Ganache filled Whoopie-pie

Whoopie pie is a cream filling sandwiched between two cake like cookies. By cake like I mean they taste more like cake even though they are shaped like cookies. This is the last day of my month long baking challenge. I have posted a baked recipe this month every day except Sundays. Most of those recipes used either whole wheat flour or vegetables. I strongly believe in the concept of everything in moderation so this is my last recipe for the month made with all purpose flour and butter.

My daughter is fond of chocolate but not milk chocolate. She prefers bitter or bittersweet high percent cacao. So I thought a chocolate ganache made with 75% cacao would make the perfect filling for these pies. I was right. She loved them. And uncharacteristically had two in one sitting.

For some reason I did not take step-by-step pictures. All I have is the end result.

Recipe source for the cookies is here
You will need (for 12 pies)
For the cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg or equivalent egg substitute
4 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. oil

For the ganache
2 oz 75% cacao
2 tsp. dark chocolate powder
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
a pinch salt

To make the ganache, bring the cream to a boil and turn off heat. Add the chocolate and the salt and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir to smooth out the mixture and let it cool and thicken.

Meanwhile make the cookies. Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift the flour and combine with all the ingredients until smooth. The dough will be soft. Drop a tablespoon of cookie dough on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Continue to place the cookie two inches apart. I got 12 cookies to a sheet. And I got two sheets. Bake both together in preheated oven for about 7 minutes. Switch the trays and bake another 5-7 minutes or until the cookies are cooked through. Cool on a cooling rack.

Apply a tablespoon of ganache on the flat side of one cookie and place another cookie over the top. Repeat for all the cookies.


Bird Shaped Dinner Rolls

One of the weekend staples in my house is pav bhaji. Pav bhaji is a vegetable side served with dinner rolls. Bread hot out of the oven is always appetizing and paired with a mixed vegetable side allows me to clean out the refrigerator in preparation for a new week. I usually make one of the many rolls recipes I have on this blog. But sometimes I like to try something different. Today I shaped the rolls to look like birds.

There was no difference in taste but they are fun to shape and fun to eat. I had seen a picture of these birds on Pinterest a while back. They was no recipe or blog associated with it. It was just a picture. I saved it for a later day. Using the dinner roll recipe for these birds turned out to be a great decision. They were eaten for lunch and tasted great.

My daughter was very reluctant to eat the birds. She said they were too pretty to eat. My husband and I had no such problems.

You will need (8 birds)
1 egg or egg substitute of your choice
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. milk
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used chapati flour, you can use any whole wheat flour)
8 cloves for eyes
1 tbsp. heavy cream as wash (you could use milk instead of cream)

Beat the egg in a large bowl. Heat the milk and water together until lukewarm and combine the solution with the egg. Add the yeast, sugar, oil and salt. Sift in the flour and knead into a soft dough. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Cover and keep aside until it doubles in volume.

Divide the dough into 8 equal and 2 smaller portions. The 2 smaller portions will be used to make the feathers, beaks and legs. Take one of the larger portions. Roll it out as a long rectangle using a rolling pin. Now fold it along the long side and make a think rope. Keep rolling the rope to make it longer and a little thinner. Start from one end fold the edge of the rope and continue rolling it inward. Repeat from the other side. You should get something like this.

Keep aside on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat for the other large portions. Ensure the shaped bird is covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying. Using the smaller portions shape the legs, beak and wings. Use the picture below as a guide. Place the cut shapes under the main body.

Let the shaped birds rest for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 F. Just before placing the birds in the oven wash with the cream or milk.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they begin to change color and are cooked through. The same recipe in the shape of a roll takes a little longer to bake. When shaped like a bird using ropes the bread cooks faster.

Transfer to a cooling rack and serve with butter/cheese or as I did with a mixed vegetable side.


Herbed Feta Focaccia

Focaccia made a great afternoon snack. My daughter loved it. So here is my version with herbed oil and feta cheese.

I had planned on taking pictures of the crumb but she thought it would be cool to tear instead of cut the bread. I let her have her way. It was only after it was all gone that I realized I have just one picture of this recipe. If you need help with detailed instructions you can refer to an earlier version of focaccia I have on this space.

You will need
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup warm water

For topping
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. organo
1/4 tsp. thyme
2 tbsp. feta cheese

Combine the topping except the cheese and allow the oil to soak up the flavor of the herbs.

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a mixing bowl and form a soft dough. Knead for a few minutes, cover and keep aside. Allow it to double in volume, about 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Divide the dough in two portions. I used half the recipe so I had just one portion. Roll out the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using your fingertips dimple the rolled out dough. Brush the herbed oil and leave the dough aside for 15-20 minutes. Brush again with the remaining oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The top should be a light brown color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the feta cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes.


Roasted Strawberry Bruschetta

This entire week I have posted different types of hors d'oeuvres. My final post in this series is a roasted fruit appetizer. Originally I wanted to use fruit as the base but none of the fruit that lend themselves to baking is available in the market. It is too early in the season. I will post my planned recipe in summer when the ingredients are available but for this week here is my fruit based appetizer.

Strawberries are generally cooked over the stove top. However, they taste really good when they are roasted in an oven. As they are baked strawberries retain their shape. Leave them alone as they cool and they turn juicy and flavorful. The resulting strawberry in its juice goes great with ice cream or as topping on pie. But it also tastes great as a topping for bruschetta. I used my baguette recipe as the base. You can find that here.

I have made savory bruschetta with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella before. This is a very different recipe but the flavors go together just as nicely as the regular bruschetta. Everyone at home loved it.

You will need
1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
10 strawberries, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar or 1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil

Bake the baguette using this recipe. You could you a store bought baguette. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the strawberries and combine them with either the vinegar or the sugar. Spread them in a single layer on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Keep aside to rest.

Brush oil on the baguette slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes on each side. You want them to be crisp and toasty.

Apply a layer of goat cheese to the slices. The rested strawberry should be very juicy by this time. Cut up the strawberries into smaller pieces and combine with the juice in a bowl. Place a few pieces of the strawberry and juice on each of the bread slices.


Mini Stuffed Puffs

This was a very experimental recipe. I had never made this before but will be making it again. I am posting bite sized appetizers this week. I wanted to make a bite sized stuffed fruit puff. But at the last minute I realized I had some left over vegetable filling I used in another recipe. So I decided to use that filling instead. The flaky homemade pastry and the vegetable stuffing made this hors d'oeuvre a very wholesome bite.

I made this recipe on Prom night. My daughter left late afternoon and was gone for the rest of the day. I made these for our dinner. My husband for some reason chose not to eat it so it was my dinner. I like it a lot but would have to say they are best eaten hot out of the oven.

You will need (for 4 mini puffs)
For the puff shell
50 gm bread flour
1 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
15 gm water

For the filling
1/4 roasted red bell pepper, dice finely
1/4 roasted yellow bell pepper, dice finely
1 roasted carrot, diced finely
3 tbsp. goat cheese
4-5 leaves basil chiffonade
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the melted butter with the flour. Add in the other ingredients and combine to form a very soft dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and keep aside for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Divide the risen dough into four portion. Form one of the portions into a ball and flatten with your palm. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat for the other portions. Let the prepared puffs rest for 15 minutes. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry looks done and starts to change color. Take it out of the oven and let it cool a little. 

Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the filling and keep aside until needed. Using a paring knife score a circle on the top layer of the pastry. Carefully cut into the top layer and scoop out the cut circle.

Stuff some of the filling into the puff. 

Replace the lid. Repeat for the other puffs. Put them back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Serve hot out of the oven.


Cheesy Cherry Tomatoes with Rye Berry

I had once seen an cooking show on TV where they stuffed tomatoes with millet. I am not sure what else was used or if the tomatoes were baked but the idea for the filling staying with me. When I finally decided to try a bite sized recipe with tomatoes I started searching for a suitable filling. I had rye berries in the pantry so I used them. Since then I have used rye berries and millet successfully in this recipe. I used shredded smoked gouda and a little asiago cheese with lots of basil. The rye provides some substance to an otherwise soft fruit. We enjoy the smoky flavor of cheese. If you do not like it you can use regular gouda or even cheddar.

