Food for Thought

When baking, follow directions. When cooking, follow your taste.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

    These cookies are so good. Allison and I made them last night 12/4/11. Andrew was having boys "night" so I went over there and we baked. The recipe says that you need to refrigerate, then freeze; roll, then freeze; cut, then freeze; then bake. We froze then rolled and cut and then rolled again. So you can do what you want!
    What you will need:
    ·         1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
    ·         1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    ·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    ·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    ·         1/2 teaspoon salt
    ·         2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
    ·         3/4 cup sugar
    ·         1 large egg
    ·         1 large egg yolk
    ·         3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
    ·         8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
    ·         2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped (bark white chocolate in the bakers aisle) 

1.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
2.     Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.
3.     Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)
4.     Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat. Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, turn to coat, let excess drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours. Decorated cookies are best served the same day.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Whole Wheat Loaf Bread

Here was my first attempt EVER to make bread. This is a whole wheat loaf bread (sandwich bread). I got out my super awesome new KITCHAID stand mixer and attached my bread hook and flour guard. P.S. I picked this mixer out because of the flour guard, cause every time I bake the mixer, counters, me, and the dogs all end up white since I send flour flying EVERYWHERE. I also got out all my bowls for ingredients cause I like the way it looks to have the ingredients measured in different bowls. Highly unnecessary, but it makes you feel like a real cook.

What you need:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbs. brown sugar
2 cups warm water (105® to 115®)
2 packages active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
Spray oil aka PAM

2 loaf pans
1 large bowl to let bread rise
Water/Yeast Mixture... YUMMM

1.) Dissolve 1 tbs. brown sugar in warm water in small bowl… by small that means can hold at least 3 cups NOT a cereal bowl (tried that a mess ensued). Add yeast and let the mixture stand (until ready for use). Stir once or twice. 

2.) Place 4 cups flour, powdered milk, remaining brown sugar, and salt in mixer. Mix on low 15 senconds-ish or until well mixed.

3.) Gradually add yeast mixture and oil to the flour mixture and mix 1 1/2 minutes. Scrap bowl if you need to do so.

Best Attempt at a Smooth Ball Shape
4.) On low, add remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. (I only used 1 more cup instead of 2.) DO NOT ADD MORE FLOUR THAN 2 CUPS!!! Mix. The bread should hang on to the hook and the sides of the bowl will be clean, 2 min. Knead on low for 2 more minutes.
Bread Cover in Oven

5.) Spray large bowl with PAM.

6.) Form bread into a smooth ball. Place in bowl, and turn so that the top is grease too. Cover with a damp HOT towel. Let rise in warm place with no draft until bread doubles in size, about an hour. (I had finished baking dinner about 30 minutes before so I put my bread in the semi-warm oven. By no means was it hot or even fairly warm, but a bit warmer than the room.)
Bread after rising and after punching

Bread after rising in loaf pans
7.) Punch down dough and divide in half. Place each half in a loaf pan 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch. Cover with warm towel. Let rise in same place until bread has doubled in size, about another hour.

8.) Bake 400® for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 25 minutes more. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire rack.
Finished Bread
Recipe adapted from KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes: Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and more.