Monday, April 09, 2012

Another Attempt at Macarons


I mentioned in my burger macaron post that I was going to abandon the French meringue method of making Parisian macarons and try the Italian meringue method instead, but I think I might have been a bit hasty. I really don't want to use an Italian meringue based recipe. I don’t want to deal with making the caramel and digging out my candy thermometer. I also have a tendency to get those sugar threads all over the place when I am pouring the syrup into the egg whites. I know I'm supposed to pour the molten hot syrup onto the side of the bowl and not onto the whisk, but I somehow manage to get it on my Kitchen Aid whisk attachment anyway.

So after reading Ms. Humble's many macaron experiments (where she used both French and Italian meringues), I decided to give the French meringue method one more try using Ms. Humble's macaron recipe.

The thing about macarons is that there is not one single recipe that will work for everyone. The brand of ingredients, folding method, oven, pan liner (silicone or parchment), thickness of baking sheet, weather/humidity, and the list goes on. I've been trying to find that one recipe that will consistently work for me in my kitchen with the brands of ingredients I use and the equipment I own. I thought that since Ms. Humble lives in Seattle and the weather up there is similar to San Francisco's I might have a better shot at success using her ratio of egg white to almonds to sugar.

I also decided to beat the heck out of my meringue per Mardi's instructions until my whites looked like this:


Monday, March 05, 2012

Chocolate Mint Cookies


I was not a Girl Scout and I didn’t know anyone who was a Girl Scout while I was growing up either. I knew that Girl Scout cookies existed, but I never saw or tasted one until I got to college. The one cookie I knew I had to try first was the famed Thin Mints, a minty chocolate wafer coated in chocolate.

It's Girl Scout cookie season right now and you may already have enough Thin Mints stored away in your freezer to last you until the next season rolls around. But if you aren't so lucky, try your hand at making these chocolate mint cookies. When the logs of cookie dough are cut into wafer thin slices of approximately 1/8-inch, baked and then completely enrobed in chocolate, they are a pretty good homemade copycat.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Quick and Daring


The Daring Bakers' February 2012 host was DB co-founder Lisa. The lovely Lisa asked us to make a quick bread. What is a quick bread? Well, it's basically bread that is quick to make since it requires no fermentation/rise and no kneading. Quick bread is leavened not by a starter or yeast, but by baking soda, baking powder, and/or eggs.

I was fourteen when I made my first quick bread. My best friend showed me how to make zucchini bread and it was an eye-opening experience. I was amazed that zucchini could be used to make bread. I was equally amazed that putting it all together was so quick and easy.

For the challenge we were free to make any quick bread loaf, muffin or popover as long as it doesn't take more than 90 minutes to prepare and bake through. I decided to make soda bread which is pretty much "textbook" as far as quick breads are concerned. The most basic version of soda bread contains only flour, salt, buttermilk, and baking soda (hence the name). Baking soda, a base, reacts with the buttermilk, an acid, to create carbon dioxide and your loaf rises.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Coffee, Beer, and Beer Coffee Cake


I am quite taken by the treats in the pastry case at Blue Bottle Coffee. It seems that their pastries are meant to be paired with coffee. I guess third wave coffee places take into account "coffee pairing". It's similar to pairing wine or beer with food, but I think there is a bit more leeway when pairing food* with coffee.

Blue Bottle has olive oil rosemary shortbread, St. George Spirit's absinthe biscotti regina, and saffron snickerdoodles just to name a few. And there are the modern art inspired desserts at the SFMOMA location. But the most intriguing of the pastries is the stout coffee cake topped with pecan and caraway streusel. So in honor of SF Beer Week, a 10-day long festival that celebrates the amazing beers from Northern Californian breweries, I offer you this coffee cake recipe.

sf beer week 2012

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Nutella Rugelach Bar Cookies


February 5th is World Nutella Day. American bloggers in Italy, Sara and Michelle, began the holiday in 2007 to celebrate and eat that wonderful chocolate hazelnut spread called Nutella.


I participated in that very first World Nutella Day in February 2007 by baking Nutella Cheesecake Brownies and again in 2008 with my Valentine's Day inspired heart-shaped Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies.

It's been far too long since I've used Nutella. So for this 6th annual World Nutella Day I am showing some chocolate hazelnut spread love with these Nutella-filled rugelach bar cookies. I found the recipe on Hungry Rabbit and he calls them "rugetella" since it's a combination of rugelach and Nutella.

I'm not sure what my problem is but I always have trouble rolling out and making the traditional crescent shapes when making rugelach. I mean, I can do it, but I seem to always end up with some very irregular shapes and sizes. So baking the cookies in a pan and cutting them into fingers/rectangles was so much easier for me. Same great taste and less work!

Since it's supposed to be all about Nutella, a chocolate HAZELNUT spread, I embarrassingly admit that I didn't have any hazelnuts and substituted walnuts in my cookie. It was a decent last minute substitution, but next time I will definitely use hazelnuts. My sincerest apologies to Nutella for this little faux pas.

All that cream cheese and butter definitely makes a very rich and extremely flaky dough. That's the beauty of rugelach dough. And it was a great showcase for Nutella, but I can see that a sour cherry jam or bitter orange marmalade would be great as well.