Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween 2014 Candy Roundup & Review

Every Halloween I buy a bag of candy corn. Or two. I admit I have a huge weakness for candy corn. This year, when purchasing my candy corn, I noticed I had a choice of flavors like S'mores and Pumpkin Spice. What?  Then I started to notice a deluge of different and crazy candy flavors for the season. Out of curiosity I snagged several unique items I had never seen before.

Some of this Halloween/Fall candy is strange. Some downright scary.  Of course my idea for this post was probably just a huge excuse to buy a ton of Halloween candy. We have no trick or treaters expected at our door because we live in a brownstone in NYC where all apartments in the building are child free. We're also never at our house in Pennsylvania at Halloween (the East village is so much more fun) so there have been no opportunities to hand out candy to the locals there.

Below is my unbiased review of sampling what's on offer this year. I am sure I missed out on several new products, but since I am trick or treater challenged, I had to limit myself to what I could unload on co-workers and take to parties.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Macarons Monday: Caraway Seed French Macarons with Tangerine Marmalade Filling

When it comes to creating French Macaron flavors, Kalustyan's is the gift that just keeps on giving. 

Picking up several different powders from a shopping spree there several weeks ago really inspired me. The result has been some really fantastic macaron flavors.

These delicious caraway flavored shells paired perfectly with sweet tangerine flavor provided a lovely jar of marmalade. The shells would work with so many other fillings. Chocolate or strawberry are the other ideas I briefly flirted with. However, I was happy I settled down with tangerine's sexy citrusy taste.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Bear Claw Cookies and a Beautiful Madeleines Baking Book

It was a small coincidence this beautiful Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake & Share recipe book by Quirk Books arrived just as I was working on a recipe for bear claw cookies.

Barbara Feldman Morse's book is absolutely gorgeous. From sweet chai tea madeleines to a savory pine nut pesto version, her creative recipes elevate these lovely French origin tea cakes to an art form. The book will be officially released on October 21st. I've already earmarked some favorites, including Hazelnut and Frangelico madeleines to make for the holidays.

Regarding these bear claw cookies, I had already figured out the recipe. However, the book had some great tips in it for using the pan as well as different methods for making madeleines and tips to make perfect results.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homemade Amaretto Spice Pumpkin Butter

So all those pumpkins I roasted and made puree out of awhile back?  Except for the Tarragon Roasted Pumpkin Hummus I made, it all went into the freezer for future use.

Last weekend I was thinking about how I've always wanted to make pumpkin butter. So I defrosted a bunch of the puree and started to experiment. 

Amaretto flavor inspired me because I had a surplus of a homemade version on hand and, of course, always have almond flour for my obsessive French macaron making.

At first I wasn't sure about the pumpkin amaretto flavor combination.  However, adding the agave and vanilla better defined the taste and seemed to smooth it out. 

Mix with vanilla ice cream, greek yogurt or spread on a cracker. There are so many uses for this delicious pumpkin butter. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Macaron Monday: Chia Seed French Macarons with Date Syrup Buttercream Filling

It was only a matter of time before these healthy little chia seeds made it into a French macaron shell in my kitchen.

A bag of chia seeds were actually sitting right next to the jar of date syrup which is what gave me the idea for this French Macaron flavor combo.

Seems like they just magically migrated to one another when my back was turned. I would like to think so anyway. 

I bought that little jar of date syrup a few months ago intending to use it for something Thanksgiving-y.

Oh well.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cookies

These beauties are perfect for fall. They have the light feel of a meringue but are dense and nutty as well.

Called "Hazelnuss Makronen" in German, these  lovely, tasty cookies are very easy to make, but you do have to bake then at a low temperature for a much longer time than non-meringue cookies.

These might or might not be even better with a little schmear of Nutella on their flat side before indulging. Just sayin' 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Leaf Shaped Treats for Fall

The leaves are a falling. The fall colors are spectacular and I am once again obsessed with my collection of leaf shaped cookie cutters. My collection includes many different sizes and shapes. 

Using oak, maple or aspen shapes, here are some fun ways to add fall fun and fantastic flavor to your harvest table.

Colorful Fall Leaves Sugar Cookies
Tinting sugar cookie dough fall colors, mix together and add some sugar sparkle before baking.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Macaron Monday: Black Walnut French Macarons with Red Currant Jam Filling

We have several black walnut trees on our Pennsylvania property. Each year as the nuts fall, I say to myself, "Self, please collect those nuts and do something with them". 

Sadly, that never happens. It's not like they're hard to miss. Sections of our property are like a hard hat zone. This year I not only missed the black walnuts, but the shag bark hickory nuts as well. We have two of those trees. I was told those nuts make a great nut milk.  Oh well.

Enter Kalustyan's. On my flavor powder spending spree there a few weeks ago, I bought this lovely black walnut powder. Such a great fall flavor for a French macaron.

Friday, October 3, 2014

German Honey Cake (Honigkuchen)

Sometimes delicious things dovetail together. For example.

I was working on a recipe for German Honey Cake for my German Food Page over at and was lamenting the lack of candied fruit in my cabinets and in the local supermarkets. 

Enter Paradise Candied Fruit Company, who coincidentally contacted me a few days later and asked me if I would like to try their product. Wow. perfect timing. Problem Solved.

When these gorgeous, tasty fruit jewels arrived, I was excited to use them in my recipe. They were just what it needed. They taste great, work well in baking and can be used to beautifully decorate any dessert.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tarragon Roasted Pumpkin hummus

This hummus is so easy to make but I had a hard time making it. 

A few weeks ago I collect four of the cutest sugar pumpkins ever to eventually roast. To save room on the kitchen counters, I placed them around the fireplace in the living room. So cute and Fall-ee. 

I kept postposing sacrificing them to the oven because they made me happy looking at them just where they were.  

Last weekend I was hit with the cold hard reality the clock is running out in my herb garden. this fact finally propelled me into roasting them. Albeit with a tear in my eye.

Once I was at it I couldn't stop. I was a pumpkin roasting maniac. I roasted all four of the little beauties, puréed the flesh and roasted the seeds.