Sur La Table Macarons Class

Wow, I have been M.I.A for almost a month!

Yikes!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to bake or blog. First, we went on a surf trip to SoCal for Ahline’s birthday, then the next weekend we spent in Santa Cruz (for more surfing, of course) and then I got sick! Let’s not forget to mention that in that chaos, my website went down and being someone who doesn’t know much about html, etc, I just let it sit until I had time to call customer support. ¬†I’m feeling better now and the website is back so let’s get back on track!

Yesterday, I took Juliana to a Sur La Table Cooking Class for her birthday!

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I was really excited because it was a macarons making class and I have been dying to make them, but too scared to try it out alone!

As always, Sur La Table prepped many of the ingredients beforehand so we started by making the meringue for the lime macarons which included whipping up the egg whites and adding sugar until stiff foam peaks formed. While that was happening, we sifted the almond flour+confectioner’s sugar mixture four times through a Tamis sieve. There is a specific reason why this type of sieve had to be used… but I can’t remember it. Juliana was a sifting pro ūüėČ

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Once it was sifted four times, we added it in thirds to the meringue and gently folded it in. This is called the macaronnage step! For this first batch we added a little bit of green food coloring to match the lime flavor and then transferred the batter into a pastry bag to begin piping the macarons onto the silpat.

Our teacher gave us a good tip about piping: she said that, though tempting, when you’re putting anything into a pastry bag, you should not squeeze it to get it to the bottom. Instead, you should use a narrow spatula and scrape it against the side of bag. Eventually, the weight of the filling will push it down.

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This step wasn’t as simple as just piping it out. You have to hold the bag¬†straight up, it can’t lean. You also have to keep the tip just about half an inch up from the silpat and you can’t move it upward even though it’s so tempting.

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Once we were done piping, we had to drop the pan with the wet macarons three times. Yes, that’s right. We had to hold the pan 6 inches above the bench and let it fall three times. This takes the air bubbles out!

They then had to be set aside to dry out. With time permitting, this should be for 30-45 minutes but it was less time during this class.

While we were making the meringues, our teacher had made the lime curd and had put it in the fridge to set. Once the lime macarons were placed in the oven, we started the macaronnage again for the orange creamsicle macarons.

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When the lime macarons were done, we removed them from the silpat and created an assembly line of them.

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We piped the lime curd into pastry bags and then put a dollop of curd onto one half of each macaron pair.

We then rolled the sides of the filled macarons in toasted coconut flakes, and voila!

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We did the same process for the orange creamsicle macarons, only their filling was an orange buttercream (which I did not get a picture of)!

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Our teacher said that macarons are actually better the second and third day after they’ve been in the fridge. This is because the filling has time to seep through the meringues!

This was yet another great class from Sur La Table and though the macarons still seem daunting, I’m excited to try them out at home!

Sweetly,

Simona 

Toffee Cookies

Well, I’ve made another batch of flat cookies…¬†

It seems like I’ll be making flat cookies forever, but yet, I keep trying! I’ve been wanting to make these toffee cookies for over a week now but things¬†have been¬†popping up left and right. I haven’t had time to bake at all!

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To be quite honest with you, I used the recipe on the back of the bag of toffee. I only had 30 minutes and wanted to get something easy and tasty out.

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I mixed the sugars, vanilla, butter, and eventually the eggs together in the stand mixer. I realized halfway through that I should have switched the paddle attachment but it worked well enough.

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I then combined the flour and other dry ingredients together and slowly added them to the sugar mixture. The toffee bits were added last and stirred together.

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I scooped the dough onto the cookie sheet and put them into the oven for 10 minutes.

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The most anticipated moment for me with cookies is taken them out of the oven. I would say, “you never know what you’re gunna get”, but I generally do know what I’m going to get. Flatness… and that is indeed what I got.

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Straight out of the oven they were actually puffy but as soon as the tray touched the counter they went POOF and collapsed.

Nevertheless, the cookies tasted really good. Once they had cooled they were crispy around the edges and chewy in the center, which was great, so maybe my thing is chewy, thin cookies!

