Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Put the lime in the coconut

This week I decided I wasn't going to buy anything. Whatever I baked had to be from ingredients I already had on hand. Now, its pretty difficult to do this without the basics: eggs, flour, sugar and butter. Lucky I had them all. I chose a recipe from one the the blogs I follow, Two Peas and Their Pod, and made Chewy Lime and Coconut Sugar Cookies.

These cookies were very simple to make. First I combined the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl I beat together the sugar and butter, then added the egg, vanilla, lime zest, lime juice and desiccated coconut. I gradually added the dry mixture to the wet one and beat til combined. I took heaped tablespoons, rolled them into a ball with the palms of my hands and then rolled them in sugar and placed them on a baking sheet.

The cookies baked for about 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the tops were cracked and very slightly golden. They were left to cool on the pan for 2 minutes and then transferred to the cooling rack where they completed the cooling process. I had my first taste with a cup of tea.

These cookies are more than meets the eye, they are absolutely divine, delectable, delicate, delicious. The lime and coconut work together so well and the texture, just the right amount of crisp on the outside but chewy at the heart of it without being doughy. Wonderful! And they took such a short time to make. I didn't bake all the batter at once. Some of it sat in the fridge for a day or two and wow the second batch was even more delicious. I'm on to batch number three now, making between 12 and 18 each time and I still have a little batter left. This recipe is yielding more than 36 cookies for me. I have to get rid of them quickly! Its too dangerous to have them here with me, alone. I may even have to resort to taking some to work. I spent nothing, used up some left over ingredients and ate some very very tasty cookies. Thumbs up for this one!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Passion-ate about Ice Cream, Crazy for Mangoes

This week my fiance's parents were visiting from Barbados and I decided to make some strawberry ice cream. Well, as luck would have it, there were no strawberries in the grocery store. Disappointed, I paced, trying to decide what other flavour I'd like to make. Then I passed by one of the produce displays and saw something that was even better than strawberries, passion fruit. I grabbed two bags and merrily skipped to the cash register. I have had passion fruit ice cream only a few times but each and every time it has left a lasting impression on me. I love the flavour of passion fruit.

I'm also discovering that I LOVE making ice cream. I used Food Blog Search to track down a recipe. I came upon David Lebovitz's recipe on several blogs. I've been wanting to get his book The Perfect Scoop for quite some time now. Everything I read about it is positive.

I began by extracting the juice from the passion fruits. This was done by pressing the juicy seeds in a strainer with the back of a spoon which was the most time consuming part of the recipe. I decided to double the recipe to yield a quart. Then I added a cup of cream. I warmed the sugar, salt and remaining cream in a medium saucepan and slowly added it to six whisked egg yolks in a bowl. Then I put the custard back in the pot and cooked it until it coated the spoon. I then added this mixture to the passion fruit mixture. I chilled the mixture, churned it in my ice cream maker and let it freeze overnight.

The ice cream was lovely. It had the fresh, vibrant flavour passion fruit with just the right amount of sweetness, mm mm mm superb!

Later on in the week, my fiance's Dad brought home some mangoes from St. Thomas, providing me with the inspiration for my next two desserts. I decided to make Mango Sorbet (using another David Lebovitz recipe).The sorbet was simple to make. I simply put sugar, water, diced mango, lime juice, a tablespoon of dark rum and a pinch of salt into the food processor and pureed it until smooth. Then I chilled the mixture, churned it in the good ole ice cream machine and froze it for several hours. The sorbet tasted completely authentic, it was just like biting into a sweet, ripe, juicy Julie mango. One of my testers even said it was better than Haagen Daaz! What a compliment! :-)

I still had many mangoes left so I figured I'd bake something. After all this is "The Baker Within". So I decided to make Fresh Mango Bread from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. It was made by combining the dry ingredients and spices, mixing together the wet ingredients, marrying both mixtures and then adding the diced mangoes, lime zest and golden raisins.

After making sure everything was well incorporated, I placed it into a loaf pan and baked it for an hour and a half. The center was still wet, so I had to bake it for another 20 minutes.

The bread was delicious and moist, the spice and sweetness just right. But even though I could see the chunks of mango all throughout the bread it just didn't taste mango-y enough. It should've been bursting with mango flavour. Next time I try this recipe I'll either increase the amount of mango or pulse the mango in the food processor first so that it can be even more incorporated into the batter or heck maybe I'll even do both.