Today I made a badly needed treat for alongside a cup of coffee. I like to serve a couple of little cookies in the morning with each cappuccino I make. Lately, there's been nothing like that in my kitchen. So I got to work creating a little biscotti -- a name that in Italy applies to any and all cookies. This one is gluten-free. Filled with ground almonds folded into a thick meringue, the mixture is piped into small mounds, then baked slowly at a low temperature.
• an adapted recipe from The Il Fornaio Baking Book by Franco Galli
• 2 1/4 cups slivered blanched almonds
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 cup powdered (confectioners') sugar
• 4 egg whites, at room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
• Crystal sugar
1. PREHEAT OVEN to 300˚F
2. Combine the almonds, cornstarch, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until a fine powder. (The almond meal would become oily if ground on its own.) Transfer the almond-sugar mixture to a bowl. Using a wire whisk, stir the mixture to break up any lumps, and set aside.
3. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer set at low speed, beat the whites until they become frothy. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue to beat the whites until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 of the granulated sugar and increase the mixer speed to high, beating until combined. Add the remaining sugar and beat until shiny, stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond extract and the almond mixture just until evenly distributed throughout the meringue. (Folding longer than necessary will start breaking down the meringue.)
4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the meringue mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a No. 7 plain pastry tip. (All I had available for piping was a No. 9 pastry tip.) Pipe out mounds 1-inch in diameter onto the baking sheets with 1-inch spacing between mounds. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
5. Bake the cookies in preheated oven until lightly and evenly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. (I baked both sheets at the same time using convection -- I'm not totally sold on convection... yet. If not using convection, space oven racks in upper third and lower third of oven, switching the baking sheets half way through baking.) Turn oven off and leave the meringues in oven for an additional 20 minutes to dry out; then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If cookies become sticky due to humidity, recrisp in a preheated 250˚F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
TAKE a LOOK:
Vanilla sauce has always been a huge favorite of mine. When I was growing up, both my mother and aunt would make an Amana communal kitchen recipe of a cornstarch-based, molded chocolate pudding floating in a deep pool of vanilla sauce. I remember how I would eat bowl after bowl of this dessert, always making sure the proportions favored the sauce.
My love of this combination hasn't waivered over the years; all that's changed is the way that I serve it at home. When I make vanilla sauce now, I will most likely place a slice of flourless chocolate cake in its midst. A mixture of eggs, whole milk, sugar, and vanilla, the sauce (a.k.a. Crème Anglaise) is thickened slightly over low heat creating a rich, pale yellow, pourable custard.
In addition to being just fine on its own or served with cake to soak up its vanilla-infused creaminess, Crème Anglaise is an irresistible combination in the spring with fresh berries or roasted rhubarb.
This recipe for Fallen Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes is a departure from the 9-inch chocolate cake I usually make to serve with my Crème Anglaise. If you prefer a moister cupcake, bake on the low end of the recommended oven time. Personally, I like a drier cake. Either way, you get a nice little crater in these fallen cakes that begs to be filled with fruit.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKES
adapted recipe by Sara Foster | Bon Appétit, November 2007
• 1 cup blanched almonds (or 1 cup almond meal and bypass the food processor)
• 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
• 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds in processor. Pulse until the nuts are coarsely ground.
2. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until almost melted, about 30 seconds longer. Stir to combine. Cool chocolate mixture until barely lukewarm but still liquid, about 5 minutes. Whisk egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until blended. Mix in orange peel, Grand Marnier (if using), ground almonds, and chocolate mixture.
3. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in another large bowl until mixture is thick and glossy and peaks form. Fold egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (about 1/3 cup batter in each). Bake until edges are firm and tops are cracked all over, about 16 minutes for very soft cake or about 25 minutes for firmer cake.
recipe from Regan Daley | In The Sweet Kitchen
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
• 1 vanilla bean
• 6 large egg yolks
1. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine the milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Split the vanilla bean down the center and scrape out the seeds with the point of a sharp knife. Add the seeds and the vanilla bean to the milk. Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. During this time, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Using a ladle, start adding the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks whisking constantly, until all of the milk has been incorporated into the yolks.
2. Rinse out the saucepan used to scald the milk. DO NOT dry out the pan. Leaving a film of water will keep the custard from burning to the bottom of the saucepan. Return the custard mixture to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture constantly. If the burner is too hot, you will scramble the eggs. Take your time and do it slowly. Stir the mixture until the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon. This can take at least 7 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately pour the custard sauce through a mesh sieve into a medium-sized bowl. Discard the vanilla bean and place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Cut several little slashes into the plastic to allow steam to escape. Once the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours and up to 4 days.
TAKE a LOOK:
New Years Day Brunch is now just a memory. An hour of champagne toasts (of which I no longer partake -- too much of a risk factor in the success of the ensuing meal) were followed by 3 courses and 5 hours at the dining table. It is a tradition that we have celebrated with the same friends for 25+ years.
MIMOSAS with PROSECCO
SMOKED SALMON with LATKES and HARD-BOILED EGGS
BRIOCHE with PROSCIUTTO, GRUYèRE, and EGG
CITRUS PAVLOVAS with GRAPEFRUIT and MINT
First course was the Smoked Salmon with Latkes and Hard-Boiled Eggs. This was an appetizer I had this past summer at a lodge in Glacier National Park and knew immediately I would be including it in my New Years Day Brunch. I made the latkes ahead and froze them, reheating them directly from the freezer to oven (350˚ for 15 minutes). They were delicious; tender on the inside with a crispy outside. Recipe for the latkes HERE.
Salmon balls were made by mincing Norwegian smoked salmon with a chef's knife, then formed by hand into balls (24 ounces for 8 servings). The potato latkes were placed upon a dollop of sour cream with additional sour cream to secure the salmon; another small spoonful on top was sprinkled with chives. Surround with sliced hard-boiled eggs and toss on chopped red onion and capers. Amazing!
Second course was Brioche with Prosciutto, Gruyère, and Egg; a recipe by Suzanne Goin. I chose to make my own brioche that was sliced thick, spread with salted European butter and placed under the broiler. The bread was then topped with Gruyère, melted under the broiler and finished off with an arugula salad (frisée was called for but what I found at the grocery was disappointing), prosciutto, and a fried egg -- my kind of salad! With purchased brioche, it would go together quite fast.
And for dessert...
Citrus Pavlovas with Grapefruit and Mint
Just the kind of dessert needed after the rich excesses of the holidays; baked meringues flavored with citrus beneath a cloud of orange marmalade whipped cream, and fresh grapefruit segments.
+ Citrus Pavlovas with Grapefruit and Mint
recipe from the Jewels of New York
• 4 large egg whites
• Pinch of salt
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 teaspoon orange extract
• juice of half a lime
• 1 cup fully whipped cream
• 1/4 cup orange marmalade
• 2 grapefruits, segmented for garnish
• mint sprigs, for garnish
• honey for drizzling
1. Preheat the oven to 225˚F. Whisk the egg whites and salt together until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to whip th e egg whites. Add the cream of tartar, orange extract and lime juice. Mix together until well combined. On a piece of parchment paper, use a teacup to trace six circles, each 4 inches in diameter. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper, using the circles as a guide. Place in the oven and bake for about 2 hours, until crisp on the outside and soft in the center.
2. Fold the orange marmalade into the whipped cream. Place pavlovas on a serving dish and garnish with a generous dollop of the marmalade cream mixture, a few segments of grapefruit, mint sprigs and a drizzle of honey, if desired.
TAKE a LOOK:
I've been thinking lately about New Year's Day brunch. It's a tradition my husband and I have celebrated for twenty-five years with the same three couples. I usually don't start planning my menu until December, but these early musings must be due to our opting out last year, for the first time ever. Our daughter was married in November, and after the wedding I was totally burned out (I made over 1,000 marshmallows as guest favors). I felt awful cancelling the brunch, but I just didn't have it in me. This year, however, it will be different. Today I made Baked Eggs with Serrano Ham, Creamed Spinach, and Parmesan, and I am thinking this could be a possible contender for one of the brunch courses come January 1st. Other than the simple preparation of the creamed spinach, this recipe goes together quickly.
< Paper-thin slices of Serrano ham are used to line the muffin cups. The 3-ounce, 5-slice packages I purchased will each make five baked egg cups. Each slice is cut in half, with the halves criss-crossing to line one cup.
Nests of creamed spinach are formed on top of the ham. Creamed spinach has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. On a family vacation to Chicago when is was eight years old, we dined at the historic Berghoff Restaurant for dinner. When my mother didn't see creamed spinach on the menu, she called over the waiter and told him that the kitchen needed to make some for me... They did.