Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Rosiethon. Day 9. Kit Kat Bars.


 
Kit Kat Bars.
Kit Kat Bars
75 Club crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with one layer of Club crackers.
Melt butter over medium heat.  
Add dark brown sugar, milk, and sugar. 
Bring to boil.
Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly.  
Stir in graham cracker crumbs.
Pour 1/2 of the butter mixture over the crackers.  Smooth surface with offset spatula.
Arrange another layer of Club crackers over the butter mixture.  
Pour remaining butter mixture over surface and smooth with spatula.
Arrange a third layer of crackers over top.
Combine peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch in small saucepan.  
Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Spread evenly over crackers.
Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for two hours.  Cut into bars.





 25 crackers.






The Rosiethon. Day 8. Rosie's Mounds Bars.

 Today, I'm making my version of the Mounds Bar.
I think I'll call them Rosie's Mounds.

Rosie's Mounds
 1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 14-ounce package coconut
12 ounces German sweet chocolate.
And my secret ingredient: 
 one big honeycomb out of Mr. Hawthorne's
sourwood honey from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Mix milk and coconut flakes well.
Form into bars.
Refrigerate about 1 hour.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler.
Add in honeycomb.
Stir until completely smooth.
Pour over bars or dip
and refrigerate.
 
Beautiful honeycomb.

 Little logs of coconut.

 Coat the first side, then refrigerate.

Turn over and coat the other side.
Refrigerate.

Rosie's Mounds.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Rosie Makes A Bûche De Noël.




Julia Child has inspired me once again.  I just finished watching her “French Chef” video on Youtube  in which she made a Bûche de Noël and I was happily transported back to Saturday afternoons in the 1970s in my cozy apartment where I would sit in front of my 9-inch black and white TV, with legal pad and pen in hand, writing down every instruction from Julia.  Now, forty years later, I’m sitting in front of my 21-inch color monitor,  with legal pad and pen in hand, watching black and white videos of Julia.  It’s déju vu all over again!

That said, my Christmas gift to my readers is Bûche de Noêl.  Bûche de Noël, or Yule log, is a filled and rolled sponge cake, frosted rustically with a chocolate buttercream to look like tree bark, and decorated with meringue “mushrooms” and surrounded with a wispy veil of spun sugar.

Bûche de Noël brings with it an interesting history, dating back to the Iron Age.  The origins of this French pastry can be traced to ancient customs of Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans.  They would gather in December to celebrate the winter solstice.  On this shortest day of the year, families would get a large log, decorate it, and burn it to cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in lengthening days and spring.  The log’s ashes were saved and were considered to be treasures, thought to have medicinal benefits, to guard against evil, and to protect the house against lightning.  Even with the advent of Christianity, the pagan Yule log tradition continued, but on a smaller scale.  Large hearths were being replaced with smaller stoves.  The big log was replaced by a smaller branch that was set on the table with sweets surrounding it.  This smaller branch eventually transformed into the cake we know as Bûche de Noël, popularized by Parisian bakers in the 19th century.  Napoleon even comes into the story of the Bûche de Noël.  Noticing a lot of disease in Paris, Napoleon mandated that all chimneys be closed during the winter months, because the cold air was causing all those pesky illnesses. With chimneys closed, Parisians couldn’t burn their log, so French bakers got creative and invented the Bûche de Noël as a symbolic alternative. The cake was first mentioned and described in 1879 and has since become a Christmas tradition.

When I give you a recipe, I like to give more than just ingredients.  I like to give history and I like to offer you techniques that will come in handy.  For example, by making this Yule Log, you’ll learn how to make a Génoise or sponge cake which you can spread with filling and make a jelly roll.  In addition, you’ll learn how to make Italian meringue, which in turn is made into buttercream icing.  Lastly, and my favorite because it’s so pretty, you’ll learn how to make spun sugar caramel.  Now let’s get cooking!

