Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Experimenting can lead to failure AND tasty treats

So, I figured since a lot of my time consists of baking, thinking about baking, or trying to find someone to bake for, I would post my most recent adventures in the kitchen.

Sunday I was feeling good, had lots of kitchen energy, and decided to attempt THREE new recipes. Biscotti, Ladyfingers, and Florentines. I started with biscotti, using Valrhona cocoa powder (chocolate biscotti if you haven't guessed by now). Maybe it was the humidity? The biscotti dough was a gloppy, sticky mess. I had to dump cups and cups of flour just to get it to not stick to my hands. So, even though my biscotti was absolutely delicious (I was a bit naughty and dipped them in Scharffen Berger dark chocolate), the bottoms are a little white from the boat loads of flour.

You obviously can't tell from the picture, but here's the finished product! I don't think I've eaten a square meal since these came into creation.
My next project was ladyfingers. And I FAILED. I couldn't get enough air into the batter apparently, because they came out flat and looking like crepes. I did not take a picture of this horrible experience, as it does result in a first attempt failure of #12 on the list? Remember #12?

12. My personal goal...make Tiramisu completely from scratch, ladyfingers and everything! And then eat it of course!

I was going to make Tiramisu for my birthday, but now I'll just have to whip something up that is equally delicious since I already invited people over to help me eat it. I promise promise promise I will try again (I have to keep saying that or it won't happen).
After dumping the crapfingers in the trash, I was feeling very low. I was very happy to have left the most interesting and easiest recipe for last.

Chocolate dipped florentines! These beauties are so delish, and totally gluten free! Look at that golden glow they have, don't you just want to eat them right up? I know I do (and will).
Chocolate-Dipped Florentines
20-25 cookies
Adapted from David Lebovitz
The original recipe calls for orange zest, but I can imagine you could use a drop of orange oil if you have that on hand. I used almond extract because I LOVE the almond flavor that you get in almond muffins. Also, you can place these very close together on the baking sheet, as they do not spread during baking.

1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/3 cup (50g) powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup (130g) blanched sliced almonds
a good pinch of flaky sea salt (I used regular course sea salt)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush very lightly with neutral vegetable oil.

3. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients.

4. Keep a small bowl of cold water and a fork near where you're working.

5. Dip your hand in the cold water before lifting each portion of almonds, and place heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of the batter evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet.

6. Once you've covered the baking sheet, dip the fork in cold water to flatten the cookies as much as possible. Try to avoid having many gaps between the almonds.

7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Exact time will vary based on how large your cookies are. The authors recommend lifting the bottom of one with a metal spatula to check and see if they're cooked through. If they're not brown across the top and bottom, they won't be agreeably crispy.

8. Let cookies cool, then lift with a thin metal spatula and place them on a cooling rack until crisp. Continue baking all the cookies on the same baking sheet. (I found no need to re-oil it between uses.)

Store Florentines in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To Coat the Cookies with Chocolate

To coat one side with chocolate, melt a few ounces of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in a clean, dry bowl, stirring until smooth. Use a brush or metal spatula to coat the underside of each cookie with a thin layer of chocolate. Let cool in a cool place or the refrigerator until firm. Once firm, store Florentines in an airtight container at room temperature.

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