Saturday, October 31, 2009
Meet the twins...Frank n' Stein;)
Months ago, my friend asked if I would make cookies for her granddaughter's birthday party, which was yesterday.
She requested Frankenstein, ghosts and jack o' lanterns:) I made ten of each.
"Frank" is my favorite:) This cookie is a generous size (about 5" x 3")! (I was so tired when I decorated these the other night, that I failed to indent at the neck, and didn't notice until the next morning that I had frosted the entire surface!) Oh well, I tried to remedy it after the fact. At least the black screws helped to accentuate the neck:)
I found the perfect ribbon!
All "dressed up" and ready to party! Happy Halloween!
Friday, October 30, 2009
So did Karaline! She's munching on one that she decorated herself! Good job, Munchkin!
Proudly displaying her decorating skills! Didn't the munchkins do a beautiful job?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
Baking anything french(hence macaron, not macaroon) is intimidating to me for some reason, but these weren't as labor intensive(or scary) as I thought they would be, though I did grind my own almond flour. I couldn't seem to get my almonds as finely ground as I would have liked, and I also should have taken the time to read the tips from other sites, but I didn't:( I also added a tsp. of cinnamon(my favorite spice) and was easy on myself by using Nutella as the filling:) Chocolaty, spicy and nutty=YUM! My macarons ended up as a crunchy, chewy combo, but not a favorite cookie.
As you can see these are a little on the flat side and not "picture perfect," but I was happy to complete this challenge satisfactorily.
NOW, time to go look at all the beautiful macarons made by my DB friends:)
MACAROONSIn the United States, the term “macaroon” generally refers to a cookie made primarily of coconut. But European macaroons are based on either ground almonds or almond paste, combined with sugar and egg whites. The texture can run from chewy, crunchy or a combination of the two. Frequently, two macaroons are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam, which can cause the cookies to become more chewy. The flavor possibilities and combinations are nigh endless, allowing infinitely customizable permutations.
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
My handy-dandy apple peeler-corer-slicer helped me to prep the 6 lbs. of apples in no time!
This recipe called for grated fresh nutmeg, which is so aromatic when you grate it...ahhhh:)
These bars are very addictive! I shared them with family and coworkers and received a resounding "thumbs up!" So YUMMY!
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup water, as necessary
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1. Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour, spices and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the side in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a very large, deep skillet melt the butter with the brown sugar. (If you don’t have a large skillet, divide between 2 skillets). Add the apples to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet and add up to 1/2 cup of water to the pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.
3. Prepare the topping: In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using fingers (wash your hands and take off your rings first!), squeeze the butter into the oats & sugar and crumble together until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press the mixture into clumps.
4. Assemble the bars: Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking, and keep an eye on it to make sure the top isn’t getting too browned. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.
Makes 4 dozen bars (I used a 10 1/2" x 16" pan and it made 24 ample bars)
The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month (they freeze well- try putting them in individual zip bags for impromptu snacks or as an easy addition to your child’s lunch box).
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
My friend made a request for cookies to pass out after her daughter's soccer game. Her daughter's birthday was the day before the game and a cookie would be given to each teammate (as a sort of birthday favor) after the game.
I had never made soccer ball cookies before, so hunted around the internet for ideas. I found a detailed tutorial , but realized that it was made with a hexagon(6-sided) template for the black sections of the soccer ball and my "research"showed that the black sections on a soccer ball are actually pentagons(5-sided). Aha! Well, I decided to just freehand the soccer ball design with the black icing. Though each ball is slightly different, I was pretty pleased with the results and breathed a sigh of relief when I was finished! I packaged each cookie in a cellophane bag and tied them with ribbons of green and yellow(team colors). I heard reports that they were well received!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
I found a wonderful recipe, withe rave reviews at www.finecooking.com. Soon my own rave review will be added:) Above, adding the chilled, flattened out butter to the dough.
After "rolling and folding, " which was done 3 times through the whole process.
The final rolling out, 8"x40". I didn't think I would be able to achieve these dimensions, but I did:)
Measuring and cutting out 15 croissants...some with bittersweet chocolate added.
The chocolate croissants rising...I shaped these without the curved ends to distinguish them from the plain croissants.
The classic croissants proofing:)
Ta da! The finished croissants!
I let these get a teeny bit darker than I wanted them to, but they still produced a crispy, flaky outer crust and tender, buttery layers inside:) Mmmmm, they were so good and I was so happy to eat my own croissants! My husband and I were in heaven:)
The chocolate croissants were good, but next time I need to chop it finer, so that it will melt more. They were still yummy though.
Thanks for the "push" Kris!