Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge #1

The July Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Nicole at SweetTooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I tried to do both and while the Milan cookies turned out quite easy the Mallows were a whole other ball game.
Milan Cookies.
Prep time: 20 Mins
Inactive Prep Time: 0 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves about 3 dz.
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Cooking filling, recipe below

Cooking Filling

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 orange, zested
In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar.\
  1. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
  2. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
  3. With a small (1/4 inch) plain piping tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment or silicon lined baking tray, spacing them 2 inches apart as they will spread.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges, Let cool on the pan.
  5. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium heat scald cream,
  6. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
  7. Set aside to cool (mixture will thicken as it cools).
  8. 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.
  9. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

These there was very little issues with but the cookie part never got as crispy as I would have liked, but the taste more than made up for that.

Clearly the boys enjoyed the chocolate part the most.

Mallows (Chocolate Cover Marshmallow Cookies)
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 mins
Serves about 2 dozen
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, whisked together
  • Homemade Marshmallows, recipe follows
  • Chocolate glaze, recipe follows
  1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients
  2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy
  3. Add the eggs and mix until combine
  4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  7. Roll out the dough to 1/8- inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
  8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cook to room temperature.
  9. Pipe a "kiss"of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
  10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
  11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
  12. Lift out with a fork and let excess drip back into the bowl.
  13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Note: if you don't want to make your own marshmallows you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350 degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly. It will brown a little and expand. Let cool and the proceed with the chocolate dipping.
Homemade Marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until "softball" stage or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin and mix.
  4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
  5. Add the vanilla and continue to whip until stiff.
  6. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Chocolate Glaze
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
  1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.
I had quite the issue with this one. The cookie bases were great and easy. Thought it needs to be noted that the amounts the various parts make are off. I got easily 50-60 cookies from the recipe and the marshmallows I got about 40 from and the chocolate barely did 24. My main issue was the marshmallows. I had a hard time getting mine stiff so I ended up just putting them into a cornstarch and saran wrapped dish and let it set that way. I then just used the same cookie cutter from the cookies to cut out the marshmallows. My other issue was that I wasn't being careful and watching my chocolate close enough and therefore it got to hot and started melting my marshmallows. Once I started paying proper attention they came out fine.

The completed Mallow

The inside

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I didn't forget you.

The weather just hasn't been the best for baking. Its cooled down this week so I've already gotten back into it.
I made some banana bread this afternoon. And the husband totally reminded me that I should the zucchinis that we got from his parents and maybe a bread with that too. Pictures to come!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hungry Monkey

I recently joined a Foodie Book Club.

For June we read the book Hungry Monkey. I know the title of the post gives it all away.

Its about food writer/restaurant reviewer Matthew Amster-Burton and his daughter Iris. Its the record of his drive and attempts for his daughter to enjoy food as much as he does. I really enjoyed the book. I have a picky eater on my hands with my oldest son, and it was entertaining and nice to see that now all kids bawk at the idea of most foods placed on the table. I kept reading some of the authors one-liners to my husband cause he kept asking why I was giggling.
Here are my answers. The question can be found at the above link.

1. Both the author and myself had some pre-conceieved notions about picky eaters. Did the book change any views you may have had or (for those of you who are parents) reinforce what you already knew to be true from experience?

I remember clearly always saying that I didn't want food to really be an issue in my house. I fully thought that I would be able to make meals and my kids would eat them. We did really well for the first year (6 months to 18 months) and then the pickiness started to show with my oldest. Food became an issue and it started to really affect me and over time I realized that this too will pass. I grew up hating some veg and as an adult I love them. Sometimes it all depends on how it was cooked and served.

2. The author confesses that he was, in fact, a very picky eater as a child, but turned out to be an avid food lover. Most of you reading this are probably adventerous eaters; is this something that you came to on your own, or did your parents nudge you in that direction? Do you think being a "food lover" is innate or learned?

I fully believed its learned. I'm 27 and I'm still having issues with some foods. I hate the texture of most seafood. Sushi, the nori makes me gag. I'm taking way more chances now than I did growing up but than again maybe thats because growing up we were a steak and mashed pototoes family. If we go out for dinner, for say Thai, my mom gets the most american/canadian style food item on the menu. Its also said that it takes upwards of 20 times of putting a new food infront of some kids for them to be willing to try it.

3. The author describes being forced to try sushi as a kid and almost throwing up, but trying it again in college and loving it. He credits this to the fact that the secong he tried it, he expected to like it. Do you agree? Can you think of a food that you probably liked because you expected to like it, or anything you didn't like in spite of thinking you would?

I competely agree. There are many things in life, food being the one of the main ones, that if you think your not going to like it you won't. If you don't have an open mind to trying out things then of course your palate is going to be limited because you haven't pushed yourself to try. Food and eating is about way more than taste and its a visual experience first. If you don't like the looks of things then usually you've convinced yourself its going to taste bad as well.

4. Not every family can spend the time and money the author does to introduce his daughter to so many foods. What can working parents or parents with less means do to bring cooking and diverse foods into the children's lives? Or do you feel this is even important?

This is really important. You spend your kid's childhood showing him/her the world and the wonders it holds. Food is one of them. I still struggle as to how to share this passion with my children since they are young themselves (2 and 4). But introducing them to things doesn't have to be some of the fancy or exotic foods Matthew brought home. My kids are thrilled to roll out cookie dough, to help load the slow cooker. Just asking them to help pick a vegtable from the market or the grocery store could make them more likely to try something new (we're still working on this one at home).

5. Food obviously plays a huge role in the Amster-Burton household. What role does food have in your household? Do you feel that kids need to know "where food comes from" and participate in food preparation, or is it enought just to make sure they're eating resonably healthy foods?

I do think its important that kids know where food comes from. I like the fact that my 4 year old knows that beef comes from cows, like you see in the fields, flour comes from wheat. Children are very curious by nature and I fully believe in helping my kids learn as much as their curiosity needs. We've tried dragonfruit that we've seen at the grocery store cause my kids were questioning it, they were not huge fans of it, but they were initally eager to try. My children love Christmas time because I go nuts with baking. Rolling out the sugar cookies is something they battle over. Even though my oldest is a picky eater hes still curious about food things, hopefully like the author this will mean he has a good chance of being a avid food lover as he gets older.