Monday, December 13, 2010

Baking Compulsion, Part 2 wherein I bake cookies, crackers, rolls and truffles

Super Duper Chocolate Mint Cookies
So my baking compulsion is getting a little out of control. Not only do I feel the need to keep my hands busy with baking, but I feel the need to be perfect at it. I want to make the best cookies, the best cakes, the best everything, really, and it's just too much. This weekend the stress got to me. Granted, my perfectionism isn't limited to baking. I'm also a perfectionist with my schoolwork (I'm allergic to anything that is not an A) and really any work that is examined or seen by another person. This might make me a type A personality, but it also means I'm a good baker. I'm lucky in that respect.

Dinner Rolls


This weekend my baking compulsion kicked into high gear and I produced cheese crackers, super super chocolate mint cookies, two kinds of truffles, and homemade dinner rolls. And it all turned out fantastically. I consider myself lucky. I won't get into the nitty gritty of my baking this time, except to say there was some watching of Prancer and Meet Me in St. Louis (both great movies). For my cookies, I had been dreaming of turning my famous Super Duper Chocolate Cookies into mint chocolate cookies, and that dream came true in what I believe to be the perfect cookie. To make the mint cookies, all I did was decrease the amount of coffee powder to 1 tsp and decrease the vanilla to 1 tsp and add 1 tsp peppermint extract. Then, instead of white chocolate chips, I added a cup of mint M & M's. 


For the rolls recipe, I used the one found here.


Peppermint Truffles


Truffles

Ingredients (yields ~ 18 truffles)

Chopped hazelnuts or
Cocoa powder, sifted or
Crushed candy canes
3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp Frangelico or Peppermint Schnapps
1 tbsp hot coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl.

2. Heat cream over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil. Immediately pour hot cream over bowl with chocolate and whisk until smooth.

3. Whisk in liqueur, coffee, and vanilla.

4. Cover mixture and transfer to refrigerator for about an hour.

5. Using a small ice cream scoop, make scoops of chocolate mixture and place on a lined cookie sheet. Transfer back to fridge for another 15-20 minutes.

6. Remove truffles from fridge only 4 at a time to prevent unnecessary melting. Roll dollops into balls with your hands (remember, doesn’t have to be perfect) and roll in either the hazelnuts, cocoa powder, or candy canes.

7. Package as you wish and store in the fridge until ready to serve.


Cheese Crackers
Oat-and-Cheddar Crackers
from December 2010 Food & Wine

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 lrg egg, lightly beaten
Egg wash: 1 lrg egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tbsp milk
Demerara or Turbinado sugar

1. In a small bowl, combine the oats and milk and let stand until the oats soften slightly, about 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and pulse a few times to blend. Add the cheese and butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms. Stir the beaten egg into the softened oats, then scrape the oats into the food processor. Pulse until a dough forms. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and gently knead a few times until thoroughly blended. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap it up and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Work with half of the dough at a time: on a lightly floured work service, dust the dough with flour. Cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Quickly cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares or stamp out different shapes. Brush off any excess flour and transfer the squares to one of the baking sheets. Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes, until the squares are firm. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

4. Lightly brush the squares with the egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 16 minutes, until the crackers are golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool before serving or packaging.

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