A Challah to Remember

January 20, 2009

One of the fun things of being a girl is dreaming of the man that might show up in your life one day. Though reality is not even remotely close, you can have an interesting journey through your imagination with that dark, daring stranger that will sweep you off your feet, take you from your dull life to strange and interesting new worlds or…as in the “story” I apparently wrote when I was very, very young…rescue the princess from the evil ogre holding her hostage. πŸ™‚

Every girls dream is different is some way, and the man we are each ultimately the happiest with is completely different from the man that would make our best friends happy. But along that very long and often trecheours road to happiness I think all women at one point will take a fantasy detour to dream about being with a man with a sexy accent. Irish, Italian, Austrialian (*insert sexy purring noise*). I honestly don’t know what it is, but the idea of someone so different and foreign can certainly make me melt like chocolate on a hot stove.

The wonderful man currently in my life is not really the sexy-foreign-accent type, though definitely sexy in his own way. He was, however, raised Jewish, and that makes for some fun conversations. Strange, made up sounding words like meshuggener and schmatte will sneak their way into every day conversations. People who kvetch and schlimazels are individuals to suddenly watch out for. And enough with the chicken soup already! πŸ˜‰

One of the really yummy extras that came with my man (does anyone else think that almost makes him sound like one of those infomercial gadgets with all the cheesy extras? oops!) Anyways, one of the yummy extras that came with this man is Challah bread. Or “Chally.”

This was my first attempt at Chally, and while it wasn’t quite right, like every recipe from The Fresh Loaf, it was beautiful and delicious.

Challah Bread
Slightly adapted from: The Fresh Loaf

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups room-temperature water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 tbl. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Beat the eggs with about a tablespoon of the water. Put aside approximately 1/4 a cup for the egg wash and mix the remaining egg with the rest of the water.

Mix the 2 1/2 cups bread flour with the yeast and add in approximately half of the water/egg mixture. It should make a very pasty mixture. Allow to set for 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in size.Β 

Mix in the remaining egg/water mixture, olive oil, sugar and salt, then gradually work in the remaining flour. Place in a well greased bowl, cover and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Remove from bowl, degas, and then cover and let it rise again. Preheat the oven at 400F.

Degas the dough again a let rest 15 minutes. Cut into three equal ropes sections and roll out gently to about 14 inches. Braid carefully, tucking the ends under and brush with egg wash. Let rise about 1 hour.

Brush again with egg wash. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, turn loaf in the oven and turn the temperature to 350F and finish baking for approximately 30 more minutes or until golden brown and a thermometer inserted inside reads 200F. Allow to cool completely. Enjoy πŸ™‚

I am a little crazy, and like the three different recipes I tried to find the perfect recipe for potato bread, I have at least two more I will try to find to perfect the Challah, but this one really is awesome and well worth trying.

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When is a Pretzel, Not a Pretzel….

January 7, 2009

I feel like I am getting in a bit of a rut, making so many cookies. Maybe I should rename my blog… what do you think of “Heaven is a Cookie” … or “Hell on a Cookie Platter” *g*. It’s just so hard to step away from such a happy little treat, as I am sure everyone with brand new sugar and/or cookie and/or diet resolutions have figured out.

Well, I have this one additional cookie recipe, then I promise, we’ll try to get creative and have some real fun. Though I can’t promise the next few recipes will be any healthier. At least these cookies aren’t totally cookies. They are pretzels too. Or are these pretzels that are cookies too? Well, it doesn’t matter, They are really good. The original recipe called for them to be drizzled with white chocolate, but we really loved the mint slime from the previous recipe so we used that instead. I have a feeling that the white chocolate would have been better.

Chocolate Pretzels
Source: The Great Book of Chocolate

2 cups flour
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp cocoa liqueur
4 oz white chocolate

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy add egg and liqueur. Gradually beat in dry ingredients.

Divide dough in half, press into disks, wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Form dough into approximately 22 balls and roll each into a rope approximately 12 inches. Make each rope into a pretzel shape by twisting two ends around each other then bringing both back near to the center of the strip.

Bake until firm, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Melt white chocolate in double boiler. Drizzle the cool cookies with the chocolate and let stand for 30 minutes to set. Enjoy πŸ™‚

We had a lot of fun using the whisk attachment of my new hand mixer (the overdose of Christmas cookies killed my last ones) and these cookies were great. Be creative with them. Dip them in chocolate, or drizzle with white chocolate, or dark chocolate, or the slime. Or any combination of the above. The dough for these was slightly saltier than a regular cookie dough but that’s the way a pretzel should be and it was just amazing once they were done.


A Kiss for the New Year

January 6, 2009

Β 

Okay, so I know I’ve done a lot of cookies recently, but one of the very generous gifts I received over the holidays was The Golden Book Of Chocolate(can you say, “woohoo?” πŸ™‚ ). So my man and I had a lot of fun going through picking out all the recipes we plan to make this year. It’s actually got a great selection, even for someone as picky as I am, so we will be dipping into the great big book several times this year.

I honestly don’t know why we were so fascinated by these cookies and chose to make them first. Maybe it was the mint. Or the several layers of chocolatey goodness. Whatever it was, they didn’t come out quite like the picture in the book, and we will have to work on them a bit to make them come out as pretty, but they were definitely a great start to the new year.

Minty Chocolate Kisses
Slightly Adapted from: The Great Book of Chocolate

1 cup flour
2 tbl cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mint extract
1 egg

filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz white chocolate
1 tsp mint extract
Food coloring, if desired

glaze
5 oz chocolate
1/3 cup butter

Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then add the mint extract and egg beating until blended. With a mixer, gradually beat in dry ingredients. Press dough into a disk wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven 350F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookie cutters*. Place cookies 1 inch apart. Bake until golden at edges 6-8 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack.


Β 
Bring cream to a boil, remove from heat and stir in white chocolate until completely melted. Add mint extract and food coloring, if desired.**

Cool until firm but not set, approximately 30 minutes. Pair cookies to match as closely as possible and fill.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Spread on top of cooled cookies. Drizzle with additional mint filling. Chill until set 30 minutes. Enjoy πŸ™‚

These things are incredible. Definitely the kind of thing you’d want to make a double batch, because even as thin and as tiny as we made them, it just wasn’t enough. Maybe next time we’ll double the size of the cookies πŸ™‚

* For this first attempt, the dough came out way too moist to roll, even freezing it for a few minutes first. If you would prefer to roll them out, add more flour until it’s nice and thick first. Otherwise, you can roll the dough into balls and press until thin disks before baking.
** We didn’t allow the filling to cool for nearly long enough so it was a rather fun, goopy mess. It didn’t look nearly as nice as it should have, but it was darn tasty.