ottawa cookie jam 2013

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Wouldn’t it be GREAT if there was an event in Ottawa that celebrated the cookie?

A place where you could find a plethora of cookies … some thin and crunchy, others thick and chewy. Chalk full of chocolate-chips or intensely spiced. Cookies of every shape, size, texture. Basically … wouldn’t it be amazing if you could go to one place and find just about every kind of cookie you could dream of?

Each and every one of them would obviously ALSO be home baked.

Thanks to the organizers of Ottawa Cookie Jam, we are about to have just that … an event where cookies are the star.

Actually … that’s a lie.

Ottawa Cookie Jam is all about eating cookies AND helping a great cause: In From the Cold, a programme run by the Parkdale United Church.

It doesn’t get much better than eating cookies for a good cause does it?

This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill basement of a church cookie sale though. There’s also a commpetition going on … there will be judges, there will be categories to enter … and proceeds go to a great cause.

Here’s the thing. Whether you decide to participate as a baker or simply as a taster and supporter of a good cause, you NEED TO REGISTER. The organizers need to know how many people are baking and attending.

In case you’re wondering, Ottawa Cookie Jam takes place Saturday, October 5th between 1 pm and 4 pm at the Parkdale United Church.

Will I see you there?????

Now … since this is a baking blog … and I’m promoting a cookie event … I wanted to do my part. I decided to take the classic oatmeal raisin cookie and … well turn it upside down. I opted for chocolate chips, oats and coconut. The result: A thick and chewy cookie with a kick of cinnamon. It’s pretty awesome.

It’s kind of the perfect cookie for this time of year. Hint hint … I think you should make a batch. Seriously.

*bakers note: you might find the measurements slightly strange … the original base of this recipe is from Thomas Keller. He prefers to weigh his ingredients, so this is my attempt at converting the measurements.

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oatmeal, coconut, chocolate-chip cookies
ingredients:

1 c. flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. + 3 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 c. + 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp vanilla paste
2 c. oats
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chocolate-chips

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using your paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed, until it is the consistency of mayonnaise (about 5 to 7 minutes). Add the sugars and mix for a further 3-4 minutes, until fluffy.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the egg and vanilla paste, mixing on low until combined, about 15-30 seconds. The mixture might look a little curdled – no big deal. You would rather that than over-mixing.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, whisking together.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, egg mixture in 2 additions; mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds each time. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate.

Add the oats, and count to ten with the mixer on medium – low speed.

Add in the flaked coconut and chocolate-chips. Again count to 10 with the mixer on medium-low speed.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

*bakers note: If you chill for 30 minutes, the result is a thin, crunchy cookie. If you chill for longer than 30 minutes – say overnight, then you end up with thicker, chewy cookies. It’s up to you.
Also – the original recipe actually makes 6 x 4-inch cookies (quite large). I actually opted to bake 16 2-inch cookies. Again, it’s up to you.

Heat the oven to 325 F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

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Whatever size of cookie you decide to bake, make sure you don’t allow the dough to touch while baking … especially if you are baking after only allowing the cookie dough to rest for 30 minutes – these spread.

If you are making the larger cookies, bake them fro 21 to 23 minutes, reversing the tray position halfway through the baking time.

If you opt for the smaller cookies, bake 18 minutes. Again … reversing the tray position halfway through the baking time.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then remove from the cookie sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

Or you know … grab a glass of milk and dunk right it. They are so good freshly out of the oven.

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choux pastry challenge

I love making choux pastry. It’s the kind of recipe that is so ridiculously simple to make; but it packs such a punch – impressing the socks off of your friends and family.

That’s why we decided it would be the perfect baking crew challenge.

Simple recipe with jaw-dropping results. Win – Win.

I’ve been making choux pastry for the past several months; but I’ve only made eclairs: choux pastry filled with pastry cream (or eggnog pastry cream during the holidays) … so I decided that I wanted to make profiteroles. Little balls of doughy goodness filled with both whipped cream and chocolate chantilly (whipped chocolate).

Doesn’t that sound perfectly delightful?

I thought so.

Until I arrived for our baking crew gathering.

table of choux

Mother of pearl … was I ever impressed!

Tom & Aimee had decided on making swans. That’s right. Perfect little chocolate choux swans filled with chocolate chantilly.

showstoppers

A showstopper? Heck ya.

