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Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

21 Jan

I’ve been lucky enough to dine at a few of David Chang’s eateries over the years – Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.  All were very memorable experiences in their own way, and I’m excited for Majordomo to open up in LA soon!  I loved the Milk Bar concept and still dream about that cereal milk soft serve.  My sister-in-law loves salty snacks and cookies, so I wanted to make a crowd-pleasing sweet and salty treat that wasn’t the usual Brown Butter Sea-Salted Rice Crispy Treats for the family get-together.  I remembered the Compost Cookie from my first visit to Milk Bar in New York and wanted to recreate it.

I followed the recipe exactly as written the first go around, and I thought the cookies were a bit too sweet for my taste and way too big.  The next time, I used a 1/4 measuring cup to portion out the dough and reduced the time in the oven.  I also used less butterscotch (which I thought overpowered the rest of the cookie a bit) and added pecans.  The original recipe came from an article in the Los Angeles Times if you want to use the original version. I’m sharing the recipe here with my tweaks:

MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER MIXTURE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, more if needed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a medium bowl, toss together the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands to evenly distribute.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and heavy cream. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and mix it in with the crust base.
  3. This makes about 2 cups crust base, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. Eat the base, or use as desired in other recipes. Store in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature, or for one month in the refrigerator or freezer.

MAKE THE COMPOST COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose or light corn syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup (1/4 recipe) graham crust
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
  • 2 cups potato chips
  • 1 cup mini pretzels
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugars and glucose on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for an additional 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute, being careful not to overmix the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Still on low speed, add the chocolate and butterscotch chips, the graham crust, oats and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

    Add the Sturdy Add-Ins

  4. Add the potato chips, pretzels, and pecans and beat, still on low speed, just until incorporated, being careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. I found that giving the stand mixer a “pulse” or two to incorporate the chips and pretzels was enough to incorporate them but not break them up too much. (LA Times says you deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes with a whole pretzel standing up in the center.)

    Add the Salty Add-Ins

  5. Using a  1/4-cup measure, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing each portion roughly 4 inches apart.  I fit four per baking sheet after learning from this little disaster:

    When You Try to Cram Too Many on a Baking Sheet

  6. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to one week. Do not bake the cookies while at room temperature because they will not bake up properly.

    I used a 1/4 Measuring Cup

  7. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Bake the cookies, one tray at a time on the center rack, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through baking for even cooking. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread while baking, and should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if needed.
  9. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; frozen, they will keep for up to 1 month.

NOTE:  If you plan on freezing the extra dough, portion out the dough before freezing it or it will be very difficult to scoop into the measuring cups later.  Once the dough is cold, it really is hard to deal with!

Momofuku Compost Cookies

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Banana Bread

25 Sep

In my quest this past spring to find a breakfast bread that wasn’t overloaded with sugar but still tasty, I gave a number of different recipes a try.  The third recipe I tried out (from AllRecipes.com) for Banana Bread was hands down my favorite.  Because the banana content is so high, you don’t have to worry about moisture and you don’t need as much added sugar as other breads do.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 C mashed overripe bananas (about 3 bananas)*
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

*NOTE:  If you don’t have over-ripened bananas, you can ripen them to your liking in the oven.  Put them in the oven at 250°F for 15-25 minutes (depending on how unripe they were to begin with).  The low heat accelerates the ripening, turning them sweet and almost pudding-like.  However, beware the peel will turn an unappetizing black color, and the bananas may leak a little!

On-Demand Overripe Bananas

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Since the bread is SO moist, it won’t stay fresh for very long.  I would give it three days tops outside of the fridge, and maybe 4-5 days in.  With that, I prefer to split these into 6″ x 3″ x 2″ mini loaf pans (this recipe will make enough for 3), wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze the loaves I’m not going to eat immediately.  The loaf at that size will easily thaw over night.  Just adjust the cook time to about 40 minutes, but start checking for doneness around 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

21 Jan

A long time fan of ispahan and admirer of French pastries, I had to take advantage of being in Paris a few months ago and try one of Pierre Hermé’s famous ispahan macarons!

Ispahan Macaron

Ispahan Macaron

Here are a couple more fun snaps from our time in Paris.  Italy photos to come soon!  The Palace of Versailles was one of our favorite stops on this trip.

Jardin de Versailles

Jardin de Versailles

We’re standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe below, on the outside of what Kevin and I coined the “Frogger Roundabout”.  A lot of tourists didn’t realize there was a tunnel that led you from where we are standing underneath the roundabout and right under the gorgeous monument.  People were nuts and played frogger, dodging cars to get to the Arc!

