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When the cat's away... *mrf*

December 13th, 2005 (07:54 pm)

current mood: sleepy

The mouse got attacked by other mice, ended up burning some of her cookies, and didn't really get to play. ;_;

So yeah. The boss is out of town today and tomorrow (had hoped for the day after as well, but I noticed he has an appointment on Thursday and reminded him of it. :-/ Since work's been quiet since coming back from holidays, I'd hoped to sneak in some Christmas cookie baking today as well, but started getting calls in the afternoon. One of them right around when the cookies were to come out of the oven... ;_; Today's "cookies" were for "Almond Wafers", but they're not really cookies; "florentines" by any other name... The recipe itself was really simple and when not burnt, the results are yummy:

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp flour
1 c sliced almonds

Mix first four ingredients in a pot until blended then bring to a boil on med-high heat. Boil for a minute, stir in almonds, and drop rounded teaspoonsful 3" apart on foil lined baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 6-8 mins or until golden. Makes 20 cookies.

If I were to make this again, there are a couple things I'd do differently. For one thing, the cookies ended up really spreading out and becoming thin, whereas if I made sure to mound things on the sheet, I'd end up with slightly stacked white almonds in the middle of the spread out cookie... actually, it's sort of reminiscent of a fried egg with a massive white. :P

Yesterday, I made cream puffs but didn't get around to crushing candy canes. I swear, I wasn't supposed to do any baking yesterday either if the complete lack of organization was any sign. Ysa-chan seems to have had a serious omen against baking a couple of days ago (how ever did you get a cookie sheet under the oven??) but being too stubborn I decided to plow ahead...

Right at the start I:
- poured the cream in the pot first thing and ended up having to pour it back into the measuring cup.
- broke an eggyolk while trying to separate an egg with the yolk ending up in my hand
- dropped a whole egg into the whites bowl rather than getting the yolk separated

This all within the first few minutes of pulling things out to get started. >_<; Thankfully, things settled after that, and besides some minor drips and spills the cream puffs came out reasonably well. That recipe sometimes really surprises me. It breaks the cardinal rule of baking (measure all things carefully) and is anything but precise, and yet, it somehow still works out.

The first batch of custard was a bit too light in the vanilla department, and the second perhaps a hint strong? Oh well. :P The other thing that's been plaguing me the past couple of times is slightly lumpy custard. It's easy enough to fix by sending it through a strainer, but it's not supposed to do that. I must be doing something weird or something. >_<;

Oh, and since the boss was away, I'd thought to make another batch or two of the eggnog cookie recipe since I don't think anyone will actually *drink* the eggnog, but... I seem to be too tired to do anything but snooze and watch the virus scan count over the files. There's always tomorrow. :P

Anyhow, I seem to be falling asleep at the keyboard. Zzzzz. -_-


Posted by: Ysabet (umadoshi)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC)
Rin huddled (kawaiiayu)

*cries* I didn't mean to jinx it all!

(Er. Well, I was putting dry dishes away, and pulled open the drawer under the oven to put the cookie sheet in, and it just sailed right over the drawer and landed underneath. Chris had to fish it out for me. >.<)

I'm hoping the rest of my baking will go smoothly--need to bake for Friday's potluck. And possibly make a cheeseball. (I stole my aunt's recipe after a family get-together last weekend. ^^)

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC)

*laughs* Always annoying when that sort of thing happens. ^^;;

Good luck with the rest of your baking and do tell how the recipe turns out for you. ^_^ I *wish* I could make a cheese ball. ;_; I like cheese, but because no one here can handle milk products very well, it's a rare purchase. *sigh*

Otherwise, finally bought some ramekins today. The girl at the shop said they're 4 oz ramekins, so she gave me 8. I'll have to remember to keep an eye on the cakes when I make them and make sure not to over-bake them. -_-; (But they *look* like ramekins! Not like semi-demented flower pots!) :P

Posted by: Laurie (ichi_san)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)

Cream puffs ! Choux à la crème !! Choux à la crèèèèèèème !!!! Yummy !!

Ah, how I love them ! And there are just so many marvellous things you can bake with pâte à choux. One of my favorite treats is called "bijoux" (well that's what we call them in Provence, the region I live in, but the French generally call them chouquettes). See more about chouquettes here. "It's this same pâte à choux recipe you want to use to make éclairs, salambos or puffs to stuff for Saint-Honoré or Profiterolles. You can even make gougères, or cheese puffs, by omitting the sugar and adding grated cheese to the dough." she says. Ah yes, Gougères are the best. *_*

But the funny thing is that I never actually tried to bake any of these. You can just find them at any bakery round the corner here at a very reasonable price, and somehow pâte à choux always seemed to me like such a terribly difficult recipe. Same goes for custard cream (which we call crème pâtissière here, by the way XD). I might have to reconsider this, actually. Reading you it seems so easy that it makes me want to try and bake éclairs this week end lol.

Oh and umadoshi, what are cheese balls ? Sounds yummy ! *_* (I love cheese)

Posted by: Ysabet (umadoshi)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC)
Christmas cookies (skellorg)

A cheeseball is a big soft lump of cheese that you eat with crackers or something. ^^ Party appetizer. It's yummy (at least my aunt's was). This is the recipe I swiped from her:

1 250 gr. cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar
1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. chopped green peper
1/2 tbsp. chopped onion
1/2 tbsp. chopped pimento (this wasn't in the one she made)
dash cayenne
dash salt

Blend all ingredients and serve at room temperature. Can also be rolled in chopped walnuts.

