Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shortbread Cookies

I have been eying this recipe for years.  I have watched Ina Garten make these cookies on the Food Network numerous times, and I have looked at the recipe on the Food Network website on more than one occasion.  I don't know what held me back from giving them a try.  I made some sub-par shortbread many years ago, and I guess I just did not want another disappointment.  Well no need to fear - these turned out great!  I left some of the cookies plain and dipped some of the cookies in chocolate.  The only change I made to the recipe was to use a round cookie cutter because I did not have a finger-shaped cutter.  Overall, these cookies were all wonderful and I will definitely use this recipe again.

From Ina Garten

3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3 by 1-inch finger-shaped cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
4. When the cookies are cool, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smooth and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
5. Drizzle 1/2 of each cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

French Silk Pie

I am in the midst of a wonderful four-day weekend, thanks to a Friday off and the President's Day holiday.  I did all of my major errands on Friday and Saturday, so today I decided it was time to bake.  Of course I couldn't decide what I wanted to make so I asked my husband if he had any ideas.  My husband said he would like a pie.  Then he said he would like a chocolate pie.  We discussed different types of chocolate pies, settling on the light and airy French silk.  When looking through recipes, it appeared that many recipes for French silk pie contain raw eggs.  Yes, I sample raw cookie dough and cake batters when I'm baking, but for some reason the idea of eating a pie with three raw eggs in it bothers me.  Luckily, this recipe does not contain raw eggs.  Oh, and this pie turned out to be delicious.  It was light and airy in texture with a rich chocolatey taste.  My husband declared the pie a success, and I can almost guarantee that I will catch him eating pie for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Adapted from Taste of Home

1 baked 9-inch pie pastry
1 cup sugar 
3 eggs 
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted 
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar 
Whipped cream and chocolate curls, optional

1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and eggs until well blended. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160° and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat. Stir in chocolate and vanilla until smooth. Cool to lukewarm (90°), stirring occasionally.  

2. In a small bowl, cream butter and salt until light and fluffy. Add cooled chocolate mixture; beat on high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  

3. In another large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture.  

4. Pour filling into crust. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.