Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies

I was in a very fall mood this week, due to the apple picking and the cold-ish (ok, Tuesday was downright nasty) weather. I was going to make something with the apples that I picked over the weekend, but then I was food shopping, and I saw pumpkin on sale, so I decided to make something with pumpkin and cream cheese, which I livened up with some cocoa powder. Also, I wanted to make something orange and black for HALLOWEEN!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tsp sour cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

1.  In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 c sugar and 1/4 tsp salt, and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes more. Add 1 egg yolk, the sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Stir in the cocoa powder until well-mixed.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 375oF.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt; set aside.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
4.  Drop dough by tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake about 10 minutes, then remove and poke an indentation in the middle with a finger or the handle of a wooden spoon.  Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove and let cool completely on wire racks.
5.  Reduce oven to 350oF Remove the chocolate filling from the refrigerator and put about 1 tsp in the center of each indentation.  Bake for 7 to 9 mins, until the filling is firm.  Let cool completely on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies

Jackie and Jillian’s Apple Pie

Over the weekend, my friend, Jackie, and I decided to go on a weekend adventure upstate to pick some apples and get fresh air.? We realised that we do not really do all that much on weekends, so we made it our goal to have some adventures, like going to the NYC Medieval Festival a few weeks back.? Anyway, after some apple baseball and corn maze, we ended up with 42 lbs of apples and 3 pumpkins, which is a rather ridiculous amount of produce, but hey, you only go apple picking once a year! When we returned home, we decided that it might be fun to bake an apple pie.? Jackie had the brilliant idea of putting a J on the top for our names!

Jackie and Jillian’s Apple Pie
For the crust
10 tbs cold unsalted butter
6 tbs cold vegetable shortening
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbs ice water

Filling
6-7 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
4 tbs butter, melted
2 tbs flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Cut the butter and shortening into 3/4″ pieces. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter and shortening pieces over the mixutre and toss with a fork to combine. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening in until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Drizzle the ice water over the mixture and toss with the fork until the dough is evenly moist and comes together in a mass (but not a ball). Transfer the dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 6″ disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 375oF. Roll out each of the disks to about 1/8″ thick. Line a greased pie plate with one dough round and refrigerate.
3. In a large bowl, mix the apples, butter, flour, sugars, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour into the pie plate. Cover with the remaining dough round and pinch the edges of the dough rounds together to seal. Prick the top layer of dough all over with a fork.
4. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden and filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

Makes 1 pie

Bakewell Tart

In honour of my sister’s Columbus Day visit, I decided to make a full-size version of the Bakewell tartlets. This time, instead of a marzipan topping, I used a powdered-sugar based glaze. The recipe was basically a modification of the recipe for the tartlets.

Bakewell Tart
Shortcrust Pastry
2 c (12 oz) all-purpose flour
3 oz butter
3 oz shortening
6-9 tbs ice water

Filling
Rasberry jam
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c flour
1/4 c finely ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder

Glaze Topping
2 c powdered sugar
Water

1. To make the shortcrust, sift the flour into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs. Pour the ice water over the mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it begins to come together. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
2. Preheat the oven to 350o. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Line a greased 10″ tart pan with the dough round.
3. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork (to prevent puffing), place in freezer for 5 mins, then prebake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy, then add the eggs and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour together with the baking soda and ground almonds. Beat this into the butter mixture until fluffy.
5. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam in the bottom of the shell, then spoon the filling mixture on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Finally, make the glaze. In a large bowl, mix together the powdered sugar with some water. Continue to add water until the glaze is thick but pourable. Pour over the top of the cooled tart and smooth with an offset spatula.

Makes one 10″ tart

Vegetable Lasagne

I have decided to change the name of this site to Jillian’s Baking instead of Jillian’s Cookies, since I have somewhat expanded my recipes to include things that are baked but not cookies.

From my dinner-with-parents last week, I had a bunch of leftover spinach. So, I decided to make lasagne. I am not really a big meat eater, especially of ground meat, and I thought that making a tasty vegetable lasagne would be better than meat, especially since I could then take advantage of the lovely fall harvest, which is in full swing right now. I made 1/3 of mine with a limited amount of cheese for the lactose intolerant among us. Also, I kind of made this up as I went along but it definitely turned out alright.


Vegetable Lasagne
1 box oven-ready lasagne pasta
3-4 c chunky tomato sauce (I make my own – see below for that)
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
4 c mozzarella, shredded
1/2 c grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 egg
1 medium zucchini, chopped
6 c fresh spinach leaves
2 c mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt
Black pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and immerse the spinach leaves for 2-3 minutes Drain well and pat dry.

2. Heat 3 tbs olive oil in a saute pan. Place the garlic in the pan and saute for 2 mins. Add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute for 6-8 mins, until everything is slighly softened and well-seasoned.

3. Preheat oven to 350oF. Stir egg with ricotta, Parmesan cheese, 2 c of the shredded mozzarella, and 1/4 c of the tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

4. In a 9″x13″x2″ pan, spread 1 c sauce to cover the bottom. Layer 4 lasagne sheets, slightly overlapping. Spread half of the ricotta mixture, then spoon half of the vegetables over that and sprinkle 1 c of the mozzarella. Spread 1 1/2 c tomato sauce. Repeat layering lasagne sheets, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining vegetables, some mozzarella and 1 1/2 c sauce. The final layer will have 4 lasagne sheets, the remaining sauce and the remaining mozzarella.

5. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes, until bubbly and cheese on top is browned. Let stand 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Bakewell Tartlets

To me, Bakewell tarts are a quintessential part of England, but apparently (and sadly), they are quite rare in the US. My sister and I absolutely loved these growing up, and since we do not get to go to England as often as we used to, I decided to recreate this treasured delight for us.

Now, when I think of a Bakewell, I think of the sort which is sold in Tesco or other groceries or sandwich shops – that is the Mr Kipling’s variety. For those of you who don’t know, Mr Kipling:Britain as Entenmann’s:America. As I set out upon my quest for a recipe, I found that people seem to treat the Mr Kipling’s Bakewell with a significant measure of derision! Apparently, they are more interested in recreating the original Bakewell pudding (the forefather of the Bakewell tart) or a Bakewell tart from some historically correct 19th century recipe, a la Eliza Acton or Mrs Beeton. Not I! I wanted the Bakewell that I grew up with!

So I made up my own recipe: shortcrust, filled with a layer of raspberry jam, topped with almond sponge, topped with marzipan and a cherry. I believe Mr Kipling uses some sort of rolled fondant (aka sugarpaste) – I made the mistake of trying to use European fondant, which is apparently used for making the sculptures that people decorate cakes with. And I made this very sticky and messy mistake at 2AM, so when I finished clearing it up, I decided to just slap together some marzipan and put it on top, figuring that it would complement the almond sponge well (and then I made citrus fruits with the leftover marzipan).

Bakewell Tartlets
Shortcrust Pastry
2 c (12 oz) all-purpose flour
3 oz butter
3 oz shortening
6-9 tbs ice water

Filling
Rasberry jam
8 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 c flour
2 tbs finely ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Marzipan Topping
1/2 lb finely ground almonds
1/2 lb (2 c) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 lb granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Some candied cherries, coarsely chopped

1. To make the shortcrust, sift the flour into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs. Pour the ice water over the mixture, tablespoon by tablespoon, until it begins to come together. Shape into a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
2. Preheat the oven to 350o. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to between 1/16″ and 1/8″ thick. (Because I make really tiny tartlets, I try to roll my dough as thinly as possible to leave plenty of room for the filling, which is obviously the best part). Cut into rounds and line a tartlet pan with them.
4. Prick the bottom of each tartlet shell with a fork (to prevent puffing), place in freezer for 5 mins, then prebake for 8 minutes. Remove the shells from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
5. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy, then add the eggs and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour together with the baking soda and ground almonds. Beat this into the butter mixture until fluffy.
6. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam in the bottom of each tartlet shell, then spoon some of the filling mixture on top. The fillin will puff a bit, so do not fill the shells quite to the top. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tartlet pan on a wire rack.
7. Finally, make the marzipan topping. In a large bowl, whisk together the ground almonds and sugar. Stir in the eggs, almond extract and vanilla, then spread on top of each tartlet, and top with a cherry piece.

Makes about 32 tartlets (in my super-small pans)

Raspberry and Fig Galette

Here is the dessert that I made for dinner with the parents. As you may be able to surmise, it was a relatively Provencal-themed dinner. Fall is such a great time to make produce-centric things, because of all of the harvests. I went to the Union Square Greenmarket for a lot of stuff, since I think it is probably the best-stocked farmers’ market around. Every time I go there, it is a culinary adventure for me. The vendors have such a diverse assortment of products, and I just love how fresh everything is! I’m not exactly a proponent of buying “local” or buying “organic” but I am a proponent of buying FRESH, and you cannot beat a farmers’ market for that. To be honest, my local grocery store is pretty much rubbish, anyhow, especially for buying produce – sure it’s cheap but when you get home and realise for the umpteenth time that you’ve ended up with something mouldy and you have to throw it out, it becomes less worth it.

Anyway, galette! A galette is traditionally either a round, flat, crusty cake or a sort of open-faced buckwheat crepe. This galette is basically a hybrid of the two – replaces the crepe part with a lovely, crusty pie crust.

Raspberry and Fig Galette
For the pastry
5 tbs cold unsalted butter
3 tbs cold vegetable shortening
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbs ice water

For the filling
12 figs (any variety), stemmed and quartered vertically
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tbs fresh lemon juice (strained)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs granulated sugar
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs heavy cream
1 1/2 c raspberries

1. Cut the butter and shortening into 3/4″ pieces. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter and shortening pieces over the mixutre and toss with a fork to combine. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening in until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Drizzle the ice water over the mixture and toss with the fork until the dough is evenly moist and comes together in a mass (but not a ball).
2. Transfer the dough to a work surface. Shape into a 6″ disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 1 hour.
3. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven, preheat it to 400o and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
4. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the chilled dough into a round about 13″ in diameter. It will be about 1/8″ thick. Trim off raggedy edges so that it becomes an even 12″ round and put it on the prepared pan. Leaving 2″ border, sprinkle 1 tbs flour and 1 tbs granulated sugar over the prepared pastry.
5. In a large bowl, toss together the figs, brown sugar, 1 tbs of the flour, the lemon juice, the almond extract and the vanilla extract until all ingredients are well-mixed. Put the filling in the centre of the pastry, keeping it off of the border. Fold the border up and over the filling, forming little pleats around the edge and leaving the centre open. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, then sprinkle with 1 tbs granulated sugar.
6. Bake for 25 mins. Remove from the oven, scatter the raspberries on top, and then sprinkle with 1 tbs granulated sugar. Continue to bake until the crust is golden brown and the raspberries are beginning to soften, 8-12 mins. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. This can be served either warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 galette

Provençal Fougasse

I invited my parents (and my roommate’s parents) to dinner this weekend as my way of saying thank you for tolerating the obscenity of Manhattan rents. It struck me as a bit odd that we never had them over when we were living in our old apartment, but of course, this year’s abode is much more suitable for entertaining (translation: it is actually big enough to put real furniture in). Anyway, the menu for the evening is as follows: spinach and tomato timbales, roasted chicken with garlic, a sort of eggplant-and-peppers dish (aside: I love eggplant, and my mom makes this Sicilian dish called caponata, and I think it is probably one of the best things I have ever had.), fougasse, and, for dessert, a fig and raspberry galette, which I will post a recipe for tomorrow. This menu basically made my kitchen smell like the lyrics to Scarborough Fair (“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…” + GARLIC!).

Fougasse is the Provençal variation of the ever-popular foccacia – a traditional Mediterranean flatbread. Fougasse is more likely than foccacia to have additions, such as cheese, olives or anchovies, although I have left these out. One fougasse feature that I really like is that it is common to slash it to resemble an ear of wheat.

Typically, I avoid making things with yeast in them because I am too impatient to wait for things to rise but, having tasted the final product, I’m glad that I did this time. Although, I should add that there was a panicked phone call to my mother: “Mom, I don’t think the yeast is foaming! Oh, wait, it looks like it’s making little mushroom clouds, fun! Oh, no, now it’s flat!” “I’m sure it’s fine.” “No, I don’t think so, it just looks like milky water, it’s not foamy at all, I think I need to do it over, because it says that the water should be between 105 and 115 and my thermometer says it’s only 102!” Result: it was fine.

Provençal Fougasse
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary (a bit more of the herbs certainly doesn’t hurt)
about 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
about 1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1 3/4 c warm water (105oF to 115o or 40o to 46oC)
4 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbs salt
semolina flour

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme and olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook until the garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the year in warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil mixture, flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly oiled work surface and knead until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky, about 5-7 mins.
3. Shape the dough into a ball, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover it with a clean dishcloth. Let it rise in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1.5 to 2 hours.
4.. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half using a sharp knife, and shape each piece into a loose ball, cover with a dry towl, and let rest for 5 mins.
5. Dust 2 half-sheet pans or baking sheets with semolina four. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half of the dough into a rectangle about the same size as the prepared pans. Transfer each rectangle to the pans, spreading them with your hands if it shrinks. Make 6 slits (3 on each side) pointing towards the center of the dough. Gently pull on the dough to widen the slits into ovas.
6. Cover the dough loosely with a towel and let it rise again until it is doubled in bulk, 25-30 mins.
7. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat it to 425oF. Bake the breads until they are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 15-20 mins. Tranfser to wire racks and let cool completely in the pans.

Makes 2 large flatbreads

Cream Puffs!

I was really craving choux, the dough using to make cream puff pastry, this week, plus they are relatively quick (but not simple) to whip up. Simple was paramount this week – darned long algorithms homework! I prefer a custard filling in cream puffs, especially if you make it with vanilla bean. The flavour is really something special, if you can get your hands on it.

Cream Puffs
Choux
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c water
6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix together the milk, water, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat, add all of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until blended. This may require some powerful stirring. Return the pan to medium heat and continue to stir until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from the heat and let cool 3-4 mins, or to 140o on an instant-read thermometer.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk one of the eggs. Pour this into the cooled batter and beat with the spoon until it is incorporated. After the egg is added, the mixture will separate but it will come back to a smooth consistency after some beating. Repeat this process for the remaining 3 eggs. Let the paste cool for another 10 mins before piping it.
3. Preheat the oven to 425oF and line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 5/16″ tip and fill with the paste. Pipe about 1 tbs of the paste onto a pan, forming a mound about 2″ in diameter Space the mounts at least 2″ apart so that they have room to puff.
4. Bake for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 375oF and continue to bake until the puffs turn golden brown, about 15 mins more.
5. Remove from the oven and immediately prick the side of each puff with a sharp knife. Reutrn to the oven, leave the door open and let the pastries dry for 10-15 mins. Move to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before filling.

Creme Patissiere
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs unsalted butter

1. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean with the tip of a knife. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk with the vanilla bean pod and scraped-out seeds until just before it boils. Remove from the heat and take out the vanilla bean pod.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar until smooth. Slowly whisk the hot milk into this mixture until well-blended, then return the entire mixture back to the sauce pan.
3. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly to prevent curdling or uneven cooking, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 3 mins. Continue to whisk and cook for about another minute. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve unito a clean bowl and stir in the butter until it is melted and smooth.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled.
5. Fit a pasty bag with a small tip and fill the back with the chilled creme patissiere. Make a small incision in a puff and fill with the cream. Repeat until all puffs are complete.

Makes about 15 large puffs