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Showing posts with label sugar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sugar. Show all posts

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Vegan Palmiers

So here's the thing about a classic pastry like a palmier: it requires what it known as lamination. No, no, not like the plastic stuff that goes over documents. I'm talking layers. Specifically, layers of dough alternating with layers of butter. You can see all sorts of snippets and examples of this on a lovely show called The Great British Bake-off (or The Great British Baking Show for we Americans) does puff pastry week with each season and it's always great to watch everything they come up with. In culinary school, laminated doughs were a lesson in patience for me. It's a very fiddly and finicky thing to keep everything just the right temperature and just the right texture in order to have it successfully bake. The idea is that you have the dough - which is cold - and the butter be the same consistency and thickness when rolling. This is often a dance between time and temperature. I was convinced that I'd never be able to do it with a vegan butter substitute, that it wouldn't ever be the right temperature or consistency to hold up like dairy butter would.

Image result for earth balanceFolks, meet Earth Balance. This is the single best vegan butter substitute I've come across. It acts just like butter in every single cake and pastry application I've yet to throw at it. It makes great ganache, it does a beautiful pie crust, and emulsifies in an extremely similar fashion to the real thing. It's yet to fail at a task I've put it to - and this includes laminating doughs. Trust me, I'm just as shocked as you are. Your move, America. We're out of excuses. If vegan croissants aren't soon a thing in every vegan bakery across this great nation, SO HELP ME. 

Now then, before anyone gets on their high horse about dairy butter being a superior product and how homaigah there are so many other ingredients in this don't you want just butter it's ONE INGREDIENT and start crying and shitting your pants over it, let me explain something:

Dairy milk is considered a whole food because it contains every single vitamin you need to sustain life. Know why? It's breast milk. This is baby cow food, to grow baby cows up big and strong. Of course it's great for you and great for your children - provided they aren't lactose intolerant, which they probably are. The ability to drink dairy milk without consequence is an anomaly. 

Thanks, Reddit, for the image!

Genetically, I'm half East Asian and half Ashkenazi Jewish (and yes, that's why I have such glorious curly hair). Dairy hurts my tummy. My fiance is a pan-European mutt, however, and dairy still hurts his tummy. In fact, it hurts all of his parts because he's severely lactose intolerant. I frankly can't remember the last time I've had dairy products in my home. This makes me feel only slightly less guilty about eating pork and shellfish because meat and dairy have never touched since B. and I moved in together. And let me shout it from the rooftops: I don't keep kosher by even the most-liberal of estimates. It is definitely my fault that the messiah isn't coming. I'm terrribly sorry. I'm the worst. 

Okay, that's enough disclaimers and tragic backstory. Let's get onto the recipe.

Vegan Palmiers
  • 150 g cold vegan butter substitute, pressed into a flat square, then frozen
  • 5 g salt
  • 105 g cold water
  • 205 g AP flour
  • 45 g vegan butter substitute, quite warm, near-melted

Measure your first 150 g of vegan butter substitute and press between two sheets of either parchment paper or plastic wrap to create a square. I didn't measure, but I'm pretty sure my square was about 6 inches on each side, with about half an inch of thickness to go with. Pop that in the freezer and work on your dough.

Simply combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and begin to knead with your hand. You will have to knead this to create a fair bit of gluten so that the steam from the melted "butter" will catch and make everything puff up and rise. The kneading process shouldn't take longer than five minutes; you just want to do it until the dough is rather smooth and homogenized. Wrap in plastic and let it rest for about 15 minutes in the freezer.

Once your dough and butter are cool and quite firm, you're ready to work. Roll your dough out to a square that, when the butter pat is placed on it, it will envelop it wholly. Like this!

I think you can actually see the cuts I made in the butter to make it into a pat. Neat! Anyhow, take this cold mass and fold it over onto itself, like an envelope. Check out my visual representation below...

Easy peasy pumpkin sqeezy! Now comes the fun bit... the lamination bit! This is also called folding. There are letter folds, book folds...lots of them! You can google any tutorial on how to do folding techniques - I  personally like the letter fold. That's when you take the long rectangle of your dough and fold it over in thirds, like you'd fold a letter, and roll out! I snapped a photo of the tutorial out of my old culinary textbook from school for you to see. It really is quite simple!

Now, once you've folded your dough into thirds, brush off the excess flour and roll out longways. Then, fold that now long piece into thirds which would be going the opposite way from the initial fold. Basically, you're always rotating something one turn and folding. But never go more than two turns before letting the dough rest in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. I promise you that it's worth the wait! Once you've rested the dough, roll out the dough again and do another letter fold, and yet another. You've now done the letter fold four times, which means you have now made twelve folds, which means you have twenty-four layers of alternating 'butter' and dough. I think that's fair enough, don't you? I think that you're ready to make your palmiers. 

So, the palmier is a special French sort of sugar cookie. Luckily, you only need about a third of your dough to make a dozen or so of these cookies, which means you can let the other two thirds hand out in the freezer until you're ready to use them again. So, cut a third of your dough and brush off your counter because you're not going to be rolling your puff dough in flour - oh, no, you'll  be rolling it in SUGAR.

That's right, SUGAR!

Take your dough and roll it out to about 1/4" thickness and cut that in half. Roll up your first half of dough into a scroll long ways. This means that you have the short end facing you, and two long book-end type situations happening to make a big scroll. You then roll up your scroll on the long sides to have two scrolls meet in the middle. Do the same thing with your other long piece of dough, but only roll up halfway towards the middle. It's almost as if you're going to be reading it.

Place your first, tightly-wound scroll in the middle of the other and then squeeze gently together to get it to stick. Turn over this entire log of scrolls so that the rolled bits are facing down and that the bottoms are facing up. Using a rather sharp knife (serrated is my knife of choice for this particular application) and quite gently slice off scroll sections of the roll. Spread out your cookies, sprinkle even more sugar on top, and then ROLL THEM FLAT! I do mean flat. Roll them quite, quite thin so that they're basically tuiles of sugar. 

Pop onto a silpat mat or a parchment sheet and freeze until your oven reaches 375 degrees F. The trick of puff pastry is this:


Write it down. Put it on your fridge. Tattoo it backwards on your forehead so that when you look in the mirror, you can read it legibly. 

Bake for about 12 minutes or until they're golden-brown. Let them cool. You don't want to get burned with hot sugar. Besides, this way they'll become crisp the way they're supposed to! Spectacular!

Happy cooking and happy eating - and if your mom is in town and you don't have a strained relationship with her, you should take some time and make them for her. You can get this ready for mother's day dinner if you start right now. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Vegan Tea & Cherry Shortbread Cookies

Note: The cookies made for the No Kid Hungry Bake Sale were made with dairy butter,
but I make the ones at home for me using vegan butter substitutes.
Before we start, let's just establish this:
Vegetarian means no meat, no animal flesh. All cookies are vegetarian.
Vegan means to meat, no eggs, no dairy, no honey - no animal products, whatsoever.

I am not a vegan or vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have quite a bit to thank the vegans for. It's because of the vegans that I have such wonderful substitutes for cheeses, sour creams, and - of course - butters. Most East Asian people are, in fact, lactose intolerant. My darling partner, B., is highly lactose intolerant, and we've since purged all dairy products from our home. We've been living a dairy-free lifestyle for a little over a year and a half, and I must say that adjustments have been made with much more ease thanks to our vegan friends.

When a friend of mine, a spritely lass called Gina Reardon, approached me to help her do a repeat of last year's No Kid Hungry bake sale, I couldn't say no. I didn't have my bakery in full-scale anymore, since I'd moved on to working for a hunger relief network here in Kansas City, but I still wanted to help. The noble shortbread came to my rescue, along with triple-threat chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin spice cakes. These three recipes are phenomenally easy to make, rather cheap, and rather appealing and inoffensive to the timid palette. They're not threatening cookies - they're your friends!

Shortbreads are simple cookies. They're not frilly or fancy, but rather plain-looking butter cookies that pack a subtle and familiar flavor, almost like the cookies in the tin at grandma's house. You know, the one that she saved to keep all of her sewing supplies in? These aren't piped butter cookies, of course, but these rolled-and-sliced cookies aren't any less spectacular, and you'd be surprised at how easy they are. They don't necessarily look like the most-appealing thing in the world, to some, but I think the simplicity of the shortbread cookie is a fabulous thing, especially when made vegan. But what is a shortbread?

Long story short, British folks call it "short" because the glutens in these cookies are not long. They're not stretchy, they're rather crumbly. Perhaps if you watch The Great British Bake-Off, you'll hear the phrase "shortcrust" pastry? That's what they're talking about when they say 'flaky pie dough.' The gluten strands are short, so they crumble delightfully all over your pants and down between your boobs when you eat them. Isn't that wonderful?

Vegan Tea & Cherry Shortbread Cookies
adapted from Thomas Keller's Shortbread recipe

  • 180 g vegan butter substitute (I love Earth Balance!)
  • 90 g granulated sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 270 g AP flour
  • 120 g dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 tea bags(I love chai, but I've used Earl Gray before with great success)
Tear open the tea bags and pour them into a small sauce pot along with half the "butter"and gently melt it to steep the tea. While that's going, put the rest of the butter into a medium-sized bowl. Oddly, I prefer mixing these by hand, so leave the standing mixer alone, unless you want to use it instead. I'll be whisking the butter and sugar by hand, but if you want to use the standing mixer, by all means break out the whisk attachment. 

Once the butter is melted with the tea, you can let it hang out for a few minutes to let it steep, but it's not 100% necessary. This is all to your preference, and I prefer to keep it light and fragrant versus terribly strong. Once you're ready, though, pour your melted butter into the bowl where your solid butter is and whisk gently to combine. You're basically whipping it to cool down, and when all of the fat is at a same-texture consistency (meaning that it's smooth without lumps), add in the sugar and whisk the bejeezus out of it until the sugar has completely dissolved. This may take several minutes, and you might feel the need to cuss; that's okay, you're allowed. 

Switch to a spatula and combine the remaining ingredients and stir until it becomes a solid dough. Cover and let chill for at least 10 minutes. Once chilled enough to handle, turn out onto a layer of parchment paper (or a layer of plastic wrap) and roll the dough into a single log. This may take some doing, but if you work quickly, it won't be so bad. Just do your best to make sure that the log is even and you've packed it all quite tightly and that there aren't any air bubbles. Freeze this log for an hour, or chill in the fridge overnight.

When you're ready to bake, heat your oven to 325 degrees F and sprinkle a handful of white sugar out onto your counter. Take out your dough and unwrap the log, then roll the log in the sugar so that you have a nice, even coating all around the outside. (This is an optional, but recommended step!) Using a small, sharp knife, slice discs from the dough log and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I like quarter-inch thick cookies, but you can do thicker or thinner to your preference. If you like, you can sprinkle even more sugar on top of the cookies to give them an extra bit of crunch, and it makes it look very pretty. 

Bake at 325 for about 11 minutes, or until the cookies are just golden on the outside. You want them to be quite pale, and they will be quite pale, considering the low sugar content. I've also used this recipe with coconut sugar and date sugar with success, but it does affect the color slightly. I think the light color is the appeal of these cookies, but that's just me.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, or make these for a bake sale to end childhood food insecurity in America, selling them in little cellophane bags tied with ribbon. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Black Truffle Caramels

I have a partnership with The Tasteful Olive in downtown Overland Park, KS. I sometimes do classes there, but mostly I get swag...in exchange for writing a few recipes using said swag. Considering starting your own business won't turn me a profit for about two or three years, this is a pretty sweet deal(pun intended). I get my hands on fine ingredients and I get to experiment at my secret foodie workshop with everything else at my disposal; this is very fun and I absolutely adore doing it.

Being on a sweets fix as of late, I thought about using this black truffle sea salt(with nice little truffle chunks from Italy) in brownies, but I was afraid that chocolate would overpower their delicate-yet-sock-like flavor. Truffles are that sort of ooky-nasty-umami-ish flavor that you just can't describe, and I wanted it to shine. My favorite ways to have black truffles are with soft-poached eggs or with potatoes, but I truly think that savory ingredients have a good place with sweets. Here's how to make my Black Truffle Salted Caramels.

Black Truffle Caramels

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus three tablespoons white sugar(8 oz, by weight)
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 tsp black truffle sea salt plus more for the top
  • 2 Tbsp local honey
  • 2 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp truffle oil**
Butter a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper and line a sheet pan with it. You can use a loaf pan for higher sides, or just a plain old cookie sheet for thin caramel wafers...it's really whatever you like.

Measure our your sugar, water, vinegar, and black truffle salt into a saucepot. Bring it to a boil. Simply let it cook, without stirring it, if you please, until it turns a golden color. Turn off your burner and swirl the mixture around. The carryover heat will allow you to let it come to a deep amber color with a little less fear. 

Glob in the honey when the color has reached this stage to stop the cooking. Next, pop in your butter and truffle oil, if you're using it, and stir using a wooden spoon. Wood is an excellent tool for making candy, as it doesn't conduct heat well. Stir the bejeezus out of it until all of the butter and oil has dissolved into the caramel and turned silky. Scrape your caramel into the prepared(and well-greased) molds. Sure, you can just dump it onto a silpat mat and shape it using candy rulers, but not everyone has those, so I prefer to use what everyone may have in the cabinets.

Once your caramels are in the mold of your choice, simply let set and sprinkle with plenty more black truffle salt. I used a little less than half a teaspoon on the top, but you can add more. I love a little salty with my sweet, and I simply adore this recipe.

Let cool entirely before you cut into squares! Happy cooking, happy eating, and visit The Tasteful Olive. Oh, and follow me on Instagram.

A photo posted by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Can someone just help?

This is going to be the shortest blog ever.

I need to learn how to do sugar showpieces. But I'm clumsy and nervous. Why can't I build sugar sculptures out of steak? I understand steak...
But if someone could just come over to my house and show me how to make this, I'd be grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes - Part 3.5 - Brining and Other Nifty Skills

Remember how a few days ago I covered turkey and its own little anatomy? I realized recently that I didn't even tell you guys how to brine things. Well, since I'm not a terrible person, I'm going to tell you how right now, using my own notes from Garde Manger. What's "garde manger", you ask?

Garde Manger is French for "keep to eat." Basically, it's preserving and smoking and making sausages and things like that. It's got little to nothing to do with recipes, but is all about techniques and skills on how to do very useful things. It is basically the cold side of the kitchen that makes terrines, salads, gazpachos, pates, sausages and house-smoked bacon, etc. Actually...

Garde manger
·         Created profession began with the need to preserve food
·         The practice of food preservation is much older than the term garden manger

1.       The Chef
2.       The Kitchen
3.       The craft of Garde Manger itself
Preserving Things

Fat -> CONFIT!
1.       Cure food
2.       Simmer in fat
3.       Pack the food IN the fat
4.       Allow it to mellow out/rest for at least a week

1.       Ready to eat cured food
2.       Cooked by the consumer cured food
3.       Dried after cured cured food!
Wet cures vs. Dry cures
Brines vs. Rubs!
·         20% salt…stick to 1 gallon water : 1 cup salt

·         Brine w/ acid
·         TCM ->tinted curing mixtre
·         TCM #2 -> sodim nitrate

Just hang it and let it air dry! Wooooooot

Flavor & preservation
Smoking gives awesome flavor and preserves…also been found that when we smoke meat it keeps animals away…good to know!
·         Hot Smoking
·         Cooks
§  180 to 250 degrees
·         You’re only going to smoke for about the first 30 mins…and after that you’re just roasting. So keep that in mind!
·         The number one thing you want to taste is the Meat, then the rub/flavor, then the smoke
Stuff you wanna smoke stuff in…(or possibly  not)
·         100% Lump Hardwood
§  *(compressed hard wood)
§  Nitrates + Humidity = Smoke Ring in the meat!
§  Keep your wood dry
·         Woods to use
·         Hickory
·         Medium: Cherry, pecan, maple
·         Light: apple/pear/orange wood
·         Other stuff…
·         Brickettes
§  Chemicals, and they burn hot and fast…stuff that you don’t necessarily want around your food!
·         Cold Smoking
·         Doesn’t cook, but flavors
§  60 to 80 degrees
·         Pan smoking
·         Number one thing is that you can get in BIG trouble by over-smoking stuff

Anyway, that's what Garde Manger is all about. But back to brining. 

 The basic ratio for brining is 1 gallon of water per 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar. So it goes Water:Salt:Sugar in a 16:1:1 ratio. That's a basic, basic ratio. As far as technique goes, you boil the water with the salt and sugar until completely dissolved. After that, you let it cool by either adding a few cups of ice or just letting it hang out on the stove, off the heat, and let it come to room temperature. Don't worry about any bacteria forming in the water, because of the salt content.

After this is cooled sufficiently, immerse your turkey - breast side down, please - and either use a plate to weigh it down or a brick wrapped in plastic wrap. If you can't find space in your hugely-stocked fridge full of Thanksgiving delight, you can pop it all in a cool spot in your garage, or any other cool dark space. If you'd like to make extra efforts on keeping it cool, use those cold packs you can find for keeping box lunches cool in the brine. It won't affect the flavor at all, but you can put them in a plastic bag if you're feeling a touch paranoid.

As far as introducing some more flavors to your brine, here are things that work for your hard boil:

  • Whole peppercorns
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme sprigs
  • Elder berries
  • Whole cloves
  • Dry rosemary sprigs
  • Whole garlic cloves
 Some things you don't want in a brine are things that won't stand up amazingly to a super-hard boil. Also, these are things that have more delicate flavors that you'll want to save for rubs and infusions.

  • Saffron(which is also STUPID expensive)
  • Rubbed sage/sage sprigs
  • Tarragon
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garlic salt
With these tips and tricks, you can create a beautiful brine.  The general rule is the longer the better, so a 12-hour brine for big turkeys are best.