December 2009

Monochrome Rainbow Cookies

Well, here we are today is New year’s Eve… and have I got a doozy for you.

Hopefully I won’t upset any of my Italian friends for transforming a very classic Italian Christmas cookie the “Rainbow Cookie” which colors are supposed to represent the Italian flag.

Here is what the original Rainbow Cookie is supposed to look like.


This fine cookie among a few others was purchased at Tintoretto, a small Italian Bakery nestled within The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian in Las Vegas, NV.

If you would like to try making the original version as well I found a great post on Smitten Kitchen.

Now back to the star of THIS show… The Monochrome Rainbow cookie a never seen before, Daydreamer Desserts original.

So lets back track a few days, before I enjoyed my very first traditional Rainbow cookie…

One of the reasons we were in Las Vegas this past weekend was to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. As a special treat to ourselves we enjoyed a marvelous dinner at SW Steakhouse, which is located within the Wynn.

And what is a marvelous dinner without dessert right? “Drum roll please….”




I give you three scoops of ice cream!

Of course, my favorite dessert. So simple, yet so delectable. I chose vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter. My favorite of the three was definitely peanut butter, it was amazing.


Which brings me back to todays post, using the SW dessert as my inspiration for this new cookie and to end the year with a bang, or as they say in Spanish “Para cerrar con broche de oro”.

I leave you with… the Monochrome Rainbow Cookie, and wish you all a safe and very Happy New Year. See you back in 2010 for more dreamy desserts.

Monochrome Rainbow Cookies

3 oz almond paste, grated
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted
2 oz peanut butter (chunky or creamy)

1/2 cup melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
16 oz vanilla candy coating or white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Line three 13x9x2 pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.


In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated almond paste, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and butter. Beat until creamed and fluffy.


Stir in the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually stir in flour until well incorporated.

Divide dough into thirds and place into three separate bowls. Fold melted chocolate into one of the bowls and set aside, fold peanut butter into the second bowl, add remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla into the third bowl and gently stir to combine or wait until egg whites are added and fold to combine.

In a separate bowl beat egg whites until foamy, gradually pour in remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Divide egg whites equally into each of the three existing bowls and gently fold each one until combined.


Spread batter into prepared pans and smoothen out with a spatula.


Bake chocolate layer for 14 minutes, bake peanut butter layer for 12 minutes, and bake vanilla layer for 10 minutes.

Let each layer cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing. Remove from pan by carefully picking it up using the lips of the parchment paper and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

Using the paper lift the chocolate layer and invert it over a baking sheet or tray leaving the paper side up. Carefully peal back the paper and spread the melted dark chocolate to form a thin layer.

Repeat the same process with the peanut butter layer this time spreading the peanut butter to form a thin layer.



Finally do the same with the vanilla layer. With a ruler and sharp knife trim the edges of the cookie.



Melt the white chocolate and spread over the cookie evenly with a spatula. Place tray in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate or vanilla candy shell to harden a bit before cutting. (Don’t leave it in the fridge too long before cutting or the shell will crack)

Remove from the refrigerator and with a ruler and sharp knife cut cookie lengthwise into 6 strips then cut each strip into crosswise into 5 strips.

Once the cookies have been cut you can place back in the refrigerator to allow the shell to finish cooling completely.

Serve or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.



OOoooo look it’s the leaning tower of Monochrome Rainbow Cooies!!


Monochrome Rainbow Cookies, an oxymoron? I think NOT! :)

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.

My Christmas was very nice, we celebrated Christmas Eve quietly at home then Christmas morning [post present opening] the family and I drove to Las Vegas for a little weekend fun.

But back to Christmas Eve… Having had to work that day and not having done much planning on what I was going to serve for our Christmas Eve dinner I was surprised at how well it all turned out. Everyone loved every single dish, but I have to say the star of the show was the Calamari. [Yum!]

A close second were these yummy cookies we had for dessert, I think they tasted way better than those in the blue tin so, if you are a fan of those, you definitely need to give these a try.




Cookie Month: Danish Butter Cookies
adapted from All Recipes

Makes too many to count! :)

3 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
7 egg yolks
6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet in a few batches.

Using a cookie press, press cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


Christmas Eve Dinner

Appetizer


Smoked Salmon Canapes

Starter


Calamari with Bacon and Garlic Oil

Main Course


Mortadella-Stuffed Pork Loin with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Side


Seard Scallops

Dessert


Milk & Cookies

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Not sure if it’s just me, but lately I’ve been seeing French Macarons everwhere, at Starbucks even!