A Génoise is a particularly adaptable all-purpose type of cake for filling and icing, for layering with fruits and whipped cream, for making Madéleines, petits fours, and cupcakes, and for making the sponge sheet that makes jelly rolls and the Bûche de Noël.  This particular Génoise is different from most, in that it is made with browned butter rather than plain melted butter, another good technique to know.  Browned butter gives the cake a special taste and texture.


Génoise Cake. (sponge cake for jelly roll)
4 eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter (5 ounces)
1 TB flour (for preparing the pan)
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cake flour
Confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 375°.

It’s best to use a stand mixer, not handheld, for this.

Browning the butter and preparing the baking pan.  
Cut butter into small bits and slowly melt in a small saucepan over moderate heat.  When butter foams, start swirling pan and continue to cook until butter is a light brown color.  Remove from heat and scoop out 2 TB into a small bowl.  Mix with 1 TB flour and use this mixture to grease a wax paper-lined 12 x 16 baking sheet with a 2-inch overhang at each end for easy removal.  Set aside the rest of the browned butter.

Preparing the batter.
Beat eggs at slow speed, then gradually sprinkle sugar in.  Add vanilla, lemon rind, and lemon juice.  Beat at high speed until eggs have doubled in volume, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove bowl from stand.  Pour the AP flour and cake flour into a sifter and sift ⅓ of the flour mixture over the egg and sugar mixture.  Quickly fold in flour with a rubber spatula.  When almost absorbed, alternate with driblets of tepid, not hot or cold, browned butter and siftings of flour, folding rapidly and continuously until all are used.

Gâteau roulé. (Rolled cake)
Spread batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet and immediately place in heated oven.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until top of cake is just starting to color and it’s lightly springy.  Do not overbake, else it will crack when you start to roll it.  Remove from oven and sprinkle top with a layer of confectioners’ sugar.  Cover with a piece of wax paper and a damp towel.  Set a baking sheet on top and invert.  Let cool 10 minutes, upside down, then holding one end of the wax paper overhang, gently remove baking pan and peel wax off cake.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  If you’re not ready to fill and frost now, cover with a sheet of wax paper, roll up loosely, wrap airtight, and refrigerate.  Let come to room temperature before unrolling.

Italian Meringue.  (For mushrooms, filling, and frosting)
3 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ⅓ cups sugar
½ cup water
Beat egg whites at moderate speed until they begin to foam.  Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat at moderately fast speed until egg whites form stiff shining peaks.  Set aside or turn to low speed.
Meanwhile, put sugar and water in small heavy saucepan and set over medium high heat.  Swirl pan until sugar dissolves and liquid is clear.  Cover and boil rapidly for a minute or two.  When bubbles thicken, uncover and boil to soft-ball stage, 238°.
Beat egg whites at medium low and slowly pour in the sugar syrup in a thin stream.  Beat at high speed for at least 6 minutes, until it is satin smooth and forms stiff peaks.

Meringue mushrooms.
Heat oven to 200°.  Scoop out about ¼ of the Italian meringue into 2 storage bags.  For the mushroom domes, slice ½ inch off the corner of the bag and squeeze out a bunch of mushroom tops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Slice ⅛ inch of the other bag and pump out small pointed cones for the stems.  Return any unused meringue to main mixture. Bake about an hour, until the mushroom parts push easily loose from the parchment. 


Chocolate meringue base, for filling and frosting.
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup strong coffee
1 TB vanilla
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
Melt chocolate with coffee in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk so the chocolate is perfectly smooth.  Beat chocolate mixture into Italian meringue with the vanilla and butter.  Remove ⅔ of the mixture and set aside for the frosting.

Assemble the mushrooms.
Cut a small hole out of the bottom of the mushroom cap.
Dip the stem end into the chocolate and insert in the hole on the cap.

For the filling.
⅓ of the chocolate meringue base
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
Beat butter into chocolate meringue until smooth.

For the frosting.
⅔ of the chocolate meringue base
3 TB unsweetened cocoa
½ cup powdered sugar
Mix all together until of spreading consistency.

Assembly.
Let Génoise come to room temperature. Unroll.  Evenly spread the filling mixture over top.  Roll up, starting at a long side. Place seam-side down on serving tray.  Slip sheets of wax paper around each side to keep the frosting area clean.    Spread frosting mixture over log, leaving ends unfrosted.  Roughen up the frosting to make it look like tree bark.  Place the mushrooms over the cake, pressing into the frosting.  Lightly sprinkle with a mixture of cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a fine sieve. 


Now for the spun sugar.  This is a wonderful addition to so many desserts.  Cheesecake comes immediately to mind.  Make this right before serving.  It “weeps” when left in the fridge.



Spun sugar caramel.
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup water
Heat sugar and water over moderate heat until dissolved and clear, bring to a boil, and continue boiling until syrup has turned a light caramel.  Remove from heat and start stirring with a fork, waving the fork over the pan until it cools a bit and the strands start forming.  Dip fork in caramel and quickly drizzle over and around the Yule Log, making a golden spun nest.




Génoise Cake. (sponge cake for jelly roll)
4 eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter (5 ounces)
1 TB flour (for preparing the pan)
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cake flour
Confectioners’ sugar

For browned butter, dice the butter.



When it starts to boil, swirl the pan.

This is the color you want.
Set the browned butter aside.

Prepare the batter and spread evenly into prepared pan.
Bake and sprinkle powdered sugar over top.

Invert and carefully peal back wax paper


Sprinkle more sugar over top.

Cover with wax paper and gently and loosely roll up.
I stopped at this point, refrigerated the jelly roll, and drank wine.


Fast forward to the next morning.
Chocolate meringue base, for filling and frosting.
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup strong coffee
1 TB vanilla
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
Melt chocolate with coffee in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk so the chocolate is perfectly smooth.  Beat chocolate mixture into Italian meringue with the vanilla and butter.  Remove ⅔ of the mixture and set aside for the frosting.

Here's my beautiful Italian Meringue.


Italian Meringue.  (For mushrooms, filling, and frosting)
3 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 ⅓ cups sugar
½ cup water
Beat egg whites at moderate speed until they begin to foam.  Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat at moderately fast speed until egg whites form stiff shining peaks.  Set aside or turn to low speed.
Meanwhile, put sugar and water in small heavy saucepan and set over medium high heat.  Swirl pan until sugar dissolves and liquid is clear.  Cover and boil rapidly for a minute or two.  When bubbles thicken, uncover and boil to soft-ball stage, 238°.
Beat egg whites at medium low and slowly pour in the sugar syrup in a thin stream.  Beat at high speed for at least 6 minutes, until it is satin smooth and forms stiff peaks.


Pipe out mushroom stems and caps.

















For the spun sugar, mix 1 cup sugar with 1/2 cup water.
Heat until sugar dissolves and turns a nice amber color.
Like so.

video

Drizzle and swizzle.

















Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Rosiethon. Day 7. Toffee Almond Bars.

Toffee Almond Bars

Toffee Almond Bars

2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 8 oz. package of Bits of Brickle
3\4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sliced amonds
3/4 cup coconut

Heat oven to 350°.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Gradually add flour, beating until well-blended.  Press dough evenly in prepared pan.
Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, combine toffee bits and corn syrup in small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cook until bits are melted, about 10 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup coconut.
Bake an additional 15 minutes. 
Sprinkle remaining almonds and coconut over top.
Cool in pan, then cut into bars or squares.

Now, people, I have to take issue with this, as I do every Christmas when I buy this stuff.
Bits 'O Brickle is all sorts of wrong.
It's either Bits OF Brickle or Bits O' Brickle.
Wish the Hershey's company would address this.
But then, my local Food Lion didn't care enough to change the sign I pointed out to them in the produce department.  "TurnUps."