Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mallows and Milanos

I'm not a huge fan of marshmallows. So when I saw this challenge from the Daring Bakers, making mallows or marshmallows on cookies dipped in chocolate, I was kinda sorta skeptical. But I've always loved the Pepperidge Farm Milanos, and I was excited I was going to be making those at home. Frankly, I never thought I'd see the day when I was making either of these at home!!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together
Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites , room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.

Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

My Notes:

For the cookies, like my Bakewell pastry, even after chilling overnight, the dough was definitely not of rolling consistency. I had to roll small portions into balls and flatten them onto the prepared cookie sheet. It still tasted great though.

I didn't have semisweet chocolate, so I used half regular chocolate and half unsweetened. I liked the marshmallows, they were really a great chewy texture and set beautifully. I just wish I had piped a little more on each cookie, but I kept it to a kiss as the recipe suggested.

To get to the soft ball stage when making the marshmallows, I used this link at Science of Candy as my guide.

I had to chill the cookies in the refrigerator after 2 hours of letting it rest outside because of the intense heat and humidity in Chennai, the chocolate was still very soft. It set up nicely in the refrigerator after about a 1/2 hour.

Now, onto my favorite, the Milanos!

Milan Cookies

Everything came out exactly as I remembered the Milanos. The cookies were fantastic. It's a keeper recipe. The only change I'm going to make next time is to reduce or omit the orange zest from the chocolate filling - it was just a little too intense for me.

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zested

In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.

With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread. I used a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off, and hence the cookies were a bit uneven.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.

While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies. Mine were all different shapes and sizes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parmesan Walnut Bread

The first oven I bought was a little OTG (Oven Toaster Griller). It came with a booklet of recipes to be made in the free pan that came with it. I loved the OTG and tried almost all the recipes in that booklet! Surprisingly, every single one was a keeper. The first one was banana bread, that we loved. And I was hooked. Quick breads are fast, delicious and extremely versatile.

This is a wonderful quick bread that I came across at Mary's blog, One Perfect Bite. She's made three wonderful variations. I varied her walnut bread a little to include some freshly grated Parmesan. It was super quick and full of flavor.

Parmesan Walnut Bread
(Recipe adapted from One Perfect Bite)

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups Walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 160 deg C. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and egg. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Stir in walnuts and parmesan. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Increase the temperature to 180 deg C and continue baking for a further 15 minutes.

Mary recommends letting it rest for 15 minutes and then allowing it to age 24 hours before serving. I did the first 15 minutes. And then another 15 minutes! There was no way I could wait for 24 hours to eat anything that smells as good as this bread!

Other quick breads on this blog: Banana Bread, Chocolate Banana Bread and Mango Bread.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dal with Fenugreek Leaves

The first time I had perfect dal was when I met my husband. The two dishes in his repertoire are dal and chicken curry. Since I'm vegetarian, I can only believe that the chicken curry is good. The dal, though, is sheer genius. Filled with protein, lentils are a sure delight for vegetarians.

I found this dal in a cookbook I bought recently, Pure and Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine by Vidhu Mittal. The book is amazing. Every single recipe is simple and uses ingredients that are usually available in most Indian homes.

Dal with Fenugreek Leaves
(Recipe adapted from Pure & Simple by Vidhu Mittal)

1/4 cup split Green Gram, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
1/2 cup Bengal Gram, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
1/2 cup Red Gram (Masoor Dal), washed and drained
2 Tomatoes, cut into cubes
A pinch of Turmeric Powder
1-2 Green Chillies, chopped
1/4 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
1/4 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 cup Fenugreen Leaves, chopped and cooked
2 tbsp Cilantro Leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste

1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
Red Chilli Powder, to taste
A pinch of Asafoetida

In a pressure cooker or large saucepan, cook all the soaked lentils with the water, salt and turmeric powder. Once cooked and lentils are soft, let simmer for a few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, mango powder and garam masala and bring to a boil. Drop in the cooked fenugreek and cook for a minute. Remove from the stove.

Heat the ghee or oil for the tempering. Add all the ingredients and let cook for a minute. Pour the contents onto the cooked dal. Stir. Serve hot with rice or rotis.