Tag Archives: sugar

Benne Wafers, or Sesame Seed Cookies

If there is one book every Southern household should posses, be it a one-bedroom apartment or a grand, ancestral estate; it’s Charleston Receipts. It’s full of amazing recipes, idioms and household tips from days gone by. Some of it is slightly out-dated, to be sure, but a good portion of it is delicious cookies. This recipe is one of a few for Benne Cookies, “benne” being another word for sesame seed.

Before we begin, let’s talk for a second about brown sugar. Brown sugar is my new best friend. Never, ever buy brown sugar. Whenever you need brown sugar, here’s what you do instead: Mix 1 cup sugar with 1 Tablespoon molasses. It will clump up a bit at first, but keep mixing and eventually you’ll end up with what is quite clearly brown sugar. Way cheaper and literally exactly the same thing. You’re welcome.

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Benne Wafers (makes 6-7 dozen, I made a half batch)

1 1/2 c. brown sugar (or 1 1/2 c. sugar mixed with 1 1/2 T. molasses, as per above)

3/4 lb. butter, room temp.

1 egg

3/4 c. flour

1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 c. sesame seed

Pre-heat oven to 300F.

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This is just your standard cookie technique: Mix together sugar and butter, add the egg (a lot of people scoff at the notion of halving an egg, it’s very simple; scramble the egg, then measure it out and use half) and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix  until fully incorporated. Measure out in heaping teaspoons place about 2 or 3 inches apart on parchment paper (they spread pretty far) and bake for 15 minutes, one sheet at a time.

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Raivas: Easy Cookies Because I’m Training

I’ll be honest with all of you, this week I’m finishing up training for the AthHalf race so my posts are going to be short and sweet. Today we’re making raivas, a Portugese cookie that, yes, is supposed to be kind of cakey. It isn’t what we in The States are used to, but they’re great for dunking in tea, coffee or a mulled wine. And they look really cool! Every recipe I’ve found for this recipe is exactly the same (with the exception that some called for 4 Tablespoons of butter as opposed to 5), so I’m going to give credit to the book that I first found it in: Nick Malgieri‘s A Baker’s Tour.

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Raivas

-2 cups all purpose flour

-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

-1/2 cup sugar

-3 eggs

First, pre-heat the oven to 350F.

This is a pretty standard technique for mixing cookie dough: mix together the dry ingredients (in this case flour and cinnamon) and set aside. Next, whip the butter and sugar together until it’s nice and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with and electric mixer. Now add the eggs to the butter mixture and mix until they are fully incorporated (you’re better off adding them one at a time, trust me). Add the flour mixture and mix that just until it’s all in there. You don’t want to make too much gluten.

Now comes the fun part: Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. An easy way to do this if you don’t have a scale is to divide the dough in half, then divide each of those into thirds, then divide each of those into quarters. And there you go: 2x3x4=24. Roll each one of these bad-boys into a snake 20 inches long. I find you’re better off just using your fingers, when I tried to use my palms they got all smooshed. Now join the ends together and gently scrunch them up into a scrunched-up shape. Elegant, me. You can also make most letters pretty well, while you’re scrunching. Play around with it. When you’ve got one done, place it on a buttered or papered baking sheet and move on to the next. These only puff a little bit during cooking, so you can place them pretty close togeter. Leave about 1 inche between each cookie. Bake the sheets, one at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once mid-way. Remove to a cooling rack and serve with a nice, hot beverage. Check out the links to some other cool cookie recipes I found.

 

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Blueberries Two Ways and More!

Shout out the the University of Georgia Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists for a) the good work they do regarding blueberries, and b) selling blueberries on the cheap. The missus and I were the proud owners of ten pints of fresh blueberries, which we’ve whittled down to about four pints of frozen. Some of my tastier and/or more fun experiments have included these two gems.

But first I wanted to let you all know that I made an entry to the Bob’s Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle contest where I could win a trip to Scotland and compete in the World Porridge Making Championship. Check out my entry video here, it’s a recipe for a simple candy made with heavy cream, sugar and toasted oats. Now without further ado:

Blueberries Preserved in Molasses

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I’ll level with you, unless you love molasses this recipe is not delicious. It is however, fun and interesting. So go for it, and feel free to switch up which sugar you use.

-1 cup blueberries

-about 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (it couldn’t hurt to experiment with other sugars)

Fill up a 1 cup jar to within an inch of the top with blueberries.

Add the molasses (or honey, golden syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, what-have-you); let it sit a few minutes while the syrup fills up all the nooks and crannies, then add some more. Enough so it’s within an inch from the top.

Cover with cheese cloth or muslin (so it can breath, but nothing can fall or fly in) and a rubber band or something. Let it sit at room temperature for about two weeks. After which time it will look like the picture and taste…interesting.

Quick Blueberry Sauce

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I just made this in a pinch to serve over waffles this morning. It turned out great!

-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

-1 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a pot and boil for ten minutes. Serve immediately.

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Unbelievable Flourless Chocolate Torte

This is my first blog post, so to make sure I get you all hook, line, and sinker I decided to go with my new favorite recipe for chocolate torte. This recipe has it all: only four ingredients, rich chocolate flavor, and room to play around. The only drawback is that it needs to chill at least 8 hours before serving. You will also need to make a steam bath, but that’s easy. By the way, people who are lucky enough to live in Iowa City can try a markedly similar recipe to this at Clinton Street Social Club.

-3 eggs, separated
-1/2 Tbl. sugar
-5 Tbls butter (this is equal to 1/4 cup + 1 Tbl.)
-1/2 lb. chocolate – You can use either milk or dark chocolate in this recipe, but keep in mind that there is very little sugar added.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Line the bottom of an 6 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and place over a low heat. If you need to, turn up the heat a little bit at a time, you don’t want to risk burning the chocolate, although the butter should keep everyone happy. Start stirring when the butter starts to melt.

If you’re feeling crazy you can use a different fat. I just made on of these with olive oil which worked out very well.

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When the chocolate and butter are smooth transfer to a mixing bowl, let it cool down and stir in the egg yolks. Then set this mixture aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until your arm falls off. You can also use an electric mixer, if you like having two arms. When things get good and foamy, or by the time soft peaks form, add the sugar and keep whisking until you get stiff peaks.

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Fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate. When it’s fully incorporated flop the rest of the whites in a continue folding.

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Gently pour the batter into the 6 inch pan and smooth it out as best you can.

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Let’s talk for a minute about the top of this cake: it’s perfectly lovely as is, but there’s really so much you could do with it. Sprinkle some chopped nuts or dried fruit on there. Sprinkling on a thin crust of demerara or turbinado sugar on top would be nice. Or, you can wait until just before you serve it and hit it with some powdered sugar. Just promise me that you won’t, “BAM!” if you do. Say it. Say, “I promise.” Okay.
Now that the cake is in the pan you’re going to set up a steam bath, which means you take the cake pan, put it in a larger pan with some room to maneuver (a roasting pan works well or a 12 inch cake pan) and pour boiling water into the larger pan until it’s halfway up the side of the smaller pan. This is why God made tea kettles.

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Put the whole kit-and-caboodle in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and bath. Wait about an hour, until it comes down to room temperature, and then chuck it in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove the cake and set it on the counter about an hour before you want to serve it. If you’re lucky it will have pulled away from the sides of the  pan as it cooled. If not, use a thin knife to loosen the cake, then flip it onto a plate.

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Serve like how we talked about earlier or top with a spoonful of jam or marmalade.

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