The Foodie Files

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sugar High Friday - Coconut Madelines

After such a fun SHF last month, I could not wait to participate in this month's theme: Petits Fours. At first I was a little unsure of what kind of dessert would qualify, but when I flipped through my recipe binder I discovered something that just seemed right: Coconut Madelines. They are very elegant, as petits fours inherently are, and are certainly "little bits of delight" -- the kind of treat a nice restaurant would serve with the bill. This recipe is Ina Garten's, and since her new book "Barefoot Contessa at Home" came out this week, these madelines are also a small tribute to her.

Sometimes the madelines sold at coffee shops are bland, stale, and generally not very alluring, but these madelines are moist and have a homemade taste. They are a little on the sweet side, but they still might benefit from a little dip in semi-sweet chocolate (you know, if that's something you can't resist doing :) ) The coconut flavor isn't very pronounced, but the shredded coconut adds a little texture.
Be careful not to overbake them -- they will brown on the side you can't see. My madelines came out distinctly darker on one side, leading to an interesting two-tone effect that I want to avoid next time.

Thanks to CookSister for hosting, and to SHF for getting me to purchase my new madeline pans!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Overnight Caramel French Toast

I love caramel. I love French Toast. I love sweet things in the morning. Sweet things from Cooking Light magazine? I love those A LOT.

The caramel on the bottom gives these a really nice crispy crust, which, sadly, becomes softer on the leftovers. The caramel bottom isn't made the "real"/gourmet way -- it uses corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter -- and therefore it doesn't taste quite as good as the real home spun stuff. However, the recipe does get the point accross-- and the point is caramel for breakfast, in case you missed it. Overall, this is an unusual and fun treat, and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I say go for it.

My changes: I used challah and added the cinnamon before putting it in the fridge overnight. It wasn't difficult: the hardest part was getting up 50 minutes earlier to bake it in the morning!

Overnight Caramel French Toast from Cooking Light

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread and Almond Plum Buckle

Hmmm. I don't know. These cookies were good, and very attractive, but I have a few issues with them. While not removing the hazelnut skins works fine for cakes, the skins gave these cookies a little bit of a bitter edge. If you're the kind of person who doesn't mind spending time rubbing hazelnuts together, then this recipe might be for you, but I'd rather bake with a lower maintenance nut. My second issue is that the chocolate never quite set up, probably because the coating was pure chocolate with nothing added. They were fine cold, but after they were out of the fridge for a little while the chocolate began to melt again. This problem could probably be remedied by adding something in with the chocolate, possibly butter? Now that doesn't sound like such a bad idea...

Fresh out of the oven and after refrigeration:

Of course, my third issue with these cookies is the eternal dilemma: which half is better, the chocolate or the plain?

And finally, I know that plum season is basically over (though has anyone worked with prune plums? Those sound intriguing...) but I want to say that the Epicurious recipe for Almond Plum Buckle is terrific. The cake is very dense, and it develops an almost crust-like texture around the edges. Very coffee-out-on-the-porch, very worth the effort, and very beautiful:

Almond Plum Buckle

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread