Archive | November, 2012

Cloud Cookies, aka Chocolate Chip Meringues

25 Nov

It is just after Thanksgiving and probably best to take it a little easy when it comes to eating dessert.  If your family served nine kinds of pie—This. Means. You.

I don’t mean anyone should skip dessert entirely—I would never suggest anything as radical as that—but here is an opportunity to eat something a little lighter.

I wouldn’t call this healthy or good for you, but honestly, it is not too bad, as far as desserts go.

These are easy to make, so if you just spent days cleaning and cooking for T-Day, then this is surely the way to go. And you probably have all of the ingredients in your house already, since there are only four. But note: don’t make these on a rainy or humid day—ironically these Cloud Cookies won’t turn out.

It starts off simply–first you take three large eggs and leave them at room temp for about an hour or so. If you don’t have time to spare, then take your three eggs and put them in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 275° F and line a large baking sheet or two with parchment paper and set aside.

Next, you crack the eggs, and separate the white from the yolk using any one of the following methods:

1. Pour the yolk from shell-half to shell-half, letting the white drip down into a bowl.

2. Crack the egg into a bowl and carefully reach in and take the yolk out with your hand.

3. Buy a fancy-schmancy egg separator from a high-end food store and let gravity do the work.

Put your room temperature egg whites and a pinch of salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  And yes, you can use a hand-held mixer if that is what you have.  Let the eggs whip for a few minutes on high until billowy peaks form. Add half of the sugar and beat some more.

Add the rest of the sugar, so as not to deflate your whipped whites, and continue to whip until glossy firm peaks form.

At this point their shiny white ethereal beauty will tempt you to stick a finger in to taste, as they will resemble the most gorgeous bowl of whipped cream, but I’d advise against this as salmonella is an ever-looming threat of un-cooked eggs.

Resist, and then finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

 

Dreamy

For the next step you could pipe them prettily onto your baking sheet, but I say, just grab two spoons and go for it.

 

A spoonful…

Take a small spoonful and use the second spoon to push it off to make little dollops in rows leaving a little space between each. Don’t worry about making them perfect—they are much more fun to eat when they have a little bit of personality.

 

Little spoonfuls

Bake time will be an hour total, but don’t think of this as baking per se, but instead think of it as a drying out process that will give the cookies their magical crispiness. Place them in the oven for 30 minutes at 275°F. And then lower the temp to 250°F for the final 30 minutes.

 

Little clouds

Remove the cloud-like meringues from the oven and let them cool on a rack, although admittedly, I never can wait and always burn my tongue a bit. When you sink your teeth into these and experience the sugary sweet shattering of the meringue’s exterior and are rewarded with a little burst of chocolate in each bite, you will be pleased.

Yum!

Warning: be sure to eat over a plate as sugary shards will fly:

Once bitten

 

Cloud Cookies or Chocolate Chip Meringues

  • 3 egg whites, at room temp
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a pinch of salt. Whip until they go from clear to white and frothy and keep mixing, stopping to check when soft peaks form.
  3. Add half of the sugar and continue to whip until firm peaks form.
  4. Add the rest of the sugar and whip until glossy.
  5. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Using two spoons place dollops of the mixture onto the parchment paper in rows.
  7. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Then lower the oven temp to 250° and let bake for another 30 minutes.
  8. Remove trays from the oven to a rack and let cool.

3…

2…

1…

All gone.

 

 

 

 

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Sriracha Challah

3 Nov


Yep, in fact I am doing a little dance right now.  The Sri-ra-cha-cha!

 
We had always seen the bottle in stores, at restaurants, at friend’s houses, but somehow, never thought to try Sriracha Sauce. I am not sure how we overlooked it, but the important thing is that we have it now..

 


And we will always be together.

 
I’d heard mention of “rooster sauce” but never before had we heard anyone openly gush about it, until we professed our new found love on Facebook—since then, friends have been coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much they love it too!

 
Now, we have had hot chili sauces before, many kinds, many times. In fact I would go as far as to say that my father-in-law is a connoisseur of hot sauce and he has probably never missed an opportunity to try a new kind, no matter the hotness—it doesn’t scare him.

 
Well, I have to confess, that I guess I was a little intimidated by the fiery red color, the thick viscous texture, and the size of the bottle–Tabasco is tiny in comparison!  The rooster looked a little suspicious to me, as if to warn me: danger, danger ahead, danger of ruining your already spicy food with more spice.

 

Maybe size does matter…

But I am a gal who can admit a mistake. And I was wrong.

Oh, Sriracha, how I misunderstood you!

 
Now my whole family is addicted to it, with no end of things to try it on! As a dip for fresh spring rolls, on chicken quesadillas, in vegetable soups, and now baked into bread. Instead of having a meal and thinking we can add Sriracha to it, we have been planning our meals around what we can put the sauce on.

 
Our world revolves around Sriracha. Here is our new philosophy:

 

My husband, is in a rock band called The Mack Daddyz.  He is very particular about the T-shirts he will wear at a performance and bought a Sriracha shirt to proudly display his new obsession. He is rockin’ that T, let me tell you, and he has as many fans compliment the shirt as they do his guitar shredding, 80’s rock style of course!

 


So, as a cook, and a creative-type at that, I think like this: how many things can I do with this that maybe no one has thought of before! And the carb-a-holic in me, well, my mind goes straight to bread.

 
And what a bread it was!

 
Soft, fluffy, warm, orange, like a summer sunset, flavorful, reminiscent of Thai chilies, deep, and complex, and then, the slow pleasant burn begins. It will leave you wondering: is it bread, or is it a miracle?

 
And now I bring you….drumroll please…my recipe for Sriracha Challah!!!

 

 

Sriracha (Bread Machine) Challah

 

  • 2 cups bread flour (King Arthur is the best!)
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour (Ditto)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha Sauce
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, set aside

1. Place all ingredients into your bread machine in the order that your manufacturer specifies. Set to dough cycle and press start. For the first five minutes or so, stand there with a rubber spatula helping to incorporate the ingredients. If it is too dry, add a little more warm water. If it is too wet and sticky, add a little more flour. Stop when the dough is nice and smooth, not too sticky and no longer clunking around hitting the sides, then shut the door and walk away.


2. When the dough is finished rising in the bread machine it will be a little smaller than regular challah dough, but no worries, just let it sit in the machine another 15 minutes or so, until it almost fills the pan. Remove the dough from the bread machine and transfer it to a lightly floured board.


3. Fold it over a few times, pat it into a rectangle and flour it lightly. Using a scissors, a sharp knife, or a bench knife, cut it into 6 even pieces. Braid 3 strands together, tucking the ends underneath. Then repeat with the other 3 strands. It is okay of the strands aren’t smooth ropes–it will all work out perfectly after the next rise, so braid away.


4. Using a baking stone or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the loaves onto the parchment paper and then lightly brush the tops of the challot with the egg wash.


5. This part is a little different but it really works! Preheat oven to 170 degrees F for exactly one minute to warm it, and then shut the oven off immediately. Place the baking tray into the middle of the oven and shut the door. Let it rise for about 40 minutes and DONT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!


6. After the 4o minutes, turn the oven back on to 350 F and set the timer for 30 minutes. The challah will continue to rise a little more and then bake into the golden-orange beauties you see in the photos. Check them after the 30 minutes (you may open the oven door now) and if you like them a little more golden, continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a rack. Eat now or later, or freeze for another time. Enjoy!

My son loves this bread with all of his “heart!”

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