Posts tagged sugar
Posts tagged sugar
Macaroons, take 1
Way back in January, I casually mentioned a few "baking New Year’s resolutions" and among them was French macaroons. A little while ago, I realized it’s almost December and I hadn’t even read a dang recipe (apparently I say “dang” now). So of course, action had to be taken! For a first try, it wasn’t a total flop and I’m pretty proud of myself. The delicate cookie sandwiches didn’t look like total monsters, and were actually very yummy. Let me take you through the photos… left to right:
1. Out of focus almond flour, confectionary sugar and some egg whites and sugar, next to meringue being whipped. I am still not so comfortable or familiar with meringues, but I was by myself and had to decide when it was done. 2. Cross-refrencing recipes. I mostly followed the recipe and technique from Thomas Keller, and am not sure how I feel about it. Obviously it has to work, it’s TK, but the method was quite different from the other two books… the amount of meringue added to the almond flour mixture is flexible, no wait time after the cookies are piped before they go in the oven, etc. 3. I am so smart!! I broke the buttercream. Of course I broke the buttercream, I had no idea what I was doing. But, I remember reading somewhere that the bowl might be too cold, so I took a hair dryer to the outside of the bowl, and I fixed it! I was so excited I almost called someone to let them know. I made non-American buttercream at home for the first time successfully!! THIS IS A BIG DEAL 4. Attempting to match cookies. A lot didn’t make it, and they’re a little spotty (either a result of improper mixing or old almond flour), but whatever. 5. The most perfect macaroon I could find in the batch!! In the background you see a pile of broken cookies and meringues and Kyle, being Kyle.
I can’t wait to give these guys another try! Sidenote, if you’re interested in someone who actually knows what they’re doing with macaroons, check out KatCakes.
It’s Friday, treat yourself to something sweet.
Can we take a moment to appreciate Rice Krispies Treats? Rice Cereal Treats. Marshmallow Rice Treats. Whatever you want to call them.
Go ahead, close your eyes, think about it. They’re AMAZING. Hold on for a second while I talk about them as if I’ve been living under a rock.
I had forgotten how much I love this treat. When I was working at my old school, and the kids got Rice Krispies Treats as a snack, I would get so excited, and would take 2 for myself, there were some other teachers into this too (don’t worry, everybody still got something).
The kid I currently babysit for will sometimes have them at his house, and I generally try to offer health-ier snacks, but not when those blue foil treats are around, because I know it’s worth it.
But these things homemade, ohman, ohman. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. You barely have to measure anything. You can eat some marshmallows in the process, and brown that butter if you want! I thought to make these last week because I somehow discovered not one, but two opened bags of marshmallows in my pantry, and knew they had to go. I brought them to a party, and then I brought them home from the party (I didn’t want to leave the pan in New Hampshire). And then I ate most of it by myself. I did, however, give a square to the boy I babysit for. And he gave it a “10 out of 10.” Which is a pretty big deal. He’s 8 years old.
For these Rice Cereal Treats I used a recipe from Flour: A Baker’s Collection of Spectacular Recipes
Guys, it’s almost berry season ‘round here. Get excited.
A couple weeks back (I’m really behind) strawberries were on sale so we bought a bunch and it was wonderful. I had a lady lunch coming up, so I figured I’d provide dessert with simple strawberry shortcake fixin’s. (The bottom right picture included the whipped cream, sliced strawberries and biscuits. All ready to go!) That same day, we had some people over for dinner, and since I already had a bunch of stuff for it, I decided to make a fun take on strawberry shortcake (pictured top, right), inspired by a new cookbook I have which I will tell you about, but not right now. The recipe was for Strawberry and Basil shortcakes, but we didn’t have any basil around so I skipped it. I served the build-your-own dessert with both fresh strawberries and the balsamic-strawberry concoction. It was a great way to mix it up! I can’t wait to go strawberry picking in 2013.
Banana Cupcakes: A Recipe
Banana Cupcakes are maybe my favorite. At least they’re in the top five, maybe even three. I make them a lot, so they get enjoyed a lot. In the Bouchon Bakery book, they talk about how it’s important to make the same recipes over an over again. That way you know them well, and you can do it well. I would like to make this more of a practice in my life, trying to make the same thing many times, aiming for consistency and a better understanding of what is working and why it’s working. I often like to try new recipes, and usually when something doesn’t turn out right, I’m reluctant to try it again. I do have some new things I want to work on, as far as baking in 2013 (mentioned in my post about the Bouchon Book, linked above), but I also want to solidify some of my go-to’s. This recipe for Banana cupcakes is in pretty good shape, and I want to share it with you all.
This recipe yields 12 regular sized cupcakes. It’s adapted from banana butterscotch cupcakes in cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans. The book automatically opens to that page because the binding has a permanent crease.
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula, if needed. Add your bananas (if they are frozen, let them thaw completely and add as banana mush; if they are fresh, cut up into 1 inch pieces) and mix until mostly combined (you will still see banana bits. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is blended. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute. On a low speed, add half the flour mixture, mixing until it is just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and then finish with the remaining half of the flour mixture. If you want to add chocolate chips (which I often do) add them in at this point, either folding them in by hand (with a spatula) or using the mixer on a low speed.
Scoop batter into prepped muffin pans, leaving about 1/4 inch below the top of the cupcake liner. I’ve found that my yellow scoop is the perfect amount.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Once cupcakes have completely cooled, top with your preferred frosting. My favorites are cream cheese and peanut butter cream cheese.
Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
A friend from my old school messaged me on Facebook asking if I had checked my email. I forget I have a second email address because nobody has used it to contact me (well, except Brittany, but that’s just silly, because she lives upstairs). Sure enough, my coracakes email had something in the inbox… a request for cupcakes! I was super excited about it. It made me feel like what I’m doing is a real thing. I was given the request for half a dozen of one flavor (above) and another dozen (of a different flavor).. the only restrictions were no nuts, and one of them with cream cheese frosting. I kept it simple for these vanilla on vanilla cupcakes but amped up the fun of the cupcakes by adding sprinkles and the green dye. This was my first time using vanilla beans in a recipe, and I could taste the difference. I did make a mishap during the process, but figured out what went wrong and everything turned out alright. (Both recipes were from Joy the Baker.)
On ice cream making…
For Christmas, I got an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid. It’s not something I would ever buy myself (I’ve got other things to save up for, like a second pair of jeans and new tires for my car) but something I’ve had the desire to own and experiment with. Now, when you use the ice cream maker bowl, you’re supposed to freeze it at least 12 hours or something ahead of time, I think mine is just going to live in the fridge when not in use, so it’s always ready.
I’ve made 3 different kinds in the past three weeks. And I just love it! Ice cream, like pizza, is not one of those things I’m crazy about, in the way that people are crazy about ice cream and pizza (you follow?) but when it’s good, it’s sooo good. And it’s great to make at home.
Ice cream number one was Candy Cap Burnt Caramel. Candy caps are mushrooms that are often used in desserts as their smell and flavor is a lot like maple syrup. Yes, Tyler had a lot to do with this, and yes, we put mushrooms in our ice cream. It was great.Ice cream number 2 (the top two pictures) was Matcha Tea. The color of the ice cream wasn’t coming out that good in pictures, but it was beautiful. Ice cream number 3 (bottom 2 pictures), Strawberries and Cream, was a flop at first, because I was following the methods of the first two recipes but failed to realized the recipe was quite different and for a number of reasons the ice cream was not forming in the ice cream maker. I was super bummed. But when life gives you cream and milk and egg yolks and sugars and things that won’t churn into an ice cream, make popsicles! (bottom 2 pictures). Sorry the pictures as a whole aren’t so great, or that there’s none of the actual finished (normal) ice cream. I’ve been enjoying it for dessert, and the lighting is no good at night. Also, it’s hard to take a good picture of a creamsicle.
We’re all about homemade ice cream these days.
A Just Because Cake (Peanut Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and mini chocolate chips) sitting on top of my new cake stand that I found at Goodwill for quite a steal!
One of my baking resolutions this year is to get better at making cakes. I haven’t shared my resolutions with you, but I’ll get to that at some point.. before the month is over, maybe. I love making cupcakes, I love the idea of cupcakes. Once it’s made, you have a single serving of cake, no cutting or forks required, you can bring one to a friend easily, etc. I think cupcakes are just so great, I haven’t really felt the need to dive into the world of cake making/decorating. I have made a couple in the last 2 years or so, but definitely have a lot of room for learning and improvement.
The cake above is not the best example of me practicing my skills in decorating. I didn’t make a crumb layer while frosting and I should have waited a little longer for the cake to cool down but I wanted it to be done and was being impatient so I finished it a little on the messy side. I found both cake and frosting recipes from Joy the Baker's book (I know, I’ve been using it a lot lately, I’m a little obsessed) and they were fantastic!
Even though the cake is little, Tyler and I couldn’t finish the whole thing (don’t worry, none of it went to waste) but I’m gonna need some help for all these cakes I’m going to try and make this year.
My new favorite. Have you had this stuff yet?!
I’d heard about this so-called “cookie butter” (well, that is actually what it’s called), but was very skeptical about it… Not that I needed another way to consume sweets, but on a recent trip to TJ’s it was time to give in. And give in I have. I can’t describe the wonderfulness of a spreadable cookie (not to be compared to spreadable cheese, not at all.. spreadable cookie is way more classy, right?). Anyway, I think this may become a new staple in my pantry. But something I need to forget I have every so often so it’s a nice surprise, and so I don’t go through a jar in a week.
Go out and get some. Treat yo’self.