Chocolate and Vanilla Spiral Cookies

In a few hours, I’ll be flying to Madrid to study Spanish cuisine for five weeks at the Cordon Bleu School. I’m not looking forward to the 22 hour flight but I am excited to learn more about Spanish cooking. At this stage in my life, there will probably not be many more chances to attend culinary school, so NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT! Do you ever feel that way- that now is the time to grasp that opportunity before it disappears?

So please stay tuned: I hope to post some authentic Spanish recipes on my blog soon! At least I’m sure I will be able to come up with a delicious, authentic paella.

Before launching into the darkness with that long flight to Madrid, I wanted to post one more recipe: Vanilla and Chocolate Spiral Cookies. I’ve adapted the recipe from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion which has hundreds of cookie recipes ranging from simple Oatmeal Cookies to Key Lime Bars in Coconut Crust. It would probably take me a whole year to bake all of the recipes in this great cookbook.

My recipe for the Vanilla and Chocolate Spiral Cookies is basically a shortbread recipe, which means it has lots of butter in it. And it’s doubly good because you combine a vanilla flavored dough with a chocolate flavored one- ending in a spiral (pinwheel) shape.

So let’s get started:

First, you make separate vanilla and chocolate dough:

Then roll-out each dough into a rectangle measuring about 9 x 12 inches:

Brush the vanilla dough with egg white. Then place the chocolate layer on top of the vanilla layer and roll into a tight log. Place in freezer until firm and then cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices:

Bake for about 12-14 minutes:

 

Chocolate and Vanilla Spiral Cookies
Yields 24
Chocolate and Vanilla Cookies blended together into perfection
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Vanilla Cookie Dough
  1. 1/2 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
  2. 2 Tbsp. caster sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp almond meal
  4. 3/4 cup (6 ounces) salted butter (softened)
  5. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Chocolate Cookie Dough
  1. 1/2 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
  2. 2 Tbsp. caster sugar
  3. 3/4 cup (6 ounces) salted butter (softened)
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the egg wash
  1. 1 egg white + splash of water
To make the Vanilla Dough
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the softened butter, icing sugar, caster sugar and vanilla flavoring until smooth. Gradually add the almond meal and flour until a cohesive ball is formed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured sur face and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the Chocolate Dough
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the softened butter, icing sugar, caster sugar and vanilla flavoring until smooth. Gradually add cocoa and flour until a cohesive ball is formed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the Pinwheel Cookie shapes
  1. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on your work surface and roll out the vanilla dough into a rectangle shape about 9 x 12 inches. Set aside. Repeat with the chocolate dough, rolling it into a slightly smaller rectangle shape.
  2. Brush some egg wash onto the vanilla rectangle and then place the chocolate rectangle on top.
  3. Starting with the long edge, gently roll the stacked dough into a tight log with no gaps. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm (about 1 hour).
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Remove the log from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and slice the log into ¼ inch slices (let the dough thaw a bit first if it is too hard to slice). Transfer the cookies onto parchment-covered baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they feel firm. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Julia Child’s Chocolate Soufflé

Since my blog is called G’day Soufflé, I thought it was about time that I actually posted a soufflé recipe. And what better chef to consult for my recipe than the master Julia Child?

In her show The French Chef, Julia explains that a soufflé traditionally uses a thick white sauce combined with flavorings such as cheese, fish or chocolate. For my recipe, I’ve selected a chocolate soufflé, since I love the combination of chocolate with the airy quality of the soufflé. Julia was so excited about cooking a soufflé that she threw her arms up into the air, anticipating the “hundreds of air bubbles” that puff up the soufflé into a wondrous mass.

Julia also cautions us about the basics of making a soufflé: make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before you whip them so they ‘mount’ into nice high peaks. Also, although she starts out by whipping the egg whites by hand in a traditional French copper bowl, she quickly becomes exhausted and switches to the more ergonomic method of using electric beaters. I’m with you on that one, Julia!

Julia becomes so exhausted hand-beating the egg whites in the copper bowl that she slumps over and decides to switch to the electric beaters

The Method

For her Chocolate Soufflé (Soufflé au Chocolat), Julia starts by creating an aluminum ‘collar’ around the straight-sided mold to help contain the soufflé as it rises over the rim. (Be sure and tape or pin the foil securely since my ‘collar’ fell off during the cooking). If you are using smaller ramekins, then this step is not necessary.

Souffle (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

You then make a creamy Béchamel sauce, whip in the egg yolks and then the melted chocolate mixture.

Next comes the egg whites which should be whipped into a velvety sheen and according to Julia, should increase seven-fold in volume.

