Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chinese Cocktail (Coconut) Buns

I have been dying to try my hand at making some Chinese baked goods. They seem so ethereally light and fluffy and considerably less sweet than North American baked goods. Whenever I go to Chinese bakeries I always buy the Cocktail buns.

The cocktail bun, a specialty of Hong Kong originating in the 1950s, is a bun stuffed with a filling made of sugar and shredded coconut. The shiny golden-brown exterior color comes from a combination of a light egg wash and/or sugar glaze. The chewy interior is bread-like with the coconut filling. The exterior also often has some swoosh mark made from the coconut filling and may have sprinkled sesame seeds (Wikipedia).

The recipe was really easy to follow and the filling is to die for. I would consider my buns to be somewhat successful. Definitely edible but could use some work. For the filling I although I used brown sugar instead of white because I kinda felt like being different. White sugar is probably a better choice though. I also didn't do the egg/honey wash as I was pressed for time. I am not used to working with feather-light doughs like the one and it felt like I was kneading air!

If you want to try making these, and I highly reccommend it, the recipe is from Company's Coming (Chinese Cooking) found on the website at this link: Chinese Cocktail Buns

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD: Chocolate-Crunched Peanut Tart

This recipe was chosen by Carla of Chocolate Moosey. For the recipe, visit her blog or find it in the book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.

Caramel-Peanut Layer - before the chocolate ganache gets poured on top

Ta-da! Smooth and silky ganache hiding the delicious caramel underneath

What initially looked like a complicated recipe was actually a simple one that came together quickly. The only thing that required baking was the tart shell. This recipe forced me to try making caramel again and I must say, it was a success! I didn't burn it and I didn't even use a candy thermometer because Dorie's instructions were so great. The only thing I would have done differently is to use the honey roasted peanuts that the recipe called for in the first place. I substituted a mix of unsalted and salted because I couldn't find honey roasted in the bulk food section where I like to get my nuts, so I don't end up with more than I need.

The chocolate ganache portion was too much for the tart filling, so I refrigerated it and used the extra to frost a batch of brownies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DB: Vols-Au-Vents

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I had so much fun making these. What a sense of accomplishment and pride when you see your puff pastry rise in the oven and when you bite into a piece to reveal the beautiful layers. This has been my favorite Daring Baker's Challenge so far. Thank you Steph for this challenge! I have always been afraid of making puff pastry because of its reputation but it is actually not difficult at all. This recipe is one I will be using again and again.

I chose a very simple filling (sweet rather than savory of course, because I have an insatiable sweet tooth!) I filled them with a sweetened whipped cream, which complemented the buttery puff pastry wonderfully.

The butter block.

4 dots to mark 4 turns completed.

Filled with a simple sweetened whipped cream. Mmmm


Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan | 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book.

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

(White) Chocolate Cheesecake Shortbread Bars

What a combo: chocolate, cheesecake and shortbread. No wonder these are so yummy! They are the perfect little treat to make whan you're craving cheesecake but don't want to commit to a towering spring form pan's worth of it. You can use your favorite chocolate here, just remember to alter the amount of sugar to taste depending on the type you use.

I used low fat vanilla yogurt instead of heavy cream in this recipe. The cheese layer came out just as creamy as ever with a few calories saved as a bonus.

Chocolate Cheesecake Shortbread Bars
adapted from Bars & Squares | 8" square pan

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar (or less if using white choc. as it is sweeter)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (i used white)
2 eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream (i used vanilla yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Shortbread crust: In a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine flours and salt. Add the softened butter to the bowl and mix until butter is in pea-sized pieces. Press into a greased 8" square pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
3. Cheesecake: Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat cream cheese until smooth then add sugar. Add melted, slightly cooled chocolate then eggs, one by one. Stir in cream and vanilla.
4. Pour the cheesecake filling into the pan on top of the baked shortbread crust when it comes out of the oven. Smooth the top then return to oven for 30-40 minutes or until only slightly jiggly in the centre. Cool thoroughly then reftigerate overnight before serving.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets

They're adorable - just like mini turnovers.

