Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A medieval Fair at Our Local Castle and May's LOL Food Bloggers Posts

A Local castle? Yes we have one. When I mention it to my friends in the States, they crack up. AEddie Izzard says, it's not even plastic.

For those of you who live or have traveled extensively in Europe, you know there are castles of every size everywhere. They may not all be Neuschwanstein jumbo but back in the day, their occupant ruled the local roost.

We have a small beautiful one here called Burg Wassenburg. The main part has been converted into an upscale hotel/restaurant.

The tower, guard towers and most of the wall around the castle are intact.

And the grounds are fairly extensive:

Its a perfect place to host a medieval fair. Last weekend I hopped on my bike and 10 minutes later was partaking in the fun.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Apple Pie Spice Sugar Cookies for Memorial Day

There are no special picnics or barbeques here these past two days. Everyone is off to work this morning. A regular weekend has just flown by. 

We live on the Dutch border, a part of the German front in WW2.

This is around the corner from our house.

WW2 Bunker

On bike rides through the local countryside I see lots of these:

WW2 Trenches

In many of the local villages, there are war memorials commemorating loved ones lost.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate Violet Truffles for Frosting for the Cause

I am proud to be pinch-hitting today over at Frosting for the Cause. Regular readers of this blog may have noticed the Frosting for the Cause Badge over on the right hand side. If you haven't already clicked on it to find out what it is, let me explain. It is a wonderful project where a different volunteer baking blogger a day presents a great recipe in addition to a story about how cancer has touched their lives. All volunteers commit to creating a post for the site, donating their goods to a local cancer related cause and are additionally asked to donate $25 to a cancer related charity.

My regular volunteer post is scheduled to go up on August 1st. Paula had an unexpected open space so I made these unique truffles to fill it. For the recipe, hop on over there.  

By the way, if you are interested,  Volunteers are still being accepted.

Frosting for the Cause

Saturday, May 28, 2011

See Ya Later, Milk Chocolate Cupcake Alligator

This guy was the result of a special request from one of my nieces. Today is her end of year school party and she wanted something special to share with the other kids. The only requirement she gave me was chocolate flavored cupcakes.

Louisa is 10 and super girly girly but I wanted to make a treat that would be fun for both boys and girls.

Digging into my Hello Cupcake book for inspiration was a no brainer. Replicating this alligator made of cupcakes was the perfect surprise. 

Please excuse the pictures. After a year of trying to take photos of the most intimate and up close parts of food, it's challenging to snap a proper picture of a real live person let alone an entire alligator.  My brain is in permanent macro-mode. Here is a not so pretty aerial shot:

 But you get the idea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whirlpool Surprise Torte - A Pantry Cleaning Party in a Pan

For sure I have angered the Deutsche Backen Ordnung (German Baking Order) Gods and there will be thunder and lightning in these parts soon. My oven will be struck first.

It was worth risking upsetting infamous German Order by not using uniform ingredients to make this.  You know why?

Because I now have the solution recipe for all leftover baking bits and pieces hanging out in the nether reaches of  drawers, kitchen cabinets and those dark "don't go there" recesses of pantries everywhere. All those unused tidbits from other baking projects. You know the ones you didn't have enough of to use in a whole recipe but could not bear to throw out? Mine were seriously taking over. Something had to be done even if it risked angering the local Gods.

All the half jars of jams, jellies, marmalades, the bits of various ground nuts, brickel, candies, coconut, dried fruits and chocolate. All of them GONE in one recipe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rose Butter Coconut Truffles

These are the luxurious version of Hostess Sno Balls snack of my childhood.  Seduced by buying them for their color, I had a fatal attraction to hot pink. Sadly, that second bite was never taken as they were a major disappointment in the taste department. But they were so pretty, I would try again months later, once again under their fluffy pink spell.

I still buy things by color. Is that wrong?

My own version uses white chocolate instead of dark. These are creamy, dreamy and satisfying.

A quick tip: Because of the extra butter, they are a little sticky to work with.

It helps to run your hands under cold water before forming them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sacher Torte Style Cupcakes with White Chocolate Chunks

Remember what I said about getting out of my possible cupcake/macaron rut on my last post

Looks like the Lemon Almond Wheels fell off my plan because I gravitated immediately toward these cupcakes in one of my newly purchased German baking books.

These are not exactly a perfect imitation of Sacher torte. More in flavors than texture as the cake is fluffy and moist.  

I have had the Sacher torte at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Again, these taste nothing like the original. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lemon Almond Wheels

Sometimes I don't even know I am stuck in a baking rut until I see new ideas. On a recent trip to Aachen I picked up two baking books for under 8 euro in the discount bin. Flipping through them, I discovered so many fantastic recipes, I couldn't believe my luck. The books re-inspired me all over again and these Almond Lemon Wheels have pulled me out of my baking pothole, real or imagined.

I had several organic lemons in the fridge that wouldn't last much longer. They were sacrificed first for this unique cookie recipe. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Devil Dog Damn Yankee Macarons - MacTweets Challenge #20

You gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win
that's when the grin should start

I am not a sports fan. I don't follow a team or attend games, live or on TV. So when those playful Mactweets gals, Jamie and Deeba issued this month's Ballpark Snacks theme, the first thing that came to mind was the musical Damn Yankees.

These may not be typical ball park snacks. Instead of hot dogs, I am offering up devil dogs. They are my homage to Damn Yankees, a classic musical about America's favorite pastime in which the devil character is a major player. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Violet White Velvet Cupcakes

In my closet is a stash of liqueurs I picked up from various corners of the globe. This Violet one is from Italy. Specifically, Assisi. It has been collecting dust, along with it's rose flavored sister in more than a few living spaces.

While I was digging around in my storage closet I came upon this violet liqueur and found my cupcake flavor in this pretty bottle.

The liqueur itself is pale lavender and tastes delicate and floral. The violet flavor is subtle. Maybe I am not the best judge of that as one of my favorite treats are C. Howards Violet Mints. If you haven't tasted them, let me tell you they are STRONG and I LOVE them and their violent violet flavor. I definitely would have used them in the cupcakes if I had gotten my hands on some. Didn't happen so I went with the booze more ladylike option and paired violet liqueur buttercream with a white velvet cupcake.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rhubarb Curd & Elderflower Cream with Vanilla Bean Shortbread Fingers

Friday the 13th was definitely doing it's best to kick my ass. A batch of macarons made first thing in the morning never grew feet. Then there was the plan to make this. But not this dessert. These were supposed to be bars. Specifically, Rhubarb Curd Bars with Vanilla Bean Shortbread Crust and Elderflower Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ever since I saw this recipe from Lara Ferroni for rhubarb bars, it was rhubarb bar love at first sight. Her pictures are so darn screen licking good, they inspired me to try my own version. Also the rhubarb is out in the garden and I was determined to get to it before the local vermin. 

I switched up the flavors a bit in the Mad Hausfrau way and went ahead to make bars.

 And they were bars. Briefly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Golden honeydew Melon Torte

I have been holding on to this German melon torte recipe for awhile now. Good thing I did because golden Honeydew melons are everywhere here in the markets now. It was time to give this baby a test drive.

Speaking of markets. Yesterday I was in Aachen and did a quick lap through the farmer's market by the Dom. In addition to lots of honey melons, white asparagus is everywhere this time of year. I came upon a long line of people waiting to have their white asparagus shelled. 

The vendors provide free access to the machine. Everyone buys their asparagus and then politely lines up and waits their turn. I had never seen this before so I thought it was interesting.

Back to the star of today's post: 

This torte is not too sweet, tastes fresh and is designed to showcase the honey melon flavors.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lemon Sugar Honey MOM Cakes for Mothers Day

Lemme say right off the bat this was an idea that didn't turn out as well as I  expected.  

I was playing with a recipe for lemon sugar cake for mother's day mini cakes.  Then got the idea to bake it in a shallow pan and cut out letters with large MOM cutters. I should have stopped right there.

By the time I slathered the cake letters with buttercream, the Ms looked more like Hs. 


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Baby Cookies and Cupcakes

I can't even remember the last time I went to a baby shower and can count the ones I've been to on half a hand. However, I have admired many adorable cookies and cupcakes around this theme from other bloggers. I never had an opportunity to make any. Then two things happened.

First, a few weeks ago I saw this cupcake topper design from Loren over at The Baking Sheet

I thought it was one of the cutest baby themed toppers I have ever seen!

Second, my pediatric nurse sister in law is teaching a baby care seminar this week and asked me if I would bake something special for her class of 50.  My mind immediately went back to Loren's fantastic design. I wrote her and asked if I could use her design and blog about it and she generously agreed. Thank you Loren! Seriously, if you have not checked out her blog yet. Do it now. She is an amazingly creative sugar artist. I particularly love her use of color.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Frieda Kahlo's Almond Cornmeal Cookies

With her fierce beauty and unique fashion sense, Frieda Kahlo was an incredible artist who used glorious colors to paint the pain and passion of her life. She was one original SeƱora.

Years ago on the way back to Germany from the States, I once arranged an 8 hour layover in London solely to attend an exhibition of her art at the Tate. Many of the works were lent to the exhibit by celebrity collectors such as  Madonna. I spent an incredible few hours there immersing myself in her unforgettable paintings.

Good thing I lingered in the gift shop afterwards because I found this jewel of a cookbook written by painter Diego Rivera's daughter Guadalupe. Frieda was Diego's second wife.

The book is gorgeously photographed using original locations including the famous Blue house, once Frieda's home and now a museum. The recipes are arranged in menus in a 12 month cycle of fiestas. One of them is a recreation of Diego and Frieda's wedding feast. If you are a Frieda fan like me I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chili Pepper Cake Pops for Cinco de Mayo

With Cinco de Mayo almost upon us, I couldn't resist making these. Last year I made chihuahua and margarita shaped cookies and spoke a bit of the time I spent in Mexico as a child. 

I thought chili peppers would make a cute cake pop. I am a spice girl. I love all spicy food. Bring on the chili peppers and the heat. I'm down. So I used chili powder to add a little bite to these.

You can see in the picture I tried adding red disco dust on some of them but I liked the un-glittered look better. I had a lot of leftover cake and frosting so I used leftover orange cake for these. Next time I might opt for chocolate chili flavored cake and frosting.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maypole Cupcakes

I got the idea for these cupcakes when I was visiting Munich's Viktualienmarkt and I saw this huge maypole. 

I had just come from the Wir Machen Cupcakes shop and must of had cupcakes on the brain syndrome.

In this part of Germany May trees have a love connection. When a young man likes a young woman, he proves it by decorating a small birch tree and puts it on her roof in the middle of the night by May 1st as a surprise. The tree stays up for one month.When he comes back to take it down, if the young woman likes him back, he may be rewarded with an invitation for dinner, a cake baked by the girl's mother, a case of beer or even a kiss. Last year I woke up to the surprise of my own May tree decorated in my favorite colors.

That Dr. B is so cute.