Thursday, February 25, 2010


As many of you know, and some of you certainly don't, this Sunday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. (In Jerusalem, it's Monday, but that is a topic certainly too complicated for a baking blog.) And, like practically every Jewish holiday, it is associated with an iconic food. The Hamantaschen.
The three-cornered cookie is said to be the hat or the ears (depending on who you ask) of Haman - the villian of the Purim story. Why we celebrate our success by eating his hat/ears is beyond the scope of this blog.

Last year, I made hamantaschen that were quite good - but this year I got to thinking. The thing that distinguishes this cookie is the shape, not the dough itself. So I set out to try my favorite sugar cookie recipe out here. Traditionally, these treats were known to have a poppy-seed filling, but you can load up just about anything you want in here - jam, frosting, peanut butter, etc. I decided to make these my favorite combo - chocolate raspberry. My friends and I set to work.
As Sarah, Laura, Alana, Rachel, Abby and I set out to form our creations, we of course had to distinguish whose was whose. You can't tell in this picture that I'm the hamataschen forming champion....
...but you can tell in this one! Those that didn't really seal their ends together, ended up...leaking. Poor Laura. Which quickly led to one of the staples here at Baking and Mistaking...the reject pile. The hallmark of the reject pile? They get eaten first!
After I threw everyone out of the kitchen and got to work, the rest went well. I sprinkled some mini chocolate chips in the center of each circle, then topped with less than a teaspoon of jam. When you fold up the sides, make sure to press them together so they don't pop open in the oven.
The one thing about these is they're not going to brown much in the oven - the dough is meant to stay fairly pale, but it's still delicious!
Rachel got a little creative...if only I had the patience to do this to every one!

For some reason I found this dough quite sticky to work with when I took it out of the freezer, and ended up kneading more flour in before I started. Also use plenty of flour on your surface and rolling pin.

Tip of the Day:
The recipe I used is below - but feel free to swap out any sugar cookie recipe. As I said - the secret is in the shape!

Sidenote: For those of you in the Manhattan area - or one of my 1.5 stalkers - I was the featured profile on Midtown Lunch this week: Lunch'er Profile

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

jam of your choice
mini chocolate chips

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well combined. Add in the vanilla.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring until combined.
Gather in to a ball and refrigerate or freeze for several hours.

Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface and with a floured rolling pin. Using a round cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible from the dough. Fill the center of each with your filling of choice, making sure to leave a large circle on the outside clear. Fold up two of the sides and pinch to close, then fold up the third, forming the triangle.

Bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

While I'm constantly firing up the oven, I'm also just as happy to create something without it - and these no-bake cookie dough truffles are just the thing.
They're really pretty simple: an eggless cookie dough batter, flash frozen in to balls and rolled in chocolate. But you can't really eat more than one or two at a time, because they are certainly very sweet and rich.
I started out with a plan to cover half the truffles in semi-sweet chocolate and half in white chocolate. For the semi-sweet, I melted some chocolate and stirred in a little bit of oil. (They didn't start to temper until about 3 days later). For the white, I had some candy melts, that I microwaved until melted. However, I found that they really didn't look as nice - they didn't cover the center as well, and they were too transparent. So I stopped after two.
These are topped with a little sprinkling of blue sugar - a gift from my friend Laura. For reasons unbeknown to me, Laura has an obsession with blue decorating sugar, urging me to use it in every dessert I make. This is the first so far, but I do have some faraway dreams of blue palmiers....
Tip of the Day: "Tempering" chocolate is a method of melting chocolate that will ensure it is shiny and that it will not "bloom" later on - develop those white, chalky spots we've all seen. The process of tempering is long and complicated and not something I would ever put myself through. Getting the shiny coat is easy - stir a little vegetable oil in to the melted chocolate. Preventing blooming is also easy - eat within a few days.

Recipe: (from Baked Perfection)
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed oreos or sandwich cookies

candy melts or baking chocolate

Beat together the butter, sugars and vanilla in a bowl.
Mix in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
Stir in the crushed cookies.
Form in to quarter sized balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.
Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes until firm.

Melt the chocolate or candy melts and roll each ball in it.
Place on the wax paper.
If decorating with sugar, apply while still wet.
If drizzling additional chocolate on, wait until they set.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chocolate Covered Marble Pound Cake

I love making marble cake. It's my go to when I'm baking for people whose preferences I don't know - who doesn't like marble? And this recipe really delivered. I've been taught to be skeptical of cake recipes that call for cocoa powder instead of chocolate, but this was moist and delicious.
One thing that was strange about this recipe was the baking directions - it baked for a while at 350, then more at 325, then even more covered. I don't think I've ever baked a cake covered before, but I figured I would follow the instructions as they were written, and I wasn't sorry. I guess because loaf pans are so deep, they take a while to cook through, and you don't want the top to burn.
Luckily the cake popped right out of the pan, and once it cooled I covered it with a thick chocolate glaze, that set up hard. There's something about a loaf cake that I like too - maybe it's the neat slices. I really hate cutting up my own cakes - not because I can't bear to slice in to them, but because I usually make a mess of it. Luckily I can usually find someone else to slice.
Time to go back to watching ice skating. And ski jumping. And snowboarding. And bobsled.

Tip of the Day:
Most loaf pans are either 9x3 or 8x4, which can be used interchangeably. If you double a loaf pan recipe, you can use a standard bundt or tube pan, though baking times will likely be less.

Marble Pound Cake (from RecipeZaar)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Beat together the softened butter and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed. Stir in vanilla.
Add in flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined. Mix in milk until smooth.
[Alternatively, process in food processor.]
Stir together the melted butter and cocoa until smooth. Mix with 1 cup of the batter.
Pour half the remaining batter in to a greased loaf pan, top with half the cocoa batter and swirl, repeating with the remaining batter.
Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for another 25 minutes. Loosely cover with foil, and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

Heat together until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly before applying to completely cooled cake.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

As a lover of all things lemon, I'm always looking for a good lemon cookie recipe. But a lot of the recipes I find call for cake mixes, and while I'm not a cake mix snob (they do serve a purpose), I know I can make a better cookie than that. So when I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it. And while many of you may feel about shortening the way I do about cake mixes (fine for you, but don't let it in my kitchen), they really produce a different textured cookie than butter.
Baked goods made with shortening are generally more crumbly and tender than those with butter or margarine, but shortening has none of its own flavor. It is a 100% fat as opposed to butter which is around 80%.
These cookies called for ginger, which I did not have, so I subbed in a little cinnamon. (I know, sacrilege.)
I think I wouldn't mind leaving it out entirely next time, and letting the lemon flavor of these shine through alone.
Tip of the Day: If you want all your cookies to be uniform in size and shape, form them in the bowl of a tablespoon measurement - it'll give you a good guide to get your shape.

Recipe: (from RecipeZaar)
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch salt
2 tbsp sugar, for rolling

Cream the shortening and brown sugar together.
Add in the egg and lemon zest, mixing well.
Stir in the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, ginger and salt.
Roll tablespoons of dough in to balls, and roll in the sugar.
Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


As I sit here on what is officially Wednesday but still feels like Tuesday, I feel the pangs of guilt for neglecting you dear reader(s). Posts this past month have been sporadic, infrequent, and it is downright rude. I could make excuses - work, school, endless hours of watching American Idol, but the truth is I'm just Lazy. With a capital L. Somehow I always get in the kitchen, but I don't always get online. And now I'm sitting here, hoping against hope, for a snow day. Which, in this stage of my life, means a day in which I decide that snow prevents me from leaving the house. It could happen.

One thing that drags me in to the kitchen every time is an Occasion. With a capital O. (Sensing a trend?) I love to bake for something. I'd love to bake for the greater good of humanity, but it's more likely a birthday, an engagement, a dinner party or any Jewish holiday.

On Sunday, my friend Rachel (who along with her mother Debby are most valuable readers) celebrated her birthday, which also fell on Superbowl Sunday. Now, while I don't really know much about football except that it rarely involves feet, I never refuse a chance to cook. So, along with delicious mushroom barley soup (which I tweeted about) I made these festive birthday cupcakes!Of course since my failures at writing on baked goods are well documented, I attempted two letters and gave up, letting Sarah finish the task. Meanwhile, poor Alana sat directly in front of the cupcake tray, staring and them until Rachel showed up to claim her treat. Let's just say, I came close to wishing her a Happy B-da. But she held off, and was rewarded. At the end of the night, I was left with HE.
Meanwhile, poor Esti had her birthday back in JANUARY and has yet to see her delicious cake posted here. Next "snow day," my dear.

Word of the Day:
  • Snowcrastination: accomplishing nothing under the assumption that tomorrow will be a snow day and you won't have to leave the house.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snowy Days, Steamy Soups

It's c-c-c-cold out in New York. Coat, hat, scarf, gloves, boots and extra pair of socks cold. So while there is snow on the ground, we're going to take a little departure here on Baking and Mistaking. That's right, no cake, cookies or cupcakes. We're going with soup! Hot, thick, delicious, soup. And I'll give you choices: a creamy cauliflower soup, or a hearty beef, leek and barley soup.

Soup can often be a daunting task, and many recipes take forever and have multiple steps. Not here! The first soup is simple, quick and easy. It can be in your bowl in less than 30 minutes.
The second one is more time consuming, but just as easy. After you dump everything in the pot, just let it simmer for three hours.

Up first: Creamy Cauliflower Soup.

A lot of creamy soups have additions of milk or heavy cream that are less than calorie-conscious. (I know, this from the girl with a blog full 'o butter, but as the cookie monster [now] says "cookies are a sometimes food but vegetables are everday foods.") Where was I? Right, creamy soups. The great thing about this one, is that the creaminess comes from the pureed vegetables themselves, so no need for added fats.
This soup was very orange from the pureed carrots, but it still retained an overwhelmingly cauliflower flavor.
I retained about 2 cups of the vegetables before pureeing, so I could have some nice chunks in the soup. You could adjust that however you like - or puree it all.

Next: Beef, Leek and Barley Soup.

Oh man, this is good. I could have eaten the whole pot. Except I couldn't, because it's so filling.
The original recipe calls for beef, leek, barley, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Unfortunately I didn't have any garlic cloves on hand so I had to settle for garlic powder. I also added in some chopped zucchini - this recipe takes well to additions, so you could try potatoes, beans, and whatever else you have lying around.
Leeks are one of those things that really need a good washing. They usually come filled with dirt and sand and grit so make sure you rinse them well before adding to the pot.
The recipe calls for short ribs to be place on the bottom of the pot and cut up later, but instead I just used some pre-cubed stew beef that was really great and less fatty. It also calls for 8 cups of water or beef stock - I used 4 cups water, 4 cups stock.

Tip of the Day: One of things I love most about cooking as opposed to baking is the versatility! I don't usually get to play around much with amounts and ingredients, but here I can with amazing results. So think of these recipes as a base for adding all the veggies and ingredients you want. Just let me know how it turns out!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup: (from RecipeZaar)
3 cups water
3 cups vegetable broth
4 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion

Place all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a 5 quart saucepan.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Strain out vegetables (reserving liquid) and puree (some or all) until smooth.
Add back to liquid and add salt and pepper to taste.

Beef, Leek and Barley Soup: (from Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen)
2 beef short ribs, or equivalent stew meat
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, chopped
4 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cups chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 medium zucchini, sliced (optional)
8 cups water or stock (I used half and half)
salt and pepper to taste

Place beef in the bottom of a large pot.
Add barley, garlic, onions, leek, mushrooms, zucchini and any other vegetables you're adding.
Pour the liquid on top.
Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for at least three hours.