Sunday, October 14, 2018

Macadamia Cherry Cookies

As a blogger, sometimes we come across recipes that do not turn out as expected. However, the disappointment is an excellent motivator to create something better. The recipe here reflects just that type of inspiration.

The original cookies that had my own tweaks of flavor. Despite the changes in flavor, it did not help on the texture of the cookie. The first bake resulted in very greasy and flat cookies. To remedy this problem, I added more flour and chilled the dough. These alterations changed the cookie into something more appealing in flavor and visual enticement.

They are a spin off of the standard macadamia white chocolate cookies. The dough was enhanced by extra flavor layers of chopped dried cherries and butternut extract. These differences made the cookies a little bit more tempting than the usual macadamia cookies. In addition, the red and white combination of ingredients makes them a perfect addition to the Christmas cookie list. This recipe makes 4-5 dozen, depending on the scoop size.

Macadamia Cherry Cookies
by flourtrader 

3 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar 
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
3 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp butternut extract
3/4 cup chopped salted macadamia nuts
1 1/4 cup chopped sweetened dried cherries
12 oz chopped white chocolate bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the interior of 2 cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the butter. Beat at medium speed until smooth and silky, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add both types of sugars and beat again until mixture is light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Repeat those 2 steps with each egg until incorporated. Pour in the extract and beat again until evenly distributed.

Take out a large bowl and cover with a sieve and sift the flour, baking soda and salt into the bowl. Remove the bowl of batter from the stand mixer and fold in the sifted ingredients, using a spatula or wooden spoon. Continue to fold until no more dry streaks remain in the dough.

Add the chopped cherries, white chocolate chunks and chopped macadamias to the mixture. Blend all the ingredients together, distributing the add-ins evenly. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 40 minutes.

After chilling, use a scoop or a generous tablespoon to transfer mounds of dough to the prepared cookie sheet. Space the mounds about 1 inch apart. Bake in the oven until the cookies are a pale matte color with a golden edge, about 10-12 minutes. Let cookies rest on pan a few minutes then transfer to a rack to completely cool.

Tips and Notes:
1. I always use parchment paper to keep my pans in good condition. The parchment had a tendency to slide around when I was trying to get the cookies off, so a greased pan is easier to manage when it comes to removing the cookies. The cookies are a little soft on top when removed from the baking pans, so be careful with that step.
                                    **LAST YEAR: Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies** 


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Autumn Butternut Brioche Rolls

I cannot stress enough the importance of equipment when creating in the kitchen. We all are aware of the numerous conversion charts on the internet. However, I caution use of these because they are not all identical. Part of this is due to the variables associated with what you are measuring. For instance, if you are converting egg yolks from grams to units, there is a problem because eggs come in different sizes (medium, large, XL and jumbo). All in all, a digital conversion scale is worth investing in and they are not that expensive. With that said, this particular recipe is in grams.

If you are like me, brioche rolls (fluffy, buttery and sweet) are hard to resist. Now- pair those qualities with the extra flavor ingredients of butternut squash, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The end result is nothing short of delicious. The idea of flavored brioche is simply genius and the possibilities are endless.

Before you stroll into the kitchen to make these, be aware that the dough rises overnight in the refrigerator. Most of the time devoted to making this recipe takes place the day prior to baking. The day of bake just requires some time to form the rolls and about 1 hr and 45 min rise time. This recipe makes 2 loaves of rolls using a 9 inch cake pan, creating approximately 17-18 rolls per pan.

Autumn Butternut Brioche Rolls
adapted from Wild Yeast Blog 

Ingredients/Bread dough
226 g butter (softened and cubed)
water (if needed)
100 g whole eggs
60 g egg yolks
480 g butternut squash pulp (cooked, mashed and cooled)
34 g milk
126 g brown sugar
840 g flour
10 g yeast (rapid rise)
10-14 g salt (preference amount)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger

1 cup chopped roasted pecans (optional)
1 egg

The day prior to baking, fill the bowl of a stand mixer the eggs and egg yolks. Beat on medium speed with a beater blade until blended. Change out the blade for a dough hook and add flour, squash puree, spices, milk, yeast and salt. Set the mixer on low and run for 5 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The ingredients will come together, forming a very heavy dough. If it is still too dry after mixing for 4 minutes, add 1 tsp of water and blend until no more dry streaks remain.

Next, change the mixer speed to medium and add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Beat for a few minutes and then repeat until all of the brown sugar has been incorporated into the dough. Run the mixer another 4 minutes and then pull out a tablespoon of dough. Stretch it to see if it forms a thin translucent "windowpane". If not, try beating another few minutes and test again. The "windowpane" is an indicator that the gluten in your dough has fully developed.

Once it reaches the correct consistency, add the butter cubes to the dough, running the mixer at low speed. Continue to beat until all the butter has been blended into the dough, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl interior. The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point.

Form the dough into a large ball. Butter the interior of a bowl that is 1 1/2 times larger than the dough mass. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place (approx 76 degrees) for one hour. Then place bowl (still covered) in the refrigerator for an overnight rise (8-12 hours).

The next day, prepare two-9 inch round cake pans by greasing the interior and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and punch down. Then, using floured hands, separate dough into 36 equal pieces. Take each piece and roll tightly into a circle. Place about 18 dough balls in each prepared pan, making sure they are placed evenly, touching each other but not losing their circular shape. If you cannot fit them all into the pans, place the extras on a baking sheet. The ones on the baking sheet can be spaced however you desire (round circle, spaced apart, one line, etc).

After placing in/on baking pans, whisk the egg in a small bowl, combining the yolk and white. Brush the surface of the rolls with the whisked egg. Cover each set of rolls lightly with a cloth or paper towel and let rise for one hour and 45 minutes. Also, cover the bowl of egg wash and place in refrigerator for later use.

During the last 15 minutes of rise time, preheat the oven to 380 degrees. Remove the egg wash so it comes to room temperature again.

One the rise time is completed, the surface of the rolls are to get another coating of the egg wash. After that, if you prefer, you can sprinkle the pecans evenly on top of the dough rolls.. Place filled pans in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes. At the 25 minute mark, check the rolls for surface color. If the color of the rolls have darkened enough, cover them lightly with foil and place back in oven. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until light and fluffy. If you have some rolls spaced out on baking sheet or put in individual brioche pans, cut the baking time in half.

Remove pans from the oven and place on rack for 5 minutes and then invert rolls out of pan onto rack and invert again. Let cool completely if storing for later. If serving immediately, let rolls cool until slightly warm to the touch.
                                           **LAST YEAR: Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake**