Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Milan Cookies

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. We could pick either one or do both if we wanted. I have always been a huge fan of the Milan cookie so that's what I chose to make.
These cookies are very simple to make. The challenge comes in piping them out. They really spread out when cooking. My first batch of cookies were huge. Not necessarily a bad thing! The finished cookies taste just like the Milan cookies made by Pepperidge Farms, and they're so easy I can whip them up anytime.
Be sure to check out all the other Daring Bakers. The Mallows look so good I may just break down and make them soon!
Thanks to Nicole for a fun challenge!!

Milan Cookies

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Sorry my post is a little late but Hubs got me a new camera for my birthday and I've been learning to use it. I'm in love with it! Thanks Hubs for the great gift!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Watermelon is the quintessential symbol of summer for me. It brings back memories of childhood summer's past, sitting outside with a large slice, the juice running down my arms and dripping off my elbows, spitting seeds into the grass. Is there anything better on a hot summer day than a slice of sweet, juicy, ice cold watermelon? I don't think so! Although you can get watermelon year-round now, it's not the same in January. I recently got a fresh from the field watermelon at our local farmer's market. It was just an old fashioned, full of seeds, watermelon. It was everything a good watermelon should be, super sweet and juicy with a firm texture. As I ate a large slice of it (yes the juice was running down my arms!)I remembered seeing a recipe for watermelon rind preserves. The rinds are edible and have a surprising amount of uses! I've never made watermelon rind preserves before but they are very common through out the South. So this time rather than just throw out the rinds, I thought I'd give the preserves a try.
This recipe is a bit like making a sweet pickle. First the rind is soaked in a brine then cooked down in a sweet syrup.
It's great served with freshly baked bread or biscuits. These preserves have a nice gingery flavor that would be a perfect accompaniment for either chicken or pork. In the South it's most likely to be found on a relish tray and served as an appetizer.

Watermelon Rind Preserves
1/4 cup salt
4 quarts water
1 3/4 pounds (about 6 cups) prepared watermelon rind *see note
One 3/4 inch piece of ginger thinly sliced
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 small lemon thinly sliced (optional)

Combine salt with 1 quart water: stir until salt is dissolved. Place the rind in a bowl and pour the salted water over the rind. Let the rind stand at room temp for 5-6 hours.
Drain and rinse rind, and drain again. Cover it again with 1 quart of cold water. Let rind stand for 30 minutes, then drain again.
Place the rind in the preserving pan with one quart of water. Bring water to a boil and simmer over low heat until the rind is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rind in a colander.
Tie the ginger into a spice bag, and place the bag in the preserving pan. Add in the sugar, lemon juice, remaining quart of water and the lemon slices. Heat the syrup, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rind. Simmer, uncovered, until rind is translucent, 1-1 1/2 hours.
Ladle the rind and syrup into pint or half-pint jars. Add lids and rings, and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. For a complete guide to canning check out the USDA's site for guidelines.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Apricot Raspberry Pie

I can't believe that it's already July! It's been a hectic summer but I'm getting back into the swing of things. Managing a new farmers market has been fun but extremely time consuming. The best part however is I get to buy freshly picked produce right from the farmer that grew it.
Here in the South, we are blessed with an abundance of fresh fruit this time of the year. This week I found apricots. I look forward to fresh apricots each year. The apricot season is short so I try to eat as many as possible while they'er available. I bought a large bag so I could use some in baking. I wanted to make an apricot pie. I've used apricots in many things but had never made a pie with them. This pie is really quick to put together and looks beautiful when finished.

Raspberries and apricots really compliment each other so I decided to use both in this pie but you could use just apricots if you prefer. If you use only apricots, you will need to use about 2 pounds of fruit.

Apricot Raspberry Pie
Adapted from Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

(Print Recipe)

Serves 8
1 1/2 lbs fresh apricots
6 oz fresh raspberries
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup slivered almonds (optional)

One 9" unbaked pie shell. You can use your favorite pie crust recipe or use a purchased pie crust.
Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in lower third. Cut apricots (with skins) apart into halves, discarding pits. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, then stir in sugar, flour, almonds, and nutmeg, and remove from heat. Cool mixture until firm enough to crumble, 10 to 15 minutes.

Put apricots and raspberries in pie shell and crumble butter mixture over them. Bake pie, with a foil-lined baking pan on rack below it (to catch drips), 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and continue to bake until top is golden, 50 minutes to 1 hour more.
Cool pie to warm or room temperature on a rack.