The egg whites are then gently folded into the chocolate mixture and then baked in the oven. Watch in amazement as your soufflé puffs up over the top! If you don’t want to use a larger soufflé dish, you could also use smaller ramekins.

Chocolate Soufflé
Serves 6
A decadent chocolate dessert with a light touch: Julia Child's 'Soufflé au Chocolat'
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 2-quart straight-sided souffle’ dish or 5-6 smaller ramekins
  2. ½ Tbsp softened butter
  3. 7 ounces of semi-sweet or sweet chocolate
  4. 1/3 cup strong liquid coffee
  5. 3 Tbsp butter
  6. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 cup milk
  8. 4 egg yolks
  9. 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  10. 6 egg whites (3/4 cup)
  11. Pinch salt
  12. ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  13. ½ cup sugar
  14. Powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 F ( 220 C). Butter the inside of the soufflé dish or 5-6 smaller ramekins. If using the larger soufflé dish, surround the outside of the dish with a double layer of aluminium foil or parchment paper so that a 3-inch collar stands above the rim of the dish. (If using smaller ramekins, this step is not necessary).
  2. Melt the coffee and chocolate together in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water; set aside. In a separate saucepan, combine the flour and butter; whisk over medium heat until the mixture becomes a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until the mixture thickens. Let cool for several minutes.
  3. One by one, whisk the egg yolks into the hot sauce, then add the melted chocolate sauce, and finally the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar until stiff peaks form and the whites become shiny.
  4. Gradually fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture, folding from the outside of the bowl into the center. Pour the mixture into the prepared molds, filling to just below the rim. Place the mold on the bottom part of the oven and lower the temperature to 375 F (190 C). Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the soufflé has risen and a skewer placed into the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. If using a fan-forced oven, reduce the recommended temperature by 20 degrees (i.e. 425 F should be lowered to 405 F, etc).
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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Duck Breast with Plum and Tamarind Sauce

Hi there! I haven’t posted for awhile since I’ve been finishing up a course in American Politics at my local university. (You could definitely call me a ‘perpetual student’ since I have been attending university courses off and on since 1967)!

To celebrate the end of my classes, I decided to make ‘Duck Breast with Plum and Tamarind Sauce.’ A tamarind tree bears tropical fruit grown in bean-like pods and is frequently used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. It also has certain reported medicinal benefits, like lowering blood sugar and preventing heart disease. I like cooking with tamarind because it has a nice sweet and sour taste and you can build further flavors around it using cinnamon and star anise, etc.

To make this dish, I used tamarind paste, which you can buy in Asian supermarkets. It only takes about 15 minutes to make the sauce and a further 12-15 minutes to cook the duck breast.

This dish is similar to my recipe for Duck à l’orange, except with an Asian rather than a French twist!

 

Duck Breasts with Plum and Tamarind Sauce
Serves 2
Tender duck breasts served with a 'sweet and sour' plum and tamarind sauce
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
27 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
27 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tbsp sugar
  2. ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  3. ½ cup + 2 tbsps. water
  4. 2 plums, peeled and de-seeded (fresh or canned plums are OK to use)
  5. 1 tsp tamarind sauce
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 1 cinnamon stick
  8. 2 cloves
  9. 1 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 2 Duck Breasts, uncooked
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, whisk the sugar and red wine vinegar together for several minutes until the sugar dissolves and the liquid turns a dark brown color; add the water to the mixture. Peel and de-seed the plums and slice into 3-4 pieces. Add these to the cooking liquid along with the tamarind sauce, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and fish sauce. Simmer for at least 10 minutes until the plums soften and the flavors blend together. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve; taste and adjust seasoning accordingly (if the sauce is too tart, add a little more sugar).
To cook the duck breasts
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Using a sharp knife, score the skin side of the duck breasts, using a criss-cross pattern. Season both sides of the duck with salt and pepper. Place a fry pan on stove top over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Beginning with the skin side, cook each side of the duck breast for 3-4 minutes; the flesh side should be a golden brown color. Wrap each duck breast in foil and cook in the oven for a further 4-5 minutes. The duck will be ready when the meat is a light pink color. If the meat is still red inside, then cook for another few minutes. Remove from oven and let the duck rest for at least 10 minutes in the foil (the meat will continue to cook a little when it rests).
  2. Slice the duck breast in long horizontal pieces. To serve, re-heat the sauce, spoon the sauce onto a plate or shallow bowl, then arrange the duck pieces on top of the sauce. To decorate, try adding a star anise piece to the plate or a piece of basil or parsley.
Notes
  1. Tip: Before wrapping the duck breasts in foil and placing them in the oven, I make a small incision with a paring knife into the flesh side of the duck breast. This makes it easier to check if the duck is pink inside and therefore ready to be removed from the oven.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/
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