Friday, December 19, 2008

Bright Sables

Sables are tender, rich shortbread cookies popular in France. Dorie Greenspan provides a master recipe in her book Baking From My Home to Yours that makes the basic buttery sable. It's a wonderful base to add other flavors to. Be creative, have fun.

makes about 50 cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour

Beat butter until smooth and very creamy. Add d the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth and silky, not fluffy and airy. Add in the egg yolks and beat until homogenous.

Turn off the mixer and pour in the flour. Pulse the mixture until the flour is moist and incorporated into the dough. Work the dough as little as possible. You're looking for a soft, moist, clumpy (rather than smooth) dough. It should feel like play-doh when you pinch it. Scrap the dough onto a smooth work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the logs for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the chilled dough logs into 1/3-inch thick cookies. Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet with an inch of space between each. Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. The cookies should be light brown on the bottom, light golden on the edges, and pale on top. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest before moving them to a rack to cool to room temperature.

  • For decorative purposes, you can brush the logs with egg yolk (before cutting) and roll them in clear or colored decorating sugar
  • Play around with the flavors - I used lemon zest and crushed rose petals (rub the lemon zest with the sugar before beating with the butter)

peace for you

Dorie Greenspan called these cookies the brainchild of French chef Pierre Herme, declaring it to be as important a culinary breakthrough as Tollhouse cookies. They are chocolate sables, dark with cocoa and flecked with bittersweet chocolate. The surprising and lingering aftertaste as the flavor travels to the back of the tongue is that of salt. Pierre Herme uses fleur de sel, a moist delicate French sea salt. Have you noticed that salt makes sweets taste sweeter and chocolate chocolatier?

When the recipe was published in her first cookbook, it was called Korova cookies. In her new book it is presented under a new name. Her neighbor, upon trying them, was convinced that a daily dose of these cookies is all that is needed to bring lasting planetary peace and happiness. So they were dubbed World Peace Cookies.

World Peace Cookies
Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tbsp (11 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into little chips

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer and a large bowl, beat butter until soft and creamy. Add in brown and white sugar, salt and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Pour in the dry ingredients and cover bowl with a towel. Pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. If there's still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a few times more; if not, remove the towel. Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough. It is important to work the dough as little as possible. Toss in the chocolate bits and mix until just combined. (The dough will seem very dry at first, but keep incorporating the dry ingredients into the butter mixture - I did this part by hand with a spatula - and it will eventually come together)

Turn the dough out on a work surface, gather it together and divide in half. Working with one half at a time, shape dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick (I found this to be too thick, I cut mine 1/3 inch thick). If the dough crack when you cut them, just press the pieces back together on the baking sheet. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each.

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. They wouldn't look done nor will they look firm, but as they cool they'll harden a bit. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to rest until just warm. They're best served at this point or at room temperature.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

new flavors, basic recipe

I had planned on baking Dorie Greenspan's "Best Chocolate Chip Cookies" the other night. Her recipe made almost 4 dozen, so I was going to halve it and modify it to also make some white chocolate cranberry cookies with pistachios. It was late and I had stuff on my mind, so somehow I added in 2 eggs instead of 1 large egg as required. Past experience told me that if I continue with the recipe I'm going to end up with puffy cookies, which I hate. But I was hoping that since the eggs were so small, they would only really be...1 1/2 large eggs. I went ahead and baked off 1 or 2 to try. Nope, puffy and cakey. No good. The dough tastes great though, so I think I'm going to freeze it and use it in cookie dough ice cream later on. Or eat it straight when The Small One comes over. Shhh...

Fast forward to this morning. I decided to use my tried and true basic cookie recipe since I was baking for my friend, and didn't want to mess up again. I've used the recipe for chocolate chunk cookies, chocolate walnut, white chocolate cranberry, etc. I was making white chocolate cranberry cookies with pistachios today. The pistachios I bought were shelled and raw, so I toasted them slightly in a dry pan, and tossed them in.

