Friday, March 27, 2015

Cinnamon Apple Rings Fried in Beer Batter

Got beer? Got Apples? This German treat also works as a terrific brunch alternative to French toast, replacing the bread with the battered, fried apples. You can pretend it's healthier.

For the batter, I used weiss beer or wheat beer, a light herbal beer variety I believe works best for this recipe. However, you are welcome to experiment with a darker variety if that's all you have on hand. 

For decoration and flavor, I recommend serving this dessert with homemade whipped cream but that's optional. An alternative to whipped cream would be to serve some plain or vanilla flavored yogurt on the side.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Patriotic Easter Egg Cookies for Operation Cookie Takeover

Over the next few days over 8,000 homemade cookies will be shipped to military personal overseas through Operation Cookie Takeover. I am proud to say these patriotic Easter egg cookies I made will be among them.

Operation Cookie Takeover mobilizes bloggers and non bloggers several times a year to pledge and create a voluntary dozens amount of cookies and then organized a window of a few days where we all ship out our cookies so they are received all in the same time frame.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Macaron Monday: Rum Raisin French Macarons

Since Rum Raisin is one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors, I am embarrassed over how long it took me to transfer the flavor to a batch of French macarons.

Shame on me. These are so good I may forget I ever liked rum raisin in ice cream form.

I used very little rum in the shells, only 1 teaspoon for the entire batch. The filling does the heavy lifting in the flavor department. Pureed rum soaked raisins. That's all.

Friday, March 20, 2015

German Ham & Onion Torte

This recipe is from the Thüringin region of Germany and is a great addition to any Easter meal. I like the flexibility of this recipe which can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Thüringin or Thuringia is one of the 16 German states located in the central east part of the country. It is known for its lush forest area and beautiful mountain range and is nicknamed "The Green Heart of Germany". Thüringin is a popular vacation destination for Germans with lots of outdoor activities to explore.

This quiche-like cake has a yeasted crust that is well worth the rise time wait. It adds heft and stability to the finished product. The main ingredients for the topping are ham and onions, however, this can be easily switched up by adding peppers or any other vegetable you like chopped into small pieces.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amy Vanderbilt's Sour Cream Muffins

Most of us who love the kitchen have probably way too many cookbooks in our collection. However, once in a while, trolling thrift stores and tag sales sometimes yield an irresistible vintage culinary jewel or sometimes a decades old cookbook that's just kitschy and fun.

"No cookbook fills all needs. If there were such a book, I would have it and not the 300 odd books I have in my collection."
-Amy Vanderbilt

For 50 cents, I picked up Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook, which is a little of both. It's also packed with personal and collected recipes from "America's Foremost Etiquette Authority"

"I believe that the ability to prepare and serve good and attractive meals is a delightful feminine virtue."
-Amy Vanderbilt

"A woman must know all the household arts whether or not she has servants to instruct."
-Amy Vanderbilt

Monday, March 16, 2015

Macaron Monday: Creme de Menthe French Macarons with Dark Chocolate Buttercream Filling

St. Patrick's Day is upon us tomorrow. So I thought I would flash a wee bit of green to show my Irish friends some love. 

It also is Macaron Monday here on the blog so I combined the two with these lovely green French macarons with the cool flavor of Creme de Menthe.

In the past my St. Paddy's treats have been pretty outlandish and sparkly. These are more subtle in looks but still big on flavor.

Once of my favorite restaurants of my childhood used to hand out complimentary creme de menthe chocolates after dinner. These French macarons made me think of that place, those minty chocolates and it made me smile.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Almond Cinnamon Lemon German Crescent Cookies

These German crescent cookies (called Mandel Halbmonde) are usually made at Christmas time but I think they work well for any Easter holiday table as well. I love me a flexible cookie. The cinnamon almond coating feels like fall or winter but it hides a bright lemon flavored cookies that have Spring written all over it. 

Dense in texture and packing a triple punch of flavor, the almond batter is brightened up with lemon zest then rolled in an almond cinnamon mixture before baking. In addition to the lemon zest ingredient, I added a small amount of pure lemon extract to punch up the lemon flavor a bit more. You can feel free to omit it or replace it with pure vanilla extract.

The unusual cookie secret to this cookie's density is several cooked egg yolks added to the batter. 

Great flavorful cookies with a sweet crunchy topping that will send you to the moon and back.

Almond Cinnamon Lemon
German Crescent Cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup blanched* almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Cookie dough:
  • 2 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 hard-boiled large egg yolks
  • 2 raw large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white 
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • Whisk together the chopped bleached almonds, white granulated sugar and ground cinnamon together in a small bowl. 
  • When all the ingredients have been combined, spread the mixture out onto a small flat plate and set aside. 
  • Beat the unsalted butter and white granulated sugar together until fluffy (about 3 minutes at high speed) 
  • Press the hard-boiled egg yolks through a strainer or sieve. Add the sieved yolks to the batter. 
  • Beat in the raw egg yolks, lemon peel and pure lemon extract. 
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the all purpose flour a half a cup at a time, making sure to thoroughly combine the flour into the batter before adding the next half cup. 
  • Stop the mixer just after the last half cup of flour is incorporated into the batter. 
  • Beat the egg white separately until it forms stiff peaks. 
  • Pinch off about 2 tablespoons of dough. Roll it into an even cylinder between your palms. Curve the end of the cylinder to the left and pinch to make them pointed. Gently use the palm of your hand to flatten out the cookie slightly. 
  • Dip the shaped cookie into the egg white and then into the almond, sugar, cinnamon mixture (make sure both sides are coated) and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. 
  • Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they turn slightly golden on the tips. 
  • Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Arrange on a platter and serve. 
*I chopped up already blanched almond leaves and used them in this recipe. If you do not have blanched almonds handy but have raw ones, you can quickly blanch them yourself. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the almonds to the boiling water for one minute (no more or they will become too soft). Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. The skins will start to shrivel and you can easily pop them off of the almonds with your fingers. Pat the blanched almonds dry with a paper towel and they are ready to use.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Movie Slate Birthday Cake

A dear friend a colleague had a birthday recently. She is the executive producer of a movie review show. The host, some staff members and I conspired to surprise her at work with cake and prosecco. We managed to pull it off beautifully.

In creating the cake I wanted to make something for her that was also a theme for the whole team.  I've often though, how wonderful it would be if everyone could have a custom cake made every year with a theme created representing the person at that particular time in their lives. What a great photo retrospective that would be.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rocking the Red Pump For National Women & Girls' HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - Red Velvet Roundup

In honor of National Women & Girls' HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and because every year on March 10th, this blog Rocks the Red Pump, I am painting my blog red today with a roundup of  fun and delicious red velvet baking recipes.

THE RED PUMP PROJECT is a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. The organization uses red shoes to get attention. The idea is to talk about the epidemic, empower and educate and decrease the stigma associated with it.

From the Rock the Red Pump's website:

The Rock the Red Pump Campaign
In observance of NWGHAAD, our signature Rock the Red Pump® (#RocktheRedPump) Campaign generates conversation both online and offline about the issue of HIV/AIDS and how it affects women.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Low Sugar Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

Like most German desserts and cookies, these Schokoladen Brezeln or chocolate pretzels contain little sugar in the dough. 

To make them sweeter, you can cover these pretzel cookies with chocolate glaze.  In the pictures in this post have no glaze added. I like to make them both ways. Sometimes I glaze only half of them. Regardless, I like to add large crystal sparkle sugar to both versions to make them look like salted pretzels. I used gold colored decorations for this batch.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hazelnut Ginger White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

There was a nut dilemma involved in making this biscotti. The problem was, I was fixated on pistachios, pistachios, pistachios. The bigger problem was, I was out of them. I get pistachios at Trader Joe's. They make it all seductive and easy by selling bags of raw, already shelled nuts at a reasonable price. 

The day I made these there was a light snow forecast here in NYC. Regardless, I had tons of errands to do. I ran around with the grocery store stop last on my list so I wouldn't have to shlep my bags of food around. I arrived at Trader Joe's, tried to breeze through the door and was stopped by a worker who pointed at a long line of people outside the building and politely told me to get on it. AYFKM? Apparently, there were too many people in the store already. Ugh.

It's was lightly snowing outside but come on,  does everyone have to shift into panic mode every time flakes fall from the sky? Still fixated on those pistachios, first on my grocery list, I grumbled and mumbled and reluctantly moved to the back of the line. As I peered in the window, I saw that the line for the register wound through the entire store and ended right inside the entrance doors. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Macaron Monday: Grapefruit French Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Filling

The winter plods on here in the East Coast of the USA. Today is a grey cloudy day. With fresh snow on the ground from yesterday and more predicted for this week, it's hardly believable we will be "springing" our clocks ahead this coming weekend.

So I am doing thing "look at the shiny object" thing today. Ooh, look at these pretty grapefruit flavor French macarons instead of the horrible weather. 

The vanilla bean buttercream is the perfect pairing for the citrus spiked shells. 

I am going to start marking the return of good weather by Macaron Mondays. Let's hope next weekend brings more sunshine and milder temperatures.