Friday, March 29, 2013

Pastel Butterfly Meringue Cookies for Easter

These actually started out as French macarons. I was about to make the batter and the idea of piping butterfly shaped macs threw me. I imagined myself with one failed batch after another. So I took the easy way out and make these meringues.

I'm glad I did. These are a perfect Spring cookie or tucked into an Easter basket. You can add whatever flavor you like. I went with plain vanilla but lemon, orange or mint would also be great.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cutie Linzer Cookies for Easter

In an effort to eat less sugar I went to the store and loaded up on fruit including these cuties/clementines. They tasted like candy and were so juicy and delicious I swore off baked goods forever.

Until I had the idea to turn them into a Linzer cookie.

Recently I scored  this cute Linzer cookie Easter set. I used the cute set for the cutie recipe. You can use any shape cutters you have but if you want to make the cutout, you need one is several sizes smaller as well.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easy Lemon Chicken Soup with Salt & Pepper Matzoh Balls for Passover

When it comes to preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I spend days planning and preparing, making every single dish from scratch from the cranberry sauce to the brine mix. I guess I run out of steam by the time Passover rolls around and want to simplify things but I won't compromise on flavor. 

The easy part of this recipe is that there are way less steps than the traditional  made from scratch version. It does take some time to make though. The matzoh ball batter should be refrigerated a couple of hours before forming the balls and the balls themselves need to cook for about an hour. Other than that, it's a breeze to make. You can also make the matzoh balls ahead of time.

This is not a recipe for matzoh ball soup aficionados who love to cook a chicken and then use that fat to make the matzoh balls. You can switch out the spices to suite your taste and add schmaltz if you like. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Bunny Ears Madeleines

Every place I've lived, I seem to acquire a Madeleine pan. I honestly don't know how I end up with one in each place but I do. I think it all started with  buying one to display on a kitchen shelf because they are so pretty. In reality, Madeleines have been way down on my list to make. I've made attempts at the wrong times to read various recipes and they were so fussy with the freezing of the pan and the overly long mixing times, I just ended up making something else.

However, ever since I saw these gorgeous and creative rainbow and ombre versions over at Sugar Swings, Madeleines earned a new respect and started moving up on my list. I know, it took the shallowness of a little sexy color combo to get me motivated but in my defense, the recipe she references was not at all fussy with way less steps than others.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cinnamon Macarons with Rainbow Charoset Filling for Passover

Today is Macaron Day in NYC!  If you are a local, you can click on the website and follow the map to collect your free macarons.

So of course I had to post a new French macaron recipe today. Since it's so close to Passover, I created a Charoset Macaron.

These were inspired by Exotic Charoset Truffles I made a few years back. I used brazil nuts, mango, ginger and galanga in them for what turned out to be Charoset Tropicale.

Although over the years I have made tons of traditional charoset, the walnut and fresh apple version, I personally prefer the Sephardic version using dried fruits and nuts.

This year I created another version using a rainbow of dried fruits, almonds and cashews.

Monday, March 18, 2013

An Osterkranz (Easter Bread) for 12 Loaves

When I saw this month's 12 Loaves Challenge (Holiday Breads) over at Cake Duchess, I immediately thought of all the bright and beautiful treats that popped up in Germany bakeries this time of year. 

One of the most popular is a traditional Osterkranz (Easter wreath) which is usually a large  braided wreath shaped sweet bread studded with colored Easter eggs.

Instead of a large wreath, I shaped these into mini versions and placed a decorated egg in the middle. All varieties of seeds and other ingredients and be added to the dough or sprinkled on top. I left mine plain and used colored non pareils to decorate for pops of color.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Ombre 7 Layer Cookies with Irish Cream Chocolate Topping for St. Patrick Day

Raise your hand if you love Italian Seven Layer cookies? I love that they remind my of my childhood when mom, grandmother or another relative would bring home a big bakery boxed filled with different types of cookies. These always got my attention because of the beautiful colors and the exotic almond taste.

What I love about them even more is mixing up the colors and flavors. Ever since I saw and tried this excellent recipe and tutorial from Smitten Kitchen, I've been hooked on making these lovely treats.

In the past I've made both Autumn and Easter versions. Both came out fantastic. Not only to they look pretty, they taste amazing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spearmint Chocolate Truffles for St. Patrick's Day

I swear these don't taste like toothpaste. Everyone who sampled them (at least 10 people) loved them. 

This is the first St. Patrick's Day treat I made this year. There be another one later in the week. This one was squick and easy to make. The one in the next post. Not so much. 

I'm not Irish. My only excuse for all this green mania this week is my love for playing with color and creating crazy combos.

Monday, March 11, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Treats

I'm so not Irish but I so love making green treats. The interwebs are awash in inpirational green with spring and St. Patty's day on the horizon.

There will be a few new ideas on this blog later in the week, but in the meantime, here is a roundup of my treats of  St. Patrick's Day past. Click the picture to get to the recipe post.

Shamrock Mint Marshmallows

Bailey's Caramel Irish Cream 
Mint Ombre Cupcakes

Friday, March 8, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Vodka Buttercream: Rocking the Red Pump Project

These were actually made for a friend's birthday party last weekend. His favorite cupcake is the red velvet variety. I also knew I was going to Rock the Red Pump soon so I decided multi task my red post.

I have rarely time to plan posts this far ahead and was quite pleased with myself. Enough about me, here is the most important part of this post:

March 10th is National Women & Girls
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

The Red Pump Project raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. They use the red shoe as a symbol of empowerment to represent women affected directly and indirectly with HIV/AIDS.

Below are some key statistics about how HIV/AIDS affects us and those around us.

HIV/AIDS in the United States:
  • Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the US will be infected with HIV.
  • There are more than 1 million adults and adolescents in the United States living with HIV. Approximately one-fifth of them (21%) do not know that they have been infected.
Women and HIV/AIDS
  • In 2006, women made up 25% of the persons living with HIV in the United States. Women also represented 27% of new HIV infections in 2006.
  • High-risk heterosexual contact is the source of 80% of these newly diagnosed infections in women in the US.
  • From the beginning of the epidemic through 2005, almost 86,000 women have died of AIDS and AIDS-related complications.
  • The largest number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses during recent years was for women aged 15–39.
  • Seven of the 10 states with the highest case rates among women are in the South.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Smoked Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti

I love when people come to join us from NYC at our weekend place in Pennsylvania. Mostly I love the company and secondly our friends are generous. Very generous. As they pile out of the car, they are usually accompanied by bags and bags of goodies from the best gourmet stores in NYC.

Most times, after all these imported treats are transferred to platters, we have a smorgasbord style feast on the deck or by the fire depending on the season.  I just have to put out the wine and/or coffee and done. I find it extremely respectful and thoughtful that people arrive with food. Although I love to cook, and bake for people, it's nice to know I am not expected to on my weekends.

Recently invited to a weekend dinner party, I rummaged through my pantry to see what I could bake up to bring as a dessert. I had some bits and pieces left over from said friends and spied a half bag of smoked almonds from one of these generous souls. These, mini chocolate chips and soft light brown sugar found their way into a biscotti that turned out amazing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Golden Macarons with Persimmon Buttercream Filling

It's another Macaron Monday and I'm still on a persimmon kick even though I made these for the first time way back in November for a Thanksgiving cookie platter. They won over the guests and one in particular recently requested them again. With some very ripe persimmons in my fridge to use up, I was happy to comply.

As I mentioned in a previous post, edible spray color is making me a lazy baking decorator. I also used the silver version for wedding favor macarons.  After making the shells I sprayed them with metallic gold.