Tuesdays with Dorie – Pfefferneusse (Dec-16)

This is the first time I’m baking along with a group….and it’s been great fun: I now have motivation to bake based on recipes in a great cookbook, as opposed to just eyeing the beautiful pictures in the cookbook….lol…

pfefferneusse

Anyway, here’s the first bake from Dorie’s Cookies: Pfefferneusse.  I’ve never eaten this cookie before and therefore wasn’t sure about the correct texture to achieve.  Dorie says it’s dry and firm – so does it mean it’s crumbly and firm or crunchy/crispy and firm?  I asked my best friend, Mr Google, for more information, but didn’t find anything conclusive….

I baked the cookies for 20 min at 175 degree Celsius and they definitely turned out dry and firm, and crumbly as well, but nonetheless very delicious.  I’m not a fan of spiced stuff, but these cookies grew on me 🙂

I will be happy to hear what texture fellow bakers have achieved with this cookie and recipe 🙂

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Fruit Brownies: A Chocolatey Alternative to Traditional Fruitcakes

Well I was lazy in making traditional fruitcakes a few months ago. Actually, that’s not the only reason for not making traditional fruitcakes: the recipe I’m familiar with uses treacle which comes in huge cans, but I’m only using 2tsp for the recipe!? Somehow, I can’t find other uses for treacle. So in the end, I put off making traditional fruitcakes, although it is not difficult to make and that recipe produces delicious fruitcakes.

A few days ago, as I was flipping my newspaper cuttings of recipes, I came across a recipe for fruit brownies, which touted itself as an alternative to Christmas fruitcakes. Since I already regretted not doing traditional fruitcakes and I had all the ingredients on hand, plus I had to fulfil a pot-luck dish, I made the fruit brownies….

I was quite worried as the mixture turned out quite watery. So I added more flour. The verdict: luckily the brownie didn’t turn out dry; instead it was cakey and fudgy at the same time. The brownies also didn’t turn out to be too sweet…. Thank goodness…. I also think it’s a good alternative to traditional fruitcakes…I thought of some improvements and am keen in trying them out!

Marble Cheesecake: Orange and Dark Chocolate

Brother requested for a cheesecake…and he was certainly specific about what he wanted: a marble cheesecake flavoured with orange liqueur, streaked with dark chocolate. Orange and dark chocolate – a heavenly combination

I bought Cointreau for this purpose and added to the vanilla portion. I was in an alcoholic mood: added Tia Maria to the chocolate portion. Then, I found that the chocolate batter was not chocolatey enough….added more cocoa…Result: chocolate portion tastes a little bitter 😦

Also the chocolate batter was too heavy: I didn’t mix enough vanilla batter with the melted chocolate. As a result, instead of a marbling/streaky effect, there are 2 distinct layers: vanilla on the top and chocolate at the bottom. At least now I know how to create double-decker cheesecakes. Hee!

This time, I tried a different method: I separated the whites from the yolks; added the yolks into the cheese mixture; whisk the whites with some sugar till soft peaks; fold the whisked whites into the cheese mixture. The difference is in the texture: when the eggs are mixed in gently into the cheese mixture, the cheesecake is creamy and dense; whilst the cheesecake made with whisked whites was still creamy, it was lighter, not so dense.

(pardon the untidy cheesecake…I didn’t use a hot knife to cut the cheesecake)

(So sad that I can’t recreate the nice browning I previously had. At least the cheesecake didn’t crack….)

Calla’s notes

  • I used 65% chocolate. The batter didn’t taste chocolatey, I need to have faith….
  • Need to mix enough vanilla batter with melted chocolate, such that the vanilla batter and chocolate batter have the same consistency; unless the intent is to create 2 distinct layers.
  • To try baking at 150 deg C for at least 1.5h to 2h. Cheesecake seems a little too soft, no matter how long I refrigerate it….

Black Forest Log

As mentioned previously, I made a Black Forest Log for Christmas. I adapted Delia’s recipe, but made my own brandied cherries using Rose’s recipe. As usual, the rolling was messy, but at least it didn’t really look like “wuthering heights”. Hubby’s rolling skills have improved!

Some felt that the cocoa powder topping was too bitter – hence need to reduce. Perhaps the key is to lightly dust, as what Delia says. Otherwise, I could try dusting with drinking chocolate powder, or even Milo powder (hee!). The brandied cherries were delicious. I plan to buy more fresh cherries and use the remaining Kirsch….

Thankfully it was well-received: Hubby requests this to be made for his bday cake next year; and surprisingly, Mummy likes the cream more than the cherries itself….

Calla’s notes:

  • To lightly dust with cocoa powder. Otherwise, can try drinking chocolate powder or Milo powder
  • If the chocolate mousse filling hardens, heat it up in a bain marie till it melts – be careful not to overcook it. Otherwise, heat up over bain marie till it barely melts, then add milk, bit by bit, to reconstitute to spreadable consistency.
  • Try to make this the day before. After doing the filling, put in the freezer overnight to firm up the filling and cake. Bring to refrigerator a few hours before serving to soften the cake slightly.

Christmas Gifts

It’s the time for gift exchange at the office Christmas party…I decided to take a different approach from prior years: home-made chocolate chip cookies. I bought the jars and the cellophane bags from Daiso and spent an entire afternoon baking the cookies. The chocolate chip cookie recipe was previously blogged about here. This time, I used a ½ tbsp measuring spoon, instead of a 1 tsp (5ml) measuring spoon. The cookies are now a little bigger and there’s no noticeable change in cooking times. I personally prefer the cookie moulded using the ½ tbsp spoon. If I use a ½ tbsp spoon to mould, 1 recipe can yield about 60 cookies. Sharing with you the Christmas bakes 🙂

I hope the recipients will like the gifts 🙂

White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

Christmas is coming…So I thought of trying a more Christmassy cookie.  I’ve seen this cookie recipe by Tyler Florence which is posted on Epicurious. It was a little too sweet, but it’s great with cold milk. I also like the texture: crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. Sharing with you my cookies:

I hope to try with a ½ tbsp to spoon the dough, as I would like a slightly smaller cookie.

Wuthering Heights…

I first did this for 2007 xmas and brought it to a xmas party. The log was well-received, despite the obvious lack of looks – it really looked like a pool of mud. I also did it for a family xmas dinner and my brother christened it “Wuthering Heights”, as if a log which had crashed during a thunderstorm….haha…so you can imagine, how terrible it looks.

The recipe is from Delia Smith. Ingredients and method are pretty straight forward, but the result….the cake always seemed too soft to roll! As a result, part of the mousse was used to cover the whole log and to patch the chipped away pieces….and as a result, “Wuthering Heights” emerged….

I am determined to get this recipe right and this time, I think I took a big step forward. The log looks kind of presentable, huh… (see picture at the beginning of the post)

This is really a delicious and wicked chocolate sponge – there’s no flour, no oil, just eggs, sugar and cocoa – filled with lots of thick cream and chocolate mouse, topped with icing sugar….yum! It may sound rich, but the cake is surprisingly light. Oohhh… I can’t wait for its debut later this evening at my family’s reunion dinner.

A cross-section of the log…

Calla’s notes:

  • I bake at 160 deg C for about 25 – 30 min.
  • When the cake is cool, put it into the refrigerator to firm up.
  • Perhaps next time, I will leave it to cool in the oven, as the top becomes sticky as it cools….wonder why…. Then when it is completely cold, to put in the refrigerator.
  • Best to do one day in advance so that the finished cake can firm up in the refrigerator.