Monday, January 31, 2011

Red Wine Rum Coffee Liqueur and January's LOL Posts

Over the holidays my brother in law's sister Bettina brought this delicious liquor to Christmas Eve dinner. At first I thought it was a bottle of Masala wine because she called it "Masala" when she offered me a glass. Like most masalas, it was sweet but tasted like something else entirely. It had a red wine base with flavors of brown sugar, vanilla and coffee. I was hooked. She handed over the recipe and I now share it with you.

This liquor is extremely easy to make and a wonderful gift for a hostess or dinner party in the winter months.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Buttermilk Pecan Candy

I had a heck a time making this candy. The third batch which is the one you see here was my best effort but definitely could be improved, more in texture than taste. 

Let me back up. I found this recipe in Homemade Candy, by the editors of the Farm Journal, a vintage book I picked up at a yard sale in the States. Earlier this month I posted the Pioneer Potato Candy  I made from it and the results were excellent.

For the Buttermilk Candy, I followed the recipe to the letter twice and both batches were fails. As I said in the previous Potato Candy post, I did read a review online from someone who had tried out many recipes in the book.  The reviewer said many of the instructions were lacking in content because women of that era (1970) were supposed to be skilled enough in the kitchen to fill in the blanks. 

I am not from that era nor did I get the memo as we say in this era. Another recipe for fondant candy I tried twice was also a fail both times. However, I was still intrigued by the idea of Buttermilk Candy and determined to make a batch I could taste so I searched online to find another recipe. The one I chose from Recipe Goldmine worked much better.

In comparing the recipes, other than there being more butter and corn syrup in the book's version, it was hard for me to see where things fell apart the first two times in the directions dept. But I am by no means an experienced candy maker so don't go by what I say. I actually just got over my irrational fear of the candy thermometer. 

The taste? Actually quite good. buttery caramel-y crunch. The pecans worked fine but I think almonds or walnuts would work just as well. Or maybe even a mix of nuts. The texture was a little funky. Sort of mealy but I may have overcooked it.

Buttermilk Pecan Candy

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thyme Sugar Chocolate Cookies

It's  cookie thyme!

I know.


Couldn't resist.

These cookies are a good combination of sweet and savory. The fragrant thyme sugar adds something special. 

You could leave these plain for a more savory option but I would recommend using the icing because it really adds something unique to the overall taste.

Next time I will play with the icing flavor, maybe make it chocolate to further accentuate the chocolate in the cookie.

And yes, to those of you who can read German, I am still baking out of German Christmas baking books in January. So?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lemon Glazed Cardamom Pear Macadamia Mini Tea Breads

Before I left Germany for what would probably be a very extended stay in NYC, I was determined to clean out my speisekammer (pantry) and use up any items that would expire in my absence because nothing is worse and more wasteful than coming home to a big pantry funeral.

I had bookmarked this recipe ages ago and since I had pears, an open packet of powdered cardamom and some macadamias on hand, it was a no brainer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Best Black & White Cookies Evah! This Bakery Must Be Saved!

"Willie, I need to talk to you about something."

These words came across telephone lines and an ocean. Willie is my high school nickname bestowed on me by my dear friend since 7th grade, Nancy Hirsch. Nancy is a hurricane force of creativity and talent with a huge, loving and fun personality to match. She owns a successful public relations company in NYC and has many interesting, high end and extremely talented clients.

Nancy lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Every morning before work she goes to her neighborhood bakery "Mother's" for her morning coffee and bagel and assorted baked goods. 

"Willie, you have to taste these black and white cookies at my neighborhood bakery. They are the best ones you will ever have. Ever. Lemony cake with amazing icing. I know you will be blown away. I get them right out of the oven."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mactweets Challenge #15 - Lemon Meringue Macarons

This month Jamie and Deeba, the Macaron Mistresses of Mactweets challenged us to create a macaron inspired by our favorite dessert.

No matter how many sweet culinary adventures I have had in my years of living in Europe and global travel, sometimes there is just no substitute for American dessert staples.  My personal sweet hit parade includes Tollhouse chocolate chip and Quaker oatmeal raisin cookies of my youth. 

