Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberry Crackle

4pm Saturday: "Mike, help...get the bandaids and Neosporin! I have hurt myself".

DUN DUN <~~~~ Law and Order type music

Flashback to earlier in the day

11:00am: Meagan is in her kitchen getting ready to make the cranberry crackle tart. She has all her ingredients gathered around her including a canister of all purpose flour (having learned from the last recipe that white whole wheat flour is not the same).

exhibit A: all purpose flour 

11:10am: Meagan starts making the crust. She pulls out her fancy new food processor (thank you William Sonoma for having discounts on top of discounts) and blends up the dough. She says out loud, even though there is no one else in the room, that "adding 1 lightly mixed egg yolk to a food processor a small amount at a time seems like the most ridiculous thing I have ever been asked to do and I have been asked to do a lot of ridiculous things". 


11:30am: Meagan finishes the dough by hand as the recipe suggests. She then rolls it out and fits it to the pie pan before sliding it into the oven to bake.

exhibit B: dough in pie pan waiting to be trimmed and baked.

Noon (because it always confuses the writer if noon is 12am or 12pm): crust is finished baking and is sitting on a rack to cool. Meagan is a little worried because the crust is already really "golden" and it still has to bake for another hour but she decides to put it aside to cool and start on dinner. She says out loud, again to herself because no one is around, that it "seems like the perfect day to make a beef stew". She starts chopping the vegetables but her mind is still on the pie. Is the crust overcooked? How can you add 1 egg yolk a little bit at time when there is only a little bit to start with? Will she be able to stop herself from eating the entire thing in one sitting? Should she have just made brownies instead?


2:00pm: The stew is on the stove stewing away (and moody stews often do) and the crust is cool so Meagan starts on the filing. She spoons some chunky cherry jam into the bottom of the crust.

exhibit C: jam
She pulls out Betty her trusty hand mixer and starts to whip up a meringue. She feels pretty proud of herself because for once the recipe is coming together as it should. If only she knew how the day would end in disaster.  But unaware of what is to come she happily folds the cranberries into the meringue and then tries to resist the temptation to lick the meringue bowl. 

exhibit D: cranberry meringue goodness
The meringue cranberry goodness goes on top of the jam and the entire thing goes in the oven to bake for an hour. 


3:30pm: Meagan pulls the pan out of the oven and the Cranberry Crackle looks amazeballs (even though she is too old to keep using the term amazeballs). She looks around and since no one else is in the kitchen she decides to forgo letting it cool and instead risks a burnt mouth by quickly cutting and gobbling up a piece. So tart, so sweet, so amazing. 

exhibit E: the yumminess


3:55pm: A feeling of utter happiness falls over Meagan's body. There is stew (still stewing) on the stove, there are cranberries and sugar floating in her tummy, there is the rest of the cranberry crackle still waiting to be eaten. Life is good. With her head filled with dreamy cranberry dreams Meagan reaches for the plastic wrap to cover the the pan with.


4:00pm: "Mike, help...get the bandaids and Neosporin! I have hurt myself". Mike rushes into the kitchen. He has prepared himself for a gory sight and he is ready to dial 911 to get immediate help. He finds Meagan, with her finger wrapped in a towel. She is panicked. Mike convinces her to remove the towel so he can take a look and there he sees....a little cut on her finger that she got while tearing off a piece of plastic wrap.


4:03pm: Mike sits the bandaids down on the counter and heads back to do whatever it was that he was doing, leaving behind Meagan to tend to her own baking wounds and mutter out loud (to herself since one again no one is in the kitchen with her) that "it really does hurt, it is much bigger than it looks, I did it on the sharp metal is not just a paper cut.....". 

exhibit F: the ugly side of baking

Cranberry Crackle Tart pp 135-137 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Palets de Dames

I wish I could say that I finally finished Baking With Julia but in fact I missed more recipes (a lot more) than I actually made and instead the cookbook usually sat on my counter. Glaring at me. With judgment. Daring me to open it and bake something. But nothing makes you feel better about not finishing a project than starting a new one and so it was with great happiness that the group started a new book: Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. So now I can tell myself " is not that you never finished Baking with would have...but what can you do...the group moved you must move on with the group".

And so I am moving on to Palet de Dames. Little pucks of sugary goodness.

When I opened my new cookbook and saw this recipe I thought it was going to be the recipe that finally caused me to break down and buy a stand mixer (or at least it was going to be the excuse I gave for buying the stand mixer that I have wanted for so long) but sadly the recipe said that you could use a hand out came Betty the trusted hand mixer that I have carried from state to state and country to country.

The batter is super easy to make. A few simple ingredients mixed together.

Now this is where I made my first mistake substitution. In my everyday cooking I use white whole wheat flour and so I do not have all purpose white flour in the house. Nor do I have room in my itty bitty doll house sized kitchen to have an extra container of flour that is only used once in a rare while. Luckily Whole Foods sells all purpose flour in their bulk section so I had planned to buy enough for this recipe...but I forgot. So I decided to go with the flour I had in the house. Note to self...find room in the kitchen cupboards for a jar of all purpose flour because it really does make a difference in cookies. 

After mixing the cookie ingredients together you need to chill your batter for at least an hour. I personally love cookies that you can make in stages. I call them Nap Time cookie since you can make the batter one day while your shortie takes a nap and bake them the next day while your shortie takes a nap. 

Then the cookies are scooped onto a tray and baked. And since I talked myself into a new stand mixer...only to talk myself out of a new stand mixer...I figured I could at least buy a cookie scoop as a small consolation prize. I am not really a gadget girl, well I am a gadget girl but with my doll sized kitchen I am not able to live out my gadget girl life but I figured a cookie scoop was small. And these little french cutie cookies really begged to be of uniform size and I bought one. And while scooping out my first cookie the scoop broke. 


I think because I did not have a scoop and instead used a spoon I ended up making them smaller than was suggested. I need a tshirt that says "The Only Thing Small About Me is My Cookies"...or maybe I do not need one. 

But I let them cool and then mixed up the icing (again super simple ingredients mixed with a fork because that is how we roll here in Cali). I dipped one in, not realizing until later that the flat side is suppose to be iced and the round sized left bare, and stuck it right into my mouth. Then I dipped the rest and left them on the counter to dry. I saw other baker's blogs where their children had helped by adding sprinkles to the tops and all I can say is "God Bless those Gentle and Creative Mothers" because the thought of handing my 5 year old a container of sprinkles and letting him go at a cookie causes me to break out in sweat. Because I love him (and I was raised in the art of Catholic guilt) I do let him make "memories" by decorating cookies. Twice a year. Halloween and Christmas. That is it. No more. My OCD heart can not take it. 

Overall they are an OK cookie. A "meh" sort of cookie. The idea is great: a vanilla cake cookie coated in a power sugar glaze but in the end they lack any real flavor. And the flour I used gives them a nuttiness that probably should not be found in a french cookie. However that will not stop me from eating a second one (and most likely a third one too).