Oops... too much jam...

Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes decided on Cottage Cheese Pufflets for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

I love recipes that use the food processor. I love not having to cut in butter by hand when making pastry and how you can whip up a batch of amazing pizza dough in seconds flat. My 12 "Engine Red" Kitchen Aid 12 cup food processor is definitely one of my favorite kitchen appliances - second only to my "Licorice" 6 quart Kitchen Aid Professional 600 stand mixer. I only wish I had enough counter space for it so I can display it and also avoid the hassle of having to take it in and out of the box. There's only enough room for one large KA appliance that at the moment, the mixer is it. Hmm... can you say 'brand loyalty'? I've read recently in America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated that the new Cuisinart stand mixer is as good as if not better *gasp!* than the KA mixers. I refuse to believe it and I stand by the tried and true, lol. Plus, you just can't beat KA's amazing selection of mixer colors, right? I would have liked a pink one and would have gotten a pink one if they had it in the model I wanted. Unfortunately, at the time they only the pink one in 4 and 5 quart bowl sizes.

Okay, enough chatter. Let's get back to the recipe. These pufflets are so cute. Simplicity at its finest. I admire the way Dorie transforms a few simple ingredients into something ingenious and delicious. Who knew that a pastry made using cottage cheese could result in something similar to puff pastry? Dorie writes that these are good even without the jam filling, but I opted to follow the recipe all the way and fill them with jam because my mantra is: You can never have too much sugar! For the recipe, visit the Daisy Lane Cakes (link in the first paragraph of this entry) or Google "Cottage Cheese Pufflets".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheese Pennies

Oh My Goodness.
These are amazing! Each crunchy bite is a flavor explosion inside your mouth. I especially liked the overbrowned ones because I'm just that kinda person. I always go for the edges of foods, the heel of the bread, pizza crusts, you get the gist.

Cheese Pennies
adapted from King Arthur Flour | 60-70 pennies

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients to make a cohesive dough, sprinkling in a tablespoon or so of water if the dough doesn't seem to want to come together. As soon as the dough starts to come together, turn off the mixer and gather it into a rough ball. Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a 16-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and chill it in the freezer for 30 minutes. (If you want to freeze them for a longer amount of time, just make sure to remove them from the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to slice them.)

Using a serrated knife, slice the log crosswise into 1/8-inch rounds. Place them close on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. They won't spread much as they bake.

Bake the cheese pennies in a preheated 400°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they're just beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan for several minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

Look at that flaky goodness!

Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen picked Flaky Apple Turnovers for this week's TWD. Thanks for a great pick Julie! A great kick-off to "back to school".

I used Gala apples because that's what I had on hand. I couldn't believe how professional these turnovers looked and how flaky the pastry turned out with minimum work required. They truly live up to their name. The recipe calls for sour cream in the pastry and this really helps ease the handling. I egg-washed them then dusted them with sugar before baking. Mmm... a perfect morning pastry.

In the oven, working its magic

Oops, too much apple in this one - it wouldn't stay shut.

Visit Julie's blog (above) for the recipe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raincoast Crisps

After all those cakes last week I decided to bake something earthy, wholesome and simple. These copycat Raincoast Crisps by Lesley Stowe are super popular and super expensive too! $6 for a very small box. I love how easy and versatile this recipe is. You can swap out the seeds, nuts, dried fruit for whatever you like. Next time I think I'll experiment with orange zest and craisins and pistachios. Mmmm....

It's nice to bake something healthy for a change, especially since I did a wedding shower cake and a birthday cake the past few days. I was much in need of something simple and down to earth to bake. This fit the bill!

Rosemary Craisin Pecan Crisps
8 dozen crisps

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and mix with a rubber spatula, just to combine. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary. Stir till just blended.
3. Pour the batter into two greased 8x4" loaf pans. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. It is easier to get thin slices when the bread is colder. You may also opt to freeze one loaf to slice and bake later.
4. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 15 mins. Flip them over and bake for another 10 or until crisp and golden. (As crisp as you like them).

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mango Cheesecake

Today was my mom's birthday. For several years now I have been in charge of baking everyone's birthday cake. Unfortunately, my very unadventurous family always requests my New York Cheesecake. Plain, no topping, no garnish, no sauce... just pure, unadulterated cheesecake. While this has given me the opportunity to perfect my NY Cheesecake recipe, it's getting a little boring baking the same thing 4 times per year when my mind wanders to the multitude of fancy cake recipes I could be trying out. So... I was thrilled this year when my mom asked me to make a mango cheesecake for her birthday! And whaddyaknow...I'm happy to say that we have found a new family favorite! This mango cheesecake was exquisite. Everything from the vibrant orange color to the shiny mango mirror glaze on top and the slivered almonds along the side... It was so pretty. I never knew mango and cream cheese could go so well together! The cake recipe is from Nigella Lawson from the Food Network but the mango mirror, red piping gel and almond decorations are my contribution.

**TIP Re: Make your own Piping Gel** You can make your own piping gel easily by following the recipe below. It's so much cheaper and more customizable then the little tubes you buy in the store. For 1 cup of piping gel, combine 1 tbsp gelatin powder with 1 tbsp hot water. Stir to dissolve then mix in 1 cup of light corn syrup. Divide into desired portions and color with food coloring. I have successfully halved and quartered this recipe for smaller batches.

Mango Cheesecake
Makes one 9" cake | Adapted from Nigella Lawson

2 cups crushed digestive biscuits
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

3 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar (or to taste, depends on how sweet your mango puree is)
2 cups mango puree
1 tsp lemon juice
4 large eggs

1/2 cup slivered almonds, for decorating

Mango Mirror
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tsp hot water
1/2 cup mango puree

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wrap your spring form pan with foil around the bottom and outside to prevent water from getting in when you put it in the water bath to bake. **Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. I usually take them out of the fridge and put them on the counter at least 1 hour before I start baking.
2. Prepare crust: Mix all crust ingredients and press into a lightly greased 9" spring form pan, pressing slightly up the sides of the pan.
3. Cake: In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and mango puree until smooth. Add sugar then taste the mixture to see if it needs more sugar. I use canned mango puree which has sugar added so I use less than you would if you made your own mango puree from fresh mangoes. Add lemon juice then eggs, one at a time. Scrape down bowl often and beat until smooth but do not over beat.
4. Bake in a water bath - a large tray filled with hot water - for 1 hr 20 mins or until only about 1" in the center jiggles. Turn the oven off and let cool in the oven with the door open. Refrigerate overnight before decorating/serving.
5. Mango Mirror: Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water and stir it into the mango puree. Cool to room temperature or slightly cooler then spread over chilled cheesecake.
6. When mirror is set, press slivered almonds around the sides and pipe red dots on top or decorate as you wish.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuxedo Truffle Cake

On Friday we threw a wedding shower at work for one of our co-workers. I was in charge of making the cake. I decided to try replicating one of my favorite cakes - the Tuxedo Cake.
You can buy this cake from 2 canadian sources: M&M or Save-on-Foods:


Basically it's 3 layers of marbled cake with a layer of dark chocolate mousse and white chocolate mousse in between, coated with ganache on the top. I took recipes from several sources to put this cake together. Success! While it's not as pretty as the commercial ones, everyone loved it and it tasted pretty damn close to the ones you buy.