Nom nom nom...lucky I gave most of these away

Pumpkin Harvest Muffins

The weather is finally nippy, the wind carrying winter's snappy chill. I like walking down the street with my coat pulled tight around me, with the sound of crunching leaves beneath my feet. The trees, now barren of once-brilliant foliage, wave their branching forms, both desolate and hauntingly beautiful. The sun engages in a game of hide-and-go-seek, peeking out once in a while to cast its glow over the otherwise darkened days.

I like baking in pajamas and fuzzy slippers, with Regina Spektor and Jason Mraz playing in the background. I surround myself with the flavors of the season and the smell of warming spices. There's pumpkin and cranberries, figs and walnuts, cinnamon and ginger and cloves and nutmeg. It is time to celebrate.

Pumpkin Harvest Muffins
Makes 12-14 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk+ 1/4 tsp lemon juice (or 1/4 cup buttermilk)
3-4 dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup frozen cranberries, chopped

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter until soft, and add in both sugars. Continue beating until light and smooth. Add the eggs one by one, waiting until the previous one has completely incorporated before adding the next. Add in vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing only until the dry bits disappear. Using a spatula, fold in figs, walnuts, and cranberries. The batter will be stiff.

Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, an ice cream scope will come in handy. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a knife come out of the center clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve warm from the oven or at room temperature, or split and toast them, plain or with butter and jam.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Roses and Mooncakes

My mom started making her own mooncakes two years ago. Every Autumn Festival, I would adamantly insist on her sending me a box. Her first batches were pattern-less, resembling little flat cakes, still delicious nonetheless. When she went back to China over the summer, she hunted everywhere for traditional mooncake molds, to no avails. Then she told me of how grandma went out early one morning and came back with one. She never told us how she got it, and we never asked :)

Mom and I were never fans of the traditional egg yolk mooncakes, deeming the filling too sweet and rich and the dough too heavy. Instead mom created this one - a mixture of nuts and sometimes dried fruits, sweetened with honey and bespeckled with crushed rose petals. Everything is surrounded with a layer of oil-based dough and then a water-based one. The resultant pastry is flaky and tender, the filling multi-faceted.

There's no recipe yet. We did everything by taste, feel, and experience. When I have time, I'll work out the exact amounts. But for now, enjoy the pictures...

Beautiful isn't it?

rose for tea, petals ready to be crushed

mixed in with a combination of pinenuts, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seed, oil, and honey

wrapped in two types of dough, pressed into mooncake mold

brushed with egg white and ready for the oven and then to eat

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pumpkin...Not Pie!

First of all, the picture sucks. I'm sorry. I took it under my kitchen light, which never looks as good as natural light. The coloring is usually a little too orange-y if I'm using the 'indoors' setting or too washed out and sickly if I use the 'tungsten'. Oh well, I'm negotiating with my parents for an SLR camera for Christmas. So far the best answer I've gotten is "We'll get it for you as a wedding present" O_o

About the actual goods though, this is one of Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten's unfailing recipes. I've been eyeing her pumpkin banana mousse tart for a while now, and finally found the time and occasion to make it. I brought it to a pre-Thanksgiving dinner (yes, this post is about 2 weeks late) in lieu of a traditional pumpkin pie.

This tart is much lighter and less cloying than a pumpkin pie. After a heavy meal especially, a slice of this will satisfy the sweet tooth but wouldn't make you keel over in a food coma and sugar crash. The crust is a classic graham cracker crust scented with cinnamon, baked til crisp. The filling of pumpkin puree and spices is lightened with whipped cream and brightened with a bit of orange zest. The banana adds an extra little something. The whole creation is a wonderful contrast of textures and harmonious blending of flavors. An elegant variation on an old classic.

Pumpking Banana Mousse Tart
Modified from Barefoot Contessa

For the Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 large egg yolks
1 package (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar

For the Decoration:
Cold heavy cream
Sugar to sweeten
Splash of vanilla extract

To make the Crust:
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix in melted and cooled butter until crumbs are moistened. Press into a 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, starting from the bottom and then up to the sides. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

To make the filling:
In a double boiler over simmer water, stir together pumpkin, half-and-half, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until combined and hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir in some of the pumpkin mixture into the eggs to temper them. Add the yolks back into the pumpkin mixture and stir well. Cook the mixture until thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, orange zest, and mashed bananas to the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Set aside and cool completely.

