Amaretti

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These cookies are made from an almond paste base, with sugar and egg whites mixed in. They are a type of macaroon common in Italy…classic with a thin, crisp outside and a soft, chewy interior.  The recipe calls for almond paste found in a can vs a tube so that you can achieve superior consistency.  Both stores I checked only had the tube form of almond paste, so I may not have gotten “superior” quality but  I think I still got a good cookie out of it. :)

These cookies are a bit different…in a few ways.

1. The dough is made from so few ingredients, it has a strange consistency.  The batter is piped into mounds on a lined baking sheet.

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2. The next step is to wet a cotton or linen kitchen towel…leaving it wet.  Folding the towel into a 2 in wide strip, I was to let the center droop and gently dap the top of the cookie until the top was smooth. slightly flattened, and glistening.  The recipe says this takes away the ridges from piping the dough and also gives the cookies their crinkly top which is characteristic of this cookie.

photonov9It seemed like a strange step, but surprisingly it worked!  The cookies are then baked and cooled on a rack.

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I made these the same day I made the Palets de Dames from BCM.  My tasters thought both of these cookies were very unique in taste and texture.  These amaretti were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I am not always a fan of almond flavored things, but as I ate the cookie it grew on me.  I think I liked the texture more than the flavor but I think they were good. The store where I bought the almond paste told me they only carry it during the holidays so maybe this is more of a holiday season cookie.  Not sure I was sold on them, but as always…glad we tried them!

 

 

Palets de Dames, Lille Style

 

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So here it is; our first “Baking Chez Moi” recipe.  It is all very exciting for us bakers.  I am committed to finishing the Baking with Julia cookbook just for the accomplishment of it, but oh, to get a new cookbook…and one that has so many recipes that I can’t wait to try…gets you excited!! :)

This first one, is a simple one; both in taste and baking.   Palets de Dames are an easy cake’ish cookie, resembling a top or open parasol, finished with a sweet icing.  I found them to taste like a thick sugar cookie…right up my alley!  Our cookbook tells us they are found in every patisserie in the northern French city of Lille which borders Belgium.  For some reason I assumed the pointed part of the cookie would be the frosted side since they wouldn’t sit well otherwise, but now that I am looking more closely at the picture in the cookbook, it looks like I might have picked the wrong side.  I guess the flat side should be frosted…who knew haha!  I don’t think it matters which side, they tasted great!

The cookies consist of butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and eggs.  The batter is a very soft dough, resembling more of cake batter than cookie dough.  The batter is put in the fridge to chill for a minimum of one hour. The chilled dough is rolled into balls and then baked until set and slightly browned.  The final step is dipping the cookie in icing made of confectioners sugar, milk, and lemon juice.  (After dipping a few, I found it much easier to use a knife and spread the icing on)

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Most all of my tasters loved these cookies with the exception of my husband who thought they were a little bland.  I actually loved them.  This recipe is a keeper…easy and tasted great! :)

 

Alsatian Onion Tart

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I am so glad to be back and baking again!…I think my tasters are glad that I am back too!!  What a wild couple of months…started with moving my youngest into college and then a whirlwind of traveling….first to the New England states and then a trip to Miami Beach.

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All fun, and all good…but I am glad to get back to baking!  Such exciting news too…we are adding a new cookbook to use as we finish the Baking with Julia.  This one is called Baking Chez Moi, also by Dorie Greenspan…thus the baking group “Tuesdays with Dorie”.  I am SO excited to start this new cookbook…totally up my alley…lots of chocolate and lots of apples!!  Yay!

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This Alsatian Onion Tart was a good one to get back into the swing of things again…very easy and quite tasty!  There were three basic steps:

Prepare the Pastry:

The recipe suggested using a lid to make the round tart.  Very easy…then I used the scrap to make a rectangle piece as well.

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photo 2-1Make the Topping:

Diced onion simmered in chicken broth…cooled and then add heavy cream and pepper

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Oh my gosh these onions made me cry!  Super strong today!

Assemble and Bake:

Pierce the dough liberally, then layer the onion and bacon

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I wasn’t sure how this was going to taste but it smelled great cooking.  I tried a piece and it was really good!  I would say this would be a great addition to a brunch…it would go really well with eggs!  I sent out my text that the tart was ready and since it had been awhile, everyone was excited to try something new.