Although it was tempting, I didn't want to create a cookie inspired by a cookie. So I thought about other desserts I miss easy access to and I had to go with my latest craving.

Lemon meringue pie was always a huge treat and I never passed up an opportunity to have a piece. So I dedicated this macaron to what I have always regarded as a slice of meringue heaven.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lebekuchen Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream

Dear Germany:

This month marks 10 years since I have taken up residence within your borders.  It's hard to believe how time has flown by since I came for work and stayed for love. 

To celebrate this occasion I made cupcakes in flavors of lebkuchen and peanut butter. 

I would like to thank you for the following:

1) My very own McDreamy incredible husband, the one and only Dr. B. 

2) My wonderful in-laws/ extended German family and their animals including the chickens who produce amazing eggs to bake with, Lucy the sheep who thinks she's a dog, Rosalie the dwarf goat, Queenie the wunderhund and two aloof and affectionate cats.

3) All the wonderful friends I have made and all those late night girls evenings in Munich of talk, tears and laughter. Erin, Margaux, Marina, I'm talking to you ladies.

4) The incredible fun I had working here coaching talent and television hosts, creating and shaping TV shows and teaching young TV producers to fly.

5) Our beautiful house in the country.

6) Health Care

7) All the Oktoberfests and Karnevals and Christmas markets and one fantastic World Cup celebration.

8) Skiing and snowboarding in your alps and visiting so many of your wonderful, beautiful cities and villages so rich with history and architecture.

9)Deutsche Ordnung (German order), as much as it makes me crazy sometimes. Like Dr. B says, "Everyone makes fun of it, but everyone benefits."

Now if you could only do something about these:

1) Your ridiculous tax laws

2) The mountains of paperwork and rules that come with every day living

3) The weather

4) The language, specifically the articles. One word of advice for you. It's called the word "THE"


The Mad Hausfrau

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poppy Seed Rum Raisin Strudel With Cinnamon Glaze

The great thing about strudel recipes is the ability to exercise your kitchen creativity to switch up the flavors. There are three opportunities to do this, in the dough, flavor or glaze.

For the dough, for example, you can choose between whole wheat or spelt or all purpose white flour, among other options. Add ins to the dough can also boost the flavor. I added freshly grated lemon zest to this strudel dough to pull out a bit of brightness. You can add different zest, flavor extracts and spices to the dough

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spelt Hazelnut Blackberry Squares

Spelt has such a funny name in German: Dinkel. 

Say it out loud. Dinkel.

Dinkel. Dinkel. Dinkel. Dinkel.

OK Sorry. 

Anywho, these squares were complete winners. Full of flavor, healthier than your average cookie and I love the little marzipan accessory on top. For those of you who made lots of jam this year, this recipe is a good reason to bust out a jar.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Vanilla Bean Doughnuts with Root Beer Glaze

They may not look so pretty but wow oh wow were these good. I love Root beer and the flavor came through on the glaze big time. The doughnut itself is light and fluffy.

Root Beer is hard to find here in Germany but I did I find a place to order it online. When I was in the States this past fall I saw Root Beer extract on the supermarket shelf and with lightening speed, two bottles made it into my cart.

I am winging my way back home to NYC on Monday and looking forward to URBA - unlimited root beer access.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pioneer Potato Candy

I found this candy recipe book at a yard sale last summer in Pennsylvania. It was written by the editors of the Farm Journal and contains a treasure trove of recipes. Caramels, chocolates, taffy and fondants among them.

I read an interesting review HERE at from someone who has tried many recipes in the book. Even though she felt it was a "a valuable collection of heirloom candy and confectionary recipes" she said the instructions were lacking because most women at the time were expected to know the basics and able to fill in the blanks themselves. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cinnamon Chocolate Thumbprints

At the beginning of December I complained that November's posts were way too brown and promised all things colorful and sparkly.  Looking back on December, you probably needed sunglasses to view most of them. Some bright and sparkly and some just loud and tacky. 

So it's a new year and I want it to be all about balance. Starting now. 

These cookies are brown with a splash of color. 

They also have smaller amounts of butter and sugar, also New Year appropriate since many people are all about reducing in January to compensate for holiday indulgences.