Raspberry walnut swirl cookies

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It’s a good damn thing I am not trying to bake today – all weekend the power at my house has been going on and off, on and off… I don’t quite know what is happening because these are unplanned outages, according to the power company’s website. But it’s not weather-related. It’s still and not stormy (which is what normally knocks the power out).

Anyway things do not always go to plan. That’s kind of the point. I planned some time back to make some raspberry walnut coconut cookies, but the dough was meant to be rolled out, with the filling spread on top and then cut into slices. No. The dough was so crumbly and impossible to roll that it was hopeless.

All is not lost, though, even when things do not go to plan. I pressed about three-quarters of the dough into a pan, spread the raspberry mixture filling on top and sprinkled the rest of the dough on top and baked these into bar cookies. They seem to have worked fine.

Crust
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix together. Press three-quarters of dough into a square 8×8 or 9×9 glass pan.

Filling
¾ cup raspberry jam
½ cup coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Spread filling on crust and sprinkle the remaining one-quarter of dough across the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool and slice into bars.

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Matcha green tea cupcakes with raspberry filling and raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream

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I don’t have a great relationship with matcha/green tea. In my geekier days attending Japanese-language camp in high school, I volunteered for a week-long culture course in the Japanese tea ceremony. These provided my first tastes of the very bitter and not entirely pleasant (to my inexperienced palate) taste of traditionally prepared matcha. (The tea ceremony itself, like most Japanese rituals, is complex, beautiful and takes basically forever to learn for tea ceremony… practitioners and aficionados.)

I have also chronicled my history with the Green Tea Asshole, an unpleasant man who rears his head in my life once or twice a year demanding “answers” as to what I am doing with my life. He offered me a canister of matcha when he visited me once many years ago – and that went to good use in baking some other matcha concoction.

A lovely Canadian friend sent me a new supply of matcha, with which I have been doing several other matcha-baking experiments.

This time I made green tea cupcakes and filled them with raspberry filling and made some raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream frosting to top them off.

Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and matcha) together and then add them alternately with the milk. Put into cupcake papers and bake at 160C for 15 to 17 minutes (although in baking these later I went for 170C because I ended up with a gooey mess at 160C), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Green tea cupcakes make a rather dense texture (not dense after the first time I baked them… they came out more like sponge cake, and I don’t know why). Let cool completely and then hollow out the cupcakes (keep the tops). Fill the cupcakes with seedless raspberry jam (next time I make these, I am going to try cherry jam) and replace the tops. Prepare your icing.

Raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 tablespoons unsalted butter
raspberry preserves (preferably seedless – enough to suit your taste and maintain the right, spreadable texture)
coconut (you can sprinkle the top of the cupcake with coconut if you like – it’s optional)

Over a double boiler, whisk egg whites and sugar. When sugar is dissolved, transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer – beat with the whip attachment until soft to medium peaks form. Switch to paddle attachment, start beating and adding in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Once you have a frosting-like texture (which can take a long while – the mixture will possibly look curdled, like it cannot possibly come together, at some point, but it will come together – just keep beating), add the vanilla. When nearly ready, add the raspberry preserves and mix until well-combined.

Frost the cupcakes with the prepared frosting.

Raspberry-oat bars

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Among the easiest cookies a person can ever make: raspberry-oat bars, also known as “matrimonial bars”. Anyone can make these; they are absolutely not difficult. Few ingredients, very simple instructions. Very hard to go wrong. You can also substitute a different flavor of jam if you would like. I think raspberry happens to fit here very well, but many people enjoy date or fig as an alternative. I have used both in the past as well as once trying a caramel/milk jam/dulce de leche filling.

Raspberry-oat bar cookies
3/4 cup raspberry jam (I am not sure I measured this. I simply bought a jar of raspberry jam, strained the seeds out and used everything that was left)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oats

Preheat oven to 325F.
Cream butter and brown sugar. Add flour; mix. Add oats, and stir to combine.
Spread 2/3 of this mixture in a 9×12 rectangular pan, and press it firmly down with fingers.
Spread the jam on top but do not let the jam touch the sides of the pan.
Sprinkle the rest of flour-oat mix over the top.
Bake 35-40 minutes. Cut into bars.

In the office…