Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Most Productive Session: Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies + Strawberry Crumble Pie



As usual, I had so many baking ideas, I can't decide what to bake. I had wanted to bake a strawberry cake for myself for my birthday. But I had eaten 2 slices of cake yesterday, courtesy of my lab mates, who remembered it's my birthday on Sunday. So I decided to bake a strawberry crumble pie instead. And to thank my lab mates, I planned to bake some cookies for them, and also treat it as a birthday gift to one of them, whose birthday is just a few days after mine.

So my baking session started at 11.30 am, right after I came home from guitar lessons. I started with preparing the chocolate cookie batter before lunch and started baking them after lunch while preparing the ingredients and crust for the pie. While the pie was in the oven, I prepared the batter for the oatmeal cookies. By the time the last batch of cookies was out from the oven, it was 4 pm, time to go for a swim.



I just decided on these yesterday. I was browsing my favourite Chinese Blog (『君之』的手工烘焙坊) and saw that the ingredients required 130 g of dark chocolate. I was keen to try this out as I'm a fan of dark chocolate and I have never baked a rich chocolate cookie. And a good chance to use up my dark chocolate too! The outcome is fantastic for a bitter-dark-chocolate-lover like me! As the amount of sugar used is very little, the cookie is not sweet but slightly bitter as I used dark chocolate. Perfect for me, but probably not for someone with a sweet tooth.

Ingredients (makes 30 bite sized cookies):
130 g dark chocolate (eating or baking chocolate is fine)
50 g bread flour
33g butter
15 g caster sugar
20 g egg
20 g almond, coarsely chopped
5 g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder

Method:
  1. Divide chocolates into 2 portions: 30 g of chocolates chopped to pea size, the remaining 100 g of chocolates and butter cut to fine pieces and placed in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl into warm water (about 60 deg C) and stir till butter and chocolate has fully melted.
  3. Add sugar and mix well. Let mixture cool to body temperature.
  4. Add egg and mix well.
  5. Sift in flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Mix with spatula to for a cookie dough.
  6. Fold in chopped almonds and the 30 g chocolates.
  7. Using your fingers, pinch pieces of dough and place them on prepared baking pan, pressing the dough slightly to form uneven discs
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 12 mins.
  9. Let cool completely and store in air-tight containers.
Recipe translated from Junzhi's 超浓郁巧克力曲奇.




While the cookies were baking in the oven, I started on the pie. There are many steps in making this pie: the crust, the filling and the topping. I started with the topping as that needs to be frozen, but I guess it's "too" frozen as I had a hard time breaking it into crumbles later on. The crust recipe is easy and I like the outcome: crispy and not buttery. I'm not a fan of buttery crusts so this is for me and it's easy to handle as well, not wet and easy to roll and mold into the tart pan. The filling is easy to make except that I may have added in too much strawberries or the strawberries pieces were too large. The strawberries started oozing out juice during baking, making the pies reddish in colour. It certainly doesn't look very nice, and I thought it looks like a pizza! Taste wise, I would say it's not sweet enough and there is still room for improvements.

Ingredients (makes 4 mini pies):
Crust:
50 g cake flour
20 g butter, softened at room temperature
5 g caster sugar
15 ml water (or less, depending on texture of dough)

Filling:
75 g fresh strawberries
12 g egg
12 g caster sugar
20 g milk
10 g butter
5 g bread flour
Pinch of salt

Topping:
15 g bread flour
10 g butter, softened at room temperature
12 g almonds, finely chopped
5 g caster sugar

Method:
Crust:
  1. Add flour and sugar to softened butter. Rub butter into dry ingredients with fingers until mixture resembles cornmeal.
  2. Add in water gradually and gather into a dough. Let rest for 15 mins.
  3. Roll out dough into a thin layer. Place over tart pan and press dough against tart pan. Roll pin over tart pan to remove excess dough.
  4. Set prepared pan aside for later use.
Topping:
  1. Mix sugar and softened butter together.
  2. Add in flour and chopped almonds. Gather into a dough.
  3. Place dough in the freezer till hard.
  4. Break the frozen dough into crumbles with hands.
Filling:
  1. Wash and dice strawberries.
  2. Using a water bath, melt butter. Add in milk, sugar and salt and mix well. Add in flour and whisk well.
  3. Add in egg and whisk well.
  4. Mix in diced strawberries.
To assemble:
  1. Poke holes on base of tart dough.
  2. Spoon in strawberry filling till 90% full.
  3. Sprinkle a thick layer of almond crumble topping on top of filling.
  4. Bake at preheated oven at 180 deg C for 35 mins, until crumbles turn golden brown and filling solidifies.
Recipe adapted and translated from Junzhi's 香酥草莓派.




While the pies were in the oven, it was 2 pm, and I decided to start on these cookies. These are baked with HHB's trusted oatmeal cookies, which I have attempted a few times before. Only difference is I creamed the butter manually this time round, and it sure is tiring!


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