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Hope everyone has a great start to their week!

Sweetly,

Simona

Blackberry Blondies

I did some weekend baking!

On Saturday night we had plans to go “all the way” to Oakland for our friend’s birthday. This meant leaving the pooch for probably too many hours than is good for her so we asked Ward’s parents if they could stop by and give her some love. In return, I baked blackberry blondies!

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I started by mixing the melted butter with sugar and then added the flour to that to create the batter.

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I carefully mixed in the whole blackberries and then placed the berry batter into the greased pan. I¬†still don’t have an 8×8 pan which so many of these recipes call for so I made these in a cake tin.

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I placed it in the oven for 35 minutes and waited for it to brown.

It smelled really good and when I took it out of the oven, it had risen and turned to a nice, golden brown and was perfectly cooked after 35 minutes!

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I let it cool (for a long time this time – I’m getting better at this patience thing) and then cut into it. I really liked how full of blackberries¬†they were. They were juicy, sweet and had a nice crunch at the top. They did, however, remind me a lot of the Berry Butter Bars that I make. That’s not a bad thing, but I might try to change this recipe up if I made it again or add something like cinnamon to make them more different.

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Sweetly,

Simona

Raspberry Angel Food Cake

Ahh, raspberries!

Ward gave me the nice surprise of filling our fridge with all kinds of fruits recently with the sole request that I bake something good. Wanting to again use my new stand mixer, I decided to try my hand at angel food cake.

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I have always loved how light angel food cake is and that was my main worry in making my own.

The recipe required that I sift the flour and powdered sugar three times. Of course, during this process, I got distracted and mixed the granulated sugar with the flour instead of powdered sugar (ahg!) so I had to start the process over.

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When that was done, I made the egg mixture in the stand mixer. This part basically entailed making a sort of meringue. I mixed it (with such ease, now that I have the KitchenAid) until it formed stiff peaks.

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I then added the powdered sugar and flour mix to this in batches and mixed it together with a spatula.

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I let the batter mixture sit and smashed a cup of the raspberries through a sieve to make sure no seeds went through. The recipe only called for 1/4 a cup of raspberry juice but that felt like way too little so I made as much as I could before getting bored of smashing.

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I began to (messily) add the batter to the ¬†pan. The recipe said to add the raspberry on top of the first layer of batter and to only put it towards the center. It was so little raspberry that I decided to add more and use up all the raspberry “juice” I had.

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I popped it in the oven and hoped for the best!

Much to my pleasant surprise, it came out golden brown and was bouncy to the touch!

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The one thing I would change next time would be to make WAY more raspberry sauce and to keep adding it as I built the layers in the cake. You could only see and taste a tiny bit of raspberry at the very bottom and not every slice had it. I’m not sure why the recipe said that it had to stay towards the center. Next time: more, more more!

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It tasted just like any angel food cake you’d buy at the store or bakery and I was so proud of it! I will definitely be making more variations of this in the future!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

We celebrated multiple birthdays this weekend!

So, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie for the occasion. I made the dough a night in advance and the filling and baking the morning of the party. My main goal in making this pie (other than making it delicious) was to have a thin and flaky crust.

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I rolled out the bottom dough and made the filling with rhubarb, strawberries, brown and white sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch.

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I could tell at this point already that my crust was thin – yay!

I rolled out the second dough to make the lattice top strips.

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My lattice strips were also thin, which was a good thing, but some of them broke apart. I still have to work on the aesthetics of my pies that have lattice tops. It’s hard!

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I put a milk wash on the pie and popped it into the oven. The kitchen started to smell sooo good and an hour and a half later, the pie was ready!

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It was a great addition to the other beautiful cakes we had for the party.

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I was so happy to hear from everyone at the party that the pie was delicious! My mom and Gino (who have tried many of my other pies) even said it was my best one yet! The crust was very thin and flaky and the filling was perfect! Frances, who’s favorite pie is strawberry-rhubarb, said that the strawberry/rhubarb ratio was just right as well. Woohoo!

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Happy Birthday to the summer babies!

Sweetly,

Simona