Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino

There has been a lot of hype over Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino, so obviously, I had to try it.

The nice barista at Starbucks in Laurel Village made it for me yesterday, a day before it’s official release, so that I could try this magical, rainbow treat.

It definitely looked magical and was really exciting to get. The pink unicorn dust on top of the whipped cream was very sour but it was nicely offset by the whipped cream beneath it. As I began drinking it, I was reminded of cotton candy – but better. It was very sweet and I guzzled it up!

Unfortunately, I was less pleased with the bottom half. I don’t know what it tasted like, but it wasn’t my favorite. I think it was too sour.  It did change color when stirred though, which was cool. I think the biggest enticement of this drink is how pretty it is, and in that regard, it did not disappoint!

If you want to try it out for yourself, it’s available at Starbucks beginning today through the 23rd only, so hurry!

Sweetly,

Simona

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!

IMG_5066

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 😉

IMG_5050 2

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.

IMG_5051

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.

IMG_5052

IMG_5054

IMG_5056

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.

IMG_5058

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

IMG_5060

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!

IMG_5064

IMG_5063

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)!

IMG_5065

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 

Sur La Table Pie Class

I took another cooking class at Sur La Table!

(Again, please excuse the iPhone quality pictures in this post)

IMG_3051

This time, I went with my mamma and we took the “Pies from Scratch” class. On the menu, there was a Strawberry Rhubarb Lattice Pie and Lemon Meringue Mini Pies.

The group was much larger this time since we went on a Sunday morning so things were a little more hectic. We still had a lot of fun though and the pies we made were delicious!

 We started by learning how to properly roll out the dough. Turns out you should focus on the middle, roll a few times, then turn the dough slightly and repeat. It’s also good to know that whatever shape your dough is in when it comes out of the fridge, it will roll out into. So, if you have a square, it will roll into a square, etc. This might explain why my mounds of dough always turn into crazy shaped rolled out pie crusts 🙂

IMG_3028

For the strawberry rhubarb pie, we mixed the fruits with the sugar, salt, and cornstarch. The pie crust was placed into the pie dish and then we added the fruits. The chef then taught us how to make a lattice on top. I’ve tried this before alone and it did not go well so I was so glad she went through this. I was and still am a little confused and will need more practice but our lattice from class came out really nicely!

IMG_3029

The important part here, she said, was that there was enough space between each strip so that the pie can breathe while it’s baking.

 IMG_3085

While the pie was baking, we made the mini lemon meringue pies. It was really good for me to see meringue made again. Practice makes perfect!

We topped the lemon curd that we made with the meringue and then used a torch to brown the meringue. How cool!

Version 2

IMG_3042

 We didn’t eat these during class but they looked amazing!

Once the lemon meringue pies were done, the strawberry rhubarb pie was ready to come out of the oven. They were very nicely browned and made the whole kitchen smell amazing! The edges were a little bit burnt because we added the tinfoil to cover them a little bit late, but it wasn’t that bad.

IMG_3045

We cut into this pie during class and it was so, so, so good. The crust was flaky and the filling was so deliciously sweet. All I wanted was a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side!

IMG_3048

Sweetly,

Simona

The Science of Cooking

I’ve taken a few days off from baking…

The beginning of this week was chock-full of baking and Saturday is going to be another full day of it, so I haven’t baked anything in the last couple days.

That being said, my days have not been completely void of it. I listen to this podcast called Inquiring Minds which is hosted by a professor I had (and greatly admired) at USF, Indre Viskontas. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the episodes, and on Tuesday I found myself listening to their episode about the science of cooking.

Since I started my baking endeavors, I’ve been really interested in how the smallest alteration in an ingredient can completely change your baked good. I’ve experienced this with my pie crusts but most notably with my cookies. It really is a science.

Though this podcast focussed on cooking and not baking specifically, it all applies and I’m sure The Food Lab: Better Cooking Through Science includes baking as well.

Take a listen if you’re interested! The part about cooking in science begins at the 9:00 minute mark.

1200x630bf

Sweetly,

Simona

Sur La Table Soufflé Class

I took my first cooking class at Sur La Table!

IMG_2373

Please excuse the iPhone quality photos on this blog post! I did not have my fancy camera on me 🙂

Today, my good friend Ahline and I took a soufflé cooking class at Sur La Table. It was so much fun! Because it was a weekday, there were only five other people there so we really got a hands on experience. After my first attempt with my orange soufflés, I was excited to get some insider tips!

We made three soufflés today; one savory and two sweet ones.

Soufflé #1 – Chèvre & Zucchini 

IMG_2354

This savory soufflé was delicious! It was salty, creamy, and rich. With every bite you could taste hints of cayenne pepper followed by cheesy goodness.

IMG_2356

Soufflé #2: Lemon with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

IMG_2359

This second soufflé was the first of two sweet ones. It was so refreshing! It was a lemon soufflé with a fresh strawberry sauce. The lemon part was creamy and custard like. The strawberry sauce was tangy and sweet. Mixed together, it was like spring blooming in a ramekin!

IMG_2361

Soufflé #3: Silky Dark Chocolate with Cream & Cocoa Nibs

IMG_2368

When our teacher asked us to vote on our favorite soufflé of the day, this last one got the most votes. It would be hard for me to vote against anything chocolate, but this truly was divine! Each bite was the perfect amount of chocolate and cream with a little bit of crunch from the cocoa nibs.

IMG_2372

This class was so much fun and I definitely plan to take more. I’m going to re-make these soufflés at home soon (without all the fancy tools and chef support – yikes!) to try to better retain what I learned. When I do, I’ll post more details about the recipes themselves.

Sweetly,

Simona