Milk Pail‘s fresh almond paste has a higher almond and lower sugar content than the stuff in tubes elsewhere; amount will be random, but aim for the .5 to .7 lb range slab. Cut it up a bit and Cuisinart it with 2/3, or, if you like it sweeter, 3/4 c sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp almond extract, long and hard, then add in 1/4 c flour (of the type of your choice, I imagine, though with Sam gone home I just used plain old plain old) mixed with a tsp of baking powder. 8″ springform pan 35 min at 350. A near-instant recipe.
Michelle wheedled and threw Bambi eyes at me when I got home from Purlescence tonight and then pounced the moment it was cool enough to unlock the pan. No added fats, unlike the original Fanny Farmer version. Eggs and almonds and no allergic reactions, hey, guys, save some for breakfast.
And while I was at knit night…
Nathania got everybody’s attention: Pamela had had an idea and they’d thought it was a great one. Since the shop had moved into its bigger space (in the same shopping center), they’d had this big white bare wall. Purlescence has always tried to offer a sense of community to all who love to work with yarn as they do; Pamela’s idea was that we could all pitch in and create a community wall of–knitting, weaving, crocheting, tatting, you name it. Square, round, funky, big, little, Nathania asked, whatever appealed to you: like some of the get-well afghans out there (boy did I feel proud and happy and blessed by so many friends and lucky all over again as she said that) and then they would move the furniture out of the way of our knitting-group area and sit and piece together whatever comes in the door with this idea. Put a piece of yourself up on display with everybody else’s. Let’s make ourselves a giant wallhanging, a permanent display of who we are in our community.
My one request, she continued, is that it be purple. Your purple, or your purple (gesturing to one person, then another) or yours, or mine, whatever appeals to you and whatever you define as purple.
And it needs to be done by Stitches.
There are several celiacs in that knitting group. Maybe I could make some almond cakes with Bob’s Red Mill safely non-wheat flour to help celebrate when this big project is done. Pass the purple blackberry/raspberry sauce and dig in!
Homemade sweet chestnut puree
Wednesday January 02nd 2013, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Food
Michelle took John to the airport this morning, and with a touch of bittersweet we are three again.
But I’m still playing in the kitchen. I just finished this a few minutes ago.
I had a 20 oz bag of roasted, peeled chestnuts from Costco and a recipe (oh. wait. that’s not the link. here, try this) calling for 12 oz. So I upped the sugar by a third, figuring a bit less proportionately is good–and it certainly came out sweet enough.
So here’s what I did. I boiled three cups of water, a cup and a half of sugar, and all 20 oz of chestnuts for 35 minutes, figuring I might as well go for the longest time since I had more of the ingredients, turning the heat down a bit after the start but still boiling.Â Cooled it some, added a tsp of vanilla, then dumped it all straight in the Cuisinart and whirled a long time. It was almost too thick for it, and I let the machine rest several times to keep it from overheating.
Somehow the taste was as if there were a bit of dates in there. Curious. It was pretty good, but then I spread some of it across some very thin, crisp ginger cookies Trader Joe’s sells, a combination that would have ended our supply of those pretty quickly–it was *very* good. Totally sells the chestnuts. Richard’s face lit up, too.
But what suddenly stopped me from eating a third was my tongue suddenly feeling like it was burning in spots. More so than that I-am-just-imagining-this of yesterday with the cream puffs. I Googled for nut allergy reactions. I so was not expecting this.
I’m still not sure, and if I am reacting then it’s certainly not on the level that that allergy site was talking about, but neither am I going to mess with this before calling my doctor. I had a reaction to dried rambutan (also from TJ’s) that had my mouth suddenly on fire and my throat closing nearly shut a few years ago while I gasped for breath–scary stuff.Â A cousin of lychees, and I like lychees, but I’ll never touch them again.
I am quietly putting that spread away in the fridge as soon as I finish typing this. Hmm.
What comes round goes round
The phone rang about five minutes ago. At this hour? I wondered. (Actually, not, I need to fix that time stamp that didnâ€™t change with the daylight savings change last month.)
â€œThis is your daughter,â€ pronounced She Who Can Hear Across The House (but is toiling away on a tight work deadline), â€œdo you want to take the cookies out of the oven? Theyâ€™ve been beeping for awhile.â€
I had made them to help lighten her load a bit for the evening. Theyâ€™re a little more golden around the edges than they might have been. Perfect.
Almond Meringue cookies
Mix 1 1/2 c almond meal (thank you Trader Joeâ€™s) with 1 1/2 c powdered sugar, set aside. Whip three egg whites till they hold a stiff peak, fold in the almond/sugar mixture. Tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper on top of a baking sheet, bake at 350 forâ€“well, it was supposed to be 15-18 minutes. And yes you can just use a heavily-greased cookie sheet, but with these, parchment paper really is the way to go.
If you want, dip these in melted bittersweet chocolate and then refrigerate.
The funny thing about these is that my daughter once asked my friend Miriam for her almond cookie recipe and Miriam, bemused, answered, Theyâ€™re your momâ€™s recipe.
Good and fast and healthy (not to mention addictive.) Enjoy!
And she got to hold his baby son before she left
Left the house at 2:00 to take a friend to the airport: his grandmother had just died of Alzheimer’s and he was taking one day off from the intense world of medical training to fly out for the funeral.
When someone needs a ride for that, you take them.
But I asked him beforehand if we could leave just a few minutes earlier? Maybe ten? I had a doctor’s appointment to go to.
Sure, no problem!
As we went down the road, he talked about the strangeness of grief mixed with relief and the loss that had happened years before–and loss again, but with a…but…. Now at last she’s with his Grandpa again.
And then. I only got a brief glance because I was the one at the wheel–but at the place where I have seen one before, a peregrine falcon suddenly burst past the trees next to the road and zoomed across in front of us, both of us going, WOW!, low enough down that for a split second I worried maybe a semi might… But it was safe. In the blink, I would have guessed it a female for the shape of the body and likely an adult or near-adult. So close! Wow!
And I wondered silently, Ty, you have no idea, but a raptor always shows up when I need one, especially peregrines and my Cooper’s hawk. Maybe you needed one too.
There was some slowdown going on in San Jose but I got out of the backup and away to the gate about the time expected–but coming back around onto the freeway, traffic where I had just been was one solid mass of cars clear back to the next city. Had we left five minutes later, I would have been utterly hosed.
I was exactly on time for my doctor. We had a fair bit to discuss, and she’s a good one: she takes the time.
I raced home (it was 5:00 by now) and started peeling apples. Richard called; I dropped everything and went to get him since I had his car. Coming out of the neighborhood, a large red-tailed hawk soared right above. I have never seen one here before!
More backup. They’ve been digging up the road where pipeline 132, the infamous San Bruno Fire pipeline, goes down the neighborhood. Came home. Chopped apples. An old quick New Hampshire autumn dinner is that you cook sausage crumbles with diced preferably Granny Smith apples (getting out absolutely as much grease as you can) and then when it’s all done, pour just a little maple syrup on it in the serving dish, grade B for the more intense flavor if you can find it. Trader Joe’s here has it.
Thirty-seven minutes after we walked in the door together, the table was cleared and set, three different dishes were cooked from scratch, and our dinner guests arrived. We did it.
I could never have pulled half of that off in the bad old days. Wow life. Look at me now!
Saturday September 29th 2012, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Food
Five large juicy-ripe, perfect nectarines, cuisinarted, a pair of pints of raspberries left whole, the juice of half a Meyer lemon from my tree, a cup and a half of sugar, boiled and stirred five or six minutes.
Michelle was in and out all day with an old high-school buddy of hers and I had this fresh fruit needing to be put to good use. It came out sweet enough and it set enough to call it jam; next time I would use half the sugar and half the cooking time to make a sauce to keep in the freezer, to be doled out carefully.
The first jar of jam went to her friend.
Who went along with Richard and Michelle to Costco to buy us more nectarines and raspberries for the next batch. I want to do more of that combination!
A little food between friends
Lemon juice with pears sounded kinda boring, and I wasn’t inspired by it enough to brave the thorns on the lemon tree in the dark. My mom once created a pear-lime pie that won a recipe contest, but there were no limes around. (Gotta get me a tree for that…)
But the idea of sour to balance the intense sweetness of the ripe Bartletts that needed to be used up got me thinking. Yes we did still have cranberries in the freezer. I was curious. And so:
Pear Cranberry Pecan Crisp
2 c quick-cooking oats
~2/3 c brown sugar or to taste
most of a stick of (butter would be better, but for the dairy allergy in the household, I used) Earth Balance, melted
Shakes of cinnamon to taste
about 1/2 c pecan pieces
4 large ripe Bartlett pears, sliced up
About a half cup cranberries. Note that mine were still frozen. I think next time I would mix the cranberries and brown sugar separately before throwing it all together.
Bake in a buttered or cooking-sprayed 13×9 pan at 350 for about 35 min, maybe 40, depending on oven and pan: I waited till the cranberries were split open and cooked to early-mushy-looking; the edges of the pan should be good and bubbling.
I thought I was making breakfast last night when I did this but there was only a very little left by the time we three went to bed. It is safe to say we were very pleased with how it came out.
And on the wildlife front? I set out some suet crumbles this afternoon for the juncos and towhees that don’t care for the safflower in the feeders. A birdy-looking version of crisp, I found myself musing.
A jay showed up to steal the last big clump.
I ignored it. It had probably already gotten the rest of it when I wasn’t looking anyway. Go ahead, stare at me, I know the hawk has recently gotten a taste for jay meat–you’re letting down your guard, you know, you’ve got your face to the window.
Hey! You’re no fun! You’re supposed to shoo me away! It stared, just in front of the food but not touching it, waiting the signal.
All it got was a smile out of me. No, really, I wasn’t trying to feed it to the hawk, I was just curious how long it would take for it to give up and just grab it and go.
Now, one birding site I recently read claimed that scrub jays have a bigger brain ratio and are smarter than squirrels: they not only hide food for the winter, they remember forever where every single morsel went (which is why the squirrels watch the jays. A little thievery between friends.) And so, like the squirrels, you can never set out enough to make the jays be satisfied, despite the fact that in our climate there’s abundant food year-round. Hoarding is in their biology.
I knew it wasn’t hungry. Eh, what’s a little suet between friends. Go ahead. I went back to what I was doing.
It kept waiting for me like a little puppy pleading with me to play the game. Oh, finally, okay, and I waved my arms to give it the good scarecrow try. And at that, it at last scooped up that beckoning beakful, just to let me know it was still the one in charge around here, and flew off satisfied at last.
Glad to oblige.
Just out of the oven
Sunday September 02nd 2012, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Food
Here’s my version of chocolate hazelnut torte, and I would show you a picture if only my blog and camera were playing nicely together today. If you loved fingerpainting as a kid, this is for you.
9″ springform pan (thank you Don and Cliff!), the bottom covered with parchment paper and then the bottom buttered or with a no-stick baking spray on it. Oven at 325.
10 oz really good bittersweet chocolate. This is 22 squares from a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar.
6 eggs, separated
1/2 lb toasted hazelnuts*
1/4 lb toasted hazelnuts*
1 c sugar
2 tbl sugar
1 c powdered sugar (Whole Foods carries one without cornstarch for the corn-allergic)
1/4 c. cocoa; I use Bergenfield’s Colonial Rosewood by mail from New Jersey
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter or coconut oil.**
2 tsp bourbon vanilla
In Cuisinart, pulse 1/2 lb toasted hazelnuts. Once it’s at the nut meal stage, add cocoa and salt to fine sand but not nut butter. Set mixture aside.
Hazelnut paste: in the now-empty Cuisinart, pulse 1/4 lb toasted hazelnuts till fine; add egg yolks and confectioner’s sugar and whirr a bit more. Do NOT add the yolks before the hazelnuts are ground alone–it is very hard on the motor and you might be buying a new machine, but after they’re ground, it’s a lot easier and a lot shorter, you’re just mixing.
Melt the chocolate: in my 1300 watt microwave, I do full power for 30 seconds, stir, 20 seconds, stir, then 10-second increments, carefully. Chocolate burns very easily so it’s better to let it melt as you stir then to try to get it to melt more first. Set aside.
Beat egg whites, gradually adding in 2 tbl sugar; set aside.
Beat butter, 1 c sugar, and vanilla till light and fluffy. Add in the hazelnut paste (it will be sticky), then the melted chocolate. Add in the first hazelnut mixture. Then, and this is the fingerpaint-fun part, mix those beaten egg whites into that heavy mixture, and really, the only way to do that after the first bit of trying with the wooden spoon that feels like someone tried to Jimmy Hoffa it with a cement block hidden in there is to just go squish it through your fingers as gently as you can till it’s as mixed as much as seems reasonable.
In my dark nonstick pans, it’s 325 for 45-50 minutes. Let cool, refrigerate overnight before cutting into it. Original recipe I worked from said bake 50-55 min but I found that too much in my pans.
If you want a sweeter cake, the original recipe had 1/4 c more sugar than I use.
I actually prefer this without ganache: it stands on its own, but if you want that extra, go to the glaze recipe here.
*To toast hazelnuts, bake at 350 for 14-15 min. Rub the skins off as much as you can after baking: they give a bitterness, but they also help keep the nuts from going rancid before you buy them.
**Note that coconut oil gives a good texture to the finished cake, but if you use hazelnut oil it will be all in crumbles. If you use coconut oil, you will taste it, and whether that’s good or bad is up to you.
Truffles and a chickadee with a beard
First, the chocolate.
About 25 years ago, when we’d just moved here, some friends dragged us over to a new shop at Stanford Mall with, You’ve got to try this!
That was the first time we heard the word truffles being used to describe something that was most definitely not a mushroom.
Cocolat was wildly popular, several other shops followed, and then a fire at the central bakery shut the business down, a still-lamented loss.
Alice Medrich, the owner, wrote several dessert books after that; Cocolat‘sÂ photos were an immediate delight to the locals–oooh, I remember that! And that!
She mentioned in her writing that when she’d first opened up, she’d started off making the truffles far too big but by the time she realized that, her customers were used to buying them that way and so, big they’d stayed.
I well remember that. That was what we’d been told we had to try and what we’d come back for for special occasions.
After Steve finished his first truffle last night, he mentioned (clearly not minding overly) that they were too big.
He couldn’t know I was thrilled nor why.
But he and she were both right: because a chocolate truffle should be small enough that you don’t have to hold it melting in your hand as you take several bites to get through the whole thing; too messy. Small is good.
I thought of that today as I decided to experiment with Michelle’s coconut cream. Could I make good dairy-free truffles?
One 6.8 oz box of that cream, a small one for the learning experience. I melted in 300 g of dark chocolate (I was determined to measure carefully this time.)
I just finished rolling small (!) balls of that now-chilled coconut ganache in my Bergenfield cocoa. The coconut taste is very minor in the background; the chocolate totally rules. The texture is just right. Nailed it.
There you go–I found it. That’s a bigger box than mine but a much better price than Amazon’s. Note that the shipping price is the same for one or ten and one of those big boxes is the right size for making two chocolate tortes. Just sayin’.
And the chickadee? You’re looking at the top of its head straight on at the camera at the bottom of the picture.
Last year my friend Kathy gave me a bagfull of soft fur combed from her dog and I set some out where the birds could take it for their nests. The Bewick’s wren appropriated an impressive amount at the Fall equinox: as Glenn Stewart of SCPBRG explains, bird behaviors at that time often somewhat mimic those of the Spring equinox, when the number of daylight hours vs dark is again equal.
So. There was a little dog fur left, and I had tufts of it set out among my amaryllis pots.
I looked up today to see what looked like a chickadee with a very furry blonde beard. She was diving into the fluff again and again, trying to get as much as her beak could hold.
And then she was off.
I went and got my hairbrush and pulled the last two days’ hair out of it; I was curious to see if I might be as acceptable as the dog. I went back to the patio, gathered up all the dog fluff in one amaryllis pot and put the hair with it.
More ! All in one place! Cool! She came back and her bill dove into it again and again, each time looking up and around to be safe in her surroundings: down, quickly up and left, right, down, peck, quickly up, left, right.
It took her a minute or two to be satisfied with her haul. She took to the air.
She seemed to have felted the dog fur into my long curled hairs with all those bobbings up and down: she flew in an uncertain wobble, as if the wind against her treasure was almost too much.
That little chickadee had a streamer of blond fur three chickadees wide and three chickadees long flowing proudly along behind her, like a small plane with a particularly large banner for the cheering crowd below.
A Costco-sized package did this to me. They looked so good and they were so cheap but there were so many!
And I can never follow a recipe, so here’s my version. I rinsed the blackberries and then rolled them gently from paper towel-covered plate to paper towel-covered plate, patting them on top too to dry them off as much as possible.
Oven ready at 350.
Melt a stick of butter and pour in a 13×9 pan and swish around. (I greased the sides with a little extra butter.) Cover the bottom with 18 oz blackberries, ie one Costco package’s worth, trying to spread them across as they hit rather than pushing them around a lot afterwards so that the butter stays distributed as evenly as possible.
Meantime, have 2 c sugar, 2 c flour, 1 tbl baking powder, 1 tsp salt mixed together; pour in 2 c milk and beat. (Okay, so I substituted about 1/4 c super-heavy manufacturing cream in there for that much of the milk.) Pour over the berries and get it quickly into the oven.
Bake one hour. Makes something between a popover and a pancake with its own fresh jam. Note that the measured volume of berries, at about 5 c, nearly equals that of all the other ingredients together.
But be careful: the original recipe said to melt the butter in the pan in the oven, take it out, then pour the milk mixture over and add the berries. That, my friends, is a good way to have exploding glass all over your kitchen unless you’re using a metal pan. Cold liquid should never come in contact with hot glass.
Oh, and the knitting? Got past my roadblock and knitted up most of an ounce of fingering weight today. Love love love how it’s coming out, with credit for the exquisitely soft, beautiful yarn going to Lisa Souza. The cobbler was to celebrate and to get my hands to take a break.
Pie and the sky
A thank you to all who checked in as to how things are where you are; it’s good to hear you all did okay. Hurricanes are random acts of velocity.
Here, the baking binge continued, and as I chopped and sliced and got out the cheater store-bought no-dairy crust from the back of the freezer (uh oh, I’ve disillusioned Scott‘s whole family now) I thought of how my mother always thought of dessert as one last attempt to get good nutrition into her kids.
So enough with the chocolate for a moment. It’s all about the fruit. We were on our second helpings of rhubarbÂ strawberry pie when suddenly I looked up at my husband and said, “Oh. I was going to photograph this for the blog.”
The general consensus here is that I could always, definitely go make another one.
This took less than five minutes to get into the oven.
Recipe: Have a bottom crust ready.
Slice rhubarb (I had three+ cups’ worth) and strawberries to bring it to four cups. Mix 1/3 c flour with 1 1/3 c sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon; pour in the fruit, add to crust. (And yes, Scott, I forgot to prick it again. Must have been the strawberries. Some things never change.)
Halfway through you might want to open the oven quickly and dunk the top fruit down so that any flour mixture sitting exposed goes in the goo.
I baked it at 425 for 40 minutes, and then because it was a cheap shiny store-bought throwaway tin had to add another five at 350. Next time I might turn it down after the first ten min like another of my cookbooks says so the outer edges won’t burn; personally, I chuckled at being able to toss some of the empty-calories part of the pie, just enough to free it from guilt. And the rest of the crust had the most perfect crunch.
I got my little “I voted” sticker
And now I’m glued (again) to watching the results come in.
We went over to Johnna and Glenn’s for an election party, Jon Stewart style: everyone kind and courteous and just plain enjoying hanging out with friends, regardless of any party affiliation. Pass the snacks.Â Glenn supplied fine chocolate, I brought almond raspberry sponge cake.Â (Mom: that would be your hot milk sponge cake recipe from Betty Crocker circa 1952, made with almond extract, 4 tbl butter instead of 2, and with two boxes of raspberries rinsed, very carefully patted dry, and arranged across to sink down to the bottom evenly.Â Crunchy organic/Demerara type sugar sprinkled on top of the cake.)
