Daring Bakers: Baked Pork Siopao

I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life!  When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these.  You won’t be disappointed.  Especially with the meat!  I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write!  It is very, very good.

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The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

These siopao make a great meal.  You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go.  While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.

As I said before, the meat is to die for.  So good.  For real.  My house smelled heavenly while it baked.  DO NOT leave out the star anise!  It’s subtle but adds so much.  I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!

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After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor.  This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy.  Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state.  Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice.  It makes for a crazy good sauce later.  Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice.  Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container.  Sorry for all the fat talk.

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Almond Heart Danish with Browned Butter Glaze

Grand plans were made to post some lovely pink hued macarons in honor of Valentine’s Day!  In my mind they were beautiful and delicious and enviable.  How hard could macarons be, anyway?  I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baking.  I’d say I’m an advanced amateur.  And I’m seeing macarons everywhere.  If all of those people can make them, then I can.  You know what happens when you start thinking like that?  You get humbled.  Big time.  I overestimated my kitchen abilities and wound up with some cracked and foot-less macarons.  Apparently macaron baking is a skill that requires practice.  Hats off to those of you who make them well.  You have my respect forever and always.  So I will keep working on my macaron making.  Maybe some day you’ll see a post on them!  That is if I don’t get too discouraged and give up.  Sometimes I do that…

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Instead of finicky macarons I went with something I am more comfortable and familiar with, pastry!  This would make a lovely Valentine’s breakfast.  You can bake it the day before and then just warm it up in the oven briefly before glazing.  You could also let it do the second rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning.

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S’mores Pudding Cups

First off, how much fun is this animated GIF?!  And it’s so easy to make.  I use Photoshop Elements and this took me maybe 15 minutes start to finish, including photo editing.  Gotta love those people who post YouTube tutorials!  You can rest assured that if something I make has layers you’ll be seeing one of these again.

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This sweet dessert is inspired by the s’mores pot de creme at Sweet Houston.  Their version is a little different.  They have a layer of chocolate cake crumbles (I think) along with the graham layer, chocolate mousse (or maybe it’s pudding) and marshmallow cream.  They come in darling little glass jars, but I found that these Beechnut baby food jars work just as well!

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Daring Bakers: Mini Esterhazy Torte

Right now I am in a dreamy state after sampling and photographing this incredible cake!  If you need a special dessert and you’re a hazelnut fan, you should seriously consider taking the time to whip this up.  You will thank me for the rest of your life.

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For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is my husband’s favorite cookie.  I made 200+ of them as favors for our wedding guests.  After trying many recipes I found that the one on the bottom of the lid of the Quaker Oats container was my favorite.  But when I saw this one in my Test Kitchen cookbook I thought I’d give it a try.  You know, for research.  They are quite good and may give the Quaker recipe a run for its money.

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But really a fair comparison can’t be made.  I’d probably have to have them side by side to decide which is better.  These are puffier and more tender than the others, they are more full of oats and are flavored with nutmeg instead of cinnamon.  I kind of missed the cinnamon, so I’d add some the next time.  I might also add more raisins.

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Fudge Brownie Pie with Graham Crust

I’m working my way through some recipes in the Milk Bar cookbook and really enjoying it so far!  If you missed this post, then check it out now.  Those cookies will blow your socks off.  This is another one that is on the simple side, not at all daunting.  It wasn’t what I expected when I saw “brownie pie”, but was quite delicious and something I’d definitely make again.

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Yogurt and Feta Dip with Fresh Dill

I like football and I was sad to see college football season come to a close.  But I’m glad that the Superbowl is coming up!  Not because I care about any of the teams that might be playing (the ones I cared about are out of it now) but because of the food.  Oh, Superbowl food.  Few things are better.  Am I right?  I think I am.

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Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies

My sister gave me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas and once we got home and unpacked everything I started browsing through it.  I’ve never actually been to Milk Bar, but have heard about their legendary cereal milk soft serve, compost cookies and crack pie.  My husband and I have grand plans to make a trip (maybe child-free!) up to New York City sometime in the next year to visit my sister and her family.  If we really do make it, then Milk Bar will be one of the places we have to go.

The cookbook is totally accessible with recipes for yummy things like confetti cookies, cinnamon bun pie, and brownie pie and ingredients you can buy at the grocery store like ritz crackers, corn flakes, fruity pebbles and ovaltine.  But it is intimidating in some ways.  Pretty much every recipe calls for a component that you have to make separately.  This almost always makes me steer away from a recipe.  But this time I found one that seemed doable, even with the extra steps.  These cornflake, chocolate chip, marshmallow cookies are worth every second of time they take to make.

Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies | Hottie Biscotti Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

The component you have to make before you make the cookies is cornflake crunch.  It’s simple, really.  Crushed cornflakes, sugar, butter, milk powder and salt.  Mix it all together and toast it in a low oven.  Other crunches in the book include fruity pebble, pretzel and ritz, all similar to the cornflake crunch.  With my new found love of the cornflake crunch I see a day in my future where I make big batches of the stuff and store it all in my freezer so I can add them to all of my cookies.

These cookies are sweet, salty, rich and buttery.  They are crunchy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center.  I usually prefer a puffier cookie, but these are flat and have earned a spot as some of the best cookies ever to come out of my oven.  They are HUGE.  Like the size of your face.  And amazing.  These are so amazing.

Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

The cornflake crunch really makes these cookies special and unlike any cookie I’ve made.  I am a believer in the momofuku crunch.  And in milk powder.  It’s magical stuff.

I’ve tried to add marshmallows to cookies before, but they’ve never quite acted like the marshmallows in these cookies.  They provide a sweet, sugary, gooey, chewiness but you don’t get too much marshmallow since they kind of melt into the cookie and join with everything else is perfect baked good harmony.

Mini chocolate chips are the way to go here.  Larger ones would be too overwhelming both in appearance in the cookie and in taste.  Stick with the minis.

Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

I am so excited to try more recipes in this cookbook!  Now that I know how worthwhile it is to make the special ingredients, I’ll be much more likely to make that incredible looking birthday cake on page 104.  Drool.

Cornflake, Marshmallow and Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Cornflake Crunch

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a large bowl crush cornflakes with clean hands then mix in milk powder, sugar and salt.  Toss to combine.
  3. Add in the melted butter and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Spread out onto the prepared sheet and bake for 20 minutes, let cool.

Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups cornflake crunch
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows

Directions

  1. Beat butter and sugars on medium high for 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and vanilla.  Beat for 7-8 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl.
  2. Whisk together the flour, powder, soda and salt, then add to the butter mixture.  Mix on low until just combined, no longer than 1 minute.
  3. Mix in the cornflake crunch and chocolate chips on low speed just to combine, 30-45 seconds.  Then mix in the marshmallows just to combine.
  4. Using a large cookie/ice cream scoop or a 1/4 measuring cup scoop out dough into balls and place on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet.  You should have between 15 and 20 cookies.  No need to spread the dough balls out on this sheet.  Place the sheet into the fridge for at least 1 hour.  If you plan to refrigerate them for more than a couple hours, cover the sheet with plastic wrap.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  6. Arrange dough balls on a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet (4 or 5 cookies per sheet) with 3-4 inches room for spreading.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until edges are beginning to brown and centers are just set.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then move to a cooling rack.  Cool completely.

Daring Bakers: Dutch Sweet Bread

I am pleased to say that I have successfully completed an entire year of The Daring Bakers!  Wahoo!  It ended with this Dutch sweet bread that I got to bring to our family Christmas.

Dutch Sweet Bread | Hottie Biscotti

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.

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This bread has nice flavor.  It was chewy and is most delicious eaten toasted with a spread of butter.

I’m keeping this post short since I’m currently sitting at the kitchen table at my parents house.  So I’m off to spend some more time with them and laugh uncontrollably at silly things with my sisters.  Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Dutch Sweet Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 cup less 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon ground gingerbread spices
  • 1¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used all purpose)
  • 1¾ teaspoons baking powder

Gingerbread Spice Blend

  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and sugar a loaf pan.
  2. Put the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.
  3. Add the flour and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. Some lumps are ok.
  4. Pour into the pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.