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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Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls 6 of 6) (1 of 1)Cinnamon Rolls 7 of 7) (1 of 1)Cinnamon Rolls (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

It’s that time of year when we are apt to say, “Oh God, not another pumpkin recipe!” Now that we are approaching Halloween and Thanksgiving, we are flooded with pumpkin recipes: McDonalds has pumpkin pancakes, there’s pumpkin beer and I’ve even seen a recipe called Red Curry Pig’s Feet with Pumpkin. But the one that amuses me the most is the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, complete with a jack-o-lantern image on top:

Pumpkin latteHowever, some people think we have gone too far with our pumpkin-loving recipes, as shown here:

Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin

What do you think, have we gone too far with pumpkin flavored everything? In my view, pumpkins remind me of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and brings on images of being with family and friends and stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie. Nice warm fuzzy feelings tucked in my mind and ‘stomach memory.’ So excuse me, here is one more pumpkin recipe to digest, Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

With this recipe, you first form a yeast dough and then let it rise and double in size. Then roll out the dough in a rectangle shape and spread the spiced pumpkin filling on top. The dough is then rolled up lengthwise and sliced into pieces 1.5 inches thick and allowed to rise again. Bake and then top with a delicious cream cheese icing- you’ll never feel bad about making just one more pumpkin recipe!

 Glaze with Sour Cream Icing:

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Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 10
Cinnamon rolls filled with spiced pumpkin and slathered with a delicious cream cheese icing
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For the dough
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  3. 1 packet dry yeast (1/4 oz or 5 g)
  4. 1/4 cup white sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 3 cups plain white flour
For the pumpkin filling
  1. 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/8 tsp nutmeg)
For the icing
  1. 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 3 tbsp. melted butter
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
For the pumpkin pie filling
  1. Combine the pumpkin puree with the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Set aside
For the dough
  1. Heat the milk and butter on the stovetop until hot but not boiling. Let cool to about 110 F. Add the packet of yeast and let rest for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar,salt and cinnamon and stir in the yeast/butter mixture until smooth. Gradually add the flour to the mixture, working it in with your hands or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. The dough should be rather moist and elastic.
  3. Form a ball with the dough and knead on a lightly-floured surface for several minutes. Place the dough in a bowl that has been oiled with a light coat of vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour until double in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and rollout into a thin rectangular shape on a lightly-floured surface. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter (about 3 tbsp.) Then spread a thin layer of the pumpkin filling on top. Roll-up the dough tightly lengthwise into a tube shape then slice into pieces about 1.5 to 2 inches thick using a serrated bread knife. This should yield about 10 rolls.
  5. Place the rolls into a buttered round (or square) dish and let rise for another 1 hour. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 F. until the rolls are light brown. Turn the rolls out onto a large plate, let cool and glaze with the cream cheese icing.
For the icing
  1. Combine the melted butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth, using an electric mixer. The mixture should be silky and smooth. If the icing is too dry, moisten with a little milk or cream.
Notes
  1. Note: I used Butternut Pumpkin (squash) for my filling since it is easier to handle than the typical larger pumpkin.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

 

 

 

Pear and Frangipane Tart with Apricot Glaze

    Pear Tart Cropped I’ve recently been so busy that I haven’t been able to post many new recipes on my blog. I’ve been busy with studying two university courses in French language, teaching French cooking classes and getting ready to leave for Paris soon to complete the 10-week Advanced Cuisine class at Le Cordon Bleu. (I also just finished reading Julia Child’s wonderful book, My Life in France). Sounds like I may have some sort of addiction to French things? So what better way to celebrate than with a Pear Tart filled with an almond-based frangipane and topped with an apricot glaze! I’ve always loved the way the sliced pears are layered in this recipe – it takes a little time, but it’s worth it.

There are three stages to making this recipe:

  • making the sugar crust pastry and blind baking it
  • preparing the frangipane filling made with ground almonds and then baking it inside the prepared tart shell
  • lightly poaching several pears and then layering the thin slices on top of the frangipane filling- then topped with a final apricot glaze.