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

And of course – Le Tour Eiffel!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Shirley gave me the Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook for Christmas this past year, and feeling inspired from our trip, the first recipe (of many) that caught my eye was of course Pierre Hermé’s lemon cream.  The “Most Exquisite” in the title was enough of a sell to pique my interest! This is way different from lemon curd, though they both use the same ingredients. With lemon curd, you cook everything together til it thickens and then strain it.  With this lemon cream recipe, you cook everything but the butter til it thickens and then whip the butter into it until it’s fluffy.  Even though the only dairy in it is butter, it really does feel more like a cream. Truly remarkable!

Here’s the recipe as adapted from the book.  I recommend reading through the entire recipe first before starting, as paying attention to the details are important for this one.

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor by your side. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

  1. Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.

    Zest and Sugar

    Zest and Sugar

  2. Fit the bowl into the pan (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels slightly warm to the touch. Cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk, you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. The cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. At this point, the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.  [NOTE: I whisked for exactly 10 minutes on the dot before the temp hit 180 degrees.  Also, if you happen to take your eyes off of the cream for just enough time to let the cream get a few traces of scrambled eggs in it, fear not. You’ll strain the cream later anyway.]

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

  3. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

    Strain the Lemon Cream

    Strain the Lemon Cream

  4. Turn the blender to high or turn the processor and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
  5. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. [NOTE: The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 day or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.]

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

  6. When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.  Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

I brought this to a holiday potluck at Leslie and Tri’s so that Shirley and Spencer could try it as well.  In hindsight when I make this again, I’ll definitely make some whipped cream to go with it.  The lemon cream is SO silky and delicate, but very tart.  I think a dollop of whipped cream would have been perfect complement.

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

Thanks again, Shirley!  Looking forward to seeing what other goodies will come from this amazing book!

Sweet Tart Crust (Pâte Sablée)

16 Jan

I failed at making a chocolate caramel pretzel tart a couple of months ago, and, while tasty, it might be the second ugliest thing I’ve ever made, just after those Apricot Pistachio Squares.  I had extra ingredients so I made minis of the tart (as shown below), and it’s not so noticeable.

But once I took the tarts out of their pants, the crust completely fell apart.  Leslie, Shirley, Tri, and Spencer came over for a little Middle Eastern potluck back in November.  You can see my crumbly hot mess of the tart at the top of the photo below.

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

On top of the fact that the crust fell apart, the caramel didn’t come out creamy enough so it hardened.  This all made the tart nearly impossible to cut with a fork without a messy explosion. Case in point below:

Can't Take Tri Anywhere

Can’t Take Tri Anywhere

I recently had an opportunity to redeem myself with another tart crust that doesn’t fall apart, when I came across a recipe for a deliciously buttery pâte sablée.  The flavor is rich and texture is similar to shortbread. I’m super excited to share the filling recipe soon, but I wanted to separate this recipe out since it’s versatile enough to be something I’ll definitely refer to again in the future.

Here is the recipe from a new cookbook I recently got, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

    Pulsed Dough

    Pulsed Dough

  2. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  When the egg is in, process in long pulses – egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  4. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

  5. FOR A PARTIALLY BAKED OR FULLY BAKED CRUST:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

  6. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

    Partially Baked Crust

    Partially Baked Crust

  7. FOR A FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. If you want a more browned crust, continue baking for another minute or two, but keep a very close eye on the crust as it can go from golden to too dark quickly. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

    Sweet Tart Crust

    Sweet Tart Crust

  8. TO PATCH A CRUST IF NECESSARY: If there are any cracks int he baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

If you want to try a sweet tart dough with nuts, reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios).

Storing tip: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer – it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Instagram Lately – Holiday Delectables

3 Jan

I have been posting a ton of recipes made in our new kitchen lately, and have been hit or miss with including links to the recipes, so here they all are!

My round-up from Thanksgiving this year:

 

This year, instead of using all chicken apple sausage, I used half hot Italian and half chicken apple sausage to try and balance the sweetness of the cornbread.

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

I made the soup this time without the apple, and double the carrots and celery.

And here’s my December round-up:

Erica's Birthday Cupcakes - Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Erica’s Birthday Cupcakes – Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I used the cupcake recipe from the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  Being the practical baker that I am, I didn’t want to buy a whole 6-pack of Guinness since we’re not Guinness drinkers at home. So I bought a bottle of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which worked great except I didn’t realize the bottle was 9% ABV which is over twice what Guinness is.  The cupcake was a teensy bit more beer flavored than the Guinness Cupake usually is, but it still tasted fine.  I used the frosting recipe from the Samoas Cupcakes, and added 1 cup extra powdered sugar to thick it a bit. Since I wasn’t dipping the cupcake in coconut flakes, I wanted to make the frosting a bit more substantial. It still wasn’t thick enough to pipe but it was delicious nonetheless.