Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gramma’s Special Rolled Cookies

This recipe was originally a winner in the Pillsbury Bake-Off some time in the late 50s or early 60s. I’m not sure what exactly the first recipe was like, but then my Mom is not known for tweaking recipes, and I got the recipe from her.  This might be the only recipe I ever got from her.

These are just about my favourite cookies. The only cookies that might beat it out for first are the macaroons at Ladurree in Paris. But what could compete with that?

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (new addition to the recipe)

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup honey

ground almonds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the zest and orange juice. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough into about 3 blobs and wrap each with plastic wrap and form into flattened discs and chill for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the glaze by heating all the ingredients in a small sauce pan until the sugar melts. Roll out the dough to about 1/6 inch and cut with a cookie cutter. A crescent or moon is a very nice choice. Bake for about 7 minutes, until just golden brown. While the cookies are still warm, brush on the glaze and then liberally sprinkle on the almonds. Let the cookies cool and set.

You need to keep an eye on the baking cookies, as they can burn quickly, being so thin. Also, to apply the almonds I often just take the glazed cookie and turn it upside down on the dish of almonds to get a nice coating. Once the cookies are glazed, almonded, and cooled, they are sturdier.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Roulade

my Christmas cake
I got this recipe from a friend in Hong Kong, Chris Duggan. Her family went to our church, St. Andrews, and we went to a Bible study at their house. Brian, her husband, was an engineering professor at the University of Hong Kong. They were from Birmingham England. She is an excellent British cook. This recipe is not like any other chocolate roulade I've seen. I've made it as our buche to Noel for years. I once made one five feet long for a co-workers 50th birthday, which of course is nothing compared to the one pictured below.
6 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 ounces cocoa

4 ounces chocolate, like chocolate chips or bar
2 tablespoons liquid, like brandy

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Find a jelly roll pan, they seem to come in all sizes.
Grease the pan a little, then put in a piece of parchment paper that comes up over the edges of the pan.
Grease the paper lightly.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar and vanilla until very light yellow.
Add the vanilla and the cocoa. This will make a rather stiff mixture.
Beat egg whites until stiff, but not too stiff.
Dump the egg whites into the bowl with the yolks and fold the two together.

Spread the batter into the pan, and bake for about 20 minutes. Because pans differ, time differs.
Not long after taking the cake out of the oven, lift up the cake by the paper onto a cooling rack. When the cake is sufficiently cooled sprinkle granulated sugar onto the cake (not too much) and then place a tea towel over the cake and carefully flip the cake over. The gently peel off the parchment paper.  The cake can rest for a while like this.

Assembling the cake

Whip the cream and the sugar until nice and stiff, but not so stiff it's almost butter.
Put the chocolate and the liquid into a glass dish and put into the microwave for a little while, not long. You can sneak up on it.  Don't get the chocolate too hot as it can solidify. Stir up the chocolate mixture until smooth and using the back of the spoon, spread the melted chocolate over the cake.
Using a frosting spatula spread some, but not all, of the cream over the chocolate. Then, using the tea towel as a help, roll up the cake and carefully get it onto a platter.  Don't worry about any cracks, as the whipped cream will cover them.  Put on the rest of the cream. I like to reserve some of the cream so that I can pipe it on the cake, like around the ends and along the sides.

For a special decoration I like to add chocolate leaves on the top.  You melt up a handful of  chocolate chips with a dab of shortening.  Then get come camellia leaves, wash and dry them, and gently apply some chocolate to the bottom of the leaf, using the back of a small spoon.  Place the leaves on a small plate and put into the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Then carefully remove the leaves and place on the cake.  Be as artistic as you like.