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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shut UP!

actually... i love crossing things off on my to do list, so maybe this isn't really me.


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In addition to being a craft-nazi, I also love to bake. So when you love to be in the kitchen and have limited funds, making food gifts is the way to go. With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, you can make some easy and delicious cookies, and package them in boxes and bags perfect for the holiday.
The box is made from posterboard and then covered in scrapbooking paper. The template I used I found here and just made it for how big I needed it. Then I glued scrapbooking paper to the outside once the box was assembled.
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The cookies pictured here are sugar cookies and they are the easiest and yummiest cut-outs I’ve ever tried. The icing recipe that follows dries hard and shiny, making it a perfect recipe to stack your cookies. If you’re really not a fan of cooking or labor-intensive items, this cake cookie recipe is super easy, and takes no time and effort at all. Really really not a fan of cooking? Then head to your local bakery and snatch up some goodies and put them in homemade packaging. Your recipients will still thank you.
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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and mix until smooth. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the creamed mixture alternating with the heavy cream. Cover the dough and chill for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until bottoms and edges of cookies are light brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Makes approx. 4 dozen cookies.
Sugar Cookie Icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
food coloring
Combine the sugar and milk until smooth, then add the corn syrup and extract until the icing becomes stiff. Add more sugar to thicken or more milk to thin.


Divide into seperate bowls and tint with food coloring. Let dry atleast an hour before stacking.


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FRENCH MACARON RECIPE

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french-macrons-with-free-tag
French Macarons
(recipe from MarthaStewart.com posted here with annotations)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4.5 oz
3/4 cup almond flour, 2.5 oz. (made your own )
2 large egg whites, room temperature (take from the fridge the day before or the morning of)
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar, 1.5 oz. (also called baker’s sugar, I’ve read you can make your own by processing granulated sugar, but have never tried it)
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, for filling

See MACAROON VARIATIONS and SUGGESTED FILLINGS on Martha’s website, including chocolate, coconut, peanut, pistachio, raspberry, and vanilla bean
Directions
1. Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times. I found sifting with my usual flour sifter near impossible. The almond flour caked under the sifting hand and balled up over it. Instead I sifted with a simple bowl-shaped sieve.
2. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes (for me it took only 3 to 4 minutes, take care not to over-whip).
stiff-peaks

3. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. I found the amount of folding to be crucial. Fold too little, and your macaron shells will have peaks instead of nice rounded caps. Fold too much, and your meringue will drip into a mess of wafer-thin blobs. Tartlette recommends about 50 folds, until your batter has a magma-like flow. You can test a daub on a plate, and if a small beak remains, turn the batter a couple times more. If the batter forms a round cap but doesn’t run, it is just right. When I spooned my batter into the pastry bag, the perfect batter started to just ooze out of the tip once the bag was full. If it stayed stiff inside the bag it was too stiff, if it dripped out too fast the batter was too runny. I found that doubling the recipe made this step very difficult for me, I found I would over fold to incorporate the flour mixture and I would end up with a runny batter.
macaroon-batter

4. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. (You can pipe 1-inch to 2-inch rounds, but you will need to add cooking time). Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. (Different recipes recommend anywhere from no rest time to 2 hours rest time. I was most happy with 30 to 45 minutes rest time, once the caps looked more dull and had formed a slight crust.)

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees. Every oven is different, so you may need to play with your oven temperature. The tops of the macaron shells should not brown.
6. Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.
7. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon jam. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months. It takes only 30 minutes out of the freezer for macarons to be ready to serve.

macarons

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lovely....

so cute!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Candymaking never really interests me. Of course baking is already an exact science. However, the temperature precision and the perceived danger of working with sugar have always make me wary. It just seems to me so many things can go wrong so easily. Well, until recently. My little Holiday Fudge project was unexpectedly fun. And now I'm itching to try something a little more challenging.
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz. He has since removed the recipe from his site. Otherwise I would simply point you to his much better written recipe with helpful step-by-step pictures. This salted butter caramel is so unbelievably addictive. It starts off a bit hard but a few seconds in the mouth and it yields into such soft chewiness. Oh, and the richness! The moment I remove the lid from the apothecary jar, I could smell the irresistable sweetness of cream, butter, and sugar. The lovely saltiness of fleur de sel prevents this caramel from being cloying and adds loads of complexity.
I never knew candymaking can be so rewarding.

Candy By Candy: Salted Butter Caramel

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup double cream (40% M.F.)
  • 2 tbsp salted cultured butter
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp salted cultured butter, cubed and room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Method

  1. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with foil. Grease the inside.
  2. In a small pot, mix together cream, 2tbsp of butter, and 1/2 tsp of fleur de sel. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cover with lid and set aside.
  3. In a medium pot, heat sugar and corn syrup to 310F.
  4. Remove caramel from heat and stir in cream. It may bubble up but just stay calm.
  5. Heat the mixture back to 260F. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 tbsp butter until everything is mixed in.
  6. Pour caramel into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 fleur de sel. Let it cool overnight.
  7. Unmold caramel and cut into small squares. I find a heated chef knife works best.
Salted Butter Caramels In A Jar
Because all candies deserve to be pretty, I decided to wrap each caramel in wax paper.
You may woner why I would bother to meticulously wrap each piece of candy in wax paper. There is actually a very practical explanation aside from the fact that I love to wrap presents. You see, after painstakingly cutting the slab of caramel into perfect little squares, I blithely put them away in a box. A few hours later, I was dismayed to find that the squares stuck to each other. So I cut up tiny rectangles of wax paper and wrapped them all up. At this point, it just seemed wrong to stowaway in a dowdy sandwich box. A few years ago I bought a bunch of pretty apothecary jars from Loblaws. I had no idea what to use them for so they've been gathering dust somewhere on the shelf. They are quite simply the perfect vessel to hold these homemade caramel candies. To make the whole presentation more glamourous, I play up the vintage feel and put a golden decal on to the side of the glass jar using transfer sheet. A simple knot of ribbon completes the presentation.

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vegan sandwich cookie recipe
These chocolate sandwich cookies claim to be almost vegan and look delicious. 
Check out the recipes from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.






Sunday, January 24, 2010

WOW!

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3 year old dancing to choreographed music.


Click image to enlarge








AWESOME!



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Brain Slug Cupcakes! by the small cat club,


homemade caramel recipe
Here's a quick recipe for making your own homemade caramel.
 Check out the recipe from Givers Log.

deep fried cupcake recipe
These deep-fried cupcakes are certainly a unique new baking technique! 
Check out the recipes from Serious Eats.


(via katmorales)




That’s right. He does NOT hate.

;;
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