Tuxedo Truffle Cake

Marbled Cake
3 cups Sifted all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups Buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz white chocolate
3 cups whipping/heavy cream

6 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup whipping/heavy cream


1. CAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10" jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease and flour it. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter at medium speed until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, and continue until lightened, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides once or twice. Gradually add eggs, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the sifted flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, a little of each at a time, at low speed, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape 2/3 of the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan. Add the cocoa to the remaining 1/3 batter, mix it in then drop by the tablespoonfuls onto the yellow batter. Marble with a knife. Bake for approx 30 minutes or until cake is done. Cool fully, overnight in the fridge is better/

2. MOUSSE: In two separate small bowls, place the finely chopped white and the bittersweet chocolate. Bring 3/4 cup cream to a boil then pour half over each of the chocolates to melt them. Stir the hot cream in well to ensure it is free of lumps and chocolate is fully melted. Set aside for 10 minutes until slightly cooled. Whip 2 1/4 cups of the cream until soft peaks form. Divide the whipped cream into two equal portions and fold the chocolate into each. You should now have one bowl of white chocolate mousse and one bowl of dark chocolate mousse. Store in fridge.

3. ASSEMBLY: With the long end of the pan facing you, cut your baked cake into thirds, creating 3 layers. Spread the dark mousse over the first layer and freeze for 15-30 minutes to set. Top with next layer of cake then white mousse. Freeze again. Finally, put the last cake layer on top and store in freezer while you make the ganache

4. GANACHE: Place the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil then pour over the chocolate. Stir to incorporate and melt chocolate. Spread over the top of the cake. Tada! A fancy and very tasty tuxedo cake.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cinnamon Chocolate Twist Bread

I adore cinnamon anything. Cinnamon buns, cinnamon bread, cinnamon coffee cake, cinnamon straws, the list goes on. My recipe binder is overflowing with cinnamon recipes! In light of this, I have decided to try and take part in the Magazine Mondays group. The goal of this group is to bake our way through the various magazine recipes we've collected. It's a "self-help" group for those of us, like me, who have a recipe collecting addiction :) I'm looking forward to this!

I adapted Canadian Living Magazine's recipe for the Cranberry Chocolate Twist, except I used raisins instead of Craisins because I didn't have any. The combination of raisins and chocolate was a little odd for my palate so next time I'll leave out either the raisins or the chocolate, but other than that, I enjoyed this recipe. It was a lot of fun rolling the dough up then cutting it down the middle and twisting it. That's the best part of yeast doughs - the flexibility it allows and all the shapes you can create from it. I wanted to frost it with cream cheese but the finished product was too pretty to cover up so I just did a simple icing drizzle on top.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Tuesdays with Dorie: Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell chose Espresso Cheesecake Brownies.

I loved these brownies. The medley of taste and texture - chocolatey brownie and tangy coffee-flavored cheesecake - it was to die for. I opted not to include the sour cream topping specified by the original recipe because it was perfect as is. They were a welcome twist on the regular old brownie and a great go-to recipe the next time I need something elegant yet quick for a potluck or entertaining. Next time I will increase the amount of instant espresso powder because I'm a coffee addict and drink my usual coffee order is a 4 shot grande americano with no room for cream. Yep, coffee is best when drunk black :)

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies
makes 9" square pan

Brownie batter:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cheesecake batter:
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (I used 2 tsp, next time will use 3!)
1 tablespoon boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Brownie: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a microwave safe bowl, add butter and chocolate - heat in short intervals, stirring often, just until the butter has melted and the chocolate has softened. Stir the mixture and if any lumps of chocolate remain, reheat briefly, stopping every 30 seconds or so to stir.
3. Whisk sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Whisk in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined - set aside.
4. Cheesecake: In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and boiling water - set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until completely smooth. Add sugar and beat until well combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and espresso mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Mix in the sour cream. Add flour and stir until combined.
5. Stir brownie batter and pour three quarters of it into a greased 9" pan. Pour cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Drop dollops of the remaining brownie batter on top and gently swirl the dark batter into the cheesecake batter, making sure not to push the knife down into the bottom brownie layer.
6. Bake until the cheesecake layer is beige in the center and lightly browned around the edges, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire rack then transfer to refrigeratoe and chill at least 2 hours.