I love getting the reviews:

“Thumbs up!!! We really like it!  Rilee ate a piece on the way back from your house. We just had ours!!  Thank you”

“Just a note to let you know I had my bacon/onion tart for dinner!  It’s GREAT!! Really good!”

This is one of those recipes that I would totally make again if I had the need.  It was very good!  It’s a keeper.

 

 

Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

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I am getting this one in…barely!  I have had a lot going on moving my son into his college dorm so I finally got to the baking today.  Thank goodness this one was fairly easy. :) The only changes I made was to halve the recipe and use my 6 muffin tin.  I was careful to not push the plum too far into the batter but I must have since it disappeared.  I will be sure to share these with my tasters, but for now I am the only one to have tried them and it was yummy!  I would have preferred apple instead of the plum, but very good and very easy!

Baking Powder Biscuits

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I am bummed I missed the Poppy Seed Torte, but it wasn’t because I didn’t try!  Even though we are not big poppy seed or apricot eaters in this house I still wanted to make it.  I even figured out where to buy bulk poppy seeds!…two full cups!   I think I would have taken the stores whole supply if I had bought the full amount though so I opted to halve the recipe.   I came home ready to bake and very soon realized I had once again failed to “fully” read the recipe.  I needed to “grind” the poppy seeds.  Well how do you do that?!!  We don’t drink coffee so I don’t even have a coffee bean grinder.  Since I had waited too close to the deadline to figure something out, Poppy Seed Torte did not happen.  I did see the posts, and I guess we missed out…everyone loved it!  Who knew?!!

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I was really happy the baking powder biscuits were so easy…5 ingredients, a mix, a knead, and 12 minutes baking time.  I even opted to “brush with butter”!  Super easy.  I can’t say I am a huge biscuit fan but I did try them and they tasted like…biscuits!  If I needed to make biscuits, I would use this recipe but I just don’t see myself making them again. :)

Vanilla Pound Cake

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This recipe would be called a “fail”.  Interesting after all the recipes we have baked…some of them quite involved…THIS would be the one, I mean a POUND CAKE: Cooking 101.

The ironic twist in all of this was my husband and I pulled off a gigantic save only two days before!!  We were down at our beach house for the fourth of July weekend and my son had a few friends join us.  I had been making dinner…mind you these are very hungry 18/19 year old boys…I go to put the pizza spaghetti casserole in the oven and nothing!  The oven will not turn on.  After panicking for a few moments my husband says “lets just put in on the BBQ and get it indirect heat”.  So we do, and it works perfectly…so perfectly that we decide to try it with my chocolate bundt cake that I was suppose to be making as well.  I can tell you I did not have as high of hopes for the cake as the casserole…I mean so many things could go wrong with this idea….BUT it worked!!!  It tasted the exact same as when I bake it in the oven.  It was amazing.

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So two days later I am at home, I guess somewhat underestimating this recipe.  I used the same bundt pan and…here is the problem…I only sprayed the pan with Pam like I always do and opted to not butter and flour.  I have used this pan I don’t know how many times…this doesn’t happen.   As you can see, it was a disaster.  I will have to say, although it looked terrible, it did taste fine…and I learned, if it says butter and flour, I will! :)

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Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwich

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This recipe, although similar to the Tropical Napoleons, was it’s own creation.  All of my tasters agreed the truly fantastic dessert would be to combine the two.  Keep the meringue and tropical fruit from the Napoleons and add the raspberry puree and ice cream from the sandwich.  They said THAT would be perfection!  My tasters take their job seriously haha!

This recipe gets its name from the phyllo dough getting cut into ribbons which look very much like fettuccine…hence the name phylloccine.

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The phylloccine then gets placed into mounds and sprinkled with butter and sugar and baked until golden brown.

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While they are baking, you whip up some raspberry puree and homemade whipped cream.  It is really easy to assemble these…although I tried making the fruit skewer to come out of the top and it just wouldn’t stay up.  After the first one, we just put the fruit around the ice cream sandwich and that seemed to work out just fine. ;)  It is a keeper!