Monday, October 19, 2009

Cinnamon Chip Biscotti

I finally made cookies using cinnamon chips. I know it's not a new concept anymore- I feel like I am so behind on keeping up with all the cooking trends. I held off on buying the cinnamon chips because I am a freak when it comes to reading nutrition labels. When I read the label of the supermarket brand of cinnamon chips, I really didn't want to buy them anymore. It had lots of unhealthy ingredients and quite a bit of saturated fat. And I figured I could do without and just make cinnamon cookies the old fashioned way, with plain ol' cinnamon.

But recently I was in a local coffee shop and I saw the most beautiful cinnamon chip scones. And I got the bug to buy them again. So I figured I would ask the baker what kind of chips they use and if they were a premium quality. Sure enough, they were a better quality chip and he offered to sell me a pound. Yay, I was so excited. I smelled cinnamon in my car all day long and made the cookies the next day. My house smelled so wonderful while they were baking. Just for that reason alone, I think you should make these. You won't be disappointed!

Plus they are so easy to make. Here are the logs on the baking sheet before baking...
And here are the biscotti sliced and ready to go back into the oven...I usually only bake my biscotti between 5-8 minutes per side so that they are crispy but slightly soft, rather than break your teeth hard. I find that most people like them better that way. (Although I like the hard biscotti too, cause they're great for dipping in coffee or tea!)
Cinnamon Chip Biscotti
by Mixed Salad Annie

3 large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer or wire whisk. Add sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the egg mixture; mix until just combined. Add cinnamon chips, stirring by hand to combine. Dough will be sticky.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop small dollups of the dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet; forming 2- 16" long rolls. Smooth out the sides and tops of the rolls and leave enough space between each roll for spreading. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over dough.

Bake at 325° for 20-30 minutes or until light golden and top springs back when touched. Let sheet cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Carefully remove the rolls from the baking sheet onto a cutting board.

Cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Place each slice- cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 7-10 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your biscotti). Remove from baking sheet; let cool completely on a wire rack. They cookies will crisp up more as they cool.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Peach Frangipane Tart

Remember the pear tart I made a few weeks ago? Well, if you thought that looked good, you will really love this tart. This is actually exactly how I expected the pear tart to turn out. If you remember, I told you that I had searched the internet for hours to find the perfect recipe and to no avail ended up piecing together a few different recipe ideas. Well this recipe kind of fell into my lap, literally. I was looking at the Providence Journal last week and the food section fell out. I glanced through it and saw my perfect fruit almond tart recipe. I never knew it was called frangipane tart. I guess I would have found it online if I had known.

Don't get me wrong, the pear tart was delicious, but this recipe blows the socks off that one! I love the texture of the almond center. It is moist and tastes perfect with the peaches. It is a little more work because this recipe calls for a crust, but if you buy a pre-made crust or pie shell, you will be all set. Actually, I keep wondering if it needs a crust at all. I will have to try making it again without and see if it holds up. Or you could and let me know how it turns out. :)

Peach Frangipane Tart
Adapted from the Providence Journal/ Los Angeles Times-Kirk McKoy

Pie crust for a 11" tart or 9" pie pan (store bought or see recipe below)
2 1/4 cups almond meal
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Lemon zest from one small lemon
2 medium peaches, peeled and sliced about 1/8" thick
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon water

Heat oven to 375º. If using a prepared pie shell, proceed to next paragraph. Otherwise, roll the pastry dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch and fit it into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie pan, trimming away any excess. Refrigerate until firm.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, mix the ground almonds, sugar, eggs, almond extract, salt, butter and lemon zest to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Pre-bake the pie shell: Prick the entire bottom and sides of the pie shell with a fork. Place a sheet of foil or parchment paper in the tart shell and fill it with dried beans or baking beads and bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Timing will vary depending on the dough. My crust baked for 35 minutes). Remove from the oven and remove the foil and beans.

Spread the almond mixture evenly into the tart shell. Arrange the peach slices concentrically over the top of the almond mixture, pushing them in a bit.

Place the filled shell on a baking sheet and bake until the almond mixture is puffed and golden, 40-45 minutes.

Warm the honey and water in a small saucepan or in the microwave, until fluid. When the tart is done, lightly brush the top with a bit of the honey mixture. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 8.

Cream Cheese Pie Crust
adapted from Cook's Illustrated "No-Fear Pie Crust"
Makes one thin 11' tart shell or 9-inch Pie Shell

The pastry can be pressed into the pie plate and refrigerated for up to 2 days or double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Once baked and cooled, the shell can be wrapped tightly in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

1 1/4 Flour
1/4 teaspoon Table Salt
6 Tablespoons Smart Balance Buttery Spread
4 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel- 1/3 less fat), softened but still cool

Lightly coat tart pan or Pyrex pie plate with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in bowl.

With electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat spread and cream cheese in large bowl, stopping once or twice to scrape down beater and sides of bowl, until completely homogeneous, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, gather into ball, and flatten into 6-inch disk. Place in between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll out to about 11-12 inches. Remove top sheet of waxed paper and transfer to greased tart pan or pie plate.

Press dough evenly over bottom of pie plate and up to the top of the sides. Remove any excess dough and patch up any missing pieces with excess. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly prick the entire bottom and sides of the pie shell with a fork. Place a sheet of foil or parchment paper in the tart shell and fill it with dried beans or baking beads and bake until light golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack.