Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon-white chocolate butter cookies


Yay, I finally used "Bakewise" for something!

I've had this book for ages, 'cause I felt that it was an essential for my bookshelf, a reference, almost, like a dictionary is for writers. But what I've found is that a lot of the recipes are just too fussy-looking for me, and the role I thought this book would fill is being filled instead by Cook's Illustrated and their books. And so, this book has been gathering dust all this time, sometimes thumbed but never used... until the other night, when I was looking for a good cookie recipe for warm weather, something fruity and sweet and on the lighter side, nothing too heavy or sticky, and something not too plain, either, not too ordinary. I came across this recipe, and the results were delicious. Well, alright, most of the results were delicious -- I'll admit, I burned the heck out of the first pan, so those went in the trash. But the rest were quite good. :)

Lemon-White Chocolate Butter Cookies
From "Bakewise"

1 c butter, softened and cut up
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2 c flour
1 c white chocolate chips

1. Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, lemon extract and zest. Beat in the yolks one at a time. Beat in the flour.
2. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
3. Form into logs about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly (at least 2 hours in the fridge, though I cheated and sped up the process in the freezer).
4. Slice into 3/8-inch slices and place about an inch apart on a cookie sheet.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.
6. Cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

Strawberry pie

Strawberry pie

Here's a recipe for you: Combine one affinity for pie, one love of strawberries and one boyfriend and mix well. Add in one birthday. The result: Me trying out this recipe from a sample issue of "Cook's Country" that he got in the mail a while back. The later result: One seriously delicious pie, says the aforementioned boyfriend (I'm trying to cut down, so I left it up to him to do the tasting). Apparently, I'll be making this one again. :)

Cooking up the filling Gelatin always looks yucky

Strawberry Pie
From Cook's Country

One recipe for a single-crust pie (I used my old standby from here)
2 pounds frozen strawberries (though fresh would probably be fine, if you've picked up a ton of them while they're in season)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1 c sugar
Pinch salt
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly

4 ounces cream cheese
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c heavy cream

1. Roll out the pie crust and fit it to your pie pan. Chill until firm.
2. Line crust with foil, covering the edges well, then fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 375 about 25 to 30 minutes, until the dough looks dry and is light in color. Remove the foil and weights and bake until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.
3. Cook the frozen berries in a saucepan until jam-like and reduced down to 2 cups (measure this out to be sure), about 25 minutes.
4. Combine the lemon juice, water and gelatin in a small bowl. Let stand until the gelatin softens and thickens.
5. Stir the gelatin mixture, sugar and salt into the strawberries and cook about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
6. Fold fresh berries into filling, then spread evenly in pie shell. Chill until set, at least 4 hours.
7. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth, then add the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Top slices of pie.

Mmm, pie

Banana bread

Banana bread

Apparently, I bake in spurts. Sorry for the wait (though rest assured, there are a couple more entries in store soon). Also, apologies for not having a photo of the inside of this banana bread -- I took this to work to share, and it just looks funny to bring something to work with a piece missing. It's way easier to remove, say, one cookie, than one slice of bread, or one piece of a layer cake, without it being noticable. But suffice it to say that this looked pretty much like any other banana bread in the middle.

This tasted alright, but I have to say, it didn't quite live up to Cook's Illustrated's standards, 'cause it took forever before the middle was fully done, and by the time the toothpick finally came out clean, the outside was a tad overdone, so the loaf ended up a bit overbrowned and a touch on the dry side. It still tasted alright, but I'm not sure if I'd make this recipe again -- I'll probably try some others, looking for a recipe that comes out moist but still done in the center. Still, it wasn't bad, and maybe it'll come out a bit better if you try it yourself. It's worth a shot.

Banana Bread
From "Baking Illustrated"

2 c flour
1 1/4 c chopped walnuts
3/4 c sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 c plain yogurt
2 eggs
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla

1. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and walnuts.
Mix together the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Pour into prepared pan and bake until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
4. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then depan onto a rack.