Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fish and Chips Cookies

This month's Improv Challenge ingredients were fish and chips. Some sort of fish cracker or Swedish fish came to mind as possible starting points, but noting really popped for me. So I admit that my interpretation of the ingredients is liberal, but Mimi Jr. needed to make some sugar cookies for someone, and that is how my fish and chips entry came to be. I used my usual sugar cookie dough, added mini chocolate chips, and dug out a few fish cookie cutters and we had a fun afternoon of fish and chips. 
While the recipe itself is not exactly new, this is the first time I have added chocolate chips, and really, any excuse to spend a day decorating cookies is good enough for me. I always like to make new shapes of cookies, practice mixing new and different colors of icing, and trying new techniques for decorating. While we do love fish, and we do love chips, I think cookies win out every time and I'm glad the Improv Challenge gave me a chance to try out some fun new cookies! 

Sugar Cookies

3 c  all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
½ tsp  salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.
Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Links:Foodie friday

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Peanut Butter Torte

In our house, anything chocolate/peanut butter is pretty much guaranteed to be a winner, and this torte is no exception. It is the perfect dessert for summer as it is entirely make-ahead, and provides cool, creamy ending to a deliciously smokey and spicy barbecue meal.  
The recipe comes from my well used copy of  "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Since joining the Tuesdays with Dorie group, this book has become a family favorite. The book has everything from simple pound cakes to our favorite chocolate ice cream, and you can be sure that Dorie knows how to put together a chocolate peanut butter torte. While the recipe may look long and complicated, it's not difficult, and most definitely worth all the steps!

Peanut Butter Torte
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dori Greenspan

1 1/4 cups chopped salted peanuts
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
24 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (My addition)
2 tablespoons milk (I used 4 tablespoons) 
4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Pre heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch spring-form pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts with the granulated sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chips in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides (about 2 inches up the side) of the springform pan. Freeze crust for 10 minutes. Bake crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of the confectioners sugar and whip until the cream holds medium firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

In the same mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and remaining cup of confectioner's sugar on medium speed until cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts, the milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mixture. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour into the cooled crust, smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. 

To finish: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes ( or zap in the microwave for 30 seconds). Remove the bowl from the sauce pan and set aside. Bring remaining 1/2 cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup chopped peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping about 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan (you may need to use warm towels wrapped around the pan to help loosen it), refrigerate until ready to serve.
printable recipe

Link:Foodie Friday