This month's Daring Baker's challenge, French Macarons, brought things full circle for me. I initially started this blog to chronicle the trials and tribulations that go with making these little cookies. Frequent readers of this blog know that macarons have been an obsession of mine as of late and I've made them numerous times; some ended in success, some not worth mentioning. For the past few weeks I've taken a bit of a hiatus from macaron making because it seemed like they were the only things I was baking. I'll admit, these treats are so finicky that I was fanatical about getting a consistent result. But I guess that's what makes macarons so coveted and addictive to make..you don't always get it right, but when you do, you're on cloud nine.
October 15, 2009
Autumn has decided to arrive early this year in San Francisco. Guess I might have jinxed it back in September when I wished for a long Indian summer. We recently had a major rain storm come through town and as I watched the constant downpour outside the office window all I could think of was a hot cup of chamomile tea and some freshly baked pumpkin bread.
This pumpkin bread captures the essence of Fall with its cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg undertones. The recipe is extremely easy to make and is a real crowd pleaser so I highly recommend trying it.
October 10, 2009
For the past few years I've made sugar cookie favors to celebrate Justin C.'s birthday. Justin is a smart and sweet little boy who just happens to be the son of my very good friend Gracie. I normally make Justin sugar cookies cut in the shape of his age (e.g, "4", "5"),but this year I decided to make something just a little bit different. When Gracie told me Justin's 6th birthday party was going to be at a bowling alley I got really excited. Can it top last year's fantastic party at the indoor water park? I think it's definitely a contender! I can't bowl to save my life, and I even took it as a P.E. course in college!, but I do enjoy trying to be the queen of the pins.
I knew I had to make Justin's cookies with a bowling theme so what could be more fitting than a bowling pin and bowling ball? I got a hold of a bowling pin shaped cutter and a round cutter was perfect for the bowling ball. Used my basic vanilla sugar cookie recipe and iced them with royal icing. I don't think Justin will miss a "6" cookie this year, do you?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUSTIN!!!
October 4, 2009
When I saw the picture for this cake in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated I knew I had to make it. Visually, it just looked so stunning. And I know several choco-holics whom I'm sure will have no trouble being my taste testers. The base layer is flourless chocolate cake, the middle layer is a dark chocolate mousse and the top layer is white chocolate mousse.
I used a 72% dark chocolate for the base and middle layers. Next time I think I'll use a more sweet chocolate, maybe 60% cocoa. I haven't really tasted the cake but I'm afraid it might be too bitter for some since there's not a lot of sugar in the cake itself. Hopefully the sweetness of the top white chocolate layer will compensate. The preparation itself was really straightforward. Just required a bit of time since you have to wait for each layer to cool and chill completely before adding the next layer.
Another great thing about this cake is that it's naturally gluten-free . One of my friends is gluten intolerant and it can be difficult to find desserts that don't have flour, but still taste good. Luckily, with this cake you don't even have to worry since there's not a speck of flour to speak of!