Archive for January, 2011

Pan de Mallorca

January 24, 2011

As it turns out, I’m afraid of yeast.  Seriously, I’m not kidding – there is just way too much to worry about.  Is the water warm enough for the yeast?  Will the yeast bubble??  Will the dough rise?  Am I kneading the dough for long enough?  Will the dough rise again??  Too much pressure, I tell you.  Too much left to chance.  I simply do not use yeast…I’m too afraid.

But I had these rolls called mallorcas in Puerto Rico.  They were rich pillowy buttery croissant-like rolls, split open and filled with butter and guava or cherry jam (or ham and cheese for the most traditional version, but c’mon, really…let’s go with the jam), grilled and then doused with powdered sugar.  They were literally oozing with buttery goodness.

The thought of never eating a mallorca again deeply, deeply depressed me, and I realized that the only way I could experience this joy again was if I made mallorcas at home.  I considered lifting my ban on yeast.  I searched for the most simple recipe for mallorcas.  All the steps seemed easy enough, but I held my breath the entire time.  (A full two hours of holding my breath.)  But – at the end – they were just like the ones I ate in San Juan!  Soft, buttery, warm, delicious.  Bring it on, yeast.  I’m ready for you.

Pan de Mallorca (original recipe here)

Like I said, the most traditional versions are filled with ham and cheese, grilled and dusted with powdered sugar.  A sweet and savory pastry of sorts.  For my fellow vegetarians, I even saw egg and cheese versions on San Juan menus, which I was tempted to try.  But for those true to my heart, my fellow sweet-teethed people, stick to the jam.

Ingredients

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
flour for dusting work surface
butter to grease bowl and pan
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Procedure

1. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the sugar, salt, egg yolks, milk, 4 tablespoons of the cooled butter, and 2-1/2 cups of the flour. Mix well.

2. Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Add enough of the remaining flour so that the dough is not sticky.

3. Grease a bowl with butter. Pour the dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Set aside. Punch the dough down. Knead it on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 18×9 inches. Brush with the remaining melted butter. Roll up the dough from one short end and cut it into 9 slices; trim the ends to make them neat. Arrange the slices in the baking pan. Cover and let rise for 40 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let the rolls cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Alternatively, you can split the rolls open, spread butter and a jam of your choice on both sides, close and grill.  After grilling, dust with powdered sugar.

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Lemon Ricotta Cardamom Cakelets

January 13, 2011

I have a Saturday morning routine.  I wake up on the early side, head to the gym with my sister, we take an aerobics class and then make our way home, taking a little detour to stop at the farmers market.  Every weekend, we have plans to buy lots of fruits and veggies for the upcoming week.  But every week, we inevitably become distracted by the stand that sells  freshly made gelato.  There are new gelato flavors every week, all of which we sample, but there are several staples: lemon ricotta cardamom being one of them.  I honestly can’t get enough of this particular flavor.  It’s perfectly spiced and tart at the same time, with a silky smooth consistency.  It’s the most ideal way to start the weekend.

I continued my routine a couple of Saturdays ago when I got to the farmer’s market and there was no one there!  No fresh bread!  No baked goods!  No fresh vegetables that I never turn to!  And worst of all, no gelato stand.  Sadly, our farmers market closed for the winter and since that Saturday my routine has changed to sitting in the apartment dreaming of the samples of fresh, rich gelato that will not be tasted until the spring.  (The gym had to be sacrificed for the sorrow).

With leftover ricotta in the fridge, I instead decided to incorporate these flavors into a cookie.  These are actually the perfect representation of the flavors of the lemon ricotta gelato in a more substantial form.  It’s a cakier cookie, kind of like the top of a whoopie pie.  Which leads me to think of dreamy fillings you could sandwich between the two.  But the softness actually nicely correlates to the creaminess of the gelato.  They are much more than a holdover until the farmers’ market returns.  But they will be the perfect accompaniment to the gelato in the spring.

Lemon Ricotta Cardamom Cakelets (adapted from here)

Both of the cardamom and lemon flavors become stronger as these cakelets sit, but feel free to add more of either or both of the lemon and cardamom if you want more assertive flavors.

Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • about 2 tbsp. milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough by the tablespoon onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and cardamom in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, until the glaze coats the back of a spoon.  Dip each cookie into the glaze and place on a wire rack to harden for about 2 hours.