Saturday, December 31, 2005

Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Date and Cranberry Fillings and Honey-Caramel Apples

I'm working with two of my sisters on a Kosher-themed food business concept. Right now we're still in an early, early planning stage and as part of that, we're each experimenting with some recipes. These are my first trials.

First up, a totally invented recipe for a honey-flavored caramel apple, inspired by the Rosh Hashanah custom of eating apples with honey. I found some neat miniature apples at Whole Foods and caramelized two parts sugar and one part honey. I know a real caramel would have butter or cream or some sort of dairy, but I was hoping to avoid using any to extend the shelf life. Maybe that's not necessary, though. An apple's only going to be good for so long by itself, anyway. So, I definitely cooked the sugar mixture too long. I was keeping an eye on the thermometer, but I think that honey caramelizes at a lower temperature than regular sugar, so I may have to adjust for that on the next trial. The resulting caramel coating was way way too tough to bite into. Tooth-pulling tough. Tasted like honey, though, so a minor success there. Also, next time I will let them cool completely before wrapping in wax paper. Little tough to remove on these.

Next, I put together an orange-lemon shortbread cookie with date filling, inspired by the lulav and etrog of the holiday Sukkot. The lulav is made of leaves from a date palm and the etrog is a citron, a citrus fruit only somewhat resembling an orange or lemon. Eventually, I would like to try using actual candied citron in the recipe, but I had the orange and lemon on hand. The cookie was based on the Poppy Seed-Orange Cookies from Room for Dessert. The date filling I made up after looking through a few recipes for date jams and spreads. It's basically dates, sugar, lemon juice, and almonds. It was alright, but definitely needed a little more zing. Maybe next time I'll include some of the lemon zest. I ran out of the date filling before the cookies, so I took some leftover Thanksgiving-style cranberry sauce and cooked it with some more sugar and a cornstarch slurry to thicken it and used it to fill the remaining cookies.

Caramel Apples - 1st attempt - caramelizing sugar and honey Honey Caramel Apples - 1st attempt - tiny apples Honey Caramel Apples - 1st attempt

Cranberry Filling - cornstarch Cranberry Filling - simmering

Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - ingredients Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - adding ingredients Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - mixing Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - dough Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - going into oven Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - cookies from oven Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ginger Snaps and Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee

For today's holiday party at work, I made ginger snaps from Room for Dessert and Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee from David Lebovitz's class last week. The ginger snaps had a great spicy bite, with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper. The toffee was interesting because you have to heat the sugar with butter to 300 degrees F, the "hard crack" stage. Once the toffee gets to that stage, you pour it over chopped toasted nuts and then cover it with chocolate chips, which melt from the heat of the toffee. More nuts (I went with hazelnuts for this batch), and voila. Thanks to my friend Alex for helping out with the pictures and grinding the black pepper.

Ginger Snaps - mis en place Ginger Snaps - mixing dough Ginger Snaps - dividing dough Ginger Snaps - rolling dough Ginger Snaps - slicing dough into cookies Ginger Snaps - ready to bake Ginger Snaps

Toasted Hazelnuts for Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - mis en place Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - melting butter and sugars Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - simmering/caramelizing sugar Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - pouring caramel over hazelnuts Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - adding chocolate layer Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - spreading out chocolate Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee - adding final hazelnut layer Chocolate Buttercrunch Toffee

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Met the Chef

Last night I attended David Lebovitz's Chocolate Holiday Treats class at Sur La Table in Carlsbad. How cool to finally meet one of my favorite cookbook authors!? He was very nice and charming and signed my book and we browsed the slightly disappointing sale rack together. He even plugged my website during class. Yes, now I am known to dozens. And now, I must go and buy one of every tool and ingredient that store sells, add a room onto my apartment to store it all, and bake until I drop. Who's hungry?

Monday, December 05, 2005


Not strictly a baking project, but I put together a little Thanksgiving dinner this year for myself and some local friends. It was a potluck, so I didn't have to spend a week in the kitchen getting ready. I made corn bread muffins, turkey (just breasts), and the previous post's pumpkin souffles for dessert. I think the souffles came out even better this time than the first. They definitely rose another quarter inch or so. Everyone brought something fun to eat or drink and we had a great time just sitting around and chatting for hours around my little coffee table. Here's a picture of the spread:

My Potluck Thanksgiving Spread