Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Graham Crackers #2

I've made graham crackers before, and am still on the lookout for the end all, beat all graham cracker recipe. These were really good, and I think I'm getting closer. These taste very much like honey- there's a lot of honey in them. I tried on a later batch to add some molasses and it helped- I think I did 50/50. I just love making my own s'mores- from graham cracker to marshmallow. I've stopped just short of making my own chocolate.

Graham Crackers
(from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000) reprinted from 101cookbooks.
Yield: 24 smaller crackers
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover (CC note: this is an important element: use high-quality honey)or 50/50 honey/molasses
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

Chill cookie sheets with silpats.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 3 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 3 inches to make crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Strawberry Ice Cream

So I know this doesn't look too appetizing. But it tastes very good! To get that pink color, some people add some food coloring, or you could add some raspberry sauce. I actually have some in the freezer. This was made using the vanilla ice cream base from Lindsey Shere (Chez Panisse), and adding Rose Levy Beranbaum's Strawberry Sauce.

Vanilla Ice Cream

4 inch piece of a vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. good vanilla)
1 cup half and half
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks (at room temperature)

If using a vanilla bean-Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the fine black seeds into a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod, half and half, cream, and sugar, and warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

If using good vanilla- Combine good vanilla, half and half, cream, and sugar in a saucepan. Warm the mixture stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.

Whisk the egg yolks just enough to mix them and whisk in some of the hot misture. Return to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. (Drag your finger down the back of your wooden spoon. It should leave a clear trail.)

If using a vanilla bean-Strain through a medium-fine strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed, scraping as much of the vanilla through the strainer as you can. Return the bean pod to the mixture, put in a container, seal and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

If using good vanilla-Strain through a medium-fine strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed. Add fruit sauce. Put in a container, seal and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Freeze according to instructions on your ice cream maker, (removing vanilla bean first). Store the ice cream in a plastic container.

Strawberry Sauce

20 ounces fresh strawberries
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Freeze the berries. Thaw them in a collander or strainer suspended over a bowl. (This could take several hours.) Pres them to force out their juice. There shoould be close to 1 1/4 cups of juice.
In a small saucepan, boil the juice until reduced to 1/4 cup. Pour it into a glass measuring cup.
In a food precessor, puree the strawberries. You should have 1 full liquid cup of puree. Stir in the strawberry syrup and lemon juice. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
(I added 1/4 cup of this to the base mixture.)

S'more Pie

We weren't going to do anything on the 4th of July this year. It was too close to coming back from our trip to Connecticut, and we didn't want to go through the hassle of trying to keep the kids up to watch fireworks. Until- husband called me on Thursday- July 3rd- and said, "Hey, the B's aren't doing anything tomorrow either. Do you want to have them over?" I said, "Sure. I know just what I'll make for dessert!". I've been holding on to this recipe for a couple of years. It appeared in the November 2006 issue of Gourmet. I thought it was a really strange thing to make for Thanksgiving, although the reviews indicate that many people had it for their Thanksgiving dessert. So how was it? It was good. Sweet, very sweet. Be careful with browning the top. It can go from yummy brown goodness to black disaster in a heartbeat. I used semisweet chocolate instead of the bittersweet it calls for.

S'more Pie

Active time: 45 min
Start to finish: 7 hr (includes making crust and chilling pie)
Servings: Makes 8 servings.

For crust
1 graham cracker crumb crust, baked and cooled completely (recipe below)

For chocolate cream filling
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not more than 70% cacao; not unsweetened), finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes

For marshmallow topping
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for greasing

Special equipment: a candy thermometer.


Make graham cracker crumb crust and reserve.

Make chocolate cream filling:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined and pour into graham cracker crumb crust (crust will be about half full).

Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.

Make marshmallow topping:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.

Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.

Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.

Brown topping:
Preheat broiler.
Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.

Cooks' notes:
• To take the temperature of a shallow amount of syrup, put bulb in saucepan and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end against rim of saucepan. Check temperature frequently.
• Pie (before browning topping) can be chilled up to 1 day.

Graham Cracker Crust

Active time: 10 min
Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr

Servings: Makes enough for a 9- to 9 1/2-inch pie.


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (10 graham crackers or 24 small gingersnaps; about 6 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Special equipment: a 9- to 9 1/2-inch pie plate (4-cup capacity)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie plate.

Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Cook's notes:
• To make cookie crumbs, break up crackers or cookies into small pieces, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.