And a good time was had by all.
(Ed. to add, and one political party=one baby hat, knittingwise.)
Sock: it’s what’s for dinner
Monday September 27th 2010, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Knit
I’ve been scarfing down the Malabrigo Sock.
Now, I’ve often said that if you have a project you’re stalled out on and want to get going, put on an outfit that matches it: it’s really hard to stare for long periods at clashing colors. Happy combinations on the other hand practically knit themselves.
I got some work done on the baby blanket but found myself feeling restless and putting it down. I looked around my stash, and my Malabrigo Sock in Archangel (which matched the shirt I was wearing a lot better) leaped onto my needles and refused to leave.
Several hours’ worth of work later, it suddenly hit me: it wasn’t just the shirt.Â I’d been knitting dinner. The very last homegrown tomato, a diced purple onion, the small bits of late-season peach, the dash of olive oil that I’d simmered together before throwing in a splash of good balsamic vinegar and the leftover chicken–those vegetables, right there, in that project, preserving that so-long-tended tomato on into the winter season.
Well, that’s a first!
Family memory foods
Warning: calories ahead.
When my husband and I were young newlyweds, his mother’s mother sat me down one long, boring day with her recipe file, and with her great enthusiasm and my attempting to look enthused, she had me copy down (by hand, kids, this was in the Olden Days) all her decades-long favorites.Â She wanted to pass down the wisdom of her kitchen.Â I chaffed in silence; I wasn’t about to tell her how much all of this represented to me what I so much didn’t want to be.Â I had no intention of being a stay-at-home mom. Roasted Potatoes was just not what I aspired to.
Yeah well.Â Live and learn.Â One of the hardest things I ever did was decide to stay home with my children after all.Â For the first few months of motherhood, I was able to work where I could take my baby with me; she wasn’t mobile yet, she slept a lot, nobody minded.Â But then two things happened: she started exploring the world on her hands and knees–and we moved 2000 miles and that job was over.Â I found, though it would have surprised me just a couple of years earlier, that I utterly could not bear to leave her, even if it meant living on my husband’s grad-student fellowship.Â He very much supported my decision either way, but confessed later he was relieved I’d chosen to make motherhood a do-it-yourself project. He didn’t think anyone else could do as good a job as me.
And over all these years now, one of the things I’ve learned is how much memories attach themselves, over time, to–you guessed it–various foods.Â Write down those recipes, give’em to your college kids so they can re-create home.
And yet.Â GrandmaM would totally get where I’d been coming from back in the day.Â She was the first woman in her small (and I do mean small) town to have a college degree.Â She was a teacher who married a dairy farmer who was also the town’s high school principal, and the moment she was married she was of course out of a job; the idea of a married teacher back then was unthinkable, and a teacher married to the principal! Well now!
My older daughter, who is finishing up her PhD, asked for these, and I thought, as long as I’m typing them up, might as well put them up here.
From our family to yours.
There was a recipe making the rounds years ago with a story disclaimed by Snopes, supposedly stolen from Mrs Fields by a disgruntled ex-employee; whatever, someone did a good job of reverse engineering.Â These make five pounds of dough–and I once had a batch at the top of the freezer, reached down later for something in the bottom of the freezer, and… Clonk.
Not-Mrs. Field’s Cookies (Clonk Cookies, perhaps?)
Cream: 2 c butter, 2c sugar, 2c brown sugar.
Add 4 eggs, 2tsp vanilla.
Mix: 5c oats that have been measured and then ground into flour, 4c flour, 1 tsp salt, 2tsp each baking powder and baking soda.Â (I have been known to skip the baking soda.)
Mix all together and then fold in 24 oz chocolate chips and 3 c chopped nuts.
350 degrees, 8-10 minutes for medium-sized cookies. Note that the ground oats in the dough, being a little coarser than actual oat flour, help make it easy to pry off a little frozen cookie dough with a fork and bake just one or two at a time so that you can limit your caloric exposure at any one time if you want.
