Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thomas Keller's Buttermilk Biscuits from Scratch

For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to make buttermilk biscuits. This recipe comes from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. Pairs great with Turkey, Gravy, Mashed potatoes as well as Keller's Buttermilk Fried Chicken.   They taste best right out of the oven, but can be made in the morning and warmed up before serving.  Note that it is important not to overwork the dough, which will make the biscuits tough.
Makes 12 biscuits

2 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 pound (2 stitcks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for brushing
2 to 3 tablespoons (1 to 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend.  Add the chilled butter an pulse several times, until the pieces of butter are not bigger than small peas.  Do not over process; the dough should not come together.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl and make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Pour in the buttermilk.  Sitr and lift the mixture with a sturdy spoon, gently working the flour into the buttermilk.  The dough should begin to come together, but not form a solid mass, or the biscuits may be tough.

Dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough.  Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle.  Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter (I use a drinking glass), cut out the biscuits. 

If the cutter sticks to the dough, dip the cutter in flour before cutting.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet.  The dough trimmings can be gently pushed together, patted out, and cut one more time; do not overwork the dough.

Brush the tops of the biscuits lightly with buttermilk.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until a rich golden brown.  

As soon as you remove the biscuits from the oven, brush the tops with melted butter.  Serve warm.

Pine Bark

Mike's neighbors growing up, the Van Zants, gave me the recipe over a year ago.  It's hard to believe that something this simple could taste so impressive.  Instead of doing my crazy seasonal baking, this year I decided to keep things simple. I bought some cases of Sopfia Coppola Mini's for my team and then made several batches of pine bark to bag, tag and give as a gift.  I warn you with it's crunchy, buttery toffee & chocolate deliciousness, this is are hard to stop eating!

35 Saltine Crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Bag Semisweet Chocolate Chips (6.5oz) OR 6 1.5oz Milk Chocolate Hershey Bars
(Optional:) 1/2 cup chopped candied almonds 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 15x10x1" jelly roll pan with foil.  Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Place crackers, salty side up in prepared pan (close together).  In saucepan, boil butter and sugar 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add extract.  Pour over crackers and bake 6 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Top with chocolate, giving it a minute to start melting.  Spread evenly.  Add optional chopped nuts and allow to set (approximately 1 hour).

Break into pieces and package in a tin or individual baggies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Elizabeth Falkner's Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe

I found this recipe on Daily Candy and decided to make it for a work birthday celebration.  These are a very special treat with the moistness of pumpkin and zing of fresh grated ginger.  Perfect served as an alternative dessert to pumpkin pie, and light enough that they could be served as a decadent breakfast/brunch treat!

For the Cupcakes:
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup roasted butternut squash or pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar

For the Frosting (doubled from the original recipe and used almost all of it):
8 oz butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp milk
2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and set aside.

Mix pumpkin, oil, buttermilk, and ginger root, and set aside.

*Note: using a microplane for the ginger works great, but takes a long time.  So worth it!!

Whisk together the egg with the sugars until creamy; add to the pumpkin mixture.  

Add the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into lined muffin tins, bake 20-25 minutes (or until cupcakes spring back when touched), and let cool completely.

While cupcakes are baking, make the frosting.  Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter and cream cheese.  Add powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice, and salt; mix until combined.  Stir in vanilla extract.

Frost the cupcakes, and then garnish with fresh grated nutmeg or toasted pecans.