When I get bored on any given day or need help falling asleep, I pull a cookbook off the shelf and start reading, hoping for some baking inspiration. Last week, it was Martha Stewart's Cookies and flipping through, I came across this recipe for Chocolate Surprise Cookies. Lo and behold, I had all of the ingredients on hand, including a bag of marshmallows that I bought a long time ago for something else and so I made it a plan to bake these on Motzei Shabbat. It was to be a marshmallow themed evening, right alongside the Marshmallow Candy Cups. It's funny because every time I hear the word marshmallow, I go back in time to my sixth grade spelling bee where my friend got out for spelling marshmallow with an "e" instead of an "a". Hard times for a sixth grader back then. Anyway, these cookies start with a cookie base. Towards the end of baking (making sure not to over bake the cookies!) a half a marshmallow is tucked into the middle and allowed to bake a minute longer. When they are cooled, a generous dollop of chocolate frosting is slathered on to conceal the marshmallow... thus becoming the surprise. Although there are a few steps, leaving alot of chocolatey dishes in their wake, this recipe really is pretty simple and the results, at least according to the soldiers who ate them, worth the effort.
Your probably wondering what that huge hunk of a loaf of bread is. The answer is, the most delicious bread I've made in recent memory! That there is a white bread with a pesto filling sprinkled with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to finish it. Yu-um. And a meal all in itself with a salad on the side. This bread is super easy to make, especially if you use store bought pesto as I did, but feel free to make your own. This recipe comes from the wonderful Marcy Goldman (surprise, surprise!) and once again she did not let me down. I made the dough in the mixer (it is spoiling me!) and it comes together extremely quickly, especially in this Israeli heat. You can also fill this with olive tapenade or sun-dried tomato pesto, which is next on my list as I haven't been able to get it off my brain since I made this. There really isn't much more to add about this delicious bread except to say, make it- it's perfectly appropriate for summer.
Lord Almighty, the temperature's rising! It is indescribably hot and humid here in Israel to the point where it's difficult to breathe! I would give anything right now for a pool in my backyard but I guess that'll just have to wait a few weeks. Anyway, it's one of those seasons where you'd be crazy to turn on the oven. Well, I am crazy, and I bake in any season, but I decided to make something last weekend that didn't require turning on the oven. I've been wanting to make homemade marshmallows for a really long time (and I will!) so when I saw these Marshmallow Candy Cups in the most recent Baked cookbook, I thought it would be a good place to start. I did some research and these got rave reviews all around so out came the gelatin! These babies are a bit time intensive and because of the humidity have got to be stashed in the fridge at every stage to get them right. You start with melting some chocolate and brushing the inside of mini muffin cups with it. Then goes the marshmallow and they're topped with some more chocolate to seal the deal. I have to say, I was totally skeptical that some sugar syrup and gelatin was going to turn into ooey gooey yummy marshmallow, but after extensive beating, I'm glad to say they did. These babies were really well received and I'm happy to have this recipe in my files... but for a cooler day! I didn't have any milk chocolate on hand just some dairy bittersweet chocolate so I used a mix of that and regular dark chocolate. Although I halved the recipe, I still had plenty of chocolate leftover so you can afford to be generous with it.
I am on a serious condensed milk kick! I can not get enough of baking with this stuff so naturally I picked up a few more containers of it on my last supermarket run and baked something with it again. I turned to BHG's Biggest Book of Cookies and found alongside the previous recipe, this recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bars. The head note of this recipe sites this as healthful what with the oats and a bit of whole wheat flour, but who are they kidding? This recipe is rich and delicious and I'mt not ashamed! This is another really easy recipe to make- an oat mixture is made, some of it is set aside, but an egg is added to the rest of it to form the crust. I did make one mistake here and that is that I neglected to refrigerate the topping while I worked on the rest of the cookie. Due to the INSANE heat here in Jerusalem, it kind of melted altogether by the time it got into the oven instead of being a nice bar with a crumble topping. Oh well. I left these in the office on base and then left base to run some errands. When I got back these were demolished. Literally, to the last crumb. Success!
In addition to making the picnic wraps last weekend, I decided to get back to my bread roots and make some rolls. I must have had A Passion for Baking laying around somewhere because the idea to make Bretzel Rolls popped up and I decided to roll with it. Wow, pun seriously not intended there. That started a real craving for pretzels and mustard (missing baseball season, anyone?!) so I got moving pretty quick! Anyway, Bretzel rolls are rolls that are supposed to be pretzel like yet tend more to the bread side. I checked out Rose's recipe but hers requires lye which I don't have so I went with Marcy's baking soda bath. What I felt really made this recipe was the topping of salt and garlic powder- yum! And it went deliciously well with mustard. I must say that the baking soda bath wasn't intense enough and these didn't have that coveted pretzel flavor. Truth be told, though, I've come to terms with the fact that no matter how good the recipe, pretzels without lye will not taste like authentic pretzels. That said, it's still fun to shape and boil bread and the resulting breads are delicious, if not the real deal.
Yesterday, while contemplating what kind of bread to bake for Shabbat and flipping through the Baker's Companion, inspiration hit. Why not make wraps for lunch? I had a can of tuna waiting to be used and it seemed like the perfect afternoon meal. Quite a while back, when I was still in Bar Ilan, I made some flour tortillas and remembered being quite impressed with how they turned out. Making these Picnic Wraps, then, from the Crackers and Flatbreads chapter, was a go. With just four basic ingredients, these wraps were really simple and easy to make. You start with some flour and oil, add some salt and water and knead to make a smooth dough. There is a bit of resting involved but you can use that time to do other things. My biggest issue is figuring out how to get them to stay in a circle while rolling. As you can see from the picture above, I got something resembling a circle, but not quite a circle. And there's more where that came from. Fortunately, the both looked and acted like the real thing so really not complaining. Looking forward to breaking my fast on these tomorrow night.
One measly post in June? I know. I will do better, starting with these Super Easy Chocolate Bars that I made for my soldiers two weeks ago. The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies and they didn't disappoint. This recipe was made in celebration of my finding mehadrin sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket. Woohoo! Words can not express my excitement at finding it and although expensive, it is worth every shekel. No longer will I have to skip over key lime pie recipes or any other drool inducing recipe that calls for this item. A new chapter of baking is opened, starting with these. True to their name, these bars begin with a shortbread like bottom, topped with a milk and chocolate mixture and topped with some reserved shortbread mixture. Yum.