Monday, May 18, 2009

French Parisian Macaroons (a first!)

Since there's not much I can do as far as painting when pregnant, I thought I'd try my hand (finally!) at Martha Stewart's French Parisian Macaroon recipe. I always thought these things were so daunting to try and have been warned by many a blogger. But I just LOVE these things - especially after the bakery tour Jenn took me on a while back. I can't get enough of these things and so I have been wanting to make these for a while. It only took me until I was preggers and swelling in the feet to be inspired, but oh well! Whatever works!

I think when any recipe calls for a piping bag, that's when a lot of people call it quits. But...since I had gotten into a cake frenzy last year, I already had the tools and so I was happy to bust them out again. I'm just glad they got some use after being totally abandoned after I got tired of cake making...
Cake Supplies good for something!
After mixing the batter and getting my piping bag filled and ready to go, I was piping away like crazy. These got done in no time! (I drew 1" lines on the parchment to guide me. I know there's a better way to do it, but I was too lazy to look it up. so much for my cake training)
Laying out to form crust
Now the directions to say leave piped cookies out until the shine dulls a bit and a crust starts to form. I didn't see much dulling after 15 minutes and then gave up after 30 minutes. I wanted these babies in the oven already!
In the oven
After 15 minutes with a turn of the pan 1/2 way through cooking and door left ajar, they were done!
Out of the oven
Nice dull finish with those signature feet I just love!
It was time to pick tops and bottoms...
Everyone pick a partner...
Now for the filling. Well, I skipped the directions for Martha's fillings for a much quicker solution...NUTELLA! Yum-e hazlenutty chocolaty goodness! I didn't have a #4 piping tip so I just used my #5 instead. Worked perfectly fine.
My filling of choice
Applying Nutella filling with piping bag
Nutella Filling complete
Time to add the tops...
Add the tops
All done! I can't believe it! The elusive French Parisian Macaroon...sitting in my kitchen just waiting to be eaten. I had so much fun making these and I'm so glad I tried these. I'm sure I'll be making these again. Maybe when I'm pregnant with baby#2? If I don't make these before baby #1 comes along it might take that long till I have this kind of time again!
My first parisian macaroons

I tried these again having high hopes that I'd be just as successful as my very first try...WRONG! They were flat, filled with bubbles and bumpy and had absolutely NO FEET. :( So sad! Guess the warnings were correct! Things I did differently, I was NOT precise on the amount of egg whites that I used, losely measured the powdered sugar and baked at night instead of during the day. There's just too many things that could have made this recipe go wrong - so "follow the recipe" kids and cross your fingers that it all comes out right.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ice Cream Jell-O!

Tried my hand at Jenn's Ice Cream Jell-O recipe. I haven't tasted it yet and I've been chillin' it in the refrig overnight, but I can't wait! Not quality photos, but they'll do:
Ice Cream Jell-O!
Natural separation of Jell-O and Ice Cream. I should've popped those bubbles with my spatula before letting it set! :(

*Update: These tasted GREAT! And the people at the party I took them too absolutely loved it and devoured it all. Thanks Jenn for the recipe! Going to be making this one a lot when I'm in a jam, it was so easy to do!

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes w/ M&M's

What do you do with Yellow Cake Mix, Jumbo Milk Chocolate Chips & M&M's?
Cupcake field

Not from scratch! See the bought frosting in the background? *sigh* wanted smooth lookin' ganache but it wasn't going to happen that night.
Not from scratch!

5 M&M's seemed like a good number
Chocolate Chip cupcakes w/ M&M's
Jumbo Chocolate Chips
I actually had another 1/2 bad of these jumbo chocolate chips I wanted to use so I just dumped them into the batter. Wierd, they stuck to the sides of my mixer bowl and were a pain to get off! Then when test tasting one of the cupcakes, all the chips settled to the bottom. Made for a bit of a mess when eating them warm but I have a feeling they'll be a little more solid and less messy when cooled. (Though I think eating them warm is the best!)

