Yield: about 6 dozen biscotti
“Back to Baking”, pp. 38
Chocolate. Almonds. Bite size. This recipe was a bit more complex than others but is very well explained, utilizes some of my favorite ingredients and generates a ton of biscotti. I just had to try it. I found that there was a little something something missing in the taste of these biscotti, but I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it. Maybe it is the use of cocoa powder as opposed to other types of chocolate that changed the flavor profile of these compared to what I am used to. They have a nice bite and flavor to them nonetheless. Furthermore, keep in mind that this recipe was designed to make biscotti, so they are dry and harder than cookies, which is normal and to be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate!
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ₁⁄₈ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Using a hand or stand mixer fitter with the whip attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed until they hold a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Fold these dry ingredients into the egg mixture.
- Scrape the batter into a pipping bag fitted with a large plain round tip, and pipe three rows of batter, about 12 inches long and 1 ½ inches across, onto each tray. The batter will be the consistency of cake batter and so a bit liquidy for pipping. You will need to move fast! Leave about 2 inches between each row.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup of the sliced almonds on top of the biscotti batter on each tray.
- Bake for about 16 minutes, until the tops of the biscotti appear dry. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. In the meantime, lower the temperature of the oven to 325°F.
- Transfer each row of biscotti to a cutting board and slice on the diagonal into thin biscotti that are about ¾ inch wide. Return the biscotti to the baking tray and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 to 6 individual crème brûlées
“Back to Baking”, pp. 192
Having plenty of cream in my fridge meant that I was going to make a custardy-type dessert, such as this maple crème topped with an almond crackle. It is not a crème brûlée per se because the top has not been coated with sugar that was burnt and caramelized to create the typical hard crust. In its place, a nut crackle is used to create the crunchy feeling usually obtained by the caramelization of the sugar. This is rather a lighter version of the classic dessert as it uses less whipping cream and half-and-half to complement it. I think that I accidentally slightly undercooked this dessert as the consistence of the inside was a bit less firm than I expected. I am still getting used to finding the right “jiggle” for custards and crème brûlées! Nonetheless, the dessert taste great and the addition of maple syrup made it decadent and flavorful.
- ¼ cups half-and-half cream
- ¾ cup milk
- ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 recipe Nut Crackle (almond)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange four 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins or other baking dishes in a much larger baking dish that has sides that are at least the height of the ramekins.
- Whisk together all the ingredients (except the crackle). Pour them into the prepared ramekins.
- Pour boiling water around the ramekins so that the water comes up to about two-thirds of the height of the ramekins.
- Bake the crèmes between 35-45 minutes, until they are set around the outside but still jiggle a bit at the centre. Allow the custards to cool in the water-filled pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the water to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 4 hours.
- The crackle can be prepared while the crèmes are in the oven. To serve, break the crackle into pieces and place the, on top of the crèmes immediately before serving.
Notes from Anna:
- This is a lighter version of the original crème brûlée since the recipe calls for half-and-half cream as opposed to heavy (whipping) cream.
- The brûlées can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: one 8-inch square pan, about 25 squares
“Back to Baking”, pp. 70
After having been crazy-busy with my PhD for the last 3 months, I have finally found some calm again, enough for me to get back into baking at least. I made these coconut-almond-chocolate bars for a colleague’s birthday today. I wanted a recipe that didn’t look too complicated to ease back into it gently and I was not disappointed. These bars are simple to make yet taste delicious. Very sweet, but delicious. The unanimous feeling amongst friends was that they are indeed succulent yet quite sweet, and that perhaps a smaller portion would have been appreciated. Noted.
I would personally recommend doubling the recipe for the topping. What you see in the photograph is the doubled amount of topping, which I found balanced well with the thick layer of coconut and almond filling. When I first made the topping, I did not double it and did not even have enough to cover the whole pan, so the layer was very thin. Do yourself a favor and buy a bit more chocolate for this part, it will be worth it!
Ingredients for base:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 oz (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
Ingredients for filling:
- 1⅓ cups sweetened, flaked coconut
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 tin (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Ingredients for topping:
- 5 oz (150 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides.
- In a small saucepot over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the sugar, then add the egg and vanilla extract, stirring until blended.
- Add the flour and stir until the mixture is homogenous. Spread this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until it loses its shine. Cool while preparing the filling. Note: this will be a thin layer.
- For the filling, stir the coconut, almonds, condensed milk, vanilla extract and salt to combine. Spread this over the cooled base and bake for about 25 minutes, until a light golden brown color is obtained. Cool to room temperature before adding the topping.
- For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a saucepot of barely simmering water, stirring until melted (alternatively, you can melt it in the microwave at 30-second intervals until fully melted). Pour this mixture over the cooled coconut filling and spread evenly.
- Chill the pan for at least 2 hours to set the chocolate. Cut the squares while chilled. The squares are better enjoyed at room temperature.
Yield: about 6 dozen small cookies
“Back to Baking”, pp. 34
Finding the time to bake when you’re a PhD student is much harder than I anticipated. This makes me sad. However, I am back to baking! These almond cookies are very good and taste a lot like macarons ! They are crunchy on the outside but have a softer centre. What I particularly enjoy about this recipe is that it is simple to do and generates a lot of (small) cookies.
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cups ground almonds
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line 3 baking trays with parchment paper.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites at high speed until they are foamy.
- Slowly pour in the sugar while whipping and continue to whip until the whites hold a medium peek.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the ground almonds, icing sugar and cornstarch.
- Add half of the almond mixture to the whipped egg whites and gently fold in. Repeat with the remaining half.
- Stir in the almond extract and fold in the mixture.
- Spoon the batter into a large piping bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe 1-inch cookies onto the prepared trays, leaving 1 inch between each cookie.
- Let the cookies sit for 10 minutes to air-dry, then bake them for about 20 minutes, just until they start to brown. Let them cool completely on the tray before storing in an airtight container.