I made this version when my daughter was out on a sleepover with friends. I cooked a special dinner for the two of us and this was our appetizer. My daughter loves tomatoes so we saved some for her. She finished them all but they did not taste as good as the day they were baked. These should be served straight out of the oven.

You will need
20 large cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup rye berries
2 tbsp. shredded smoked gouda
2 tbsp. shredded asiago
5-10 leaves basil chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the rye berries overnight or at least 4 hours. Soaking the berries not only makes them easier to cook but most importantly makes them more bioavailable. The body is able to absorb the nutrients better. Make sure you discard the water the berries were soaked in. Place the soaked berries with 1/2 a cup of water and salt. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the water is all gone and the berries are cooked. Keep aside.

Preheat the oven 375 F. Cut the tomatoes along the length and scoop out the seeds. Place them on a kitchen towel and let the water drain out. Now place the almost dry tomatoes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

In a separate bowl combine the berries with the other ingredients. Stuff the tomatoes with this mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. The tomatoes should begin to just begin to crinkle. If you let them bake anymore the tomatoes will fall apart. Take it out of the oven and serve hot.


Roasted Zucchini Bites

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that can reduce to mush when the recipes demands it but can stand up on retain its shape if called upon to do so. It is so versatile and can be used in sweet and savory dishes. A while back I had made zucchini boats a recipe that never made it to the blog. This recipe is a bite size variation of that creation.

Roasted vegetables in all forms are a favorite in my house. Roasted zucchini base topped with roasted bell peppers and goat cheese makes a perfect hors d'oeuvre. I like some char on the vegetables to enhance the taste. A little basil adds to the flavor.

You will need
4 zucchini (slender)
1/4 red bell pepper, dice finely
1/4 yellow bell pepper, dice finely
1 carrot, diced finely
3 tbsp. goat cheese
4-5 leaves basil chiffonade
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and clean the zucchini. Cut off the ends. Slice the zucchini in thick rounds. Place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Carefully place a teaspoon of mixture on top of the sliced zucchini. Repeat for the remaining slices. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through but still hold their shape. Serve hot.


Mini Brie en Croute

Brie en Croute is a popular appetizer served with either crackers or fruit. A slab of brie is baked inside pastry dough sometimes with fruit. The melted brie in the pastry shell is then served on a heated platter. This a mini version of the popular appetizer. The little balls of pastry have a filling made of a chunk of brie along with some apricot preserve. The pastry is baked with the filling inside. When served hot but not piping hot, it makes a great appetizer. The brie is molten and the fruit preserve adds a mild sweet flavor. The outer shell remains crunchy but is not hard.

I brought fresh French made Brie from Whole Foods just for this recipe. Imported Brie can be expensive but Whole Foods will willingly cut you a sliver the size you want. I got just enough for this recipe and to use as a snack with fresh sourdough bread. I made my own pastry dough. I have my own shortcut method for when I want a soft but not necessarily very flaky dough. It is called go easy on the butter.

Brie is a soft cheese that melts completely when heated. It is covered with a rind made of mold that I usually throw away. However, for this recipe it is better to keep the rind on the bottom to give it some added support and keep the cheese from oozing out of the pastry shell.

You will need (for 4 mini en croute)
For the pastry shell
50 gm bread flour
1 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
15 gm water

For the filling
4 1/2in by 1 in cubes of brie
2 tsp. of apricot preserve

Whipping cream for brushing the top

In a mixing bowl combine the the butter, flour, salt and yeast. Rub the butter into the flour until it is soft. Add the water and combine to forma  really soft dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and keep aside for an hour or two.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Divide the dough into four portions. Roll out the portions to small thick disc.

Place a chunk of brie with a 1/2 tsp of fruit preserve over the top.

Fold the pastry shell around the brie and seal it closed. Repeat for the other portions. Keep aside for 15 minutes.

Bake on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper for 15-20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 F. Remove the baking sheet and working quickly brush the top with whipping cream. Return the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Place on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving.


