Sunday, March 25, 2012

Alchemy ...

I am going to spend my day whipping butter and sugar into clouds.

And then transform the clouds into rolls of unassuming dough, the color of faded khaki.

And tomorrow, I shall slice them and brush them with the barest slick of egg white and water and sprinkle them with earthy sugar and bake them into sandy, buttery, crumbly treats.

I admire their order but I am most fond of the ends, the imperfect slices that are the most perfect of all, beautiful and different even among themselves.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Treat Index ...

Many, many, many years ago, I worked at a library. I made an absurdly low hourly wage. But most of the people were fun as the library set goes.

The work wasn't going to lead me to any Nobel prizes, but I like books. I've always liked books, and so, as a part-time job went, it was fine.

One of the high points, I was reminded last night, was that the library had a rather extensive and impressive collection of cookbooks.

Oh, cookbooks. I love them. I really, really love them. More than I should. Because I want to buy so many of the ones that I see, but honestly, how many cookbooks can one person own? Especially when she doesn't use most of them most of the time?

But they're so nice to have around, aren't they?

I recently saw a recipe on Leite's Culinaria and thought, "I think I have that book!"

Yup! I do. I've never baked a single thing from it, but there it is, on my shelf, waiting for me to get around to this walnut torte.

Hello, lovely. How had we not met before?

See? I need to spend more time with my books.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I used to peruse the cookbooks at the library and check out a stack and bring them home. And then, in my free time, I would plop myself in the recliner in the basement, position the top of a TV tray across my lap as a desk, and flip through cookbooks and write out recipes that interested me.

Which is how my recipe file turned into this:

And I haven't even added to it in years.

Instead, I've taken to tearing pages out of magazines and such, and stashing them in manila folders that I sort through occasionally, only to realize with disgust that a recipe calls for a cake mix – Really, people, it's too much effort to measure out the dry ingredients? – or that I tore something out so long ago that it no longer appeals to me.

I keep my recycling basket nearby. It gets pretty full.

In the cabinet next to the stove, I have a small loaf pan that holds my go-to recipes, the ones that I make with enough frequency that it doesn't make sense to take the time to file them away. (Hush. Let me have my delusion.)

But last night, I flipped through my mondo file looking for the Fudge Crispies recipe and was intrigued by a good number of the things I'd jotted down in my youth.

Also, my handwriting has morphed rather interestingly since then.

I kind of miss my recipe-writing days. It was a good way to unwind, to turn off my brain, to sit in front of whatever blather happened to be on TV, and transcribe.

I should visit my local library and see if there's anything worthy.

I have a lot of room in that file.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fudge Crispies ...

Angelo made Rice Krispie Treats, and bid farewell to his lofty plans to tuck his shirt into his pants.

I suggested that, by volume, the pan in the picture contained as much air as Treat and that he'd be fine.

I am so good at rationalizing vices. Truly, it's a gift.

And I would have gotten away with it if he hadn't revealed that he sometimes dips his Treats into peanut butter and/or dark chocolate.

"Oh," I replied. "Should I tell you about the chocolate version I make?"

"No, you should not," came his reply. "Tell others."

So here we are.

I don't have a photograph of these because I haven't made them in eleventymillion years, but it was fun to flip through my recipe file to find the recipe card.

I have a lot of good recipes in there.

I should make some of them sometime.

But I digress.

Here, then, for others (that'd be you), definitely not Angelo (look away, mister), is the recipe.


You're still reading, aren't you?

Good man.

Fudge Crispies

1/2 cup butter (That's one stick, kids. No need to gunk up a measuring cup.)
1 10 1/2-ounce package mini marshmallows
1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups Rice Krispies

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows. Cook and stir until marshmallows melt. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chips are melted. Stir in cereal. Turn into lightly buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Chill. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature. (Though, with the weather here these days, I'd store them in the fridge.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sablés ...

From Cook's Illustrated, November & December 2008

1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (2 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado sugar (Beth Note: Buy a box of Sugar in the Raw packets. They're inexpensive and handy to have on hand.)

Place egg in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water. Using slotted spoon, transfer egg to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; discard white. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter, granulated sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula as needed. Turn mixer to low, add the vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Stop mixer; add flour and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

Divide dough in half; roll each piece into log about 6 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in 12-inch square of parchment paper and twist ends to seal and firmly compact the dough into tight cylinder. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using chef's knife, slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rotating dough so that it won't become misshapen from the weight of the knife. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush cookies with egg white mixture and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.

Bake until centers of cookies are pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than centers, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature. For chocolate sablés, follow the above recipe but reduce the flour to 1 1/3 cups (6 2/3 ounces) and include 1/4 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa.

Beth Note: I used coffee extract in lieu of vanilla for the chocolate sablés to make mocha sablés.

Further Beth Note: While you can indeed brush these with egg white and sprinkle them with turbinado sugar before baking, they end up looking a little bling-y with the golden sugar on the dark cookies. I brush them with egg white for a bit of sheen but skip the sugar step. The end up looking like this:

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Good Times, March Edition ...

The March cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog
features Red-Wine Zabaglione with crumbled Shortbread. Not a cookie, per se, but cookies are involved.