Savory Elephant Ears {ModBak}

Having made Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Elephant Ears several times, always to rave reviews, I recently thought I would mix things up a bit. Rather than the sweet elephant ears, made simply with puff pastry and sugar, I decided to make the savory version in The Modern Baker.

The savory elephant ears were made with cheese and paprika. I decided to use two kinds of cheese — Pecorino Romano and Gruyère.

Cheese en Place

 I began by rolling the puff pastry (using flour instead of sugar) into a rectangle.

I brushed the surface with egg wash,…

…then spread the dough with cheese…

…and sprinkled on some paprika.

I shaped the dough as with the sweet elephant ears by rolling the sides in about halfway, then folding a second time, and finally folding one side over the other.

First roll

Second roll

Final roll

I flattened the roll slightly, then refrigerated the dough for an hour or so before slicing and baking.

These elephant ears were puffy, buttery, and cheesy. They reminded me in a way of mustard batons. And even though they were really tasty, calling them “elephant ears” distracted from the experience, as I couldn’t help but compare them to their sweet, sticky, caramelized namesakes. Maybe next time, I’ll just call them cheese puffs.


Pecorino & Pepper Biscuits {ModBak}

The seventh recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge (and the second quick bread I agreed to post) is Pecorino & Pepper Biscuits. I love biscuits, and I love savory recipes with cheese and pepper, so I was looking forward to trying this recipe. But I was a little nervous, too. I’ve never had huge success with biscuits, pie crusts, or other things that are supposed to come out light and flaky. But as I’ve noted elsewhere, taking on recipes I have never tried or never made successfully was a big part of my motivation in taking on this challenge.

Although I’ve been baking the quick breads in order, I decided to skip ahead a few pages to make these biscuits for dinner this evening. This recipe has only seven ingredients, all of which I had on hand: Pecorino Romano cheese, AP flour, baking soda, salt, black pepper, unsalted butter, and buttermilk (I used dry buttermilk powder, which I keep in the cupboard all the time). Most of these are staple ingredients in my kitchen. I don’t always have Pecorino Romano on hand, but I happened to have some left over from when I made the Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche for the BBA Challenge.

As with the other quick breads, these biscuits came together really fast. I mixed the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and buttermilk powder in a bowl. I pulsed the cheese and butter in the food processor a few times, added the flour mixture, pulsed it a few more times, then finally added the water and pulsed until the dough came together.

I dumped the dough out onto a Silpat with a little flour on it, kneaded it a few times, and pressed it out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. I cut the dough into 2 1/4-inch circles, which I put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. One trick I learned from this recipe is that when you cut biscuits, you should press straight down. If you twist your cutter — as I always have in the past — the biscuits won’t have nice straight sides.

I baked the biscuits for 20 minutes (I think they should have come out at about 18 minutes) and served them with butter for dinner, along with oven baked chicken and green beans.

These biscuits were a bit hit. They were light, flaky and oh-so-flavorful. I wasn’t sure if the kids would like the strong flavor of the Pecorino and the bite of the pepper, but they gobbled them up.

These biscuits took about 30 minutes from pantry to table, so they are easy enough to make anytime. And Nick Malgieri offers four variations, making this a great go-to recipe you can (and will want to) make often to go with dinner.