Scotch shortbread

I’m impressed with the texture and the taste and the golden color of this shortbread. But I’m most impressed with the ‘perfect points!’  This shortbread cuts easily and yields perfect points in the center.

I stored the shortbread overnight in a tin.  When I lifted the lid of the tin the next day, the rich, buttery aroma drifted up and into my senses much like being enrobed in an old, threadbare, Grandmother – quilt.

The original recipe is from Michael Ruhlman and can be found here.  One of the comments to the original post stated that this shortbread is a delightful compliment to a glass of high-quality, single malt Scotch.  I didn’t have Scotch; I tasted my shortbread with a steaming cup of Tazo black tea.  Delicious!

Be sure you include the rice flour in the batter.  It does make a difference!

sunlight and shadows:

I dusted the top of this shortbread with vanilla sugar immediately after removing from the oven.

brownie bottom chocolate cheesecake

If a blog title can taste good, this one does – brownie – chocolate – cheesecake.

When this cheesecake was removed from the oven, the top displayed a mosaic of light and dark swirls.  Pretty is important.  

I baked this in my favorite 8″ removable-bottom cheesecake pan.  The batter baked to a nice tall thick, rich, creamy chocolate goodness.  This is a very rich cheesecake; cut the pieces small.  And, it’s at it’s peak of deliciousness at room temperature.

With a brownie layer on the bottom, and a mousse-cheesecake layer on top, this is a winner.  All who tasted loved this.  My best compliment came from one who has tasted many of my cheesecakes.  She stated this was the best ever, even better than Cheesecake Factory – her all time favorite.
I just said, ….thanks…
You can find the original recipe here.  Listed below is my adaptation of the recipe.
Brownie Bottom Chocolate Cheesecake
for the brownie bottom (I mixed this in one pan and stirred by hand):
Melt together:
1 1/2 oz unsalted butter
1 oz chocolate, chopped (I used 3 squares of Olive and Sinclair Sea Salt [75%] Chocolate)
Add to chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until combined:
7 oz granulated sugar
2 oz golden syrup
1 1/2 oz melted butter
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
Add and mix until smooth:
3 3/4 oz cake flour
1/2 oz Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti)
1/2 t salt
Fold in 
1 1/2 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
Sit aside 1/2 c of the brownie batter.  Pour remaining batter into prepared cheesecake pan. 
Top with cheesecake batter (recipe below)
Top cheesecake batter with reserved brownie batter.  Swirl gently with knife.  Don’t over-swirl!
Cheesecake batter:
Mix in stand mixer:
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 1/2 oz granulated sugar
Add and mix well:
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 oz chopped chocolate (I used 3 squares of Olive and Sinclair Sea Salt [75%] Chocolate)
2 T Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti)
2 T sour cream
Bake brownie cheesecake in 350 degree oven 40 – 50 minutes.  Allow to cool, then refrigerate TWO DAYS to allow flavors to develop.  Yes, you can eat this at any time; however, I have found that all cheesecakes are best after aging a couple of days at a minimum.
Serve at room temperature and in small slices.
…delicious…

Governor Gray from Charleston, SC

A trip to Charleston, SC last fall led me to the Charleston Tea Plantation and this tasty black tea. A large quantity of the tea leaves harvested on this plantation are shipped offsite to Bigelow for packaging.  However, the Governor Gray is an exception  This tea is processed on site, and placed in cans for retail sale.  
Though the tea plantation is off the beaten path, tourists find the location. The fields are directly across the road from the processing plant, where waist-high plants look toward the southern sun. A self-guided walking tour through the processing plant is available for tourists.  
And – the best part of the tour is the aroma – - -
The smell of a fresh brewed cup of tea consumes your senses immediately inside the front door.
As you can see, my tin is nearing empty.  I can order  here.  

I like shortbread

A basic shortbread recipe combines such simple ingredients, yet the sum of the parts is far past simple.  I use the best ingredients I can find, and the result is spectacular.
This cacao nib shortbread recipe is adapted from Anita at ‘Dessert First,’ and you can find the original recipe here.
Listed below is my adaptation of the shortbread recipe.
Stir together and sit aside:
6.75 oz plain flour
2.5 oz brown rice flour
Cream with mixer for 3-4 minutes:
8 oz Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, at room temperature
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
Remove mixer bowl from mixer stand. Gently stir in flours using wooden spoon, combining only until mixed.  
Stir in 1/3 cup cacao nibs – I used theo cacao nibs in this recipe; however, I have used nibs from King Arthur Flour in the past and they are also great.
Turn dough out on to saran, wrap tightly and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, roll to 1/4″ thick, and cut as desired.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 325 degree oven for about 17 minutes.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar immediately after removing from oven.
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
I store cooled cookies in leftover Christmas tins and separate the layers of cookies with pieces of the parchment paper used for baking (recycle!).
enjoy – - -
mixing with my favorite wooden spoon from Sis and D’s Handmade Spoons
velvety, squishy, nibby, buttery, shortbread dough

