Frangipane-Prune Tart

Dried-fruit producers clearly are trying to rehab the poor prune’s image, from being associated with — as a recent New York Times article wrote — “constipated octogenarians praying on spoonfuls of paste.” The Times‘ article explained that in the early 2000s, the California Prune Board

officially changed its name to the California Dried Plum Board, hoping to avoid the association entirely. “We thought maybe the stigma was too much of a challenge for us to overcome,” Donn Zea, the board’s director, [said]. And “dried plum” was an accurate description: “It’s a plum. It grows on a tree. We dry them.”

Read the article here. And then bake the Frangipane-Prune Tart.

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Here’s my tart. I used the crust from another Times’ frangipane tart recipe.

Forget any stigma. It’s a plum. It grows on a tree. It’s dried. And gee is it great, steeped in earl grey tea, in this terrific tart. I might have leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

 

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Mocha-ricotta puffs

Every time I open Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Dorie’s Cookies, I find something….too many somethings…I want to bake. But today picking a recipe was easy.

Often what I cook or bake depends on what we have in the fridge and what needs to be used up. For example, the crumbs from various boxes of cereal went into sourdough bread this weekend, substituting for the seeds and flaked grains the recipe called for. (Yeah, that bread did indeed come out a little dense.) We also had some ricotta that needed to be used, so when Spouse said he wanted to make pancakes for breakfast, I suggested that he use Mark Bittman’s lemon-ricotta pancakes, instead of his go-to, which is another Bittman recipe.

But even after those pancakes, we still had ricotta left over. Luckily, Dorie Greenspan has a cookie for that: mocha-ricotta puffs.

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Mine turned out a bit darker than the recipe in her book, probably because I used a tad bit more instant espresso than the recipe called for.

They’re terrific little cookies. Ricotta and yogurt make them tender yet substantial. They still have crisp edges.

They would make excellent sandwich cookies, with either a ganache or vanilla filling.

Speaking of how my cookies look compared to the photo accompanying a recipe: In my last post about Moroccan semolina and almond cookies, I noted that my cookies did not look like those in the photo that accompanied the New York Times’ recipe. They do, however, look like the cookies in the photo that accompanies the source recipe: Greenspan’s cookie book! You can see the photo that Greenspan uses in her book here.

Moroccan semolina and almond cookies

I’m a big fan of almonds. Whole, slivered, pulverized into almond butter, milled into flour. I’m always on the lookout for recipes – preferably cookies or other baked goods — that use almonds.

My recent favorite cookie: a semolina-and-almond cookie from the NY Times’ food website adapted from other sources. Mine don’t look like the NY Times’ photo, and I can’t figure out why, despite multiple batches. I’ve adjusted the amount of pressure I used to make the indentation; the amount of powdered sugar they are dredged in; and I weigh my ingredients.

Even though they look a bit ragged, they’re excellent.

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The recipe calls for orange-blossom water. The cookies are good just with vanilla, but they’re even better with the orange-blossom water.

Get the recipe here:
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018451-moroccan-semolina-and-almond-cookies

Olive oil and wine cookies, or my SFW made-up name: “les vins-d’huiles”

Dorie Greenspan has a new book, “Dorie’s Cookies.” While I was placing a reservation for it at my public library, I thought I would revisit her previous book, “Baking Chez Moi” img_2957this week.

Today’s pick out of the book: olive oil and wine cookies. I’m constantly amazed at how a few ingredients can change the character of all-purpose flour.

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Greenspan has published her write-up about the cookies and the recipe here.

For the wine, I used my favorite cheap riesling from Trader Joe’s.

I need to make the recipe again to get the right shaping. My cookies don’t look exactly like Greenspan’s. What’s not to like about needing to open another bottle of wine?

Assuming we have sufficient cookies to share, I wonder about sending them to work with family members. Are they NSFW because of the wine content? Maybe I’ll make up a less overtly descriptive name for them. Greenspan writes that they are a specialty of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, so maybe something like les vins-d’huiles.

 

Pumpkin Maple Muffins

It’s pumpkin-spice-latte season, with all of its implications. If you prefer to eat your pumpkin and spice in a muffin, try these pumpkin maple muffins from The New York Times.

The browned butter makes this recipe, so don’t skip it.

Two warnings:

  1. The recipe calls for 1½ cups/355 grams of pumpkin purée. As the recipe notes, this is about one 15-ounce can. But don’t use the whole can. If you do, you will end up with muffins that are too moist to properly rise.
  2. Each time I’ve baked this recipe, I’ve ended up with more batter than a standard 12-muffin pan accommodates. I follow the standard fill-your-muffin-cups-three-quarters-of-the-way-full rule. Maybe I’m too conservative with my batter.

Although this is an excellent recipe, I thought the muffins needed just a little something. So I added a streusel topping.

 

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Here’s an all-purpose streusel recipe:

Flour: 6.8 oz
Brown sugar: 5 oz
Cinnamon: ½ tsp
Pinch of salt
Butter, cold, cubed 5 oz

Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low. Add butter cubes and mix until crumbly. Chill.

I sprinkled about 1 tablespoon on the top of each muffin before baking.

This recipe makes a lot of streusel. Store the rest in the fridge for future muffins or other baked goods that need a little something.

 

 

 

Lemon pound cake

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Lemon pound cake

Butter 3.25 oz
Sugar 3.6 oz
Eggs 1.75 oz
Lemon zest .5 tsp
Lemon juice 1.5 tsp
Cake flour 3.5 oz
Baking powder .5 tsp
Baking soda .5 tsp
Sour cream 3.5 oz
Salt 1/8 tsp

 

  1. Butter/oil loaf pan
  2. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  4. Slowly add eggs and lemon zest and juice
  5. Slowly add sour cream
  6. Add dry ingredients; mix gently
  7. Bake @350F for 30-35 mins or until a cake tester comes out clean
  8. Cool for 5 mins in pan, then turn out onto cooling rack
  9. Options:
    1. Leave unadorned
    2. Sift powdered sugar over top
    3. Mix up a simple syrup to which you add some lemon zest or juice; while cake is warm, use a skewer or similar object to poke holes in it; dribble syrup over cake so syrup soaks into holes
    4. Mix up a simple liquidy lemon icing (cup of powdered sugar with enough lemon juice and cream to make it liquidy); once cake is completely cook, dribble icing over top

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