So let’s get started.

Step 1: Prepare the sugar crust pastry (Pâte Sablée) A Pâte Sablée pastry is just like a short crust pastry, except an egg and sugar are added. The addition of the sugar makes it more difficult to roll the pastry because it can break a part more easily. Make sure your dough is thoroughly chilled before you roll it out. If the dough does break, try pressing the broken pieces together with your fingers. Otherwise, you can skip trying to roll out the dough and just press the dough into the sides and bottom of your tart pan, using your fingers. Makes one 9 inch (23 cm) tart Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 9 tbsp. butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • additional cold water, if required

Pre-heat oven to 180 C (360 F). Add the flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and then add to the dry ingredients. Rub the butter and flour together briskly between the palms of your hands and tips of your fingers until it becomes like sand. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the egg – blend well using a large spoon. Transfer the ingredients directly onto your benchtop (kitchen counter) and form into a rough ball. Using the heel of your hand, push a small part of the dough along the surface away from you, then regather the ingredients into a ball shape. Repeat several times until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and you form a nice, round ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour (or in the freezer for 10 minutes).

 

 Step 2: Roll out the dough and blind bake

Next, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly-floured work surface, ending with the dough at least 2 cm larger than your tart pan with removable bottom. Fold the dough in half and transfer to the tart pan, unfold and then press the dough gently against the sides of the pan. Roll a rolling pin across the top of the pan to remove the excess pastry. Prick the bottom of the pastry with the ends of a fork. Cover the bottom of the pastry with a large sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or raw beans and then blind bake for 15 minutes at 180 C (360 F). The crust should be a light biscuit-brown color. Remove from oven and let cool.

   Step 3: Prepare the Almond Frangipane Filling Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp. butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 200 grams dark cooking chocolate (optional)

Combine the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add the ground almonds, flour and corn flour and pulse until combined. Add the egg and extra egg white, vanilla and almond extracts and blend until very smooth. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water. Spread the chocolate on top of the prepared pastry shell that has been blind-baked. Now add the frangipane custard on top of the chocolate layer and bake at 180 C (360 F) for 20 – 25 minutes until the custard is cooked until medium brown in color. Pear Tart (4 of 4) (1 of 1)  Step 4: Poach the Pears and arrange thin slices in circular pattern on top of tart.  Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe pears
  • 3 -4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice with some lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the Apricot Glaze

  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp. water or Cointreau

Combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla extract in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. While the liquid is heating, peel and cut the pears in half. Remove the stems and core then place the pear halves in the water and reduce heat to a simmer. Poach the pears for about 6 – 10 minutes until they are tender when pierced with a knife, but still a bit firm. Do not overcook; they must still hold their shape. Remove the pears from the liquid and let cool. Slice them into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the fruit on top of the tart in an overlapping circular pattern and top with a strawberry (optional). Heat together apricot jam and water (or Cointreau) in a small saucepan until warm and smooth. Brush the glaze over the top of the tart, including the pears and exposed frangipane. Serve warm or at room temperature.   Pear Tart (3 of 3) (1 of 1) Pear Tart Long Cropped

Quiche Lorraine – Back to the French Basics

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There are so many Quiche Lorraine recipes floating around, at first I thought, “Why bother doing another one?” But then I realised that Quiche Lorraine is a French dish, so let’s get down and reveal those basic French techniques that make this recipe such a classic!

To make the pastry crust for a quiche, it’s easy to just pop the flour and butter in a food processor, pulse for a few seconds, add the egg and water and let the machine turn out a ‘perfect dough’ for you. But here are a few techniques I leaned at the Cordon Bleu School in Paris that will help you to make an authentic Quiche Lorraine. In the words of Julia Child, “A good French pastry crust should be tender, crunchy and buttery.”

To make a good French pastry dough, your hands, fingers and arm become active, first rubbing the butter and flour together with your palms, then ‘kneading’ the dough using the heel of your hand, ending with a perfect ball of dough. Almost feels like a gym workout after you’ve finished!

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

 Method for Making the Dough for the Quiche Lorraine

Recipe adapted from Le Cordon Bleu school

Ingredients

  • 100 g cold butter, cubed
  • 200 g flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. cold water

Step 1 –  Sabler the butter and flour together

Cut the cold butter into cubes and then add to the flour in a large bowl. Rub the butter and flour together briskly between the palms of your hands and tips of your fingers until it becomes like sand. Since sable is the word for ‘sand’ in French, this technique is called sabler.

 

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The end result: your dough should resemble fine sand.

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Step 2 – Make a well in the middle of the dough and add 1 egg.

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Step 3 – Mix the ingredients and transfer to your work surface

Mix the egg into the flour/butter mixture, then add 2 – 3 tbsp. cold water. The dough should be moist and be able to hold together its shape. Transfer the rough dough mixture onto a floured surface and gather into a mound shape, using the aid of a pastry scraper.

Dough 1

Step 4Fraiser the dough on the work surface.

Using the heel of your hand, push one portion of the dough along the work surface with an outward movement. Regather the dough using the aid of the pastry scraper. Repeat several times until the dough comes together into a firm ball. This technique is called fraiser la pâte or le fraisage (the final blending of flour and butter).

 Fraiser la pâte :  Push a portion of the dough away from you, using the heel of your hand.fraiser

 Repeat several times until you form a firm dough ball.

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Next steps: roll out the dough on a floured surface, turning the dough 1/4 turns as you go. Roll the dough so that it overhangs 2 cm over the edge of the quiche tin.

Next, pass a rolling pin across the top of the quiche mould so that it cuts through the dough and then lift the excess dough away from the mold. Prick the dough with the ends of a fork, add parchment paper and pie weights to the quiche tin, then blind bake for 15 minutes (see instructions for my post on White Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Sauce).

You’re now ready to add the quiche filling to complete your delicious authentic Quiche Lorraine!

Quiche Lorraine (1 of 2)jpg

Quiche Lorraine – Back to the French Basics
 
Recipe Type: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: French
Author: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu recipe
Serves: 8
Quiche Lorraine recipe using the authentic French techniques for preparing the pastry dough.
Ingredients
  • [b]Shortcrust Pastry[/b]
  • 200 g flour
  • 100 g cold butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cold water (more, if required)
  • Filling
  • 180 g smoked speck bacon, cut into cubes
  • 100 g Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 125 ml thickened cream
  • 125 ml whole milk
  • Salt, pepper
  • Nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a large bowl, add 200 grams of flour. Cut 100 grams of cold butter into small cubes then add to flour mixture. Rub the butter and flour between the palms of your hands until it becomes like sand.
  3. Make a well in centre of the flour mixture- add the egg into well and stir; add the cold water a little at a time.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and then push the dough out away from you on the countertop, using the palm of your hand (le fraisage). Cover the dough with plastic and place in fridge for 15 – 30 minutes.
  5. Roll-out the dough making occasional quarter turns- leave 2 cm margin larger than the quiche mould.
  6. Drape the dough over the mould leaving the 2 cm margin- gently push the dough down to fit the shape of the mould. Prick bottom of crust with a fork.
  7. To blind bake the dough:
  8. Place parchment paper inside of mould and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and let dough cool.
  9. Remove rind and cartilage from the bacon slab- cut into small cubes . Slightly brown the bacon bits with a little butter, over medium high heat and then drain on kitchen paper.
  10. Grate the Gruyère cheese and place it on bottom of baked quiche dough, then add the bacon bits.
  11. Prepare the filling: beat 3 eggs together, then add the cream, milk, salt and pepper to the mixture. Add this to the cooked quiche dough then top with a little more of the grated cheese.
  12. Bake for 30-40 minutes – quiche should be light brown ‘biscuit colour.’
  13. Let the quiche cool then remove the bottom from the quiche tin.
  14. Place chopped parsley garnish on top of quiche and several small pieces of bacon- this will also serve to identify the type of quiche you have just made.