discovering my grandmother’s recipe book

Most of my fondest childhood memories include sitting around our dining room table, surrounded by not only my immediate family, but also my extended family – enjoying my grandmother’s baking.

So when my aunt pulled out my grandmother’s “go-to” recipe book (The Fannie Merritt Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook), I just knew I had to bake something from it. The result was a lovely yellow cake with a non-buttercream frosting… seriously, this frosting tasted like melted marshmallows. Both my uncle Phil and I were licking the plate trying to make sure none went to waste.

Baked with my cousin Olivier in mind, and enjoyed by some of my favourite people (aunts, uncle, cousin and mom) this cake is quick and easy… perfect for those low key family dinners.

Golden Cake
ingredients:
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks (keep the egg whites)
1/2 c. buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Prepare your 8 inch cake pan by spraying it with non-stick spray (or lightly grease with butter). Set aside.

Sift together your flour, b. powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. (thank you for letting me use your Kitchenaid MJ!)

Beat in, one at a time, your egg yolks. You want your batter to be really fluffy. Now add your flour and buttermilk to the batter – alternating between the two: flour/buttermilk/flour/buttermilk/flour.

Spread the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes.

The cake will be golden. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

While your cake is cooling, take the time to make your non-butter frosting. This is known as the seven-minute frosting in the recipe book…

Marshmallow Frosting
ingredients:
3/4 c. sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 egg white (use one from the cake batter)

In a large glass bowl beat together the sugar, lemon juice, corn syrup, salt and egg white. After about a minute, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler).

With your electric beater, keep beating the mixture until it is stiff enough to be standing in peaks. Make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bowl – otherwise, curdled egg whites! YAK!

Remove from the heat and continue to beat it until it thickens, adding the lemon zest to the mix. Once it’s triple in volume, allow it to sit in the fridge for about 30 – 45 minutes.

This allows both the frosting to thicken and allows the cake to fully cool.

Using a metal blade (either a pastry knife or a large knife) top the cake with the frosting – as it warms up a bit, it will start to naturally drizzle down the sides. Top with pieces of shaved dark chocolate.

INCREDIBLE! first time I try this type of frosting… really really delicious. Give it a try!

Daring Bakers Challenge… whippets!

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
(I only made the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow cookies – I’ll try out the Milan ones another time)

When I looked at the recipe challenge this month I got very excited… not only did it highlight cookies – which, as you know, I became obsessed with… but these are the cookies that my mother gushes about…

My mom grew up in a large family, and when she first moved out on her own she bought herself a box of whippets and ate the entire thing in one sitting – sugar overload to be sure, but who hasn’t done that once or twice in their lifetime?!

I was excited to be able to make something that I just knew my mom would enjoy… I baked my batch just before her week long camping trip – a little treat to enjoy while sitting next to the campfire.

Note: This recipe has a few stages – all fairly simple, but they still require a bit of premeditation – the cookie dough needs to chill a little in the fridge before being baked, and although I made my marshmallows in advance, next time I’ll make them the same day and pipe them onto the cookie base, allow to harden a little and then dip in the chocolate glaze.

My version of a Whippet
Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
ingredients:
3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, whisked together

In your food processor, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add in the butter and continue to combine until the dough is almost sandy. Add the eggs and mix well to combine.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a disk. You want to wrap it up in plastic wrap and have it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour – I let mine sit in there for 3 days.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out your dough (with your rolling pin) until it’s about 1/8-inch thick. I used a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out the rounds of dough.

Bake for 10 minutes – they will be slightly golden. Remove from the tray and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: My batch made 100 cookies!!! (I baked and froze all but 2 dozen of them). In order to keep that amount of dough from warming up too much, I cut out my rounds and then kept them in the fridge until it was time to bake them. But feel free to load these onto the trays – they don’t spread as they bake.

Let the real fun begin now that they have completely cooled :0)

Since I had already made my Marshmallows (see blog entry, July 16th)I cut them up into small cubes and spread a little blueberry jam on the top of the cookie and then topped them with the marshmallow. I placed the cookies on a parchment lined cookie tray and placed them in a 350 F oven to have them “slump” a little – pay attention! otherwise they completely melt. They only need about 1 – 2 minutes to slump.
**This is how to do it if you decide to use purchased marshmallows

If you’re going to make the marshmallows day of (follow the same recipe as before) – only once you have completed your batch, transfer the batter to a Ziploc bag that you have cut off a tip and pipe the marshmallow onto the cookie top. Allow to sit for a couple of hours while they firm up.

Chocolate Glaze:
ingredients:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 ounces vegetable oil

Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Life it with a fork, allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl and place on the prepared pan. Allow them to set at room temperature (a couple of hours) – I then transferred the pans to my fridge and had them chill overnight.

Really really good – half of them had the blueberry jam, and half of them didn’t. Both were enjoyed by all – my mother, her friends, my co-workers… myself ;0) Give them a try – they might seem like a lot of work – but they are so worth it!

Happy baking!

marshmallows…

Ever since I watched Alton Brown make marshmallows on his show Good Eats, I knew that I wanted to attempt making them too. Then I was looking around smitten kitchen‘s blog and saw that she too had a recipe for homemade marshmallows (spring, fluffy marshmallows). That was it – I knew it was time to give it a try… plus, I figured, if they work out, next time I go camping (or to Gigi and René’s cottage) I can bring some along for the bonfire!

One thing I learned (even though I was warned both via blog and the food network) – marshmallows are sticky little things – so make sure you have everything you need before you start. Other than the clean-up factor these are pretty simple – and worth it! No more store bought marshmallows for this girl…

Marshmallows
ingredients:
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. corn syrup
3/4 c. white sugar
1 tbsp powdered gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar, divided

Before you start, pull out a square brownie pan and butter the bottom and sides of it well, then dust with some of the powdered sugar (the base should be lightly covered). Set aside.

Put the 2 tbsp of cold water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Allow to stand so that if softens.

I then whipped up my egg whites in a large bowl, getting them to a soft peak stage. Set aside.

Now, in a tall saucepan over medium heat combine the water, corn syrup and sugar so that the sugar can dissolve. Allow to reach a boil without stirring it – you want it to reach that soft ball stage (as mentioned in my Toblerone Cream Meringue recipe).

Remove the syrup from heat and add the gelatin to it – start to whisk with a wooden spoon – or, use your electric beaters (clean them after beating the egg whites) to get it as incorporated as possible.

Pour the syrup into the egg whites and add the vanilla. With your beaters on high, keep whipping everything until the result is stiff white cloud.. oh ya, and by this point you’ll notice that it’s pretty sticky!!!!

With a rubber spatula, transfer from the bowl into your pan, spreading it out so that the entire pan is covered. Sprinkle with more of the powdered sugar – an important step, since this allows for easier removal of the marshmallows once they set.

Allow to chill in the fridge, uncovered until firm – @ least 3 hours (and up to a day).

Once set, sprinkle some powdered sugar on your clean surface (I used a wooden board). Run a knife along the edges of the pan and loosen the square of marshmallows out of the pan and place on your surface/ board. Grab a sharp knife and cut into little cubes.

Note: I had to loosen the bottom of the marshmallows with my fingers, slowly “un-gluing” it from the bottom… they are sticky so it take some patience and a bit of extra effort.

Put the remaining powdered sugar in your empty pan and roll the marshmallows through it (all sides should get covered – it prevents them from being too sticky).

These can be packed away in an airtight container for a week.