Monday, September 1, 2014

Kakaós Csiga: Hungarian Chocolate Snails

Since I love Cinnamon Rolls and I love chocolate, a year and a half ago I made some attempts to bake Chocolate Rolls. I was never satisfied with the results, so I decided to stick with Cinnamon Rolls.
Today I came across a Buzzfeed post listing "32 Hungarian Foods the Whole World Should Know and Love." I scrolled through lots of delicious-looking foods, but stopped when I saw a photo of a chocolate roll, labeled Kakaós Csiga (Chocolate Snails).
I wasn't planning to make rolls today, but plans can change!
 After reading a few recipes, it appears that Kakaós Csiga is like Cinnamon Rolls, except with a chocolate filling and powdered sugar sprinkled on top instead of glaze.
I decided to use my own tried-and-true roll dough, as each recipe I looked at had similar doughs.
The typical filling seems to be generous amounts of melted butter spread on the rolled-out dough, topped with a mixture of unsweetened cocoa and sugar. Some recipes called for powdered sugar. Some added a little cinnamon. I used granulated sugar, as in the recipe one person found in a 100 year old Hungarian cookbook.
Someone else told how Kakaós Csiga originated:

Kakaós csiga is a Hungarian pastry that is just over a 100 years old.  Mór Pösch is the first baker that created the kakaós csiga in Göd, Hungary. He created this sweet to celebrate his 33rd birthday in 1908. It is a very popular pastry in Hungary and is enjoyed by kids that grab one from a bakery on the way to school and by anyone just craving a delicious chocolate pastry.
Most recipes call for pouring milk, or milk with added sugar or melted butter, on the rolls part way through the baking. I couldn't determine how much to use, so I left out this part.
The photos I saw show the rolls not touching each other. Apparently it is traditional to turn out the end of the roll to be the snail's head. But I like my rolls really soft, so I spaced them the way I do for Cinnamon Rolls, where they touch each other after baking.
So here's the recipe:

Kakaós Csiga (Hungarian Chocolate Snails)

Make Aunt Betty's Sweet Roll Dough, except use ½ C sugar. After it has risen, pat it out into a rectangle.
Spread 3 or 4 Tbsp. melted butter on top.
Mix together, then sprinkle on top:
6 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder (unsweetened)
12 tablespoons sugar
It looks like a lot, but it works!
Roll up the dough; slice into ¾-1 inch widths; place rolls on buttered baking sheet. Cover; let rise for about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven, about 20 minutes at 350°F, until lightly browned.
After baking, sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
A note about unsweetened cocoa:
For years I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa, in baking and in my daily cup(s) of cocoa. A couple of months ago, I noticed that the cocoa was a slightly lighter color. Also, it didn't taste as rich or complex as it had. Comparing cocoa by expiration dates, I narrowed down where the change took place. I emailed the people at Ghiradelli. In part, this was their response:
In response to your inquiry, our Unsweetened Cocoa has changed.  We are using a different type of cocoa to manufacture the product.
They've left me out in the cold! I've long since stopped using Hershey's or Nestle's cocoa. I'm hoping that Trader Joes or Costco, both coming to the Syracuse area soon, have cocoa as good as Ghirardelli's was, at a similar price. I'm afraid to try cocoa the quality of Scharffen Berger, because it is so expensive.
The cocoa I used in the rolls was some I bought at Sauder's. It has an interesting flavor, but I'm still looking for a replacement for Ghirardelli's Unsweetened Cocoa.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Corollary

cor·ol·lary: something that naturally follows or results from another thing

Hmmm. What naturally follows Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Find Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe here.

Here's how to change it to Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Decrease flour to 3 C (12.8 oz.); add 1 C unsweetened cocoa to the dry ingredients.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Kathy's Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest Continues!

About a year ago I posted this about Chocolate Chip Cookies. I noted the prominent place these cookies have in my family heritage. Because of my concerns about shortening, I highlighted some of my efforts to use other fats in its place, most notably coconut oil.

A few months ago, I tried using lard. Just so you know, while the texture of the cookies was good, the taste was affected negatively. Now, lest you think I was crazy to try lard, I did so because of a recipe for Chinese Almond Cookies that a friend gave me years ago that uses lard with delicious effect. But I recommend keeping it out of Chocolate Chip Cookies.

My daughter commented in the previous post that she had used 1/2 shortening and 1/2 coconut oil with good results. I finally got around to trying that today. One of the reasons it took me so long was the need to buy shortening. I hadn't had any in the house for at least a year. Chocolate Chip Cookies is the last recipe I have that uses shortening for which I have not yet found a suitable replacement.

Success! The flavor of the coconut oil was subtly discernible in the cookie dough and in the cookies. As you can see in the picture, the texture of the cookies was very nice.

Follow the asterisk (*)  in Mom's recipe for my alteration using 1/2 shortening and 1/2 coconut oil.

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1½ C white sugar
1½ C brown sugar
1½ C shortening (10.8 oz.)*
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4½ C flour (1 lb. 3.1 oz.)
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream together sugar, brown sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. Sift (or just stir) together flour, salt, and baking soda; and then add to creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake.

*or ½ coconut oil (¾ C or 5.25 oz.) and ½ shortening (¾ C or 5.4 oz.):
Warm the coconut oil in the microwave to the point where it can be stirred and become creamy. Mix the shortening in with it. Then cream it with the sugar and brown sugar; add the eggs one at a time; add the vanilla. Beat well throughout. Continue as above.

I don't pretend that chocolate chip cookies are even slightly healthful. But this alteration makes them slightly less unhealthful, while preserving their characteristic texture and slightly enhancing their delicious flavor.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homemade Hamburger Rolls? You're Welcome!

It took me long enough. But I finally baked hamburger rolls.

Summer cookouts, I'm ready for you.

It turned out to be surprisingly easy. I used my Dinner Roll recipe, which you can find here. But I'm going to rewrite it here, because my process has evolved a little over time.

Dinner Rolls
Based on Aunt Betty's Sweet Roll Dough

1½ C lukewarm water
1 T yeast
¼ C sugar
¼ C canola oil
¼ C instant potato flakes
½ C instant nonfat dry milk (9 T non-instant)
¾ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1½ C (6.4 oz.) soft white whole wheat flour + 3 C (12.8 oz.) hard white whole wheat flour
Note: This is my preferred flour combination. Other alternatives:
1½ C (6.4 oz.) soft white whole wheat flour + 3 C (12.8 oz.) hard red whole wheat flour
1½ C (6.4 oz.) soft white whole wheat flour + 3 C (12.8 oz.) all-purpose flour
4½ C (19.2 oz.) hard white whole wheat, hard red whole wheat, or all-purpose flour

Pour warm water in stand mixer (KitchenAid) bowl. Add sugar, yeast, and the soft white whole wheat flour. Using the paddle (not the dough hook), mix on lowest setting while adding the canola oil, potato flakes, dry milk, and salt. Stop the mixer and add a few spoonfuls of the hard white whole wheat flour, and then the eggs. Resume mixing on lowest setting; add the rest of the flour, and continue mixing for 5 minutes. Turn off mixer and cover the bowl with damp kitchen towel. Let dough sit for 30 minutes.

On a clean, dry counter, sprinkle about ½ C hard white whole wheat flour. Have some more on hand, just in case. Lower the mixing bowl and detach the paddle, disturbing the dough as little as possible. Use a wet spoon to scrape dough from the paddle into the bowl. Use the wet spoon to scrape the dough from the bowl onto the floured counter. It will come out fairly easily because of the rising.

Knead the dough 40-50 times, until it is smooth and elastic, but not dry.

Place the dough in a large bowl with a small amount of canola oil to coat the surface. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap. Set in a cold place—probably the refrigerator—for 1½ hours.

Punch down the dough and fold it a few times. Divide it into 24 pieces. A dough scraper is great for cutting the dough. Form each piece into a ball by stretching the top and pinching the ends together at the bottom. Place the rolls about ½-1 inch apart on buttered (or parchment papered) baking sheets. 24 fit nicely on a baker's half sheet. Cover the rolls; let rise at warm room temperature for 45 minutes. If your baking sheet situation is such that you won't be able to fit all of the rolls in the oven at the same time, set the ones that will have to wait in the refrigerator, setting them out again when you put the first ones in the oven.

For Hamburger Rolls: After making the balls, flatten each ball into a 3-inch round. Place the rounds about ½ inch apart on buttered (or parchment papered) baking sheets. 12 fit nicely on a baker's half sheet.

A few minutes before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the rolls at 400°F for 5 minutes; reduce temperature to 350°F and continue baking another 10-12 minutes, or until the rolls are browned on top. Remove the pan from the oven and set to cool on a rack.

After the rolls are completely cool, put them in clean plastic bags. Freeze any that you will not use within a couple of days.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Back to Basics With Buttermilk Biscuits

My Buttermilk Biscuit recipe came from my 1973 edition of The Joy of Cooking. For the fat, it calls for the use of either lard or butter. I have always used butter. Great! Luscious buttery flavor! Done!

Today I decided to use lard. (Read here for my lard back story.)

The dough was so easy to work with!

The biscuits' flavor and tender texture were--dare I say it?--better than with butter!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Stir together:
1¾ C whole wheat flour
¾ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. sugar
Cut in:
¼ C (2 oz.) lard
⅔ C buttermilk or sour milk (2 tsp. vinegar plus milk to equal C)

Lightly mix together the dough. Then turn it onto a lightly floured board. Knead it lightly for ½ minute. Pat the dough to the thickness of ½ inch. Cut with a biscuit cutter.

Place the biscuits close together—not quite touching—on an ungreased baking pan.

Bake in preheated 450°F oven for 10-12 minutes.

By the way, the name of the recipe notwithstanding, I always use sour milk. It works just as well as buttermilk and is lots less expensive. If you have buttermilk on hand, you might as well use it. I never have it on hand.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"I Want Just White Cookies."

Libby and I were making dinner, including, of course, dessert. I asked her what kind of cookies or brownies we should bake. She said, "I want just white cookies, with nothing in them." This was surprising! After all, she is her mother's daughter and my granddaughter. I was really expecting something to do with chocolate.

She said she ate cookies like this when she was with her mom at her mom's friend's house. Okay! So I googled "cookies" and we looked at cookie images ... until we came to this. She said that's what the cookies looked like. So we went to the site and found a recipe for Sugar Cookies that looked very promising.

I wish I had pictures of Libby and the cookies. That 6-year-old girl did a great job measuring, mixing, (I did the scooping) gently pressing the scoops of dough, and sprinkling sugar on them. I had a different focus while we were baking the cookies, so I failed to take pictures.

Libby declared the cookies good. Whew! They were what she had in mind. Hooray!

I loved the cookies, too. But I wondered if I could use white whole wheat flour rather than all-purpose flour. That gave me just the excuse I wanted to bake (and eat) Sugar Cookies--by using white whole wheat flour!

The answer is yes.

They have all of the buttery, vanilla-y, sugary goodness of the all-purpose flour version. Except for the bit of texture the bran gives--which I really like--I bet no one would guess these are made with white whole wheat flour. They're just delicious.

When you go to Blissfully Delicious you  will find the recipe. You will see that it was slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies. My recipe is slightly adapted from Blissfully Delicious, and I call them

Libby's Sugar Cookies
3 C (12.8 oz.) all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C packed light-brown sugar
1 C unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
Mix butter and sugar until pale and fluffy in a mixer with paddle attachment, about 2-3 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then vanilla extract. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Scoop dough, rounding slightly; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a cup swished in sugar. Sprinkle tops with sugar.
Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. (This sounds like it could be true, but I'll never know. Cookies never last that long in my house.)
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies
I don't have an ice cream scoop, so I just gently rounded the spoonfuls of dough.
I used the bottom of a cup swished in sugar to gently flatten the tops of the cookies. Then I sprinkled regular white sugar on top, using my fingers.
Cookies cooling on the rack. I left them in the pan (sitting on a cooling rack) for 5 minutes. Then I took them out of the pan and removed them from the parchment paper.

Friday, November 29, 2013


For our family Thanksgiving feast yesterday I baked two apple pies, one pumpkin pie, one mincemeat pie, and three and a half dozen butter tarts. I also made a creme de menthe pie. Including the pumpkin cheesecake my son-in-law Dane baked, we had plenty of desserts!

So why, then, would I need to bake this apple pie today?

My daughter Karlyn and her husband Ti were taking the leftover apple pie home last night. Set on top of the car while putting other things inside, it slid off and landed top-first on the snow!

So today's pie takes its place.

Lard is Not a Bad Word

Until last year, I always made pie crust using shortening. My mom, an excellent pie baker, always used Crisco, so that's what I used.

I don't really know where my negative associations with lard came from, but I always associated lard with disgusting fat--literally and figuratively.

A few years ago, health concerns became linked with trans-fats, which are present in any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. The amount present in vegetable shortenings has been reduced to the point that they can legally say 0 grams per serving, but there is a trace of it in any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat.

I looked into alternatives for shortening in pie crust. I ruled out oils and butter. I knew that lard was used traditionally before shortening. My mother-in-law always made her pie crusts using lard. They were flaky and tender, but my general negative perception of lard persisted, and it took me a long time to try it. This article helped me shift my perception.

About a year ago, I finally tried it. I liked it! My pie crusts were still flaky and tender. They tasted better. And the dough was easier to handle.

The lard that's typically available in the grocery store is hydrogenated. But, according to Wikipedia, it contains half the amount of trans-fat as does shortening. So, my next step is to find lard that is not hydrogenated. A year ago, someone suggested that I go to a butcher shop (there are a few left) to buy the lard they trim from the pork. I put it off, so I have continued to use the hydrogenated lard. Just now, a quick Google search led me to the grocery store Save-a-Lot. That store is not very far from me. But, if it is available there, it might also be available at Price Rite, which is very near me.

Pie Crust Recipe

2 C (8.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 C + 2 Tbsp. (6.25 oz.) lard
4+ Tbsp. cold water

Stir together flour and salt; cut in the lard. Add enough water to be able to squish together the dough. Cut the dough in half; roll out each half.

Makes one 2-crust pie or  two 1-crust pies.

Note: This dough cutter/scraper is one of my best baking buddies. Use it to cut up the lard as you add it to the flour. After you have squished the dough together, use it to cut the dough in half. When you are lifting the dough to place it in the pie pan, if it is sticking, gently use this tool to pry it up.

Leftover Pie Crust Dough

Squish together all of the dough scraps from the first rolling out, adding a little--less than a teaspoon--of lard to make up for the extra flour that has been rolled in.

Today I got a dozen tart shells out of the second and third dough rollings. I have a doughnut cutter that is missing the middle part, so it cuts a 3 1/2-inch circle. I set the circles of dough in muffin tins. You may prick the dough with a fork if you like, but I don't bother. Bake at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes. Let set for a few minutes before removing them from the pans.

In Canada, tarts are very common, so they have real tart pans, which are like shallow muffin tins.

You can fill these with just about anything you want, from jam or pudding to lemon cream or chocolate mousse.