I recently had the pleasure of tasting my very first Macaron during a trip up to San Francisco, and let me just say… after taking the first bite I realized what the fuss was all about.

Having read many of the Daring Baker’s Macaron Challenge posts I was made aware of all that could go wrong when making them, I learned the about the anatomy of a macaron, mainly their feet, crispy shell, and smooth/creamy filling. (Yum!) I also recently joined the Daring Baker’s group but missed the French Macaron challenge.

We were invited to celebrate a birthday this past weekend at Takami in LA and I thought these would make a great gift and it would also be the perfect opportunity to attempt to tackle this little feat and have my own little Macaron Challenge.


This is the view from the restaurant which is on the 21st floor in Downtown’s Financial District, pretty nice right?

OK, back to the Macaroons…




Winter Birthday – French Macaroons
from Tartlette’s Recipe – Candy Cane Macarons & Eggnog Macarons

Shells

90 gr (use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)

Prepare the macarons

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. (I used slivered almonds) Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.

Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets.

Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour (I let mine sit out for 1 hour) to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F.

When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture (This tip was a life saver…). Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.


For the buttercream

1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (180gr)(6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
a few drops of peppermint extract (optional)
crushed candy canes


Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.

Divid the buttercream in two portions.


Leave one portion plain or add a few drops of peppermint extract, and add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the other one.


Candy canes awaiting meat tenderizing mallet…


Added Eggnog spices to half of the buttercream… this was my favorite filling of the two!


Fill half the shells with the eggnog flavored one (cinnamon-nutmeg) and half with the plain/peppermint buttercream.



Roll the plain filled shells in the crushed candy canes.

Le Macaron… C’est magnifique!

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A few days ago, one of my friends from work had a couple of bags of flavored pistachios in his cube and offered me some, one in particular caught my eye… garlic and green chile, I had never had a “flavored” pistachio, and I was amazed at how good they tasted.

Later on that day he said he would be placing another order and asked around if anyone else wanted to order so we could share the shipping cost.

Needless to say I partook in the ordering… I ordered two bags, a bag of the salted & roasted shelled pistachios as well as the garlic and green chile. This is the site we ordered them from Heart of the Desert.

Which brings me to todays cookie.

Armed with a 1 lb bag of shelled pistachios, I searched through my pantry trying to find the perfect partner in crime for my little green friends; I saw an unopened bag of white chocolate chips, the rest is cookie history.

Have you had a chewy oatmeal cookie bursting with white chocolate chips and pistachios? Oh so good…






Oatmeal White Chocolate-Pistachio Cookies
adapted from Baking Illustrated

1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground pistachios
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pistachios

Adjust oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

In a bowl whisk, flour, ground pistachios, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer beat butter, sugars and honey until thoroughly blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time just until combined.


Stir in the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon. Stir in white chocolate chips, and chopped pistachios.


Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into a ball, place them on the preapared baking sheets spaced 2 inches apart.


Bake until the cookies edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes.


Cool the cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer with a spatula to a wire rack. Let them cool for at least 30 minutes.


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As I was flipping through my Martha Stewart Cookie recipe book looking for more cookie making ammunition for the month, the Cream Cheese Walnut cookie recipe caught my eye.

After a considerable amount of time was spent deliberating whether I should use the recipe as inspiration or if I should just replicate the cookie, since I happen to love walnuts. I opted to give them a twist… and I’m so glad I did, they turned out fantastic.

However that won’t stop me from trying Martha’s original version in the future. :)






Cream Cheese Almond Cookies with mix nut coating
Inspired from Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese-Walnut Cookies
found in Martha Stewart’s Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese (not whipped), room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almont extract
1 1/2 sliced almonds toasted

Outer cookie coating
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup turbinado sugar

In a bowl whisk together flour and salt.

Beat butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed until pale and fluffy.

Mix in sugar and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add florwer mixture, and mix until just combined (do not over mix). Mix in toasted almonds.

Divide dough in half shape each half into an 8 1/2 by 2 inch log. Wrap in parchment paper, freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.


When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. with racks in upper and lower thirds.

In a bowl combine the chopped pistachios, chopped pecans, and turbinado sugar. Unwrap one log, pour coating onto a cookie sheet and roll the log in the coating until it is completely coated.

Cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds and space them 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat.

Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat process with the remaining log.

Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.


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