Whip 1/2 cup cold heavy cream with sugar until firm peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours to overnight.

For decoration, whip the chilled heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract until firm peaks. Either pipe using a piping bag or simply spoon the whipped cream onto tart.

Serve chilled.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Caramel Cake

November's challenge features Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater and her signature caramel cake with caramelized butter frosting. There's something so appropriate about the rich dark flavor of caramel in this season, something warm and welcoming. Of course, I'm baking under the sunny and cloudless skies of southern California, so it doesn't quite have its autumn feel, but it's a wonderful choice regardless. Thank you to Dolores (Culinary Curiosity), Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie Duo), and Jenny (Foray into Food) for hosting.

Caramel Cake
From … he-recipe/

10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup caramel syrup (see below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
a splash vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a tall 9" round cake pan.

Beat butter at high speed until light. Add in sugar and salt and cream until airy and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into the butter and sugar mixture. Scrap down bowl and increase speed. Add beaten eggs and vanilla a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrap down bowl again and beat until light and uniform.

Sift together flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to the lowest setting and add in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Beat until just combined and slowly add in 1/2 of the milk. Beat until incorporated and add in another 1/3 of the flour, the other half of the milk, and finish with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure the batter is uniform. Pour batter into the prepared 9" pan, and place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate cake and bake for another 15-20 minutes. The cake is done when the sides pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the midde comes out clean. Cool completely before icing.

Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (to "stop" the caramel)

In a tall stainless steel saucepan, mix 1/2 cup water with the sugar until mixture resembles wet sand. Brush any stray sugar crystals into the mixture. Turn the heat onto high and cook until smoking slightly. The syrup should be dark amber.

Once color is achieved, slowly add in 1 cup of water. Caramel will sputter and jump, so be very careful. It's helpful to wear oven mitts and to use a lid when adding the water.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly. It'll feel sticky on your fingers (make sure caramel has cooled before testing this). The resulting mixture should resemble warmed maple syrup. Store at room temperature for up to a few days (it'll thicken).

Caramelized Butter Frosting

12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
4-6 tbsp heavy cream OR 2-4 tbsp caramel syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
salt to taste

Melt butter in a pan and cook until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve and let cool.

Pour cooled butter into a mixing bowl, add in vanilla, and start adding in confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take more, add in some cream or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture is smooth and all the sugar is incorporated. Salt to taste.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Pizza!

This month's challenge was hosted by Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums and dedicated to the late Sher of What Did You Eat.

We were called upon to make our own crust and to top it with toppings of our choice. I was really excited about this challenge because I love nontraditional toppings and looked forward to the opportunity to make pizza my way. Rosa's recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice promised a "tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust". And it delivered. The technique used is cold fermentation with the first rise happening overnight in the fridge. The dough was quick and simple, coming together smoothly by hand. It was extremely elastic and pliable, stretching easily when I went to toss it (something I was really bad at). I've only had the chance to make one pizza, but I still have 7-8 small dough balls in the freezer, so it's going to be a delicious few weeks.

Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches)

4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled (I used all purpose)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but better with)
1 3/4 cup water, ice cold
1 tbsp sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Day 1:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the water, oil, and sugar. Mix well and then knead to a smooth ball (about 5-7 minutes).

Dust a board and pour some oil into a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto the floured board and cut into 6 pieces, or smaller if you're making smaller pizzas. Coat in oil (especially if you're storing the dough in the freezer) and wrap in plastic. Dough can rest in the fridge for 2-3 days or up to 3 months in the freezer. Just be sure to move the frozen dough to the fridge the night before you plan on making the pizza.

Day 2:
About 2 hours before you're planning on making the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and place them on a dusted board. Gently press the dough balls into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover lightly and let them rise for 2 hours.

45 minutes before you are ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and heat up your pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, a regular baking sheet would work, just don't preheat it. Toss or press the dough into desired size. Sprinkle pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal or durum flour and lay the dough on top.

