Monthly Archives: March 2011

Anthony’s Cookies

Last weekend when I was in San Francisco, I took a quick detour to Anthony’s Cookies because my sister-in-law told me that I’d love their cookies.  It wasn’t until I got home that I realized their cookies were on 7×7.com’s 50 Treats list and 100 Things to Eat list.

They offer different cookie flavors and some are only offered certain days of the week.  The nice thing about the bakery is they allow you to sample cookie flavors.  I ended up buying some toffee chip, cookies and cream, peanut butter, and chocolate chip cookies.  The toffee chip cookie is on the 50 treats list and the cookies and cream cookie is on the 100 Things to Eat list.  Both have a chewy texture and taste incredible.  I was so amazed because the cookies and cream cookie tastes just like an Oreo cookie or cookies and cream ice cream.  The chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter cookie are good, but I do not think they stand out as much as the other two flavors.  The peanut butter cookie is very peanut-buttery in flavor and somewhat dry (not necessarily in a bad way), so have some water or milk on hand.  I will definitely have to go back to Anthony’s cookies to try their other flavors.

Toffee chip and cookies and cream cookie

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Simple focaccia bread

At work recently, we made focaccia bread and it was not only delicious, but very simple to make.  This bread, like most other breads, tastes best fresh.  It becomes somewhat stale, even one day later.  If you plan on making this bread, plan on eating it right away also.  I believe the recipe is based off of Tyler Florence’s focaccia bread recipe, which you can find here.

Focaccia bread with olive oil, rosemary, and parmesan cheese

Ingredients:
•    1 tbsp. of rapid-rise yeast
•    1 c. water
•    2 tbsp. sugar
•    1 tsp. salt
•    ¼ c. olive oil
•    3 – 3 ½ cups bread flour

Directions:
You can either hand-mix the dough or use the dough hook on a mixer.  First, combine the yeast with sugar.  Pour in the warm water and mix with a whisk.   Mix for 1-2 minutes.  Add in the salt and olive oil and mix.  Then gradually mix in flour, either using a wooden spoon or the dough hook.  If you’re making the dough without a mixer, you’ll have to eventually start kneading the dough by hand.  Knead the dough until it’s smooth.

After the dough has been kneaded and formed into a ball, place it in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over the dough, spreading it over the dough with your hands.  Cover the dough with a towel and place it in a warm place to rise.  If your house is really cold, like mine, you can turn your oven on to the lowest temperature (mine was 170 degrees F) and then turn it off and open the oven door until the oven has cooled just slightly.  Then place the dough into the oven and let it rise for about one hour.

After the dough has risen, break it into smaller pieces if you want to make individual size focaccia breads.  Roll the smaller pieces into a ball and flatten slightly.  If you are making one big piece (which I haven’t tried with this recipe), you would just roll it out to be rectangular or oval in shape.  You can put anything on top of the bread.  I used some olive oil with rosemary.  I also sprinkled some parmesan cheese.  Place the dough on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-18 minutes.

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Macarons . . . success at last (with a little help)

In January when my mom and I decided to go to Paris this February, I looked into cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu.  To my delight, there was a class on making caramel macarons on the Friday that I was going to be in Paris.

Our class was taught in French by Chef Walter and fortunately for me, translated into English.  The class started off with Chef Walter demonstrating for us how to make the macaron cookie.  What I liked about his teaching was that he explained very clearly what he was doing and why he was doing it that way.  He also provided us with little tidbits of extra information that was helpful.  For example, often times if you buy ground almonds from the store, there is a lower content of almond oil in these ground almonds because the food companies take it out so they can sell the oil.  Thus, it is better to ground your own almonds.

Without my handy Kitchenaid mixer, whipping egg whites became more like an arm workout.  We first whipped the egg whites and then whipped in the granulated sugar.  Then we folded in the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar.  The macaron batter is then piped onto parchment sheets.  After piping the macarons, we let them sit out for about 15 minutes before putting them in the oven.  When the macarons are ready to go in the oven, we were told that the oven should be turned off when we initially place the trays into the oven.  After the trays have been in the oven for one minute, the ovens were turned back on.   Chef Walter also told us that the oven needed to be opened once or twice during baking.

Chef Walter demonstrating how to pipe macarons

My macarons, ready to go in the oven

While our macarons were in the oven, I was kind of worried that even with the help of a professional pastry chef, my macarons would not turn out correctly.  Thus, I was very happy when my tray came out of the oven and they looked like actual macarons, feet and all.

To make the filling, Chef Walter demonstrated how to make caramel on the stove.  This is something to be done only when you can give it your full attention as it can be burnt in a matter of seconds if overcooked.  We used two fillings, one was a caramel and mascarpone mixture and the other a caramel and butter mixture.  I personally preferred the filling that had butter because the caramel flavor was stronger.  Also, the macarons filled with the mascarpone filling became somewhat mushy the next day.  I’m not usually the biggest fan of caramel, but the caramel flavor in the macaron filling has definitely improved my feelings toward caramel.

Long story short, the macarons were successful and addictively delicious.  I also tried to eat as many as I could because I was flying home the next day and knew they would get crushed if I tried to take them with me.

Now the challenge is to see if I can make macarons at home…on my own.

Success 🙂

My 16 macarons....which I proceeded to eat within the next 24 hours

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