Chocolate-Dipped Orange Madeleine Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies
Recipe: 126/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 37

IMG_0530

      As the weeks of quarantine are prolonged, my supply of flour is decreasing at an alarming rate. I have only a few more recipes’ worth of flour as there is a nation-wide shortage and I have been unable to get my hands on some, so I have to choose my last few bakes carefully. Of course I was looking for a little cookie or hand-held dessert to eat with tea in the evenings. And so came these chocolate-dipped madeleine cookies.

  These cookies are interesting because they look like cookies but have more the consistency of a cake. They are like small, very cute portable cakes. They are simply delicious and the orange purée in the cookie really comes through, marrying very well with the chocolate. To be made time and time again, undoubtedly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized navel orange
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a madeleine pan, tapping out any excess flour.
  2. Roughly chop the whole orange, with the peel on, making sure to remove any seeds, and place in a small saucepot. Cover the orange with water and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool, then purée in a blender. Measure ½ cup of the puréed orange to use for the madeleines.
    • Note: When reading this recipe I was very uncertain whether I really truly had to put the whole orange, peel included, into the pot with water. It seemed so counter-intuitive! But yes, you must. During the time in which the water will evaporate almost completely, the orange peel will soften and lose all its bitterness. Perfect and simple way to make a lovely orange purée.
    • I didn’t have a navel orange so used a blood orange instead, and it worked out very well. The purée by itself tasted very nice and citrusy, full of flavour.
    • I don’t have an actual blender so used my hand mixer instead, and that also worked out for me. A food processor should also do the trick if you are in a pickle.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs and mix until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
  6. Stir in the ½ cup of orange purée.
  7. Spoon the batter by tablespoonfuls into the prepared madeleine pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let the madeleines cool in the pan before gently removing.
    • Note: these madeleine cookies change colour quite quickly near the end, so make sure to keep an eye on them starting about 16 minutes to make sure that they don’t become too brown and overbaked.
  8. Melt the chocolate chips by stirring them in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water. Dip each madeleine halfway into the melted chocolate, shake off excess and place each on a sheet of parchment paper to set. Store in an airtight container.

 

Valerie

Creamy Lemon Squares

Yield: 16-25 squares
Recipe: 125/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 57

IMG_0439 2

    For the last dessert that I would make before gradually going back to work, I made these creamy lemon squares by popular, or should I say repeated but polite, requests. My boyfriend simply loves anything lemon so I wanted to make this for him before I left. However, my sister makes amazing lemon squares and he often talks about them and compares other (non-lemon) desserts to it, so the bar was set high! Due to this I almost expected to be defeated and not do The Lemon Square justice. Fortunately, as usual with Anna Olson’s recipes I need not worry.

Ingredients for base:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • ½ package (4 oz or 125 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 eggs

   These lemon squares were fun to make and were simply scrumptious. Very nice shortbread base and a vibrant and rich lemon flavour to top it off. Even I, who likes but  usually does not love lemon desserts, realized how delicious they were. The recipe requires to cut the dessert into 25 (5×5) or 36 (6×6) squares but I knew that that would not be an appropriate square dimension for us, so I cut them into 16 (4×4) squares and those seem to be the perfect size for a nice snack. We both really liked them and I am definitely keeping this recipe handy to be done again and again.

IMG_0428 2

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, making sure that it comes up the sides of the pan.
  2. To prepare the shortbread base, pulse together the flour and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is an even, crumbly texture. At this point the dough should not come together.
  3. Press the mixture into the prepared pan an bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the base turns golden around the edges. As the crust cools, prepare the lemon layer.
  4. In the food processor, pulse together the cream cheese with ½ cup of sugar, the flour, lemon zest and baking powder until the mixture is homogeneous.
  5. Add the lemon juice and eggs, and blend until smooth, making sure to scrape down the side of the processor if necessary.
  6. Pour the filling over the cooled crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set and just show signs of souffléing (rising a little bit higher than the centre). The centre should still have a bit of jiggle to it. Cool the squares at room temperature and then chill for at least 3 hours before slicing. Slices into 16, 25 or 36 squares, depending on how many times you want to get up to get another piece.

Valerie

Spiced Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Recipe: 124/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 140

IMG_5303

     I had been craving cupcakes since the beginning of the quarantine and had yet to bake some. Normally I would go for moist comforting chocolate cupcakes, but yesterday I decided to try something new and made these spiced coconut cupcakes. The spice blend for this recipe seemed interesting and I was quite curious about the black pepper. I don’t think I’ve ever used black pepper in a dessert recipe before! Turns out that it works very well indeed.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake and pastry flour *
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fancy molasses
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated

Ingredients for frosting:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • Sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

* You can substitute  1 cup of cake and pastry flour with 1 cup minus two tablespoons of all purpose flour  supplemented with two tablespoons of cornstarch.

