White Chocolate Covered Caramelized Matzoh

Just a little reminder that caramelized matzoh is delicious and easy to make.  I experimented with toppings this time around, and instead of my go-to favorite toppings of semi-sweet chocolate and smoked almonds, I made a white chocolate version topped with chocolate sprinkles and flaked sea salt.  Initially I worried that the white chocolate version would  be cloyingly sweet, but all works well together (especially with sea salt sprinkled on top).  This time I used slightly salted matzoh (instead of unsalted).  You can find the recipe here.

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Vanilla Bean Tuiles

One day, several months ago, I had grand dreams of making the best fortune cookies ever.  So, I found a vanilla bean tuile cookie recipe that looked manageable, got my fortunes to be stuffed inside the cookies ready, and started baking.  Sadly my first attempt at a fortune cookie resulted in the paper fortune sticking to the cookie, and my dreams were dashed in an instant.  I decided the only way to salvage my dream was to roll up the cookie into a cigar-shaped tuile and cast aside the fortunes.  Well, 5 minutes later (after the cookie had cooled), I took a bite of my tuile and declared it one of the most delicious things I’ve ever baked.  The butter and vanilla really shine through in these cookies.  They’re extra rich, very light, and delightfully crispy and crunchy.

A few things to keep in mind if you decide to bake these cookies.  1.  It make take some time to bake up all the batter as you’ll need to individually shape the cookies while they’re warm, so don’t put more than two baking pans in the oven (unless you have several pairs of hands helping you shape the cookies).  I only baked one cookie sheet at a time (with only 6 cookies per cookie sheet) to ensure I could work quickly enough to shape the cookies while they were warm.  So, you’ll have to find the technique and rhythm that works best for you.  2.  It helps to have fingertips that can withstand some heat as these should be rolled as soon as it’s bearable to touch them after they’ve been removed from the oven. So tender fingers should be especially careful.  3.  You’ll need to line your cookie sheets with silicone baking mats.  The original recipe states that you can use heavy-duty foil, dull side up, but I haven’t tried that.  You’ve been forewarned!

Vanilla Bean Tuiles-AMedrich

Vanilla Bean Tuiles

Makes about forty 2 1/2 inch tuiles
(from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm,  plus extra for greasing the pan liners
2/3 cup (4.625 ounces) sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (I used an equal amount of vanilla bean paste)
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  3. If using foil, smooth it to remove any wrinkles, which would distort the cookies. Grease the silicone mats or the foil lightly but thoroughly with melted butter.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until blended.
  5. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  6. Drop level teaspoons of the batter 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets.  Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, and in a circular motion, spread the batter evenly in 2 1/2 inch rounds about 1/16 inch thick.
  7. Bake, watching carefully, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tuiles are golden brown half to three-quarters of the way to the center but still pale in the center.
  8. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. If the cookies are not baked long enough, they will not be completely crisp when cool.

     8a.  If Using Silicone Mats (This is the method I used) – As soon as you can, use a thin metal spatula to 1) transfer a cookie to a rack to cool flat or 2) shape it by draping it over a rolling pin, nestling it into a little cup, or rolling it into a cigar shape with your fingers (the last option is the one I did). Try to work as quickly as possible to remove the remaining tuiles.  If the cookies cool before shaping, you can return them to the oven for 30 seconds to reheat/soften them.
     8b.  If Using Foil (I haven’t tried this but below are the directions from the original recipe) –  Slide the foil sheet of cookies onto a rack to cool flat. Or, for curved tuiles, grasp the edges of the foil when the sheet comes from the oven (without touching the hot pan or the cookies) and roll it into a fat cylinder, gently curving the attached cookies like potato chips. Crimp or secure the foil with a paper clip. When cool, unroll the foil carefully and remove the tuiles. Alternatively, remove individual tuiles from the foil while they are hot (as soon as you can coax a thin metal spatula under a cookie without destroying it) and shape them as described above. Flat or curved, tuiles are easiest to remove from the foil when they are either very hot or completely cool.

Repeat until all of the tuiles are baked. To retain crispness, put the cookies in an airtight container as soon as they are cool.

NOTE:  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

When I lived in downtown LA, my dreams of having a cute rooftop herb garden were quickly squelched after seeing a black film of soot on all my plants from all the pollution from traffic and construction.  So, one of the first things I did when we moved to a house was to plant a small backyard garden.  A few months later, my garden is exploding with zucchini, and I’m finding all sorts of creative ways to make use of it.  First up is cake!

Now you can eat your veggies and dessert all in the bite (and it won’t be weird or gross).  This chocolate zucchini cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve made.  The pound of shredded zucchini makes the cake super moist and tender, but you can’t taste any bit of veggie.  Instead you may swoon from the intense chocolate flavor from the rich cocoa powder, espresso power, chocolate chips, and chocolate icing.  The cake isn’t too sweet (even with all that chocolate).  It’s easy and quick to make, but it takes a while to cool down after baking.

It’s still early in the season, but the garden is exploding with crops and potential.

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One of my favorite ways to use up zucchini, chocolate cake!
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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Makes one 9×13 inch pan; about 24 servings
(from King Arthur Flour; I rewrote the directions for the recipe a bit, but the ingredients are the same)

Ingredients

Cake

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt (I used sour cream)
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) All-Purpose Baking Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional but tasty
3 cups (12-18 ounces) shredded zucchini (about one 10″ zucchini)
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips

Icing

1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.  I used a Pyrex glass pan so I could see when the cake was set.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder (if using), baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs.
  5. Stir in half of the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt.  Then stir in half of the flour/cocoa mixture.  Repeat until all of the flour/cocoa mixture has been added.  Mix until smooth, but be careful not to overmix.
  6. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.
  9. To ice the cake, slide the cake out of the oven, and sprinkle the 1 cup of chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cake.  Return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven, and use a cake spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate chips into a smooth glaze. It’s OK if the chocolate icing seems a bit thin.  A little goes a long way.
  11. Cool on a rack.  Since this cake is so moist and tender, it’s best to wait until it’s completely cool before cutting.  Otherwise you might have a bit of a mess on your hands.