Chinese Almond Cookies

MAKES 42 SMALL COOKIES

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 1-1/2 pounds unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 42 whole almonds, blanched
  • 1 large egg white, well beaten (for egg wash)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat convection oven to 325°F.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and almond flour together in a bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Add the one egg, water, and almond extract, and beat until incorporated. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Form into round 1-inch balls of cookie dough, placed a few inches apart (to give room for spreading) on parchment-lined cookie sheet pans. Top each dough ball with an almond and brush the top of the cookie lightly with egg wash. Take care to ensure the egg wash does not run onto the parchment paper.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and evenly colored. Rotate pans as needed for even baking and coloring. Remove pans from the oven and place on racks to cool before removing cookies. Store cookies in a closed container. 
 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Blueberry Pie

“As apple pie is the essence of autumn, blueberry pie and peach pie are summer to me. When blueberries, wild or cultivated, are at their peak, get yourself a generous amount, and mound them into a pie shell. This is no time for frugality; blueberry pie should be full of blueberries.”

MAKES ONE 9-INCH PIE

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Flaky Pie Pastry recipe
  • 3 pints blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare Flaky Pie Pastry as directed.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the pie dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half into a 12 inch-circle. Line a 9-inch pie pan with it.
  3. Wash and drain the blueberries. Sprinkle them with the lemon juice, tapioca, and 3/4 cup of sugar; toss to coat the berries. Heap the berries in the pie shell, filing them higher in the center. Scrape any sugar and tapioca left in the bowl over them.
  4. Roll the remaining pie dough into a 13-inch circle. Brush the edge of the pie shell lightly with beaten egg. Lay the circle of dough over the pie. Fold and crimp the edges.
  5. Brush the top the pie (but not the edges) with water and sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Cut 8 small slashes in the top to let steam escape. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pie, slip a cookie sheet under it, and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

“Chef Jim’s fudge frosting is his own creation with a nicely informal homegrown look. It is easy to apply, and its full chocolate flavor complements his four-layer chocolate cake especially well. This unusual method starts out with a hot sugar syrup into which butter is gradually beaten and then melted chocolate.”

MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS TO FILL & FROST A 4-LAYER 9-INCH CAKE

INGREDIENTS

For the frosting:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter,
  • cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate,
  • cut into 1/2-inch pieces,
  • smoothly melted, and cooled
  • to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special equipment suggested:

  • A 6-cup heavy-bottomed saucepan (for sugar boiling)
  • An instant-read thermometer
  • A small bowl of ice and water and a large kitchen spoon (for sugar syrup testing)
  • A heavy-duty electric mixer, with whip attachment, or a big mixing bowl and hand-held beater, or a whisk and elbow grease

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the chocolate. 
  2. Preparing the Sugar Syrup:  Pour the water into a medium-size bowl, stir in the sugar and corn syrup, and continue stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved – a most important step, since if the sugar has not dissolved completely, the syrup may crystallize as you boil it. Pour into the sugar-boiling pan, set over moderately high heat, and boil to the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
  3. Whipping in the Butter:  Pour the hot syrup into the bowl of the mixer and start whipping at moderately high speed. Throw in a piece of the butter, whipping until it has been absorbed into the hot syrup before adding another piece. Continue adding butter and whipping until all the butter is in – this will take about 20 minutes however you beat it, and will go slower as the syrup cools. Increase the speed to high and whip several minutes more, until the syrup and butter form a mass, stopping the mixer midway through and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to be sure all the syrup and butter have been incorporated. (Alternatively, beat the butter into the sugar syrup by hand with a whisk.)
  4. Adding the Chocolate:  Now whip the cool melted chocolate and the vanilla into the fluffy sugar-butter mixture, and continue whipping until the frosting is smooth enough to be spread on your cake.
  5. Ahead-of-Time Note:  May be kept at cool room temperature for several hours before using.
  6. Transferring Cake Layers from Work Surface to Cake Stand:  Once the cake has been cut horizontally into two layers, the tricky part is to get the top layer off with-out breaking it. Lift it very carefully with outstretched fingers supporting the underside. An alternative suggestion, from pastry chef Stephanie Hersh, is to slide a wide palette knife under a section of the horizontal cut, gently lifting it up from the bottom layer. Then begin easing in a flat surface (a pizza pan, or a vinyl placemat, or a cardboard cake circle). Gently work the flat surface under the cut layer – always lifting with the spatula first – until the layer is completely on the flat surface. After you spread the filling over the bottom layer, with the help of the spatula gently slide the top layer onto the icing.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Chocolate Buttermilk Fudge Cake

“Here is one really great chocolate cake in all its aspects. It’s high and
mighty, it’s the essence of chocolate, it’s moist, and its fudge frosting
is just right. And you can make it yourself in your own kitchen.”

MAKES ONE 4-LAYER (8-INCH BY 3 1/2 INCH) CAKE

INGREDIENTS

For the cake pans:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons flour

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter,
  • cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, preferably
  • Dutch process
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup (scooped and leveled) bleached
  • cake flour

For assembling the cake:

Special equipment suggested:

  • Two 8- by 2-inch round cake pans
  • Parchment paper
  • A pastry brush
  • A whisk
  • A microwave oven (useful but not essential)
  • An extra-wide rubber spatula with
  • blade 2 1/2 inches across
  • 1 or 2 cake racks
  • A thin-bladed very sharp serrated knife
  • A palette knife or an offset spatula
  • A cake stand or a serving platter

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preliminaries:  Set a pan on a piece of the parchment paper and trace a circle around the bottom; cut just inside the line to produce a circle that will fit comfortably inside the pan without wrinkling; make another for the second pan. Brush a light coating of melted butter all over the bottom and sides of the two pans, line them with the parchment, and butter the parchment. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour into each pan, roll and shake it to cover the bottom and sides evenly, and knock out the excess. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and set the rack on the lower level.
  2. Preparing the Chocolate Base:  Heat the buttermilk and butter pieces in a small saucepan over moderately low heat until the butter has melted and the temperature of the liquid is about 100 degrees F. Meanwhile, stir the cocoa and 1/2 cup of the sugar together with the whisk in a large mixing bowl; when thoroughly mixed, blend in the baking soda and vanilla, and finally the warm buttermilk-butter mixture. Whisk gently until the sugar and cocoa are completely dissolved. Set aside while preparing the egg whites.
  3. The Egg Whites: In the bowl of the electric mixer, whip the egg whites on high until foamy and then gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, pouring it down the sides to avoid overwhelming and deflating the whites. Add the sugar slowly will also ensure that it will dissolve. Continue whipping at high speed until peaks form. The result will be a meringue-type mixture that will hold its shape when folded into the chocolate base. Set the bowl of whites next to the chocolate mixture.
  4. Finishing the Batter:  Whisk the egg yolks into the preceding chocolate base, and then whisk in the flour until it is completely incorporated. Use the wide rubber spatula to transfer the egg whites onto the top of the chocolate and then to fold them in gently but thoroughly. Pour the batter into the pans, dividing it evenly between them. Rock the pans gently to spread the batter evenly. Proceed at once to the oven.
  5. Baking: About 35 minutes at 325 degrees F. Set the pans on the rack in the preheated oven, spacing them at least 1 inch from each other and from the sides of the oven.
  6. When Are They Done?  The cakes will have shrunk about 1/16 inch from the sides of pans. Press each cake gently with the balls of your fingers near the sides of the pans; press again halfway to the center, and then directly in the center – there should be the same firmness in all places. Set the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Then turn out onto the racks, bottoms up and with the parchment still attached; the parchment will help keep the cakes moist as well as assist in their handling later. Let them cool completely.
  7. Ahead-of-Time Note:  When cool, gently and carefully return the cakes to their pans, slip them into individual plastic bags, and either refrigerate for 2 to 3 days or freeze for several weeks.
  8. Slicing One Cake into Two Layers:  With the parchment still in place on top of the cake, and holding your fingers flat under it for support, carefully turn the cake upside down on your counter; the parchment, now on the bottom, will help the cake rotate easily as it is being sliced horizontally. Position the serrated knife along the side of the cake, midway down from the top, and with smooth, horizontal strokes (not sawing back and forth) make a cut about 1 inch deep in that side of the cake, drawing the knife out away from the cake at the end of your stroke. Rotate the cake without lifting it, and continue making cuts all around the circumference. Then slice through the two layers using a smooth back and forth motion.
  9. Assembling the Cake:  Carefully life off the top layer of the cake and turn it upside down on your cake stand or platter. Scoop 1/4 of the chocolate fudge frosting into the center and smooth it out evenly to the edges with your spatula. Turn the second layer of the cake upside down over the frosting, and very carefully remove the paper backing. Spread on a second coating of frosting. Slice the second cake and mount both layers on the first cake with frosting in between the second and third layers.
  10. Scoop up the remaining frosting and spread it over the top, pushing and sweeping it to the edges, letting the excess fall down the sides. Wipe the spatula along the side of the frosting bowl as necessary to collect the excess. Finally, wash the spatula in hot water and run it over and around the frosting to restore its gloss. Clean frosting smudges from the stand or platter with damp paper towels and let the cake sit for 10 minutes, allowing the frosting to set before serving.
  11. Ahead-of-Time Note:  Cover with a cake dome or large upside-down bowl, and refrigerate. The cake will keep moist and fine for several days. Bring to cool room temperature before serving.
 

Watch Jim make this cake with Julia Child on PBS's In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Flaky Pie Pastry

"The secret of a flaky dough is to leave the shortening in flakes rather than working it all in. As the dough bakes, the flakes of shortening melt, creating pockets of air, an thus thin layers in the crust. Because the ingredients are not completely blended, their flavors remain somewhat isolated and create a melody of separate flavors in the final pastry. The texture and taste of the crust will vary according to which shortening you use. Vegetable shortening will give you a crust that is light in both flavor and texture. Butter will give a more flavorful crust that will also bake to a deeper brown. Either version produces a delicate crust perfect for fruit pies and very American."

MAKES PASTRY FOR ONE (9 x 1 1/4 inch) or (9x 1 1/2 inch) PIE DISH

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted European-style butter, or 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter and 1/4 cup lard or shortening, cold
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and blend with your fingertips. Cut the butter into thin 1/2-inch chips and add to the bowl. Toss the mixture with your hands until each chip is coated with flour.
  2. Turn onto a broad work surface. Roll out until the butter chips have turned into long flakes; use a flexible scraper to gently remove pieces that stick to the pin or board and coat them with flour.
  3. Return the mixture to the bowl. Sprinkle it with water and blend with a large rubber spatula or kitchen spoon until the water has been absorbed, about 15 strokes. Dust the top lightly with flour, then press the mixture down into the bowl--4 or 5 gentle pushes will press everything together.
  4. Sprinkle the work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Dust the rolling pin generously with flour. Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will be loose, but fold the long edges over to meet in the center. Give the package a turn so the long way runs side to side. Roll out, fold and turn as before until the dough begins to hold together, usually 2 more times.
  5. Fold over the corners and press into a 6-inch round. The dough can be rolled out at once or wrapped and refrigerated. If chilled, let it rest at room temperature until soft enough to roll.
  6. Place the round on your lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out into a 13-inch circle. Brush off any flour and roll the circle up loosely on the pin a little more than halfway, brushing off flour underneath. Slide the pie dish underneath it and unroll the pin over it, centering the circle.
  7. Gently push the dough down into the corners at the bottom of the dish, then firmly up against the sides without stretching the dough (this is important).
  8. Make the border fairly even all around (it doesn't have to be perfect) by trimming any excess with scissors and using these scraps to patch any skimpy places (drops of cold water will seal the seams). Tuck the border under itself to make the edge even with the rim.
  9. Finish the border by fluting (poke the tip of a finger into the dough on one side and pinch it on the other side, making a V; repeat right next to the V and so forth around the border) or impressing an edging with the tines of a fork.
  10. Chill for 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. For crisp pastry under custard pies, the shell must be fully baked before filling. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  12. To keep the dough from shrinking and puffing as it bakes, it must be held in place for the first 2/3 of baking. Cut 2 sheets of foil or parchment paper about 15 inches long. Lay them in the dish at right angles. Fill the shell to the rim with metal pie weights, dried beans, rice or a combination--you'll need at least 5 cups (7 is ideal). As you pour in the weights, press them firmly down into the corners at the bottom of the dish and up against the sides; also fill every V of fluting. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, then carefully lift out the foil or paper and weights (save them for next time). Continue baking, checking after 3 to 4 minutes to make sure the pastry isn't puffing up. If it is, prick the bubbles with a fork. Continue baking, checking again a few minutes later for puffing, until the pastry is golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes in all. Cool if not filling at once.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Harvest Apple Pie

MAKES ONE 9-INCH 2-CRUST PIE

INGREDIENTS

For the apple filling

  • 6 large firm early-crop apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour or arrowroot
  • 1 recipe Jim's Flaky Pie Pastry; chilled and ready to go

For glazing the top

  • 1 large egg white, beaten in a small bowl just until smoothly broken up
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Special equipment suggested

  • A vegetable peeler
  • A melon baller
  • A 3-quart mixing bowl
  • A rolling pin
  • A pastry scraper
  • A rubber spatula with extra-wide blade, 2 1/2 inches across
  • A 9-inch metal pie pan with sloping sides
  • A pastry brush