Now go to town with the toppings! Once you've topped to your heart's content (remember that less is usually better in this case), bake in the preheated 500 degrees oven for 8-10 minutes.

I made my personal pizza with:
  • Roasted garlic white sauce
  • Caramelized onions
  • Yellow and green squash
  • Mozzarella, Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan shredded cheese blend
  • Greek feta crumbles

The roasted garlic white sauce was just a basic roux and milk sauce base with mashed roasted garlic stirred in, seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

The red onions were cut thin, then sauteed in olive oil over low heat until they're soft and caramelized (about 25-30 minutes since I didn't make much). A pinch of salt sped up the process.

The yellow and green squash were cut into thin rounds, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and briefly grilled.

And assemblage:

sauce and 4-cheese blend

caramelized onions go on top

grilled squash and feta cheese

Baked and ready to eat ^^

Friday, October 24, 2008

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black bottom cupcakes - the baby of moist chocolate cake and silky cheesecake - what's there not to love ^^

I made some regular ones and some with thickened cherry juice in the chocolate batter, then topped them with whole preserved cherries.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
makes 2o regular size cupcakes

For chocolate batter:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For cream cheese filling:
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

To make the chocolate batter:
Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add in milk, yogurt, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined.

To make cream cheese filling:
Beat softened cream cheese with sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

To assemble:
Line standard-size cupcake pans with liner or grease lightly. Fill no more than 1/2 way with the chocolate mixture. Add about 1-2 tbsp of the cream cheese filling on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for about 20 minutes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Kimchee" Fried Rice

Came back from my midterm at 3 pm having eaten nothing all day, and made this mock kimchee fried rice. I didn't have any kimchee but I did have napa cabbage that needed to be used up. So I tossed that in and seasoned it with garlic, gochujang and vinegar. Add in some chicken, red onions, soy sauce, and ketchup (yes, ketchup), top it off with a fried egg, and lunch/dinner is served.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


ingredient list (in no particular order): broccoli, red onion, chicken, garlic, ginger, cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, soy sauce, cooking wine, thai red curry paste, crunchy peanut butter, salt, chili flakes

Hello Fall...

Ok, so it doesn't feel like fall up here in the Bay Area. The days have been clear and pleasantly warm. But the spirit of fall is here, and with it the welcoming excitement of the holiday season. Soon the fiery leaves will dance in the snappy breeze, scarves and gloves will make an appearance, and fireplaces will alight with cheery flames. It's time to bust out the roasting pans and pie dishes, for the house to smell like turkey and spices. But first up...Halloween :)

My friend Agnes hosted a pumpkin carving party this weekend (she was aghast that so many of us have been deprived of attacking giant orange things with knives). The weather was gorgeous in Marin on Saturday and a group of us frolicked in the pumpkin patch, doing the whole wheelbarrow thing and everything. Here's our handiwork, all lit up...

I made cornbread for the occasion. I like the moist, sweet, cake-like cornbread, so that's what I made. Apparently, this style isn't traditional Southern. But I prefer it this way. Everything is made in one pot, so easy cleanup. I used just shy of 2/3 cup of sugar in this and drizzle the top of the batter with honey (which explains the crosshatch pattern in the picture) before baking. It's definitely on the sweet side and in this case I didn't mind it (but I have been having a major sweet tooth this weekend). You might want to decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup or even less.

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread (from allrecipes)
Make 1 8x8 square pan

1 stick butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar added in)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter in a pot. Remove from heat and add in sugar. Add in eggs and whisk quickly to prevent eggs from curdling. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into butter mixture. Add in cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir until combined and a few lumps remain.

Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I made another batch tonight and played around the recipe to reduce the fat. So here's what I came up with. The procedure is the same.

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 cup non-fat milk + 1/2 tsp vinegar
2 eggs
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda (I added extra by accident)
1/4 tsp salt

This version was moist and tasty as well, but not as dense as the original. The texture was quite spongy and light.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Traditionally a hot ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg. My version features...things I had in the fridge. Yep grocery day is fast approaching. This is made with Gruyere cheese, oven-roasted turkey, and grilled zucchinis. A thin layer of honey mustard and a fried egg, sunny-side-up tops things off. Enjoy with a knife and fork.