I love my cupcake holder! (Though, on the second tier, the holder is not quite large enough to hold a regular cupcake upright. wierd!)
Cupcake Holder

1st Wedding Towel Cake

I had never made one of these before but thought that for an upcoming bridal shower I might take a stab at it. Turned out better than I thought! I wish I had taken pictures of the cake after adding little flowers to each tier and the base, but oh well.
First Tier Top Tier
Second tier Middle Tier
Making of 1st Bridal Shower Towel Cake All 3 Tiers

Bottom Tier and Base Base made of cake board wrapped with decorative foil
Back Pins Fastening the ribbon in the back with white glass head sewing pins
With Ribbon Final product with a ribbon for a cake topper

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pics from infamous Bakery Tour

Some pics I ran across that were supposed to be for the bakery tour I took with my good friend Jenn. She's got waaay better pics, but here's some of the aftermath that I brought home to share with hubby and his friends:

Spoils from the L.A. Bakery Tour Trip
Spoils from the L.A. bakery tour trip

Sprinkles Cupcake with an Oscar Star!
Sprinkles cupcake with Oscar Star!

Parisian Macaroons & Jenn's homemade Bouchons!
Parisian Macaroons & Jenn's Bouchons!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread

This is the first time I ever received a baking chain letter or sorts. This Amish Friendship Bread tradition was passed down to me by a couple co-workers. Let me tell you, it is a very curious thing to come into work and find a ziploc bag of some kind of batter on your desk. Of course, you don't know it's really batter until you read the recipe that is hiding underneath the bag. I was very curious and actually very excited to try it out once I found out what it was! It's based off of the concept of "the mother dough". A dough that doesn't need refrigeration at all - all it needs is to be fed and separated and passed along. I heard about this dough from sourdough documentaries on the Food Network but never for something like this.

First time I tried it, I absolutely failed! I missed the day for cooking...missed it by several days actually. Then I thought I could FREEZE it to save it...WRONG. the mixture completely separated and I couldn't get it to get back together again. So I threw it out and calle myself a failure. Then I got another starter from another co-worker who felt sorry for me and then I was finally sucessful. My husband and I enjoyed the cake so much, that I made it a couple more times - getting a bit obsessive with the variations trying a Pumpkin version and then a really Chocolately version that my co-worker had tried before. All Yummy! Though it was probably not a good idea to bake all these cakes when you're pregnant...I think my baby is now part Amish because of my experiments...


The Labor of the Tres Leches Cake

When asked to make an exotic dessert for a party recently, the first thing I thought of was the Tres Leches Cake that I tried a very long time ago. I first had this cake at a restaurant in Los Angeles called La Ciudad. I dined there with college friends back in the hay day. I remembered something about "I'm never making this cake again" but I couldn't remember why. And I thought, "Well, maybe I wasn't as proficient of a baker back maybe I'll give it a go now and it'll be easier." Oh HECK NO! I now remember FULL WELL why I stopped making this cake. Any cake where you have to 'pour liquid through cake until completely absorbed' is a time consuming and crazy recipe!
As good as this cake is, my arm nearly fell off after almost an hour of ladling that stupid liquid. Next time I'm doing it the easy way and baking the cake in a 9x13 pan and pouring the whole bowl of liquid in there. It may be mushy a bit but who least I won't lose another hour of my life to ladling! In the end, it turned out well and the ladies I served it to loved it so much they took all the left overs. (This cake is so rich, there's no way you can eat it all at one sitting...well, there is a way but you won't feel very good about it afterwards.)

Nutella Cupcakes

FINALLY! Some time to do some nutella "no frost" cupcakes. I had high hopes for this recipe - though it came out a little less tasty than I had originally thought. Comments on the recipe to add nutella halfway through pouring in the batter in addition to the dollop on top for swirling is a good idea, I think, for those who are really looking for that nutella taste. Either that, or make some kind of hazelnut cupcake batter to bring out that flavor. But ya gotta admit, its a very pretty cupcake without any additional frosting to do after it's done cooking! It was still a great cupcake, I just think it could be even better somehow.


Recipe from Baking Bites

My first Lamb

It's hard to believe that I didn't start eating this type of meat until about 8 years ago. Now I'm hooked! The fact that they're selling it in grocery stores now makes it so accessible to the home cook. Here's my first crack at making a rack at home:

The recipe called for brushing on Dijon Mustard which I'm not particulary a fan of but it was awesome. Gave the lamb a really nice flavor beneath all that seasoning of garlic and rosemary. Rosemary + Lamb is my absolute favorite combination for Lamb.