Geek Chef

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Vanilla Bean and/or Orange Shortbread Cookies January 31, 2013

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 5:11 pm
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I made some super fantastic cookies for my mom on her birthday.

The vanilla bean shortbread is great on it’s own or can be doctored up in many ways. You can opt out of the vanilla bean part and just use the vanilla extract, but you would be missing out on a really awesome taste.I made a huge batch and split it in half, adding orange zest and juice to one of the halves. I would also recommend a shot of espresso or a packet or two of  Starbucks via. I think they make a Blonde roast that is far less bitter than the regular roast.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Interior scrapings of 1 split vanilla bean
  • 3-4 cups flour depending on moisture and altitude
  • ** for orange version**
  • 3 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Preparation

In a mixer or with electric beaters mix butter, sugar and salt until creamy.

Continue mixing; add the egg yolks one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and scrapings from the vanilla bean, orange zest and citrus juice.

Reduce speed on mixer and add flour one cup at a time, allowing flour to incorporate before adding more. Add flour until the dough starts to look dry, but still soft.

Remove dough from mixer, roll into a log and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.  

Preheat oven to 375°F and unwrap dough. Slice the dough to create rounds about ¼ to ½ inch thick and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until cookies look dry and lightly golden.

 

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Vanilla+Ginger=Yum! January 8, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 3:48 pm
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I have fallen in love with the vanilla beans from beanilla.com, they are of the finest quality and a great value.

Today I present one of my favorites, Vanilla Ginger Creme Brulée. This dish is on its way to becoming my signature dessert.

Custard is wonderfully simple to make and so rich and delicious. The addition of ginger was an idea I had to give the custard more depth. Using real, fresh vanilla beans instead of extract or that dried up old stuff you get in the spice jar is necessary to give the custard a luxurious taste and Beanilla’s beans from Tonga make it absolutely sinful. Vanilla beans from Tonga are often used by gourmet chocolate makers for the bold, pronounced, and unique flavor. This type of bean shines through the complex flavor of my brûlée.

Fun Fact: Tonga only produces 144 tons of Vanilla Beans annually. These rare and highly sought after beans are impossible to buy online, except at beanilla.com.

Ok! Enough gushing about the vanilla, here’s the recipe…

Vanilla Ginger Creme Brûlée

6 egg yolks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar, fine grain bakers sugar is best
2 vanilla beans
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

Garnish:

12-18 thin slices of ginger (2 or 3 per serving)
1 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of Beanilla’s Vanilla Fleur de Sel (or regular sea salt and half of one bean split and seeded)

Start by making the garnish the night before or earlier if you can – the longer it sits the better.

In an airtight container, mix sugar, (vanilla) and salt. If you are using a half bean here, cut the bean lengthwise and use your knife to scrape out some of the seeds from the bean, put the bean and the seeds into the mixture and give it a good stir with your knife to incorporate. Peel and thinly slice ginger into several rounds, like the ones you would see next to your wasabi, and drop into the container. Place the lid on the container and shake until the ginger is completely covered. Keep sealed and let sit at room temperature overnight or longer. Every once in a while shake the container to help the flavors infuse. This results in candied ginger for garnish and the most delicious sugar for the brûlée.

Now the custard.

Separate 6 eggs. I use a three bowl method – two medium-sized bowls and one small. You break and separate each egg into the small bowl, then pour the uncontaminated whites from the small bowl into the larger bowl and the yolks into the other. That way if you break a yolk it only effects that one egg instead of the whole batch. Hold on to the whites for meringue cookies or anything else you can think of, they will keep well in a sealed container for a few days.

Preheat the over to 300 degrees. Add sugar to the yolks and whisk until creamy and set aside. In a medium pot and a medium temperature, slowly boil cream and vanilla beans – splitting and seeding like mentioned above. Whisk cream occasionally, when the cream starts to boil, lower the heat and remove the beans. Slowly pour in the egg yolk mixture – whisking quickly to prevent curdling. You can also pour a little bit of the cream into the bowl first to temper the yolks before pouring into the pot. Continue to whisk for about five minutes and then take off heat.

Set up about 6 small ramekins (ceramic cups and small wide mouth glass jars work great too!) or one large ramekin in a baking dish and pour equal amounts of the custard into the dishes. Then carefully fill the baking dish about halfway with water, not getting water in the custard – the sprayer on your faucet works well. Place dish into the oven, center rack works best and bake for about 15-20 min. The custard should look solid but slightly giggly. Remove ramekins from the water bath and chill in the fridge for at least 15 min – you can make these a day ahead, adding the brûlée just before serving.

Remove the pieces of ginger from the container and shake off the excess sugar and place on a cookie sheet. *Take the vanilla bean and place in a small bottle or jar and fill with vodka, store it in a cool dark place and in a few weeks you will have vanilla extract!

Sprinkle the now infused sugar over the custard, giving it a good layer. Using a brûlée torch or the broiler of your oven, melt the sugar until it bubbles and turns golden. Using the torch, or broiler also give the slices of ginger a quick once over, not until brown just glossy. Place a few pieces on each dish and serve right away.