Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dinner Rolls

It's been a long time since I've been as anxious to post as I am today. (For proof, you can look at my frequency.) I just made my dinner rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, which I'm hosting next week. I thought I'd make them ahead of time and toss them in the deep freezer to move them out of the way, since most items need to be prepared the day before or the day of dinner.

I've made rolls before, of course. Like most of you, I like a good, soft, sweet, buttery dinner roll. I really wanted them to be just right this year, but when it came down to time, I didn't have the option of trying several recipes to see which I preferred. Instead, I just went for it today, mixing and mashing up recipes with what sounded desirable in my head, knowing my first attempt would be my only.

Let me tell you, it definitely worked.

If you look at the ingredients, you can probably see where everything went right: white flour, milk, honey, plenty of butter, and a sponge (or pre-ferment) for extra flavor. All the most delicious roll ingredients, but put together in just the right way. They're tender and golden, delicious warm or room temperature, and have a lovely crumb. It doesn't hurt that they're helped out with a double dose of butter – a generous amount in the dough and a nice basting on top.

I debated whether to make cloverleaf rolls or regular round rolls. Here's the argument going on inside my head this morning:
clover leaf angel: Mom always had clover leaf rolls at nice dinners when I was growing up. Ah, sentimentality.
round roll devil: But you know you'll want to make them all perfectly the same and weigh each little tiny ball to make sure they look attractive and bake evenly.
clover leaf angel: Thanksgiving is a special occasion. It deserves special attention, like clover leaf rolls, not boring little puffballs. And my mom will actually be there.
round roll devil: So will several others. You'll need to make a lot of rolls. And the round rolls are perfect for leftover turkey/cranberry/goat cheese sandwiches. Clover leaf rolls don't really do that job.
clover leaf angel: Party pooper.

I made a large batch of dough, which ended up being the perfect compromise: 40 round rolls and 12 clover leaf rolls. I'll serve the clover leaf rolls with dinner and have all the rest for leftovers. Or seconds. Or thirds.

The recipe I'm posting here is for half that amount, but it can, of course, be doubled like I did. It's nice to have extra rolls to freeze or giveaway, though, but if there's just two of you, 52 rolls might be overkill.

Dinner Rolls

1 c. all-purpose or bread flour
1 c. cold water
1/4 t. instant* yeast

2 c. all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as you go
1 c. milk
1/4 c. honey
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 t. salt (reduce to 1 1/4 t. if you use salted butter)
2 1/2 t. instant* yeast

Mix the sponge ingredients together (see note below about yeast) in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic and leave on the counter for 3 hours.

Warm the milk with the honey. (If you're using active dry yeast, you can proof the yeast in the milk and honey once it has been warmed. Just be sure the milk isn't heated above 115˚ or you'll kill the yeast.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sponge, yeast, milk, honey, and salt. Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add the butter and another cup of flour and start kneading, breaking up the butter and blending it as you go. Don't worry about the butter, as it will eventually be thoroughly integrated.

Continue kneading, adding flour as necessary until the dough is still very soft but just barely workable without being too sticky. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough passes the windowpane test**.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough in there to rise. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with the same spray and let rise in a warm place until double, about an hour to an hour and a half.

Once the dough has sufficiently risen, turn it out onto a work surface. It should make about 2 dozen rolls. Divide the dough into half, then half again, then partition each of those quarters into 6 pieces. You can shape them into balls and place them on a sprayed half sheet pan, two inches apart, or make clover leaf rolls by dividing each roll into 3 pieces and roll them into balls before placing them in a sprayed muffin pan. Generously baste them with melted butter (you'll need about half of a stick of butter for this). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes, until well risen.

Preheat the oven to 425˚. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on top and bottom. Cool on a rack. Enjoy.

*I'm always recommending to people that they buy instant yeast, and I'll say the same thing to you. You don't have to proof it, just throw it in with your other ingredients. It's just a little bit harder to find, but 2 of 3 stores carry it in my area, and probably in yours as well. Just buy a pound of it and keep it in a ziploc in your freezer. If you only have active dry yeast, just be sure to proof it in some 105˚ water before adding it to the rest of the recipe, and then subtract the amount of water you use for proofing from the overall recipe.

**Take a small piece of dough and slowly stretch it. If you can stretch it so that it is thin enough to see light through (like a window pane), the gluten is sufficiently developed, and your bread will have a connected, stretchy crumb inside. Otherwise knead for a few more minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I have to admit, I'm struggling with this post, but not because I'm not excited about the product. Oh, no. That's not it.

It's because I don't have any of these cookies sitting around, and they are highly addictive. So much so that taking time to write about them makes me twitch, wondering when I can have them again.

I'll try to restrain myself. After all, I've already made them at least twice in the last three weeks, and one of those times it was a double batch for a little occasion. And Thanksgiving, with lots of pie, is just around the corner, followed by the entire month of December, which is a non-stop onslaught of hard-to-resist deliciousness.

