Tuesday, March 16, 2010

World Peace Cookies and finally some sugar!!!

Finally the sun has permanently come out and it doesn't look like it wants to go away any time soon, which is great because I work using solar energy. If the sky is gray then I'm gray and can't seem to function.

But now the sun is out, the snow has MELTED!!! And it's starting to look a lot like Spring! I love this time of the year, I feel like Nature is not the only thing that's about to come back to like. I also feel full of hope and new life. I feel like I can conquer the world when Spring comes along... If only I could stop procrastinating now!

Anyway, it's been a very long while since I've baked something for myself and I was starting to be in sugar withdrawal. With the bakery it feels like whenever I take out the butter and eggs it's always to do something for someone else. So, yesterday I've decided I was going to do something for me, myself and I. I've been seeing these World Peace cookies (or Korova cookies) all over the web now and when I realized that I actually had the baking book (Baking: From my home to yours from Dorie Greenspan) with the recipe, curiosity own and I had to bake them.

And trust me, they are well deserving of all the praises and rave reviews they've been getting. Salty but sweet, more of a sablé than a chewy cookie, they literally melt in your mouth. They're absolutely delicious... only problem is that you won't be able to stop eating them. I had to take them away from my mom, actually she begged me to hide them from her (after eating 6 of them one after the other!!).

So my advice would be this one: bake them, enjoy them, and give some away! After all, they are World Peace cookies so spread some joy around you!! (your waist line will thank you! )

World Peace/Korova Cookies
(From Baking: From my home to yours)

Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Serving: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months. They can also be frozen in log form for months, and can be sliced and baked directly from the freezer, adding a coupld minutes to the baking time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You are my biggest what if - Chocolate Ricotta Turnovers

I should probably keep this blog free of personal stuff, keep it professional and talk only about food but two weeks ago I turned 26... and it got me thinking. This always happens to me on my birthday when the weight of years past start adding up. I think and think and most of the time I end up summing all my what if.

Lately I've been feeling like something is not going the way it's supposed to be, or it should be, in my life. I'm 26 already, the big 30 is just around the corner, I'm not even close to getting married or putting up a family and comments such as "you know, you're not getting any younger" are starting to become a little too frequent for my own liking and honestly it's starting to affect me in ways it shouldn't. I know things happen when they're supposed to but what if it's too late? Maybe I'm the problem... maybe I should stop believing in fairy tales, in Prince Charming and just grow up already! But then again, I don't wanna feel like I'm settling... I may not be the best catch in the world but I think I still deserve better than settling.

And in all this thinking I've realized that I've always given to guys I fell for more than what they probably deserved... And got nothing but heartache in return. Heck I almost bought a real panda bear for one of them (well, sponsored one... kinda like you do with stars) and I flew across the world for another one... and this last one will always be my biggest what if. What if I had been more like this? What if I had done this instead of that? What if I had told him those three little words when I felt them? What if I had never met him at all? Four years have past and he's still keeping me tied to him in a way of another.

So, you are my biggest what if but I've grown tired of not knowing where I stand with you. Our time has come and gone and now I've decided that I'll stop wondering what could have been if I'd done things differently with you because, in the end, I know that I've done the best I could.

But this doesn't change the fact that I'm 26, turning 30, and I'm just lost...

Yes, that is melted chocolate oozing out of it!!

You're probably thinking "enough with the rambling and lets get to the recipe already!!"

I am terribly sorry, I will *try* to never ever let this happen ever again, my apologies. Sooo lets move on to the good stuff, shall we.

My cousin E is the only one I really feel understands me because I think we're at the same point in our lives, and so I know I can tell her everything. And although it was my birthday, these turnovers were a gift to her, to thank her for being the sister I've never had (although my brother is AWESOME). The recipe is from The Golden Book of Chocolate and I got it as a gift this Christmas. As we were looking through it together that day, she stopped on these turnovers' recipe and demanded that I made them for her. So here they are!! And E, thank you for being the best confident I could have ever asked for. (Needless to say, she loved them... but what's not to love about them, there just Heaven in a turnover!!).

Chocolate Ricotta Turnovers
Yields 12 turnovers

12 oz (350 gr) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 (50 gr) demerara sugar

For the filling
1 cup (250 gr) ricotta cheese, drained
1/3 cup (85 gr) granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup (75 gr) raisins (I omitted - not fond of raisins)
2 oz (60 gr) semisweet chocolate, chopped (I felt lazy and didn't feel like chopping so I dumped a whole bunch of chocolate chips in the bowl)

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare the filling: Process the ricotta in a food processor for a few seconds until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour and the cocoa and fold into the mixture. Stir in the raisins and chocolate. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top with flour and roll out into a 20x15 inch (38x50 cm) rectangle about 1/4 inch (5mm) thick. Trim the edges to straighten and spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the center of each pastry square.

Brush the beaten egg around the edges of the each square and fold one corner diagonally over to meet the opposite corner, forming a triangle. Press down on the seams, joining the 2 layers. Place the turnovers on the prepared baking sheets 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Refrigerate 15 minutes, brush each turnover top with the remaining egg and sprinkle with demerare sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.