Tuesday, July 8, 2008

peach cobbler

B isn't a sugar fiend the way I am, and he is frequently less enthusiastic than I'd like about the desserts I bake. He has, however, said he would enjoy a cobbler or crumble. And he likes peaches. So last night, we baked cobbler.

We were both happy with how it turned out. The biscuits were perfect--crispy on top and tender on the bottom. The peaches were wonderful. We did both prefer eating the peaches separately from the biscuits, but I think that's just because of the nature of peaches. I don't think they have enough flavor to stand up to a good sweet biscuit. When we ate them together, I found myself wishing for cinnamon and then for the peaches to be apples. But when we pulled them apart and plopped them both on ice cream, it was amazing.

Peach Cobbler (from New Best Recipes, Cook's Illustrated)
2.5 lb peaches
.25 C sugar
1 tsp corn starch
pinch of salt
1 TB lemon juice

3 TB sugar, plus 1 tsp
1 C flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 TB butter, sliced
plain whole-milk yogurt

Peel peaches and cut in half. Remove pits and clean out pit area. Cut each half into quarters. Place in bowl and gently toss with sugar. Let sit thirty minutes. Place in strainer and pour off juice. Reserve .25 C juice and discard the rest.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice into the .25 C juice to make sauce. Place peaches in 8 x 8" glass pan. Bake until juice bubbles, about 10 minutes.

While peaches are baking, make biscuits. (Do not make biscuits early--leavening may not work correctly if you do.) Mix together the dry ingredients (except 1 tsp sugar) in food processor. Add slices of butter and pulse until mixture feels grainy. Place in bowl and stir in yogurt just until mixture forms dough. Overstirring will make tough biscuits.

When peaches are baked, remove from oven. Divide biscuits into six and place evenly around the pan (not touching--biscuits will expand). Bake 16-18 minutes.

total time: 1.5-2 hrs

mango lime cake

I wanted to make a light cake to take to some friends recently. Deb of Smitten Kitchen's mango lime wedding cake intrigued me, so I decided to make a genoise layer cake, filled with my generic cream cheese/whipped cream mix, soaked in lime syrup, and topped with mango curd.

This was the first time I'd made a genoise. I had a lot of fun doing it. Watching the whole, heated eggs whip up light and fluffy was like watching magic. I had no idea whole eggs could do that.

I made a couple of batches of this. The one I made my friends was a bit on the limey side. It was nice, but the mango wasn't as flavorful as I would have liked. To remedy this, I used less soaking syrup and cut the cream cheese filling back to half for the version I took to B's family reunion. This brought out the mango nicely. Next time, I'm going to try a 3/4 batch of cream cheese mix to give it a little more height.

Mango Lime Genoise

1 sheet of genoise

2 batches of mango lime curd

1 C lime soaking syrup

3/4 batch cream cheese/whipped cream filling

Makes two small cakes.

Assembly: Use a straight edge and a serrated knife to cut genoise into four equally sized rectangles. Spoon .75 oz lime soaking syrup over two bottom layers. Cover each with cream cheese mixture. Soak two top layers and place one on each bottom layer. Spoon on mango curd and smooth with a spatula.

You will need two batches of curd for this cake. If you have a large processor, you can just double the batch. It's easier for me to make them separately.

Makes 1 to 1.5 cups

1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Puree mango with lime juice, sugar, and salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl. Discard solids in sieve.

2. Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 10 minutes. Remove from over water. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

genoise sheets (The Art of the Cake, Bruce Healy)

6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6.5 oz granulated sugar
5.75 oz all-purpose flour
.33 oz potato starch
.75 oz unsalted butter, melted

1.Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the edges and diagonals of a large, heavy baking sheet with melted butter. Line with parchment paper. Brush the parchment with melted butter.

2. Combine eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Break up the yolks with a wire whisk and beat until smooth. Set over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir with the whisk until warm (about 100 F), frothy, and pale yellow.

3. Remove from simmering water, and whip at medium speed in the mixer until the batter has risen and cooled, becoming light and thick and almost white in color. It should coat your finger very thickly and form very slowly dissolving ribbons when dropped from the whip.

4. Sift the flour with the potato starch onto a sheet of wax paper. A little at a time, dust the mixture over the batter and fold it in very gently but thoroughly. When the flour and potato starch are compeltely incorporated, slowly pour the melted butter over the batter and continue folding gently until the butter is uniformly mixed with the batter.

5. Scoop the batter from the mixing bowl onto the prepared baking sheet, distributing it evenly. Spread and smooth the batter with a large icing spatula to completely cover the baking sheet in an even layer about 3/8" thick.

6. Bake until the top of the genoise is lightly browned and firm to the touch but not crusty, about 6-10 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven aloosen the edges of the genoise from the parchment using a small icing spatula. Slide the genoise off the baking sheet onto a wire rack. When it is no longer hot but still warm enough that the butter between the parchment and genoise hasn't solidified, place a second wire rack upside down on top of the sheet of genoise and turn the genoise upside down with both racks to transfer it to the second rack. Lift off the first wire rack. Carefully peel the parchment away from the back of the genoise, and place it clean side down against the genoise to protect the cake. Place the first wire rack ack on the sheet of genoise and turn it right side up again. Lift off the second wire rack, and allow the genoise to finish cooling.

*When baked in a thin sheet, the genoise dries very quickly. It is best used the same day as it is prepared.

soaking syrup
.5 C heavy syrup
.25 C lime juice
.25 C water

heavy syrup (The Art of the Cake, Bruce Healy)
2 C granulated sugar
1 C water

1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve all the sugar.

2. Cover and allow to cool.

cream cheese/whipped cream filling
2 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 qt heavy whipping cream, chilled
2-3 TB vanilla
1-1.5 C sugar

Whip cream. Add vanilla and sugar to taste. Mix in cream cheese. Mix until smooth.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

chocolate-filled sour cherry chocolate cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a work party. They're Dorie's chocolate cupcakes again, the same ones we made for the tea party. I loved addition of the ganache filling and the sour cherry in the icing. Next time, I'm going to either swap the icing for a buttercream or use mascarpone instead of cream cheese. I want the icing to be firmer and with a stronger sour cherry flavor.

chocolate-filled sour cherry chocolate cupcakes
chocolate cupcakes (Baking, Dorie Greenspan)
1 C flour
1/4 unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cube unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 C sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Grease 2 miniature muffin tins and line with muffin cups. Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together dry ingredients (except sugar). Beat butter until soft and creamy. Add sugar and beat 2 min. Add egg, then yolk and beat for 2 min. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, mix in half dry ingredients. Add buttermilk and mix until incorporated.. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Mix in chocolate.

Fill muffin cups with batter. Bake until cupcakes pass toothpick test.

3 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 oz cream

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 10- or 20-second intervals. Heat cream in the microwave. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until an hour or so before using. Ganache should be at room temperature when you want to assemble the cupcakes.

1 pck cream cheese, room temperature
150 mL sour cherry juice, reduced to 50 mL
sugar to taste (1/2 C to 3/4 C, baking sugar)
whipped cream (1/2 C to 3/4 C)

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Icing should be refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the cupcakes. (This icing is on the thin side; you may want to adjust the proportions.)

Assembly: Just before serving, fill an icing bag (with a small tip) with ganache. Press tip into cupcakes and fill with a small amount of ganache.

Using another icing bag with a tip of your choice, pipe the icing onto the cupcakes. Serve immediately.


We've been trying to work more vegetables into our diet, so I decided to make roasted cauliflower. I have no idea where he got this recipe--he just pulled up the first good-sounding one he found on Google--but it's the same as the one Elise uses on Simply Recipes, so we'll go ahead and call it hers.

This was a pleasant recipe. Not amazing, but hey, it involves a vegetable, so I wasn't really expecting amazing.

Elise's Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
juice from 1 lemon
2-3 cloves minced garlic
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop cauliflower. Toss with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Place in one layer in a baking dish.

2. Bake 15-25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan.

pea barley risotto

I told B that I would cook some real dinner recently. Closet Cooking is his favorite food blog, so he requested that I make Kevin's pea barley risotto.

I thought that a whole onion would be overpowering, so I replaced it with a shallot. I like shallots better anyway. We prefer our grains softer than al dente, so I cooked the barley longer and added extra broth (I think I ended up using about twice as much). I'm also lazy, so I got bored after twenty or thirty minutes of stirring and wandered off. I think you're just fine to do this as long as you check up on the dish every few minutes and then stir it constantly at the end to keep it from burning. It may decrease the creaminess. I don't know, but I do know ours tasted delicious. We were feeling a little skittish, because the last risotto we made involved practically a whole bottle of wine and was so soused we couldn't eat it, so we tried a batch with wine and a batch without. The batch without wine was fine, but the batch with wine was so much better than I won't be making it any other way. I forgot to stir in the parmesan at the end, but it was great anyway. We liked this so much we stocked up on barley and white wine on our next shopping trip so we could have it all the time. So thanks, Kevin, for the recipe.

pea barley risotto, modified from Closet Cooking
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup wine
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in large sauce pan.
2. Add shallots and saute until softened.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add barley and stir to coat with the butter.
5. Add wine and stir until evaporated.
6. Add stock and stir occasionally, checking frequently.
7. When stock is nearly evaporated, check the texture of the barley. If it is still too firm, add more stock. When you like the texture, add the peas and continue to stir until stock is evaporated.
8. Add cheese, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir.