Chocolate….Silk Pie

And now for something a little different. No stone fruit this week. This week is all about chocolate. Smooth and silky and rich chocolate.

Creamy chocolate.
Creamy chocolate.

For the past few weeks I have been really enjoying the peach season. Unfortunately, the cherry crop this year was not so successful so I am having trouble letting myself buy a tiny container of cherries for an exorbitant amount of money. It’s just not happening this year. Hopefully next year there will be a better crop and I can add some variety to the stone fruit season. Even apricots seemed to have an unusually short season this year. They were in stores for about a month, maybe less. I feel like I turned around and they were gone. So I apologize for the lack of apricot recipes as well.Chocolate Silk Pie

But enough of fruit. I know what you all really love, chocolate! And to think that when I was a kid I hated chocolate.  Apparently I just never had any well-made chocolate desserts until I was an adult. When I was trying to decide what to make this week, I honestly felt at a loss. Actually it was more than that – there is a Hebrew expression – choser onim – which basically means helpless, but much more so – like you have no direction and you can’t see success anywhere. That was me. I had no idea what to make – for dinner, for dessert – nada. So I started with what I needed to use – the vegetables from our csa. Okay, pumpkin souffle. Done, Chicken… prepared bbq sauce. Done. Dessert… okay now we are stumped.  Fruit? Not really in the mood for making a pie crust. Chocolate? What about it? Just brownies or something fancier? On top of my indecision, I also had social events to plan around, first and foremost  was Rocker Dude’s premier as a singer!

Rocker Dude got involved in a Linkin Park tribute show and auditioned to rap for two of the songs – “Bleed it Out” and “Faint”. Not only that, but he started the show!! So I, as a supportive wife, had to go to the show in Tel Aviv on Thursday night (seriously putting a dent in my Thursday night prep time). It was great to hear Rocker Dude sing, and I am also a huge fan of Linkin Park in general and they played all of their older music so it was an enjoyable show all around. Go Rocker Dude!

The Little Rocker adds whipped cream.
The Little Rocker adds whipped cream.

Back to our baking dilemma, on Thursday afternoon I went to a baking supply store to get vanilla extract (they have the quality stuff) and some high quality chocolate. (And I wanted to buy out the whole store.) I then stopped at the supermarket for a few more things, like figs. And that messed up the amorphous thoughts of dessert floating through my mind. Chocolate or figs?

In order to make help make my decision, I narrowed down the options. Rocker Dude has rules about when he helps me make decisions. First, I have to narrow down the options to the two or three options that I think are best. Then he will decide between what is left. So I gave him the options of Chocolate Silk Pie and Fig, Honey-Almond Tart. As he is a man of simple tastes (and figs are not one of them), you can imagine what he chose – the Chocolate Silk Pie. But he said that it shouldn’t be too chocolatey. Oy.

After licking the spatula.
After licking the spatula.

This pie is a rich, creamy dessert that really showcases the chocolate. With a chocolate cookie crust, a truffle filling and a whipped cream topping, it is decadence personified. Can a dessert be personified? Hmm.

This is  a multi-step dessert, involving pasteurizing eggs (no no one gets food poisoning or anything) and then chilling the chocolate filled pie and topping with whipped cream. This dessert is really rich and delicious and even for me – one piece is enough, but so worth it.

Chocolate Silk Pie
Chocolate Silk Pie

It is also a great summer dessert as the pie is nice and cool. Hopefully next week we will have the Fig Honey-Almond Tart. Rocker Dude will have to suffer with it then :).

Also, a sponsored announcement right now. On August 22nd, Rocker Dude is producing an amazing tribute rock concert: Rock4Rookies Live!!! He is celebrating 5 years of his podcast with a concert by some of Israel’s best rockers. So anyone who will be in Israel then should come to the show!! The link to the Facebook event is here. Now you all know why we call him Rocker Dude! And check out his show here.

Recipe (From The Art and Soul of Baking):

Crust:
7 oz. chocolate sandwich cookies
3/4 stick butter/margarine, melted

Filling:
3 large eggs
6 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 stick butter/margarine
10 oz. good quality bittersweet or a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate (up to 70% cacao)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grind up the cookies in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.  Set aside about 1/4 of crumbs to top the pie. Mix the crumbs with the butter or margarine. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a pie plate and up the sides as well. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

In a heat proof bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. In a saucepan, heat two inches of water. Reduce to simmer and place the bowl over the pot. Keep whisking the egg mixture together as you slowly heat it. Using an instant read thermometer, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. If some of your eggs scrambled, pour the mixture through a sieve into the mixing bowl so that you don’t get egg clumps. Beat the eggs on high speed for three minutes.

While the eggs are beating, add the chocolate, cream and margarine to the bowl over the pot of boiling water. Let sit for a minute and then gently mix until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture while the mixer is still going at medium speed. Mix until there is no longer a trace of the eggs. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Pour the chocolate into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To make the topping, beat the cream and confectioner’s sugar in a mixing bowl until you have soft peaks. You can pipe the cream decoratively over the chocolate or use a spatula. Sprinkle reserved cookie crumbs over the cream.

The pie will keep in the fridge for three days, though the cream might start to break down after the first day.

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Tuesday’s With Dorie: Chockablock Cookies

Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet chose this week’s recipe.

These cookies are chock-full of goodness!  I made them last Tuesday for our Israeli Independence Day BBQ.  We had friends over and of course we needed dessert.  I decided to make the TWD recipe a bit earlier than I normally do and let everyone enjoy them. They came at just the right time, as I was really jonesing for a delicious chewy cookie with a lot of texture.

Rocker Dude went to watch a practice for the Bar Ilan University Acting Society’s play for this semester.  (Among everything else that he does, he is also one of the heads of the BIAS organization.  It means that he helps choose a director for each semester and approves the play chosen, and directs and acts here and there.  Check out the BIAS site for more info here.  We actually got engaged while we were both acting in The Three Musketeers.)  So I figured I would surprise him and have the cookies ready when he got back.

These cookies were a cinch to mix up and are the perfect cookie to make when you are in the mood for cookies and you don’t feel like waiting forever for them to be done.  I didn’t want to put in all the additions, such as the coconut – we are both not great fans of coconut.  But I did sneak in the crushed walnuts.  I didn’t tell Rocker Dude that there were nuts in the cookies, I’ll bet that I’ll hear about it tonight after he reads this ;).  I love oatmeal based cookies and these are a close runner-up to Dorie’s  Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.

Here is the batter all mixed up.

And this is the best part – licking the beater.  If a cookies batter doesn’t taste good straight off the beater then it does not bode well for the finished product.

And here are cookies just waiting to be eaten.

Check out the recipe on Mary’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.

Flower Cookie Pops

This is still a post about Purim – I made a lot so I’m going to write all about it.  On Purim there is a commandment to give gifts of food to others.  It is really to help them have a feast, but it has become a whole thing where people do themes and buy containers that match their theme and even dress up to match their theme.  I like to do themes, but because I am not the most creative person in the world, nor do I want to spend $15 on each package, I tend to keep it toned down.  This year we had one plan and then my father-in-law bought my daughter a flower costume.  So we ditched the first idea and went with a new one – “The Garden of Eatin’ ” (Garden of Eden – ring a bell?).  I have a hundred cookie cutters, so I figured I might as well use them.  We, or really I, wanted to do three cookie flowers and two candy flowers on sticks – cookie pops!  (If you want to see really cool cake pops by the specialist see Bakerella’s blog – http://www.bakerella.com/).

I set about gathering the supplies.  This meant yet another trip to the supermarket to get yet more flour and margarine – I swear I could keep the flour, sugar, eggs and margarine industries afloat single handedly.  We also went to the candy store to look for a fruit roll-up like candy.  Because this is Israel, we did not find fruit roll-ups or anything similar, but I did find marshmallow strawberries.  I can stick a stick in that.  Great.

