March 18, 2008

Clear Out Those Cobwebs

The spiral symbol represents the birth-life-death cycle and denotes rebirth. This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Brioche Raisin Snails, selected by Peabody. As the name implies, these just happen to be shaped in spirals.

With the start of spring just days away, new life is already appearing. Flowers have started budding. Days are noticeably longer. And, I hear the birds chirping each morning when I wake.

In the spirit of renewed life and starting fresh, now is a great time to clear the clutter in your life and give your house a deep cleaning. If you don't know where to start, you can find some great tips here and here.

As for the recipe, I really enjoyed it and can see me making it again and again. It is a little time-consuming if you complete all the steps in one session. But, what's great is that you can prepare this ahead of time and toss it in the freezer for use at a later date. This is brilliant for those who entertain or often have drop-in company.

Flambéeing the raisins was easier than expected. I don't know why, but I expected to see a big dramatic torch of flame shooting up like you see in some restuarants when you order a flambé dessert. Instead, mine yielded an itty-bitty flame that barely reached the tip of my small saucepan. Even though the flame isn't large, it is persistent. So, you must keep stirring. A few times, the stirring antagonized a few bursts of flame, so it is important to pay close attention during this step. A trip to the emergency really puts a damper on baking. =-)

As for the pastry cream, don't take your eyes off it while you whisk. The directions said that the pastry cream would boil, but mine never did as far as I could tell. It was thin one second and then very thick and creamy the next. I've never made pastry cream before, so I dont' know if what I experienced is normal or not.

Since the snails recipe only calls for half a batch of dough, I wasn't sure what to do with the other half. I didn't want it or the extra pastry cream to go bad, so I already made another batch. I ran out of raisins though, so scrounged around the pantry. Instead of raisins, cinnamon and sugar, I used chocolate chips and toffee bits. Both versions were drool-worthy and so worth the time this recipe takes.

Check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see more snails.

Brioche Raisin Snails

1 cup moist, plump raisins
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled
and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating
1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)

For The Optional Glaze
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
About 1 teaspoon water
Drop of pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready:
Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the raisins, return them to the saucepan and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat. When the raisins are very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the rum. Standing back, ignite the rum. Stair until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The raisins and rum an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.)

Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the raisins over the pastry cream and sprinkle the raisins and cream with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder.)With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they're ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Put the snails on the lined baking sheet(s), leaving some puff space between them.

Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume—they'll be puffy and soft—about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Getting Ready To Bake:
When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven: depending on the number of baking sheets you have, either center a rack in the oven or position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes (rotate the sheets if you're using two, from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes), or until they are puffed and richly browned. Using a metal spatula, transfer the snails onto a cooling rack.

If You Want To Glaze The Snails:
Put a piece of wax paper under the rack of warm rolls to act as a drip catcher. Put the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, and stir in a teaspoon of water. Keep adding water drop by drop until you have an icing that falls from the tip of a spoon. Add the vanilla extract, then drizzle the icing over the hot snails.

Golden Brioche Loaves

2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

For The Glaze
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche:
Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can—this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze:
Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze. Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk—this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly—as I always do—put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.


noskos said...

Gorgeous looking snails!!!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

lookin`good! and chocolate chip toffee snails sound like a great dessert!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wow! Chocolate chips and toffee bits??!! I will be right over for one of those!!

Bumblebutton said...

All your photos are really terrific...I can see that if I had not 'closed up' my dough roll they would have sliced much more easily. And the chocolate/toffee combo sounds fabulous! Really nice job!

CB said...

I love toffee! Hmm... I do have that 2nd batch of dough left over ;)

Anne said...

Chocolate chips and toffee sounds amazing! My pudding did the exact same thing- I was glad to hear about yours! They look amazing!

cruisingkitty said...

Chocolate and Toffee? What a great idea! Your photos are top-notch!
I had wicked good flames, but couldn't get a good shot of them!
Good job!

Dolores said...



You are *so* my hero! :)

Rebecca said...

My pastry cream did the exact same thing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, THICK! Good to know that was normal!

Julius said...

Those snails look really good! I like how you showcased them in a clear jar.

from Occasional Baker

Jaime said...

great job! you got a nice pic of the "shaggy mess" - i was surprised at how accurately dorie described it LOL

eatme_delicious said...

Yum your snails look delicious!

Peabody said...

Excellent job on your snails.

Anonymous said...

beautiful job! i love your idea for the first pic. :)

Shayne said...

oh yes this is the kind of pastry cream that my hubby makes with milk not cream and corn startch not flour, it is the best.

Anonymous said...

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