Meredith decided to up the ante a little by making a gateau st. honore. This decadent cake is made up of a base layer of puff pastry, ringed with choux pastry piped on the outer edge. The centre is filled with pastry cream, and then more cream puffs are baked and filled with whipped cream, dipped in caramelized sugar and then placed, side by side, on top of the choux pastry ring. A layer of piped whipped cream finishes it off.

Not only did Meredith make the choux pastry. She also went ahead and made the puff pastry.

So impressive.

I loved it.

slice of meredith's choux

Cory either couldn’t decide on what he wanted to make … or he really wanted to impress the heck out of all of us. Either way … the result was a plethora of absolutely delicious pastries.corys choux

Whipped dijon potatoes with rare beef and chives sandwiched between a little choux pastry bun.

Chocolate caramel variation of a Paris-Brest (a cream puff ring filled with flavoured cream): whipped cream, chocolate, caramel. I’d just like to mention that the caramel was perfectly bitter.

Caramel drizzled profiteroles filled with whipped cream.

Braided strawberry choux wheel with creme patisserie and creme chiboust. Another showstopper.

Ridiculous right?

Why I thought my little chocolate chantilly, whipped cream filled profiteroles were going to impress my friends … I do not know!

People keep asking what we do once we all sit down and start to eat our baked treats. Well … this challenge was a perfect example of the baking crew at its best.

A great choux pastry is light and airy on the inside (it puffs up as it bakes), but has a crust on the outside. Make sense?

Since we all used different recipes, we were able to compare the different results.assortment of choux

Tom & Aimee used the Thomas Keller recipe – which called for them to rest the choux pastry overnight, as well as bake it for 75 minutes … we all agreed they could have used a little longer in the oven. It wasn’t quite crispy enough. But in impressive factor … they knocked it out of the park.  They made chocolate swans!  Who doesn’t love a chocolate swan?

Cory had a similar issue with all his choux. I thought his was the best flavour, but it didn’t puff up quite as much as he would have liked. Since we had so many to choose from … I’d have to say that the braided strawberry choux wheel was addictively delightful. Think of it as an updated strawberry shortcake … only 100 million times better. It was THAT good.

Meredith’s gateau st. honore had a great texture and flavour: add to that rich pastry cream and perfectly flakey puff pastry … you’ve got yourself a real winner.

I’d tell you more about my profiteroles … but really … they were a little ho hum. I found after tasting the others choux that mine was a little too eggy. I can claim to having the best exterior crunch and puffy interior … as proclaimed by the baking crew, not my own huge ego ;0)

scones

The baking crew was back at it again.

This time we decided on scones.20130207-173908.jpg

I know … you're probably wondering … from bagels to brioche to pie to doughnuts to scones???

We usually pick an untested, untried recipe and aim for passable success. This time we stuck with a well known classic.

We decided to do this for a couple of reasons:

We were all a little yeasted out. We wanted needed a little break from having to use it.

Plus … we wanted to see how Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery scones would be like.

Our challenge was pretty simple: bake the Bouchon Bakery plain scone; and then make a second scone, each of us letting loose and picking *another* flavour.

Keller & Rouxel offer a few options in their book: chocolate cherry scones, cinnamon honey scones, and bacon cheddar scones.

After considerable deliberation, I opted to create my own scone flavour: grapefruit coconut scones.

Which worked out well since Meredith tried the cinnamon honey scones, Cory opted for the bacon cheddar scones, and Tom & Aimee presented us with chocolate orange scones.

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A nice little balance of flavours.

Now you might wonder … why the heck would all of us bake the plain scones? And using the exact same recipe?!

I’m glad you asked!

It turns out it was a great opportunity for us to talk about what worked well … and to see the different results we all ended up with… because we really did end up with very different scones.

Meredith and my scones didn’t seem to rise; whereas Cory, Tom & Aimee’s scones rose beautifully.

The recipe called for creme fraiche: Meredith used it, I replaced it with sour cream. Meredith also opted for an unsalted butter: I used salted butter. These scones are so plain and simple (honestly, this recipe is uber basic) you could taste the difference. The salty difference.

Tom & Aimee replaced the creme fraiche with a soy alternative and tossed in vanilla seeds: the vanilla wasn’t really very pronounced … but it sure did look pretty.

Cory completely disregarded the original recipe when making his scones; they reminded us all of a cross between a biscuit and a scone (they were absolutely delicious).

After sampling the plain scones we dug into the flavoured ones.

