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    Entries in hand job (4)

    Saturday
    Jul192014

    Chocolate Biscotti

    I don’t usually like really crunchy cookies. Why did I make biscotti then?

    Well, I’ve also been looking for cookie recipes that start with something other than “cream the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs and vanilla”.

    Plus, apparently the rock hard biscotti that we typically find at coffee shops (that I find too hard to bother with) are a lot harder than they should be. One of the managers at work is an old world Italian dude and he said that these cookies, which are crunchy but still bite-able, are what biscotti are supposed to be. When you dip them in coffee they don’t fall apart, but you can also bite them without first having to soften them in espresso, or amaretto. Or espresso with amaretto in it.

     

    What you need

    **I made a double batch and used twice the amount of everything so the pics look a little different**

    • ½ cup pine nuts or slivered almonds or hazlenuts or maybe pistachios?
    • 1 ½  cups flour  (you can substitute up to 1 cup of flour with almond flour)
    • ¾ cups sugar
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ¼  teaspoon salt
    • ¼  cup cocoa
    • 2 tbsp cold butter, cut into little pieces (don’t bother with butter if you use almond flour)
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • 1 teaspoon Amaretto
    • ¾ cups chocolate chips

    What you gotta do

    I like toasty nuts. So, first thing I’m going to do is put the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium low.

    While those get toasty, start measuring the dry stuff into a big bowl. Don’t forget to shake the pan from time to time so that the nuts get toasty on all sides.

    Flour. Shake the pan. Sugar. Shake the pan. Baking powder and salt. Shake the pan.

    Sift the cocoa into the bowl to make sure all the little cocoa lumps get busted up.

    Shake the pan. Once the pine nuts are nice and golden toasty, set them aside to cool.

    Mix all the dry stuff together and then cut in the butter. Biscotti are traditionally made with ground almonds in there along with the flour, and no fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter), but since I’m not using the almonds, I need fat (butter, sweet, creamery butter).

    Cutting in the butter can be done with a pastry cutter, or forks, or knives. It’s the same thing you do when you’re making biscuits.

    In another bowl crack the eggs and add the Amaretto and the vanilla. And the Amaretto.

    Beat the eggs and Amaretto and vanilla and Amaretto together.

    Okay, so you know how when you make muffins, you toss the blueberries in a bit of flour to make sure they stick to the muffin batter? Along those lines… dump the chocolate chips and the cooled pine nuts into the egg mixture, and then pour it into the dry stuff.

    Wait. Preheat the oven now to 350.

    Since what we’re doing here is making a pastry type dough, we don’t want to mix it too much, since that makes gluten form and toughens the cookies. No one likes tough cookies. Mix just until things are starting to hold together and then dump it onto the counter in a big mess that’s half wet and sticky and half dry and crumbly. This is the same thing we did with the Welsh Cakes and you trusted me then, right? Right? Amaretto.

    Gently press the dry stuff into the sticky parts, and fold them over. Keep folding and pressing (while avoiding the urge to “knead” the dough) until it all comes together.

    Sorry about the perspective on those pics, but my hands were kinda messy.

    **I made a double recipe and cut my dough into 6. If you're just making a single, cut into 3.**

    Once the dough has come together, cut it into 6 wedges.

    Roll each wedge into a log about 8 or 9 inches long and press it into an oval that’s about 2 inches wide.

    If your dough is still really sticky (Amaretto), use cocoa, not flour on the counter.

    My dough was really sticky and I ended up with a lot of cocoa on the logs, so I brushed them with a bit of Amaretto. You could also brush them with beaten egg if you want a glossy look on the top.

    Bake the logs for 25 minutes, then set them on a rack to cool. My tiny one-room-sized air conditioner is in the bedroom. So I had the fan help them along with the whole cooling thing.

    Slice the logs into ½ to 1 inch thick slices on the diagonal. You should get a dozen or so from each log. And yes, you could stop here and just call these things cookies, but you couldn't call them "biscotti". Biscotti get their name from being twice baked (bi = two, cotte = cooked, that is your Latin lesson for the day).

    Now, you could evenly spread them out nicely so that air circulates around them, but fuck air space. I just got 6 dozen cookies on one baking sheet.

    I saw one site that suggested standing the slices up on edge but whoever wrote that obviously did not use Amaretto. Or bake them that way because seriously, wtf? Stand ½ inch thick slices of cookie on edge? Try it. Tell me if it works. Pics or it didn’t happen.

    Amaretto.

    Oh, and you know all of those little crumbly bits left on the cutting board?

    Whatever you do, don’t put them in a bowl, pour Amaretto over top and eat them like cereal. No pics. Didn’t happen.

    Tuesday
    Jun182013

    Apple Pie-Rogies

    Tiny apple pies. Because it's too hot to cook a whole one.

     

    And because one of the requests on the cookie board was "apple cinnamon" and I really wanted to make the cookies that look just like tiny pies that Taneasha sent me a link to (it wasn't really a recipe since all it did was reshape premade dough and fill it with premade apple filling). But for some reason, that seemed like a lot of work. So instead I made perogies.

    No, I don't understand how my brain works either.

    Apple Pie-Rogies

    the lovely crustiness

    • 1 c butter
    • 3 c sifted flour
    • 1 c icing (powdered) sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 10 - 12 tbsp milk

    the tasty fillingness

    • 3 apples
    • 3 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tsp cinnamon

    apparently we're playing the game of "guess which ingredient isn't in the pic" again

    Peel and dice your apples into small pieces.

    Toss them into a pot with the rest of the filling stuff and set the burner to medium.

    You're going to have to stir these from time to time, but not so often that you can't make the crust while they simmer.

    Chop the butter into smallish chunks (and if you stole one of them for the filling, I promise I won't tell) and add the flour and the sugar and the salt to the bowl.

    Yes we're making pastry. No you don't have to freak out.

    Really, it's one of the easiest things to make. You just have to resist the urge to squish the dough between your fingers. It's gotta be one of those strange lizard-brain things, the urge to knead dough. Like cats do, and small children. Anyway, don't.

    Cut the flour/sugar/salt into the butter until you have something that looks kinda like crumbs.

    (pic of crumbs goes here... I forgot to take one, you have to use your imagination)

    Sprinkle about 6 or 8 tbsp of the milk around on top of the crumbs and then using a wooden spoon CUT through the dough.

    Don't stir, cut. From time to time, you'll need to scrape the spoon off. Keep adding a tbsp of milk at a time and cutting through the dough, until you get a shaggy mess that will hold together like damp sand.

    You are allowed to squish it this one time only. :P

    Turn the crumbly shaggy mess out onto the counter. Don't panic.

    Like the nursery rhyme says, "pat it and roll it." Pat it down, then fold (roll) half of it on top of the other half, and keep doing that until it looks like this:

    I know, I know, I need the in between pics so you'll believe me that it works and I'm not pulling some kind of Food Network bullshit, but I've only got two hands and they were both covered in shortcrust dough at the time (that's what we're making here: shortcrust dough).

    Your apples should be done now by the way.

    Chop the dough in half and roll out one half of it. You want it about 1/8 of an inch, or aboout 3 mm thick. 

    Using a 2.5 inch cookie or biscuit cutter, or really big wine glass, you should be able to get just over a dozen from half the dough. Ultimately, between the two halves and rerolling the scraps, you should end up with about 3 dozen cookies.

    Drop about a half teaspoon of filling on one side of the circle.

    Fold over the other side and press the edges together.

    I pressed mine with a fork: looks fancy and encourages the edges to stay together.

    Oh, um, you should have preheated the oven to between 300 and 325. My oven was being a fucking wack job last night, and I have no idea how hot it was in there, but I'm guessing it was in that range.

    Brush the tiny pies with an egg wash of one egg (also not in the ingredients pic) and a few tbsp of milk. You need these extra proteins on top to make sure the pies come out shiney and at least a little browned.

    Poke a few holes in the top with a toothpick. If the steam has an easy way to get out it won't try busting through the pressed-together edges.

    These take 16 - 18 minutes at whatever temperature my oven was. If the oven is too hot, you'll have very browned bottoms and still white tops. The top will be cooked, but it won't look that way.

    They're tiny, they're tasty, they're totally worth the folding and forking.

    That is some tender and flaky crust, lemme tell ya. And yes, you can do it too.

    I really wanted to make some kind of glaze to go on these (perogies need sour cream), but it was late, and I didn't want to make more dishes, so I left them as is. Plus, I couldn't decide if I should try to make something with sour cream in keeping with the theme, or go with a caramel.

    What would you glaze these with?