Baby Red Potato with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar Cheese

Hors d'oeuvres or appetizers have a unique place in a meal. Unlike other courses that are meant to fill you up, appetizers are supposed to stimulate the taste buds and get your appetite going before the main course of the meal. They are very flavorful but typically are served in small portion sizes. This week I am presenting baked party hors d'oeuvres. Not the kind you serve yourself on a plate and eat with a fork. The kind that pass by on a tray waiting for you to reach out and pop one in your mouth while holding on to your drink and carrying on your conversation.

Bite sized, packed with flavor and served straight out of the oven these baked potatoes in some ways are a mini-version of the popular baked spud eaten with sour cream, cheese and chives. But unlike their bigger counterparts, these are baked with the filling. Using organic potatoes lets you can keep the skin on. Baking the potatoes whole before adding the filling makes them tender without overcooking the filling.

In my house potato dishes are very well received because my daughter loves potatoes. This one is no exception. She loves how you can pop these in your mouth on the go without getting your hands dirty. Next time you throw a party consider making these potatoes as an appetizer. You can use any color potatoes just make sure they are really small in size.

You will need
10-15 baby red potatoes
1/4 red onion
1 tsp. oil
1 few twigs of thyme or any fresh herb of choice
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 375 F. Wash and clean the potatoes. Dry them and place them on a baking sheet. You can place a parchment paper on the sheet before placing the potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the onions. Heat oil in a pan and saute the onions until caramelized. Dice the cheese into small cubes and combine with the remaining ingredients. Keep aside until needed.

Let the potatoes cool on the tray. The skin will crinkle and crisp up a little but it will soften as the potato cools. While the potato is still warm cut it in half along the widest diameter.

Using a melon baller or a small spoon scoop out the center of the potatoes.

Add a little of the scooped out potato to the prepared filling. Reserve the rest for another dish. Using a spoon fill the potatoes with the filling. Do not overfill.

Bake the stuffed potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve hot!


Onion Bread / Korean YangPaBbang

I loved the bread as soon as I saw it. I got it from Aeri's blog where she has a lot of Korean recipes. The appearance of this bread made me want to try it. I can never follow a recipe, even when it is my own, so I made a few variations. But the base concept and technique come from Aeri.

My daughter is in high school and has a huge workload. Some weeks she is so tired by Friday evening, she skips dinner, she falls asleep at 6 pm and wakes up the next morning. I can usually see it coming during the week. I try to have something appetizing ready for her on Friday afternoon so she does not go to bed hungry. This stuffed bread was one such meal. It was filling and tasty. She devoured it before going off to bed.

The original filling is not vegetarian. I substituted red bell pepper to give the filling some body. Add a little salt to the red pepper and allow it to sweat so the filling does not get soggy.

You will need
For the dough
2 tbsp. butter at room temperature
2 cups bread flour or whole wheat flour
1 scant tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup lukewarm milk

For the filling
1/4 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 tsp. caynenne pepper powder
salt and black pepper to taste
10-15 leaves cilantro

Sift flour in a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter and add the remaining ingredients. Form a soft dough. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Keep aside covered to let it double in volume. It could take an hour to 3 hours depending upon the temperature in your kitchen.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Slice the red pepper in to 1 inch pieces. Sprinkle some salt and keep aside. Chop the onions and crumble or shred the mozzarella. Drain the sweating red bell peppers and combine all the ingredients for the filling.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare a loaf pan by rubbing a half teaspoon of oil along the bottom. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and transfer the risen dough to it. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin to a thick rectangle.

Place about 3/4th of the filling in the center of the rolled out dough.

Fold in both sides and seal the edges. Flip over and place in the prepared loaf pan. Keep aside covered for 20 minutes.

Add the remaining filling over the top of the loaf. Dice the cilantro leaves and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Switch off the oven and let the loaf stay inside for another 15 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.


Edible bread basket

Edible Spring Bread Basket / Braided Bread Basket

After I had made an edible bread basket I had this vision of a shallower basket that could be used as a centerpiece decorated with flowers. ...