Thursday, January 22, 2009

Non-fat/Low-fat/Healthy Baking

My friend Jennifer just posted about a recipe for non-fat, high-fiber chocolate chip cookies. She asked me what my thoughts were. Here they are.

As I'm immersing myself more and more into the French culture, I really have to say they've got it figured out food-wise. Fresh vegetables, good meat, but not a lot, moderation in everything, the whole bit. Talking with my instructor, who is from Provence, I realize that things are sweeter over here. We add a lot more sugar to our foods. If I'm going to have a pastry, I'm not going to have it because it's also good for me. I'm going to have it because it is going to be delicious. Which is why, as Aaron puts it, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to dessert. I don't want things to just be sweet. I want the full flavor of something. Don't get me wrong - I love sugar. But I'm trying harder to make my meals better balanced so that when I indulge, regularly, in something I don't have to make that healthy too.

I'd rather teach my kids about good food choices than make treats healthy. Although, in the summer time, our treats are healthy. We go to the farmer's market and we each get a pint of strawberries or raspberries and eat them on the way back to the car. Heaven! I'd like to do some u-pick adventures with them. And they're learning in Opa's garden about all the good things they can grow. We'll grow some carrots at home this year. If I can get them excited about the tasty, healthy things there are, we won't worry so much about the chocolate chip cookies.

And homemade is always better than store-bought. And butter is good for you. And if you add a little malt powder, it takes a basic chocolate chip cookie to a whole new level.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Happy new year - here is my latest and greatest recipe. I don't take the credit for it entirely. I thought it was so original until I googled it and found that, well, it's not. Who cares. These are so good.

1 medium sweet potato
1 1/2 cups potato cooking water
1/2 oz. active dry yeast
1/3 c. sugar + 1/2 tsp.
1/2 c. butter, melted
4 T. dry milk powder
2 eggs
2 t. salt
4 c. bread flour

2 c. toasted pecans
2 c. brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter

2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

Fill a medium saucepan three-quaters full with water and set on high heat to boil. Peel and quarter the potato. Add the potatoes to the water and bring to a second boil. Decrease the heat to medium until the potatoes are simmering. Cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the potatoes, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water. Set the potato water aside to cool, until it registers 110 to 115 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash the poatoes - you will have 3/4 to 1 cup worth - by hand or use a mixer on medium speed.

Here's where I cheat, and you can too if you have a Zojirushi breadmaker! I just throw all the ingredients in it and use the dough setting. If you don't have a Zoji . . . . .

In a medium bowl, mix the reserved cooled potato water, yeast and the 1/2 tsp. sugar. Stir until the yeast has dissolved. Let the mixture rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the potatoes, 1/3 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt and yeast-potato water. Add the flour in 1 1/3 c. increments and stir with a spoon until the flour is incorporated. Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Leaving the dough in the powl, punch it down until it deflates. Cover with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day.

To make the filling: preheat the oven to 350. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.

Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half. On a clean floured surface, roll each half into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Spread each rectangle with half of the butter. Cover each butter rectangle with half of the brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle the dough with an even layer of pecans.

Generously grease a 9 X 13 baking pan. Carefully roll up each rectangle. Using a very sharp serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2-inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the pans. At this point, the rolls can be tightly covered in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and continue following the directions from this point. Set the rolls in a warm place and let them rise until they get puffy, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light brown.

To make the icing: combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread the icing on top of the rolls while they are still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Of course, you can use a regular potato if you'd like. And I'm working on a marshmallowy frosting. But for now, enjoy!

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