14.4.10

Layout Changes...

I may be making a few design changes in the next few days... Please, bear with me!


And I would love to hear your opinions on the new look!

11.4.10

MmmmMadeleines!


"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, 
lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
They left the house at half past nine...
The smallest one was Madeline."


When I was growing up, I loved the Madeline books... They were some of my very favorite books when I was a small child. 

I think that this is one of the reasons that the idea of Madeleines is so lovely to me. I know it sounds strange, but associating this lovely dessert with one of my favorite stories puts a very rosy glow on these cookies/cakes.

They're made with a batter, as opposed to a dough, with only a small amount of flour and sugar, combined with eggs and melted butter, and baking powder for leavening. I actually made these twice, with two different recipes, with varying degrees of success.

The beautiful thing about using melted butter as a large part of this recipe is that it opens the door to infusing flavours... The picture above is my first batch, infusing DAVIDsTEA Organic Creme Brulé Rooibos tea into the butter. The smell from this was absolutely DIVINE! My second batch, I used DAVIDsTEA The Earl's Garden tea. The smell was less pronounced, but still really lovely.

What really makes a Madeleine a Madeleine, though, is its destinctive shell shape. The molds come in two sizes, and I decided to go for the smaller of the two (although if anyone wants to send me a larger mold, I'd be happy to try the larger size!)


The first batch was a lot more challenging, in part due to the fact that I kept adding TOO MUCH batter to the molds. You really need just a tiny dollop in each to make a perfect little cookie. Also, I found the texture was a bit drier in the first batch, from my Pastry cookbook. The second recipe I tried was Earl Grey Madelines.

These are such a perfect little accompaniment to tea! I found that one recipe easily makes 80 of the small cookies, and this is a recipe only using 3/4 cup of flour, and 5 tbsp of butter. It all adds up to 1 points free cookie... And going up from there, I discovered that I could have 4 beautiful little Madeleines for only 1.5 pts!

Batch #1 - Note the larger bubbles and coarser texture.

Batch #2 came out beautifully. I will DEFINITELY be making these frequently!

One note... When it says to butter and flour the mold, please BUTTER AND FLOUR it. Do not use non-stick spray, because they WILL stick. And then you will end up eating an entire sheet's worth of cookies, as you scrape them out. 

Which is delicious, but not really the point.

21.3.10

And the Winner... CREAM PUFFS!

I stand by my word... And when the voters chose Cream Puffs, I said...

I shall make cream puffs! And here they are!!

I think that it's such culinary magic that this... Paste can become these magic little PUFFS! My husband watched the sheets go into the oven, looking suspicious. How could this goo become anything?!

His reaction, when I handed him one? "Holy Crap! They're Cream Puffs!!"

The lovely thing is that they really don't have much sugar in them (I made half a recipe, and it had 1/8th of a tsp of sugar), so they could be used for savory applications... I could see this filled with smoked salmon cream cheese, and maybe some chopped chives?

Instead, I filled them with "Creme Patissiere", or Pastry Cream. It's a custard, thickened with cornstarch... Sweet and Vanilla-ey, and really lovely to find when you bite into the innocent looking puff. 

For the finisher, I reduced some Framboise, and served it on the Cream Puffs!



I'm going to be away for a few days, so I won't be doing much baking in the next little while... But I'll be back before long! After all, I still have cheese danishes and chocolate genoise to make!

Happy (slightly belated) Macaron Day!!

HAPPY MACARON DAY!!

Today's cooking adventures started with a bit of a mishap, courtesy of an error in "The Book"... The recipe for Chocolate Macarons calls for granulated sugar with the almond flour, which I found a bit odd, but I figured: Benefit of the doubt, right?

Don't get me wrong! They're actually quite tasty, and crispy... I think they're gluten-free, and I think they're a great cookie...

But they aren't a Macaron!!

I made a second batch with the same weight-measurement of powdered sugar instead of the granulated sugar the recipe called for, and suddenly, a Macaron appeared! "Hurray! They have feet!!" (The foot is the ring of bubbly-ness around the bottom.)

The cookies themselves aren't SUPER chocolatey... They have a bit of cocoa in them, and you could probably identify them as chocolate, but to punch up the flavour, they're sandwiched with Chocolate Ganache!! Lindt dark chocolate (the gold-wrapped bar) and heavy cream... Fabulous stuff!


And, of course, some love for the 'special' cookies... I think it was due to my piping technique, but about 12 cookies came out with not-so-lovely defects... Fortunately, they taste delicious!

18.3.10

Hold the Phone!!!

I've found out something AMAZING! Truly Spectacular!!

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 is...

*drumroll*

(there's also a french site, the official site, but I don't know how many of you read en Francais...)

So, before I make whatever it is you're voting for (there's still time!), I think I shall have to make Saturday Macarons! Plus, I now have the proper piping tip, so they should be a little more consistant this time!

How lucky are we to live in a world that celebrates things like Macarons?!

Fabulous!

16.3.10

Viewers' Choice

That's right! You, my lovely readers, get to choose my next endevour into the world of pastry making!

Here are your options:

  1. Cheese Danishes (requires making danish pastry)
  2. Cream Puffs (or possible eclairs?) (requires making pate a chou)
  3. Chocolate cake (requires making a genoise, and possible a buttercream)
There they are folks! Choose well!

And if noone answers? Well, I'll just have to go all WILD a make a salad or something!

(polls close whenever I choose to make the recipe.)

UPDATE: Polls are CLOSED! By a fairly close vote, Cream Puffs are the WINNER!

13.3.10

Was there a birthday recently?

Could it have been... Mine? :-D


So, for my birthday, out came The Book! And from the book: Chocolate cupcakes, with chocolate frosting. 

This recipe involved lovely quantities of butter. And cocoa. And made the BEST batter I have EVER tasted!

The batter was surprisingly simple to make, even though it wasn't the traditional 'beat butter and sugar, blah blah"... You actually mixed butter, oil and cocoa over heat until everything was melted and combined, and then mixed that with a flour/sugar/baking stuffs mix. Mix in some buttermilk, vanilla and eggs (1 whole, 1 yolk) and you have 12 lovely cupcakes!

The icing was made in a very similar way - Butter, cream, icing sugar and cocoa. Combine over heat. Then you let it cool until it's thick enough to not drip. 

But for the ease of the recipe, the results are REALLY, truly wonderful. No mix beats this, I tell you. 



One note, though: Those giant confetti sprinkles? Adorable! And not very tasty...


6.3.10

Biscuits in the morning...


2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter...
3/4 milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sift (or mix, in my case... Sifting on a saturday morning?!) the flour, sugar, bp and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter is about the size of peas.

Mix in the milk until barely combined. Turn out onto a floured countertop, and knead about 10 times, until everything is smoothly combined. Roll or press the dough out to 1/2 an inch thick (or thereabouts). Cut with a floured round cutter of some sort... I use a glass. The number you get depends on the size...

Bake for 10-12 minutes on an UNGREASED cookie sheet until puffy and golden brown.

For me, the trick is to work them as LITTLE as possible. 

 

  

My favorite topping for biscuits? Butter and Corn Syrup, of course! It takes me right back to my childhood. 

28.2.10

Sad news...

As of tomorrow, I'm back on points counting... 

That's right, weight loss. 

So the entries, while they will still be coming, won't be quite so frequent. 

I promise, though, I will MAKE the points for delicious things... Not just because I love food, but because this is what I want to do!!

Stay with me? 

27.2.10

Cake time!

 
And what could I be cooking with this, you ask?

Could is be... Carrot cake?

This is the first time I'd made a cake like this! Generally, the cakes I make are butter and sugar, creamed together... Eggs, vanilla... Flour, Milk... 

For this carrot cake, you start by whisking the eggs and sugar over hot water until a certain temperature, and then you take it off the heat and whisk, and whisk, and whisk... By the time I got to s l o w l y drizzling in the oil, my hand was a big bundle of cramps. I had no idea whether or not this whole thing was going to work. Did I whisk enough? Not enough? Beat the flour in too much?

I'd never made a successful genoise-style cake before, and I'd only ever made one attempt... And after my recent failure (and then only moderate success) with the Pots de Creme au Chocolat, I wasn't feeling very confident. 

Well, see for yourself!

 

And then... There was the cream cheese frosting... Oh yeah, baby!

 



25.2.10

Pots de Creme au Chocolat - Take 2!

 
Not perfect, but better!!
This time, I turned down the heat, and took a few other precautions... I think I'm still whisking the eggs too much at the beginning though. I might try by hand next time, actually!


 
BTW... I love the Porcelain Petites from Superstore... Not very expensive, fabulously cute and practical, and Oven, Microwave and Dishwasher safe!!

 
It's hard to see, but those marshmallows are EVER so slightly orange tinted. Why? Because they're creamsicle flavoured!! Lightly orange and vanilla, and yummy!!
Supplies were running low, and that just wouldn't do!


 
Mmm... Toasty! Also, it gave me an excuse to play with my new Butane torch. Is there anything more fun than playing with Fire in the kitchen?! 
I think not!


As you can see  from the spoon, the outside may be kind of frothy, but the inside is smoooth and rich. It's like... The "creme" part of a creme brulé. But with dark chocolate. Or like the smoothest, richest, creamiest chocolate pudding you've ever TASTED!

But I will certainly be practicing until it's perfect... Poor hubbins, having to help me eat all the rejects!

Not food - Just pretty

Because sometimes, you just need something beautiful.

24.2.10

The difference that temperature makes

 

On the left, the first batch of Marshmallows. Short, slumpy, and not so much bubblage in the internal structure. Because of their density, they end up sticking around on your tongue for a lot longer, and ending up being a little sickly sweet. 

On the right, the second batch of Marshmallows, using a proper candy thermometer. Tall, bubbly, nicely square. These melt way more readily, so you don't end up with vanilla sugar-slime in your mouth. 

Case in point: The marshmallows on the left got put back in their bag to be made into rice krispie squares or some such thing. 

The Marshmallows on the right? 

I ate them!

23.2.10

In the interests of honesty...

I suppose I should blog my failures too, for all my readers. (As in... Hi Abbey!!)

Tonight's recipe was "Pots de Creme au Chocolat", which is basically a dark chocolate baked custard. Not many ingredients, looks pretty simple...

What could go wrong, right?
Mise-en-Place in place! Mmm, dark, dark chocolate!!

 
You whip 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, a pinch of salt and 1 oz of sugar until it's a very pale yellow. I actually learned something from the book today! Apparently, if you leave the sugar sitting on the egg for too long without doing anything, it'll actually dehydrate the yolk, called "Burning" the egg!

 
3 oz of delicious, dark chocolate... It goes into some boiling cream and milk, and then stir until melted... Then you temper the egg mixture with the chocolate mix, and then add it all together. 

 
You strain the resulting custard... Yumm!! Smooth! Delicious! Choccccolatey goodness! What could possibly go wrong?!
Yeah:


 
This. 
I'm guessing this is a curdled custard. Which would probably mean that the heat was too high... It looks like it actually foamed up, because the cover had bits of the custard on it! 

What will I do differently next time? I'll DEFINITELY be turning down the heat!!

But it's still incredibly delicious, so I'll be practicing until perfect!!

22.2.10

Croissants...

are delicious. Seriously, seriously delicious. 

 

Basically, croissants are dough, and butter... I mean, of course they're yummy!! They're loaded with butter!


The Mise-en-Place - Flour, Sugar, Salt, Water, Milk, Yeast, Butter, and BUTTER! Yes, two butters. 

The smaller amount of butter (in the blue bowl) is make into something called Beurre en Pommade. Basically, you want the butter to be the consistancy of thick sour cream, while still being cool. This gets mixed in with the flour mixture. 

Then you want to roll the dough out, and then roll/pound the larger amount of butter, called the Beurrage, until it's 2/3 of the size of the détrempe, or the dough. Have you ever pounded butter into a 12"x12" square? It's challenging, and uses up a lot of plastic wrap!!

Then there's all the folding, rolling out, and chilling. I would suggest that you plan out your time for this, so you don't end up in bed at 1am like me. 

 
 After the 4th turn... That's what those 4 divots are for. I've cut the dough in half, because there's no way I'm going to need 24 croissants in one day. 

 
You actually make a small slit at the bottom of the triangle of dough, to help roll the ends out... I never knew that before!

 
Rolled, and ready to proof (heh, poof!)
And then... 


 




Wow! I can't say that this was an EASY recipe, but I thought it was a lot of fun! And something I'd never done before!

They turned out flaky and chewy on the inside, and light... I think that they need just a TINY bit more salt next time, because the flavor, though buttery and YUM, was just a teensy bit on the flat side. 

I can't believe that I made croissants from SCRATCH! I never thought I'd be this girl... But this feels so right! The feel of creating something delicious and nourishing... And I love that really, these are made with ingredients that most people keep at home anyway... No trips to the nether-regions of health-food stores or Asian supermarkets... You won't even need to ask which aisle the ingredients are in!!

Try this, people! Or, better yet, come up for a visit!!