Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The thought of making french macarons always seemed much too daunting to attempt on my own. So I put it off. For years. Finally, earlier this month I signed up for a (Valentine's Day) macaron making class at Sur La Table. Did you know that they do cooking classes? Cuz they do. Best decision ever!
I went with my friend Katie and we learned the basics and got some tips and a solid recipe. Really, it was worth the cost just to watch someone make them in front of you. It's all about the process!
We made classic round ones, but also a few heart shaped ones. You guys know I can't resist cutesty stuff like that. It was a blast.
But we made them with a proper instructor looking over our shoulder, and as a team with a roomful of other people. I had to make sure that I had REALLY learned to make anything, so two weeks later I headed to my own kitchen all by myself with some Trader Joe's freeze dried raspberries and my hot pink food processor in hand.
I had a few mishaps, I had to throw away some expensive almond meal because I might have processed it into paste... haha. But because of the tips I learned in class, I at the very least knew to start over instead of proceeding to make sub par macarons. That would have been the worst.
I ended up tweaking the butter cream recipe a little but and made raspberry macarons with a lemon buttercream filling.
Oh and right before I put them in the oven,, I threw some rainbow sprinkles on them.
You know, because I'm Anna and I put sprinkles on everythang.
I'm not writing out directions today. But I will include the recipes. Macarons are so very temperamental and I don't feel like I have the correct vocabulary to explain things with enough precision for you to replicate them. But if you're looking for a solid recipe, well here you go. OR take the Sur La Table class because it was awesome.
7 oz confectioners sugar
4 oz almond meal
2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries, processed in food processor after measuring
4 oz egg whites at room temp
pinch cream of tartar
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1/4 tsp pink gel food coloring
1/2 cup (1 stick) non salted butter
pinch of salt
3.5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
Just look at the pretty pictures of these bright pink macarons until you want to reach through the screen, grab a handful of sprinkle cookies and shove them in your mouth. Feel free to wash them down with some tea or coffee from my cute tea cup, too.
I wish the Sur La Table classes were cheaper. Actually no, I wish they at least had frequent flyer cards or something because I want to go to like 5 of them. Anyone want to come with me? =)
Also, are you guys happy not to see a mason jar in this post? I know I have been over using them lately. I even drink my protein shakes out of them, haha. Rest assured, you will see them again though. And more sprinkles. ALWAYS with the sprinkles. Maybe my mason jars filled with sprinkles?
Sunday, January 26, 2014
These cookies are all about eating like a bird. You can take that to mean many things. They are trail mix cookies -- which means it's a bunch of random things that birdies (or you) may like. Sunflower seeds. Almonds. Oats. Raisins. Chocolate chips. Pretzels. Birds would eat all that, right? Or you can take it to mean, eat like a bird -- very little. A few pieces of each ingredient are all that are in each of these cookies. But how do birds actually eat? All day long. A mammoth amount compared to their body size. Much like the frequency and quantity of baked goods that I consume in a day. So really, the meaning is probably found in that last option. Eat all the cookies. All day long.
The raisins and the chocolate chips make these cookies sweet, the pretzels and the sunflower makes them a little salty. Part cookie, part trail mix bar really. Part good for you?
Trail Mix Cookies
Makes 28, bake at 350* for 9 minutes.
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup pretzels
1. In a mixing bowl whisk flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Add in egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
4. Add flour to sugar mixture slowly and beat on medium until it forms a dough.
5. Fold in oats, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds and chocolate chips into dough.
6. Using a medium sized cookie scoop, scoop out balls of dough and place onto baking sheet.
7. Break pretzels into small pieces and place on top of balls. (If you mix them in when you fold in the rest of the ingredients they will break.)
8. Bake in preheated oven for around 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let cook on rack.
Truth be told, I had to make these bad boys twice. The first time was a fail. The next two weeks I would frown to myself whenever I thought about them. The second time I excitedly Instagrammed them with the #cookieredemption hashtag.
If you use a small or a medium sized cookie scoop, they will fit into the mouth of a mason jar. You can screw on the lid and give them away. Cookies make the perfect present after all.
If they are too big to fit, force them in anyways. Make it work, 'cuz everything is cuter in a mason jar with a ribbon tied around it.
Also since it's fake spring in California (no rain in months, sunshine and 70* in January), these bright blue birdies make me feel extra happy. It's like a jar of sunshine.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Sometimes I feel like I am a caricature of myself. I don't even think i'm a real person. I am that ridiculous. Or awesome.
I decided this Holiday season that what my life was missing was cute holiday antlers. I spent a whole week running into drug stores and trying on reindeer antlers I could parade around in comfortably and with little to no shame. It was hard to find a happy medium between too plain and too much Christmas cheer on my head. But I found some! Luckily I had a White Elephant party to attend so I didn't have to wear them just around in my room, in my matching reindeer pajamas. The antlers, along with said reindeer pajamas, were what inspired these cupcakes in the jar first place. Might as well go all out, right?
The cupcakes are gingerbread latte flavored. Like the Starbucks Holiday drink I binge on every year. Yes I know, more gingerbread. Molasses all over the kitchen for the second weekend in a row! You could use any flavor you'd like but why not make something seasonal to impress your friends?
Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes
Makes 22, Bake for 15 minutes at 350*
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c oil
2/3 unsulphured molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup (hot) strongly brewed coffee
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugars, oil and molasses together, and add in eggs one by one.
3. Add in the flour mixture and the coffee in alternating additions to the sugar mixture. Beat until fully incorporated.
5. Scoop batter into lined cupcakes and bake.
6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack until completely cool.
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons VERY strongly brewed coffee
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Add 2 tablespoons coffee (or as much as you can before butter and cream cheese starts getting soft).
3. Slowly add in 3 cups powdered sugar by the 1/2 cup full.
4. Add in remaining coffee. Add in remaining sugar.
1 cup melted dark chocolate
1 bag pretzels
1. Break your pretzels with your hand or a knife until you get the antler "shape" you would like.
2. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals.
3. Dip pretzel pieces in chocolate, cover completely and place on wax paper.
4. Before the chocolate dries, use sprinkles to decorate. The sprinkles will adhere on their own if the chocolate is still wet. Make sure the antlers are dry before using.
Click here for instructions I used when I made my bunny jars last spring. Easy peasy, promise.
Admittedly, the antlers were a little tedious to make but only because it is HARD to cut pretzel pieces into the right shape.
The last layer of frosting should be thick so that the chocolate antlers will stay in place. You can also try making a small hole in the top cake layer with a knife and sticking the end of the antler there to keep it firmly in place.
Once I got to the sprinkle part I was having too much fun. The possibilities are endless! Mostly I stuck with pretty snowflakes, some holly...
But I couldn't help myself. Pink heart sprinkles exist for a reason. I'm sure there are girl reindeer out there, right?
No? Just me? Just Anna the girl reindeer being ridiculous? Yes, I did wear these all night long. In every single picture.
Happy Holidays everyone! Shop online, stay out of the mall, go to lots of boozey parties! Enjoy the next two weeks. I know I will. It's also my birthday this weekend and in case you are wondering there is no way that I will be baking ANYTHING. Someone better bring me a cake.
P.S. You can also stick some (stolen) Starbucks straws in these Gingerbread latte cupcakes if you're feeling lazy. Still looks fancy pants!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I do this thing every year where I decide to vacation during the month of November. It's awesome because I get to to escape the city and the mundanes of daily life and sneak away for one last sun kissed tan in before the sun goes away for four months. It's awful because I come home, catch a cold, have to wear pants because it's dropped 20* and oh look it's December! I have no idea where November went this year... one minute I was on a boat in the Bahamas, the next I was back in the states, downing Gingerbread lattes, shopping for Christmas mugs at Target and planning fancy holiday outfits.
When it came time to decide what to bring to my friend Rachelle's cookie exchange -- while wearing my favorite hot pink fleece gingerbread pajamas and sipping gingerbread tea out of my gingerbread man mug mind you --it was no surprise that I went with something gingerbread. My first thought was my gingerbread chocolate chip cookies. They're easy to make. I've made them before. But that seemed too boring for a cookie exchange. Then I thought about how easy madeleines are to make and contemplated making some of those instead -they just look fancy. While debating the hard question of which cookie to bake, I came to the realization that instead of choosing between the two, I could combine the two. Hashtag Cookie Genius.
Taking a page from the chocolate dipped orange madeleines I made last year, I finished these gingerbread madeleines with a dark chocolate drizzle. Gingerbread plus dark chocolate is one of my favorite holiday flavor combinations afterall. Remember the Gingerbread S'mores Cupcakes?
Makes 34. Bake at 375* for 7-8 minutes.
4 room temp eggs
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp molasses
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
(Optional: 1 cup mini chocolate chips)
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat eggs on high for about three minutes.
3. Add salt to the eggs, and then the sugar. Sugar should be added slowly over the course of five minutes by the spoonful. Eggs will become white and frothy.
4. Add in vanilla and molasses and beat on high speed until fully incorporated.
5. Stop the stand mixer and fold in flour and butter in additions, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until smooth.
6. Scoop batter into butter and floured madeleine pan and bake for about 7 minutes.
7. Melt chocolate in microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Scoop melted chocolate into a piping bag and decorate cookies once they are cooled.
Tip: Madeleines taste best 1-3 days after baking. This allows the butter flavor to really set in.
Do you know what taste's good with these? Gingerbread tea. In a gingerbread mug... lol. I'm totally that girl.
I apologize for my Gingebread Cheer. No not really.
Do you know what else you can do to these bad boys? Add in mini chocolate chips to the batter (about 1 cup) for EXTRA chocolately goodness. See?
How was the cookie exchange you may ask? Awesome. Who doesn't love a giant plate of cookies?
Or 10 plates of them. Don't worry we did more than just eat our weight in butter and sugar. We mixed up some royal icing and decorated some sugar cookies too. That counts as activity, right?