Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Posts tagged ‘valentine’s day’

Flowers and Chocolates: Rose macarons with dark chocolate ganache


flowers and chocolates

This is one recipe I’ve been excited about for ages. I looooooooooove love love love LOVE rose-flavored things. My first experience with the flavor was sweet, cold gelato, and I’ve been infatuated ever since. It’s definitely not a taste for everyone, but I feel like a princess or pixie, daintily snacking on flowers. (My favorite perfume is rose too–go figure!) But, rosewater isn’t readily available around here (few things are–I live in the middle of nowhere, we just got a Trader Joe’s late last year), and since I was out of a job til recently, I didn’t want to spend the money on shipping. But for Christmas, I got all sorts of fun kitchen goodies! Rosewater, lavender extract, chocolate extract, all manner of sprinkles–eeeeeeeeeeee! Santa was so good to me. And so these were finally realized. They’re sweet, floral, and pair marvelously with the chocolate, though you may want to put a thinner layer than I did so the rose isn’t overwhelmed.

rosewater

Macarons are another thing that have scared me for a while. Measuring by weight, and the list of borderline magic tricks to make them work… But if you know what you’re doing, they’re really not hard! I measured by volume and they ended up just fine. I’ve also made them on humid or rainy days without trouble. Just make sure they bake thoroughly–this is one time you’ll want to err on the side of overbaking, rather than under. In both senses, actually. Shells will break, I’m telling you now, so be prepared with more than you need. And if they’re not cooked through, the insides will fall out on the cookie sheet–gah! So frustrating. You also want to make sure they’re fully cooled before trying to take them off.

tiny feet

Feel free to fill the cookies with whatever you like–strawberry jam sounds delicious with roses!

Rose macarons with chocolate ganache
6 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar (superfine is generally used, but I’ve always used granulated sugar for meringue without trouble)
3 cups powdered/confectioner’s/icing sugar
2 1/4 cup almond meal (you can buy it at Trader Joe’s, or grind your own in a food processor from slivered almonds)
3 tsp rosewater
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
food coloring (if desired)

To start with, preheat the oven to 375 F and line a cookie sheet with a silpat (I got three for Christmas! Looooooove it) or parchment paper. Next, whip your egg whites with the whisk attachment of a Kitchenaid on medium high (about a 6) til foamy. When it’s nice and frothy, add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat for a minute or two. Gradually add the sugar, and when it’s all in there, turn it up to a 7 or 8. Whip into stiff, lush peaks.

Sift in your almond meal and powdered sugar, and add your coloring, rosewater, and vanilla bean paste or extract now. Fold the mixture together, but there’s no need to be gentle–we’re trying to deflate the batter a bit. You want it to be thick, but if you drop a ribbon of batter into the bowl, it should disappear within ten or so seconds. Otherwise, your shells will turn out bumpy.

rose macaron cup

Pipe dollar coin sized circles onto your baking sheet. You can also make nickel-sized baby ones, or pretty shapes, pretty much anything you want! Once they’re piped, let the sheets sit for at least 45 minutes to an hour. This creates the “feet” on the bottom of the macaron.

Put the sheets in to bake with the oven door cracked (put a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open just a bit), and immediately decrease the temperature to 325 F. Bake 10-15 minutes, checking for browning on the tops. If you see it, take them out, but they’ll be done in the middle even without browning. Let sit until completely cool, and make your ganache.

heart rose macaron

Dark chocolate ganache
8 oz semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream

Chop (or I usually run it through the food processor) your chocolate finely and place in a heat-safe bowl. Heat cream on the stove on medium til simmering, watching carefully to see that it doesn’t boil over–it’ll escalate more quickly than you think. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir til smooth.

Wait a bit for it to thicken, and then fill and sandwich macaron shells. Enjoy!

You’ll notice I don’t have a recipe for the white chocolate ganache–I tried to replace the semisweet chocolate with white chocolate chips in the above recipe. Don’t do that. It went badly. Oh well, live and learn!

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Strawberries stuffed with maple whipped cream, and a story!


I’m back home and mostly recovered! That trip was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was so worth it. I met amazing friends, both old and new (and my big sister!), and saw so much of the country! I’ve officially touched both coasts now.

I hit eleven tour stops all told, including the Vegas stop that was added after they made this map. The schedule was tough–every morning we’d have to get up around six, to be ready to go around seven AM. Then we’d have an eight to ten hour drive, and get to the theater two hours before the show to set up. We got so good at setting up merch displays.

During the show, we’d do whatever was needed–mostly selling merch and corralling fans, with occasional tasks like picking up dinner or making character card packs. The meet and greets at the end would usually get over anywhere from midnight to 2 AM, leaving us only a few hours to get back to the hotel room or friend’s house we were staying at and pass out, to get ready to do it again the next day! Tough schedule, but you do what you gotta do, right? Totally worth it. I worked with some wonderful people that I hope will be friends for a long time, and the energy at the stops was just amazing. Everyone was having a good time, excited and happy, and glad to be there. I tried to say at least a few words to every person that came through my line.


(Myself, Kimmie, and Shi being silly at the merch table while Kessie looks on judging us.)

And I even managed to get in some baking! Kessie’s mom’s birthday was a few days after we left, so I made her some cupcakes, plus some for us on the road. Hers were turtle cupcakes (devil’s food cupcakes with pecans baked on top, with caramel and chocolate ganache), and ours were simply devil’s food with chocolate ganache. We gave some to the tour team, and we were told they were inhaled. No pics since I was exhausted by the time they were finished, after the first show.

But that’s a few days gone already, and my baking fingers got itchy, so I whipped something up last night! I made this maple whipped cream with my sister ages ago, but this time I added more syrup and thought it was sooooo much better. But then, I’m a maple fiend. And maple+strawberries? Delicious! Who’d’a thunk?

Maple Whipped Cream
Adapted from JustJenn Recipes

Ingredients
4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tbsp powdered sugar
6 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Pour the cream into a cold stand-mixer bowl and whip it on medium-high til it starts to thicken. Then add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla, and whip on high til you have a nice whipped cream. Don’t overwhip or it’ll get grainy–I overdid it just a bit, but not too badly. Eh, learning experience! And it still tastes lovely.

Then take your strawberries and wash them, cut off the stems, and core them. Sit them on their flat sides and cut halfway down the strawberry in an X shape. Then put your whipped cream in a piping bag and fill from the bottom so that the cream comes through the slits. Best enjoyed on the same day as made. I topped them with disco dust and a sugar heart.

Sparkly Sweet Cake Pancakes


Recently, I got a query on my Facebook wall. A friend wanted to know if it was possible to make pancakes or crepes out of cake mix! I swear, I heard an angel chorus. I’m always in favor of making familiar dishes better, and doctoring cake mixes into something more is always lovely. So of course I had to try this!

I looked up different pancake recipes, and most of them called for 2 eggs instead of the 3 the box mix called for, so I adjusted that. I also added a bit of flour to thicken it up; if you want more crepelike pancakes, you might try leaving that out.

And the verdict? Delicious! They kept the fluffiness of pancakes while still tasting like vanilla cake. I bet they’d work out just as well with any kind of mix you’d like to try–chocolate, funfetti, red velvet anyone? And remember how I told you to save some sugar shapes from the last recipe I posted?

They look absolutely adorable baked into the middle of pancakes. I bet anyone would love to see these on their plate on Easter morning, or any special occasion. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 box cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Sugar candies, about 12 for medium-sized pancakes or about 24 for small pancakes

Mix up the cake mix, eggs, oil, water, and flour in a mixing bowl. Warm a pan on the stove at medium to medium-low heat and melt a small amount of butter; you don’t want it to brown. Put down a sugar candy, flat side down, and immediately cover with pancake batter. When the top side is studded with large bubbles, flip the pancake carefully, so you don’t mess up the hot sugar. When cooked completely and golden brown, transfer to a large plate. Try not to stack pancakes on top of each other until cool, to preserve the candy. Serve with milk and lots of 100% pure maple syrup.

I’d also love to try these with maple candy, or with the batter dyed different fun colors!