' says to melt the white chocolate then take off the heat and add the cream and then add the raspberry puree to it. Well, the white chocolate never seemed to melt. I'm not sure why since white chocolate is nearly all fat. Mine just sat there in a clump and never smoothed out to a liquid. I took matters into my own hands and added the cream and whisked until it was smooth. You usually add cream over heat with a ganache or at least right after you take it off the heat. So whichever way you do it just make sure the cream and chocolate are evening mixed before you add your pureed raspberries. Once you get it all mixed together you need to refridgerate for at least 30 minutes before you fill your cookies since it takes a while to thicken. I'd recommend an hour. I used a frosting spatula to do this but thought as I was doing so, a pastry bag would work so much better. Just pipe a big dollap on to each cookie and assemble. So easy. Refrigerate again to stiffen the filling back up. Since I have a tendency to slightly underbake cookies (on purpose-I like them super tender) they were amazing with the filling. Almost like a cake. Super soft and moist. The kind of cookies that slowly pull apart in the commercials. But these are chemical free. Always a plus. 

If you're in a cookie mood, try these out. They are delicious!

Photos by Collin Monda

Friday, June 4, 2010

Strawberry Tartlets with Honey Mascarpone Filling

For my next round of tartlets I used strawberres. Just another option for you. I can't decide which I liked better, strawberry of blackberry, but I think that's a good thing. Proving their versatility once again. Recipe and previous post on how to make these tarts here. Now what to make next? I think a mixed fruit would be beautiful and quite delicious....

Photos by Collin Monda

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blackberry Tart(let)s with Honey Mascarpone Cheese Pastry Cream and Coffee Shop Sampler

I wanted to switch things up last week from my usual buttercream/cake overload frenzy to something a bit more refined. Perhaps a bit more French. Less sugar. More cream. More fruit. No buttercream. With those constraints I happened upon a wonderful tart recipe that used a honey and mascarpone cheese filling. I settled on blackberries for my fruit (one of my favorites and so pretty against white) and used the tried and true Pate Brisee recipe from Julia Child for the crust. The hardest part was making the little tart shells and that truthfully is not that hard. Just takes some time if you want to make a couple dozen and only have 6 tart shell pans. Lots of shuffling and repeating but really not too bad. And the only baking you have to do is of the shells so that's nice. Just remember to line them with foil or parchment paper and fill them with pie weights and/or beans. Also, poke some holes in the crust so the dough doesn't puff up too much. 

For the filling you just mix up some honey, mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and vanilla. I was a bit weirded out by this mixture thinking it would resemble something like cheese cake (my mortal enemy) but was pleasantly surprised that it was not sour or cheesy at all. Despite the actual cheese and sour cream. It turned out more like a standard pastry cream, but richer. Had a wonderful depth and just a hint of sweet from the honey. Quite delicious with fruit. After you fill them and add your fruit topping, chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more to stiffen up the cream and keep them fresh. Keep chilled until ready to serve or just before. 

I'm not sure how I could sell this to you more but I heard from several people independently that this was the best thing I've ever made and perhaps some shade of shock at how nice looking it was. Perhaps my tasters where surprised that copious amounts of butter was not involved nor any buttercream. A nice change up. It's good to keep people on their toes. One thing that I love about this is that it is so versatile. You can add any fruit as a topping. The cream and the crust are merely a base. You can do a mixed fruit or maybe even do them plain, or with chocolate. Who knows. It's open to interpretation. I'm planning on making several variations of this in the future. A definite crowd pleaser as it turns out. 

Here's the filling recipe (from Annie's Eats):

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ground nutmeg

And the pate brisee recipe (from Master the Art of French Cooking) 

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 - 120 ml) ice water

A week ago I made a little sampler of baked goods for a coffee shop I may be supplying some sweets to in the future. (Fingers Crossed). I settled on the tarts (several people insisted that I do this so I figured they know best and are the type of customer for these treats so who am I to deny them?) as well as my favorite, the red velvet cake, in cupcake and minicupcake form, and the lemon doughnuts. I think they all turned out pretty well and hopefully I'll get the gig. I tried to do a nice mixture of flavors to show some versatility but then realized I didn't do any of my usual sweet laden treats with buttercream, but oh well, I think some of myself came through. People can't subsist entirely on buttercream creations. They want some variety. I think anyway. I'm good with just buttercream though.

The Baby Loaf

Photos by Collin Monda