Tuesdays with Dorie: Coffee-Break Muffins

So as not to pull another last minute TWD baking, I decided to make these muffins on Thursday night.  Conveniently, our friends A. and E. came back from the US on Wednesday so they were able to join us and watch Empire Records together.  That is a classic movie that deserves to be watched every few months so that you always remember how to rock out.  I love the song at the end when Renee Zellweger sings “Sugarhigh”!  It’s probably my favorite part.  So while watching we had some of these muffins and fruit – you know, so that we wouldn’t starve before the Yom Kippur fast that started Friday night (I swear, what is it with Jews and food, either you’re eating too much or you’re not eating at all!!).

Batter - mixed up by hand!

The Little Rocker saw me pulling them out of the oven as she was about to go to bed, so I had to promise her that she could have one in the morning.  I know that I shouldn’t give her caffeine, but I have to be honest, I don’t feel a difference when I have coffee in food, and I don’t notice a difference in her either.

Filling the muffin cups.

Either way, this week’s recipe was hosted by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous.  She chose these muffins, actually a recipe that I skipped over a few times because it didn’t seem my style, not sweet enough I think.  But for Tuesdays with Dorie – I will try anything.  These muffins mixed up in about five minutes (in between bathing the Little Rocker and getting her into pjs) and baked really quickly.  When we tried them, there were mixed reviews.  Everyone said that they tasted good, though Rocker Dude did say that they were a bit bitter.  Rocker Dude’s comment was that it was missing something sweet.  I told him that they didn’t have soymilk which is what I normally bake with, which adds a lot of richness to the end product.  So he said that next time I should add the soymilk, after all, who likes coffee without milk?

Coffee-Break Muffins

For the recipe, check out Rhiani’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Espresso Shortbreads

Yay!  We’re home!  Things have gone back to normal and everyone’s time zones have settled in the correct region.  Things have been a bit tough because the Little Rocker has been at home since we got back to Israel.  Unfortunately, Israel follows the European custom of taking off for the month of August.  This means that there is no daycare, no camp, no nothing.  The assumption is that parents will take off as well.  When I first encountered this, I was shocked.  Coming from America, where everyone works all the time, I couldn’t conceive of an entire country taking off at once.  On top of that, August is one of the busiest seasons at my office as that’s when publicly traded companies report their second quarter earnings, or losses as the case may be.  Thankfully, Rocker Dude is a high school English teacher (they don’t know about his dudeness, we are trying to keep it under cover) so he is also off for the summer.  He has really been stepping in and taking care of the Little Rocker while I go to work.  But she starts daycare today!  Okay it’s only a couple of hours and tomorrow is only half a day, but then on Thursday – full day and life goes back to normal!  Besides, I think she would have more fun playing with kids her age and doing all the arts and crafts than staying home with us.

Mixing up the dough.

Since things have gone back to normal, I obviously had to keep up my Tuesday with Dorie-ing.  This week’s recipe was chosen by Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First – so true!  She chose Chocolate-Espresso Shortbread cookies.  Dorie added another option of making Oatmeal Spice Shortbread cookies.  I really wanted to try that – I love oatmeal cookies, but after a decision-making summit with Rocker Dude, I went with his choice and made chocolate-espresso.

I have never made shortbread cookies before.  I love being a part of this group because it forces to make things that I would not normally make.  So even though I could not make the cookies that I preferred, hey, how could chocolate chip cookies go wrong?

I prepared all the ingredients.  I did not have espresso powder, so I used instant coffee – I think the coffee flavor was still nice and strong.  I mixed it all up in the Kitchen -Aid and then added the chocolate chips.  They were not exactly evenly distributed, but it looked okay.

Rolling out the dough in a bag.

Then the cool part.  I stuck all the dough inside a ziploc bag and rolled it out – no mess!  I got the dough to be pretty rectangular, just one rough edge on the side.  I didn’t have time to let it chill in the fridge for two hours, so I stuck it in the freezer while I watched an episode of Monk, love that show!

Cutting up the cookies - almost perfect squares!

Rocker Dude reminded me that I had cookies that needed to be baked when he said, “Wait a minute, wasn’t I supposed to be getting cookies to try tonight?”  Whoops!  I cut up the cookies into squares and baked them.  Because there was no leavening agent in the dough, I was able to put a lot on one pan.  I baked all the cookies in two batches.

Shortbread cookies!!

We decided to bring them to Rocker Dude’s parents for the weekend, they were well received there.  On Friday night, when I asked Rocker Dude for a review, we had an interesting little conversation.

Me:  So, how did you like the cookies?

RD: Are you happy with the way they came out?  Texture-wise? (If that’s not a leading question I don’t know what is.)

Me:  Well they are supposed to be sandy…

RD: Then you succeeded in your goal admirably.  You made them exactly as they should be made, I just don’t like them that much.  Everyone else liked them so I trust that they were good, I just didn’t like them so much.

Me: Why?!?!

You can see where it went from there.

So verdict: great!  But I definitely want to try the oatmeal spice version, I mean, if Rocker Dude isn’t going to like it anyway, why use his choice?

Chocolate Espresso Shortbread cookies

Check out the recipe at Donna’s site here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

And we’re back!

After a long two week break, we are back and baking up a storm.  Passover is over and we have restocked the kitchen with flour and other baking necessities.  For those who want to see what my house looked like over Passover, see below:

Okay well that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the house was clean and all the cabinets were closed off, etc.  I actually did manage to do a bit of Passover baking, I made thumbprint cookies.  It occurred to me afterward that I could have made Dorie’s Thumbprints for us Big Guys (see post here) because it was almond based and I could substitute matzo meal for the little flour that it has.  Oh well, next year.

The other cake that I baked was Rocker Dude’s most favorite cake in the whole world.  This is a little embarrassing for me, and it shows how much he does not appreciate what I bake.  His favorite cake ever is the Manishewitz Passover Marble Cake MIX.  A mix!!!  And not just any mix, a Passover mix!!!!  This is what it looks like

Apparently you can get it online on Amazon, who knew?

I have to admit that as cake mixes go, and Passover cakes in general, it is not bad.  It is moist and tastes pretty good.  But it’s a mix!!  Oh the horror!  And this is what he begs for me to make him – ahhhh!  So I made it because I love him, and my parents have already bought him another couple boxes (you can only get it in America, so we always have them on the lookout) so that he shouldn’t be deprived for too long.  Oy.

On Friday, I made my own marble cake,  a cardamom and coffee cake.  It never occurred to me that instead of making a traditional chocolate and vanilla marble cake, I could marble to other flavors.  I was flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s book because I didn’t think that one cake would be enough for both Sabbath meals (Friday night and Saturday) as we were having guests at each meal.  More about the other cake later.

I was looking for something easy and fast as I was short on time, and I stumbled across the basic marble cake in the pound cake section.  One of the variations was a cardamom and coffee marble cake.  I love using cardamom and this sounded really interesting.

The cake was really easy to make, basically mix up the ingredients, then separate the batter into two and mix coffee into one half and cardamom into the other half.  Then marbleize them together.  The cake came out a tad dry, but I think it was meant to be on the drier side.  A pound cake should be eaten warm with butter maybe.  I think next time i will try making a syrup to moisten it a bit.  It went very well with a cup of coffee.  Definitely make it again, though maybe I will try one of the other variations that Dorie included.

Recipe:

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 sticks of butter (or margarine)

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp. ground cardamom

2 1/2 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp. boiling water

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Then add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture in three additions and the milk in two additions.  Mix only until each addition is incorporated.

Divide the batter, add the cardamom to one half and the coffee to the other.  Mix each half well.  Then marble the batters together in the pan.  Bake the cake for 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.