Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gingered Carrot Cookies, Crostata, Semolina Cake!

I am waaaaaay behind schedule this week. Not only did we host Thanksgiving dinner, but my parents came to visit (yeah!) and we also had my son's birthday party (I won't bother showing you a picture of the 12 brownies (from a box) with candles in each one.... boring).

So anyway, I'm going to get caught up on the sweets and treats I made last week.

We did a "rewind" (i.e. previous recipe) for Tuesday's with Dorie this week. I picked the Gingered Carrot Cookies that were chosen by Natalia from gatti fili e farina in August of this year. I didn't make them the first time around and figured I'd serve them on Thanksgiving.

These were a moist, spicy cookie that didn't really scream "carrot cake" but they had a great texture due to the coconut, carrots, raisins and nuts. I decided to pump them up a notch with a little cream cheese frosting on top. It seemed like an obvious choice. These were a big hit with the T-day crowd.

Next up is the Crostata we were challenged to make for the Daring Bakers. I chose to fill my crostata with the most lovely and delicious butterscotch pudding we made a couple of years ago for TWD. It's so good I want to hide it and not share with anyone.

OK, go ahead and say it, I won't get my feelings hurt... this is one of the most boring, drab, dull, tan desserts ever photographed and posted on the web.

This was another Thanksgiving dessert and I was lucky to get a picture.

The crostata crust was cookie like thanks to the inclusion of egg in the recipe and held up very well even after several days. A winner in my book, for sure.

Now a word from our sponsor... The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Last but not least is the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake for French Fridays with Dorie.

This was a unique dessert. Honestly, I think it would have been perfect for brunch because it almost seemed like sweetened breakfast food. Not surprising since the ingredient list includes farina, which can be substituted with Cream of Wheat hot cereal.

Here's the thing, though. I do NOT like Cream of Wheat. And farina? Searching for that unusual ingredient was not going to happen during Thanksgiving week. Fortunately, I discovered that Malt-O-Meal hot cereal is also made with farina, and I just happen to love the stuff. So that's what I used.

It was quite tasty and had a very moist, dense texture. Almost like Italian polenta, if you've ever had that. But again, I would be more tempted to eat it for a weekend breakfast than serve it as dessert.

OK, that's about it! Now I can try to get caught up on this week's recipes for TWD and FFwD.

You can find the cookie recipe at Natalia's site. The Semolina Cake recipe isn't available, sadly, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan's book "Around my French Table". As for the crostata, I used the this version of the crust recipe...

Pasta Frolla

•1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
•1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
•a pinch of salt
•1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
•grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
•1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Note 1: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.

Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.

Making pasta frolla by hand:

1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).


Audax said...

Butterscotch crostata sounds perfect the filling looks so luscious and the colour is spot on. well done on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia. s

collin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clivia said...

Wow. Everything is gorgeous, but I just want to dive into that butterscotch pie!
I agree that the semolina cake would be a nice addition to a brunch table.

Kris' Kitchen said...

I enjoyed reading your post...lots of delicious baking. The tart is begging me to eat it...so I may have to bake and indulge tomorrow. Thanks for the idea. And we loved the semolina cake, also agree that it would make a great brunch item.

Steph said...

Everything looks terrific! Even though it is tan...the butterscotch tart crostata is calling my name. I loved the Semolina Cake and it is great for breakfast...loved your pic with the slice out.

Beth said...

Great post! I made those cookies this summer and loved them.

Simona said...

I am glad you were happy about your crostata and you call it a winner.

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

That crostata might look boring, but I'd gladly eat a whole panful!!

Juliana said...

Jacque...everything look so good, so tasty and so well presented...beautiful!