Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Birthday and Election Treats of Supreme Deliciosity

Whew, busy night! I asked what my mom wanted for her birthday and one of her requests was that I bake and blog something for her, since I can't be there to make her anything in person. I thought and thought about something she would like, flipping through my favorite cookbooks and recipe websites. Nothing grabbed my eye immediately so I decided to think of my mom's favorite foods. Some sort of pot de creme came to mind, or maybe something with nuts? My mom does eat more cashews than anybody I know. And she recently ran a triathalon so they must be doing something for her. But nothing cashew-y grabbed me and said, "Hey, I'll be ultra delicious. Make me!" But perhaps that's because I didn't take hallucinogenic drugs, we'll never know.

I eventually decided on something with figs, since I know my mom fancies figs, fig jam and other... fig related items. But what fig dessert to make? There are some strange looking fig recipes out there and I wanted some that looked and tasted good. I eventually settled on fig pinwheels from Martha Stewart's website. Kind of a dressed up, inside out fig newton. Plus, they're pretty! Or would be in theory, I've never made a rolled cookie like this.


But if I do say so myself, they did turn out pretty. I probably would've killed myself had they not because they took forever and a day to make. They were exactly hard, just labor intensive. Make the dough. Chill. Roll dough out. Chill again. Make filling. Chill. Puree filling. Spread filling on rolled dough. Guess what you do next? Chill again. Painstakingly roll filling/dough. CHILL. Cut cookies ever so carefully, of course CHILLING, ALWAYS CHILLING between baking. Brian saw the picture on the recipe I printed out and then looked at my fist batch, which was all the left over dough and end pieces of the cookie logs. He just looked at me and went, "...Um, are those supposed to be pinwheels?" and I told him to look away, those cookies didn't count. And they didn't, the uglies don't get a place on the blog.

But all the work was worth it, 'cause it's for my mommy. :) Also, they're reeeeeeeeeally good. Joe said they're one of his favorite cookies I've ever baked. And you can only imagine how many cookies he's endured in the almost 5 years we've been dating. Quite a lot, I'd say, and I wasn't so good when I first started baking. Bless him.

I'd say I would make these again because the filling is divine and the cookie dough is delicious but I just spent like 5 hours baking these so ask me again in a few days, alright? The recipe makes a HUGE amount of cookies and I have nearly an entire log in the freezer left over, even after making about 5 dozen of these bad boys. That's insane! I will probably have to make them for my mom in person some time and these would make an excellent holiday gift. So I'll probably make them again when I have five hours to fill.


So happy birthday, mama! I believe you're turning, what, 35? :) I wish I could be there but lots of interwebz/blog directed towards Alaska.

Recipe from Martha Stewart:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups dried figs, stemmed (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup golden raisins (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup orange juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make dough: Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl, set aside. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Transfer one of the dough halves to a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Roll out to a 10-by-12-inch rectangle, trim edges with a knife. Repeat with remaining dough half. Transfer each rectangle on parchment to a baking sheet. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Make filling: Bring figs, raisins, and juices to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until fruit has softened and only a few tablespoons of liquid remain, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Transfer fig mixture to a food processor, and puree until smooth.
  4. Spread half the filling over each rectangle. Starting with a long side, roll dough into a log. Wrap each log in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices using a sharp knife, transferring to baking sheets lined with parchment paper (and reshaping into rounds, if needed) as you work. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.
  6. How to roll fig pinwheels: After spreading fig filling over chilled dough, gently but tightly roll the dough, starting with a long side, into a log. Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour or overnight. To keep pinwheels from flattening on one side, remove the log from the refrigerator from time to time, and roll it again on a flat surface. Then cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rerolling it as needed to retain shape.

Changes I made, mostly because I didn't read the recipe before I went shopping, brilliant: No apple juice, used the rest of my apple butter, watered down a bit. Added some vanilla to the cookie dough because I don't trust cookies without vanilla. Used regular raisins instead of golden. Also, 12 minutes worked fine on my cookies, 15 made them a bit too crisp for my liking.

I was actually so anxious waiting for election results that I made some bars while the cookies were baking. Because I am insane. I've been wanting to make a puffed grain cereal and dried fruit breakfast bar for awhile now and I finally got all the stuff to do it. I didn't know what I was doing but they turned out yummy so I'm happy.

I've seen brown rice syrup used as a binder in vegan baking and I started looking at that as an option for my bars. I decided to use brown rice syrup as a binder instead of marshmallows or corn syrup so that at least I can pretend they're healthy. But brown rice syrup is actually one of the healthiest sweeteners: it has a low glycemic index and isn't quite as creepy as marshmallows or corn syrup. Plus, it tastes good, kind of like molasses or caramel.



Here's what I came up with: a puffed corn cereal, studded with dried apricots and raisins, bonded together with brown rice syrup flavored with a little vanilla and cinnamon. I sprinkled some sea salt on top for some salty contrast. Mom, I think you'd like these too, they're not too sweet and have lots of fruity goodness in them. They're pretty gooey, brown rice syrup doesn't set up as well as other binders, but they're really good and will make a good grab-n-go snack, I think.


Ooey Gooey, Salty Sweet Breakfast Bars

INGREDIENTS:

- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 Tbsp butter (or margarine)
- 5 cups puffed cereal (I used puffed corn)
- Pinch cinnamon
- Dash vanilla
- Sea salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Grease a 9x13 pan. Pour the brown rice syrup and sugar in a large pot and place of medium heat, stir to let the sugar dissolve. Add butter/margarine and let melt. Add the chopped apricots and raisins, stir to combine. Add cinnamon and vanilla. Stir in cereal, mixing to combine. Immediately pour into greased pan, using a spatula to pat the mixture flat. Sprinkle with a few pinches sea salt, if desires.

Next time, I'd use a smaller puffed grain but we happened to have a billion bags of puffed corn, so puffed corn it was. I'll try cutting out the sugar completely next time, with the dried fruit I don't think it's necessary. The bars would be good with some chopped almonds or something as well, if desired.

I am EXHAUSTED now and need to sleep. I nearly put my iPhone in the oven earlier, sleep is due. It would be like me to bake my most treasured item, I did lose my prior cell phone on an Alaskan mountain somewhere. Don't ask.

Happy birthday, mom, have a fantaaaaastic day! And happy election day, congrats to my man Obama!

4 comments:

alaskagrrrL said...

Oh yes, you ARE going to make me those fig cookies in real life, you IZ! And in my supreme state of birthday wizdom, I figured out the secret to the cereal bars: cashews and CHILL! Shout out to B.Obama for being the best present-dent a grrrl could ask for (and Sophie for being the best birthday baker blogger ever :)
Love,
the Mama

Meeuh said...

Happy birthday, Momma! It's about time you got a good election result on a birthday, hmmmmm? Sophie - you need to come visit my tiny, tiny apartment so that you can bake me cookies (I'll bake you cupcakes) and cackle with me at "The Hills".

Calana said...

Yum! The fig cookies sound absolutely delicious, as do the breakfast bars. Happy birthday to your mama!
:]

alaskagrrrL said...

Sophie--Thanks so much for sending the cookies! I couldn't believe it when I realized it was really them! You have permission to publish my comments in public: "mmmwwaaaammmmmm(chew, chew, chew)mmmmmmmmwwwwwaaam". They are like the best fig newton ever, maybe a fig neutron? Anyway, yum and yum again and thanks for getting them to me!
Love, Mom