February 24, 2012

Raspberry-Almond Financiers

Financiers are little French cakes traditionally baked in rectangular molds to resemble gold bars.  You'd think that since my day job is in corporate finance I would have been motivated to make them before, but I never did.  That all changed when I finally bought a financier mold.  Had I known what I was missing it wouldn't have taken me so long.

These financiers are really, really good; I ate two of them minutes after they came out of the oven.  What sets them apart is the beurre noisette (a fancy name for brown butter) that's used in the batter.  I also made them gluten-free by substituting C4C flour in place of all-purpose flour - I swear you can't even tell the difference.  

Before they went in the oven I sprinkled a few fresh raspberries and sliced blanched almonds on top; such a delicious flavor combination.  The burst of tart, juicy fruit and toasted nuts were fantastic in the moist, buttery cake.

February 21, 2012

TWD Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

For any chocoholics in your life this week's TWD recipe, Chocolate Truffle Tartlets, would be right up their alley.   How could anyone resist what is essentially a dense brownie, chock full of milk and white chocolate chunks and crunchy amaretti cookies, baked in a chocolate tart shell?  I say proceed with caution - it may be death by chocolate to the extreme!

This week's hosts are A Whisk and a Spoon, Spike Bakes, Good Eats N' Sweet Treats and Cookbook Habit.  You can find the recipe on any of their blogs.

[Note: I used a food processor to make the chocolate dough and had to add an additional tablespoon of water so that it would come together.  Also, the recipe yields more than the stated six 4-inch tartlets - probably more like eight or nine.]

February 16, 2012

Macaron Favors and a Packaging Obsession

If there's one thing I love as much as baking it's packaging.   In fact, it may border on an obsession.  But I figure if you've spent all this time making your delicious treats don't they deserve a beautiful presentation? There used to be a shop in San Francisco that sold a pair of macarons in the most adorable white gift box.  I was instantly smitten and wanted to replicate it at home.

Don't you think these boxes make the perfect party favor?  You can tailor the cutout to whatever occasion you're celebrating: weddings, showers (bridal or baby), birthdays, holidays, etc.  Your guests will definitely feel special when they take one of these favors home.

February 14, 2012

Valentine Sugar Cookies

Sending hugs and kisses to all my loved ones near and far.


February 12, 2012

Blush and Bashful Marshmallows

If you're an aficionada of Steel Magnolias (the movie) like I am you'll know exactly what this post title is referring to.  If not, read on...a Louisiana accent may help!

Truvy: What are your colors, Shelby?
Shelby: They're blush and bashful.
M'Lynn: Her colors are pink and pink.
Shelby: My colors are blush and bashful, Mama!
M'Lynn: How precious is this wedding gonna get, I ask you? 
Shelby: My colors are blush and bashful.  I have chosen two shades of pink, one is much deeper than the other.

When I set about making Valentine-themed marshmallows I was instantly inspired by the movie since it's one of my all-time favorites.  I started with the raspberry marshmallows that I made this past Christmas and tweaked the recipe just a little to achieve the bi-color effect I was after.   Half of the recipe became blackberry (the deeper pink) and the other half was raspberry/strawberry.

I daresay if Shelby had seen these lovely pink marshmallows she would have served them at her wedding!

February 10, 2012

Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

Sending birthday wishes to my dear friend Anne Marie today.  If only I could send these to you overseas!


February 7, 2012

White Loaves and TWD

I recently joined the online baking group Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) and I'm so excited to be a part of this community!  They became famous for taking on the very Herculean task of making every single recipe in Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking: From My Home to Yours."   It took them four years, but they did it!  When I found out they were accepting bloggers for their next Dorie book, "Baking with Julia," I immediately signed up.    

The first recipe selected was White Loaves, an all-purpose sandwich bread.  As I mentioned in previous posts I've only just scratched the surface when it comes to making yeast breads.  This recipe has given me the confidence to continue.  It's super easy to make and the smells coming from your oven while the loaves are baking are completely hypnotic.

I took a few slices and made grilled cheese, one of my favorite sandwiches.  The bread is nice and sturdy and can hold up to the grilling.  My only caveat is that it may not keep well for too long, two days max.  You're best bet is to freeze any leftovers.  Mine are already earmarked for future croutons or bread crumbs.    

You can find the recipe on Jules' blog Someone's in the Kitchen.   {Sorry for the inconvenience but they ask that only the weekly hosts post the actual recipe.}

February 4, 2012

Caramel-Peanut Corn

Here's a recipe for caramel-peanut corn I was planning on making during the holidays, to give away as gifts, but unfortunately never got around to.  After making what seemed like tons of cashew toffee the thought of dealing with another pot of bubbling, boiling molten sugar didn't seem so appealing.

But the Super Bowl is tomorrow, which also happens to be my nephew's third birthday, and my brother is hosting a party for his beloved NY Giants.  Me, I'm no football fan, so munching on this caramel corn will keep me occupied while the game is on. 

The recipe is from epicurious.com but I first saw it on Alexis Stewart's blog.  I had a few challenges with getting the caramel to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts before it started to harden.   Guess I'll just have to worker quicker next time. 

February 1, 2012

Whoopie Pies

A while back I was on Dorie Greenspan's blog and one of her posts talked about how whoopie pies have become as trendy in France as macarons are here.  Never in a million years would I have foreseen that.   Since I've never made whoopie pies before I figured now is as good a time as any to try.  I wanted to see for myself what all the French fuss was about.

I used a great recipe from Cook's Country for these whoopie pies.   I was pleasantly surprised that their version wasn't sickeningly sweet and actually reminded me of Hostess' Suzy Q's.  After one bite I can see why the Frenchies are crazy about these chocolate cake/cookies!   

I'm gifting these across cyberspace to one of my besties who is celebrating her birthday this week.     


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