Freya's First Time...

Almost inconceivable isn't it? A member of the Daring Bakers who has completed three of challenges with mixed results (remember my Red Velvet Cake? Apparently Petroleum BP are interested in my recipe - they're looking for a new type of impermeable rubber for car tyres) who hasn't cooked one thing for Dorie Greenspan's From my Home to Yours.

It's not that the recipes were difficult or didn't appeal to me, far from it. I was just having problems deciding which recipe to make. Dorie's easy, friendly style makes even the most complicated looking cake seem achievable. Missing some of the ingredients? Dorie gives us side-bar options and encourages us to experiment with her recipes to find results that suit us.
From My Home to Yours has captured the imagination of the baking sector of the food bloggers like no other book. A google search for Dorie Blog Recipes brings up more than 77000 results, and not all of these lead back to her own personal blog.
Us Brits haven't embraced baking in the same way as Americans (or Canadians). Perhaps it's too easy to buy sub-par cakes from the local supermarket or over-priced pastries from the local bakery. The real truth is, the more you bake, the easier it becomes. And, if, like us, you have a small family, most cookies or muffins can be frozen for future snacking. Furthermore, for the price of a box of cakes from the bakery, you can buy the foundation ingredients for several dozen more sweet treats.
It is my experience through speaking with inexperienced cooks (and it must be something in the water - the only people I have ever spoken to who share my passion for baking and cooking in general have been online.) that they feel baking is an insurmountable challenge or a relic from the 1950s - and one that should stay in museums. This is a pity because making a batch of cookies or muffins is so easy that even young children can do it. Not only this, you can control exactly what goes into your recipes: no preservatives, no colourings (Red Velvet Cake excepted), no hidden baddies. You can sneak healthy things into baking that taste delicious but that would otherwise be shunned by fussy children. The Carrot Cake is a perfect example.
But, I'm not here to proselytise about baking, those who want to bake will do so, those who don't, won't and they won't be here reading my tirade anyway. They'll probably be at the gym.
What you want to to know is what I finally decided to cook from Dorie's Magnum Opus, right?
Don't get too excited. The pictures are fairly obvious visual clues. It was something quick but delicious. And versatile, as my illustrations indicate. Dulce de Leche Duos.
I love Dulce de Leche. The day I first discovered a tin of it, in the Mexican grocery section of a supermarket in LaCrosse, was the day my world changed. I have never been a huge fan of caramel, finding it too chewy and teeth-hurty, plus it always gave me stomach ache (which is also the reason I don't eat penny sweets, although inflation has guaranteed that penny sweets are now 5 penny sweets). You will never find me sucking a toffee. But, I am a sucker for anything unusual in a tin and couldn't resist this: La Lechera Dulce de Leche, produced by Nestle.
When I got back home, I used this tin of thick, sticky, slightly bitter, slightly milky but very sweet tasting tanned goodness on a banoffi pie. I have also made my own Dulce de Leche, which is incredibly simple but requires a keen eye and four hours patience. It is a lot quicker to pop out to the local supermarket and buy your own. If you do want to make your own, simply boil an unopened can of Evaporated Milk in a large pan of water for four hours, making sure the pan never runs dry, lest the can should explode, spraying your kitchen and innocent standbys with scalding hot, sticky caramel.

I know, I know. Now I'm waffling. Back to Dorie and her Dulce Duos. I have a love/hate relationship with American cookies (biscuits). They are usually too soft for my liking and when I visit the US, I have to bring my own secret stash of Digestives or Bourbons (like a nicer version of Oreos, sans the whiskey content, alas) so I don't feel too homesick. To me, a soft cookie (biscuit) means a stale cookie (biscuit) and only fit for the consumption of my husband, who, being American, loves soft cookies (biscuits). I have a sneaking suspicion that he leaves half opened packets of cookies (biscuits) laying around deliberately, so that they go stale.

When I bake cookies (biscuits) from an American cookbook, I always cook them for several minutes longer than recommended so that they become crisp and crumbly. I took a risk with Dorie's recipe though and trusted her when she said that this these slightly soft, cakey biscuits are perfect when sandwiched with a rich filling. And after all, didn't I almost overcome my soft biscuit phobia the day I bit into a Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Sandwich?

Dulce de Leche Duos are easy to make but taste (and smell) sensational. Butter creamed with sugar (two types!), mixed with some Dulce de Leche, eggs and flour, dropped in small heaps and baked until softly golden. These are not healthy biscuits, particularly when sandwiched with something equally rich, but they do make a wonderful treat and if you freeze them in pairs, you have a little something to look forward to if you're feeling like you just have to have something sweet now! Besides, the taste of raw batter alone is worth the price of a tin of Dulce de Leche. And the smell when you open the oven door is just wow!
I experimented with various fillings to try and find the best combination. Paul's favourite was Peanut Butter and Jam. I also tried some of the leftover frozen Diplomat Cream which tasted great but looked like lard for some reason! Some of my other experimentations were not as successful but I've shared them here with you today to give you some inspiration....enjoy!


DULCE DE LECHE DUOS
- makes 60
Taken from Dorie Greenbergs Baking from My Home to Yours
Ingredients:
2.5 Cups Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
8 ozs (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3/4 Cup Dulce de Leche (use shop bought for this recipe)
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
METHOD:
Line 2 large baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Preheat oven to 175c.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and leave to one side.
In a large bowl, using your standalone mixer or (in my case) an electric hand whisk, mix the butter until it becomes softened and splattered all over the bowl. Scrape it down and add the sugars and Dulce de Leche. Mix until pale and fluffy, a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beat for a minute after each addition.
The mixture will look split and curdled but this doesn't matter.
Add the flour in about three additions mixing each addition only until it has been absorbed. No more or you will overwork the mixture and get tough cookies (ha!).
Using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop, drop spoonfuls onto your prepared sheets, leaving two inches between them. They spread out - a lot.
Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning the sheets around in the oven halfway through, until they are honey coloured but still soft to the touch. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack, using a spatula.
Serve as they are, stuffed with ice cream or spread with more Dulce de Leche or any filling of your choice.

45 comments:

Jerry said...

I'll take a batch of the sardine cookies!

Love the post, but I died laughing over the pictures!

christine (myplateoryours) said...

What a total hoot. I was looking at those pix as I read the text and they got stranger and stranger and it wasn't til I got to the egg that I realized you were having me on. Must be too early in the morning here!

I remember having my own love affair with digestive biscuits the year I lived in England. Every once in a while I see them here and smile fondly. :)

Ulrike said...

In Germany I never found dulce de leche, but when my husband went to Chile, he brought me 2 kg of dulce de leche from the other side of the world. I made a Chocolate & Banana Mud Pie. I found the recipe on a British website ;-)

Lydia said...

I've been laughing out loud since the egg photo! My husband is the one in our house who's devoted to this Dorie Greenspan book, and I've really enjoyed his exploration of her wonderful recipes.

valentinA said...

hahaha, I love your sandwich filling Freya!
These cookies are so verstaile, I'd grab them any time even if they're not too healthy, I dun care! I know they taste oh-so-gooood!

Susan said...

All excellent arguments for home baking. It really does become as second nature as cooking over time. A fun treatment for some lovely treats.

Cheryl said...

Those pictures are hysterical. Although some of those creations looked pretty good.

Janet said...

Ah Ha... as usual, I tend to scroll down through a posts pictures, FIRST, and then go back and read the actual post. When I saw the egg picture, I thought, "Oh goodness, what happened to Freya's filling?... it ballooned up on her!" :-)

Brilynn said...

You know I'll love it if it's a Dorie recipe and shame on you for taking so long to make something from this wonderful book!

Deborah said...

Great pictures!! I was watching them as I read, and had to take a second look when I came to the egg photo!!

I guess I am a true American because I like my cookies soft and chewy (with the exception of certain cookies, like Oreos.) I just made my first Dorie recipe and will be posting it today! I know I'm going to love this cookbook!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Freya, the photos are hilarious!

I've got the same problem - this book has been sitting in my bookshelf for ages and I haven't used it yet. I never know what to choose!

Those dulce de leche duos would be a great start. :)

pom d'api said...

Very good idear !!!! Creative pictures !!!
I can eat please!!!!

Mallow said...

Thank you for the good laugh this morning! After reading your post I am thinking I need to track down some British recipes? I am an American (with plenty of cookie recipes), but I have been wishing I could find some really good crispy/crunchy recipes (biscuits?).

mooncrazy said...

Always a pleasure to read in the morning, give me a laugh to start the day.

wheresmymind said...

Oil companies need no more monay!

Coffee & Vanilla said...

They look delicious. I must try. My kids will love it.
Greetings from London,
Margot

Pille said...

Mmm. I'm not sure about the last two photographic recipe suggestions, but anything involving dulce de leche is good in my mind!

Little Foodie said...

Oh yes please with the sardines please... I'm awaiting the arrival of my first Dorie book. I'll look for the sardine cookies before anything else! Dulce de leche duos (makes 60) - can't wait. :) Amanda

Kathryn said...

These look delicious! I like dulce de leche but in small amounts - it's so rich.
Your gateau St Honore looked fantastic too!

Joyce said...

Your humor and vivid imagination never cease to entertain!

katiez said...

Okay, I'll come clean here:
2 confessions...
First, the reason I no longer bake is there are just 2 of us, no neighbors or office to dump the excess and we really don't need all the extra calories from entire cakes, puds, etc.
Second, when I do bake it is usually cookies (biscuits) and 75% of them are crisp, crunchy, spicy ones...Does this make me unamerican? An uncook? I'm so embarrassed...

Kelly-Jane said...

I have a dulce de leche cookie on my list to make. Now that I've seen how good they look I'd like them all the more!

I've always made my own with condensed milk tins, but I'll give evaporated a go too, just to see the difference :)

Helen said...

I am urting I was laughing so hard! I amde these over the weekend ang gave a bunch to the neighbors...I wih I hadn't given all the "oohs and aah" I heard! The duce de leche flavor was not really pronounced but sandwich with more (no sardines for us...) they were very tasty.

Sara said...

But how did the cookie and dijonnaise sandwich taste, is what I want to know!

Nora B. said...

Freya, yet another enjoyable read. I am still smiling :-)

Christina said...

I'll take the one with the sardines, not just plain sardines, mind you, but the sardines THAT ARE STILL IN THEIR BOX! Hilarious. Thanks for the giggle!

Quellia said...

I think I like the idea of the frozen dipolmat cream, even if it looked like lard!
Welcome to the Dorie club! :-)

Aimée said...

Too delicious and cheeky!! I woke up when I saw the dijon...

T.W. Barritt said...

Always adventurous, and such creative fillings! (although I will certainly eat anything spread with Nutella). The Dorie book is great -- I'm a big fan of the biscotti section! Not sure how they would go with sardines, though ...

Chris said...

Ha! I laughed!! Thank you! But, did you mean for my water to go everywhere? :)

joey said...

I will love anything that has to do with dulce de leche...my great grandmother and grandmother made it since I was a kid :)

I was rolling on the floor with your photos! This is why it's such a joy to visit your 'kitchen table' :)

Truffle said...

What a fabulous post! Great photos too :)

lululu said...

hahahahaha....the pictures are like a little vintage commercial flip-card. So hilarious they are!!! :D

Ash said...

I really need to buy the book! I don't think the sardine cookies will be a hit on our household though ;0

Peabody said...

Ah yes, the classic sardine cookie, rarely seen anymore :)
You are too funny.

Kristen said...

You are so funny! The sardine cookie.... I'm sure that was a delicious filling.

Ruth Daniels said...

Great post - had my laughs for the week!

Cynthia said...

I thought it was just me when I saw the pics but then as I read the comments I realised that is was not just me (lol)

Enjoyed the post.

Kirsten said...

HILARIOUS!!! Too funny in every way :)

Rob said...

After having spent four hours boiling a can of evaporated milk I must say the end result was rather disappointing. I suspected at the outset that you were talking about what we call condensed milk but decided to stick with the evaporated milk (known as Ideal milk here) just to see what happened.

The mix did caramelise, but is still very runny and has a horrible aftertaste. Fortunately my housemates love it and are very happy to have had the whole can donated to them.

We do normally boil off cans of condensed milk to make caramel - 2 hours for a light caramel and 3 to 4 hours for a dark caramel. So I think this is probably the same as dulce de leche.

Amy said...

Lol such funny pictures! This recipe is a keeper for me. Mmmm dulce de leche...

kellypea said...

I love stale Oreos. I don't have to leave the bag open myself. My teenage son couldn't remember to close up a package if his life depended on it. YUM!

sher said...

I was laughing so much as I looked at the pictures, my family came to investigate! Great way to start the day!

Jeanne said...

Those photos are hilarious! I'm thinking that you should enter the egg one for the End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza (soon to be ressurected...)

Carolyn said...

I'm certainly tardy in commenting. Your photos were priceless. I laughed out loud, of course. Loved the one of the sardine can - especially after reading Dorie's post about how abysmal American markets are about buying good sardines. Americans know so little about sardines and the markets have nothing but cheap junk. Keep up the good work, though. Love your blog.