Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

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Carrot Diamonds (or Fafernuchy)

November 21, 2009

Get it? Carrot Diamonds? I thought of the name myself, and yes, I am very pleased about it.
I have a particular curiosity for  baking cookies and cakes that include vegetables. Chocolate and beets? Carrot cake? I even tried a chocolate cake recipe that used tomatoes. I was never disappointed and nobody ever guesses what is inside. It was quite amusing to tell my dad, for example, that there is zucchini in his slice of chocolate cake. He wasn’t sure whether he should stop eating it or not. He didn’t. I am nevertheless sure that the line of what can ingredients can be used in desserts will become more and more blurred.

When I came across this recipe for “fafernuchy” on the Lubię gotować blog and immediately wanted to give it a try. After doing some further research I discovered that they are traditional to the Mazovia region, which is in east-central Poland. There are a million variations on this recipe. Some recipes use yeast, others use baking powder. Some use carrots, others use beets. You can use regular wheat flour, but you can also try using rye flour. What is common is that they are usually prepared during the holidays, and they are shaped into little diamonds.

Peeled carrots, about to be grated

Dough before being set aside to rise

Just after being taken out of the oven.

Since I was already grating carrots, I decided to prepare a simple little salad from my childhood. I used only carrots, apples and a bit of sugar. My could also add a bit of grated onion for extra flavour. It goes great on the side of schnitzel, or any breaded and fried meat, as well as a roast.

Carrot Diamonds (Fafernuchy)
(makes about 80 small cookies)

– 250 gr of grated carrots
– 250 gr of whole wheat flour
– 250 gr of AP flour
– 2 large eggs
– 10 gr of dry active yeast (activated with 1/4 cup of warm water)
– 120 gr (1 stick) of butter (softened)
– 125 gr of light brown sugar (I would use a bit more next time)
– powdered sugar for sprinkling

1. In a bowl, sprinkle grated carrots with the sugar and set aside for about an hour.
2. Dissolve yeast into warm water and set aside until frothy.
3. Begin to combine eggs, butter, and yeast mixture with the flour with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add carrots and sugar.
4. Knead dough until soft and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough miay be somewhat sticky, so may need to add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour.
5.  Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Set aside for about 1.5 hours, or until doubled.
6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
7. Punch down dough and divide in two.
8. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1cm (1/2 inch) in thickness. With a sharp knife, slice the dough diagonally into strips of about 3cm (1.5 inch). Slice the opposite direction to make diamond shapes. Set aside any leftover small pieces to be used with the rest of the dough.
9. Transfer diamond pieces onto a cookies sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise for approximately 20 minutes.
10. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
11. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 13-15 minutes.
12. Place cookies on a cooling rack, and let cool before sprinkling generously with icing sugar.
Carrot and Apple Salad

– 300 gr of grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
–  300 gr of grated apple (about 2 medium, a sweet variety like golden delicious is best, but any will do)
– 1 tbs of sugar
– 1/4 onion, grated (optional)

1. Mix all of the ingredients and serve.

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Biscotti!

November 21, 2009

I really don’t think there’s anything bad to say about about biscotti… unless you have fragile teeth. But even then, you can make your biscotti soft. The crunch, flavour, versatility and simplicity of biscotti are irresistible to me. It is also one of those cookies that I firmly believe tastes just as good, if not better, without any butter added. Once you add butter, the cookie changes into something more decadent than a biscotti should be. I don’t always want decadent.

I have tried many kinds of biscotti, but I keep returning to the classic almond biscotti, which I think is best. I also wanted to make a chocolate version, as I was sure that my brothers would favour those. Sure enough, those were gone in half a day. Usually chocolate biscotti recipes use hazelnuts, but I just stuck with almonds.

Almonds are toasted, dry ingredients are ready to be mixed

Wet ingredients about to be mixed with the dry ingredients

Dry ingredients for the cocoa almond biscotti.

The cocoa almond biscotti about to be put into the oven.

Almond biscotti cooling after first baking.

Almond biscotti about to be put in the oven for second baking.

The recipe I used is very loosely based on the one in Baking with Julia. I halved the recipe to make the regular, then chocolate version, but next time I’ll just stick to making whole batches. I hear biscotti keeps well, but I will never know since they’re always gone before I get a chance to see for myself.

Almond Biscotti

– 3/4 cup of whole almonds
– 1 1/4  cups of AP flour (I used 1 cup, and found it was a tad too little)
– 1 large egg
– 1 egg yolk
– 1/2 cup of sugar
– 1 tsp of orange zest (next time I will use 2 tsp)
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
– pinch of salt

Cocoa Almond Biscotti

– 3/4 cup of whole almonds
– 1 cup of AP flour
– 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
– 1 large egg
– 1 egg yolk
– 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (380 F).
2. Spread almonds onto a cookie sheet and toast in oven for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
3. Mix dry ingredients (almonds, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa if using) in a bowl and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients well (eggs and flavouring).
5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and begin mixing with a spoon or spatula. Once the ingredients have begun to integrate, use hands to knead the dough. The dough may seem dry at first, but once everything is integrated, it will become a bit sticky.
6. Using your hands, roll out the dough into a log to about 25cmx7cm (11×3 inches) and transfer onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. If you prefer “skinnier” and longer biscotti, flatten the log with your hands.
7. Place the dough in the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 30 minutes. The baking time will vary depending on the shape of your dough. Flatter biscotti will bake a bit faster. It will be ready when you see the edges of the log begin to brown. It is, however, better to over bake a bit than to under bake and have raw dough.
8. Remove log from the oven, place onto a cooling rack and leave until cool. This should take at least 30 minutes.
9. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into pieces approximately 2 cm (1 inch) thick on a diagonal slant. Place the biscotti back onto the baking sheet on their side.
10. Reduce oven temperature to about 160 degrees C (350 degrees F) and bake biscotti for another 15 minutes.
11. If you would like even crunchier biscotti, flip the cookies onto their other side and bake for another 10 minutes.
12. Remove, let cool and enjoy! If the biscotti is still a bit soft, leave them out overnight before putting them in a container.