Recipe the second: this one originated from, of all things, a 1992 Mazola no-stick-spray ad. (Why, yes, I write notes with dates in my cookbooks; do you?)
Cookie crust: set oven at 350. Grease 15×10 pan. Cut 1 c of cold butter–do not substitute, and needs to be cold–into 2 1/2 c flour.Â Add 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 tsp salt, by hand, not by machine. It’s more work that way, but the difference in crunch in the crust is huge. Press firmly in pan, bake 20-23 minutes or till golden. Top with filling quickly and bake again.
Filling:Â Beat 4 eggs, 1c corn syrup, 1 c sugar, and 3 tbl melted butter (do not substitute!) Stir in 2 c coarsely chopped fresh cranberries and 1 c coarsely chopped pecans.Â Pour quickly over hot crust, spreading it out.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Refrigerate it for it to cut cleanly, if you can wait that long.
Pecan Pie variation: for filling, use 4 eggs, 1 1/2 c corn syrup, 1 1/2 c sugar, 3 tbl butter, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 2 1/2 c pecans.Â I find it curious that it uses so much more sweetener when it doesn’t have the tartness of the cranberries in this version, but if you want a pecan pie as a cookie finger food, this is definitely the way to get it.
I brought the cranberry bars to a get-together once and watched my friend Jim take his first bite, close his eyes in appreciation, and pronounce how if you want dessert done right you ask Alison to bring it.
I’ll share the recipe with GrandmaM when I get up there.Â She will laugh.
May the fourth be with you!
(Ed. to add picture of newly-glazed torte. The shine dulls once they’ve been refrigerated.)
Happy birthday, John!!! Our youngest is now identical-twin terrible-twos, the big 22.
Around here, when it’s a family member’s birthday and they are not in town, we bake a cake in their honor anyway.
And it’s also a tradition that when I bake a chocolate torte, I always bake two.
Okay, so, one went to Sam yesterday, the second one,Â someone else has dibs on, meaning a little bit of baking, a lot of chocolate smells, but then no torte for me–but there is more cream, so, hey, we can fix that.
On a side note, the specialty place where I’ve always bought the manufacturing cream stopped selling it in small quantities, rumor being that they got told that pouring it off into quarts and pints in-store was not kosher.Â But who would want an entire half-gallon of the stuff? So they discontinued it entirely.
When you have been making your signature dessert for 20 years and an essential ingredient suddenly disappears from the market, you have to do something.Â I sent off an email to the owner of the Milk Pail Market; I had to at least try to talk them into reconsidering.
I gather I’m not the only one who spoke up.Â I imagine the fact that I actually gave the man one of my chocolate tortes once didn’t hurt, and nudging his attention to the extinction of that cake, likewise. (I know, breaking my arm patting myself on the back and all that.)
Because:Â around Christmas there was a small handwritten sign on one of their refrigerator doors saying that due to popular demand, manufacturing cream was now back.Â Woohooo!
And so.Â I bought a half gallon (again) a few days ago.Â Heavy whipping cream is 32% butterfat, manufacturing cream, depending on the cow and the season, 40-42%.
‘Scuse me, the oven’s beeping…Â The third torte might go to the church dinner Tuesday night (renegade that I am–they said they wanted cupcakes) but that fourth one stays right here.Â John, we will eat a torte in your honor.Â Maybe not all at once.Â Â Happy Birthday!!
For those who missed it the first time, here’s the recipe with a few extra notes thrown in.Â If you have to use ordinary heavy cream, avoid the ones with any kind of preservatives, additives, or sugar in them.
If you have any cream left over after all this, melt more chocolate into it and, warm, it’s the best chocolate sauce, refrigerated, a ganache.
Alison Hydeâ€™s chocolate torteâ€“makes two
(NOTE added 12/13/10: I have two wire whisk attachments for my Kitchenaid; if you only have one set of beaters, beat the egg whites first before the other mixture or the whites won’t fluff up.)
Snap out the bottoms of two 8â€³ springform pans (flat bottomed preferred). Cover bottoms with foil, snap them back in, butter the sides and the foil-covered bottoms.
Melt 1 lb. butter, beat with 3 c. sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp bourbon vanilla
Add in 1/2 c. manufacturing cream, 6 egg yolks, beat till fairly light.
Add in: 1 1/3 c. cocoa that has been mixed with 1 c. flour till any lumps are smoothed out. Dutch process cocoa will give you a different flavor from that of Hershey cocoa; my favorite is Bergenfieldâ€™s Colonial Rosewood cocoa. The non-dutched cocoas are healthier and I think taste better; dutching is usually done on lower-quality cacao beans.
Beat separately till stiff: 6 egg whites and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar. Underbeating is better than overbeating.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Put in the two pans and bake at 350 for 42-45 minutes. Center will not be solid and cracking should appear. Run a knife carefully around outer edges; cake will fall, and the top will be more even ifÂ it falls in one piece. (On the other hand, since it will become the bottom of the torte, this step is not exactly essential.)
Cool at least an hour. Loosen springform sides and remove. Put a plate on bottom of each cake and flip over. Peel off pan bottoms, then the foil. Glaze when cool.
GLAZE for two cakes:
Chop one Trader Joeâ€™s Pound Plus Belgian bittersweet chocolate bar (500 g) and melt with 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 c. manufacturing cream. The tradeoff in the amount of cream is whether you want to sculpt it to hold deeper J-strokes (use lesser amount) or thinner, with a slightly lighter texture (use greater amount, and is as is shown in the picture.)Â Use a double boiler or microwave. Try not to incorporate extra air in as you stir. Also, it is important that every edge of every piece of chocolate be fully dunked down in the cream before heating or that piece of chocolate could possibly seize into a hardened, unmeltable lump with the combination of liquid and heat. You heard it here first: chocolate is very wool-like–it can, in effect, felt from that same combination of factors as wool. Unless you dunk it first.
When glazing a cake, first, I pour it into the center of the two.Â I quickly first scoot it towards the edges to make some of it fall down the sides in waves.Â Then, I make a backwards J from the center, turn the cake slightly, repeat all the way around.
(Ed. to add 10/26/10: for those who have one nearby, Smart and Final stores currently carry manufacturing cream too.)
(Ed. to add 1/22/11: I put a thermometer in my oven today, and with the thing set at 350, it was actually reading 325 both at the beginning and end of the 42 minutes.)
“Oh, Mom, I haven’t had caramel sauce in six years!”
Not since her serious dairy allergy had surfaced. About time, then!Â Okay, so this is what I did: for normal caramel sauce you mix one cup sugar with a half cup water. Stir on stove till it starts to boil; immediately stop stirring or you risk granules in your sauce.Â Some will probably form on the sides of your pan; ignore them.Â Watch carefully on medium or lower for, oh, five, maybe ten minutes-ish, depending on your temp and pot thickness, till the syrup starts to change color from clear to beginning to be golden.Â If your stove is like mine, it’ll turn slightly on one side first, in which case, pick the pot just slightly up and swish it gently around. (No spoons in there yet!)
It will turn darker fairly quickly, again depending on the temperature, and how dark you let it get determines how intense a flavor you’ll get.Â Do *not* let yourself be distracted at all during the turning, or I will have to tell you of a notable burning-pot episode that–well, maybe I won’t.
So then you turn off the stove and–wait, read this whole paragraph first!–pour in 8 oz of heavy cream, and if you use nonfat milk instead I promise not to tell but I guarantee nothing; stir fast with a long wooden spoon while angling your hand away so it’s not right above the hot steam erupting in there. Trust me on that one.
Thickens when cooled. Unless you go all non-fat on us like that.
I did two batches. One with the last of the manufacturing cream. The second, I poured in a 6-and-something-oz container of coconut cream from Whole Foods to find out if both that ingredient and the size it came in would work.
We had our friends Nina of Ann Arbor Shawl fame and her family over for dinner Friday night.Â Â I have to tell you: more of that caramel coconut got devoured on that ice cream than the regular sauce.Â It was good stuff.
The best part of it was seeing something much enjoyed but long denied now given back to my daughter. At last.Â And it was so easy to do.
(Note re the picture: the sauce isn’t separated, just eaten.)