    I really enjoyed making these cupcakes. Folding the whipped egg whites into the liquid mixture was quite therapeutic for me and I loved the texture of the batter. It was quite thick for a cupcake batter but made for lovely tender and bouncy little cakes. I thought the frosting was a bit too sweet on its own due to the icing sugar and because I kept adding a little bit at a time to try to get the right consistency for the frosting, but with the cupcake together it is the perfect balance. This is one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried recently, and I’ve made quite a few! These cupcakes were simply delicious and, guess what, they go very well with tea. My boyfriend and I enjoyed them so much that we were singing “it feels good… like sugar and spice” (on the beat of “I Feel Good” by James Brown of course) while eating them. We were very amused by the pun and by how fitting the song  is for these cupcakes.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Sift the flour, ½ cup of sugar, the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl and whisk together to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the oil, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla extract. Beat for one minute with electric beaters or vigorously by hand with a whisk.
  4. Add the egg yolks and beat for another minute.
  5. In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually, pour in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and whip until the whites hold a stiff peak.
  6. Gently fold the whites into the batter and spoon into the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently. Allow them to cool in the tin.
  8. For the icing, beat the butter until fluffy. On low speed, beat in 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar, then add the coconut milk. Beat in the vanilla and coconut extract (if using), then beat in the remaining 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar. If the icing is too thin, add a touch more icing sugar, and if it is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk. Spread the icing onto the cupcakes and garnish with shredded coconut. Sprinkle each cupcake with flaked coconut as a garnish.
    • Note: I tried spreading the frosting on the cooled cupcakes using a spatula and found it to be tricky because the frosting was not as thick as I would have liked (and I didn’t want to add even more icing sugar for fear of it becoming to sweet). What I found worked well for me is to invert the cupcake and dip it directly into the frosting to coat the top completely. I let it harden a bit on each cupcake and repeated once more to have a nice layer of coconut frosting. Sprinkle with the flaked coconut after the second coating and voilà! Delicious spiced coconut cupcakes.

Valerie

Lime Coconut Medallions

Yield: about 2 ½ dozens
Recipe: 123/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 28

IMG_0396

    The next quarantine baked goods that I decided to try was these cute lime and coconut medallions. These cookies are essentially shortbread, as they are tender and a little crumbly. When I formed the logs the mixture seemed quite dry and I was doubtful that it would bake properly and hold its shape, but I needn’t worry. Once in the oven the butter melted and held everything together. I did cut these cookies a little bit thicker than indicated in the recipe just because I was worried that they would not hold their shape and crumble otherwise, and I quite enjoyed them as such. I don’t think I ever made a dessert combining lime and coconut so I was not sure what to expect, but these came out great. The lime and coconut flavours are at the same time distinct and not overpowering. They go together very well and make for delightful little citrusy-coconuty cookies. These definitely pass the test of evening tea accompagnement!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread ½ cup of the coconut onto an ungreased baking tray and toast for 10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to make sure that the coconut doesn’t burn. Allow to cool.
  2. Pule the flour, sugar, lime zest and salt in a food processor to combine.
  3. Add the butter and pulse just until the dough is crumbly.
  4. Add the ½ cup of cooled, toasted coconut and pulse until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 logs about 1¼ inches across  and 6 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Pull the dough out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before slicing.
  6. Place the remaining ½ cup of untoasted coconut onto a plate. Unwrap the dough and lightly brush each log with the whisked egg white, then roll them in the coconut to coat. Slice the cookies into medallions about ¼ inch thick and place them on the baking trays, leaving one inch space between them.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they brown just slightly on the bottom. Cool the cookies on the tray before removing.

Valerie

Langues de Chat

Yield: about 3 dozen wafer cookies
Recipe: 122/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 35

DSC_2257

    Since these langues de chat cookies are based on the same batter as the Tuile Cookies, I made these in the same day and this was quite time efficient. I simply prepared the batter, used half to make the tuile cookies and the other to make these adorable langues de chat, this way I got more variety of cookies with the same amount of work.

     I really enjoyed these and preferred them to the tuile cookies. They are not as delicate so are easier to prepare and bake, and it makes for more of an indulgence as they are bigger. They are similarly very flavourful and go very nicely with tea. I will certainly keep this recipe in my recipe box to be repeated again!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Prepare steps 1 and 3-6 of the tuile cookie batter recipe.
  2. Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe fingers about 2 inches long a 1 inch apart on the baking trays.
  3. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom and edges. Cool the cookies completely before storing in an airtight container.

Note from Anna:

  • Tuile cookies are very delicate are are sensitive to humidity. They should be stored in a tightly sealed contained.

