Sunday, July 26, 2009

Daring Bakers: Mallomars

The July 2009 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

For this month's challenge, I chose the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies. I really wanted to try both, but I've been super busy with my internship and only had enough time to try one. The marshmallow cookies were intriguing because I've never made marshmallows before and definitely wanted to give it a try.

I wanted to make the marshmallows vegetarian (no gelatin), so I followed one of the recipes on the Daring Bakers Alternative Bakers forum. The recipe uses Xanthan Gum instead of gelatin to achieve the gelatin-like consistency, and it is fantastic! I read some reviews and was worried that the marshmallows would be too runny. But I followed all the steps and holy moly!
It was true...I had marshmallows. And they weren't runny piles of goop, they were just soft and fluffy, like little pillows...little pillows that were a magnet to uhm, everything. Literally. By the time I was done dipping the last cookie, my kitchen had become a marshmallow. Fortunately, it was worth it because this recipe makes some mighty good cookies, and a ton of them! I
only made a third of the recipe and still ended up with about 20 big cookies!

I made two variations of the cookie: for the first type, I added a layer of homemade dulce de leche (think: marshmallows, chocolate, and caramel...oh mama). The other variation was inside out Mallomars: I used a chocolate cookie base and dipped the cookies in white chocolate.

This recipe was definitely a challenge for me - although the individual parts were simple, putting them together was trickier. Also, trying to get the world's stickiest stuff to do what you want is not particularly easy. Still, these cookies were very very tasty and I would definitely recommend this recipe -- just be prepared, you might end up with marshmallow on your ceiling (I did).

The recipe for the cookies is here. Below is the recipe I used for vegetarian marshmallows. I followed the recipe exactly except piped the marshmallows onto the cookies instead of spreading it on a baking pan.

Vegetarian Marshmallows (by Elizabeth Falkner of Demolition Desserts)

• 60 mL water
• pinch of cream of tartar
• 255 g sugar, granulated
• 255 g light corn syrup
• ½ vanilla bean
• 85 g egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
• 5 g xanthan (0.76%)

1. Ground xanthan with a tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.
2. Heat water, cream of tartar, remaining sugar, corn syrup and vanilla to 120ÂșC. Discard vanilla bean. Whisk egg whites for about 2 min until still soft. Continue whipping egg whites at slow speed while adding syrup slowly. Sprinkle xanthan mix while still whipping. Turn speed up and continue mixing for 2-3 min or until meringue pulls away from sides.
3. Sprinkle a pan or baking sheet generously with cornstarch and spread out the meringue. Sprinkle top with cornstarch, cover with plastic and leave to set for 4 hours in a refrigerator. Cut marshmallows into desired shapes and dip cut surfaces in cornstarch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dulce De Leche

After making a half recipe of Magic Cookie Bars, I had some leftover condensed milk. I'd recently seen some dulce de leche recipes which use condensed milk, and although I've always wanted to make it, I was a bit intimidated. The possibility of exploding cans and spurting liquids combined with my luck in the kitchen was not a good combination. So I did some research and found a fool-proof, no explosions recipe for sweet delicious dulce de leche. Woot!

The recipe was really simple, and the ducle de leche came out great. My only advice with this recipe is to ditch the whisk and just use a spoon to stir it up. Although a whisk would still work, I found that much of the dulce de leche just ended up stuck in the wires of my whisk. Plus, licking the stuff off a spoon is so much easier than trying to lick a whisk clean.

Explosion Free Dulce de Leche (by David Lebovitz)

1. Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).
2. Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.
3. Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.
4. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).
5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, stir with spoon until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Magic Cookie Bars

This is it folks -- the mother of all desserts: Magic Bars. These little babies combine my three favorite dessert ingredients: chocolate (of course!), caramel, and nuts.

There are many different names for these bars: Magic Cookie Bars, Hello Dolly Bars, Seven-Layer Bars, and (the very creative) Chocolate Coconut Bars. But they all equal the same thing: a dessert so rich that you only need about one piece to satisfy your sweet tooth. Unless you have my sweet tooth, which means you'll eat until your stomach hurts.

I combined a few of the recipes I found to make a more wholesome version of this recipe. Notice I didn't say "lighter" version, just "wholesome". So even though they're still loaded with calories, they'll make you fuller, which means you'll eat less of them. Unless, of course, you're like me. I think I may have a problem.

Magic Cookie Bars
  • 1 cup whole wheat graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 Tb brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 325°F . Line a 8x8-inch baking pan.
2. In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, oatmeal, brown sugar, and butter; mix well.
Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom of baking pan.
3. Sprinkle chocolate chips, coconut and pecans on top. Pour the condensed milk evenly.
4. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until slightly golden on top.
5. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Monday, July 6, 2009

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I was almost starting to believe it wasn't possible: 100% whole wheat bread made at home that doesn't taste like a stale crouton. I tried so many whole wheat bread recipes and either (1) they didn't make a 100% whole wheat bread (ie. they called for some all-purpose or bread flour) or (2) the bread had the texture and feel of something I want to throw at idiot drivers who cut me off when I'm riding my bike. And just as I was starting to lose hope that it was actually possible to make tasty, soft, 100% whole wheat bread at home, I found it -- THE perfect recipe.

The original recipe is from King Arthur Flour, but I found it at Cooking for Seven, which by the way has some great recipes which are tweaked to please us healthy-type folks.

100% Whole Wheat Bread (adapted from King Arthur Flour via Cooking for Seven)


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal, 10 grain cereal, wheat germ, etc. (optional and very good)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

To prepare the dough:

(Hand Method) Combine all of the ingredients, and mix them till you have a shaggy dough. The dough will seem wet, but remember: wetter is better. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes, then knead till smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

(Mixer Method) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all ingredients and mix them till you have a shaggy dough. The dough will seem wet, but remember: wetter is better. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, then knead by machine until fairly smooth, about 10 minutes. Allow dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

(Bread Machine Method) Place all ingredients in bread machine pan and set to dough cycle.

To Shape the Loaves

After the dough has risen, gently deflate the dough, shape it into a log, and place it in a lightly greased large (9×5 inch) bread pan or two small bread pans. Cover the pan with a towel*(see note below) or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes-1 hour, till it’s crowned about 2 inches over the rim of the pan. Preheat your oven to 350°F about halfway through the rising time.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until it turns a deep brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Yield: 1 large or 2 small loaves.

* I've found that if I place the towel directly on the dough, it sometimes causes the loaf to deflate when I take the towel off. I think a better approach (the BF discovered this) is to prop the towel over the bread (using 4 small jars on each corner of the bread pan) to make sure there is no direct contact between the towel and the dough.