Category Archives: Sugary and Non-sugary

One Delicious Pecan Tart

pecan pie

Ingredients:

Tart:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Filling:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Steps:

Crust:

Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.

Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in–you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.

Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and , very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

How to press the dough into pan
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_vsVYhJZGIrw/R_tZaVgvuVI/AAAAAAAAIRs/4Y5ERgrOsy0/s1600-h/pressing%2Bcrust.jpg

To press the dough into the pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.

Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust.

(Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet to bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a coking rack (keep it in is pan).

Filling:

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.)

Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Reduce the oven Temperature to 175 degrees C.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

The above recipe is adapted from the following two recipes:
http://cafejohnsonia.com/2008/04/dorie-greenspans-sweet-tart-dough.html
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pecan-pie-recipe.html?oc=linkback


Though I am not the most dedicated baker and I have probably made less than 10 pies in the past 4 years, I would still like to say that I have not been completely satisfied with the crusts of any of the pies that I made. Filling is just so much easier to make than the crust! Somehow, the crusts always ended up being either a little too dry or a little too hard. So, instead of making a pecan pie, I decided to make a pecan tart for our New Year’s house party.

Since the crust recipe did not call for kneading nor rolling, I really started to doubt the recipe when I was pressing the dough crumbs onto the pie pan (see the photo link above). Especially since I made the crust in winter so the butter stayed pretty cold, it was hard to stick the dough together. I added an extra york in but I think it is also OK to add a little bit of ice water to moisturise the dough. Just make sure it’s not too much water.

The tart had the exact same tart consistency as the strawberry tarts found at Japanese cake shops and cafes. I was pleased. It is going to become my go-to recipe for sweet pie crust. It is delicious!

Serve it with whip cream, but remember not to add too much sugar to the whip since the pie is rather sweet.

delicious pecan tart

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Crispy Oatmeal Cookies – Making the Best of Such on Your First Try

crispy oatmeal cookies

I am the only person I know who likes crispy cookies.

I have been studying ways of making crispy cookies and I would say that my biggest discovery is to make cookies by using granulated sugar. It appears that yellow sugar or brown sugar will likely give cookies a softer texture.

Like many of you, being a food enthusiast, I often search for new recipes online and see if I can make the best version of such and such. I wonder if what I am about to share is just common sense in the world of food enthusiasts (I hate stating the obvious, so please forgive me if it is). Instead of trying out a few of different recipes and see which one is the best, what I do every time I try to make something I’ve never made before is to compare a number of recipes of the same dish, combine or take out a few things, take some mental notes and then begin. Compare the similarities and the dissimilarities. Usually, by reading a few number of recipes, you will get to see what are the essential ingredients and what can be without. What needs to be done before what is extremely important. If you read through the steps and have a pretty good understanding of the process of making any particular dish, even if you’ve never made it before, the failure rate would be drastically lowered. If you are a picky eater like me, this tip can be a life-saver. I really don’t like wasting food and I really really don’t like eating stuff that doesn’t taste good, not even if it’s something I made.

crispy oatmeal cookies

I went through about 20 different recipes and decided to go with the following 2:

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/dishing/2013/04/the_fabulous_oa.html
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/thin-and-crispy-oatmeal-cookies/

Here’s how it looks when they are side by side:

crispy oatmeal cookies recipe

The two recipes look fairly similar, though one claims to yield 4 dozen and the other one claims 2…

Here’s what I get out of using the two recipes together:

  • Baking power, chocolate chips and raisins can be included or can also be left out
  • Follow whichever one when it comes to the proportions of butter v.s. flour; you can adjust the amount of flour during the process, see if your dough is too wet or too dry but keep the amount between 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup
  • Adjust the proportion of brown sugar v.s. granulated sugar to your liking, but brown sugar and granulated sugar should add up to an amount between 1 1/4 cup to 1 3/4

Voila! Make them exactly the way you like them even if it’s something you’ve never made before. Mine were very crispy, not dry, with lots of raisin and a little bit of chocolate chips, exactly how I wanted them to be.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Chewy by Alton Brown

The Chewy by Alton Brown
The Chewy by Alton Brown

Ingredients

8 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces granulated sugar
8 ounces light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ounce whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/the-chewy-recipe/index.html

Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Thin by Alton Brown

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
2 ounces milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Hardware:
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Mixer

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Combine the egg, milk, and vanilla and bring to room temperature in another bowl.

Cream the butter in the mixer’s work bowl, starting on low speed to soften the butter. Add the sugars. Increase the speed, and cream the mixture until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the egg mixture slowly. Increase the speed and mix until well combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for more even browning.

Remove the cookies from the pans immediately. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Sources: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/the-thin-recipe/index.html

My Report

This part of my report seems to be about what milk does to chocolate cookies. This recipe calls for 1 less egg and a bit of milk compared to the one that I had above. Milk makes the cookies softer. It seems to open up some pores on the cookies, too. I think these cookies are probably those ones that are described to be cakey cookies. I like crispy cookies more. Now I am certain that for making so-called my perfect c.c.c., I will not be needing milk. To the next batch I go.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies by Bobby Flay

thin chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown muscavado sugar
1/3 cup light brown muscavado sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (5-ounce) block semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)
1 (5-ounce) block milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)
Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon pads.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

Place the butter in the bowl on an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes longer. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the vanilla extract, beating until incorporated.

Add half of the flour and mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour, again mixing until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the chocolate chunks.

Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie and bake on the middle rack until the cookies are lightly golden brown and still soft in the middle, about 11 minutes. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a baking rack with a wide metal spatula. Let the cookies cool on the baking rack for a few minutes before eating. Repeat with remaining dough.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/throwdown-with-bobby-flay/chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/index.html

My Report

The above photo shows how the cookies turned out. I like them a lot. I have to admit that I probably used a bit too much butter when I made those. That much grease dripping out of the cookie dough balls on the baking sheet was quite a sight. At the same time, I am starting to think that a large amount of butter is the secret to making crispy cookies that are very thin.

These cookies are thin, crispy, brown around the edge and very sweet. The recipe does call for quite a bit of sugar, lots of sugar and in 3 different kinds. I suppose the sugar contributes to making the crispiness since that’s how caramel candy is made. Heating up sugar until it browns creates a thickened texture. The same process seems to happen to all the sugar that we include in the dough inside an oven as well. Compared to the recipe above, dark brown sugar makes the cookies look much more sophisticated. Kosher salt gives the cookies a little twist. Flavour of salt is not entirely blended in every bite. In sweetness comes the salty twist every second bite or so. I think kosher salt gives cookies an elegant taste. Of course, the type of chocolate used makes a difference, too. But for that matter, no experiment needed – I like dark chocolate, period.

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My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies by Tyler Florence

chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.

To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/my-big-fat-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/index.html

My Report

I enjoy those cookies. It is pretty close to what I would consider a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe for me. They are fairly sweet, crispy and not dry. I really don’t ask for more. What surprises me though, is that my taste of C.C.C. seems to change from time to time. After following the other recipe for a couple of times and not having enough people at home to consume the cookies, I seemed to enjoy those cookies a lot just for the fact that they did not taste the same. Like how we can get tired of the same dish no matter how great it is, my conclusion of this perfect-C.C.C.-finding journey is that “the perfect recipe” should actually be “the perfect recipes”.

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Swedish Apple Pie?

apple pie

I would like to begin this post by telling you that I had never baked any apple pie prior to this. I always considered making an apple pie a time-consuming process. I admired the apple pies my friends made, but I just never made any myself because the fancy pie crust/layout just looked very difficult.

This apple pie here, however, is very very simple.

A Korean girl who’s married to a Swedish guy introduced this pie to me. I was so so so impressed by how simple it was to make a ‘Swedish Apple Pie’. “Yeah, can you believe how simple this is? My mother-in-law makes an apple pie this way”, she said. I was so amazed.

Not knowing the recipe, but wanting to try this out myself, I googled the recipe of “Swedish Apple Pie”. I found a few, not great ones though. It left me in  awe, wondering how something so wonderfully simple isn’t known to everyone. And after a few days of research, I found my answer. What I called a “Swedish apple pie” is generally known as apple crisp, apple crumble or brown Betty in English-speaking western countries. Really? How could I not have noticed? It’s not like I never had apple crumble before. Hum… I guess the apple crumble I got from restaurants in Canada was always served on a plate so I never took notice of how it would have looked coming out from the oven. Or maybe it was just its name. Swedish People do call it “apple pie”. Different names? Must be different things.

My grandmothers from both sides don’t bake. My mother doesn’t bake. My aunts don’t bake. I do not know any woman in my family asides from my sister and I that bake. No one owns an oven. In case anyone wonders, no…Asians(that live in Asia) don’t usually have ovens at home. Asians typically boil, fry, steam and pickle their(our) food. The only way I get to learn about Western food is through TV, eating in friends’  homes or restaurants. Luckily, there’s internet now. I get to google about everything that I want to know.

When I try to recall dessert names that I know that are related to apples, I can think of pie, crumble, cobbler and strudel. It appeared that most people probably would not be able to differentiate the differences. So, here is what I found. Click the link below if you are interested:

Crumble, Cobbler, Crisp, Buckle, Brown Betty: What’s The Difference? 

apple crisp

And here I share with you a recipe I used for making my “Swedish apple pie”:

A Swedish Apple Pie, a.k.a. Apple Crisp

Ingredients

  • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 1 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced or diced apple

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius. Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter or margarine or use hands to mix the butter in the flour mixture until it forms a crumbly dough. Grease a pie dish with 24 to 26 centimeters in diameter. Add sliced ​​or diced apple, sprinkle with cinnamon and sweeten lightly with sugar. Mix well. Distribute then crumble over the apple pieces and bake for about 20 minutes until the pie golden.

P.S. It appears to be best served with vanilla sauce.

Source: http://www.smulpaj.se/appelpaj