Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

Hamantaschen Apple Galette with Super Easy Crust

February 24, 2014

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Pie crusts don’t have to be hard. This galette features a super easy crust that you just stir together. You mix together juice and oil and then stir it into flour until it forms into a ball of dough. The dough doesn’t have to be refrigerated before rolling out and it doesn’t have to be gently handled, either. If you can roll out hamantaschen dough, you can make this crust.

The texture is not flaky, but meltingly tender. Using apple juice and lemon juice in the dough gives the crust a flavor that matches the filling.

The resulting galette is especially delectable warm. Shaped into a hamantaschen it makes a nice dessert for a Purim seudah. You could also shape individual tarts for dessert. There is enough dough for two 9″ tarts or eight 4″ tarts.

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Rose Cookies for Princess Leia

February 20, 2014

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I made Darth Vader hamantaschen, so I thought I would also make cookies that referenced Princess Leia. Actually, these cookies just allude to her famous cinnamon bun hairdo.

You don’t have to flavor these with cinnamon and raisin (although they are delicious that way, too). Basically, this is a rich sour cream rugelach-type pastry dough that is rolled up with meringue. The meringue can be vanilla or chocolate. Optional add ins include raisins, nuts and chopped chocolate.

The inspiration for these cookies was a cryptic e-mail from my sister. She sent a picture of these cookies with no description or comment. When prompted for an explanation, she offered only this: (1) Levana made them; (2) they are filled with meringue mixed with chocolate pudding mix; (3) they are called “foam cookies” in Israel; and (4) a recipe would eventually be forthcoming.

I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for the recipe because it is my understanding that Levana is a “little bit of this and that” and “throw it in a bowl”  kind of cook (“shitarayn”, in Yiddish). So, I did a little bit of research and found that even though Levana calls these Foam Cookies (“Oogiyot Ketzef” in Hebrew?), they are also known as Rose Cookies. In Israel, that would be “Oogiyot Shoshanim.” The recipe comes originally from Eastern Europe and they are also known as Russian Rose Cookies (also see this) or Ukrainian Rose Cookies (Pechivo Troyandiy). I even found a version called Finnish Cookies (Финские Булочки).

(Brief digression: I think that yeast dough versions of this cookie, basically individually baked cinnamon buns or schnecken, are also called shoshanim or roses. Take a look for example at Zucker Bakery’s Chocolate Roses or Tatte Bakery’s Halvah Roses).

I went with the recipe from Pretty Baking in Israel, because that recipe had a filling that called for pudding mix. I didn’t like that filling so much (the problem, admittedly, might have been my KFP pudding mix), so I made the recipe again with a different filling. I also changed the dough a little bit, increasing the sugar to the amount suggested in a very similar recipe on Tastebook for Savta Tova’s Cookies.

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Angelina Ballerina Hamantaschen

February 16, 2014

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My daughter complained that I wasn’t making any girly hamantaschen.

To make Angelina Ballerina (or any other mouse), take the shaped but unbaked hamantaschen and pinch/flatten/shape two corners of the triangle so that they look like mouse ears. It helps if you pinch the hamantaschen completely closed so that there isn’t an opening in the center. Bake the Angelina hamantaschen and let them cool before decorating.

Spread cookie icing on top. Let it dry (I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough. The eyebrows and eyes would have come out better if I had let the icing completely dry). Use food markers to draw on eyes and eyebrows. You can either draw or pipe on the pink ribbon.

My decorating inspiration came from these heart shaped cookies.

Note: I used this hamantaschen dough, but made with 5 ounces of oil instead of margarine or shortening and with the sugar reduced to 3/4 cup.

Darth Vader Hamantaschen

February 14, 2014

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I noticed a while back that hamantaschen that are completely coated in chocolate look a little like Darth Vader’s helmet.  So I decided to try piping a Darth Vader design on top to complete the effect. Piping was kind of a pain. It would have been easier to use this cookie cutter.

Nutty Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse

February 2, 2014

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I spent a lot of time mulling over how to title this post.The recipe is for a decadent chocolate mousse that is dairy-free, egg-free and possibly refined sugar-free. My brother invented the basic recipe, and he calls it Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse. I am going with his name for this recipe, but this also a recipe for chocolate peanut butter mousse, chocolate fruit dip, chocolate spread, and even chocolate frosting. This recipe is just that versatile.

The mousse is soft when first made and can be used as a dip for fruit. When thoroughly chilled, it is thick enough to be used as a frosting or chocolate spread.

The original, basic recipe is simply this: walnuts, plant-based milk, dates and cocoa powder processed together to form a smooth, creamy mousse. The walnuts provide the Omega-3 oil referenced in the title, but you can easily use other nuts or even seeds. This recipe is particularly delicious made with peanut butter, but hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are also great choices.

It can be made with whole nuts and dates, pureed in a high powered blender. If you use a nut butter and silan (date syrup), it can be very easily stirred together, without any high powered equipment. You could also make your own nut butter ahead of time, so that it is ready for mixing up into mousse (take a look at Mollie Katzen’s instructions for making walnut butter using a food processor).

The flavor of the basic mousse is reminiscent of brownies studded with chopped walnuts. The walnut flavor recedes more into the background if you add the optional melted chocolate. If you use peanut butter, of course, the mousse tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and adding the optional melted chocolate does not mute the strong peanut flavor in the least.

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Levana’s Almond Clusters

December 2, 2013

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Sometimes simple things can be a bit tricky.

My parents raved about my sister’s macheteniste’s nut cookies. “The best cookies I ever ate,” my dad insisted. “And Levana says the recipe is very simple: just sugar, nuts and egg whites stirred together.”

Naturally, I had to pin down the exact recipe. Turns out, Levana’s almond clusters are close cousins to Carine Goren’s almond thins, but with a few crucial twists: (1) the nuts are slivered instead of sliced; (2) the nuts are piled high into little haystacks instead of being spread into a super thin layer; and (3) the sugar is brown instead of white.

These few changes make the difference between a recipe my dad really liked (the almond thins) and one he was crazy about (Levana’s almond clusters). The brown sugar gives huge uptick in flavor, making the sweetness of the nut cookies more interesting, less flat. I think that adding vanilla and almond extract ramps up the flavor even more, but that is an optional addition.

The difficulty was that Levana is the sort of cook who makes everything by instinct instead of a precise recipe. The recipe I started with was “mix together 3 egg whites, a scant cup brown sugar and enough nuts so that the nuts are just coated.” About a pound of nuts? “Yes, about . . . at least!”

I had to experiment a bit to figure out the right ratio of nuts to sugar syrup. The first few batches of cookies had sugar syrup seeping out of them. The sugar syrup  that seeped out on the baking sheet puffed up as the nut clusters baked, making strange looking, crunchy protrusions from the cookies.

Also, the baking time was originally “until brown.” That took figuring out, too. Some batches of cookies came out a bit chewy instead of crunchy. It took me a while to figure out that the solution was drying out the nut clusters in a turned off oven.

With these issues ironed out, these addictive cookies are indeed extremely simple to make.

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Vanilla Rugelach

November 11, 2013

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Vanilla rugelach sounds not so exciting, as compared to chocolate rugelach, but vanilla rugelach can hold its own any day. The key is to use lots of strong vanilla flavor. Vanilla sugar in the filling and vanilla extract in the soaking syrup imparts an intense flavor that is reminiscent of vanilla pudding. While syrup is optional with chocolate rugelach, it is a must with vanilla rugelach. Adding lemon juice to the syrup gives a dairy taste to the rugelach.

If you want to go with cinnamon or apricot cinnamon fillings, I include recipes for that, too.

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Easy Rugelach (aka Babka Bites)

November 11, 2013

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Did you know that you can make rugelach from challah dough? Well, you can!

These won’t be super flaky yeast dough rugelach. For that texture, you need what is called a “laminated dough,” or a dough that has layers of butter or margarine rolled into it (like puff pastry, croissant or danish dough). The difference between these rugelach and the super-flaky kind is the difference between doughnuts and cronuts.

If you want super-flaky yeast dough rugelach, take a look at this. If you want something easy to make and trans-fat free (no margarine!) that tastes like bite-sized chocolate babka, read on.

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Mabul Bars

October 4, 2013

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This is Leora’s parshat Noach pun: marble cake (or whatever) for mabul or flood. The bars are Mrs. S’s recipe. I used part brown sugar instead of all white and added a little vanilla extract.

Prior Parshat Noach desserts:

Mabul Cupcakes

Rainbow Cookies

Einat Admony’s Homemade Kit Kat Bars (and my dairy-free take on them)

September 25, 2013

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The recipe that really jumped out at me from Einat Admony’s Balaboosta was her Kit-Kat Bars. It is kind of a variation on the classic peanut butter bars, which have a peanut butter and cornflake crumb base and a chocolate layer on top. This “Kit Kat” recipe swaps out peanut butter for Nutella in the base and puts a rich ganache on top.

Admony is the chef behind Taim falafel bar and Balaboosta restaurant in New York City (and she is opening another restaurant, too) . She says that the recipe for  this dessert came from Israeli restaurant Keren (Haim Cohen’s restaurant which was big in the 90′s), where she had her first professional job as a line cook.

I loved the idea of a crunchy Nutella bar, but I wanted to make these pareve. I tried two different approaches: (1) I swapped out the Nutella for chocolate peanut butter and (2) I combined regular peanut butter and hazelnut truffle chocolate. Both work. although the version with the hazelnut chocolate is a little truer to the original flavor combination.

Bonus: If you would like to see Einat Admony making these bars, take a look at this video at Daily Candy.

Another Bonus: Recent interview with Einat Admony where she talks about Sukkot and gives her mom’s recipe for chicken with pomegranate syrup and walnuts.

Yet Another Bonus: Chef Michel Richard included a recipe for Le Kit Cat in his book Happy in the Kitchen. The recipe is similar to Einat’s recipe, but calls for peanut butter and milk chocolate instead of Nutella in the base and the topping is chocolate mousse instead of ganache. If you want to see yet another variation on this, plus some attractive plating, take a look at this recipe from New Jersey chef Jonathan Adams.

Okay, one more: Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bars, using homemade pailleté feuilletine instead of cornflakes.

These Kit Kat bars look elegant and have a sophisticated taste–you would never guess that they are basically easy cereal bars.

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