Category Archives: Uncategorized

Red velvety goodness

Awhile ago, I made red velvet cupcakes for a baby’s 1st birthday party.  There are many recipes online for red velvet cupcakes, the biggest different among them is using butter versus oil.  After testing two recipes, one with oil and one with butter, I’ve decided that using oil (in my case canola oil) gives a better flavor and texture to the cupcakes.   The recipe I used comes from smittenkitchen.

The photos are courtesy of my friend’s husband, David, an amazing photographer.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Lemon-glazed madeleines

I will be forever grateful to David Lebowitz for his suggestion to eat lemon-glazed madeleines from a bakery called ble sucré in Paris.   I’ve always liked madeleines but these glazed ones from ble sucré are incredible.  Sometimes I just find myself thinking about those madeleines.  So I went searching through David’s blog and I found a recipe for glazed madeleines.  I’ve made madeleines twice before and I wasn’t too impressed with the turnout.   Thus, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high.  I followed David’s recipe except for one minor change, which was glazing the madeleines twice instead of only once.  I was trying to achieve the same thick coat of glaze that can be found on the madeleines at ble sucré.  The madeleines tasted great on their own but the lemon glaze is a nice addition.  While they don’t taste exactly like the ones from Paris, they are about as close as I can get.

Lemon-glazed madeleines

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cinnamon raisin bread

I recently bought Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking:  From My Home to Yours, which I highly recommend.  I was very excited to try out her recipes and I decided to make her cinnamon raisin bread.  I remember that when I was younger, I used to love eating the cinnamon raisin bread that came in those red bags.  After reading over the recipe, I decided that it was definitely manageable.

This bread recipe, along with many other bread recipes, requires that you have a long chunk of free time.  It is actually a great way to force yourself to stay home and perhaps get some chores done around the house.  Dorie’s instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  I have always thought of bread as a very fussy thing to make, but I’m actually finding it to be an enjoyable process.  The smell of the bread as it is baking in the oven is heavenly.  Something about cinnamon in the oven is magical.

Cinnamon raisin bread

One of the most satisfying things about baking this bread was cutting it open and seeing the swirl.  And of course, eating the bread warm from the oven made the hours of waiting totally worth it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Blondies

I recently made blondies, using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  What’s great about blondies, besides the fact that they are delicious, is that the recipe only requires ingredients I usually keep in my kitchen anyways.  I have a tendency to slightly overbake cookies, brownies, etc. because I like eating things that are a little overcooked and have a crunchy edge (especially corner pieces!).  However, according to Smitten Kitchen (and other sources), it is important to not overbake them.  In fact, underbaking them slightly might even make them better, especially if you are the type that likes raw cookie dough.  I added a ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, ¼ cup of butterscotch chips, and ¼ cup of white chocolate chips.

Once the blondies were out of the oven and cooled, I cut into them and they looked somewhat raw, which I think is how they were supposed to look because that is how they looked in the photo on Smitten Kitchen’s site.  I really liked the flavor of the butterscotch chips in them.  Next time, I may get rid of the white chocolate chips and do half semi-sweet and half butterscotch chips.

On a side note, my sister-in-law sent me a link to this blog called “i am baker.”  Her creations are inspiring and if you enjoy looking at photos of amazing desserts, you will love her blog.

Also, check out Sweets for a Saturday, where you can find lots of cookies, including these blondies 🙂

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized