Sunday, 10 May 2009

Cookie Carnival: Hazelnut Macaroon Sandwiches

I made these insanely early, but here is my schedule:

4th May the Cookie Carnival email came out from Kate, this weekend I made them, next weekend I'm in Scotland, that gives me two weekends left. Yeah, looking at that, now I have no idea why I thought I HAD to make them this weekend (10th) :S I'll figure out what I HAVE to do in May soon. Probably some hen-do or wedding for someone I've forgotten. Ouch.

I've always struggled with macaroons. I've made them... twice. Once using the Roux brother's book, once from the wonderful Tartlette blog (see right). Both failed miserably. The first one was edible. It probably wasn't a good idea to try and use teaspoons which they SAID was okay, the second time I tried to risk it with greaseproof and naturally everything stuck everywhere. They also make scarily little so by the time you've peeled them off the tray, you've eaten most of them. This recipe made a shed-load. There's pictures of the macaroons on every surface, but I think you'll get it from the following picture - and that is AFTER me and my sister worked our way through the ugly ones!

So today's recipe is from Williams-Sonoma. Which I gather is a US version of a cookery store like Lakeland only a bit more flash. And it was with a great deal of apprehension that I embarked on making these. I wouldn't say it was a successful macaroon, not in the way that La Duree macaroons are, with delicate little feet and flat tops. Mine were more along the lines of almond macaroons slash meringues with a nice nutty flavour.

There are things in both the Roux books and in Tartlette's blog that I believe might make a difference - firstly Tartlette ages her egg whites, and the Roux brothers use the high heat then switch ovens/leave the door ajar after the initial period approach. Both might be interesting, but quite frankly, these were lovely anyway. I'll spare you the chocolate ganache, namely because I thought the jar in the cupboard would work, but apparently after donkey's years it's finally decided to grow some mould. Instead I've applied a little peanut butter and some lemon curd to some for the pics but they were pretty de-lovely to begin with. Scratch that, just ate one with peanut butter. WOOT WOOT!!!

The hazelnut came through which was brilliant - namely because I could only find one packet of hazelnut in the shops and I used a mini-chopper to "grind" it. I did force it through a sieve before using and the stuff that didn't make it through, I made up the difference with a pile of ground almonds from a pack.

Overall a wonderful experience this time around, and I sincerely doubt the trays of macaroons will survive the evening let alone till I get home from Scotland next week!!


Raspberry Cream Cheese Buns

What with my new cupcake books arriving from Amazon, one look at the Raspberry Cream Cheese buns on someone elses's site (made with blackcurrant there) and I had to make them. Knowing full well my family wouldn't touch them. Four of these babies were therefore made with big dollops of lemon curd instead, which made delightfully caramelly messes of the tin, but also on the buns, not that I get to touch those - I have eight buns to eat!

The original recipe is from Buttercup Bakery book (New York) and one of these days I'll try the dried cherry one from Magnolias (since I own the book...)

What you need to know about these is that the recipe is easy - as easy as muffins are, but they sink like heck given the amount of preserves you're putting in them. What they give back though, is something so moist and rich you just want to sink yourself into them. And since I've eaten two of them, I'm doing quite well!

As you can see, massive craters. If you don't want that, use less stuff (see one on right). I chose not to use preserves, but to mush raspberries over the stove with a bit of icing sugar. It causes the proportions to be more damp and I guess, results in the intense cragginess. Not that it's a bad thing. I flooded the ones I ate with leftover sauce at the end. Reasons unknown, I just wasn't in the mood for another jar of jam in the fridge. It's loaded with maple syrup, apricot and lemon curd as it is.

My version:
1 3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
200g pack of soft cheese
1/2 cup marg
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup of raspberry slush (chuck in saucepan, heat with some icing sugar, smush in a sieve)

1. Cheese, marge, sugar, eggs, vanilla. In that order.
2. Add the dry stuff and the milk, mixing in a bit of each till you've run out.
3. Fill your muffin tin (I lined with papers because I don't want to scrub. I admit it's prettier without and you won't have people thinking you have cupcakes gone wrong.)
4. Put splodges of jam/curd/raspberry slush on top and swirl in with a knife/spoon etc.
5. Gas Mark 5 for 25 minutes. They'll sink on the way out.
6. Enjoy.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Carrot and orange cupcakes

I accept that no one should really put more than one, MAYBE two pictures up on any baked good. It's like looking at pictures of people's kids. Odds are, one is enough, unless of course your child is super-adorable and super fantabulous. Which of course they are! But hey I was playing with icing and I actually made the effort to crumble gingernut biscuits over the top as decoration (I know, I know, the effort...) so appreciate the fact that I am insane.

Carrot cake cupcakes are a stalwart of cupcake books. They go with the peanutbutter and chocolate ones I have yet to make. But anyway, I love really good carrot cake and after the super finance woman who made amazing cupcakes blew me away with the her carrot cake one (recipe was not forthcoming - grrrrrr) I decided I needed to try my own.

These ones were from Elinor Klivans Cupcakes! book. They were pretty decent. I love golden raisins/sultanas in carrot cake so it worked well. The frosting had butter and cream cheese in and I have to say, I'm not a fan of the buttery-ness in frosting.

On the grounds I cba to post recipes which don't blow me away anymore please go buy the book or ask me if you really want it. They were nice. The recipe was definitely good. But it wasn't, please have sex with me fantastic. Which of course, is what every single girl wants to say!

The recipe itself left lots of room for icing on top and I managed to use the ice cream scoop to measure it into the cups. Half a scoop each makes for the cupcakes shown.

Snickerdoodles and things wot I dun wit da buttercream

Oh happy day!! Oh happy Dayyyy... last weekend I made snickerdoodles. As you do. It came from the Ultimate cookie book and I downsized on the sugar for the parentals and they liked it. Snickerdoodles (such a cool name) to me should be softer and more cookie bendy like the chocolate chip things you get in shops. However, that might be because M&S once upon a time had bendy snickerdoodles in their shops. Those might have been more peanutty and chocolatey though. Not sure if it's my memory or whether they thought that was a cool name to call american cookies.

Anyhow, as usual, I digress. Snickerdoodles are apparently originally German and the name got mutilated by the good ol' US of A. But it is such a cool name! These babies, probably because instead of making 36, I made 15 -20 golfball sized blobs on a few baking pans, turned out a bit humped and less cracked, which doesn't look like the wikipedia picture but I'm not that bummed. As a result they kept really well and I ate them the next day without being disappointed.

If I did it again, I'd put more cinnamon in the rolling mix as I really wanted distinct brown vs crack patches (no jokes please gentlemen!)

There are gazillion snickerdoodle recipes out there. So go forth on the internet and search people! I think I'll try another variation next time. Good, but not enough to make me commit!

Just for silliness sake, here's a pic of what I did with the remaining cream cheese frosting from the carrot cake. Gingernut sandwiches (shop bought with squishy cream)