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and set the rack on the lowest level. 
  2. Preparing the Apples: Peel the apples and cut them in half. Use the melon baller to remove the cores. Cut each half into three wedges and then cut across the wedges, slicing each into thirds. Thoroughly blend the sugar, spices, and tapioca or arrowroot in the mixing bowl, and toss with the apples, coating them evenly. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the apples to make an airtight covering, and set aside.
  3. Lining the Pie Pan: Remove the dough from the refrigerator and massage through the plastic for several minutes, just until it is pliable enough to roll out. Divide it in half, and chill one half. Sprinkle your work surface and the top of the dough lightly with flour, and start rolling it into a circle that is to be 10 inches across and about 1/8 inch thick. Chef Jim says it is quite all right for you to roll the pin back and forth, as long as you do not roll over the edges. As you roll, lift and swish the dough on the counter to keep the bottom well-floured. Fold the circle in half and pick it up; brush off excess flour, and lay the dough in the pie pan with the fold at the center. Open the dough out to fill the pan, then lift the edges to coax it down into the pan, pressing it so that it lines the pan tightly.
  4. In Go the Apples: Empty the apples into the crust using the rubber spatula to be sure that all the juices and seasonings go with them. Push them around so they are nicely arranged with a slight dome at the center. Brush the edges of the dough, where it rests on the edge of the pan, with the egg white. Roll the second piece of dough as the first; fold it and drape it over the apples; unfold and process the edges together to seal them, actually lifting the two pieces gently in your fingers to press them together, and at the same time folding them under to make a 1-inch lip all around. Then push the edges up to make an upstanding rim that does not overhang the sides; otherwise the crust will droop during baking. Crimp or flute the edges by pressing the index finger on one hand against the inside rim of the dough while pressing the dough lightly around that finger from the outside rim, using the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Continue around the dough at intervals of about 1 inch. Brush the center of the dough - but not the crimped edge - with more egg white, and sprinkle on the sugar. Note that the edge cooks first and fastest, and the egg while and sugar would cause too much browning.
  5. Manufacturing Note: Chef Jim prefers egg white to water for sealing the crusts together since water could produce steam which would pry the edges apart.
  6. Baking the Pie: About 1 hour in all, starting at 450 degrees F. With a sharp knife, poke four neat holes for steam release in the top of the crust - not the downward slopes where the juices could seep out. Bake in the lower level of the preheated over for 10 minutes, then rotate the pie a half turn and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F. Continue baking 45 to 50 minutes more, until the top is golden brown.
  7. When is it done? The apples should be tender when poked with a cake tester or small sharp knife through the steam holes in the crust. Any juices that bubble out should be slightly thickened and clear.
  8. Remove the pie to a wire rack and let cool for an hour before cutting and serving.
 

Watch Jim make Harvest Apple Pie with Julia Child on PBS's In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs

 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.

Peach, Cardamom & Vanilla Sable Breton

"The extraordinary flavor nuances of fine vanilla have been an essential part of my culinary pantry."

MAKES 12-16 TARTLETS

 

INGREDIENTS

For the peaches

  • 3 peaches, medium-sized, ripe, organic
  • 2 tbsp vanilla sugar, divided

For the dough

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks, large
  • 1 2/3 cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp
  • pinch of sea salt

To assemble and bake

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds with skin

DIRECTIONS

For the peaches

  1. Fill a 2-L/2-qt bowl halfway with equal amounts water of water and ice. Set aside. Boil 1.5 L/6 cups of water. Add peaches and reduce heat to a simmer. Use a spoon to keep peaches under the water. After 1 minute, remove peaches with a slotted spoon and put into ice-water. After 1-2 minutes, lift peaches and place on a towel to drain (chilling time will depend on the ripeness and succulence of the fruit). 
  2. Using a small thin knife, peel skin from peaches and discard. Starting from stem end, cut peaches into quarters. Retaining the shape of the wedge, slice each quarter into about 5 or 6 thin slices. Place peach slices in a bowl, sprinkle lightly with half the vanilla sugar and gently toss so sugar is evenly covering the fruit. Cover and chill until needed.

For the dough

  1. Using a hand-held or stand-mixer with paddle (or by hand), cream butter until light and creamy. Stream in sugar and continue to beat on medium speed, scraping bowl as needed, until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla; continue to beat, scraping bowl as necessary, until the mixture is again light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated, scraping between each addition.
  2. Sift flour with baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Turn speed to low and sprinkle dry mixture into bowl, mixing until just evenly blended. Take care not to overwork dough.
  3. Shape into a thick log about 7 1/2 cm/3 in in diameter and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill about 2 hours until firm.

To assemble and bake

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Place tartlet pans or ring-form moulds on a lined baking tray/cookie sheet.
  2. Remove the chilled dough and cut the log into disks thick enough to fill the pans or ring-forms half full, shaping to fit. Keep dough lightly dusted with flour for easy handling.
  3. On center of each dough disk, fan 3 or 4 slices of peach. Keep them away from the edge; I find it best to form them with a slight curve, similar to a flower petal. Sprinkle with a few sliced almonds and pinches of the reserved vanilla sugar.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Serve warm with remaining peaches if you wish.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Jim Dodge. All rights reserved under International Copyright.