Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nibby Buckweat Butter Cookies

This is my first time using cacao nibs. They have the texture of crushed coffee beans, and the aroma of dark-dark chocolate, but they taste smoother, like tiny crunches of unsweetened chocolate, but without the sugar and vanilla flavours that we typically associate with a chocolate bar.
These cookies come together quickly, and can be bake as needed since they are essentially a slice and bake cookie. The buckwheat flour lends a toasty flavour to the cookies that really accentuates the lightly browned crispy outer edges especially when these are right out of the oven. the buckwheat cookie base is flavoured simply with vanilla but the tiny bits of cacao nibs dispersed throughout them add bitter spots of dark cocoa favour making these a sophistacated cookie wth a familiar yet alluring blend of flavours. Buckwheat nibby cookies make an elegant nibble but still provide a satisfying cookie experience. They are the perfect kind of cookie to nibble on with an afternoon coffee or after dinner with a cappuccino.

Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies
makes approx 4 dozen cookies
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cacao nibs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Whisk the all-purpose and buckwheat flours together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and vanilla. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it with your hands a few times, just until smooth.
  3. Form the dough into a 12x2 inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at lest 2 hours or preferably, overnight.
  4. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough logs into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1-1/2-inches apart on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake until the cookies are just beginning to colour at the edges, 12-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies in the pans on the racks. Let cool completely. the cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container at least one month.
adapted from:
Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blueberry Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Based on the success of my last cream cheese pound cake, I strengthened my resolve to make this one, a blueberry lime cake that I've had bookmarked forever. The cake is quite similar to the earlier one except that it is perfumed with delicate, floral lime zest and bursting with teeny blueberries.
The batter is thick and sturdy the way pound cake batter should be. You can see the baking powder in action almost as soon as the batter mixes. It bakes up easily in an hour, and after it cools, if you can wait that long, it gets drizzled with a simple lime glaze that roll down the cake in a zigzag pattern, gussying up cake that otherwise slightly resembles a giant blueberry doughnut. This is the kind of comforting rainy day cake that reminds you that just because it's November doesn't mean you can't eat likes it's still summer, which by the way, I'm sure it still is summer somewhere in the world.

Blueberry Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake
makes 1 12-inch bundt cake
serves between 12 and 16th

for the cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 8-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-1/2 cups room-temperature blueberries, washed and drained on paper towels
for the glaze:
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or more if needed

  1. Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Make the cake: sift the flour, baking powder, salt, into a medium bowl. stir the sugar with the lime zest until zest is evenly dispersed and perfumes the sugar.
  3. With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, about 1 minute. add the lime sugar mixture an beat on medium until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer sill running, add the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. beat in the egg yolk. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Stop the mixer one last time to scrape the bowl and then beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth and light, about20 seconds. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan,spreading it evenly with the spatula. Run a knife through the batter or tap the pan lightly to eliminate any air pockets. bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto the rack, remove the pan and let cool completely.
  5. To glaze the cake: In a spouted measuring cup, whisk the icing sugar with the lime juice until smooth. the glaze should be thin enough to pour. If not, add more lime juice, 1 teaspoon at a time. Put a baking sheet under the rack to catch drips and drizzle the glaze over tops and sides of the cake. Let the glaze set fully before transferring to a cake plate and serving.
adapted from: Fine Cooking magazine