Thursday, May 5, 2011

cookie o' the month...

I give you this month's cookie (in this case, cookies) from Baker Beth. I have no other words other than..."nailed it!" Enjoy, -angelo

Today, we celebrate an anniversary in the world of angelo:HOME: the introduction of The Gnome.

The Falcon, of course, did not receive such recognition earlier in the year. I suspect he's bitter about that. From what I've been able to surmise from my crack research, The Falcon first appeared on The Daily Tip on February 9, 2010. Angelo, however, had clearly failed to read the fine print in The Falcon's contract, because not only was The Falcon not featured, he was barely in the frame. A gross indignity. Those of you who know The Falcon know that he is not a bit player.

For the purposes of this post, I did not want to put Angelo in the awkward position of having to placate The Falcon and his people, so for May, we have a two-fer, cookie embodiments of The Falcon (Dark Chocolate Biscotti) and The Gnome (French Sablés).

The biscotti, like The Falcon, are dark, solid, and intense. The recipe contains both cocoa (I opted for dark) and espresso powder, but I upped the ante by incorporating chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans into the dough. (Then I upped the ante further by coating some of them in melted 60% cacao chocolate. If you are an over-the-top chocolate lover, I recommend this step.)

The sablés, like The Gnome, are sweet, classic, and unassuming. Reliable and loyal, made from ingredients that are always on hand. Gnomes are not French by origin, but Angelo's gnome inspiration was the film "Amelie." And The Gnome wears the colors of the French flag, so I rest my case.

Go forth and bake and enjoy!

— Beth

Dark Chocolate Biscotti
(Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan, Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Beth Note:: I use dark, not regular, cocoa powder.)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped espresso beans, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12-inch-long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand, so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack—and that's just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet—you'll have an army of biscotti—and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.

Sablé Cookies
(From Cook's Illustrated, November & December 2008)

1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (2 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado sugar (Beth Note: Buy a box of Sugar in the Raw packets. They're inexpensive and handy to have on hand.)

Place egg in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water. Using slotted spoon, transfer egg to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white;
discard white. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter, granulated sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula as needed. Turn mixer to low, add the vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Stop mixer; add flour and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

Divide dough in half; roll each piece into log about 6 inches long and 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in 12-inch square of parchment paper and twist ends to seal and firmly compact the dough into tight cylinder. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using chef's knife, slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rotating dough so that it won't become misshapen from the weight of the knife. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush cookies with egg white mixture and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.

Bake until centers of cookies are pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than centers, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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