Homemade Flour Tortillas

OK, so I know that making tortillas at home probably seems totally over the top and crazy to some people. They are so easy to buy at the store and usually used for quick and easy dinners, why would you increase the difficulty?? And at one point in my life I totally would have agreed with you. But, not anymore! First of all, they are not NEARLY as difficult as I thought they would be. I was so surprised the first time I made them. My food processor did most of the hard work for me. Second, the taste and the texture. Seriously, no comparison. I don’t think I can even accurately describe how much better than store bought tortillas. Third, you can freeze them! If you have a weekend with just a few extra minutes then you can make a nice big batch and place them in a freezer. Then they are still grab and go for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

I first made these tortillas about a year ago when we were living in China (actually, a few of the process pictures are from China!). I was really pushed to make them because, like many things at the import food store, the bag of tortillas I saw every week  on the shelf never seemed to move and was probably months old. And I had a craving for burritos! Now I make them because I love them. Over the past year I’ve become more and more comfortable with the process. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • I’ve tried all butter, all Crisco, a combination of the two, and a combination of butter and oil. Hands down the combination of half butter half Crisco is my favorite. In my opinion, it yields the best texture and taste.
  • A lot of recipes say to roll out all of the tortillas and then cook all of the tortillas. I find that I have the best flow when I roll a tortilla and then cook it, and while it is cooking I start to roll the next one. I use the counter space right next to my stove so I am able to roll and keep an eye on the tortilla at the same time. Of course you’ll just have to see which flow works better for you.
  • It’s important to have enough flour to keep the tortillas from sticking (and this helps them keep a better shape, too!) but careful not to use too much, because the raw flour will start to scorch in the pan.
  • If you think you’ve rolled them thin enough, roll them just a little thinner. You’ll be surprised how much the plump up.
  • I have also successfully used half all-purpose and half whole-wheat flour (as you can tell in a few of the process pictures)

 

Delicious ways to use your tortillas

BBQ Pork Tenderloin Wraps
Best Fajita Marinade
Rolled Tacos (divide the dough into 18 or 20 instead of 12 to get smaller tortillas)
Enchiladas

Homemade Chocolate Syrup




I am sure that by now it’s pretty obvious how much I love finding ways to make typically store bought things at home. Pretty much everything I make and blog about can technically be classified as “homemade” since, well, I make it all at home mostly from scratch. But I’m talking about the posts where I recreate things that you normally associate with store bought brands. Like when I made Milano Cookies, Oreos, Funfetti Cupcakes, Fish Sticks, Hamburger Buns, and Mayonnaise. Now that I’m in China and certain kitchen staples are a little harder to come by, you will probably find a lot more of these kinds of posts.

I am a nut for chocolate milk. Like at least a glass a day, sometimes two, kind of nut. So when Annie posted a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup a few months ago, I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I knew it would be love at first sip, and it was. I may or may not have drizzled a little directly into my mouth from the squeeze bottle. Rich chocolaty goodness! And of course, as I have found with a lot of DIY foods, it is so much easier than I thought it would be!

As with most things, the quality of ingredients you use will directly relate to the results that you get. Using Hershey’s cocoa powder won’t mean that your syrup is bad or gross, but it won’t be quite as good as if you use a better brand. I had Ghirardelli on hand, which isn’t the highest quality in the market but is a step up, and my results were great.


Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder, making sure to break up any lumps in the cocoa. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it has reached a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken. Once the mixture has thickened remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Store in the refrigerator.

Use for chocolate milk, ice cream topping, brownie topping, or any recipe that calls for chocolate syrup.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from 52 Kitchen Adventures

Homemade Milano Cookies

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Day 4 of my week of Christmas cookies and things are starting to get really good.


I would like to petition that instead of putting out sugar cookies and milk for Santa, we put out these homemade Milano cookies and a hot cup of coffee instead. Santa has got to be exhausted with all of the flying around the world and army crawling down chimneys. He’s going to need some replenishment. He’s also probably getting tired of the same old boring cookies. I have a feeling that once you give these cookies a try and dunk them in a really good cup of coffee, you’ll agree.

These cookies are indeed, all that and a bag of chips. Milanos were always a favorite of mine growing up, then I got a bag a few weeks ago and I was kind of disappointed. They didn’t have that same flavor I remember loving so long ago. But this homemade version has restored my love. The cookie by itself tastes almost like a crispy bite of angel food cake: light, airy and sweet. The chocolate is exactly what chocolate ganache should be, rich and decadent – without the waxy after taste. Together, they make the perfect coffee dunking cookie.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to exclude the citrus stuff. I didn’t want my cookie tasting like lemon or my chocolate tasting like orange. So I only used the vanilla extract in the cookie and just left the orange out of the chocolate. I’m glad I did, to me it would have ruined it. But if you’re into the chocolate citrus flavor combo then you can check back with the original recipe and give it a try.


Homemade Milano Cookies

Ingredients Cookies
12 Tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour

For chocolate ganache filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either a silpat baking sheet or parchment paper*.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until pale and smooth. Add the powdered sugar, and, starting on low speed, mix in the sugar. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the egg whites and vanilla. Add the flour and mix just until combined. It should look like thick cake batter. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a 1/4″ round tip, with the dough. Using medium pressure, pipe the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet in 2-inch long sections, 2 inches apart.**

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies just start to turn golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet.

To make the chocolate ganache filling, scald the heavy cream (bring to a boil) in a sauce pan. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. While the ganache is cooling, carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and match up your cookies by similar size and shape.

Using a spoon, spread the chocolate over the smooth (bottom) side of one cookie. Carefully place the matching cookie on top of the chocolate and gently press down. Place bake on cookie sheet and allow to set for about 30 minutes (you can also place them in the freezer for 10 minutes).

Serve with a hot cup of coffee. 🙂

Slightly adapted from Gale Gand, Food Network

*I recommend using a silpat.I used silpat for one batch and parchment for another. The parchment I used wasn’t completely smooth so those cookies turned out really wonky. For the third batch I went back to the silpat. However if you don’t have one, parchment paper will work, just make sure it is completely smooth and level on the cookie sheet. **You don’t want the dough to be too skinny, as this will result in thinner cookies, so go kind of slow as you pipe the 2-inch cookies. Think of a thicker tootsie roll.

And feel free to use any reject cookies as dippers for the left over ganache!

Homemade Oreos

 

In the weeks leading up to my China trip, Jesse dropped several hints about bringing along some home-baked goodies. There was no question what his number one choice was, chocolate chip cookies. But other than that he left it pretty open saying he just wanted a few things that I made. Oreos have long been a favorite of his, so when I re-stumbled upon an old bookmark for homemade oreos I knew it was meant to be.

So, 2 days before I left the baking began and the results was just as good as I had hoped it would be. To be perfectly honest, if you took a bite of this cookie and then a bite of a real Oreo, I don’t think you would be fooled into thinking they are the same cookie. The homemade version is softer and chewier than the store bought, but in my book that makes them even better. Besides, I think for a lot of people the filling is really what the Oreo is all about, and this filling is pretty spot on. I filled mine the “double stuffed” way because, let’s face, go big or go home and I haven’t bought a bag of regular Oreos since being introduced to the double stuffed variety.

I tried a few different ways of packing the Oreos but I was afraid to lose any of that delicious filling and God forbid the beautiful cookies get smooshed! Finally, I decided that Oreo had the right idea storing the cookie in a “sleeve”. I had an empty plastic wrap box and once I lined it with Parchment paper it was PERFECT for storing and transporting the cookies. All cookies made it to China in one piece and were thoroughly enjoyed by Jesse (and me!).