I went to yet a different store for the wrapping goods, i.e. lollipop sticks, little cellophane bags, twistie ties and ribbon.  And we got some decorating sugar to put on top of the cookies – I knew that I was not going to have time to ice them.

Then I put everything aside until Saturday night.  I started to make the dough – so far, so good.  Creaming margarine – check.  Sugar – uh oh.  I only had one cup of sugar – I needed two.  It was 10:00 at night on a holiday – not a store was open and S. was asleep so I couldn’t leave the house (M. was at a party with anyone I would have borrowed sugar from).  What to do?  I tore apart my cabinets, hoping against all hope that there was a bag sugar hiding in the back of something somewhere.  I was out of luck.  I did find 2 1/2 lbs. of Splenda Baking Blend sugar.  It is a 50/50 mix of sugar and Splenda and it’s meant to bake better than regular Splenda.  I bought it as part of my neverending quest to lose weight, and when I used it the first time, the cake came out rather dense.  Now, this also might have been because I used baking powder that had expired (always make sure your baking powder is fresh), but I have been wary of it ever since.  So I’m stuck.  The only other sugar I found was confectioner’s sugar – I had a lot of that, I probably planned on making frosting at some point and never did.  So my brilliant plan (if I do say so myself) was to substitute one cup of confectioner’s sugar and just cut down on the flour a bit.  Great, now that’s settled.  Cream sugar with margarine, uh oh, it’s starting to look like frosting – this was not in the plan.  Okay quick, add the eggs.  Because I was using medium eggs instead of large eggs I decided to add extra egg to make up for it – five eggs instead of four.  Okay, not bad yet.  I mixed everything else in, went really easy on the flour, I figured better that I have to add more flour later when I roll it out than add too much now.  All’s well and good.  We have a nice soft sugar cookie dough ready to be refrigerated.  I let them cool for about two hours while I finished cleaning up the house after the party we had Saturday morning.

When I took the dough out to roll, it was very sticky, so I floured my surface generously and kneaded in the flour until the dough was of the right consistency.  I knew that to make these cookies stay on the sticks and not break off they would have to be very thick.  As I mentioned earlier, I have trouble rolling things out thickly, they always end up thinner than planned.  So this time I was really conscientious.  I kept them really thick and very carefully pressed the sticks into the dough before I sprinkled decorating sugar on top.  I was a bit worried because these cookies do not rise, they have no leavening agent in them.  I forgot about the extra egg, and maybe the confectioner’s sugar.  Either way, when I took these cookies out of the oven, they had risen just a tiny bit which actually helped stabilize the stick inside the cookie.  It was working!!  (As you can see I am still psyched about this.)

Anyway, by 12:30 am, I had about 35 cookies on sticks and most of them were even wrapped in their little bags.  I saved the wrapping of the last batch for the morning as I was completely spent.  In the morning I finished wrapping them and tied each “bouquet” together.  They looked really cool.  I sent M. to deliver them, I wanted him to take the baby as well so that she could get out, but the weather was really weird, one minute there is a hailstorm and the next minute it is sunny without a cloud in the sky.  We had been having this weather for about three days, so I didn’t want the baby to get caught in anything.  But I made hubby carry the bouquets in a basket, haha!  One of the cookies broke a tiny bit when I put it on the cooling rack, so baby and I shared it.  Let me tell you that everything tastes better when it is on a stick!

And here is my little flower (I can assure you, that hat did not last long on her head – I ended up just putting in little flower ponytail holders in her hair):

Recipe:

2 cups butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

5 medium eggs

2 tbsp. vanilla

2 tsp. salt

5 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling out

Decorator’s sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat each egg and beat for one minute.  Add vanilla.  Add the flour and salt and mix only until just combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll out the dough and cut shapes.  I used a butterfly shape, a tulip shape, and regular flower shape and left the dough really thick.  It needs to hold the stick firmly.  Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Carefully, but firmly press the stick into the cookie (you can use lollipop sticks or chopsticks or anything else that is oven safe).  Sprinkle tops with sugar and bake.

Bake for 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Let cool on a rack.

Purim Hamantashen

Purim is coming and for those of you who don’t know, it is the day when Jews drink a lot and give food to lots of people while dressed in costumes (kind of like Halloween, but the opposite).  Additionally, on Saturday morning we are having a get-together for our couples friends at about 11:00 am.  And on top of that, the Daring Bakers’ challenge is do soon, so I had to get going on my tiramisu.  As you can imagine, I have been baking like a crazy person since Monday.  Conveniently, or not so, S. was sick with coxsackie virus on Sunday and Monday, so that gave me a few hours while she was sleeping to get some stuff done.  I made the mascarpone cheese – more about that in the post about the challenge.  I made two pastry creams, sabayon, tart crusts, lady fingers, and of course tons of hamantashen.

Hamantashen are a traditional Purim treat.  They are a essentially a sugar cookie with a jam or other filling.  They are triangular in shape, supposedly to represent the triangular shape of Haman’s hat.  (Haman was the  bad guy who wanted to kill the Jews during the whole Purim story thing).  I love hamantashen – they are probably my favorite cookie – I love this time of year when all the bakeries are well stocked with treats.  The only issue is that here in Israel they have very boring, traditional fillings like poppy seed, prune, chocolate, and hazelnut.  I love fruit flavors like apricot, or blueberry, or strawberry.  So I have to make them myself.  I made sure to buy a huge jar of strawberry jam with lots of margarine and flour.

I wanted to use my traditional sugar cookie recipe that I always use, but hubby, darling hubby, said, “Don’t your sugar cookies always come out hard?  Why don’t you just buy some?”  Ummm… right.  So with that vote of confidence, I set out to make my hamantashen.  I made sure to take out the margarine and the eggs before I put the baby in her bath and put her to bed, so that they would have time to warm up.  Then I analyzed what I did wrong in the past that might make my cookies hard.  So, I believe that it is because I roll them out to thin.  I tend to have that issue with pie crusts as well.  What I need for my birthday (hint hint) are those guides that you put on your rolling pin that don’t let you roll out the dough too thin.

So this time I was meticulous about keeping the dough nice and thick, anyway, it had to stand up to the jam that was going to be put inside.  It meant that sometimes I had to reroll the dough, but at least my cookies came out nice and thick.

Making hamantashen is really simple, and I think that some people may be put off because they think that it is more complicated than it really is.  All you need is a good sugar cookie recipe, a rolling pin and a circular cookie cutter (or a glass or other round cutter).  Oh yeah, and filling.

Here is a short tutorial on how to shape the hamantashen:

Step 1: in the center of the circle of dough, place 1 tsp. of filling.  Then pinch the top “sides” to make a point, like so:

Then pinch the next corner at the side:

And of course, the last side:

See what a nice triangle it makes?  Make sure to leave a little hole in the middle so you can see what flavor your hamantash is.

Here is a whole tray ready to go into the oven,

And here they are cooling on the rack,

Let’s just say that when I asked hubby if the cookies were hard, the answer was most definitely “no.”  They were perfectly chewy and delicious.

Feel free to dress them up a bit by dipping a corner into melted chocolate and then in colorful sprinkles!

Recipe:

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

3 cups flour

Strawberry jam (or any other flavor), or chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat each egg and beat for one minute.  Add vanilla.  Add the flour and salt and mix only until just combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll out the dough and cut circles.  I used a four inch circle cutter and left the dough really thick.  It needs to stand up to the jam center.  Scoop 1 tsp. of jam into the center of the circle and then fold up the sides and pinch the corners to form a triangle.

Bake for 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Let cool on a rack.

Enjoy!

Happy Purim!