Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Cheese Spritz Cookies

I admit it's getting harder to write a new and meaningful post every week; the intention to write is always there but the time is somewhat harder to find.  I've always told myself that I keep this blog for myself, I write a post for myself, not for seeking an audience; thus I don't need to feel guilty for being absent.

I was gone for almost a week for spring break.  To a place that's familiar, but once I was there, it felt instantly like a distant, not-that-close cousin.  It offered a chaotic, rude, and sheer madness to get from one place to another; the only things that's still dear to my heart were close friends, relatives, and food.  I was amazed to find more and more eateries in one place, where the people look homogenous enough to feel like I was in a different country.  I didn't regret leaving it, but I couldn't deny that I missed that one perfect bowl of ramen.
Semprit sagu keju

Semprit sagu keju

Here, back home, I'm faced with this draft and pictures that accompany it.  I made gluten-free cheese spritz cookies based on a book about Indonesian snacks a while back, and thought of sharing it here.  The book was given to me by one of my foodie friends in Jakarta.  She and I met when I went back to Jakarta last year; thanks Vania for the book.  It was full of "camilan", or snacks recipes which were enticing enough to try.  I decided to try "semprit keju", which translates to cheese spritz cookies.  The gluten-free part comes from the tapioca starch that's used for making the cookies.  It's not unusual to find cookies in Indonesia that's made of tapioca starch since Indonesia continues to produce one of the best tapioca starch in the world, it numbers three among the top producers.

To eat something familiar is like introducing your tongue back to that first taste.  For a perfect "semprit keju", all the consistency and flavor has to be perfect, it needs to strike a balance between delicate and crunchy at the same time.  It should be to the point of being too cheesy, but also with a hint of sweetness.  The cookie needs to be small enough for a person to eat in one bite because it crumbles at the slightest touch.  Once bitten, it should melt in the mouth, leaving behind a trail of toasty aroma of the cheese and nuttiness of the tapioca starch.  Sadly, I haven't found the perfect recipe.  This, shall do for a while.

Gluten-Free Cheese Spritz Cookies

300 gram margarine, plus extra for pan greasing

200 gram confectioners' sugar

2 egg yolk, at room temperature

2 tablespoons dry milk

225 gram aged Cheddar cheese, finely grated, leave at room temperature to dry out

2 tablespoons Edam cheese, finely grated

475 gram tapioca starch

Grease two 11-x 17-inch baking pan with margarine.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.

In a mixing bowl, combine together margarine, sugar, egg yolks, and dry milk.  Using a balloon whisk, cream the ingredients until fluffy and pale in color.  Add both cheeses, whip until well combined.  Divide the mixture into four equal portions since the mixture tends to dry out when combined wholly.  The key is to work with small portion at a time and keep the rest of the mixture covered while working with one mixture.

Divide the tapioca starch into four equal portions as well.  Using a scale is recommended here.  Mix one part of dough mixture with one part of tapioca starch, whisk until it well combined.  Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or you could use a spritz cookie maker.  It is easier with a spritz cookie maker in my opinion.  Squeeze the dough into prepared pans, leaving about 1-inch space in between cookies.

Bake one pan at a time, about 18-20 minutes, or until the cookies get brown around the edges and the color looks dull.  Rotate pan halfway done to ensure even baking.  Once the timer is done, leave the cookies on pan for about 1-2 minutes.  Place on cooling racks to cool completely.  Do the same for the rest of the dough.  The cookies should be stored in an airtight container.

Source:  adapted from Camilan Khas Indonesia

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Banana Pecan Whoopie Pie with Salty Peanut Butter Filling

Banana Pecan Whoopie Pie with Salted Peanut Butter Filing

My first time trying out whoopie pie; the prediction?  I like this combo, banana-pecan with salted peanut butter filing. Don't expect crunchy cookies, these are soft cookies, more like cake than cookies.  The book that I refer to is an excellent book for whoopie pies.

Banana Pecan Whoopie Pie with Salted Peanut Butter Filing

Banana Pecan Whoopie Pie with Salty Peanut Butter Filling

Makes about 48 two-inch cakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together both flours, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, sugar, and vanilla until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Add the bananas and the pecans and beat on medium for about 2 minutes, until completely combined.

Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Salty Peanut Butter Filling

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

3/4 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter

3/4 cup (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter and butter on low speed until smooth and creamy.  Add the confectioners' sugar and the salt and beat on low to incorporate.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until the filling is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Source: Whoopie Pies:  Dozens of Mix 'em, Match 'em, Eat 'em Up Recipes by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell