Mini Tartlets

When I saw these in the store, I knew I had to get them! I love all things mini. There’s just something about the small size that grabs my attention more than the full-size version. Mini Snickers bars that somehow only make an appearance on Halloween. Mini muffins or cupcakes. Mini loaves of bread. Mini. Easy. One or two bites. An amuse bouche. A petit four. Mignardises. How ever you put it, I love it!

I used these to make tartlets for New Year’s Eve this past year (2011-2012). I made chocolate ganache and orange curd tartlets. I sprinkled the chocolate ganache ones with white sugar crystals (the sort of sugar that does not dissolve) and the orange curd ones with homemade candied orange zest.

Cover of "Baking"

I got the recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking, by James Peterson. I like this book because it not only gives you great recipes, but because it shows you steps by picture and gives you more than one technique to doing something. For example, the tart/pie dough recipe can be made with either water, heavy cream, or eggs/egg whites as the liquid (or any other liquid–maybe orange juice). It also says how to mix the dough by hand (on a table or in a bowl) or by mixer. It is a great book for all of the basic baking you might want to do.

P.S. This post is a part of my catching up series.

What September Means To Me…

…was the theme of this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Since sugar cookies should not really be a challenge for anyone to make, the challenger set it up so that we had to bake/decorate the cookies with the theme of what September means to us.

The Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and Yom Kippor, the day of atonement) both fall in September, so I made shofar, torah, and Jewish star (star of David) shaped cookies. I made them with just white royal icing because:

1) I did not have time to go out and buy food coloring

2) It was Yom Kippor when I made them, so I thought that white was appropriate, since it is the color that you wear to show your respect for the day of reflection…or something like that.

Anyway, I brought the cookies to the Break-the-fast dinner I went to and they seemed to be well-received since they were gone by the end of the night. (Not sure if they were all eaten that night, or someone took them home.)

Although they were simple, and easy to make, I enjoyed this challenge. It was a nice way to celebrate the holidays. Continue reading

January: the month of newbies…Daring Bakers Challenge #1

So, I wanted to join this group for a while after reading about their challenges on other food blogs. So I thought, what better time to start something new than in the new year. So here goes:

“The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.”

I have worked with gluten-free flours before, and with all of the rain, I just didn’t feel like trekking all the way down to the Mission to get what I needed, so I used wheat flour. It was a simple change to the challenge recipe, just replace the gluten-free flours with wheat flour.

The graham cracker dough was sticky, and I ended up adding a little extra flour while I kneaded and rolled it out. Since I don’t really like plain graham crackers (or s’mores) and I knew I would have extras, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the shapes of the crackers themselves, and just baked them for the crumbs. Oh, of course I tried one or three before smashing them to bits, and they are good on their own. But I will surely make a tart or pie crust of some sort with the leftover crumbs.

The Nanaimo Bars were pretty easy to make, and all of the layers make a tasty treat. I only have half of them left and I only made them on Monday.

I do have a lot of leftover ingredients that will have to be used some how, so look for recipes featuring these ingredients again (such as the graham cracker crumbs).

I hope this post gets the Daring Baker’s stamp of approval. Take the jump for the recipes.

they’re not the prettiest that I’ve seen, but they were tasty.

Continue reading

sugar cookies

Yesterday, I made sugar cookies for the last day of Hanukkah party I helped Benjie host. I made two different recipes, one was (I think) the recipe from the back of the Domino’s sugar bag, and is a regular sugar cookie recipe, which used only white granulated sugar. The other one I have saved from Gourmet magazine, and it is a brown sugar cookie recipe. The first one can be rolled and shaped and cut out and decorated. The other can be scooped, and is more like a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe without the chocolate chips. I decorated with sprinkles and blue icing. Many people like to use royal icing for decorating cookies, but with everything else going on for the party (we made latkes, too) I didn’t want to make royal icing. However, I will include the recipe just in case you want it for your sugar cookies. The royal icing is from A Field Guide To Cookies, which is written by another food blogger; her site is called Dessert First.

So, here are the recipes, in order they were mentioned:

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup sugar or 1- 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

Heat oven to 375º. Sift together the dry ingredients; set aside. Cream together butter and vanilla. Add either 3/4 cup sugar or 1-1/2 cups for chewy cookies. Beat in the egg. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Roll out and cut to desired shapes. You can add sprinkles right into the dough, and/or you can add sprinkles to the top of the cookies. The colder the dough, the easier it is to handle. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 1-1/2 dozen large cookies.

(Almond) Brown sugar cookies (from Gourmet magazine)

1-1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

(1/2 cup whole blanched almonds = 2-1/2 oz)

Whisk together dry ingredients. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture. (Stir in almonds) Roll into logs and chill or freeze dough or scoop onto baking sheets. If you rolled the dough into logs, you will slice the dough less than 1/8 inch thick. If you scooped them, use the back of a wet spoon or wet the palm of your hand, and press down. Bake cookies 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 100 to 120 sliced cookies. I think I made about 12-18 3 inch scooped cookies.

Royal Icing

2 egg whites

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 cups powdered sugar

food coloring

Whisk all ingredients except for the coloring in a clean bowl on high speed. They should be shiny and an opaque white. It should be a glue-like consistency. Divide into bowls and mix in the coloring as desired. Keep covered with a damp towel so it does not dry out.

So, those are the recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing for decorating. I really liked the brown sugar cookies, and I think that was everyone’s favorite as well.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! (though I am sure I’ll bake something else before New Year’s.)