Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Macarons!

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.
I have to say, I was honestly considering skipping this month's recipe. I, as always, waited until
the last Sunday before the posting date to make these. And, I only filled them ten minutes ago.
No, I'm serious. :D
These actually are not that time consuming, especially compared to last month's vols-au-vent.
The batter is fairly easy to make, and the only challenging part is piping the circles. But, that
isn't too hard either when you use a template.
The batter, which consists of beaten egg whites, confectioners' sugar, almond flour (you can see from the picture at the bottom that mine wasn't quite sifted enough), and regular granulated sugar. We were given the freedom to choose our own flavorings and fillings (although we had to make at least one filling, preferably from scratch). I chose chocolate, a classic. I added two teaspoons of cocoa powder to the batter and it worked great, because the ganache I used to fill them has a very strong chocolate taste.

The piped batter. It was actually fairly hard to get the circles, even using the template. You can sort of tell from the picture. :)

The baked macaroons. I'm so proud of my little feet! I got three trays of piped macaroons, but the last tray didn't work because I used a hot baking sheet (stupid, I know). So I got a total of nineteen sandwiches (more if we hadn't tasted them straight out of the oven). I really recommend you try this recipe; we loved it!

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.

I used Dorie Greenspan's chocolate ganache recipe from The Book to fill them. Enjoy!

P.S. My apologies for how the words appear before the second picture; I have tried everything but I can't get them to change.

TWD: Cherry... uh... Currant... Fudge Brownie Torte

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was chosen by April of Short and Rose. She chose the cherry fudge brownie torte, which is composed of a dense, rich layer of cherry brownie (cherry jam, dried cherries, and kirsch), and a thinner layer of light and creamy mascarpone mousse. I was going to make the brownie layer when I realized the closest thing to kirsch we had was Cassis, which is a black-currant flavored liquor. I couldn't find dried cherries at the supermarket, either, so I decided to go all the way and use currant jam and dried currants. It worked out great!
This was quite a time-consuming recipe. For the brownie, you had to cook the currants with syrup, and melt the chocolate and butter over another saucepan, and use an electric mixer - basically make the kitchen look like a tornado went through. But, it was finished, and the mousse was quick and easy. Yum!
I probably won't make this again, simply because it took so long, and it was also a bit too rich. But, it was delicious, and I would recommend trying it. If you want the recipe, you can buy the book or find it here. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lots and Lots of (mini!) Cupcakes

I got an order this weekend for a friend's birthday party. She said that she wanted 36 mini cupcakes. She was very specific - what flavors, how many of each flavor, what liner to use, how to decorate them - so I really didn't have much to do besides make them. (As opposed to when people leave the decorating up to me). Since there were only going to be twelve of each kind, I went on Allrecipes, where you can scale down the recipes. Since the batter for one regular sized cupcake makes three mini cupcakes, I scaled the cupcake recipes down to five (which would make 15 - 12 for the party and 3 for tasting :D ). 

First up: Chocolate. I have made this recipe in the past for full-sized cupcakes, and it worked great. They had huge domes. But for some reason in mini size they had flat tops. And they were chewy (but in the best way). Yum!  You can find the recipe here

Next: Red Velvet. I had never made this recipe before, but it looked very much like the red velvet cake recipes I have made in the past. These didn't spread out at all, which made them really cute. They were delicious - light and fluffy. You can find the recipe here

Finally: Vanilla. On Allrecipes, there was only one plain vanilla cupcake recipe. The reviews said that they were more like muffins, but I decided to go ahead. The had huge tops, and they were delicious, but the reviewers were right - they are more dense than cupcakes should be. But, everybody loved them and they would probably make excellent muffins. You can find the recipe here
For the icing, I used a simple vanilla buttercream recipe I found at BakingBites. (2 sticks butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, 2-4 tbsp milk, 2 tsp vanilla).

All of these recipes are delicious, and a hit at parties! I recommend you make one (or three!) of them. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TWD... uh... Wednesday: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Ok, so, um... I really only remembered that I had to post these today as I was brushing my teeth yesterday night, so I just woke up and I'm doing it now. :D
This week's recipe was chosen by Erin of Prudence Pennywise. She chose Sweet Potato Biscuits. They were quick and easy to make, but they didn't rise very much. I've always imagined biscuits as being huge, like the pillsbury ones. But maybe they're supposed to be like this? Or maybe I did something wrong.... Even though they didn't look great, they are delicious. We couldn't stop eating them! We ate them the next day with vegetable soup, too, and for breakfast... but they are definitely best the first day, when they are nice and flaky. I might make these again sometime, but I am excited to try out the other biscuit recipes in the book. 
As always, if you want the recipe, you can buy the book or find it here. Yum! 
And don't forget to check out the other TWD bakers

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two TWD Rewinds: Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream

Yesterday we had some friends come over for dinner who have tasted lots of my baking, so I wanted to make something really delicious. That combined with the fact that we have tons of apples to use up, I decided on Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake. When my mom mentioned that we should buy some ice cream, I immediately took the opportunity to make another TWD rewind. Vanilla Ice Cream!

This was probably one of the most annoying things to make in the book. I was making the 9x13, as in the recipe, but I was also making an 8 1/2x3 1/2 loaf pan, so I had to scale up the recipe by one fourth. So many apples to peel and slice! And the dough was extremely hard to roll out, and it kept cracking when I put it into the pan. But when it was baked you couldn't tell. It was delicious! The crust really was more like a sugar cookie than a pie, but that was great. However, I didn't see how it was like a cake at all. Sorry Dorrie!

This is pretty easy to make, however, I think I over-heated the custard, because it the eggs started to cook at the bottom. But after I strained it, it was fine. This ice cream was what everybody was talking about. It was creamy, sweet, and delicious. My dad even said it was Haagen-Das quality! We will be making this one again!
If you want the recipe for the apple pie cake (I recommend it!) you can buy the book or find it here. If you want the recipe for the vanilla ice cream, you can also buy the book or find it here. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Apple Upside Down Cake

We went apple picking over Columbus Day Weekend, so now we have a half-bushel to use up. We are planning on making applesauce, but we want to wait until the apples are mushy and un-usable in other things, but still fine to make applesauce with. I was searching for recipes for baked goods on the internet to help us use them up, and I came across this recipe on About. I had everything I needed to make it, so I decided to go for it. I had never made an upside down cake, so I wasn't sure how they were made. I spread the butter, sugar, and cream mixture on the bottom of the pan, arranged the apples on it (no peeling! yes!), poured the batter over it and stuck it in the oven. Thirty-five minutes later, it smelled wonderful and the caramel was bubbling around the sides of the cake. Yum!
I waited for a bit because the caramel seemed to be liquid, and after the cake cooled off almost totally (we couldn't wait until it was totally cool, it smelled so good!), the caramel had hardened a bit but was still quite soft. I flipped the cake and found that some of the caramel was still liquid and some of the apples had gotten moved around. But, other than that, it looked great. We tasted it and were amazed. Trust me, it tastes much better than it looks. It was rated A++! 
If you, like me, have apples to use up, go make this cake. You won't regret it! Enjoy!
Oh, and if you're wondering what the next thing I'm posting is, I'll just tell you its a TWD rewind. Or two. And some ice cream. Yum! Stay tuned! 

Apple Upside Down Cake (About.com)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated milk or cream
2 cups sliced apples (I used two medium)
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Mix together butter, brown sugar, and evaporated milk or cream; spread in the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking pan. 
Arrange apple slices on the mixture.
Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. 
Cream shortening with sugar.
Beat in egg.
Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until cake tests as done.
Pour batter over apples.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

Quick post today, because I have a headache and I just want to go to sleep. I made these with hopes that they would turn out to look like Dorie's. Hers look like miniature crumb cakes. Although mine didn't turn out that way, they certainly were delicious, and quick and easy. Thank you to Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table for selecting a great recipe. As always, if you want the recipe you can buy the book or you can find it here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The. BEST. Brownies. Ever.

This is one of those recipes that you come across one day that you have all the ingredients for, and you decide to try it. You put together the batter - super easy, no mixer needed, and scrape it all into a pan and stick it in the oven. 30 minutes later, you take it out, let it cool, and take a bit. "Oh my god", you think. And you find yourself making it over and over again over the years.
That's exactly what happened to me when I first saw this recipe in a little kid's cookbook when I was - I don't know - nine? I have, of course, tried other brownie recipes, but none have ever been this good. Today I was making brownies, and I was going to make the Tribute to Katherine Hepburn brownies from TWD (because I'll have to make them sometime), but I decided that everybody needed this recipe. And trust me. You do.
While everybody that I have ever met that has tasted these loved them, don't say I didn't warn you by saying that these are not for people who want a light chocolate taste. These are fudgy and extremely chocolatey, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
If I haven't said enough already, go into the kitchen and make these. RIGHT NOW!!!!!!! ;D
Bon appetite!

Best Brownies (slightly adapted from The Everything Kids' Cookbook)

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter or margarine
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan.
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt. Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until done. Cool before cutting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Sorry... no TWD here this week. I kept putting it off purely because I had no interest in making it, and... well, I ended up not having time to make it. But, stay tuned because I'll be doing some baking later this week. Anyways, if you want to check out everybody else's double-layer puddings, you can find the blogroll here. Enjoy

Monday, October 5, 2009

TWD Rewind: Perfection Pound Cake

Sorry about not posting much this week - I've been sick and not feeling up to baking. But, today I had some spare time and decided to make the banana bundt cake. I had just softened the butter when I realized that I didn't have enough bananas, so I frantically searched for another recipe using two sticks of butter and other basic ingredients we had. This was the one that looked the best that had also been made by TWD in the past, so I decided to make it. I don't regret it.
The only thing that is the slightest bit annoying about this recipe is that the butter has to be creamed with the sugar for 5 minutes, which is tiring if you are using a hand mixer like I was (I was too lazy to take out the stand mixer :D  ). 
This cake was rated an A. It is so good! You can really taste the butter and sugar, but not in an overpowering way. This would probably be good with lemon in it and a glaze, as well. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who wants an easy, delicious cake. As always, if you want the recipe, you can buy the book or you can find it here. Enjoy!