But you have likely not had them yet, unless you've been by in the last few weeks, and even then you haven't had too many (like me). So you should make them. Because they're extraordinarily easy to make. As long as you have chocolate around.

But, see, I'm avoiding the subject again. Let me start from the beginning.

I recently picked up a gem of a cookbook. It's not often I find a new cookbook that is worth its paper to me (though I find many useful cookbooks I would recommend to others) because I have a good collection of books and other recipes. And there's typically nothing really educational or new that I will likely make more than once because it's not a fit for me and my family or because it's just not that good. But when I started picking through Chocolate Obsession, a book from Michael Recchiuti (this one, not this one, though I'd be thrilled to meet either), I felt inspired, culinarily-speaking.

I love his simple method for making chocolates. In the past, I've made my fillings, chilled them, rolled them into balls (a sticky, disgusting mess on my hands), chilled them again, then dipped them. Michael recommend making a filling, pouring it into a plastic- or parchment-lined container, setting it up (or chilling it, as I do), turning it out, cutting it into squares, and dipping. If you've ever dipped chocolates, that probably sounds way easier to you. If not, you may not get it. But I'll have another post about dipping chocolates in the future and then you can try it out.

His book also has a recipe for homemade graham crackers that I was anxious to try after having delicious s'mores with freshly made grahams at Pizzeria 712 in Orem (where the s'mores were amazing, but the pizza was, too). I wasn't a fan of Michael Recchiuti's grahams, but it was a good starting point for me, so I can start experimenting to get the flavors and texture I want.

But, so far, my favorite find in the book is these cookies. I rarely find a new cookie I especially like. I've got my favorites: chocolate chunk, cinnamon, molasses-ginger, what else is there that is really, really worth the calories?

This one.

The base of these cookies is a sandy, chocolate dough. It has no egg in it, so it has some of the texture of shortbread, but it has some leavening in it, so it's fluffy. The cocoa and butter make it a moist treat that melts in your mouth. To add to the experience, generous chunks of milk and dark chocolate are interspersed throughout the dough. The cookies are small, about two or three bites each (unless you're anxious, I guess), but they're rich and delicious and plenty large for their content.

Since the dough is refrigerated for at least three hours and up to three days, they can also be very convenient. Mix the dough today, bake them off after dinner tomorrow. If you can wait.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Michael Recchiuti

1 1/2 c. (7 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 c. + 1 T. (1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking soda
12 T. (6 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
3/4 c. (4 1/2 oz.) dark brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped*
1/2 t. Kosher salt, or fleur de sel**
3 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped
3 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together in a bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with both sugars, vanilla, and salt on medium, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, incorporating each before adding the next. Mix just until the dough is consistent throughout. Add the chopped chocolates and mix on low until just incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Knead a few times if necessary to incorporate any crumbs.

Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log about 1 1/4" in diameter by 12" long. Keep the logs an even thickness and tightly formed, with no air pockets inside.

Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days.

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325˚. Line the bottom of a half-sheet pan (12"x18") with parchment or a silpat.

Remove the logs from the refrigerator and unwrap them. Using a ruler to guide you and a sharp knife, cut each log into rounds 1/2" thick. Reshape any slices that crumble. Place the rounds on the prepared pans, 1 1/2" apart.

Bake cookies in the middle of the oven until set but soft enough to hold a slight indentation when pressed with a fingertip, 14-15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pan, then remove to a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

*Note: If you don't have a vanilla bean, increase the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon.

**Note: If you are substituting table salt because that's what you have hanging around your kitchen (I'm resisting unkind remarks here, but you should know that table salt is much more bitter), please reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Chocolate Open House

Chocolate Open House

Thursday, Nov. 5, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Do you like chocolate? Do you panic when you run out? Do you like to always be prepared with chocolate?

Do you live in the Salt Lake/Provo area? 

Come sample delicious, chef-recommended Guittard chocolate and consider placing an order, or find someone to split an item with. Items available to order include dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, semisweet chocolate, chocolate bricks, chunks, chips, cocoa powder, and hot chocolate powder.

Chocolate comes in 10, 25, or 50 lb. increments, depending on what you want. Prices average about $3 a pound, with cocoa powder and hot chocolate powder being significantly less.     

This isn't a business, though that sure would be fun. I place a chocolate order about once a year because I like really, really good chocolate at wholesale prices, and I need help making the order large enough (total minimum order must be at least 500 lbs.) So I do all the work. You just order from me and pick the chocolate up from my house after I get it.

Stop by! Bring your friends and family! I'll have samples of some of the chocolate in original and prepared forms (like truffles, brownies, cookies, and drinks), so you can taste the quality. 

For more information on chocolate, information on where I live, and how to get here, email me at kitchenaddiction (at) 

Please note: Should the order reach 1000 lbs, I'll be closing it, so first-come, first-served.