Still in the kitchen baking cookies. This time, however, I've gone the savory route. These Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Biscuits will be packaged as gifts, along with bottles of red wine... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
• 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• Maldon salt, for sprinkling
1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cayenne and sea salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars at low speed until creamy. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth, then add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk. Roll out each disk between 2 sheets of wax paper to about 1/4 inch thick. Slide the wax paper–covered disks onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour, until very firm.
3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one piece of dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of wax paper. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out the cookies as close together as possible. Arrange the cookies about 1 inch apart on the parchment paper–lined baking sheets and sprinkle with some Maldon salt.
4. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they are just firm; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
TAKE a LOOK:
Last spring I was asked if I would like to be one of several to bake desserts for the "Grand Re-opening Gala of the Minnesota Governor's Residence". I didn't think about it very long -- I said "yes" almost immediately. The desserts I made consisted of French Chocolate Bouchons, French Canelés, and little Lemon Pound Cakes with Lemon Drizzle and French Lavender Bud Sprinkles.
That gala took place this past weekend. I considered my contribution to the event, of 50-plus individual servings, as little French bites.
Little Lemon Pound Cakes with Lemon Drizzle and Lavender Bud Sprinkles...
Individual desserts packed up for delivery...
• a recipe by Norman Love | BAKING WITH JULIA, written by Dorie Greenspan
NOTE: The recipe below uses one 9-inch-by-5-inch bread pan. I used eight 3 1/2-inch-by-2 1/2-inch pans and needed to adjust down my bake time.
FOR POUND CAKE:
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• Pinch of salt
• Grated zest of 3 large lemons
• 1 3/4 cups cake flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
• 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
FOR LEMON DRIZZLE:
• 1 cup Confectioners' sugar
• Fresh lemon juice
• Culinary lavender, optional
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan (see note above) and dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
2. Working in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for just a minute, until foamy and smoothly blended; the mixture should not thicken. Whisk in the grated zest.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and sift about a third of the dry ingredients over the foamy egg mixture. Whisk the flour into the eggs, mixing lightly--do not beat. Sift the flour over the eggs in two more additions and whisk only until everything is incorporated. Whisk the heavy cream into the mixture. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently and quickly fold in the melted butter.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake to a cooling rack to rest for 10 minutes, then unmold.
5. Place the Confectioners' sugar in a small bowl. Add enough fresh lemon juice to make a good drizzling consistency. Spoon the lemon drizzle over the lemon cake. Sprinkle with lavender buds.
TAKE a LOOK:
I visited Provence this past June where it seems... all things lead to LAVENDER. You see it growing practically everywhere. I took the photo below several years ago. On our recent trip, we stayed just up the road from this home, where lavender lines the drive, and drove past it almost daily -- a visual delight.
Visiting the village markets and local shops, you will find lavender soap, sachets, lotions, syrups, and what I consider the most wonderful of all -- lavender honey -- in abundance.
But, was I smart enough to bring any lavender products back home with me? Ah, no... I was trés stupide!
Every morning at our B&B in Gordes-Les Gros, we had a breakfast that included lavender honey in a very large container. I saw this same bulk container of lavender honey at the Super U, a grocery store in nearby Coustalet. Did it ever even occur to me to buy any? No... not at all. What was I thinking?
After arriving back home to St. Paul, Minnesota, empty handed, I rode to the Mill City Farmers' Market in Minneapolis and purchased a small bag of culinary lavender... I have been baking with it ever since.
NOTE: I used 10 individual Matfer tartlet molds measuring 3-inches in diameter at the top and 2 1/8 inches at the base. You can also use a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. If making a 9-inch tart, double the ingredients for the filling.
FOR THE CRUST:
• 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon culinary lavender
• 5 1/3 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoon ice water
FOR THE FILLING:
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon culinary lavender
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• Confectioners' sugar
• Culinary lavender, for sprinkling
TO MAKE THE CRUSTS:
1. Pulse the almonds in the bowl of a food processor until ground. Add the flour, salt, and lavender and pulse to combine.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water while pulsing. When the dough just starts to come together, stop and transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a disc and wrap with the plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. When ready to make the tart crust, remove dough from refrigerator; place on a work surface. I roll my dough inbetween a flour-dusted sheet of waxed paper and plastic wrap. If making a 9-inch tart crust, roll out the entire disc and fit into the tart pan. If making individual tart shells, cut segments off of the dough, roll, and fit into the pans. Prick the base of the tart crust(s) with a fork and place crusts in the freezer while the oven is preheating.
4. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Remove the tart crust(s) from the freezer and line with aluminum foil. Fill the foil-line shells with dried beans or rice to prevent the crust(s) from rising up during baking. Place the tart pan(s) on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans or rice, return the tart shells to the oven and continue to bake until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside until ready to fill with.
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
1. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Combine cream, sugar, lavender, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and liquid is just at a simmer.
3. Pour the cream mixture through a mesh strainer over the chocolate and butter and let sit until melted, about 4 minutes. Gently stir until smooth.
4. Spoon the ganache into the cooled tartlet shells; transfer to the refrigerator and chill until set, about 1 hour.
1. Whip the heavy cream and Confectioners' sugar, to taste, until thickened. Mound the chocolate ganache tartlets with whipped cream and sprinkle with lavender.
TAKE a LOOK:
I'm madly rushing around before I leave for France in two days and never planned to photograph and post a recipe anymore, but this cake was just too good! We've celebrated three birthdays over the past two months and this cake was for daughter Whitney's birthday yesterday. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake is an Yvonne Ruperti recipe via Serious Eats and the Peanut Butter Mousse is what makes this cake SO good! I mounded the cake with Sugared Peanuts and served it with scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.
The birthday girl with Pipi. My Pipi will turn 14 on Sunday; almost unheard of for a French Bulldog.
Midge relaxing at the celebration (and bummed that she can't eat chocolate cake)... I'll be back in a couple of weeks with loads of Provencal photos.