As a Christmas present/French practice experiment, my friend and I took a 3 hour macaron-making class at Mmmmh, a local kitchen shop. It was great French practice, and we learned some good tips for making macarons. But then you have to take the next step and attempt to make them at home, with no professional pastry chef guiding you.
My friend already practiced – numerous times! – with great results. So I was jealous. So I decided to go ahead and try.
And I thought it would be a good idea to bring my first ever attempt at making macarons to another friend who grew up in Paris and regularly brings super fancy macarons from Paris when he comes over. Last time, there were dark chocolate foie gras filled macarons in the box. Super fancy. And super delicious.
So, no pressure on my first attempt, at all.
The secret to delicious muffins is to make the batter the night before and let it rest in the refrigerator over night.
I learned this secret from the Amazon reviews of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Which of course made me want to get the cookbook (which I did; thank you, Santa!) and make muffins. And since I was already making scones, croissants, pains au chocolat and macarons for the same brunch, I thought I should choose the healthy-sounding muffins.
- A 2 1/2 year old took one look, pointed and exclaimed, “cake!” Once he had the muffin on his plate and he realized it was too healthy to be cake, his parents had to finish the muffin.
- A 3 year old kept walking to the table, looking at the muffins, and walking away. Next thing we knew, she had taken a muffin and nibbled off the entire top. She finished that whole muffin, then nibbled the top off of another one! I consider that high praise!
- (The adults liked them, too.)
I am a scone fiend. I never used to like them – the reputation of being dry, crumbly, and flavorless didn’t entice me to try them – until we went to visit a friend in Oxford and I convinced my husband to take me to high tea. And I had scones with clotted cream and was instantly converted.
I now make scones every chance I get. Spelt scones with currants. Quince scones. Oat scones. Chocolate peanut butter scones. And now: cinnamon honey scones.
The more I eat these (lots of little bites are healthier than eating a whole scone, right?), the more they remind me of my favorite bakery item from Cologne: the locally famous Zimt Wuppi. These are so similar, in fact, that I will no longer consider them scones and instead give myself the opportunity to make both Wuppis and scones at my next brunch 🙂
I had a minor breakdown on Thursday. We were going to have a “thank goodness it’s the Friday afternoon before vacation” party in one of my classes and a student (very politely) requested chocolate cake. In fact, in a moment of procrastination, he even sent me some google image results of the type of cake he would like me to bring. Which inspired me to make German Chocolate Cake. As explained by Julie in Vintage Cakes, German Chocolate Cake isn’t German at all. It was invented by a guy whose last name was German, so it was called German’s Chocolate Cake. And because people are lazy when they speak, it got changed to German Chocolate Cake.
But her recipe was for a rolled up cake and I was not in the mood to try to roll a cake. Plus I realized after searching 5 cookbooks that I actually don’t have any dessicated coconut. So out with the German Chocolate Cake idea.
So I turned to the Baked boys and their chocolate chapter in Baked Elements. The title, picture and description of this cake immediately drew me in. A tunnel of hazelnut fudge?! Plus the very last line in the note is “make thi scake – you won’t be disappointed.”
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, delicious recipes, and good will, you just don’t use that pumpkin. Pumpkin lasts a long time, you figure. It’s still firm to the touch, it’s still good. But when the event you bought the pumpkin for passes… And then the next major event passes… When you go away on vacation and the pumpkin is still sitting there, innocently resting by the onions, you know you have to do something.
And there’s nothing better to do with pumpkin on a cold, blustery day, than make soup. But which soup?
I had already tried to conquer the pumpkin but was stopped in my tracks by the sheer number of pumpkin soup options. And if you broaden your search to include other squashes … well, the choices are overwhelming.
It was a familiar situation: it was Thursday evening and I had committed to bringing a cake to school. Instead of going home and baking, we went out to dinner. So then it was 10 pm on a Thursday, I still had a cake to bake and frost, and I had to get up at 6 the next day.
So I decided to try a new recipe from Vintage Cakes to use up some of my frozen ripe bananas and make the cake seem “healthy.” The batter was easy to make and in no time my cakes were in the oven. Then I turned the page to the buttercream recipe. It wanted me to grind the walnuts into a paste, then it called for corn syrup and bourbon. Looked like a good recipe, but not a good one to attempt at 11 pm on a school night. So instead I turned to a stand-by buttercream from Baked and added a couple of additions. Below, I’ve included both buttercream options.