In the Oven: Date Squares

Next, we’re continuing with another one of the twelve days of cookies: Date Squares. Posting date is December 7 – let’s bake!

Date Squares
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bars
Yield: about 24 bars
Ingredients
For the Date Filling
  • 1 pound (455 g) dried pitted dates, chopped into very small pieces
  • 1 cup (220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar

For the Crumb Mixture
  • 1½ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups (120 g) quick-cooking oats
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into cubes, plus more for the pan
  • 1 cup (220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
Instructions
Make the Date Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the dates, brown sugar, and 1 cup (240 ml) water. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the dates are soft and have absorbed most of the water, 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the Crumb Mixture
  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the oats.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until crumbly.

Assemble the Bars
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and position a rack in the center. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper so that it overhangs about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on the long sides of the pan, and butter the parchment.
  2. Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the date mixture in an even layer over the crumb mixture. Finally, sprinkle the remaining half of the crumb mixture over the date layer to cover. Using the palm of your hand (lightly greased if you like), very gently press the crumb mixture into the dates so it will adhere.
  3. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crumb turns golden brown, about minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, place on a cooling rack, and let cool completely. Use a paring knife to release the sides of the bars from the pan, pull up on the parchment to remove them, then cut and serve.
Notes
The squares can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Excerpted from Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2014 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

In the Oven: Campfire Cookies

Next up are Campfire Cookies! Posting date is Sunday, 23 November.

In the Oven: Campfire Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: Baking
Yield: 36 Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1¾ ounces (50 g) homemade marshmallows (see page 182) or mini store-bought or plain marshmallows
  • ¼ cup (25 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar (only if using homemade marshmallows)
  • 3 ounces (85 g) graham crackers (about 6 crackers)
  • 1¾ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • ½ cup (110 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces (170 g) chocolate chips (about 1 cup
Instructions
  1. If you are using homemade marshmallows, cut them into small cubes about the size of sugar cubes. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and roll or dip the marshmallows in the confectioners’ sugar to coat the newly exposed sticky sides and keep the marshmallows from clumping together. (If you are using store-bought mini marshmallows, you do not need the confectioners’ sugar.)
  2. Place the graham crackers in a zip-tight plastic bag. Roll a rolling pin back and forth over the graham crackers until they are crushed into coarse crumbs.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, honey, and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again for another 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat just until the dough comes together. Add the chocolate chips and marshmallows, and mix again for 15 seconds. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight (in fact, up to a week is fine).
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a small ice-cream scoop with a release mechanism or a spoon, scoop 2-tablespoon balls of dough and place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the edges of the cookies are set and they begin to darken, 14 to 20 minutes. Set the sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes to cool. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely.
Notes
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Excerpted from Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2014 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

In the Oven: Election Palmiers

Here we go – the first recipe out of Baked Occasions! Anyone making these for an Election Day party? Posting date is November 9.

Election Palmiers
Yield: 20 to 24 mini palmiers

1½ cups (170 g) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounces (1 ¾ sticks/200 g) unsalted butter, cut into
½-inch (12-mm) cubes
¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
½ cup (125 g) raw sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional, but worth it)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt and place in the freezer. Place the butter in a separate bowl in the freezer. Finally, in a small prep bowl or measuring cup, stir together 2 tablespoons water with the lemon juice and place in the freezer. Allow all the items to chill in the freezer for 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove all items from the freezer. Place the flour mixture in a food processor and pulse for 1 or 2 short bursts. Add about half of the cold butter chunks and pulse about 3 to 4 times in short bursts. Do not overprocess; the butter pieces should be slightly bigger than pea size. Add the remaining butter and pulse a few more times; the butter should still be quite visible and pronounced in the mixture. Drizzle in a few drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse 2 or 3 times until crumbly. Test the dough by pinching a bit in your fingers; it should just hold together. If the dough does not hold together, continue to add drops of the lemon juice mixture and pulse as needed. (Note: you may not use all of the mixture, or you may need to add additional drops of tap water; this is usually dependent on flour brand.) Again, be careful not to overprocess; the dough should not form a ball.

Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it just comes together. Use your hands to shape it into a rough 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle about ½ inch (12 mm) thick, with a short side closest to you. Make the first letter fold: Fold the bottom third of the dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover, just like folding a letter. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you, and letter-fold the dough again. Rotate again and use your hands to gently shape the dough into another rough 6-by-9-inch (15-by-23-cm) rectangle. Perform the final letter fold. If, at any time, the dough starts feeling soft or the butter starts to warm, refrigerate until cool again. Once all three letter folds are finished, cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin this time, roll the dough into an 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, with the short side closest to you. Make the first letter fold: Fold the bottom third of dough on top of the middle third, then fold over the top third to cover. Rotate the rectangle so the short side is facing you and letter-fold the dough again. Rotate again, gently roll the dough back into a rough 8-by-15-inch (20-by-38-cm) rectangle, and perform a final letter fold. Cover the dough loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Set aside.

Place a rectangle of parchment (about the size of a half sheet pan, 18 by 13 inches/46 by 33 cm) on your workspace. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cayenne (if using), and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Dust the parchment with one-third of the sugar mixture. Place the dough on top of the parchment and sprinkle the dough with another third of the sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a 12-by-15-inch (30.5-by-38-cm) rectangle about 1⁄8 to ¼ inch (3 to 6 mm) thick, sprinkling a tablespoon or two more of the sugar mixture over the dough if it becomes too sticky to work with. Refrigerate the dough for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up. Roll up both of the long sides of the dough toward the center so that they meet in the exact middle. Brush the egg wash where the two sides of the dough meet; this will act as the glue to keep the rolls stuck together. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment. Add a teaspoon or two of water to the parchment and use your hands to spread it around; you want the parchment to be slightly damp.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut crosswise into ½-inch (12-mm) slices; place the slices on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the slices.

Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the cookies over with a spatula. Bake the other side of the cookies until they have spread slightly and are puffy and golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.

How to store
Palmiers taste best when eaten within 12 hours.

Excerpted from Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2014 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

In the Oven: S’More-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding

Are you all ready for the very last recipe from “Baked Elements?”

Posting date is: Sunday, 26 October

S’More-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding

Yield: 6 servings
For the Graham Cracker Crust
4 1/2 whole graham crackers), coarsely broken
1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Chocolate Whiskey Pudding
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate (54 to 60%), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons good-quality whiskey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Marshmallow Topping
2 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/4 teaspoon good-quality whiskey

Baked Note: The best part about pudding: you can compose it and serve it in virtually any serving piece you want. True, this pudding looks great in glass servingware (so you can view the multiple layers), but it also looks fantastic in vintage and found ceramics and all manner of interesting individual porcelain pieces—and it even works as one large, buffet-style, giant-bowl dessert.

Make the Graham Cracker Crust
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the graham crackers, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Turn the crumbs out onto the prepared baking sheet, spread to form an even layer (if necessary, break up any large pieces with your fingertips), and bake stirring once, until the crumbs are crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Make the Chocolate Whiskey Pudding
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk to blend (the mixture will resemble wet sand). Gradually whisk in the milk, then the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from the heat, and continue to whisk for 15 seconds to release excess heat. Add the chocolate, whiskey, and butter; whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the pudding cool slightly, about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Assemble the pudding
Spoon 1/3 cup of pudding into each of six (small and wide or sundae-like) 1-cup glasses; smooth out the tops. Divide the graham cracker mixture equally among the glasses, sprinkling it on top of the pudding. Top each glass with another 1/3 cup pudding; smooth out the tops. Cover each glass with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the pudding. Chill at least 2 hours, until ready to serve.

Make the Marshmallow Topping
In the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites, sugar, 1/4 cup of water, corn syrup, and whiskey. Set the mixer bowl with egg white mixture over a saucepan of simmering water. Using hand whisk, whisk the mixture constantly until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees F, about 6 minutes. Return the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture to the stand mixer (still fitted with the whisk attachment) and beat on high speed until the marshmallow topping forms stiff peaks, 6 to 8 minutes.

Top each chilled pudding with 2 large spoonfuls of marshmallow topping, covering the top of the pudding completely and creating peaks, if desired.

Use a kitchen torch to lightly toast the topping to your liking. Serve immediately.

Excerpted from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2012 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.