March 28, 2010

Spring Macarons

left to right: lemon, pistachio, passion fruit, raspberry

One of the things that's so great about baking is its resourcefulness.  What I mean by that is how one recipe can influence and inspire the next.    After making the crème brûlées a few weeks ago I found myself with a lot of egg whites.   Normally I'll freeze them for use later to make swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  But this time I decided not to.  I haven't made macarons in a while so I ended up saving the whites to whip up a few batches. 

The weather over the last few months in the Bay Area has been pretty dismal.  I can't remember a time when there's been so much rain and gloom.  It was downright depressing.  But sunny days are now upon us, knock on wood, and I hope they're here to stay.  

These macarons are inspired by spring colors.  I used Tartelette's basic recipe as a starting point and tinted them with powdered food color.  The filling is swiss meringue buttercream mixed with the following:

lemon: Trader Joe's lemon curd
pistachio: pistachio paste
passion fruit: passion fruit puree cooked with Certo pectin and cooled
raspberry: raspberry fruit puree cooked with Certo pectin and cooled


March 27, 2010

Susanne's Eplekake (Norwegian Apple Cake)

For the past couple of years I've been fortunate enough to spend New Years with some very very dear friends in Norway.  They're like family, except they don't speak Vietnamese!   Mornings are normally spent hitting the ski slopes of Norefjell, just behind the cabin.  The rest of the day is pretty much devoted to one (or more) of the following: eating, surfing the net, reading, watching tv or just chatting. 

We always eat great meals up in the mountains.  There's nothing like exercise and cold weather to fuel an appetite.   During that time of year way up north there's only a few hours of daylight.  So when you're inside for most of the day you can't help but think , "what's next on the menu?".  It also doesn't hurt that we all love to eat and are foodies in the making.

When it comes to Norwegian baking I always turn to Susanne, the family's expert.  This is her recipe for eplekake, or apple cake, a traditional and popular dessert in Norway.  I've heard that most every household has their own favorite recipe.  The ingredients are simple and the cake is absolutely delicious.  I dusted the finished cake with some icing sugar, which is a bit unconventional, but I don't think Susanne will mind.  Tusen tusen takk Susanne!!

March 13, 2010

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée...two words in the dessert world that seems to evoke so much devotion.  Mention  crème brûlée and most people I know smile and get a dreamy, dazed look on their face.   "I LOVE crème brûlée.   It's my absolute favorite!" is usually what follows.

I was a latecomer to the craze.  Creamy custards, like crème brûlée or it's close cousin crème caramel, were not my dessert of choice.  There was something about the texture that I just couldn't wrap my arms around.  But as I've gotten older I've found that my tastes have changed, possibly even matured. Nowadays I can truthfully say that I enjoy it very much, even more so when I discovered how simple it was to make.

March 6, 2010

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

These cookies take me back to my childhood.  I've been making them since I was a kid and is one of the first recipes that I added to my arsenal.  To this day they still taste great.

Oatmeal cookies are typical enough, but these have a bit of a twist.  Instead of the usual raisins and walnuts these cookies are chock full of sweetened coconut which makes them really moist and chewy.  

I love coconut but if you don't you can easily replace it with  raisins, walnuts, dried sour cherries...whatever you want.  The possibilities are endless. 
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