Thursday, November 26, 2009

Number 34: Cookie variations - peppermint chocolate shortbread

Apologies for the hiatus. My return from Virginia was followed by some serious stressing out about finals. So here are some things that happened during the last week and a half.

1. I watched two Miyazaki films - Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Am now wondering why teens lust after vampires in their imagination, if they can have an awesome river god who turns into a dragon.
2. Roomie and I bought a huge can of pumpkin and made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. And then we made pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting. And then we left them at her house.
3. I obsessed about the new issue of Desserts Magazine, especially because they've got local Chicago pastry chef Ben Roche and his recipe for ants on a log dessert.
4. I realized that stepping foot into the moto kitchen as a guest chef was probably the most exciting thing to happen in my journalistic career....and I wasted it just interviewing the chefs. Booooo. (It was still pretty damn awesome)

Anyway before we left for Thanksgiving, I made a treat to take on the plane. I ran across similar cookies on
cupcakes and cashmere and wanted to spice up some shortbread.

I used up the remaining cookie dough from the marshmallow chocolate cookies, but you can just use your favorite shortbread/sugar cookie recipe. Coat them in melted chocolate, sprinkled crushed peppermint candies on top, and chill them until the chocolate sets. It's Christmas in a cookie. Forget chocolate chip - these are the cookies to leave for Santa.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Food adventures: Chinatown and 3-inch macarons


Yes. That is a three-inch macaron. A raspberry vanilla 3-inch macaron. You can freak out (and be jealous).

It all started with not knowing where to eat on a Saturday night. For some odd reason there was a parade down Michigan Avenue day before yesterday, so the streets were crowded with tourists and cute kids (!). However, it also meant that there would be people standing around learning how to use the CTA transit card machine, which made me miss my train going downtown (urghhhhh).


So walking around, not knowing what to eat, seeing good places filled with lines and not wanting to wait, we walked into the Peninsula's wine and cafe place Pierrot Gourmet. Obviously too pricey for college kids, but they had three-inch macarons. Raspberry vanilla, or PB&J. I think I turned to B
oyfriend, pointed at this raspberry vanilla creation, and said "I want."

Not sure, but quite positive it was along those lines.

He promised to come back later and buy it. As for dinner, off to Chinatown. Where we didn't find wontons. Boooo.

But I got the macaron eventually. And I finally understood what people have been describing as a "creamy" center. Heaven!

As you can see, it's taller than an iPod shuffle. And bigger than Boyfriend's mouth.

Off to practice spanish for a presentation tomorrow! Booooo. But after that, snickerdoodles from leftover shortbread dough. We'll see how they turn out.

P.S. Photo credit goes to Boyfriend, who knows how to use his camera better and has a knack for angles.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Number 33: Blueberry sour cream coffee cake

Both Roomie and I agree that all baked goods with sour cream are golden. Thus we bought a tub of sour cream a couple days ago at the local Jewel...and some blueberries.

After Roomie finished a three-page paper last night (on a Friday night!) we took a break to bake. And watch some Grey's Anatomy.


Blueberries and sour cream have met before - with a lot more flour, a lot more butter, and less egg. They're great in scones. But I tired of scones after the last bit was left stale in our fridge (we just can't eat that much!) and I was cravin' some cake.

Not sugar-y dessert cake. Coffee cake. So I turned to the internet, and the dependable internet gave me love.

So here's the result of our baking adventure on a Friday night. We used up the rest of our sugar and eggs, so no more baking until we get to Roomie's for Thanksgiving (lo siento, but it's not practical to go grocery shopping right before a break).

Happy baking 'till then.

Blueberry sour cream cake
Adapted from Recipezaar

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Number 32: Chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies. Or psuedo smores.

Yesterday was my registration day, and lucky me - I somehow ended up with the last slot for sophomores. Drag.

So to cheer myself up after a day of angrily cursing
the 2 people who took the very last spots in the one (okay the second) class that I really wanted this quarter, I made myself these cute little smore-ish cookies.

I had never made marshmallow before so it was quite an experience. You're supposed to cook the syrup until the soft-ball stage (or when the syrup, when run under cold water or when chilled, can be rolled into a soft ball). I, however, was preoccupied with scraping the va
nilla bean and didn't notice my syrup going past the soft-ball stage, onto the hard-ball stage, past caramel, and straight into the stage where everything becomes a wonderfully black, burnt mess of burnt sugar. Really burnt sugar.

Try two came out fine, even without a candy thermometer, all I did was periodically pick up a drop of syrup on a wooden spoon and run that under cold water. Then I rolled the syrup to see if it would harden just enough.

Of course, the cookies didn't come out as cute as tartelette's. I don't think I beat the marshmallow enough/waited long enough for it to dry out. So some of my marshmallow kisses just ended up looking like tiny misplaced boobies. Oops!

Of course, when covered in chocolate, it doesn't really matter does it?


Chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food adventures: How (not) to halve recipes

You know when you cut a recipe in half and everything is going perfectly ... until it comes out wrong and ugly and you realize that you forgot to halve one ingredient?

This time, it was the eggs.


Naturally, we didn't realize this until an hour or so later, after lamenting the disfiguration of our precious cookies. The epiphany went something like this:

Me: Those cookies are a little weird.
Roomie: Yeah they're a little cake-y.
M: They're also really egg-y...you know?
...
R: OH!
M: OH! Ohhhhhhh....oops.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Number 31: Lemon buttermilk tarts

The first time I tried making pie I didn't realize you had to bake the crust separately. Needless to say, the lemon meringue pie was awful :(

But I've learned my lesson! Ish. I slightly overbaked the crusts, but hey - stops it from becoming soggy too soon.

Pie is still scary for me because of the crust - it's different from shortbread crusts and different from cookies and different from graham cracker crusts (obviously). So yeah. Un poco dificil.

This was my second attempt at a pseudo pie - pie crust in tart shells with a lemon buttermilk filling. It works out well because the crust is not sweet at all, and things with lemon tend to be overly tangy and sweet. The perfect combo! Add on any berries and you're good to go.

Lemon buttermilk tarts
with blueberries and confectioner's sugar

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food for thought: Ready-to-eat crème brûlée


Step 1: Take out of fridge
Step 2: Remove plastic
Step 3: Sprinkle caramelized sugar on top
Step 4: Broil for 2 minutes

Seriously?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Number 30: Buttermilk scones

This, my friends, is my 30th recipe post. Kind of awesome, no? 30 in maybe 3 months -- not too shabby.

So I went to feast in Wicker Park two weeks ago and was wowed by a biscuit-y scone-y thing they served with their bread and a spicy, almost-chipotle butter. So now I'm off to hunt down what it is - scone? Or biscuit? We'll just have to go back and double-check. ;)


Buttermilk Scones
serve with jam and/or butter
adapted from epicurean escapism

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Number 29: Bittersweet chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cinnamon buttercream

So yesterday I got my hair cut and went shopping with Roomie (yay for girls only outings!)

Found a nice silk scarf at Crossroads and a boys shirt on sale at Urban. And while at Francesca's Collections, we found a book of supercute cupcakes. And of course, we decided to make our own supercute cupcakes when we got home.

Unfortunately, we didn't have much to go on. We didn't have any lemons, fruits, or anything really flavorful, so at around 7 p.m. we were looking at some pretty boring vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

Luckily, Boyfriend saved the day by bringing some bittersweet chocolate, buttermilk and baking soda. (The buttermilk and baking soda was bought for buttermilk scones - those will come later.)

And the frosting? Well, originally we were going to make a simple vanilla buttercream, but the dairy taste in the cream was too strong, and it was getting too sweet, so we added a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon. Perfection.

The cupcakes aren't necessarily sweet, so even if the buttercream is too sweet for your taste, it balances out.

Bittersweet chocolate mini cupcakes
with vanilla cinnamon buttercream

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Number 28: Julia Child's Biscuit au Beurre (Butter Spongecake)

SPECIAL GUEST BLOG FROM DORMMATE MATT!

Julie Powell ain’t got nothing on us….

I would prefer to think that we are not getting caught up in the Julia Child renaissance. I grew up with the French Chef; my grandma would always have her shows on whenever I came to visit…which was often. That raspy voice is a part of my childhood. So into the boxes of college stuff went her tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking…early edition to boot.

So what better way to procrastinate on a Thursday night when we should all be reading/writing/studying/schooling than trying to recreate one of her finely crafted recipes in the confines of a tiny dorm kitchen?

…and I have a knack for impressions. Julia’s raspy voice is my specialty…much to the chagrin of Jess and her Roomie. I have been threatened with bodily harm if I ever use it again in their presence. All I have to say to this is, “Bon Appetit!”

I have now been told that my Julia Child imitation is half Julia, half evil old lady from Hansel and Gretel. Do we really know how a fictional character sounds? Well, the increasing grip Roomie has on her spoon seems to say yes.*


Jess's note:
* Seriously. He sounds like he's an old lady who wants to eat us. :)

Biscuit au Beurre
(Butter Spongecake. Halved.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Check this out

Okay I'm a little behind, but I heard about this somewhere and ran across this photo gallery. Pretty awesome

Gelato University

http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1932341,00.html

Monday, November 2, 2009

Number 27: Banana chocolate mini muffins

So sorry for the week-long hiatus. Quick post. Still tired from life. Have these for sweet cravings!

Banana chocolate mini muffins
adapted from delish