Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Marzipan Ice Cream

It's the day before Thanksgiving and I know everyone is beyond over pumpkin ANYTHING. So the absolute nerve of me to post two pumpkin recipes in a row. However, I'm pushing the proverbial pumpkin envelope today and posting this amazing, delicious ice cream.

If you have time today (haha who has time the day before preparing a Thanksgiving meal?), the ingredients and the inclination, make this for your guests. They will love you forever.

I happened to have roasted pumpkin puree on hand as well as a big ball of homemade marzipan in the freezer. Also there were various cartons of milk, cream, half and half in my fridge that desperately needed to be used up.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Macaron Monday: Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake French Macarons

I love Thanksgiving, always insisting on celebrating this holiday no matter what country I was living in at the time. Creating the the menus, decorating the table and inviting people near and far is all part of the fun and creativity. The problem is, no matter how much I plan, it always arrives like a freight train.

So I don't know how I managed it but I created these perfect Thanksgiving French macarons before Thanksgiving rolled up.

I've said this before, and I am sticking to it. For big holiday meals, I might make one cake but mostly I create platters of  several different types of bite size desserts so guests can sample different items without feeling they are eating to the point of bursting.

These taste like pumpkin cheesecake with a lovely caramel finish. A lovely bite size pumpkin caramel cheesecake for your cookie platter. 

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake
 French Macarons

For the Cheesecake Macaron Shells:

Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements.

  • 90 grams of egg whites - aged at least 2 days. Let them sit out on the counter uncovered.
  • 25-50 grams extra fine white granulated sugar
  • 200 grams of powdered sugar 
  • 110 Grams of almond flour*
  • 3 drops cheesecake flavor oil
  • Pinch of cream of tarter
  • Pinch of salt
*You can buy almond flour that has been ground with or without the skin. I use the later (blanched). The former looks really nice if you are not coloring the shells. You can also grind your own almond flour by putting whole or sliced almonds in a food processor or blender. If you do, make sure you throw a little of the powdered sugar in to prevent the almonds from forming a paste.

  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat.
  • Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together or pulse them together briefly in a food processor. Make sure there are no large pieces. 
  • Whip the egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly add the sugar. Continue whipping until you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing slides out. Add the pinches of salt and cream of tartar.
  • Add the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg white mixture and fold, using quick strokes at first then slow down. The batter should have a "flowing like lava" consistency. Fold in the cheesecake flavor oil. Make a peak of the batter and if it does not disappear after 5-7 seconds, keep folding. If it's running all over the place, you will probably have to start over. Place a pastry bag fitted with a round shaped tip in a tall water and and fold the edges down around the glass.
  • Fill the pastry bag with the macaron batter, twist the open top to secure and pipe circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat. 
  • Let the macarons dry for about a half hour or until they harden.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Place the macarons on the middle rack in the oven. I keep the oven door propped open with a dish towel or wooden spoon.
  • I place another empty baking sheet on top to prevent the shells from becoming toasted and discolored.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • When checking them after 10 minutes or so, if the ones in the back of the sheet seem to be cooking faster that the ones in front, flip the tray around.
  • To test to see if they are done, peel the baking paper or silpat back under the shell, if the shell comes off easily, they are done.
  • If you do have a problem with the shells sticking to the surface when removed from the oven, lift up the baking paper and pour a bit of water underneath. this will steam them off the paper.
  • Transfer to a baking rack and let cool completely before matching up the shells into pairs according to size.
  • Fill with vanilla bean buttercream or your choice of filling.

For the Pumpkin Caramel Frosting Filling:


3/4 cup pumpkin caramel (I used this recipe* from Crazy for Crust)
2 cups powdered sugar

*This recipe calls for pumpkin puree. See how below)


  • Place pumpkin caramel in a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat on low until combined, add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until frosting reaches the desired consistency.
  • Load into a pastry bag and fill the macaron shells.

*For the roast pumpkin purée:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place the whole pumpkin on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and roast for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and carefully slice off the stem and cut the pumpkin into quarters.
  • Return the pieces to the oven and roast for another 40 minutes or until you can easily run a fork through the flesh and skin of the pumpkin.
  • Remove the pumpkin pieces from the oven and let cool completely.
  • Scrape out the stringy flesh and seeds and set aside.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and transfer to a food processor. Discard or compost the outer skins.
  • Purée the pumpkin flesh in the processor until smooth.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Swabian Apple Cake

Swabian apple cake or Schwäbischer Apfelkuchen is another German dessert perfect for Thanksgiving. 

Sometimes, just a few simple ingredients are the tastiest. The simply delicious apple, raisin almond filling in this cake is covered with a pie-like crust. Sort of  a deep dish or mile high apple pie. A butter, sugar, almond combination is layered on the top and baked in for added sweetness and crunch. 

This recipe is from the Swabian part of Germany. Simple, hearty, unpretentious food is a trademark of that region.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pink Banana Squash Chocolate Ginger Tart

A while back I Instagramed this picture of a HUGE pink banana squash I bought at the Farmer's Market in Milford PA.

Imagine my disappointment when breaking open this bigger than a baby vegetable to roast it, the flesh was sooo not pink, but pumpkin color.

The seeds, however, surpassed expectations. They were plump and easy to pick out. I sprinkled them with adobo flavored salt and roasted them. Too late, I realized I should have candied them with brown sugar and ginger and sprinkled them on top of the finished tart, instead I cut up some crystalized ginger and sprinkled it on top. But boy were those adobe seasoned seeds good.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Macaron Monday: Fuji Apple French Macarons with Cocoa Walnut Butter Filling

Last summer I met the Walnut Butter Man. Anthony Novelle is a sports nutritionist/wellness professional who created a line of all natural walnut butters. Each vegan, kosher, gluten free, dairy free, no GMO, low glycemic jar is packed with healthy, natural flavor.

Of course, I immediately lusted after the product with one goal in mind - to use it as a French macaron filling. Anthony gifted me with two jars, one natural and one cacao flavor. I chose the latter to pair with fuji apple flavored French macaron shells. The shells were flavored by grinding up dehydrated fuji apple slices from Trader Joe's and adding the resulting powder to the shell batter.

For optics, red food coloring was stirred into the shell batter and almost throughly mixed in. I wanted the shells to have a slight marbleized effect by not completely mixing in the color.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pastry Pretzel Cookies

This German treat, often called Olga Brezeln,  is a cross between a pastry and a cookie. The recipe uses both plain cookie dough and puff pastry affixed together, twisted into cords, then arranged on baking sheets into pretzel shapes.

The recipe called for vanilla sugar. Although common in every supermarket in Germany, this ingredient can by hard to come by in the United States, unless of course, you use homemade. Consequently, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract in the cookie dough for the vanilla sugar.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Brandied Plum Pudding

This dessert, called "Cognac Pflaumenpudding" in German is more like a boozy jello mold. However, the flavor is much bolder than a traditional jello dessert.

Pulverized canned plums provide intense flavor. I substituted fresh ones, simmering them in water and sugar first, creating a plum syrup to add to the recipe.

To spike the dessert, I used Sliwowitz brand plum brandy (popular in central and Eastern Europe) which is made from Damson plums. You can also substitute cherry brandy. The spices can be swapped out as well. I added ground cinnamon to this version but you can try allspice or a combination of clove or nutmeg powder.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Butterscotch French Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

One of my absolutely favorite treats as a child was butterscotch pudding. I also seriously coveted those butterscotch hard candies my grandmother carried around occasionally handing them out to us as treats.

The grownup version of my butterscotch lust involves butterscotch flavored vodka martinis. Discovered those at a favorite watering hole in LA. Back when I lived there in the mid 90's, we used to go there after work on the Paramount Lot and down these unique flavored drinks. Once I discovered how to make them at home (butterscotch schnapps + Vanilla Absolute + crushed butterscotch candies for the rims of the glasses), these were enjoyed on special occasions every place I lived since. 

I even regularly smuggled several bottles of the butterscotch schnapps in my suitcase from the States back to Germany where, for all it's great lifestyle attributes, was sadly lacking in butterscotch schnapps. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Rye Bread & Cranberry Meringue Pudding (Bielefelder Schwarzbrotpudding)

One of the best aspect of my gig as the editor of the German Food section of about.com is exploring the country's regional dishes and desserts.

Bielefeld is a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. This dessert is a regional specialty of the cuisine of that area, which has many international influences.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Macarons Monday: English Toffee French Macarons with Chocolate Buttercream Filling

These French macarons have such an elegant flavor I was tempted to save them for a special occasion.

We had friends visiting from Vienna this past week. Once they tasted the macarons, they gobbled them up in no time. I had thought maybe a pre birthday party party would be a perfect fit for these but friends visiting from Vienna is a special occasion and I am happy and flattered they went so fast and enjoyed them so much.

I used a few drops of English Toffee oil flavoring for the shells. When you have such a high class flavor, it's hard to outdo it with a filling so I went with plain chocolate buttercream.