Chicago pastry chef competes on 'Top Chef' spin-off

September 15, 2010 8:32:26 AM PDT
Malika Ameen's desserts have earned her many fans in Chicago. Her famous Sticky Toffee Pudding and award-winning ice cream have been praised by foodies all over town. Now, the pasty chef and mother of three boys hopes to turn heads as a "chef-testant" on Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts which begins on Wednesday September 15.

Chef Malika, who disappointed many Chicagoans when she closed Aigre Doux, will be competing alongside 11 other celebrated pastry chefs. She hopes to out flambé, out frost and out fudge the competition to win theTop Chef title. The winning chef will receive $100,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival and a new car.

Over the course of the reality series, the pastry chefs will be challenged to create wedding cakes, flaming desserts, chocolate show pieces and edible fashion. As in previous Top Chef competition, each episode holds two challenges for the pastry chefs: the first, a "Quick fire" test of their basic abilities and the elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the contestants. Week by week, competitors are eliminated.

Gail Simmons, a series judge on Top Chef for the past seven seasons, hosts the reality series showcasing the best of the best in the world of pastry arts. The judges include Johnny Iuzzini of Restaurant Jean Georges; Hubert Keller, a finalist on Top Chef Masters and, and Dannielle Kyrillos, entertaining expert and DailyCandy Editor-at-Large.

Check out the sneak peek of the show: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-just-desserts/season-1/videos

While waiting to find out how Chef Malika fares on the TV reality show, you can taste some of her delicious cookies. You can make them at home with the recipe she's sharing with ABC7 Chicago: Oatmeal Jumbles. Or you can let her make them for you; she'll be selling them on line at MalikaAmeen.com

OATMEAL JUMBLES

These moist and chewy Oatmeal Jumbles are not just high in flavor, but they are also high in fiber, Chef Malika Ameen says. "A cookie parents can feel good about feeding to their kids, these are made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats and dried sour cherries, which are high in Vitamin A," she adds. "They also have chocolate chips, everyone's favorite, in addition to butterscotch chips, which add a caramel undertone. The ingredients are also easily interchangeable and could be substituted with other favorite nuts and dried fruits.

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup thick rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried sour cherries
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl combine flours, oats, baking soda, baking powder, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl combine walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and cherries.
In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugars for 30-40 seconds on medium speed until blended (do not cream mixture). Beat in the egg until combined.
Add maple syrup and vanilla and beat until combined.
Turn mixer down to lowest setting and add flour/oat mixture. Blend until combined.
Add chips, cherries, coconut and walnuts and mix again.
Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
On a nonstick or parchment lined cookie sheet drop 2 tablespoons of dough. Flatten and round out cookies with moistened fingers. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray and bake an additional 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Set the cookies on a rack to cool.

Decadent Fudge Bites with Lavender infused chocolate glaze

brownies 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract or strongly brewed coffee

lavender glaze
1-cup bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
1-teaspoon corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried lavender buds

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch-baking pan

In a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking powder. Add the salt. Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in brown sugars until blended. Add eggs, vanilla and coffee extract and whisk until just blended. Add flour and mix with a rubber spatula. Be careful not to over mix. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the pan and bake an additional 7-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist clumps sticking to it. If you over bake the squares will be dry and not fudgy. Let cool completely

To make glaze and finish:

In a small saucepan combine heavy cream and lavender. Bring to a simmer and turn off heat. Set a timer for 10 minutes.

Reheat cream to a scald and strain over chocolate and corn syrup and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until combined. Pour over baked chocolate fudge bites and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Chill until glaze is set and hard. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Orange Pecan Biscotti w/Cardamom scented sugar

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1Tbs. grated orange zest
1/2 cup pecans
1 large egg at room temperature
2 1/2 Tbs. melted butter
1 tbs. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cardamom

Set oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl of a kitchen aid mixer combine sugar and orange zest. With your fingers, rub zest into the sugar to release the oils. Know add the flour, baking powder, salt and pecans.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with the butter, orange juice and vanilla pour into the bowl with dry ingredients. With the paddle attachment and mixer on low speed, mix until dough is blended. It will be very sticky

Dump the dough onto a heavily floured work surface and portion into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log 12inches long, dusting with flour along the way to keep the dough from sticking. Set the logs 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet and press gently to flatten until each log is 1½ -2 inch wide. Chill for at least one hour to firm up dough. Meanwhile, mix 1/3 cup granulated sugar with ground cardamom. Break egg into a small bowl and whisk. Remove the logs from the refrigerator and brush with egg wash. Generously sprinkle with spiced sugar.

Bake logs for 20-25 minutes or until a little firm in the center. Remove from oven and cool. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, saw them on a diagonal into slices about ½ inch thick. Arrange the slices flat down on the baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until golden. Let cool

Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Cinnamon laced almond Florentines

1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup sliced almonds with skin
1-teaspoon cinnamon
generous pinch of salt
1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with neutral flavored cooking spray

In a medium bowl mix all ingredients together

With a wet spoon, place a heaping tablespoon of mixture onto the baking tray. After you have covered the baking sheet, dip a fork in cold water and flatten the cookies as much as possible. Try and avoid having any gap between the almonds. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden brown. Let cookies cool. Repeat process with remaining batter.

Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week


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