Meredith’s cinnamon honey scones were insanely delightful. They were buttery with a hint of sweetness. Totally worth the effort of making the cinnamon honey butter. I’ve also decided that I love these scones so much that I want to make them myself … and perhaps turn them into a bread pudding of sorts … don’t be surprised if you see a blog post in that vein soon :0)

Tom & Aimee’s chocolate orange scones were the perfect balance of both flavours. They used a bit of chocolate liqueur as well as enough orange juice to basically replace the cream in the recipe. They were then topped with more chocolate glaze. The perfect scone to sit down and enjoy over a cup of coffee.

Cory went big: bacon cheddar scones. Who doesn’t love that flavour combo? They were also dense enough that they would be the absolute perfect accompaniment to chili. Or butternut squash soup. Basically … these scones are perfect for this cold weather.

Are you wondering how my grapefruit coconut scones turned out?

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They were pretty nicely balanced … but unlike Tom & Aimee’s chocolate orange scones in which both flavours were really distinct, these scones needed a little pop of something extra. I think next time I’ll add more grapefruit juice to the batter and perhaps increase the sugar slightly so that there is more of a contrast of flavours. I’ll continue tweaking the recipe and get back to you … because I’m pretty determined to get it right.

All of us, except for Cory, followed the Bouchon Bakery plain scone recipe – and even based our *flavoured* scones on the original plain recipe. So perhaps you’d like to give it a try too! One thing to note … Keller wants you to let your dough rest and chill overnight.

Yeah … this is an overnight kind of recipe.

Do you really need to plan that far ahead? Well … as a collective group we discussed it, and none of us really think you really, absolutely must freeze the scone batter overnight. I would recommend refrigerating the dough a couple of hours; then shape out the scones and freeze them for a further 2 hours (basically you want the butter to be as cold as possible so that you end up with a flakey and tender scone).

Then I’d bake ’em. For about 20 minutes.

They will be delicious: honestly … I actually preferred mine the following day. The plain scones were the perfect accompaniment to my creamy ginger-carrot beetroot soup.

Thomas Keller’s plain scone recipe
ingredients:
152 g / 1 c. + 1 1/2 tbsp flour
304 g / 2 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp cake flour
12.5 g / 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2.5 g / 1/2 tsp baking soda
91 g / 8 ounces sugar
227 g / 1/2 c. + 1 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
135 g / 1/2 c. + 1 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
135 g / 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp creme fraiche (I used sour cream instead)

*the recipe, as per Bouchon Bakery’s instructions, uses a stand-mixer. Feel free to use your hands instead.*

Place the flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using your paddle attachment, and setting your mixer on the “stir” setting, mix for 15 seconds. Basically you just want to combine all those ingredients.

Stop the mixer. Add all the butter, and starting on the lowest setting (this prevents the flour from flying all over your counter), mix the ingredients together. After about 45 seconds, increase the speed and mix for a further 3 minutes: breaking up the butter and incorporating into the dry mixture. If any large pieces of butter remain, stop the mixer, break them up by hand, and then mix again until incorporated.

While the mixer is running, slowly pour in the cream. Add the creme fraiche (sour cream) and mix for about 30 seconds, you’ll know it’s ready because all the dough will start to come together around the paddle.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. You’re done.

On a clean work surface (no flour required), mound the dough into a pile, and using your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together.

20130206-085301.jpgPlace the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, and using your hands, press it into a 6 – by – 9 – inch block (mine will look smaller since I divided the dough in half and added grapefruit zest, juice and flaked coconut to the remaining batter, thereby getting two different types of scones out of the original plain scone recipe). Straighten your block, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until firm.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a knife, cut the block of dough lengthwise into thirds (mine was cut in half), and then crosswise in half. Cut each rectangle in half, creating perfect little triangles. Arrange them on the cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid: at least 2 hours, but preferable overnight (I think 2 hours is fine).

20130206-085255.jpgHeat your oven to 350 F.

Line another, un-frozen cookie sheet, with parchment paper. Arrange the frozen scone triangles about 1 inch apart and brush the tops with heavy cream; then sprinkle the tops of each scone with sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on your oven). Basically you are looking for golden brown. In my case, I tend to pay attention more to the bottoms of the scones than the tops of the scones, so once those had a nice bake to them, I took them out of the oven to cool on a wire rack.

Done. Dead simple eh? And it’s a great basic recipe to play around with.

Now it’s your turn …