And that's it! It sounds easy, so I do think I'll make one. ^^

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)

Aha! Now I know what they're called in French! In Japan, they're called shu- kuri-mu. Choux creme, choux cream, or as I've once spelled it "shoe cream". LOL!

I took a peak at my Mom's cookbook (God this thing is falling apart! Lots of crayon scribbles in it too... ^^;) and the recipe you linked to is very similar to the original profiteroles recipe listed (without the sugar or salt). The recipe I later got from her is:

160 mL water
60 mL butter
1 egg
3 egg whites (from custard cream recipe)
4 *heaping* tbsp flour

Heaping tbsp of flour are not little mounds but, stick a tablespoon into the flour and bring out a good-sized mountain "heaping". According to her recipe book, not enough butter would make choux tough or hard.

Basically, cut the butter into 3 pieces and bring the water and butter to a boil in a med-large saucepan. Once brought to a boil, add the flour all at once to the pot and mix until the dough forms a ball, reduce heat and mix for a few moments longer. Take off the heat.

Spread the dough over the bottom of the pan to help it cool. After a few minutes, poke your finger in the dough to test temperature. Once it cools to the point that it's no longer scalding hot to touch (ie you can leave your finger in the dough for a number of seconds without it becoming painful), add the first egg. Mix it in well. (The dough will become egg coated clumps that won't adhere at first. Then it'll pull together and become a very thick and stiff dough. Temperature is important, too hot and you'll cook the egg, too cool and it's harder to incorporate the eggs).

Add a little egg white at a time mixing thoroughly each time until it becomes a softish dough but not too soft/runny. (This part takes a bit of practice.)

Pre-heat oven to 350F (400 might be better depending on your oven and altitude). Using two teaspoons, drop choux on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment, sprayed with non-stick spray, or buttered/floured), making sure not to leave any airpockets on the bottom of the dough (leaves a big hole in your puff).

Bake for ~30 mins, or until brown on the bottom. If the puffs are golden on the bottom but looking pale on top, broil for a couple of minutes to brown the tops.

You can also pipe the dough or put it through a cookie press, but if piping, make sure you have a strong piping bag.

Custard Cream:
3 egg yolks
~150 mL sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1.5 heaping tbsp cornstarch
0.5 heaping tbsp flour (essentially a rounded tbsp)
500 mL milk*
30 mL butter
vanilla extract

In a medium sauce pan on med heat, cream yolks and sugar together with a little milk until smooth. Add cornstarch and flour and mix well (may want to add more milk first). Add remaining milk and stir (you can check sweetness here). Stir occasionally/often until cream starts thickening. Stir constantly as cream thickens. Once cream has thickened, add butter and vanilla extract to taste and mix in thoroughly (I probably use around 2-3 tsp).

*"milk" can be 2%, homo, or half and half (light cream). Heavy cream (whipped cream) can also be used, but I'd probably eliminate the butter as I found the cream started developing an oil layer on top when cooled. The *best* custard I had was when I used either 2% or homo milk and swapped ~100 mL for fresh cream from a co-worker's parents' farm. It was *so* rich and decadent... *_* Half and half or whipped cream doesn't give that sheer rich decadence to the custard. T_T

And since my cream has been getting little lumps this year, if you have that happen, put the custard through a strainer or several layers of cheesecloth to get rid of the lumps. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the cream (no air on top) to avoid getting a thick scum layer on top of the cream as it cools.

I usually make the cream first, then the choux. By the time the first choux batch is cooled, the cream should pretty much be cool as well. Then cut open the choux, remove any dough membranes from inside the puff, and fill with cream. Dip in choco if desired. :P

Since the recipe is so "hands on", I'm a little reluctant to give it out as baking usually isn't so imprecise. ^^; But, I've been making this and variants on it since I was a child with my Mom, so it's something I grew up with. ^o^

Posted by: Laurie (ichi_san)
Posted at: December 15th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC)

Wow, thanks so much for the two recipes, I really appreciate it. With so many tips (and very useful ones, at that), it'll be a shame if I fail. XD I am definitely having a go at these, this week end. Can't wait. Will definitely let you know how it all turns out.

Umadoshi >> This year we're celebrating Christmas at my sisters', and everyone will bring something to nibble. I was thinking of a couple of nice appetizers to serve with an assortment of raw vegetables and grissini (italian breadsticks). I was planning on bringing homemade tapenade (it's a dip made of pureed green olives, garlic, anchovies and thyme, very popular in Provence) but I might try your recipe too (although, finding philadelphia cream cheese here is no picnic - but I'll find something similar)

Thanks girls !

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 16th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC)

Two other things. Regardless of whether you use my recipe or the chouquettes one, they should both react roughly the same, although the chouquettes one looks more munchable on its own. :P But, if you try mine, the tablespoon I use is the eating utensil not the measuring spoon, so that'll make a difference. Also, just in case, make sure to use a non-reactive pot. I used an aluminum pot a few times because Mom used it, but it made the choux bitter.

Good luck with it! XD

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: December 14th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC)

Sheesh. Had to trim that last post because I was hitting a character limit. ^^; That chouquettes recipe looks very interesting! I've never really eaten choux without filling since they're rather bland on their own (my recipe has no sugar/salt in it), but I might give this a try. If I fill... it might be too sweet with the custard unless I reduce the sugar further in there to say 125-135 mL or so... Hmmm...

Could add cheese instead of sugar to the dough... that also sounds interesting. I've never done / had that before, and it might prevent (a little) the excessive sugar intake we're having right now. ^^;; I'll have to take a look at this. ^o^

Oh, the recipe as I make it gives 1.5-2 dozen little puffs so beware! It's *very* easy to munch 3-4 mini puffs without even realising it. ^^;

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