Sweet Clover Rolls

The lovely and talented Miriam baked crescent rolls using this recipe a few weeks ago. Served with honey butter, they were amazingly good. Here's my rendition.

Sweet Clover Rolls
makes 18 rolls

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 egg
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Heat up water, milk, sugar, and butter until butter is melted and liquid is warm. Sprinkle on yeast. Let the mixture stand for about 10-15 minutes to revive the yeast; the end mixture should be foamy.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, beaten egg, and salt. Add the flour cup by cup to form a smooth dough. Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour. Pinch off about 1-inch rounds and place 3 of them in one muffin tin. They'll bake into pretty clovers. Let them rise for another 20 minutes, then bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 11-13 minutes until they are golden brown.

Serve with honey butter, and try to not eat the whole batch in one sitting.

I made 12 of these clover rolls and used the rest for miniature cinnamon rolls. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, spread with softened butter, sprinkle with lots of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts, and then roll tightly. Slice into 1 1/4" thick rolls and place into a butter pan. Let it rise for 20 minutes and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Brunch and a Scone Recipe

My friend and I cooked brunch this morning, which was a much nicer than going to Genetics. He asked for Eggs Benedict, which I never made before (and now that I have, I don't know why I didn't). English muffin (toasted BOTH sides), Canadian Bacon (or black forest ham in our case), poached egg (yolks runny please), topped with lemony-buttery Hollandaise sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce
2 servings

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup melted butter, kept warm
lemon juice
cayenne pepper

In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk egg yolks and lemon juice until thick and doubled in volume, about 3-4 minutes. Slowly drizzle in warm melted butter, whisking the entire time to prevent the sauce from breaking. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Keep warm until serving.

I also made raspberry scones so we would have something to eat if the Eggs Benedict failed. I toyed with the idea of trying a new recipe. I like the one from Tyler Florence too much and I've had enough bad experiences with scone recipes. But I modified this one from Allrecipes and it turned out quite well.

The trick to good scones is cold butter and cold cream. Don't skimp on either- I've made scones with margarine and milk and it just isn't the same. I added fresh raspberries to mine, but these would be great with all sorts of add-ins. For sweet, try ginger-cinnamon, lemon-blueberry, fresh peach, fig-walnut, chocolate, etc. For savory, add in shredded cheese, ham, and different herbs.

Raspberry Almond Scones
Makes 10 large scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1/2 cup cream
1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
handful slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in cold butter so that the mixture resemble coarse meal. In a separate bowl, beat together egg, cream, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Press the dough into a ball with your hands. There may be some dry spots, but just press until everything comes together.

Add in almonds. Gently fold in raspberries, taking care to not break them up too much. Form 1 1/2 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Brush the top of the scones with cream or beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Birthday!

A birthday cake for my friends Mikey and Dana. Mikey, being the true Korean he is, asked for a sseng cream cake with lots of fruit. This is my rendition: light vanilla chiffon cake layered with white chocolate mousse, fresh fruit, and sweetened whipped cream.

For chiffon cake:
Adapted from
Technicolor Kitchen
8 eggs, separated

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup cake flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of 3 9" cake pans with parchment paper, but do not grease the pan.

In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, oil, vanilla extract, and water. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add in 1/2 cup of water and beat until whites reach soft peaks.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, the rest of the sugar (1 cup), baking soda, and salt. Add in yolk mixture and beat to form a smooth paste. Stir in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful to not deflate them too much.

Divide the batter into the 3 prepared pans. Bake for about 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the pan before unmolding. Invert, and carefully feel off the parchment liner. Be sure the cake is cooled completely before assembling.

For Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until medium peaks. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble:

Place 1 layer of the cooled cake on cake stand or serving plate. Spread on chocolate mousse. Add in diced peaches.

Place another layer on top, pressing down slightly. Spread on whipped cream. Top with sliced strawberries.

Place the final layer on top. Do a crumb coat frosting with the whipped cream and place cake in the fridge to set up. Then frost the whole cake again. Decorate the top with fresh fruit.