Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Friday February 24th 2012, 10:43
Filed under: Cookies
I adore coconut. Strangely I don’t eat real coconut as often as I’d like to but I do gravitate towards sweet treats that have coconut as a base flavour. I wanted to bake but wanted something that I could mix up in one bowl. I adore my kitchenaid but sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics and take out the large mixing bowl that reminds me of licking the spoon while baking at my granny’s knee.
This recipe is adapted from the wonderful Joy The Baker’s blog.
Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt (to suit your preference)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup dessicated or shredded coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C.
Line two baking sheets with baking paper. On one baking sheet, spread out the coconut. Toast coconut for about 6 minutes, until browned and fragrant. Keep a close eye, it toasts very quickly.
Remove from the oven, place in a small bowl and let cool. Try to resist eating it all straight from the bowl before using it in your cookies!
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat & allow to cool for a few moments.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl) measure granulated and brown sugar. Add the melted butter and beat together, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes (it may take a little longer by hand) The sugar may still look grainy. That’s ok.
Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until the mixture becomes silky smooth. Add vanilla extract and beat again.
With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips. The dough will be very thick.
Cookies can be baked immediately, or the dough can be left in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Spoon balls by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies in an airtight container if there are any left after eating them all straight from the oven.
I think I could’ve used a little more coconut so next time I’m going to use half cup and try to get shredded to give it more punch. I found that these definitely need to be taken out just as they start to brown, they can overbake very easily and that made them tend to harden up much quicker. That’s personal taste though; I much prefer a chewy cookie with only a slight crunch on the edge. Feel free to bake for longer if you prefer more bite to your cookies.
Be prepared to fight off the whole household once the smell of toasted coconut reaches every other room in the house.
Hapanleipä – Finnish Sour Rye Bread
Friday February 17th 2012, 07:09
Filed under: Bread
“Here is bread, which strengthens man’s heart, and therefore is called the staff of Life.”
I like baking bread. Of all the cooking and baking I do, the making of bread is the most joyous and gives me the most satisfaction.
Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, going back at least 30,000 years. The making of bread involves community and society and family. In many cultures bread has a significance beyond simple nutrition, and often denotes something necessary and valuable. It is an interesting fact that the word companion comes from the Latin com- “with” + panis “bread”.
In Finland, bread is very important and is served at almost every meal. And Finnish bread is a treat. So much more falvourful and full of texture than what Americans commonly think of as bread, the abundance and variety of bread found there can be overwhelming. As I noted previously, it is on my Top Ten Finland List. The most popular (ubiquitous) bread in Finland is ruisleipä (rye bread). It is very different from what most Americans think of rye breads (like German style rye bread) as it lacks the greasy/moist texture.
When I was on exchange in Finland, one of my host mothers made a type of ruisleipä traditional in western Finland, hapanleipä (sour bread). It is one of my most vivid memories of Finland, watching Aira take the sticky rye dough and forming it into round, flat loaves with a hole in the center.
Ruisleipä, or even a close approximation, is hard to come by in the desert southwest. And Finding traditional hapanleipä is impossible. Happily, I love making it and over the years have become pretty good at it.
When you make this bread you need to plan ahead. It takes two days for the dough to sour.
3 packages active dry yeast
4 cups warm water, 105°F to 115°F
7 to 9 cups dark rye flour
2 teaspoons salt (optional)
additional rye flour for shaping
In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add two cups rye flour and beat to make a smooth mixture. Sprinkle the top of the dough with one cup rye flour.
Cover tightly and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours. It will ferment and sour.
On day two, add two cups of the rye flour, stir, and let stand another 24 hours. The dough will now have a sour aroma.
Stir in the salt and final amount of flour, but do not exceed nine cups. It is very important to not put in too much flour. This dough is unlike most bread doughs people are used to as it needs to remain very moist, almost drop cookie-dough moist.
Knead (in a heavy-duty mixer if you have one) for 30 minutes. The dough should be very sticky.
Using wet hands, shape dough into a ball and place in the bowl again. Sprinkle with enough additional flour to make the top of the dough dry.
Let rise about one and 1/2 hours in a warm place.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into two parts. Cover two baking sheets with baking parchment (or lightly grease them) and coat the sheets with dark rye flour.
Shape each half into a round loaf about eight inches in diameter. Make a hole in the center of each loaf and carefully pull the hole until it is about two inches in diameter. With hands dipped in water, smooth out the edges and top of each loaf.
Using a fork, poke holes in the tops of the loves, making the distribution of holes as even as you can.
Brush loaves generously with water and sprinkle with a generous coating of rye flour.
Place the loaves in a warm place until they have flattened out, spread apart, and the tops start to crackle a little.
Place a large, deep pan (like a casserole dish or a jelly roll pan) on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill the pan with boiling water and bake the loaves for one hour or until firm.
This is the hardest step, especially if you have not baked with dark rye before. Without experience, it is easy to misjudge when the bread has baked as they already start out a dark brown colour. Baked not long enough and the center will be unbaked and gooey. Baked too long and the bottoms will burn.
Wrap baked loaves in towels to soften. As tempting as it is, it is best not to cut these loaves right away. They actually slice best the day after they are baked. I very rarely make it that long.
This makes two respectable sized loaves.
The loaves will keep refrigerated for several months. They also freeze well. This bread rarely goes bad and I have never seen it mildew, but it will dry out. Finns claim that this is good for your teeth.
This bread is good for you. It is higher in fiber than many common types of bread and has a remarkably strong flavor. It can be eaten plain with a meal, or topped with cheese, cold cuts, or smoked fish.
Cranberry Pecan Loaf
Based on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, this “loaf” is a typical American quick bread – kind of a combination of a cake and a bread, some might say a muffin in a bread pan. We had leftover cranberries from Christmas in the freezer, as well as pecans in the cupboard, so this was the perfect way to use up these ingredients. DH (my husband) said that perhaps this was the best loaf yet. It could be served as a dessert with ice cream, or as a breakfast bread with coffee (toasted with butter would also be delicious). It is sweet, but not overly so, and I suspect we will be hunting for cranberries to make this again before next winter!
- Juice from one orange
- Finely chopped zest from one orange (about 1 tbsp)
- 2/3 cup yoghurt
- 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 cup caster (granulated) sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Between 1 and 1 1/2 cups cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
1. Pre-heat oven to 375F (200C)
2. Prepare a bread pan (I used a non-stick silicone one so no preparation needed)
3. Scrape orange zest and chop finely
4. Juice the orange and remove pips
5. Toast the pecans
6. Put cranberries and pecans into food processor and pulse until roughly chopped (alternatively – chop both into rough pieces)
7. Stir together orange juice, zest, yoghurt, melted butter, and beaten egg in a bowl
8. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl
9. Stir liquid ingredients into dry until just moistened
10. Fold in cranberries and pecans
*note* do not overstir the ingredients or you will get a tough bread, just stir until combined with evenly distributed nuts / berries
11. Put batter into bread pan and spread evenly
12. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 (200) then reduce heat to 350 (180)
13. Bake for approximately another 45 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean – my oven bakes hot so I had to keep an eye on the loaf for the last 15 minutes
14. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack
15. Remove from tin and cool thoroughly before serving – make sure to cool the loaf or it will not slice well and instead of slices you will have crumbs!
Vincisgrassi – Mushroom Lasagna
Friday February 03rd 2012, 16:43
Filed under: Savoury
One of the discussions we had as a bunch of oven-loving twitter users was what exactly would be included as recipe fodder on 52 Weeks of Baking. We decided that anything oven oriented would qualify, just not roasts.
It is with that introduction that I post our first savoury dish, Vincisgrassi, otherwise known as “the most decadent lasagna you will ever make, not for the faint of heart!”
This recipe is adapted from one by Rowley Leigh (the iconic English chef) as printed in the Financial Times. It is a great recipe, but one that I modified for available ingredients and to include winter greens. Because I love my greens.
1 litre milk
1 onion studded with 8 cloves
2 bay leaves, sprig of thyme, fresh nutmeg
60g unsalted butter (about 3 tablespoons)
60g plain flour (about 2 tablespoons)
200ml double cream
A few dried porcini or “gourmet” mushrooms, soaked in hot water, mushroom liquor retained and mushrooms finely chopped (dried mushrooms are a pantry staple for me)
Lasagna (I used the easy cook variety which can be used uncooked, then baked, but I think the cook first variety would be better)
300g mushrooms (I used portabella and about 8 large caps, Rowley Leigh suggests cep or porcini)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Parma ham in thin slices (I used two packs of 75g each)
Chard (or other winter green)
1. Stud the onion with about 8 cloves. Put onion, milk, bay and thyme in saucepan and bring to boil, then season with black pepper, salt and nutmeg and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Cook your lasagna if you need to, but don’t overcook if you are using “real” lasagna. Make sure to dry off the cooked strips well.
3. Prepare the mushrooms. I used portabella so this just involved slicing them thickly, and frying in the olive oil until browned on each side. When removing from heat, place in a sieve above a bowl, so that you can capture any juices to use in step 5.
4. Prepare the chard. Cut the leafy greens from the stalk, discarding the stalk.
5. Melt the butter and stir flour into the butter, making a roux. Pour in the seasoned milk (what you made in step 1) and make a smooth paste. Keep adding milk, and whisking until smooth. Add the mushroom liquor and mushrooms (if you are using dried mushrooms soaked for some more sauce depth) and the mushroom liquor from step 3 above to the sauce, and whisk. Finally, add the double cream. You will be making the most decadent tasty bechamel sauce ever, its flavour like English bread sauce.
6. Get out a nice large baking dish and begin the layering process. Put some bechamel sauce on the bottom of the dish, then layer lasagna, sauce, parmesan, chard, parma ham, mushrooms, and more sauce. Repeat this (lasagna, sauce, parmesan, chard, ham, mushrooms, sauce) until you’ve used all ingredients. The Italians make their lasagna thick, with many layers of noodles. I did not achieve that this time, but next time I will try it. I think it will be more filling and delicious with more pasta layers.
7. Pop into a pre-heated 180C (375F) oven.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is golden brown on top.
Enjoy! We found this a very filling winter meal, and sliced up extras to freeze into single portions of comfort food for emergency situations. And we definitely did not count the calories on this – it was a rich treat!