mixed dough is shaped (I used a loaf pan to shape dough into a rectangle) and chilled overnight -
later rolled into 1/4″ thick rectangle and chilled again -
later cut and chilled again -
and finally baked

sunlight and shadows:
the dough held it’s shape beautifully after baking – no spreading edges

vanilla sugar crystals:

cappuccino-chocolate chip-rolled in sugar cookies

I’ve just taken a dozen Cappuccino Royales out of the oven.  The house, once again, smells of ‘baked cookie’ potpourri. Ahhhh….

Though I’m not a coffee drinker, I am a huge fan of coffee stirred into chocolate!  These cookies are delicious, and would be good with your morning coffee, or your noon coffee, or your anytime coffee.

This is another recipe from the Hannah Swensen mystery series by Joanne Fluke.  ”Key Lime Pie Murder,” page 178. Listed below is my adaptation of the recipe.

Cappuccino Royales

1 c. melted butter

Add:
2 T. espresso powder
1 t. vanilla
1 t. brandy

Add:
10.5 oz granulated sugar
1 1/2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder

Mix all well.

1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
13.25 oz flour

Stir in the chocolate chips.  Add the flour, stirring until thoroughly incorporated.  (I had to use my hands to combine the last of the flour into the dough.)

Use a #50 scoop, and form dough into balls.  Roll balls in granulated sugar.  Place sugar-coated cookie dough balls on parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes.   Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

This half-recipe made about 4 dozen cookies; however, I froze some of the cookie dough balls and baked at a later date.  Today is that later date!  They are just as tasty baked from previously frozen dough as they were when they were baked from freshly mixed dough.

The flavor of these cookies is all about the espresso powder.  The chocolate chips seem to be present only for texture, and they do add a gooey chocolate texture.

The fluted-edge yellow pottery in the picture was purchased this summer at our local Memphis Farmers Market.  ’Moon Mama Pottery,’ clay creations by Michele Price (onelmichele@bellsouth.net).

Cappuccino Crumb Muffins

Chef Carol baked these muffins for us a few years ago, and I fondly remember the flavors melding in perfect harmony.  Espresso powder and chocolate chips are a great combination, and they shine in these muffins. The proportion of each in the recipe allows them to compliment rather than overwhelm each other.

Chef Carol Borchardt of ‘a thought for food,’ is a home chef.  I have sampled her menus and would highly recommend her services to anyone in need of her culinary skills.

Chef Carol states that this recipe is from her aunt, Bernice Janowski, who, along with Carol’s mother, enjoys competing in cooking contests.

These cappuccino crumb muffins are moist inside while maintaining a sandy crumb topping.  I suspect the addition of flour in the crumb topping is responsible for creating a crumb with good clumping consistency.  The crumb stays on the muffin; it does not fall off as soon as you lift the muffin.

reflections:

A few days ago, the radio stated that Memphis was the second hottest city in the nation this past summer.  With the Labor Day weekend at hand, football speak beginning, and a much appreciated brisk morning, I’m thinking fall is near.

With Chef Carol’s permission, I list the recipe below along with a few of my adaptations.

Cappuccino Crumb Muffins
(makes 12 standard size muffins)

Mix together:
9 oz plain flour
3.5 oz granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
2 t espresso powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt

Separately, mix together:
1 c whole milk
1/2 c melted butter
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 egg (from the farmer’s market)
1 to  2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add wet ingredients to dry and just stir until blended.  Fold in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.  Scoop evenly into 12 wells of a standard muffin tin.

Make the topping by crumbling together
1/4 c melted butter
6 T flour
4 T light brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Sprinkle topping over each muffin.

Bake 20 minutes or until muffins test done.

Chef Carol’s recipe lists nutrition information, including the per muffin calorie count of 318.

Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Nashville, TN

I’m proud of our TN artisan chocolatiers at Olive and Sinclair.  I’ve seen their creatively wrapped chocolate bars locally in the Memphis Whole Foods.  And, I felt a bit of pride for them and our state of TN when I spied their bars on the shelf of The Chocolate Box in Seattle, WA. Stiff competition exists in the artisan chocolate world on the west coast; yet, Olive and Sinclair reside assuredly on the shelf beside the big boys.

the bars are almost too cute to eat…but don’t let that stop you from tasting

take a small bite – let the chocolate melt slowly on your tongue – savor the flavor; the taste will linger

their mission – slow roasted and stone ground in small batches