Valerie

Tuile Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen wafer cookies
Recipe: 121/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 33

DSC_2264

    During these difficult times, I have found myself baking more and more. Bread, pavlovas, croissants, and so on. One thing that is always necessary in our household is some cookies or baked goods to go along with tea in the evening. As we had the last banana mini loaf recently and thus the last sweet thing in the house, I thought it would be a great time to go Back to Baking since it had been a while. The ingredients that I had on hand allowed me to make tuile cookies. I had never made these and usually think of them more as pretty decorations rather than cookies to indulge with, but I went ahead and made them anyways. Also, they always kind of intimidated me because of how fragile and tricky they seem to be.

    The batter is not complicated to make. What is rather more finicky is to cut out the template for the cookies and spread a thin layer of the cookie batter on top of this template, to then gently lift it to have a nice clean shape. I was worried that I was spreading a layer that was too thin, but in the end I think they were okay in that regards, if not even a bit too thick. I attempted to make leaves and butterflies. Evidently, I am not an artist. I forgot to turn my baking sheet halfway through baking and probably left the cookies in the oven for 30 seconds too long, so some did come out a bit burned. It did not change the flavour much, but they looked positively past golden brown. These cookies are very delicate and had a lovely subtle orange flavour. The perfect cookies to go with tea or coffee! I am not sure that I would redo this particular version of cookies again simply due to the time commitment in making the cookie templates and spreading the batter in an even thin layer, but they definitely tasted good and did the job as a tea companion.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice or brandy

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. To create a template to make a particular tuile shape, use the lid of a plastic container. Cut away the edges and trace the shape that you want (e.g. a heart, a leaf, etc.) onto the centre of the lid, and cut a whole in the lid in this shape.
  3. Melt the butter in a small pot and set aside to cool.
  4. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they are foamy, then add the icing sugar and whip on low speed until it is well incorporated. Increase the speed  to high and whip until a medium peak is obtained.
  5. Add the flour, orange zest and orange juice and whisk together by hand.
  6. Add the cooled melted butter and whisk gently until the mixture is homogenous.
  7. Place the template onto the parchment-lined baking tray and evenly spread a thin layer of the cookie batter over it. Gently life the template to reveal the shape, place it close to the first cookie without touching it and repeat the process.
  8. Bake the cookies for 3-6 minutes, rotating the baking trays halfway through cooking. Once the cookies are golden brown around the edges, remove the tray from the oven. If you want to add a curve to the cookies, immediately lift them with a spatula while they are still warm and set on top of a rolling pin so that it takes the curve. Once cooled, remove carefully and store in an airtight container.

DSC_2263

Note from Anna:

  • Tuile cookies are very delicate are are sensitive to humidity. They should be stored in a tightly sealed contained.

Valerie

Dobos Torte

Yield: one 8-inch torte
Recipe: 120/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 168

DSC_2247

    This recipe is one that I have been avoiding for years. Every time I was looking for a beautiful and impressive dessert to make for a special occasion, I would look through the cookbook, come across the Dobos Torte and immediately think to myself that it looked way too complicated, so I would pass on it and do something else, something that was in my comfort zone. Again, looking for an elegant dessert, ideally a cake, to make for our New Year’s Eve party at friends’ place, I stumbled upon this recipe. This time, however, was different. I actually considered it. I pondered whether I could, this year, actually make the Dobos Torte. I read the recipe over twice, and decided that my accumulated skillset over the years should be sufficient to get me by. If not now, then when? The last day of the year, December 31st, 2019, was when I decided I was ready to finally make this beautiful cake.

   As Anna suggests for this recipe, definitely do leave yourself plenty of time to prepare, bake and assemble this cake. It takes much longer than you would think if you calculate how much time each component should take. Anna said it best: “As is the tradition with European tortes, they are as elaborate to make as they look.” I confess, this cake was not easy to do , but not impossible. It can be done! I had, however, a few obstacles and errors along the way, so I have added my own little faux-pas and tips to fix them in the recipe below. For example, you may notice that my cake has 7 layers instead of 9. That is essentially because I ran out of buttercream to coat the layers! And since the buttercream is more complex than a typical buttercream, I didn’t feel like and honestly did not have time to make another batch. Overall, the cake looked very pretty, except for the oversized caramel decorations that were too thick. The taste and textures of this cake were also very appealing: the chocolate and hazelnut blended together very well, and the fluffy and soft cake was a pleasure to eat, especially with the crunchy caramel hazelnut crumble. The buttercream was a little bit too salty in my opinion, but mixed in with the cake layers and the hazelnut crumble it was still very pleasant to eat. I am sure that using the Frangelico hazelnut liqueur would not only add a great hazelnut flavour, but also balance out the saltiness a bit better. I recommend this cake for special occasions, if and only if you have many hours ahead of you so that you do not feel rushed and make mistakes. I suggest reading the recipe a couple of times beforehand to make sure that you have everything you need and you can plan accordingly. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ingredients for cake:

Ingredients for caramel garnish:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour the underside of three 8-inch cake pans, tapping off any excess flour.
    • I tried doing this for my first three layers and it did not work at all for me. Even though I greased and floured the pans very well, the cake layers stuck to the bottom of the pan and broke into several pieces when I tried to remove them. I found it easier to grease the bottom of the pan, add a piece of parchment paper cut into a circle the diameter of the pan, then grease and flour the parchment paper circle as you would normally. This resulted in thin cake layers that were easily removed from the pan without breaking. You can reuse the parchment paper for the other layers, simply grease it and flour it again.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar at high speed until they have doubled in volume and are thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. Sift in the flour and salt, then fold into the egg mixture. The batter will be thick.
  4. In a clean bowl and with a clean whip, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining 5 tablespoons of sugar. Continue whipping at high speed until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Fold in the egg whites into the yolk mixture in two additions.
  5. Spoon a bit less than ½ cup of batter onto the bottom of each cake pan and  gently spread it to the edges, spreading it evenly as you do. Bake these layers for 7-10 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown. Let the cakes cool for about 5 minutes, then very gently remove them from the pan by carefully running a palette knife under the entire surface of the cake, working from the outside in. It’s okay if they have a few rough edges or a slight tear or crack, as they will all be covered in buttercream.
  6. Grease and re-flour the cake pans, and repeat Step 5 two more times for a total of 9 layers. Store the cake layers on a parchment-lined baking tray, separating them with parchment paper.
  7. To prepare the caramel garnish, place all but 8 of the hazelnuts onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Lightly grease a 6- or 8-inch cookie cutter (or the outside ring of an 8-inch fluted pan) and place on a second parchment-lined baking tray. Bring the sugar, lemon juice and water to a boil over high heat and boil, uncovered and occasionally brushing down the sides of the pot, until the mixture caramelizes, about 7 minutes. Carefully pour about half of the hot sugar into the centre of the cookie cutter, then pour the remaining sugar over the hazelnuts, and stir them to coat. Let the cookie-cutter ring set until almost cool, about 8 minutes, then remove the ring and with a greased chef’s knife, score the disc of sugar into 8 wedges. Cool completely. After the caramelized hazelnuts have cooled, pulse them into a food processor into a coarse crumble.
    • Make sure to use a cookie-cutter or fluted tart pan of a proper size. I think 6 inches would be better than 8, as it might be easier to create the fan pattern without all the pieces overlapping in the middle. I made a mistake and used a 9-inch fluted tart pan, thinking that it was 8 inches, and so the pieces were too big and I had difficulty creating the pattern.
    • Removing the cookie cutter or fluted tart outer ring from the almost-cooled caramel was easier to do than I anticipated. To score the caramel garnish, simply press down the knife to make an indentation, but not so deep that you cut the caramel. You must score it before it has cooled down completely, or it will break. I found the suggested 8 minutes to be a perfect time to do this.
  8. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a platter and cover it with a thin layer of buttercream, then top it with a second layer. Repeat this process until all 9 cake layers are used. Frost the top and sides of the cake, and press the caramelized hazelnut crumble onto the side of the cake. Arrange the 8 hazelnuts in a circle around the outside edge of the top of the cake, equally spaced apart. Carefully break apart the 8 scored caramel wedges, and rest each wedge on a hazelnut, angling them in the same direction so as to create a fan pattern. Chill the cake completely before slicing to serve.
    • I sadly ran out of buttercream for the assembly. I spread what I thought was a thin layer of buttercream between each layer, but at my 7th layer I had barely any left, so I stopped adding layers and instead attempted to cover the sides of the cake with buttercream as best I could to make sure that the crumble would adhere. I had to really scrape the last bit of buttercream to make sure that I had enough. To prevent this, I would advise making 1.5x the Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream recipe so that you don’t have to struggle with it. It is sometimes hard to see how thick of a layer of buttercream you are spreading, so this would give you more wiggle room.

IMG-20200102-WA0001

IMG-20200102-WA0008

DSC_2239

* Tips from Anna:

  • To be considered a Dobos torte, a Hungarian dessert, it must have a minimum of 5 layers, a chocolate buttercream and a layer of caramelized sugar on top.
  • Give yourself ample time to make this torte. More than you think you need.

* Notes:

  • I really did not have enough buttercream, even though I don’t think I slathered it on too thick between the layers. I had to reduce my cake to 7 layers because I did not have enough buttercream for the final two layers. Even doing so, I barely had enough to cover the sides of the cake to press the caramel hazelnut crumble into. To make sure you don’t run out of frosting for the very last steps of assembly after having spent hours making this cake, I would definitely multiply the Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream recipe by 1.5x.
  • I prepared 1½ cups of toasted and peeled hazelnuts and had a large quantity leftover after decorating the cake. I suspect that 1 cup would be more than enough.

Valerie